You may be trying to eat well and exercises or even follow a nutrition plan and training regime to an absolute Tee, but no matter what you do the weight just des not seem to want to budge. Instead, you find yourself getting crazy food cravings, you are frazzled, emotional, tired, stressed, even when life is peachy in other aspects.
Sound familiar? So many women complain about symptoms like this and talk about it with their girlfriends as an accepted norm, however even though symptoms are very varied, they may be an indication that there is an imbalance of hormones happening.
Hormone imbalance in women can come about for many reasons such as yo-yo dieting, lack of sleep, stress, pollutants, chemicals, poor nutrition to name a few. And in many cases (particularly from my own experience) imbalanced hormones generally go unnoticed and cause determent to your body under the radar, in many cases, doctors will dismiss any underlying issue without any diagnosis.
As you know, this is one of the reasons why I created my program Body By Nina... to ensure that you eat well and don't over do it with your training. Believe me, you don't want to make the mistakes I made a few years ago.
So with hormones sneaking around unnoticed, how do you know you have a hormone imbalance? Well even though there are many signs and symptoms for different hormones, these may be some good indicators that there is an underlying issue that needs to be paid attention to.
1. Tired And Wired
Do you wake up feeling so tired in the morning no matter how much sleep you get? Where you just need that cup of coffee to get you to function let alone going for the day? Then on the flip side when it's time to go to bed you can not switch your brain off and you have a sudden bout of energy and you are too wound up to sleep?
Our little friend cortisol (stress hormone) can be to blame here. Chronic stress causes high and fluctuating cortisol levels. Fluctuating cortisol throughout the day is very stressful and taxing on your adrenals and sends you on a whirlwind of feeling energized and wound up to feeling chronically fatigued and tired.
If this continues for an extended period of time it can cause our adrenals to completely burn out which will have you all kinds of long term trouble.
2. Brain Fog
Are you forgetting things constantly? Like where you out your keys? What time you are meeting a girlfriend for lunch or even what you walked into the room for? It's not something we would really think about linking to a hormonal issue but stress can be playing a role here.
If you have been experiencing higher amounts of physical or psychological stress for a period of time, this will cause or cortisol levels to increase. High levels of cortisol (also known as your stress hormone) can inhibit your learning ability and memory which cause forgetfulness and ability to focus and concentrate on simple tasks.
3. Nonexistent Libido
Or even just a low libido, 70 percent of the time is actually linked to a hormonal imbalance. so if you are not in the “mood” very often then it may actually be your hormones you have to blame. In many cases estrogen dominance (higher estrogen to testosterone and progesterone levels) or even low estrogen can be main the culprits for your low libido along side with your thyroid and your cortisol levels.
If you then add in everyday factors of a hectic lifestyle, stress, kids, work, lack of sleep, then no doubt that getting “frisky” is probably the last thing on your mind.
4. Cravings Galore
So we are women, we get cravings at the best of times especially around that time of the month, but if you find yourself craving the point where you are simply unsatisfied and you can’t stop yourself because you are constantly hungry then your hormones may be coming into play.
Uncontrollable cravings for sugary foods can be caused but an imbalance of cortisol and insulin whereas if you are adrenal fatigued you may find yourself reaching for salty options. But in general, make sure you get enough sleep.
People who lack sleep have increased levels of ghrelin (the hunger/appetite hormone) and decreased levels of leptin (the appetite suppressant hormone) which can make you absolutely ravenous and keep you going back to the cookie jar.
5. Stalled Weight Loss
If you are doing everything you can and no matter how well you eat or how many gym sessions, you do and you still can not lose or you are even putting on weight then you may have a hormone issue at hand. Even though weight loss has many contributing factors that can be resolved by tweaking ones dieting and training regime, sometimes it can stem from thyroid issues and stress.
If you are eating little calories or over training, or both (along with other stressors), the body’s survival response is to slow down the thyroid function which in turn slows down the metabolism in order to preserve energy.
6. Digestive Issues
Some people can notice the symptoms from stress in their stomach and gut. Gas, bloating and slow digestion are generally linked to food intolerances, lack of chewing food or over eating.
But what people miss is that digestive issues can also be caused by imbalanced hormones particularly oestrogen and progesterone as well as adrenal issues.
Ok so now you may have identified that there could be an issue. So Nina what I do I do?
Well, it is always worth seeing an endocrinologist to make sure you know exactly what is going on with your body if you feel you have some noticeable imbalances going on. But in the meantime here are 3 tips that can help you try to improve your imbalances (or prevent them from happening):
1. Get To Bed On Time
There is probably nothing else that is as important for helping restore your hormone balance than making sleep an absolute priority. But getting to bed before 10 pm also is important for your optimal hormone function. Experts claim that getting one-hour sleep between 10 pm and 2 am is equivalent to 2 hours sleep outside of those times.
So it is important to get to bed at a time in order to ensure you get the best quality of sleep possible in order to reduce stress and keep you natural sleep cycle in check. Bedtime should be a ritual that helps you relax, so turn off your electronics an hour before bed and take a relaxing bath or meditate to help prepare yourself for a good night sleep.
2. Improve Your Gut Health
The gut is like a second brain in the body which is lined with billions of good bacteria and has a huge impact on your overall health. Any compromise or inflammation in the gut can upset your hormone function and balance. This is because the bacteria in our gut help metabolise and recycle hormones, which help keep them in balance and without them you will most definitely find yourself with a hormone imbalance.
Cutting out foods that generally spike intolerance or inflammation such as dairy and gluten is a good starting point. A great way to ensure your gut is healthy is to introduce more fermented foods into your diet such as kombucha, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, which are full of gut healing microbes. a serving of these per day along with a good quality probiotic before bed will help ensure you have a happy and healing gut.
3. Reduce Lifestyle Stress
It is very easy to jam pack a million and one things to get done in a day and while you may not feel very stressed, the simple fact of running around constantly with no downtime can be putting your body under stress.
Stress is known to be a major disruption of hormone balance and can cause the body to go into the fight or flight or survival mode. here your body will be a fat storage machine. Some ways of helping stress reduction include simple things such as meditation, yoga, deep belly breathing, reading a book or taking a bath.