Let’s talk about stress.
Or more importantly, your body’s stress hormone: Cortisol
Cortisol is basically a hormone that signals a number of processes in your body to include:
* How your body mobilizes energy (Protein, Fats, Carbohydrates)
* Regulating Inflammation
* Regulating blood pressure
* Increasing blood sugar (See bullet number 1)
* Regulating your sleep cycle (Cortisol rising in the AM is what wakes you up)
Now I don’t really wanna get into all the nerdy details although pituitary glad is fun to say so let’s talk specifically about how this hormone can affect what you really care about: Shedding body fat and improving performance.
If you’re under constant stress, which is pretty common with our military, Fire, EMS, and LEO friends just by the nature of the job and the baggage they have to process every day when their shift ends, then your cortisol levels will stay elevated.
Ever have an exhausting and stressful day only to find that you can’t fall asleep at night?
Yea… Me neither…
When cortisol is chronically raised you can end up with a whole bunch of problems because all your body knows (like on that evolutionary level) is DANGER!
Or basically, you’re in a constant state of fight or flight.
And while that beneficial at times (i.e. Tiger attack or whatever) it’s terrible for you long term.
And leads to a number of problems like:
* Weight gain
* Muscle break down
* Compromised immune system
* Memory & concentration problems
* etc, etc, etc
Which, I’m sure you can guess also leads to your lack of motivation to get to the gym after work, wake up early and workout, or spend some extra free time planning out and prepping your meals for the week.
And guess what?
No fancy diet or training program is going to help you overcome this if you don’t work to de-stress your lifestyle and take the time needed to recover.
However, this is where a personal coach can make a world of difference for you by providing accountability, motivation, and ultimately taking a lot of the responsibility of training off your plate (I mean, you still have to do the work, but it’s one less stressful task you have to think about & process).
So if you’re wondering why you’re always tired, gaining weight even though you *think* you’re eating the right stuff, or just can’t seem to find the motivation to train then you may want to think about addressing the things in your life that stress you out.
So how do you start making improvements in your stress levels?
Here’s my patented two-step secret plan
Step 1: Relax – Like seriously, despite what the TV and internet tell you, if you’re reading this email on a computer connected to the internet or your $800 smartphone then you’re doing okay. It’s gonna be okay…
I used to get super spun up (i.e. angry) about nonsense and it would ruin my day (and the day’s of others around me). Then, as corny as it sounds, I read this book (https://amzn.to/2n1xpzT) and it changed the way I saw things.
If you focus your attention on things you can control and let go of everything you can’t your world will change.
If you can train yourself to let go of things that are out of your control you’ll learn to relax in the most stressful of situations. I highly recommend you read that book.
Step 2: Train… Less
Yea, I said it.
Despite what every former Navy SEAL turned fitness expert tells you more, more, more is not always better. Which you may have heard recently in my last email…
If you’re hammering yourself with:
- A boatload of training volume
- Super high-intensity or
- Training fasted (or in a chronically underfed state)
Then you are amping up your cortisol levels and probably doing more harm than good.
So here’s a quick example:
You’re stressed out and having trouble falling asleep — Not just today, but like the last couple weeks you’ve felt this way. You’re also dreading the hard intervals you plan on doing tomorrow because you have a race/PT test/etc coming up in the near future.
What’s a better option?
a.) Wake up early, grab the dog, and go on a nice brisk relaxing 45-min walk outside or
b.) Force yourself out of bed (which maybe works like 50% of the time), strap on your running shoes, and go smash yourself on the track?
Option A is some low intensity, relaxing cardio.
Option B is cramming 2 cortisol producing events (being fasted from sleeping overnight) and high-intensity intervals into one, likely shitty, training session.
Now with that said, there are definitely times where you may need to suck it up and get after it.
But we’re not talking about one random low energy stress-filled day.
We’re talking about you being chronically stressed out here.
In that case, reducing the amount of super high-intensity work you’re doing and reducing your overall training volume is going to help you drop those cortisol levels and bounce back to your “old self” in no time.
So you may be asking yourself…Is cortisol ALL bad?
As mentioned before cortisol helps mobilize energy (i.e. releasing glucose from your glycogen stores into your bloodstream) which is going to help you stay fueled during your workouts.
This release of energy combined with cortisol also helping to increase adrenaline can give you the boost you need for a high-quality workout.
Just keep in mind that it’s a fine balance because if you’re already having stress “issues” and you hit a high volume running workout or some long hard intervals, for example, you’ll rapidly increase cortisol levels.
So while producing cortisol is necessary for basic human function, too much can wreck your gains and cause a bunch of additional health problems.
Wrapping it up
Our goal here is to provide optimal training.
Which rarely ever means – the hardest most ego inducing chest-thumping workouts ever.
Optimal training means effective and efficient – And we also do my best to account for your overall lifestyle (Not many 1.5 – 2-hour workouts around here).
And while I definitely encourage you to go out and haze yourself every once in a while, it’s definitely not the optimal way to train every day.
And for most people, it’s not very effective either.