Posted tagged ‘weight gain’

Why Stress = Weight gain.

September 6, 2013


Every day, stress is there to make things complicated and difficult and embarrassing and exasperating. It makes us incapable of being productive.

Worse, it makes us engage in unhealthy lifestyle that could lead to weight gain. For instance, some people find comfort from calorie-dense, nutritionally empty foods when they are stressed.

Stress and Weight Gain

Stress signals your body to consume and store fats.

When we are under stress, our body’s ‘flight or fight’ system is activated. During this period, your body releases a cascade of chemicals, including adrenaline, CHR and cortisol.

These are hormones that make you feel alert, ready for action, and able to withstand injury.  In a short term, adrenaline would make you feel less hungry because your blood flows away from your organs to your muscles and make them ready to face the ‘threat’.

But as your adrenaline levels wane, your cortisol levels remain high, signalling your body to replenish your food supply. So your tendency is to eat, eat and eat, with more preference on sugary foods.

Stress gives you ‘belly fat’.

In this modern world – where most people spend hours sitting and working on the computer, it has become a challenge to stay lean and fit. If you are chronically stressed with the demands of work and life, you become more likely to develop ‘visceral fat’ deep in your belly.

Unfortunately, your belly has plenty of supply of blood vessels and cortisol receptors, making the production of visceral fats so easy and quick. What’s more, belly fat is unhealthy and is linked to increased risk of stroke and heart disease.

It is also difficult to eliminate. Unless you exercise more often and eat low-calorie foods, the fats accumulated in your belly are likely to grow and ‘bulge’ even more.

Stress fuels emotional eating.

Eating to feed your emotions, not your stomach, can jumpstart obesity. Anxiety and stress are so energy-draining that too often; we end up looking for something to eat. Unfortunately, stress makes us choose cookies and cakes over fruits, crisps and pizza over vegetables, and fizzy drinks and beer over water.

Another thing, when we are stressed, we tend to eat ‘mindlessly’, resulting to overeating. No need to further explain why this in turn causes weight gain.

Stress affects your sleep.

So what does sleep have to do with weight gain? For years, scientists have suspected that sleep and obesity are linked. Research has found that stressed people who stay up late at night are more likely to reach for plain carbohydrates like cookies, doughnuts and pastries.

“It’s not like they’re going for whole-wheat pasta,” according to Taub-Dix, the spokesperson of the American Diabetic Association.  Also, when you lack sleep, your willpower to resist food cravings also decreases, so you tend to eat more.

Quick and East Anti-Stress Strategies

Whether you’re undergoing a weight loss programme or considering one, here are some stress-busting techniques that you may find useful.

Eat or Drink more Vitamin C

A study by the University of Alabama found that vitamin C stopped the secretion of stress hormones. So have a look into food and drinks that are rich in vitamin C.

‘Pet’ your pet.

Give yourself time to take a break from your stressful work and pamper your pets. Researchers at State University of New York found that pets give more stress relief than our two-legged companions.

Shake it out.

When you’re highly stressed, pause for a moment and shake your arms, hands and the rest of your body. It relieves tension, boosts blood flow and clams your mind.

Bring your music player to work.

Research by Pennsylvania’s Wilkes University suggests that listening to music lowers your stress levels at work and at the same time, reduces your risk of common cold.


Even if you don’t feel like doing it, just smile. Just the act makes you relaxed and in control.  


This doesn’t just help you lose weight but also boosts the release of feel-good chemicals in your brain that relieves stress and boosts your mood.

A study by the University of Missouri at Columbia found that 33 minutes of high-intensity exercise helps lower stress levels more than working out at a moderate pace.

Can you suggest more ways to fight stress?

Feel free to post your comment below.

Wishing you a stress-free weekend.

Richard Scott
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist

Part of the Core Health Centre


Sleepless nights can make you fat!

