Cortisol Levels Rising

Cortisol is naturally released in the body in response to stress. There isn’t a specific kind of stress that cortisol is related to, it can be anything from a traumatic accident to walking up a flight of stairs. High levels of Cortisol make it easy for the body to store fats, retain water, and lower immunity–you know that spare tire around your mid-section [I will begrudgingly call it the “pooch” as so many other do, but for whatever reason I HATE that word]? That could be because of high levels of Cortisol.

Some signs that you might have high Cortisol levels: w

  • eight gain, moodiness, muscular or skeletal weakness, high blood pressure, blood-sugar issues, and problems sleeping. 

    I’m being extra careful to combat my stress right now. My partner and his ex are going through a custody dispute (no end in sight) and tensions are running high. This could explain why I’ve had a sinus infection for the past two weeks, just after recovering from a nasty bout of cold/flu, and why I’ve needed some help sleeping in the past month.

 

Prevention.com has a good article on cutting your Cortisol levels, you can read it here.

I have some of my own ways to deal with stress and the accompanying overdose of Cortisol:

1. Workout: I feel better when I workout, it’s a great way to get my mind off whatever it is that is bothering me.

2. Yoga: A different kind of strenuous from lifting and sprinting, Yoga has the ability to make me feel relaxed and refreshed. I love Yin Yoga for this reason and I find the temperature in a Hot Yoga studio to be very therapeutic.

3. Watch a “Safety” Show. Okay, so this isn’t the best solution, but I find that it does help me shake a mood. I define a safety show as a non-controversial show where the characters nearly always come out on top and the plot is mostly predictable. They do not challenge your views of the world in any way. Examples of good safety shows are: Gilmore Girls, Friends, Golden Girls, Alf, Saved by the Bell, Will & Grace, Full House, I Love Lucy, Leave It to Beaver, The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, Drop Dead Diva. 

4. Go For a Tan. Okay, I know, you’re thinking it’s not the best choice to purposefully expose yourself to UV rays. I’m not telling you to turn yourself into a jerky; I’m suggesting going outside into the sun and lying out in the grass or on some sand, with no plans beyond doing just that. 

5. Magnesium. I have an extra dose of magnesium with my supplement mix, it is supposed to help the body combat high Cortisol levels.

6. Fish Oils. I take liquid fish oils in the middle of the day (yes, they are extremely yucky), they too are supposed to help with symptoms of stress.

7. Boss naps. The Prevention.com article did mention sleep and napping as an effective way of lowering Cortisol, but I’ll reiterate. There is nothing like having a little cat nap in the middle of your day to make you feel refreshed. I’m not talking about a 3-hour tour kind of nap, just a 45 minute eyelid rest. Thomas Edison had a cot in his laboratory for these kind of occasions, maybe you should, too.

 

Bad Gym Days

We all have them: those days where you feel like you aren’t strong enough, fast enough, or good enough. I had one of those yesterday. I completed every set, every rep, and even did a few extras to show-off. I challenged myself and pushed hard. The wheels started spinning during my last set–I couldn’t stand being in my own skin for another minute. I started thinking about all the little cheats that I’ve been allowing myself here and there…the near 15-year love-affair with cigarettes…the booze…the wasted hang-over days…the overall pollution to which I’ve subjected myself.

Yeah, it was a real bummer.

Instead of loving myself for making positive changes and being dedicated, I was beating myself up for the things in the past that I can’t possibly change. This was totally counter-productive; I know this innately, but hearing it from my partner, during a much-needed pep-talk, helped.

I’ve decided that I need to be proactive when it comes to combatting a negative outlook during this journey to competition day, here are a few strategies I’m going to employ:

1. Yoga. I find yoga makes me feel connected in mind and body and I am able to shut out nearly every thought that doesn’t have to do with my immediate physical situation. Karma classes at Moksha are in order.

2. Organization. I’m feeling cluttered on a lot of levels right now. I’m going to pare down my worldly possessions and find a home for all of them. Keeping my stuff in order will maybe help me feel more prepared to compete.

3. Present-mindedness. A conscious effort needs to be made to stop planning for the future, quit reflecting on the past, and just stay in the moment. This applies to all areas of my life.

4. More fun. Why so serious? It’s time to do a few pelvic thrusts in life’s general direction, get the lead out,  and shake the cobwebs out from betwixt my ears. I have a trip to Montreal happening this week, I think it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Today was a better gym day; I kept picturing myself on stage and imagining the feeling of accomplishment that will wash over me when I win first-place.