Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stress and Healthy Lifestyle

A client asked me, if stress should hinder or stop her weight loss progression. My answer – YES!
Stress is a factor which impacts many humans – work stress, financial stress, and emotional stress – stress is everywhere. As people we experience and encounter a lot in our lives daily, and the journey towards a healthy lifestyle makes it very difficult to maintain when you are overly stressed. Establishing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle puts many stresses on people especially the emotional factor; many unhealthy people (both average and overweight individuals) will look to food as the stress reliever; therefore, eliminating the foods that usually assist in dealing with your stress will mentally and internally impact your weight loss (or gain for some people).
How does one cope with stress during this healthy journey?
The main factor in dealing with stress during your new lifestyle is to understand this is not a temporary situation. Your problems may be temporary. For example, people are stressed at work because they are working on a major project, but the project is only 2 weeks long. What can you do during these two weeks? Well, first make sure you prepare and pack up plenty of healthy choices with you especially if you are going to work long hours. Vending machines or ordering take out temptation is the easiest fix for most people who are stressed out. If you continue to surround yourself with healthy choices, even when you are stressed out, you will not turn to the unhealthy foods or snacks.
The next thing one can do is exercise. Working out is a great stress reliever. If you are feeling tense and sore, you can look into yoga classes or possibly just go for a walk or run (running burns more calories). Getting up and moving your body will help you in possibly sorting your thoughts as to how to deal with the situation at hand, or it could help you to forget your problems altogether. Exercising will get you back on track especially if you have possibly gained some weight back.
Lastly, the one thing that has helped me throughout this journey is talking to someone – make sure the person is not part of your stress. I recently decided to see a therapist because I was dealing with many stress factors – long work hours, I am a PhD candidate, relationships (personal and family/friends), and finances. I found that most of my stress stemmed around one another, and how it was one of the reasons I never successfully lost weight in the past. When I took hold and control of my healthy lifestyle, I found I had a better handling on most of my other stresses. See, in the past, my weight was my biggest stressor, and now that I am able to control it, I am able to handle other stresses. So, in talking with my therapist, I have found ways in handling the big stresses and help to identify ways to improve who I am, but now on a mental and emotional standpoint.
Being healthy is very important, but let’s be realistic – nobody is able to completely live stress free, so you have to learn how to cope, but cope in a healthy way. Stay strong and remember you can be your biggest enemy, but why? Do not allow this to influence your journey because this is just a small obstacle in life’s big challenges.