STOP STRESS CY­CLE

IS YOUR CRAZY CAL­EN­DAR DISSOLVING YOUR GOOD IN­TEN­TIONS? TRY THESE TRICKS TO PRE­VENT STRESS SABOTAGING YOUR WEIGHT-LOSS GOALS

Life & Style Weekend - - EYE WELLNESS -

In our fast-paced, hy­per-con­nected world it can be a real chal­lenge to stick to a fit­ness rou­tine. Our sched­ules are so de­mand­ing and un­pre­dictable even the most ded­i­cated per­son can strug­gle to find the time to look af­ter them­selves. The re­sult? In­creased stress. In­creased waist­lines and health is­sues. As we get fur­ther and fur­ther away from our ideal im­age, our stress lev­els com­pound again, on­ward, in a vi­cious cir­cle.

And what hap­pens? Emo­tional eat­ing. Er­ratic and some­times com­pul­sive ex­er­cise pro­grams that leave us feel­ing worse than ever.

Stress is the re­lease of adren­a­line and cor­ti­sol into our bod­ies. These are the tra­di­tional “fight or flight” hor­mones that would have saved us from dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions back when we were liv­ing in caves. Gen­er­ally, stress when de­fined this way isn’t bad or good. Way back when it was a very use­ful mech­a­nism. But nowa­days, with so many of us liv­ing safe, nor­mal lives, it can be a hin­drance to our emo­tional well­be­ing. In ex­treme cases it can cause fa­tigue, sup­pressed im­mune sys­tems, mi­graines, and other aches and pains.

There are also stud­ies to sug­gest that pro­longed stress in our bod­ies can sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease our chances of eat­ing carb or fat-rich foods, which makes sense when we think about how many take­aways we have or­dered af­ter bad days at the of­fice. Here are some strate­gies to com­bat stress-linked weight gain:

RECOG­NISE EMO­TIONAL EAT­ING

We all have the ex­pe­ri­ence of grab­bing a take­away pizza or reach­ing for the cookie jar when we are stressed about some­thing. The same goes for drink­ing al­co­hol to deal with painful emo­tions. The best way to man­age emo­tional eat­ing is to recog­nise it be­fore it hap­pens. Recog­nise the change that comes over your thoughts and emo­tions when you have had a bad ex­pe­ri­ence and are look­ing for a re­lease. It will be pre­dictable.

Over time you will be able to stop these thoughts be­fore they gain power and pre­vent your­self from scoff­ing some­thing you will re­gret af­ter­wards.

“USE A TIME MAN­AGE­MENT OR CAL­EN­DAR APP TO PLAN YOUR DAYS OUT IN AD­VANCE.”

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!

Our lives are so fast and chaotic now that if we don’t pre­pare be­fore­hand we are likely to get swept up in some­thing else. This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant for food prep and ex­er­cise. It’s so easy to say we will hit the gym at “some point” today, but “some point” rarely hap­pens. One of the best stressre­duc­ing habits is to in­tro­duce food prep into our rou­tine. By cre­at­ing nu­tri­tious, tasty meals ahead of time we can man­age our sched­ules bet­ter and al­lo­cate big­ger chunks of our day to more im­por­tant things … and we won’t be tempted to hit the fast-food joint when we get stressed.

BE­COME A SCHED­ULE MAS­TER

To get a han­dle on stress we have to get hold of our most pre­cious re­source: time. Use a time man­age­ment or cal­en­dar app to plan your days out in ad­vance. Make your days more pre­dictable and your stress lev­els will nat­u­rally drop, giv­ing you an in­crease in clar­ity and en­ergy and more men­tal space for your per­sonal goals and dreams.

Kelly is a per­sonal trainer, mother and author of Busy Mum Syn­drome. She spe­cialises in on­line train­ing pro­grams for busy mums, which have earned praise from Kate Mid­dle­ton.

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