Stress & Cortisol Can Lead to Belly Fat & Weight Gain

Join the Conversation: What’s your favorite way to relieve stress? Share your thoughts now.
Stressed out? Struggling with excess weight?
StressIf you’rve been stressed out and you’ve gained weight, you want to learn about cortisol, which is caused by stress and its role in both weight gain and infuriating belly fat.
Here are some answers to questions you may have about the stress-cortisol-weight gain connection.
How does too much cortisol make you gain weight?
We normally think of cortisol as being released from our adrenal glands in “fight-or-flight” situations when we don’t have control of a situation or it’s threatened.
It raises our heart beat and gives us a burst of energy. Yet, there is a second even result relating to cortisol, which is related to the ‘defeat’ response, which occurs when stress is prolonged.
“Although the stress pathways work together,” wrote a team of exercise science professors at the University of New Mexico, “they each can uniquely affect the function of bodily processes.
“The ‘defeat’ response {when stress is prolonged} can lead to enhanced lipogenesis (fat creation), visceral obesity (deep abdominal obesity), breakdown of tissues, and suppression of the immune system.”
In short, stress and your elevated levels of cortisol can make you fat.
More specifically, cortisol is a steroid hormone, which has the ability to move fat in your body from storage deposits directly into the fat cells located in your abdomen.
Plus, the more cortisol you secrete over extended periods of time, the more you engorge fat cells in your abdomen to create belly fat.
Not only that, but cortisol “also indirectly influences appetite by regulating other chemicals that are released during stress such as cortiocotrophin releasing hormone, leptin, and neuropeptide Y,” the New Mexico research team noted.
Does abdominal fat attract more abdominal fat due to stress reactions?
The short answer is yes! Another study, this one from a team of health psychologists at the University of California, San Francisco, researched 59 premenopausal women, about half of whom had a high waist-to-hip ratio (abdominal fat) and half, who had a low ratio.
Over four days, all the women were exposed to stressful test situations and had their cortisol secretions measured. Women with a high abdominal fat reported more chronic stress and “secreted significantly more cortisol” than women with lower abdominal fat.
The study authors concluded that “stress-induced cortisol secretion” contributes to central body fat and this fat distribution, in turn, “relates to greater psychological vulnerability to stress and cortisol reactivity.”
Physicians at the MedicineNet website label this cortisol-induced abdominal fat “toxic fat” because its buildup in this part of your body “is strongly correlated with the development of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.”
What are proven methods to control cortisol and reduce belly fat?
It’s a one-two punch in the gut, so to speak. You need to manage your stress so cortisol doesn’t continues to inflate your abdominal fat cells, and you need to adopt a dedicated exercise program that not only burns calories, but also helps to manage stress levels.
“Many types of aerobic and anaerobic exercise have been shown to be effective interventions in reducing or managing stress,” observed Len Kravitz, Ph.D., an exercise science expert at the University of New Mexico.
“Some of the popular ‘mindful’ exercise programs such as yoga and Tai Chi are also recommended for stress management. medditation, progressive relaxation, deep breathing, and visualization are methods that can be effective in decreasing stress-induced symptoms. Also, eating right and getting enough rest should be incorporated in a stress management plan for life.”
Join the Conversation: What’s your favorite way to relieve stress? Share your thoughts now.

