- Do you struggle to fall asleep or do you wake up frequently during the night?
- Are you constantly “on the go”?
- Are you holding a bit of belly fat?
- Do you struggle to lose body fat?
- Do you struggle to calm down from stressful events?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions working on decreasing your stress levels may be the solution to your problem.
Don’t underestimate the impact stress can have on your body.
Often we are highly stressed without even realising because stress can be:
- physiological (injury/ gut issues…)
- work stress
- relationship stress
Every day there are all these things we need to do, people and issues we have to deal with and we just keep pushing on until we hit a wall.
The question is: How can we remain balanced and keep our stress levels at bay?
What do we need to do to achieve our fat loss result or cut down on belly fat?
What does stress actually do?
Stress is a vicious cycle that when chronic can harm us dramatically.
I find most people go through the cycle of being stressed (for example with work) and this is why they are not sleeping well which leads to inflammation in the body that causes high levels of stress the next day which in turn decreases the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and glucose (which basically means you are going to gain body fat or be stuck where you currently are).
Going through this over and over again we start to feel tired, our adrenals are most likely suffering, you may experience chronic fatigue symptoms or weight gain especially around the mid section.
Stress can also:
- trigger sugar cravings by activating parts of the brain that make you crave pleasurable foods (and therefore inhibiting your ability to make good food choices)
- run havoc on your hormones
The end goal of stress management is to repair your hormones for optimal health on a daily basis
Here are some:
- Key strategies to lower daily stress levels
- Key strategies to cut down on belly fat and improve your body’s ability to lose body fat
- Key strategies to lower digestive/ or physiological stress through nutrition
1.) Write down your top 3 stressors in your daily life? (Work, relationship, family, digestion…)
2.) Be aware of your key stressors to take action!
3.) To cut down on belly fat:
- work on your top 3 stressors
- weight train because it helps your muscles/ cells to be more responsive to sugar in the blood and therefore it will be easier for you to cut down on belly fat
- avoid carbs before training
- avoid/ limit refined carbs
- you do need carbs when you want to cut down on belly fat but choose wet starches like rice and pumpkin as an example. Eat them after training and for dinner on your non training days which will help you sleep better too (a low carb diet can potentially increase your stress levels too)
- Aim for regular meals and don’t fast/ leave too big gaps between meals because this elevates cortisol (stress hormone) and makes you store belly fat for more available energy when in need
- eat a diet based on good quality proteins (ideally protein with every meal)
Improve your digestion/ gut health:
- take a fish oil and Vitamic C supplement
- add gut health promoting foods with your meals such as: yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi or other fermented veggies, miso
- take a probiotic
- be aware of foods that you may be intolerant to
- eat a wholefood diet and avoid processed foods
4.) Sleep: To be able to sleep your body releases melatonin. If you experience very high stress levels melatonin is reduced. The less melatonin is released the less sleep you will get.
Again: work on managing your top 3 stressors. Cutting down (out) on caffeine, alcohol and other stimulants can help you sleep better. Try blackout curtains, unplugging electronics pre bed, turn off your cell phone and avoid TV, bright light and looking at your phone before going to sleep.
5.) Work stress:
- How do you perceive/ deal with difficult/ stressful situations? Create a third person perspective on the situation. This helps you analyse what is going on rather than being the centre of chaos. Work on your reaction to the stress. It is your choice now how to react. Know that being stressed or anxious is not helping you to solve the issue. Take a few deep breaths and work out a strategy to solve the problem while remaining calm. This requires practice and doesn’t happen overnight.
6.) Family/ relationship or emotional stress:
- Take responsibility and action for the stress you are experiencing. Identify potential emotional stressors and work on resolving them by focussing on a positive mindset/ outlook on life and taking action. If you feel stuck reach out for help to solve the issue.
7.) Me time:
- Put “Me time” on your daily “to do” list even if it is just 5min before bed. Time that you spend with yourself only, time to unwind and recharge. This needs to happen daily and not once a week or once a month to take an effect.
Here are some ideas what you could try for “me time”:
- meditation (you don’t have to go to a meditation class, you can sit back in your chair for 5 min. or spend 5min. minimum meditating before you go to bed)
- green tea (drink green tea daily and eat a diet high in antioxidants)
- short leisurely walks (especially in the evening)
- watching a comedy
- taking a bath
Is it always going to be easy not to be stressed? Of course not.
We are all going through less or more stressful times in life. But it is up to each of us how to deal with these stressors & our ability to cope and take action so the stress only lasts for a short period of time rather than becoming chronic.
Work on a positive mindset and take action for a more balanced daily life for wellbeing and results.