#67: 3 Ways Stress Impacts Weight

3 Ways Stress Impacts Weight

If you’re stressed out with a body full of inflammation, if you’re feeling bloated and puffy, if you have pain and fatigue…let me just say: Your dress size? Probably not your most pressing issue. But it’s related, and here’s how. My Signature System can help and it’s available now at http://ShesGotPower.com/system

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • How stress contributes to weight gain in women
  • Why it’s normal to stress-eat foods high in sugar, salt, and fat
  • Why it’s not a calorie conversation when it comes to stress, weight, and inflammation

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When weight isn’t the problem

Let me paint a picture for you.

Katie’s away on vacation this week at a resort in Jamaica with her husband, son, and daughter. But she had a slight problem just before her vacation. See, she recently lost some weight and her swimsuits were too big.

Katie’s a client of mine. She owns a creative studio. She’s got a big extended family and a husband with health issues. I’ve known her a long time, and in the past couple of years, she wasn’t concerned about her weight. It was actually really crippling pain and fatigue wearing her down. She couldn’t even go for a walk without her hips hurting. Sleep was a problem, as you can imagine when your joints hurt like that, she couldn’t find a comfortable position. 

It’s interesting how when we can get the body out of an inflamed, stressed-out state, often extra weight falls off as a byproduct. 

How chronic stress impacts your weight

Today, we’re talking about how stress creates weight gain for women.

Recently, we’ve explored the intersections of self-love, body acceptance, and Health at Every Size and the desire to lose weight or change our bodies. This often goes into a conversation about toxic diet culture and a lot of feminist issues. 

From a practitioner standpoint, it’s fascinating to me how the body changes when women like Katie in my private practice — who aren’t cutting calories, counting macros or even exercising — are under less stress.

These are women who aren’t focused on weight necessarily. They’re worried about their quality of life in other areas, like their aching joints, more extreme fatigue, anxiety, and depression. 

This month, I’m offering the same signature system I use with my private clients to everyone at a very accessible price. If you’re interested in how stress might be showing up in your body and you’re having some of the symptoms I was just mentioning, this is a great way to get yourself feeling better. We’re kicking off with five days together, and there’s a community element and my support included. You can register now at ShesGotPower.com/system

So how does chronic stress make you gain weight?

1. It leads to stress eating

Stress eating is normal. No shame. Most of us do it. 

Our body’s stress response is sort of like our immune response. It’s our body’s army that mobilizes when we are under stress. 

Our stress response requires salt, sugar, carbohydrates, and fat. Isn’t that interesting? Because when we’re stress eating, we’re not going for broccoli, are we? No. We like those salty, sweet snacks. Potato chips are perfect, right? Chocolate covered pretzels even better. They have the salt, the sugar, and the fat that our body requires for our fight or flight response. 

This might be kind of useful if we were actually running away from a lion chasing us, but we’re not. We are likely sitting on our butt in front of a computer – just as stressed out.

2. It creates imbalances in your gut health

You know what else happens when you’re stressed out? The bacteria in your gut shifts significantly.

This is regardless of what you’re eating. You could have the “healthiest” diet ever and yet your microbiome actually changes. (This also happens when you don’t get enough sleep, by the way, because lack of sleep is a stressor.)

When your gut is imbalance, you could eat the same exact meal as the person next to you, but your body might extract 20% or 30% more calories from the food. Under stress, the body is programmed from our prehistoric ancestors to fear famine. 

“Stressed out? Might starve! Better extract all the calories we can from the food that we get now.”

It’s not what you eat, it’s what you absorb – and that changes in the direction of weight gain when you’re under stress. 

3. It causes inflammation

Weight isn’t always about calories.

I attribute most of Katie’s weight loss to calming the inflammation in her system. We know that she was dealing with inflammation because of the chronic pain in her hands, arms, and legs. Chronic pain is a sign of inflammation. So is extra weight, fatigue, and bloating. 

Inflammation can be caused by emotional stress, food intolerances, and in Katie’s case (and in so many of my clients cases recently), the inflammation is due to autoimmunity. This is when your immune system is over-functioning, attacking your body’s own tissues as if you were an invader in your own body. 

Autoimmune diseases are incredibly common among chronically stressed women. Because stress is a trigger, we are much more susceptible. 

There’s a genetic component, of course, but diet, lifestyle, and stress play an enormous role in the development of autoimmune disease. 

There’s a protocol that I use with my clients to calm the body, including calming the autoimmune response, and Katie saw results very, very quickly with this. 

Are you focusing on the wrong problem?

Think about it like this:

Stress leads to inflammation. Stress also triggers disease of all kinds. When the body is inflamed, or when the body is in a state of dis-ease, weight can be a visible symptom of what’s going on internally. 

Does that require a weight-loss diet? 

Listen, if your microbiome is a hot mess and your body is full of inflammation, if you’re feeling bloated and puffy, if you have pain and you’re exhausted and you feel like you’re just dragging yourself around, your dress size is probably not your most pressing issue. 

I think most women know that when you can calm what’s going on in your body, your quality of life improves drastically. 

A proven system for calming stress and inflammation

It’s not about the dress.

Think of Katie in Jamaica. She’s able to walk and stretch now. Her body isn’t in pain. She’s sleeping better. Her energy is up.

That’s what we’re going for. That’s the good stuff. 

If you’re interested in dipping your toe into this work without diving headfirst as a private client, I am making my signature system available to you this month, and you can get it at ShesGotPower.com/system.