stress relief

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They've Got Stress Management Down to a Science

We know—women who lose weight effortlessly also have low stress? Doesn't seem fair, but hear us out. Chronic stress can be an unexpected weight loss saboteur, so knowing how best to manage yours is key. "If you're living in a state of stress, like working at a tough job or dealing with a life change, your cortisol levels start to increase," explains Shapiro. "When cortisol increases, so does insulin. Insulin is our fat storage hormone so when insulin goes up, you start to store fat and it typically gets stored in your midsection." Shapiro says she sees it often with clients who seem to be doing all the right things to lose weight and yet find their waistlines literally expanding. When she sees that, "I ask about their stress levels," she says. (Want to know more about how stress affects the number on the scale? Here are seven ways stress makes you gain weight.)

Your takeaway: If you're chronically stressed, experiment to figure out what methods or strategies help you feel calmer and more in control. It could be meditation, exercise, getting more sleep (which can also help with weight management!), making time to read before bed instead of answering emails—whatever works best for you. Then incorporate the winning formula into your everyday life.