If you have read my first blog, you already know that I experienced physical and mental changes and challenges due to hormonal changes, such as feeling swollen around the mid, being moody, lack of energy, tearing up easily, having a very short fuse to name some. Several of them I experienced and experience stronger than others; some more regularly than other and the one or other rarely. Which makes the whole journey of becoming older quite fascinating if not challenging.
I also mentioned in the last blog that I turned my life around for my own sake but also for other women to be able to feel better. This article is all about my journey to feel better in my own skin – please don’t take this blog post as any personal advice. It is the summery of my personal path. Don’t forget, we are all very different – what works for me might be utter unrealistic for others. But perhaps it gives you food for thought and brings you a step closer to feeling like Wonderwoman/Superwoman or Superman/Aquaman again.
My first and most important change was introducing a form of intermittent fasting back into my life. I’ve done it before for about 3 years but when the pandemic hit it drifted out of my daily routine. I chose 16/8 fasting for me, as it suits perfectly – I eat during the 8 h time window and fast for the retaining 16 h. I have never been an early brekkie person which helps a lot – I break my fast at 11 am and stop eating at 7pm – perfect timing if you ask me! Nowadays, you find a lot of valuable information about intermittent fasting on the internet – general advice: always check the sources of information please! Well, let’s be honest here, I do have cheat days – yes, I’m only human, if I wake with a minor migraine – I do eat before 11 am; if I’m invited out and food is served later than 7pm I will still have some food (but my appetite is already low-key by then and I won’t be able to indulce a lot of yummy treats).
One big thing, when I say fasting until 11 am I still do have a weak coffee in the morning with full cream milk! No way, giving up every treat, right! I avoid solid foods until 11 am only.
Within three months of re-introducing my fasting method I lost 3kg, showing that my metabolism and digestive system are thanking me for this daily extended non food period.
When it comes to food, I decided to break my fast with a yummy smoothie. Using fruit and vegetable, almond milk (I’m avoiding soy as it can increase estrogen levels), turmeric (improves heart health, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant), oats, Brazil nuts and pepita seeds (for selenium and zinc – important for the thyroids), vegan protein powder (to maintain and manage muscle mass), paleo mix, fibre (supports gut health) and fresh orange juice (vitamin C).
I generally still eat what and as much as I like. The only and really hard thing for me was to lower my sugar intake. I have always been a sugar addict – yum, give me a package of lollies, and I’d finish it within the hour and wake up the next morning in a bad mood and tired. To lower the graving, we introduced the 5g sugar rule when out grocery shopping. Simple means, checking the sugar content of each item you buy. It is quite a procedure at the beginning but also very eye opening – you learn very quickly to avoid cereals, muesli bars, yogurt and other “healthy snacks”. Even my 10year old daughter learned already to check the back of a package before purchase. It’s a very good habit to introduce for the whole family. But in saying that, yes, also here I do have cheat days and allow myself something sweat every now and then.
Cooking fresh meals should be mandatory in every household to avoid processed food with high sugar and low-quality ingredients. A veggie patty and salad can do the job – it’s fast food too as quickly prepared and yummy. Nowadays there are so many yummy recipes online – making it easy to even write up a weekly meal plan which helps wallet too! We also try and bake our treats ourselves as often as possible.
I exchanged wholemeal flour for wholemeal spelt flour as it’s much easier to digest (contains gluten) and added gluten free buckwheat and almond meal for baking. We reduced the intake of meat – only purchasing grass fed and hormone free meat. When buying yogurt, we look for natural yogurt with probiotics – to support gut health!
I still have 2 cups of coffee with milk a day – weak ones and not later than 3pm! I haven’t touched a cigarette in over 20 years and alcohol in more than 10! Please treat your body nice and try and reduce the intake of coffee and alcohol to the bare minimum and stop smoking. I think there is no need of explanation of why! Only treat your body like a temple as it is a natural wonder!
