Updated: Jan 8
Happy new year! As we head into 2023, my first blog post is about my favorite topic and the thing that is central to my health coaching business: hormone balance.
Your hormones play a crucial role in every function of your body, especially as a woman. It's important to pay attention to hormone balance beyond just your menstrual cycle, fertility, or menopause. In this blog post, we'll discuss the importance of maintaining a healthy hormone balance for overall well-being. I will show you why your hormones deserve some love + attention!
Hormones are the chemical messengers that tell every cell in your body what to do, how to do it, and when. Your hormones regulate your weight, energy levels, hunger, sleep, growth, reproduction, and more. They are intricately tied to every function in your body. When your hormones are balanced, it's smooth sailing! When they are imbalanced, you can experience a slew of unpleasant symptoms, including:
Unexplained changes in weight
Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
Irregular or painful periods
...to name a few!
As someone who prefers to take a natural route whenever possible, I wanted to share some more holistic habits you can use to work WITH your body and support heathy hormones. There are many dietary and lifestyle shifts you can make to help your hormones function optimally.
Here's my top 4 habits you can incorporate this year to help balance your hormones:
1. Eat a whole foods diet
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but let's dive a little deeper. Many people in the health/wellness space are obsessive over specific diets- keto, paleo, and vegan are just a few that have gained popularity this year. While these diets can boast many benefits, I invite you to cut the diet mentality and/or calorie counting and simply focus on real, unadulterated, whole foods that have been minimally processed. Fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, organic whole grains, pastured/grass-fed meat + eggs, wild-caught fish are examples of whole foods. Basically, if it comes from a plant, the sea, or a farm-eat it, and if it comes in package, ditch it! For an extra does of hormone love, check out my list of hormone-balancing superfoods and try to incorporate them this year.
2. Practice yoga
Yoga is incredibly beneficial to our TOTAL health: body, mind and spirit. Not only is it a great form of movement for all levels and body types, it's also a great way to quiet the mind and connect with the breath, increasing the mind/body connection. Yoga poses stimulate our endocrine glands, and lower the stress hormone cortisol while simultaneously increasing beneficial brain chemicals like endorphins and and GABA. I practice yoga at Soul Tribes here in Houston- a non-heated studio suitable for all levels that offers yoga, meditation and sound bowl classes. (PS- I'm also getting certified as a yoga instructor there, too- stay tuned!!)
3. Reconnect with what brings you joy
Stress can quite literally kill us. As we get older and inevitably embrace the realities of life, we often stop doing the things that bring us joy. JOY is a nutrient and too many adults are chronically deficient in it. I invite you to create a habit of setting aside 15 minutes per day to do something that brings you joy. If you can't do it daily, try to set aside an hour per week at minimum. Do you love to dance? Great- put on your favorite song and dance it out, or attend a dance class. Do you love to cook? Cook yourself a bomb meal or invite some friends over for a dinner night. Make a list of 5-10 things that bring you joy and make a habit of visiting that list regularly.
Don't underestimate the power of this simple medicine!
4. Practice cycle syncing
Cycle syncing is the practice of planning your workouts, nutrition, and lifestyle around which phase of your menstrual cycle you are in. If you recall from my blog post "How to Balance Female Hormones Through Diet & Lifestyle", there are 4 phases of the menstrual cycle- Follicular, Ovulatory, Luteal, and Menstruation.
Follicular: the beginning of the cycle. Associated with Spring; new beginnings. Great time to start new projects, increase intensity of your workouts, and plan for the month ahead. Foods that are beneficial to the follicular phase include wild-caught fatty fish, nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, avocado, and eggs.
Ovulatory: When the ovaries release an egg. (Ovulation technically happens for just 24 hours, but the fluctuation of hormones around it can last 2-4 days). Associated with summer; time to take action and be social. Great time for your highest-intensity workouts. If you can plan important meetings or social events around this time, that is ideal! You have the most testosterone and estrogen at ovulation, so you'll be at your physical peak and also have the most confidence during this time.
Luteal: If the egg has not been fertilized, your body releases lutealizing hormone (LH) and you enter the luteal phase. Associated with Fall/Autumn; a time for taking stock, tying up loose ends, and enjoying your "harvest". Great time to slow down on workouts and switch to lower impact exercise like Pilates, barre, and yoga. Great time to close out any projects you worked on for the month. Foods that are beneficial for the luteal phase include blueberries, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, pastured chicken, quinoa, and dark chocolate.
Menstruation: Day 1 of your period until you stop bleeding. Associated with Winter; a time for introspection, time alone, and rest. It's best to sleep more than normal during menstruation to allow your body to restore while you shed your uteran lining. Try not to over-schedule yourself during this time if possible. Foods that benefit menstruation include grounding foods like root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.), ginger, dark chocolate, leafy greens, and turmeric. Warming, grounding meals like soups and stews are best.
*It's important to note that we can't always plan our lives 100% around our menstrual cycle. Perfection is not the goal here, and stressing/obsessing over it can actually do more harm than good. Awareness of where you're at in your cycle is key, and even if you can rearrange 20-30% of your life to better match your cycle, it can have a huge impact on hormone balance and an improved well being!
I hope this blog post gives you some good habits that will support your hormonal health in 2023! For more tips on how to naturally support your hormone balance, check out our post on 5 hormone-balancing superfoods you should eat regularly.
HTX Gals Wellness Group kicks off Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Meal Prepping Workshop Sunday January 22, 2023
Set up a free consult if you're interested in private health coaching with me to support your 2023 health goals!