Do You Mindlessly Rush & Stress or Mindfully Relax? 7 Tips to Calm Down

Join the Conversation. Are you a Rusher or Relaxer? And have you ever hurt yourself mindlessly hurrying?
Last Sunday afternoon, mindlessly stressfully and rushing landed me in major trouble—specifically, major physical pain.
Despite my recent efforts to relish nature’s magnificence, appreciate my peaceful surroundings, and slow down my breathing, last week I temporarily forgot my mindful intentions.
Instead, I was was hurrying and scurrying as in an area I don’t know.
There I was, in the Downtown Disney® Marketplace in Orlando, Florida, speedwalking so I’d arrive on time for the opening keynote of the Launch conference, sponsored by intentional-leadership guru Michael Hyatt and motivational speaker Ken Davis.
I was very eager to attend this event, because I’m a huge fan of Michael Hyatt, author of the fabulous book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, a jewel I discovered, thanks to Hay House, publisher of my most recent book, Beyond Sugar Shock).
Anyhow, although I’d been savoring my meandering for about an hour (even finding some sweet-smelling bath salts), I’d simply lost track of time.
Photos 4-11-11 017So as I was rushing to the Launch conference opening talks, a curb came out of nowhere — well, that’s certainly what it felt like! — and I wrenched my knee. Ouch! Aargh! Eeeks!
I could actually feel my kneecap move around into places where it didn’t belong (although I was wearing a very thin protective brace, because I’d harmed this same knee before.)
In short, I hurt myself because I was in a rush, and I wasn’t fully present or consciously alert.
Otherwise, I would have seen that high-level curb and therefore easily avoided it.
For the next four days, while at the great Launch conference, I regularly iced my painful knee. (I chose not to take the hours it would take to find a doctor in Orlando, get X-rays, etc., because I didn’t want to miss the amazing event.)
Yesterday, after returning back home, I realized that I badly needed medical help.
After many desperate calls to orthopedic surgeons—who couldn’t see me until June or July!—I finally pleaded pitifully enough so that one doctor’s assistant kindly squeezed me in to see a top-notch doctor to whom I’d been recommended.
The Doctor’s Verdict
I have a medial collateral ligament strain, grade 2 (meaning that it wasn’t super-awful, but it wasn’t just a minor injury).
Healing Required
I need to wear a big, monstrous brace while walking (see photo above.
Plus, I have to see a physical therapist a couple of times a week.
And I need to ice 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off.
As for exercise, I can’t do any Zumba or high-intensity spinning or stair-blasting. Okay, I admit, that’s very frustrating!
I also can leisurely walk and in about a week, I may be able to start swimming (not my favorite sport) and I can do slow biking on a stationary bike.
I’ve Also Personalized My Healing Plan
Since I’m a health coach and life coach, I’ve come up with some more healing action steps.
As my awesome tapping consultant, Mary Ayers — who I had to cancel on to see the doctor — reminded me, I need to do lots of EFT on the pain and the feelings associated with my injury.
I also plan to get help from Nick Ortner, author of The Tapping Solution.
I also need to slow down. (See also my 7 Tips to Calm Down.)
My doctor predits that in about 8 weeks — I hope sooner, my knee should be fine.
I’ve Rushed for Years. What About You?
Contorting and twisting my knee while confronting that darn curb made me realize and admit that for years, I’ve excelled at rushing.
I’m a Rusher Par Excellence!
Apparently, I’ve even sought out places to live and a profession where scurrying is a plus—or, rather a must. Yikes!
Just consider:
Up until two years ago (when I moved across country to be with my then-terminally ill mom, who I later lost), I lived in Manhattan, the city where if you rush, you excel. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but it often seems that everyone is dashing about and running late in The Big Apple.)
Not only that, but as a trained journalist, I’m used to frequent article deadlines. In fact, my editors often leaned on me, saying, “Connie, where is your story? We need it!” Back in my days as a daily reporter, I had to crank out several articles a day.
