When your hormones are out of balance, it can feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, are turning into a monster, or some combo of both. The same hormones that can make a woman feel unstoppable and give them the incredible ability to create a new life, can also leave them feeling tired, depressed, anxious, puffy, and moody.
As these symptoms continue to build, many women become desperate to feel better, turning to hormone replacement therapy and other prescription medications to relieve the symptoms and feel like themselves again, not knowing there is another alternative. You can balance your hormones naturally with a safe and effective holistic approach!
I know firsthand how frustrating and confusing it is when your hormones just won’t cooperate. I went from being on the birth control pill for over 15 years to getting off the pill and not having a normal menstrual cycle for 3 more years. In that time, I dealt with post-pill repercussions, hypothalamic amenorrhea due to low body weight, and complete adrenal burnout because of extreme stress. Not fun!
At that point, getting a regular menstrual cycle was my top priority. I knew that once I had regulated my hormones, it meant my health was back on track. My menstrual cycle became my gauge for how well my body was healing. What I learned in that time of hormonal healing for myself is what I now teach to my clients looking for some balance of their own.
You don’t need to turn to hormone replacement therapy, the pill, or other prescription medications to balance your hormones and relieve the symptoms you are experiencing. That method only puts a Band-aid on what’s really causing your hormones to get out of balance. Instead, you want to find the root cause of your issues and work to heal that. From there, your hormones will find the balance they need to get you feeling your best. And, it all can be done naturally!
IT ALL COMES BACK TO STRESS
In order to heal your body and hormones, you need to give full attention to your stress level. Believe me, I get it. It’s hard to actually try to heal something that doesn’t feel real and tangible. It’s not like putting ointment on a cut and just letting it heal on its own. It’s not like drinking some tea when you have a sore throat and waiting it out until you can talk again.
Recognizing the amount of stress your body is under is the hardest and most significant piece to the puzzle. Stress input comes from all over; your thoughts, your workouts, your job, your family, the health of the rest of your body. It will not be enough to only look at the very obvious things that are making you feel tense. It’s ALL of it.
The list below will help you work on some of those lesser known stressors in your life. Our goal here is to normalize your cortisol output which is considered the “stress hormone.” When your adrenal glands produce too much of this hormone, it is stealing valuable energy and nutrients from the production of other hormones, such as estrogen, testosterone, progesterone.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s a process that requires long-term diligence and commitment. There will be setbacks and there will be days you don’t feel like you’re doing it right. I’m here to tell you to trust the process. Do these 10 things as much as possible for an extended period of time and you will feel the shift. I promise.
10 Step To Balancing Your Hormones Naturally
1. Move, but don’t overexert yourself.
We all know how beneficial exercise is to a healthy lifestyle. But, for those suffering from crashing adrenals, imbalanced hormones, high cortisol output, or under/over functioning thyroid, intense physical exertion is actually doing much more harm than good to your overall health.
Every time you exercise, you are bringing your body out of homeostasis. When this happens, it is perceived as stress and cortisol is released from your adrenals as the normal stress response. Obviously, the higher the intensity of the workout, the more cortisol will come into play. This response happens in everyone and is in fact, a good thing because it increases available fuel supply for your workout, so you can actually complete it. However, in those of us with a chronic stress response already taking place, this added stress response places too much burden on already taxed adrenal glands, only digging the hormone imbalance hole even deeper.
On the flip side, movement is an essential recovery piece to the hormone health puzzle. This movement needs to remain gentle, with very little impact on your overall body stress. Things like walks outdoors, bike rides around town, yoga, pilates, dance classes, and moderate strength training are your best choices.
It is extremely important to be fully in tune with your body and ask yourself what movement will feel good that day, not what day of your workout program you’re SUPPOSED to be doing. And get comfortable with the fact that some days, you’re not going to feel like doing anything! Â And that’s OK, and in fact, a really good thing.
If you feel lost when it comes to your workouts during this time of healing, follow my top tips to working out while healing and you’ll find your workout sweet spot, no question!
2. Rest as much as you can!
In tandem with the above point is the extremely important need to rest. Not only do you need to take your workouts down a few notches, but you also need to physically rest as much as possible. I am giving you permission and the strict instruction to curl up on the couch with a good book or some mindless television and just rest!
You don’t NEED to be doing something productive every moment of the day. This “go, go, go” mentality puts you into a chronic stress response where your adrenals are constantly pumping out cortisol until they can’t keep up with your lifestyle and just give up altogether. If you are someone who fears to be lazy (I’ve been there too!), please know that you are doing great things for your health and hormones when you rest.
This restful state also includes sleeping. So much amazing healing happens during our sleeping hours. This is a great way to reset your stress response, give your adrenals a break, let your liver convert and recycle hormones, and instill a state of peace.
Sleep as much as your life allows. As many days as you can, don’t use an alarm to wake up and allow your body to sleep until it feels ready to wake up naturally. Take naps during the day if you can. Do your absolute best to go to bed at the same (early) time every night. I know this is a hard one because real life gets in the way, but it is very important to make sleep a priority to truly heal and balance your hormones.
