This week on Instagram, we talked about belly fat and the potential negative side effects of ineffectively managing cortisol. I highly recommend testing your cortisol levels either with blood work or a saliva test. I will leave links to both options at the bottom of this blog.
It has been found that when cortisol is moderately high over time create a bevy of negative side effects such as tiredness, weight gain, high blood pressure, impaired brain function, and makes you more susceptible to infections by compromising your immune system.
To naturally lower cortisol, it is imperative to get adequate rest. Sleep is very underrated in the fitness community. Many will often sacrifice sleep to train. Prioritizing rest will increase the speed of your results.
To improve your quality of sleep, consider a bedtime ritual. Change your phone to nightshift mode to avoid disturbances or trouble sleeping from the blue light of the phone. Keep the temperature in your room cool to maximize your quality of sleep. Darken the room. Using white noise can help tremendously. I sleep with this white noise maker (I travel with it as well!)
Get moving. Although intense exercise will increase cortisol short-term, it will reduce overall levels long-term. Mild to moderate exercise three times per week is sufficient to make a positive impact.
Focus on reducing stress by utilizing stress management techniques. Change your thought patterns. I love Touchpoints, and I am a fan of the Headspace application to begin meditation. Control your mind and change your life!
Maintain healthy relationships and set appropriate boundaries. Setting boundaries are key to managing stress and forging positive, resentment-free relationships. Don’t take on more than you WANT to handle. Do not base your decisions on what you “can” do, but what is appropriate for your schedule to maintain balance and self-care. When you say “no” to others, you are often saying “yes” to yourself.
Organize your space to increase productivity and reduce stress. Start with your home, room by room, and move to your car and office (if applicable).
Get your nutrition right then supplement accordingly. Nothing will fix a poor diet. Keeping your total calories in check will naturally lower your sugar intake which is beneficial for cortisol levels. Hydrate appropriately. Fruit, small portions of dark chocolate, a starchy meal in the evening, pro and prebiotics can help in reducing your cortisol levels.
Have your hormones tested. Maintaining sex hormone balance is also key to managing cortisol. (see links at the bottom of this blog for testing) As we age, our hormones change. The amount of body fat we carry effects our hormones. Finding a healthy BMI for you is key.
Supplement smartly! Magnesium can boost DHEA which in turn positively effects cortisol. Magnesium and Vitamin D deficiencies are common in the United States. L- theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that promotes relaxation and cognitive concentration. I also love 5HPT for stress management.
Remember to take a holistic approach to your fitness journey. What external factors impact your stress levels? What foods are you consuming? Are you in alignment and at peace? Are you sleeping well? Are you deficient in any vitamins or minerals? How is your digestion? The answers to these questions will enable you to choose the best strategy to improve your quality of life.
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