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Chronic Stress Can Fatten Your Waistline

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Chronic stress is bad for your body in many ways. You might even end up with a fattened waistline and belly because of chronic stress.

We all have more things to do today than we can handle. How organized you are today will probably determine how good or bad your day goes. Of course, something unexpected could happen that would "mess up" your day and drastically change your mood.

The events of life bring on stress. A certain amount of stress and tension helps us take on challenges and perform better. Too much stress (left unchecked) over a prolonged period is not good and it causes health problems and affects metabolism. Also, some people respond to stress better than others. One person might crumble under the same workload that causes another person to thrive.

The body's normal state (homeostasis) is changed by stress. The hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are secreted in response to a stressful situation. The "fight or flight" response to stress is intended to give you the energy to take on or run away from a particular situation. Stressful situations that go on for months or years signals to your body that the normal state includes excessive amounts of adrenaline and cortisol.

As it relates to metabolism, adrenaline makes the fat cells more efficient at turning fat into energy and speeds up metabolism. On the other hand, cortisol increases the amount of glucose in the blood and creates more energy. If you have an office job, this excess adrenaline and cortisol builds up. Unused excess energy will be stored as fat. Regular exercise will burn your fat.

Chronic stress or stress with no end in sight has major health implications. Adrenaline will continue to be secreted but the body and the fat cells will build up a tolerance to it. This means that the fat cells won't be converted to energy and cortisol will continue to increase glucose in the blood. This means the fat gain and weight gain begins to happen if left unchecked. Many times, this fat ends up in your waistline and belly.

So what's the bottom line? Situational stress can improve the efficiency of your metabolism.

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I know all about chronic stress....My sister and I are caring for my mother. Mom lives with my sister and my sister works full time so I take on the day to day needs of mom. That means taking her to appointments, making her lunches, and one to two dinners per week, giving her a shower, paying her bills, etc.
My sister is now into the flight response to mom as mom is really needy now. She won't even use a microwave to warm food and she won't spend an evening alone. I usually go over 2 nights a week to spend time with mom and mom sits at her computer and ignores me. But she knows someone is there.
Anyway, my question to anyone is. Does anyone know of a supplement that might help us to deal with this stress as it is or seems unending and we really don't know when it will end. If there is something that might help, I would try it. Frankly, we are both getting tired of this routine and it's only been 2 years. Because I retired 7 years ago, I took care of my dad's appointments and mom's for all of that time so it's been a longer time for me. But my sister has been living with it longer. (although she is rarely there ) My sister works very hard and is unwilling to make more than one dinner meal per week which she serves to mom every night unless I make something for mom.
Anyway, I'm rambling and don't offer that we need more help as there are only 2 of us and we have enlisted our children to the point of exhaustion. My sister takes at least 4 weeks vacation each year and last summer was gone from June-October on the weekends so we all had to pitch in. Mom stayed with me for 6 weeks in the Spring and then every week when my sister was on vacation and I shared with my daughter and my niece the coverage for the weekends. I myself got only 4 days vacation last year. But as everyone likes to point out....I am on a permanent vacation because I am retired....Yeah, right....HELP
And, oh yeah, I'm overweight but do exercise 3-4 times per week at the YWCA.

February 7, 2010 - 7:55am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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