Most fitness professionals when tacking weight loss only see calories in and calories out. It's a simple way of seeing what people consume and what they burn off. It's right, but there are so many other factors that play a role in weight loss and weight maintenance.
One of the most overlooked factors in weight loss is stress. Yes, stress. We're all stressed on different levels. Some people have long working hours, others are going through family issues - the list goes on.
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Stress can make you feel hungry. The result? More calories consumed. In addition to that, stress makes your body produce more cortisol, and in high levels this creates havoc and affects how we process and store energy. There are hundreds of clinical papers and studies linking stress with increased fat around organs.
The problem is that if you add high intensity exercise to a stressed person, the cortisol hormone that's released during stressful situations will go even higher. The result will be even higher stress levels and more fat stored as energy. The solution here is to aim for the opposite of stress - relaxation and balance. And the good news? There are many easy (and free) things you can do to reduce stress. As usual, the best things are the simplest ones:
1. Deep breathing
There are no special techniques here - just consciously take some deep breaths in and out for five minutes. I guarantee you'll feel more relaxed and grounded. You can do it anywhere, too. I like to practice when driving and even during training.
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I like to call meditation 'active attention'. You can go the whole way here, light up some incense, a candle, practise a mantra, or just keep it as simple as possible. Start by listening to everything around you, then add some deep breaths. Yes, you will start listening to your own thoughts. You will notice that they're very disconnected - you will think about chocolate cake, about work, then the size of your bum... it goes on. The idea is not to interact with the thoughts, just listen to them, and let them go as they come. The most common mistake that meditators do is to try to psychoanalyse everything. Keep it simple. Don't create unrealistic targets with your mediation. If you only have five minutes a day, then just accept it and do it.
Yes, I know you were expecting something miraculous here, but walking is miraculous. It's a very low intensity exercise, but that doesn't mean it's less effective. Walking is a great workout, I highly recommend it. Add some music to your walks to make it more interesting and remember that a good hour walking in nature is very soothing.
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4. Talking to a friend of partner
Instead of holding a problem in, try to just listen to your feeling and communicate them to someone around you. Just talking about them will make you feel listened to and cared for and as a result you should feel calmer. It's very important to have a support network around you.
So if you're feeling stressed and having difficulty losing weight, stress could be part of the problem. Try these techniques and remember to be gentle on yourself - beating yourself up only adds to more stress!