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When we’re looking to lose weight, we tend believe that the only factors involved are diet and exercise. But, we forget that a crucial factor in our lives can cause weight gain and prevent weight loss: STRESS. Excess stress causes cortisol hormone levels in your body to rise too high. When cortisol levels remain high for sustained periods of time, it sets off a chain reaction that can lead to weight gain or prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals. Cortisol increases your appetite and your cravings for unhealthy foods. It also reduces testosterone levels in women, leading to muscle loss. Fewer muscles means your body burns calories less efficiently, slowing your weight loss goals. High levels of cortisol in the bloodstream can also stimulate your body’s fat cells to store more fat and grow. Finally, elevated cortisol levels also increase fatigue, making it less likely you’ll feel like hitting the gym.
While we’ve heard before that decreasing stress can aid our weight loss efforts, we most often ignore this advice. Stress often seems to us like something we just can’t do much about. Afterall, we can’t quit our jobs and we can’t just shirk our family responsibilities. Often our lives are just super busy, we’re overcommitted, and it’s complicated. It’s not something we can just ‘fix.’ However there are some things we can do to decrease our stress, even if we’re chronically busy. Let’s look at a few ways we can de-stress in our daily lives in just a few minutes per day.
Walking is one of the most natural, healthy forms of exercise that we can do. Walking at a comfortable pace in a pretty setting can be a huge stress reliever, and even works to burn some calories. When you’re walking, let your mind wander and process your day. Walking shortly before bedtime (when weather allows) can also help you to fall asleep. Taking walks is a great way to de-stress, and is a good complement to a circuit strength style workout like Athlean-XX for Women. Overtraining can cause cortisol levels in the body to increase, so it’s better to shorter intense workouts like Athlean-XX for Women rather than doing hour-long cardio or lifting sessions.
Learning relaxation breathing techniques can be extremely useful in reducing the momentary stresses in our daily lives. It can be done anywhere for any amount of time, and you can reap benefits with just a few seconds of breathing. There are many great resources for learning relaxation breathing techniques on the internet. You may also be able to find a breathing class at your local yoga studio.
If you’re the type of person that lies awake at night rehashing the day’s events or worrying about tomorrow, reading before bed can offer a solution to your sleep difficulties. First, if your life is so busy that it’s difficult for you to stop moving during the day, set time aside for yourself to read at night. Consider a 2-hour reading window, which should be plenty of time for you to wind down. Reading at night is a great way to catch a little you-time, get your mind off of the day’s events and lull yourself to sleep with a great story. Watching television at night is actually stimulating to the brain because of the noise, movement and light, so trade in your tube time for a book. Getting adequate sleep is also vitally important to your weight loss and fitness goals. Read this post to find out more about how sleep affects hormones that are involved in weight loss.
4) Massage/Spa Day
If your budget allows, taking time out on the weekends or on a weeknight to pamper yourself is a great de-stressor. Nothing beats a massage for stress relief, but other treatments like acupuncture, reiki or relaxing in the hot tub or sauna at your gym can have great anti-stress benefits. Even having your hair or nails done can help you to relax since you’re taking time out for your own self-care and letting someone else (your stylist or manicurist) worry about you for a while. Home self-care like exfoliating, a facial mask, moisturizing or even an extra long shower can help relieve the day’s stress.
There is no more effective way of managing and preventing stress than meditation, but learning it also requires the greatest commitment. Once you are accustomed to meditating, a 15 – 20 minute session in the morning and/or in the evening can be extremely helpful in lessening the effects of stress on your body. Effective meditation involves completely clearing your mind of active thoughts and focusing on something simple like the in and out of your breath or even counting. If you’d like to learn to meditate, there are numerous resources on the internet OR you could look for a meditation group near you.
At Athlean-XX for Women, we recognize that overall wellness is as crucial to weight loss and fitness goals as are exercise and nutrition. For that reason, we wanted to create a fitness and nutrition system that would take the stress out of weight loss. First, our super-effective workouts are just 30 minutes long. You’ll maximize your time, get your cardio and strength in one shot, and get 10 times the results in less than half the time! You also have flexibility – work out at home or at the gym, whatever works best for you. Our nutrition plan is equally as flexible and stress free. You can follow our 90-day meal plan or make up your own meals using our lists of healthy ingredients. There is no calorie counting and no hassle involved. If you want a stress-free fitness and nutrition program that will get you the results you want, give Athlean-XX for Women a try. You’ll be amazed by how seamlessly it fits into your busy life!
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