Do you ever feel “off” and feel like you just can not seem to balance out your health? Do you struggle with weight loss, no matter how hard you try to lose weight? Do you fatigue quickly? Do you find yourself overly stressed/anxious/or swinging from mood to mood on a regular basis? Have you accepted that a feeling of imbalance and a lack of vitality and energy is merely “normal?” Balancing hormones for weight-loss and vitality is crucial for success and for overall happiness. So many people I meet complain of their aches and pains and struggles with reaching their health goals and way too many of those people have thrown in the proverbial towel in achieving optimal health. I am here to shed a little bit of light onto the subject and to reassure you that there is hope and that there are ways to finally succeed in your optimal health journey! Now, hormones are a HUGE subject when it comes to balancing them completely and are quite individualistic, depending on your health needs and your personal make up, but today, I am going to focus specifically on a few of the hormones that play a significant role in weight loss (and, ultimately inner balance and vitality). Over the next few months, I am going to address different hormones to focus on and make sure you getting yourself balanced. Today, it is all about the thyroid and the sex hormones.
Focusing on balancing hormones is one of the most overlooked components of obtaining health goals. You can’t physically see hormones – Out of sight, out of mind? Yeah, maybe! But, why ARE hormones so important in overall health, well being, and weight loss anyway?
First and foremost, hormones do it all and they are our great messengers that bop around your bloodstream and deliver messages to the tissue and organs. It is the endocrine glands (the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenal glands and pancreas) that make your hormones. Your sex hormones are created in the testes, in men, and the ovaries, in women.
You might be saying, “Yeah, I got all that but what does that really matter?” Well, let’s take a look at what sort of everyday functions the hormones control. Here are a few examples…
- They put you to bed at night and wake you in the morning.
- They govern your heart rate and blood pressure.
- They calm down your anxieties and relieve depression.
- They help you digest your meals.
- They control your sex drive.
- They fight stress and infections.
- They regulate your blood sugar.
- They are also responsible for the burning and storage of fat. Any and all attempts to lose fat without first restoring the proper function of the fat-burning and fat-storing hormones will be in vain. Hunger and hardwiring trump willpower every time.
…the diet fad was low fat and low cholesterol? How many of you heard that cholesterol is bad for you and, therefore, you should avoid it like the plague? How many of you run for the hills when a high fat meal is placed in front of you? Now, if you have a health concern where your diet indicates restriction, then that is one thing, but the average person may not be getting enough healthy fats into her diet. With low fat diets and the lack of cholesterol being consumed, your hormones can become dramatically unbalanced because they simply do not have the building blocks to do their job! And, to make it worse, environmental chemicals that you take in through beauty products, cleaners, and everyday exposures can mimic the hormones to attempt to recreate them, BUT they ultimately turn out a little mutant-like…screwing up your system even more!
How much is too much (or too little)?
Let’s explain this with water. If you drink too little, you become dehydrated and your body begins to shut down. If you drink too much, you can throw off your electrolyte balance and end up in the ER. Neither situation will lead anyone to believe that water is bad for us. The problem is in the excess or deficiency. Let’s look at specifics:
- Thyroid: Too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) may give you heart palpitations, cause chronic anxiety, and keep you awake all hours of the night. Too little (hypothyroidism) will cause weight gain, make your hair fall out, and have you feeling frostbitten on a warm sunny day.
- Testosterone: Too much for a woman will give you a sexy Adam’s apple or a beautiful mustache like your grandpa. Too little will zap your libido right out of you and significantly slow down your fat burning and muscle building capabilities.
So, what hormones do you really need to be aware of for weight-loss and overall vitality? Just as a side note, in this blog, I am not addressing gut health and how that will be vital for weight-loss and vitality. Future blogs to come on that! Now, let’s get back to business and let’s take a looksy…
Thyroid hormone: The thyroid is located above the Adam’s apple and it produces the thyroid hormones. Your thyroid regulates your body’s temperature, metabolism, and heartbeat. The thyroid produces triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) which help oxygen get into cells, and make your thyroid the master gland of metabolism.Your thyroid and metabolism have an intimate relationship together. A healthy thyroid depends on the proper functioning of other body mechanisms, including your neurotransmitters, your reproductive hormones and your adrenal glands. Everything ties together! If you have hyperthyroidism (an over active thyroid) you may have some of these symptoms as explained on mayoclinic.com:
- Sudden weight loss, even when your appetite and the amount and type of food you eat remain the same or even increase
- Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — commonly more than 100 beats a minute — irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or pounding of your heart (palpitations)
- Increased appetite
- Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
- Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
- Changes in menstrual patterns
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements
- An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
- Fatigue, muscle weakness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Skin thinning
- Fine, brittle hair
In hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), more women than men tend to suffer. Most thyroid problems occur within the gland itself and often don’t reveal themselves until a broader pattern of hormonal imbalance develops. That’s why thyroid issues, menopause and weight gain often appear together. According to mayoclinic.com, other symptoms include:
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Unexplained weight gain
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
- Thinning hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Impaired memory
You may be wondering how hypothyroidism can cause weight gain…check it out..
