Are you someone who has been crushing your workout routine? You're hitting your macros and your cardio and strength mix is optimized — but when it comes to results, you’re not getting the traction you want. What's going on?
There may be many factors at play, but one big cause could be stress. Think for a moment, have you been feeling stressed lately? Feeling overwhelmed triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone designed for our “fight or flight” response when we’re in danger. Cortisol gives the body the energy it needs to cope with threats, and it certainly plays an important role in keeping us motivated and energized.
But when cortisol is elevated for too long it’s associated with higher levels of obesity, and particularly with weight gain in the midsection. That may be in part because cortisol makes us crave high-sugar carbohydrates, since they provide the fastest source of energy. The good news is that knowledge is power. Knowing stress can cause weight gain is important, and even more important is being aware that you are stressed.
Just like any other health and fitness strategy, you need to play around with different options until you find tactics that work especially well for you. Some people find yoga, mindfulness or meditation are super helpful tools when coping with stress. Others find doing a grueling HIIT class or going for a long run will wash away the stress. It's important to stay active during times of stress. There are also certain foods you can eat to help manage your stress. Foods like leafy greens, fish, avocado, oats and others provide essential vitamins that can aid in stronger brain health and have calming properties.
If you're putting in the work in the kitchen and in the gym but not seeing results, try checking in with yourself regarding your stress levels. If you have been feeling stressed for a long time, chances are that has been disrupting the progress you've been working towards. Try getting better sleep, getting out in nature, meditating, and eating the foods above to help with your stress levels and get yourself back on track!