I need this reminder for myself too…. RELAX. Sit back. Catch some zzzz’s…. read a book. Enjoy your kids.

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Are you feeling STRESSED? Tired? Overworked? Confused on if you should run an hour a day or not at all or do three workouts a day and eat 1200 calories a day to lose weight?

Relax.

Rachel-Vanoven-Photography-v3Photo taken by Rachel Vanoven Photography

Here are some facts for you. The body responds to a stressful environment…and one of these ways that it responds is by releasing the hormone cortisol. Something I learned in physiology class in college…and through my nutrition studies…Cortisol has lots of bodily functions.. it’s involved in glycogenesis, and in pregnancy it is involved in aiding the formation of lung surfactant in infants. However, increased levels of cortisol in the body are also linked to obesity and metabolic disorders. What happens when your body produces too much cortisol? According to Wikipedia,  Research is still being done in this area… but one thing keeps popping up in literature…. too much cortisol is associated with increased blood pressure, weight gain, high stress levels, fertility issues, sleep deprivation, and trauma. Bottom line? You don’t want your cortisol levels to be out of whack if you are trying to lose weight or just generally lead a healthy lifestyle.

Some ways you can help keep your levels stable…

1. Keep your workouts under an hour… past that, cortisol levels increase which can have the opposite effect of what you are trying to accomplish. Too much cardio can also stimulate cortisol levels to rise. Proper nutrition if you are training for a specific event can help balance this level out. Make sure you are eating enough and a well balanced diet.

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2. Speaking of balanced diet.. eating smaller meals throughout the day rather than a couple of huge meals is linked to keeping your cortisol levels stable.

3. Cortisol levels are generally higher in the morning hours, and then level out throughout the day….so EAT BREAKFAST so your body can figure out the insulin production efficiently.

4. Relax. Take a bath, read a book, go for a walk. Research shows that a massage, laughter, music…. a movie with someone you love… all of these things REDUCE stress and the cortisol levels in your body!

5. Sleep… sleep… Aim for 6-8 hours at night. Sleep deprivation can stall out your weight loss efforts.

So…. if you have  been hitting it hard and your results have stalled out and you are feeling tired and frustrated….take a look at your habits. Are you taking time for YOU? Are you getting enough rest? Are you eating well balanced meals?  For those that have been restricting calories for a long time and can’t figure out what you are still overweight….you may have easily done some damage to your metabolism because of the mechanisms above. Maybe, maybe not….. but these are things to think about.  And… on that note.. I am off to enjoy Disney World with my family for Spring Break…. a MUCH needed family vacation! 🙂

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