In this day and age, many of us experience a high level of stress. Short-term stress can help us achieve goals and stay motivated. However, our society is seeing a large increase in chronic stress levels, which play a negative role in our personal health. When we experience chronic stress, our sympathetic nervous system is consistently activated and we go into “fight or flight” mode. Cortisol pumps through our bodies in order to better prepare us to run. Our nutrient absorption is compromised, as blood flow goes from our digestive organs to our muscles, literally preparing us to run from danger. Of course this is not our brain’s intent, but our bodies don’t know the difference between active, physical danger and mental and emotional stress.
Cortisol abundance is actually one of the biggest challenges for people who are trying to lose weight. Do you exercise regularly and still have “stubborn” belly fat? Oftentimes, we see patients who are active, love doing cardio multiple times a week, have high-stress jobs, eat healthily, and still have weight to lose around the middle. These same people often have some level of inflammation throughout their bodies. For these patients, a fast-paced life often feels right–it is how they feel they are wired and they are often reaching amazing goals in their lives. However, we must all remember that constant stimulation (both physical and mental) increases cortisol surges which play a key role in weight and inflammation. Phew! How do we balance out without compromising our obligations and achievements?
The answer is multifaceted. However, changing your exercise routine is a wonderful place to start. We like this article from The Poliquin Group, highlighting possibilities for some weight bearing and light cardio, plus the addition of yoga, acupuncture, meditation, or other practices that slow down the sympathetic nervous system. If you are struggling with stress management and weight issues, feel free to reach out to us too. We have a full team of wellness practitioners at Prehab who specialize in creating health and lifestyle plans that meet you where you are, to elevate you to the optimal health we know you can achieve.
By Caitlin Goldie, Certified Holistic Health Coach