by JJ Virgin
With the economic downturn showing no end in sight…the unemployment rates climbing… those who have jobs working more and earning less…a general feeling of lack of control…the one certainty is higher stress levels for all. You may be noticing that you are craving more sugar and carbs, you feel like you are on overdrive and you can’t turn it off at night so your sleep suffers (and your sex drive, forget about it!), you are "tired yet wired" and your overall fatigue means your workouts suffer if you manage to find time to workout at all and you are noticing your stress meter (read your waistline) is expanding even if you aren’t eating more (in fact you might even be eating less, so not fair).If you are letting the recession stress you out, then that stress is making you fat!
Yep, STRESS can make you fat, look and feel older than your years and lose your sex drive. Your adrenal glands produce two hormones, DHEA and cortisol. When you are under stress, your adrenal glands shift from producing optimal levels of DHEA to produce more cortisol to deal with the crisis. Over time , you can’t keep up with the demand and cortisol starts to decrease as well. Lower DHEA means that your body can’t burn fat as well and can lead to lower levels of testosterone, which reduces your ability to build muscle and impacts your sex drive. High cortisol raises blood sugar, increases sugar and carb cravings, makes you anxious, breaks down muscle and can cause you to lay down fat around your waistline and worst yet, raises the ‘setpoint’ at which you can burn off that fat. When you exhaust your adrenals from long term chronic stress, you can’t produce as much cortisol anymore. This lower cortisol sends your body goes &ld quo;famine physiology” where it lowers your metabolic rate and conserves energy making it darn near impossible to lose weight AND if you try to do so by drastically lowering your caloric intake and over-exercising (if you are even able to get moving at this point) you just get worse.
RECCESSION PROOF YOUR LIFE STYLE!
Thankfully, I have some solutions that you can deploy NOW to start digging out of this metabolic black hole that are also fiscally sound as well! So no excuses, quit whining and get into action, the responsibility to turn things around begins with each of us!
Sleep! Turn off your deluxe cable package, pare down to the basics to keep your phone and wireless working and skip the TV programs at night and go to bed earlier. The single biggest way to help your adrenals is by getting 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Can't sleep? Be sure you "power down" an hour before bed (yes, shut the computer off), get in a hot bath with some Epsom salts and baking soda and read a good (but not great) book.
Eat Real Food! That processed, packaged chemical cuisine is not only not your best choice for your health but also more expensive. Get back to basics with real food-lots of nonstarchy veggies, chicken, etc and hit the local farmer’s market for great bargains on produce that is grown locally and is in season.
Toss the Water Bottles! Repeat after me, reduce my carbon footprint, reduce my carbon footprint...so getting rid of those plastic water bottles helps the environment and can help lower your overall toxic burden. Travel with your safe stainless steel drinking bottle and you will save a fortune on bottled water too. (hint, the hotel gyms are a great place to fill up!)
Fit Fitness In! Dump the gym and hit the park and grab some natural vitamin D (i.e. sunshine) along the way. Run the stairs, jump rope, do a parcourse, chase your kids, sprint with your dog, climb a mountain, the opportunities to move and challenge your body are endless, just walk outside!
Lose the Latte and Go Green! I tallied up my Starbucks bill and realized I could feed a family in a third world country with what I am spending there. While I am not willing to stop my Starbucks experience (I simply love them calling my name and handing over my venti cup of heaven), I have made the change to a green tea instead. My venti green tea costs less than half of what a deluxe coffee drink does AND It benefits your health as well. Green tea boosts your metabolism, supports healthy adrenals due to its theanine content and is rich in antioxidants. Plus I can fill it back up with hot water and get another whole cup!
©2011 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Nutrition and Fitness Expert JJ Virgin is a the author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy and the co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters reality series. Visit her at http://www.jjvirgin.com to grab her free audio: Top Ten Hottest Tips to Get Slim and Sexy Fast