How Lowering Stress Can Positively Affect Your Weight

Lower Stress Positively Affects Weight

 

For most of us, stress is a part of life that we need to deal with.  Unfortunately, research shows us that too much stress can negatively affect our weight.

I personally believe that the stress component in people’s lives is often overlooked by the health and fitness industry.   A client can be eating well and exercising regularly, however if the client is under continual stress it can prevent them from losing weight and in some cases even cause them to gain weight.  Diet and exercise is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to overall health and wellness.

We recently moved to a slower paced community and have simplified our lifestyle.  One of the first things that changed for me was my sleeping patterns.  I’ll be the first to admit that my sleep was not great before we moved.   I’m happy to report that I am sleeping better and experiencing real rest.  What happened after I began sleeping better was interesting.

Over the past few months I’ve noticed that all of my clothes are fitting a bit looser. I stopped weighing myself regularly years ago due to the emotional stress it can cause so I can’t tell you how much weight I have lost.  However, I know for sure that I have naturally dropped a few pounds.

It’s really important for me to share that I WAS NOT trying to loose weight.  I have not made any changes to my diet and I am exercising at a level that is appropriate for me while I recover from  multiple injuries.  My health and fitness goals are rooted in self care and happiness rather than a number on a scale, which is why I believe my recent weight loss is  a result of stress reduction.  Before we moved,  I was eating well and exercising most days of the week.  I believe that my personal experience helps support the research that if you are under constant stress, diet and exercise alone may not be enough to help you lose and/or maintain your weight.

It’s pretty safe to assume that no matter how good we are at limiting the stress in our lives we will still have to manage a certain amount of it.   Here are five ways to limit stress in your life and protect your body from it:

 

FIVE WAYS TO LIMIT STRESS

 

Ditch diets for good.  Research shows that constant dieting can cause cortisol levels to rise as much as 18%.  When your cortisol levels rise, your blood sugar gets out of whack, first rising, then plummeting. This can make you cranky and super hungry even if you don’t need the extra calories.

Deficiencies in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium are stressful to your body.  Diets that suggest eliminating certain foods and/or food groups from your diet can contribute to a lack of these important nutrients.  These deficiencies can lead to increased cortisol levels and food cravings.  Start the day off strong with a breakfast that includes stress reducing nutrition.  Foods like oranges, grapefruits, or a large handful of strawberries supply  vitamin C and 6 to 8 ounces of yogurt contains calcium and magnesium.  Make sure to include carbs like a whole grain bagel or toast and healthy fats like peanut butter. Whole grains are loaded with B vitamins, while peanut butter has fatty acids that can lower stress hormones in your body.

Instead of dieting, try eating as many whole foods as possible.  Eating whole foods can help contribute to better energy which is part of self care. Do your best to make sure to choose foods you enjoy and avoid being too rigid about everything you eat.

Get enough sleep.  Substantial medical evidence is telling us that a lack of sleep affects hormones which are linked to an increase in appetite. Your body becomes less satisfied and you are tempted to eat more food than you may actually need.

Sleep deprivation can also affect your hormones in such a way that your metabolism will literally slow down.  I believe that is what happened in my case, and why I lost weight when I started to get more sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.  A few nights of solid sleep can bring your body back into balance, and getting enough regular sleep helps keep it there.

 

Do a little strength training.  Moving your muscles is an effective, instant stress reliever. It actually sends a message to your body that you are escaping the source of your stress.  Exercise helps your blood circulate more quickly, transporting the cortisol to your kidneys and flushing it out of your system.  Try doing at least one strength exercise per day like squats, push ups, or ab work.  Even taking a stroll on your lunch break will help. In one study researchers found that 18 minutes of walking 3 times per week can quickly lower stress hormone levels by 15%.
You might want to cut back on caffeine.  Total disclaimer, I am a coffee drinker and have no plans to give it up right now so I’m not asking you to.  A certain amount of coffee is actually good for most people due to the many health benefits it offers.  However, if you find it’s keeping you up at night you may want to cut back.
Create a healthy environment.  It’s important for us to be at peace where we live, work, and play.  Things like nurturing relationships, setting healthy boundaries, removing clutter from your home or life, planning family meals, taking time off to visit places that make you feel happy and restored, or spending time with your pets without your phone in hand are all examples of working  toward creating a healthy environment.

Limiting stress in our lives is extremely personal and looks different for each individual.  We are all on our own personal journey.  What’s important to remember is that health and wellness is about self care and enjoying life.  Not a specific number on a scale.

Have a wonderful week!
Shared with love,
Jennifer

The Desire To Be Healthy Versus The Desire To Be Thin

 

Social media is an interesting platform.  I use it because I think it’s a great way to interact with my family, friends, clients, and the people and/or businesses I like to follow.  In general, it’s a great way to connect with people.

However, wherever there are people, toxic behavior can pop up.  I personally believe that there is more good than bad on Social Media but unfortunately there are some real trolls that hide behind their computers.

