comscore Stress marinates body in hormones | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Stress marinates body in hormones


Have you ever tracked your calories as best you could and determined that you are running a clear deficit of 3,500 calories per week — enough for a 1-pound loss — and yet still you see no weight loss?

The culprit could be stress, whose effect on weight loss is often underestimated or overlooked altogether.

Our bodies’ "flight or fight" hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, cascade through our veins when we are under stress, releasing large amounts of glucose (blood sugar) to give us the boost of energy we need to deal with the threat at hand.

Normally, this is a transient state lasting only a few moments and those hormones are re-absorbed and the extra glucose expended. But our lives today are anything but "normal," and we are under constant stress. As a result, we "stew" in a vat of survival chemicals, wreaking havoc on our metabolism and upsetting the delicate balance required to maintain a healthy body chemistry essential to our increased longevity and decreased waistlines.

Here’s how to take control:

» As I’ve said in the past, make sure your exercise activities are fun. There’s no need to add to your plate by stressing over the workouts.

» Find an activity that emphasizes one-point focus. This is a powerful meditation technique that requires you to filter everything from your thoughts, paying exquisite attention to one thing only. Yoga, tai chi, bowling, pottery, surfing, climbing and almost anything else that allows you to get lost in its rhythm is appropriate.

» Challenge yourself. New activities outside of your comfort zone (if enjoyable) at times may be the right medicine to combat the toils of a daily rut.

» Finally, remember to breathe. Take time throughout your day to close your eyes and actively take deep breaths for one to two minutes. Inhale for as long as your lungs will allow and exhale for the same length of time. This is another example of one-point focus with the benefit of being able to do it anywhere.

Now go out there and have fun with your relaxed self!


Reggie Palma is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer. His website is E-mail questions to him at

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