We’ve all heard, and experienced, how stress leads to weight gain, but the opposite is also true. Not enough of the right kind of stress also leads to weight gain. Listen to this episode to learn about the two kinds of stress, distress and eustress, and why decreasing distress and increasing eustress will help you get the body you want, the business you want, and ultimately the life you want.
Welcome to Rich & Thin™ Radio, the only podcast that helps you earn more and weigh less. I’m Kelly Hollingsworth and if getting more bank with less bulk is what you want, I’m glad you’re here because I want it, too, and in this show we talk about how to make that happen.
The topic for this week is what moves the needle. In our first episode for this week, the business episode, we discussed the one thing that’s guaranteed to raise your business revenue, and that is making effective offers. In this second episode for this week, our body episode, we’re going to discuss the one thing that’s guaranteed to change your body, and it’s eliminating the wrong kinds of stress from your body. I also promised to tell you how to accomplish this in the context of making offers, something many entrepreneurs find very stressful.
The first thing I’d like to do today is define our terms. What is stress?
Exactly what is stress?
We tend to think of stress in negative terms, but like everything, stress is neutral. We make it good or bad in our minds.
The neutral definition is that stress is a simply a force or influence. Notice the lack of judgment there—a force or influence can be good or bad, and what we all want is good forces and influences, and not bad forces and influences.
Also notice that a force or influence, whether internal or external, is necessary to create change. In this respect, stress is necessary to create meaning in your life, because “meaning” means change. A story in which no one changes means nothing to us. Similarly, a life in which you don’t change means nothing to you. If you’re currently feeling that your life has no meaning, maybe you’re feeling this only in a certain context or maybe across the board, but if you’re thinking that one or more areas of your life is meaningless, I can promise you, that’s because there’s a lack of positive change in that area of your life. You’re not growing and evolving. It’s the process of growing and evolving that we experience as positive change, and without that, our lives feel meaningless. This is why we’re so drawn to and inspired by stories. Stories depict positive change, and they show us how to add meaning to our own lives.
So I’d like you to notice two things here. One, Rich & Thin is the essence of this process of positive growth and change. To get rich, to grow your financial wealth, you must become someone who serves others on a higher level. That involves a whole lot of richness beyond just money. And to get thin, to shed excess pounds or rid yourself of some other form of baggage that’s weighing you down, you must become someone who serves yourself at a higher level.
The things we do to disserve others thwarts money from coming into our lives. One example of disservice we talked about recently on the podcast is negative judgment about others. We’ll talk about more ways to disserve others in upcoming episodes, but that’s just one example of disservice that illustrates what I’m talking about for now.
And the things we do to disserve ourselves creates what is categorized as “bulk” in this show. It’s weight on our bodies from overeating or overdrinking, clutter in our homes from over-shopping, things like that.
The second thing I’d like you to notice here is that stress, as a force or influence, whether internal or external, is critical for change, and the type of stress that we experience determines whether the change will lead to good results that we want, that make us feel wealthy, or bad results that we don’t want, that make us feel broke and bulky.
So now let’s define the good stress so that we can distinguish it from the bad stress.
Eustress vs. Distress: The type of stress determines if it gets you closer or further away from the life you want
As I said earlier, stress comes in two flavors. When we’re talking about the destructive kind, it’s called distress. Distress means pressure, strain, tension that may be a factor in disease causation.
And here notice that the dis-ease may be more than just physical. It can be financial. The word “disease” derives from old language meaning “lack of ease” or inconvenience, and financial troubles certainly trigger a lack of ease or inconvenience. Just the other day I spent a not insignificant amount of time digging my car out from under way too much snow, and I was thinking, a proper garage would prevent this problem. Have I mentioned we’re currently living in a tear-down? Our garage is woefully inadequate. The reason we’re living in it is because I bought this house before my husband and I were married, before I even knew my husband, and I was intending to scrape it and start over, but then the financial crisis hit and the value of real estate plummeted. If my husband had been around, there is no way we would have overpaid for this house, but he wasn’t around, and I did overpay, and now the house is underwater. It’s probably worse less than what I paid for it, even after all these years, and there’s no way I was going to put one more cent into this house while its value was below what I paid for it. Hence, we have a garage that’s not big enough for both of our cars and our massive lawn mower.
Not having a garage sufficient to protect all of our vehicles is a choice, we could expend some cash to get a new garage if we wanted to, and as I was scraping off the car, it occurred to me, all of us who are suffering from lack of ease or inconvenience in our lives, and thinking it’s about the money, or rather the lack of money, are making choices. Have you ever noticed how, when a person has a financial problem, often the obvious solution—earning more money—is completely ignored? We want to talk about budgets. We want to talk about bankruptcy. Rarely if ever do we want to talk about earning more as a solution to a financial problem, and that’s a shame because it is the best and easiest financial solution.
