Can Stress Make You Gain Weight?

Numerous studies have shown that excessive stress is associated with weight gain. Dating back to when our ancestors were wearing animal skins and hunting with spears when the body encountered a fight or flee situation, it released a series of hormones as a response to the situation.

While our fight or flee situation today may be more related to mounting credit card bills or something that happened at work, instead of getting attacked by a wounded Wooly Mammoth, the response by the body is the same.

When your body feels stressed, it releases three hormones – adrenalin, corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), and cortisol designed to give us the energy needed to deal with the stressor. In most people, the effect of adrenalin and CRH is a short-term decrease in appetite. Cortisol on the other hand lasts longer and is designed to replenish our bodies with food after the stressor has passed.

The problem of today is that dealing with our stress does not involve physically expending calories, however, the effect of cortisol is the same – eat after the fight or flee. So eating becomes the relief from the stress. While that response worked well for our ancestors, it leads to weight gain for us today.

For many people, the food they turn to is simple carbohydrates (aka sugar). The body’s response to sugar (a sugar high) is to release insulin (and usually more than it needs). Because insulin is the hormone that allows those calories to be stored as fat in our cells, and we have more of it in our bloodstream than we need at the time, too much sugar is stored resulting in low blood sugar (the crash). Our body recognizes that it needs more sugar … and the cycle continues.

While initially, this is a behavioral response, it can quickly evolve into a learned response, meaning you consciously turn to food in times of excessive stress. So how do you break the effects of stress?

Do the following things:

Exercise – Find an exercise that you enjoy doing. Not only will it burn calories, but it will help control your cortisol level.

Eat right – You can eat small meals throughout the day consisting of foods high in fiber, but low in sugar, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Get enough sleep – Sleep deprivation increases cortisol levels.

Relax – Choose an activity that makes you feel relaxed and calm. It will counter the biochemical effects of stress.

Minimize caffeine and alcohol – These can also raise cortisol levels and can keep you from getting enough sleep.

Try taking multi-vitamins – Stress can deplete essential vitamins, especially the B and C complexes.

While you may not be able to completely control the stressors in your life, you can control how you react to them. Use the information in this article to take control and avoid stress-related weight gain.

Cortisol and Endorphins

Exercise can give you joy? Working out can make you happy? Yes, experts in the fields of fitness, psychiatry, and psychology say there is ample evidence supporting the idea that exercise and physical stimulation cause happiness.

Let’s talk about Cortisol and Endorphins …

The human body is an amazing machine, and it actually rushes to its own rescue when it recognizes the physical stress that comes from exercise.

Cortisol is a hormone your body produces when it recognizes stress in any form. Anger, fear, and anxiety can also produce cortisol in your body. Unfortunately, cortisol buildup causes inflammation and can damage your organs. Exercise uses cortisol as an effective fuel, burning it much faster than it can be replaced.

And no doubt you have heard of the morphine-like endorphins that are released when you strenuously exert yourself. When you take a walk, go for a run, dance, lift weights, practice yoga, or Pilates, these hormone molecules called endorphins act on your brain’s neurons, blocking receptors that send pain signals to other areas of your brain.

And on top of that, some researchers have said that endorphins are more naturally and powerfully able to create feelings of happiness and joy than harmful drugs like opium and morphine.

How Getting Fit Can Make You Happier

Did you know that getting fit and in shape can actually make you happier? Chronic depression is combated with regular exercise, and aside from helping you return to your natural body weight, regular exercise and other fitness activities are great for your heart and your circulation.

Most fitness experts will tell you that a brief and brisk half-hour walk immediately makes you more alert. And intense physical activity of any kind actually stimulates certain brain chemicals which cause you to feel happier and more at peace.

Of course, there are the self-esteem benefits that make you feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror and see how all your hard work is paying off. The key to becoming happier is regular exercise and dedication to your fitness goals. This includes ensuring you are drinking lots of water throughout the day, and changing your lifestyle to include a healthy diet.

