Written by Mike Over
I’m sure many of you are hitting the gym hard this month in preparation for summer. The inevitable beach trip that has you in a bathing suit brings most people to a quick reality of what needs to happen with their health in order to have some sort of self approval when that week comes.
What I want to remind you is the hidden factor that keeps many gym user’s results at bay. That is STRESS.
Many of us don’t think about stress as a roadblock to our personal aesthetic goals but the honest truth is that it very well could be the #1 thing you should be focusing on.
To be perfectly honest, 75-90% of primary health care visits stem from a stress related circumstance, and with it being a prime driver for HPA Axis regulation (hypothalamic – pituitary – adrenal), this can quickly down regulate much more than your energy systems, but also cognitive function and hormonal homeostasis.
If nothing turns off the stress response, the body continues to release cortisol. Cortisol receptors will eventually become resistant to cortisol (much like insulin insensitivity). Now, we all need SOME cortisol to be released… this is the hormone that resembles our flight or fight response that enables us to get jacked up and amped for leg day. The issue with cortisol is when it’s chronically elevated for long periods of time.
This excess cortisol will hangout and disrupt other systems (immune, reproductive, bone health, mood, memory, blood glucose, hormones, etc.) It is meant to be anti-inflammatory and calming BUT when the body chronically sees high levels of cortisol, it acts in the opposite way and then can cause high levels of inflammation.
Why does this matter? Well, for one…it draws more water to the cells. High cortisol brings on decreases in progesterone which robs DHEA and it heads into androgens which then increases ALDOSTERONE which is what brings in the swelling and water.
This is why many of you seem to gain weight when you increase your activity and diet harder…which is why your appearance can suffer the harder and longer you go with your training and diet.
A simple rule of thumb is to make sure those two things are in compliance with one another. You can’t increase your training volume and begin to eat less. Remember, stress pulls from hormones and your TSH raises (calls for MORE, but T3 drops and goes to Reverse T3 and T4 dries up) which can then dramatically affect your thyroid levels and the longer this pans out you can put yourself at risk for long term chronic autoimmune illness.
So just a quick reminder to you that your summer body shouldn’t be only focused on the time you put in the gym, rather the ability of your body to handle stress, recover and rest.
You need to ultimately have an even balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems to be able to ultimately configure your best physique. We all seem to be good in our country with the sympathetic (stress, speed and fight response)… so spend more time working on your counterpart and I bet you will see a bit of improvement!
Things you can try:
- Ice Baths
- Sauna Sessions
- Breathing and Meditation
- Nature Walks and Hikes
- Calming Activities
- Time away from Work
Are you one that has had some swelling and insulin/weight loss issues due to high amounts of stress? I would love to hear from you.
We incorporate a stress reducing phase in the FEED phase of my coaching program Revive Systems, that brings back homeostasis to the body to be able to optimally burn fat and utilize food as fuel. If you want to know more about how I work, check out www.revive-systems.com.You can even book a call with my team here to see more about how I work.