I recently saw an example of this when I stumbled upon a video regarding health and weight that made my blood boil. Total disclaimer, I have no idea if this nasty and judgmental person is a fitness professional or simply a shallow minded fitness nut operating on outdated information.  I didn’t watch the entire video because I could only stomach watching the first few minutes before I had to shut it off.  Yes, it was that awful.

Normally, I do my best to ignore nasty people and move on.  This time I couldn’t.  This human being was stepping on my turf and based on what I did hear, this person is NO expert.  I have spent years coaching people, taking classes, and studying fitness and health in order to help people stay fit for life.  I felt morally obligated to address what I believe to be a completely misguided point of view.

Basically, this person was claiming that size is always related to your health and if you have some extra padding in certain places you are unhealthy and at risk of heart disease.  This individual had no problem hurling all kinds of other ridiculous insults that in his mind he thinks should help and motivate people.  Really??

This type of thinking and flat out assumption is one of the main reasons I take issue with the marketing and theories that a portion of the fitness industry is promoting.  Usually, the desire to be thin has very little to do with health.  The intellectually honest side of my industry knows this,  and we are preaching a totally different message these days.

Over the years I’ve trained people of all sizes and I’ve learned that it is never a good idea to judge someone’s health by their size.  I’ve had the opportunity to perform numerous health assessments and review enough doctor’s reports to learn that there are larger people in great health.  I personally know curvy women that run marathons and look amazing in skin tight clothing.  I also work with men who are fit and strong with larger builds.  Sure, there are people that need to lose weight for health reasons (some of it serious) and I help coach them throughout their weight loss journey with compassion and common sense.

However, I’ve also seen a lot of damage done to people’s bodies due to yo-yo dieting and overtraining in their attempt to achieve a certain size.  Eating disorders are very real and they are usually camouflaged under the guise of “eating healthy.”

Not everyone was designed to be thin, or tall, or look super ripped.  Healthy bodies really do come in all shapes and sizes.  We have a choice and it’s pretty simple.  We can focus on taking care of ourselves and enjoying our life, or we can allow a very powerful industry and some incredibly judgmental people to bully us into trying to force our bodies to become something they are not.

Years ago, I was at a very low weight that was not healthy for me so I decided I was going to stop focusing on being thin and focus on self care instead.  I weigh more now and I’m way healthier.  However, during the time I was underweight, some people would observe my body size and assume I was healthy based on my looks.  My own personal experience is a perfect example that there is so much more to being healthy than a height and weight chart.

I recommend that you focus on self care and then put on your blinders.  Turn off the diet messages that are tempting you to restrict yourself just to fit into society’s narrow view of what a healthy body should look like.

Sometimes the best way to avoid the shallow people in this world is to turn off the chatter and ignore them altogether.

Make it your best week yet!

Shared with love,

Jennifer Ledford

 

A Few Thoughts After What Happened In Las Vegas

Last week, our nation experienced a tragedy that shocked people around the world.  We are grieving the loss of fellow Americans and others that were visiting our nation.  I am having a difficult time holding back the tears while I write this.  My heart hurts.

The tragedy that took place was a harsh reminder that none of us really know when we will leave this world.  A reminder that it’s really important to focus on what matters most and living life to the fullest.

What comes to mind when you think of a life lived to the fullest?  I think that’s a really important question for all of us to ponder.  What do you really want in this life?

The lovely actress Sophia Loren was once quoted saying “I’d rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size zero.”  So simple, yet so profound.  To me that quote means she would rather live her life enjoying each day than be a slave to a scale or to a clothing size.  In other words, she is allowing herself to be free to LIVE.

When I was smaller than a size two I was criticized by photographers.  No matter how hard I exercised or restricted the food I ate, I still wasn’t perfect enough for them.  Constantly restricting myself to gain approval from others ended up being a prison and led me into depression.  When I decided  to stop caring about what others thought and shifted my focus to living a full life I got my joy back.

Allowing yourself to be free to live your life doesn’t mean that you stop exercising and eating well.  It simply means that you won’t restrict yourself in an attempt to manipulate your body into a size that it wasn’t naturally designed to be.  If your goal weight doesn’t allow you to enjoy the things you like in a way thats moderate and healthy, then you could end up being pretty miserable.  Or, in the worst case, you could harm your health.

Life is way too short to allow superficial things and ideas to control you and cause you to miss out on living life to the fullest.  Which is why I passionately recommend you design a life that is well balanced and brings you joy.  In other words, just be you.

When you allow yourself to “just be you” and live authentically, you are giving yourself permission to be free.  And with that freedom, comes peace.  Being at peace with who you are and what you are capable of at any give time, gives you the freedom to focus on the things that matter most and are most precious to you.

Make it a great week.  Spend quality time with the ones you love and doing the things you love.  Time and experiences are two things we can never get back so it’s good to invest our time wisely.

Shared with love,

Jennifer