One of my clients is a model student. Her food journals are impeccable. Her hard work is admirable. If she isn’t in it to win it, nobody is.
Recently we were looking at her food journal and matching it to her weight log. We noticed that over a month long period, her food, exercise, water intake and sleep seemed really stable, but one of the weeks her weight trended up 3 pounds!
It wasn’t menstrual. There weren’t extra hidden peanut butter cups she didn’t cop to.
It felt like a total head scratcher, but when I asked about what was going on that week, she admitted she had been covering for a vacationing colleague and her workload doubled.
Her mother was dealing with medical issues and she was in the middle of college application madness with her son.
All of these moving pieces really stressed her out.
I reminded her, like I’m reminding you today, that if you think your weight is only a reflection of the food you eat, you are wrong.
Stress packs on the pounds, just like a double cheeseburger does.
Here’s Why Stress and Weight Gain Go Together:
- Stress affects your hormones. In a calm state, your hormones hum happily along, processing the foods you eat, regulating your sleep, managing your immune system and many more things. When you’re stressed because you’re running late or your computer just crashed, trust me your hormones aren’t maximizing your metabolism, they’re busily managing your stress responses. This leads to unbalance in your body, and weight gain is often a result.
- Emotional eating only works for a few minutes. When your boss yells at you, your crush is stringing you along or you’re waiting for test results, that impulse to push pretzels into your mouth comes, in part, from a biological place. Those pretzels will release the happy-hormone serotonin in your brain and give your anxiety a temporary dulling effect. Sadly for your spare tire, the effects may last longer. While eating soothes negative emotions, it’s not worth the long term consequences.
- Stress can steal your smile. When you are boiling with negative energy, your last instinct is to play or enjoy a laugh. Stress robs you of your sense of humor, and research shows that feeling good is positively linked with a strong immune system and better quality of life. It’s also linked to feelings of well being and, you guessed it, a lower weight.
It’s impossible to get rid of all of your stress, right? So you need to spend some extra work creating a plan of action for managing it.
Reading, meditating, long showers and listening to music can help you do just that. Time you spend on active stress management is uber-valuable to your health. Plus, it makes you feel good.
And who doesn’t want to feel good?!