You're working out, you're eating healthy, you're doing everything you know how to do to live a healthy lifestyle but the pounds just won't go away. Losing weight can seem complicated, true, so we're here to give you a couple pointers to explain why you're not shedding the pounds. One of the potential reasons? Stress!
Stress manifests itself in people differently, whether it's over-eating, under-sleeping or staying too busy to find time for a meal. While these "harmless" activities don't seem like they'd mess up your body, it turns out that they actually do.
1. You stay up too late. Not getting enough sleep prompts your body to pump out cortisol, the primary stress hormone. By not getting enough sleep at night, your body doesn't have the time to recover after a long workday or tough workout. You'll be more exhausted the next day, which means your metabolism will be slower, which means you won't be able to burn those calories as quickly!
2. Caffeine. Did your heart just drop? Ours did! So often we rely on caffeine because it's a stimulant, which means it'll give us the energy to power through the day when we didn't get enough sleep! But here's the part that hurts our souls: while we're trying to offset the fatigue that's got us down, we often exceed the daily 300-400 milligram limit, according to the Mayo Clinic. Too much caffeine actually elevates anxiety, cortisol and your blood pressure, eventually interfering with your sleep—which is not good if you're looking to lose weight!
Just to put this in perspective, one large Pike Place brewed coffee from Starbucks contains 415 mg of caffeine, putting you over your daily allotment for caffeine!
>>RELATED: Want to learn more about how cortisol affects your health? We've got you covered right here!
3. You don't drink enough water. Drinking water keeps you energized and active! Drinking water in-between meals keeps you feeling full longer, which also keeps you from snacking on unhealthy treats.
4. Alcohol. It's unfortunate, but true. Drinking like a fish (or just drinking in general) actually stimulates a release of cortisol, which means it exacerbates your stress levels and totally messes with your REM sleep cycles, putting more pressure on your body and making it less likely you'll burn those extra pounds.
If you're a beer lover, you're especially in for some bad news. Studies show that high alcohol intake (beer and hard liquor) is closely linked to abdominal fat. Abdominal fat, or your "beer belly," increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure as well as diabetes. Yikes!
5. Checking your email. This sounds a little ridiculous, but hear us out. In a recent study, research shows that the less you check your email, the more you'll reduce your stress. We're all about making this a permanent lifestyle change and "unplugging" more than usual!
6. Commuting. That long drive to work and back might actually be messing with your body in more ways than just sitting for a long period of time. In a recent study in the journal of Technology and Well-Being, researchers show that stressors like traffic exposure (congestion) and length of time subjected to these stressors negatively impacts your body in big ways.
"...in addition to anger-related dispositions, it entails anxiety, depression, and demoralization. Moreover, the environmental factors that induce stress, such as the physical environmental conditions associated with traffic exposure, merit objective assessment," Novaco and Gonzalez wrote in the study.
7. Your period. Stressing about your period has never done you any favors. Actually, stressing about when your period will arrive can really mess with your health! The lingering thoughts in the back of your mind could be causing a spike in cortisol, putting stress on your body. Take a few deep breaths, and try some of our healthy ways to beat anxiety.
8. Relationship issues. Who knew that some bad loving could add inches to your waistline? According to a prestigious study out of the UK, Whitehall II, being chronically unhappy in your relationship can lead you to feel depressed, giving way to excess food consumption. The research showed that unhappily married couples opted for "comfort foods" that were high in carbohydrates to reduce their relationship stress. In the long run, reactions to stress—like overeating—can put you at risk for obesity and other complications. The study also showed that those unhappy in their relationship were less likely to exercise, prompting a sedentary lifestyle.
>> Read more: Here Are 100 Quick Tips To Make Weight Loss Easier