Stressed AND Fat? – How To Smash Stress And Feel Like A Man Again! | BodyPhi

Stressed AND Fat? – How To Smash Stress And Feel Like A Man Again!


Oct 02

stress libido testosterone

Excessive stress will kill your sex drive faster than you can – for ... F*$%!_<<K sake!

PRIORITISE! Sacrificing a good night’s sleep leads to big stress and small fat loss!

How can you torch body fat if you’re physically ill due to chronic stress?

I can’t tell you the amount of times I have to tell people to sort out the stress in their lives before taking on the challenge of losing body fat.

Very quick story …

A guy with a shed-ton of stress in his life, including a rough break up and job redundancy leading to food becoming his therapy, approached me to help shift some body fat.

I instantly recommended tackling his stress with strategies I’ll cover below and scrap the idea of cutting calories and upping training.

My advice fell on deaf ears and he went away and pursued his idea alone. Within eight weeks he returned in a worse state than before.

This time though, he was ready to follow my small-win approach and deal with stress in his life for good. Two months later, stress under control, he was ready to confront the fat.

And what do you know? A 1–2 lbs loss per week – every single week. He lost fat like a champ, looked and felt great and was loving life again.

The killer strategy? Make stress management THE priority.

You need to be in the right place mentally to take on a body transformation!  #Stress #BodyPhi

Click to Tweet

I would point out that stress is a very normal and necessary part of being human – at the correct levels. [chart below]

Your morning caffeine hit, for instance, boosts attention and alertness to become more productive. Strength training too, by design, stresses your body in order to stimulate muscle growth.

Not a problem, if allow your body to recover, adapt and comes back stronger. Too much caffeine or overtraining? You end up spinning your wheels, if not worse – complete mel

stress performance optimal

The secret to good stress management

  • ​Give stress management priority status in your life.
  • Know the difference between good and bad stress.
  • Have stress-reducing habits that run daily on autopilot
  • Have strategies for emergencies to get you back in your zone

What is stress?

STRESS: A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

Fight or Flight

I’m sure you've heard of the fight or flight response, but just so we’re on the same page. It is a totally automatic physiological response to a perceived harmful attack or threat to survival.

When it kicks in your brain immediately signals the release of stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline and your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing increase. Your body goes on auto-pilot to save your life – you can’t control this, it’s instinct

stress fight or flight

It’s part of our human operating system and served your caveman ancestors perfectly. Encountering a pack of wolves while foraging, for instance – fight or flight saved lives. Any conscious thought about what to do and bye-bye caveman.

So how does modern-day stress figure here?

Thankfully, in modern-day life we seldom need to call on flight of fight to save our lives. When was the last time you encountered a wild animal with you as dinner in mind? Yeah - not so much.

Over time as our brains have evolved and threats have become way less obvious – they mostly aren’t even real anymore. What we mentally conjure in our minds, our brains can’t distinguish from reality.

We don’t risk death with: public speaking, seeing spiders, blood donation or crowded spaces, but our body still triggers fight or flight regardless. Our mundane lives have become littered with triggers that we’re all too often completely clueless about.

de-stress burnout

Let’s take this common situation:

You have to wake up too early, your commute to and from work is long and crowded.
Your boss is demanding and always chasing deadlines.
Your kids want constant attention from when you get in.
You finally go to bed at 11.30pm because you feel you’re a loser if you’re in bed before then.
Your alarm sounds at 5am – the cycle repeats and you feel like there’s no way out.

Of course these circumstances didn’t just suddenly manifest overnight, they evolved and you adjusted. You’re now in a state of chronic stress and feel helpless to make any positive dent in the situation.

Unless you are aware of what’s going on internally, the long-term effect of this build up can be totally debilitating – we get into chronic stress mode.

This is the type of stress you want to avoid at all costs. This is never good and can cause a cascade of psychological and physical problems.

Common Symptoms

The first step to getting a grip on the situation is awareness. Lets have a look at some typical symptoms:-

  • No Libido [1]
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Colds & Flu
  • Aches & Pains
  • Digestion Issues
  • Self-sabotage [2]
  • Overeating [3]
  • No Energy
  • Low Testosterone [4]
  • Disease and lack of wellbeing [5]

Your body is one big balancing act - when you mess up one part of the system, many other parts are thrown out of whack too.

And as I’ve said before: consistently executing many tiny GOOD habits leads to massive long-term SUCCESS. Remember though: consistently executing many tiny BAD habits leads to massive long-term STRESS.

