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October 10, 2019

6 TIPS TO REDUCE BELY FAT AND CORTISOL

A study conducted at Yale suggests a clear link between cortisol, a hormone your body releases when you’re stressed, and excess belly fat. Even non-overweight women who are vulnerable to the effects of stress are more likely to have excess abdominal fat. People with fatigued adrenal glands from excessive production of cortisol tend to overeat as a way to boost energy levels. They frequently crave high calorie processed foods because those will prompt a quick energy release. Unfortunately, that quick energy boost is then followed by an even greater energy sag.

Common signs of stress include depression, sleep problems, cravings, tension, anxiety, work mistakes, poor concentration, and apathy, among many others. If high levels of unwanted stress are not properly managed, your health and sense of well-being can suffer. Therefore, here’s how to manage stress.

1. EXERCISE

Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management.

Add Variety to your exercise regime. Here’s what I suggest:

  •  30-60 minutes of cardio once a week
  • Interval Training/weight training once a week
  • Yoga once a week
  • A nature run/walk or a hike once a week

2. DIET

Eating a balanced and healthy diet is key to helping our bodies to manage the physiological changes caused by stress. An important part of any stress response includes identifying and reducing the causes of stress. Adrenal function is significantly influenced by blood sugar levels, therefore much of the dietary advice aims to stabilize levels of sugar in the blood.

Avoid refined and sugary foods:

  • Avoid  white bread, pasta, chocolate, biscuits, sweets or foods with added sugars.
  • Eliminate hidden sugars are also in many cereals, breads, tinned produce and processed or packaged foods.
  • Replace processed foods with the unrefined foods such as brown bread, rice, oats and rye.
  • Note that excess alcohol can also cause imbalanced blood sugar levels.

3. MEDITATION

Countless studies show that meditation reduces stress. MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.

There’s no shortage of meditation apps these days. If you are new to mediation and don’t know where to start the following apps will help.

  • Insight Timer
  • Calm
  • 10% Happier
  • Meditation Studio

4. SLEEP

A good night’s sleep makes you able to tackle the day’s stress more easily. When you are tired, you are less patient and more easily agitated, which can increase stress. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Practicing good sleep hygiene along with stress-lowering tactics can help improve your quality of sleep.

The following are some tips for a good night sleep:

  • Reduce blue light exposure such as smartphones and computers.
  • Don’t consume caffeine late in the day
  • Avoid day naps
  • Keep consistent sleep schedule, go to bed and wake up at the same time
  • Don’t eat late in the evening
  • Avoid alcohol

5. SOCIAL SUPPORT

Friends, family, and other sources of social support seem to have a buffering effect on the stress that people experience. For example, research suggests that people working in stressful situations, like hospital emergency departments, have better mental health if they have adequate social support. But even people who live and work in situations where the stakes aren’t as high need help from time to time from friends and family.

Try these successfully used social support Strategies:

  • Stay in touch with friends – answering phone calls, returning emails and reciprocating invitations let them know you care.
  • Be a good listener – listen when your friends are speaking, find out whats important to them
  • Appreciate your friends and family – take time to say thank you and express how important they are to you.
  • Give back – Be available to family and friends when they need support.
  • Volunteer – pick a cause thats’ important to you and get involved. You will meet others who share similar interests and values.
  • Join a gym or fitness group – you can make friends while you get fit
  • Take a Class – a local college or community education course puts you in contact with like minded individuals with similar hobbies and interests.

6. THOUGHT MANAGEMENT

What we think, how we think, what we expect, and what we tell ourselves often determine how we feel and how well we manage rising stress levels. You can learn to change thought patterns that produce stress. Thoughts to watch out for include those concerning how things should be and those that overgeneralize sets of circumstances (for example, “I’m a failure at my whole job because I missed one deadline.”) Many Podcasts and books can help you learn thought management exercises.

The following books are some of my favourites.

  • The  Power of Now – by Echart Tolle
  • The Untethered Soul – by Michael A. Singer
  • The Emotion Code – by Dr. Bradley Nelson
  •  Flow – by Mihaly Csikszenthmihalyi


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