Energy Levels

The Hormonal Turmoil: Understanding the Connection Between Stress and Belly Fat in Women’s Bodies

April 19, 2023

Hi, I’m Angela
I'm a functional medicine practitioner & hormone expert working primarily with women in their 40's and 50's to create lasting health.
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As women in their 40s and up, many of us are familiar with the hormonal turbulence that can come along with daily life – specifically at this stage of our lives. Stress has a deep-rooted impact on our physical health, and unfortunately excess belly fat is often a by-product of this. But stress isn’t just physiological – it’s emotional as well; if you have ever found yourself frustrated because no matter how hard you try to lose your muffin top it never seems to budge, I’m here today to let you know that understanding your body’s biology when it comes to hormones and stress is the key to finally getting off that plateau so you can gain control over your waistline once again.

Chronic Stress = Muffin Top in the Making

Often stress is chronic and for many women they don’t necessarily understand the impact that stress could be having on their bodies and especially their hormone health and wellness.

I’ve talked to countless women who confide in me that they feel overwhelmed by stress. It’s a familiar feeling that’s unfortunately all too common. What’s worse is that many of these women also struggle with their weight, and they may not even realize the connection. It’s a frustrating cycle. They’ve tried every diet and exercise routine under the sun – calorie counting, intermittent fasting, you name it. Yet, nothing seems to work. No matter how hard they try, they just can’t seem to shed those extra pounds. And to make matters worse, as they age, they notice the weight creeping up even more, especially in their midsection. It’s like a spare tire that won’t go away, no matter what they do.

Many women aren’t very happy about this. 

They would say, “I’m not doing anything different than I used to do. I’m maintaining the same type of diet and lifestyle. I’m relatively healthy with what I’m doing in my everyday life, or so I think I am. Why am I gaining this weight, especially around my belly?” Often, This is not something that is determined right away.

Yet, I see this all the time in my practice because I’m working with lab testing. Very commonly the link is in the imbalances in cortisol. 

The Cortisol Response 

Cortisol is our primary stress hormone, and when we produce cortisol, it’s okay – this is a normal response to stress in our bodies. But if we’re under stress all the time, and there’s really no relenting from this, the cortisol response can get out of balance and we can start producing too much.

As we produce too much, what often will happen is our metabolism starts to slow down. 

When we produce cortisol, what actually happens?

When we experience fear or stress, our bodies go into survival mode. Blood flow shifts from our organs to our arms and legs, so we can escape danger quickly. But if we’re always under stress, this response can hurt us in the long run. Our organs don’t get the blood they need, and our metabolism slows down. It’s like our body is putting everything on hold to focus on getting us out of danger. This can lead to problems with digestion and overall health if we don’t find ways to manage our stress levels. 

It doesn’t necessarily matter what you’re eating or how much you’re exercising if the body and the brain are communicating this high-stress response, your metabolism’s going to slow and therefore the weight is going to come on. For most, this weight starts to concentrate around the midline.

Dance of the Hormones 

As women age, they undergo a natural decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels, which causes a host of unwelcome changes in the body. One of these changes is an increase in blood sugar and insulin production, leading to weight gain around the belly area. This hormonal rollercoaster affects us all.

There’s this combination of effects happening: the high-stress response and the changes to our female sex hormones. This truly can result in this weight loss resistance and a feeling of being stuck and trapped in a seemingly high-stress pattern. 

You may lately be feeling anxious, having trouble sleeping, and feeling like your life has been turned upside down. It’s tough to deal with, but there is hope. By understanding how your body works, you can find balance again. Don’t give up. With the right tools, you can regain control and find your way back to feeling like yourself again.

Techniques that Help 

Stress can feel like a constant burden weighing down on us, making everyday life a struggle. But we don’t have to suffer in silence. We can take control and actively manage our stress levels. By incorporating stress management techniques into our daily routine, we can build resilience and develop better-coping mechanisms.

Simple practices like meditation, yoga, and consistent exercise can make a significant impact on our stress levels. It’s not about over-exerting ourselves with intense workouts but rather finding a sustainable exercise routine that works for our bodies and helps us manage stress.

In addition to exercise, our diet also plays a crucial role in regulating our stress levels. We can make small adjustments to what we eat, which can help us maintain and balance our cortisol levels even when stress is high. It’s time to prioritize our mental and physical health by adopting stress management techniques and making mindful choices in our daily lives.

Sometimes, managing stress requires us to dig deeper than just surface-level solutions. This is where someone like me, an advocate for women’s health and functional medicine, can step in and conduct the necessary lab testing to help you gain a deeper understanding of your cortisol levels throughout the day. We have the ability to check this and determine the typical pattern of how cortisol levels should rise and fall.

Furthermore, we need to analyze your female sex hormone levels, blood sugar, and insulin levels. By taking a comprehensive approach, we can identify the root cause of your symptoms and develop a customized healing strategy that works for you.

I understand that feeling out of balance can be frustrating and confusing, which is why I’m here to help. With a personalized plan, we can work together to reduce belly fat, increase energy levels, improve sleep quality, and ultimately help you feel like the best version of yourself. Let’s take control of your health and wellness, one step at a time.

Reach Out, I feel you. 

If you’re feeling like your weight loss efforts have hit a dead end and you can’t seem to shake off that stubborn belly fat, you’re not alone. High levels of stress can be a significant contributor to weight gain, but often, it’s not easy to connect the dots between the two.

If this sounds like you, don’t give up hope. I’m here to help you understand the connections between your body, health, and stress levels. By conducting proper lab testing, we can assess your cortisol levels, insulin levels, and female sex hormones, allowing us to develop a tailored plan to rebalance your body and help you feel your best.

I’ve worked with many women who’ve struggled to lose weight, despite trying everything from dieting to extreme intermittent fasting. Once we’ve identified the root cause of their weight gain, they’ve lost up to 20-30 pounds in as little as six weeks and kept it off.

Don’t let stress and weight gain control your life any longer. Take control of your health and wellness by reaching out. Let’s work together to create a personalized plan that will help you regain your confidence, improve your overall health, and start living your best life.

All in all, stress and hormones can be a terrible twosome that can cause women to have an increase in abdominal fat or muffin top, but there are ways to reduce the symptoms such as prioritizing good nutrition and incorporating movement into daily life. It’s also essential to take extra time for yourself every day. Try journaling, taking a class on Zoom, or reaching out to your friends/family/coaches to talk and listen. Remember, these additional steps for self-care will help you feel connected emotionally, physically, and visually so you can prioritize feeling healthy and looking great. So don’t let yourself become the victim of hormonal turmoil – take the necessary steps now, talk with loved ones if needed, and make an effort to schedule a discovery call when you’re ready. The most important thing is to take care of yourself first and foremost!

Are you feeling the effects of stress and hormone imbalances, but struggling to find a solution? It’s time to take control of your health and feel your best again. We understand that each of you have unique symptoms that need to be addressed, which is why we offer personalized free discovery calls. Let’s work together to get to the root of your concerns and create a customized plan that works for you.

Don’t suffer in silence any longer. Join our Private Facebook Group and connect with other women who are on a similar journey. Together, we can support each other and make positive changes in our lives. 

DISCLAIMER:  The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional 

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