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Stress Can Make You Fat

Running on Adrenaline Is Like Running on a Treadmill

So what good is cortisol? It's the key actor in the second part of a three-phase stress cycle. Phase one is the release of adrenaline, the fight-or-flight hormone. This happens when we are faced with imminent danger. Adrenaline gives us a quick energy jolt. Phase 2 is the release of cortisol, sometimes called the master strategist. Cortisol helps us think fast and creatively and make good life-saving decisions. Phase 3 is the recovery phase, a time in which the stress hormones leave our bodies and we get back to normal.

The problem today is that many people never move on to phase 3. Instead, they move from one stressful situation to the next, and their cortisol levels remain high continuously.

Cortisol served our primitive ancestors in another fundamental way. It helped them store fat. When we run on adrenaline, cortisol helps our bodies create new fat cells so that we'll have enough stored energy to give us a boost when needed. The bodies of both Frank and Laura got signals—completely unconsciously—from the cortisol rushing through their blood to store fat … just in case the fat would be needed for a later energy boost.

Are you running on adrenaline and cortisol too much? Work isn't the only culprit. Raising small children is often a fattening time in many women's lives. Although many women thrive in the milieu of motherhood, others get stressed out from the continual demands of small children and household management. Despite the need to rush around, take care of everyone, and only snatch a bite to eat here and there, moms often still put on pounds! It might not seem fair, but remember, a little self-TLC—like a hot bath—will be good for you … and everyone else in the family.

You know whether the stress in your life is too much. Look carefully at your life and figure out how to cut back on stress. You will likely be cutting back on your weight problem, too.



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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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