Too Stressed to Think up a Title

This is one of those weeks.  You know the ones… everything hits at once.  The things you knew were coming and the things you never expected.  Hassles and headaches.  Demands on your time and on your emotions.  Draining.  STRESS with a capitol S-T-R-E-S-S.

And stress is closely linked with weight gain!  Just one more thing I don’t need to worry about right now!

There seem to be two major reasons behind stress leading to weight gain:  the actual science and the emotional eating.  Let’s talk science first; despite it being my least favorite subject in school, it is simpler for me to understand than the emotional stuff.

When you are stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode and releases certain hormones, including cortisol.  It doesn’t matter if you are stressed because you are running for your life or because of a frustrating job; the impact on your body is the same.  I will cut through the scientific mumbo jumbo straight to the bottom-line… cortisol can slow your metabolism and can impact where you store fat… hello belly!

And for many of us, our reaction to stress is to eat.  This might be because cortisol actually increases the appetite and is known to cause us to crave certain things.  But I think for many of us it is a pure emotional reaction.  Did we learn as a children to equate food with comfort?  Skinned knee, have a cookie.  Broken toy, have some cake.  Shot in your arm, have a lollipop.  Maybe we eat when stressed because food takes our mind off things.  How much nicer to think about chocolate and potato chips than sick family members or idiot bosses.  In the past I have sometimes eaten the junk first, then had an ‘aha moment’ as I realized afterwards that it was because of stress!  But usually it was an immediate cause and effect:  stress to food.  And never healthy food.

Of course there are some people who actually find the opposite effect – they lose their appetite when stressed.  That is so not me!

But as stressed as I have been this week, I have controlled my eating every day.  I walked right pass sweet potato fries, cheesecake, and bagels yesterday with only a quick regretful glance.  I packed cheese and colored peppers when I knew I would be out all day.  I got home hungry at dinnertime and went straight for the green beans (I called ahead to have DH preheat the oven), protein and whole grains.  And maybe as a result, I felt just a little less stressed since I didn’t have to add guilt over eating things I knew I shouldn’t.

The funny thing about my past life filled with emotional eating… it usually made me feel worse!  Physically and emotionally.  That made me more stressed and depressed and triggered more eating.  And so went the viscous cycle.  But this week, filled with headaches and heartbreak and emotions and turmoil,  has shown me that I am stronger than the stress!  I am stronger than the stress:)   Progress.

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14 Comments

Filed under dieting, emotions/emotional issues

14 responses to “Too Stressed to Think up a Title

  1. I am horrible at dealing with stress. I think I’m getting much better, but it’s been a struggle. I just seem to crumble like a cookie. One good thing is I’ve seemed to have gotten control over my stress induced eating. That’s been hard for me.

    I’m sorry you’re having a tough week. I hope things get better for you.

  2. I do believe that cortisol led to a higher concentration of belly fat when I put on most of my weight a few years ago. I was SUPER stressed, like to the point of losing hair and walking like a zombie. I’ve noticed that I have a lot of belly/waist fat and it’s probably from that. Sigh.

    Sorry your week is so stressful! I hope it gets better for you soon!

  3. lifein3dee

    I did not know some of that. Thanks for posting it. Maybe it’s stress that’s kept my weight on.

  4. sunnydaze

    Everytime I hear cortisol I think of that diet pill commercial that says that cortisol gives you “dangerous belly fat”. LOL.

    I turn to food, too, when stressed and then ALWAYS regret it later. I’m just learning to control it also. Good for you for resisiting! You’re on your way! 🙂

  5. I’m so sorry that so much is giving you stress in your life right now. Makes me very sad. 😦 😦

    That said, I am sooooooooooo proud of you for not knuckling to the inner pressure and trying to eat down your emotions! YAY YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀

  6. I’m so glad that you’ve had success on such a stressful week. That is an achievement if ever there was one. Great work!

  7. Kudos for walking past the cheesecake – that is my weakness. I often eat when I’m stressed, I recognize it and when I was young it didn’t matter. Now my 46 yr old body isn’t so eager to let go of those extra calories and I notice them sticking to my hips a little more.

    But cheesecake? Don’t tempt me like that 🙂

  8. I’m sorry that things have been so stressful, but good for you for recognizing it and dealing with it. As you said, the eating doesn’t change the situation and it actually makes you feel worse physically. I’m a person who doesn’t eat when I’m stressed. What I would do though I stuff myself when the situation was done, so the result was the same.

  9. I’m a stress eater and I agree with what you said your experience was…..it only makes you feel worse in the end. So, congratulations for holding your own in the face of all that stress.

  10. Yeah… my response to stress is flight or eat. No fightin’ over here. Although, I wish I had that response.

    It’s funny that we eat when we’re stressed thereby causing more stress because we usually feel guilty about what we have eaten thereafter.

    You made amazing choices this week!! I am inspired!!

    ~Kellie

  11. sorry you had such a tough week, but I’m glad you see the positive peeking through via healthy eating choices.

  12. Thanks for the comments and support, as always. So today I discovered that while I was not eating for stress, I sure was chewing! I think I went through a pack of gum in two days without even realizing it. And I actually looked forward to exercising my stress away:)

  13. I carry my stress in my shoulders.

  14. jen

    I think that is a great mantra — I am stronger than the stress! I am stronger than the stress! Even though you’ve been stressed, it has to feel good to some what carry on through it all–I would take that as a huge accomplishment! I’m going to strive to be stronger than the stress!

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