Stress & Weight Gain

Stress & Weight Gain

Hunt & Gather
Hunt & Gather!

I seem to need a little stress in my life to overcome procrastination. I loudly proclaim how much I detest deadlines. They are never far enough out to allow me to get things done, perfectly, before the due date pops up on my calendar. But the reality is that I seem to need deadlines to get stuff done. Maybe hard deadlines aren’t the best choice when it comes to diet and weight loss.

A little stress may have some motivational value. But too much stress is not constructive. And it doesn’t look like it helps me much, when it comes to hitting a goal on the scale. Quite the contrary, it can promote weight gain. My recent adventure with fasting illustrates the point well. I’ll save the actual numbers for the month-end review (one of those deadlines I like so much!) but I can tell you that I lost a big chunk of weight during my four-day fast. Yes, of course there was water loss. But I know there was fat loss too. By some twist of fate, I found myself under some heavy-duty stress during the fast. And it increased immediately following the fast. It was nothing to do with the fast, it was just a perfectly timed little stress-storm, coming from both the work and home fronts.

Among other things, stress produces a hormonal cascade of cortisol and adrenaline to help us do what our ancestors had to do in times of stress. Back in our caveman days, some might have grabbed a spear and went out to do battle with the saber-toothed tiger. While others made the choice to run away, hoping they weren’t the slowest runner in the group! It’s the fight or flight response. The hormonal rush gives us a big sugar boost, to meet that high energy demand, in times of stress.

Today, in times of stress, we tend to grab the tub of ice cream and plonk ourselves on the couch for comfort. And no, I didn’t totally lose it after the fast … I only ate my homemade, no-added-sugar ice cream! I actually ate almost-kinda-somewhat reasonably well in those days following the fast. But I tried to handle my stress by stuffing my face, while lying on the couch. This isn’t the best way to handle stress. I got away with it for the first couple of post-fast days, but the scale punished me badly for a few days after that.

I really do know better. But the stress burden somehow prevented me getting out. And I didn’t even have to worry about battling any saber-toothed tigers. Just a leisurely little walk by the water would have done wonders.  That’s not what I did, of course. And as I indulged in my awful, modern, couch-based, stress-handling technique, I restored about 75% of the fasting losses.

I’m just going to make believe that it’s mostly water gain! And that doesn’t count, right!?!?

Do as I say. Not as I do! 🙂

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