stress and weight

Three Ways to Lower Stress and Kick-Start Weight Loss

Many of you who have tried to lose weight or change your body composition know how hard it can be. You may have even noticed that you are doing everything right, but nothing is budging. It can be incredibly frustrating.

What About Stress?

What you may not be aware of is how your stress is effecting your weight loss efforts. Our bodies have some pretty sophisticated ways of holding on to precious body fat.

Our brain’s hypothalamus not only regulates sex hormone production, but also communicates with the adrenal glands regarding the release of stress hormones. What kind of stress? It could be the stress of eating too many processed foods and not getting enough nutrition. Chronic yo-yo dieting is also hard on our bodies and minds.

Then there are all the every-day stressors we know about – work, kids, bills alone can be rough, and if you add to that illness, tragedy, injury, relationship issues…our brain goes into “fight or flight” mode easily.

When the hypothalamus signals for certain hormones to be released, it can affect your metabolism and make it very hard for you to lose weight. So what are you supposed to do?

What if we put aside the objective of weight loss for a second, and look at the bigger picture.

If you can’t lose weight when your life is so stressful, let’s switch focus to relieving that stress. Here are three key ways to lower stress:

(1) Get Better Sleep

stress and weight
This can’t be emphasized enough. Sleep is essential to your mental and physical repair. Many processes in your brain and body cannot happen without proper sleep.

Something to begin right now: get 15 minutes of daylight in the morning to set your circadian clock going.

Morning light exposure, without sunglasses, is how your brain starts the timer that will eventually send you to sleep. Another little adjustment you can make, today, is to make your room as dark as possible. Cover up lights, or better yet get electronics out of the room. Get dark shades or curtains.

Light effects your sleep enormously. Make those two changes, and we can work on more down the road.

(2) Balance Harder Workouts with Low-Impact, Gentle Movement

High-intensity workouts are great, but they increase cortisol and if you already have a demanding life, you need to counter-balance. This is also key for physical and mental repair.

Gentle yoga, foam rolling, walks, Foundation Training, gardening, and much more. Moderate intensity workouts have been shown to have the best impact for longevity.

Find things that move your body and make you feel relaxed. Invest in your self care: get a massage, talk to a friend, read a magazine, allow yourself to just BE. Our culture really rewards being incredibly busy, but that leads to burnout.

(3) Add Nutrition

stress and weight
It’s stressful to think about taking stuff away, so let’s just add things in. Your body and mind NEED a variety of nutrient dense foods for all of it’s processes.

If you’re eating is poor, and you are suffering from a variety of ailments (excess weight, insomnia, anxiety, skin disorders, etc), it is really important to understand how deeply those things are connected.

Our body signals to our brain how healthy we are, and if our gut tells our brain we aren’t healthy, it can manifest in a variety of ways. So let’s add some good stuff in there.

Track your eating for three days (that’s it, just three). Be honest. You don’t have to show anyone. Expand your awareness of your eating patterns, and look for ways that you can add whole foods.

Start small, and add as you get more comfortable.

Don’t do any of this stuff with weight loss as your objective. Do it because you are being kind to yourself, and you want to live the healthiest life that you possibly can. You may find that the weight loss is a byproduct. Our system thrives when we do.

For more information on nutrition coaching and achieving your goals with realistic, lifelong habits, contact us at

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Elyse Petterson

After years of attending a variety of gyms, Elyse Petterson felt like she was looking for something more. Together with Rich Edgren, she aims to make Perpetual Motion the ideal gym, with never-boring classes, outdoor activities, a responsive and welcoming team, and a supportive community.

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