Why Stress Management is an Integral Part of a Successful Weight Loss Program

Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

As the New Year approaches, many of you will start to think about weight loss. One area that you may not include in your planning is how you will manage the stress in your life. You can have the best of plans, but if you have a high level of stress in your life and you do not manage it well, it will be almost impossible to be successful in your weight loss efforts.

If you are constantly at a high level of stress, you may not sleep well or make healthy eating choices. You are probably living your life in a reactive manner. Stress also makes your body produce a constant stream of the hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol affect how your body metabolizes sugar, stores fat and has a negative effect on blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High levels of cortisol make weight loss extra challenging.

Stress can affect the quality of your sleep. A good night’s sleep is absolutely critical to weight loss. Recent studies point to a definite relationship between how much sleep you get and how this affects the hormones that control hunger and satiation. There is a negative cascading effect to not getting enough sleep. When you are walking around tired all day, you will tend to do more emotional eating: not only eating larger amounts of food, but often eating foods that are high in saturated fat, calories, salt and/or sugar. Although this may temporarily give you a good feeling, you will invariably get an energy and mood slump. That workout you had scheduled later for the afternoon? Who has energy for that!? Stress can sabotage even the best of weight loss plans.

Our clients typically have excellent success with their weight loss efforts. We have them address, up front, the level of stress in their life and how they are going to proactively handle it. We understand that stress is here to stay. What needs to change is how the client recognizes stress triggers and the resulting behaviors; and then work to avoid triggers in the future. At the same time, we also have them put viable alternative behaviors in place should the stress arise again. One thing that works well is to make a list of healthier behavior options and post these someplace where they are readily accessible.

Clients find that as they start to proactively manage stress, they can keep focused on the healthy behaviors that lead to weight loss. They can focus on healthy eating and making the time to work out. These behaviors, in turn, lead to a positive cascading effect. Workouts can be more intense, leading to a better night’s sleep. Endorphins released during the workout, help to maintain a good mood and energy for hours after the workout. Issues that seemed so stressful before a workout, no longer seem like such a big deal after one. Additionally, with improved sleep, they wake up with energy to spare and take control of their day. The scale becomes their friend and weight loss efforts turn into success.


Post Navigation