Women’s Health: Cortisol, Part 1 (Hormone Edition)

CrossFit, endurance, Fitness, Health and wellness, Hormones, Uncategorized, Women's Health

Hormone health: we are doing a 3 part series on cortisol because…


1.It’s a fascinating hormone
2. It impacts a lot of people, especially female professional athletes, endurance athletes or CrossFit athletes and they don’t even realize it.
3. It’s a huge culprit for fat gain, specifically the hip/belly fat, you know, that puffy inner tube around your belly you can’t get to go away.
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Part 1, we are diving into the Where and What of Cortisol.

1. Where it comes from.
2. What it impacts.

With that being said, we can’t talk about the hormone cortisol without bringing up a hot word, the adrenals, where it’s produced.
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You may have heard of adrenal fatigue or adrenal dysfunction, these terms get thrown around like hot cakes in an IHOP at 2:30 AM after a late night bar crawl with the girls. But do you know what it really means?
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What are adrenals?


These two tiny walnut shaped glands sit right on top of our kidneys. They produce hormones that range in function throughout our body. They’ve made a statement in the health world specifically for their ability to regulate metabolism and help our body respond to stress.
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Adrenals also:
Aid in our bodies ability to properly utilize carbohydrates and fats
Helps distribute stored fat
Gut health support
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Our adrenals release one of the most vital hormones for our overall health and wellness, cortisol.
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Cortisol is a steroid hormone we need in the body to do things like:


regulate blood sugar levels
✨acts as an anti inflammatory
✨influences our memory

We naturally release cortisol throughout the day. Cortisol is highest in the morning and slowly declines as we get closer to bedtime. Cortisol and melatonin act as a teeter totter in our bodies. As cortisol declines naturally throughout the day, our melatonin levels increase. Another way cortisol is released is when our body is under stress. Mental, physical, emotional, our body doesn’t know the difference. This is extremely important for endurance athletes to watch out for. We are constantly releasing cortisol during high training days, we walk a fine line on how far we push it. When your cortisol levels go haywire and are elevated for too long, we start seeing a decline in…


sleep
✨resilience to stress
✨body composition
✨our mood
✨Performance

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Stay tuned for part 2 of the 3 part series coming at ya soon!

Maybe she’s crazy, Maybe it’s low progesterone. How to detect & naturally support progesterone.

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Feeling Crazy_ Maybe it's Progesterone

Have you ever felt like something has infiltrated itself in your life making you do and say irrational things? Or thought, what is happening to me, my body, why am I crazy? Mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, low sex drive, insomnia, all clear indicators you aren’t crazy, your body is lacking in something & it’s letting you know.

Progesterone (P) and estrogen are the two primary hormones vital to women. We need these two to work in unison to support our cycle, mood, body composition, and fertility.

Progesterone (P) is elevated right around our luteal phase ( =second part of period, right after ovulation) Progesterones (P) job is to maintain the lining of the uterus creating a hospitable environment for an egg to be fertilized, progesterone levels drop if there is no egg, and your period begins.

Progesterone also:

  • supports our metabolism
  • Sleep
  • stimulates the production of new bone
  • reduces anxiety

Progesterone can be affected by:

  • Stress
  • Thyroid issues
  • Estrogen dominance
  • overtraining/overexercising
  • Inadequate fueling ( low carb, low fat)
  • Compromised gut health
  • Age

Low Progesterone can cause:

  • Insomnia
  • Mood changes, anxiety and irritability
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Weight gain
  • Water retention
  • Cellulite
  • Brain fog
  • Before your anxiety starts rising even more, let’s look at what you can start doing RIGHT NOW to support your body and get those P levels up.Food & Supplement Support
  • Fat: Cholesterol is essential for progesterone production & thyroid. Fat also balances blood sugar, improving insulin sensitivity which is crucial for regulating progesterone
  • Fiber: Aim for 30 – 50 grams a day, helps flush out excess estrogen
  • Support your gut: collagen, bone broth, fermented veggies, amare fundamentals
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Green Tea: aids in metabolizing estrogen

Lifestyle

  • Stress management: Get it under control! This is critical. It’s brought me down to ground zero more times than I’d like to admit. chronic stress & high cortisol levels rob your body of progesterone by #1 making less of it because your body is in fight or flight, not safe to support baby & #2 progesterone and cortisol are produced from the same hormone pregnenolone, which is excreted from the adrenals. The body will always serve cortisol more to help you reduce the stressful situation, leaving progesterone with very limited resources to thrive.
  • Sleep: 7 – 9 hours is ideal
  • Training: journal workouts & listen to your body. Endurance athletes, this is for you, when mileage gets high & training is heavy we play with fire on the daily, it’s crucial you don’t get burned.Side notes: Our progesterone levels naturally decrease after age 35, once in our 40’s we will inevitably feel the pressure from these symptoms.

