It’s 1 AM and you are wide-awake, running down the list of all things that need to be done this week.
Did you email your client back? Remember to submit that proposal before deadline? How on earth will you make your numbers this month?
Skip ahead to 8:30AM after a night of very restless sleep, you are already running late and the F train is late. Again. At this rate it’s looking like you will be late for your 9AM status. Ugh. You keep checking your phone hoping the train speeds up and you can feel your heart start to beat a little faster.
As the train doors close, and you’re crammed in like a sardine, an argument breaks out next to you “you stepped on my foot!” shouts one person to another.
Serenity Now. The day hasn’t even begun.
This is a typical morning in the life of, well, most of us. And that’s only a small piece of the day. As the day goes on, more and more events pile up: to do lists get longer, deadlines get shorter, and clients are more needy.
I’ve been there.
But what most of us don’t realize is the stressors that add up all day could actually be a cause of our weight gain or stubborn weight loss.
Our body is designed to manage stressful situations by using a hormone called cortisol, which protects the body from stress. So when we are stressed, our cortisol levels rise.
Now keep in mind, this response to stress was originally designed to get us out of very chaotic situations, like running for our lives from a wild animal. So, as we are “running for our lives” and cortisol is released, the body assumes we need as much energy as possible to continue running for our lives. So the body says, “well I don’t want to starve to death so I will turn down metabolism, and let’s hold off on digestion for a little bit until we are all OK – we need as much energy as possible.” The release of cortisol naturally slows down all major systems so you can use all of your energy to run for your life.
The problem? Well, that deadline is not really life threatening, but your body can’t tell the difference between a nagging client and a wild animal (sometimes I couldn’t either, hehe). And with a constant stream of stressful events strung together, there is never a point where cortisol stops secreting. Your body just continues to pump it out: Every time you worry about a deadline, every time your jerk of a co-worker says something nasty to you, every time you’re running late.
So, if your metabolism slows down, and your digestion slows down, you end up holding on to excess weight – despite your best efforts to eat well and work out.