Now I”m forced to face that this I may have hurry sickness, which, in turn, has made me accident-prone.
The fact is this isn’t the first time that my stressing and rushing have made me accident-prone and then caused me serious physical pain.
While a daily journalist and pushing to meet constant deadlines, striking computer keys so quickly (I’m super-fast) and so often on an ergonomically unsound work station and not taking enough breaks, led to excruciatingly painful carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, tendonisovitis and dystonia. At the time, I could barely move my hands, but my doctor didn’t recommend surgery. Besides, I was was determined to find another route — thank you, acupuncture and B vitamins. Anyhow, I had to take many weeks off work, and and eventually I just quit my job so I could go freelance to protect my poor ailing wrists.
Another time, while racing to meet a deadline to finish my first book, Sugar Shock, I badly injured my back by sitting too long while on the keyboard and by not getting up to stretch often. My amazing acupuncturist helped me get through this time.
Then, once, while dashing for a cab in New York City, I severely sprained my ankle by stepping in a nasty pothole I hadn’t noticed.
Oh yeah, there was also the time, while rushing to get back to my sailing lesson that I rammed head-first into a glass window and suffered a concussion.
Beyond Sugar Shock Book CoverNow, let’s get to the sugar connection, which date to about 1998. While trying to cope with the ever-pressing deadlines of a journalist, I became addicted to sugar and processed carbs, which I call quickie carbs.
In fact, I relied on unnatural sugar and carb highs to give me a buzz, help me think straight and write quickly. (Ultimately, I beat my sugar and carb addiction while creating many easy-to-master tools, which I shared in my book Beyond Sugar Shock. FYI, my quit-sugar-iversary comes uup Tuesday so stay tuned for my upcoming post, “7 Ways Life Improved by Being Sugar-Free for 16 Years.”
Back to my hurry accident. The Universe — speaking through my aching, throbbing knee — is clearly telling me to Slow Down!
Plus, I need to get a handle on what some experts call “hurry sickness.”
As I’ll ll now I nurse my injured knee back to health, I’m more determined than ever to breathe deeply, mindfully relax, and consciously choose calm. Read on so you can join the No-Rush Challenge.
Of course, most of us know that scurrying and hurrying while under stress is just not healthy.
A plethora of research shows the many benefits of slowing down. When you’re mindful, you’re happier, you live longer, and (no surprise!) you’re less accident-prone.
Plus, when you eat more mindfully, you lose weight.
Will you join me in a campaign to Stop Rushing & Start Relaxing? Here are 7 tips to get you going.
7 Tips to Stop Rushing & Start Relaxing
1) Claim Calm.
Before you even get out of bed in the morning, breathe deep into your belly and then exhale. Do this for three to 7 minutes. As you do this, inwardly repeat, “I claim calm now. I claim calm now. I claim calm now.” (If you can’t last that long, just try 7 or 10 rounds.)
2) Stay Calm Even If You’re On Deadline.
Whenever you feel rushed for one reason or another, claim calm for at least three breaths. You can do this even when you’re working, driving, waiting for your kids, walking or preparing that pressing project.
3) Take Relaxing Time-Outs.
Throughout the day—at least three times a day—claim calm again for seven breaths; notice and enjoy the scenery around you.
4) Calm Down Before a Meal.
Every time you eat, take seven “I claim calm” breaths first. Research ven shows that you can even lose weight by eating mindfully.
5) Add time.
Whenever you have an appointment, give yourself an extra 45 minutes to an hour to get there. That way, you won’t get frazzled if you hit unexpected traffic, get lost or encounter other surprising challenges. (You certainly won’t mess up your knee as I did rushing to get there.)
6) Keep Track of Time.
Enjoy yourself, but if you have an appointment, keep an eye on the clock so you won’t have to rush at the last minute as I did.
7) Be Alert for Street and Sidewalk Ruts & Potholes.
What a no-brainer! Wish I’d taken my own advice here.
Join the Conversation. Do you rush instead of relax? Have you injured yourself (like me) because you were rushing?