    If you’re on hormonal birth control, this is fairly irrelevant. HBC suppress natural hormone, no

ovulation, and no progesterone.

If you think this may be you, I highly recommend consulting with your Dr. or physician who will be able to guide you through proper labs & next steps.

Better Than Kona Salad

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Do you ever get the craving for those childhood meals that bring back memories of living room forts, Mario kart parties, and perfect friday evenings watching TGIF?

There is such an emotional component to food. Certain foods can trigger feelings and thoughts of warmth, comfort, home.

This meal is the adult version of a childhood memory but still creates the same feeling for me. Ready in 30 minutes, it provides the comfort with Trader Joe’s chicken tenders, while packing a nutrient dense punch with avocado, dark leafy greens, eggs, and so much more! I bet your kids would even love this meal!

Nutritional Information

Serves 4 : Protein 31 | CARB 17 | Fat 25 |

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of frozen chicken tenders ( I use Trader Joe’s breaded chicken tenderloin , I also recommend their gluten free chicken nuggets for those that are GF or staying away from Gluten ) OR you can go with baked chicken tenderloins, no breading, just chicken, season with your favorite spices.
  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 10 strips bacon ( use leftovers rest of week)
  • 1 -2 bag Mix lettuce ( I used romaine & a spinach kale mix)
  • 1 tomato or 2 roma tomatoes ( optional)
  • 1-2 avocado
  • shredded cheese (optional, Trader Joe’s almond Milk cheese is a great substitute)
  • Honey Mustard dressing ( We use Annie’s Lite Honey Mustard or )

Instructions

  • Cook Chicken according to package or bake raw chicken tenderloin @ 350 degrees for 25 minutes
  • Meanwhile hard boil your 6 eggs
  • While eggs are boiling cook bacon
  • While everything is cooking chop up your tomatoes & slice your avocado
  • Place lettuce in large bowl
  • cut up your bacon
  • slice your eggs
  • slice your chicken
  • Arrange all ingredients on top of bed of lettuce
  • sprinkle a tiny bit of cheese over everything ( optional)
  • Add 2 tbsp of your favorite dressing ( Annies low fat honey mustard or greek yogurt ranch)
  • Divide into 4 individual Tupperware containers for salads. Enjoy and pack the rest for lunch!

Overdose on Sugar

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I’m pretty sure more than half of Americans become addicted to sugar over the holiday season if they aren’t already. It’s everywhere.

You add the increase of baking, drinking, and festive candy with the added stress and busy ness of the holiday season, it’s a recipe for sugar overload.

The influx of sugar consumption isn’t just bad for your waistline, it also affects your brain and hormones. Some of the biggest sugar offenders of the holiday season are the drinks we consume. Some of your favorite seasonal beverages pack more sugar than a full size snickers bar.

The sugar content of some of the most popular festive drinks are listed below.

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This is before their spiked, imagine the sugar and toxin overload once you add your favorite holiday spice to the mix.

Eggnog – 20 grams sugar

Mulled Wine 15- 20

Apple cider 25 – 30
Tall Peppermint Mocha ( skim milk or 2%) 40 grams

Tall Eggnog Latte 42 grams

Tall gingerbread Latte 21 grams

Alternatives

Almond milk Eggnog

Red or White wine

Whiskey Neat

Americano with ¼ cup steamed coconut milk + 1 – 2 pumps your favorite holiday flavor

Latte with skim milk + 1 – 2 pumps your favorite holiday flavor

How to stay Hydrated during the Winter Months

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As the temperature drops, I find myself drinking less and less water while searching for the nearest blanket, snack, or cup of coffee to stay warm. And then there’s the wine….

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I’ve dabbled with the coffee all day, wine all night theory. It’s the perfect formula to wake up feeling like death, I don’t recommend it.

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Most of our go to options in the winter don’t revolve around water, hydration is an afterthought. There are numerous side effects to dehydration that can impact daily functions, exercise, and even the way you metabolize food. To stay energized, detoxify your body, and keep off some of those Christmas cookies this year, I’ve listed a few tips I use daily to stay hydrated and feeling good during the winter months.

*Moonshine is not one of them.

  • Herbal tea & shrooms I love @herbalelement tea blends, @wildfood matcha tea & shrooms @foursigmatic coffee
  • Nuun tablets. A little flavor, electrolytes, and some vitamins to spice up my typical water.
  • Warm water + lemon. Weird? Maybe. It keeps my hands warm, keeps me away from an afternoon cup of joe ( afternoon coffee temptations have caused way too many restless nights), and it aids in digestion as well as liver detoxification. Win Win
  • Warm bone broth. I feel you judging me through the phone. Bone broth packs 9 – 10 grams of protein per serving, supports our immune system and gut health.

