Anxiety can affect all of us from time to time. Job interviews, moving home, and relationship issues can all cause high levels of stress and anxiety, which over time will cause many problems. Unfortunately, high levels of anxiety are not good if you are trying to lose weight. Some people find that the weight drops off them when they are stressed, anxious and upset, but many more find that the opposite happens and they gain weight!
The Effect Of Stress & Cortisol
Stress and anxiety cause cortisol levels in the body to rise. In small amounts, this won’t cause too many problems, but over time it can have a disastrous effect. Raised levels of cortisol leads to fat gain in the abdominal area, also known as a ‘stress tummy’. If you don’t deal with your anxiety and stress, you will find it impossible to shift the fat stores around your middle, no matter how hard you diet or exercise.
When the body is put under stress, it tends to hold on to its fat stores. This is a survival mechanism dating back to when we lived in caves and life was a daily battle against the odds. Chronic anxiety makes your body think it is fighting for survival. A malnourished person is less likely to survive, so say “hello” to your fat stores because they will be around for a while.
High levels of anxiety and stress, plus too much cortisol flowing around the body, will lead to chronic gut inflammation. This in turn will make you feel unwell, tired, and lacking in motivation, which is not a good state of mind to be in when you are trying to stick to a weight loss program.
Depression & Anxiety
Living with anxiety is hard work and the stress it places on your system is likely to lead to depression. Of course depression can also make you feel anxious, so really the two states of mind are closely linked and need addressing if you want your weight loss plan to be successful.
Keep a weight loss journal and write down your feelings as the journey unfolds. You may be able to spot a pattern. For example, being around certain people may make you feel more anxious and pessimistic about achieving your weight loss goals. So try avoiding them.
A common side effect of anxiety is comfort eating. We feel anxious and stressed and therefore we crave donuts and chocolate. So in order to defeat your cravings, you need to address the root cause of your anxiety and stress.
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