Tag Archives: estrogen

Aging is Not a Botox Deficiency!

I recently attended an ANTI-aging conference in Denver dedicated to the concept of helping people deny the inevitable through any and every means possible…from perfectly sane approaches like optimal nutrition to less sane so-called cures for growing older, like ‘secretotropins’ meant to magically turn on growth hormone,* or hyperbaric oxygen chambers, and every sort of face fixer and filler in between. Stop the BS (bad science)…I want to get off! This idea of being against getting older is more than ridiculous…I mean it’s not like we have a choice in the matter – aging is inevitable. What is NOT inevitable is looking and feeling old before our time.

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Let the stress and the years fall away….

Hidden hormone imbalances at work behind the scenes can speed up the aging process, sabotaging our best efforts to maintain youthful energy and appearance. Our bodies are teeming with hormones from head to toe, so when they fall out of balance, we feel the effects all over – mentally, physically, emotionally. For example, did you know that there are more receptors for estrogen in facial skin than just about anywhere else on the body? So imbalances of estrogen are likely to show up first on our face in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet. And what about acne when you’re a teen and now again at 40-something you’ve got breakouts… Tested your hormones lately? a surplus of androgens to estrogens and progesterone can trigger acne at any age. asianw:flowerSpeaking of androgens, testosterone and DHEA are the key building hormones for bone and muscle, so when these levels drop from high to low, we start to lose much more than our libido – think bone and muscle mass, firm skin, strength, and stamina. Now we get a backache just carrying a couple of grocery bags from the car to the house. Now our hair is thinning, that outer eyebrow gone, cracking, brittle nails, old looking hands…an under-active thyroid might well be the culprit, but who knew? Then there’s cortisol, the stress hormone that can sabotage sleep by disrupting the production of melatonin at night. Many studies have uncovered the relationship between stress hormones, lack of sleep and weight gain, but the impact of chronically high cortisol from too much stress, too much of the time, is a body burnout that can make us prematurely ill and aged before our time.

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Ageless aging in style… look how good it can look…if you can guess the age of the gorgeous silver-haired woman on the left and her gorgeous red-haired amie on the right…I’ll send you a free John Lee MD book on Hormone Balance Made Simple…just comment here on the blog.

During the years I lived in London I happened upon a book that drew some hilarious comparisons between the ways Brits and Americans think…one that stuck with me was to whit that Americans seem to believe that death is optional “given their penchant for juicing copious amounts of carrots and running endless marathons.” (Well…she was writing in the late 70s, when the average European’s idea of exercise was a Sunday stroll along the promenade or lining up to watch Tour de France bikers pedal by)…sure much has changed…we’ve progressed from carrots to coconut water and Europeans boast fountain of youth luxury spas known to pump fetal cells from the likes of sheep into women’s faces (sidebar alert: my own mother actually had that done …an expense that set her back from experiencing life in its fullness for a short-lived fullness in her face).

However absurd, the death is optional concept has always stuck with me as an irony in practice, particularly in respect to the ANTI-aging movement. Is that what we’re striving for? Frozen in time with a frozen face?? Can we realistically expect to look and feel great for our age if instead of eating, exercising, and sleeping well, we overwork, overeat, overreact, and overdo it most days. All that “crazy busy” stuff – it takes its toll. We can’t expect to hate aging and find happiness in face fillers.

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All the expensive luxury creams and moisturizers in the world (and by the way, many of these contain unregulated amounts of “endocrine disrupting” chemicals that in themselves can trigger imbalance) won’t solve an unaddressed hormone issue that’s undermining your best efforts to maintain youthful well being.
Dare I repeat myself: aging is NOT a Botox deficiency! No amount of lifting, filling or implanting (who wasn’t shocked at the sight of 81-year old Kim Novak’s once gorgeous face at the Oscars, distorted by plastic surgery gone terribly wrong!) can rescue us from unnecessary stress and other bad hormone habits that accelerate aging. Instead of being ANTI-aging, lets be FOR it. When you make the changes in your lifestyle that bring back inner balance, your outer vibrancy is restored, and it’s that reflected vitality that keeps us young, no matter our age. People will exclaim, “Wow you can’t be…40? 50? 60? really??” and you will smile inwardly and say to yourself…yes, really!

