Adrenalin is a short term stress hormone, it's the one that's produced when you get a fright. It's designed to get you out of danger. Historically we made adrenalin when our life was in danger from a tiger jumping out of the jungle. These days it is often psychological stress that drives adrenalin. An example of this may be your phone ringing when you have a million things to do, your heart starts to race, you get frustrated and feel like you can't get anything done. An action may be to grab a coffee as a break and to muster up more energy to deal with the day. Instead you are actually adding adrenalin to the body which is already in this fight or flight mode. When adrenalin is released into your body, your blood sugar elevates to provide more energy, your blood pressure and pulse rise to get more oxygen to your muscles to prepare for fight or flight. Importantly your blood is diverted away from the digestive and reproductive system. This biochemical change means sugar is being dumped into your blood to get you out of danger, which is useful if you are actually in danger. If you're sitting at your desk and not moving your body will create insulin to deal with the higher blood sugar. Insulin is one of the primary fat storage hormones. Adrenal is not necessarily a bad thing but too much over a long period of time can result in Adrenal fatigue (more on that further down).
Cortisol is a long term stress hormones i.e. back in the day related to flood, famine and wars. During these times people didn't know when their next meal would be. These days long term stress relates to financial stress, relationship, uncertainty, worries about health , etc. For some it's the first thing they think of in the morning 'what am I going to eat today' or 'it's wednesday and I haven't made it to the gym yet'. When this happens day after day it triggers increased cortisol which can change your metabolism. Cortisol is higher in the morning and falls away into the evening so we can sleep. It's true 1 hour of sleep before midnight is worth 2 after as Cortisol begins to rise at 2am. If cortisol tells every cell of your body that food is scarce and your metabolism slows down as a result and you continue to eat the same as you always have, your clothes will get tighter. By getting to the heart of the stress and changing it or the perceived stress this will change the pattern. This type of fat storage is generally around the middle.
The last thing I will go through is Adrenal fatigue as this is what so many suffer. Basically this is what happens when you have a high level of cortisol for years and your adrenals (what gets you up and going) can't take it anymore. Rather than jumping out of bed feeling full of energy, you feel tired and lethargic and by the afternoon reach for sugary snacks, coffee or even need a nap. This fatigue makes exercise the last thing you feel like doing and if you do exercise you actually feel worse. You believe that more exercise, less food is the solution yet neither happens despite good intention. You overeat on sugary snacks, the negative talk starts and you lose hope. It's a viscous cycle!
So what do you do to balance all of the above:
~ Breathing is one of the keys to shifting our chemistry from fat storage to fat burning. Breathing dominates your automatic nervous system and has the most power to influence you in positive or negative ways. Nothing communicates better to your body that you are safe better than your breath. Make sure your tummy breathing and it's not just your upper chest.
~ Practice yoga, pilates or tai chi 2-4 times a week for 4 weeks and then make it a regular practice as part of your exercise.
~ Spend 5 minutes a day focusing on those things you are grateful for. You can't be stressed when you feel grateful
~ Supplements are important if you have adrenal fatigue. A naturpath can help you with this but a good place to start is vitamin B & C.
~ Swap your coffee for a liquorice tea. Coffee is a toxin and drains the body rather than nourishes it.