Many women underestimate the power that stress has on their ability to get healthy.
It’s very common for a client to come to me saying, “I’m ready to get healthy. I want to lose weight, build muscle, and I want more energy.” Which is exactly what I want for my clients too!
But most women will start to improve their health by starting an aggressive cardio plan, and probably cutting calories. Here’s the problem with that:
Ladies…we are different.
Middle-aged women are different. Our stress loads are higher than any other age groups. We are handling a ton of emotional stress with teenagers, financial worries, career stress, and aging parents. We are caring for everyone, it seems, but us. These stressors are real. Causing lack of sleep, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression. For some of us, it’s hard to admit that we have to change habits to optimize our health.
The truth is… Starting a wildly aggressive exercise program while also reducing calories for someone who already has a very hefty stress load simply does not work. With my clients, we take a different approach and look at the whole person. The big picture.
Stress and Weight-Loss
We have been marketed to that weight loss is as simple as calories in – calories out.
And if that’s not working for you… Well then something is wrong with you… Right?
That’s what we really want to believe, because that would be the easy answer! But unfortunately it’s not that easy. Fat loss and overall health are not accomplished by looking at calories in and out. Better health is not a quick fix.
The body is governed by your hormonal system and that system is super sensitive to stress loads.
When the body has to deal with high levels of stress for extended periods of time, our hormones can go a bit nutty. Then, you become a hot, frustrated mess because your hormones are all messed up from heightened stress levels. When the stress levels of the body get too high, a lot of really terrible things begin to happen; fat gets stored more easily, sleep gets disrupted, emotions go to bonkers, muscle is lost (which is not doing your metabolism any favors, because when we have less muscle, our cellular function is not as efficient).
Our focus and concentration go down, our sex drive is diminished, and all of this is a recipe for depression.
So many women who are living in consistently high levels of stress experience depression. In order to end the chemical and hormonal warfare going on in your life, you have to learn how to manage your stress load. That is the formula for optimizing health and weight-loss.
Not All Stress is Bad.
We were meant to handle small doses. It helps you meet daily challenges, and motivates you to reach goals. That is acute stress, and it can be empowering.
When you stress your body by building strength or learning a new language, you are building new neuropath ways you are increasing your energy levels, and that’s awesome!
Unfortunately, the type of stress most of us are experiencing is chronic stress. It wears us down and is incredibly destructive.
It would be nice to have a simple formula to balance out good and bad stress, but that simply does not exist. It’s really about being able to recognize, and become acutely aware of the stressors in your life, so you can be challenged but not pushed to the point of burnout.
If you are trying desperately to get healthier, I want you to stop thinking that cutting calories and doing more cardio is the answer. It’s actually more complicated than that. Reclaiming your health means paying attention to all the things in your life that acts as stressors. You have to be really honest and aware of the stressors in your life.
This could mean making some hard changes to destress your system. It could mean learning how to manage your time better. But you have to become accountable and acutely aware of the changes you are making in order to optimize your health. It is about slow, sustainable habit changes in mind and body.
I understand how busy you are. So busy that, for many of us, self-care looks more like survival mode. But when we are in survival mode, we do not grow or improve. We are not living up to our potential. We are unable to recognize our gifts and be able to contribute to the world the way we were intended to show up.
Learn to thrive, not just survive.
You don’t have to do this alone. Learning to manage your stress and optimize your health is not an easy process, and can take years of trial and error. If you’d like to speed up the process, and receive help from a professional, book a call with me today. Together, we can find the right formula to balance the stress in your life and find true health once and for all.