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The author and ageless colleague (rt) practicing PRO vs. Anti-aging…can you guess how old we are??? Another free book awaits the one who comes closest.
Scroll down or visit our archives where Kyle and I blog about every aspect of health, hormones and living in balance.
*(how apt that the the first few letters of the word secretotropin, spell ‘secret’* given that few of these costly potions disclose their true ingredients (although in fairness they mean ‘secretory’ but nevertheless… I hope I make my point.)

 

 

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Thyroid Games: The 2014 month-long awareness campaign needs to include hormone balance in the big picture of thyroid health

The average person who can’t lose weight – despite eating right and exercising – is generally frustrated and frankly stumped.

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For many, diet and exercise have generally proven effective, and yet now – for some reason – they don’t. Sometimes just a little. Sometimes not at all.

Those who dig deeper often find that weight problems could be due to a sluggish thyroid. Feeling an inkling of hope, many ask their doctors to run a test, and lo’ and behold the results often come back normal.  How can this be?

These results tend to stun – especially when weight gain continues to be an issue and/or we suffer from other hypothyroidism hallmarks – feeling cold, old, stressed and depressed.

Given that so many symptoms of low thyroid overlap with other hormone imbalances, we may not get the answers needed unless we find a healthcare provider who goes beyond the standard TSH test to address thyroid disorders in the broader context of hormone imbalance.

Our bodies produce more than one thyroid hormone. The most abundant is thyroxine (T4), which converts to triiodothyroinine (T3), the most active thyroid hormone in the body. We need our bodies to make plenty of these two hormones since we rely heavily on them for an active metabolism. Image

So one clarifying answer to the original question about that so-called “normal” test result is that testing TSH alone is not going to give us the whole story because it fails to take active thyroid levels into account.

Nor can a single thyroid test identify imbalances of the steroid or adrenal hormones that serve to seriously inhibit thyroid function.

Discovering how well our thyroid is actually working requires a bigger picture assessment of all the hormone levels that matter, not just TSH, T3, and T4, but estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol.

It should also include an assessment of iodine, zinc, selenium and other mineral levels that if out of balance can run interference on thyroid hormone production. That’s because when it comes to a healthy thyroid, the efficient conversion of T4 to T3 is imperative – a must occur – if we want an active vs. sluggish metabolism. So, anything that interferes with that crucial conversion process will decrease thyroid function, slow metabolism (to make weight loss even harder), and trigger a raft of low thyroid symptoms.

From hormone imbalances to mineral deficiencies and environmental pollutants, a range of factors can interfere with thyroid production and testing can help identify the worst culprits.*

At the top of the list:

Estrogen dominance – Thyroid problems are far more prevalent in women, particularly those in the menopause transition. That’s because an overstock of  estrogens has the effect of binding up active thyroid hormones on their way to the cells that need them, so it may not necessarily be a failing thyroid gland that is the issue, your thyroid may be working just fine but is encountering the estrogen roadblock! Similar barriers are raised by:

Elevated cortisol stress hormones
Iodine deficiency
Selenium and zinc deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency
Arsenic or mercury toxicity
Xenoestrogen burden
– those big bad environmental chemicals that effectively disrupt estrogen metabolism

Taking action to target and take out these hidden saboteurs of thyroid health can help us master the thyroid games. I’ll talk more about natural ways to win the battle and defeat the enemies of a healthy thyroid function in a follow-up post next week.
*ZRT Lab just recently launched a new Thyroid-Elements test profile available online at http://www.zrtlab.com or http://www.canaryclub.com

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Can’t Sleep? You Could Have an Undetected Hormone Imbalance!

A century ago most people slept nine to 10 hours a night, a healthy normal for rest and replenishment, but these days we tend to live by the You snooze, you lose maxim. Now most of us are working ten hours a day and getting by on half that much sleep – not nearly enough to recharge our batteries, much less replenish hormone levels. In fact, researchers have a name for those of us who get by on less than five to six hours of sleep a night – “short sleepers” – who not only have a serious fatigue problem but may also suffer from anxiety, food cravings, “stress eating”, AND, get this, higher body fat.
A number of studies out of Stanford and the U. of Chicago attest to the strong association between sleep deprivation and weight gain – particularly belly fat!

Can't sleep at night and can't stay awake during the day? It could be your hormones...

