A Frank Discussion With My Muffin Top


“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?”


“…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.”


“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.”


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

The Invaluable BREBATICAL

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





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

59 Responses

    1. I have found myself doing that too! It is so important to be conscious of it though right? Thank you for responding. 🙂

  1. Interesting and amusing post 🙂 I’ve been under a lot of stress lately and I haven’t been eating much differently but I waist line has certainly grown 🙁 x


  3. I never knew muffin tops were so wise! Ha, I learned a lot and could totally relate to this. I’m really overwhelmed this weekend and my eating is showing it…woops! Thanks for the great read.

    1. Thanks Lindsay. We all have “days” right? I just try to encourage to keep those “days” as far apart from each other as possible.

    1. Jenny, it is one of the biggest concerns of my readers. You are not alone. Have you also noticed how women of the seventies and eighties did not distribute their weight this way. Interesting thought to ponder. Gluten, chemicals and hormones I think have a lot to do with it. Thanks for reading.

  4. This is brilliant really. I love the idea that when we have changes going on, even good ones, our bodies need the time to catch up. Clever read.

    1. I appreciate that so much Jess. Thank you for commenting. Always good to hear if someone kinda “got it”, right? 🙂

    1. Sarah, that is such a tough combo. I think the quicker we make food fuel and not friend he better. That is a hard journey! Thanks for commenting.

  5. I love this! And such a good point. I love what I do and it causes me stress but I always think, “well it’s good stress!” But stress is stress and sometimes you need to just listen and care for your body.

    1. So true! Long term stress of any kind is going to cause havoc. Good point to recognize. Thank you for commenting.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I just heard my muffin top one day and thought I better capture it. A little weird, I know.

    1. Mayara, thanks for commenting. Stress has such a huge impact on our physiology. I think the biggest take-away is to be kind when talking to your body and allow it the time to transition in the way it needs to through periods of stress.

  6. The beginning of this post was absolutely hilarious! A conversation with my muffin top…

    But, in all seriousiouness, i agree with you!

  7. It never ceases to amaze me how our bodies just do stuff like this! Being aware is heading on the right track to avoid having to have “conversations” like this.

  8. This is so great! I love the way you wrote this post – you made the muffin top topic and stress more relatable. I love it!

  9. This is awesome and so true! I have let this happen over and over again, never pausing to realize it. I love how you pointed out the good vs bad stress. Makes me think.

    1. Totally Jillian. It is all stress to your body. Same physiologic dump for the most part.

  10. Lol, I’m pretty sure my muffin top would be saying some of the same things but would be sticking around because I like ice cream too much!

    1. Ha ha! Jenna….we all have our vices, right? Just good to be aware of the things that are causing physiologic change in our body. 🙂

    1. I know Chrissa! For sure. It goes straight there because of a combination of hormones and stress eating. Good reasons to keep stress in control on both counts.

  11. This made me laugh so hard! I never considered that it might be stress that’s hanging on to my muffin top. I changed the diet, changed the activity level, but haven’t done a thing for the stress level. Thanks for enlightening me! 🙂

    1. You bet Samantha, I love making people laugh so I am glad that you enjoyed this!

    1. Of course, Casey. I will pass it on! “Muffin top” has garnered quite a following. 😉

  12. I found this as true. Every time I am tired, I eat and I eat a lot. Every time I’m stressed, I eat lot. I think that’s my body’s way to counterattack whatever I am feeling.

    1. Totally, Allan. Isn’t it weird who we self-medicate with food. It is so crazy!

    1. I know, right Chelsea? We can’t rely on that as the only culprit but it helps put it into perspective.

  13. I enjoyed this post so much, what a fun way to write about this and I absolutely agree. I eat way too much when I’m stressed or overwhelmed. We really need to listen to our body more, also when it’s the last thing on our mind.

    1. Totally Jasmin. I am a stress eater for sure. Once I connected that I “bingey ate” with anxiety I realized that for me it is more about controlling the anxiety not the eating.

    1. Or make adjustments to balance and counteract the stress, right, Heather? Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

    1. Thank you for commenting, Lana. This has been one of the favorites that I wrote. Thank you! 🙂

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About Dr. Denniston

Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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