We are all dealing with an unprecedented amount of stress lately, between a global pandemic, a shaky economy and remote-work burnout. We’ve been staying indoors more, binging TV and stress eating. All perfectly normal activities, but when you couple that with a lack of sleep and an increased anxiety, the results can be troubling.
Are there more important things to worry about than a little extra flab around your midsection? Of course. But that doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable. At a time when we’re worried about so much, feeling bad about yourself because your pants aren’t fitting like they used to just adds an unnecessary burden. The good news is that if you catch it early, you can reverse it somewhat easily. But you can’t skimp on good habits, says nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott, author of The Cortisol Connection.
Cortisol, a crucial hormone that’s part of our “fight or flight” response, slows unnecessary body functions so you can focus. But once the threat passes, everything goes back to normal. Unfortunately, prolonged stress can keep our stress hormones levels elevated, along with blood pressure and blood sugars. Talbott says that all the uncertainty lately is leading to a “chronically activated stress response” in our bodies. This can lead to a breakdown of the immune system and a reduction in muscle and skin tissues, he says.
The only part of your body that doesn’t retreat at this time is your waistline. “Your belly fat is the only tissue that expands in response to stress,” he says. “Plus a stress-cortisol craving is almost always for high-sugar, high-fat junk food.” In order to fight it, you’ve got to put a plan in place. The good news is that it’s not all that difficult. Herewith, an expert-backed regimen to tighten up.