Do any of these sound familiar?
- I’m so tired when I wake up, all I can think about is coffee.
- I crave sugar, and must eat chocolate every day.
- I’m tired but wired and can’t remember the last time I slept throught the night.
- I’m hungrier than I used to be – I eat more but never seem to feel satisfied
- I’m bloated all the time, and feel like I retain fluid more easily.
- My muffin top spilling over my jeans embarrasses me and I have to wear “mom” jeans!
These are statements I often hear from my clients who struggle with hormone imbalances but haven’t yet connected the dots between their symptoms and their hormones. And no, it’s not a case of wilted willpower or something you’re doing wrong while following a forced and flaccid diet, it’s just that your hormones are out of whack. Whether a calorie gets burned off or stored as fat boils down to what your hormones are doing at any given time…It’s really as simple as that.
So, whether you’re trying to release those nagging 5 to 10 pounds or 3 inches off your waist. Or if your metabolism has broken down and your doctor asks you to eat less, exercise more but that has never worked. Or if you’re depressed or anxious all the time and your doctor offers you an anti-depressant, that still small voice within you knows that depression is not a Prozac deficiency. That the calorie restriction model has never worked for you. I want you to honor that voice. Listen to it and and respect it’s innate intelligence. Believe it or not, most hormonal imbalances can be corrected with simple diet and lifestyle changes alone.
The good news is that you can make changes, right now and every single day to tip the scales of that hormonal balancing act. It’s the secret prescription to losing weight, igniting your energy and aging gracefully. But I urge you to manage your hormones (especially cortisol and your stress levels) as if your life depended on it. Listen to your body, review the evidence and take inspired action…below are my top 7 hormone resets that work just by changing the way you eat, sleep and move:
Reset # 1: Fire up the Fiber
Eat a pound of organic veggies–such as kale, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, artichokes, asparagus, cabbage–the most nutrient dense food on the planet loaded with fiber. The fiber will sweep the bad estrogen from the liver so it doesn’t keep recirculating like bad karma! Aim for 35-50 grams of fiber per day but increase slowly in increments of 5 grams to avoid painful gas and bloating. This stunningly simple diet reset where you simply throw in some veggies in your breakfast omelet, eat a big salad for lunch and then have some sautéed veggies for dinner will allow you to follow the golden rule of estrogen: use it, then lose it so it doesn’t do a back flip and increase your risk of estrogen-dominant cancers and other hormonal imbalances. Typical symptoms of estrogen dominance inculude painful, heavy periods, painful/cystic breasts, moodiness, depression and like you’re flying off the handle more easily than you used to. Weight loss resistance is another biggie. You especially want to pay attention to this hormone if you are trying to lose weight!
At each meal, aim to eat so many non-starchy vegetables, protein, and fat that you are literally too full for dessert (including fruit). Fruit is not a free food. For instance today’s apples have been hybridized by Big Agriculture to be large sugar bombs, and often contain 20 grams or more of fructose. So just remember: Carbohydrates = Sugar = Insulin = Fat Storage. By loading up on non-starchy veggies at each meal, you are creating the hormone signaling that you need to increase insulin sensitivity so that your body is generating the right energy to the cells without going into insulin resistance, the #1 reason for acclerated aging that overweight/obese women face.
Reset #2: Stamp out Sugars
Not only is sugar eight times more addictive than cocaine but it also feeds your microbiome (set of bacteria and their dna) and it’s subset called the estrobolome that makes us recirculate estrogen over and over versus eliminating it from the body. So, you can really impact your estrogen levels with your fork by eschewing all sugars and sugar substitues. Scan ingredient labels as sugar hides behind a bunch of innocent sounding aliases. So whether the label says high fructose corn syrup, cane syrup, dextrose, fructose, invert sugar (a mixture of glucose and fructose), maltodextrin, malt syrup, maple syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, turbinado sugar, rice syrup, agave nectar, sorbitol, mannitol, aspartame, it’s all sugar! Diet soda is even worse for your microbiome as that changes your gut environment and makes you fat. Sugar also binds to proteins in the blood stream creating advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that literally age you causing sagging skin and wrinkles, ugh!
Reset #3: Sleep Smarter
Many of you are trying to squeeze more into your day saying, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” But that’s a monumental mistake. Not having enough sleep is a bit like driving drunk. Because sleep is that secret sauce, a force multiplier: Sleep effectively makes everything else worse or everything else exponentially better depending on where you lie in the spectrum of getting the quality sleep that you need.
