29/12/2016 07:07 GMT | Updated 30/12/2017 05:12 GMT

Day 9: 12 days of Christmas dieting


Day 9: Chill out, lose fat

There's soft warm golden sand beneath your feet. The sun is out and the balmy rays are gently caressing your skin. The sound of the crystal-clear water is lapping at the sands edge. You lie back with a cocktail in hand and bask in the beauty and serenity of your surroundings. With a satisfying exhalation, you relax back onto your sunbed and smile. Doesn't this sound great? You can picture it now. But how often do you feel like that in your day-to-day life? I can answer that for you. Never.

So, what would you say if I told you all the stress that you endure in your day was making you fatter? As if there wasn't enough to worry about anyway with food and lack of exercise, your lifestyle is making you gain weight and there is nothing you can do about it. Well, with the help of my dieting tips you could eradicate the stress induced fat gain.

Let's first look at the cause; You wake up late, rush to get the kids ready for school (have an argument), lose your presentation for your 10am meeting, miss breakfast looking for said presentation, get in the car with coffee in hand, drive erratically to make school in time, yell at all other rubbish drivers, spill coffee on your jacket and try to hide the stain with your scarf, drop the kids off having forgotten it's P.E. today and didn't bring kit, can't find a parking spot at the train station, miss early train, get the next slow train to find its packed and you stand the whole way with people bashing into you, run to the office, make it your meeting by the skin of your teeth to find it was moved to tomorrow and you had forgotten.

This may not be your exact morning, but you can see from the first second that it is a non-stop stress-fest. Stress can be internally or externally caused, these are all mainly external causes, but, either way it manifests itself in physical side effects. The first obvious point is that a stressful life means people usually miss meals and make poor food choices when you do eat. If you've read my other articles you should know by now that missing meals will cause weight gain in the long term.

Next, when you get stressed your body releases cortisol. This is a catabolic hormone that helps you get through tough situations by breaking sugars, muscle, and fat down to provide you with energy to deal with it. However, long term exposure to cortisol causes a fat storage environment especially around the midriff. Also, it results in the lowering of muscle mass, which, will lower metabolism and cause fat gain long term.

The next phase is usually getting through the day on stimulants like caffeine and sugar. Caffeine is great to get you fired up for a workout but in your day when you're not eating properly it acts in a similar way to cortisol. Caffeine tricks your body into believing calories are there when they're not, and, we all know a lot of simple sugars are not good for blood sugar management.

Finally, you get home shattered and can't be bothered to exercise (or couldn't if you tried) you overeat comfort food and drink alcohol to make up for the missed meals. You must finish the report you didn't get done at work while watching eBay on the vase you want. Your head is going at 10 to the dozen, you don't get to bed until 1 am...... Your day starts at 6am again with the kids.

Evening binge eating can be mitigated by eating more in the day. When you're home you need to switch off. If your brain is too active it will not shut down properly getting ready for sleep. If you have constant light stimulation i.e. iPad, laptops etc. your brain won't initiate your sleep cycle. You have specific hormones that are released sequentially to put you into a relaxing sleep state where you can rebuild, repair and reduce inflammation. Without this you'll have poor sleep even though you might get eight hours'. Also, high carb meals before bed can prevent your sleep/repair hormones from kicking in properly.

This is the hardest stage of staying lean. You must stop stressing. Plan your day and get organised. Pre-prepare meals so you don't miss them. Give yourself time to stop periodically. Reduce caffeine. Find time to exercise. Stop work or iPad by 830pm. Relax, doing something easy in your evenings. Go to bed by 10:30pm. Lie back and smile. Trust me in the long term you'll feel like a different person, and be leaner.

Coming soon Day 10 of the 12 days of Christmas dieting.

Keep on liftin' Ali 'Fat Al' Stewart

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