How ‘Anxiety Annie’ affects your waistline plus our top 10 tips on how to deal with it.
I’ve been learning lots about hormones and how they affect our bodies – from unexplained fatigue to itchy twitchy legs, from sleep disruption to lack of libido and much more.
I’d like to talk you about stress and adrenal resilience and how it can increase tummy fat.
Do you have any stress? Of course, we all do and it’s never going away but it’s how we deal with it that’s important.
Are you Anxiety Annie, worrying about everything constantly?
Money, kids, work, commute to work, caring for elderly parents etc etc
Some interesting facts
Since prehistoric times our bodies have been programmed to deal with stress in just one of two ways ie; fight or flight.
If as a caveman/woman we encountered a dangerous situation our bodies would quickly move into a stress response:
Stage 1 ALARM
Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises and our digestion shuts down in order for energy to be shifted to our limbs either to run away (flight) or tense muscles ready for action (fight).
Breathing speeds up, we start sweating, blood sugar levels increase. We might even wet or soil ourselves in cases of extreme stress.
Once this alarm is over, our bodies would recover fairly quickly…
If the stress is NOT removed, we move to
Stage 2 RESISTANCE
Cortisol keeps our blood pressure up and we retain sodium causing swollen hands/ankles.
Cortisol also causes cravings for fast energy release foods – think carbs/fat combinations like buttered toast, chocolate biscuits – so that we have the energy to either run away or stand and fight that sabre toothed tiger!
So in prehistoric days the caveman either fought the tiger or ran away (hence burned his calories) and the stress was removed until the next dangerous creature surfaced. But what about us? What if our daily lives are so stressful that we are constantly stressing about one thing or another?
Well unless we do something physical (fight the tiger or run away) those extra high fat/high carb calories consumed get stored as FAT around our middle.
Why around the middle?
Fat is deposited close to the liver so it can quickly be converted back to energy in case of (another) emergency.
Stage 3 EXHAUSTION
When we worry and stress continuously, we suffer adrenal fatigue and burn out. Think of it like constantly revving the car engine, eventually there’s nothing left in the tank.
And when our adrenal glands are fatigued it can cause an imbalance in cortisol levels.
Here are some signals of cortisol imbalance:
- Mid section weight gain
- Increased appetite for high fat/high carb food (e.g. pastries, choc biscuits, buttered toast)
- Mid afternoon energy slump – need coffee/biscuits as pick up.
- Low immune system – picking up every sniffle going.
- Regular headaches
- Sore, tender achy muscles (esp neck/shoulders)
- Hair loss (lose more when brushing)
- Lack of concentration/forgetfulness
- Decreased/absent libido – sex goes out of the window.
- Tired but can’t sleep well
- Second wind in the evening or waking up during the night and can’t get back to sleep, then can’t get up in the morning.
What’s your stress response?
- Overeating. Especially sweet foods – biscuits, chocolate, bread, pasta etc
- Drinking too much alcohol (2nd, 3rd or 4th glass of wine)
- Relying on coffee or tea – especially from mid afternoon onwards
- Overspending – using retail therapy as a distraction
- Watching too much TV – stops you from thinking
We all know what we should be doing but perhaps now is the time to start taking our own health seriously?
Let’s start right now by looking at
10 effective ways to lower your stress levels and reduce tummy fat:
- Make time for FUN – do something you enjoy just for the sheer pleasure of it.
- Have a little luxury and be nice to yourself – it could be just buying yourself some fresh flowers or drinking your tea from a beautiful cup or time spent reading a book in peace.
- Practice Yoga/Pilates
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Quit sugar and refined carbs
- Stop drinking calories (wine = 200 cals per glass)
- Eat cooked cruciferous vegetables
- Eat good fats – avocado, nuts, seeds, oily fish
- Have a nap if you need it