We’ve all done it. You wake up and go about your morning-all is well. Then, when it comes time to put yourself together for the day, you can’t help but think, “Blaugh.”
Yep, it’s a fat day. Odds are, it’s also a day that you have something particularly special going on that you want to look good for. Or maybe it’s not- but you still aren’t psyched to feel like that. You make a promise to not do this to yourself again- it’s kale and salmon everyday for the next week! (yeah, right.) Well, calm yourself… there may be more to it.
You’re stressed out.
Think back to the caveman days for a minute. What stressed out a caveman? Finding something to eat, and not getting eaten by something. That’s why our bodies react the way we do to stress, it’s preparing us to ‘fight’ (to get food or not become food) or ‘flight’ (run away). Our heart speeds up, we start digesting sugars for a pop of energy, and sweat release increases so we don’t overheat and pass out. The problem is that these days, we’re not interacting with lions, tigers or bears much. This is where stress becomes a negative part of our lives.
We don’t need this hormone release or increased heartbeat to deal with a troublesome coworker or prepare for public speaking. What ends up happening is our bodies have unnecessary burden on the heart and we start storing more fat in case we can’t eat again soon (remember- a caveman might starve when he’s stressed). A hormone called ‘cortisol’ is released during the stress response that makes us not only store more fat, but also leads us to seek out high calorie foods.
This is why we want ‘comfort food’ when we’re stressed. We are actually designed to seek foods with lots of fat or sugar because they will help us not starve to death. Today’s world is overloaded with greasy pizza and full fat ice cream, so starvation isn’t of real concern for most of us, yet our biological response is still the same. That’s why if you’re stressed, salads just don’t sound appealing. No one feels like skinny jeans after eating a big mac and fries.
Try to eliminate or manage your stress by making to-do lists, pre-planning, talking out your feelings, and even going for a brisk walk. If you can help settle yourself down, that grilled chicken breast may grow appealing once more.
It takes 3,500 calories in excess of what your body needs to gain one pound. If you do the math, even on a ‘bad day’ where you feel like you really indulged, you’re not even coming close to touching that number. So, if you’re not actually gaining weight overnight, why is it that you feel fat the day after you pig out?
The answer is most related to the types of foods we tend to overeat. I’ve never binged on broccoli or asparagus. That’s because ‘healthy’ foods tend to be higher in whole grains and fiber, which make us feel full and automatically slow us down from overeating. Chips, pasta, and cookies, on the other hand, are easier to overeat because their sugar, salt, and fat light up our brain’s pleasure centers causing a drug like effect (rats given the choice between cocaine and sugar in lab study chose sugar!). Not only that, but binge foods also tend to lack fiber, whole grains, and other nutritional elements that help with satiety (feeling full).
Now let’s look at the short list of things in food that can cause bloating.
- Dairy products
- Carbonated Beverages (such as soda)
- Greasy/Fatty foods
- Artificial Sweeteners
Eating too many fiber-rich veggies or beans without drinking enough water can also cause bloating, but that is most likely not the trigger after an ‘indulgent’ day. Simply put, most of the items on this list either create excess gas in our bodies when we try to digest them or cause our bodies to cling to excess water.
Although it may sound counter intuitive, one of the best ways to battle bloat is to increase water consumption. By giving our bodies the water they need, it allows them to release the excess water they were clinging to. Try working water dense foods like cantaloupe into your diet and drink pure filtered water in place of carbonated beverages. Another key to beating bloat is some light activity, to help get things moving inside your digestive system and help flush out the excess water.
Your posture is terrible.
One of the easiest ways to feel terrible about the way you look, or feel instantly better, lies in your posture. (Insert small moment of ‘I told you so’ for my mother here.) It really is a vicious cycle. You wake up just feeling gross one day, possibly because you’re bloated or stressed, so you tend to wear baggy clothing and slouch around all day trying to not draw attention to yourself. This is probably the worst thing you could do if you’re trying to turn your day around! Have you seen the before and after pictures floating around the internet of the difference standing up straight can make? Google it. Google it now.
Not only is posture a great way to instantly feel slimmer, but it helps our body carry out its natural functions like digestion and detoxification- which are also needed to help us feel slimmer. Simply standing up straight can help strengthen your core and back- no work out required. But while we’re on the topic, working out definitely helps too.