Tag Archives: adrenal fatigue

Exercise is NOT a dirty word(Just ask my Portland to Coast team!)

I love my work. I get to spend time with thousands of women every year in my role as a health care provider and as a result, I meet some amazing individuals. My office is in ‘the Pearl’ in NW Portland, which is an area similar to Soho in NYC:  shops, restaurants, bookstores(Powells Books is the largest bookstore in the U.S.and is a mere 3 blocks from my office), businesses and high density living quarters.  It is a vibrant neighborhood filled with pedestrians, cyclists, dogs on leashes, people hustling back and forth: for work, to shop, or to meet a friend over coffee or happy hour.

Our beautiful city of Portland: this is one vibrant town

Our beautiful city of Portland: this is one vibrant town

I hear many stories everyday and some common threads that emerge are all too often frustration with weight(too much, especially that dreaded ‘muffin top’), stress and feeling tired/overwhelmed. In my role as a provider, I try to elicit details of a person’s diet, stress management techniques and exercise routine. Most importantly, I have learned NOT to make assumptions: many people still don’t know how to eat ‘cleanly’ or how to incorporate exercise into daily living. Not surprisingly, women who eat well and exercise regularly tend to look and feel better/younger and handle life’s stressors with more grace.

So often I hear “I don’t have time to exercise” “I get bored” “I have bad knees” ” I just hate how I look: I can’t imagine putting on a bathing suit/workout clothes”. But then again, these are often the same women who are at their wit’s end with weight and fatigue issues.

The solution is obvious: Exercise! but the path back can be difficult for many.  But I love this kind of challenge: helping people find what works for them to get them back to feeling good, balanced, energized, alive…So many people hear the word ‘exercise’ and they want to run, but not outside, but to the couch. It can be a bit daunting for someone who has never been very active or for others who have adopted a sedentary lifestyle.

But it doesn’t have to be insurmountable. Start small. Set some goals. Let me give you some REALISTIC suggestions:

~Get a fitness app for your smart phone: there are some great ones out there. One that I use all the time is ‘endomondo’: this is a sports tracker with a GPS that makes fitness fun, helping you to measure your progress over time: I used it to train for Portland to Coast and it helped me to walk my fastest mile ever! Some others are ‘adidas-mi coach’, ‘couch to 5 k'(one of my co-workers is using that one: helping her to walk/jog and get moving!), ‘nike-fit’ …the choice is endless. Pick something that works for your lifestyle: they really make exercise fun!

~Find a group or a friend and start working towards a goal together. Last year I formed our PTC team and some of the women had NEVER participated in any kind of formal exercise or events. Guess what? they loved it and came back this year stronger and fitter than ever.

The morning after PTC with 3 of my amazing teammates: feeling strong, healthy and proud

The morning after PTC with 3 of my amazing teammates: feeling strong, healthy and proud

~Try something new or revisit something you loved as a child. Take a dance class, try stand up paddling, yoga, pilates, barre work, sea kayaking: there are no limits to the opportunities out there.

Trust me: exercise is the one thing that if you do it with any sort of regularity and dedication, it will give back to you in many ways: You will feel stronger, calmer, more flexible, confident, fit, leaner, and happy. And your memory will improve, as well as your cardiovascular health and hormonal balance.

So what’s stopping you? As always, we would love to hear what you are doing as part of your personal balance plan.

Happy trails…..

Cruising to the end of my second leg of 7.78 miles: what a gorgeous route and fun time we had

Cruising to the end of my second leg of 7.78 miles: what a gorgeous route and fun time we had

Oh and P.S.: last year was our first year as a walking team and we came in at around the top 40% , which we felt pretty good about. THIS year we finished in the top 28% overall…not bad for a bunch of women walking and having a fantastic time while doing it!

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Filed under Essentials, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Last minute shopping and ‘to do list’

Okay everyone, tomorrow is the big day for those of you who are joining us on our second ‘consciousness cleanse’ so here are some tips and suggestions to make it more enjoyable, beneficial and to help you measure your own progress and results.

1. Load up on fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains: bread/crackers/pasta/brown rice/quinoa and whatever else that intrigues you. Here are a few examples of the things that I tend to eat, but trust me, there are endless choices of all of these!

