Often it’s merely a symptom of imbalances in your body’s biological system caused by stress, lack of sleep, medications, hormonal imbalances or actual medical conditions.
Stress: When you’re knee deep in a stressful situation, your adrenal glands kick into action. They mix up a powerful “speedball of hormones” to get you ready for the battle. First they pour a shot of adrenaline into your bloodstream and then follow it with a chaser of cortisol. Adrenaline speeds up your metabolism and gets you ready to go into the “fight or flight” mode. This is what our body is programmed to do. It was a survival technique our early ancestors developed when they were faced with danger. Adrenaline has a short half life in your body and starts to break down shortly after it’s secreted. Cortisol however likes to hang around and this is what causes trouble for us modern human beings. It slows our metabolism down and we start storing fat. Stress fat tends to accumulate in the belly area and increases our risk of cardiovascular disease! This slow down was perfect for early man because it replenished all those calories he lost from running from that saber tooth tiger!
Lack of Sleep: If you’re up tossing and turning all night wouldn’t that make you burn calories? Sounds logical but the reality is that physiological stress caused by sleeplessness creates biochemical imbalances which register as stress to your brain. The end result? Your adrenal glands go into action and you begin storing fat!
Medications: Grab the magnifying glass and read the small print on the medical information sheets you get when you pick up your prescription from the pharmacy. You’ll discover that certain pharmaceuticals will cause weight gain. It’s a bitter pill to swallow because the benefit of the medication often outweighs this unwelcome side effect.
The most common types of medications that are linked to weight gain include: steroids, antidepressants, diabetes medications, high blood pressure medications and heartburn medicine. Some of these act by increasing your appetite while others actually change the way fat is stored. Read the warnings and make a lifesaving commitment to eating well and exercising.
Hormonal Imbalance: That’s spelled M-E-N-O-P-A-U-S-E and you can look at it more positively as a “re-balancing”. It happens to all women. When our estrogen levels drop and our estrogen reserves start running out, we gain weight more easily. It’s a double edged sword: The new, menopausal weight accumulates in the spare tire area, the waist, while our hip and thigh weight mysteriously disappear! Mother Nature is keeping the score even for us. The best way to deal with this is to be consistent with exercise and watch caloric intake. Don’t starve yourself though; you may end up gaining weight from the stress it causes.
Underlying Medical Conditions: One of the most common culprits is a sluggish thyroid gland. When there is a deficiency of thyroid hormone, your metabolism slows down and you may start putting on weight. You can have a blood test done to determine if you have hypothyroidism. The good news is that there are a number of medications to control this condition and most people manage to live a normal lifestyle.
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