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It all shifts.
Every single inch seems to shift to a part of the body that it wasn’t meant to be.
The thighs move up to the hips, the butt moves up the belly, and the back of the arms extend their goodbye with just a little extra jiggle than you might want.
The shift happens for men and women, but women are more afflicted because of their delicate hormonal balance that can easily get upset.
It Isn’t All About The Calories
People have been brainwashed to think if we eat a little less or follow the latest fad diet, that the weight will just melt off of us — regardless of your age or current hormonal disposition.
Unfortunately, there continues numerous dieting models that place this hypothesis on a pedestal, promising their female clients success. And then when it doesn’t work or only works for a short period of time?
You blame yourself. You must have done something wrong or did not have the magical willpower unicorn to help you stay on track.
I discovered that the calorie-in/calorie-out hypothesis has been widely disproven and remains the greatest misconception women have about diet and weight loss. Calories matter, more to some women than others, but hormones matter more.
Most diets don’t work for women. They fail to address the hormonal root causes that are the most common reasons for resisting weight loss resistance — excess cortisol, insulin and/or leptin blockage, estrogen dominance, a sluggish thyroid, low testosterone, and problems with the HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal) control system.
The HPA (Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal) Axis
The HPA axis is the boss of all your hormones. It sits up high looking out over the hormonal kingdom and communicating based on how it interacts with other hormones. The root cause of cortisol imbalance is usually a dysregulated HPA axis.
When the HPA is up-regulated, you churn out too much cortisol. Think muffin top, feeling like you’re constantly racing from task to task, feeling wired but tired, quickness to anger and irritability, and rapid weight gain.
When the HPA is constantly up-regulated, it can get super burned out, like how you feel after those days of back-to-back meetings and then coming home to making dinner and managing your kid’s soccer schedules.
At this point, the HPA becomes down-regulated and suddenly you have a lack of stamina, you are quick to catch a cold, your viewpoint turns more negative, and your thyroid begins to show imbalances.
Since the HPA is often the root cause, the key is resetting it. Any other attempt at fixing the hormones will likely fail in the long run if the HPA is not addressed and stabilized.
It All Starts With Cortisol
There are so many steps you can take to address your cortisol and it really is bio-individual. Some are more researched than others, with my suggestions below being some of the most researched and successful with my clients. Here is my simple protocol to get you started for balancing cortisol.
- Start a regular massage routine. Getting a massage once or twice a month not only prioritizes self-care, but it also helps the muscles and the fascia to release tightness and it helps to move stuck energy throughout the body. You can do this by paying for massage and/or you can start a foam roller practice, which acts like a self massage.
- Add B Vitamins and Omega-3’s if you are deficient. Both of these nutritional gems helps to soothe the nervous system. You can get them in supplemental form or you can eat foods like salmon, leafy greens, liver, beef, eggs, sunflower seeds, and nutritional yeast for B vitamins. Want more Omega-3’s? Fill your meals with foods like walnuts, almonds, fatty fishes, avocados, and chia seeds.
- Honor your voice. This was the biggest action step for my own personal success! Talk through what’s stressing you with someone you trust. Get it off your chest and learn how you can work through it so it doesn’t consume you. While you are at it…
- Honor your energy. Restore your energy by regular meditation or yoga sessions to help calm the nervous system and bring your conscious awareness back into homeostasis and alignment.
- Drink more green tea. L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, helps to reduce stress. Limit your coffee and alcohol, especially if you are more sensitive to either of these.
- Eat more dark chocolate. Yes, eat more dark chocolate, but make sure that it is the 75% or higher variety or raw cacao. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, a mineral necessary to balancing your stress response.
- Take phosphatidylserine. Phosphatidylserine is helpful to take until you perceive less stress and your HPA is no longer hypervigilant.
- Add an adaptogen that helps to reset cortisol. You can try Ashwagandha or Rhodiola, often being successful when taken at night. To help increase your testosterone, you can try some Maca in the morning.
As you get older and your hormones begin to naturally transition into a peri-, post-, and menopausal stage, it is even more important to pay attention to your stress levels and to the hormones that play critical roles. Next blog, I will be talking about the key hormonal players that you need to know about that keep you in balance and living your best life yet!
- Cuciureanu MD, Vink R. Magnesium and stress. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507250/
- Hellhammer, J., Vogt, D., Franz, N., Freitas, U., & Rutenberg, D. (2014). A soy-based phosphatidylserine/ phosphatidic acid complex (PAS) normalizes the stress reactivity of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-axis in chronically stressed male subjects: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Lipids in health and disease, 13, 121. https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-511X-13-121
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