If you met me a little over a decade ago I can honestly tell you that you would have come across a very different young woman. As I have mentioned before, you may have not realized it because I was great at putting on a face. Back then though, I honestly was walking around irritable, depressed most of the time, anxious about what other people thought about me and just life in general, bloated and fatigued 90% of the time and honestly just down right MISERABLE. Can I even be a bit more candid and tell you that I also was uncomfortably constipated most days and had very little *ehem* "drive" … if you know what I mean. I was a newlywed so needless to say the last two symptoms I mentioned were above and beyond frustrating.
I know, I know that all may seem a bit too TMI for me to just come out and say but the day I feel that I can't keep it real is the day I might as well stop blogging because transparency is the only way I know how to help others. Sometimes I post yummy recipes and health and fitness posts and cute pictures with my kids and then other days I feel the need to talk about some uncomfortable topics because I feel they need to be talked about. I hope I can help encourage you to be more candid too about what you have gone through or are going through. You deserve to be heard. Remember that acknowledging your struggle (of any sort) is often the first step towards healing.
Okay so moving on and continuing with my story, at the time over ten years ago I really had no clue why I felt so awful especially before "that time of the month" but now looking back I undoubtedly know the culprit: my hormones were a complete wreck. If you read my book coming out in late July or early August (the official release date will be announced very soon so be on the lookout for that) I will expand on this more but the moral of the story is this: I went through most days feeling pretty darn yucky both mentally and physically while at the same time unknowingly carrying on with a bunch lifestyle habits that disrupted my hormones day after day.
Let me paint the picture for you. At the age of 18 I was a stressed, mess newlywed and part time working college student who lived off of packaged food, drank way too much caffeine and not enough water (and when I did it was in BPA laden plastic water bottles), slathered herself in cheap, "cotton breeze" lotions after she got out of the shower and who didn't workout except for the occasional five minute walk from work to Dunkin Donuts to get my large vanilla, iced coffee. Did I mention that I also had horrible insomnia and was cooking in aluminum pans and wearing aluminum based deodorant (if you don't already know that's a big no-no)? I was also feeling "stuck" and trying to find my purpose in this world while at the same time having just suffered a miscarriage. Then I ended up trying extreme calorie restriction to get off some extra pounds I had gained and ended up feeling even worse off. My period that at one point was just slightly irregular became non existent for months at a time and my hormones went even more haywire than they had been before!
Can anything spell out s-t-r-e-s-s on the body more? I'm not going to sugar coat it. In my later teens and early twenties I was not in a good place at all. Little did I know that with a few small changes, I would one day feel balanced, amazing, vibrant, motivated and happy as I had always dreamed of. God first and foremost played the biggest role but secondly, learning how to rebalance my hormones by changing the way I lived so I could mentally and physically feel my best proved to be one of the most powerful and loving things I have ever done for myself.
No my friend in case you are wondering as I did, it is not normal or acceptable to walk around feeling like garbage day after day. If a medical professional has ever told you to just "deal with it" I am going to urge you to start looking for someone else to care for you. Now, I myself am not a doctor but I can bet you this. If your lifestyle is anywhere close to how mine was, there is a good chance your hormones are a mess too. In this day and time I have found that we often have to really push and fight to get our hormone levels tested and I really don't know why. Thankfully, I now have no issue getting mine checked because I work with two amazing, caring practitioners but there was a time I knew something was wrong yet I was not heard by my physician at the time. It left me in many ways paralyzed and unable to get well because I didn't know the root of the problem.
I urge you to always fight for yourself and never give up. If you feel as if your hormones are wonky, tell your doctor you want them checked. It is amazing what blood work can reveal at times. When I first and finally had my hormones tested my results made my symptoms all make sense. I had severely low progesterone and was extremely estrogen dominant. Just look up both of those on google and you will find pages and pages of awful symptom and side effects. The early miscarriage, the depression, irritability, heavy periods, bloating, fatigue, digestive issues, low libido and cravings all finally added up! Now, ten years later and nine years since becoming certified as a nutrition and wellness consultant, I am here to tell you what lifestyle changes I made that I truly believe helped turn it all around.
What I do today that I didn't do back then:
I eat loads of fiber daily in the forms of oats, apples, berries, veggies and so on. Did you know that the number one way to excrete excess estrogen is to use the bathroom consistently? Yes, I am talking about poop (insert *gasp*). You have to be pooping at least once daily else your old estrogen will recirculate in your body and you can very easily end up estrogen dominant (aka: a complete wreck)!
I exercise! You need to sweat out your toxins and your excess hormones in order to stay balanced. So, get moving but only in a way your body likes and aim for five hours a week!
I talked to my doctor about starting bio identical progesterone cream and she gave me the green light. This was life changing for me!
I sleep! Oh my gosh I love sleep and I try my hardest to sleep 7-8 hours a night. I religiously use magnesium oil to help me wind down and it helps so much! Sleep allows your hormones and your body to "reset". It's not optional you guys!
I drink 1/2 my body weight in ounces of water a day to help my body detox daily and I stick to no more than one caffeinated beverage before 10 AM.
I do my best to manage my stress level as much as possible because your stress hormone "cortisol" actually eats away at your magnesium stores which in return eats away at your progesterone stores which in return can leave us severely imbalanced.
I eat clean, real foods. Your body recognizes junk food as well, junk. Processed and packaged food can cause more blood sugar fluctuations and inflammation in the body which in return puts a strain on our whole entire body and most especially our endocrine system.
I avoid drinking and eating out of plastics that contain BPA.
I avoid cooking with aluminum pans or using deodorant containing aluminum.
If I can't eat it, I generally try not to put it on my skin. Our skin is our body's largest organ and many chemicals found in lotions, soaps and conditioners are extremely toxic and also act as estrogen within the body. Needless to say, these days apple cider vinegar is my skin toner and coconut oil is my daily moisturizer.
Now, as I have blogged about before, I am unashamedly on Lexapro to help me with my panic attacks and depression that seemed to spike again once the pandemic hit. However, I am grateful to say that I found almost complete healing naturally before starting on medication a few months months back. In fact, nearly seven years ago now I started to see the light in a big way before I got pregnant with my daughter. It wasn't until the pandemic hit that I really felt the need to also involve Western medicine. So, if you aren't already living a clean and active lifestyle and following the tips above then I urge you to start right now because life is just too darn short to not feel your best and to let hormones get in the way!
Disclaimer: what worked for me may not work for you so always discuss any changes you plan on making with your trusted physician. I am simply sharing what in many ways helped heal me from years of suffering with a hormonal imbalance.