Tag Archives: balance

Hormone Balancing for the Man in Your Life – Is there a Male Menopause??

O-h-h-h yes, whether he thinks so or not! Men are no more immune than are their female counterparts to a drop in hormone production with age. The so-called “male menopause” or “andropause” (in medical speak) signifies the natural midlife retreat of the male hormones (androgens), testosterone and DHEA. Testosterone in particular, is the most potent force driving mental and physical energy in men. But the rate at which these hormones decline and how steep the descent has everything to do with work/life balance, diet, stress levels, sleep and lifestyle.

The 2006 HIM Study found that nearly 40% of US males over 45 years old had low testosterone levels (an estimated 13 million US males), however the majority of men in the study did not recognize that the weight gain, sore muscles, lack of libido, insomnia, and burnout they were experiencing could very well be tied to a hidden hormonal imbalance – instead they put their symptoms down to “just getting old.”

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Women get all the attention in menopause…but what about the men in our lives?? They too suffer the slings and arrows of declining hormone levels, but don’t always know what’s hit them!

 

 What causes declining hormones in men?

In his prime, 95% of a man’s testosterone is formed in the testes. The balance, along with DHEA, the precursor of testosterone, is supplied by the adrenal glands. As he ages, brain signals to the testes to ‘make more testosterone’ start to weaken, hence the signal is not picked up and hormone levels start to downsize. By the time the average Joe hits his 40’s, testosterone levels are down forty to 50 percent and the adrenal glands are having to pick up the slack. Sidenote: this is when it becomes more important than ever at midlife to reduce stress so that the adrenals do not become overwhelmed and unable to provide sufficient hormone supplies. Weight gain, poor diet, and lack of exercise on top of high stress demands further lower testosterone, impacting the stamina, competitive drive, and virility we commonly associate with the male of the species.

How’s a Guy to Know?

The first thing a man entering andropause generally notices is a subtle downward shift in strength and energy as hormone levels taper off.   Muscle tone and stamina are the first to go and he starts to gain weight and that “spare tire”.  He may also develop a voracious appetite and food cravings he never had before. As symptoms kick in, hormone testing can identify hidden imbalances that complicate symptoms of andropause and contribute to rapid aging . 

Got symptoms of Andropause?

–       Weight gain in the hips, thighs, waist, and/or breasts

–       Decreased muscle mass/sore muscles

–       Increased body fat

–       Decreased strength/stamina/endurance

–       Poor recovery from exercise

–       Burnout and fatigue

–       Lack of mental clarity

–       Decreased sex drive and/or competitive drive

–       Prostate problems

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Muscle tone and stamina are the first to go when male hormones are out of balance….it gets tougher to win at arm wrestling….and those six-pack abs start to slide into a “spare tire” of fat around the middle.

Men with symptoms need to test these hormones for imbalances:

Testosterone –  an anabolic hormone that builds and maintains muscle mass, bone density, strength and stamina. It is also linked to libido, mental clarity, memory and energy.  Low or suboptimal levels are a strong indicator of andropause; deficiencies are linked with loss of lean muscle, increased weight, body fat, and BMI with a corresponding drop in metabolic rate.

DHEA –  the primary source of testosterone and other hormones in the body; DHEA partners with testosterone to build and maintain lean muscle and bone mass, increase metabolism and reduce body fat. Deficiencies are linked with decreased lean muscle mass and increased adipose tissue or body fat. Low DHEA is also linked with adrenal imbalances of cortisol and adrenal fatigue.

Estrogen – promotes growth and healthy cell division; protects the heart, brain, reproductive organs and glandular function.  High estrogen hormone imbalance promotes a female pattern of fat gain in men; it also depletes testosterone levels, and inhibits thyroid to slow metabolism way down. 

Cortisol –  secreted by the adrenal glands, it has a variety of functions including: regulating the stress response, energy, blood sugar levels, and the immune system. High or low cortisol levels disrupt blood sugar and insulin levels which decreases metabolism and increases fat storage.