When the metabolic burn is low, like it is in hypothyroidism, and it is combined with severely restricting calories on a low calorie diet (which is often what happens when people start gaining weight and their clothing gets tighter), increased weight may occur regardless of the restricted diet! In order to fix your metabolism, you have to understand your entire health picture, not just your thyroid! That is where my health coaching would be fantastic to help get you in balance!
Why does this occur so frequently, especially in women?
- It is a pretty common fact that women spend much of their lives dieting and especially yo-yo dieting. That is where you go from massive feast to massive fast. It is rough on the body and the mind! Most importantly, this undermines your metabolism and decreases your metabolic rate, a compounding factor for the thyroid, especially during perimenopause.
- Women tend to internalize stress, which affects their adrenal, brain, and thyroid function, resulting in increased cravings for sweets and simple carbs to provide instant energy and feel good hormones.
- Women experience monthly hormonal fluctuations that affect their biochemistry. This really throws off the thyroid.
- Hashimoto’s Disease- The most common cause of hypothyroidism. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland. The result is damage to the thyroid, preventing it from producing enough hormones. Hashimoto’s disease tends to run in families.
What do I suggest for stabilizing the thyroid hormone?
- Eat healthy foods- Limiting processed and refined foods, along with grains (wheat, rice, corn,etc), due to their ability to be quickly converted to sugar that will raise your insulin levels. Far too much insulin produced by the body causes increased distress on your thyroid and your adrenal glands.
- Drink plenty of water- Limiting soda, juices, and coffee will greatly decrease your risk. Soda and juice have large quantities of sugar and coffee stresses the adrenal glands.
- Increase of Omega-3 fats- Research is showing that 3-5 grams per day of fish oil supplement is helpful in restoring thyroid balance.
- Make sure you get enough iodine- Iodine is an essential mineral for thyroid formation. According to the American Thyroid Association, the US RDA is 150 micrograms for an adult man or woman. (but if you already have hyperthyroidism, you will want to limit the iodine!).
- Get plenty of sleep- Sleep decreases stress and allows your hormones to balance. Make sure your sleep time is in complete dark and silence for optimal results.
- Exercise- Exercise decreases stress and helps with insulin resistance. Exercise is probably the best medication on the market to treat insulin resistance syndrome.
- Stabilize your emotional health- Weak adrenals = weak thyroids. The thyroid tries to compensate for weak adrenals and eventually gives up. EFT (tapping), somatic recovery therapy, or tactics that help you push through emotional barriers are key.
- Thyroid supplementation
Estrogen: Estrogen refers to a collection of hormones that affect sexual function and reproduction, metabolism, mood, development growth and tissue health and development. As you probably realize already, especially if you are a lady who is in her menopausal years), there is an inverse relationship between estrogen and bodyweight.
Estrogen levels decrease AND body weight increases
When the estrogen receptors in the hypothalamus of the brain change, it means it can be harder to lose weight. So what does that mean for you? That means women need to eat a healthy diet and exercise more to help their metabolism make up for the loss of estrogen. Now, one thing important to understand is that high levels of fat cells produce estrogen, but will not help regulate metabolism or obesity. What it does instead is that it stimulates cell growth. Studies have shown that, especially when this is in large amounts of abdominal fat, there is a higher risk for breast cancer.
I heard someone talk about “Estrogen dominance.” What is that? Estrogen dominance is a crazy scary concept that is getting more and more out of control in our modern society. It is the collection of too much estrogen. It is a result from excess estrogen production within the body, hormone replacement therapy common in menopause, and a drop in progesterone production or intake of excess estrogen from environmental and/or nutritional stressors (think meat injected with hormones or man-made chemicals the body confuses with estrogen). This can happen to men and women!! Ummm, repeat after me..MAN BOOBS! Did you know that when men and women use chemicals that alter or increase the production of estrogen within the body, estrogen dominance can occur. That is where the “skinny fat” and “man boobs” concepts are quite appropriate!
