How are your lower abdominals? Part 3 of 4: Stress

In the first two parts of this series we discussed the importance of body fat and gut health to lower abdominal function. In this part we will discuss the role of stress.

Stress can be defined as any stimulus to a system. In this blog we’re talking specifically about psychogenic stress. The stress we perceive in a stimulus.

Stress can influence the appearance of the lower abdominals in a number of ways. High stress levels put the body into fight or flight altering the function of every cell in the body almost instantly.  Depending on the duration and intensity of the stress it can affect the human body in very different ways. For example most of us know someone who has experienced a tragedy or extreme stress who has lost a significant amount of weight. Conversely most of us also know people who have chronic moderate levels of stress that continue to put on weight. However how much of this is directly attributable to “stress” could be questioned.

Strength coach and general health, exercise and rehabilitation genius Charles Poliquin has developed a system known as biosignature that identifies the factors that cause fat distribution in a given area and how to reduce it. In this system Charles asserts that high cortisol levels, the key stress hormone, cause fat to be distributed around the belly button region. This leads to an easy test you can do yourself. Pinch the fat around your belly button region and compare the amount you can pinch there with the amount over your hips tor in the upper abdominal region. This allows you to make a comparison. You may be interested to know that the fat deposited over the hips is thought to be increased by excess carbohydrate.

If you think stress may be causing you to increase your body fat levels there are some simple things you can do to redress the balance.

  1. Psychogenic stress is perceived stress. If somebody cuts you up whilst driving you can choose to think “f&*^ing a$£@hole” or you can ask yourself a quality question like “I wonder why they are in such a hurry?” Similarly most typical everyday stresses can be handled in this manner with a high quality question. Another question you might like to ask is, “what would I have given a couple of years ago for this to be a primary stress?” If the kids are misbehaving or your partner has failed to do something they said they would, “how lucky are you to have them in your life in the first place?” Larger “stimuli” like bereavements can be handled in a similar way by asking quality questions if you are far more skilled and evolved than myself.
  1. Do some regular relaxation exercise. When you do relaxation exercise like yoga (NOT KICK ASS POWER YOGA), Tai chi, deep breathing or a slow walk you activate the rest and digest part of the nervous system. This allows you to use the higher centres of your brain and think more intelligently. When you’re stressed you rely on the primitive areas of the brain that deal with survival behaviour. However the more relaxed you become the more you are able to access the higher areas of your brain and make intelligent decisions.

20 minutes a day will have a noticeable impact. However you almost certainly wont do this as you’ll come up with some nonsense excuse, e.g. “I’m too busy”. I guarantee you, you aren’t! How long does it take you to get to bed? How long do you spend on facebook? How long do you spend watching television?

REMEMBER, “However good the excuse it still won’t get you the result”.

Hopefully this blog has given you a little understanding of the influence of stress on the appearance of the abdominal region and some simple things you can do to address this stress. If you would like to discuss any of these details in more depth please email me at or check our website at or facebook page or twitter, just search for virtusclinic.

abdominals, cortisol, kieran, lower abdominals, management, stress, stress management, virtus, virtus clinic, www.v

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