Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stress and Calories.

When we were designed we came with a wonderful system of survival. Our bodies have a built in reaction to danger, (STRESS), called flight or flight. When we were frightened, (STRESSED), we had a choice to fight back or to haul butt out of there. There wasn't much that caused stress that wasn't dangerous since we were pretty basic in our needs and wants. To fuel the flight or flight needs the body released calories, (Sugar), to our cells so they could take care of business and the required business was physical and we needed the turbo boost of fuel. The stress was generally short lived, we either won the battle or got away.

Now we have stress coming at us from all sides and it can stay with us for a long time. Our bodies can't tell the difference between mental and physical stress. When your boss, spouse, child, bills ect... cause you stress your body responds with what it can understand to help you, more calories are released for you to take care of business. Even though you didn't react physically your body now has you craving food to replace what it thinks you used to defeat or run from the attacking beast it thinks you just faced.

There is a good scientific explanation to all this, with enzymes being released that cause other enzymes to react and send signals to your brain. The fact that there is nop physical threat is not relevent to the body, stress requires preparing for action.

So how does one function here with your body still thinking you are a cave person and your stress is just having a bad day at work. To start with you can realize what's happening and know that after you are put in that stressful situation and you will start craving food. This is why so many people eat as a reaction to stress and can't understand why they are so helpless to resist food when they are stressed.

You can be ready with a plan to counter the cravings when they hit. The cravings will come and go quickly, you just have to wait them out. A walk, a trip to the restroom to wash your hands, having some water, or calling a friend can help you, anything that keeps you busy till that craving passes. What you don't want to do is think well I'll just eat a little bit, yep that ain't happening, try stopping once you start, you can eat for about 20 minutes before your brain gets the message that your tummy is full.

If the stressful situation is around a meal time go ahead and have your meal and eat it slowly and chew it well, small bites so it will last longer and get you through the cravings without over eating.

Another interesting little tid bit along these lines is what happens to your training plans when you are stressed. Being stressed will tire you out. Your body has been in action mode, nothing happened and later when you want to exercise to release some stress you don't have much energy left. Stress will tire you mentally also, your body not only wants food it wants rest. You had to fight or flee so you are tired.

Next time you go through a stressful period think about these things and try to identify the stages your body puts you through; the anxiety, the hunger and then the fatigue.

Walking Panda

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