 

How hormone imbalances trigger weight gain in men

 Undetected hormonal imbalances can cause unwanted pounds that are difficult to shed especially as men get older. When testosterone or DHEA levels decline below optimal levels, men start to lose lean muscle mass, which is readily replaced by body fat, and those much vaunted six-pack abs start to slide into a spare tire of fat. The more body fat, the more estrogen is produced – a vicious cycle that depletes male testosterone by actually converting it to estrogen in fat cells. And it doesn’t end there. Imbalances of estrogen and related hormones like cortisol (the master stress hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels) not only suppress available testosterone, but also slow down thyroid metabolism…. while the pounds pile on.

How can men balance their hormones naturally to boost energy, stamina, libido, and lose that “spare tire” for good?

As aging and bad health habits put the brakes on hormone production,  the decline can be more precipitous in some men than others. Testing male hormone levels is the first step to understanding why, and what you can do about it. My first suggestion is to order either a Male Hormone Test kit, the new Weight Management Profile, or Advanced Plus profile (all of these comprehensive home collection kits test levels in saliva and or bloodspot) from Canary Club at www.canaryclub.org. When you get your hormone results back, (usually within 3-5 days from the time the lab receives your hormone samples) you can book a  consult with your physician (go to Find A Provider at http://www.zrtlab.com) of if you prefer a phone consult, you can book one with me, Candace at www.yourhormonebalance.com  In an hour coaching session we will review and discuss your results, and your what next options. You will also receive a follow-up personal hormone balance plan within a week of our consult.

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Back on track – Men just as much as women need to balance their hormones to maintain their moods, memory, mental clarity and mojo!

 

Men in balance do this:

-Determine their symptoms of hormone imbalance from the list above. Two or more moderate to severe persistent symptoms indicate a problem. 

– Test their hormone levels to detect and correct imbalances linked to symptoms.

– Followup with a physician or health coach.

-Losing weight is key to rebalancing hormones. Fat cells contain aromatase, an enzyme that robs available testosterone by converting it to estrogen. That is when men start to get a female pattern of fat distribution in the hips, thighs, bottom and breasts (anyone heard the term “moobs”)!

-Stick with a program!  A Mediterranean style diet that is  low glycemic, low carbohydrate, low fat, high protein, high fiber (whole grains, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, seeds, etc.)  can go a long way towards balancing your hormones to balance your weight.

-Throw out testosterone robbers like caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and unnecessary stressors like overbooking yourself, etc.

-Take up strength training or weight bearing exercise to boost testosterone and DHEA levels naturally by building up lean muscle mass.

-Counteract stress (the higher the stress levels, the lower the testosterone) with regular exercise – 45 minutes is optimal but even 10 mins. 3x a day adds up to 30 minutes and that is GOOD.

-St-r-e-t-c-h and breathe deep to release tension held in the muscles and lower stress hormones

-Hit the sack earlier – less than 7 hours sleep disrupts appetite hormones to increase cravings and feelings of hunger

-Take time to do the things you enjoy! Stress reduction is the key to normalizing cortisol levels.  

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Consider these hormone support supplements to rebalance your levels: 

  • Bioidentical* forms of testosterone (gel, patch,pellets or injections) in appropriate amounts as prescribed by a physician and/or Progesterone in low doses to keep estrogen levels in check, thereby increasing active and available testosterone supplies. NOTE: progesterone inhibits the action of “bad estrogens” as well as testosterone by-products that can lead to enlargement of the prostate gland. Note: men use less than women and should discuss dosage with a doctor.
  • DIM (an extract of cruciferous vegetables) – promotes “good estrogen” metabolism and rids the body of excess/or toxic xenoestrogens to free up available testosterone and correct imbalance
  • DHEA the precursor of male testosterone boosts levels through natural conversion in the body. It is best used along with DIM and a men’s multi-vitamin with trace minerals like zinc, selenium, etc. to promote active thyroid hormone production, and inhibit loss of testosterone through conversion in fat cells
  • 7-Keto DHEAa metabolite of DHEA acts upon lean muscle mass to reduce body fat and rev up your metabolism
  •  Chromium and adaptogenic herbs (e.g. garcinia cambogia, banaba leaf, gymnema slyvestre) formulations –  help normalize cortisol levels, regulate glucose and insulin levels, tame appetite, sugar cravings, and deflate that spare tire
  • 5HTP (the natural precursor of melatonin) – at bedtime if you have trouble sleeping
  • Cal-Mag and Vitamin Ddeficiencies are linked with increased body fat
  • EFAs (essential fatty acids, like Omega 3) and Ubiquinol (spark plugs of cellular energy) – support hormone production, reduce inflammation and protect the heart
  • Vitamins C and B-Complex (B1-12) – to boost energy, and strengthen/support adrenal function and adaptation to stressors.

