Cortisol: How Stress Makes Us Fat & How Meditation Fixes That
How Stress Makes Us Fat
The Human Mind: Making Mountains Out Of Mole-Hills
Stress is a fact of life. We all know this. But it goes much further. In addition to making our heart race, stomach swirl, and underarms sweat, stress can also make the number on the scale go up. Real high. To the sky.
Whether it's losing our job, going through a bad breakup, or moving to a new city, many of us have witnessed the "bumpiness" in our life affecting the "plumpiness" of our physique.
The problem is that while we live in modern cities free of mastodons and woolly mammoths, our job, relationship, and money worries are still triggering our "caveman" primal fear instincts many times every day.
While our "fight-or-flight" stress response was designed to keep "organic-free-range-human" off the local saber tooth tiger's weekend brunch menu, we modern day humans have inadvertently tricked our bodies into being stuck in survival mode 24/7/365... And it's making us super fat.
Of all the reasons stress makes our torso nice and round, the hormone "cortisol" takes the cake. And the brownies. And the pizza. Mmm... tasty.
Too Much Cortisol Is Like Jet Fuel For Piling on The Pounds
How much damage can cortisol do, exactly? Think zombie apocalypse.
Cortisol interferes with our sleep, eats away at our muscles, makes us anxious and depressed, sparks widespread tissue inflammation, sandbags our digestive system, and stonewalls our immune system.
Bob Roth, author of the bestselling book "Strength In Stillness" and well-known meditation teacher to famous celebrities like Katy Perry, Jerry Seinfeld, and Gisele Bündchen, recently told Popsugar magazine, "We know if a person is stressed, they get sick more. If they're stressed, they gain weight. A lot of this comes down to the release of cortisol in the body... [which becomes] toxic when we have too much."
Excess cortisol makes our body think that something big is on the horizon, and that we may be starving in the near future due to natural disaster. Think flood, hurricane, drought, earthquake, zombie apocalypse, etc.
To survive the "Mad-Max" scenario soon to be unleashed on humanity, our stressed out, cortisol soaked body will prepare by storing even more fat... You know, "for later."
While this biological programming helped our famine facing ancestors, we really shouldn't be cranking up our stress hormones so willy nilly.
With our stack of bills, unhealthy relationship(s), and unfulfilling work pumping cortisol into our body every waking hour, it's easy to see why the chronic stress vortex has sucked in so many victims.
Luckily, there is a solution.
Study: Meditation Squeezes Cortisol From Our Cells Like A Dirty Dish Sponge
In 2013 University of California-Davis (Saron et al) researchers found that meditation cuts cortisol levels by more than half!
For those of us wishing to be lighter on our feet, dramatically reducing our stress hormones relaxes our body, quiets our mind, cools off our overheated amygdala, and helicopter rescues us from the fat gain vortex.
By reminding our physiology that a "store blubber now or soon perish" zombie apocalypse was but a self-generated mental hoax, meditation lets our body's built in fat burning furnace do its job.