WebMD is one of the most respected healthcare websites on the entire Internet. They explain just how getting fit can make you happier, and it all has to do with chemicals called endorphins. These wonderful little natural mood boosters actually talk to your brain and help reduce your perception of pain.

And these endorphins are released in great quantities when you exercise for an extended period of time. Have you ever experienced a euphoric feeling after an intense workout? Long-distance runners call it the “runner’s high”. This is due to the massive release of endorphins in your body, which drastically and quickly cause a happier and healthier outlook.

Produced in your spinal cord, brain, and other parts of your body, these chemical good guys also act as sedatives. However, unlike chemical sedatives such as morphine, there is no unhealthy addiction or dependence created when your body is flooded with these miraculous stress relievers.

WebMD researchers go on to explain that regular exercise of even mild intensity levels promotes positive self-esteem, can erase feelings of depression, is great for lowering anxiety and reducing stress and can even improve your sleep patterns.

Your outlook on life is always better when you feel good about yourself, and the chemical process already hardwired into your physical makeup ensures that you feel happy and energized after a workout.

You knew that getting fit and losing weight would help your heart, lower your blood pressure, and improve your strength and body tone. But now that you understand your body is chemically aligned to make you happier when you exercise, you have just one more great reason to start a regular fitness program.

Simple Lifestyle Tweaks to Help You Drop Some Weight

Sometimes the simplest changes in lifestyle can make a big difference. Here are a few easy lifestyle tweaks that make a big difference individually, but have synergistic effects when paired together.

Keep a food journal

Many times being overweight is a case of not realizing how much (or what) a person eats in a day. Writing down everything puts it in perspective. According to a recent study, people who kept a food journal lost twice as much weight as those who did not – on average 13 pounds in 6 months.

Eat healthy food

Not only does eating junk or unhealthy food pack on the calories, but it is also high in saturated and trans fat – both of which are bad for your health and lead to some serious health issues. Instead, opt for more fresh vegetables, whole grain, and lean meats. Not only will it reduce the number of calories consumed, but reduce the bad fats. If at all possible, refrain from eating processed fast food and opt for a healthy bag lunch that you prepare at home.

Get more exercise

It’s so easy to do without adding hardly any more time to your day. For example, instead of parking close to the store, park at the far end of the parking lot and walk in the rest of the way. If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two before your normal stop, and walk to your destination. Once inside the building, take the stairs (at least partway up) instead of the elevator. During your lunch break, take a walk, returning with enough time left to eat your healthy bag lunch.

Another way to sneak in exercise is to only watch your favorite Netflix series while you are exercising. It will prevent you from binge-watching and possibly avoiding lounging in bed or your couch for an entire day. This is great for short episodes (30 min long episodes) – you get your work out in while you indulge yourself getting caught up in your favorite show. Another way is to listen to your favorite podcast or an audiobook while you are working out or walking/running. You burn some calories while you get absorbed in your favorite podcast or audiobook.

Wear a fitness tracker

Counting the number of steps taken during the day raises your exercise awareness. When you have that information at hand, you’ll find yourself comparing how many steps you have taken to your daily goal and put in the extra effort to reach your goal. In a recent study, people who walked only 2,500 steps more per day than the control group, burnt off the equivalent of 10 pounds over a the one-year study.

Get enough sleep

In another study, participants were asked to sleep 10 hours a night for two nights, followed by five nights of less sleep and four nights of recovery. The results? After 11 days, the study group had gained almost 3 pounds each compared to the well-rested control group.

All of these lifestyle tweaks are easy to implement. Once they have established habits, and you start to see weight loss results, you’ll wonder why you had not started doing them sooner.