Weight gain is a direct effect of estrogen dominance, especially increased fat accumulation in the abdominal region. When left go, a continuous cycle of excess fat tissue producing more estrogen and estrogen producing more fatty tissue can occur. If you suspect you have some estrogen dominance going on, the best thing to do is to talk to your doctor! The type of treatment you may need to follow to balance this hormone level depends on whether you have high or low levels. Treatment can be hormone replacement, natural supplementation, proper and supported nutrition, and exercise. Exercise helps to lower fat levels in your body (remember, fat cells produce estrogen)
When estrogen decreases and causes an accumulation of fat. Again, exercise and nutrition can level this out. In regards to nutrition, higher levels of estrogen (cucumbers and brown rice) can help to raise levels, whereas low estrogen containing foods (white rice and broccoli) can help to lower them.
Testosterone: Testosterone is a powerful fat-burning, muscle-building hormone. In addition to libido and sexual performance, it plays a significant role in your overall sense of well-being, quality of sleep, and mood. When testerone is low, it will decrease lean body mass, allow you to be more subject to stressors, decrease immunity, increase fungi, and increase diseases. One very important concept to remember is that cortisol and testosterone are hormones that are linked. As cortisol (stress) goes up, testosterone comes down. This plays a significant role in your ability to lose fat.
Testosterone is affected by many other stressors occurring within the body. Your body will rob from one area to feed another! Just one more reason to keep those stress levels in check.
Everyday living tips to better balance your hormones
- Avoid high Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats- Vegetable oils are bad for you. Period. The body is not made to consume these man-made oils. Don’t eat fats like Vegetable oil, peanut oil, canola oil, soybean oil, margarine, shortening, or other chemically altered fats. Instead, opt for coconut oil, real (raw and/or organic) butter, olive oil (but not heated), ghee, fish oil, flax oil and animal fats (lard).
- Limit caffeine- I love my coffee! But, consume in smaller amounts. Too much caffeine wrecks havoc on the endocrine system and really stresses the adrenals. Try replacing it with herbal teas or some green tea for the antioxidants.
- Get enough sleep- Lack of sleep stresses the body and decreases the time it needs to repair and balance hormones.
- Avoid toxins and environmental stressors- Toxins found in pesticides, toiletries, plastics, household cleaners, detergents, mattresses, new carpet, etc can contain hormone disrupting chemicals that mimic hormones in the body and keep the body from producing real hormones. They act like a hormonal birth control pill (which do the same thing!) And, don’t limit it to just this. Find organic produce and grass-fed meat whenever possible and don’t use chemical pesticides or cleaners. Don’t cook with Teflon and just say no to microwaving in plastic! A great website to find out the safety in your toiletries and home care products? http://www.cosmeticdatabase.com
- Supplement wisely- Find out where your deficiencies lie and search for a quality supplement. In a perfect world, we would have no stress, get our vitamin D from the sun, sleep when the sun went down and awake with the sunrise.
- Exercise- Regular moderately intense exercise is vital for insulin control, stress relief, and to help our hormones operate more efficiently. Brisk walking or light to moderate cardio works best for balancing hormones.
- Lift heavier weights- Lifting heavy weights that create a short burst of stress to the body and the muscles is fantastic for hormone support, especially testosterone.
- Keep your Leptin in check- Leptin is a master hormone, and if it is out of balance or if you are resistant to it, no other hormones will balance well. Fixing leptin will also help boost fertility, make weight loss easier, improve sleep, and lower inflammation. (more on this later)
- Make “Isness your business”- Emotions are just emotions, but they can get overwhelming and cause a lot of increased stress and anxiety and emotional distress. When we stop for a moment and let life occurrences flow like water over rocks, stress decreases quite quickly.
- Limit late night eating to help your body recover and fast and reset- Large amounts of food and falling asleep on a full stomach can upset your HGH and disrupt sleep.
- Get the stress out
Shout out those Positive Affirmations and Vibes!
“My hormones support every area of my life to bring me health, happiness, and vitality.”
“I have the power to change myself, my health, and my state of mind.”
“My body is a temple meant to be respected and taken care of. As above, is below.”
This blog is merely scratching the surface but is a great way to introduce you and motivate you to explore further into how you can use hormone balancing to get you healthier and wiser for a full, vibrant life!
Take action now! Are you dealing with out of balance hormones? Are you concerned that you may have risk factors to any of the above issues? If so, get to your doctor to have some tests run so you can see what you are actually dealing with. From that point, you can begin adjusting your lifestyle as needed to get you balanced and in control of your life (and body)! In the mean time, use my everyday tips above to get a head start on living more vibrantly.
Live your life with passion and purpose…
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