How Stress Can Sabotage Your Weight Loss Efforts


If you have spent years starving yourself, attempting fad diets, or endured years of stress it may be time to do some correcting, undo the damage that was done, and bring yourself back to baseline. Stressing your system in any way whether it is life, unhealthy eating, or even not eating enough, can put your system in a state of chaos. If left untreated, you may find it impossible to lose weight, and heal the way you did in the past. Your ability to complete tasks, focus, and concentrate may become less than optimal. You may also find yourself unable to deal with the ups and downs of life, become easily agitated and stress out even more about things that normally wouldn’t cause you stress.

If this sounds a little familiar and life has taken a toll physically, emotionally and mentally then it may be time to do some damage control. It may be time for a tune up! There are several things you can do to reverse some of the damage. This will not only help your system run more efficiently, but it will also make you feel good both inside and out. Spending some time on yourself can have a positive effect on how you feel about yourself, which can have even more of an impact and lead to new and better life choices and habits.

I believe it’s important to understand how you arrived at this state of systemic chaos in order to make the necessary changes to return to a state of homeostasis. There are many different approaches you can take, and some even compliment each other. I will list these approaches, but first let us look at what may have happened.

Side note: If you feel that your are so out of whack and you simply don’t know where to start, then you can begin with a visit to your doctor.

weight-loss-feet-scaleLife can throw quite a bit in our direction. These little gifts from life can cause various levels of increased stress. Stress, whether it is continuous or sporadic, can cause a disruption in homeostasis. This disruption can wreak havoc, causing a domino effect soon after the onset of stress. In some people, the damage may take years to manifest. This can be even more detrimental because even though you don’t see the signs of the damage that is being done, believe me when I say you are not, by some miracle, being spared. All the damage is occurring and when it starts to show physical signs outwardly it may be too late to reverse. Let me say that even when it does manifest outwardly some things can be reversed. Regardless, there is no avoiding the side effect of stress. The severity of damage is effected by the degree of stress, and length.

For example, you may have had a couple of months where you suffered through an extensive amount of stress. The intense level of stress, though it was only for a few months, could have caused such an upset in your system that you are left exhausted both mentally and physically even though the stress has stopped. Your sleep pattern may be off, and even if you do get a good night’s sleep, you wake up tired. You may notice that it takes longer for you to heal from colds, and even minor cuts and scrapes take longer to heal. You feel older, you are forgetful, your skin may even look like it has changed in a negative way. On top of all of this, all that stress has left you with an extra ten to twenty pounds of fat on your body. You have tried to shed the weight but all attempts have been unsuccessful. In fact, you have even gained weight during or after various supposed “foolproof” diets.

Dieting and exercise may not be the right course of action. It may be a better idea to try to understand what has happened to your body. It wouldn’t be extreme to go and visit your doctor. It may be hard to find a doctor who will run the right tests that you need, but if you can find one, he or she can run various tests and uncover any deficiencies, even an unbalance in hormones, vitamins, and minerals. When your body is trying to fight the stress it may overcompensate in one area, or take too much from somewhere else. Your body doesn’t want these imbalances to happen and when there is chaos and disorder, it may try to get it right but more than likely will fail. Once uncovered, you can start down the path of healing and bring levels back to baseline. You would be surprised how a simple imbalance can throw you off in such an extreme way.

If you feel you aren’t that bad off and want to try various things that can start you on a path of correcting your system then we will discuss specific things that can make a huge difference later in this article. You can also start down this path while seeking the advice of a doctor, or try these things first and then if you feel you are in need of something more aggressive, you can seek the advice from a doctor.

So, we have addressed how stress can cause chaos and make weight loss impossible. It may be best to look at what has happened and address those issues before you continue to swim up the creek of stubborn fat loss. Of course, if you feel your current state is in need of a more aggressive form of treatment, it is best to visit with your doctor, as we have previously discussed. Some of these suggestions are more alternative and some more mainstream. Don’t worry, they are all non-harmful. So here we go!

Invest in a dry cactus bristle brush and read more about dry brushing. This can have an effect you cannot even begin to imagine!

Start taking Vitamin D or increase your current dosage (women, especially those who have thyroid issues, take a Vitamin D supplement with sea iodine). 5,000 IU’s is pretty standard and a good dose. It is also a good idea to have your Vitamin D levels checked by your doctor.

Take a sauna! My husband constructed a near infrared dry sauna, which is the best! But if you do not have access to a NIR sauna, a dry sauna can have some pretty impressive effects. Remember to drink plenty of water and start slow. It’s better to stay in for 5 minutes, come out and rinse off with some cold water, and then go in for another 5 minutes, repeating this 3-5 times. You can increase your time as your body becomes more comfortable with the high heat. Do not push it and make sure to listen to your body. If you have any doubt about using a dry sauna for therapy, makes sure to speak with your doctor. Also, it may be a good idea to use the buddy system when you first start just to be on the safe side.

weight-loss-saunaMassages! I love sports massages and highly recommend them. Although these can be a bit painful, I really enjoy them. You can also try a Swedish massage, but this type is not my favorite since it feels like my 9-year-old is rubbing me, and is not really lymphatic.

Invest in a rebounder, or mini trampoline. This is great for circulation, and eliminating waste through your lymphatic system. Understanding how this system works can be extremely beneficial.

Increase your water intake. This helps to flush your system and regulate your body temperature which can have extremely positive effects.

Make sure you take a good multivitamin, fish oil, and Coenzyme Q10. A few others that I love are:

  • Alpha lipoic acid with biotin.
  • MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) taken with 500 mg of vitamin C.
  • Carnitine.
  • Mega green tea with green coffee bean extract

Take up Yoga, and/or Pilates. Both are great for flexibility and Yoga is great for stress!

weight-loss-relaxSleep is such an important thing. Many overlook its importance. I have heard people say that the natural sleep alternatives do not work. I have spoken with my physician and he recommends taking many of them together, in the case that one or the other does not work. They can be more effective and work synergistically when taken together.

Do not skip meals! I am sure you have heard this several times, it’s better to eat several smaller meals than three larger ones. Or even worse, one HUGE meal in the evening. I do not want to knock the three meals a day, because for some people that’s all they have time for, but when this is the case, make sure that your breakfast is the largest – not the highest in calories – but the meal that has the highest amount of all the macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) including fiber.

Acupuncture. I tried acupuncture for my migraines years ago. Though they did not knock out the migraines, they did relax me and I always took the best nap after my acupuncture treatment.

Do relaxing, fun and enjoyable things. We deal with so much stress and we don’t take time to enjoy life. Doing things that are fun, non-stressful and relaxing can have an effect on your stress, energy levels, overall mood, and even sleep.

I’m sure that some of the things I have listed you have already heard about. Some of the things you may have forgotten about and some may be new to you. You don’t have to start with all of them. But if you feel like life has beaten you down and you feel sluggish and out of whack, it would be in your best interest to give yourself some TLC. Once you are back on the road to overall wellness, look into a sound, healthy fat loss program that does not exclude major food groups or suggest extreme measures. Choose one that focuses on making permanent lifestyle changes. Addressing the source (systemic imbalance) rather than the symptoms (weight gain, slow weight loss, lack of energy) can lead to more success, not just with weight and fat loss, but probably in all areas of your life! Good luck!

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About Author

Diane Mohlman

I'm a ISSA certified fitness trainer, specialist in performance nutrition, fitness therapy and youth fitness. I continue to educate myself on the topics of health and fitness. This industry is ever changing and new discoveries are made constantly. I have such a love for this field, and also helping people better their lives! See my profile page for more information.

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