We’ve all experienced the discomfort of stress in our lives. But, when it takes a toll in our bodies, we’re more apt to take action. How do you lose belly fat when you’re anxious all the time? Conversely, is my extra weight causing a lot of my anxiety?
Let’s examine some causes and symptoms, and take it from there. After that, we can review some sure-fire ways to help reduce stress and unwanted pounds.
It’s a Vicious Cycle…
Scenario #1) You’re feeling stressed out from work or your situation at home. You grab some candy, a cookie, or something else sweet to soothe your nerves. Before you know it, you’ve got more jiggle in your middle.
Scenario #2) You look in the mirror and your barely recognize that body. You wonder, how do you lose belly fat once and for all? You’re left feeling paralyzed and overwhelmed. Suddenly, you’re completely stressed out.
Which came first? The stress or the weight? Perhaps, the answer doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we address both if want to reduce both—for the health of our body and mind.
And honestly, since they’re linked, consider tackling both at the same time. You’ll have a better chance at yielding positive results if you begin focus on stress reduction. Chance are, the fat will burn off more quickly.
What Happens To Your Body When You Get Stressed?
As you may have read before, cortisol is the stress hormone. The production and release of cortisol is a natural, primitive reaction. It’s in place to protect the body when it’s in danger, fear, or survival mode. Occasional or short bursts are fine. However, when we’re experiencing continuous or chronic anxiety, our cortisol levels run high, which is not good. Some symptoms include:
-moodiness and emotional sensitivity
-lowered immune system
-inability to lose weight
It’s also been that noted that up to 80% of people who’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder reported extreme stress before its onset. (That’s another vicious cycle; those suffering from an autoimmune condition often experience huge stress because of it.)
The Cortisol Catalyst: How Stress Affects Your Figure
We all know that a slow metabolism is a complete hindrance to weight loss. But, did you know that high levels of cortisol can decrease your metabolism directly and indirectly?
In men, cortisol decreases testosterone production. When your testosterone lowers, your muscle-mass decreases, which in turn, causes your metabolism to slow down.
Studies have shown that there is a link between chronic stress and abdominal fat distribution. The increase in cortisol seems to be the mechanism that creates this association. This holds true for both men and women.
Surges of cortisol also falsely increase your appetite. You may think you’re hungry because your brain thinks it’s burned energy. In fact, all you’ve done is stress out. You haven’t really shed any calories, but your brain thinks it has. So, it sends hunger signals urging you to eat.
(This is slightly different than stress eating. Stress eating is when your body craves sugar and high-fat foods for brain seratonin comfort. Either way, fake-hunger and stress eating add unnecessary calories and make us fatter.)
Then, How Do You Lose Belly Fat and Chill Out?
As previously suggested, perhaps target the stress monster. There are many stress-reduction techniques. Here are some you may want to try:
- What is the main source of your stress? Try to identify it and then try to make a change or a fix. If that seems unrealistic, then practice tools to manage that stress.
- Try focusing on problem-solving and the present. Worrying about the future and “what ifs” will only exacerbate your feelings of anxiety. Try reframing your thoughts.
- Seek counseling. Talking can help troubleshoot. Additionally, a good counselor will offer coping tools and materials.
- Practice yoga. It helps keep your mind clear and uncluttered. Yoga also improves mood.
- Meditate and practice deep breathing. Awareness of the breath releases tension almost instantly.
- Get proper sleep. Lack of sleep can cause unwarranted hunger. Good rest boosts your immune system and your metabolism.
- You can do just about any kind of movement with your body and it will reduce stress. Try walking, biking, dancing, swimming, gardening, golfing, the hula hoop, etc.
Next time you have trouble buttoning your jeans, ask yourself if it’s time to lose some of those extra pounds. If you decide “yes”, then you may want to also place attention on reducing your stress load. That, along with eating nutritiously and exercising, should help you to lose belly fat in no time!
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