The ovaries are the main producer of sex hormones before menopause. After the ovaries retire, the adrenals work to keep us in hormonal balance as they are a back-up producer of sex hormones and their precursors. Additionally, the adrenals modulate our response to stress by managing blood pressure and blood glucose levels, as well as regulating immunity and inflammation. Repeatedly dispatching the adrenals to douse fires set off by a hyperactive stress response hampers the production of sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone). To make enough cortisol, our stress regulating hormone, the adrenals “steal” the building block (pregnenolone) needed to produce sex hormones. This, along with the loss of ovarian hormone production during menopause, is a double whammy to our well-being.
Cortisol’s job is all about bringing the body back to homeostasis—achieving a “just right” state of being. Stress, blood sugar highs and lows, insane exercise, illness, and the like disrupt homeostasis and dispatches cortisol. Because modern life can be full of cortisol provoking scenarios, our exposure to it can become chronic. When our bodies are under the influence of cortisol, for prolonged periods, a toll is taken on all body systems—chronic disease risk increases, sex hormone production decreases, and fat burning fizzles.
In response to a stressful event, cortisol liberates energy from storage to be used for fighting or flighting—think needing extra energy to flee after stepping on a hornet’s nest. If actual fight or flight is necessary, the body is fueled and ready, but with modern day stress, there is not always a need for this surplus fuel—think being stuck in a traffic jam. When the liberated energy doesn’t get utilized, how and where it gets restored—when under the influence of cortisol—is both unhealthy (around our organs) and unflattering (abdomen). Furthermore, with lower testosterone production there is, overtime, a decrease of lean body mass (muscle) which impacts metabolism. A connection between high cortisol and the dysfunction of our “I’m full” (leptin) and our “I’m hungry” (ghrelin) hormones is also likely.
Achieving any kind of hormonal balance, or fat loss for that matter, is just not possible if the adrenals have to keep coming to our rescue. Add this to the hormonal changes already taking place during the menopausal transition and we’ve got a situation that is hard to ignore. Fat gain, decreased immunity, low sex drive, hot flashes, and even wrinkles (the list goes on) certainly get our attention, but all this misery can actually be a blessing in disguise. By pulling the reigns in on cortisol now, not only do we impact how we feel and function today, but we also dramatically impact our risk for developing chronic diseases down the road.
So what’s a woman to do? For starters, she should stop overindulging everyone else and indulge herself a little more. Since fat burning and cortisol control go hand-in-hand, she should also take steps to become a Better Fat Burner (BFB). And she should BREATHE—deep breathing causes a shift in the nervous system that results in a lessening of cortisol.
- Everyday take a little time for yourself and make it nonnegotiable.
- Follow me socially (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) to receive daily motivation on how to become a better fat burner (#BetterFatBurner)
- Throughout the day, take a moment to step outside, look out a window at the sky, or close your eyes for a moment and notice your breath. Put a hand on your stomach and feel it fill with air as you inhale and deflate as you exhale.
You can also lessen the stress of meal prep with this, and other, slow cooker recipes:
1 large pork or beef roast (Boston butt featured in photos)
1 16oz jar of Pepperoncinis
Several bulbs of garlic or the minced equivalent
Place roast in slow cooker. Make several slits in roast with a knife. Insert garlic. Pour entire contents of the Pepperoncini jar over roast. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (longer if you start with a frozen roast)
It seems too good to be true, but it really is that easy. Pepperoncini Roast is an all-around favorite at our house and is today’s way to become a #BetterFatBurner.
For more ways to manage cortisol check out my eBook!
This week’s #BetterFatBurner links:
Own the Change!
Follow me socially for #BetterFatBurner Inspiration!