What Causes of Excess Belly Fat

Most of us have belly fat to some extent or another. However, when it gets excessive, it can begin to cause health issues; some can be serious or even deadly. So to keep from getting too much belly fat, you have to know what causes it. Here are three main causes of excess belly fat:

Bad Genes

I listed genetics first because it is the hardest to control. If you are predisposed to accumulate belly fat based on your DNA structure, all you can do is try to control it the best you can through healthy eating and exercising. It will mean that you will have to work a little harder than other people to see the same results, but it can be done through diligence and dedication.

Poor Diet

Today, most people do not eat properly by choice. We rely too heavily on processed and fast food, both of which are not good for us.

Instead, we should focus on a high protein/low carb diet by mainly eating these foods:

  • fresh fruits like berries, apples, melons, and peaches
  • fresh vegetables like asparagus, cauliflower, cucumbers, and broccoli
  • whole grains – whole wheat, oats, brown rice, and quinoa
  • lean protein – chicken, turkey, tuna, fish, eggs, and lean cuts of meat

The type of food we eat is not the only reason we get fat; how much we eat (i.e. portion control) is also important. One trick many people use is to put food on a smaller plate. It tricks your mind into thinking you ate more than you did. Remember these four simple rules of thumb when it comes to portion control size:

  • 3-4 ounces of lean meat = 1 palm
  • 1 serving of carbs = 1 cupped hand
  • 1 cup of vegetables = a fist

Lack of Exercise

Not only is a poor diet the cause of us gaining excess belly fat; a sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor also. When combined with a diet that relies heavily on processed and fast food – both high in saturated fat and calories – your body will store the extra calories it does not need as fat. In many people, that fat gets stored as belly fat – the worst kind of fat.

Fortunately, belly fat is one of the first fats to burn off once you start exercising. Just 30 minutes a day of vigorous activity, such as walking, running, or swimming (and eating healthy) will start burning off excess belly fat. Done diligently, you should start to see results in two weeks.

Because excess belly fat is so dangerous, it is imperative that you start eating healthy and exercising. As in other types of weight loss, it comes down to burning more calories than you take in over a period of time; burn 3,500 more calories per week than you eat, you will lose a pound. Eventually, healthy eating and exercising will become part of your lifestyle and you won’t think twice about it.

Why Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain

Is there really a connection between lack of sleep and weight gain? Are we talking about getting up during the middle of the night to eat and thereby losing out on sleep? If not, so what is the connection between the two?

Actually, lack of sleep can cause many health-related issues of which weight gain is just one. And there are two main reasons for it: sleep deprivation and bad food choices because of the alteration of appetite due to a shift in hormones.

Sleep deprivation

When sleep deprived, the body’s metabolism system doesn’t work right, so it is not burning calories as efficiently as it could. Research has shown the issue seems to come from a change in glucose tolerance or the body’s ability to turn food into glucose and get it to the cells where it can be used for energy. Being sleep deprived, glucose tolerance can diminish as much as 40%. If calories are not being processed, they are stored as fat, leading to weight gain.

Bad food choices

The other part is the bad food choices we make when sleep deprived. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation causes an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which controls our appetite and a decrease in leptin, which tells us when we are full.

Sleepily we grab a cup of coffee or two … or three, along with a donut for some quick energy. That sugar rush caused by the sugar in the donut and in your coffee, if you added some, soon wears off and before long you are back looking for more food.

The issue is you are not looking for carrots or even apple slices with peanut butter – something that would be good for you – no, you are back for another donut or something that will give you the sugar rush again, has a lot of calories, and absolutely no nutritional value. The long-term result of this eating behavior is weight gain, even to the point of obesity. Typically, those that are sleep-deprived eat about 300 calories per day more than when they are rested. In a week, that is a pound of weight gain just from not getting enough sleep. Fifty-two weeks, fifty-two pounds!

And it wouldn’t be as bad … but still not good, if you hit the gym sometime during the day to burn off as many of those calories as you could, but being sleep deprived, you are too tired to exercise, so the weight just keep piling on.

