habits, healthy lifestyle, nutrition, weight loss

3 Actions To Combat Stress and Exhaustion When There’s No End In Sight

Need Some R & R (Rest and Relaxation) But Instead You have S & S (Sleeplessness and Stress)?

I’ve talked with countless people (myself one of them) who really want to make weight loss “happen” for them. BUT-and there’s always a disclaimer phrase that follows: “I can’t change X in my life right now. It’s not going to happen.”

I know. My life has been that way for over 5 years.  I’ve had 5 years of NOT sleeping soundly.  Like many of you, I’ve Googled “better sleep” and found that I am taking action steps to promote better sleep.  But, there was no accounting for not being able to actually change the root cause for the poor sleep and stress!

My fellow tired, exhausted, and stressed comrades: this post is for you!

Root Causes

Lack of sleep impacts people emotionally as well as physically-regardless of cause.

Job stress is high on the list for why people have poor sleep.  Sure, I can tell you to just leave it at the door when you come home. But we both know that your expanded middle is proof that it is not that easy.

Despite best intentions to limit stress, it usually follows you home and creates long term issues that kill any hope of getting back to the “way things were” both in body, health, and mind.

Lack of quality and quantity of sleep not only creates crankiness, decreased mental capacity, and hunger from out of whack hormone cycles, it also creates more stress!  Stress on your ability to make healthier choices and stress on your body’s ability to care for itself in the short and long term.

So what is it in your life that you know isn’t going to change?  I’m sure you know what is keeping you up at night, the source of your deep stress, the life situation that is making you feel hopeless for positive change.

The Link Between Stress and Fat

In your body, unfortunately, this stress is causing massive amounts of chronic inflammation.  Inflammation causes imbalances in your chemical transmissions (hormones regulate the majority of these), genetics, and the physical appearance of your body’s weight.

Dr. Lori Shemek, the Huffington Post’s top diet and nutrition expert, calls this FATflammation.  Inflammation creates fat, and your fat creates more fat.  Fat stores fat, toxins from your environment and food, and also unused fuel.  The number one trigger for inflammation is sugar.

I’m sure if I poll most of you reading this post for answers to crappy sleep and too much stress, the majority of us could say that sugar has been a big player in our diet.  By diet, I’m talking not about the foods we have chosen to eat while trying to lose weight but our “normal” foods that bring us comfort and enjoyment.

I’m not just referring to candy and desserts, either.   About half of you would prefer salty foods like potato chips and beer!  It’s all the same sinking ship.

The misunderstood, mainstream food word “carbohydrates” translates into “sugar.”  Some carbohydrate foods break down slowly as your body digests them. These are referred to as “complex” carbohydrates and while they are in their simplest form a sugar for energy, the slowed digestion due to the fiber in them creates a slow release of sugar into the bloodstream.  This timed release is significant for weight management and health.

For those of us who enjoy candy, desserts, alcoholic drinks, and processed foods like potato chips and white bread, we are essentially crashing and trashing our bodies with a surge of “simple” carbohydrates.  There’s nothing for the digestive system to munch on and so the glucose (sugar) is immediately available and floods the body with way to much sugar all at once.

Unless you are running a marathon race at that moment, your body CANNOT use it so it stores it as and in fat cells.  This cycle of storing excess sugar as fat puts too much stress on your body so it becomes inflamed from the constant flurry of activity of fat creation and storage.

Lifestyle Factors

Right now, you may not be able to get some much needed R&R and you know it’s really going to be a while for that to even be a possibility.  It’s OK. And yet, it’s not.

Let me offer you some hope, because I know you are not ready to just give up and accept that your life or your weight is going to be a source of constant frustration for you.

I want you to be obsessed with life, not the weight of food.  Not the weight of lifestyle factors that are beyond your ability to change.

But you can change what you eat.  Maybe not all the time, this I know.  Maybe not every single meal.  Heck, some of you can’t even have a set meal time because of your work schedule!

