How Stress Is Causing You To Gain Weight

I think it's safe to say that stress is the root cause of many health issues today such as hormonal imbalances, poor gut health, cardiovascular disease and of course, weight gain and weight retention. 

But why is stress the cause of these issues? I'm going to focus on weight gain for this blog's purpose (head over here to learn about the role that stress plays gut health). 

As a weight loss and stress management coach I speak often about the parasympathetic and sympathetic states because understanding them and learning to manipulate the state you're in can make or break your progress with health and happiness. 

For example, we're supposed to spend about 95% of our day in our parasympathetic state (rest and digest) and only 5% in our sympathetic state (fight or flight). 

Though we are all preeeettttyyyy much doing the opposite. That means that our bodies are desperately trying to adapt and evolve to support our new lifestyle and physical demands. 

But we aren't there yet. 

We are still in this funny place where we're not necessarily going to change the way we live our lives; traffic, rushing to work, hectic days at work, grinding it out for our own business, raising kids, managing a partner or marriage, social media, bills, personal growth, family drama, the list goes on and on ammi right? 

With all of that said if our bodies haven't evolved to support our nervous system under so much stress then of course we're going to be symptomatic when we reach a point where our bodies just can't process all of the downstream effects of living a high stress lifestyle. 

Unless we learn to do something about our response to that stress. 

You see, that 5% of the day we're supposed to live under stress would have normally been due to us having to run away from or toward an animal (depending on whether we were dinner or they were) or if we were in danger of some sort (physical attack etc). 

Our bodies are designed to secrete pure glucose into the blood stream to help fuel our 'fight' or attack. But what happens when we aren't having to run or fight? What happens when we're just sitting at our desks or driving our car? 

That glucose isn't used and we end up storing it as fat. 

When this process happens over and over we end up seeing health issues arise such as weight gain, weight retention, blood sugar irregularity, insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.

I always say stellar nutrition and exercise are the cornerstones of physical wellness, but stress management is where we can really refine ourselves and our experience with our health. 

I used to think that because I had read a ton of books, done a ton of introspection and therapy that I was good. I demanded it actually. 

I literally thought "I've done so much work, there's no way my symptoms are related to stress".

I was stil in a victim mentality and I was so wrong. 

At that point I had made a ton of headway. I was no longer abusing drugs and alcohol and I had become a pretty emotionally balanced woman but I hadn't really dialled in on what the specific triggers were for me that kept me feeling anxious, afraid and resentful. 

Things as seemingly mundane as getting irritated by a co-worker's comment or my email inbox being full or even a big to-do list would set me off and put me into fight or flight. 

Once I did more coaching and therapy to get even more aware of my triggers I started to see massive shifts in my body composition, mental health and gut health. 

It takes work guys, that's my message here. It takes dedication to learning what are the things in my day that make me angry, resentful, anxious, drained and fed up? 

Knowing that it's traffic, your marriage, your kids etc., isn't enough awareness. You'd have to get even more clear. What specifically about traffic pisses you off? What specifically about your partner's behaviour makes you shut down, and why? 

Then the real work...what can you do about it? 

Well, there are literally millions of ways to approach improving your response to stress. I've used dozens to get myself back on track. Here are a few of my favourites: 

  • Mindfulness
  • Deep breathing 
  • CBD
  • Tapping
  • Talk therapy 
  • Needs and values work 

I work with my clients using these modalities (sans CBD) to help them to raise awareness of the root issues and then use new tools to manage the stress as it comes up. 


Because self-preservation and managing our response to stress can be the ticket to finally letting go of the excess weight that may be along for the ride. 

If you have issues with stubborn weight retention and unexplained weight gain I encourage you to look at these 5 simple steps to help:

1. Get clear on what your nutrition needs to look like. 

2. Do the right kind of exercise for you! (this can differ person to person based on hormones, being in sympathetic overdrive and lifestyle). 

3. Do a liver detox. You'll thank me later. 

4. Clean up your gut health. 

5. Learn to improve your response to what stresses you out. 

The good news? I can help with all of that! Just respond to this email to book a call with me where we can chat about you and your needs <3

Now, let's get that stress management going, yea!?

In good health + happiness,
Cassandra Hope RHN + CPT


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