Need Guidance? Pick a Page, Any Page

Recently, I’ve become a big fan of creating fun ways to get guidance with minimal effort.
Whenever I’ve faced a particular challenge or perplexing situation, I’ve often done what I call Motivating with the Masters.
In short, without ever meeting big-name gurus, I’ve received personal attention from them, but they don’t even know they’ve been helping me. Cool, eh?
While seeking guidance from the masters, I’ve created the super-simple Pick a Page, any Page Process, which helps you to easily tap into Infinite Intelligence, God or whatever you want to call it so you can know what to do.
Here’s how to do this simple technique.
First thing in the morning — or whatever time appeals to you — select a book from one of your favorite motivational authors on a subject that speaks to you.
Sit down, turn your head away, and randomly select a page, pointing to it a finger.
Start reading. Almost inevtiably, I’m willing to bet, you’ll soon find your day’s message whether it’s in the first sentence, a few paragraphs down or hidden in two pages.
Now, if that passage doesn’t connect with you, continue reading to find what you need. Or, if you prefer, repeat # 2 so you can land on another passage that’s better suited to your situation.
In addition to doing this Pick a Page, Any Page Process in the morning, you also can rely on it whenever you’re stumped about a particular challenge, dilemma or situation.
Let me give you three personal examples about how this simple Pick a Page, Any Page Process worked so well for me. One day I was feeling stressed out although I’d recently moved to a healing place after my mother’s death.
Longing for some simple, but great advice, I turned to Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., a leading expert on stress, spirituality, and the mind/body connection, whose book, Inner Peace for Busy People: 52 Simple Strategies for Transforming Your Life was inviting me. I landed on pages 72 to 74.
Here’s the guidance I got to help yank me out of my Dark Night of the Soul, which I went through after Mom died.
“This week, think about the simple pleasures that give you the time of your life. Walk around your house and take stock. Do your possessions energize you, or are they a drain? If you own things that are more trouble than they’re worth, simplification is in order. That’s why God invented garage sales.”
What incredible timing! As I was reading this, I had just completed my move of about 500 miles from northern to southern California and I was still donating, recycling, displaying, or temporarily hiding items that were mine or my late Mom’s.
When I read further, Dr. Borysenko hit another telling chord when she discussed my newly acquired boob-tube reliance.
“If you’re a habitual television watcher and want to discover more simple pleasures this week, try a TV fast. Lots of time will open up. Spend it with your loved ones making music, reading, painting, repotting your plants…* tending a fish tank, or any hobby that needs time and care.”
Although I didn’t put her strategy to use right away—since Mom’s death, I’d become hooked on such TV shows as “Charmed,” “Perception” and “Necessary Roughness”—I decided to slowly move in that direction by watching TV less rather than cut it out cold turkey. I even took time to bike on the beach.
Dr. Joan Borysenko then offered me more hope in a section called, “Take Time for Simple Pleasures.”
“Life is lived in the small places, the in-between spots whose magic lies in their capacity to reconnect us to our souls.”
How cool! See what I mean about how picking a page can help you?
A morning or two later—and many other mornings—I turned to the pioneering Geneen Roth, who has helped millions struggling with compulsive eating to transform their relationships to food. I found more pearls of wisdom from her on pages 780 to 781 in her landmark book, Women, Food and Good: Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. She writes:
“The shape of your body obeys the shape of your beliefs about love, value and possibility. To change your body, you must first understand that which is shaping it. Not fight it. Not force it. Not deprive it. Not shame it. Not do anything but accept—and, yes, Virginia—understand it.”
Ah yes, many of us have embarrassed ourselves into dieting and only briefly shed weight. Geneen continued:
“Because if you force and deprive and shame yourself into being thin, you end up a deprived, shamed, fearful person who will also be thin for ten minutes. When you abuse yourself (by taunting or threatening yourself) you become a bruised human being no matter how much you weigh…”
Later, Geneen hit the jackpot for me:
“When you believe in yourself more than you believe in food, you will stop using food as if it were your only chance at not falling apart. When the shape of your body no longer matches the shape of your beliefs, the weight disappears. And yes, it really is that simple.”
On a number of occasions, I also got A Hahs! from Marianne Williamson in her book, A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever. On another morning–which coincidentally fell on Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, when you review your past year and atone for your mistakes—here’s the “Ding” I received. It was a prayer:
Dear God,
As I enter into this new chapter
of my life,
please bless my steps forward,
With this ceremony,
may Your Spirit come upon me
and release me from my former self.
Please deliver me to sweeter realms
and teach me how to be, dear God,
a freer person, a happier person,
a saner person,
without compulsion or fear.
And so it is.
I hope you’ll enjoy my simple Pick a Page, Any Page Process.
Join the Conversation: Tell us what passage has inspired you.
thanks to Pam Lawhorne for this fabulous image shown above. Hope I’m able to use it. If I goofed, contact me, and I’ll pull it.)