August 12, 2013


Staying up late makes your brain crave for fatty, high-calorie snacks like cakes and doughnuts instead of whole grains or leafy vegetables, according to a new study by the UC Berkeley. These new findings add to the growing evidence that sleep deprivation and obesity are linked.

23 young healthy individuals have undergone functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan, first after a normal night sleep, and next, after a sleepless night. Following either a sleep-deprived or a good night sleep, the participants were shown 80 food images that ranged from high-to low-calorie, and healthy and unhealthy, whilst researchers measured their brain activities.

The results show an increased activation in the brain regions related to rewards and impaired activity in the frontal lobe – the part which governs complex decision-making, when the participants were sleep deprived. Behaviour-wise, the participants tend to reach for unhealthy snacks and junk foods when they lack enough sleep.

“This combination of altered brain activity and decision-making may help explain why people who sleep less also tend to be overweight or obese.” said study senior author Matthew Walker, and a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience.

“What we have discovered is that high-level brain regions required for complex judgments and decisions become blunted by a lack of sleep, while more primal brain structures that control motivation and desire are amplified,”

Whilst previous studies have already suggested a link between poor sleep and increased appetite, particularly for sweet and salty foods, the current study is the first to provide evidence on a specific brain mechanism that explains why people tend to have unhealthy food choices following a sleepless night.

According to Stephanie Greer, the study lead-author and a doctoral student in Walker’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at UC Berkeley, their findings shed light on how the brain becomes impaired by sleep deprivation.

Walker added that having enough sleep is one factor that can help promote weight control by helping the brain make better, healthier food choices.

Their work was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source of this article:

The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain

If you’re suffering from sleepless nights, broken sleep or would simply like some help to lose weight or break an addiction to the wrong types of food – book a free consultation with me at the Core Health Centre.

Using Cognitive hypnosis, NLP and CBT, I can personally help you change your attitude to food.

Richard Scott
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist

Part of the Core Health Centre

10 Habits that Might Be Keeping You from Losing Weight

July 23, 2013


Have you ever tried losing weight only to find yourself frustrated because your efforts were not getting you anywhere? There’s no miracle solution to getting fit. It’s all about eating right, exercising, and getting quality rest and sleep. Nonetheless, we often engage in some habits that keep on sabotaging all our hard work. If you find yourself going backwards in your weight loss attempt, maybe it’s because you exhibit some of the following habits.

You work out only when you want.

It’s Monday and you’ve done so much at work. You feel tired, hungry and sleepy. When you reach home, all you want to do is rest, sit in the couch, turn on the TV and eat a large packet of crisp. Exercising would be the last thing on your mind.

If you think exercising when you are tired will only make you more tired, think again. According to a study published in the Psychology Bulletin, 90 per cent of people who exercise suffered less fatigue and developed more energy and focus. In fact, the effect of exercising on your sense of focus is comparable with that of a drug used for ADHD patients. It’s all about managing your time and picking the best schedule for your workout. If you’re already dead tired for an afternoon workout, schedule it first hour in the morning.

You’re skipping breakfast.

If you think skipping breakfast will save you some calories, think again. In most cases, not eating a regular meal in the morning will make you crave for high-calorie foods and snacks later in the day. Another thing, having a solid breakfast meal promotes metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout the day. With the right mix of foods (ask advice from a nutritionist or personal trainer), you will have enough energy and less food craving.

You’re not drinking enough water.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, dieters who drank a glass of water before a meal whilst keeping their calorie intake healthy lost 44 per cent more fats than those who consumed the same number of calories but had reduced water consumption.

Did you know that dehydration is among the most common causes of weight gain? Often, your body mistakes thirst with hunger. So here’s a tip. Whenever you crave for food, drink a glass of cold water first. If the hunger goes away, it only means you aren’t hungry, only thirsty.

You’re not getting enough sleep.

Many dieters pay so much attention to exercise and calorie count but often overlook the value of sleep in their weight loss endeavour. Our body has its own clock which regulates hormones that control sleep, wakefulness, hunger and metabolism.

