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Is stress holding you hostgage?

Saying "what a year its been so far" feels like.... an understatement, am I right? I mean, where do we even begin haha!

As a person who thrives with being busy, surrounded by people, and active I'll admit that I struggled a lot the last few months. I know I'm not alone here ;) One of the biggest things I noticed since the pandemic was that my body was NOT happy with me. Yes, I wasn't working out 6 hours a day any more and was not being as careful with my diet... but it was more than that. My cortisol (the stress hormone) was Out. Of. Control. I started to gain weight, felt super sluggish, grouchy, fatigued, bloated, unmotivated... and couldn't sleep at night. I'm sure a lot of you can relate to feeling that way! Its really frustrating.

I also started to notice that I would balloon very quickly any time I ate an "inflammatory" food. Like, looking 4 months pregnant ballooning. So, what are inflammatory foods? And how do you get your cortisol and body back under control so that you can be on your "A" game? Well, I'm sure everyone is different, but here is what worked for me.

First, before worrying about any food issues, I focused on my mental health. Therapy, EFT tapping (I highly recommend looking into this btw! There are some really great tutorials online if you don't have a therapist on hand), getting more vitamin C & D, cutting out unnecessary stressors, and getting outside every single morning helped me a lot. I learned to not look at my phone for at LEAST an hour after waking up and taking that time to sit on the deck reading or listening to a podcast for 10-60 minutes. I also found music has been a big help for me. I grew up with music being a huge part of my life, so listening to something calmed me and put me in a more positive mindset.

Second, I focused on drinking water and cutting back on coffee. I know, I know. This is hard to do! I started filling up a BIG water bottle with cold water and lemon every morning. My goal is to drink at LEAST 16 ounces before having any coffee. Then I let myself have coffee... but only until 12. Past noon? Either decaf, more water, or tea. I try to drink around half my body weight in ounces of water every day and more if I'm working out a lot that day!

Third, was the hardest for me. I cut out all added sugar, wheat, and dairy from my diet. Granted I don't normally eat a lot of those.... but I found during quarantine I was giving myself permission more and more to "cheat" and have a couple pieces of pizza, some ice cream, candy, etc. And I noticed a massive change in my bloating IMMEDIATELY. As in, withing a day or two.

Notice, I haven't mentioned workouts. As a fitness teacher, working out is obviously very important to me and I believe in it 100%. I think you should move your body every single day. However, when your cortisol is high... you have to readjust. Running and doing HIIT workouts is the last thing you want to do with your cortisol is high. I find doing lower intensity reformer pilates and walks worked well for me. And lots of stretching :)

Once I started feeling back to myself (I gave myself probably 6-8 weeks of really serious work) I started adding my higher intensity pilates workouts that I love so much back in. I feel so much better. I feel in control, I can think rationally again, I can workout how I like and my motivation is back. We still have a long ways to go, but I am able to stay mostly positive and am hopeful for the future.

How are you holding up? How is your stress levels? If you need any resources reach out to me and Im happy to share what my experience and tips with you!

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