Dos & Don’ts of Thanksgiving Day

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The average American eats 3,000+ calories on Thanksgiving Day, that doesn’t include the drinks and snacks.

Here are a few tips on how to make sure you have a joyful, stress free eating experience on Thanksgiving Day. Meaning, you stay sane and you don’t have to unbutton those pants… until the evening at least.

Do

Breath. Start your morning off with 5 minutes of quiet time. If you don’t have time, make it, set your alarm a little earlier. In your 5 minutes, take a few deep belly breaths, sit in the silence, think about 2 positive things that will happen today or 2 things you’re grateful for, smile. There you go, you just started your day with a positive outlook. During the day, if conversations or people start to create tension, do the same thing, step outside, get some fresh air and take 5 minutes to yourself.

Drink! You want to stay hydrated throughout the day and help your digestive tract run smoothly. Start your day off with a glass of water before you indulge in any other beverage, that means water before coffee. Don’t complain, just do it. Throughout the day, make sure you go for liquids before food. A glass of water, tea, or soda water of choice. This will also help keep your hands occupied and away from the snack table. Drink water throughout your Thanksgiving meal. And by all means, if you can drink responsibly, have a glass of wine or beer. You will not ruin your diet or program with one alcoholic beverage. That’s like eating a brownie with ice cream and then passing on the whip cream to “save calories” or try to be “healthy. Seriously!?

Exercise. No excuse here. A lot of boutique gyms will do a Thanksgiving Day workout or you create a Turkey day WOD outside. If you prefer to get outdoors, Thanksgiving Day is now the biggest organized running day of the year, find a turkey trot in your town and get the whole family out. With all these options, you can find something to get yourself moving for at least 30 minutes. Do it. You will feel better and it will help you resist the temptation to eat more. Fill up. Yup, you heard me. Fill your plate with vegetables and proteins. Make sure you get some of the good stuff that will keep you full before you dive into the carb heavens. And when you are ready to take the leap, follow the suggestion below. The last thing you want to do is walk away feeling bloated and miserable.

Start Small. It all looks so good! You’ve been waiting all year for this one day. Casseroles, rolls, potatoes, butter, gravy, you want it all. Analyze the table, put a small portion of everything you want on your plate. Don’t skip it. If it looks good to you and you really want it, eat it. Take your time eating your first plate, savor the food, take a sip of water in between. Remember, it’s your first plate and they are small portions. It takes 15-20 min for your digestive system to let your brain know that you’re satisfied. Take your time. After you are done, sit for a few minutes, what were your favorites? How do you feel? Do you need to save room for pie!? Then make your decision on a second round.

Don’t

Starve. “Saving up” for the big meal by not eating all day will result in major regrets.Your stomach will cramp, you will feel miserable the rest of the day, and on a day when you will double or triple the amount of calories you normally consume, does it really matter? You already know the day will be filled with lots of food. Instead, experiment with intermittent fasting, drink plenty of water, coffee too. Break the fast with a small breakfast, plate of protein/veggies or even a smoothie. If you are surrounded by snacks most of the day, start with veggies, then pick one of your favorite snacks and go for it. Keyword, one. Don’t ruin your meal because you are bored or stressed hovering around the food table all day, you are better than that.

Obsess. You know what’s worse than feeling stuffed after the holidays, obsessing over what you did or didn’t eat and how it’s going to ruin everything you’ve worked for over the passed few weeks, months, etc. Guess what, it’s not. It’s one meal. How long have you been working hard to change your lifestyle? Did your weight or body composition change after the first day? Nope. Change takes time, one day of going ham on food isn’t going to ruin your weight progress or your new habits.

Stress. When family gets together it can be hard. Especially if there are a lot of people in a one small area. Everyone has an opinion, everyone wants to tell you how you should be living your life, raising your kids, etc. This Thanksgiving, be grateful you get to spend time with loved ones, some people are not so fortunate. When it gets hard, excuse yourself, and DO go outside, breath, take a break. Don’t stress eat, this will create more tension and irritability.

Self Sabotage. Thanksgiving is not an all or nothing day. If you go overboard on your meal, you start telling yourself things like, I ruined it, I have zero self control, I should just give up. You get stuck in this downward spiral through the holidays of repeating the same scenario over and over. The end result, you will put on weight because you’ve convinced yourself you failed and you aren’t strong enough. If you only do one thing on this list, follow this rule. You are worth it, you have worked hard, don’t let one day derail months of progress. Do Not.

Forget. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving Day. Make sure you take time to remember the importance of Thanksgiving. Tell your friends and family how much you appreciate them, be thankful for what you have, and enjoy the chaos of turkey day.

“Count your blessings, not your carbs!” – Unknown