How I Balanced My Hormones (And How I’m Still Working On It…)
I thought that I never wanted to talk “hormones” on my blog. I wanted to keep thing like “times of the month” to myself and talk more heavily about my journey with hashimoto’s and my gut. That’s really always been more of my issue, so I never saw the need to go in-depth with hormones. However, after a crazy flare and my own constant discovery that our bodies and our health are all connected, I felt like I had to share my story of how I balanced my hormones naturally.
I’ll be honest here, I’ve struggled with this a lot recently. I may seen like I’m in remission or healed, but that is simply not the case. My health is a journey, just as yours is. Just because I gave up gluten doesn’t mean I’m suddenly immune from health flares. Our bodies and are health our always changing.
Like I said, I was hesitant to talk “hormones”, but if I share the good with you all, I have to share the bad too. Plus, hormones are so much more than times of the month. It’s about sleep, blood sugar, acne, mood, and more…
My Hormonal Imbalance Flare
I used to have terrible hormonal flares with acne, pain, and mood swings when I was a teenager. Doctors always just brushed it off as me being a teenager and didn’t look beyond that. In retrospect, I know that a lot of what caused my recently hormone flare was what was causing my flares in the past.
I had terrible acne that just wouldn’t budge. I tried creams, ointments, and even prescription acne pills (horrible idea) and nothing helped. It was eventually determined that it was hormonal acne, and I was put on a birth control pill when I was about 17 or 18 to just silence this symptom. My acne went away and I was afraid to ever get off the pill in fear of what it would do to my skin. However, when my husband and I got married, he talked me into talking to my doctor about getting off the pill. He had his head on way straighter than I did at the time and convinced me that the pill was probably doing way more harm than good. And he was right.
I got off the pill a few years ago and had already changed my diet by the time that I did, so my symptoms were much better. I had some acne and mood swing here and there, but never anything drastic… until recently.
This all started around this past summer…
What Happened To Trigger It?
This is always just speculation, but here are the things that were going on at the time…
- I was taking my finals at the NTA
- We were simultaneously buying our first house and moving
- I was feeling pressured to quit my full-time job and make the leap to entrepreneurship right then and there
- We moved into a new old house that was recently remodeled
- I was eating more starch
- I got out of my normal healthy routine
My symptoms came on so hard and so fast that I actually got tested for mold toxicity. I thought that our new house was contaminated with mold and that that’s what was triggering me.
So basically, I was crazy stressed in more ways than one.
The symptoms were hard, fast, and debilitating at times. It wasn’t bad every day, but when it was, it was really bad.
- Trouble sleeping… I would wake up every night at 3am which is not typical for me at all.
- Mood swings
- Weight gain… I can just tell hormonal weight gain on my body. I was holding onto 7-8 pounds of hormonal weight gain that wouldn’t budge
- Leg cramps
- Shooting back pain
What my lab work said…
- My thyroid and inflammation levels are still good (thankfully some positive news!)
- I was estrogen dominant
- I was low in progesterone
- I’m very low in Vitamin D
- I had elevated liver enzymes
- I had freakishly high beta-glucaronidase
- I was in stage 2 adrenal fatigue (which is hopefully improving)
- I was mineral deficient
- I’m highly mercury toxic (more on this in another post… omg…)
Clearly, I had a lot of work to do. I’ve come a long way and am still working on it, but I’m finally starting to feel relief.
How I Balanced My Hormones Naturally
(and am still working on it)
1.I Zeroed In on Blood Sugar Control and Cut Out Starches In Excess
Blood sugar is so important for your hormones! I repeat, please care about your blood sugar. Please care about how many carbs and sugars you eat (even natural, real food sources), how much fat and protein you pair it with, and how often you eat. You want your meals to be balanced. That balance is different for everyone, but generally speaking, you don’t want half of your meals to be fruit and sweet potatoes. You want fat, protein, and a balance of vegetable based carbs.
Our hormones of blood sugar sugar control of part of our entire endocrine cascade. Our hormones have to balanced, right? Spikes in our blood sugar mean imbalances in our hormones. Ever get hangry after just having a smoothie for breakfast? What about running to the bathroom at 2 am? Or feeling tired at 3 pm and only feeling relief from eating. All signs that your blood sugar is imbalanced.
I began to notice that the more starches and sugar I ate throughout the month, the worse my flares were. I was more anxious, had more acne, more pain, and I was just a wreck.
So, here’s what I did…
- I cut out/ cut down on starches like starchy flours (cassava, tapioca, sweet potato, etc.)
- I focused on eating more non-starchy veggies like carrots, squash, etc. and cooking them in lots of fat!
- I do fruit in moderation and as treats
- I made sure I had little to no caffeine. Maybe a matcha here and there, but no daily coffee for sure.
