Balancing Hormones Naturally: Part II
Psst.... this is part II - if you missed Part I, make sure to check it out first. Find it here.
Last week I talked about hormone health, what hormones are, how they are vital to our bodies natural functions, and what warning signs to look for. If you’ve been struggling with issues that seemed to come out of nowhere, chances are it could be your hormone imbalance.
In this post I'm going to be taking you through what changes I made to my already healthy lifestyle to start balancing out my hormones without doctors, prescriptions, overthinking or crazy stress.
#1) I get lots of sleep
Sleep is my very best friend. In high school I went to bed every weekend between 1-3am after drinking and partying, and went to bed on weekdays at around midnight and woke up for school at 6:30am. In college, I went to bed way too late and woke up way too late. No bueno.
Yeah, I get it, we’re young and the world is meant to be lived in and enjoyed to the very max. There simply isn't any fun in hiding from the world in your bed (or is there?), but TRUST ME, you can enjoy your life 100x more if you are healthy, energetic, and well-rested.
Now, I go to bed before 11pm every night. After doing this for a few weeks, I noticed that my body required less sleep! I wake up at 8:30am, refreshed and happy to get up; I don’t feel sluggish or tired in the least. Going to bed earlier has its perks, and your body will thank you 1,000%.
Supporting your body’s circadian rhythm is also a huge factor in making sure you are getting restful sleep. Here are my best tips:
remove all lights from your room (alarm clock lights, little red electronic lights, blinking lights, street lights - GET RID OF THEM or cover them up!)
leave your phone in another room (don’t look at your phone for 30 mins before going to bed or within 30 mins of waking up)
Purchase glasses that eliminate blue light (Felix Gray is my BFF)
Set up night mode on your iPhone to dim the blue light by 9pm
Get an essential oil diffuser for your bedside table and diffuse Peace & Calming, RutaVala, or Dream Catcher (read why you really need a diffuser, here; to purchase these oils & get a free welcome gift from me, go here)
#2) I'm Learning to exercise according to my menstrual cycle
Fun fact: as women, we have 4 different phases each month. That means we are in a different phase of our natural cycle EACH WEEK. It is not your fault if some days you feel like you could climb 10 mountains, and others you can barely put on a bra. It’s called hormones, yo.
During each phase of our menstrual cycle, our body needs support in different ways. When you workout according to your cycle, you are going hard when you are pumped full of energy (follicular and ovulatory phases) and resting when your body needs to recoup. (2nd half of luteal and during menstrual phase)
So here’s your 4 phases - pay attention to your workouts according to each phase, and you’ll find you’ll be way more productive and enjoy your workouts more.
Week of Menstruation
Take a little time off! Take a leisurely walk, drink herbal tea, rub essential oils on your abdomen to relieve cramps (Dragon Time from Young Living is my favorite), read a book, take an epsom salt bath, give yourself a spa day… Love yourself, girl!
The follicular phase comes first (days 1-14 approx) and occurs when the ovary releases an egg. When this happens, estrogen increases while progesterone remains the same.
For exercise, you should try to aim for moderate intensity cardio, HIIT workouts, light weights, and regular walks or running. Your body likes to eat some carbohydrates during this phase, too - so hit up some sweet potatoes!
Ovulation occurs approximately around Day 14. Estrogen has peaked and begins to decline while progesterone surges upwards. During ovulation, strength is peaked - so now is a good time to incorporate heavy weight training and high intensity workouts. Your body wants to KILL IT, so go for it!
During this phase, your body is no longer in the mood to workout at high intensities, and it will prefer fat as its primary fuel source. So up your fat intake this week! This phase is great for going on long hikes, walking on the beach, going for a swim or a bike ride. Take it easy, get outside for 1 hour per day, and breathe in some fresh air!
#3) I eat lots of fats
Our hormones are made up of cholesterol, a huge portion of the brain is made up of fat, and guess what - fat is damn good for you and your body’s natural function. Fats help fill you up and give you sustained energy throughout the day without the blood sugar spikes of carbohydrates. If you love butter as much as I do, you're in luck.
I greatly increased my fat intake to help support my hormones. These are the good fats, and you should never have any shame slathering your food in these babies:
lard and duck fat
grass-fed beef tallow
pasture raised eggs
full-fat pastured dairy
I love fats so much that I add them to my coffee or matcha every single morning. You can get my matcha latte recipe full of healthy fats right here.
