Is Stress Sabotaging Your Diet and Fitness Goals?

Stress sabotaging diet

Note from Dr. Axe: Here’s an article from my good friend Dr. Alex Loyd, author of the new book Beyond Willpower: The Secret Principle to Achieving Success in Life, Love, and Happiness. Enjoy his message about how to heal both mind and spirit.

At any given moment, every one of your trillions of cells is either in growth or stress mode. Science has proven that stress, or internal fear as it’s also known, is the primary source of virtually every problem we encounter — physical, spiritual, emotional and even circumstantial. New research has shown that fear is literally programmed into us at the cellular level, which is why most of us are unable to turn off our stress response using willpower alone. 

We literally have two mechanisms in our brains: one that turns on and virtually guarantees success, health and happiness; and the other that starts creating failure, stress and myriad health problems. 

According to research from Harvard and Stanford, when this failure mechanism is turned on in your brain, you can experience negative health effects that range from depression and high blood pressure to illness, insomnia and poor digestion. It makes it extremely difficult to be happy, healthy and successful. When a cell is in growth mode, it remains open and absorbs nutrition, oxygen and energy — the cell releases toxins and wastes, and it reproduces. It’s also impervious to disease.

However, when a cell is in stress mode, it’s closed, doesn’t absorb nutrition, or release toxins and waste. It becomes both energy- and oxygen-deficient, and it’s much more likely to manifest into a disease gene.

How Stress Affects Your Health Goals


1. Stress keeps the cell from absorbing nutrition, oxygenation and hydration. In some cases, you could almost overdose on a particular healthy nutrient, and the cells that need it will remain deficient. By turning the cell into growth mode, the nutrient will do the work it’s meant to do.

2. Cells in stress mode cause us to crave things that can sabotage our health, including junk foods. It can also cause depression, anger, and lead to drug and alcohol abuse.

3. Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” regulates many of the changes that occur in our body in response to stress. When cortisol levels are raised, due to too much stress, it can affect your  metabolism as well as your chemical and emotional balance. It also causes fat to be stored instead of used. 


1. Stress makes concentration difficult, dramatically decreases motivation and impairs memory (short and long-term). This makes every task more difficult, and, therefore, our inclination is to avoid as many of those tasks as possible.

2. Stress impairs our motor skills and coordination, again making fitness harder, less enjoyable and more than likely more difficult. 

 3. Researchers have found that among people starting the same fitness regimens, the more stressed individuals were, the less their gains from the same workout. 

4. Stress slows normal recovery from exercise, plus it increases the probability and frequency of injury.  

My new book, Beyond Willpower: The Secret Principle to Achieving Success in Life, Love, and Happiness, is a 40-day blueprint to eliminate the source of internal stress, and create internal peace – chemically, emotionally, mentally and physically.

The truth is that the typical personal improvement mantra of tapping into your willpower and activating the power of positive thinking is actually a recipe for failure.

Why is that, you might ask? Well, I asked myself that same question after trying numerous programs. After more than 25 years of clinical experience, I discovered the answer, which is that success is beyond willpower. 

In order to succeed and find happiness and health, you need to change your cellular programming from fear (or stress) to love, which triggers a natural chemical reaction that fuels you for your best success. In my new book, Beyond Willpower, I outline a proven, holistic program to help you do just that. The end result is not only optimal health and energy, but also happiness, success and fabulous relationships.

Find out Tuesday — at 11:30 a.m. Central Time — how to minimize stress and train your cells to be in growth mode, as well as maximize your health and fitness goals.

Josh Axe

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