When it comes to fat loss what you are doing outside of the gym is possibly a lot more important. You don’t have to be in the gym lifting heavy every day and destroying yourself with HIIT plyometrics. In fact, this could be exactly the reason you are not losing fat.
What is stress?
The fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. The adrenal cortex releases stress hormones called cortisol. This has a number of functions, including releasing stored glucose from the liver (for energy) and controlling swelling after injury. The immune system is suppressed while this happens.
This physiological reaction can happen many times a day in our non-stop, social media driven world. For example, I go to the gym and put stress on my body, I work a demanding day job that can induce stress during the day, I am buying my first house (wow has that become stressful) and I have taken on a great opportunity working for a workplace health start up. This all places stress on my body, and I have definitely noticed the effect, which also includes how I look.
A common sign and symptom of stress is weight gain, particularly around the midsection and upper back, in the face, and between the shoulders.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- Severe fatigue
- Muscle weakness
- Depression, anxiety and irritability
- Loss of emotional control
- Cognitive difficulties
- New or worsened high blood pressure
- Frequent colds and bugs
So stress is something you really want to manage, not just for fat loss but for your long term health!
Ways I manage stress
Managing stress takes a commitment on your part to include it into your day to day activities. I am no stress relief guru, but I do know that managing stress takes effort on your part. This is what I try to do when I feel that crazy stress feeling taking over my body:
- For those moments in the work day when you are bombarded by emails and calls, when things seem to be going wrong and you are needed 100 times at once – just take a moment to breathe. I close my eyes and take some deep breathes in through my nose and out through my mouth and I say to myself: these tasks are all possible, they are all in my control. I then make a list starting with the priority tasks and work through it, ignoring everything else.
- I am trying to include meditation each day. I am starting with ten minutes using the Calm app. I like guided meditation and right now I am using it at any point in the day when I need my brain to de-clutter so I can focus again.
- I don’t workout every day. I do four sessions per week using a push/pull programme. This works for my stress in two ways. Firstly I am not stressing about fitting in a session six times a week and secondly I am allowing my body time to rest and repair. Everyone is different but just think whether too much exercise is actually setting you back.
- I make time for a an Epsom salt bath. I was actually never a bath girl. But now I light some candles and during my 20-30 minutes in the bath I read or watch some of my favourite fitness Youtubers. I like to have a bath near the end of the day as it can help with sleep.
- I make time for sleep. I have a bed time! Yes, my friends and family make fun of me but I like to be in bed by 10pm at the latest. I take melatonin about 20 minutes before bed and recently started taking magnesium as well. I have a Options low cal hot chocolate with almond milk and start unwinding my mind. I absolutely adore mornings and so I like to be up by 6am, so I always have plenty of time to get everything done in the day.
I would love to hear how you manage stress. Please comment below!