Weight Loss : The Role of Stress

The first thing to consider is that we are more than our physical body. We are physical, we are feeling, we are our thoughts, and we have a connection that is more than our physical experience. And, like every experience we have in life, the idea of weight loss begins in the mind. Where we are now is simply a result of yesterdays thoughts. So, we need to consider what we feed our minds as well as what we feed our bodies.

When you look at your reflection in the mirror what do you see? Do you see the beautiful being that is you, with all your history, experience, highs and lows, and do you offer love and acceptance to that image? Or do you, like most of us just see the flaws, those bits you don’t like, the things you want to change, and walk away feeling less than? Holding onto these  unnecessary emotions and thoughts can prevent us moving forward.

Have you struggled from time to time with losing weight? Tried everything? Yo-yo diets? Fad diets … low carb, high carb, fodmap, Atkins, high protein, ‘keto’ or the latest promise in a tablet… the list goes on!  
Of course, we know that none of these diets really work. Usually if we are ‘on a diet’ we feel like we have to ‘die to get it’!! It’s not usually a great experience, and the feelings it promotes (which is in biological terms how our neurotransmitters function as a result of these thoughts) sends our body messages that shut down certain biological functions which actually make it almost impossible to achieve the weight loss we are so focussed on.

What is stress?
Stress is neither good nor bad. We actually need some stress in our mind-body for growth, escape from danger and motivation. However, when we have prolonged levels of stress without relief however, it becomes a well being issue.

The primary stress hormone is cortisol. Cortisol is incidentally synthesised from cholesterol, so you may notice that during periods of sustained stress your blood cholesterol levels will rise, this is perfectly natural.  Cortisol is made from progesterone, as is oestrogen, so chronic stress may lead to hormonal imbalance in the long term.

Our bodies cannot determine the difference between perceived and real stressors. Think about that. It means that we can experience a response from our sympathetic nervous system in a chronic way which keeps us switched on, our immune system suppressed, our digestive and reproductive functions suppressed, and our body cells from not functioning optimally.

Causes of stress : perception of events in our life, our thoughts,  inflammatory foods such as sugars and grains, not enough movement.

What does stress do?
Cortisol liberates glucose in the body to allow us to deal with stressors (remember that our mind body cannot tell the difference between real or imagined stress). When we experience longterm or chronic stress, this produces high blood glucose levels, which are not fully utilised and therefore stored in the body in our fatty stores.  So, chronic stress keeps us in this loop, increases our appetite especially for sugary foods.

There are a number of herbs and nutrients that can help recreate balance are reduce cortisol, and this varies between person to person. It’s never a one size fits all. Ask me for more details!

Article copyright Minjayati Carina Angelo
This article is taken from a series of workshops on weight loss
given by Minjayati Carina Angelo in Victor Harbor and Port Elliot 2017