Phew! Jeez this one was stressful!
Dr. Laurie says that, “stress is a poison. We can all handle a little bit of poison everyday, but eventually it’s going to take us out.” With any kind of challenge, the brain activates the sympathetic nervous-system. Anxiety is closely related to stress and anxiety is “an age old process from when we were cavemen that there is a tiger in the woods and we’re either going to fight the tiger, run away from the tiger, or freeze and hope the tiger doesn’t see us. As soon as we are challenged by anything, this fight or flight response kicks in and stress hormones are released, such as cortisol and epinephrine. The body “carbs up” and releases glucose and fat to the cells of the body to get away from whatever we view as our tiger.
Marathoners “carb up” before a marathon because they know with a huge amount of energy they are going to need to run the race and the impending stress they are going to put on their body, they need a huge amount of sugar and fat as stored energy to slowly burn off during the race. The same thing happened with mental stress however with mental stress the body is actually not burning any energy. The body keeps making cortisol and epinephrine, releasing those stress hormones, the feeling of either needing to fight or run is real, however it’s just all in the mind. So all of that sugar stored has nowhere to go so it just gets converted into fat.
Cortisol is an appetite stimulant and so there is a link between chronic stress and weight gain. The body when stressed feels the need to pack away the sugar and fat for the impending marathon only if there’s no marathon, therefor no movement, and noway to burn off those access calories.
The fastest way to increase energy is to go for junk food. The more junk food a person eats the less nutritious are their meals and therefore more weight gain. So the two actually really go hand in hand. Interestingly enough though, in a study where scientists locked mice in a cage and added stress by putting in an aggressive mouse, they gave some mice regular mouse food, and other mice junk food (of the mice variety). What is really interesting is the stressed mice eating the junk food gained a huge amount of weight, much more than the stressed regular food eating mice. And the mice that were not subjected to the stress, yet still eating the junk food, gained weight but nowhere near as much as the stressed mice did. So it’s not just the stress that will do you in it’s the stress in combination with the poor diet that does. And it is also been found the region of the brain that plays a roll in modulating emotion influences appetite and how much energy you extol. So the more tired we are, the more stressed we are. If we have workplace conflict the more stressed we are. If we are dieting and we aren’t seeing any results the more stressed we are. And the more stressed we are the more we will reach for high sugar, high fat food in order to make ourselves feel better, comfort ourselves and fool ourselves into feeling less stressed all the while causing more stress because we are not being healthy and so the cycle starts all over again.
On the quest to lose 50 pounds in a year. Can she do it? Only time will tell....with the help of this blog.