How do hormones and stress play a role in weight loss? We all know that many people “stress eat” but why and what does that really mean? I could not help myself, Diary…I had to investigate. Here comes some nerdy, science talk…
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, commonly known as the stress hormone, produced by the adrenal glands. It takes minutes, rather than seconds like fight or flight hormones, for you to feel the effects of cortisol in the face of stress. The release of this hormone takes a multi-step process involving two additional minor hormones.
First, the part of the brain called the amygdala has to recognize a threat. It then sends a message to the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). CRH then tells the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which tells the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. That’s a whole lot of messaging!
In survival mode, the optimal amounts of cortisol can be life saving. It helps to maintain fluid balance and blood pressure, while regulating some body functions that aren’t crucial in the moment, like reproductive drive, immunity, digestion and growth.
But when you stew on a problem, the body continuously releases cortisol, and chronic elevated levels can lead to serious issues. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure and sugar, decrease libido, produce acne, contribute to obesity and more.
Other hormones also contribute to health, wellness, and weight. Leptin is a hormone secreted by the fat cells. It sends a signal to the brain that we have enough energy stored and that we don’t need to eat. Insulin is the hormone that tells our cells to pick up glucose from the bloodstream. It is also the major energy storage hormone in the body. It tells our cells to store energy, either as glycogen or fat. One of the ways that insulin contributes to obesity, is by blocking the leptin signal in the brain.
EUREKA! Stress causes our brain to get mixed up signals from hormones and our brain loses the ability to say “Hey, you don’t need to eat any more food right now.” Got it. Stress Management has now been added as my 7th not-so-secret-secrets to weight loss. Stress can cause many health issues and I need to give more attention to how I manage it.
|Goal||Reality||Grade||Change Needed for Next Week|
|Sleep 8 hours||Goal met of getting 8 hours of sleep 3 nights in the past week||A-||Sleep 8 hours at least 4 nights a week…pushing some boundaries|
|Eat Breakfast & No Night Snacking||Fell off on eating my usual high protein breakfast and ate more Clif bar type grab-n-go breakfast. No night snacking.||B+||Get back to usual Monday morning routine of making egg muffins for the week|
|Exercise||Only hit the gym 1 time in the last 7 days for 50 minutes of cardio and fit in a 45 minute walk at the Arboretum||C+||Get back to my usual routine of 3 days a week at the gym minimum OR 3 days a week of any kind of exercise|
|Write Down What I Eat||Still not doing that…mental block or do I really just hate it?||D||Write down 1 day of what I eat…it’s a serious mental block issue!|
|Weigh Weekly||Thursday A.M. = Weight Maintained||B||No weight gained but no weight lost. Goal not met. Need to rejuvenate efforts but not discouraged!!!|
|Get & Give Support||Not as diligent with my blog but did ask for some help when I really needed it||B+||Meet with Sheryl to add INSPIRE ME section of my blog|
|Stress Management||Not concentrating on breathing through issues. Also, I need to say “No” to adding to my To Do list sometimes and be okay with it.||C+||Breathe. Maybe look for a Yoga class once a week? Say No when I need to concentrate on my health vs. getting stuff done.|