When our bio clock is interrupted, our craving for high calorie foods increases and our metabolism goes out of whack. In one study conducted by the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Centre, it was found that people who lack sleep tend to consume 300 calories more than those who had enough sleep.

Whilst they burn the same amount of calories, excess calorie intake leads to progressive and steady weight gain. Remember, you only need to consume 3,500 calories to gain one pound. Sleep deprived individuals are also at risk of developing belly fats.

You spend a lot of time with inactive people.

Are you fond of going out with friends for some “food trip”? Do you love partying all night during weekends, drinking beer and snacking on fatty treats? If yes, you are not far from weight gain.A long-term study which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a person is more likely to become obese when a friend becomes one.

Well, this does not mean you should stop seeing your friends and find new ones. You can be their health saviour! Instead of another “unli-beer” session this weekend, encourage them to go to the gym, take a walk or even get outdoors and backpack.

Engaging in healthy and physically challenging activities is a fun way to bond with friends and at the same time, burn fats.

You’re underestimating your total calorie intake.

Often, food portions we’ve become accustomed to are far greater than the actual serving. Just because you are eating a few of something doesn’t mean you are also consuming fewer calories. If you choose the wrong food, even just a cup serving could supply your body tons of calories!

One way to keep your calorie intake on track is to measure your food for one month – weigh it if possible. This gives you an idea of how much you are actually eating. Knowing proper portions and monitoring your calorie intake are important for weight loss success.

You seek emotional comfort from food.

Do you often resort to food whenever you feel down? If yes, this habit of yours is actually sabotaging your efforts to lose weight. Sweet, salty and high-calorie foods can really provide you comfort but their “feel-good” effect is only momentary whilst their health consequences are lasting. Emotional eating could also lead to feelings of guilt, anxiety and worse, depression.

Finding a healthy outlet for your emotions is one way to avoid emotional eating. Instead of emotional eating, engage in activities that alleviate your stress levels and make you feel good without causing harm to your health and well-being.

These include exercising, engaging in creative activities, taking a vacation, and interacting with nature. Another successful way to let go of negative emotion is to try hypnotherapy. The relaxing nature of the therapy helps to lower overall stress levels, while at the same time teaching your mind to release negative emotions in some quite enjoyable and creative ways.

You don’t count weekends.

You’ve been religiously following your weight loss programme all through weekdays, is it bad to have a “cheat day”? Having a cheat day is not bad as long as you still keep an eye on your food and activity levels.

If you restrict yourself from eating ice creams for the entire week, treat yourself with a scoop on a Sunday. But don’t let your body become physically inactive. Instead of chilling in front of the TV for hours, find more fun activities that keep you moving, like strolling in the park, cycling, swimming, etc.

You’re constantly comparing yourself with others.

Looking at the stick figures in the magazines and on the internet won’t help you lose weight. Sometimes they may inspire you, but often, they will make you feel worse. Competitiveness is a trait hardwired to our brains, we all have the tendency to compare ourselves with others – sizing each other up.

But sticking to this habit could do more harm than good. Many people shift from one weight loss programme to another once they’ve heard or seen something. There’s nothing wrong with trying out what worked for other people. But you’ve got to give yourself a chance and enough time to know what works and what doesn’t, for you.

You’re stuck on what doesn’t work.

This is different with the previous habit. Here, you carry on with a weight loss solution that is not working for you. Losing weight is easier than maintaining weight. Maybe you managed to lose a stone in a relatively short period of time using a diet fad you’ve read about, but that doesn’t guarantee that it will keep you from losing weight forever.

To be successful in maintaining fitness, you need to assess your lifestyle most especially your activity level and calorie intake.

Don’t let these habits prevent you from achieving a fitter, leaner figure and bringing back the confidence you once had. Losing weight is possible and it starts with building healthy habits.

What other habits can you think of that prevent many people from losing weight? Feel free to share your comment with us.


Richard Scott
Clinical Hypnotherapist

Part of the Core Health Centre