Now a days it seems like the more we know the more we don’t know. New research is constantly emerging on a variety of health topics but there is a common underlying theme.
What factors contribute to weight gain during pregnancy? Hormones.
What causes weight fluctuations, bloating and other health symptoms throughout the course of the month? Hormones.
What is a huge contributing factor in growth in children and the different rates males and females put on muscle? Hormones.
Yes, when it comes to losing weight or improving health, diet and exercise are key, but what about sleep, stress and hormonal balance?
I’ve heard so many cases of people trying to lose weight; they have improved their diet, and started exercising, but are still not losing weight or improving athletic performance. Often these people all suffer from a common underlying problem with hormone imbalance. Its not faulty exercise programming or inconsistent diet, the issue is much deeper than that.
Certainly, diet affects hormones, but other factors can have a tremendous impact on hormone levels as well ;especially sleep, stress, and exercise. Although there is no single symptom that is a definitive sign of a hormone imbalance, factors that often indicate a hormone problem include: sleep troubles, persistent weight gain or inability to lose, being hot / cold, digestive problems, cravings, low libido, fatigue, depression / anxiety, mood swings, headaches etc.
My very own chemical shit storm… Over the past 3 years my body has transformed. I have never been so strong and felt so confident. I have dieted and trained my body and have accomplished feats I did not know were possible. Unfortunately over the past 2-3 years I have also turned my body into a chemical shit storm. From too many early mornings and too many late nights, the over use of caffeine and over using artificial diet foods (I had a Walden Farms addiction for a solid year) I have caused some nasty health complications. I felt manic, agitated, fatigued, restless and hungry all the time; I knew I needed help. To top it off I hadn’t had a regular period in over a year. Case in point, I looked healthy on the outside, but internally I was toxic.
After feeling like the resident nut job for about 3 months following my last fitness competition I knew I had a serious problem but I didn’t know where to turn. I had wonderful results working with my chiropractor Dr. Charla Borowski so I figured the first step was to pay her a visit. Charla is an angel – after I voiced my concerns she referred me to a naturopath. After my initial visit with Dr. Marika Geis I started to feel like me again. As per doctors orders I began taking the prescribed supplements, drastically reduced my caffeine intake and made every effort to chill the eff out. The goal working with Dr. Geis was to regulate my hormones. I began a seed rotation in conjunction with specific supplements. Sure enough I began sleeping better, the quality of my relationships improved and sure as shit I got my period back.
For people like me who suffer from hormone problems things like dieting, extreme exercise or stress will only make the problem worse. Corrective measures need to take precedence to diet and exercise. I found this loophole tough to swallow. I felt like a silly hippie. Everyone around me was getting strong and shredded, except me I was getting well again. This was the first time in my life I was 100% focused on health over performance / aesthetics. I began training and dieting to be healthy.
How to correct your hormone problems: NOTE this is what worked for me and my body. I am not a physician. Please consult with your doctor prior to beginning any new supplementation / exercise program.
1. Get some sleep – your body is extremely active removing toxins, recharging the mind and creating hormones when you are sleeping. Skimping on sleep even for one night can have a tremendous impact on hormones.
2. Eat some fat – fat especially saturated fats, are vital for hormone health as the body uses fats as building blocks for hormones.
3. Helpful supplements:
a. Magnesium – Magnesium supports hundreds of reactions in the body and often contributes to better sleep. Magnesium also helps with PMS symptoms and menstrual cravings. I take 2 scoops in warm water before bed
b. Vitamin D – Supports hormone function. I take 3000 – 5000 IU per day and play outside as often as possible.
c. Vitex / Chaste Tree Berry – Nourishes the pituitary gland and helps lengthen the luteal phase. It lowers prolactin and raises progesterone. I take 1 capsule 15 minutes before breakfast and 1 capsule 30 minutes before bed.
4. Establish your priorities and organize your life. I love my job but I love yoga, writing, baking and the odd lazy Sunday as well. In order to fully serve others you must serve yourself first.
One way I have managed to increase my fat intake is through incorporating almond meal, and coconut oil into my diet. Here are my top 3 high fat, go to breakfasts.
1. Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Toast with 1 tbsp. coconut oil, cinnamon and caramel stevia. Tastes like a cinnamon bun!
2. Turkey Maple Donut – 1/3 cup oat flour, 1 tbsp. almond meal, 1/3 cup egg whites, 2 slices cooked turkey bacon, 1 scoop whey (I used O.N caramel toffee fudge). Combine all the ingredients except the 1/2 scoop whey, and blend until smooth. Pour into a donut pan and bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Take the 1/2 scoop of whey and mix a splash of water with it until it forms a paste. Drizzle protein ‘frosting’ on to donuts.
3. Crepes – take 1 tortilla (I used a brown rice tortilla) and soak it in 1/4 cup egg whites, 2 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk and vanilla extract. Cook tortilla in a heated skillet – about 2 minutes on each side then fill as desired. Option 1 – Apple butter, O.N Cinnamon Graham Cracker whey, pecans with fresh apple slivers. Option 2 – O.N Chocolate casein, 1 tbsp. almond butter and banana. Roll it up and throw it down.
With love from the Trench kitchen,