So what I’m offering here is that the amount of money each of us earns is a choice, and this is something few people realize, so lately I[m making it a point for myself that whenever I’m noticing some lack of ease or inconvenience that money would solve, I’m using that as a sign that I’m making certain choices about money, such as how much to earn it or where to spend it, that aren’t serving me.
But in any case, back to disease. The bad kind of stress creates disease, in your body, your bank balance, and therefore in your life, and that bad kind of stress is called distress.
The good kind of stress, the kind that creates wealth, is called eustress. E-u-s-t-r-e-s-s. “Eustress” means moderate or normal psychological stress interpreted as being beneficial for the experiencer. a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being.
Notice the judgments that are made in this definition. If it’s eustress, it’s a “moderate or normal amount of stress.” It’s “interpreted as being beneficial.” It’s considered “positive.” And all of this positive spin when we’re in eustress leads to a “beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being.”
This segues nicely into which stress is the good kind and which stress is the bad kind, and how we get into one and out of the other. It’s all in your mind, my friends. If you interpret a stress in your life, a force or influence that’s occurring outside of you and acting upon you, or a force or influence that’s bubbling up from inside of you, either way, if you interpret it as positive and beneficial, it will create positive and beneficial results for your wealth. If you interpret it as something that’s causing pressure and strain and pain, then it’s distress and it will create negative effects in your life.
How does distress affect your body?
Today is the body episode for this week so I want to focus for a few minutes on how distress affects your body negatively, and specifically I want to focus on how it affects your weight.
How does distress put excess weight on your body?
When we’re in distress, many of us create a negative downward spiral that leads to weight gain. Some people in distress experience weight loss, but this doesn’t mean the negative effects of the distress aren’t showing up elsewhere in their physical health. But this year 2019 is about weight loss, definitely for me and also in this show, so I’m going to specifically talk about a few ways that distress puts excess weight on many or perhaps even most of us.
Cortisol, a stress hormone, increases weight gain
The first thing to notice about distress is that it prompts your body to generate cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that your body produces when you’re under stress. It’s necessary for us because it’s part of our fight or flight response. If you were living in a cave and a wild animal was coming at you, cortisol would help you fight or flee and therefore it would help you live.
So like everything, cortisol is not inherently good or bad. It’s neutral. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not.
Once distress was gone back in our caveman days, your cortisol level would return to normal, and you’d function normally.
Why does a normal cortisol level matter? There’s a very long scientific explanation for why, but I found an explanation on restartmed.com that very nicely sums it up:: “High stress = high cortisol = high insulin = elevated blood sugar = weight gain (particularly in the belly).”
In other words, we want cortisol when it’s going to help us get energy into your muscles so you can fight or flee, but we don’t want it constantly, because then it leads to weight gain.
Most of us are constantly flooding our bodies with cortisol due to constant distress
Cortisol is a weight-gain stressor our bodies constantly produce when we’re in constant distress, and this is an issue for us now, because our modern-day “wild animals,” the things we perceive as going to kill us, are now with us all the time. We no longer encounter the occasional sabre-tooth tiger, escape, and then relax. Now our wild animals are constantly chasing us, in our minds at least it feels that way. The wild animals are the distress we find on the job. They’re the mortgage payment that feels like a gut punch every month. The credit card debt or student loans that grow larger rather than smaller, because we can’t keep up with the interest payments, and maybe we’ve even adding to the debt by borrowing additional money. A big wild animal for many of us these days is worrying about health insurance. There’s also worrying about how to pay for something that we think is critical to our survival that we don’t know how we’re going to pay for.
One of the biggest “wild animals” that entrepreneurs experience is the need and desire to make offers when their thoughts and feelings are in conflict with doing that. Asking someone to buy what we sell feels like death to many of us because we make it mean that our own social death is imminent, we think we’ll be rejected and ostracized, and we’ve evolved to believe that social death leads to actual death, because that’s often what used to happen—getting kicked out of the tribe meant getting kicked out of the cave, which meant certain death, and so in the context of not making offers, this fear leads to what I call “the corn chip problem.”
The “corn chip” problem: overeating in stressful situations
More than one entrepreneur I’ve worked with, people who otherwise have absolutely no issues with their weight or overeating, have reported to me that on the verge of making an offer, or even if they’re just writing the copy that will eventually constitute an offer, they find themselves standing in their kitchen or pantry, frantically shoving corn chips into their mouth. It’s always corn chips, and I don’t know why corn chips are the go-to in these situations, but they are, and I suspect it has something to do with the crunch.
