Darn. There’s more to weight loss than just regular exercise and good nutrition.
STRESS is also an important key factor. A recent study from Ohio State University reveals that stress seriously hampers your metabolism, putting a quick halt to your weight loss efforts. The study of 58 healthy women showed that stress significantly lowered carbohydrate and fat oxidation rates, potentially accounting for an extra 11 pounds of stored fat per year. Yikes!
And since stored fat stresses us out even more, so begins the downward spiral. Or, take a breath, and let’s spiral upward instead. Change how you look at it. You exercise, you eat well... and you take control of the stress in your life.
Here are five stress-busting strategies that are worth your effort.
1. Prioritize. There’s no way you can fit everything into your 168 hours each week, so don’t even try. Put exercise, sleep, and time to prepare healthful meals at the top of your list. Take care of you, so that the best version of you can take care of everything and everyone else in your life.
2. Get organized. Those priorities of exercise, sleep, and time to prepare healthful meals won’t happen unless you plan ahead. Be a nerd and make lists. Don’t procrastinate. Say no to anything that infringes on what really matters. Don’t even try to multitask, because (a) brain research confirms that multitasking isn’t physically possible, and (b) trying to multitask only amplifies your stress levels.
3. Practice gratitude and optimism. There’s growing evidence connecting emotions – including purposeful practice of gratitude and optimism – with disease prevention and physical fitness. How cool is that? Keep a gratitude journal at your bedside, and approach daily challenges with a ‘glass is half full’ attitude. You’ll be astounded at the results.
4. Socialize. Scientific research affirms this as well. Good relationships with friends and family greatly reduce stress and promotes physical health. Being a cranky hermit isn’t good for you, especially in your later decades. So, friends can help keep you trim unless your socializing is regularly accompanied by unhealthy food and drink. Watch out!
5. Be kind to yourself. Unplug and live mindfully in the present. Your emotional and physical body tells you (and often screams at you) every waking moment what it requires to be happy and healthy. Slow down, listen, listen, listen, and deliver. Show yourself some loving kindness, because if you don’t, no one else is going to either.
I know, this is a hefty list, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Instead, evaluate at the end of each day. Ask yourself, “How did I do today? Did I get my priorities accomplished? Was I as organized as I would like to be? How was my gratitude and optimism? What is one thing I can do tomorrow to improve?” Lose any judgments – that’s not self-kindness. If your stress management efforts weren’t so great today, simply acknowledge this and move on.
Each new day is an opportunity to get it right.
*Daily Stressors, Past Depression, and Metabolic Responses to High-Fat Meals: A Novel Path to Obesity by Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser et al. Published in the Biological Psychiatry Journal, online July 13, 2014. [http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(14)00385-0/abstract]