Tag Archives: stress reduction

stress and weight gain

What’s Connection Between Stress and Weight Gain? Lower Stress Can Help You Lose More Weight

There’s a connection between stress and weight gain that can make your committed attempts to lose weight even harder than it already is. Here’s how stress and weight gain are connected and proven ways to relieve stress and reclaim your health.

More than 75% of Americans cite being stressed on a regular basis. And that number jumps to 80% when Americans are asked about whether they feel stress at work. 

Many of us experience fatigue, irritability, or aches and pains as a result of ongoing stress in our work or other parts of our lives. 

But did you know that stress also impacts your weight? Researchers find a clear link between weight gain and stress. 

The connection between stress and weight gain

When stressed, your body releases more of the hormone cortisol. 

Cortisol is the hormone that helps you respond to a threat. When you perceive a threat, your adrenal glands release cortisol and those hormone levels remain elevated until you no longer sense a threat is near. Then, the levels return to normal. 

But cortisol levels can be elevated for dangerous amounts of time. If you feel stress on a daily basis, for many hours throughout the day, your body produces an excess of cortisol and doesn’t spend enough time in a relaxed state. As a result, you can feel hungrier than you normally would throughout the day.

It’s why many of us want to reach for ice cream, cookies, or our favorite chips when we feel stressed. We feel hungrier and want to eat something that will give us a surge of happiness to counter our elevated stress. 

As if that’s not enough, stress can also lower your metabolism. The combination of slower metabolism with increased appetite is a recipe for unintended weight gain.

How to know if stress is impacting your weight loss

Stress is most often looked at as a cause of weight gain after other factors like diet or an underlying condition have been ruled out. This usually comes up in the course of conversations with your doctor or specialist you’re working with to lose weight.

These are some of the symptoms of stress to help determine if this is in fact a factor in your weight:

  • Regular trouble sleeping and exhaustion
  • Aches and pains that seem otherwise inexplicable  
  • Headaches and tension in your shoulders, neck, and jaw (maybe even clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth)
  • Irritability 
  • High blood pressure 

How to reduce stress and get back to a healthy weight

Fortunately, stress can be remedied by building some healthier habits and better routines. Plus, a few of the activities that help you relieve stress can also help you lose weight–getting you back on track for your weight loss goals even faster.

Below are 5 effective stress relievers to try if you think stress is impacting your weight loss journey:

1. Exercise

Exercise does more than help you get fit and lose weight—it helps you reduce stress in a few ways:

  • Helps you focus on the present when you get caught up in the activity or game you participate in  
  • Releases endorphins—the feel-good neurotransmitters  
  • Reduces cortisol levels 
  • Improves your mood and boosts self-confidence

The best part is you don’t have to be an athlete to reap these benefits. Just 30 minutes of movement like walking, hiking, or swimming can give you stress relieving benefits.

2. Sleep

Lack of sleep actually makes you more likely to be stressed. The reason is because of all the facets of our lives and health sleep impacts:

  • Mood regulation
  • Improved decision-making
  • Concentration

So, if you want to reduce stress, one of the ways to counteract feeling stressed is to get more sleep. 

Make sure you get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night—the average recommended amount for adults.

3. Make time for non-work related connections with others

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine.” Well, it turns out that laughter is a bit like medicine. 

Multiple studies now show the power of laughter to reduce stress and improve our overall well-being. One study found that people who laughed more had less stress and better immune function. 

By making more time for friends and family who you find fun to be around, you reduce your stress levels and by extension, improve your health. So whether it’s getting together with friends for an evening or going on a day trip with family, time spent with people you can relax and laugh around will reduce your stress.

4. Find a creative outlet

Creativity is one of the best options to get yourself out of the routine of worrying about daily responsibilities.

A 2016 study found that when participants engaged in any creative outlet of their choosing for 45 minutes, their cortisol levels dropped by 75%

And you don’t have to be a professional artist or writer to experience these benefits. Anyone can create for fun and get the stress relief benefits of being creative.

5. Schedule time just for yourself

When we have a lot going on between work, family obligations, and personal responsibilities, it’s hard to find time to relax. This is especially true if you are introverted or need time to recharge after social events. 

One way to help is to schedule time for yourself that is non-negotiable. Give yourself 30 minutes every day that is uninterrupted time for you to decompress from the responsibilities of your day. You can journal, read a book, go for a walk, or do anything else that makes you feel relaxed and refreshed. Whatever activity you enjoy, taking that time for yourself will help you reduce daily stress levels.

Get help overcoming stress and weight gain

At Valley Medical Weight Loss we help make weight loss a far less stressful challenge. 

Our patients get results because of the personalized support they get from our doctors. When you choose us, you get weekly check-ins, diet planning, and exercise strategy that’s tailored to your health history and goals. We also help you select supplements to support your weight loss goals if they’re appropriate for your goals.

We can help you figure out if stress is impacting your weight loss journey and help you get a plan to overcome it.

