Stress is an incredibly important piece to the weight loss-puzzle. Cortisol, the high stress hormone, has been linked to weight-gain around the midsection. Cortisol affects blood sugar balance, and we know that people with irregular blood sugar balance, are more prone to gaining weight. Very simply, cortisol has been shown to lower the conversion of our hormones T4 to T3, which is your active thyroid hormone. Your thyroid is your driver of metabolism and driver of burning energy (burning your food for energy). Another issue is that stress affects sleep, and less sleep has also been associated with weight gain. This is why it’s important we address stress!
It breaks my heart when women walk into my office or write to me via the blog saying, “I am doing all the right things, Jess. I’m eating well, exercising daily, and I’ve given up processed food – but my weight still isn’t going down! Why?” My mind immediately goes to stress. How stressed are they? While digestion and liver health play a role in weight, usually it’s high stress levels keeping them from reaching their optimal and healthy weight. And they don’t even know it.
From a physical perspective, high cortisol levels are linked to lower thyroid function as well as weight gain, especially around the stomach area. Cortisol also throws off our blood sugar levels, which triggers cravings and overeating. Ever wondered why you eat more when you’re stressed? Or crave chocolate? This is why. Some people lose their appetite when they’re stressed, but then tend to overeat later when their appetite returns. On the other hand, low cortisol levels occur when your stress levels have been high for so long and then crash – aka adrenal fatigue. This can also make it harder to lose weight, as your energy levels are lower (who has motivation to exercise then?!) and you start to crave sugar. Low cortisol can also impact healthy thyroid function.
So how can you combat high stress levels to find weight balance?
One simple change = Give up the diets and focus on eating wholesome, nourishing foods.
From an emotional point of view, it is my belief that when we worry and stress about our weight – like so many women and men do – we are more likely to gain weight. Waking up and worrying about the number on the scale can spike our cortisol levels. I have noticed that during periods where I worry about my weight more (about every tiny kilo!), my weight seems to go up. It is quite interesting. When I let go and relax with it – my body feels lighter.
Choose the wholefood life by incorporating all the right foods in your diet – lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, organic and sustainably sourced meats and dairy (if that works for your body!), gluten-free or whole grains – drinking lots of filtered water and herbal teas, committing to enjoyable movement/exercise several times a week but also ensuring you give your body time to rest. If you treat your body right, it will respond with greater energy, better sleep and a balanced weight!
Make reducing your stress and treating your body with love a priority this week and see how much better you feel.
I hope this helps – please let me know how you go xx
Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time. My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.
With kindest regards Samantha
I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.
When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.
I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.
Hey Jessica! I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again
I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!
Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.
Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!
I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).
I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud
My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.
I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
Let me know your email address so I can send you an eBook '7 Days on my plate' - a little gift from me to you!