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my 'go-to' whole grains

Some of my ‘go-to’ whole grains

2. Stock up on a variety of healthy protein choices: beans, hummus, yogurt(high protein, no sugar), nuts, eggs, cheeses, tofu, tempeh, meats(hormone and antibiotic free whenever possible), chicken(free range organic is preferable), nut butters(without sugar, of course). These are all loaded with amino acids which are essential for brain health and mood stabilization, as well as for sustained energy and maintenance of muscles and bodily tissues.

Examples of easy, healthy protein sources

Examples of easy, healthy protein sources

3. Have an assortment of beverages that you can choose from: herbal teas(see my post from yesterday), juices, kombucha, sparkling water and cider and for those of you who will be weaning slowly off of caffeine, decaf coffee and black teas.  In lieu of ‘cocktail hour’, try drinking a ‘VIrgin Mary and reap the benefits of the vegetable juices while savoring the taste of your drink or try sparkling water with a slice of lemon or orange.

4. Be sure to get in some physical exercise each day. Walking is great plus whatever else you enjoy. Drink plenty of water as well throughout the day.

5. If you are already taking a multivitamin, continue to do so. Other things to take: drink some Yogi De Tox tea, 1-2 cups /day, if it is available to you. Take Ashwaganda and Milk thistle: good for adrenal and liver support. We will make more suggestions later on.

5. Take some baseline measurements of your physical self, as well as some of the indicators that measure how well you sleep, your mood, energy level etc.

Today, weigh yourself, measure your waist at the smallest point, again around the umbilicus, your hips and thighs at their widest point: write these down in a place that you can easily locate in 11 days.

Also write down the answers to these questions: what time do you go to bed, awaken, how many times do you awaken throughout the night, are you rested upon arising, is it hard to fall asleep? What is your energy level like throughout the day: when are your peaks and valleys, how is your energy affected by eating/work/exercise/stress? What are your elimination patterns like: easy, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gassy? What is your mood like throughout the day: anxious, depressed, irritable, happy, content, variable? Be sure to write all of this down as well!

On day 11, I will ask you to remeasure and re-answer those questions so that you can get a more objective assessment of how your body responds to cleaner, more conscious eating.

Okay, bon appetit to all.  We look forward to hearing your comments and we will keep you posted as well on our progress throughout the next 10 days.

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Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

MUST READS for Gifting Balance this Christmas

As promised, and in time for Christmas giving I have put together my all-time “must-reads”  that not only speak to me of balance but help me find and sustain it in the midst of the slings and arrows of daily living….many of my best picks for mind, body and soul balancing guidance  can be easily-peasily ordered online from our Menopausibilities Women’s Health Shop. Okay here’s my list of essential, can’t stay in balance without fantabulous reads.

HORMONE BALANCING:
The Wisdom of Menopause, Christianne Northrup, M.D.

Hormone Balance Made Simple, John R. Lee, M.D. (any of the books by John R. Lee including: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About MenopauseWhat Your Doctor May Not Tell You About PreMenopauseWhat Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer: How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life  (w/ David Zava PhD.)

The Cortisol Connection, Shawn Talbott

 Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Dr. Jim Wilson, N.D.

The Mood Cure, Julia Ross

The books that speak of balance are essential to finding it in your body, mind and soul.

The books that speak of balance are essential to finding it in your body, mind and soul.


MIND and SOUL Balancing
:

The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin

Gift From the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindberg

Sex and the Seasoned Woman, Gail Sheehy

Women, Food and God, Geneen Roth

Magnificent Mind at Any Age, Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail, Cheryl Strayed

The Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama

Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra, M.D.


Body Balancing:

True Food
, Andrew Weil, M.D.

Fight Fat After 40, Pamela Peeke, M.D.

Super Nutrition for Menopause, Anne Marie Gittleman

The Thyroid Diet, Mary J. Shomon

French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano

Stay tuned, next post for Kyle’s TOP Books of Balance for the NEW YEAR!! May your days be merry, bright, and above all in balance!!

Christmas coming on - not hot flashes!

Give the gift of Balance this Christmas! Happy Holidays! Candace, Rye and Dave

 

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Christmas 2012 in Balance: The Essential Gift List

Xmas ME

Christmas is one of those GOOD stress times I like to think of as  the  spice of life!