Can’t sleep at night and can’t stay awake during the day? It could be your hormones…

A major cause of our chronic lack of sleep is the fast track stressful culture we live in which leads to overstimulation of the hormones that govern all physiological activities, including sleep. Hormones are meant to follow their own rhythm and diurnal curve. Take for example cortisol, the master stress hormone. It should be at its highest level in the morning to get us up and attam, and decline gradually over the course of the day to lowest levels at night – right before sleep. But what we often observe in the test results of those who list sleep disturbances as moderate or severe, is the absolute reverse where cortisol is low in the morning when it should be high, and high at night when it should be low.

Cortisol levels that are elevated at night seriously interfere with the body’s natural production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. So we toss and turn all night then drag ourselves out of bed in the morning relying on alarm clocks, caffeine, and chocolate to get through the day. By the time bedtime rolls around again, we find ourselves too wired to fall asleep and stay asleep – a classic case of hormone imbalance that has probably been overlooked for years.

Living on a caffeine drip...have you tested your hormones lately?

Living on a caffeine drip…have you tested your hormones lately?

Given that hormones work in tandem with one another to maintain balance, shifting levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA can also negatively impact the nature and quality of sleep, particularly at midlife.
For example, women in menopause who no longer ovulate have plummeting levels of progesterone and thus become low in this natural sleeporific hormone. Deficiencies of estrogen can cause hot flashes that wake us up in the night, and low testosterone in both men and women can cause muscles aches and pain that make it hard to get to sleep in the first place.

Testing for hormone imbalances that sabotage our slumber is easy enough to do. A convenient home collection kit combines non-invasive (no-needles) saliva testing of steroid/sex and adrenal hormones with dried blood spot testing for thyroid hormones. Results can identify specific hormone imbalances linked to sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, sugar cravings, stress and other health issues related to a healthy sleep.

To sleep is to be balanced in all ways

To sleep is to be balanced in all ways

You can order a test kit at http://www.canaryclub.org for easy at home collection and return of hormone samples (by regular mail) to the lab for analysis. Test results are not a diagnosis, but can be used by practitioners to facilitate correction of sleep specific hormone imbalances. Always partner with a provider. If you need one, go to ZRT Laboratory’s website:www.zrtlab.com and click on Find a Provider, OR, if you live in or around Portland, Oregon, book an appointment with Kyle at Pearl Women’s Center, www.pearlwomenscenter.com, or if you prefer phone consult/coaching you can book with me at http://www.yourhormonebalance.com to review your test resuts, connect the dots to your symptoms, and design a personal rebalancing plan.

A good nights restorative sleep is waiting in the wings for you – what greater gift can we give ourselves in this season of giftgiving, than that… AND how better to start the New Year than with a long winters nap!
P.S. No cellphones or Ipads allowed by the bedside – the blue light that emits from electronic devices is a serious disruptor of natural sleep hormones!!

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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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Banishing The Seven Dwarves of Menopause

September is Menopause Awareness Month but if you listen to certain talking heads in the media lately you’d think we were in the midst of Menopause UNAWARENESS month! Just the other day I heard a so-called expert refer to the perils of progesterone, and how it can cause cancer. But what she was really talking about was its evil twin PROGESTIN, the synthetic form known to heighten risks in women who use it in HRT combos. Real progesterone (aka bioidentical) is a far cry from the Fake synthetic stuff, and there is not a shred of evidence – trust me, the science is on our side here – that natural progesterone in the proper balance does anything but protect us against estrogen-driven breast cancers, AND while its at it, can also bring sweet relief from hot flashes.

Before I descend from my soapbox, allow me to persuade you in our national conversation about menopause this month, to doublecheck what you hear about hormones from a reliable source (like Menopausibilities of course, and others, e.g. virginiahopkinshealthwatch.com; womenin balance.org), and refuse to resign yourself to a bad, sad menopause.  I will gladly go out on a limb here to assure you that nine out of ten times, the extent to which we suffer from the itchy bitchy sweaty (let’s not leave out flabby and crabby) dwarves of menopause is the extent to which our hormones are out of sorts, out of sync, out of balance!

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  • So. If you are feeling:
    ITCHY – your estrogen and/or testosterone levels are likely to be less than optimal
  • SWEATY – your estrogen is probably running low and your progesterone even lower causing hot flashes or night sweats or both!
  • SLEEPY – your master stress hormone, cortisol is upsetting your master sleep hormone melatonin, making it tough to get to sleep and/or stay asleep, thus you are sleepy. (Know any other women awake at 3am?)
  • BLOATED – (and cannot lose weight no matter how hard you try) sounds like estrogen dominance
  • FORGETFUL – (and no way, no how, can you keep a number in your head for longer than 2 seconds) your estrogen testosterone and stress hormones may have gone AWOL along with your memory
  • BITCHY – your cortisol and testosterone levels are out of control, and…
  • PSYCHO – chances are good that your hormone levels overall are seriously out-of-whack!