Common Causes

Poor Sleep

I’m sure I don’t need to emphasise the importance of getting quality and enough sleep on your stress levels. However, did you know that studies show if your sleep is on point you could lose up to 55% more body fat than if you’re sleep deprived. [6]

stress better sleep

In fact, even in the short term, missing out on sleep jacks up your hunger hormones, making sticking to your nutrition plan much more difficult than it need be. [7]

Optimising your sleep not only smashes stress it kicks fat loss efforts out of the park too.

No Structure

The mental aspect of stress is by far the biggest part of the battle. As I mentioned before, we have the ability to think up stress without the need for any actual physical input.

Over-thinking and decision-making add to the problem – the more mental gymnastics and decisions you perform the more drained and therefore stressed you become.

Having structure and good daily habits is key to reducing the decision overload. Successful guys don’t have to think about their winning actions. They’re simply planned and automated.

Being organised and working to a plan is essential to avoid the trap of overworking, burnout and ever-rising stress.


To compound the effect of excess decision-making – adding conflict into the mix is a killer combo. “I want to drink less alcohol, but my mates will laugh at me.” – I hear this sort of thing all the time.

However, from personal experience I can’t tell you how liberating and empowering it is to “let go” of what others think. Being authentic and staying true to your identity is such a massive way to de-stress.


Junk Food

Guess what eating junk food does? Makes you want more of course! It’s deliberately designed with the perfect combination of sugar, fat, salt and enhancers to rewire how your brain reacts.[8]

Making it near impossible for many to choose sensible portions.

Firstly, you’ve got conflict going on. You know eating these foods in big quantities on a regular basis is just plain stupid. But rather than having one or two cookies, you enter “screw it mode” by thinking “Well I’ve blown it now – I may as well eat the entire packet.”

This self-sabotage temporarily relieves stress, but the follow-up guilt and internal dialogue just stress you out even more.


Secondly, the actual physical makeup of these fake foods stress your body.[9] They have next to no nutrient value and often contain a cocktail of flavour enhancers, colourants and artificial sugars.

Now, as you may know, I love a good cocktail – the alcoholic variety – not this science experiment large food manufacturers are running, with us as their lab rats!

Low Fiber

Lastly – and this is a biggie. Ask yourself – when was the last time your jaw-ached from smashing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or a supersize pack of Pringles. Yeah, didn’t think so.

But what’s up with this? Highly-processed food is utterly stripped of fibre – an essential element of a healthy gut. I’m not talking beer-belly here, I mean the inner workings of your digestion.

No fibre equals rubbish digestion and constipation – most guys get that. But did you know that where you digest food is also a big part of your immune system. Crappy immune system doesn’t do wonders for your stress levels, need I say more?

Fat Loss

Most guys usually fail to fully grasp how much stress they are inflicting on their bodies by eating less than it needs to lose weight.

Yes, you need to reduce calories to lose body fat, but your body never slips willing into under-eating mode and puts up all sorts of mental and physical barriers to halt the process. [10]

Why do you think you don’t see so many lean people walking around these days?

Your body is inherently programmed to associate fat loss with stressful situations, such as lack of food due to famine. Your body uses its fat reserves to cope with these stress.

But it’s a two-way street. As much as famine is stressful to your body – your idea of shifting some fat intentionally by under-eating triggers the exact same stress response. The mere thought of under-eating is stressful.

The key is to ease your body into fat loss, not force it into a state of panic and stress.

“Coax the body and it will respond, shock the body and it will react”
~Scott Abel

Being Overweight & Overeating

On the flip side overeating and carrying around excess body fat is a huge stress too. Your joints, digestion, internal organs and mindset all take a beating from being overweight.

Shedding some pounds definitely equals instant stress relief, just be mindful of my previous point and manage your stress to smash fat loss not the other way round!

How To Small-Win Stress Out Of Your Life

Just as washing and changing your clothes are daily habits, so too do you need to install daily de-stressing routines. Below are some ideas to get you started using my small-win strategy.

Briefly, the idea is to start with “impossible to fail” stuff that takes zero willpower, but if performed daily develop into lifelong stress busting habits that are fully automated. Check out the full guide here.

Plan Ahead

Discipline = Freedom right? Spending a few minutes in the evening getting your bag, keys, wallet etc. together, will save you a whole heap of mental stress first thing in the morning.

Only shop for food using a pre-planned list. I can’t tell you how important this is! Treat the supermarket visit like a military maneuver – you’re on a mission to rescue “real” food. No willpower, no decisions, no self-sabotage and most importantly no stress!



Adopt the “One-minute Rule”: if any task can be done in under a minute just do it! Can be applied to a boat-load of tasks that if left cause unnecessary stress:-

responding to an email- hanging up coats- filing or paying bills- washing up mugs and glasses- putting dirty clothes in the basket- making your bed

Only Eat When You’re Hungry

When you feel stress setting in and you find yourself thinking about a donut - experiment with a distraction technique such as, catching up on social or going outside for a walk. Retraining your hunger signals is SO important – I’ve dedicated a whole article to it here.

