Fight stress and the fat that tags along

"I lost my job. I was in mortgage banking for 25 years and now I'm basically changing careers," said Kevin Crowe.

Kevin turned his favorite exercise into a way to cope with life's challenges. Four out of his five part time jobs involve swimming.

"Getting into education. I'm also working as a lifeguard for the city of Los Angeles and coaching swimming," said Kevin. "It was really a good way to, I guess, funnel and direct my energies into something very positive."

Kevin's choice to channel his energy is something experts say not only reduces stress, but also reduces unhealthy fat that tends to accompany it.

"It is a little harder to get off. Most of it is carried in that visceral fat, which is around the organs and right in the belly," said Amy Dixon, /*Equinox*/.

When someone experiences chronic stress, cortisol hormones divert energy to the major muscles. So food is subject to poor digestion. In addition, we often choose over-portioned, high fat foods when we're feeling down, creating more fat storage in the abdominal area.

Eating several smaller healthy meals is one way to help combat that challenge, along with little bouts of exercise.

"There's a lot of research -- current research -- showing that you don't have to spend an hour or 2 hours in the gym to get the benefit out of exercise," said kinesiologist Steve Jordan.

Jordan says you can stay fit doing a handful of 10-minute workouts. And if you're doing something fun, it won't seem much like a workout.

"All of the sudden you've now put in 10 minutes five times a day, which equals 50 minutes, which is just as beneficial as somebody who puts in an hour, or an hour and a half, at the gym all in one stop," said Jordan.

If money is tight get a walking or running buddy. You could also join a free sports league. After all, socializing is important to reduce the stress and weight gain. If you go to the gym, try the group route.

"I think having that group instruction is phenomenal," said Dixon. "Having someone lead you through -- and also that interaction with people -- is helping create that community that you might need."

However, experts say the bottom line is staying positive, having a game plan, having goals and the motivation to keep working.

7 steps to losing stress fat:

  • Eat small and healthy meals frequently
  • Do fun movement
  • Try outdoor activities
  • Join a free sports league or take a group class
  • Plan fitness into your day
  • Avoid over-portioned high fat/high sugar foods
  • Try small bouts of exercise



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