The holiday rush is upon us and I like everyone else I know find myself in a constant rush to fit in the shopping, the parties, and the round of Christmas craft fairs, concerts, and happy hours with friends. Actually I’m having far too much fun this season, but on top of work and chores, aging parents, aging dogs (who have lately forgotten they’re house trained), aging knees, and an empty nest (which is about to fill back up to overflowing just as we were getting used to it)….well it takes it’s toll. But far from complaining, oh no, ho, ho, I am simply stating a fact: Christmas time can be a stressful time!! Mostly GOOD stress, one hopes, but stress none-the-less.

So my challenge this season is to stay cool in the midst of all the holiday chatter and cheer, to keep Jingle Bell Rock from getting stuck inside my head, and to find gifts for my favorite people that  rather than cluttering their closets may help to unclutter their lives. In mulling this over, I keep arriving back at one of  Menopausibilities’ essential truths: It’s about BALANCE.  That’s it.  That’s all that stands between me and overeating, overworking, overspending, and overdoing the Yuletide. So with mantra in mind I hereby resolve that the only gifts I will give a moments consideration to this Christmas are those that speak to me of balance. Gifts meant to calm, soothe, enlighten, and rebalance the health, hormones, and lives of those I love best in all the world. Mature woman holding gift, portrait

Thus follows my very own Speak to Me of Balance Christmas Gift List for 2012. Hopefully my growing hodgepodge of favorites will speak to YOU of balance or help spark your own ideas:

MASSAGE: A gift certificate for a one hour massage, or even a 15 minute chair massage 2x a week studies tell us, can calm the sympathetic nervous system and lower stress levels significantly.

FLOAT: this is the act of suspending oneself voluntarily in a tank filled with warm water and Epsom salts for about 90 minutes in a darkened room! Hmmm… the idea being to block all sensory input so that sans the constant pressure of analyzing the world around you, your body lowers its levels of stress hormones while the neurotransmitters of happiness rise and the mind comes out to play. Fans of FLOAT say the 90 minutes go by fast when you’re in a state of “otherworldly relaxing.” (www.floathq.com for Portlanders – floatation.com for everyone else!)

Man examining his physique in the mirror

Dave and the after-effects of a “hot” yoga session: more strength and stamina, less spare tire!

YOGA: the essentials of stretching and deep breathing release tension, lower stress hormones, and among other things boost lung function.  More oxygen translates to relaxed muscles with fewer aches and pains, better mood and memory. The Bikram version performed in 100+degrees is a form of ‘hot’ yoga that has its’ followers, my own husband among them!

Gift certificate to Aveda Hair Salons  among the very few I have found that use natural plant-based hair dyes and products. Its about time….we need to give ourselves a break from the toxins in most chemical hair dyes that turn into bad estrogens and throw hormones out of whack.

Grayce Root Revive – this is a real lifesaver between colorings: a fragrance-free, naturally pigmented hair powder that can be brushed in as a temporary touch up for gray grow out. And I can tell you, it does the trick. Not only that, by reducing my visits to the hair stylist I’m reducing my exposure to the bad chemicals in hair dyes. www.graycerootrevive.com

Arbonne’s Instant Lift Gel (my secret weapon for looking the best I can for my age) and any of the RE9 line of anti-aging, plant-based, toxin-free, cosmetic and skin care products from this visionary Swiss company. www.arbonne.com to find a consultant in your town.

A year’s membership to the Sierra Club is available right now for 15 bucks at www.sierraclub.org. Check out their awesome range of outings: day hikes, peak scrambles, bicycling, cross-country skiing, bird-watching, conservation-walks, or forays into the remaining natural areas of our major cities. What better way to stop living in your head and start living in your body!!

A moment of balance , halfway up Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range

Kyle in a moment of balance, halfway up Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range

By the way, walking may be the single best and easiest exercise you can do to get healthy, or even healthier in 2013. In a recent Wake Forest Medical Center study, women who walked one to two miles 3 times a week shrank abdominal fat cells by a whopping 18 percent in four months. By the way, researchers did not find the same effects  in those who dieted but did not walk.

Woman  jogging

Walking or belly fat? Its a no-brainer.

Walking gear: warm hat with ear flaps and a must-have brim (for those of us who wear glasses), waterproof pants and anorak so there is no excuse not to exercise in the great outdoors no matter the weather. A growing disconnect with the natural environment has been linked in a host of studies to obesity and related “diseases of indoor living”.

