Written by Emily Schromm | Photo by Jaclyn Wolf
How many of you have been here before: you’re cranking up your fitness efforts, the dumbbells are moving, sprints are happening, macros are being calculated, but the measurements? Stagnant. You’re doing everything you can in and out of the gym but oh-my-gawd, where are the results?
Guys, we need to talk about cortisol. The hormone released by our adrenals that tells the body to adapt to stress and run away from scary situations can easily go haywire in this hectic, chronically stressful day and age. Physiologically, cortisol is an incredible tool that signals your body when it’s low on glucose, the fuel that is required to run from a predator, increase focus and heart rate, and do whatever is necessary to survive.
But here’s where things get complicated. During a short, intense workout, this hormone is released. During long, steady-state workouts, this hormone is released. When we skip breakfast then work out, this hormone is released. When we get into an argument with someone, experience tragedy, have a bad day at work, or even get stuck in traffic, this hormone is released. Seeing a pattern?
We are constantly tapping into our adrenals and our cortisol. This amazing adaptation technique that our body is equipped with is being overused, the consequences of which can include chronic injuries, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, belly fat, hormone disruption and yes, the inability to lose weight.
So what can you do about it? Try these steps that have greatly helped me and my clients deal with excess cortisol and the cycle of high stress: