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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Stress and Weight Gain Connection

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It's Wellness Wednesday!!!

Have you heard about the connection between stress and weight gain?

Well, it's true. Stress does affect our health, specifically the ability to lose weight and the tendency to gain weight. Both of which are determinental to our health and can cause major health issues.
When we are chronically stressed, our bodies have a true biological reaction. Let's get this biological mumbo-jumo over with:

(1) The HYPOTHALAMUS and PITUITARY GLANDS that are part of the brain immediately secrete chemicals to the ADRENAL GLANDS (fatty pads right above your kidneys).

(2) The ADRENAL GLANDS send a message to the heart telling it to speed up! This is OK initially (you've heard of "fight or flight?"), but with too much continual stress and anxiety, the ADRENAL GLANDS also secrete STEROIDS that go directly into belly fat.

(3) These STEROIDS/CORTISOLS increase the amount of belly fat! One of the risk factors for heart disease is a large belly, so stress can definitely effect our heart. We don't want STEROIDS/CORTISOL increasing the size of our bellies, so we need to try to reduce stress.

I say "try" because life can be very stressful!

There are many factors that may affect our stress levels, but in my experience working with clients and loved ones (myself included), I believe one of the major factors that may cause long-term stress and affect the health of a person is...
Being unwilling to forgive.

In other words, holding on to pain, anxiety, hurt, or the offense caused by others or ourselves can lead to more serious chronic health issues. Health issues such as heart disease, autoimmune diseases, premature aging, high blood pressure, infertility, diabetes, etc.

I love this analogy: "There are two courses of action to follow when one is bitten by a rattlesnake. One may, in anger, fear, or vengefulness, pursue the creature and kill it. Or he may make full haste to get the venom out of his system...if we pursue the latter course we will likely survive, but if we attempt to follow the former, we may not be around long enough to finish it."

Even as the victim, this emotional venom will eventually start to affect your health.

Forgiveness is a very difficult concept to grasp, it may take a lifetime to understand. But I believe it is crucial to wellness!

In my research of the topic of forgiveness, I came across the following quote. It has helped me come to understand what it means to forgive:
There is a healing power in forgiveness, for the spirit and body, emotionally and physically.

This quote changed my life (and my health).

May we all strive to let go of the stress that comes with being unwilling to forgive so that this venom does not wreak havic on our health.

Along with working to forgive, I have found a few other ways of dealing with my stress.


I don't know about you, but I release all of my pent up frustration and tension when I aggressively exercise. It also helps to clear my head and organize my thoughts. Yoga helps too. Exercise is truly like therapy for me.

Relaxation Technique

Find a comfortable, quiet place your home, and have your mind go somewhere else. This may be hard with children around, so do what it takes to find quiet time. Watching a show is not going to kill your kids! Try this at home: Lay on your back with your arms out to the side. Put your feet up on a chair or bed. Close your eyes and lay in this position for about five minutes. Usually I am interrupted by a little person climbing all over me!

Do whatever helps YOU

Maybe it's reading a good book, cleaning, organizing, calling a friend, etc. I always feel better when I can talk out my stresses with a close friend.
If you don't believe me about the connection between stress and weight gain, then take these peer-reviewed study's word for it:
*People whose cortisol level jumped the most in response to stress tended to have proportionally more waistline fat--even if they were at a healthy weight.
*A greater proportion of fat around the waist was related to increased levels of ongoing stress-related to work or finances, or lower levels of self-esteem. Waistline fat that gives people an apple shape poses the greatest health risk!

Now stop worrying and start living! I know, easier said then done...

If you are interested in downloading my favorite forgiveness quote, click here. Please leave a comment if you do.

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