When we decide to chase our dream-body goal, we should keep in mind that the process of building muscle and losing body fat is much more than just hitting the gym and lifting weights. Maintaining healthy eating habits and getting enough sleep are inevitable if we expect to progress gradually.
However, one major factor is sometimes neglected along the way, and could be really sabotaging our progress: STRESS.
Studies show that elevated stress levels have negative impacts on the human body both emotionally, physically and even affecting our own immune system. During high-tensioned times, the “Stress Hormone” cortisol rises. Increased levels of this hormone can make us have less appetite at first, but will definitely lead to emotional eating, which is defined as eating high fat, salty or sugary foods to soothe the negative emotions and cope with stress. Emotional eating may make us more prone to body inflammation, which creates risk for heart disease, diabetes, depression, and could contribute to obesity.
When we are stressed, we usually have too much to do in a very short time frame. Consequently, we don’t have much time to eat during the day, nor the time to shop for food after work. This leaves us too hungry as soon as we reach home, and too lazy to cook a healthy meal. As a result, the fast food meal or the bag of cookies/chips can be a very tempting alternative, although far less healthy.
How to manage stress? Here are some thoughts:
- Schedule your meals. If you eat regularly throughout the day, you will less likely binge eat at night.
- Prepare your meals. If you’re too busy or too tired, meals are already planned and you won’t end up eating whatever your hand reaches.
- Eat Mindfully. Mindful eating means sitting down to eat a meal and not multi-tasking while you’re doing so.
- Reduce Alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and will contribute to feeling of depression and anxiety, making stress harder to deal with.
- Practice Stress-Release Activities. Plan relaxing activities, go for a walk, watch a funny movie, build up a regular exercise routine, meet a friend, learn to meditate or attend a yoga class.
Don’t let stress hold you back!