Weight Loss Hack #5
If you are like most people then the idea of weight loss programs will most likely bring to mind images of hustling to squeeze in a workout and obsessively counting calories. While exercise and diet are absolutely essential, those who pursue only these avenues exclusively are likely to be stymied by an unlikely culprit; stress.
Yes that is right! Stress greatly effects our bodies and as a result our entire lives.
In a healthy stress response your stress hormones rise to meet the needs of the situation and fall once it is dealt with. This cycle of rise and fall is what makes it healthy and manageable. Stress peaks to help you reach that deadline at work and then falls again to allow you to recover. This kind of stress response is very beneficial and can help with focus, motivation and physical performance.
Chronic stress however is not helpful. This occurs when you stay in this state of high stress for the long-term. Without the recovery period you are continuing to drain your battery without ever recharging it. This can lead to chronic fatigue, craving energy dense and often unhealthy foods, increased risk of heart disease, depression and anxiety, substance abuse, and you guessed it, weight gain.
Now that we have laid out how stress interacts with the body lets talk about some of the ways you can maintain a healthy stress response.
Schedule your stress relief.
Chances are your stressors are regularly occurring, such as work, parenting, or traffic, so why not build your stress reducing activities in to your daily schedule as well.
This can be simple. Try incorporating meditation. I find the mornings are the best time for me and I generally don’t need much more than five minutes to get to a state of relaxation.
If the morning isn’t ideal than make it before bed, at lunch, or whenever you feel it would be most beneficial. You can find time if you choose to prioritize it and as Tim Ferriss says, the less time you think you have for meditation the more you need meditation.
Another great stress reducer can be reading or watching fiction. This allows you to escape the world around you for a moment and re-center yourself. Reading before bed has the added benefit of not requiring much additional time as well!
Whatever your stress reducing activity is, make it a part of your daily ritual and you will see the results.
Do something without an agenda.
Most of our days are filled with trying to achieve greater productivity. Try and do something that doesn’t have a goal.
For example, you may already be timing your runs or working towards a goal of some kind with your hobby. If this isn’t serving your ability to relax, try turning your brain off while doing it.
Go for a walk without counting miles or time. Set an alarm while you knit or woodwork so you are not looking at the time but are simply in the moment. Being in the moment and living in the now is one of the more freeing things you can experience since most of our stress and anxieties stem from looking forward or backward rather than from this very moment.
One of the most effective ways to get out of your head, expel energy, and release stress reducing hormones is to move your body.
Firstly, a movement practice will allow your body to focus on what it is doing in the moment, rather than the future or past, thus giving you time to re-center yourself.
Secondly, releasing pent up energy is a very therapeutic practice and the chemicals produced in your body after moving are designed to help your body come down off of a stress high.
This kind of movement can be anything form walking, running, yoga, weight lifting, whatever makes you feel the most in the moment and leaves you tired enough to get the benefits without beating yourself up so much that you are more stressed than when you started.
So there you have it! Now get out there and chill.
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