Two years ago when I moved to LA I was in pretty good shape.
Like, best shape of my life type of shape (not bragging just being real).
I was working so hard to be a SoulCycle Instructor (which I've discussed before on the podcast). I was eating super clean, taking class sometimes 6 times a week.
Not that it matters, but to get an idea, I was around 18% body fat and weighed the lowest I had in years. Again, numbers don't matter but sometimes at this time I would look in the mirror or in phones and actually not recognize myself. In a good way, ha.
Fast forward to my first few months into living in L.A. I started to get super tired everyday.
Like, couldn’t keep my eyes open, had to pass out during my lunch break (at that time I was working from home). It felt like I was sick at times, the crash was SO intense.
I was also gaining weight, pretty quickly, suddenly and I remember moments when I felt like I was wearing a fat suit. NOT CUTE.
Dramatic I know, but feeling like there was a layer on you that wasn’t mean to be there, was pretty bad feeling. I would be in classes, literally holding my gut because I was so bloated. I started to outsize my clothes, and noticed such a difference in photos that I was starting to get really upset.
It's the worst right? Looking at yourself in a photo being like WHO IS THAT?
Really depressing, to be honest.
I know that there had been some lifestyle changes, the move, and I was working from home, so eating more was definitely happening. But I also knew that I was working out 2x a day most days, taking Barry’s classes, SoulCycle classes. I wasn’t messing around because I was trying so hard to lose the weight that I had been putting on.
I know that you can’t outwork a bad diet, for sure, but the diet wasn’t as bad as how I was feeling. Everywhere I go I didn’t feel like myself, I felt like I wasn’t ME inside my body because I felt so bloated, puffy, and out of it most days.
You know the phrase, ‘feeling comfortable in your own skin’, well I was definitely not feeling comfortable in my skin. Quite literally i wanted to crawl out of it.
For the energy crashes, I started to realize that if I had any caffeine, a coffee, latte, pre-workout (which I had been taking so much of the past few years to perform well in workout classes), this would lead me to feeling nauseous ill, and then so exhausted I would need to sleep. It would also happen if I had sugar in large amounts. Any sort of stimulant, was not received well by my body, enough to make me sick.
At this time I was also not sleeping well which normally I am a great sleeper (super proud that I can sleep through any flight). I would have intense nightmares, and would feel a pick up in energy right before bed, which wasn’t wanted.
Also for the sake of oversharing, I had zero interest in sex. Like, none.
It was still happening for sure (LOL SRY), because I realize its healthy to a relationship and I do love it, yes, but I felt like I had no desire. Like could live almost everyday of my life, without it.
My friend Ryan Burch was my sounding board at this time, and she was the first to talk to me about my hormones being out of balance, and that being a culprit of how I was feeling.
That partnered with Adrenal Fatigue.
Getting tested for a hormonal imbalance, had NEVER crossed my mind before this time. I honestly had NEVER thought about hormones, if they were in balance, if they weren’t and how that would affect my energy levels, mood, sleep, sex drive, and weight.
All of course, that I cared about was my weight (in this case I really just wanted to feel normal) and being able to make it through the day from an energy perspective. Because sleeping at lunch, isn’t a good look.
My results were super telling, and I finally felt like I had the missing puzzle piece to understanding how I was feeling and why.
- My estrogen levels were high (called estrogen dominant)
- I had cortisol levels that were flat-lining during the day, and picking up at night which explained the energy crash during the afternoon and energy spike in the evening. All the reckless sleep patterns were explained by this.
- I also had adrenal fatigue, and my adrenals (which I didn’t even know exist 6 month before this time) had been working in overdrive with my physical, stimulated, stressful, crazy and busy lifestyle.
Basically, the body was like, yo you know how you want to take 100 workout classes a week, drink pre-workout, stay stressed about doing all of the things, and not pay attention to me?
Yah, we’re done with that and I’ll make you pay attention.
A little more about hormones:
The hormone that is fundamental to the female of the species is actually a family of three: estradiol, the most active form of estrogen; estrone, the inactive storage form of estrogen; and estriol, the weaker of the estrogens.
Estrogen has been labeled “the angel of life,” because it makes cells grow, developing the uterus, breasts, periods, pregnancy and the egg within the ovary—and “the angel of death,” because in excess it becomes toxic to the body.
Progesterone is the sister hormone to estrogen, working in tandem with it to regulate and protect the health of the reproductive system throughout our fertile years. Among its many vital functions, progesterone governs the second half of the menstrual cycle and is essential to maintaining a pregnancy to term. It also plays a part in the regulation of blood sugar levels, has inherent calming properties, and protects breast, brain and bone health. When it comes to breast cancer prevention, progesterone’s most important role in the body is to balance estrogen.
Testosterone is an androgenic hormone, or “androgen” (from the Greek, “andro” for male), so named because it is most commonly associated with the development of male characteristics. Although testosterone is present in much smaller amounts in women than in men, it has a wide range of essential functions for a woman’s health. These include maintaining libido and sexual function, as well as the normal growth and renewal of muscles, bone and other tissues. It may also have a role to play in protecting breast health at a cellular level.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. It also has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress. Too much of it can be a bad thing, it can lead to weight gain around the stomach. Too little makes you sluggish, and tired. You need a healthy balance!
