It’s common for police officers to gain weight around their belly the longer they are on the job.
I know many police officers who work out on a regular basis and try to watch what they are eat. This is not an easy task on a shift schedule.
The other day I had a colleague of my husbands message me in frustration.
He eats very healthy, gets 10 000 steps in a day and works out consistently.
The past few years weight has been creeping onto his mid-section.
No matter how much he’s worked on his exercise and nutrition it is not going away.
Instead it’s slowly increasing!
This is a common complaint, so I thought I would tell you why this is happening and how you can fix it.
Stress is fascinating. We’ve evolved through time, but our adrenals which manage stress have not changed since caveman days. The stress response that worked back then, don’t fit with the way our lives work now. This is a huge problem.
Back in the day, our stresses were physical stressors.
Now there are 5 Different Root Causes of Stress.
Caveman Stress Triggers
Stress used to be caused by things like being chased by a bear or a lion or whatever the case may be.
Our bodies reaction to stress is to shut down the systems it doesn’t need to save energy for things it needs. And it send glucose (sugar made from our food) and cortisol (a stress hormone) to give us energy to fight or flight.
Back then, stress was all about survival.
Stress Triggers Now
Our bodies have not adapted to modern stress. It thinks that every stress situation is like being chased by a lion.
Shift work – Your body doesn’t know when to sleep and when to be awake
Nutritional stress – not eating the right things to give you optimal energy
Physical – working out too much when your body is tired from shifts and can’t recover properly
Environmental – taking in too many toxins and toxics in your day
Mental – blue lights on our devises stress our brains, worrying about day to day things , a sick child or elderly parent, finances, not connecting well with your boss or coworkers, being late for work and worrying about everyone you help day in and day out on the job or not being able to get a traumatic event out of your head.
These stresses all elicit the same response as being chased by a lion. The same response you have every time you rush to a 911 call.
Glucose (sugar) is sent to your muscles to have energy to fight or flight.
So why the belly fat?
Over time your brain that elicits your stress response tells your body that it should store more glucose. It’s all about supply and demand.
Your body stores the glucose in your belly fat where it can access it quickly and easily.
No matter how much you diet or exercise your body is not going to give up that belly fat. It’s saving it for the fight or flight.
Emotional stress can go on for days, weeks, months or years. Your stress response never gets a break. There’s a constant cycle of high blood sugar, fat storage, and carb cravings. Resulting in belly fat that just won’t go away. No matter how much you watch what you eat and change up your work outs.
Some stress you don’t have control over, but some you do. Making lifestyle changes that teach you how to to adjust your body to shift work can make a world of difference. These changes help you sleep when you need and stay asleep, eat on shift to reduce the sugar roller coaster, turn off your stress system as soon as a call is over so it stops pumping out glucose and more…
I’m here to help.
Join my Free 911 Stress Management Group . Every week I teach you a new tip or trick to reverse the effects of shift work and stress on your body, so you can sleep better, have more energy and prevent burn out.
Keep an eye out for my next program launch. It will take you on a deeper dive than what we do in the group.
To get on the list and be the first to know when the next launch is sign up for my newsletter here.
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.
About the Author
Andi Clark is a mom, wife of a Police Officer and the founder of 911 Lifestyle.
Andi suffers from a genetic stress condition that puts her body in an increased stress response state all the time, similar to what Police Officers and First Responders experience when they put on their uniform and have to mentally prepare for whatever may happen in their day.
Through years of research and studying, Andi formulated a completely different way to look at and handle burnout. One where it is possible to reverse and prevent an officer from getting to a point where they struggle to get through their days by taking a preventative approach instead of a reactive one. And one that reduces the negative effects of shift work on the body.
Through her husbands career as an officer her focus has been on preventing burnout, exhaustion and tanked immune system that she knew can result from poorly managed stress, not to mention the toll things take on family life.
As she watched his co-workers struggle with everything from sleep, exhaustion and anger leading to divorce, PTSD and even suicide it became apparent how LIFE-SAVING the foundations she was laying down for her husband actually were, because not only was he tolerating the shiftwork lifestyle, he was thriving in it.
Andi knew that the strategies her husband was using MUST become available to all Police Officers and other First Responders. She couldn’t watch others suffering when she knew there was a solution. And 911 Lifestyle was born.