Common knowledge states that a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise are all you need to maintain healthy body weight, but we all know that the truth isn’t so simple.

While eating good food and moving your body will make you feel better, something else might be standing in the way of your weight-loss.

Is stress making you fat?

Stress is a huge factor to consider when you want to lose weight.

First off, we all know that if you are stressed you are more likely to overeat. And when you’re stress-eating, you’re more likely to eat less-than-nutritious comfort-foods, and lack the motivation to get up and move.

But the problem isn’t just that you’re overeating. It’s that when you’re stressed, your body actually can’t process the food as well as when you’re relaxed, so more of it ends up getting stored as fat.

Here’s why:

Evolutionarily, stress was reserved for fight-or-flight situations.

When you’re confronted with a threat, let’s say a gnarling, hungry-looking tiger, your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) kicks in the stress response. Your adrenal glands then send out hormonal signals to the rest of your body telling your blood to move away from your organs and flow out into the periphery muscles instead.

This gives your arms and legs an extra boost so you can either put up a good fight, or get yourself as far away from those gnashing teeth as possible, but unless you work at a zoo, you probably don’t confront predatory animals regularly.

We have plenty of new reasons to be stressed in our modern world, but our bodies react to stress in the exact same way they did when we were living in caves.

Unfortunately, when you’re stressed all the time and all of your blood is flowing into your muscles instead of your organs, your digestion slows down and you end up gaining weight where you don’t want it.

So if you are one of the thousands of people who exercise daily, eat all the right foods in the right amounts, but still can’t shed those extra pounds, think about replacing some of your high-powered routine with something more relaxing, like a meditative walk, qigong or yoga.

You might also want to try Chinese medicine or other holistic therapies to help you process your stress better.

Experiment with different techniques until you find the strategies that help you relax.

Also, sit down to eat regular meals, and savor the experience. When you take time to look at, smell, and really taste your food, you get your digestive juices flowing better.

You may be amazed at what a difference it can make.

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