Mind Over Matter: How Mental Health Affects Weight

Mind Over Matter: How Mental Health Affects Weight

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There are countless phrases associated with weight loss regimens, and we’ve heard them all: “No pain, no gain,” “feel the burn,” and “mind over matter.” We take these to be motivational quotes, to help up focus on our goals and stay disciplined and committed to our goal. But it’s that last one that we should focus on, and in more ways than one. We interpret “mind over matter” as a short and simple way of telling ourselves that our will power is stronger than the challenges we face when trying to pursue a healthier lifestyle. To be fair, there is some truth to that, but it is just as important to be mindful of what role our mental health, specifically our stress and anxiety levels, play in our ability to lose weight on our journey to a healthier lifestyle. Keeping some of these facts in mind and taking the steps to address them can not only help us stay on track with your weight loss but improve our overall quality of life.

Stress Can Cause Binge Eating

We’ve all heard of comfort food. While sometimes it can be meant as a reminder of home or something familiar, at times it means exactly what it sounds like; eating to comfort ourselves. Stress eating is one form of emotional eating, one most people are guilty of, and it is a huge obstacle for a few reasons. For one, the types of food we crave when we are stressed are those high in sugars and fat. Research has shown that we crave these because they stimulate our brains to release chemicals that reduce tension. As a result, this effect can become addictive, and we continue stress eating for the sake of this short-term tension relief. In the long term, this excess consumption of sugar and fat, not to mention calories, not only makes us gain weight, but it makes us feel worse both physically and emotionally.

Stressed People Sleep Less

Sleep is an essential part of healthy weight loss, because aside from helping us feel well rested, it helps maintain hormone balance. When we are sleep deprived, our bodies release a hormone called ghrelin, which is the hormone that signals hunger. Having this hormone released even when we have already eaten a healthy serving of food is a detriment, because once again, we seek the short-term comforts of food, and sometimes even alcohol, to soothe ourselves.

Producing Cortisol as a Response to Stress

Cortisol is a hormone we produce under periods of stress which can make losing weight especially difficult because of its purpose and effects. It serves to increase blood sugar as well as suppressing our immune systems. In excess, it can promote body fat and make it more difficult to burn visceral fat, or in other words, the fat around our midsection. This is a health risk because it surrounds our vital organs, which in turn can release fatty acids into our bloodstream, raising our cholesterol and leading to weight related illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.

A Routine Is Important. Stress Disrupts it

An important part of building a healthier relationship with food and better eating habits is planning not only what we eat, but when we eat. Being mindful of this and keeping a routine makes it easier to stick to. But when we are under heavy stress, these routines become more difficult to follow, and aside from snacking more frequently than what our plans allow, our routine becomes unpredictable. From short binges to long periods of nothing, our bodies will adapt to this by holding on to fat as a source of energy, and then when we add a large intake of fats and sugars, we compound the effect, disrupting our metabolism and digging ourselves into a deeper hole. Thankfully, stress is not unbeatable.

Stress Feeds on Inactivity, So Get on Up!

The most daunting thing about stress is how unbeatable it feels when we’re going through it. It’s discouraging, and draining, and it always tells us “No.” The thing about it though, is that all it takes is a “Yes.” In response. By taking the steps to fight back against it, it’s surprising how effectively we can beat back the negative effects. For example, despite all the imposing things we know about cortisol, exercise is a spectacular counter to it. Even a short walk at a good pace, for about 20 minutes, will make our blood circulate a little faster, transporting cortisol to our kidneys and flushing our system. Additionally, we already know that slowing down at mealtimes can help us eat less, but science has shown that eating more slowly can also help reduce cortisol levels! In short, if we take the small steps (literally and figuratively) to combat stress, speed up a bit with our movement and slow down a bit with our meals, we end up taking huge leaps towards our weight loss goals and a healthier lifestyle.

Medical Science for The Win!

When all is said and done, weight loss falls under the category of medical science. By seeking the help of trained professionals, you not only have better resources to succeed, but the support structure you need to build better habits. The professionals at Olivera Weight Loss have over 40 years of experience in helping people reduce their weight to a healthy BMI, in a clinically proven and medically safe way, and with the means to help their patients keep it off. Patients who qualify for medical weight loss treatment with Olivera receive Phentermine, an FDA approved, clinically proven appetite suppressant, which is an excellent way to jumpstart better habits with proper portions. And keeping in mind that our state of mind is just as important to the weight loss journey, counseling can help cope with the stress in our lives that makes achieving our health goals more difficult than needed. With our established patients having the option to continue their care with our Telehealth service, receiving the support, encouragement, and continuing education they need, we make it easier than ever to follow your plan!


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