Monday, May 31, 2010

Blame it on your Hormones!

"Sugar and spice and all things nice, that is what little girls are made of..." but what are big girls made of ? Of course we are still all sugar and spice and all things nice most of the time right? WRONG! For many women every day is a gamble as to whether their hormones will lead them down the sunny, smiley road to Blissville or take the slightly more bumpy route down to HORMONE HELL. Sound familiar? I have to admit that I struggle for about 14 days of any given month and need to dig deep into my bag of discipline in order to function and stay motivated.
Mood swings....bloating.....weight gain....cravings....headaches.....insomnia.....aggresive behaviour.....tears galore.....the list is endless! How lucky we girls are. Yes, this is just part of life and we somehow get through it, accept the cravings, eat the chocolate and wear looser clothes. It can be very frustrating though if you are trying to follow a fitness plan or weight loss plan.  It is during this time that women often give up and accept that things will never change. Not all women are affected in this way but some are extremely sensitive to these fluctuations and monthly changes.

So what can you do to help diminish or even eradicate these feelings. Firstly, it is not a bad idea to go and get a blood test so that you can determine the state of your hormone balance. For the body to function in harmony all our hormones need to be in balance. Sometimes our levels of estrogen dip or go over the chart and likewise with progesterone and testosterone. An imbalance will cause irregular or absent periods, prevent women from falling pregnant, cause miscarriages and give us terrible PMS. I have lived with PMS and although I now manage it well, I still have days when I simply want to stay in bed and block out the world. So, in order to stay on track and stick with the programme it is important to change your routine and nutrition during the different stages of your cycle. Accept that there will be days when you feel great and strong and there will be days when all you can manage is a few gentle yoga poses.

The week prior to our periods we may feel heavy and tired and possibly depressed. Our serotonin levels are low at this time of the month which makes us feel down in the dumps. However, rather than retreat to the sofa, get outside for a long walk, go for a gentle run or do any other kind of exercise that usually lifts your spirits. Exercise naturally increases levels of serotonin, so get yourself up and out there even if you don't feel like it. Your workouts will feel harder during this time as progesterone tends to increase which adds to a feeling of exhaustion. Don't beat yourself up about it, stress will only add to your woes and remember that you will be feeling better in a few days, so push through.The good news is that during the week before your period, your body burns fat more efficiently which is one of the reasons why you crave high sugar foods during this time. If you can fight the urge to devour a whole bar of Lindt your body will start to attack the existing fat and your workouts will be even more effective. There is always some good news amongst the bad!

PMS can start to make an appearance as early as day 14 of our cycle and can turn us into right little monsters! I have found that nutrition can have a big impact on the severity of our symptons. A diet lacking in nutrients and high in toxins can cause absolute havoc. Research has proven that caffeine has a very negative effect on our hormonal system and I personally find that eradicating this alone makes a major difference. It has also been implicated in many fertility problems and many women have managed to fall pregnant by giving up caffeine. I don't just mean coffee when I talk about caffeine. Look at any soft drink ingredients and you will see the inclusion of caffeine. Chocolate and tea are also members of the family so check out labels before you consume. The second most detrimental influence on our hormonal systems is alcohol. Oh NO! I hear you scream. A single glass of wine will increase your levels of estrogen which in turn will tip the hormonal balance in a negative way. Doctors now believe that these increases in estrogen can lead to a higher risk of breast cancer at worst, as well as hinder your chances of conceiving. Obviously this is a very big subject and I am not going to go into huge detail about it, but it is worth thinking about. Adding Omega 3 to your daily dose is also a very good idea. I generally take upto 4 grams a day which is way over what they recommend on the supplement bottles, but there is no harm in it as far as I am concerned and so far I have only seen the benefits on my body. The last bit of advice I will dare to give on nutrition is to eat "Clean".  What does eating "Clean" mean? Well, first of all it is about choosing only organic foods and staying away from processed foods. Anything which has been packaged and contains a million ingredients with un-pronouncable names should be avoided. Our bodies need only pure natural foods...fruits and vegetables, organic meat and mercury free fish, organic dairy produce and wholemeal cereals. I could go on forever about this because I am passionate about eating this way, but that will have to wait for another time. I do recommend you purchase  Tosca Reno's "Eat Clean" book available at Amazon.

Well, that's all from me today. Here's wishing you a happy hormonal week and just remember that you are a strong fit female even on the bad days.

"With hard work come results. The joy in life comes with working for and achieving something"


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