Are Your Everyday Stressors Making You Fat?

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The typical American is chronically stressed in ways that they may not realize. What does it take to trigger your adrenal glands to secrete cortisol, the stress hormone, into your system? 

Say you set the alarm for 6:00 am, (because you can’t wake up without it), that’s your first hit of stress.  Next you stumble to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee, that’s your second hit.  Then you get into your car and proceed to battle traffic to get to work, POW, more cortisol.  Once at work, your boss is on your case about a report he wanted yesterday that you are frantically finishing up.  All of the frustrations, arguments or rushing around at work add to your load of cortisol.  Lunch of McDonalds latest delight eaten at your desk adds nutritional stress to the picture.  Let’s not forget the Red Bull to keep you going at 3:00 pm, which triggers a flood of cortisol.  The drive home adds to your stress, as does whatever “situation” awaits you at home.  The final overdose of cortisol comes as you stay awake under artificial light, (not sunlight), until midnight.

All of that cortisol in your system keeps you from burning fat for energy and also sets you up for metabolic syndrome and diabetes because cortisol causes an increase in blood sugar and therefore insulin to carry the excess sugar out of the blood and into your cells for usable energy. 

Once your cells are full, which happens very quickly, the excess glucose gets stored as fat.  Meanwhile, the more your overworked pancreas pumps out insulin, the more your cells become insulin resistant. 

As your blood sugar lowers from the insulin, your body begins to crave more sugar to come back to a stable level.  Not only that, but cortisol also suppresses leptin, the hormone that signals your brain that you are full, so now you are eating sugary processed carbohydrates because every cell in your body is screaming for them, and you have no shut off valve. 

As the cycle of stress, low blood sugar, then binging on sugary carbohydrates continues you get fatter and fatter, typically around the middle. 

Here are some suggestions to break that cycle of stress=fat:

*  Get to bed as close to 10:00 pm as possible.  As in lights out, not with a computer on your lap.

*  If you need coffee in the morning, make sure it's organic, and stick to one cup.  Better yet switch to green tea for some energy in the morning.

*  Eating some protein in the morning will also help keep your blood sugar level and avoid cortisol spikes.

*  Take some nuts and veggies to work as an alternative to whatever highly processed sweet is in the break room.

*  Give ourself time in the morning so your drive won't be panicked.

*  Take short 5 minute breaks during the day to breathe and smile.

*  If your drive home is in heavy traffic, accept it and listen to a book on tape, classical music, or whatever puts you at ease.

*  Practice patience at the end of the day when dealing with family members.  They've had "a day" as well.  Compassion and gratitude when shared will be returned.

For one-on-one help managing stress and weight gain, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

Why Am I Tired, Fat & Sick?

It could be because you are suffering from silent inflammation.  Most people know they are inflamed when they have a sore throat or a rash, but silent inflammation brought on by poor nutrition, food reactions, stress, allergens, toxins and infections is not so obvious. 

Because inflammation is the beginning of any disease process, it is vital to reduce chronic inflammation wherever you can. 

One area where silent inflammation affects millions of people is in the gut.  Stress, over consumption of sugar, trans fats, antibiotics, lack of fiber, and even pharmaceuticalanti-inflammatories can damage the lining of your gut resulting in leaky gut syndrome. 

This is characterized by increased permeability of a membrane whose job it is to selectively allow nutrients into, and keep toxins out of your system.  When partially undigested food particles “leak” into the bloodstream they signal the immune system to launch a full-scale inflammatory response. 

As a result you feel fatigued, bloated and achy.  This is your “silent” inflammation screaming out to you, “something is wrong, pay attention!”   But you are so used to feeling lousy that you just ignore it.  This could be a big mistake.

Chronic inflammation floods your system with cortisol, the stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands.  Elevated cortisol slows the burning of fat, promotes fat storage, (especially around the middle), decreases thyroid function, causes blood sugar imbalances, and suppresses the immune system.  This is why you are feeling tired, fat and sick. 

You will be amazed at how great you can feel when you get out of a chronically inflamed state. 

An anti-inflammatory lifestyle includes eating a diet of whole, high fiber foods like fresh organic vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes for carbohydrates, high quality organic grass-fed meats, whole organic eggs, and wild caught fatty fish like salmon for protein, healthy fats like organic virgin coconut and olive oils, organic nuts and seeds and the heavenly avocado. 

Remember, sugar, trans fats, refined and processed foods are PRO-INFLAMMATORY.

Also, you will want to be involved in a regular exercise program, sleep at least eight hours a night and manage your stress. 

Anti-inflammatory supplements include high quality fish oil for omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics for healthy gut flora and immune system support, and most of us over the age of 35 would benefit from digestive enzymes to help with complete digestion of nutrients. 

These are the bare minimums.  Everyone needs their own personalized plan.  Feeling overwhelmed?  This is where a I can help.

Contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

Fit For Fat

Exercising at the correct intensity for your level of fitness and stress is very beneficial.  However, over-exercising pushes you to the point of diminishing returns.

Exercise makes you stronger by first stressing the body and breaking it down.  With adequate rest and balanced nutrition the body recovers and adapts by becoming stronger.

If you are over-exercising, your efforts at becoming fit could actually be making you fat.

What is over-exercising?  

Is it working out until you puke, or so that you can barely move the next day, or exercising intensely for hours at a time, or never take a day off?  Yes, it is all of those things.   However, if you are not already moderately fit, it could take a lot less than that to over do it.

The sad reality is that many Americans are in a state of constant stress in their day to day lives, which means that they are breaking their bodies down on a regular basis without fully recovering from life itself.  For those individuals even climbing a flight of stairs could be over-exercising.  

Those folks are constantly under physical stress and therefore swimming in the stress hormone cortisol. 

Cortisol encourages body fat storage and inhibits fat burning.  Probably not what you are hoping to accomplish with your workouts.  Further, cortisol causes carbohydrate cravings that invariably lead to weight gain.  

As a health club owner, I found that many of my members believed that if they worked out hard every day they would get stronger.  The reality is that your body becomes stronger and leaner during the recovery from exercise, not during the workout itself.  By over-exercising your body never gets a chance to recover and is therefore constantly breaking down.  

Not only is this counter productive, but it ages you, and causes muscle degradation that can lead to injury.  

Another consequence of breaking your system down is that it drains your body of its serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter.  Low serotonin can lead to depression and most certainly more carbohydrate cravings in your body’s attempt to replenish its serotonin stores.

Over-exercise can also cause insomnia, hindering the body’s ability to burn fat as well as leaving you too tired to exercise. 

How can you make your fitness routine work for you not against you?

Once you have your stress managed and are eating a healthy balanced nutritious diet, then you are ready to take on the extra stress of exercise.  

To achieve a fit, lean physique you don’t need to spend more than 45min. to 1 hr. in the gym, working at a moderately high intensity doing weight resistance training, 3 days a week.  

On other days you could enjoy cardiovascular exercises like cycling, hiking or swimming.  Incorporate stretching wherever you can, and for heaven’s sake get some rest.  

For guidance and support with a personalized exercise program contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.