If you experience a menstrual cycle, you are probably able to anticipate when your skin will be the most clear each month and when it most definitely won’t. Or when you will have ample energy to smash out an intense workout and when you will need to reserve the single ounce of energy you have to grab a heating pad and push “Yes, I’m still watching” on your Netflix screen.
Your hormones are always changing – they ebb and flow, and not just each month. These important chemical messengers fluctuate throughout the day, too. Understanding your hormones may seem like an impossible feat, but they’re more predictable than you think. And once you know their natural daily patterns, you can optimize your routine to work in harmony with your hormones, not against them.
In the AM
Cortisol is highest early in the day and gradually lowers as the hours pass. This hormone is what wakes you up, kick starts your digestion and other biological processes, and naturally helps fuel your workouts.
If you have lower cortisol levels, a high intensity workout in the morning can help balance out your system. But be wary of those early morning HIIT sessions if you suffer from chronic stress or high cortisol levels. In that case, you should opt for a lower intensity workout like yoga, or wait a few hours to break a sweat when your cortisol levels have naturally lowered.
Ever wonder why people always recommend doing things like meditation or exercise in the morning? Research shows healthy habits are easier to stick to if you do them first thing. Why, you may ask? Cortisol plays a major role in the formation of habits. Blame it or thank it!