But even if I had the time to hit the gym five or six days a week for two hours at a clip, it wouldn’t be smart to do so. At thirty-five, I need more time to recover, and experts suggest keeping your workout to an hour or less; anything more and you’re likely to produce excess cortisol.
Cortisol has been dubbed the “stress hormone” because it is secreted in higher levels during the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress.
In addition to the above, excess cortisol will wreck your diet and fitness goals. Too much cortisol makes it harder for you to lose weight, reduces your body’s ability to process amino acids, and inhibits growth hormone levels. In other words, excess cortisol makes it tougher to maintain/grow muscle. And without sufficient muscle, your metabolism goes down the toilet and you get blubbery.
So if you’re going the natural route, sans steroids, keep your workouts short and intense, learn to manage your stress, eat a clean, balanced diet, and get plenty of Z’s. Or if you’re like me and have a toddler that has developed the strength to pull herself out of the crib and open the bedroom door to wake your butt up at three a.m., at least try to maximize your downtime by reading a book, watching a movie, and doing absolutely jack shit around the house from time to time.