Stress and weight gain go pretty much hand in hand, especially for women. It sucks. I have dealt with it for a very long time and it is a hard thing to deal with. It actually causes me to stress even more. But what are some things you can do to combat it?
I am one of those people that are driven to constantly be doing something. I challenge myself constantly, I compete with myself. Yeah myself. Like the beginning of this year, I told myself that I was going to read 50 books this year. For the whole year. Last year I had only read maybe 30 for enjoyment all the other books I read were for work, business or learning. I enjoy those also. But I think you get my point.
Well guess what I have done and it is not even February yet. I have read 22. Yeah, 22 books in 26 days. I want to make my goal. But I realized something I am not enjoying reading because I am stressing on it and I am also stressing on all the time I am wasting not working on my business and this blog.
Weight Gain and Stress
So how does this have anything to with weight gain and stress? Well, simple while reading I start thinking about all I need to get done. My meal prep for the week, my two blogs that I publish, my household chores, my new duties at my work outside the home and also spending time with my family. I need to find a balance.
But thinking of all this causes me stress and guess what that does it raises my cortisol levels. What is cortisol?
Cortisol is a stress hormone produces by the adrenal glands.
Now cortisol is not a bad thing. Your body needs it. But elevated cortisol can cause myriads of different symptoms and affects different cells in your body. Some of these effects are:
- controlling the body’s blood sugar levels and thus regulating metabolism,
- acting as an anti-inflammatory,
- influencing memory formation,
- controlling salt and water balance, influencing blood pressure
So happens when you have too much Cortisol in your system:
- rapid weight gain mainly in the face, chest and abdomen contrasted with slender arms and legs
- a flushed and round face
- high blood pressure
- skin changes (bruises and purple stretch marks)
- muscle weakness
- mood swings, which show as anxiety, depression or irritability
- increased thirst and frequency of urination.
So Why Does Stress cause Cortisol Spikes and Weight Gain
Think about it this way. When you get scared, excited or startled your body produces hormones, like the rush of adrenaline and cortisol that courses through your body when you are on a roller coaster or you watch a scary suspenseful movie and that scene comes up and makes you jump. You feel that rush in your body well that’s adrenaline and cortisol. People can become addicted to that rush. You know the adrenaline junkies.
In the short-term, adrenaline helps you feel less hungry as your blood flows away from the internal organs and to your large muscles to prepare for “fight or flight.” However, once the effects of adrenaline wear off, cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” hangs around and starts signaling the body to replenish your food supply.
But that fight or flight hormone surge worked for our ancestors a lot better than it does for us. They would hunt and fight off wild animals and they would get the rush and it would save their lives it also used up a lot of energy, so their bodies needed more stores of fat and glucose. Nowadays we stress on things that they didn’t we sit on the couch worrying about how to pay the bill or work long hours at the computer to make the deadline and guess what that does not work off much energy at all dealing with the stressor! And we are stuck with a neuroendocrine system that didn’t get the system update, so your brain is still going to tell you to reach for that bag of chips.
So What Can You Do
As I explained above that flight or fight that worked for our ancestors because they needed that extra slow down of fat burning. But in this day and age, we have the stress without the lack of food for many of us. And we don’t need to keep the extra storage of food to keep us nourished through the lean times. So what can we do to keep the cortisol levels under control?
- Reduce the stress in our lives.
- Change our habits
- Move more
- Eat right
- Get More Sleep
- Have Fun
- Maintain healthy relationships
- Take care of a Pet
- Take Supplements
- Be Your Best Self
I know it sounds easy. LOL. Easier said than done. Especially for us that push ourselves constantly. I know I could do a lot to make my life a lot easier. Like not taking on so much responsibility. I work a full-time job away from home. I maintain two blogs and help others do the same and have three kids and a husband. Not sure what is harder the kids or the husband.
- 5:00 am – Get up
- 5:10 am – Coffee
- 5:30 am – Research for Blogs
- 7:30 am – Get kids up for school
- 8:15 am – Leave for work
- 8:30 am – Work (ugh – it pays the bills – I’m job & project analysis)
- 6:00 pm – Off work
- 6:15 pm – pick up dinner
- 6:30 pm – cook dinner
- 7:00 pm – dinner and clean up & prepare lunches
- 8:00 pm – help kids with homework
- 9:00 pm – work on blogs and social media
- 11:00 pm – read and get ready for bed
- 12:00 pm – sleep
That is my schedule Monday – Thursday and Saturday every other week and Monday – Friday the other weeks. It leaves me very little time to even do the things on the list above to help me reduce my stress level and my cortisol levels. The days I have off from my other job are spent doing the household work that gets left during the week.
So What’s My Plan for my Stress
I need to restructure my day and my responsibilities. And as you all know as an adult you can’t just let things fall to the wayside. But it does not mean I can’t delegate. My children are older now they can take on more responsibilities like doing the chores for the house. I have come up with a weekly chore list for each of them so I don’t have to do as much for the home.
Then there is Sunday shopping and meal prep day. That will save me time during the evenings so that I don’t have to go to the store every night and then come home and cook dinner. I can have my husband who is home by 4:10 put it in the oven and it is ready by the time I get home.
Also, I am working with my boss at my JOB to try to switch to 3-4 day work week on location and work 2 days from home. I am hoping by August not to be working outside the home at all and working all from home and for myself. But guess what I am not going to stress on it. Why because stress does nothing but raises my cortisol levels.
I will take it one day at a time
If you notice I am very scheduled and that takes away a lot of my stress. As you know this is life things get thrown at you when you least expect it. A sick kid or a failed plan. But having my day scheduled out to the minute takes away a lot of my stress.
So how does meal prep come into this? Well, easy one last thing I don’t have to think about and do during the day. In actuality planning and preparing food is the bane of my existence. Seriously I hate thinking about what to have and what to buy to make it and I hate having to prepare it every night. And I am sure a lot of you are like me. It is just easier to pick something up from a restaurant or the deli at your grocery store.
But that is not good for you. We all know that. So Meal Prep is where it’s at. You plan everything out for your week. You have it ready to go for each day and there is less stress and you are not eating foods that cause you to gain weight. I know that sounds too easy and I agree. I myself am struggling with it But it is a habit I want to be part of my life to make my life easier.
Why? Because I am tired of eating right and still staying the weight I am or gaining. I stick to strictly keto foods and I couldn’t figure out why I can’t lose anymore. I do intermittent fasting I do strict Keto now.
Dr. Berg on Cortisol and Weight Gain
Dr. Berg has a complete series that has to do with cortisol and talks about how you actually have stress stored up. And how it stays with you in your cells. I found it really interesting. Here is the link to it and another that is very informative and this one talks about keto about cortisol and keto is also very informational.
I know that I can’t cure all of my cortisol stores or my stress overnight but I can do something to start righting it. Meal Prep, delegating household chores, cutting back on work and relaxing more. I find keeping a journal also helps You can pick up my free journal below.
So Let’s Talk about Meal Plans
I know I go on and on about Speed Keto. But really I find it is the easiest plan to follow and now there is Rapid Keto. And there is also a new cookbook call Completely Keto goes Mexican with some amazing recipes for all you Mexican food connoisseurs. With these meal plans all laid out for you there is no stress in planning your weekly meals. Add a side for your non-keto eaters in your family and voila you have one less thing to stress on.
Next week I am going to delve further on this subject of cortisol. I find it very interesting the effects it has on your body and that stress can cause you to gain weight. If you have any questions or suggestions please leave a comment below. But Keto on my Ketoers.