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Hi, I’m Natalie and I teach woman who want to lose weight and keep it off, a simple way of eating that does not involve giving up chocolate 🍫
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How Stress Can Contribute To Belly Fat
by Natalie McCrae
Low carb bread recipe, gluten free focaccia
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For most, stress and gaining weight is not an obvious connection, but I want to talk about it as it’s probably getting in the way of your weight loss efforts. 
When we think about weight loss our mind wonders towards food, carbs or calories. But today, I want to talk about stress and how it could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

Did you even realize that stress could be getting in the way of your weight loss efforts? Who would’ve thought right???
Are you one of those people that is eating 'healthy', exercises and seems to be doing everything else right, but there’s still unwanted belly fat that you just can’t seem to get rid of?
If so, I invite you to keep reading.
To start, let’s clarify one thing: Your Nervous System cannot tell the difference between physical and emotional stress, so we react in the same way from a physiological standpoint.
The response to stress is immediate if there's a physical threat. However, most of the time we're not even in any physical danger. We don't need to stay and fight our attacker or flee a bear. We're stressing out because of an emotional response to something. Whether it's something someone said, whether it's your laptop crashing, whether it's the fact that you’re sitting in traffic, these are all emotional responses to stress! But guess what; the body responds in the exact same way as if it was a physical stressor!

Stress is related to weight gain because in order to fight or flee, you need energy. Cortisol is responsible for helping you to receive the energy that you need primarily by increasing your blood sugar.

When blood sugar levels are elevated, insulin, the fat storing hormone, is secreted in order to transport blood sugar to the brain and working muscles. But here's the catch, the muscles aren't working because there's no physical stress!

You're sitting at your desk freaking out because your laptop crashed, you're not doing anything physical and yet you’ll still get that craving for carbohydrates, so you’ll go and pick up a chocolate bar or cookie on your way to the computer people who are going to fix your laptop.

It's comfort food and you know that it's going to help you feel better.
Sometimes emotional stress can go on for days or weeks or months, and your stress response never really goes down, so there's a constant cycle of high blood sugar, fat storage (especially around your mid section), and carb cravings. Your adrenals (which are responsible for manufacturing stress hormones) eventually burn out. We're not going to go down that rabbit hole today though, that's a whole different topic. But it's important to know how bad this situation is. 

One of the key things we need to realize is that stress is not a situation, it's not a specific outside external factor. What we need to remember is that stress is our reaction to that outside factor. 

 You are in control of your body's stress response. 

 It may not feel like it, and truth be told it takes time to be able to take control, but in reality, you have the power to lower the stress response. 

This is an important skill for the sake of your health, but also for the sake of controlling carb cravings. 

I'm sharing you two ways to easily manage stress below. These are my two favourites, because they're easy. They don't require spending money on anything; they don't require time-intensive activities because let's be real we're all busy.

Stress Management Technique #1: Guided Meditation Meditation. 
I know, I used to have a hard time with meditation too (and often still do). Being still, trying not to think about anything while about a zillion thoughts raced through my head... 

 My foot would always get itchy, and I'd have to stop and scratch it. I was a meditation nightmare. But studies show that meditation lowers your cortisol (so, so, so important for carb cravings).  Try by downloading the Calm app (or one like it) and do a 5-minute meditation before bed. Youtube also offers a lot of option or simply set the timer on your phone. The important thing is that it works for you.

Stress Management Technique #2: Gratitude Practice
Create a gratitude practice and use it every morning and evening. This practice was a little harder for me to get started with, but I now do it daily without fail. The concept is really simple, and it’s easy to incorporate into your life. 

Here’s how it works. Come up with a list of things you are grateful for. Be super specific.

I'll give you a few examples:
Personal Gratitude #1 
Suggested: I'm grateful for the delicious and nourishing dinner I had with my family tonight.

Personal Gratitude #2
Suggested: Getting dressed in the morning and finally feeling really confident in my body.

Write out a list of your own, and say them to yourself in the mirror as soon as you wake up and right before bed. It sounds super simple, and it is. When you focus in on the things that make you happiest at the beginning and end of your day, it changes your perspective. 

You find yourself being more grateful and positive no matter what's going on. You can ignore more of the things that would normally stress you out.

Let me know if you give either one of these a try!

Big hug,
1% of sales generated by Natalie's Nutrition is donated to the Vietnam Education Society, a non-profit that provides education to children in the most rural areas of Vietnam and helps put a stop to human trafficking along its boarders. 

Find out more about VES and the amazing work they do by clicking here.

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