Balance Your Hormones. As a woman, you know a thing or two about hormones. You likely first started dealing with them in your early teens as you began to discover what it meant when “Aunt Flow came to visit,” it was simply “that time of the month.” In fact, most of us remember those first days of cramping, bloating, unexplained mood swings, and crying when someone just said hello fairly well. Those days of not understanding what was going on inside of you and why you felt the way you did.
Now, 30-40 years later (or more), you have to discover your hormones all over again as you learn what it means to lose your period and how it affects how you feel mentally and physically. You suddenly realize what an estrogen drop does to your system and how your body responds with not-so-pleasant things such as hot flashes, night sweats, still more mood swings, and easily gaining weight around your midsection. How do you cope?
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy the Answer?
Some doctors want you to believe that hormone therapy is the answer. Just take a pill, put on a patch, or use a gel (amongst other avenues of receiving them via your female parts) and you’ll feel great. No more night sweats, goodbye hot flashes, and you’ll feel in control of your emotions all day long. While this would be wonderful since you wouldn’t have to carry your pocket fan in your briefcase to meetings or gain weight in your belly solely by looking at food, this particular treatment has been proven to be more harmful than helpful.
Studies now show that hormone replacement therapy (HRT)—which is designed to replace the various hormones that are decreasing in your body naturally as you get older—puts you at a higher risk of serious medical conditions such as heart disease, breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Your chances of getting blood clots or suffering from a stroke go up as well.
Is it really worth it? Not necessarily. Especially when you can start with other, healthier, options when it comes to balancing your hormones. What are they?
Lower Your Stress
One of the best things you can do to help your body get on a more even keel is to lower your stress levels. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, right. If you’re willing to do my job, take my parents and kids, and hire me a maid, that will lower my stress!” Understandably, this isn’t an easy thing to ask you to do, but it is necessary if you want to live a more balanced life.
You see, when you’re under stress for long periods of time, which is often the case for women in professional or managerial roles, your body increases the production of cortisol. Cortisol is okay when it is released due to a short-term stressor, such as being involved in a car accident, but not so great when it is released continuously over time as it winds up affecting your body’s ability to properly digest food. It is also to blame for that layer of fat around your midsection, which is the most dangerous place to have it since that is where most of your organs are.
That is why it is imperative that you take the time to regularly de-stress. Ask a family member to sit with your ailing parents as you take a night to yourself. Take a day off from work or delegate some of your duties to lighten your load. Find a physical activity that feels as good to your soul as it does to your body. Do what you need to do to get the stress—and the cortisol—from wreaking havoc on your hormones.
Watch Your Diet
Although hormonal changes can make you crave foods that are aren’t the best, like sugar and salt, giving in to these temptations can make you feel worse. Not only will you be fighting with the hormones when you imbibe, you’ll also be fighting with the results that these types of foods tend to inflict on your body.
For example, consume too much salt and it could raise your blood pressure and contribute to bloating since your body will retain water in an attempt to balance out your sodium levels. Too much sugar will send your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride in which you feel great and happy one minute, tired and moody the next.
However, if you eat healthy, nutritious foods and eat them often (every 3-4 hours), you will feel better and more in control. Your hormones will stay more level, allowing you to handle work, home, and everything else in your life with more ease. Supplements can help too, especially if you are deficient in some key nutrients that could be affecting your overall quality of life.
Getting your heart rate up and working your muscles is good for you too as this causes your body to release feel-good hormones that make you feel better naturally. It can be difficult to find the energy to work out after a long day at the office, but when you find an activity that you enjoy doing, it will be something that you look forward to instead of dreading.
So, what do you like to do? Golf? Tennis? Walking? Swimming? Dancing? It doesn’t matter what you do, just do it regularly and it will be beneficial to your hormones, and your health.
Balance your hormones and you will balance your life. That is a good thought, isn’t it?
P.S. If you are a peri-menopausal woman, if you balance your hormones now, the transition through menopause is generally much easier!