How Stress Messes with Your Ability to Lose Weight
We have been hearing from a lot of people right now who are saying things like:
- Not much has changed with my diet and exercise but I find myself gaining weight or even
- I have been doing really well with my diet and exercise but I have stopped losing weight or have even gained weight for no apparent reason. What gives???
Today I want to address these questions and provide some insight around how stress (including the stress that we are aware of in the world) can affect your weight.
Let’s start by getting calm, centered and grounded. Today I want you to simply take some nice deep breaths with me. Those breaths where you breathe in as deeply as possible, hold at the top and then release as slowly as you can. Take a few more breaths that way. These breaths send a powerful message to your nervous system that all is well. This is something that I want you to try on as a way to process stress in your life. We are going to talk today about how stress has the potential to steal results from your weight loss efforts and this breathing practice is something that can help tremendously with that. You may be thinking – breathing is going to help me lose weight? The answer is: quite possibly.
Let’s move onto today’s topic. In order to understand how stress can be affecting your weight we need to learn a little something about cortisol, which is the body’s main stress hormone. Having the right amount of cortisol is important. Without cortisol, you would have a very hard time taking care of the things that you need to take care of but too much can cause cravings and weight loss resistance or even weight gain. So, it is important to manage your cortisol the best you can.
Here is a very simplistic understanding of how elevated cortisol levels mess with your weight. When you sense stress, your body produces extra cortisol. If that feeling of stress was from a genuine threat, like being chased by a bear or having your mother-in-law over for dinner, that elevated cortisol would help you run away or prepare the lasagna of your life. In that case, the extra cortisol would serve you in the short term. However, when the stressor is not real (meaning there is no actual danger to your safety) and cortisol levels stay elevated (even a minimal amount) over a period of time, a number of processes take place in the body. For example, the rise in cortisol produces a spike followed by a crash in blood sugar. This in turn, causes your insulin levels to rise. Elevated insulin levels lead to fat storage especially in the abdomen.
Furthermore, elevated cortisol leads to more cravings (which could obviously make matters worse). What’s up with that? The increased cortisol signals to the brain that there is a threat in the environment. When there is a threat in the environment, the brain goes looking for a “hit” to feel better, to make itself feel safe. The easiest way to get a hit is to eat some carbs and get a dose of dopamine. Even though it is a short term “fix,” it works on some level. Then you can guess what happens next, you feel disappointed for eating the food and in order to deal with the disappointment, you go looking for another hit of dopamine and end up with your hand in the cookie jar again. And the cycle goes on and on.
I totally recognize that there is a lot to feel stressed about lately. Even if your life is relatively unaffected by the curious times that we live in, it is hard not to feel at least some level of concern for what is happening around us in the world. Between the run-away viruses and the current social unrest, many people are feeling the weight of these issues. Anxiety and distress are as high as ever in our population.
What Can You Do About it?
(1) First of all, you can limit your exposure to stressful media. I am not talking about putting your head in the sand. We need to be informed and aware but I would suggest that you minimize watching, reading, or listening to news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed. Get the information that you need so that you can protect yourself and your family, be a good citizen and make good decisions. However, try to find that balance of getting the information you need but not taking in so much information that it leaves you feeling hopeless. One suggestion is to have regular check-in times once or twice a day with 5 or 10 minute limits.
(2) The other very important antidote to elevated cortisol is peace and calm. I see elevated cortisol kind of like a game of Pac Man. The dots, ghosts and floating fruity things are the cortisol and we need to eat the excess cortisol in order to return to normal and get our system functioning properly again. So, what are those things that help us do that?
Here are my top three suggestions for “eating up” excess cortisol.
(1) Morning practice – where you take time to connect with yourself whether that is journaling, setting intentions, reading something spiritual or meditation. Even if that is 3 minutes – it counts.
