Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Too much cortisol

Last night's WOD:

Snatch 3-3-3



21-15-9 reps for time of:

Box jumps 20"
Push press 60#

My time: 11:14.

Today's WOD:

Back squat 5X5 at 115#


5 rounds for time of:

5 deadlifts 135#
20 wallballs 10#, 10' target

My time: 10:19.

Neither of those workouts were anywhere near Rxd, but I'm not going to write the Rxd weights in parentheses anymore. It just makes me feel bad. I'm sick of being so far behind the good people, but I'm not going to get better trying and failing at weights that are too heavy for me.

The cortisol story

I'm struggling with a bunch of stuff lately.
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Craving carbohydrates and specifically sugar
  • Drinking more and more coffee
  • Overtraining and putting lots of pressure on myself
  • Work stress
  • Other life stress
  • Feeling socially isolated
All of these things are related. I think my cortisol is messed up. Not enough sleep, overtraining, various forms of stress, and too many carbs all increase cortisol. Increased cortisol makes you crave carbs more, which cause a crash, and caffeine helps to combat it. Which is a good temporary fix, but it worsens insomnia, which makes everything else worse. Going hard at the gym makes me feel better temporarily and makes me feel like I'm doing something good, but it's only increasing cortisol levels. I'm worried that I'm getting myself into a state of moderate adrenal fatigue. This is a really bad thing and I need to get myself out of this nasty feedback loop.

So here's The Plan:
  • Get 8.5 hours of sleep each night. That means going to bed at 9:30.
  • No caffeine after noon.
  • Cut way down on my carbs and cut out all sugar (honey, agave, maple syrup) and dried fruit
  • Cut my training from 5 to 4 days a week
  • Put less pressure on myself with regards to training
  • Figure out some better ways to deal with my stress
  • Take a vacation (that's planned for a month from now, thank god)
  • Figure out a way to socialize more
The hardest parts will be cutting down on training and stress because they're such a major part of the way I've been living. And the social thing, that will be hard too. I'll have to put myself out there and invite people to do things. They might say no, and with my fear of rejection, that can be really hard. But I have to try. I'm naturally an introvert, but even introverts get lonely. All the other stuff I can do - it's just a matter of being really strict about it. I need to fix things. I felt like I was falling apart at the gym this morning (physically and emotionally) and I can't keep doing this to myself.

I don't know if anyone's reading or anyone cares, but I wanted to share this because maybe someone else is going through the same thing and it will help to read about my experience. This has been very difficult and I'm trying to stay positive and take a sensible, scientific approach to fixing it. I'll try to keep sharing, but if it feels too personal, I may pull back and just keep things light on the blog for a while. Will play it by ear. But feel free to comment if you have any insights or experience with issues like this.



mtbjune said...


You aren't alone and thank you for sharing! I have definitely gone through much of the same and can relate...heck, I think a lot of CrossFitters can relate! I've had to cut back my training to 3x's a week and it's helped with fatigue a ton. The change in season's affect me pretty hard as well, so this time of years is always kind of rough. Just hang in there.


Bluescaptain Joe said...

wish i could be more helpful. socialization is to me what math is to you and your hubby.

Philip said...

I have an idea. Try meditation...seriously. Try to find about 5 to 7 minutes a day to sit relaxed and clear your mind of thoughts. Focus on a single word (mantra) and you may be able to "reboot" your inner self.