Stress is stalling your Weight Loss Goals

Your Stress is Stopping you from reaching your goals

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I have to say the number one factor that slows down my clients is stress and rest. I can create a perfect program and healthy eating guidelines, but I can’t make my clients go to bed or chill out. Despite their efforts in the gym or kitchen, the scale can be at a standstill if you’re stressed out. Holding onto weight is the way our body protects itself when it is stressed. 


For a woman, life can be stressful with the roles she fulfills, the relationships she maintains, professional responsibilities, and if she is a mother, add caring for other people’s needs to the list. All are equalling a stressed woman who eats well, exercises often, and still can’t lose those last 10 pounds. 

Stress is a part of life, and although we may ignore stressful situations, there is no way to avoid them and their effects on our bodies. Stress is needed for change either for good or bad it all depends on how you approach it and use it to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Let’s talk about the physical influence stress has on your life.  

Does stress cause weight gain?

Stress is not just an uncomfortable feeling. It can cause the production of cortisol, a steroid hormone that regulates your metabolism and immune support. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it is produced when stressed, helps with protein metabolism, increases your blood sugar, and balances the immune system.

Hormones can wreak havoc on your waistline. Cortisol is a hormone that contributes to your inflammatory response. It’s not the cause of inflammation, but it responds to inflammation—higher levels of inflammation equal more elevated cortisol levels.

Hormones can cause weight gain

Cortisol is good and bad for our waistline. Cortisol is released after intense exercise to assist in muscle repair. Elevated levels of cortisol do cause weight loss difficulties and can also be associated with weight gain. 

BUT- the cortisol hormones help with the breakdown of fats and other lipids by hydrolysis to release fatty acids known as lipolysis. Cortisol helps increase the rate of stored fatty acids released into the bloodstream into beta-oxidation, also known as fat burn.

If that is the case, then why is cortisol linked to stubborn belly fat and weight plateaus.

Because cortisol is not the sole culprit of your belly fat, it’s part of the problem but can also be the solution. 

Your stress is hindering your weight loss.

Stress in life is unavoidable. Very few people live a stress-free life, yet some are stressed, and those who are stressed and overweight. What’s the difference? Have you factored in the type of stress? Some people have acute stress from day to day. Others suffer from chronic stress. For example, you are riding a rollercoaster. The adrenaline spike releases cortisol and engages your “fight or flight” response. In this scenario, cortisol increases your blood sugar and gives you a temporary boost to give your muscles the energy needed to react. 

After your body reacts, it will return to its normal state, hormonally, if you didn’t have a heart attack. I was kidding. But think of something that would cause you a sudden panic. That is acute stress. Stress helps our body to defend itself against stress or attacks, physically or emotionally.

Now the stress that is attacking your waistline is known as chronic stress. Chronic stress is a result of a persistent or ongoing attack physically or emotionally on your body. Your body is always defending itself, stressing you out, and showing up in various forms, such as inflammation, emotional unrest, lack of sleep, energy, lack of appetite or insatiable appetite, mental clarity, or memory. All can be the result of chronic physical or emotional stress. This is when your cortisol remains at an increased level throughout most of the day. Never returning to homeostasis or neutral.

Chronic stress affects the body

The association between cortisol and weight gain is the result of a chronically elevated cortisol level in your body, which can lead to the following side effects

  • Weight Gain
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hormone Imbalances
  • Gastro-Intestinal Issues and Complications
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease

Reasons you need to chill out to improve your waistline and overall health.

Chronic stress is not just from emotional stress, but physical stress can also be why you’re not seeing results.

1. Overtraining can lead to Chronic Stress.

A surefire way you can cause chronic physical stress on your body is through overtraining and undereating. That’s why you feel like you’re doing all the right things, but the scale is not moving. You’re eating anything barely, training several hours every day, always focused on your results, and they’re not showing up on the scale. 

Your body is protecting itself. That’s it’s a job to keep you alive, and if it feels like it’s attacking, it’s going to defend itself how it knows best. Holding onto fat in case you need it in “fight” mode. I often recommend to my clients a treat meal, off day, and goods night sleep. Some have woken up pounds lighter. It’s crazy what happens when you give your body what it needs. It does what you want it to do. 

It’s so much more than a good night’s sleep and a burger and fries to get rid of belly fat. I don’t want to oversimplify the process because it does take hard work to overcome chronic stress. They’re things you can do daily to avoid burnout, stress, and frustration. 

2. Chronic Stress Leads to Hormone Upset and Weight Loss Plateaus

Our bodies must keep us alive, and there are many functions set in place for us to live to our bodies’ full potential. Cortisol is a hormone that optimizes the breakdown of stored fat, which is a process called lipolysis.  