Pedometer – taking 5000 steps or fewer daily is considered sedentary. Track your steps wearing a pedometer and work your way up to 10,000 steps, which is considered active.

Dance classes – Speaking of making it to 10,000 steps a day, I wonder how many you can accumulate in a dance class? My daughter Jess just told me that she and her boyfriend recently signed up for lessons after realizing how out of step they were on the dance floor at a friends wedding  …from the waltz to the rumba they are now learning to move in synchrony. Just like hormones in balance!  www.arthurmurray.com

Soul balancing:  Beading, needlepoint, glass making, painting or cooking classes. Whatever speaks to you of creativity! This I know for sure: you can’t worry or distract yourself with internal chatter while stringing beads one at a time. And what better gifts than those made by hand for the particular person in mind.

Last but not least, let’s not forget the balancing presence of all presents: Red wine, Green tea and Dark chocolate – all in moderation but loaded with adaptogenic herbs, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties that keep hormones in balance and our immune systems humming along.

An example of a delicious rich organic dark chocolate

A square or two of organic dark chocolate speaks to me of balance! Not to mention that it raises serotonin, the pleasure hormone!

So did I get everything? What about tickets to the theater, an upcoming concert, or art exhibit for a friend who needs the gift of time. If money is no object a week away at a spa where nothing but fresh, organic, hormone-free foods go into your body, and nothing but peace and quiet into your mind. And on that thought I shall wind down my own thoughts ….still on a roll but not in a rush.

African American couple leaving concert hall

The gift of time to enjoy the best life has to offer, especially at Christmas!

Next post I’ll share our Menopausibilities best picks for books to help balance body, mind and spirit just in time for Christmas. In the meantime please LIKE us or comment on the blog to share any great ideas you come up with for gifting balance to the people you love best in all the world.

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Top 10 Hormone Rebalancing Tips: YOU could be walking around with a hormone imbalance and Not Even Know It! Oprah said that but what did she mean? Hormone imbalance defined.

Return to Balance

No one likes being out of balance, especially when the hot flashes, foggy thinking, and mood swings of menopause leave us feeling like a pale reflection of our former selves. During this hormonally challenged time its important to realize that the extent to which we suffer from troublesome symptoms has much do with the extent to which our lives – and our hormones – are out of balance.

Picture if you will synchronized swimmers all pointing their toes in perfect petal formation at the exact same moment. Suddenly, one of the swimmers takes off in a different direction, let’s call her progesterone, another dives to the bottom of the pool (call her testosterone), a few more decide to make waves (call them cortisols) while the last but not least of swimmers (call her estrogen) takes over the whole routine. All that beautiful synchrony, gone.

Image

Key hormone players achieve balance through synchrony

And so it goes with us. When our hormones are out of sync, we are out of sync – physically, mentally, emotionally. And because hormones are so mutually dependant (a deficiency of one creates a surplus of another), there are countless opportunities for imbalance. As Oprah put it at the opening of her show on women and hormones, “You could be walking around with a hormone imbalance and not even know it!” Knowing the signs and symptoms of a hidden hormone imbalance is your first big clue, testing and exploring your options is next  …. But before we go any further, let me explain what a hormonal imbalance is…. It’s what happens when one or more of the key hormone players (see Kyle’s most recent blog): estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and/or Cortisol, fall out of proportion to each other, (or like our synchronized swimmers above, swim off in different directions) that we are left with excesses of one hormone and deficiencies of another, a working definition of hormone imbalance. These unwelcome but inevitable shifts in hormonal milieu can be handled but until we learn how, they can seriously disrupt our  moods, memory, mojo, and zest for living. It can happen to the best of us …I would describe myself during my early experience of imbalance as feeling addled, exhausted and unloving…in a word or two: basket case.  Here now are some of the more common (preventable – seize on that word ladies) doozies:

Estrogen Dominance (flabby, crabby and fed-up) – this mother of all hormone imbalances results from high estrogen levels relative to low progesterone as a result of erratic ovulation, normal aging, hysterectomy (particularly if estrogen therapy is prescribed post-surgery in the absence of its balancing partner, progesterone), and exposure to environmental chemicals known as “xenoestrogens” (see my Feb 1st post: the Cruciferous Connection). Too much estrogen triggers multiple symptoms like weight gain, mood swings, heavy periods/no periods, lost libido, lost pzazz, lost YOU…. It typically begins at Perimenopause (early to mid-40s) when hormones wax and wane, and ends with Menopause (early 50s) when cycles cease and the ovaries stop making hormones for good. Younger women who don’t ovulate regularly (note that lack of ovulation = lack of progesterone) can also be estrogen dominant, plagued by PMS, monthly migraines, tender breasts, water retention and painful periods. So when it comes to hormone imbalance, too much estrogen is just as much an issue as too little. Having said that….

