3 ways stress is making you fatter, and how to get back your zen

3 ways stress is making you fatter, and how to get back your zen

It seems everyone is “busy” these days. Never ending to-do lists and overwhelm are commonplace.

The stress that goes along with our modern life is all around us, and it is making us fatter and unhappier every day.

What is stress?

Stress is the “fight or flight” response that is triggered when we feel like we are under attack.

Back in our caveman days it was only triggered when we were literally under attack, like running from a bear or chasing down a deer in a hunt. Biologically what’s happening is our sympathetic nervous system is triggered, which directs blood flow away from rest, repair, reproduction and digestion, and towards your major muscle groups, so you can run or fight. It’s focused on directing all resources to survival, now. You also get a flood of hormones like cortisol, and adrenaline which help you to be energized and strong to fight or run.

The problem is in our modern society, we are rarely chased by actual bears, but have hundreds of metaphoric attacks every day. Our “fight or flight” gets tripped all day long, from when your boss sends you a nasty email to when you forget your PIN number, or think you’ve lost your wallet, even smaller things like running for the bus or doing exercise is stress according to your body.

Chronic stress means your cortisol is high all day and makes you snappy and short tempered, but also leads to other conditions including diabetes, heart disease or even cancer. And when you have high cortisol, it sends the message to store fat on your belly for the hard times it thinks are ahead.


The catch 22 is if you’re overweight, dieting, exercising, and stressing about your weight are all stressors which can lead to weight gain!

That’s right, dieting and exercise is a stress according to your body. You simply can’t diet away your stress. You must deal with your mindset first for lasting weight loss, releasing self-judgement and balancing good nutrition with workouts that challenge you, and ones that relax you too.


Stress makes us fat in 3 ways

  1. Biologically, by raising cortisol and storing belly fat for the hard times ahead.
  2. Behaviourally, because we often make poor food choices to get through the stressful time, like excess coffee, chocolate or sugar, which only compounds the problem.
  3. Emotionally, the stress of guilt, shame and low self-esteem about how we look creates a vicious cycle, compounding other stress from our job, environment or relationships.

3 tips to beat stress today, and get back your zen today

  1. Biologically – Turn on your Parasympathetic Nervous System. This is your rest & digest, or feed & breed system. We need both parasympathetic, and sympathetic to be in balance to have good health. Meditation, hypnosis, yoga or deep breathing, are all brilliant ways to calm and switch on the “ah, everything is alright” trigger. Even sex or a funny movie will all flood the body with feel good hormones oxytocin and dopamine, and help you to relax.
  2. Behaviourally – Prepare healthier options for times you know you will be stressed and time poor, so you have healthy food at hand. Make the choice to walk outside in the fresh air, get some green into your day. Turn off your phone notifications and set up archiving rules in your inbox so you only see the most important things in your inbox, and can deal with the other stuff when you choose to.
  3. Emotionally – Choose to invest some time and energy into emotional housekeeping. Learn how to let go of your emotional baggage, and deal with stress better with mindset coaching, hypnosis, or journalling. You can do this with any of our coaching programs or hypnosis packages.


Brush off the stressors, spend some time relaxing, and you get to keep your zen, and your waistline!

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