LESSON #4: HORMONES ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE BEST TRAINING & NUTRITION PROGRAM
After years of being extremely compliant with my training and nutritional intake, I wanted to use this
vacation as an experiment to see how long my body could sustain my body composition with the decreased training volume and increased intake of treats and alcohol. I was happy to learn that 3 weeks of less workouts at a lower intensity + intuitive eating did NOT negatively affect my body composition. In fact, the MUCH needed break decreased my stress levels so significantly that everything from my body composition to my hormones felt better than ever. Keep in mind that through my YEARS of weighing and logging food, I’m equipped with a sound knowledge base to eyeball the correct portions of protein, carbs and fats for my body type and goals. It takes CONSISTENT practice to get to this stage of intuitive eating.
Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, impacts everything from your ability to cope with stress, hunger/cravings, digestion, sleep, blood pressure and more. When your cortisol levels are constantly elevated, you may experience symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, sugar cravings, increased fat storage in the midsection, difficulty losing fat or gaining lean muscle mass, slow recovery, irregular menstrual cycles, the list goes on and on... So you can understand that your hormones are more powerful than the best training & nutrition program. If your hormones are not well balanced, you're definitely not achieving killer body composition goals, let alone enough sleep to crush intense workouts and recovery, or enough energy to keep up with meal prep and the rest of your busy life. Through past hormone testing, I already knew that my cortisol levels were once so high for so long, that my body actually started underproducing cortisol (aka BURNOUT MODE!). Because of this, I do everything in my power to decrease stress throughout the day while keeping up with my workload and training. This 3 week vacation made such a colossal impact on my stress levels that, for the first time in years, my menstrual cycle was regular due to PCOS, most of my cycles are 40+ days whereas I got my period after 30 days for the first time ever), my skin has cleared up almost completely (I have struggled with hormonal acne for most of my life besides when I was on hormonal birth control), I am leaner than ever, and I did not lose much muscle mass (on previous trips I had lost 5-10lbs of muscle mass and could really feel it on my workouts back home - this time I lost a little leg strength with the lack of squats and my upper body stayed strong with all the body building work).
While I definitely agree that abs are made in the kitchen, for individuals with high levels of stress, abs can be made on vacation!