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Stress and Weight Loss Plateaus – Bariatric Edition

Stress is something that every person has to deal with in one way or another. Following bariatric surgery, stressors can seem to be at an all time high.  For most of us, stress is just a basic fact of life.  It’s unfortunate that research reveals that it’s also a fact of “fat”.  You can eat basically well and get some exercise and chronic high stress can still prevent the scale from moving once you’ve hit a plateau.

Living under stress is not pleasant and it’s actually very common.  From troubles at home to busy days at the office, stress is a contributing fact to the day to day lives of most of us.  Weight gain or plateaus and stress often go hand in hand.  When you are stressed out, your body wants to defend itself, so it starts to retain body weight.  It’s usually with chronic stress that this is apparent / think stress associated with losing your job or going through a bad breakup – not the kind that comes from having a bad day at work. We also often think of negative situations causing stress, but change of any kind, positive or negative can cause stress.  It’s not the change itself that causes you to feel stressed, but your perception of the change.  The good news is that you can actually change your stress levels by changing your outlook.

Cortisol is the chemical which is secreted through the adrenal glands when we are in periods of stress or anxiety.  It will produce a calming effect through the regulation of blood pressure.  The release of cortisol also affects metabolism and the accumulation of fat throughout the body.  

Post bariatric surgery you can find yourself dealing with long term lifestyle changes.  Your nutrition regime will change and you will begin a new exercise routine. Try not to get overwhelmed and try to learn how to effectively handle any stresses that you find or any negative emotions.  It’s important to find techniques to work through these day to day stressors or you may find yourself regressing to unhealthy eating patterns that could hinder progress. 

Things like exercise, mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing and relaxation are ways that we can work towards good stress management and good weight management.  Regardless of the reason for your stress / weight loss stall/ plateau/ it is super important to get your stress levels under control to get the scale moving in the right direction again.   Try to minimize the intensity in your life and recognize your triggers and why you are feeling stressed.  Cutting out the stress in your life is going to make it a lot easier to get your weight where you want it to be.

The ability to balance life and stress is looked at as the ideal way to manage your mental health but stress actually has an equally large impact on your physical health so it’s important to manage your stress in order to support your post bariatric weight loss goals. 

Reach out with any questions.  I am here to support you on your journey to weight loss and wellness.

About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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