I recently got this message and it's not an uncommon one...
"Gina, help! Something feels off. I’m so exhausted but I have a hard time getting good solid sleep at night. I have that “wired but tired” feeling. My libido completely disappeared. My mind wants to have sex but my body won’t cooperate. Is this a normal part of getting older or how do I figure this out?"
So many women are suffering with day to day fatigue, lost libido, stubborn belly fat that won't budge, and mood shifts that look weepy, irritable, anxious, or depressed.
These are common signs that point to hormone imbalance.
Most women come to me with these symptoms and don't know where to turn or to begin. So, this resource was designed to give you the keys to balancing hormones and the path that I recommend in order to do a little investigating.
Tips for Hormone Balance:
Notice how your body responds to stress. Do you stay calm while the day's stress comes your way or do you live in a constant state of fight or flight with emails, texts, errands, kids, and to - dos? Most people are so used to living in a state of fight or flight that they don't realize it is wearing away at their energy, metabolism, and overall enthusiasm. One day you might wonder, "How did I get here?"
Eat colorful foods and focus on plenty of cruciferous vegetables. Colorful fruits and veggies give your body antioxidants and nutrients that protect your body's cells and keep your liver and gut healthy. Good detoxification and gut health is key to keeping hormones in balance.
Keep your blood sugar stable. Carbs, such as breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, and fruit spike blood sugar and can cause hormones to shift. Eat these in small amounts and always pair them with a protein and fat to slow digestion down and blunt the blood sugar spike. For example, it's much better to have a low sugar fruit, such as blueberries and strawberries, mixed with a few nuts and seeds for protein and fat.
Get your omegas. Omegas 3s are so important for proper hormone signaling. When I see hormone imbalances, most people are not getting adequate amounts of omega 3s. Food sources are salmon and sardines. If you're not eating these 2-3 days per week you might be a good candidate for an omega 3 supplement (*Note: not for those on blood thinning medications).
Lab Testing: Which is right for me?
When it comes to your health, I really believe in the philosophy of, test don't guess. It helps you really understand your body and be much more intentional with what you're doing. This means better and faster results instead of guessing, wandering, and wasting a lot of money.
#1. Cortisol Testing: I always like to see how well you're keeping your stress hormones in check. Often when you support rebalancing your stress hormones, all other hormones rebalance too. If you're trying to rebalance your hormones and cortisol is high, it will be nearly impossible to get things back on track and if cortisol is too low, you will be feeling exhausted.
#2. Hormone Testing: directly testing your hormones is only useful if you are in your reproductive years with a regular menstrual cycle. Directly measuring hormones is not helpful if you are in your reproductive years but not cycling, because you need to know where you are in your cycle. Testing in peri-menopause also is not very useful as hormones are significantly fluctuating during this time.
#3. Mitochondrial Testing: Mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells. So, if your hormone balancing strategies are not working, the next step would be to check if your mitochondria are working efficiently to make adequate hormones, as well as keep up your energy and metabolism.
If you're feeling overwhelmed with all of these options, just know that starting with your cortisol levels is THE MOST important!
Why? Well, cortisol is your stress hormone. When it is too high, it drops your other hormones, such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. If cortisol is too high, you can strategically use nutrition and supplements to support rebalancing it out. This makes your hormone balancing efforts much easier and more efficient.
If cortisol has been elevated for many years and is too low, you will often feel very exhausted and unmotivated. Supporting your adrenals to raise cortisol can help correct low energy.
Think of cortisol as the first domino because it affects nearly everything else in your body. It impacts your hormone balance, thyroid, digestion, metabolism, brain function, energy, mood, libido.... So when we work on cortisol levels with proper nutrition and supplements, other issues often resolve on their own.
For example, I've seen clients support their adrenals to rebalance cortisol and noticed their thyroid hormones come back into range, bloating naturally go away, stubborn mid-section weight gain start to shed off, and their mood and sex drive drastically improve.
I'm so passionate about this because it's truly my story. A few years ago I knew my hormones were way off because I lost my period for about a year, my mood swings were awful, and I had terrible food cravings and stubborn weight gain on my belly. I felt like my body was a battle. I chased fixing my hormones with the classic hormone balancing foods and supplements (maca, chastetree, vitamin c...) but had very little results. I decided to check my stress hormones and when I got my results back I was in complete shock. Here are my personal results from collecting my cortisol in my saliva 4 times throughout the day:
These results are... not good. Each white circle is a collection point throughout the day and is supposed to fall in the green stripe. These results show my body was under high alert. The crazy thing is I didn't even realize it. I was just living with an activated nervous system that was causing my thyroid hormones to suppress, my hormones to shift, and my metabolism to plummet.
Instead of chasing all these side effects, I worked on bringing down my stress levels with meditation and breathing and a nutrition plan and supplements aimed at lowering cortisol.
The results: my period came back, my weight became much easier balance out without so much exercise or restrictive eating, and im happier and healthier than ever. Cortisol has become my number one piece of data to track.
Cortisol balance is one of the biggest factors for a healthy metabolism, hormone balance, digestive health, and overall longevity so I always recommend starting there.
The good thing, testing your cortisol is as easy as a saliva collection. It is a much better way to assess stress hormones than a blood collection because blood can only look at stress hormones at the time you're drawing the blood where saliva is highly accurate and you can collect all throughout the day to monitor its fluctuations.
If you're feeling ready to check your cortisol levels and get a personal one on one lab result review and consultation with Gina, sign up here:
If you're not sure what you need and want a complimentary phone consultation with Gina, request a session here:
When Mallorie came to me, she was on an emotional rollercoaster with her hormones. She said, "I just don't feel like myself anymore!" Testing allowed us to support her body based on her individual unique needs. Feel free to check out Mallorie's story here:
If you're feeling frustrated and on the hormone rollercoaster, I feel you! Put the keys to hormone balance into practice and do a little more digging. Think of yourself as a research project.
My best recommendation is to start with testing your adrenals and make sure your cortisol is in balance and that can make the rest of your efforts so much more easy!