Excess Cortisol - why you're stuck

Uncategorized Sep 30, 2020


Since the start of the pandemic, many of us have been producing more cortisol than normal, which can trigger your fight, flight or freeze response (i.e. sympathetic nervous system) on the regular. Even though "stress" doesn't have calories, it absolutely can impact your sleep quality, overall health, and ability to maintain or lose weight.

Per usual, we like to understand the why behind everything and you've subscribed to our newsletter, we're confident that you do, too. Before we take a cortisol deep dive, here are some AMAZING client wins we've been hearing in the last few weeks!


"When I first started the program in December [2019], I did an “in body” scan. I saw the good and bad in those numbers but knew that was just a start. Now in September [2020], I went back and did another body scan! AND WOW... my numbers have changed drastically! I’m sooo proud of myself to committing to this lifestyle adjustment and “trusting the process.” The Green Door life has been a automatic POSITIVE in my life and during COVID it has gotten me through sooo much. Incredibly thankful for Shannon and Lisa for all the coaching, pushing and kindness!  🙏🏻💪🏻😘"


~ 46-year old female emergency responder who has lost 25 pounds total and can now do pull-ups!


"Attending the meditation and breath work sessions twice this week! Tapping into spirit has been an uplifting and positive experience — I’m so grateful for this community 💚"

"Phoenix Paz did the BEST upper back/ shoulder mobility work during the class yesterday. She got bits of me moving that I don't think have moved in years."

"The information and guidance we are receiving is priceless.

The tools that we are being given will last us for our lifetime, allowing us to be the healthiest version of ourselves possible.

We have an abundance of education here, make the most out of it."

If you can't tell already... WE LOVE OUR MEMBERS!

OK, back to cortisol...

As you can see, the hypothalamuspituitary gland, and adrenal glands all play a part in managing your cortisol levels. Both the hypothalamus and pituitary gland can sense if your blood contains the right amount of cortisol and will signal the adrenals to adjust appropriately as needed.

Cortisol gets a pretty bad reputation overall, but it's important to recognize that it's not inherently negative - we need it to be in balance. So, when is cortisol typically released?

Characteristics of Balanced Cortisol:

  • Manages your body's use of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
  • Keeps tissue inflammation down
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Increases blood sugar levels (super helpful during training!)
  • Governs our sleep/wake cycle
  • Increases energy during stressful moments and helps us recover afterward

After waking up, experiencing a stressful situation, or strength training, cortisol levels should drop back to normal along with blood pressure. But what happens if that useful alarm doesn't turn off?

Effects of Too Much Cortisol:

  • Weight gain or inability to lose weight... regardless of exercise/nutrition!
  • Breakdown of muscle, which leads to a slowed metabolism
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty with memory and concentration
  • Digestive issues
  • Irregular sleep cycles and insomnia - i.e. tired but wired
  • Increased risk of heart disease (in severe cases)


Effects of Too Little Cortisol:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness that grows worse over time
  • Loss of appetite and bodyweight
  • Low blood pressure
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting (in severe cases)

Keeping Cortisol Balanced

Here are the top six ways to keep cortisol in balance:

  1. Get Enough Sleep. As cortisol functions to keep us awake, it is naturally released upon rising. However, if we are stressed before bed or practice irregular sleep patterns, our natural rhythm of cortisol production can be thrown off. Check out our previous email about sleep for tips on how to get more shut eye.
  2. Exercise Regularly w/ Breaks. Cortisol is naturally released when we perform moderate to high intensity for 60 minutes or less. This is a good thing! Cortisol helps to assimilate nutrients, release glucose into the bloodstream to be used for energy, and increases blood pressure to move our blood into our tissues effectively. Beyond 60 minutes of intense exercise (not including warm-up, cool-down, or mobility work) teeters into over-training, especially for consecutive days and weeks. That's why it's equally important implement complete rest days each week as well as rest weeks every 6-12 weeks. That's right, we said rest WEEKS.
  3. Meditate. Even if it's 5 minutes! If you are new to meditation, try a guided meditation full with discussion, explanation, and deep calm vibes.
  4. Laugh and have fun! The sheer act of laughter helps to improve circulation AND reduces the impacts of stress. 
  5. Take a deep breath. Abdominal breathing for 20-30 minutes each day has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress. This increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calm. New to breath work? Join us for a guided breath work session
  6. Watch what you put in your body. This isn't just about food - it's about all consumption. News, negative self-talk, and our environment impacts stress levels. Of course, reducing items like alcohol, refined sugar, and stimulants will help to reduce cortisol production and inflammation. Choose unprocessed, whole foods whenever possible with a sufficient protein at each meal to regulate your blood sugar levels.

If you want to move, nourish your body, and bliss out with us in a supportive community environment, hit reply and let us know! Or, jump in for 2 weeks, on us!

P.S. Looking for more nutrition, health, and training support? Here are 3 ways we can help you: 

(1) GET LEAN → If you’re ready to permanently lose at least 10 pounds in as little as 8 weeks or want to maximize your performance and muscle tone, then book a call with us. Our clients are still losing weight, even in a pandemic! 

(2) WORKOUT AT HOME → no gym, limited equipment, no problem! The full-body workouts in our training app are designed to help you burn body fat all over, increase your metabolism, and build lean muscle mass.

(3) WATCH OUR FREE MASTERCLASS → discover the 3-step system in our Diet Ditching Method Masterclass that helps you activate your natural weight loss code without restricting your favorite foods or exercising excessively!

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