A typical adult needs at least 8 hours of quality sleep per night to avoid sleep deprivation and the change in hormones. Between the combination of taking in more calories and the body’s ability to efficiently burn them altered (coupled with a lack of exercise due to tiredness) the end result is weight gain – and in some cases, a lot of it.

Set Yourself Up For Success – How To Stick To Your Ideal Weight Goals

Setting goals to meet your ideal weight is great, but the hard part is sticking to the plan and reaching your final goal. Today I want to share 5 tips with you that will set you up for success. Ready to learn how to stick to your weight loss goals? Here we go.

Use Visualization

Visualization is a powerful tool. Close your eyes and picture yourself at your ideal weight. How do you look? How does it feel? How will you feel being able to run around the park with the kids or climbing up those stairs without running out of breath? Paint a clear picture in your mind of the lean you. Make it a habit to visualize this slim and healthy version of yourself daily.

Create Accountability

Sometimes it’s just a little too easy to make bad choices. That chocolate cookie won’t hurt, and it’s not that big of a deal to skip a workout. Before you know it the whole plate of cookies is gone and you haven’t been out to walk for over a week. Accountability will help you keep on track. Find someone to whom you can be accountable. If this sounds a little too intimidating or just isn’t your thing, consider keeping a journal. Just knowing that you’ll have to write down that piece of cheesecake is enough motivation to pick an apple instead.

Make It Attainable

You want to push yourself, but you also want to make sure they are actually reachable. Setting a huge goal like losing 30 pounds can seem almost insurmountable. Instead, start with a smaller goal like losing 10 pounds over the next 3 months. Then set another 10-pound goal and repeat until you reach your weight goal.

Take Breaks

If you have attainable goals and some accountability in place, it’s ok to take a little break every once in a while. Take a break from your workout. In fact, except for low impact exercise like going for a walk, you don’t want to overdo it. 3 to 5 days doing your workout of choice is plenty. And it’s ok to have a piece of birthday cake on occasion. Just make sure you work on getting exercise and eating healthy 90% of the time.

Create Good Habits

Which brings us to another great tip. Use this time to work on creating healthy habits. Make going for that daily walk part of your new lifestyle. Make eating three healthy meals a family habit. It set you up for success now. Healthy habits will also help you stay at your ideal weight long after you’ve reached your goal.


Hitting your ideal weight is hard work. Don’t forget to celebrate each success. If you made it out for a 30-minute walk each day this week, celebrate with a mini-movie marathon. Did you lose your first 5 pounds? Take yourself out to get your nails done or treat yourself to a cute new top. Reward yourself for each success and milestone reached.

Listen to your body

Listen to your body …This is the picture that made me cry 10 years ago… the moment that realty struck and it felt like I needed to do something about my health. For most of my photos back then, I would always crop my body out and just leave my upper body. I would always be hiding behind someone or had something in front of me to cover my dreaded truth. Pictures don’t lie and yes … the TRUTH hurts.

Truth: Having a conversation about your health is difficult for most people. It’s something that you most likely would not like to get into (even if it’s a conversation with yourself). Why is that? Maybe because more often than not, we are in denial about how our health and fitness condition is during the present time. Like … I don’t know if you know my story . But, years ago, when my children were younger, my FOCUS was them … I hardly took a moment to think about me. Because of this, even if I knew I was unhealthy – I was in denial. I was tired most of the time. I felt unhappy. My knees and hips hurt. I was not in a good place. Although my “life” looked happy … I was aching inside (physically and emotionally). 10 years ago … it was the holidays (I can remember clearly) – I was going through holiday family photos and it was right there in front of me (silently screaming) – I was HUGE, I was a mess! I couldn’t believe that I let myself go. I asked my hubby why he never told me I was BIG. He just smiled at me politely and reminded me that he kept on asking me when I was going to start exercising. That was his gentle way of telling me that I needed to work on myself.

