Stress releases the hormone cortisol. I call it the Jane and Erika hormone. For those of you who are not familiar with the story of Jane and Erika, I’ll review it here briefly.
Jane was healthy. She would regularly get seven to eight hours of sleep each night and was a stress-free person. She would look into the mirror and would note how she liked her healthy body shape.
That was until Jane’s stressed-out alter ego, Erika, began to appear. When Jane’s sleeping pattern changed to an inconsistent five to six hours of disturbed sleep a night, she became pretty stressful about most things, and Erika began to appear more and more frequently. Stressed and often exhausted, Erika simply could not stop herself from eating sweet, salty, and fatty foods. Erika said she didn’t care about her habits, but distressed Jane watched 50 pounds of fat accumulate on her body. Jane felt like she couldn’t help herself.
This story is about the struggle between a healthy body shape, Jane, and the unhealthy, overweight side, Erika. For more on the Jane and Erika story, you need only observe the growing stress and obesity in our society.
Hormones are like people. They behave differently depending on whom they socialize with. Cortisol, the hormone released in our bodies due to stress, increases cravings for sugar. When cortisol socializes with insulin, the hormone released anytime our bodies process simple or complex sugars, it is more likely to cause fat storage.
Seven things that can raise cortisol in a negative way:
- Sleep deprivation
- Short-term stress
- Long-term stress
- Skipping meals
- Alcohol Use
- High intensity, short duration exercise
Neuroscientists report that stress hormones (like cortisol) are referred to as the craving brain. This is the state that is often activated under stress, where the brain’s short-term reward centers are activated and the motivation centers are turned down. This is why Jane’s alter ego, Ericka, craves sweet, salty, and fatty foods.
For years I’ve taught that quality sleep is the foundation for weight loss. Learning how to manage stress during waking hours will make or break your ideal body shape goals. Indeed, stress reduction is critical for weight loss.
Are you interested in how to apply this information to your life and manage stress? It’s not all about diet and exercise. If you’re currently negatively impacted by stress and poor sleep, brain training should be your focus. Brain training includes visualization exercises that focus on teaching you to relax and focus on creating and maintaining your ideal body shape. At IdealShape, we have created stress reduction Brain Training CD’s to teach you how to improve the critical behaviors surrounding issues of stress. Improving your sleeping behavior and improving your reaction to stress can lower your fat storage.