To Your Health
June, 2008 (Vol. 02, Issue 06)
Mind Over Matter
Weight always will have a relationship with what we eat and do in our lives. Outside of those factors, a number of other things influence weight loss. Overall health and medical issues, increasing age, and how we deal with stress can all affect our weight. Stress, whether from external sources such as work demands or internal stress from dealing with physical pain and even normal body functions, should be addressed when trying to lose weight. I tell my patients to think about stress affecting their weight in terms of the "flight/fight" response. Innately, we either chose to stand up to scary situations or run away as a method of self-preservation. If you have constant stress and don't deal with it, your body conditions itself to run all the time. In order to do that, there has to be plenty of fuel around to help us run as fast as we can for as long as possible. The extra weight we carry, which often is related to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, serves as our fuel storage. We carry the extra fuel until it gets used up, often leading to difficulty in losing weight. Often, stress-related weight gain can be connected to emotional eating and binging.
Diet, exercise and weight-loss trends seem to change over time, but our goal to win the battle against the bulge remains constant. Looking beyond what you're not eating and drinking is important in any weight-loss program. Consistent exercise, dealing with life stressors, and settling realistic goals are keys to successful weight loss. So, the next time you hear about a new diet program, think about how it's different from and similar to all the rest. It might just help you choose the right program for your lifestyle goals and long-term health.
Stephanie Pina, NMD is a licensed naturopathic physician who incorporates both Western and Eastern medicine in her private practice in Tempe, Ariz. She is also currently working on completing a Master in Oriental Medicine degree.