About two years ago, when I was 49, I took a trip to Scottsdale, AZ, with my husband and another couple. We ate like the world was ending and drank enough alcohol to stock a full bar, but we had so much fun. During our trip, I made sure I got a ton of exercise to combat the over indulgences because, in the past, it has always balanced it’s self out. Usually, during our vacations, I may gain 3 maybe 4 pounds, and I would lose it when I got home and back into my routine. However, on this ill-fated trip, I gained 8 stinking pounds, 8! Those 8 pounds stayed with me for two years and became the bane of my existence. No matter what I did, I could not budge the scale.
Not only were my jeans too tight, but I was sluggish and felt as if I were living in a fog. As a self-proclaimed biohacker and human Guinea pig, I tried all sorts of methods to lose weight. For the first 4 months, I did the ubiquitous caloric restriction, low carb, and limited my intake of anything pleasurable, diet. Even though I was pretty strict (minimal cheating) and I lost a pound or two, I always gained it back. Sometimes I was horrified to see that I gained even more weight, what the what?! Was I doing everything so wrong that I could not lose weight and seemed to always gain more? I felt terrible, I couldn’t sleep, had no energy, and my sex drive waxed and waned. As if all of the symptoms were not enough, I had no desire to do anything, including the things I loved, like karaoke with my friends. I went to my doctor, and do you know what she said? She looked me in the eye and said these words’ “lose 8 pounds.” Needless to say, I wanted to poke her eyes out.
My desire to discover alternative treatments for my health has been one of those topics that ignites passion and excitement in my soul. As a Registered Respiratory Therapist, I have worked in conventional hospitals for over 24 years. I swear there is a revolving door in the lobby because I would see the same patients over and over with the same issues. We would treat the symptoms, get the patients functioning just enough, and discharge them, only to see them come back a week later. Conventional medicine has excellent attributes. However, it is only one half of the wellness equation. The medical community is trained to compartmentalize or bodies, our symptoms, and our complaints (I know because I teach medical students). My experience in conventional medicine is the reason why I sort out non-conventional, holistic treatment for bodies that are out of balance. Unfortunately, I could swear that doctors forgot they are dealing with the miraculous human body that has a built in ability to cure itself, with the right tools. Our bodies require an all system approach, which includes nutrition, psychological, emotional, and physical support. Some doctors do take the whole-person approach, they are called osteopath’s, or integrative and functional medicine practitioners. Personally, I believe whole body integrative doctors are the only practitioners we ladies should utilize for our best health. Integrative doctors treat your whole body, not just your parts (as if they are not all connected).
The 8 pounds, holding on to my body like a baby koala, forced me to start thinking outside the box. I stop focusing on what I was putting into my mouth and start thinking about the imbalance that was turning me into a doughy version of my former self.
When I encounter a problem I do research, not the stop at a Google search kind, or Wikipedia kind, but the consult professionals, read a hundred books and then use myself as a guinea pig kind. Ladies, what I discovered worked for me, and I bet many of you suffer the same imbalance that I experienced.
Let’s keep in mind that I am not a doctor, nor should you consider this medical advice. I am merely relaying what I discovered through trial and error that really worked to help me lose weight, clear up brain fog, improve libido, pump up my energy level, and increased my desire to live and live well.
The problem was Estrogen Dominance, and yes, girls, it is a very real thing.
Most of us think of estrogen as the female hormone, the soft and sweet hormone that makes ladies so angelic. The truth is that both men and women have estrogen, as well as testosterone and progesterone. The balance of these hormones is essential for all the well-running operations of the body, especially maintaining a healthy weight and energy level. When estrogen becomes dominant, it begins to offset the balance and wreak havoc on everything from the way you feel physically to your mood. Why and how does estrogen get so out of balance? One of the major contributors is our age ( I hate to admit that).
As we approach menopause or go through menopause (even after) our estrogen levels can surge, contrary to what we are told.
The medical community deduced that as a woman ages there is a steady decline of estrogen, but it’s not true for all women. Some women (like myself) experience an overabundance of estrogen, and it is a very disruptive event.
