This is an article I wrote for MindBodyGreen.com. It was published on February 4, 2017.
When I experienced my own hormonal nightmare I felt fat, dowdy, old, and tired. I was moody, couldn’t concentrate, and I was constantly stressed. If you’ve been feeling frumpy lately, it could be that your hormones are out of whack. And as a health coach I’ve found that these are the five hormones we should all be monitoring:
Insulin is usually associated with diabetes, but it can also affect the whole body causing weight gain, lethargy, sleeplessness, irritability, and brain fog. My insulin fluctuated wildly, sometimes it was so low I’d be dizzy and lightheaded. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, likely from a low blood sugar episode, which would cause next-day exhaustion and cravings for sugary, high-fat comfort foods.
This fight or flight hormone “blooms” in the morning and then tapers off during the day. When you have too much, you’ll be sleep-deprived, anxious and hungry. Curious about your cortisol levels? Here are 10 Signs That You Have Way Too Much.
Are you always hungry, even after a big dinner? It could be because of this “hunger hormone” that can get spin out of control when you are sleep deprived. Ghrelin can also lead to body fat storage, which isn’t something we are usually looking for.
Often referred to as the “satiety hormone,” leptin regulates appetite and energy. But you won’t get it when you’re sleep deprived, so be sure to get plenty of deep, restful, uninterrupted sleep. Caution: too much Leptin in the blood can also create a problem. Remember, the goal when it comes to hormones is always balance.
The more adiponectin you have, the more fat you’ll burn. But the more fat you have, the lower your levels of this hormone will be. The mineral magnesium fires up adiponectin so eat dark, leafy greens, avocados, nuts and seeds, and fish.
Balancing hormones, naturally.
Many people have been taught that hormone balance always requires pills, injections or creams, but it’s possible that all you need is a change in the way you live. Food, lifestyle and stress management are of utmost importance. Start with basic “clean eating” (nothing processed) and then either add or eliminate foods that pertain to your particular situation. For instance, with my blood sugar instability and cortisol problem, I avoid caffeine entirely. It’s the same with exercise; I do a lot of yoga because it decreases cortisol. So find what works for you.
When it comes to balancing hormones, everyone should practice deep breathing. When you do so, you’re inhaling oxygenated air and exhaling carbon dioxide. It releases stress-reducing hormones, resulting in a calm and more focused mind. Depending on the type of breathing, it can even energize you at the same time. I also tell my clients to meditate, pray, and to identify a favorite quote or affirmation, repeating it to themselves often. Mine is from a Psalm: “Let there be peace within your walls and quietness within your towers.” I repeat it especially when I’m anxious about something, and it brings me right down. You might even call it a “moving meditation.”
With some intention and a few key lifestyle changes, I was back to my old self in no time. And that is what I want for you!