Pay Attention To The Three S’s In Order To Lose Weight?

Of course those three S’s are going to impact your weight! What are they? Stress, Sleep and (sorry mom, awkward!) Sex. You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about Stress-Sleep-Sex rather than Diet & Exercise as a way to manage your weight. Let me explain…

What happens to you when you’re exposed to severe, chronic stress? You go into flight or fight mode, and a hormone called cortisol, will increase. In turn, cortisol can impact your insulin levels and your desire for “comfort food” and sweets. Stressed out people rarely scrounge around their kitchen looking for celery at 10 PM. Both cortisol and insulin can cause weight gain. Stress eating can push the scale upwards, as can disrupted sleep…

Data shows that sleep is critical for weight management. Poor quality of sleep, and/or not enough hours of sleep, can impact your weight regulating hormones. Ghrelin is a hormone released by the gut that increases appetite. Not getting enough sleep? Your ghrelin will increase, making you hungrier.  Another hormone impacted by sleep is leptin, which signals the brain when you’re satisfied, or full, after eating. Staying up late every now and again is fine, but if you’re constantly staying up late, getting up throughout the night, or waking up too early after not enough sleep, you may see the impact on the scale over time, as your leptin level decreases and your ghrelin climbs.

What about sex? (Yes, what about it?!) Well, this third “S” is my own addition to the data on the first two S’s. I see sex as a marker for a healthy, connected, intimate relationship. When you aren’t happy at home or in your romantic relationship, it’s common to turn to food for comfort. “Emotional eating” is very human, and can lead to weight gain over time. How did we develop the instinct for emotional eating? Go on… you tell me! Did your parents ever soothe you with ice cream when you had a rough day? Did they give you a little treat to cheer you up when you were hurt or feeling blue? Do you do that for yourself? For your kids? For those you love? In our society, it’s common to show our love, to celebrate, and to cheer one another up, with food. Over time, that response becomes almost automatic. When we feel sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed, hurt or rejected by our partner…food feels like a quick fix. Of course the fix is only temporary, followed by longer term frustration when we step on the scale.

If you’re paying attention to nutrition and exercise, but aren’t having success with your efforts to lose weight, it may be time to think about Stress-Sleep-Sex, your three S’s. It’s never too late to ramp up your weight loss effort with attention to these other factors. You CAN work on your three S’s today. How? Make a list for yourself of ways to reduce your stress. Include things like meditation, tai chi, taking a walk, writing in a journal, taking a bath, talking to a friend who has your back, or having a cup of hot tea. Personalize your list to include things that make you feel more relaxed. I like listening to classical music to reduce my stress level…

Next, commit to a sleep schedule. And perhaps read a bit about what it means to have good sleep hygiene. Here’s a terrific link from the Mayo Clinic about fundamentals of good sleep. Go ahead and start by thinking about how much sleep you need to feel rested. Is 8 hours right for you? Do you feel well with only 7 hours? Now think about what time you need to get up in the morning and count backwards to calculate your bedtime. Wind yourself down at night, just as if you were a parent helping a child to wind down before bed. Turn off your screens, dim the lights, keep the noise level low, start winding down BEFORE it’s time to turn off the lights…

Finally, prioritize all of your important relationships, not only those of an intimate nature. Do what you can to connect well with your partner, and remember that friendships are also important when we talk about emotions, connectivity, and weight. Brainstorm ways to increase the quality of all of your relationships, including those with your significant other, your friends, your family, even your colleagues and neighbors.

When your three S’s are aligned, you’re set up for success with weight loss. The hard work you’re doing to eat healthy and get some exercise is more likely to pay off if you reduce your stress, improve your sleep, and tend to your sex life (and other social relationships.)

Thanks for listening.

I wish you the best of health!

Please follow me on twitter: @LisaOldson

Please check out my website:

Categories: Goal Setting, Nutrition and Diet, Obesity and Overweight, Weight Management, Diet, Exercise

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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