Growing up, my mom told me that I would make up things to worry about. And of course, at the time, I was offended, but now? I totally see what she’s talking about.
As I grew older, I started to understand how stress affected my body and it definitely wasn’t for the better. Dealing with stress is something that is learned over time.
I learned that stress slowed down my weight loss results and sometimes even still, if I allow myself to get too stressed, I’ll notice how it can affect not only my time in the gym, but my overall health and well being.
So! Let’s talk this a little bit at a time. Dealing with stress. Are you ready, mama?
Let’s play…. “Didya know?”
So! Didjya know that we as a society are more stressed than our grandparents were? Reports of stress, depression and anxiety are rising. By alarming rates, actually.
Why is that? Didja also know that we as a society are feeling immense pressure to “be anything you can be?”.
We see people on Instagram with perfect lives and bodies and celebrities with mansions and traveling the world and we feel the need to make as much money as possible to be like them and try every single diet and exercise they do to be more like them.
Again, it’s called pressure…
So, let’s take this a step further.
What is stress and what causes it?
Let’s put on our science hat for a second because this is important. Kay? Okay. Understanding this part is going to be vital to your postpartum weight loss journey so listen carefully and I promise I will do my best to not make it boring.
Physiological state is the state or condition in which our body functions normally. With me so far?
Stress causes that state to change for the negative when our bodies think that we are in danger.
Basically said, stress is our body thinking that we are in danger.
Okay, now, another step beyond that.
In our bodies we have the autonomic nervous system which has a physiological state and a sympathetic state.
STAY WITH ME!
Once I understood these concepts I’m teaching you, taught to me by Coach Mark Carroll (world renowned coach) it completely changed how I approached my own lifestyle routine and the fitness routine of my clients.
Adjust your science hat, here we go.
The parasympathetic state is the state in which we are calm and at rest. In this state is when we digest the nutrients from our food. Our bodies go into full recovery mode in this state.
Sympathetic state is our fight or flight responses. This is the state in which our body is in stress mode. Keep in mind that not all stress is bad (more on that in a minute) but it’s when we stay in the sympathetic state that is can cause the issue.
We must be able to allow our bodies to move in and out of the states of being for optimal fitness results and for the healthiest of living.
In today’s world, we spend our lives in the sympathetic state. This causes cortisol levels to rise which is a stress hormone.
Now, remember, stress hormones in the blood stream while working out is great, because it causes your muscles to grow and adapt faster. But coming out of that state after workout is vital.
Chronic elevated cortisol levels can actually cause fat retention instead of fat burning.
Yep. The same hormone that can aid with fat loss, is the same hormone that can cause retention.
Isn’t that the dangdest thing?
Ever heard of too much of a good thing? There ya go.
We’ve talked about all the sciency things and what they all mean and how it effects our results.
To which, you’re probably saying: “Yeah, Amber, that’s great and all, but what happens if I don’t know how to combat bad stress?”
Here’s the number one way to combat stress. SLEEP.
Yes, sleep. It’s vital. Not just sleep, but deep, undisturbed sleep. Why do you think mama’s are so stressed all the time?
Besides her kiddos being crazies? 😉 Well yeah! [totally kidding. Okay maybe not].
But! It’s because our sleep is interrupted when our babies don’t have good sleep!
Interrupted sleep can happen when we’ve got young kiddos or we’re way too stress, or when we don’t have a good bedtime routine.
The Clean Health Institute in Australia has 3 key criteria to look at for being able to define good sleep:
“1. Do you fall asleep within 5 minutes of going to bed?
2. Do you stay asleep without waking up through the night?
3. Do you wake up before your alarm and jump out of bed with energy?”
If you can answer yes to those, then you’ve been having good sleep!
Now, let’s talk about getting our body into that parasympathetic state. Remember, that is the relaxation state.
This is where we want to be 90+% of the time that we’re not working out.
1. Deep and focused breathing – if you’re in the middle of your day and your kids are freaking out or work is making you a nutcase and you feel yourself stressing out; stop and close your eyes, take a deep breath and focus on your breathing and the sound of your heartbeat in your ears. You don’t notice it on the daily, but when you stop to focus, you’ll hear it. Bring your heart rate down and move on about your day. Keep repeating this when you feel stressed and your body will learn how to do this on its own.
2. Yoga – I have really learned to love Yoga. I never thought I’d be a yoga kinda gal but it has improved my flexibility/mobility and it’s awesome to do to relieve that stress and to teach my body to handle stress more efficiently.
3. Go for a walk – If you’re stressed out and weather allows, get your butt outside and go for a walk. Breathe the fresh air while doing your breathing exercises and you’ll be amazed at how well you do.
4. Read- Put your phone down and pick up a book, dang it. There are so many good books out there both fiction and non-fiction.
These techniques will really help you regulate your stress and get your body into that parasympathetic state.
I have been incorporating these over the past several months and although the stressors in my life have been about the same, my stress levels have been better and I can tell a difference in my workouts.
Removing stressors from your life is huge because a lot of time, we bring stress on ourselves because we say ‘yes’ to too many things.
We allow too much to get on our plate and we feel stressed trying to do it all.
Say no. Yes, it really is that simple.
“I’m sorry, I won’t be able to do that.”
“No, I won’t be able to make it. But thank you for inviting me!”
or something of the like. Dealing with stress sometimes can be as simple as saying no to things.
Clean off your proverbial plate of things to do and allow time for yourself.
Now, if you are not just feeling stressed, you’re feeling anxious, you’re entering into the anxiety zone… It maybe time to visit the doc.
Work with them on what can help you overcome your anxiety.
Whether it be working to balance your hormones, or whatever the case, know when it’s time to visit the doc and when you might just need to put in a little bit more effort on focusing on your mental state.
Remember, if you feel like you need extra help, there’s not reason to be ashamed to get professional help.
I know this was a lot of information to share at once, but here’s the gist of it.
Starting dealing with stress and take control of your life and start clearing your calendar while applying these techniques to calm down and start enjoying life and reaching your fitness goals faster.