What’s adrenal fatigue?
"Adrenal Fatigue is a stress-related condition that occurs when your adrenal glands, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland are functioning below their optimal level. Adrenal Fatigue is usually the result of long term physical or emotional stress, and can lead to symptoms like low energy levels and weakened immunity."
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
Sensitivity to stimulants
Inability to get out of bed
Weight gain around the face, arms and neck
Inability to handle stress
For me, it was really my sensitivity to stimulants, energy levels being super low, and my anxiety that would peak at night, that really set me in to explore this further. I remember drinking a latte, and wanting to PASS OUT in bed I was so tired from the caffeine. I'd also feel super nauseous, and unwell most days.
Now that I knew my results, I was desperate to get on a path to really healing my body as naturally as possible. I was done with any sort of diet pill, any upper, and knowing wholeheartedly that I had done this singlehandedly to myself, I was motivated to reverse the damage.
Candace was perfect for helping me create a plan to heal myself because all of her suggestions were natural and homeopathic. No drugs, nothing weird, no suggestions of birth control or steroids.
All of it, though was going to take a while. That’s the thing, is that your hormones don’t just get out sync overnight. Same with with the adrenals. Your body wants to be in a natural rhythm.
But I was willing to do the work, and life at times can go by quickly. So my plans involved:
Working out LESS: Seems counter-intuitive, but I was just burning myself out. I wasn’t letting my muscles recover, and I was working so hard and not seeing the results that I wanted so I needed to do something different. Being more kind, taking days off, and essentially cutting HIIT workouts out of my schedule seriously helped my body balance. The stress of your workouts is good, for the most part, but too much can damage your cells and really set yourself back. Now I focus on strength training most days with Pure Barre and free weights, walking my 10,000 steps and sometimes a good cardio session at SoulCycle.
More FAT: So key, having more fat in my diet has nourished my adrenals and helped my body get into a much better state energy wise, and weight wise. Having a stable blood sugar is super important for your energy levels, and your adrenals. I have a full avocado almost everyday in my Fab 4 Smoothie. If not that, I’ll have a spoon full of coconut oil, and really think about working healthy fats in my diet. This has also made me feel so much more satiated, full, satisfied and happy.
More MEDITATION: Especially at night, using it to calm my body down and de-stress seriously helped my sleep and energy levels stabilize. My favorite meditation guide is Tara Brachs podcast you can listen to here.
No CAFFIENE/STIMULANTS/PRE-WORKOUT: A given, but I don’t drink ANY coffee, or caffeine at all. It makes me feel like shit, gives me no energy, and there is ALWAYS a crash. So I don’t fuck with any of it and feel so much better. If you’re addicted to coffee, try to quit it. You save so much money, and I swear you’ll feel more in control.
New VITAMINS (you can buy my favorites using the links here):
Less SUGAR: MAJAH KEY. Focusing diet wise on more fat and less sugar (now instead of calories I check, sugar, fat and protein on labels. Focusing on having less than 10g in almost everything I eat, has changed my LIFE. I realized how much sugar affected my mood now, and it’s crazy. It made me anxious, it made me feel a bit crazy at times, and now with less sugar, and freeing myself from any restrictions related to fat, has been amazing.
I also think about the rhythm of the day now. That in the morning, essentially your cortisol levels should be at their highest. It’s naturally to want to get out of bed, and feel bright eyed and busy tailed, ready to take on the day. The levels taper off during the day and at night should be at their lowest so you can fall into a deep sleep.
So trying to live my day with that in mind, I don’t do any high intensity workouts that promote more stress in my body in the morning. I’ll do it at night, when it’s okay if I pick up my cortisol a bit because the levels are already low.
I also make it a point to relax in the evening know certain activities will make my cortisol spike when I don’t want it to.
All of these, I seriously took into consideration. Yes there were times I had too much sugar, would skip a meditation but overall I really took this to heart, and it felt GOOD.
I started to realize a real shift about 7 months later. People were noticing that I was feeling more myself, that I was looking much slimmer (even though my weight hadn’t really changed but a few pounds my puffiness level was going WAY down). I was sleeping through the night, my sex drive was back (hehe) and the bloating was way down. I was just feeling more healthy and more nourished.
My word was nourished. I was nourishing my body.
As with any hormone imbalance getting tested again is important to track your progress and see what’s going on. I had my test taken a few weeks ago, and honestly getting the results back seeing that I had completely healed myself naturally was EVERYTHING.
This was some shit I was so proud of myself for. That I had done it on my own, naturally and that it took a while but I stuck with it.
I had brought my estrogen levels, down, increased my progesterone and testosterone, and the cortisol levels were where they should be through the day.
My hormone levels were basically reflecting how I was feeling, which was more in control, more calm and more me.
If you haven’t already, I would listen to the Almost 30 Podcast episode with with Candace Burch. It’s LIFE CHANGING, and oh get tested too seriously. It helps understand so much about your body.
Also check out the supplements above, they’re all natural, and can be super important to helping your body heal itself, or feel better.
Anyone else have hormones issues? Let's discuss! Also open for questions too!
Also highly suggest getting tested with Candace, here.