Knowing that the biggest fight is not really against sleep and lifestyle stressors but against inflammation, let’s tackle the root cause to bring some relief.

Try These 3 Things

The question to ask is, “What can we easily do or eat to have the most impact on inflammation in order to see some weight loss?”  The following three suggestions will give your body some much needed R&R and bring about some hope despite unchanging lifestyle factors:

  1. Hydrate.

Drink half your body weight in water throughout the day.  Dr. Lori suggests drinking 2 glasses of water before each meal as well.  This simple step helps flush toxins from your body and decrease urges to eat that were really your body saying it needs water.  WebMD says, “Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids. Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.”

It’s a weight loss boost if you add lemon or raw apple cider vinegar to your drink.  Read this post on what happened when I started drinking lemon water in the morning.

TIP:  

Use a larger drinking vessel and a straw.  You’ll drink more, faster.  My husband used to laugh at my quart canning jar “glass” with straw until he tried it-over a year later.  “Hm, you can drink more water this way!”  More water, less effort.

Add a splash of flavor: stick with a probiotic splash of kombucha, green tea, or 100% juice that is a berry: tart cherry, cranberry, or blueberry. Portion this with juice ice cubes or a tablespoon.

2. Coconut or coconut oil.

Make it your BFF.  Cook with it, bake with it. Eat it off the spoon.  Add it to your coffee to make it Bulletproof.

Supplement with MCT oil if your body can’t handle too much (like mine; sometimes I feel like I’m allergic to everything healthy).  Here’s a great post from Paleo Leap: MCT Oil: What You Need to Know (Wondering what to make of the MCT oil craze? Learn what MCTs can do for you and how whole foods stack up to an MCT supplement.)

Dr. Axe, one of the leading clinical nutritionists in the world through his website, www.draxe.com, shares this about the health and weight loss benefits of coconut:

3. Portion control your carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates control the blood sugar levels in your body as well as the body’s response.  The best scenario is that you always choose 100% whole grain “complex” carbohydrates so that your body has time to extract all the nutrients out of the food as it passes through the digestive system.  Learn about the carbohydrate rating index here
So why aren’t we conditioned to wanting to eat complex carbohydrates if they are so good for us?  When you are stressed and or lacking sleep, sound judgement on such a basic need as food for energy, becomes a battleground for “willpower.”
Fortunately, willpower is like a muscle that will get stronger with use.  Stress and the realities of lack of sleep do not put you in the right state of mind to even want to exercise that muscle. You know you won’t be successful and so where’s the hope in that situation?!
TIPS:

Keep your portion size to 1/2 to 1/4 cup serving of any WHOLE grain.  Add more healthy fat (coconut-LOL, avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, real mayonnaise or butter) to the carbohydrate so that your body can feel full (or will eventually trigger satiety if the signal is getting lost due to inflammation damage).

When you feel exhausted and want a boost in energy, reach for a veggie carbohydrate.  A raw, liquid veggie juice will give you the immediate boost that you need while being a better option for weight loss.  Leafy greens are the best carbohydrates!

Carbohydrates influence your hormone cycle called the circadian rhythm.   Eat less carbs in the morning and afternoon, but eat about 3 golf ball sized portions for dinner (not right before bed!).  This will help your body manage blood sugar levels during sleep so you get a more restful sleep.

 Reset Your Weight

I write extensively on these weight loss struggles because my life and weight are heavily impacted by unchanging lifestyle factors. Sometimes, I too have gotten bogged down in the hopelessness associated with the negative influences those conditions have on my desire to lose weight faster and live healthier, with more energy.  You can read more about my personal journey here.

If these suggestions give you back some hope, then be sure to explore my Daily Resets for more ways on how to win the battle over inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and metabolic issues for weight loss.

NOW AVAILABLE: Take the first step toward using real food for real weight losses: Download my FREE Daily Reset Planner + Guide!