Most estrogen is produced in the ovaries and visceral fat (tummy fat that is stored around the organs). Progesterone is mainly produced in the outside of the mature egg as it goes on its journey to the uterus. As our egg production decreases, so do progesterone levels, allowing estrogen to increase. Not only do our estrogen levels increase, but the fat we gain (because of the imbalance) is creating estrogen as well. It takes a while before a woman starts to experience the side effects of estrogen dominance, but symptoms can mean it’s really getting out of control. Here is a list of some symptoms of estrogen dominance:
- Fuzzy thinking
- Weight gain (especially around tummy and thighs)
- PMS like irritability
- Decrease sexual desire
- Decreased drive to do things you love
- Depression and anxiety
- Water retention
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Chronic fatigue
- Poor concentration
- Breast pain
- Polycystic ovaries
- Hair loss
If you feel there is something wrong, don’t ignore it. There is no reason to accept a decreased quality of life because we can no longer reproduce.
The mainstream medical community poo poo’s diminished quality of life in women 40 and over. This is why you need to take your health and happiness into your own hands. If you believe you are experiencing estrogen dominance, go to your doctor and ask for a hormone panel. If your doctor refuses, get a new doctor! Look for an integrated practitioner in your area or a wellness center. There is no reason for you to struggle anymore.
Factors you can change right now to improve your health:
Increase your fiber intake
The gut is where it all goes down ( no pun intended). Increasing your fiber intake will help your body excrete excess estrogen.
Add Benefiber (or the Costco brand Optifiber) to your coffee every morning. Aim for eating two salads a day, add nuts and seeds. Make almond bread and psyllium husk (an excellent source of fiber) muffins (link), and eat two a day. Beans, almonds, chia seeds (make chia seed chocolate pudding YUM! link coming), and organic oats are an excellent source of fiber. Try to make sure you have fiber in every meal. This is a fantastic start to healing your estrogen imbalance.
Decrease your sugar intake
Sugar wreaks havoc on all of your vital organs and taxes your liver. Sugar produces lactic acid, which feeds and attracts bacteria. In an imbalance, such as estrogen dominance, eating sugar is like pouring gas onto an out of control fire. It is not a healthy mix for someone with estrogen dominance. Besides, the liver metabolizes excess estrogen, and adding too much sugar to your diet will decrease its’ function.
Here is a free, easy to read ebook about the devastating impact sugar has on our bodies. Click on the book for a free PDF download.
Don’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners (like Splenda) because they come with a plethora of other issues that cause inflammation. Instead of artificial sweeteners, try natural ones like Stevia and Monk Fruit. The best tasting stevia I have found is Trader Joe’s. Costco now carries Monk Fruit as a sweetener alternative. Monk Fruit is one of the word’s sweetest fruits, and a little goes a long way. The brand Costco carries, Lakanto, contains Erythritol (a very safe sugar alcohol that does not raise blood sugar) combined with monk fruit. The Lakanto Monk Fruit is AMAZING, and I have completely replaced all sugar in my baking with it. I even made chocolate with it! If you would like to try the Monk Fruit without the Erythritol, try this brand https://www.netrition.com/lc_foods_luo_han_guo.html.
Get the toxin’s out and eat as clean as possible
Did you ever hear of the dirty dozen? Not the movie, the produce! The dirty dozen is a list of produce that should not be eaten from conventional sources (they contain the most pesticides). Spend the extra money and get the organic version of the produce listed on the dirty dozen list. Here is a link to the list of the dirty dozen (and clean 15) https://www.greenmatters.com/p/dirty-dozen-clean-15
Clean your produce with my homemade produce spray. Fill a spray bottle: 1/4 vodka, 1/4 vinegar, 1/4 peroxide, 1/4 water, and a few drops of lemon oil. Let the produce sit after spraying for two minutes and scrub the fruits and veggies if you can. You can use this spray to clean pretty much everything around your house, and it is non-toxic.
Drink fresh water (not straight from the tap)
Personally, I am not going to open a hundred bottles of water a day. I drink a ton of water, and drinking bottled water is not feasible. I also do not have a bottle delivery service in my budge. I use the Brita, a decent filtering system. The Brita isn’t perfect, but it is better than straight from the tap water.
Do not heat food up in plastic food containers (they can release chemicals that increase estrogen). Remove the food from the plastic container and place on glass before you microwave.
Try not to use products with parabens (a preservative in cosmetics, toothpaste, hair care products that can mimic estrogen production)
Look at the label! Looking at the label is one of the simplest ways to eliminate many harmful ingredients from your world. Look for words that have METHYL, BUTYL, PROPYL, or BENZYL in them. Check out this link for more information https://www.peacefulmountain.com/2015/12/understanding-parabens/
Don’t eat fast food (yes I said it, preservatives, unhealthy oils, way too much sodium and low-quality products. It really is less expensive to cook at home).
Sometimes you have no choice and have to grab something quick.
