We all know that stress can cause havoc on our bodies and minds. It can push us into depression, it can cause us to make poor decisions, it can increase our anxiety levels and it can also wreck our nutritional goals.
For over a month I tried to monitor my calories, increase my cardio, strength train, etc…all to try to get rid of the extra weight I put on while resting my knee. Every 2 days I would weigh myself & every 2 days I would see a frozen scale….not even a half of a pound. It was the definition of insanity. I kept doing all of the things that used to work when I needed to drop some weight and NONE of it was working.
Finally, while on a walk with Cooper (my lab), I had an epiphany! Try something different! It seemed so easy, but a routine is difficult to break. I thought about the basic weight loss equation ‘calories in < calories out’ in order to lose weight. I even dropped my calories down to 1200 (with pretty intense workouts and strength training). My body rejected all of my efforts. There was a MAJOR problem with my efforts and it was cause me to Stress!
My problem was that my equation was not accurate. ‘Calories in < calories out’ does not take into account ANY variables. Although I am not an elite athlete, I still exercise hard and need to repay my body. I sat down and looked at my nutrition. I had been narrowing my focus on calories only and not on any other nutritional information, stress levels or sleep patterns. When I decided to change my game plan….I SAW RESULTS!
The Big Picture:
- Stress can affect the body and your weight goals in different ways. For some people, stress causes over eating. It can also cause a person to crave salty, high carb or high fat foods. Stress can cause a person to feel fatigued with a lack of motivation. This can cause a person to skip exercise and replace it with sedentary activities.
- Chronic stress can also slow your metabolism. Without getting too ‘sciency’, chronic stress can cause an increase in cortisol levels. High levels can slow your metabolism. It can also lead to higher blood sugar levels (metabolic syndrome) and increases fat storage. These are all based on a ‘Fight or Flight’ reaction in the body due to increased stress levels.
- An empty stomach & exercise do not always mean your body will utilize fat storage to get you through your workout. It may just mean that your body will not perform the way you want it to, you may ‘bonk’, you may push your body into a conservation state using less calories in order to save energy. This can be caused by under nourishing your body when you have push it hard.
- Your body wants credit for the efforts it has given! Repay it properly with a balance of carbs, protein & fats, a good nights sleep and relaxation techniques.
- Relax, listen to your body and enjoy the journey. I mean this more than philosophically. Your body talks to you. It tells you what it needs and when it needs it, you just have to listen.
My New Game Plan:
- I exercise 5-6 days a week for only an hour, but I go hard. I also have been trying lots of different things…PureBarre, Indoor Cycling, Outdoor Cycling, Flywheel, HIIT workouts, Total Body Strength & Conditioning, Swimming, Walking, Kickboxing…etc.
- I eat a small but nutritional breakfast as soon as I get up to rev up my metabolism (greek yogurt with low calorie granola, egg sandwich, protein shake). I eat every 2-3 hours while driving around for work (a piece of fruit, small granola bar, crackers/veggies & hummus)
- I watch my portions when I eat out….BUT I EAT OUT! I have a family that likes to eat out, so I choose my food sensibly and watch the portions.
- I repay my body after workouts. As many of your know I do not endorse any supplements or shakes…I think God & Mother Earth made an amazing menu for us to choose from and real food is what was meant to go into our body. That being said, I do now carry some low calorie/low fat whey protein powder that I add 8oz of water to and drink right after a tough workout.
- I am working on slowing down and smelling the roses. My stress level is mainly due to the way I react to a situation. My reaction is my choice!
The journey of life means getting older. It can be a tough journey to accept. The road change directions, turns lead us to new places and we need to adjust. What may have worked in the past may not work anymore. There is a saying that a wise Captain once said:
“You cannot control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.”