If you are like most of average people, life goes on in pretty frenetic rhythm juggling between work, family, changes in circumstances and sometimes even illness. You find yourself tired all the time and gaining weight, especially if you are over your thirties. You then try to improve your health and decide to find time to exercise, don’t matter what, and off you go jumping in a new exercising routine. Although you don’t feel very motivated, you commit yourself to stick with the new plan, hoping that in few weeks you will feel better and lose some extra pounds. While for some people the new intense exercise activities might help, other people are shocked to find out that all that effort didn’t help at all, they didn’t lose weight and still feel tired all the time.
What in the world is going on then!?
If you are under stress for a prolonged period of time, it is likely that your cortisol levels are high or out of balance along the day. Cortisol is the hormone your body releases in response to stress. It increases your appetite and promotes abdominal fat, increasing your risks of diabetes and heart disease. You might also have symptoms such as insomnia, depression and fatigue as a consequence of prolonged stress periods. If this issue goes on for a long time, feeling healthy and energetic becomes a distant memory, and you might convince yourself that this kind of lack of vitality is the new “normal”, perhaps just part of the aging process… believe me: nobody suppose to feel that way because of aging.
The surprise is here: although exercise is generally good for your health, Intense or prolonged exercise releases more cortisol, aggravating your condition and stimulating your body to accumulate fat and crave carbs.
So … what to do?
Yes please do keep moving, but be kind to yourself and listen to your body: no need to jump in a very intense or prolonged exercising routine straight away, especially if you are not currently active; instead, choose low impact activities that you enjoy and are not too intense, such as yoga, Pilates, walking, or dancing. These activities can benefit your well-being when practiced as little as 20 minutes a day. Yoga is so far my favorite, because in addition to the physical benefits, it helps your mind to calm down, helping you to cope better with stress while life goes on. If you are used to endurance and heavy exercising routines and really feel that urge to go for a run, go! But remember: do listen to your body. If you feel stressed or have symptoms of cortisol imbalance, take care of yourself, do short runs instead of long miles, and slow down your pace for a while.
In addition to appropriate exercise, holistic therapies such as homeopathy and acupuncture can help to reduce your stress levels and boost your energy. A good night of sleep with right nutrition are also as important as exercising to help you to cope with stress, re-balance your hormones and lose weight … for good!