Visit your closest Valley Medical Weight Loss for your initial consult.

stress and weight gain

What’s Connection Between Stress and Weight Gain? Lower Stress Can Help You Lose More Weight

There’s a connection between stress and weight gain that can make your committed attempts to lose weight even harder than it already is. Here’s how stress and weight gain are connected and proven ways to relieve stress and reclaim your health.

More than 75% of Americans cite being stressed on a regular basis. And that number jumps to 80% when Americans are asked about whether they feel stress at work. 

Many of us experience fatigue, irritability, or aches and pains as a result of ongoing stress in our work or other parts of our lives. 

But did you know that stress also impacts your weight? Researchers find a clear link between weight gain and stress. 

The connection between stress and weight gain

When stressed, your body releases more of the hormone cortisol. 

Cortisol is the hormone that helps you respond to a threat. When you perceive a threat, your adrenal glands release cortisol and those hormone levels remain elevated until you no longer sense a threat is near. Then, the levels return to normal. 

But cortisol levels can be elevated for dangerous amounts of time. If you feel stress on a daily basis, for many hours throughout the day, your body produces an excess of cortisol and doesn’t spend enough time in a relaxed state. As a result, you can feel hungrier than you normally would throughout the day.

It’s why many of us want to reach for ice cream, cookies, or our favorite chips when we feel stressed. We feel hungrier and want to eat something that will give us a surge of happiness to counter our elevated stress. 

As if that’s not enough, stress can also lower your metabolism. The combination of slower metabolism with increased appetite is a recipe for unintended weight gain.

How to know if stress is impacting your weight loss

Stress is most often looked at as a cause of weight gain after other factors like diet or an underlying condition have been ruled out. This usually comes up in the course of conversations with your doctor or specialist you’re working with to lose weight.

These are some of the symptoms of stress to help determine if this is in fact a factor in your weight:

  • Regular trouble sleeping and exhaustion
  • Aches and pains that seem otherwise inexplicable  
  • Headaches and tension in your shoulders, neck, and jaw (maybe even clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth)
  • Irritability 
  • High blood pressure 

How to reduce stress and get back to a healthy weight

Fortunately, stress can be remedied by building some healthier habits and better routines.

While many facets of your life might be difficult to change like work schedules and family responsibilities, there are steps you can take to reduce the stress that builds up from all of your responsibilities.

Plus, a few of the activities that help you relieve stress can also help you lose weight–getting you back on track for your weight loss goals even faster.

Below are 5 effective stress relievers to try if you think stress is impacting your weight loss journey:

  1. Exercise

Exercise does more than help you get fit and lose weight—it helps you reduce stress in a few ways:

  • Helps you focus on the present when you get caught up in the activity or game you participate in  
  • Releases endorphins—the feel-good neurotransmitters  
  • Reduces cortisol levels 
  • Improves your mood and boosts self-confidence

The best part is you don’t have to be an athlete to reap these benefits. Just 30 minutes of movement like walking, hiking, or swimming can give you stress-relieving benefits.

2. Sleep

Lack of sleep makes you more likely to be stressed. The reason is because of all the facets of our lives and health sleep impacts:

  • Mood regulation
  • Improved decision-making
  • Concentration

So, if you want to reduce stress, one of the ways to counteract feeling stressed is to get more sleep. 

Make sure you get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night—the average recommended amount for adults.

3. Make time for non-work related connections with others

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine.” Well, it turns out that laughter is a bit like medicine. 

Multiple studies now show the power of laughter to reduce stress and improve our overall well-being. One study found that people who laughed more had less stress and better immune function. 

By making more time for friends and family who you find fun to be around, you reduce your stress levels and by extension, improve your health. So whether it’s getting together with friends for an evening or going on a day trip with family, time spent with people you can relax and laugh around will reduce your stress.

4. Find a creative outlet

Creativity is one of the best options to get yourself out of the routine of worrying about daily responsibilities.

A 2016 study found that when participants engaged in any creative outlet of their choosing for 45 minutes, their cortisol levels dropped by 75%

And you don’t have to be a professional artist or writer to experience these benefits. Anyone can create for fun and get the stress relief benefits of being creative.

5. Schedule time just for yourself

When we have a lot going on between work, family obligations, and personal responsibilities, it’s hard to find time to relax. This is especially true if you are introverted or need time to recharge after social events. 

One way to help is to schedule time for yourself that is non-negotiable. Give yourself 30 minutes every day that is uninterrupted time for you to decompress from the responsibilities of your day. You can journal, read a book, go for a walk, or do anything else that makes you feel relaxed and refreshed. Whatever activity you enjoy, taking that time for yourself will help you reduce daily stress levels.

Get help overcoming stress and weight gain

At Valley Medical Weight Loss we help make weight loss a far less stressful challenge. 

Our patients get results because of the personalized support they get from our doctors. When you choose us, you get weekly check-ins, diet planning, and exercise strategy that’s tailored to your health history and goals. We also help you select supplements to support your weight loss goals if they’re appropriate for your goals.

