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 Reducing Stress Without Caloric Intake

One of the laments I often hear from patients struggling with weight control is:  “I am a STRESS Eater”.  Stress is a negative sensation and often the human brain makes us seek immediate gratification to offset the stress.  One of the quickest, least expensive ways of providing immediate gratification is consuming a high caloric/high sugar food source and/or drinking alcohol.  Of course, this behavioral pattern leads to the gaining of weight and that further stresses us out.

Yesterday, our son Brian took me out on a father-son excursion and we went to an ax throwing place in Fairfax.  Ax throwing?  Is this the Middle Ages?  Although quite dubious about how much fun I would have throwing axes, we met at the ax throwing facility.  My first 10 tosses resulted in the ax hitting the target but not sticking.  BUT, then I got the hang of it (release point, follow through, arm angle) and then my throws resulted in the ax sticking on the target, with the goal to get as close to the center bullseye as possible.  Toward the end of the 45 minute session, I found myself throwing the ax harder and harder, and lo and behold, I also felt completely de-stressed.

Now, I am not suggesting that everyone feeling stressed out should take an ax out of their garages and start throwing at trees (or people you don’t like) to de-stress.  However, the point is that there are a number of things we can all do to lower our stress levels that do not involve eating/drinking behaviors that derail our weight control efforts.  Some of these include:

  • Hiking
  • Exercise
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Getting a massage
  • Meditation
  • Yoga

I am certain there are many other bullet points that can be added to the list.

Stress-eating (or drinking) only adds on more stress.  During your long-term weight control journey try to identify alternative behaviors in response to stress that will help, rather than hinder, your weight control efforts.

Dr. Bob Posner at Ax Throwing activities :

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