Can stress make you fat?
Hello, today’s vlog is about stress and gaining weight. Stress is one of the biggest factors why billion of people are overweight, obese, and facing painful diseases. Nobody is immune to this, every man has a breaking point.
Yet, people don’t take this enemy seriously, you hear people look for what’s the best nutrition plan to follow, what’s the best fitness plan, but how about, what are the triggers that make you eat unhealthy and gain weight, how about those triggers.
What is the correlation between stress and unhealthy eating, what is the correlation between stress and your ability to eat healthy every day and stay active by exercising at home or at the gym regularly?
Again, it’s great to learn what diet will help you get back in shape, keto, low carbs, Atkins, carnivore diet, intermittent fasting….wonderful, great…but if you don’t prepare to deal with enemy number uno, stress, you will join the 95% of people who fail at dieting or getting fit. This failure rate is so, so high, that if you are really serious about getting fit and adopting a lifestyle once and for all, make it your flavor, you have to deal with stress right away.
I can’t tell you the number of people I see eager to lose weight but because they are not taking the stress problem seriously, In my head, I know they are already defeated, it’s just a matter of weeks before they throw in the towel.
And this is why I emphasize so much dealing with stress, being proactive with it, because it will increase your will power and allow you to manually take control until new healthy habits set in.
I personally didn’t take stress seriously when I started to prioritize my health, fitness and nutrition. Back then, I was in college and had a lot of free time. Fewer things to worry about, so stress wasn’t on my radar at all.
Then after college, once I started working and then helping people get in shape as a side job, I started to realize how many of them were under a lot of stress from their jobs and life in general. Back then, I was in my early 20s, and most people I was coaching were in the 30s and 40s.
Besides helping them get in better shape, it was a great learning experience for me because I was able to project myself in the future and see what life was like from their viewpoints. This is when I realized the importance of stress in staying in shape and started to learn everything on this topic.
Today, I talk about doing yoga and meditation all the time to my friends, family, and people I’m helping but this started from understanding the impact of stress on human life, physically and mentally. I guarantee you that if you read what I read, you would come up with the same conclusion I had. Which was, wow, I really need to find a way to deal with stress, proactively every day so it doesn’t build up and create problems in my life.
Look at the top 10 leading cause of death in the United State, stress is one of the main factors
Look at the top 10 health reasons why people miss work…stress is one of the main factors
Look at why there is an epidemic of drug addictions in the country, stress is one of the main factors
Look at the mercurial growth of depression and anxiety in America…stress also plays a role
There are literally books and groups out there for Mothers on Xanax, because women are twice more likely to get depressed…stress is one of the main reasons why. And relevant to this vlog, 225 million Americans are overweight or Obese, stress definitely plays a role here.
From experience, I think one of the reasons people don’t want to think about the impact of stress in their lives is that, unconsciously, we believe saying or admitting we are stressed is being soft.
People think that being stressed is just the way it is, it comes with working hard and pushing it in life. At the end of the day, why live if the whole experience of being human is peppered and contaminated with stress all along and you don’t want to take care of it.
One of the motto of the website is being at ease because I think it’s a better term than happiness, but you can never be at ease if stress is bothering you. Are you comfortable being stressed, anxious, and not able to really be at ease, calm, feeling healthy, centered, and balanced?
Now, getting back to losing weight and staying fit, research is conclusive on this connection, stress makes you fat. Let’s get more technical on this.
The body, more specifically, the nervous system has two modes of operation, one is called the sympathetic nervous system, the other is called the parasympathetic nervous system. Think of a car that can either be on resting, relaxing around the city mode or on war, snow, mountain, alien invasion mode…This is the same with our nervous system, which is connected to the brain. actually, the brain is the end of the nervous system, it’s the control center.
You may have heard this term before, fight or flight, or an updated one that is fight, flight or rest and relax. These behaviors are the external effects of what happens to us when one of the two nervous system modes is operating.
The sympathetic nervous system is active when you are fighting or running away from a threat. Back twenty thousand years ago, that might have been a neighboring village attacking your tribe or being chased by a tiger, or hunting.
Today, this system is activated when we are anxious, worrying about our future, or about something at work that we need to get done asap, or worrying about our career, this next job position we want to get…or when we get sick, or when there is a problem in relationships we might be in, or family issues we need to deal with…You get the picture, every time there is something difficult that bothers us and we need to deal with, the nervous system has to switch to sympathetic to help us take care of these problems.
It’s like switching a car system from road to mountain mode, but this is costly.
When the nervous system switches to sympathetic, a whole chain of events happens inside the body.
Heartbeat increases slightly or through the roof, blood pressure increases, stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and dopamine are released in the bloodstream, alerting every cell in the body.
The immune system takes a backseat, meaning it becomes less effective because the immune system is there to help us live another day, whereas stress prioritizes surviving now. The more stressed you are now, the less optimal your immune system will be.
This is crucial to understand if you really want to understand the connection between stress and gaining weight and not let it dominate your life.
Being stressed, we are more likely to reach out for sweets, snacks, carbs and unhealthy foods in general, because these types of food are ways to cool off, to make us feel good right now. Whereas following a healthy diet is about balancing feeling good now and tomorrow, being healthy today and tomorrow.
So a person under mild to intense stress will be more tempted and susceptible to succumb to eating unhealthy food than someone who is not as stressed. Especially if a healthy lifestyle is not part of their identity yet.
Stress also impacts your decision making, it clouds your judgment, not that you cannot think straight but you will rationalize decisions made under stress. Hence people always have very logical excuses as to why they are not able to eat healthy every day.
Now, before I speak about the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the mode when you are relaxing, resting and basically able to plan for the future, there are some few things left about the body under stress you need to know.
Evolutionary wise, the main mode we operate from is the sympathetic nervous system. Lower organisms, which we inherited part of our nervous system form, were built to first and foremost survive.
Which means, the most ancient part of our brain and nervous system is called the reptilian brain, and this bad boy is all about surviving.
One biologist said this, basically, our first mode of being is stressed, survival mode is number one. Look at a baby coming outside the womb, his mindset is to survive, he is not coming out laughing, he is crying all day every day for attention.
But we have the possibility to release the breaks, and switch from surviving mode to relaxing, resting and then striving, flourishing in life. This is basically the history of human evolution, we can come in and build our future.
Getting back to gaining weight and being healthy, you have to understand this. The more stressed you are, the harder it will be to eat healthy and switch to a healthy lifestyle forever.
And I know, there are some people out there always saying, but I don’t feel stressed, I’m good. So why are you overweight, gaining more weight and can’t take care of this?
It’s either, you don’t care about being overweight or obese, which to me sound self-destructive
Or you don’t have the will or knowledge to lose weight.
Or because you fail to prioritize your health and allocate time to improve it.
In all this case, I think stress is part of it because it makes it hard for us to control our behavior. Stress can make something easy as difficult as performing a surgery.
Take some time, sit down and think about this, how difficult is saying, you know what, from today on, I really need to take my health seriously, then spending a total of 20 hours learning basic nutrition and fitness science and then, the most challenging part, adapting your behavior to this resolution.
If you are at ease, centered and balanced, this should not be a problem, I’m not saying it’s not going to be challenging, I’m saying, you faced more difficulties in your life than switching your nutrition so you can look and feel better.
But this can become extremely hard if you don’t reduce your stress levels. I will share with you in another video what I have done to take care of stress in my life. Be proactive with stress, don’t let it build up and destroy you, zap your mojo and capacity to adapt.
It’s up to you. Thank you