(2) Taking 2-3 minutes a couple of times a day to take a meaningful break and return to peace and calm. I’ve done other videos that go into depth regarding meaningful breaks but some of my top picks are:
- looking around for beauty;
- taking 6 nice deep breaths, like the ones we did in the beginning of the video;
- slowly and mindfully making a cup of tea and checking in with your thoughts and feelings;
- spending a few minutes in nature.
(3) The third suggestion is meditation – either as a part of your morning practice, your meaningful breaks or as a separate practice.
You may know that these things are good for you so why is it so hard to work them into your daily routine? Part of the answer is that your brain will resist efforts to make you feel calm and peaceful when you are experiencing stress. This makes sense, after all, if you are feeling stress, it means that your brain senses danger. Your brain will feel that it is safer to stay in a state of high alert rather than in a state of relaxation. It will assume that whatever the danger is, you will be able to deal with it more effectively in your stressed state than in a calm state. Therefore, you may have to be extra diligent in setting small but meaningful goals around these practices and make them non-negotiable.
Issues like stress, and limiting mindsets can have a profound impact on your ability to lose weight. That is why our programs address these issues as a wholistic approach to health and wellness. Learning to see stress in a whole new way and not allowing it to steal results from your weight loss efforts is something we can definitely help you with.
I have some short but powerful information about establishing a morning practice, meaningful breaks and meditation that I would love to share with you in order to help you reduce your cortisol levels. Simply e-mail me at Lori@Nuuaria.com and I would be happy to send that information to you.
Let me know how I can help you. Remember, we are here for you and we love you.
The Key to Easy Permanent Weight Loss Part 2
Hello my beautiful Nuuaria friends! It’s Lori. Certified Nuuaria Method Trainer and mentor. Thank you for watching today’s video. I feel very blessed to get to spend time with you every week.
I’m really excited to get into today’s topic because it is the continuation of last week’s discussion about changing your thinking. As we discussed, Nuuaria is based on the understanding that our thoughts create our emotions which in turn create our behavior. This is why it is so difficult to make changes when we focus only on behavior. By changing our thinking, we are able to effortlessly change our behavior. When it comes to things like weight loss, this strategy is a total game changer. Changing your thinking is the key to easy permanent weight loss.
Before we start however, let’s do something to help us feel focused and centered. We’ve tried some great slowing down techniques in the last couple of weeks so for any of you who may have missed those videos, go back and watch just for the slowing down exercises alone. They are awesome. This week, let’s combine some of our past breathing techniques with a simple heart centered visualization. I’d like you to start by closing your eyes and slowing your breath. Begin to breathe as deeply as you can and release your breath as slowly as you can. Now I want you to imagine that breath flowing into your heart.
As you breath in, imagine bringing love and joy into your heart.
As you breathe out, imagine letting go of all of the stress and weariness that you do not need.
Breathe in love and joy.
Breathe out stress and weariness.
One last time.
When you are ready, open your eyes. How did that feel? I love heart centered breathing.
It is one of my favorite ways to slow down.
As we discussed last week, once you identify your thinking, you can begin to change it and thereby effortlessly change your behavior.
A very common thought that many people in our community struggle with is self-acceptance. When you want to lose weight, it is easy to feel negatively about your body and yourself. Therefore, for purposes of our discussion today, we will take the following thought to work with –
I’ve got to lose weight. My body is too fat and gross.
I hate to even say that thought out loud but the fact is lots of people have that very thought or one like it every day. Let’s use Nuuaria’s thought redirection tools to start to shift out of that kind of thinking and into a new, better feeling thought which will ultimately affect our behavior over time.
Today’s introduction to the Nuuaria thought redirection process is just that – an introduction. In the real program, we spend weeks on each of these steps and offer many tools and techniques for integrating them but I really believe that you can benefit even from this brief introduction if you put it into use in your own life.
I will briefly outline the process and then we can go a little deeper with the third and fourth steps since the first two steps were discussed in last week’s video.
- Develop awareness about your current thoughts. We talked about that last week so go back and watch that video if you have not already seen it. Remember, we have between 50 and 70,000 thoughts run through our mind each day. We can’t possibly pay attention to all of them, so we focus on the ones that are causing us to experience less than desirable emotions.
