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Get Rid of Stress and Find Some Gratitude

Updated on July 29, 2009

Stress and Weight Gain

Sometimes it does not seem to matter how much or how little you eat. The pounds pack on and in the most awful places. Stress can cause excessive weight gain. Of course, over eating does not help the situation!

While I am not and do not claim to be a therapist, I have seen women who have gained weight almost overnight --- and mostly in the hip and belly region of the body. They all say they have not changed their eating habits. So, what caused this sudden weight gain and body transformation?

The answer could be as simple as stress. But, let's get one thing straight before we continue. Everyone has stress. And, sometimes stress is a good thing. But, sudden onset prolonged stress can cause the body to do many things --- one of which is gain weight.

Without going into the cortisol discussion or getting too technical, let's just say that our bodies still adopt our ancestors primitive behaviors at times. Back in the cave days, when food could be scarce during the cold icy months, human bodies would store fat in preparation for the hard days ahead. Funny, but it seems that some of our bodies still do that. Of course, it is not so funny when you can no longer button your pants.

For this discussion we are going to accept the scientifically proven fact that stress can cause weight gain. This may be an over simplification of the situation. But, without going into the functions of the body, without discussing cortisol or the differences between brown fat and white fat, we agree that when you are under stress you will probably pack on a few unwanted pounds.

Walk to Lose Weight and Lose Stress

One of the simplest exercises we can do to lose weight and to lose stress is to walk. Walking for just thirty minutes a day can change your life. You do not have walk briskly. Just walk!

Get outside, get some fresh air, and walk. This is a free exercise and a free mental health therapy. Again, I do not claim to be a therapist, but I have seen the benefits of a short walk every day.

On average 30 minutes of walking will burn 30 calories. To lose one pound you must burn 3500 calories. Now, I know what you are thinking! It looks as if you may be able to lose 2 or 3 pounds in a year. Right? Well, in one way you are right. But, the added benefits will help you lose more.

First of all, if you are under overwhelming stress you are probably sitting in a chair wringing your hands and suffering from a headache. And, you don't want to go for a walk! Well, get up anyway. Force yourself. Take your cell phone and stroll around the neighborhood for a half hour.

By the way, all day hand wringing burns less calories than a 30 minute walk. And, while you are sitting still, all slumped over in the easy chair, the cortisol is at work packing pounds on around the mid-section.

Here's the added benefit of a 30 minute walk. You get more oxygen to the brain. The more oxygen in the brain, the more clearly you will think and the more energy you will have. Hopefully, you are getting the idea.

Kick the ball that is at rest, so to speak. Once it is motion it is easier to keep it in motion. That's the law of inertia.

First Walk Along the Beach

Three older women walking along the beach, not yet in great shape, but enjoying the exercise and the fresh air.
Three older women walking along the beach, not yet in great shape, but enjoying the exercise and the fresh air.

You Gotta Start Somewhere

The truth is that if you are overweight, out of shape, depressed, old or young, you have to start somewhere.  The choice really is yours.  And, it is a choice. 

It would be hard to believe that the three women in the picture at the right are feeling the burden of overwhelming stress.  When you move --- just take a walk --- stress is reduced.  When stress is reduced, weight loss is possible.

Oh, by the way!  Not only will you lose a few pounds, you will sleep better at night.  That's worth something.

Create an Attitude of Gratitude

Perhaps, this is the real key to good health --- attitude

When we are "stressed out" it is difficult to find anything in our lives to be thankful for.  We seem to fall deeper and deeper into the black hole of depression and weight gain. 

We have discussed the need for exercise to lose weight and to lose stress.  Now, we need to practice a few mental exercises.

  • Look for something positive everyday --- no matter how small it is.
  • Be a good finder, not a fault finder.
  • Hold your tongue when you are about to say something negative --- and NO! those things do not just slip out!
  • Open your mouth and speak when you have something positive to say.  That's the time to speak, not hold back.
  • Find three (3) people a day to give a sincere compliment.  (This could be harder than you think if you are really stressed out.)

Work to create an attitude of gratitude.  It can't hurt and it may help.

A Word of Caution

Clinical depression is a serious problem.  If you are severely depressed, unable to function, or having thoughts of self-harm, see a doctor.

For those who are suffering from acute anxiety or stress, often exercise and fresh air will do the trick.  However, it is not our intention to minimize the seriousness of chronic or clinical depression or suggest in any way that medical care may not be needed or required


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    • JennaJackson profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Mighty Mom,

      I read that little tip in a book years ago. Having worked with people who seemed to be caught in a world of negativity and depression, I decided to have them put the idea into practice. Some actually found it difficult to find something to compliment at first. But, with practice each began to be a "good finder" instead of a "fault finder." Gratitude comes from what you give more than from what you get.

      I still practice giving three sincere compliments a day. I know that I will experience at least three smiles a day.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Wonderful, practical advice. There is no excuse not to get on your feet and walk for 1/2 hour.

      I'm in the habit of making a daily gratitude list. Love your idea of 3 sincere compliments a day. I'm going to add that into my de-stressing regimen! Thanks!!! MM


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