Estrogen deficiency (hot, sweaty, weepy) – low levels of estrogen can trigger that hot flash in the middle of an important meeting, or night sweats in the middle of the night, as well as other bedevilments like vaginal dryness, thinning skin, brittle nails, bones, heart palpitations, fragile emotions, muddled mind….

Imbalances of Testosterone/DHEA and Cortisol (no longer lean, just mean) are a bad combination that deplete energy, metabolism, mental clarity, stamina, and the strength of our bones, muscles, and libido. When for instance, the stress hormone cortisol goes up or stays up, testosterone goes down along with our enthusiasm, drive, and zest for living.

Adrenal Imbalances (tired, wired, and bummed-out): Lows and/or highs of cortisol resulting from unresolved stress, junk food, lack of sleep and exercise, can cause rapid aging and belly fat bigtime – not to mention allergies, insomnia, and chronic fatigue.  This under-recognized imbalance generally makes an appearance in mid-life when the adrenal glands have to pick up the slack in hormone production. The once and future energizer bunny no longer hops but plops, her sunny mood submerged under a black cloud. This is the time when the flack hits the fan if we don’t take better care of ourselves; tired, overworked adrenals eventually burnout and so do we…

Fluctuating hormones at perimenopause when hormone production becomes erratic are usually behind the hair-raising symptoms known to everywoman as the “emotional roller coaster.” That’s when all hell breaks loose and we’ll do anything for relief!

Fortunately we have a lot more control over these ups and downs than we might think. Consider these Top 10 Tips  to empower yourself and return to balance:

1.   Determine your symptoms of hormone imbalance http://www.hormonesynergy.com/women.asp  or http://www.theseventhwoman.org

2.   Test your hormones to detect hidden imbalances http://www.canaryclub.org or http://www.zrtlab.com

3.   If you have an imbalance and need to supplement insist on bioidentical hormones – they are better and safer!

4.   Learn how and when to use natural progesterone, the “great balancer.” http://www.theseventhwoman.org

5.   Support adrenal health with optimal C and B-complex, D3, and herbal tonics such as Dong Quai, Astragalus, Maca, Rhodiola, etc.

6.   Avoid xenoestrogens – eat “hormone free” foods, go GREEN with home, garden, bodycare; microwave in ceramic/glass; reject synthetic hormone replacement (HRT) and any products with unpronounceable ingredients, exercise in the open air whenever possible.

7.    Counteract stress by releasing tension: stretching, deep breathing, yoga, pilates, zumba, walking. Strength train to boost hormones naturally.

8.   Take your vitamin Zzzs – power nap!

9.   Make more ME time

10.  Act the way you want to feel! ( The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, order at http://menopausibilities.com/womens-health-shop.html)

How do YOU rebalance? Have you got a top 10, or 5, or a Numero UNO all-time best tip you can share? We’d love to pass it on!

Rebalancing amongst the Rhododendrens

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Filed under Candace Burch, Hormone Imbalance, Women's Health & Happiness

First Person: My Search for My (Happy) Self, part 1

Hi there! Blogmother Anne here, to post the first installment from a woman who has just started her own path looking for balance. You can follow her story as it unfolds by using the drop-down menu at right, where you’ll find each installment under the First Person Category.

About a month ago, I found myself in front of my bathroom mirror wondering who the heck that was staring back at me…without getting into the raw details, I’m a 50-ish woman navigating a path through divorce and financial

Who is this person? It just doesn't seem to be the real me...

devastation for the past 3½ years, no more or less challenging than many that life is known to dish out on occassion. I keep thinking I’m coming out on the other side…but darn it, something always seems to scuttle it and I feel as if I’m back at square one. Suffice to say I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and thoroughly incapable of pulling my tattered hopes out of the cellar for another day. 