As I have hypothyroidism, I started taking iodine tablets when I was in my early 20s to avoid taking hormone replacements. And it worked just fine for me. My levels have been good ever since. A topic you could talk with your GP about, as a lot of affected people could replace l-thyroxine with iodine! Raise the question at your next appointment!
I started taking magnesium to support my muscle and nervous system for better sleep. Just watch that it is high quality and contains easy absorbable ingredients!
If your hormones are really playing up look into maca root powder and/or dim supplements (they belong to the cruciferous vegetable group and have lots of positive effects. Be aware though, when having thyroid issues you generally should avoid eating too much of this food group as it can can suppress the iodine intake.) Dim is highly recommended when the estrogen levels are too high. If looking into maca, please check that the product was either made in Peru or has the ingredients imported from Peru – the maca root is native to Peru and not China!
Another big part in my life is exercising. I have always been very active – some people thought/think I’m a bit hyper. Whether that’s true or not, my body just longs move. I can’t remember a time not wanting to move by body in any sort. After 2/3 days without exercise of any form I’m getting grumpy. It was a logical decision to become a sports and fitness teacher in my 20s. Over the past 20+ years I taught aerobics, functional fitness, pilates, yogalates, spinal fitness, aquarobics, Nordic walking and much more.
Why sports and exercise? I like the feeling of warming the body, feeling the satisfaction of achievement after a good workout, enjoy the exhilaration when the rewards centre is triggered, endorphins are released and my muscles and heart pump at an increased rate. Not to forget the relaxation of mind whilst working out, focusing on your body only, forgetting the world and problems for a while. The upmost satisfaction at the end when stretching and relaxing the body, the breathing slows down and your body sinks into this state of bliss. I hope you can resonate with me! If not yet, give it at try, find something that excites you. Any sports or fitness does the job.
I welcomed yoga in my life around 14 years ago and practised various styles over the years. Generally, I fit short 30 minutes practises into my week – whether it’s for waking up in the morning or coming to ground myself at night. Moving meditation – what an amazing way to start or end your day. Around 7 years ago I discovered belly dancing. What a great way to move your body and work the core muscles. Most importantly, it’s the coming together of women, celebrating their bodies, and embracing who and what they are. I have learned so much in the past years and after struggling to express myself feely I am now ready to even choreograph my own dances. How exciting is this. And there’s walking. I like a fast-paced walk along the beach or even on the beach. I grew up in a family where digestive walks were tradition – and I’m not lying by saying – it might even be a German thing. When we had family gatherings the whole family would get up after lunch or dinner and go for an hour walk. A great way to bond as a family. I always loved it and still do. When walking by myself I use this time to gather thoughts and make decisions – no music, no phone calls!
Finally, I discovered Hormone Yoga Therapy (HYT). Developed by Dr Dinah Rodrigues in Brazil and now practised all around the globe. Her sequence was specifically developed to help men and women during perimeno-,meno- and andropause targeting the endocrine system by activating hormonal glands as well as stress reduction through relaxation. It is based on Kundalini and Hatha yoga combined with Tibetan energising techniques and powerful breath work. It differs from the classic yoga practice as during the exercises the strong breath is taken into the abdomen to massage and increase the blood flow to the pelvic organs. The Tibetan energising techniques are used to guide energy into the hormonal glands to re-active their activity. During HYT the focus is on the pituitary gland (the so-called master gland in the brain which helps activating other glands), gonads (the sex glands), thyroids and adrenals. Like in classic yoga classes HYT puts relaxation, breathing and anti-stress into the forefront of the practise, as stress (high cortisol levels) can suppress hormone production! When practised 3/4 times a week for 30+ minutes your can achieve increased hormone levels. I was so fascinated by the practice that I decided to have a training course with Shakti from Yoga Vidya to be able to show and teach this practice to others.
I hope you enjoyed reading this piece. I would like to invite you to comment with your personal coping mechanism during hormonal changes. Let’s come together and learn from each other and spread the word. If you want to know more about Hormone Yoga Therapy, or you are interested in giving it a go, please send me a message and we can have a chat about it.
Wishing everyone a wonderful day until next time