 Note: all supplements to be taken as directed.  Talk to your physician or pharmacist about appropriate dosages. Retest hormone levels in 3 months to track progress.

*bioidenticals are hormones made from plant based compounds that duplicate natural hormone structure and function without the side effects of synthetic versions.

For more on this heady subject see my April 8, 2013 post on Low T ads- boosting testosterone boils down to balance

 

 

 

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First day: off to a great start

I woke up this morning feeling READY for the next 10 days. It’s funny how once I wrap my head around giving up some of the things I like to indulge in from time to time and instead focus on the great food and beverage choices I DO have, everything starts to fall into place.  Ten days is not such a long time yet it is just enough to feel the impact of making better choices, as well as learning how often I do cave in throughout the day(eat a cookie, a piece of candy on my co-worker’s desk, have that extra glass of wine, etc). So hopefully you will learn something about yourself as well as we embark on this journey together.

Here is the recipe for that yummy elixir that I spoke about yesterday. This is from a blog post that I wrote back in January, 2013 as some of us embarked on a new year’s cleansing start.

Excerpt from the original post:

“Golden Elixir” (great name): Boil up water, fill up your mug with hot water, add 1 Tblsp of fresh lemon juice, 1/8 tsp each of turmeric and ground ginger(you can always use fresh of course), a smidge of cayenne(or more if you like it spicy) and honey. I also added some truvia to make it a little sweeter. Drink a cup of this in the morning and at night. This is a powerful drink, loaded with anti-inflammatories and immune boosters, great for your liver and your adrenals. And I found it incredibly satisfying at the end of the day, when I often pour myself a glass of lovely red wine; this was a perfect substitute.

Enjoy.

Wishing you health and balance.

One of my favorite places to find and feel balance: the Oregon coast

One of my favorite places to find and feel balance: the Oregon coast

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Menopausal Mother of the Bride Takes It Lying Down – Decompress to Destress

My daughter Jess was over this afternoon and insisted that I change the cover photo on my hormone consulting site: Your Hormone Balance (www.yourhormonebalance.com) to this one below…tell me, do I look like I’m in balance?

ImageActually this pic was taken the day after Jess got married …and that is me, the formerly shattered, out of balance, menopausal mother of the bride, ensuite at the Nines Hotel in Portland, a gift of dear friends who weeks before the wedding sent a lifeline..if you and Dave perchance could use a “decompression chamber” after W day we’d love to gift you a night at the NINES … interested? A full 3 seconds later I had forsaken my filial obligations for ME myself and I-time! What better way to destress but to decompress in style, and just let it all go: the internal chatter, the planning, the worrying over who might not speak to whom, or not show up, or go missing ….

So how does one regain balance when summer is done, the days are growing dark, your kids are married and moved away and you’re an empty nester now, a woman of une certain age still seeking balance in head, heart and hormones….what do you do?

Contemplating the message of balance at ground level beneath the third tallest tower in the world: Guangzhou City

Contemplating the message of balance at ground level beneath the third tallest tower in the world: Guangzhou City


You practice what you preach, that’s what you do! You calm down and carry on:
-cleanse your mind and body with outdoor exercise every day you can get out there (and when the weather turns gray take your Vitamin D3)
-walk the excess weight off, rain or shine
-strength train your way back to strong and lean
-ingest healthy, hormone-free foods, pure water, plenty of fiber and fresh vegetables and fruits (most Americans eat half as many vegetables and fruits as we should, that being 4 or more servings a day)
-detox to give your gut a break from overconsumption of caffeine, sugar and bad fats – as all who are following Kyle on her cleansing fast this week are doing, and bravo to you! 0

