Before I blow your mind, let me just say this. We all stress. We all have different stressors in our lives and some that we can't control. But some that we can. For a long time I knew I was suffering with a large amount of stress that just never seemed to go away. I was exercising almost 7 days a week because it was my escape and I ate extremely clean. But I didn't understand why my weight and body wasn't changing. Then I read this.
"When you have stress, your body releases certain "fight-or-flight" stress hormones that are produced in the adrenal glands: cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine. When you first get stressed, these hormones kick into gear. Norepinephrine tells your body to stop producing insulin so that you can have plenty of fast-acting blood glucose ready. Epinephrine will relax the muscles in your stomach and intestines and decrease blood flow to these organs. Once the stressor has passed, cortisol tells the body to stop producing these hormones and to go back to digesting regularly. It's normal for your cortisol levels to go up and down throughout the day, but when you are chronically stressed your cortisol level goes up — and stays there.When your stress and cortisol levels are high, the body actually resists weight loss. Your body thinks times are hard and you might starve, so it hoards the fat you eat or have present on your body. Cortisol tends to take fat from healthier areas, like your butt and hips, and move it to your abdomen which has more cortisol receptors. Hello ab flab! In the process, it turns once–healthy peripheral fat into unhealthy visceral fat (the fat in your abdomen that surrounds your organs) that increases inflammation and insulin resistance in the body. This belly fat then leads to more cortisol because it has higher concentrations of an enzyme that converts inactive cortisone to active cortisol. The more belly fat you have, the more active cortisol will be converted by these enzymes — yet another vicious cycle created by visceral fat."
I couldn't put it any better. It is true and was true for me when I realized what was going on with my body. My "muffin top" wasn't even because of my diet and exercise. It was due to my emotions and feelings from my everyday stressors. So I thought how can I change it? I can't just up and quit my job. I can't just go after all the things I really want and leave this crappy reality behind. But why can't I? So I made a list. A list of things that helped me feel better when I was stressing and a list of things to change to get me out of environments that weren't good for my soul.
1- Job hunt. I knew I wasn't doing what I wanted to and I knew the job was out there for me somewhere, so I hunted until I found it.
2- Cut yourself some slack. I would get so wound up if I missed a workout or a meal, but I had to learn to be more gentle with myself. I'm only human after all.
3- Write. For me writing is what I love, it's my passion and it clears my mind. Find something you love that releases those tensions and do it often.
4- Nature. Get outside. Even if its a freezing cold day in the middle of winter. Your body needs fresh air. Go for a walk, and let the sun warm you.
5- Talk about it. Sometimes we keep everything in and it feels like with a hug we will burst. Talk about what's going on with a friend, family member, therapist, whomever. Don't feel like you're all alone, there is always someone there willing to listen.