Most people think of stress as an unwanted feeling or experience in our bodies and lives. Yet, stress has become as common as the common cold. It is normal and accepted to respond to a simple, “Hey, how was your day” with the answer of, “Stressful.” The person will most likely give an empathetic nod and perhaps describe their day as the same.

When I was preparing for my wedding, people often asked me if I was stressed out. But I wasn’t. I refused to be. Did I have other emotions prior to planning and preparing a wedding for 100+ guests? Of course, but stressed is a word I have removed from my vocabulary, and here is why.

Stress to the body is “fight or flight.” Since most people describe commonplace events as stressful, such as work, family, daily activities, or any other obligations, the perception of stress is most likely not something you can flee from. That means you have given your body no other choice but to fight – except you can’t fight off your stressful work environment or your stressful thoughts so the body is then forced to deal with it. The results are fatigue, disease, pain, and, of course, weight gain.

When your body is busy fighting off your metaphorical bear in the woods, it is not worried about digesting food, metabolizing optimally, or burning fat. It’s storing fat in case you are running from that bear for months or years. Therefore, no matter how healthy or little you are eating, and how vigorously or consistently you are moving, your body is storing.

So you look at that scale each week while you are doing everything the experts are saying to do, and it either stays the same, or worse, moves up. What can you do about it?

It’s simple, really: relax.

Why isn’t relaxing simple for most of us? Because many of us have created a connection in our minds between relaxing and laziness. We think: If I am not doing something, I am, in turn, doing nothing. And if I am doing nothing, I am lazy. And for many of us, lazy is the thing we are most afraid of.

When your body is in a state of relaxation, it is able to heal. When your body is in a state of relaxation and healing, it burns fat and transforms. This is why fitness experts communicate the importance of rest days. When you are working out, your body needs rest days to heal and grow stronger. If you never give it that opportunity, you end up exhausted and/or injured.

If weight loss is an important goal for you, there is nothing more important than learning how to relax.

  • When you are eating food, relax so you can digest it optimally.

  • When you are going through your day, adopt relaxing thoughts about food, exercise, and your body so you can metabolize properly.

  • When you are living your life, balance all your “doing” with a whole lot of “being,” in order to give your body the chance to burn fat.

And if you struggle with the perception that relaxation equals laziness, it’s time to check in with that belief and ask yourself: Is this really true? Is it really serving me? And is it working?

Michelle Hastie is a weight loss coach with a background in personal training, food psychology, neuro-linguistic programming, and yoga. She has been blessed with the gift of transforming lives, one body at a time, through Total Body Health Solutions.

Hastie also helps people learn about and love their bodies through her Absolute Love Publishing books, “The Weight Loss Shift: Be More, Weigh Less” and “The Chakra Secret: What Your Body Is Telling You.” In addition, she is a contributor to “Women Will Save the World.”