If you felt stressed over the holidays, you may need a low key day of R & R. When you're in "fight or flight" mode (rushing to work, not getting enough quality sleep, letting the small stuff get to you, etc) your body increases the amount of adrenaline and cortisol released. This can - and usually does - lead to weight gain, often times in the belly.
If this sounds familiar, here are a few things you can do to get into "rest and digest" mode, which will help promote weight loss:
- Cut back on caffeine (one cup of Joe can elevate cortisol by 30%!).
Coffee coffee elevates cortisol, which can throw off your insulin. If you're not a diabetic, think of insulin as your fat-storage hormone. The more you throw it off, the more likely you'll gain belly fat.
- Sleep more, or if possible, take a nap a couple times a week.
Nothing could throw your body into fight or flight mode more than a rough night of sleep. You feel sleepy, so you grab some caffeine (see above). A lack of sleep also prevents your body from building muscle. You're MUCH more likely to store fat.
- Spend some time in a steam room, sauna or bath taking 10 DEEEEEEP breaths.
Take 10 minutes a few times a week to focus on deep breathing in a hot, hot, environment. When I say deep breaths, I mean count to five (at least) while breathing in, and count to five while breathing out. The combination of the heat and breathing have been shown to relax your body and reset it back closer to rest and digest mode.
- Eat a little more protein and a little less carbohydrate (you don't need more sugar).
Some carbs are very good, particularly vegetables, but many carbs are back, particularly cookies, candy, soda, juice, pastries, most "diet" foods, etc. When we eat refined carbs, such as those mentioned above, our body's insulin (aka fat-storage hormone) is throw off. Even though we may not be physically stressing our body, a different type of physiological stress is occurring. Our body doesn't distinguish from the two and will throw itself into fight or flight mode. Eat fewer carbs, and if you do, make sure they're clean.
Traci D Mitchell is a nationally-recognized Chicago-based nutrition coach and personal trainer featured on the TODAY Show and Dr. Oz. As the trainer for Steve Harvey's Bridal Bootcamp, Traci keeps herself busy by challenging others to be the healthiest they can be. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and private coaching. Interested in working with Traci? Get info here. To keep up-to-date, subscribe to her newsletter.