“Remember this: You are the expert of your body.” ~ Sarah Hackley
Common sense – and science - can tell you that combating stress itself is a more effective tool for managing weight. Hormones released during stress can lead to excess fat storage and slow down your metabolism. Stress can easily have an effect on your relationship with food and exercise, too, so let’s look at some ways to manage both stress and weight.
The first step to managing stress and keeping your weight in check is to focus on better coping techniques:
Change the way you talk to yourself. That little voice in your head can be redirected to become your main cheerleader. Affirmations and positive self-talk work. Be complimentary toward your good actions, and be supportive when you recognize something you would like to upgrade – and then upgrade it!
- Observe your behavior. Take a minute to think through your response to stressful situations. You might say “Hold on for a minute and let me think this through.” Plan proactive ways to reduce the likelihood that a situation will become difficult. Learn new ways to approach everyday stressors. Find something funny about what stresses you and learn to just laugh about it. When you can laugh at any situation, it becomes ludicrous.
- Relax your body. Tensing up, locking your jaw, or restricting your breathing are all subconscious ways of responding to a stressor, but they keep you in a stressed-out mindset long after you’ve planned a fix. Just know that you are intrinsically good, and that if something is there to be resolved, you are the right person for the job. Talk to yourself, and tell yourself “Shoulders, relax now. Neck relax now.” It works!
- Discover your mindfulness activity. Some people clean house or wash their car to clear their minds. Others knit. Find something that relaxes you! But by all means, choose something to do that will keep your hands busy and will allow your mind to continue its stately process.
- Eating fruits and vegetables high in folic acid, iron, and other nutrients will support your immune system and keep your body functioning optimally. Be sure to get enough protein and fiber because they will keep you full and prevent insulin dips, which deplete your energy. A well-balanced fuel source is key to maintaining a healthy emotional state. Four small meals a day with four hours between meals is a great stabilizer.
- Exercise is our natural stress-reliever. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying this fact. Get on your elliptical for only five minutes, and it will lead to more time being spent there. A walk around the block is a great way to blow off steam from an angry reaction. Do a few jumping jacks on your back deck to get all your muscles into action.
When you examine your life routine and you rework it from the inside out, this is the best approach to taking care of yourself in the midst of a jam-packed lifestyle. Finding what works for you will reward you with peace of mind and – ideally – a stabilized dress size. And remember the sandwich of life: part work; part play; part serious thinking; and part restful enjoyment. If you can create this kind of balance, it might sound a whole lot better than your current routine.