After a recent episode on the stress response triggered by caffeine, I received a number of emails about cortisol, adrenal fatigue and if the stress in our lives contributes to weight gain or trouble losing weight.
Today we’re going to answer the questions.
The short answer is this: Yes, the stress you create is keeping you fat and much of the stress we experience is stress we manufacture.
We’ll talk about adrenal fatigue, chronic stress & what you can do about it.
Your Stress Response
We need to have a better understanding of what triggers a stress response. We tend to think about stress as emotional stress but it’s far more than that.
Much of the stress in our lives is stress we manufacture:
- Getting worked up over traffic or misplacing our keys
- Creating anxiety over future worries that may or may not ever pose an issue
- Fixating on past challenges or regrets
- Over-extending ourselves
- Not getting enough sleep
- Eating foods which trigger our stress responses
Stress can be caused by thoughts, emotions, injury, illness, exercise, food, fatigue & much more.
When your stress response is on overdrive it can lead to:
- Decreased metabolic rate
- Increased fat storage
- Increased hunger
- Muscle burning
- Trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep
Your adrenal glands, though small, are a significant part of your health, happiness & ability to burn fat. You’ve got two of them and each one sits on top of your kidney, like a cap.
In response to stress of any kind, your brain instructs the adrenal glands to produce & secrete stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
Think about it like a fire alarm. The first time you pull the alarm, you react! The fire department reacts. The alarm stands out and an appropriate response ensues.
But what happens if that alarm goes off every single day? Or worse, if it is constantly sounding?
You don’t react to it the same way, the fire department certainly doesn’t either and eventually the batteries will die.
When we have constant stressors triggering the alarms in our bodies, these adrenal glands wear out. They get tired. They’re constantly pumping out stress hormones. They’re both exhausted and less effective.
This means that not only are you feeling constantly exhausted and on edge, your body is unable to respond to true issues like injury & illness.
It creates systemic hormonal chaos and is a strong precursor to injury, disease and depression.
How To Make A Change
Adrenal fatigue is absolutely something you can improve. Even if you aren’t struggling with full-blown adrenal fatigue, you can benefit from minimizing stress and improving your response to stressful things.
- Practice perspective. Losing your keys, getting stuck in traffic or your computer giving you an error message are not worth pulling the fire alarm of your stress response system.
- Prioritize sleep. If you can’t increase the quantity of your sleep, you must improve the quality. Here’s a podcast I did on how you can improve the quality of your sleep.
- Avoid or minimize foods which trigger your stress response. These include sugar, processed foods, toxins, caffeine, alcohol and any food to which you have a sensitivity.
- Practice meditation or breathing exercises.
- Laugh and smile more. Seek out people & things that make you feel happiness & levity. It doesn’t matter if it’s weird cat videos or quality time with people you enjoy. Decide to laugh & smile more often.
- Get a massage, have an orgasm or go for a nice walk. Or, go for the trifecta.
The Power of Concentration by Theron Q. Dumont
Breaking Barriers – Overcoming Emotional Eating & Self-Limiting Beliefs
April 19th 2016 Motivation Workshop (free & live)