Let’s just remember that all things should be in moderation, and this is not to say that you should be eating handfuls of butter as a snack. But please stop running in terror from fat, it has a rightful place in your diet, especially for your hormones.
#4) I eliminate all toxins + chemicals from my life
I’ll be honest, I’ve always been really conscious about what goes into and on my body, and I’ve grown up using essential oils and natural remedies - so, this wasn’t a huge leap for me. But let’s just say this: my standards have gotten WAY higher in the past years. Before, I grabbed cheap mascara from the pharmacy and added one drop of lavender essential oil to it and figured it was fine. Now, I only purchase 100% nontoxic mascara because I know that even the little things really do matter.
When I lived in France, I grabbed things from the pharmacy all the time because they have such high cleanliness standards in their beauty products (for example, no parabens). Now, I see other toxic ingredients in those products that make me cringe. It's hard in the beginning to realize how much we have to be conscious about what we buy - it seems unfair. But in reality, it is our job as consumers to know what we are buying. A big part of the reason I started this blog was to help girls navigate the natural health world because even 100% natural labels can be misleading.
Here’s how I live Toxin-Free:
I purchase everyday beauty products like mascara, blush and eyeliner from The Detox Market
I clean every surface in my home with Thieves Cleaner from Young Living which is 100% plant based essential oil cleaner and kills all the bad stuff without leaving chemical residues. Being a member of Young Living means access to ALL the nontoxic options for health, beauty and everyday. (Learn more about these cleaning products here).
I use 100% organic essential oil based skincare and body care (shampoo, conditioner, three-step face program, body oil, body lotion, body wash, shave oil, face serums, deodorant, toothpaste, hand soap). These items get delivered to my door on a monthly customizable subscription, and I get 25% cash back through Essential Rewards. To join this program, you will need to get a membership with me, here.
I wash my dishes and my clothing with essential-oil based detergents that do not leave a chemical residue. I do not use dryer sheets EVER.
I eat 100% organic produce, and I always shop at local markets and farmers markets. I do not eat processed meats, processed dairy or refined sugar.
I order my everyday essential pantry staples from Thrive Market. This place is seriously amazing, it's like Costco meets Amazon, except that you can only buy organic, non-GMO foods. Try your first month free with 25% off and let me know how you like it!
I use glass food storage containers (like these) and avoid all plastics
What you will NEVER find in my home:
plastic food wrap, plastic food containers, plastic tupperware or plastic drinking glasses
a microwave (yep, seriously)
bottled water or plastic-bottled drinks
perfume, scented candles, or air fresheners
store-bought home cleaning products or detergents
dryer sheets or fabric softeners
drug store makeup, personal care, or skincare
any food that isn’t organic
#5) I ditched hormonal birth control
I suffered for over 6 years on hormonal birth control, and I regret it all the time. But like most girls, I didn't know any better. I started on the pill, then switched pills because I felt tired and swollen. After a couple of years I ended up on the NuvaRing which was great at first because of the ease of use and the fact that I could skip periods, but it ended up making me gain weight, retain water, become chronically exhausted and lose my libido. Sound familiar?
I decided to quit hormonal birth control cold turkey and let my body cleanse and reset itself. I stopped all birth control my second year of college for a full year and just let my body swing all over the place. I had breakouts, no energy, swings in libido, greasy hair, and so much more. My periods were irregular, completely random, and caused me so much pain. I was completely miserable.
Getting your body off of hormonal birth control is the only way to understand your female hormones and how they are meant to function naturally. Having balanced hormones is key to being healthy, and its extremely difficult to manage them while on any kind of birth control. I highly urge you to avoid them at all costs if you are struggling with adrenals, skin issues, libido, energy levels, water retention, and other hormonal indicators.
In college, I got a copper IUD and at first, I did not experience any of the supposed ‘side effects’ of non-hormonal birth control. After about 6 months, my period got really intense and I started feeling pain when I worked out or sat wrong. It really bothered me and caused me immense stress. I decided to get it removed this month after linking the IUD to bouts of depression and anxiety attacks (more on this later, stay tuned). Balancing hormones naturally is the best way to maintain your health, but it is a commitment, a challenge, and a frustrating process - getting your life, energy, sex drive and skin back takes time.
I hope that by sharing what I've learned through this challenging journey I can help someone else who might be suffering or confused. Learning all of this has taken me time, research and trial and error - so don't be discouraged. It is a long process, but I hope that by reading this you may feel less alone.
Keep your eye out for Part III, the final part of my blog series on hormones, next weekend.
Wishing you health and happiness,