Do you feel like you are up to your eyeballs in alligators all the time? Do you constantly feel like you're chasing a deadline? Are you financially strapped, always afraid that the next catastrophic event will put you onto the street? These feelings of constantly being under stress will have a negative impact on your ability to maintain a healthy weight.
The Before Picture of My Life
Before I lost 135 pounds in 2010/11, I was in a very stressful, deadline focused job, raising two teenagers, keeping up a home and I was the sole breadwinner for our family. I was always working late and constantly putting out fires at work.
My food choices were poor, didn't exercise, got too little sleep and what I did get was sub-optimal. I would anesthetize myself with wine and Advil to get to sleep at night. It worked...I did get to sleep, but about two to three hours later I would wake up in a cold sweat with heart palpitations and almost a full-on panic attack. Of course every problem, issue, argument and deadline was looming large at that time and made it impossible for me to get back to sleep. I would lie awake for hours, hoping I would be able to get through my day on caffeine and sugar.
Uh Oh Bad News Ahead
But then the unthinkable happened. I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and for a year endured chemo and radiation. I was fortunate that I could stay out of work while going through chemo because it was awful.
Here's Some Good News
When I returned to work, I was transferred to another position within my department which did not have deadlines and had a much more manageable workload. Gone was the overtime and the fire fighting. It made it possible for me to save my life.
Once I was out from under all of that pressure at work, I was able to focus on self care and lose weight, exercise and generally tend to my own health needs. It was a game-changer for me. I was able to lose 135 pounds and get into much better shape. In 2014, I hiked to the bottom and back to the top of the Grand Canyon. It was a monumental time in my life.
Does Any of This Sound Like Your Life?
Where are the stressors in your life? If you have a family, you have stress. You can have the best kids in the world, but if you are a parent you know what I mean. If you work outside or in your home, you have stress. In this environment of doing more with less, there is often the fear of job loss. Many Americans are one paycheck away from bankruptcy and many also do not have adequate retirement savings so that they can finally stop working and enjoy their golden years.
These Are The Consequences
A body under constant and continuous stress will likely develop physical and mental or emotional symptoms such as:
- digestive issues
- sexual dysfunction
- anti-social behavior
- chest pain
- elevated blood pressure
- many other health issues.
Chronic stress could also lead to poor lifestyle choices such as:
- poor food choices
- excessive drinking
- reckless behavior
- is linked to several disease states.
Stress is linked to several of the leading causes of death like heart disease, accidents, cancer and suicide.
People under chronic stress are more likely to engage in dangerous or compulsive behaviors like:
- casual sex
- overuse or abuse substances such as:
- recreational drug
- compulsive shopping.
Ironically, the behaviors used by people trying to alleviate stress actually end up adding to it and increasing the stress level. The victims are trapped in a vicious, never-ending cycle of chronic stress.
But You Can Do Something About It
The Mayo Clinic suggests ways to minimize or alleviate the effects of stress on the body. They suggest practicing relaxation technics like:
- deep breathing
- tai chi
- regular massage (my favorite)
Get regular exercise or other kinds of physics activity. Socialize with people you love or at least like, engage in relaxing hobbies and don’t take yourself or your life so seriously. Be sure to get enough good quality sleep, make healthy food choices, avoid using tobacco and recreational drugs, and avoid excess alcohol and caffeine intake.
The effects of stress on the body often look like health issues. If you have taken steps to lower or eliminate the stress in your life and you still experience symptoms, see your health professional. There could be something else going on.
If you experience:
- shortness of breath
- chest pressure or pain
- pain in arms or shoulders upon exertion
Seek immediate and emergent help. These could be signs of a cardiac event and must be addressed immediately.
Stress is an inevitable part of life but if it is unrelenting, it can be a troublemaker that you don't need. Pay attention to the stressors in your life and do your best to eliminate them or at least minimize them. Stay away from the alligators.
Do You Want Help?
Would you like to have more energy, lose weight, sleep better, and balance your hormones? I am launching a 5 week Sugar Detox Program beginning February 3rd.
This program is open to anyone who:
- would like to get control of their sugar cravings
- feel better
- have an abundance of energy
- and an overall increase in well-being.
Aren’t you tired of feeling bloated and lethargic?
If you continue to follow the path you’re on, where will it lead you in six months? a year? Isn’t it time to take a different approach?
What you have done in the past hasn’t worked or at least has not stuck. I can help you change that. Click here for a free consultation. We’ll discuss your challenges and your goals for the coming year and see if we’re a good fit. You have nothing to lose except those nasty cravings.
I help women living with or at risk for developing heart disease or other chronic illness that we can manage through lifestyle and nutrition changes. Or maybe you're on the verge of developing heart disease, or diabetes, or another lifestyle related condition. If so, let's chat. For a free consultation with me, click here.