Stuck in traffic, traveling for work, late night entertaining clients, taxes are due, and you know it’s the same thing the next morning. This may cause you to sleep less than 7 hours a night and still pushing yourself to the limit with workouts while counting calories. No wonder they say that stress kills!
Do we understand what really goes on in the body when you’re stressed for long periods? Do we understand that stress builds up fat around the mid-section? Do we know it increases cravings for foods rich in fats, sugar and salt? Chronic (long-term) stress like this can be the most damaging to your health. Stress works on your body just like starving does; identifying it as an emergency and responding to it by conserving energy, craving more food, and storing fat.
When chronic stress hangs around (aging, death of loved one, moving, financial strain, work pressure, marriage trouble just to name a few) our bodies produce a significant amount of the hormone cortisol. Even if you are exercising you’ll pack on the pounds, your blood pressure will increase, and your health will be out of whack.
So how does health become a mess with stress?
- Our thinking is impaired
- Bone density is decreased
- Blood vessels are damaged and become brittle.
- Our immune system suffers – Do you have colds and flus often?
- Body fat increases – Cortisol increases appetite. Your body is demanding to replenish nutrient storage but your body does not recognize the difference of mental and physical stress.
So what’s the antidote? Sorry, there is no pill for it….it really is up to YOU. And we all handle it differently. Most of us though, choose food to deal with it. So the best solution is to become more self-aware during stressful situations. Are you craving and eating more salty foods? Is it the sweets or diet cokes? Fatty fast food? Or do we pour ourselves an extra glass of wine?
Exercise is great to relieve stress and you feel great after a workout. The question is: What do you do after a workout? What can you do to keep the stress at bay throughout the day and into the next day?