It’s no coincidence that as our lives get busier our waistlines get bigger!
Prolonged periods of mental, emotional and physical stress has a direct effect on our adrenal glands, triggering them to release more hormones so that we are able to get through the stressful time. The trouble is, we have somehow managed to create lives where the stress never ends. This means, we are constantly rushing to meet deadlines, getting stuck in traffic jams or even worse, being cut off but a maniac driver! We’re bombarded with messages from social media channels that can trigger feelings of anxiety or worthlessness, and on top of all of that, we experience those daily struggles of trying to maintain happy relationships, a harmonious home life and a stable career!
This chronic stress does 2 things.
Firstly, when we feel overwhelmed, anxious, stressed and tired we tend to turn to sweets, salty foods and processed carbs to make us feel better, and for a short while, they do! These foods have a direct effect on the receptors in our brain that trigger us to feel good. Above all, it is what also makes these types of foods so addictive. On top of turning to sweets and carbs we also go looking for more and more caffeine with hopes it will help us to get through the day. And then of course to top it all off we need to wind down at night with a wine or two.
In addition to this, chronic stress impacts our stress hormones, in particular cortisol. When cortisol has been too high for too long it can begin to affect the fat storage hormone insulin which has an extremely negative effect on our weight. We begin to find that despite eating a healthy diet, we seem to be packing on weight around the mid-section and no amount of dieting or exercise can get it to budge.
So what do we do?
There are several dietary and lifestyle changes that can have a positive effect on stress levels, stress hormones and weight.
Avoiding sweets, carbs, highly processed foods, alcohol and caffeine is a great start, Research has shown this a ketogenic approach that has shown a range of great benefits Introducing more fibre rich food, protein and healthy fat is a wonderful way to support healthy hormone production, as is engaging in gentle exercise for 30 minutes each day.
Meditation and mindfulness practices can be a fantastic way to reduce blood cortisol levels and move the body from “flight and fight” mode to “rest and digest”.
Spending time in “rest and digest” mode each day is essential for healthy, sustainable weight loss! Practicing relaxation and mindfulness meditation can help you to engage in healthier food and lifestyle choices, while allowing you to feel calmer and more content which will prevent you from needing to go searching for that 3pm sugar fix!
Practising slow, deep breathing during meditation has been found to have a positive and calming effect on the nervous system leading you to feel more content and composed. In turn, we are able to sleep deeper, wake up more refreshed and get more out of each day.
So the take home message for today is to ditch that 3rd cuppa’ coffee for a 20 minute meditation and allow yourself to discover how much more calm, yet energised your body and mind can feel and why meditation and weight loss go hand in hand in your weight loss journey!