Now, I may not be a nutritionist, but I’ve long prided myself on having excellent “gut instincts”, and that combined with hours of research has me pretty solidly at the conclusion that my cortisol hormone levels are way, WAY out of whack. My reasoning for this?
1. Zero appetite in the mornings. It doesn’t matter if I eat 2000 calories between dinner and bedtime or 500, I don’t remember the last time that I woke up hungry. I usually run or lift weights first thing, so that makes me hungryish, but on a rest day, the desire to eat is non-existent.
2. Uncontrollable appetite at night. I’ve told myself I’m going to eat less at night so many times I’ve lost track. It’s not about eating less overall, it’s about allowing my body a break from digestion while I sleep to recover and repair for the next day!
3. Sluggish and lethargic until late at night. Tonight is a perfect example. I felt nauseous from exhaustion around 3pm today, having woke up at 5am. Here it is, 10pm, and I am all of a sudden full of energy working on my second blog post of the night. Granted, the amount of sugar I consumed is probably a part of that but you get the idea.
4. Anxiety. I’m constantly worrying about something, whether it’s relationships, school, moving, work, life, self-confidence, running, etc. and it completely squashes me. My personality squirts out here and there but it is largely crushed by anxiety right now and that makes me sad. <— that was 100% unintentional but THERE I AM WORRYING ABOUT WORRYING.
5. Intense sugar cravings. All day, all night, I literally cannot get enough sugar. Gum and aspartame make it worse, but they’re still there when I go weeks without the fake stuff.
6. Frequent migraines. Geeze, I feel like I get these every day lately. They’re almost always at night but absolutely miserable and cause neck pain as well. Ibuprofen helps about 5% but I usually end up in bed with ice on my face hoping it goes away.
Now, obviously these things all contribute to one another, but they have to be sparked by something – and that is very likely cortisol! I’m beyond sick of feeling gross and out of balance, so it’s time to make a change. Here’s what I pledge to do in the future:
1. No electronics in bed. I can’t try to make a “2 hours before bed” rule, because right now that’s the only time I can blog and soon it will be intense study time. But I can stop bringing my phone into bed with me and staring at it until I pass out. Only books and magazines immediately before sleep now!
2. NO aspartame, and eat fat when craving sugar. Yeah, we’ve all heard that first one 8000 times. I’ve never tried the fat in place of sugar thing, though, but I do notice my cravings subside when I do it. So the next time I’m hankering for some mentos or even fruit, I’m going to try a spoonful of peanut butter first.
3. Treat my body well. That’s a vague statement because it needs to be. Honestly, I’ve been treating my body horribly lately. Mass amounts of gum, processed food, sugary baked goods, the list goes on. I just want to nourish myself, experiment with things like apple cider vinegar and oil pulling, incorporate yoga, and be good to myself in general.
4. Blog and journal. It’s no surprise that I always feel better after blogging and writing. Getting out some of the eight million thoughts in my head is so freeing; it’s like a weight is lifted off my shoulders each time I write a post. So I’m going to continue blogging as much as I can, and journal about the things that don’t make it onto the internet for the world to see. With any luck, the stressful thoughts will stay on paper / screen, out of my head, and I won’t be so worried and anxious about every darn thing.
5. Take action. It’s so easy to be paralyzed by fear. Take my house hunting, for instance. I’m so worried that I’m not going to find anywhere to live that I haven’t even looked for over four days. I’m rendered motionless by anxiety of the unknown. So instead of cowering in fear, I’m going to turn each thing I’m worried about into an attainable goal, and take action to reach it.
Have you considered your cortisol levels?
What is one thing that regularly stresses you out?