Meditation

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If you’re stressing about the tides of that ocean of lard on your belly not receding, you might want to consider the possibility that what you’re doing wrong may not be your exercise or your fat burning diet, but your stress itself.  For most people, anxiety itself can actually lead to increased weight gain.  If you’re thinking to yourself, doesn’t anxiety speed up your metabolism and suppress your appetite?  It does initially, but the hormone cortisol is released by the adrenal gland as your body’s natural way of calming itself down, which works well until it gives you an inevitable spike in appetite.  Cortisol itself actually converts fats and protein into glucose to be burned off, but it’s this impending spike in appetite that is the reason why many people gain weight.

The first solution to this may be to get anxiety medication, but many of them can exacerbate weight gain themselves.  For instance, Paxil and most other SSRIs can induce carb-cravings and slow down metabolism.  Instead, you should consider non medicinal methods of anxiety “exercises.” Not only are they less expensive, but have been proven to help with a litany of other ailments as well.

The most inexpensive one out there is probably Progressive Muscle Relaxation.  PMR is based upon the fact that muscle tension and anxiety are directly related.  The idea is that if you tense and then release all the muscles in your body, it will work in reverse, signaling to your brain that you are in a relaxed state.  It only takes around 15 minutes a day, and consists of simply tensing and relaxing all the muscles in your body (skipping the ones that aren’t “problem” muscles).  Although PMR only cures anxiety temporarily, many people believe that habitual use can lead to the ability to “turn off” the anxiety just by imagining the exercises.

If you have a little more money to spend, you can also try biofeedback.  Biofeedback focuses on strengthening the connection between the body and the mind just like PMR, but with a more permanent intent.  Many biofeedback kits come with a headset and software that monitors physiological functions such as heart beat, sweat production and respiration.  The goal of this training is to condition your mind to consciously alter the rate of these functions, leading to a change in the disorder that they are a symptom of.  Biofeedback has been proven in studies to not only reduce anxiety, but ulcers and hypertension as well.

Try some of these exercises, and even if you don’t notice your gut getting smaller, the prevention from future ailments that these exercises offer make it more than worthwhile.

Byline:
Eric Hirota is a personal trainer at LAVA Sport & Fitness located in San Diego, CA. He specializes in plyometrics and lowering body fat percentage.

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