“Let’s talk about stress, baby…let’s talk about you and me…A little bit, a little bit” If you are a woman over the age of 35 who feels stressed all of the time, let’s TALK! What is stress belly? And how do you know if you have stress belly fat? But more importantly, what can you do about it?
If you feel like you are doing everything right but are still struggling with extra “fluff” around the middle, your hectic lifestyle may be the culprit. In this article, we are going to talk about stress belly, especially for women, and how it can be reversed.
(And if you are looking for more information, I put together a guide that helps you target things like stress, fatigue, and brain fog and you can get it for free by clicking this link)
Let’s talk about STRESS and STRESS BELLY
A lot of times feeling “stressed” actually is an indicator that our hormones are out of whack. Because let’s face it…as women, we’ve dealt with stress our entire lives. But somewhere around 35, it seems to affect us more.
You may feel anxious all of the time
You may have difficulty sleeping
You may have issues with memory, focus, or concentration.
You may also notice increased abdominal fat or metabolism problems. This is what we refer to as “stress belly.”
Excess weight around the middle can be due to chronic stress, particularly from chronic elevation of the stress hormone, cortisol.
What’s the deal with Cortisol?
Cortisol is an essential hormone that gives us energy and works with adrenaline to help us “run away” from tigers! It tells the body what to do to get energy: keep glucose floating around because we need it for a quick boost. This can be helpful during a job interview or when you are running late.
But when left unchecked, chronic cortisol elevation can damage our bodies. Our hormones go crazy. And our body does everything possible to prevent us from losing weight and even stores fat in places that allows for conversion back into usable energy. One of those places is, yep you guessed it: AROUND THE MIDDLE.
Call it stress belly, muffin top, or love handles, but stress is often the culprit.
It can leave us with symptoms like anxiety, extreme fatigue, blood pressure issues, and difficulty concentrating. (To read more about the ways stress affects the body, check out “10 Surprising Chronic Stress Effects on the Body (with 10 Ways to Combat the Physical Symptoms of Stress using Stress Reduction techniques)“)
Stress also increases risk for medical diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease. So really, stress belly is just the body’s way of dealing with constant stress. And it’s not healthy because we are not made to be stressed out all of the time.
5 ways to reverse Stress Belly
So the best way to reverse those symptoms is by dealing with the cause and healing the body. You’ve heard these reasons before. But actually making the change can be the most difficult part.
Deal with Stress
Stress that is left unmanaged damages the body and can lead to worsening stress belly, as well as other medical conditions. By focussing on stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and controlling stressful situations the best that you can, you can naturally lower cortisol levels. This will allow the body to naturally release belly weight that comes from stress.
Just 15 minutes of exercise, 3 times per week, is all that it takes to notice benefits. If you want to hack your metabolism, choose HIIT (high intensity interval training) activities. You can find low-impact routines on YouTube and do them right in your home.
Just a word of caution: when you go for a long run, you increase cortisol production. So if you have not managed stress, this type of exercise could make your symptoms worse.
During sleep, the body repairs itself. But oftentimes, stress causes disrupted sleep. You may experience nighttime waking or difficulty falling asleep. And research shows that just one night of “bad sleep” can increase cortisol and throw your body off track.
Easy things to do include
- Keeping a sleep schedule, which means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day
- Developing a bedtime routine that relaxes and calms you
- Maintaining a good sleep environment: keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature
- Avoiding caffeine late in the day and limiting alcohol at night
- Talking with your medical provider about the use of sleep medication (even over the counter options)
Nutrition & Hydration
Stress belly can be worsened by foods that are high in sugar, processed foods, or by skipping meals. You may even have mixed hunger signals due to dehydration.
I recommend eating in a pattern that stabilizes blood sugar, boosts metabolism, and provides nutrition and vitamins that are essential to the body. If you want to learn more about this, you may find my free guide helpful.
And lastly, your body responds well to high quality supplements. Ashwagandha is one of the main adaptogen herbs that have been studied medically and has been shown to balance cortisol. You want to support a natural level of cortisol throughout the day but prevent spikes and drops, which are some of the reasons for feeling anxiety, fatigue, and sleep disturbance.
I offer prescription grade supplements that I have access to as a medical provider. The one that I recommend to patients specifically for stress and female hormone support is linked below. Most of my patients notice the symptoms of chronic stress decrease significantly in just a few weeks, and I myself use this and feel less anxious, even in stressful situations.
You can use the code STRESSLESS for a 10% discount on your order.
Let me know what you think!