"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are."
Do something that truly allows you to be you today...because you are enough.
As you may know, stress can trigger the body to hold fat for no reason other than the physical side effects of being stressed.
External stress is everywhere. Even exercise is considered to be stress. Typically, exercise is positive stress (or eustress), but overtraining or inaccurate training, including improper form, is a negative stress on the body.
Too much negative stress from overtraining, not enough sleep, work demands, financial demands, too much junk, etc. can take a huge toll on us. These stressors can weaken our immune system, increase inflammation in the body, and mess with our hormones.
Of course, we can’t remove all external stresses. We can only work to control our responses and evoke the relationship response as often as possible.
But, what about internal stress?
Stress is any real or imagined dangers. One of the biggest negative stresses in life, especially for women, is self-attack.
Before I began my own wellness journey, my biggest internal stress was a belief (imagined danger) that everything I ate would lead to weight gain.
Yours may also be a belief around food, or it may be a belief around your body, circumstance, or current situation.
Do any of these phrases sound familiar?
- “I hate my body.”
- “I can’t stop eating this.”
- “I can’t do it.”
- “I’m not good enough.”
- "This never works."
- "I look awful."
We attack our bodies and ourselves because for some reason or another we believe we aren’t good enough. The problem is what happens naturally when our brains sense attack (self-attack included). We enter our “flight or fight” nervous system and automatically begin to store fat (to use for energy later), stop digestion (because it uses too much energy), increase resistance to pain, decrease sense of pleasure, and lose proper regulation of appetite.
But, wait. This isn’t what.
We want to extract all possible nutrients from our food, digest our meals properly, and burn as many calories as possible while doing so! We definitely don't want to store anything as fat.
Furthermore, as we have trouble regulating appetite and enjoying our food, we tend to eat more in an effort to compensate. We've removed the pleasure and satisfaction from food.
Here are a few tips to start rebuilding trust and removing self-attack:
- Every time you sit down for a meal today, take 6 deep breaths.
This simple act of deep breathing can trick your brain to go back to the relaxation state, therefore getting out of flight or fight. This relaxation state is where you can enjoy your meal, digest your food, and not store fat. This trick of deep breathing is especially useful when trying to combat binge eating. Binge eating can be a way to avoid emotions, get enough fuel to survive, or as a way to combat stress. Our bodies are very smart and tend to do anything it takes to show our stress when we don’t listen to initial cues. Something that makes sense to our bodies is binge/stress eating. If we eat enough food, then at some point our body has to switch from the stress response (flight or fight) to the relaxed response in order to digest our food! Because, remember, digestion shuts down when we are stressed (in fight or flight). If we take in an excess of food, then digestion becomes essential to survival. Our needs just switched and the relaxation state becomes necessary. If we can avoid some of our stress by listening to our body’s cues ahead of time, we can start to release the need for binge/stress eating. Remember, binge, emotional, and stress eating are not out to get us. The part of our brain that releases the urge for binge eating is innocent, not personal, and simply trying to survive. It’s there to help you see what’s missing and what’s needed. It’s trying to help you. (Even though it feels like it’s screaming at the top of it’s lungs).
- Remove the world every so often, especially while eating.
Be present and turn off the TV, phone, or computer. Be present with your life and aware of what you’re doing, instead of picking up negative emotions in the world.
- Express your truth (and hence eliminate the desire to rebel).
Don’t hold back who you are or what you need. Expressing your truth will let you breathe. Fully, deeply breathe and start to accept yourself. This will go a long way in reducing stress in your life and the need to rebel against whatever "truth" isn't so true.
- Be conscious of who you are talking to, what conversations you are having, and how you are speaking to yourself and others throughout the day.
It takes consistent, daily work to replace negative thoughts with positive encouragement. We need to remove ourselves from negative conversations or people and focus on appreciating all the things we already do well.
- Let the journey to weight loss be about kindness, self-exploration, discovery, experimenting, and love...not about self-hate or willpower.
“The journey tends to inform the destination.” – Marc David from the Psychology of Eating. If you hate, stress, or force your way to the end goal, how do you think the end goal will really feel? What will honestly have changed?
- Focus on completely enjoying your food!
It’s good to get pleasure and satisfaction from what we eat! If you want ice cream, eat ice cream! If you want a cupcake, go find the best and most high-quality cupcake you can find! Just let the focus be on complete enjoyment. Therefore, if you’re with your kids and know they will be crawling all over you while you’re trying to eat that precious ice cream, then maybe you’d enjoy it more if you waited to eat once they went to bed. Focus on creating the ideal environment for satisfaction and pleasure from food.
Before you move on with your day, take a moment to think about the things that cause you stress.
Do you have a lot of internal stress?
How do you speak to yourself during the day?
Is your job or family life stressful?
Do you have a never ending to-do list?
Is your body or weight stressing you out? Why?
Are you over concerned with dieting or external food rules?
Do you feel a lot of guilt with food, body, or exercise?
Everything counts here and many stresses can be improved.