Let me open with a sincere apology for taking so long to back up this hormone balance blog! And with a warning that this is a longer-than-normal blog. Total transparency: when I said I was dealing with a hormone imbalance, I was slap in the middle of an imbalance crisis! Well, perhaps that’s a tad dramatic, but it surely felt like it.
The first step is still, and will always be, to see your doctor and get blood work done. Make sure you have a physician whom you trust and who will really listen to you. Knowing your major numbers (cholesterol, thyroid, and vitamin D for starters) and hormone levels will be your “ground zero.”
I completely, fully believe that a healthy lifestyle with clean nutrition and a comprehensive workout program is crucial. Not just for hormone balance, but for overall wellness and healthy aging. In the previous blog, I mentioned the various hormones and how they affect us. Clean nutrition and specific foods will be discussed a little later in this blog!
First, let me explain why I emphasize seeing your doctor and having blood work drawn as your first step. I can share my own personal example. Aging plays havoc on our hormonal balance – this goes for men as well as women. In my case, I had a hysterectomy seven (7) years ago. My doctor left my ovaries, so I wasn’t immediately thrown into menopause. Three years ago, I was convinced I was dealing with menopause due to horrendous hot flashes and night sweats. I went to see my doctor, who checked my blood work. We received quite the surprise – my thyroid was slow, and I was deficient in Vitamin D. As much as I hate taking prescription medication, it was necessary. Over a few months, my symptoms improved a great deal with no side effects. In fact, I was able to come completely off of the thyroid medication, and my numbers have been in the middle of the normal range for the past two years. I attribute this to my nutrition!
Fast forward to this fall – just in time to begin competition preparation. The hot flashes returned with a vengeance, and this time they did not come alone. I had been experiencing, in addition to the hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, extreme fatigue, inflammation causing pain in several joints, brain fog, random pockets of fat in hips, and even heart palpitations. As I was already in competition prep, I knew my nutrition, workouts, and water intake were on point. I added a lot more of the foods I’ll list below in just a bit, got outside for fresh air and sunshine as much as possible, and tried to nap. Blood work confirmed that my thyroid was normal, and that I was NOT Vitamin D deficient. It took a while to get in to see my doctor, and I had a list of things I really wanted to discuss with her. I did not want pellets, or injections of any kind, nor did I want to take any prescription pills. As a natural bodybuilding pro, I also have to abide by an extensive banned substance list. Remember when I said to make sure you trust your doctor, and that he or she really listens to you? I have a PHENOMENAL doctor! I never had to say any of the things I just mentioned; she knows me very well and was completely prepared. It was the easiest conversation, and I left a very happy and hopeful girl!
The blood work showed that my estrogen level was less than 5. The range for post menopausal women is less than 30, and the optimal range for women over 50 is from 50 to 100. No wonder I felt like I did! My doctor prescribed an estrogen patch, which I’ve been using for about two weeks. It’s already making a difference – with no side effects!
All of this to say how important it is to know where your “ground zero” is, and how to proceed from there. If, like me, your hormones are truly and grossly out of balance, simply cleaning up your nutrition and implementing an exercise routine might not give you enough relief. If someone already feels defeated and betrayed by her own body, and making a lifestyle change like this doesn’t fix the problem, she might be inclined to just give up. Please, please, please DO NOT ever give up on improving your health and wellness!! Remember, your fitness level comes from any exercise you get. This will improve your balance, flexibility, mobility, and strength as you age! It really is crucial!
Now for the nutrition! What you put in your face is so very important! Hold on – you can still have balance and enjoy what you eat! Who doesn’t love a good, easy-to-use list, right? Well, here you go! These lists will be broken down into groups to aid in meal preparation and grocery-list making.
Animal Proteins **I highly recommend organic, antibiotic and hormone free sources!!
Fish (Mahi, Orange roughy, Triggerfish, Tilapia, Tuna)
Fruits And Vegetables
Berries – all of them!
Essential, Healthy Fats
Extra virgin olive oil
Natural peanut butter
Gluten-Free Baking Flours And Grains
Almond flour Brown rice
Coconut flour White rice
Brown rice flour Quinoa
Buckwheat flour Buckwheat
Recommended Herbs And Spices
Pink Himalayan sea salt
I know that’s a lot of information, but isn’t it wonderful to know that you are not at all limited by your choices?! You can definitely prepare healthy meals, full of flavor AND nutrition! I do want to remind you just how important it is to use organic sources of foods rather than processed foods. Even the beef and chicken sources most accessible are full of hormones and antibiotics. I guarantee the little extra money you might have to pay is well worth it. The flavor and texture of chicken, for example, is SO much better in organic, hormone-free and antibiotic-free chickens!
To wrap this all up, plug in any or all of these foods. Be creative, and enjoy the process knowing it will make a huge difference! First you’ll begin to feel the difference, and before you know it, you will SEE the difference. What have you got to lose, except your excuses and feeling bad? Go ahead and make that appointment with your doctor, then make your grocery list.
If all of this leaves you feeling a little overwhelmed, I’m here to help you. Believe me, I’ve been through it!! I would love to help you put together and implement a plan for improved nutrition, exercise, and both! Email me at FitTeacherMom@aol.com, or click on the “Contact Me” link on this site!
You’ve got this – your future is looking SO bright!!