To truly deeply decompress you will need to block (especially before bedtime) the blue light beaming into your retina from an avalanche of electronic media we expose ourselves to (an estimated 7+ hours a day), those seemingly benign blue rays that raise stress hormones and deplete sleep hormones. No more taking your IPhone to bed with you. Sink into a warm bath instead, or slip into your comfiest clothes, light the candles, rub in your bioidentical hormones, and FLOP… on an aquamarine velveteen couch should one appear, or wherever you can Str-r-r-etch. Sigh. And B-R-E-A-T-H-E out all that good and bad stress in one big WHOOOSH … keep breathing and whooshing, deep and focused, to release the tension you’ve been holding in your body, dislodge the clutter in your mind, and clear your path back to balance!

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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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Summertime….and the living is easy

If you are like those of us who live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, you will understand the urge to be outside as much as possible during these days of summer, where the days are sunny and bright(and rarely much hotter than 85-90 degrees) and the evenings cool to perfect sleeping temperatures of 55 degrees. Our days are particularly long in Oregon between mid May and late August(of course we pay back for this during the darker days of winter….when daylight starts at 7:30 and ends at 5:00) and everywhere you go, crowds of people are outside walking, biking, jogging, rowing, playing tennis, frisbee, softball or just perched on a chair soaking up the rays of summer.

Perhaps you wonder where Candace and I have been these past few weeks: well, now you know: outside instead of blogging, trying to soak up every ounce of natural vitamin D(when not at work or busy with the usual chores of daily living!) and getting as much exercise as possible outside of the gym. There is something very magical about this time of year: it brings out the best in everyone.  My biggest challenge during the longer daylight hours is finding a way to get enough sleep! Ah, but no complaints: power naps are a great solution and I take them as needed.

My colorful garden, filled with kale, edamame, peppers, corn , tomatoes and herbs: so inspiring

My colorful garden, filled with kale, edamame, peppers, corn , tomatoes and herbs: so inspiring

Ah, and then there is the food: grilled vegetables, fish, chicken, kebobs, lovely salads, shopping at local farmers markets for dinner, which makes it so easy to eat a rainbow of brightly colored fruits and vegetables everyday. I love to make fresh berry and peach pies each week: the combinations are endless for baking up yummy desserts. Just last week I was making a bunch of pies for a dinner party and I had a wonderful time playing with different spices to enhance the various fruits: cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice in various ratios. It is such a pleasure to peruse the stalls of the markets and get inspired for dinner. I love carting home my various treasures and then deciding how to marinate the meats, season up the veggies, mix together fresh herbs from the garden, like basil and oregano, and serving up a delicious, locally grown and nutritious meal for my family and friends.  Everyone can become a cook of sorts when the choices are so available and tantalizing.

It is important to take extra time in the warm summer months to appreciate the natural rhythms of the seasons. In just 6 short weeks,  the days will shorten, the temperatures will cool and soon we will be putting the soup pots back on the stove to cook up rich and hearty foods that suit the rhythm of autumn. For now, savor the days, shop the markets, walk outside, get some natural vitamin D, spend time with loved ones, dance under the stars(we did last weekend at my birthday party), explore a new place, read a summer novel: in short, pause and enjoy these summer days. This is what balanced living is all about.

Dinner al fresco: so easy to make healthy fresh foods when the farmers markets are open

Dinner al fresco: so easy to make healthy fresh foods when the farmers markets are open

We look forward to catching up with all of you. Please feel free to share the things you love to do when ‘the living is easy’. And stay tuned: we will be writing more often during these next few months.  One of  our goals for the fall is to launch an e-book, designed to inspire you as you find ways to balance your hormones and your life. Happy summer!