Staring at the holiday photo made me cry … like really cry. I was disappointed because I just stopped taking care of my body. That was my turning point.If you think that it only happens to some people – perhaps you are in denial too. Stop now, take a picture of yourself and really look. Pay attention. LISTEN to your body. Have you gained a few pounds and inches (especially around the mid section)? Do your knees /hips hurt? It can still hurt even if you did not gain weight. Do you feel tired all the time? If you have been telling yourself that it’s all because you are getting old … think again. A lot of how you are feeling is because perhaps, you too have neglected to take care of yourself. It’s OK. Now that you recognize it, it’s time to work on “YOU”.

Perhaps your knees and hips hurt cause you gained some weight. Perhaps your body aches because the foods you eat make your joints hurt. Perhaps, you need to work on your nutrition and you probably need to move your body a little bit more. Perhaps you feel tired all day cause you don’t get enough sleep. Perhaps it’s time to work on yourself … if you take care of your family …. how can you take care of them if you are feeling “blah” yourself?

It is overwhelming – especially when you don’t know where to begin. My hope for you is that you take a step to better your health. If you are not comfortable talking to me or anyone else – the least you can do is educate yourself – do some research. If you feel like you can relate to me – reach out to me. If you need some guidance or hand holding – I am here to listen, I am here to help. It took me a while to lose the weight …. It’s a long journey but you know what … it’s doable. You just need to take the first step – let me know when you are ready.

What is the BEST workout and DIET?

What is the BEST workout to help someone lose weight?What is the BEST diet to help someone lose some inches?

These are a couple of questions that people ask all the time.My answer is …. there is NO BEST workout or diet. Everyone has their own preference of ways to move and exercise and everyone has their own preference in foods that they like to eat. What matters the most is this … which workout or exercise are you willing to do CONSISTENTLY? What foods are you willing to eat/not eat CONSISTENTLY?CONSISTENCY is the key.

You can try all the workouts (specially trendy ones) out there … but if you are only going to do it once, or twice – it really is not a WIN. Same goes for diets – you can try PALEO, KETO, LOW CARB … but if it makes you want to cheat after one or two days – that’s no bueno. Find something that you like that you can stick with – then you can see results.

Do you eat clean?

Clean eating focuses on natural, mostly unprocessed foods. The focus with clean eating is on fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains in their most natural, unprocessed form.Instead of eating pizza, pasta, bread and fried chicken, a clean diet consists of meals like steamed broccoli and grilled chicken, omelets, homemade chili or steak, baked potato and a side salad. In essence, it’s going back to how we used to eat before there was a fast food restaurant at every corner and grocery stores packed with processed foods and meals ready to heat and serve.

The idea behind clean eating is to get back to consuming fresh, mainly unprocessed foods that contain their full nutritional value. As an added bonus they aren’t stuffed full of preservatives, additives and flavor enhancers. The main reason for choosing to stick to a clean eating is to eat healthier.How “clean” you eat is up to you. Some proponents of this way of eating insist that you should only consume completely unprocessed foods. Others are comfortable enjoying things like butter, cheese, cured meats and cultivated vegetables like Sauerkraut.

How far you take it is up to you. Even cleaning up your current eating habit just a little by cutting out fast food burgers and creating freezer meals will help.Fill up your plate with plenty of raw or cooked vegetables. Cook up some rice or bake a potato and round it all up with a little fruit and cheese for dessert. Find a couple of go-to meals you like and build your weekly meals around those dishes.It’s hard to find healthy snacks that fit clean eating while you’re out and about. Keep some fresh and dried fruit along with some seeds and nuts handy for emergency snacking.

When it comes to drinks, water and herbal teas are your best friend. Black coffee is another good choice. Just be careful about adding sweeteners and creamers.It may take you a little while to get used to the “real” taste of food after eating foods that are laden with sugar, salt and flavor enhancers. Once your taste buds adjust, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how delicious real food is. And your body will thank you for the change to clean eating as well.