I don’t know about you, but my life’s crazy!! I work hard all day, leave the office after a day of meetings, juggling decisions and putting out fires. Perhaps your day’s mirror mine or perhaps you send the kiddos off to school, run the household, run errands, manage everyone’s schedule with soccer, band and piano and then scurry home for homework and bedtime. Life is crazy…and then comes the weekend when it’s time to slip on the sexy, skinny jeans and kick-back with family and friends, without any muffins following us!
I’ll get back to the muffins. By now you KNOW the importance of exercise, or at least you have heard it pounded into you. You and I have both read the magazine articles, listened to the news or may even have a parent or friend who has suffered illness and complications due to lack of exercise and poor nutrition… …So we hit the gym. Hour after hour of grueling aerobic exercise, followed by strength training, ab work, stretching, and then it’s home for dinner, a real dinner (nothing out of a box, right?).
All this work, the exercising and watching what you eat, juggling the crazy schedule and now, whew, it’s the end of the week or the month or just before your big trip and for some reason when you pull up your favorite pair of sexy, skinny jeans they no longer fit. You stepped into your jeans, one leg at a time, the same as you did last time, but this time you had to pull each leg up and then you almost didn’t get the button to meet the buttonhole and had to resort to lying on the bed while you desperately sucked in your stomach. Still lying on the bed, you manage to zip up the zipper, but when you stand up there it is….the dreaded muffin top. What?!?!?
This is a scenario replayed daily around the world and the same words of distress I hear from ladies around the world. “I’ve spent tons and tons of time at the gym feel like I am eating all the right foods, and still gained weight, I don’t understand.”
A simple six-letter is often at the root of it all and we cannot even see it! What’s the culprit of this counterintuitive result—a word we brush off almost all the time, STRESS.
As human beings, we are faced with situations that trigger the stress response daily. For you it may be traffic as you head to school drop off, for me rushing to meet the piling deadlines that cross my desk. In America concerns about money, work and the economy rank as the top sources triggering our daily stress response.
Our body’s reaction to stress allows us to respond quickly. It’s a natural response and one our ancestors needed to stay away from the leering jaws of a saber tooth tiger, the fight-or-flight response you may have learned about in middle school. Yet our body is amazing, it doesn’t discriminate between the leering tigers of our past or the traffic jams and work deadlines of today, rather it works around the clock to protect us from harm in whatever form it crosses our path.
Our body’s Autonomous Nervous Systems can either ramp up in response to stress (sympathetic system), or slow it down to recover from the stress (parasympathetic system). When there is a balance between them and we are combining consistent exercise with clean nutrition fat loss ignites. However, when we are out of balance, our body’s respond to protect us, stalling weight loss or in some instances causes weight gain and undermining the hard work we’ve put in at the gym an in our meal planning.
And stress doesn’t stop with weight gain, over time the repeated activation of our sympathetic system (stress) begins to wear out our body, ultimately causing brain changes that contribute to anxiety, depression and addiction. Chronic stress may also contribute to obesity by direct mechanisms (causing people to eat) or indirectly (decreasing sleep and exercise).
So, how do we reclaim confidence in our sexy, skinny jeans?
Arm yourself so when you experience high-stress days or moments you are ready.
- Close your eyes (not if you are driving of course) and breathe, just breath. Try a deep belly breath and focus on a soothing word (I use the words as love, peace or calm) for the next 60 seconds. I promise you will instantly feel a difference.
- Jump up and move. Taking a brisk walk around the block or from one office floor to another and let your mind drift to what you are most grateful for in this moment. Is it the feeling of strong legs moving your body forward or the nice “hello” your coworker shared with you this morning?
Taking movement to the next level you may enjoy trying yoga, tai chi or qi gong all of these practices combine fluid movements with deep breathing and mental focus. Find a quiet spot in your house or close the door to your office and do 5 minutes of yoga moves or hit the studio after work for a full session.
- Phone a girlfriend and set a date to connect. We are social creators and enjoy, actually thrive on, close relationships with family and friends. The emotional support we get in connecting with others sustain us at times of stress and crisis. So find take out your phone and set a date.
- Set your bedtime and stick to it. The parasympathetic system, the system that helps your body recover from stress, does most of it heavy lifting during sleep. When you get a full night of sleep you will wake up instantly de-stressed and ready to tackle the day.
- Tie your shoes BEFORE you brush your teeth! Get up and get out the door for your workout first thing in the morning, before your hectic day begins and well before your mind starts with the excuses.
Combining these stress busting tips strength training and good nutrition, will have you slipping effortlessly back into those skinny jeans in no time. And get ready…for more tips of food, sex and life for YOU the modern woman, get set for the launch of the FLS Modern podcast coming winter 2016!!
- Wallis, Dain, “Are Your Workouts Making You Fat?”, BodyIO http://body.io/workouts-making-fat/
- Wikipedia, “Slow Wave Sleep” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow-wave_sleep
- Harvard Mental Health Letter, “Understanding the Stress Response”, Harvard Health Publications, http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response
- Sunao Uchida, Kohei Shioda, Yuko Morita, Chie Kubota, Masashi Ganeko, and Noriko Takeda, “Exercise Effects on Sleep Physiology”, Frontiers in Neurology, April 2, 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3317043/