Is Stress Affecting Your Progress?

Have you ever considered stress when it comes to your health and fitness journey? Sometimes, clients of mine will ask me why they aren't seeing progress in certain areas when they are putting in the work, nutrition and fitness-wise. When we start chatting about the other areas of their life (perhaps areas they didn't think were related), often their lack of progress boils down to stress!


It’s certainly not uncommon for people to use food as a coping mechanism when stressed or emotional. Others might over-train to cope with certain situations or find themselves struggling to sleep, plagued by stressful thoughts. Stress is a part of life and finding coping mechanisms that are more conducive to your health and fitness goals is so important.


If you address how stress affects you prior to starting your health and fitness journey, you are setting yourself up for success and pre-empting anything that may have you falling off track in the future.


Understanding stress as a physiological response to challenging or dangerous situations helps to manage it effectively. Our body is regulated by the Autonomic Nervous System, which branches into two distinct states of being; the Sympathetic System, and the Parasympathetic System. The Autonomic Nervous System plays an integral role in balancing our physiology between stress and calm states of being.


Let’s break this down to the implications this may have on your health and fitness goals:


The Parasympathetic System:

This refers to the body being at homeostasis: This is when we are calm, or at rest, and is a preferred state of being for fat loss. When the body is utilising the Parasympathetic System, nutrient absorption, digestion, recovery, and growth are optimal.


The Sympathetic System

This refers to the “fight or flight” response, preparing the body to take action against potential danger. When stress is heightened, this can affect the production of stress hormones and the GI system, which can lead to changes in appetite and metabolisation. When homeostasis is disrupted, this can impact fat loss and muscle growth, as well as lead to weight gain (as this may cause emotional eating).


What is causing my stress?

Stress and the physiological responses to stress are all relative to the individual. Common examples include:

· Work

· Relationship issues

· Financial struggles

· Poor body image

· Social media

· Unhealthy lifestyle

· Taking on too many responsibilities/activities

· No work/life balance

· Health concerns

· Lack of sleep


How do I manage my stress?

There are obviously many different ways to manage stress, but first, you have to address what causes your stress in the first place. Take the time to compile a list of the things that are causing you stress at the moment; that way, you can learn how to effectively manage your body's physiological response to these stressors. In order to do this, your body will need to enter a Parasympathetic State.


Some techniques you may choose to implement in order to manage your stress may be:

· Meditation

· Journaling

· Reading

· Spending time outdoors

· Listening to music

· Breathwork

· Yoga

· Taking a break from social media

· Listing things you are grateful for

· Drawing


You name it! Think about moments in your life where you have been at ease, calm and present… what were you doing in those moments?

There are also various mental health apps you can download that are designed to help you manage stress:

1. HeadSpace

2. Calm

3. SAM

4. MindShift


This is your reminder to make your mental health a priority, just as you would your training or nutrition. Self-care isn’t selfish!


If stress is affecting your progress, be sure to tune into The ABA Girls Podcasts Episode on Managing Stress here.


Need help reaching your goals? There are many ways we can work together to get you where you want to be. Fill out this form and we can get chatting about the options!




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