Hey everyone, my name is Samm Hart. I’m a strength and conditioning coach, online trainer, and hormone specialist.
I’m from Ottawa, Canada, currently living near Winnipeg, Manitoba. My story in its brevity comes from an improper competition prep for bodybuilding, where I went from severe under-eating and overtraining to unhealthy levels of food in a small span of time. Since then, I’ve discovered that my metabolism hasn’t been firing correctly in YEARS, and most of it comes from a hormone imbalance.
In March of 2021 I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I was originally put on Synthroid (levothyroxine), and after a week of feeling disgusting, I spoke with my physician and decided to try to balance things naturally.
PROVISO: Not everyone will be able to do it naturally right off the hop, and there’s nothing wrong with taking synthetic hormones for medical reasons.
I got to work by taking 3 courses and certifications in hormone specialty, women’s health, and gut health. Some of the tips I’m sharing with you are what I used to take control of my hypothyroidism in only 8-10 weeks for almost normal bloodwork.
Let’s talk about signs that you may have a hormone imbalance
- Your body may not be responding to training and nutrition manipulation. Meaning, “whatever” you do is not working.
- Large bellies that bloat easily, hold water like mad, and hurt after eating.
- Severe fatigue, excess anxiety, depression.
- Brittle hair/nails.
- Dry skin/eczema.
- Low sex drive.
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Feeling cold all the time.
- Erratic, heavy, no menses.
AND SO MUCH MORE!! Each imbalance brings different symptoms, and the best way to diagnose this is with a physician running a hormone panel with your bloodwork and urine.
Let’s discuss the steps that you should take in order to help regulate hormones and overall wellness
- You need to have a look at your diet.
- When facing an imbalance, angry gut, and overall eating patterns, one needs to identify foods that are intolerant to their body.
- This looks different for every individual.
- Examples include doing an elimination diet (with guidance of a nutrition coach, RD, or Naturopath). What these do is allow you to remove all “inflammatory” style foods and reintroduce potential trigger foods and see what is bothering your digestion. Oftentimes – gluten, dairy, or eggs are in this mix.
- You should not be cutting any macronutrient groups out completely. Research is showing that you should have a moderate and balanced diet in terms of macronutrients.
- Aim for whole and unprocessed food as much as possible.
- Include gut-healthy foods to your diet like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, probiotics, etc.
- You need to look at your alcohol intake.
- When alcohol is consumed, it causes the liver to become congested.
- If it’s congested, then its ability to convert thyroid hormones, and clear excess hormones from the bloodstream becomes SIGNIFICANTLY slowed down.
- This means.. you end up not clearing the toxins and excess hormones out of your body.
- That can lead to recirculation of those excess hormones running around your body.
- You need to look at your sleep patterns.
- The most important sleep occurs prior to midnight. This is the most effective time for your body to sleep.
- You need to be aiming for REM cycles of 90 minutes, so ideal times of sleep include 6, 7.5, 9 hours of sleep to account for these.
- When we don’t sleep enough, hormones can become less abundant and testosterone can decrease by 15% in men who sleep 5-6 hours a night.
- You also need your body to clear the toxins, and keep your liver happy.
- Your cortisol may be compromised.
- Your main stress hormone is “cortisol” and what that does is allow your body to be prepared to fight, flee, or escape. It keeps adrenaline pumping to save your life.
- When you are under chronic stress, your cortisol levels can increase and become a little wonky. This can actually add to belly fat as well.
- When cortisol is out of what, we actually may not digest things appropriately, as blood flies to our heart and limbs to keep us in “survival” mode.
- EXAMPLES of Cortisol Reversal – common in North America.
- Wake up super exhausted.
- Go to bed wired for sound.
- What what means is that your cortisol is reversed. It SHOULD be highest in the morning, and lowest in the evening. When it’s reversed, it can be a sign that you are chronically stressed.
- Even small amounts of stress compounded over time can affect you.
- STRESS is a huge factor and you need to learn to relax yourself!!
- Look at stressful factors in your life and see where you can simplify. It’s okay to say no and not be a superhuman everyday.
- Look at your bedtime routine and have a set sleep/wake period.
- Try meditation and morning routines.
- Morning routine can look like: gratitude journal, affirmations, meditation, and a little stretching. This is only 15 mins.
- Evening routine can look like: washing your face with soothing music, reading a book, meditation, calming down for 30 mins before bed.
- Exercise in moderate amounts in order to help relieve stress and build a properly functioning musculoskeletal system and happy joints.
- It’s no mystery that exercise can help relieve stress from your emotions.
- It releases serotonin and endorphins to help you feel happy and relieved.
- It works your autonomic nervous system – the part that controls stress and relaxation responses.
- HOWEVER, too MUCH intensity can have the opposite result of what we’re looking for,
- This looks different on everyone.
- Obesity and excess fat has the potential to affect your hormones.
- Obesity has been shown to increase circulating estrogen levels.
- This is usually caused by something called aromatase that can be up regulated due to inflammation, insulin resistance, increased cortisol, xenoestrogens, and mold toxicity.
- Bottomline, try to keep your body at a healthy size and weight by moderate exercise and nutrition.
- Caffeine should be consumed moderately in order to help your body destress.
- If you have a high cortisol response, you may be making the situation worse.
- Rule of thumb is to have a small amount of it in the morning. 1-2 cups of coffee MAX before 11 am is best.
- Environmental Toxins play a role in how our bodies respond to things.
- There is such a thing as endocrine disruptors.
- Multiple environmental toxins have Xenoestrogens – man made chemicals that display estrogen-like activities at the receptor level. This can impede the signalling and creation of the luteinizing hormone. This is the hormone which impairs the ovaries and testicles to produce testosterone.
- They are usually found in pesticides, personal care products, and plastics.
- Bottomline: use natural where you can, use glass Tupperware when heating things up, and eat well.
- You’ll never remove them all from your life, so don’t go nuts trying.
- TRY: removing plastic products with BPA, don’t use non-stick cookware, have canned foods from chemical free liners, avoid Triclosan, and avoid phthalates that are commonly named “fragrance/perfume/parfum” on products. Vet your cosmetics as well for lead.
Let’s put it all together
- Overall you should consult your physician to have a blood work panel if you suspect you have a hormone imbalance.
- If you have been prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) you have options to try naturally and with medications. It’s up to you and what you and your doc feel is best.
- Even with or without medication, you should be looking at your lifestyle in order to help yourself to balance things out as much as possible.
- Start moving your body appropriately, WITH A PLAN. Don’t be doing this blind. You won’t be able to identify if something is “too much”.
- Look at your diet and incorporate whole foods in a balanced form.
- Improve your sleep health and hygiene.
- Stop drinking.
- Embrace that this is going to be a journey and it takes time. It will not fix itself overnight.
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