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Weight Loss – Is Stress Sabotaging Your Results?

A physician by the name of Hans Selye, also known as the ‘Father of Stress Research’, was once quoted as saying, “It’s not stress that kills us; it is our reaction to it”.

Unless our access to food, shelter and water is compromised, many stresses can provide an excellent opportunity for growth. Without stress, challenges and/or pain there is simply no impetus for change or growth in a human being. Let’s take a simple example of when someone performs a gym exercise. If performed at high intensity, this will cause a painful response in the body. This in turn will lead to a breakdown of tissue. Over time however, if this stress is nurtured and managed correctly, the body will grow stronger and sturdier as a result.

weight loss

Stresses that aren’t managed optimally over the long term can cause a myriad of health issues including:

  • weakened immune system
  • digestive issues
  • low energy
  • depression, anxiety and mood swings
  • poor concentration
  • decreased sex drive
  • weight gain

The last point, weight gain, is a common symptom and can be heart-breaking for dedicated people that are spending hours in the gym for little result. 

It must be understood that at a nervous and hormonal system level, all types of stressors are considered the same. These stresses can summate in the body and need to be managed appropriately to minimise adverse effects.

Let’s look at the six main stressors that can have a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ effect on the body:

1. Physical Stress

The Good: An appropriate level of movement has many beneficial effects on the body. These include strengthening bones and muscles and enhancing mood, which contributes to an optimal metabolic rate and the pumping of water, blood and oxygen to many different parts of the body.

The Bad: Under-exercising can contribute to becoming overweight and sluggish. Paradoxically, over-exercising can also contribute to weight gain if a person’s lifestyle factors are not managed adequately. If the body is in chronic stress or a ‘fight-or-flight’ state, it can accumulate body fat as a survival mechanism because the body thinks it is going into an energy crisis and needs to store excess weight.

2. Chemical Stress

The Good: Our bodies are full of chemicals produced naturally. An example may be our hormonal system which, when performing optimally, allows us to perform at its best. The hormonal system is exceptionally complex and can be likened to a spider web. When the ‘web’ is touched or moved in any way, it can have a ripple effect on all other parts of the web. An excellent example would be our sleep patterns. If our sleep patterns are altered or not optimal, this can have a ripple effect on many other hormones.

The Bad: In today’s society, our bodies can be infiltrated with synthetic chemicals. Examples may include the protocols used for conventionally farmed food, household cleaners and medical drugs.

3. Electromagnetic Stress

The Good: Adequate sunlight is an excellent form of electromagnetic stress. The amount of ideal sunlight varies per individual and has been shown to enhance moods, improve sleep, facilitate healthy bones, boost immunity and lower blood pressure amongst many other benefits.

The Bad: A rising stress in modern times arises from exposure to electromagnetic radiation produced by technology. Examples include mobile phones, computers, wi-fi, microwaves and even your trusty old television. To mitigate this risk, simply making contact with the Earth’s surface can reduce electrical imbalances in the body.

4. Thermal Stress

The Good: Maintaining your body temperature at 37 C (98.6 F) is ideal. Every now  and then, stressing the system can be beneficial to stress and even have some amazing health benefits including weight loss. Common modalities are infrared saunas and cold showers.

The Bad: Exposure to extreme temperatures, especially for a long period of time, can cause significant adverse stress to the body (e.g. burns and hypothermia).

5. Nutrition & Hydration Stress

The Good: Eating high quality (ideally organic) foods with macronutrient ratios suited to your individual needs is optimal. Humans are composed of about 75% water, so drinking adequate amounts of high-quality water is at least equally as important. There is a stress on the body when digesting, metabolising and assimilating nutrition and liquid. If this process were to cease for a prolonged period, the relevant systems in the body would start to shut down (use it or lose it!).

The Bad: Eating poor quality foods with macronutrient proportions not in line with your individual needs can have a direct impact on your weight goals. The foods we consume are HIGHLY influential in what builds our bodies. Consuming inadequate amounts of unpurified water can cause extreme stress to the body as every single function of the body is monitored and pegged to the efficient flow of water.

6. Mental & Emotional Stress

The Good: Living your purpose, working towards goals, having a positive outlook and overcoming adversity are all healthy mental stresses that can all have a SIGNIFICANT influence on your health.

The Bad: Experiencing negative emotions (if utilised correctly) can actually be a gift. However, becoming stuck in those negative emotions can have a significant impact on the construct of our bodies. Techniques to overcome chronic feelings of negativity may be meditation, journal writing and the Emotional Freedom Technique (aka Tapping). It may also be worth engaging with people that have gone through and mastered similar stresses or engaging with a professional with whom you resonate.

A well-respected study shows that a long-term approach to weight loss is successful in approximately 17.3% of individuals. Many approaches merely focus on calorie restriction and excessive exercise. This is not only unsustainable but can potentially be harmful to the body. Healthy weight loss arises from healing oneself from the inside out and managing the above stressors. Do this and you will be on the right path to reaching your health goals!

Author: Mark Varitimos 

References

i) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5915631/

ii) Chek, P. (2004) “How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!”, CHEK Institute

iii) Chek, P. (2007) “The Last 4 Doctors You’ll Ever Need: How to get healthy now!”, CHEK Institute

iv) Batmanghelidj, F.M.D (2008) “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water”, Global Health Solutions, Inc

v) https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo201094

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