How Stress Makes Us Fat

Have you ever been working so hard you think your eyes are bleeding? You know, when the stress has you like our friend below.


Or you feel your grey hairs creeping in at that instant?

Wondering how you can sustain this pace for one more day?

These thoughts popped into my head a couple weeks ago.

Waking up at 4am just to get a couple hours of work done at my computer before

my morning clients, and then getting home to do it all again. Sandwich some

networking events, my public speaking group, and a speaking engagement in there

and you have now made yourself a beautiful shit sandwich.


It doesn’t matter how passionate you are about your job; burn out is real. They even

have a name for it in Japan: Karoshi. Karoshi means “death from overwork.”

Looking back at my steps from that week, I walked an average of 3,500 steps. And, I

only worked out twice.

Obviously, this alone could make me fat, and nobody likes a fat trainer.

I finally understood when clients or prospective clients couldn’t commit to training

because their plate was too full. I felt like if one more than was to go wrong I would

just lose my mind. I felt on edge, irritable, and anxious. I felt like if I were to train

hard at the same time, it would just be too much for me to balance.

“I’ll just wait until I don’t have as much work to do.”


This is THE WORST excuse I have made to not exercise. The reason why may

surprise you.


A friend of mine just pointed me over to the Headington Institute. They do

workshops for emergency responders and support for staff in high risk

environments. They basically train you and your staff to keep your cool in trauma or

high crisis situations.


Dr. Rick Williamson from the Headington Institute trains people how to address

stress and burn out.



We do need stress in our lives, because with too little of stress there is no challenge

to get better and grow. However, too much stress elicits a negative hormonal

reaction and mental reaction, leading to burn out.

Sometimes are plate is too full, and there’s really nothing we can do about it. And it

seems if we add anything to our plate, we will just burn out.


However, it’s quite the opposite with exercise. Dr. Williamson preaches intense

exercise for 2 reasons:


1. It takes your cortisol (stress hormone) levels back to base line. Cortisol directs

energy away from non-essential parts of the human body, and it also correlated with

high abdominal fat.

2. It takes your perceived rate of stress down. Therefore you can do the same

amount of work and not have a high stress response from it.

Williamson recommends 20-30 minutes daily of physical activity, and the more

intense the better.


When you perform functional strength training, your cortisol levels go way down.

This takes you out of the risk of:

– Decreased immune system

– Increased inflammation

– Decreased white blood cells

– Increased risk of disease

– Increased risk of cancer


An interesting study came out with the stress response to mice. What they found,

was the more stressed out the mouse, the smaller brain cells with smaller branch


Another interesting study on monkeys showed that more stressed monkeys had

increased plaque in their arteries.

Functional strength training also increases oxytocin. Oxytocin is sometimes referred

to as the “cuddle hormone” because it comes from positive social interaction and

while caring for others.

If you’re like me and think you have too much on your plate, you probably are right.

However, adding exercise won’t tip you over the edge, it will actually save your life

AND from unwanted weight gain.


-Dylan Conrad

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