The connection between stress and weight loss is not something that is discussed very much. I started thinking about the topic just because my favorite nutrition expert – Patrik Borg – put so much emphasis on it in his latest book.
When I thought about it, I noticed a recurring pattern in my own life: practically all periods of considerable weight gain in my life go together with periods of high stress. Without those stressful periods I might well be normal weight.
My latest weight gain is a good example: I lost 28 lb with Weight Watchers in 2003 and was able to maintain most of the weightI lost – until I started working in a high stress job in 2006.
Pounds gradually crept on me, regardless of my attempts at controlling my eating. The more out of control my life became, the more weight I put on. The knee problems that started in 2009 (and prevented me from exercising) were just the dot on the I – or rather like barf frosting on top of a poop cake (as Marion says).
Did you know that stress control is actually #5 predictor of permanent weight loss?
Other factors (like calorie intake) affect how much weight you lose in the short term, but factors like your ability to manage your stresses and how much exercise you get, determine whether you’re able to maintain your weight loss. (And I want to point out that exercise is also one of the most effective antidotes to stress there is!).
In other words, if you have trouble keeping your stress under control, it’s unlikely you can lose weight or maintain your weight loss in the long run.
All this can see quite obvious to you – yeah everybody knows people tend to put on weight under stress – but it has made me think about my weight loss attempts in a wholly new way. Perhaps I should focus more on controlling stress in my own life than just think about diet and exercise.
By stress control, I mean making concrete changes in your life to get rid of extra stress: changing your job/career, taking a divorce, getting married, finding new interests in life, going to therapy, getting more exercise, getting rid of perfectionist thinking, learning relaxation techniques etc. etc.
Of course it’s impossible to control all stresses in your life, but I believe there’s still a lot anyone can do.
My ultimate point is that if you tend to gain weight when you’re stressed, maybe you should concentrate on reducing the stress in your life rather than focus on weight loss per se. It might be a more effective approach to weight loss and maintaining weight loss results than just dieting.
What do you think about the connection between stress and weight loss?