And these are the folks who generally have no food abuse problems whatsoever. Entrepreneurs who do commonly use food as a go-to or a buffer experience the corn-chip problem on a much grander scale.
So here you have a one-two punch for your body. At the exact time your body is flooded with cortisol and creating the environment that’s just about perfect for weight gain, you’re adding fuel to the fire—excess food that also increases insulin and fat storage and weight gain.
Sleep Deprivation: Distress leads to lack of sleep and additional weight gain
And then we have the compounding effect of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation, when we’re in distress, is a problem because we often struggle to get sufficient, high-quality sleep, and this exacerbates the negative food spiral, because what do we do when we’re tired and trying to function? We reach for sugar and simple carbs to mix in with our cortisol and create additional weight gain. That’s the obvious part of sleep deprivation and how it contributes to weight gain.
What else happens? Webmd reports that lack of sleep leads to more, and more intense, food cravings, aside from just trying to cope with your own fatigue, because sleep deprivation increases your ghrelin (the “go” hormone that tells you it’s time to eat) and decreases your leptin, which is the hormone that tells you when to quit eating.
This perpetuates the vicious cycle of weight gain in the distressed entrepreneur, and this is why WebMD says that lack of sleep is like credit card debt—it creates a negative downward spiral that feeds itself and reinforces itself—left to its own devices, it only gets stronger. And in this respect, it is exactly like high interest payments on credit card debt that increase the debt even as you’re trying to pay it down.
Overeating is itself a form of distress
Another piece of this negative downward spiral is overeating itself. One thing that might not be super obvious here, at least it wasn’t to me until recently, is that overeating is itself a form of distress. As I’m working on eliminating overeating in all of its forms in my life, I noticed I had this going on:
I would think, about a particular circumstance or task in front of me, this is so stressful or I’m so stressed.
This thought would make me feel stressed, and I’d want to overeat, usually Cherry Garcia. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that at this point.
Then, if I took the action of overeating the ice cream or whatever it was, what was the result? My body is stressed by all that food, particularly sugar, that I didn’t need to consume.
This is why I say that if you’re going to shed weight, you’re going to have to eliminate distress from your body. I used to say the one thing was to stop overeating, but then I realized that overeating is just one form of distress that we inflict that causes weight gain.
Exercise can be eustress of distress
Now you may be asking, what about exercise? And what I have to say about this is that, as with everything, exercise is neutral. It can be a source for good or evil depending on what you do with it, and what I’d like to suggest here is that our common thought about exercise, more is better, as far as weight loss is concerned, is probably not serving us, because more exercise is often a great way to distress your body, interfere with your sleep, and create that insidious cocktail of weight-gain hormones that wreak havoc and pretty much guarantee that extra pounds will glom onto your body.
One of my friends was a serious triathlete. She did three Ironman Triathlons. If you aren’t familiar with that race, it’s a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, a and full marathon, 26.2 miles —in that order, without a break, all in the same day, and all within strict time constraints for each component of the race.
What happened while she was training for these races? Our conventional wisdom says that she should lose weight like crazy because she’s burning calories like crazy with all the running, biking, and swimming that she did leading up to each race, as she was training.
And that’s true, she was burning calories. But she wasn’t losing weight. She was gaining weight. Every Ironman she did, she had a distinct spare tire around her midriff—something she never has when she’s not training that hard—because the stress, or rather the distress, causes her weight-gain hormones to keep that extra fat on her body. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but it does happen. Oprah Winfrey reported gaining weight when she trained for her marathon, for example.
So what I see is that a lot of people, particularly women, are tempted to cut back to part-time work because they’re holding on to weight and they think they need to train harder and train more to get rid of that weight. And I have no problem with people cutting back to part-time work. A great way to boost your income is to constrain the number of hours that you’re going to work and get really creative about making them more lucrative for yourself. And then you get not just more money in your life, but more life in your life. But what I see when women think that training more, and training harder, is the answer ,and that’s the reason they cut back to working part time, is they get themselves going away from Rich & Thin and going toward broke and bulky, because they not only decrease their incomes by cutting back on their work by a significant amount, they also increase the stress on their bodies. If you’re holding on to excess weight and you think the solution is to work out harder and work less in your business or your job, what I’d like to offer is that you might need to do exactly the opposite. You might need to put less distress on your body by training in a less-intense way, and you don’t have to cut your income to accomplish that.
So those are some of the ways—sleep deprivation, cortisol, increase in hormones such as ghrelin and decrease in leptin which is a good hormone that tells you to stop eating—all of those are some ways that distress puts weight on your body.
Eliminate Distress, and Add Eustress, to Eliminate Weight
So what can we glean from this? What I hope you’re taking from this episode thus far is that if you eliminate distress, that goes a long way to eliminating excess weight on your body.
