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I've been battling with depression and anxiety since my teenage years (I'm 21 now). I'm also overweight. I tried everything to lose weight, but without success. Two months ago, I found a positive routine and I started eating well and exercising ever since. I lost couple of pounds, but I quickly gained them back during stressful period and apparent thanks to high levels of cortisol. I go back to the same diet regime (I even eat less) and same workout routine, but now they don't help. Belly fat is the most stubborn part. Is losing eight and belly fat really this hard with stress and depression? Should I continue with weight loss or wait for cortisol levels to drop down first?

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Hi. Yes, it's true. Having a high cortisol levels will make it difficult to lose weight. Also, prolonged or stenous exercise may increase your levels of cortisol, because, you are stressing your body. Stress and anxiety have the same effect, i.e. they may elevate cortisol levels in your body. However, you shouldn't stop exercising. You just have to exercise less. Exercise is very important for controlling long-term stress and for weight loss. So stopping exercising doesn't mean you'll lower cortisol levels. Just be sure to eat healthy snacks immediately after your workout, such as an apple, because it will decrease your cortisol levels. Also avoid coffee or caffeinated beverages. Caffeine increases cortisol levels.

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