It seems like a simple formula: Diet plus exercise equals weight-loss success. But what's often overlooked is the mental aspect, which is just as important. How you handle stress and sadness in your life can truly make or break your bikini-body goals. Whether you’re anxious about work or dealing with a devastating breakup, there are real chemical processes taking place that affect the way your body reacts to temptations, from the donuts on the conference table to the urge to sleep in instead of hitting the gym.
Any form of depression, no matter how mild, affects neurotransmitters that control mood, thinking, appetite, and behavior, making you more likely to eat poorly, skip exercise, and gain weight. [Tweet this fact!] Similarly, high stress levels cause your body to release the hormone cortisol, which makes us crave energy and comfort (often in the form of pizza and cupcakes). This leads to a sugar-induced dopamine high, then the inevitable crash that causes you to seek even more dopamine, and so on. All those extra empty calories are then stored in your body, most commonly in the form of—you guessed it—belly fat.
Of course, dealing with life’s stressful and saddening situations is much easier said than done. After all, you can’t solve all your problems by ordering the salmon or taking a bubble bath. That said, these ten tips can help you battle anxiety, boost serotonin, and release endorphins, all of which will create a happier mood, healthier mind, and slimmer body.
And for even more slim-down secrets, be sure to check out Shape's exclusive plan for a beach-ready body in our new book, The Bikini Body Diet.