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Changing Atmosphere Can Give You The Edge That You Need

Xtreme Jeff CLay

Sometimes you need a change of atmosphere.  When I first started my transformation, I had already been working out.  My biggest change would be my nutrition.  But I really wanted to feel like I was starting over and wanted someone else’s input.  For that reason I decided on a change of atmosphere.  I wanted to make sure that everything around me was positive and that it was all about accomplishing goals and training.  My decision was to train at Emerge Fitness for my change of atmosphere.  Once I reached my goals I went back to my old gym.  I was revitalized and continued with a great workout routine and even incorporated some of the things that I picked up at Emerge into it.

Next I decided that I wanted to train at a higher level so I went to Xtreme Speed in Plainfield, IL.  I trained there for about 10 weeks 3 days a week.  The atmosphere definitely breeds success.  The opportunity to train with other people who work hard every day and train at a high level of intensity, not only motivated me but opened the door to a different style of training that I was not use too.  I thought that I knew what High Intensity was until I met these guys.  Trying out different types of training is great for developing the body and it is also a great way to stay engaged.

Around the holidays I ended up back at my gym and was incorporating Xtreme’s training methods into my own workouts at home.  A couple of weeks before the Super Bowl I was feeling like I was overtraining.  The overtraining was not due to what I was doing in the gym, it was due to the amount of cardio that I was doing.  I set a goal of running 1,000 miles this year.  I was running about 25 miles a week which wasn’t really something that I was use to.  It was close to 10 miles further than I had been running a week.  I got to the point in which my joints were sore, I was running slower, I was losing strength and my mind did not feel right.  My memory was not what it had been a few weeks before and I was feeling agitated.  I knew what was going on but I was hoping that I would work through it.  I finally smartened up and decided to take a break.  The way I finally saw it was that my Cortisol levels were too high and the only way that I could get them under control was to take off.  Initially it was going to be one week but I decided to take a second week off.  I listened to my body and it was telling me that I wasn’t ready.  I almost worked out at the end of the second week because I started to feel like I needed to be in the gym.  Kind of like I was getting withdrawals.

Two weeks off after a couple of weeks of lame workouts. Now what?  Do I start-up slow?  Nope, I left on Sunday for Plainfield, IL and would workout from Monday to Wednesday at Xtreme Speed.  Once again I wanted to fire it up again with the right atmosphere.  It’s not like I hadn’t fallen out of shape again so I felt great getting back in there.  They still kicked my ass.  First and third day are upper body days and the second day is a leg and cardio day.  After the second workout it felt like a fog had lifted.  I feel awesome and my thought process seems like it getting back to where I was before I was losing my mind.

Although I needed the rest, I also needed a change of atmosphere.  That atmosphere has to be positive.  It can be the physical place and it can be the people that you train with.  It can even be the workout.  Finding a group of people with a high level of intensity is what works best for me.

I also learned that if you set a goal that is not going the way that you wanted like I did then you better change it before it is too late.  Don’t let your pride get in the way of a mistake.

For me healthy life style is not an ongoing battle.  It is about getting in tune with your body, learning and reaching your goals.  I have a passion for this new phase of my life, so I choose to spend the time on myself and also on helping others figure out what works for them.

Some People Believe That The More Time In The Gym, The More Muscle That They Gain.

Couldn’t Be More Wrong.

Working out too much or to long could lead to overtraining.  The body releases Cortisol (a hormone) which increases glucose release from the tissue into the bloodstream.  In turn it generates energy.  Cortisol reduces physical and mental stress and also prevents the release of substances that cause inflammation in the body.

If someone has chronically elevated levels of Cortisol, it can cause muscle loss as well as an increase in body fat, fatigue, degenerate bone, cause joint problems, affect brain and kidney function.  Elevated levels of Cortisol are caused by stress.  Both physical and mental. To much exercise will result in overtraining and will elevate Cortisol levels.  The same goes in dealing with work related stress or even the loss of a loved one.  On the other hand working out in general can reduce mental stress due to a normal release of Cortisol.

I laugh every time someone tells me that they don’t have time to train as much as I do.  They assume that I spend all day in the gym.  My response is, “You don’t have an hour to spend at the gym?”  Honestly, you can get everything that you need out of your workout in 25 or 30 minutes.

Signs of over-training include: fatigue, loss of power, loss of strength, loss of speed.  Some people can train for longer periods of time than others.  Listen to your body.  Train  smart.

Cortisol is needed for normal body functions but with elevated levels could cause problems.  Ways to help reduce this are:

Don’t overtrain.  (Both aerobic and anaerobic training do help control Cortisol levels).                                                                                                                                               Don’t overdo Caffeine (It can spike Cortisol).                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Stay away from low caloric diets (they increase Cortisol).                                                                                                                                                                                                       Eat low Glycemic Carbohydrates (Oatmeal).  Take EFA’s (essential fatty acids), vitamins and minerals (through food – fruits and vegetables).                                                                                                                                      Get enough sleep (7 or 8 hours).  It is needed for recovery.                                                                                                                                                                                             Reduce Stress (Yoga and meditation may help.  So will laughter).                                                                                                                                                                              Consume simple carbohydrates (Fruits, Raw Honey) immediately after a resistance workout.  This will spike insulin levels and may minimize excessive cortisol levels.  

You can also try taking the following:
L-Glutamine
Green Tea
Zinc

Remember that it’s not how long you work out but how efficient you are combining both resistance training and cardio training.  Your nutrition is a huge part of transforming your body.  Rest is another important factor.  Train smart.

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