Stress can have cascading effects throughout the body. Experts have documented what high cortisol levels can lead to: You might not sleep well, so you’ll be tired during the day. Your sex drive may suffer. Your immune system may also be kaput.
One of the biggest clues to your cortisol levels might be the size of your waist. Elevated levels of the stress hormone can make you crave unhealthy foods and gain weight—especially in your belly.
How stressed are you? Take the Stress Test from my new book, Stubborn Fat Gone You can also print out this test here.
Generally, how are your sleeping habits?
1. I do not sleep well.
2. I am sleeping okay.
3. I sleep very well.
How do you feel when you wake up?
1. I am usually still tired.
2. l feel okay.
3. I wake up energized.
Are you experiencing weight gains or fluctuations?
1. I am gaining weight, especially around my belly.
2. My weight is consistent, though higher than I’d like.
3. I am at, or steadily working toward, a healthy weight.
How often do you get sick?
1. All the time!
2. I fall ill a few times a year.
3. I am rarely sick.
Do you experience food cravings?
1. I often give in to cravings for junk foods.
2. My cravings for unhealthy foods are balanced.
3. I satisfy my body’s cravings with healthy foods.
How often do you experience backaches and headaches?
1. I often suffer from them.
2. I get an occasional headache or backache.
3. I rarely have a headache or backache.
How is your sex drive?
1. It is very low or nonexistent.
2. It is okay, but could be better.
3. I am satisfied with my sex drive.
How often does your gut act up?
1. My gut often troubles me.
2. I sometimes experience digestive upsets.
3. I have a healthy digestive system that doesn’t act up.
How are your levels of anxiety?
1. I often feel anxious.
2. I occasionally feel anxious.
3. I am content and rarely anxious.
How would you describe your general moods?
1. I feel blue pretty often.
2. I am doing okay.
3. I generally feel happy.
Each answer is worth the number of points to its left. Tally up your points, and gauge your stress level on the following scale:
26–30 points: You are doing pretty well and experience low levels of stress.
20–25 points: You are dealing with a moderate amount of stress.
10–19 points: You are suffering from a high buildup of stress.
To eliminate the most stubborn fat, reduce your stress and cortisol levels, and help get your life back, let’s start with the first component of my program in my book Stubborn Fat Gone!: “Think Fit”
Take a moment to think about the words you say to your children, your spouse, your parents, your friends. You undoubtedly tell them things like, “You can do it!” “You’re fabulous!” and “I love you!” And I’ll bet you’re usually courteous, kind, and pleasant even to strangers in line at the grocery store.
Quick self-test: Have you honestly said these sorts of things to yourself recently? Probably not. And that’s the secret saboteur that’s been holding you back in your health goals! You may have been eating the right foods. You may have even been exercising and minimizing your vegging-out time on the couch. But you likely haven’t given a thought to your thoughts.
Positive, supportive statements to yourself are known as affirmations. They really do turn everything around on a biological level. It’s hard to keep yourself in a negative, stressed mind-set when you’re saying “I love you” or “You can do it!” Optimistic thoughts raise your levels of the hormone serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that brings you feelings of calm and happiness. Research from Carnegie Mellon University confirms that having good thoughts to remember throughout the day improves a person’s ability to recover from stress. The results of one study showed that people under high pressure had impaired problem-solving skills; however, concentrating on a positive thought helped them break down the situation and focus on the issue at hand, thereby reducing stress.
In a 2009 study published in Health Psychology, the journal of the APA, researchers studied sympathetic nervous system responses to stress. They found that subjects who repeated self-affirmations were shielded from the effects of chronic stress. Researchers noted that the protective quality was actually strongest for those deemed the “most psychologically vulnerable.” And Geoffrey L. Cohen at Yale University argues that affirming activities, such as repeating positive statements, remind people of “who they are” and trigger a defensive mechanism in the brain that renders stressful situations less threatening. All in all, when you change the words you say to yourself to be more positive, it can significantly reduce the amount of stress you are under and reduce side effects such as increased cortisol and belly fat.
Now, where I get really excited is hearing that positive thoughts have also been proven to reduce carb cravings and bingeing, which can be a big saboteur of many eating plans. This is why, “Think Fit” is the missing key to making my plan work long-term, until it becomes a lifestyle. Increasing your serotonin levels with “Think Fit” helps with impulsivity, appetite, and food cravings. Carbohydrates help raise serotonin, so when your levels are low for whatever reason, your body looks for ways to fix that problem. It knows that eating sugar and carbs is one of the easiest, though fleeting, ways to do so. That’s why the cravings kick in.
However, a study done by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health found that when people focus on future positive events, an area of their brain activates that triggers serotonin production. So instead of turning to carbs to raise your serotonin, you can simply make daily affirmations, “Think Fit”, part of your life. This will naturally increase your serotonin and reduce your carb cravings, while also decreasing your cortisol levels and feelings of stress!
Stubborn Fat Gone with Jorge Cruise
A note from Jorge –
It is very important to stay motivated. What’s the trick? You need to get clear on your goal and why you are doing this in the first place. Too many people I work with know what they don’t want, but they have no clue what they do want. They might know that they don’t want to be fat, that they don’t want to live like this any more. But to ensure success and stay motivated through out your weight loss experience you must know, with absolute clarity, what it is that you do want. In order for you to hit the bull’s eye, you must have a clear identifiable target.