It’s not very long into the new year, and whether it’s the lack of vitamin D, cold/flu season, or new year’s resolutions not turning out as expected, people’s morale is overall…garbage. But do you want to know something interesting about negativity and an overall bad attitude? It can make you fat.
Since new year’s is usually the start of new diets, there is also a massive misconception that goes along with these fresh new changes. We can’t entirely blame social media, because weight loss was confusing before that. Of course, paid fitness models, marketing and advertising in exchange for likes and followers, as well as programs and guides sold with extremely misleading transformation pictures do not help. It’s incredibly easy to become discouraged, when we are misled and misinformed about the process. Obviously a company wants to sell their product to you, and any social platform makes that incredibly easy to do so. Social media makes it easy for business owners, we can target you, pick an age demographic, town(s), cities, gender, what pages you like etc. Basically, if you are using a social platform you are being machine gunned in your frontal lobe with every scroll. We don’t take it in, but we are being stimulated constantly and being pulled every which way. Years of this has created this bizarre illusion that weight loss is easy, simple, and can be accomplished within a few weeks. Now that pictures and transformation pictures are popping up that show say, a girl looking ripped in 4 weeks, then another girl is now comparing her results wondering why she does not have the same results in 4 weeks. This is a very big issue. It leads to a lot of self-hate, self-blame, self-loathing, body dysmorphia, and generally an overall feeling of defeat. Girls are left feeling helpless, desperate, lost, and anxious about their health and well-being. You know how many times I’ve heard “It won’t work for me, my body is just fucked up” what a devastating statement to say about yourself.
Social issues aside, being negative, very self-critical, and stressing/obsessing over your weight loss can cause your body to do the exact opposite thing you want it to. Basically the issue here is stress. Stress is your worst enemy when it comes to weight loss. Stress causes your cortisol to rise. We need cortisol to survive, but too much cortisol causes a slew of problems, and it boils down to our adrenal system. As a society, we are extremely fast paced. We are stressed from the morning we wake up, to the minute we hit the hay. Work stress, family stress, money, relationships, poor diet, poor exercise habits, bad sleep cycles etc. all contribute to a weak adrenal system and high cortisol. So adding to this stress, by being extremely negative, self-loathing, and anxious about your weight loss also affect your adrenals and cortisol. Stress is stress, no matter the form, you cannot control all stress in your life, but you can definitely control your negative talk and anxiety in order to give your body some controllable relief.
If our cortisol is too high, you are not only risking catabolism (muscle degrading), but you are also encouraging and promoting, body fat storage. On women, these stores are exactly where our “problem spots” are, the hips, thighs, and love handles. Basically what happens is our system is so stressed out, and our adrenaline is so high, that we are programming ourselves into a constant state of fight or flight (survival mode). Your brain does not categorize or prioritize stress, adrenaline is adrenaline. To your brain, if you are stressed because of a test for example, your brain will process this adrenaline as if you were getting murdered. It doesn’t care the type, it just knows to put our body in survival mode. Your body will go to work by which trying to decrease or slow down your metabolism, by eating away at your muscle in order to save energy, and then on top of that, it stores fat. Instead of burning it off, we are storing energy as fat, because it thinks we are in severe danger and we need all the energy we can get. Physiologically, if everything is functioning normally and cortisol levels are normal, then what happens is our adrenals release lipids (i.e. fat) into our blood stream, increasing blood sugar slightly for energy, builds muscle, and essentially allows our body to increase lean muscle mass, as well as decreasing body fat. When our stress is so high and our adrenals are constantly trying to filter out the intense amount of cortisol, the receptors “ware out”, and no longer pick up the cortisol. So now there’s a whole bunch of free cortisol floating around our body, getting recycled, never being filtered out, only we keep adding more. Too much cortisol in our blood, is a big stress signal, which will put the muscle building and fat loss process into reverse, by degrading muscle and storing fat. So now you lose muscle mass which keeps your metabolic rate, energy, insulin balance, hormone balance, and overall body composition in check, and on top of that you pack on fat in all of the places you do not want it. It’s a terrible double-whammy, and I would say almost everyone in our society today, especially those who struggle with weight loss, would have this problem. Our adrenals are completely shot.
So how do we combat this? Life is extremely unexpected, it can be very stressful, and some things we have zero control of. This is where supplements can really help. Herbs such as Rhodiola, Sharajit, Maca, Holy Basil, Ashwaghanda, they all help fight cortisol, will help improve energy, and are fantastic for our adrenals. Ashwaghanda and Maca for example help boost our naturally occurring testosterone, which can help build muscle and keep estrogen from getting out of control (FYI: Maca, Ashwaghanda, and Zinc can help with man boobs). I do take a lot of supplements, because we are generally very deficient in a lot of vitamins and minerals. Our food is a multi-billion dollar cooperation. It’s a business, and I don’t believe a lot of care is put into the farming of fruits and vegetables, so you should try and supplement with vitamins and minerals as much as possible. Sleep is obviously also extremely important, and trying to create a sleep ritual or a sleep routine, can help your cortisol levels. I take a scoop of greens with all of my herbs and my vitamins in the AM before breakfast, and in the afternoon. Both these times are proven to be when our cortisol is naturally highest, so trying to combat with adrenal support and herbs will help your energy levels immensely. Eating a healthy diet, cutting out processed garbage food, eating consistently without going through fasting periods during your day will also help relieve cortisol. Binge drinking, drugs, partying are obviously also going to cause inflammation and damage to your system, so that’s an obvious one to cut out if you feel your adrenals are taking a beating (which almost everyone’s is).
- We are fighting environmental and lifestyle stress throughout our day to day life, so adding stress by becoming anxious, frustrated, self-loathing, and being overall negative about your life will in turn add to the burnt out system, resulting in further gains in body fat, as well as catabolism.
- Cortisol is our stress hormone, some of it is needed in order to survive and deal with inflammation efficiently, too much of it will result in adrenal-resistance, relating to point #1.
- If you want to change your composition, you need to dedicate 16 weeks minimum to build the amount of lean muscle mass needed, in order to create hormone balance, a higher metabolic rate, and an improvement in insulin levels, which in turn will burn stubborn body fat.
- In order to build lean muscle mass, the caloric intake needs to be enough to build muscle, but not too much that you put on excess body fat. It’s a delicate balance that takes a long time to figure out, because no one is the same. It requires a lot of patience, dedication, and a good attitude.
- If you have a stressful, chaotic, fast paced life, if you eat like garbage, don’t sleep well, party a lot, and have stressful relationships or situations, then you should get on top of an adrenal care supplement, as well as herbs that can naturally combat this. You will find an improvement in your energy, and your weight loss.
- Cortisol is most elevated after sleep in the AM, and in the afternoon usually after peoples work days. Consider taking greens, supplements, and adrenal care around these times.
- Moyer, A. E., Rodin, J., Grilo, C.M., Cummings, N., Larson, L. M., & Rebuffe-Scrive, M. (1994). Stress-Induced Cortisol Response and Fat Distribution in Women. Obesity Research, 2(3), 255-262. Doi: 10.1002/j. 1550-8528.1991.tb00055.x