Cortisol is known to store or break down fat in the midsection of the body, which is why it is correlated that chronically stressed people have more abdominal fat.  It could be a hormonal reaction to your lifestyle. 

Suppose your cortisol is left unchecked for too long. In that case, it can lead to diseases like insulin resistance, and hyperinsulinemia which can make weight loss slower or encourage weight gain or retention.

 4. Chronic stress will increase cortisol.

Suppose you are in a constant state of stress, which means that your cortisol levels are frequently elevated. Prolonged elevated levels of cortisol can lead to muscle breakdown. This will also affect how your body utilizes protein to gain muscle and muscle-producing hormones such as testosterone. It will also slow down your metabolic rate. Cortisol is not directly responsible for your weight gain. It is a catalyst for how other hormones and body functions operate.

 5. Chronic stress Increases appetite and can result in Weight Gain.

Stress can also engage another hormone in your body known as ghrelin, which tells you that you are hungry. And leptin hormones tell you when you are full, which are two hormones that either ignite or suppressed appetite. When we are stressed, our brain becomes less sensitive to our leptin hormone. Leptin hormones are the hormones that tell you you are full. If your brain is not responding to your leptin hormone, this may cause you to overeat because you are never given the signal that you are full. Meaning you eat more, you don’t get full, and you may begin to consistently overeat unless you are intentional about your portions and food.  

Elevated cortisol can cause your ghrelin to overreact and always tell you you are full. It can also cause you to have no appetite at all, which can send signals to your body to hold on to the fact that it does have to survive. So, when your brain is less sensitive to your leptin hormone, it can cause weight gain and slow weight loss.

Our bodies are so different, even the way we respond to stress. The amount of stress each person can endure is also individualized. Despite our uniqueness, everyone has a threshold of stress that can affect our cortisol, leptin, and ghrelin response.

How to Stress Less to help weigh less

Now that we know the biological cause of weight gain from stress, how can you fix it? There are actions that you can take daily to lower your stress level and increase your body capability of regulating hormones that cause weight gain.

1. Add soothing or calming activities to your schedule.

When the last time you read a book, took a leisurely walk, meditated, or even had a peaceful 10 minutes? Adding these activities can help alleviate chronic stress.

2. Exercise

It doesn’t always have to be high intensity. Moderate-high intensity exercise has been proven to help people mentally destress. The act of focusing on the task and not worrying about everything going on in your life can be a stress reliever. Try adding exercise that lower your cortisol levels.

Such as:

  • Swimming
  • Cardio
  • Rowing
  • TRX
  • Skating
  • Walking
  • Yoga

3. Get more rest

Sleep is probably the most underrated thing you can do to care for your body. There are so many benefits, but allowing your body adequate time to recover, recharge, and grow daily is essential to reducing chronic stressors. Lack of sleep can increase cortisol, so I recommend trying to get your 6-8 hours daily, if possible. 

Setting up bedtime routines can help. I have found that Now FOODS Nighttime tea is a fantastic addition to my nighttime routine. It sends me off to sleep peacefully without any sedatives, and I feel like I get a restful sleep at night when I have my NOW FOODS Nighttime tea nightly. USE FAITHFUELED for 20% off

Ashwagandha is a balancing ayurvedic herb that supports the relaxation of the body and mind. The Gotu Kola promotes nervous system health, helping ease your body and mind and sleep better. 

4. Add adaptogens to your daily routine.

I discovered adaptogens about a year ago. I didn’t realize some I used regularly, and then I began to research what other adaptogens I could add to my routine to aid my wellness journey. 

Adaptogens are plants and herbs that can help the way your body functions and recover from stress. They have been used for thousands of years and are standard practice in Eastern medicine to ingest adaptogens to aid health. It’s hard to find quality supplements. Now FOODS has a full line of adaptogenic herbs and accessories to help people with their stress levels and health.  

How can you reduce your stress to lose weight?

First of all, don’t stress yourself out, trying to do all the things to reduce stress. Take one thing at a time. Find the easiest thing to adopt, master it, and then work on the next. You’d be surprised how little switches can reduce your stress levels. Maybe start with a cup of tea at night, a leisure walk, a bedtime routine, or eliminate unnecessary stressors that are weighing you down. You can do it, and you will be surprised by the results. Less stress, reduced belly fat, decrease in weight, increase in mood, and better quality of life. So, tell me, where will you begin to reduce the chronic stress in your life?

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1 Comments on “Stress is stalling your Weight Loss Goals”

  1. Pingback: Seven tips to support hormone health ⋆ FaithFueled™ Mom

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