Stress-Induced Obesity – The Cortisol Conundrum

April 25th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Who have you bumped into lately who doesn’t feel stressed – at work, on the car-clogged freeways, at the gas pump, in the family – you name it everyone pretty much experiences it. There are some extreme circumstances in life that stress is experienced for long periods of time. It is one health epidemic that is certainly an elephant in the room, don’t you think?? Too much stress can induce obesity, as if we need another reason to put on extra weight – good grief.

I did some reading in earnest about the bodily hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that our bodies make naturally. Cortisol can be released in the body in response to a number of circumstances including psychosocial stress. Cortisol can directly affect fat storage in people experiencing extreme stress for a prolonged time period. To add insult to injury deep abdominal fat cells have four times more cortisol receptors than subcutaneous fat cells. Cortisol is associated to overeating, craving high caloric fatty and sugary foods and relocating fat from the circulation and storage depots to the deep internal abdominal area. Oy veh.

So NOW what?? Finding ways to mitigate stress and release life’s pressures are an integral part of dealing with this. Not only will it help to release the pressure valve even just a little, it will also help to put the brakes on further weight gain. Yoga or Thai Chi are two examples that are helpful. Deep breathing, meditation, relaxation and visualization are ways to deal with stress as well. Combining these measure with tips to eat right and get enough rest will help your cause even more.

Although it sounds easy to play close attention to your eating during challenging times, for many it certainly is not. If you can try to tighten the screws on your attention to detail, that will certainly help. Give a re-read to the post on November 11, 2010 along with the “Successful Loser” category. Every little tip helps. At the end of the day, gaining weight because of stress can cause even more stress and who needs that??

The bottom line is regular exercise with effective stress management are keys to helping with this cortisol conundrum. Regular exercise is a stress reliever as well and a place you can find refuge. Cortisol is one of our body’s hormones that we need for normal function. We can’t turn the “off switch” on this, but trying to get the upper hand on it will certainly help.

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