Having spent time researching fitness and weight loss as well an undergoing my own journey I have been looking into the effect of cortisol on weight and weight loss. Weirdly I have come across the same analogy from two different people about what happens when we get stressed. A long time ago when we were cavemen, stress was good; it was what kept us alive, it made us aware of the lion across the field or just about to start chasing you. Our stress levels went sky-high as we were being chased across the fields or about to be attacked – our fight or flight response – and our stress levels didn’t begin to return to normal until we were safely back in our caves away from the nasty lion (or whatever).
Nowadays we aren’t chased by lions – well not very often anyway – but our stress levels are raised as a result of the way we live our lives. We are available 24/7 by mobile, blackberry, email, Skype, whatever and wherever, someone always manages to get hold of you. Now that’s fine if its your beloved other half who wants to say I love you or your son half way round the world letting you know he’s ok or your daughter who missed the last train home but not so good if its your boss reminding you to call that client first thing in the morning or the client complaining at 11.30 on a Sunday morning! Not exactly a lion I know, but the affect on your cortisol levels is more or less the same!
And combined with the constant high expectations we place on ourselves (particularly women) our cortisol levels remain pretty high all the time. We live as if the lion is sat outside the front door waiting patiently to pounce as soon we step out….
There has been plenty of research that shows high levels of cortisol affect your ability to lose weight and moreover, it is suggested that high levels of cortisol are associated with increased amounts of fat storage especially around the middle. And that wont make us feel stressed at all will it?!
So what do we do? We can’t all suddenly become technophobes and switch off all of our mobile or electrical devices so we can’t be contacted but we can learn to live with the lion. ‘Cos if you accept that the lion lives just outside and you learn to relax, find pleasure in simple things and learn to calm down, chill out whatever you call it; you might just find that it’s not a lion after all but a pussy cat!