Have you ever wondered, “Why am I putting on weight even though I’m eating healthily and doing regular workouts?” Many busy Black women are dealing with this same problem. The hidden cause? A stress-related hormone called cortisol.


Cortisol is also known as the ‘stress hormone.’ Our bodies make it in the adrenal glands. It’s responsible for several things, like keeping blood sugar levels stable, controlling metabolism, reducing swelling, and helping us remember things. But it’s best known for its role in helping our bodies respond to stress.


When we feel stressed, our bodies go into a ‘fight or flight’ mode, and cortisol levels go up. This was helpful for our ancestors when they faced immediate physical dangers. But nowadays, our stress tends to be more long-term and psychological, and yet our bodies react in the same old way.


So, what does this have to do with gaining weight? High cortisol levels make you feel hungrier as your body wants more energy to ‘fight or flight.’ Also, studies suggest that cortisol produced due to stress might lead to fat building up around the belly area.


Black women often have to handle many roles, looking after careers, families, and social responsibilities. All this can lead to chronic stress, causing cortisol levels to stay high and possibly leading to weight gain, even with a good diet and exercise routine.


The first step to breaking this cycle is recognizing the connection between stress, cortisol, and weight gain. Knowledge gives us power, and understanding how cortisol works in our bodies can help us make healthier choices.


So, how can we control cortisol levels? Here are a few strategies:


Mindful Eating: Stress can make us eat without thinking or eat because of our emotions. Try to notice your body’s hunger signs and make sure to eat nutritious foods that are good for your body.


Physical Activity: Regular exercise helps control cortisol levels and makes us feel good by increasing endorphins, our body’s natural ‘feel-good’ hormones.


Quality Sleep: Our bodies need enough rest to control hormones, including cortisol. Try to get 7-9 hours of good sleep each night.


Stress Management Techniques: Practices like meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or spending time in nature can help lower cortisol levels.


Community: Keep in touch with friends, family, or join support groups. Having people to lean on can help manage stress levels.


Remember, each woman’s body is unique. What works for one person might not work for another. Understanding your body and how it reacts to stress is a personal journey. It’s not about quick fixes but about committing to a healthier lifestyle with less stress—one where cortisol doesn’t dictate what happens.


If you think that stress and high cortisol levels might be causing weight gain, it could be a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional or a hormone health coach. They can give you advice, strategies, and support that fit your specific needs and lifestyle. Remember, your health is in your control, and every step you take towards it matters!

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