If there’s one thing the pandemic has helped us avoid … it’s the pants test.
Ya know, where you’ve got that one pair of pants or jeans that fit really well when you’re consistent and barely button when you’re not.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been wearing sweats almost every day. 🤷♂️
Is ignorance truly bliss?
What would your pants tell you today?
Maybe that you’ve gained weight?
More likely … that you’re over-stressed.
I want to explain why stress may be the reason for your pants not fitting.
Here’s the secret behind stress …
Stress is one of those interesting phenomenons that is completely necessary for us to grow and evolve … but can also kill us.
As they say … the dose makes the poison.
Let’s first look at acute stressors being necessary for our ability to grow.
When we lift weights, we are stressing our body and muscles with heavy loads.
To the point of literally breaking down and damaging muscle tissue and taxing our central nervous system.
However, that stress usually only lasts a short period of time (hopefully, and assuming you’re not over-training) and then the recovery/repair process begins.
The objective is to adapt to that stress with increased strength and bigger muscles.
This same concept applies to all areas of growth. Impose a stress, elicit an adaptation response, get a desired outcome (bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, more skilled, etc.).
The reason this happens is that our bodies are built for survival. And, from an evolutionary standpoint, any acute stressor was life threatening.
So when we survive … our body wants to protect us and make sure we’re better equipped in case that same threat presents itself again.
For example, when we load up a heavy barbell to do a back squat … our body is responding the same exact way that it would have thousands of years ago if we were being chased by a saber tooth tiger.
Once we “survive” the barbell … the adaptation process occurs and our body wants us to be prepared for the next time we’re threatened by that vicious barbell.
Pretty straight forward.
What happens when stress is consistent and persistent?
Well, in that case, we’re no longer dealing with acute stress … now we’re dealing with chronic stress.
With chronic stress, our body is constantly in a state of “fight or flight” because no signal has been sent that “we survived.”
It’s like loading up that heavy barbell but never taking it off your back.
Once again, the body cares about one thing … keeping you alive. So, it does what it needs to do in that scenario.
It elevates cortisol (and other stress hormones) to mobilize stored energy so you have the resources to handle whatever stressor you’re facing. It depresses the immune system and other energy costly processes (like reproductive processes) to make sure there’s no wasted energy. And, it increases adrenaline so you have better focus, more confidence, and improved blood flow.
But, what happens when you’re constantly in that state?
Your body is thinking one thing … famine.
That’s because famine was pretty much the only chronic stressor that we faced thousands of years ago.
And, our bodies still respond the same way.
So, we see several adaptive mechanisms at play to survive a famine (or chronic stress).
How our bodies react to stress
Reduced thyroid function (which lowers metabolic rate so you burn less calories), lower sex hormones (because it’s not safe to reproduce), increased hunger hormones (to tell you to find some food), and chronically elevated cortisol (to continue to provide energy to search or hunt for food).
Cortisol also leads to increased water retention and if it’s chronically elevated, can lead to muscle breakdown as well. Not to mention it can also contribute to insulin resistance.
Muscle requires more calories to maintain than body fat so during periods of chronic stress, it’s likely that you’ll lose some muscle mass as well.
Our body has more cortisol receptors in the belly area than anywhere else so the water retention can make you appear bloated and could be the reason that your pants don’t fit.
It also creates the perfect environment for fat gain.
With a lower metabolic rate, increased hunger, and a hormonal environment that favors storage …
It’s likely that the energy coming in will be held onto in the form of body fat.
Remember, your body wants to prevent this threat from happening again. So, accumulating body fat makes sense because it would keep you alive for longer in the event of another famine.
Here’s the real kicker … chronic stress today is rarely due to famine. But, the chronic stress response is still the same.
That means you can be eating enough calories, eating high quality foods, and still gaining weight due to chronic stress from some other source.
Whether it be physical, mental, emotional, psychological … it doesn’t matter.
The stress response will be the same.
I’ve talked to a number of women who were eating 1400 calories per day and gaining fat.
They couldn’t understand it and were so frustrated. Even when they dropped calories to 1200 or 1000 … they still wouldn’t make much progress and would rebound very quickly.
Once I explained this concept, it was like a light bulb moment.
Identify your stressors and start making progress again
Most of them immediately knew the source of their chronic stress. And, once we addressed that, they started making progress again.
What’s interesting is that stress is often the reason for a fat loss plateau. Most people assume it’s just a calories or an exercise issue.
And, in some cases, it may be. But, in my experience, more often than not, we can get things moving by closing the stress gap.
This is something that we monitor closely with all of our 1:1 clients.
Not just through assessing the daily stressors in their lives … but by also monitoring their biological signals like hunger, cravings, energy, mood, sleep quality, performance, recovery, digestion, etc.
This allows us to effectively break through plateaus and keep them on the path to the body composition they desire without having to experience the frustration of feeling like you’re doing everything “right” without much to show for it.
That’s just one layer of what we do during our 6 month, signature 1:1 coaching program.
Personalized coaching helps you achieve lasting results
It’s designed for you to understand these things for yourself so you can make sustainable progress and maintain it for the rest of your life.
There’s something so empowering about truly understanding what your body responds to and what makes you feel your best.
We accomplish that by fueling your body appropriately and supporting your metabolism so you can effectively lose fat on higher calories. This will also reduce overall stress.
Then, we recommend food choices for you based on your personality type which is another great tool for increasing consistency, and equally as important, managing stress. Some foods are especially great for lowering cortisol.
In addition, we prescribe a macro plan that’s based around your individual needs in terms of body composition (losing fat and maintaining or building muscle), personal preferences, your training style, and your lifestyle (where we incorporate as much freedom and flexibility as we can).
This all allows for you to lose 20-30 lbs. in the most sustainable way while not having to worry about your pants not fitting and removing any anxiety or obsession around food.
If that’s you and you want to see if our program is the right fit, simply click the button below and PM me on Facebook and we’ll discuss your goals to see if we can help! I’ll ask you a few questions to see if it’s the right fit since this is an opportunity for a specific individual in a specific part of their journey.
If we determine it is the perfect match on both sides, I’ll invite you into the program and we can get started right away.