Taking care of yourself is a must. If we aren’t taking care of our bodies properly then we’re neglecting our overall health. Your body operates off four pillars: sleep, stress, nutrition, and exercise. All four of these facets of health help drive sustainable results for a healthy lifestyle. This summer, we will highlight one of these four pillars every month and provide some helpful tips and tricks through our new Summer of Self-Care series. Self-care is more than just doing things that help how we feel and look externally, it starts with how we establish and maintain our health internally.
To introduce Summer of Self-Care, we will first highlight the topic of stress. Focusing on your health and nutrition is crucial, but did you know it creates another form of stress on the body? Restriction, exercise, and even just tracking food all bring a type of stress. The higher your level of stress the more physical effects it will cause to your body. Here are a few to look out for!
Stress can cause emotional eating as a temporary relief. When our bodies are under a lot of stress we often lean towards ‘comfort foods’ high in sugar and carbs, which don’t always jive with our proper macro targets. These foods can release the dopamine our brains want, but at the cost of actual nutritional value.
Stress makes us rush. Typically you can see a high correlation between stress and lack of time. At that point, life can become a balancing act where some things (food most of the time) shift to “whatever’s easiest.” We find it harder to plan meals within our diet, instead, we grab something quick and easy, like fast food. We skip meals and expect a cup of coffee or an energy drink to get us through. We stop fueling our bodies properly, causing us to over eat and make poor decisions with food selection and portion control.
Stress can also cause us to neglect things that our bodies need, specifically exercise and sleep. When we’re stressed we don’t exercise as much as we should. Our motivation becomes increasingly limited because we don’t have time, or we’re just too tired to get up and get active. Low amounts of physical activity slow down our metabolism and our caloric burn rate, both of which strongly contribute to weight gain. Our bodies also need sleep to recover, it helps give us the energy we need to function. We sleep less when we’re stressed. When we don't sleep well, our body's needs change, and will actually require more food to help fuel the recovery we missed. When energy gets low, our cortisol levels get high and it’s easier to give into those sugar cravings and harder to make smart, healthy food decisions.
Everyone falls victim to stress. But with some simple tips and tricks you can help combat stress and make your health goals a priority!
While no perfect cure for stress exists, managing it can significantly help you grow in your journey and see better results! If you haven’t already, try out some of these tips and let us know how it goes!