Have you looked down at your belly and wondered who is this foreign host that has attached itself here? I’ve done everything I’ve done in the past. I eat mostly clean, do my cardio, etc…but it just doesn’t work anymore. I feel like a hamster spinning on a wheel getting nowhere. I work full-time in a semi-stressful job, have plenty of outside responsibilities such as kiddos, significant other, managing home, taking care of aging parents, volunteering, etc… (any combo of the above). I’m exhausted and don’t know what to do. Well friend, I‘ve been right where you are and have a solution. But first a little background story.
Baby number 2 came right after I graduated pharmacy school. Talk about stress! I was staying home with an extra-active, persistent 18 month old (Tytan) trying to keep baby Trenton alive (I set the bar pretty high I know lol!), with crazy hormones all while studying for my pharmacy boards. Did I mention I had an unexpected C-section with Trenton? I was offered my first job on the same day I checked my banking account balance which was a whopping -$47. Yes that’s a negative. I started the next crazy, stressful time of life learning to be a community pharmacist. I then was offered a position in a compounding pharmacy. Still very stressful with learning a whole new skill set while also walking on eggshells with all of the estrogen floating around (very strong personalities abound in the place). All the while, I was trying to lose weight. I honestly feel like I tried everything. The point I almost gave up was when I joined a very intense program where they combine treadmill running, weight lifting, and rowing in a 1 hour class. I faithfully went 4-5 times per week for 7-8 weeks, adjusted my diet, and did not lose a pound or inches. Needless to say, I was discouraged. I walked out of a class and never went back. Decreasing your calories in and increasing calories burned should work, right? Well it didn’t for me and I bet it may not have worked for you either.
Everyone talks about stress and how bad it is for us but I didn’t realize just how much it affects a woman’s body until this year. I decided to begin dealing with my stress level first. Everyone has stress in different parts of their lives. My biggest stressor was/is work. I was so green and I just wanted to feel confident. I noticed what set my stress level off. I was a regular 6-7 out of 10 on my stress level and would sky rocket to a 10+ when an issue occurred. What set my stress to the roof was back-counting pills (get the meds into the patient’s hands so they don’t have to wait) and when I was asked a question I didn’t know the answer to. I realized I wasn’t doing myself or anyone else any favors by stressing. My high stress levels caused my brain to be scattered and increased my chances of making a mistake which is not ok in my field. I began telling myself I am enough and have the tools and knowledge to answer the questions being asked with confidence. I also began taking deep breaths when I felt my stress levels quickly creeping up. It worked! I kept on receiving compliments like you sound so calm, how do you stay so calm all the time? These comments confirmed to me the strategies worked along with feeling more calmness in my heart and in my daily duties. I also noticed I began losing weight and my belly started flattening. DING! DING! DING!
I have a quiz I have created just for you to identify your areas in life causing the most stress but first I want to talk to you about the effects of stress on your body.
- Balanced cortisol levels=less snacking. Anyone here a stress snacker? Me too! Stress is like the little devil sitting on your shoulder telling you to eat those cookies, munch on those chips. Drink that glass of wine which we all know leads to 2-3 glasses. I mean, you deserve it…you’ve had a rough day at work and have come home to nagging/screaming kiddos. The more stress you feel the more likely you are to eat more carb based foods. Think more belly fat!
- High stress=increased PMS. Yes, this is a real thing. What happen is your body doesn’t have enough cortisol so it steals progesterone (the feel good hormone) to make more cortisol resulting in estrogen dominance and increased PMS. Think more belly fat too!
- High stress increases sex binding hormone which binds testosterone making it inaccessible to your body resulting in decreased muscle tone (flabbiness, less muscle=lower metabolism), fatigue, and decreased sex drive,
- High cortisol increases your thyroid binding hormone binding your thyroid hormones and decreasing your metabolism making your fluffier.
- High stress can keep you up at night with a racing mind. Lack of sleep leads results in a fatigued body and brain which may lead to not as good of choices as one would normally choose.
- You may feel physical symptoms from your stress such as being fatigued, headaches, upset stomach, muscle tension, change in appetite, teeth grinding, change in sex drive, and/or feeling dizzy (stress.org/daily-life/).
- Psychological symptoms include irritability, anger, feeling nervous, lack of energy, and feeling as if you could cry. I don’t know about you but I know I can identify with a few of those when under chronic stress.
Are you convinced yet to work on decreasing your stress levels? Or do you want to continue boot strapping it through life? I say this with love…it is your choice….and I am here to help you. Every woman is unique and beautiful in her own way. Her stress is also unique. One woman may flourish at work and come home to absolute chaos. While another woman’s stress levels soar through the roof at work and then she glides through her home life and relationships like she’s on easy street.
I’ve created a quiz for you to determine where your stress lies so you know where to focus your stress balancing efforts. You will also find the area you are strongest. Knowing both will give you tools to work for your advantage. Take the quiz and let me know what you find out about yourself. Get the Quiz Here!