The one certainty during an economic downfall is chronic, higher levels of stress and a loss of control feeling. You find yourself gravitating to comfort food and make daily stops for Starbucks Chocolate Crème Whoopie Pies to console yourself. You lie awake at night tallying how you could save money. You’re rarely in the mood for sex or anything resembling joy. And you feel simultaneously tired and wired as you’re too fatigued to hit the gym but also have nervous energy to burn.
Here’s another news flash. Stress makes you fat, older and kills your sex drive. For one, constant stress raises cortisol, which increases blood sugar, breaks down muscle, prevents fast fat loss and makes you crave stale Entenmann’s Crumb Coffee Cake. Long-term stress exhausts your adrenal glands, plunging your cortisol levels and crashing your metabolic rate. Either way, both high and low cortisol levels make burning fat nearly impossible.
Take control and dig yourself out of this metabolic hole:
You don’t need 643 channels to flip through every night. Pare down to the basics and repair your adrenals with seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Shut off the laptop and use the hour before bed to power down with a hot Epsom-salt bath and a trashy novel from your library.
Eat Real Food
Lean Cuisine and McBurgers are no bargain in the long run for your pocketbook or your health. Dump the dollar menu for fresh, whole foods. You’ll find in-season specials at your farmers market. Likewise, check your Whole Foods or organic market for weekly specials on lean protein and fresh vegetables. Recycle leftovers for soups and stews.
Toss the Water Bottles
Reduce your carbon footprint and toxic burden by tossing -- okay, recycling -- that pricey bottled water. Invest in a good water filter and a stainless steel Sigg bottle. You’ll spend less money on drinks and stay hydrated, which means you’ll eat less. A study in the journal of The Obesity Society recently showed people who drank two cups of water before each meal ate less and burned 44 percent more calories than non-water drinkers.
You don’t need an expensive gym membership to get lean and build muscle. Incorporate some au natural burst training: Climb up the hill at your park or run the stairs. If inclement weather prevents your outdoor adventure from getting off the ground, use my 4 x 4 workout and get full-body fit in just 15 minutes.
Lose the Latte and Go Green
Tally up your monthly Starbucks bill… Wait, don’t. If you’re like me, it will just add to your stress levels! If the Starbucks experience remains an important part of your day, at least swap the grande latte for green tea, which will boost your health and your wallet. If you’re really frugal, ask the barista to refill your cup with hot water and you’ll get a “free” cup of green tea.
Expert JJ Virgin helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food allergies. She is the bestselling author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, a Huffington Post blogger, creator of the 4X4 Burst Training Workout & co-star of TLC's Freaky Eaters. Visit her at http://www.jjvirgin.com to take the quiz and find out if your "healthy" habits are making you tired, bloated and age faster.