Losing weight can shine a light on a number of issues, from what to eat, when to eat and which exercises to do. But there is a factor that most people ignore when trying to lose weight–stress. Managing stress could be the key to weight loss you’ve been ignoring.
According to health coach, yoga instructor, and bestselling author Stephanie Romaine, once stress is managed, losing weight becomes a whole lot easier. Other healthy habits like sleeping through the entire night, finding the energy to exercise, and cooking healthy meals after long work days also start to come more easily.
This is the result of listening to your body instead of constantly fighting it every step of the way. “When you’re buried underneath stress, everything seems harder. But when you prioritize emotional health, strategically say ‘no’, and find ways to cope that don’t involve diving face-first into a bag of dill pickle potato chips, you can free up space and energy you need to feel truly healthy and lose weight,” Romaine mentioned.
When you’re stressed, nothing else really matters–according to your body
Trying to lose weight while under constant stress is like trying to run a marathon while giving someone a piggyback ride. It complicates everything. Of course, you can make it to the finish line, but at what cost to your body and mind?
“I see patients all the time who have high stress levels, and they struggle with weight loss,” said Rachel Goldman, Ph.D., FTOS, a licensed psychologist specializing in health and wellness. When your sympathetic nervous system is stuck in “on” mode, it’s as if your body is raising red flags. In this state, it’s difficult to pay attention to anything else going on.
Stress makes everything harder
You might want to focus less of your attention on counting the calories you’ve consumed in a day and focus on managing stress. There is a limit on your energy and the number of hours in a day, and when dealing with stressful situations, there is less time for healthy habits. Skipping workouts, struggling with sleep, and avoiding meal planning only further adds to stress.
“Stress produced the hormone cortisol, and cortisol has also been linked to triggering cravings for comfort foods,” said Goldman. In addition, stress can also increase insulin levels, which greatly impacts the ability to burn off calories.
Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, try taking a step back from everything and assess your current place in life. Sometimes the scale can get stuck, even if you’re eating a nutritious diet and keeping up with your workouts.