How hormones can affect your decisions & goals
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To Keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Hormones are entities that transport specific messages between organs to ensure a certain action. Except sometimes they carry multiple messages, and then what makes us so unique is that the ratio of these messages can vary per person. We have quite a bit of hormones, like estrogen, testosterone and progesterone (sex hormones), as well as other hormones to consider like those involved in stress, appetite, and metabolism. They also interact with mood related hormones like serotonin and dopamine, more accurately defined as neurotransmitters (messages between nerve cells and the rest of the body).
When you strike that balance, you know. You have your stuff under control, sleep is good, weight is still coming off or maintained, cravings are absent, energy fantastic, going to the gym leaves you energized, and ladies, any hormonal change related symptoms (e.g. PMS, perimenopause) is hardly more than a slight blip in the day.
When not in balance.. well you probably get the idea. Most commonly we think of anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability, foggy thinking, forgetfulness, etc., though sometimes we may not feel THAT extreme. It could honestly be something as ‘not quite yourself’ - and that it’s gone on long enough you’re just curious to find out what EXACTLY is going on OR your body hit a point where you’re just feeling ALL of these at once and you have NO IDEA how you got there.
For example, estrogen helps support serotonin production, aka our ‘happy hormone’, but too much estrogen actually backfires. Further, too much estrogen can put you at risk for hormone sensitive cancers like breast and prostate, decrease thyroid (aka metabolism) function, and negatively impact your gut health (the predominant source of serotonin). Progesterone helps support GABA (calming neurotransmitter), yet too much progesterone has been implicated pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), generally a more severe version of PMS especially related to mood.
Our hormones didn’t get like this overnight either- things could have snowballed over time, and even decades before us considering our family history. They all impact each other, and unfortunately we can’t just ‘put them on hold’, tell them what to do, and then say ‘go’! Tempting.. I know.
While we still have a life that keeps on moving, here’s what you CAN do to help train them into harmony:
Sleep by 10:30/11pm- Nearly all those hormones mentioned above get regenerated at night, and this bedtime helps improve our overall health. Cortisol drops in the evening to the point where melatonin really begins to rise, and it’s usually around this time. That second wind around 11pm is kind of like cortisol saying ‘Ok, now that you’re up, well you’re going to need food/energy for the next few hours to get some work done, stay out, etc. and hm.. let’s see how much we can cross off our to-do list…’ Consider moving your bedtime back even 15 minutes, as sometimes from a 1am to a 10:30pm can throw you off too.
Magnesium- Nature’s relaxer, involved in over 500 reactions in the body, and super important in making hormones and neurotransmitters. Foods like almonds, spinach, black beans, dark chocolate (over 72%), quinoa, nuts, and avocado are some great go-to’s. About 3 servings of these can help you hit your daily requirement, and to add on the R & R, consider an epsom salt bath (especially in the evening to promote extra ZZ’s).
Aim for an average about about 1/2 grams of protein per pound of body weight- You may find you need slightly more, and that’s fine too. Protein is incredibly important to balance blood sugar (aka cravings, feeling ‘hangry’) as it works either directly or indirectly to balance all of those hormones & neurotransmitters. Further, if you’re looking to lose weight o maintain, this macronutrient can help you burn fat even faster. Aim for grass-fed, organic, free-range, pastured eggs & poultry, and wild-caught fish, as well as beans & quinoa being great vegan and vegetarian sources.
While there may seem like A LOT of moving parts, the good news is that there’s so many different tips you can incorporate into your lifestyle that can help with all of this- and it can look different for everyone. In other words, the mindset of ‘this treatment for that concern’ can prove to be incredibly overwhelming once we really delve into how many different pathways could be a bit off. If you’d like to learn more about what tips could suit you best so you feel more present, sharp, and overall aware, let’s find a time to chat!