It’s Not About the Cookies: Shed Weight with Colette Baron-Reid

Do you turn to cookies, cakes, pasta and other junk foods for comfort?
When stress hits you, do you gain extra weight without even eating extra food?
Do worry and overeating go together?
If so, you want to join today’s special Gab with the Gurus Show with Colette Baron-Reid, the internationally renowned intuitive counselor, life coach, speaker and author of Weight Loss for People Who Feel Too Much.
On today’s Gab with the Gurus Show, you will learn:
How emotional eating is not about the food.
How to set healthy boundaries.
How your thoughts can make you fat or think.
What the connection is between stress and cortisol.
How to let go of self-bullying, which will help you release the weight.
How do discover radical self-acceptance.
Listen to this show live or later, at your convenience. Please spread the word about this show to your friends and colleagues.
More Health Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Gab With the Gurus on BlogTalkRadio

Take Charge of Your Stress & Sleep: Two Keys to Live Life Well

Are you overwhelmed by stress? And are you sleep deprived?
These are two vital areas in life that you can and should change. And gaining control over these areas can help you get a fabulous life.
Listen to this powerful Gab with the Gurus Radio Show with the amazing to learn more about how to take charge of your life when it comes to both stress and sleep.
My first guest, which is part of the Gab with the Gurus 3-Year Anniversary celebration, is Lauren E. Miller, author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before. . . Stressing Out.
Next, make sure to listen to this fabulous interview with Dr. Breus, author of the fabulous book, The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep:
Right now, I’m listening again to the second half of the Gab with the Gurus Radio Show with Dr. Breus. You will find out:
How being sleep deprived is the worst thing for your weight.
How the more sleep deprived you are, the slower your metabolism.
How you can lose weight just by sleeping!
One thing NOT to do if you wake up in the middle of the night.
How not enough sleep leads you to eat more sweets and culprit carbs.
About a hormone that makes you eat — this is triggered when you don’t get enough sleep.
What one incredibly simple thing you can do to take charge of your sleep.
How to figure out how much sleep you need.
How yoga and acupuncture can help you sleep.
When to power off and have “an electronic curfew.”
The best way to fall asleep.
How to catch up if you’re sleep deprived.
Whether or not to nap.
How to get sleep while you’re on the road. (These are awesome tips.)
What the scoop is about melatonin and valerian root.
Listen now to these fascinating Gab with the Gurus interviews in honor of our three-year anniversary.
Listen to internet radio with Gab With the Gurus on Blog Talk Radio

Change Your Life with Hypnosis World Summit — 27 Presenters for Free

Would you like to lose weight, attract abundance or make other changes in your life?
If so, I highly recommend that you sign up for the amazing Hypnosis World Summit, a free tele-summit event from May 4 to 13, where you can listen for free to 27 top hypnosis leaders, who can help you change your life.
At the Hypnosis World Summit, you’ll learn how hypnosis can help with many things. For instance, you can use it to:
* Lose weight
* End unhealthy eating patterns
* Attract abundance into your life
* End unhealthy eating patterns to lose weight
* Get relief from physical pain
* Learn how color can influence your life and how to use it to your advantage
* Improve study skills and academic results
* Manage your life more easily and relieve tension and stress
* Supercharge the Law of Attraction
* Reduce fear
* Increase your self-confidence
* Clear clutter
* Manage diabetes
* Improve sports performance
* And much, much more.
Get info here:

Get Your Gift: Be Calm this Holiday Season

This holiday season, wouldn’t it be nice NOT to be stressed out?
To give this a more positive spin, would you like to be calm, relaxed and refreshed?
Break away from your worries.
Join creative visualization expert Debra Berndt, the Love-Mind Expert, and me for 3 soothing, guided visualizations. This is our holiday gift to you.
Claim your gift now. Just listen here (below), or go to our replay page.
Relieve Holiday Stress with us now.
You’ll feel renewed and rejuvenated after hearing Debra’s soothing voice and meditation. Now learn about her amazing s Complete Relaxation Set (9 MP3s) and Weight Loss Set (4 MP3s).