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When I work with clients, I sometimes find that food and exercise choices are not the only factors affecting their weight loss goals. I have had clients who were doing everything “right,” but they weren’t seeing results because of the stress in their life.
How does stress affect our metabolism? The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is responsible for both getting the digestive process going and for inhibiting digestion. When we are experiencing stress, the ANS turns digestion off. When we are relaxed, the ANS turns digestion on.
This is actually a survival mechanism, because when we are in a fight or flight state, our body sees this as an emergency situation. Our body doesn’t know the difference between stress caused by work and stress caused by being chased by a bear. In either of these situations, our body is told to hold on to what we’ve got, because it’s not sure when we’ll get our next meal.
Many studies have shown that cortisol production (the stress hormone) is associated with fat accumulation. This is because cortisol signals the body to store fat and not build muscle.
What can you do to reduce stress and your cortisol production? My overall advice is to slow down. In our society we tend to move at a very fast pace. We are often rushing through our day and our meals. Start by taking three deep breaths before you eat. You should notice your whole nervous system slowing down. Then, give yourself adequate time to eat and enjoy your food.
If you are ready to make lasting lifestyle changes for yourself and your family, stop your war with food, and get healthy, Amy Lippmann, Certified Holistic Health Counselor, can help.
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