Is stress stopping you from seeing real results at the gym?

Danica Baker
Prevention

Photo: Thinkstock

It’s no secret that a hormone imbalance can affect many parts of your life, including your mood, sleep and level of motivation. So, it makes sense that an imbalance could be stopping you from getting the most out of your workout.

An important indicator of excess cortisol – the stress hormone – is added weight around the abdomen.

“If you find that you are struggling with sluggishness, anxiety, fatigue, and/or weight gain around the mid-section, it may indicate a hormone imbalance.” Says Nutrtionist Pip Reed, co-founder of soon to be launched website The Health Clinic.

“Cortisol, is produced during times of high stress, such as a big gym workout, a presentation, or if you were running a sprint or endurance race. Prolonged excess cortisol can actually inhibit your performance, resulting in unstable blood sugars, causing sugar cravings, which result in energy slumps and fatigue,” Says Pip.

“Then when you reach for more sugar to boost yourself back up, your body struggles to deal with the insulin spike caused when the sugar enters your system and the cortisol at the same time, causing weight storage around your abdominal area.”

Taking into consideration that most women’s lifestyles are already super busy trying to balance work and relationships, stress is an all but too common result and disrupts our delicate hormone balance and function. Which, in turn, can cause many health concerns that sadly a lot of us think are just part of being a busy female.

So how can we level out our hormones and get our performance levels back?

• “Eating a diet high in fibre, antioxidants and Essential Fatty Acids from Omega 3s is recommended to decrease inflammation, remove toxins from the body and counteract the effects stress has on the body. Foods to include are oily fish, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, flaxseed, psyllium, turmeric, and a wide range of colourful fruit and vegetables,” recommends Pip.

• “While exercise is great for metabolising hormones, decreasing blood stagnation and improving detoxification, it isn’t always possible to get in a good workout in if your energy levels, stress, fatigue and sometimes even pain from cramping means you find it impossible to complete your workout. Furthermore, you may be causing more harm than good by putting too much pressure on your adrenals from overdoing it, which is certainly going to affect your performance levels.”

• “If you are struggling with fatigue and exhaustion while you are working out, it may be best to drop down to a lighter exercise until you are feeling more energised,” says Pip.

•“Try to decrease or eliminate non-organic wheat and gluten containing grains, and make sure that you always wash your non-organic fruit and vegetables in apple cider vinegar before eating them! “