It's like adding insult to injury, receiving a one-two punch or getting kicked when you're down: If you're overweight, your system's already compromised, so your body's physical reaction to chronic stress becomes magnified.
That reaction threatens your health much more than it would if you were at a healthy weight.
Researchers now can assess how increased weight and excess body fat, which cause systemic inflammation, interact with negative responses to repeated stressors.
Those factors super-boost levels of the inflammatory hormone cortisol and the cytokine plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6). That's more than double trouble.
In other words, if you're obese, you triple your chances of having a heart attack from reacting negatively to chronic stressors.
The solution is a short-term shift in how you respond to stress paired with a long-term plan to lose weight, unplug your stress response, and get happy!
• Short term. As a stop-your-stress-response-now solution, when you feel overwhelmed, take a step back and breathe slowly and deeply. It may sound simple, but it helps you feel in control and calm.
• Long range. It's time to upgrade your lifestyle so that you eat nine servings of fruits and veggies a day; eliminate all red meat, added sugars and syrups, and processed grains from your plate; and drink plenty of water (never soda) daily.
At the same time, start a walking program (with a pedometer), heading for 10,000 steps a day, and take 10 minutes daily to practice mindfulness meditation.
And don't stress about making these changes.
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