Nervous SystemStress

Why Can’t I Lose Weight Even if I Eat Healthy?

The Link Between Cortisol, Stress, and Stubborn Belly Weight

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on E-mail
Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re struggling with stubborn belly fat, despite eating well and exercising, the culprit might not be in what you’re eating; It could be the hidden stress you’re experiencing.

This connection often manifests as what’s known as a cortisol belly!

Imagine your body as a car speeding along life’s road.

When stress kicks your nervous system into high gear, like a car pushed into overdrive, excess cortisol acts as a signal to your body to make extra fuel through blood sugar and hormones to move faster and think quicker.

If this surge of fuel isn’t used up, it ends up stored around your midsection—similar to a reserve gas tank.

Your body is storing reserves because it’s become accustomed to moving into fight or flight (or never leaving!) over and over, and is keeping extra energy at the ready.

This storage of stubborn belly fat lingers until you’re able to shift gears out of overdrive and into a calm, relaxed state.

Your Daily™ Post from Instagram

The Connection Between Cortisol, Stress, and Belly Fat

Cortisol, also called the “stress hormone,” does a lot in your body when you’re stressed. It helps regulate things like blood sugar, metabolism, and inflammation.

But if you’re stressed for a long time, like from unresolved trauma, or you deal with stacked daily stressors, your cortisol levels stay high.

This triggers increased hunger and cravings for sugary and fatty foods, the two food groups that are quick energy boosts to the brain and muscles.

Not only does this impact your blood sugar levels, but it also causes your body to store more fat, especially around your belly area—hence the term cortisol belly!

Having a cortisol belly shows how stress affects your body and nervous system.

High cortisol levels are not just about hormones; they show a bigger issue that influences your appearance and how your body works.

What is “Cortisol Belly?”

A stress belly will likely appear more “saggy” than the rest of the fat on your body.

You may notice what people like to call a “kangaroo pouch,” or that your belly is now hanging down in a way it never did before.

The tell-tale signs that this excess weight is due to hormonal causes: You’re not only gaining weight, you can’t seem to lose weight around your abdomen.

Signs of High Cortisol Levels

You might have high cortisol levels if you notice:

  • Gaining weight, especially around your belly
  • A round, puffy face
  • Struggling to lose belly fat despite eating well and exercising
  • Craving sugary and fatty foods more often
  • Feeling tired but unable to sleep well
  • Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep
  • More anxious or down than usual
  • Getting sick more easily
  • Having trouble thinking clearly

Beating Cortisol Belly: A Gentle Approach

The good news is, doing somatic movements help release stress, which can lower your cortisol levels and reduce your cortisol belly.

These special, low impact, low effort exercises can help you connect with your body and calm your nerves. They offer a practical way to tackle the real reasons behind your high cortisol levels.

By lowering your cortisol through these movements, you can:

  • Decrease the amount of fat stored in your belly
  • Boost your metabolism
  • Have more energy all day long
  • Sleep better
  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Crave unhealthy foods less
  • Focus better and stay present

The Impact of Self-Hate on Losing Weight

It’s important to note that healing a body you hate can be challenging because hate is a negative emotion and keeps us stuck in the fight or flight stress response.

This doesn’t mean you have to start pretending to love your body right now (because also, your body knows when you’re lying to yourself 🤪), but it does mean you need to actively stop the self-hate mental talk, and start helping your body find rest and digest.

The easiest, most efficient way? Somatic tools.

Discover Somatic Tools for Relaxation and Weight Loss

If you’re looking to transition your body from the stress mode to relaxation mode and shed those stubborn pounds, explore our app’s library of somatic tools designed to soothe the nervous system.

These tools can help shift your body from fight or flight to rest and digest, aiding in weight loss and overall well-being.

By addressing stress at its source and fostering a peaceful state within your body, you can achieve not just physical transformation, but also create a peaceful place for your mind.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on E-mail