Cortisol. Some call it the “fight or flight” hormone. Others have dubbed it the “stress” hormone. No matter what label you give it, one fact remains: we need Cortisol. The problem comes when we overproduce it.
… and many of us might.
If you’ve got stress (hello… kids!), odds are you’ve kicked your body’s Cortisol factory into high gear. So what does that mean? It could mean that all the work you’re doing to lose weight may be for naught.
Here is how the science works…
Elevated stress levels send signals to our adrenal glands that we’re in need of more Cortisol. This temporarily helps us deal with the immediate stressor, kicking our bodies into action with adrenaline and extra blood glucose. One of the (cool) ways our own bodies are designed to protect us.
The problems start when we toss in continual stressors. Everything from the work/life balancing act — being stuck in traffic, grocery shopping, relationships, or finding out at 8 pm that your child has a book report with citations and an interpretive dance routine due the in the morning — these are stressors. These demands cause a persistent call for more Cortisol. Because we’re dealing with these on a continual basis, we don’t even notice that we’re existing in a state of hyper-Cortisol. Butyou might be feeling the effects. Overproduction of cortisol can result in poor sleep, increased anxiety, mood swings, weight gain — and even an inability to lose weight.
If you’re constantly stressed, your actions toward becoming a healthier version of you (all those New Year’s resolutions), are less likely to be successful.
How do you bring Cortisol down? Dr. Sara Gottfried, physician and author of The Hormone Cure and an authority on hormone balancing, recommends recognizing stress as a true health concern. Then making lifestyle changes to reduce it and also working on how you react to it. Some good places to start include meditation, going for a walk, yoga, diving into a book instead of your work email, better sleep habits, dietary changes, and nutritional supplementation.
One key player in the cortisol reduction game can be addressing overall hormone balance. When cortisol is up, so is insulin as it tries to manage the elevated glucose in the blood stream. If insulin is elevated, extra calories are being stored as fat. Likewise, progesterone is another key hormone that is pulled to make Cortisol; increased Cortisol production can lead to an imbalance between the female hormones, progesterone, and estrogen. Depleted Progesterone often means feeling tired, more stressed — or even hangry.
Dr. Maryrose Eichelberger of BeBalanced Annapolis, recommends cortisol reducing behaviors (to help with hormone balancing) for more than just weight loss.
“Sometimes just making one change at a time will lead to a slow improvement in hypercortisolism and reduced symptoms,” said Maryrose. “Ultimately bringing cortisol down helps with overall hormone balance which in turn can help manage glucose levels and perhaps address weight loss. It may also reduce the potential for damage from diseases that are related to stress including heart disease and certain types of cancer.”
Of course, stress isn’t something you can wave a magic wand at and make it disappear; but having a solid plan for reducing and managing it can make a world of difference for you and your family.
Maybe a little rethinking of that resolution is in order: reduce Cortisol to reduce your waistline?
the #CoolBalancedMom challenge
We’ve partnered with BeBalanced Annapolis to bring you the #CoolBalancedMom challenge — a week’s worth of ideas to help you combat stress and reduce your Cortisol levels. We know how hard it is to find time for you in the world of ‘mom’-ing; but we also know how impossible it is to be a caregiver for all of those in your life if you’re feeling run-down. We’re challenging all of our readers to take time out for themselves this week. Need an idea? We’ll be sharing a daily tip on Facebook and Instagram. Snap a photo of how you’re taking on stress (Going for a walk? Diving into a book? Making time for tea? Trying out meditation?) and post it to your social media account with the hashtag #CoolBalancedMom. We’ll pick a random participant to receive a $50 Visa gift card! You have until midnight on Saturday, January 28th to post.
Go ahead. Make a little “mom” time and take care of you.
about our sponsor: be balanced annapolis
BeBalanced Annapolis is the non-medical answer for women suffering from symptoms of hormone imbalance. They utilize Natural Hormone Balancing to work with your body to correct the key hormone imbalances that are holding you back from experiencing the quality of life that you deserve. Find Out More | Follow Them on Facebook