Diet, workout plans, and sleep are all building blocks to an impressive body. However, there’s a sneaky little thing called stress that can ruin all your gains.
It’s not nearly as “sexy” to talk about as things like getting abs and cooking impressive meals, but your hormones and metabolism are extremely important to the overall function of your body.
Things like major stress, depriving your body of the needed calories, and constant binge drinking can damage your body for years. Thankfully, for the most part, with careful planning you can undo a lot of the damage. (One recommended resource for this is Jillian Michael’s book: Master Your Metabolism. P.S. that’s not an affiliate link. I just dig the book.)
From the book:
“According to Dr. Scott Isaacs, author of The Leptin Boost Diet and guru of all things hormonal, stress can cause
- Leptin resistance
- Insulin resistance
- Lower estrogen (estradiol) in women
- Lower testosterone in men
- Lower levels of growth hormone
- Higher cortisol levels
- Impaired conversion of thyroid hormone”
Basically, it can ruin everything.
All of those can cause serious health complications along with unexplained weight gain.
This is why I disagree fully with anyone who claims weight loss is as simple as calories in and calories out. It kind of is, but not always. Plus, I refuse to ride the weight-shaming bandwagon, but that’s another story.
When a study was done at the University of Chicago and they deprived sleep in young men for two nights, the hormone that regulates hunger levels increased.
Not to mention, stress and sleep are usually correlated. If you’re stressed, you don’t sleep well. If you don’t sleep well, it’s hard to deal with stress. It’s a constant yo-yo that can cause mental and physical hell. It’s also harder to eat well and maintain energy to exercise when you have too much stress in your body.
Dealing With Stress
Now, the problem that I understand far too well is that most advice about dealing with stress has to do with spending large amounts of money. Some of these horrible tips include: get a weekly massage! Go on vacation! Hire some help! All of them are great ideas, but I choose to also learn how to manage my stress without spending money (so I can kick my student loans in the face).
So, here are my tips to manage stress on the cheap:
1. The 10/10/10 Rule. I cannot remember where I heard this rule, but the basics are simple: you ask yourself if the thing stressing you out at the moment will matter in 10 days, 10 months, and 10 years. While something might matter in 10 days, it won’t matter in 10 years.
2. Focus on the things you do have. I’m not big into being “woo-woo”, but gratitude is serious business. There are always things to be grateful for, even if it’s the fact that you’re alive. List them all out.
3. Get your mind off stress with physical work. When my mind is completely bogged down with stress, it’s hard to have any perspective outside the moment I’m in. This is when I know it’s time to go exercise, clean the house, or do something else like garden. Physically exhaust yourself so you stop thinking for a bit.
4. Go do something for free in your city. Thankfully, I live in downtown Denver, so I have a long list of free things to do around here. When I lived in my smaller town in Michigan, there were still PLENTY of things to do that got me out of the house and my mind off what I was stressed about.
5. Do something that always gets your mind right. For me, it’s watching one of my favorite movies between Gladiator, 300, or something really heavy like Schindler’s List. All of those remind me what’s important and to not worry about the (usually) petty thing I can’t get off my mind.
Learn your body
Overall, it’s important to know what’s going on with your body. Fitness and nutrition are fun, but if your body is not functioning well at the most basic level, it will all come crashing down eventually.
Stay healthy, inside and out.
What are YOUR tips to staying healthy and managing stress?