Hello.

“Who said that?”

I did. Down here. ”

It was my muffin top.

“I had no idea you could speak.”

When pressed.”

“Well, iya, wow…”

May I have a moment?”

“Of course, what did you need to discuss?”

Me.”

“…I suspected.”

Look, I don’t mind hanging around occasionally after a night of salty pork sausage, too much wine, or boat- loads of sushi. But, of late, I have seen myself in your mirror far to persistently. I really need to be going.”

“Then go.”

Yes, great concept, but for me to leave we need to address a few items of business.”

“I’m listening.”

“Are you aware you have been under some tremendous life transition stress?”

“I am.”

That you have recently sold a practice, left a 20-year career, started a new business, and traveled extensively among other changes?”

“Yes.”

“Most of the time “positive stress” or “Eustress” is good for your body. But if persistent, your body may fail to tell the difference between good stress and bad stress. This ongoing tension can end up creating the same, potentially damaging, cortisol dump on your system. So, life changes don’t only affect your state of mind; they also affect your state of body.”

“That I did not consider.”

It’s true. Fat deposition in my zip code (love handles) is often significantly impacted during times of stress. Ongoing stress hormone release (cortisol) impacts our body’s ability to function optimally (manage insulin, regulate other hormones), and that functional deficit includes our ability to maintain proper weight distribution. Typically “stress fat” will hit the midsection and abdomen often taking a shape reminiscent of the top of a baked good, or for some, a significantly sized inner-tube.”

“How did you get so smart Muffin-Top?”

It’s a curse.”

“So, does that mean my muffin top really has little to do with what I eat?”

Hold on cowgirl. Of course what, and how much you eat is going to influence weight gain. And, many people overeat when they are stressed. So, weight gain during transitional or stressful periods of your life can be a complex conundrum. The important thing to recognize is that weight gain and other changes in the body can be influenced directly by the fact that you are under stress.”

“I get that my mind has to process transition, but I never connected that my body would have to go through some adjustments as well.”

I am here to enlighten.”

“Not just to hold up my pants?”

Hilarious. (Muffin Top equivalent of eye-rolling), But seriously, Heather, these changes are a significant response by your body. I know you are annoyed by my presence, but please listen to me. You must be kind to yourself and respect that these body shifts are an important part of letting go. Be considerate of your body’s response.

“Sometimes that is difficult. I am hard on myself.”

I know, I have heard your internal bully. She is not a pleasant woman.”

“Lord, I know.”

Pause, be gentle and accept that your body has to process stress in its unique way. But, I caution you. Whether it is fat deposition (that’s me), fatigue, joint pain, acne, heart rate fluctuations or any other often-stress-related physiologic change, it is important to acknowledge us for what we represent. Do not accept the changes as a new reality. You can, with some simple changes, have tremendous influence over your body’s response to stress.”

“What do you suggest?”

Recognize the changes for what they are. A release of stress from your body and a cry for change.”

“Schmultz. Get on with the action steps Muffin Top.”

First action item is that you get your sleep pattern on track. A life shift or transition may interrupt sleep patterns. Whatever the life shift is that is impacting your sleep, taking precautions to ensure consistent rest will go a long way to resetting your mind and body’s relative wellness. A consistent sleep environment, no electronics, a cool room, minimizing noise and interruptions (no pets!) are just a few examples. Adjust your expectations of yourself. Your body takes energy to process stress and change. You can’t overload it while it is trying to accommodate to the new norm. Inject more movement into your life. There is a big difference between “movement” and “exercise.” Movement is an incredible way to stimulate the positive pathways of the spinal cord and brain; it also helps you problem solve more effectively.  The more you move, the calmer your whole system will be. Adjust your fuel. Eat non-inflammatory fuels that are going to drive healing of the stress response not stall it. Sugars, grains, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol are all things you should limit during times of stress. Practice mindfulness. Focusing on the moment in front of you and being acutely aware is exceptionally calming on the fiery stress response. Yoga and meditation are fantastic facilitators for a mindfulness practice. Practice acknowledging things that are in your control and release what is not. Finally, address the stress. What I mean by “address the stress” is that if your anxiety, or stress surrounding big changes, is unrelenting, get outside help. Counseling or coaching through a transition can be immensely effective. Utilizing the above suggestions will address many aspects of the physiologic changes your body is going through.”

“Muffin Top you give great advice. I am going to start making adjustments immediately.”

You are very coachable.”

“So I am told. Thank you for all your help.”

It’s my Pleasure.”

“Since I am going to get things back on track, I doubt we will need to speak again.”

Can’t make any promises, you like sushi too much.”

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Want to read some other posts like this one? 

What’s the DIF ~ Is your injury actually getting better? 

The Invaluable BREBATICAL

Other great resources on the stress connection to your muffin top. 

YOUR HORMONES COULD BE WHIPPING YOU UP A MUFFIN TOP

ARE HORMONES RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR MUFFIN TOP?

FEMALE BELLY FAT – STRESS AND OTHER CAUSES

MORE REASONS TO WHITTLE YOUR MIDDLE

If you love that “muffin top” muffin container click here to purchase: MUFFIN TOPS BAKING CUPS

Please leave comments below about how your body responds during times of stress. 

A Frank Discussion With My Muffin Top