- Use a thought stopping technique when necessary to slow and stop the thoughts from circling so that you can begin to work with them. We discussed the Rainbow Colors technique as a way to slow or stop thoughts in last week’s videos as well.
- Use a thought redirection technique in order to bring in the new thought you are wanting to connect to.
- Anchor in your new thought through repetition, evidence journaling and anchoring in with a strong emotion.
Let’s look at the third step – Using a thought redirection technique-
Use a thought redirection technique in order to create a new thought that you want to believe. There are several techniques for doing this. Today I will mention one. It is Stepping Stone Thoughts – Here is how to use stepping stone thoughts: when you are developing your new thoughts, it’s important that you not try to go from a crummy thought – “I hate my body” to an over-the-top blissed out thought – “I have the best body ever and I don’t want to change a thing.”
If a thought is not believable to your brain, it will reject it and it will not be a viable option for your brain to chose in the future. This is why positive thinking alone is not often the solution to negative thoughts.
Using stepping stones in your development of new thoughts is the best way to make progress. Rather than shooting for radical self-love on day one, maybe shooting for self-respect is a better goal. Try some of these on as your stepping stone thoughts –
There are things about my body that I would like to change but it doesn’t make me less worthy or lovable as a person. I am on a good path toward health and wellness and I am excited about the process so far.
My life is a beautiful dance of hopes and struggles. As I open myself up to respecting and loving myself more, I know that my struggles will become lighter. I am working on loving myself more as a way to achieve the other things that I want.
Step four of the thought redirection process is to anchor in your new thought with an anchoring technique. One of the anchoring techniques that we use is simple repetition. Take your new thought and start working with it. Write it out and start your day by reading it a couple of times. Put it as a reminder on your phone and connect with it several times during the day. Your old was of thinking is just a result of entertaining those thoughts and your new way of thinking will be developed by doing the same.
I know, this work can be challenging but keep committed to it. Keep showing up. When you are having those bad days with your body, don’t just sink into those thoughts and let them run rampant. Dig into them. Recognize them and remember what you have learned about how to expand your thinking. You can meet this thought with-
“Oh, I see I am having negative thoughts about my body. These thoughts have been around for a long time and they will still show up for me from time to time but I have chosen to have a broader view of my life. I am choosing to at least want to love my body. Therefore, I will remind myself that I can chose a different thought. I can choose to love myself or at least respect myself and my body today. I can choose to be a person who speaks kindly to myself.”
Apply these four elements of the Nuuaria method to a thought that you want to change with respect to your body or anything else and start to change the way you view yourself.
Step (1) Become aware of your thought.
Step (2) If you can’t stop your thought long enough to work with it, use the Rainbow Colors Technique to slow down, get out of your thoughts and into the moment.
Step (3) Use stepping stone thoughts to create the new thought that you want to embrace.
Step (4) Anchor in that new thought through repetition.
As I mentioned, this tool can be used to help you shift out of any thoughts that are not serving you. When you shift out of thoughts that don’t serve you and into thoughts that are aligned with the person you want to become, you start behaving like the person you want to become and at that point, you start to change in ways that feel effortless. So, what thoughts do you want to work on? Write them down and start working with them. Be consistent and watch what happens.
Remember, we are here to support you in whatever way you need. Reach out and let us know how we can help you.
I am super excited about some of our new programs that we are rolling out. We have a Wellness Journey Health Coaching program that can turn your health around in a matter of weeks. We also have our Emotional Eating transformative program that helps people heal their relationship with food and body to return to their natural and healthy state. There is also our 6 week Jumpstart Program aimed at helping people who really want to get set up on sustainable, effective plan for weight loss through mindset shifts and habit building. We also have our stress course. Whatever your struggle is, we are able to help.
Send us your questions or your suggestions for future videos. We look forward to hearing from you.
Remember, we are here for you and we love you.