Are You Apple Shaped?

For some women it can be extremely difficult.

Slim arms, slim legs – and all that weight seems to sit around the midline! But why!?

Today, we are going to delve a little deeper as to WHY our bodies store body fat on our waists.

For many, diet does of course play a role – however there is a much bigger connection to the stress hormone cortisol which has a big impact. 

As I’m sure you’ve heard, we have our flight or fight response. Our bodies are designed to respond quickly to when we are perhaps in danger.  For animals this is a crucial mechanism to keep them alive!

Unfortunately for us, we are under some of stress daily. Whether it is that we are running late to work, kids won’t put their shoes on to leave the house, we allow our blood sugars to drop, we’re behind with a deadline – even though we’re not actually under any immediate danger our bodies cannot distinguish between every day stressors or whether we were being chased by an animal!

Once the threat is out of the way however, our bodies are very clever where our adrenal glands will stop producing cortisol and our bodies return back to normal.

In a stressful situation, the adrenaline that is released helps to get you alert and focused, whilst the cortisol increases levels of fat and sugar in your bloodstream. However, unless you go and do something physical (as our bodies expect us to), all that extra energy, in the form of fat and glucose, has nowhere to go and must simply be re-deposited as fat.

After a stressful event, naturally our adrenaline levels lower – however cortisol levels can be raised for up to couple of days! Because of this raise in cortisol, unfortunately our bodies think that our bodies need to be fuelled after all the running around we’ve been doing (even if we haven’t been!) But for most – we are stuck at a chair, at a desk…not really moving for most of the day. Meaning that for most people who are under stress a lot – their appetites can increase by quite a lot. Furthermore, our bodies think we need to refuel in the food groups which will help us to be active – carbohydrates and fats, inevitably leading weight gain!

The fat deposit to this area, is quite key also. It makes it much easier for the liver to convert the energy when needed. So even though annoying, it is very helpful when saving our life!

 

So, what can we do to combat this?

  • I’m sure plenty of people have heard me rave about meditating. I do 20 minutes before bed every night to help me to fall asleep (and works very well as I don’t wake up until the morning!) I specifically use the ‘Calm’ App which can be downloaded and helps me to get back in tune with my breathing and de-stress after a long day working.
  • Even if you do not meditate, learn how to breathe properly. Slowing your breath down can do wonders to allow your nervous system to calm down.
  • Take a Magnesium supplement. When we get stressed we use up a lot of magnesium which aids as a muscle relaxant. Everyone has got their own upper limit which they can tolerate but 300mg daily seems to work nicely for most. Take it 30 minutes before going to bed.
  • Find that work – life balance back. Even if you do not have a ‘regular’ job and perhaps you’re stay at home mum – that in itself is truly tiring! Try and allocate one night a week, or every other week – where you may go and see friends, or just put something on the telly and avoid those distractions by getting your partner to look after the kiddies!

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