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As defined by Hans Selye,MD.,Ph.D, "stress is a nonspecific response of the body to any demand". In the Wikipedia dictionary , stress is defined as a failure to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats, whether actual or imagined.
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Stress therefore, can be coming from anywhere. it is the body's reaction to change such as environmental conditions, social scorn, physical and emotional issues. Being overweight is such a huge stressor itself.
Stress affects the hormonal balance in the body therefore also affects the body's ability to lose weight. In the event of stress, the body release a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is responsible in regulating the physiological responses associated with stress.
During long periods of stress, the body releases more cortisol, decreasing the body's sensitivity to leptin, a hormone that is responsible in giving signal to your brain that you are full. When this happens, there is a tendency that you will crave for more sugar, therefore you tend to eat more, adding more calories and pounds retained. This is also the mechanism that happens to most people who craves for chocolates, cakes or anything sweet when they suddenly encounter an emotional stress (now understand your brokenhearted friend and your anxious mom).
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Consider relaxation techniques such as massage and meditation as a part of your weight loss regimen, so you lessen the release of too much cortisol when you see a plateau on the weighing scale. Soon, the pounds will start to fall off again.
Here's to your weight loss success!