2. I Focused On Cutting Down My Stress Levels
I firmly believe that stress was the finally nail in the coffin of this flare, so it was the key to really getting rid of it. Stress in all forms (physical, emotional, etc.) spikes our cortisol which throws off our entire hormone cascade. I knew that my adrenals were seriously fatigued, and that I was incredibly stressed. Stress is the one thing that I always encourage my clients to really take an honest look at. We must reduce stress as much as possible to help rebalance our hormones and stop spikes and dips in stress hormone levels. But it’s easier said than done…
Stress is hard. It comes in so many different forms, and it’s impossible to get rid of stress altogether.
There comes a point where we need to just accept a certain level of stress in our lives. We’ll never get rid of it altogether, so we just have to find ways to manage it and get rid of unnecessary stress. Stress reduction means something different for everyone. We can’t just drop our responsibilities, so we have to find a way to balance.
So, here’s what I did…
- I worked really hard to transition away from my 8-5 job and do part time office work, consulting, and work on my own business (more on that here)
- Spent more time outside
- I take at least one evening a week to not have any obligations or appointments and just relax
- I spend more time with God
3. I Kept Working On My Gut
Because it all begins in the gut, right? Our mood, our hormones, everything! Little did I know that the biggest factor to my hormones was still in my gut. I know that working on my gut is a lifelong journey, and I’m up for the challenge.
So, let’s talk beta-glucaronidase. I had never really heard of this before I realized mine was so high. Beta-glucaronidase is an enzyme that becomes elevated from unfriendly gut bacteria. The enzyme stops us from detoxing things like old hormones, and these old hormones keep recirculating in our system… which is why I had the same symptoms for months. This was the big hairy monster in my flare. Beta-glucarondiase can be found on a stool test, and it’s imperative to lower it as it’s associated with cancer of the prostate, colon, and breast cancer.
Our gut health is huge, huge, huge. That’s why I literally wrote a book on healing your gut, and why I talk so often about healing foods like bone broth. I focus on it with all of my clients and believe that in todays toxic world, working on your gut health is an ongoing process.
A few years ago I couldn’t go a single day without having some sort of stomach ache, pain, bloating, or mystery reaction to food. Though still I have an off day here and there, I’m blown away with how far I’ve come and how much my quality of life has improved as a result. Regardless, there’s apparently still on going work to do.
Here’s what I did…
- I worked with my doctor to get on some supplements (like calcium d-glucarate) to help out my elevated beta-glucaronidase and am continuing to work with her on treating the root cause.
- I cut out excess starches and sugars to stop feeding bad gut bacteria. This was huge for me and I never thought I could do it! It’s not that my gut flora is depleted… quite the opposite. I had a huge diversity in my gut of both good and bad bacteria. My strategy for rebalancing has been to favor good bacteria with the right ferments, and starve bad bacteria which is part of cutting out starches and sugars which they feed on!
- I followed all of the principles for on-going gut healing as laid out in my e-book, the 30 Day Gut Healing Guide.
4. I Started Exercising Smarter
Getting out of my routine during the stressful summer meant getting out of my workout routine. I went from a normal routine that was working for me to just not really moving with purpose at all.
A lot of what I was dealing with my hormone flare was inflammation, and the right kind of exercise and restorative movement with purpose can be great for reducing inflammation. Everyone’s routine will be different, and actually getting into a routine is half the battle, but exercise makes such huge difference in hormone balance when we don’t over or under do it.
Here’s what I do now…
- Walking is my anchor and I take walks several times a week
- I try to go to a yoga class at least twice a week
- I also try to practice yoga at home on off days for even just 10-20 minutes to get in some movement and stretch. I’m loving Yoga with Adrienne videos.
- I’ll strength train with weights (which I love) once or twice a week or go to a more challenging yoga class
- If I’m having an off week, I’ll only walk and do restorative yoga
5. I Worked With My Doctor To Supplement Smarter
I always stress that we need to be working with a practitioner one on one with things like supplementation, because I was way off on my own routine!
I’m not really going to share the exact supplements my doctor recommended for me in depth, because the last thing I want anyone doing is just grabbing what I’m on and taking that. More likely than not, it won’t work for you like it is me. You’ll likely need something different.
In short, my doctor helped me with mineral support, Vitamin D, progesterone, and initial mercury detox support.
How My Symptoms Have Improved…
- I sleep perfectly!
- My skin is better
- My mood swings are basically gone
- No more headaches or migraines
- I shed most of my hormonal weight
- I’m way less stressed
- I’m only anxious about stupid this and not irrational things (because I’m still quirky, y’all… driving with loud music makes anxious… I’m weird 😛 )
What I’m Still Working On…
- Mercury detox! This is a huge bear and throws everything off in your body. More on this as I continue down this path, but it’s just starting for me.
- Mineral status.
- My gut flora and the beta-glucaronidaise. A constant journey as well!
- My vitamin D which has been low for years, y’all
- My back pain still gets iffy at certain times… working on my inflammation and everything else above for this
So, phew! There you have it. Like I said, this is a constant journey. I’m still in the thick of it every day and have lots of work to keep doing. What I do know, is that I’m beyond grateful that I’m able to manage these shifts naturally with real food and lifestyle changes, and not birth control anymore. There’s a lot to know, and much still to learn, but as always, I’ll be here to share!