Let's face it, we live in an extremely stressful world these days. We work longer hours, make less real money and spend more time commuting and doing things we want to then 10 years ago. Combine that with all the environmental stress around you and what do you have? A bunch of tight, stressed out hard working people.
We all know that stress is bad for our health, but did you know it is bad for your waistline too? That is right, one of your body's natural reaction to stress is to store and hoard body fat! Talk about kicking someone when they are down. I don't understand all the science behind it but stress for our ancestors was famine, and as soon as your body thinks a famine is going down, it stops releasing fat to be burned as energy and will burn carbohydrates instead. High cortisol levels (stress hormone) also create an environment that works with insulin to push calories into storage, fat storage! So if you are stressed, it is not easy to lose weight and burn fat.
So what can you do about it? Plain and simple you need to reduce the stress in your life if you want a healthy and lean body. Probably the biggest stress factor in your life is your job. If you have one of these jobs where you work 50 plus hours a week and have to commute 30-60 minutes each day I feel bad for you. How are you supposed to stay happy at work and follow a proper exercise program to relieve stress and lose weight? To solve the stress from work issue, I highly recommend Timothy Ferriss' book The Four Hour Work Week. His teachings will get you cutting out the useless busy work and crap in your day that does nothing but sucks up your time and energy.
Exercise is a huge reliever of stress! I know I have to train hard four days a week just to keep myself sane. If I can't exercise regularly I tend to get physically tight and quite snappy with people. If you are so burned out from stress that exercise is tough to think about, start really easy. Just go for a walk or bike ride outside. If you are in a relationship, go with them and just relax and talk about life (not work). It is easier to commit to a light exercise program than a tough one when you are always tired so take it easy and make baby steps.
You need a lot more than 5-6 hours of sleep if you want to reduce your stress levels. Lack of sleep elevates cortisol dramatically so turn off the CPU (I am guilty of this one) or TV and go to bed! Trust me, an hour or two more of sleep per day will make a huge difference in your stress levels and waistline (lots of sleep reduces body fat percentage).
Get a massage or hit the sauna. Do something that relaxes you and do it often. Personally I take naps during my lunch break, but lots of women swear by spa treatments. Whatever it is, don't feel guilty about the indulgence, just enjoy it and understand that it is good for you.
If you can follow these simple tips I guarantee your stress levels will drop along with your measurements so start following a low stress lifestyle today!