This will be the hardest and most life-changing one for most of us. The power of meditation is something that’s hard to even put into words. Mindfulness and meditation have been shown in studies to lower cortisol and will change your frame of reference and how you deal with difficult situations as you go about your day.
Getting “good” at a meditation practice can seem impossible when you first start, but it’s important to note that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. There are really helpful apps to help guide you through the process. My favorites are InsightTimer and Headspace.
Even a few seconds of focusing solely on your breath has tremendous benefit. If a 5-10 minute meditation seems to be too much to add to your day right now, start by just closing your eyes and giving yourself 10 deep belly breaths. You can do this anywhere; at your desk, in the shower, before falling asleep at night. Make breathing a priority in your day and get ready for the magic to happen!
4. Eat the right things for you.
Don’t forget, what we do and don’t put on our plates will determine the amount of stress taking place in the body. Eating a diet full of nutrient-dense foods that your body will be able to easily digest, absorb, and use as fuel is the primary goal when building your plate.
It’s also a really good time to determine which foods you do and don’t tolerate because, as should be quite obvious, continuously consuming foods your body reacts to will place a huge burden on it, causing a stress response. Eliminating those foods that are commonly not tolerated is a good place to start.
This includes gluten, grains, dairy, soy, legumes, sugar, and sugar substitutes, chemically processed and altered foods, and processed vegetable and seed oils. Even with these foods gone, there may still be something that YOU don’t tolerate. Take note of how you feel after each meal to be aware if there is something within your diet that is causing distress.
Once you have learned what foods do and don’t work for you, now it’s time to FILL your plate. When working to balance your hormones and de-stress, you need to EAT. Now is not the time to go on the next restrictive diet. (Note: there will never be a good time for that.)
When you don’t eat enough food, cortisol is released because your body perceives the possibility of famine and undernourishment. Your body rations energy and stores fat, so so not only do your adrenals get called into action, but your metabolism slows and your body fat increases.
Your plate should be absolutely full of high-quality meats, leafy greens, colorful, organic produce, high-quality fats and oils, nuts, and seeds. Eat when you are hungry; stop when you are satisfied. Fuel up intuitively based on what your body needs and wants. Don’t fast before you’re ready. (If you have adrenal, thyroid, or sex hormone imbalances, you’re not ready too fast.) If you’re not sure if fasting is right for you, read my do’s and don’ts before you begin.
5. Stabilize your blood sugar.
With whacked out cortisol also comes dysregulated blood sugar levels. Because these two mechanisms are so tightly intertwined, when one is a mess so will be the other. However, once your blood sugar is repaired, your cortisol levels will regulate much quicker and easier! Focusing on stabilizing your blood sugar has to be a high priority in order to heal your body and ultimately, your hormones. If you can’t get your blood sugar levels under control, it will be next to impossible to get your hormones back into balance.
There are several ways in which to do this, and it is necessary to do ALL of them, not just one or two. First, eliminate the sweet treats from your life. It’s tough, but it’s worth it and the quickest way to get off the blood sugar roller coaster. Don’t worry, you don’t have to forgo all desserts and treats for the rest of your life! There are awesome low-sugar recipes out there that will satisfy any cravings. Have you tried my Coconut Butter Tahini cookies yet? Download my Simple Keto Treats E-Book (It’s free!) and you’ll have plenty of dessert options that won’t spike your blood sugar.
Secondly, get yourself fat-adapted. Teach your body to use fat as fuel by increasing your fat intake while decreasing your carbohydrate intake. This will put you on the fast track to stable blood sugar levels all day, every day and will reduce your sugar cravings and increase your energy. Not to mention, having this alternate, preferred source of fuel for your body puts it immediately into a state of ease, allowing for healing to happen. Just make sure you approach this metabolic change the best and safest way for your body.
Third, limit alcohol. Complete elimination would be great, but even if you can reduce your consumption of alcohol to a drink or two a week, you’ll be fast-tracking your hormone-balancing. Even if your alcoholic beverages don’t outright include sugar as an ingredient, alcohol in itself plays games with your blood sugar, something you won’t be able to tolerate until it is more balanced.
Last, cut out coffee, caffeine, and stimulants. This stimulation immediately triggers a blood sugar, adrenal, and cortisol response in your body and you’re just not in a place where you can handle that right now. Need an alternative? I kicked my coffee habit and nourished my adrenals back to health with Rasa Koffee.
READY TO BE A FAT BURNING FEMALE?
Teach your body to use fat as fuel and get off the diet rollercoaster once and for all!
6. Supplement with the right nutrients.
Supplementing your body with the nutrients it needs to make up for potential deficiencies is an important step in balancing hormones. However, it is a very individualized thing and should be tailored to your specific needs. It can be very tempting to just try ALL the supplements to see what works, but please don’t make that mistake. No one wants to be taking handfuls of pills every day, especially when they’re not the right ones for your case. Working with a professional is key in helping you determine what is the best support for YOU.
In general, stress can lead to a deficiency in B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, chromium, and so many other critical vitamins and minerals. Selenium and iodine are key components in the production and conversion of thyroid hormones into their usable form. Essential fatty acids are the building blocks for our hormones.