But you have to be careful about eliminating distress, because if you’re not careful, you also wind up eliminating eustress, and when you don’t have that good kind of stress and the positive growth that comes with it, that also can put weight on your body because you’re bored and you feel dead and stagnant and your life feels meaningless so you might as well eat or drink to excess.
So the formula is not just to remove all forms of stress from your life. I did that once. I checked in to a high-end weight-loss spa, it was $14 grand for 14 days and I lost 14 pounds. I dieted in that spa alongside movie stars and owners of major-league sports franchises and masters of industry. We had breakfast in bed and nightly tuck-in massage and in between those two things, all day for 14 days, we ate the perfect amount of food and we did the perfect amount of exercise. Just enough to connect with our bodies and feel energized, and never enough to activate our stress hormones. We did no work. We were just pampered and coddled and weight fell off of us.
Or most of us, anyway. Some of us took limos to fast food restaurants, to escape the distress of being in a spa where everything was so flipping boring. Some of us tried to force our bodies to adhere to a crazy-rigid, ultra-restrictive diet, other than the menu the spa offered, and lost no weight whatsoever.
For my part, I mostly didn’t find the first ten days in the spa distressing, I found them eustressing, if that’s a word, and I lost weight and when I left I felt like a movie star. I had the body I always dreamed of having. I was fairly thin at the time I went into the spa.
And what happened? I re-entered the real world, stepped right back into the circumstances that my mind found so distressing, and the weight piled right back on. And I also was pretty bored by the end of the two weeks. The last four days, I was itching to get out of there, and that’s when my brain started wondering, is anyone taking a limo to Burger King today? Because if they are, maybe I can hitch a ride.
I didn’t actually do that, but I felt my brain teetering into wanting to do that.
So the formula for losing weight is not to eliminate all forms of stress. Rather, it’s to decrease distress and add eustress.
Consider making offers in your business. If you make no offers or ineffective offers, that’s because you view them as distressing and what do you get when you’re distressed in your mind? You create distress, specifically, financial distress, in your life. You also may create distress in your body, i.e. excess weight, because financial distress leads to all manner of things that put weight on your body, some of which we listed earlier in this episode.
What do you get if you view making offers as an opportunity to grow and benefit not just yourself but others whom you serve? You get eustress, and when you’re in eustress, you create financial and business euphoria. Money coming in, your business growing, and your wealth growing, not just in financial terms but in terms of personal satisfaction of serving others, connection to other interesting people, your own confidence in your own abilities to manage your mind and achieve something will grow, and there are too many other wealth-generating aspects of that to list. Those are just a few.
So notice the parallels: distress creates “dis” in your life. Disappointment. Disrespect, of yourself and others. Disserving emotions, actions, and results. Disdain. Is a word that starts with “dis” ever a good thing? I don’t think so. Dis is a Latin root that means something having a primitive, negative or reversing force.
Notice also that eustress creates the “eus” in your life. Euphoria, for example, which is a state of intense happiness or confidence. Eustress also creates “Eureka” moments—the discoveries in which you learn things, such as how to create what you want and overcome obstacles. When you’re in eustress, good things happen. If you discover, for example, how to make an effective offer and you go out and make them, you’ll start feeling these things, and making some serious money, and feeling seriously lighter in your life and in your body. So here’s the big takeaway on eustress: it leads to all the words that begin with eu and signify good and amazing things, at least I can’t think of a single word that doesn’t, and this also makes sense, because “eu” is a “combining form meaning “good” or “well” and that often connotes the sense of something true and genuine.
How to create Less Distress and More Eustress
So now the question is, how do you create more eustress and less distress?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You get what you think, my friends. If you’re thinking thoughts that are distressing, you will feel distressed, and you’ll create distressing results. If you’re thinking thoughts that are about your own growth and benefit, such as growing and benefitting from your current circumstances, transforming yourself into the you that you are capable of being, rather than turning your circumstances such as “I need to make an offer” into a drama, a problem, or a tragedy, you’ll experience eustress.
The ability to do this is critical to creating wealth, because distress leads to all bad things, such as financial difficulties and excess weight, and eustress leads to all good things, such as the body you want and the business you want and ultimately the life you want.
If you can do this on your own, fantastic. If you are struggling, let me know if I can help. firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to richandthin.com where you can access my calendar and set up a time to have a free but very valuable chat with me so you can get some clarity on what’s vexing you, and we can see if there’s a fit in us working together so that you can get everything you want, and out from under everything you don’t want. I want this for all of us in 2019, so if you need some help I hope you take me up on this offer, and last, I just want to say thank you and I’ll talk to you next time.