Did you know that just one night of sleep deprivation creates insulin resistance which leads to packing on that belly fat and creating that unsightly muffin top? It’s the equivalent of accelerated metabolic aging by 10 years just from four nights of partial sleep, yikes! A study in a Canadian Medical journal put 2 groups on the exact same nutrition and exercise but the control group slept 8+ hrs while the other group only slept 6 hrs and they found that the sleep deprived group lost a lot less weight and body fat than the control group.
In stage 4 deep sleep, your body also secretes growth hormone, dubbed as the “fountain of youth” hormone so if you’re having interrupted sleep, you’re seriously shortchanging yourself in the beauty department. There’s a reason they call it beauty sleep. Among its benefits, growth hormone (GH) aids in muscle synthesis and repair, boosts energy and improves fat metabolism.
Reset #4: Slim Down Your Stress
When you’re running around like crazy pants checking off items on your herculean to-do list, you’re turning on the body’s physiological Fight or Flight response which is literally signaling your adrenals to monomaniacally pump out cortisol. So you can either fight the predator or flee the situation. The problem is that the body can’t distinguish between an actual physical threat such as tiger chasing you or you running around like a stress case. The excess cortisol in turn blocks your progesterone receptor which leads to estrogen dominance. Also fat cells make estrogen so it becomes a vicious cycle as you start getting stressed, you’re putting on more fat and then the fat cells in turn produce more estrogen, yikes! This is why many women in my practice come to me frustrated on the heels of their Weight Watcher’s or other such programs as they initially lose some weight which basically releases the xenoestrogens (fake estrogens) stored in the fat which in turn makes them plateau or actually gain more weight!
The trick is to get your cortisol in that sweet spot by engaging your parasympathetic nervous system (the direct opposite to Fight or Flight ) to burn fat. Our breath is the most powerful tool we have to modulate the stress response. Stop and notice how you’re breathing right now in this moment by putting your hand on your belly. See if your hand goes out on your inhale and back in on the exhale. If you’re like most people, you breathe from your chest cavity alone and your hand doesn’t move at all. Instead, try taking five slow deep breaths in to the count of five and out to the count of five, and repeat it five times. Try it when you wake up, before meals, at bedtime or anytime you feel the stress ratcheting up to instantly flip on your relaxation response.
Reset #5: Cut Chronic Cardio
We now know that chronic cardio can raise your cortisol and prematurely age you. A better choice is more adaptive exercise such as Pilates mashed up with burst training. Burst training or HIIT (high intensity interval training) improves stress resilience rather than driving cortisol high and keeping it there. Plus you can get an effective HIIT or Burst style workout in as little as 15 min per day and only need 1 hour per week versus putting in long hours on that treadmill daily.
Reset #6: Lay Off the Sauce
We all deal with unremitting stress and that glass of wine or cocktail at the end of the day may be your solution to soothing frayed nerves and reducing stress. But the truth is that the very thing you’re seeking from alcohol—solace—may be the opposite of what you’re getting. Alcohol raises cortisol and temporarily slows metabolism by more than 70 percent! Now, don’t shoot the messenger as I’m not saying you need to become abstinent, but if you struggle with weight, fatigue, or sleep you need to reevaluate your relationship with alchol and perhaps drink less, but better quality.
To take this one step further, every six months, I recommend getting off alcohol for 21 days as this will get estrogen in balance, put you back in fat burning mode and reset your sleep. If this 21-day alcohol fast seems like a tall order, you may have a sticky relationship with alcohol and need additional help to moderate.
Reset #7: Say Ta Ta to Toxic Beauty
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), by the time the average woman leaves her house in the morning, she has exposed herself to 515 synthetic toxins from shampoo, body wash, lotion, cosmetics and the worst offender of all, fragrance! Did you know that women eat about 10 pounds of lipstick (containing lead) over their lifetime? It’s time to be your own kind of beautiful and swap the conventional skin care and makeup for non-toxic organic products sans BPA, phathalates, parabens, PPD, eugenol and other chemicals that are known carcinogens, and immune and endocrine disruptors.
Now I want to hear from you…are hormones rattling your cage? What are you struggling with? If you’re ready to get off the hormonal roller coaster ride, schedule a complimentary 15-minute strategy session so we can do a deep dive into your hormonal issues and create a protocol for hormone harmony once and for all! I’ve opened up 10 spots on my calendar, so grab this now while appointments last.
As women we are hardwired to nurture, overgive and take care of everyone else, but you have to put on your oxygen mask first, before you put on your child’s, or you won’t be there for your family! It’s time to shine those nurturing skills in your own direction and get some support so you can transition from hormonal hell to hormonal heaven.