Now, before you think you’re reading about one big pity party, you also need to know that I have a dedicated cadre of incredibly generous and level-headed friends, a gem of a daughter, a loving and supportive family, and I’m so far from the utter physical devastation of a tornado or a hurricane that in the big picture I have relatively little to complain about. But nonetheless, there I stood, realizing that I was once again way too uninterested and defeated to face this particular day or any other in the foreseeable future… and so I made the decision to get a prescription for anti-depressants.

Several of my friends have gotten through some pretty tough times with the help of these modern medical wonders…and I didn’t see why I couldn’t too. So within two days, I was filling a prescription and fervently hoping that the six weeks of adjusting to half doses – with side effects including headaches, sleeplessness, and more — wouldn’t sink me any deeper than I already was. I read all the drug precautions and disclaimers and indicators, then got up the next morning determined that, with just a swig of my morning coffee to wash it down, I would begin a pharmaceutical journey to my very own confident and happy future.

And I didn’t have intense side effects: mild headaches in parts of my head where I never had them before, a vaguely upset stomach, another sleepless hour or so to subtract from the usual short night. But I did have one other side effect, apparently from reading the three pages of information provided by the pharmacist: a nagging sense that this

These pages of cautions, precautions, disclaimers and relevant facts for a popular anti-depressant spooked me, and led me to start thinking seriously about bioidentical hormone therapies with Candace's & Kyle's help.

was not the right thing for me, that I was taking chemicals rather than therapy, that I was giving up control. My doctor had told me that on the rating scale they used my depression was mild – yet the popularly prescribed anti-depressant was only shown to be as effective as a placebo for mild depression. After about three days I began to worry about my brain chemistry, and the length of time I would have to be on them to see results and then beyond that to wean myself off them (it’s not recommended to stop in the fall due to the possible compounding effect of seasonal affective disorder).  I was actually resigning myself to a year of taking pills that alter my brain chemistry, all the while gambling that I would be one of the perhaps 50% that would benefit.

My ritual of a healing morning coffee was replaced with a sense that I had surrendered, and thinking that there must be a better option in something less chemical and pharmaceutical, something that would let me still be in charge.   

Enter Kyle and Candace. I’ve known Kyle for years, and through her I now count myself among Candace’s friends, too. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know they truly believe in the power of balanced hormones. I had also been reading the wealth of information about healthy hormones on The Seventh Woman Foundation website, an excellent resource.  I decided that I wanted to try this out…I wasn’t locked into long treatment cycles, and could be in more control of my own health with the ability to make adjustments that suited me.

The saliva test kit...four vials to fill with spit at four different times of day, a rated checklist of symptoms, and a prepaid UPS envelope to send it all back to the lab for testing.

So less than seven days into the half-dose beginnings of what was looking like at least year of anti-depressants, I put an end to them and took a saliva test. Spitting diligently into four vials at various times of the day will measure a variety of hormone levels, and I filled out a form from the test kit detailing everything from my emotions to my physical health. I packed the vials and questionnaire into the preaddressed envelope, popped it into a UPS drop box, and told myself to be calm and patient for a week of waiting for the results to arrive, and then a few more days to have the results interpreted by Kyle & Candace. Without even seeing the results they both recommended finding an adrenal supplement from the natural grocery health aisle, to get my cortisol (the hormone you blow through during stress) back on the map…and from the very first day of taking it I’m sleeping much better. They tell me it’s the magnesium; and while that’s interesting, the big news for me is: I’m sleeping!

And as for the saliva test, the next move belongs to Kyle and Candace. In the next week I’ll meet with them separately and write again to let you know what they found…and what they each think is the way to approach this. It should be interesting! As united as they are about hormone balance, I’m expecting their backgrounds, careers and experience will give me at least two paths to choose from.  Far from presenting a quandary, I am really happy that I will have the option to choose what I think will work best, or change the course if something doesn’t work for me…a “Personal Balance Plan”, a chance to stay in control of some aspect of my seemingly out-of-control life.  –MTA

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Hitting the Pause Button(another essential ingredient for balanced living)

The countdown continues: now I am faced with “16 shopping days til Christmas”(how did this happen and why do stores love to remind us of this???) and my initial reaction last week, when I thought about the list of things I still wanted to get done, was to reschedule my weekend away at the beach with my friend Melinda, her daughter Rupa and my loyal canine companion Riley(aka best dog in the world….). We had planned this time away months ago after looking at our individual commitments throughout the fall and had finally found a weekend that was just right for all of us. So when last week came I couldn’t imagine how we had done this to ourselves, booking time away right smack in the middle of that uber-busy time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas!! Another example of a “senior moment”, perhaps, but on the other hand, maybe this was the perfect time to get away and recharge. So I resisted the urge to call her and suggest a change in plans: in other words, I opted to ‘hit the pause button’ and go for it.

