Stress, Fat and Flatulence
Are you fed up with fat that just doesn’t want to go away? You’ve tried everything--eating well, not eating, running, weights, and cardio up the ying yang, and yet the flab still clings to you. And if you do manage to drop weight from all the grueling work, who can maintain that for an extended period?
Some people lose weight easily but most don’t. If you’re in the latter group, it might be because you’re under a lot of stress. For many people, stress prevents fat from burning off. Sure you may lose some weight but then you plateau. It goes back to caveman days and the survival fight-or- flight response--when the body is stressed out, it believes it’s not going to get food for awhile so it holds onto fat (long term energy source) and burns sugar instead. This is why when you’re stressed or just after a hard workout you crave carbs (bread, pastries, candy, sodas, etc.). But this only makes you gain more weight! And let’s not forget that your brain is constantly revving when stressed so it’s burning through sugar like crazy.
Stress comes in many forms--work, relationship or other life related stressors. But some other forms to be aware of are--not meeting self-expectations, self-criticism, feeling powerless in life, over exercising, poor diet and constantly being on the go. The body doesn’t differentiate between emotional, mental, or physical stress--it’s all stress. Some stress is needed to provide motivation but for many people, they’re constantly bombarding themselves with excessive stress. This causes the body to suffer eventually.
Not only does stress affect your weight but also your digestive system (bloating, gas, constipation, etc.), sleep, neck tension, headaches and pretty much most things. When under stress, your breathing becomes shallow resulting in less oxygen intake. Since your cells aren’t getting a healthy dose of oxygen, lactic acid starts accumulating. Lactic acid leads to tense muscles and worse--along with cortisol, they break down organs if extended over a long period.
An easy way to determine if you’re in “fight-or-flight” is to place your palm on your bare belly and feel if it’s cold compared to its sides. When stressed, blood that’s normally in your gut gets diverted to the extremities so that you can either fight or flee leaving the belly cold.
It’s too simplistic to say, “Get rid of your stressors,” but you can be more aware of what stresses you so you can plan around them. Let’s say if commuting is a stress, then leave earlier or join a ride-sharing program. Also, learning how to breathe through your abdomen is crucial--this draws air deeper into your lungs thereby delivering more oxygen to your cells. As for burning fat, fat needs oxygen for it to burn. Think of when you’re starting a campfire, you stoke the flames by bringing in more oxygen.
In our high stress culture, it’s a challenge to de-stress, but a healthy start is to become aware of what stresses you and take action to deal with it.
Copyright © Sho Aoyagi 2013
These articles are meant to be informative and not to be taken as advice. Every person’s situation is different and the articles may not pertain to your speciﬁc situation.
Also, before dealing with any issue with another person or before attempting to look at your own issues, it’s important to consult with an appropriate professional for guidance.