Not to mention, when we are chronically stressed, it’s almost impossible to get into the parasympathetic “rest and digest” mode to properly break down and absorb the nutrients in our food, further putting us at high risk for nutrient deficiencies. Needless to say, supplementing is not an optional thing when attempting to heal your adrenals, thyroid, and/or overall hormonal health.
There are also some incredibly effective herbs and adaptogens that nourish and repair your adrenal function, bringing your cortisol back into balance which in turn regulates your hormones. Check out my hormonal health and adrenal support supplements.
7. Laugh and smile often!
Just because you are in a time of healing, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be having fun! The saying “laughter is the best medicine” rings true in this case too!
Connect with your supportive, yet fun friends, try a new hobby, see a funny movie, read an entertaining book, or just strike up a random conversation with the person in front of you.
Be friendly and pleasant to everyone you come into contact with. Maybe even pay a few compliments to strangers. It’s amazing what positivity, kindness, laughter, and just simply smiling can do for your health and well-being.
8. Detoxify your life.
Because we are trying to get rid of as many possible stressors on your body as possible, it is also important to see where you may be getting regular exposure to toxins. This will be in the form of harsh chemicals and detergents in your beauty products, face wash, deodorants, cleansers, creams, astringents, sunscreens, and lotions.
It will also take the form of cleaning products, detergents, soaps, air fresheners, pots, pans, plastic containers, bedding, and other household items that are often overlooked at being toxic and harmful to your health.
While it may seem overwhelming and expensive to remove these items from your life, it is not something to ignore and take lightly. Environmental stressors are a HUGE reason why many are sick and unable to figure out the cause.
Whatâ€™s more, some of the chemicals used in these items are estrogenic, meaning they act like estrogen in the body, causing the body to mistake it for actual hormone and produce less, furthering hormonal imbalance.
While it may not be possible to throw all of your products in the trash and start over, it will make a big difference to slowly eliminate a few items at a time and replace with the more natural, toxin-free version.
The best way to get started is to think about those products that you are regularly in contact with and will be easily absorbed through your skin, such as lotions, soaps, face wash, detergents, and deodorant.
From there, take a look at things that are touching foods you are going to be consuming, like Tupperware, pots and pans, dish soap, and dishwashing detergent. Just start taking a step in that direction and do what you can, as you can to detoxify your home!
This topic can also go in a totally different direction as we talk about removing toxic people from your life. This is a great, but extremely difficult step to take to improve your health and just overall life! If there are any people in your life that drag you down, get rid of them (or at least spend less time with them)! If you have people in your life that are negative, stressful, judgmental, unsupportive, jealous, superficial, or just don’t connect with your beliefs and goals, they do not need to stay in your circle.
When you actually take the time to evaluate those in your life and if they actually provide the support, positivity, and encouragement you need, you may be amazed to find that you have too many toxic people dragging you down! Once you really accept this and take the very tough action to distance yourself from these people, you will feel such a huge sense of relief and weightlessness. And, your health will take huge steps in the right direction too!
9. Monitor your metabolism.
While it should not be used as a diagnostic tool, tracking your body temperature to monitor your metabolism is a great way to get a sense of what is going on with your hormones. If you are suffering from hypothyroidism and/or hypoadrenia, both will show up as low body temperature. Dr. Rind has a great description as to why this is the case.
Not only is it good to start tracking your basal metabolic rate (your temperature first thing in the morning before rising), but it is also a good idea to get an average of your body temperature throughout the day starting three hours after you wake up. Get three readings total, three hours apart, at least 30 minutes away from food or exercise. Average these for the day and plot them on this graph by Dr. Rind.
This is a useful tool to get a good baseline of both where you are starting and how you are progressing in your healing journey. Because, as your adrenals and thyroid start to balance, your body temperature will rise to the normal 98.6 and stay there.
10. Reframe your stressors.
I saved the best and most important one for last! It’s also the hardest one to explain and put into words. The way that you handle the stress that comes into your life may need to change. This shift includes your mindset about yourself and your circumstances. You must quit playing the role of victim, quit putting yourself down, quit beating yourself up, quit overthinking, and just quit being negative, closed off, and scared of life. Open up your heart, clear the negativity, and just live in the moment!
Live in the moment without wondering about the future or stewing about the past. It’s just you right here, right now, and that’s the only thing that deserves your attention. Anything else is just a waste of energy and unneeded stress and thought.
This mindset shift is something that takes an immense amount of practice and is also something that will never be something you perfect. But, even if you can spend a few minutes every day in the present, taking deep breaths, and releasing the unknown, you will feel a huge relief in your overall stress level and notice your hormones balancing too. It feels so good! I highly recommend this book if you need help changing your perspective. (I’ve read it four times!)
There you have it! These ten action items are the key to balancing your hormones naturally, reducing stress, recovering adrenal function, and increasing thyroid function.
Remember, this list is comprehensive. Do your best to follow as many of them as you can and form a habit around them. Yes, it takes dedication to really commit, but with that commitment comes actual change and progress! It is so worth it, trust me.