Kyle, Melinda and Riley enjoying a Christmas pause

It’s funny but I can name on one hand, maybe, the times I have regretted hitting that button. Life gets going so quickly some times that we often forget to block out time for R and R. That is a huge mistake. Our bodies, minds and spirits need time to rejuvenate and recharge and when we neglect to allow ourselves those periods of rest, we shift into that chronic stress response with all of its negative effects. And don’t you just know when your body has hit that point? Symptoms start to emerge, including insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, sugar cravings, moodiness, increased belly fat, feeling overwhelmed, distracted, to name just a few of the things you might be feeling when you are “stressed out”. In my last blog post, I reviewed the adaptive stress response(running from the proverbialwild animal who is chasing you) vs the maladaptive response, when your body is in “chronic stress response mode”. It is the maladaptive response that leads not only to all of the symptoms(and more!) that I just listed, but in addition an increased risk to many types of illnesses.

“There is very good scientific and medical evidence to show that chronically elevated cortisol levels are associated with obesity, hypertension, diabetes, fatigue, depression, moodiness, irregular menstrual periods, decreased sex drive , and Alzheimers”(from ‘The Cortisol Connection: why stress makes you fat and ruins your health-and what you can do about it’, an excellent book by Shawn Talbot, PhD, 2002).
Once you realize that you may be suffering from some of these symptoms and a feeling that you are spinning out of control, think first about getting your hormones tested. Candace and I are huge advocates of the “test and treat approach”, in comparison to the more commonly seen “guess and treat approach”. In my practice, after I take a thorough history of my patient, I then order a group of tests designed to identify exactly what is causing the patient’s symptoms. All too often I see women prescribed antidepressants, tranquilizers or sleeping pills to treat what may in fact be a hormone imbalance. And although women often protest to their providers that they aren’t depressed or anxious(after being told that their test results are normal, or worse yet, ‘you are just going through the change: you just need to deal with it and eventually it will be over’), they often feel as though they haven’t been listened to and don’t know what the next step might be.

A spectacular December morning on the Oregon coast

Know that you are not alone in feeling this way but also know that there is something that can be done to make you feel better from the inside out, which is a more sustainable way of living a balanced life. Make an appointment with a provider in your area who knows about saliva and blood spot testing and who is knowledgeable about bio-identical hormones and adrenal fatigue. This can be a life-changing experience: I hear this from my patients every day and it makes my job so gratifying. If you are in the Portland , OR vicinity, please feel free to check out www.pearlwomenscenter.com . If you live in a different area of the world, feel free to ask us the best way to find a knowledgeable provider in YOUR area. This will be a step that you will never regret taking. You deserve to live the best life you can: ‘Hormones in Harmony, Lives in Balance’. This can be true for you as well.

Oh, and getting back to my own “Hitting the pause button” last weekend: so we spent 2 wonderful days walking through the little beach town of Manzanita on Oregon’s magnificent north coast, as well as ooh-ing and ah-ing at the sweet Christmas lights on the local stores. We even accomplished a few things(no, we never did write our Christmas cards….oh well) by getting some Christmas shopping done. We ate and slept incredibly well, we laughed, A LOT, but the high point for me came on our long walk Saturday morning along the beach, the sun spectacularly shining on the bluest of water, the air calm and cold. While walking, I heard a soft bark from somewhere near the dunes, and much to our wonder and surprise, was a beautiful seal lion, waiting patiently for the tide to come up so she could return to her sealife. We were able to get close, but not too close, and truly it was a magical moment to be in the presence of such a magnificent wild marine animal…..and all because I remembered to take time to pause and remember to breathe amidst all that is left to do.

Our new friend up close: the wonders that are possible when you take time for yourself

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Work/Life Balance