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

Drinking Water Can Help You Lose Weight

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Everyone tells you to drink more water– and it can be life threatening if you don’t get enough.

However, not only is it important to stay hydrated for health reasons, being properly hydrated also helps you lose weight.

Let me explain.

Being properly hydrated helps you stay energized during physical activity and throughout your day.  The more active you are, the more calories you burn.

A hydrated body looks leaner. Why? Because when you’re dehydrated, you retain water.  Yikes!

I bet the magazine rack has at least one headline screaming “Rev up your metabolism with this one trick!” Well, here’s a good one.  If you drink enough water you help your body to metabolize properly. When you’re dehydrated, your metabolism can slow down.  We all know what that means for weight loss.

So how much water should you be drinking?

It depends. The suggested guidelines for water consumption used to be sixty-four ounces per day. While it is still a good amount of water for some, others may need more. Here are some guidelines to help you decide:

Drink more fluids when you are in situations where your body loses water:

in warmer climates,
during more intense exercise,
at high altitudes.

Try to be more aware of your water intake:

if you’re the type of person who usually doesn’t notice thirst; or
when you are very busy and likely to forget to drink.
If you talk for a living. Water is lost though saliva.

Here’s five tips to increase your fluid intake:

1) Try naturally flavored waters. Flavored water and various other “hydrating” drinks usually have some type of sugar in them, pay attention to the calories on the label.

An alternative to buying flavored waters would be making your own. The possibilities are endless. Cucumber, mint, ginger, lemon, lime, strawberries, and raspberries are all examples of natural foods and herbs you can flavor your water with.  Allow the fruits, vegetables, or herbs to soak in the water for a few hours for the flavors to release.

2) Eat foods that are mostly water each day.  Include foods high in water like oranges, watermelon, yoghurt, grapefruit, pineapples, and broth-based soups when choosing your meals and snacks.

(3) Replace still water with sparkling water. If you discover sparkling water works for you, consider getting an in home soda machine. They take up very little counter space. You also save money and there are less bottles to recycle. This helped my husband Matthew go from not liking water to drinking plenty of it!

4) Add a glass of coconut water to your day.  Coconut water is a great way to hydrate and get potassium.  It’s used as a natural alternative to sports drinks, but you don’t have to be a professional athlete to reap the benefits of this popular beverage.

5) Have a hydrating beverage with every meal. Tacking a new goal on to an established habit is usually less daunting than trying to develop a new habit on it’s own. For example setting a goal of drinking a glass of sparkling water at dinner seems more manageable than a goal to drink 64 oz. of water every day.

How do you know when you’re getting enough water?

The best way to tell if you are hydrated is the color of your urine. Clear to pale yellow is ideal. Yellow to dark yellow means you need water, and if it looks like tea or beer you are dehydrated! Supplements can also cause urine to be dark yellow. So keep that in consideration.

Avoid allowing yourself to get “thirsty”. If you are getting a thirst signal then the body is already too low on water!

At first it may seem like you have to go to the bathroom a lot. This is normal when you up your water consumption. It is not uncommon to have to use the restroom every hour.

If you sit at a desk, this will encourage you to get up and move every hour. It also allows you to monitor your progress!

Have a question or a comment? Leave a note for me below. I love to hear from you!

Blessings!

Jennifer Ledford

Back To School Weight Loss Tips

You can feel it in the air! Summer is ending. The light is changing and it’s back to school time! Whether you are a parent, teacher, student, or simply getting back to a Fall routine, the new season usually means much busier schedules.

A shift in schedule can potentially derail your weight loss goals if you let it. I’ve put together some simple guidelines on how to stay on track while adjusting to the new season.

Five Easy Weight Loss Tips for the Back to School Season!

1)  Plan!  Back to school usually means a more set routine. This can be used for your benefit to help you lose weight! Pull out your calendar and determine when you have time for exercise, meal planning, and healthy meal preparation.  Write these activities in like like any other important appointment.

Avoid biting off more than you can chew.  Look at your calendar before saying yes to extra projects.  If saying yes will interfere with your weight loss goals, you may want to take a pass for now.

2) Brown bag it! Breakfast is key to successful weight loss. If time is tight in the mornings, a healthy egg sandwich or smoothie are easy to eat on the go. Do your best to eat by 9:00 am, and no later than 10:00.

Pack lunches and have healthy snacks on you at all times. No matter what your day looks like, busy and hungry are a dangerous combination for weight loss. By planning ahead, you’ll have more control over the food you eat.

And if you are shuttling kids, pack snacks to have on hand. Not only will it contribute to their good health, it will save you time as well.

3)  Order out!  After looking at your schedule, you may realize that cooking some nights will be a stretch.  Let someone else do the cooking for you! Order healthy pre made meals from a company like Magic Kitchen.

4)  Get creative! If your normal exercise time is conflicting with your child’s activity or sport, go for a walk while you are waiting for them. One of my clients decided to get a low cost membership at the gym across the street from her daughter’s dance class.  She’s going to run on the treadmill while her daughter is taking class.  Another option would be to see if there was an adult class to try during her daughter’s class.

Early morning and lunch time workouts are a great way to sneak exercise into the day. This strategy helps you avoid evening interruptions such as working late. 

5)  Create a fit lifestyle!  One of the reasons people are so much more active in the Summer is all of the fun outdoor activities that are available. That doesn’t have to end just because it’s Fall.  Like the beach or hiking? Bundle up and take a walk. Personally, I think Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of year!

Choose active recreation on the weekends to counter the less active time during the week. Recreational activities are a great cross trainer if you are doing more formal gym workouts during the week.  Try turning off screens (computers, TV, phones, etc. ) as much as possible on the weekends!

All it takes is a little bit of planning. Fall is a great time to meet your weight loss/management goals.  Embrace this time of year and all of the fullness it brings!

Please let me know if you have any questions or a tip you’d like to share!

Blessings!

Jennifer