Hacking Your Hormones
Updated: Aug 8
Disclaimer: This blog does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for seeking professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
I remember feeling broken. I remember feeling like there was something innately wrong with me. I thought I was doing everything right and I still wasn't getting my period back. I was so frustrated and couldn't help but think, WHY?! Why was I still was experiencing mood swings, why was I still exhausted all the time, why is there still no period? If you are new here, I lost my period due to extreme restriction during my eating disorder and having an extremely low body weight and body fat percentage. I was on a quest to look like the epitome of health on the outside and in that process I lost sight of what was important: my health on the inside.
It took me years to get my period back, but during the process I learned so much about how our hormones work and how we can best support them. I want you to think of hormones like dominos standing. When one falls over, it knocks over the next and so on. There are many things that can knock down that first domino, which include some bad habits like: extremely low body weight, drinking alcohol, smoking, eating a high sugar and high refined carbohydrate diet, consuming low-quality dairy, not exercising enough or exercising too much and chronically being stressed (to name a few). And while the bad news is that many things can cause an imbalance, the good news is that it IS possible to bring them back into balance.
I mentioned that in my journey to balancing my hormones I felt like I was doing everything right, but when I look back I was only focused on the food side of balancing my hormones and I completely disregarded my non-food sources of nourishment (also called primary food -- which are arguably just as important, in my opinion). Just like the saying goes, you can eat all the kale, blueberries, and vegetables you want, but if you are stressed, mentally unwell, and exhausted it wont benefit you in the ways you hope.
Read on to find out how to balance your hormones through primary food
Balancing Hormones Through Primary Foods
1. Empower Yourself: Yes, Karen, do not roll your eyes at me. This is important! When symptoms pop up, its easy to feel like there might be a bigger or more complex issue going or "you're broken" and "can't heal." The first step is acknowledging that nothing is inherently wrong with you. You are whole exactly as you are. From a place of confidence in your body’s ability to heal itself, you can get curious about what’s going on for you and tap into the endless toolbox that is primary food (i.e. non-food sources of nourishment like your relationships, career, finances, creativity, exercise, etc.) There is nothing more defeating than an "I can't" mentality. Mindset is key. The thought you hold in your mind will be the one you bring to life - so let it be "I can" and "I will" heal.
2. Get Real About Rest: Are you chronically exhausted? Trying to push through the day and can't understand why? NEWS FLASH!! Maybe you are actually tired! Starting with the weekends, let yourself sleep as long as you want. Some people will be rejuvenated after one long deep sleep, while others might need to take some serious time off to come back into balance. Nonetheless, sleep is a requirement for good health. Listen to your body and sleep when you are tired.
3. Balance Your Nervous System: Most people spend a majority of their lives in the sympathetic nervous system state (aka fight or flight mode). Your body does not know the difference between stressors whether a bear is chasing you or you are chronically stressed at work or are in a difficult relationship. When your body is in this state, it cannot repair. When you are relaxed and calm, your body is in the parasympathetic state (aka rest and digest). This state is brought on by sleep, laughing, meditation, reiki, physical touch with a loved one, etc. Your body has to be in this state to heal and evolve. The more you activate the parasympathetic state by relaxing & having fun, the healthier you'll be -- physically & mentally! SO HECK YA DANCE AROUND YOUR ROOM & SING INTO YOUR HAIR BRUSH!!
4. Evaluate Exercise: It might surprise you, but sometimes the harder you work out, the more stress you actually put on your body. Depending on your constitution and condition you may actually need gentle exercise like yoga, walking, or tai chi. Certain forms of rigorous exercise trigger the stress response, so make sure to balance your hard-core workouts with practices that are easier on the body. Gentle exercise can include yoga, meditation, and dance. You might even discover that your body responds well to these more gentle practices -- less inflammation, less aches and pains, more enjoyment. I had to stop forcing the OrangeTheory workouts and ditch the cardio for awhile and allow my body to exercise in a way that was more intuitive to me and I found out that I actually enjoy long walks way more. So what do you have to lose?! Go and take a walk or try a new TikTok dance, ok?!
5. Embrace The Power of Community: community has a powerful influence on personal health, and developing a supportive community is crucial to balancing your hormones. When you feel alone and isolated, you're more likely to overeat, feel depressed, and lack love and connection in your life. Humans are meant to live in communities -- its natural and necessary.
Above all: I cannot stress the importance of following YOUR own natural rhythm enough. In this world of doing it is so easy to get caught up in what your friends, boyfriend, husband, kids are doing and letting them influence the flow of your day. For me, it was the pressure of social media and what other people were doing that made me feel like I always had to be moving, doing, creating and never just being. So check in with yourself, are you following this broader "prescribed rhythm" instead of listening to your own body?
If so, here’s the truth: One rhythm does not work for everyone. Following someone else’s schedule more often than not has a negative effect on female hormones. The female body is naturally incredibly fine-tuned. It is designed for deep relaxation and self-care at certain times of the month and linear, productive work at other times of the month.The mental weight you put on yourself (like shame & judgement) is often more draining than a long to-do list. Ignoring your body's signals and writing them off as laziness is not productive or helpful -- it actually drains your energy even more. So this is your reminder that just because Suzy is partying four nights a week after a ten-hour workday or exercising for two hours every single day -- does NOT mean you have to.
By working to balance your hormones through primary food, you’ll naturally begin to live in harmony with your female body instead of dragging yourself along on someone else’s agenda. The result? You’ll start feeling more energized and more vibrant.
Take some time this week to experiment with more rest, relaxation, and community connection. Remember, there is nothing wrong with you; your body innately knows how to heal itself. You are healthy and taking empowered steps to become even healthier!