Buster 6: Stress
Of all the lifestyle issues that devastate metabolism, stress is the absolute worst, Chek says. “Your body cannot differentiate between different sources of stress, whether they’re emotional, physical, environmental or hormonal.” And in the long run, they all have the same metabolism-depressing effect.
Once your brain perceives anything as a threat, it initiates your fight-or-flight stress response, which includes the release of the stress hormones epinephrine (more commonly known as adrenaline) and cortisol. When stress becomes chronic, the net result of all this hormonal activity is a metabolism-depressing and vitality-sapping disaster: Your body, perceiving that it is under attack, shuts down precisely the systems (such as digestion, muscle building and repair) on which healthy metabolism depends. It starts storing up fat for safekeeping, and it begins robbing the stores of bone and muscle tissue that you’ve worked so hard to build. Stress also tends to encourage metabolism-busting behaviors (like overeating, drinking and skipping workouts) and to dissuade us from metabolism-building ones (like adequate sleep, exercise and good nutrition) that might normally help ameliorate its negative effects. (For more on the effects of stress and what you can do about them, check out “Good Stress, Bad Stress” in our June 2005 archive.)
Build Yourself Up
Mastering your metabolism requires a complex interplay of many factors, but the vast majority of them are well within your realm of influence. Best of all, the adjustments you’ll make in optimizing your metabolism will also positively and powerfully influence your overall health and vitality. And that will make staying in shape easier and more enjoyable for the long haul.
So start now. Even if you pick just one builder to incorporate and one buster to jettison, you’ll soon feel and see the positive results all over your body. And once you do, you’ll be inspired to build even more feel-good metabolic synergy into your health and fitness program and into your life.
Victoria L. Freeman, PhD, is a freelance health writer in Goodland, Kan.