“I’m lifting heavy, eating perfectly and still I have this extra weight around my abdomen that just won’t budge. I lift a little more and cut out a few extra carbs. Now I can’t sleep. But I’m working so hard, what the hell is going on? I’m tapped out. Over trained. Freaking tired. Where has all this great training and programming taken me. I find myself slowly spiraling down to a place of depletion and fatigue. My cortisol levels are through the roof.”
What exactly is cortisol? It is referred to as the “stress hormone.” The intensity of exercise determines the amount of cortisol the body produces. But, we love what high intensity training does for our body composition and overall fitness levels. The fact is, sprinting and lifting heavy weights increase cortisol. We walk a fine line as we try to determine what is a good and bad stress on our mind, body and spirit. We have all dealt with elevated cortisol levels, but just may have not known exactly what it was.
Higher levels of cortisol are elicited during the fight or flight response and have been correlated to:
-Brain fog, impaired cognitive performance, stress, decreased muscle tissue, blood sugar imbalances, increased abdominal fat, leads to adrenal fatigue
Walking, yoga and milder forms of exercise minimize the production of cortisol.
The good news is healthy cortisol levels elicit energy, healthy response to stress, heightened memory function, burst of increased immunity, maintain homeostasis in the body.
How do we control our cortisol from getting out of control? SLOW DOWN and STOP STRESSING OUT. Easier said than done, right? Meditate, walk, Tai-Chi, Yoga. Have you recognized how good your over health feels when you’re on vacation? You allow your entire “being” to rest. The answer to lowering your cortisol may just be as simple as exercising less. I know thats the last thing any of us want to hear.
Take a minute to assess what will serve your body best right now? What will make me operate at my most optimal self? Will going harder and more intense lead me closer or further away from my goals?
Here are some simple tips on how to lower your cortisol levels:
Breathe. Take the time to sit with yourself and breath.
Positivity. Radiate your positivity as you go through your day.
Visualize. Visualize your BEST self.
Micro goals. How will you control your stress?
But, I’m a explosive athlete at heart! I struggle with slowing down. Lowering my intensity, mind & body has personally been my greatest challenge of all. I defer to my Coach often to keep me accountable. I’ve recently had my programming designed to lift less weight, as I recognize lifting extremely heavy everyday was literally tearing me apart. I am now sleeping throughout the night. Getting solid rest. Taking 2 rest days and incorporating more active recovery (yoga, beach walks, long rucks, hiking). I have recognized that these small tweaks to my training schedule serve my body best. I have tapped into a new energy source. My brain is firing clearly. I am working towards my most optimum self and it feels amazing! Hooyah!
About the Author:
Still have questions? Need a coach to help guide you? Hit me up: [email protected]
Danielle Faith is an online health coach. Focusing on nutrition for greater mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Her expertise is creating new healthy habits that turn into rituals and routines to align with your goals. She works with high level CEO’s who travel, stay at home parents, retired/active duty military with adrenal fatigue & PTSD, addiction, as well as professional fighters during weight cuts. DanielleFaithGordon.com