We can help you figure out if stress is impacting your weight loss journey and help you get a plan to overcome it.

Visit your closest Valley Medical Weight Loss for your initial consult.

American heart month

Heart Health: How Stress Affects Your Heart

February is American Heart Month. Although you should be living in a way that contributes to heart health all year long, this month is a time to really spread the word.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.  It’s estimated that 2,200 Americans die from heart disease each day.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to keep your heart healthy. One of them is to take a look at your stress levels, which contribute to your risk of heart disease. But first, here are some facts about stress.

Stress Facts

1. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 60-80 percent of visits to primary care doctors are stress related.

2. Chronic stress is linked to heart disease, asthma, infertility, weight gain, diabetes, headaches, depression and anxiety, digestive problems, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, hair loss, accelerated aging, insomnia, muscle pain, dizziness/lightheadedness, and memory problems (just to name a few).

3. What’s more, many stress-related symptoms are a “mystery” to doctors. Your traditional lab tests come back “normal”. You may be told it’s all in your head and/or given a prescription for an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication.

4. Stress related ailments cost the US $300 billion each year (that’s $100 billion more than the cost of obesity).

5. Stress can be broken down into physical, mental, environmental, and emotional categories. That means even if you don’t feel “stressed”, your body may be under stress due to nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, hormonal imbalance, too much (or too intense) exercise, bad relationships/toxic people, environmental toxins, negative thought patterns, and/or a poor sleep schedule.

6. Chronic stress can negatively affect your heart health, raising your risk of both heart attack and stroke.

Stress and Heart Health

When you’re stressed, it causes a hormonal cascade in your body. During stress, your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that increases your heart rate and breathing rate, which, in turn, increases your blood pressure. In normal situations, after the stressor has gone away, the stress response goes away too and your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate return to normal.

On the other hand, when stress is constant (like it is for so many of us), your body stays in this stress response for days, weeks, months, or even years. In addition to the actual physiological response, stress can also lead to unhealthy behaviors, like drinking, smoking, and eating junk food.

Ways to Reduce Stress

Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to manage your stress. The best way to get a handle on things is to do these things regularly, not just when you feel stressed.

Some great ways to reduce stress include:

  • yoga
  • meditation
  • eating a healthy diet
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • getting enough sleep
  • avoiding procrastination
  • finding a balance between work and relaxation
  • limiting time spent on technology
  • spending time with friends, family, and loved ones
  • reducing alcohol intake
  • avoiding toxic relationships
  • spending time with animals

What are your favorite stress reduction techniques? Do you swear by yoga or mediation? Leave us a comment and let us know. We want to know more!

Adaptogens: Your Secret Weapon Against Stress

What if we told you that 75 to 90 percent of all doctor’s visits are due to stress-related illnesses? Even worse, what if we told you that stress is a factor in five out of the six leading causes of death?

In recent years, stress has developed into a $1 trillion health epidemic. That’s more expensive than the cost of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. So what can you do? How can you manage stress in an era that seems to glorify the concept of “busy”?

While it’s true that you can’t get rid of stress completely (some stress is actually good), there are many things that you can do to manage it. You probably already know about the big guys — meditation, yoga, and deep breathing, for example — but there’s another player in the game that frequently falls off the radar, and that’s adaptogens.

What are Adaptogens?

The term adaptogens was first coined by a Russian pharmacologist named Lazarev in 1947. He defined an adaptogen as any agent that helps an organism counteract any physical, chemical, or biological stressor by generating a nonspecific resistance. In simpler terms, an adaptogen is a substance that helps reduce stress levels by acting on the body as a whole.

In addition to helping reduce stress, adaptogens also:

  • increase energy and stamina
  • improve strength and mental focus
  • boost the immune system
  • balance mood
  • support a healthy weight
True Adaptogens

Many herbs are credited with being adaptogens: but in order to be considered a real adaptogen, a substance must meet three criteria:

  1. It must be non-toxic to the person taking it.
  2. It must act on many organs and body systems (rather than just one) and allow the person taking it to better adapt to biological, chemical, and physical stressors.
  3. It must help the body maintain homeostasis (or normal functioning).

Examples of true adaptogens include:

  • American Ginseng root
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Asian Ginseng root
  • Cordyceps
  • Dang Shen root
  • Eleuthero root
  • Holy Basil herb
  • Jiaogulan herb
  • Licorice rhizome
  • Reishi fungus
  • Rhaponticum root
  • Rhodiola root
  • Wu Wei Zi Berries/Seeds
  • Maca Root
  • Astragalus
How to Take Adaptogens

Luckily, many of these adatogens are easily accessible. Some of them are available as teas, while others are added to protein powders or liquid multi-vitamin products. Intramax, which is dubbed the “crown jewel of multi-vitamins” contains a stress management matrix that offers Ashwagandha, licorice, astragalus, and ginseng all in one place.

The best stress management program combines several methods of stress relief and management, but adaptogens should definitely be a part of that puzzle.