Stress Counseling Minot ND
Grand Forks, ND
When extra pounds and excess fat accumulate in your abdomen, it not only gives
Spare tire, love handles, beer belly: Whatever the nickname, an abdomen enlarged by excess fat used to be a mostly masculine phenomenon, just as a large derriere and heavy thighs were something mostly seen on women. But in a world that’s now experiencing an unsettling rise in obesity rates, one can see more and more women who carry most of their extra weight in the middle. And it’s that growth in mushrooming midsections—what’s now generally known as an apple shape, as opposed to the bottom-heavy pear shape—which is the most worrisome: Excess abdominal fat has been linked to a variety of chronic illnesses, including heart woes, cancer and diabetes. In fact, the rapid increase in diabetes “is one good indicator” of the increase in abdominal fat deposits, according to British nutrition expert Marilyn Glenville, PhD, author of Mastering Cortisol (Ulysses Press). “The other major worry is that people do not have to be overweight to have fat around the middle—we see youngsters with a ‘muffin top’ over the waistbands of their jeans.”
High-calorie diets coupled with low rates of physical activity have fueled the escalation in all kinds of obesity. But bulging bellies are also partly caused by high stress levels, and the link is a hormone known as cortisol.
How Stress Packs on the Pounds
Any potential hazard—a man-eating tiger, an aggressive oaf on the highway—can activate the stress response. The pituitary, the body’s master hormone controller, releases ACTH that travels to the adrenals, two glands atop the kidneys, which in turn pump cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream. Adrenaline creates the short-term effects of rapid heartbeat and expanded blood vessels, which lets you dodge either the tiger or the oaf. Cortisol, though, hangs in there for the long haul, affecting blood sugar, fat and protein metabolism to support a more extended fight-or-flight reaction.
If all sources of stress were straightforward, cortisol wouldn’t pose a problem—the threat would end and cortisol levels would return to normal. But because modern-day stressors are never-ending (the job, the house, the bills. . .you get the drift), cortisol can remain elevated for long periods of time. Because cortisol affects glucose levels, it can cause the carbohydrate cravings that draw you to candy, cake and cookies like a magnet. What’s more, cortisol tries to keep extra energy on hand (for response to the “threat”) by storing fat in an easily accessed spot—and your midsection, close to all your vital organs, will do quite nicely. This “toxic fat,” as Glenville calls it, spits out ...