The Surprising Reason You May Have Trouble Losing Weight – The Rungry Health Coach

Ever done everything ‘right’ when you’re trying to lose weight, and been frustrated at what seems like an endless plateau? Today Beth Roessner, aka The Rungry Health Coach, shares the impact of stress on your system, and a possible reason you may have trouble losing weight. (And if you’re looking for ways to stress less, I shared 20 ways you can reduce stress in your life here!) If you’re struggling with a weight loss goal and you deal with stress in your life, it’s worth following Beth’s advice below!

Also, be sure to check out Beth’s other guest posts for Fine Fit Day here:

Breaking Out of the Should Trap

The Smoothie Makeover

In Defense of Grains

Pre- and Post-Run Nutrition Tips 

What Are Probiotics? And Why Do You Need Them?

5 Best Foods for Runners

The Surprising Reason You May Have Trouble Losing Weight - advice from The Rungry Health Coach on the lifestyle factor that can negatively affect your weight loss goals

You’re doing everything right:
You exercise four to five days per week.
You eat most of your meals at home.
You eat so many vegetables, you feel carrots coming out your ears.
You eat until you’re about 80 percent full, and make it a point to not overstuff yourself.
You limit desserts and alcohol, but still indulge every now and then.
You journal, sleep well and practice positivity. 

And yet….

That damn scale isn’t budging! (And hasn’t budged in weeks! Gahhhh!)

WHAT’S THE DEAL?! Simple…You’re stress levels could be so high that they’re inferring with your hormones.

The body’s main stress hormone is cortisol, and it does play a role into weight gain. Cortisol is our body’s “flight or fight response”–if our body perceives something as threatening, cortisol is released into the body. 

But we don’t face danger everyday. We don’t have lions or wooly mammoths chasing us. Despite no longer having these threats our body can misinterpret the signals resulting in the release of cortisol into the bloodstream. If we’re constantly stressed, it’s possible to have chronically high cortisol levels. 

New research suggests that when our cortisol levels are high, it can cause excess fat storage around the tummy or an increase in appetite. It could also increase the consumption of sugar and fat. All these factors could contribute to weight gain.

How do you know if you have high cortisol? Do any of these sound familiar? 

Digestive issues
Zero sex drive
Menstrual abnormalities
Back pain
Acne and/or poor skin healing
Weight gain
Feelings of anxiety, irritability or sadness
Poor sleep
Swelling in the hands and feet
Common colds
Thyroid conditions
Hormonal imbalances

To treat high cortisol levels correctly, it’s important to get to the root cause of the problem. Although you could take something to help lower your cortisol levels, lifestyle changes and understanding the cause help prevent further health issues.

Take time to jot down what stresses you out. Is it your job? Your home life? Does your commute leave you fatigued and anxious? Are you running and workout out too much? Explore what could be causing your high stress levels. Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can take steps to correcting the issue and getting it under control.

In order to reduce cortisol levels, some lifestyle tweaks may be needed. Continued yoga, getting outdoors, time management, meditation, positivity, exercise and other forms of relaxation could help reduce cortisol levels. (You could even go so far as to schedule a time to relax!) A more positive outlook and even seeking emotional support are also positive lifestyle changes. 

A diet rich in lean proteins and high fiber, and lower in carbohydrates could help. Also, eating in regular intervals. Healthful supplements include vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, glutamine, l-theanine and omega-3 fatty acids. (Do consult a doctor/dietitian/nutritionist/health coach if you have any questions on natural supplements and herbs.)

And, try limiting the consumption of stimulants like tea, Excedrin, coffee, energy drinks, Midol, etc.

Once under control, even cortisol levels can help you lead a more healthful and nourishing life. It can stave off adrenal fatigue and other serious health conditions down the road. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be less stressed?

(As cortisol levels change throughout the day, it is important to get those tested if you are afraid you suffer from chronically high cortisol. Talk to your doctor about performing a test.)

The Rungry Health Coach - Smoothie MakeoverBeth Roessner is a one-time couch potato turned avid runner, triathlete and wellness warrior. Through her business, The Rungry Health Coach, she works with adults around the country to help them reach all of their wellness and running goals–from weight loss to boosting a runner’s mental game. She firmly believes that overall wellness is about small changes that help create sustainable habits. Beth lives in Washington DC, where she enjoys morning runs around the monuments, and eating a lot of vegetables.

If you’d like to connect with Beth, you can find her on The Rungry Health Coach, on Facebook and on Instagram.


  1. great article, stress can really hamper your weight loss results. i instantly have increased food cravings when i am stressed.