My go-to for fast food? The supermarket! So many supermarkets have pre-made food bars, such as soups, salads and hot food. I always go straight for the sushi bar. Sushi rolls are not all raw fish. There are plenty of veggie options that come with chopsticks and wasabi. Most deli sections have pre-made sandwiches or quick meals (like meatballs and spaghetti). The price of fast food is just about the same for heather options in the supermarket.
Soy products like soy sauce, soy milk and, miso increase estrogen levels. Did you know that women with estrogen sensitive breast cancer are told to stay far away from soy? If conventional medicine is recognizing the estrogen soy connection, then anyone with estrogen dominance should stay far away.
Shake that body
Take a 15 walk around the block, throw yourself on the floor, and do a sit-up, get tension bands, and work your arms. Start to exercise slow and work your way up at your own pace. Don’t start out with 10,000 steps a day. 10,000 steps is really an ambiguous number that was a starting point for an experiment. Just move your body and do it daily. Here is a link to the tension bands I use https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MBYC3YY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Love yourself more
Do something beautiful for you, today, right now ( self-love is healing for all aliments)
Self-love does not mean you have to spend money. All too often we think a new pair of shoes or a new wardrobe is going to make us happy, and it does, for a little while. For me, words have power. I put lotion on my face and tell my skin how beautiful it looks. This may sound crazy or too “hippie” ish, but there is scientific proof that our molecules react to intent and our words are intent. Check out Dr. Masaru Emoto’s water experiment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moz82i89JAw This will blow your doors off.
Carve out time just for you, take a bath, paint, create and spend time with your friends. When you show love and compassion for yourself, you will find it easier to show love and compassion for others.
Make sleep a priority
Chronic fatigue causes weight gain, which increases estrogen levels. It really is a vicious cycle, estrogen dominance causes insomnia, and insomnia causes weight gain which increases estrogen.
Try to go to sleep at the same time every night. This may seem impossible, but there has to be an effort made to keep to a schedule. Do not eat after 6pm and stay away from alcohol for a little bit. (I do not want to start a riot). Both food an alcohol disrupt sleep patterns. Try not eating after 6pm and laying off the wine for one week and see how you feel. Ask your doctor for a temporary fix, like Lunesta (a sleeping pill). I don’t always believe a pill is the way to go when it comes to sleep, but if it is bad enough you do what you have to do. Check this article out for sleep hygine ideas https://www.dailywellness.com/2017/06/05/youre-sleeping-poorly-mean-estrogen-off/
Try Progesterone cream
I highly recommend you use progesterone cream while being supervised by a doctor or nurse practitioner. However, I have no patience’s when it comes to feeling crappy so I tried it and it is fabulous. Progesterone can help balance out estrogen and can be easily purchased online without a prescription. This is the one I use: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EB0AQA4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Remember, progesterone is a hormone and should be used very sparingly and carefully. I used too much the first day I received it and I felt like I wanted to beat somebody up!
Please follow the directions on the label or use however your doctor prescribed.
Herbs and supplements
There are many herbal remedies that help combat hormonal imbalances. My kitchen is like a apothecary, I have so many herbs! For estrogen dominance try Milk Thistle ( a powerful liver cleanser, tea and capsule form), Maca (a type of ginseng the can improve sleep and libido, liquid or capsules), Magnesium (an essential mineral that place a role in many biological processes, capsules), and omega 3 fatty acids (an essential oil for brain function, can assist with better sleep, memory, and well-being. Wild fish, krill or purified fish oil capsules are safest. Don’t forget to eat your cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), they contain a compound that brings estrogen levels down. Check out this website for more information: https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2018/12/06/how-to-reverse-estrogen-dominance-naturally-detox-food-supplements/
Do your research
There is so much information on the web about estrogen dominance and how to treat it. Do some of your own research, read articles, get a few book. The more information you have the better you will understand what you need to do.
I cannot stress the importance of cleaning up your body by consuming clean food, drinking clean water, and taking meticulous care of your well-being.
As a woman, I refused to accept feeling like crap and getting fat as a part of getting older. I don’t mind getting older, but I do mind feeling and looking older. Today I feel better than I have in over 10 years. My skin is pink, bright, and supple. My mind is sharp, and my reaction time is excellent ( I know this because my husband is always throwing things at me). I am happy now, and I really feel good. Take control of your life and your bodies, Ladies! Living your best life might require some changes, but you are so worth it.
If you have any topics, comments, or suggestions, please leave me a message in the comments. I love to hear from all of you.