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Walking Out :: Finding Balance from the Inside Out

In all kinds of weather…what if the rain should fall…great lyrics to a song going round in my head while on my walk in the pelting rain…(Oregon has had record rains this May) …but was I always so intrepid?…heck no…it was only when I realized that it was all about the gear…that the WEATHERPROOF claim does not equate to WATERPROOF…BIG difference that dictates whether one finishes dry or mostly soaked … now that I’ve got my walking gear madness down I would like to think that no amount of bad weather can deter me from the outdoor exercise routine (minimum 30-45 minutes 6 days a week) I’ve committed to since quitting my athletic club …not just because I wanted to save money but because I realized how stifled I felt working out – inside. Studies tell us that the average person now spends 7-8 hours inside every day (no wonder vitamin D deficiency is considered epidemic)…and studies also tell us that people who get more oxygen circulating in their brains and bodies feel better, look better, have more energy, and are less likely to develop diseases of aging….ok, count me in, I have no wish to age rapidly in mind or body…so when it comes to practicing balance in my own life, I’ve found that me and my hormones work mo’ bettah in sync with the elements, come rain or shine…and ohhh it looks like the sun is actually about to come out!ImageWa

In subsequent posts I will share the brain saving, waist whittling, belly fat blasting, muscle making, mood lifting, skin smoothing, stress subsiding properties of walking in the great outdoors….anyone want to chime in here on how walking has helped you to find balance in your own life?

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Getting ready for Spring cleansing

We will be starting our ‘spring cleanse’ on Monday March 4th and as I mentioned in my last post, everyone has the option to either power through for 10 days straight or divide it up into 2 separate 5 day sections. I am going to do this March 4-8 and then again from March 18-22. So please pick the option that works best for you, as this is supposed to be something that works for YOUR life.

It always helps to have a plan before starting on something, even as seemingly simple as a ‘cleanse’. Otherwise even your best intentions(and strongest ‘wantpower’) can get derailed due to a sudden feeling of hunger and no idea of what you should eat. So let’s get started with a few basic concepts”.

1. As you are planning your dates for the cleanse, check your calendar for any important events/trips that might get in the way during that particular stretch of time. If your life is like mine,  it seems that there is always something that comes along to stretch your ability to stick to the plan. I have found that things like vacations, graduations, holidays and weddings are real deal busters for me which is why this time I have decided to separate mine into 2 parts. And the idea behind a cleanse like this is to help you feel empowered to make small but significant changes in your diet.

2. Jot down some of the reasons WHY you are doing this: for example, you want to cut down on caffeine as you feel too dependent on it to feel awake, or you would like to lose some belly fat and you know that sugar is a big culprit, or you just like the way that you feel when you have specific guidelines for eating, etc.  You can refer back to this list during your cleanse to help remind you why you started in the first place!

3. Make a shopping list and go the store at least 1-2 days before you start. Include things like hummus, whole grain breads/crackers, quinoa, brown rice, cheeses, nut butters, organic chicken, omega-rich fish, fresh fruits and veggies, free range antiobiotic-free eggs, olive oil, avocadoes, nuts, herbal teas(be sure to include some green tea for all of its benefits!), tofu, tempeh, coconut oil, dried fruit(eaten in small amounts), unsweetened carob(great for those times when you want something “sweet” but want to avoid sugar.

Some of my 'go-to' whole grains

Some of my ‘go-to’ whole grains

4. Plan to eat a ‘rainbow’ everyday. I am currently in NYC attending my third Integrative Medical Conference and this is one of the take-home messages from today’s series of lectures. Pick something red(red peppers, strawberries, cherries, red grapes, beets), something blue/purple(purple grapes, figs, purple potatoes, eggplants, blue or black berries), orange(tomatoes, oranges, carrots, squash), green(lettuce, kale, green beans, artichokes, broccoli) and yellow(peppers, lemons, squash) every day. This will insure that you get an adequate amount of phytonutrients everyday. Research has shown over and again that these nutrients are anti-inflammatory and will help to prevent the development of breast cancer, heart disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, dementia, arthritis and a multitude of other diseases.

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my favorite produce choices

I will be in touch when I return to Portland this Sunday. I am looking forward to having a bunch of you join in with me on Monday or whatever day works for you. Remember, for every 5 days that you complete the cleanse, your name will be entered into the contest at Pearl Women’s Center. Become a fan at facebook and /or comment on the blog so that we can keep track of your progress.

Off to a great start! See you soon.

Live from New York!! Wishing you health and balance.

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