Stress and Weight Loss

January 31, 2019

A crayon and pen drawing of a girl and two rabbits and a lot of chaotic scribbles.

Most of the population suffers from stress throughout life. Some manage the symptoms better than others do. We know what stress is. We know the feeling of anxiety: pressure on our heads, emotional strain and tension across the scalp. We think it will vanish, but stress is not going anywhere. It stays put and likes to rear its ugly head from time to time.

We are a pretty stressed out bunch. We expect stress, we deal with stress, but do we truly understand what is going on and how stress affects us on our weight-loss journeys?

If not, perhaps this can shed a shimmer of light on what’s happening!

A True Story

When a new client comes on board with a goal set on focusing on toning up and to lose body fat for example, after a few tests and implementing the finest scientifically proven program backed by the gods of fitness we begin the journey.

Now, when everything is going right, and the client has cardio down to a tee, performing resistance exercises and their nutrition is cleaner than your nan’s crystal glasses in the cupboard you would expect to see some pretty amazing result, but what if something isn’t clicking and the routine just isn’t working? Our client just can’t lose that body fat!

Now, it turns out alongside all the hard work our client is putting into achieving her goals, she has had a pretty intense few weeks at work and high levels of stress in her home life. Does this sound familiar?

When the body is under stress, whether it be work or home life, the body begins to believe it is under attack and it switches into fight-or-flight mode. The body then releases a complexity of hormones including adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare our bodies for all-out war!

A crayon and pen drawing of a girl and two rabbits and a lot of chaotic scribbles.

Untitled by Kohei Akiba

There is such a high level of cortisol release that it can be directly related to rapid weight gain especially around the midsection or no movement on the scales at all. Increased cortisol levels also cause a retention of water, which is a whole other topic to be tackled at a later date. This reaction to stress causes the body to divert blood away from your muscles. There will be a reduction in digestion, increased blood pressure and, on a serious note, a decrease in libidoyes that’s right, libido! So, we need to cut all stress out, effectively immediately.

With all this going on, the nervous system is in disarray. It’s starved of oxygen, this is called the freeze zone. Deep sighs bring oxygen back into the body, allowing functionality, but not at optimum levels.

To bring it back around and make this science stuff relatable, our client was struggling to find motivation after a few weeks of no scale movement. So what did we do? We sent our client on a weekend spa: no work, no training, just sweet bubbly prosecco, massages, mud baths, jacuzzies & good vibes! What sounds better than that? Our client came back, jumped onto the scales and guess what? She lost 2.4kg!!

What’s the moral of the story? Stress causes an artificial increase in weight, so I say let’s stomp it out once and for all! When you feel that you’re plateauing on the scales, feeling pressured, anxious and just can’t get your head above water, take some well-deserved TLC, hit the reset button and jump back on the bandwagon when you have de-stressed!


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