Destress Your Surroundings

Optimise your kitchen so you’re not tempted to make bad decisions when willpower is low, like after a long day at work. Keep food out of sight – it’s a place to prepare your food for fuel, not a pick ‘n mix area to regulate your mood.

If you know {insert kryptonite food} is beyond your restraint, guess what - don’t bring a self-sabotage bomb like that into your home. The stress and blow to your self-worth just ain’t worth it!

Mindful Meeting

When dining: no phones, no TV, no distraction – just you and your partner or friends enjoying each others company. Sounds crazy right?


Ditch The Junk

You don’t need to scrap everything at once – start small. You can switch one item per day:-

  • fruit for donut
  • water for fizzy sugary drink
  • veggies for fries
  • nuts for chocolate

Calm Down

You can’t fight stress with more stimulating stress – hitting Starbucks four times a day? Getting over stimmed won’t leave you feeling better in the long run. Limit caffeine to before noon then switch to decaf or even better – water to compensate for the dehydrating effects of coffee.


Here's the daddy of all destressors – the more the better. You can’t overdose on this. Nothing weird or complicated, just some chill time. Here’s a super-simple idea to small-win into your day.

Ten deep breaths: Inhale to a count of three, hold your breath for a count of three, exhale for three. It takes two minutes. Simple!

The Headspace app is also excellent. Download and enter your zone.


Can't go wrong with this one! The simplest and most available stress-reducing activities there is. Search out your small wins at every opportunity. Can you:-

  • park further away
  • avoid the travelator
  • take the stairs
  • exit your cab further away
  • instigate walking meetings
  • shop at the mall instead of online
  • walk around while on the phone


stress yoga

Go on – take the plunge and try a yoga class. The metal clarity and stress relief far outweighs being out of your comfort zone.


Remember that no phones thing again? Try having a conversation … like face to face ... it can happen.

Sleep Routine

Same time to bed every night – fix a time and stick to it. No phones, laptops or other distractions in the bedroom. Be calm and entered – wake up refreshed.

Get Your Groove On

Music is awesome for relaxation. Up tempo or chill doesn’t matter – a five-minute sound session does wonders for stress levels. Headphones on. World off. Make time for YOU every day!


Get Naked

Vitamin D has been shown to help decrease stress! [11] Sun exposure is the BEST way to boost your levels; expose as much skin as possible around noon to get maximum benefits.

Vitamin D is also excellent for your testosterone levels. Do you need any other reasons?

Stress busting when it sneaks up!

Having sound daily measures to prevent stress is key to greatly reducing overall stress. Prevention is absolutely better than cure, however, this is the real world and shit happens. Here are some on-the-spot ways to deal with it.

It’s key to remember that stress is 98% in your head and can be dissolved by adopting a different attitude. I often hear guys say “Work is stressful”, if this was the case, everyone there would be stressed 100% of the time.

This is obviously not true. Some suffer more than others and some are never stressed – the thoughts we choose cause stress NOT people or places. Not saying it’s easy, but knowing you can choose what you think is massive!​


Just Breathe

So simple yet unbelievably powerful. Just 3–5 breaths as detailed previously gives you a chance to get back on track. Think: “What dumb-ass thoughts are playing in my head?”

Hit The Pause Button

Are you actually physically tired and don’t realise it? Taking a 10-minute nap can recharge your batteries and relief stress.

Take A "Mind" Nap

Just as thoughts can cause stress, so too can they create balance and happiness. Practise simple visualisation of past or future happy events - sort of like deliberated daydreaming.

Pour in as much different types of imagined sensations as possible: touch, smell, taste, temperature, colour, sound – escape stress to your virtual mindscape.

Happy List

Think of this as stress-busting ammo. A list of simple things that instantly lift your mood. It’s good to have it on your phone or on a card for quick access as you may struggle to remember when under pressure.

My Very Own Stress Reliever


When I was younger my mum would tell me:

“When presented with a stressful situation, put an imaginary lazer around yourself so nothing can touch you – no negativity, problems or anything can break inside”

This enabled me to focus on what I was doing and put things into perspective. It’s a technique I still use to this day and have had great success with my clients also.


Be Proactive – use daily small-win solutions to build lifelong habits to combat stress.

Stress First Aid – arm yourself with strategies for getting back in your zone when life throws a curved ball.

Manage Stress First – stress plays a major part in your health, happiness and weight control.

Postpone Fat Loss – sort out your stress before tackling fat loss