Karen's Blogs

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Stress and Weight

We know it’s important to learn effective stress management to feel and be healthier. When you don’t take things personally, are okay with imperfection, take better care of yourself, have more fun, and effectively can chill out and unwind, you’re less likely to pursue non-hunger eating. Need another reason to reduce stress? Read on.

In “Is Your Personality Making You Put on Pounds?” (Wall Street Journal online, 1-10-12), Melinda Beck tells us that certain personality traits may generate weight gain. For example, she describes “the stress junkie” as someone who “thrives on competition and deadline pressure” and who is internally powered by “adrenaline and cortisol.” Sound like anyone you know? She explains, “Those stress hormones supply quick bursts of energy in fight-or-flight situations, but when the alarm is unrelenting, they can cause health problems, including obesity.”

I’m not climbing on the anti-obesity bandwagon here, but suggesting that there is a link between weight gain and unchecked, excessive stress. We already know there’s a correlation between stress and overeating, and now it seems there’s also one between stress and weight. Says Beck, “Cortisol stimulates a brain chemical called neuropeptide Y, which boosts carbohydrate cravings. It also makes the body churn out excess insulin and accumulate fat, particularly in the belly…” There you have it.

That’s why it’s crucial to set limits with people, take time out for yourself, strive for adequacy rather than perfection, carve out time to play/unwind/relax/let go, get enough sleep, stop pushing yourself to the brink. Many disregulated eaters have this type of self-punishing personality. My case load is overflowing with folks who are driven to do everything and do it well, perform at peak, please others, never disappoint, achieve at all cost, compete, win, and prove their worth in these ways to others and themselves. Fact is, if you’re stressed as a way of life, you may never be able to eat more “normally,” so you’ll have to decide which you want more: to be a relatively “normal” eater and healthy or to keep up an unrelenting pace. You can’t have both. These are your only choices. Constant stress will bring you instant gratification and make you feel good about your productivity and achievement in the short run, but exacerbate your eating problems in the long-turn. Your life, you choose.

Here’s the article link:  "Personality Article". By the way, I’m quoted in it, talking about how being too nice and too giving can also incline you to put on pounds.

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