How do you find out how seriously out-of-whack your hormones really are? By asking your provider to test them to pinpoint specific imbalances (please see my previous blog:How to find a natural hormone friendly provider) or by ordering a test kit online from ZRT Laboratory www.zrtlab.com AND with test results in hand set about exploring your options for rebalancing your imbalances with a qualified provider or hormone health counselor: www.yourhormonebalance.com Image

 

What most women are all too well aware of – like hot flashes, turning 50, and discovering our first chin hair – is that menopause is normal, natural, inevitable. Right. But when it starts to turn into your very own fractured fairytale and the wicked witch is staring back at you in the mirror – this is NOT normal – and it is most decidedly NOT the menopause you were meant to have. We get it that hormones WILL shift and decline as we age, but what makes the difference between a good or a bad menopause is just how shifty the shifting gets and how swift or steep the decline. What matters to menopause is how we live it: how we eat, exercise, take stress in stride, and expose ourselves (unwittingly or not) to toxins that mess with our hormones. Its about that work/life balance and whether we make sacred time for ourselves and those who matter most to us in all the world. And ultimately, it’s about how we support our natural hormonal foundations by topping up (as needed based upon tested hormone levels) with bioidentical hormones that to mimic mother nature without side effects

This is the GOOD Menopause. A time of life when you can find yourself feeling stronger, back in the swing and better than ever! Who Knew? We do! _DBP0555 - Version 2
Please join the conversation and comment here on the blog to tell us how you’ve kicked the seven dwarves to the wood shed ….

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Menopause Awareness Month: Banishing The Seven Dwarves of Menopause

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Belly Flat to FAT…Blame it on your hormones!

Got Menopause, Perimenopause and BELLY FAT that won’t budge despite your best efforts?

I just turned 65 last month and let me tell you…it has been WONDERFUL! Why because despite my Michelle-less upper arms, I feel good, have energy to go, and can sleep at night….my hot flashes are pretty much gone, my skin is still mostly sticking vs. sagging, and I owe my generally even moods and middling to good memory to bioidentical hormones, a health aware diet, herbs, vitamins and cultivating stillness at some point in my day….now if only I can get rid of this belly fat, all of it, for good… Obviously I’m a work in progress, finding balance being my every day goal…and I’m getting somewhere…. if I want to keep on feeling and looking good for my age vs. feeling my age whatever my age, , than I’ve got my work cut out for me …and speaking of cutting out…the wine, white flour carbs and late night snacks were the first to go (that is, AFTER thoroughly indulging myself birthday night on the incomparable macaroon dessert at Cocotte in SE Portland) in my  ongoing quest for upper arms that won’t swing when I do on the dance floor 2 weeks from now at my daughters wedding (!!) Image

To that end I’ve been doing some serious strength training in this, my sixieme decade, and getting stronger for sure, in my core and round the biceps, AND burning off some of that belly….speaking of burning  vs. storing  – fat’s favorite place to pile on in the presence of elevated stress hormones is in the abdomen – a process dramatically hastened by imbalances of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and thyroid hormones,the key  players in regulating whether you gain, or lose, or gawd forbid (but it happens all the time!)gain it all back and then some!  In fact stress hormones actually signal your body to hang on to stored fat – for dear life – its a stress response, a survival mechanism…so if you simply cannot shed pounds or always tend to gain back more weight than you lost, no matter how little you eat, or how much you exercise, you are one of us! That is before we found out that we were being hardwired by our hormones….by hidden hormone imbalances programming us to overeat, overcaffeinate, overbook, give in to sugar cravings, and give up on ever shedding those 10 (20, 30..) perimenopause pounds (i.e. STOP the roller coaster, I want to get off! ) If this sounds like your life story at the moment, I have to ask…Have you tested your hormones lately? If not, allow me to convince you that hormones are the missing link to weight loss. I’ll tell you more in part 2 of this piece….Stay tuned!

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by | August 10, 2013 · 3:58 am

Re-woman Returns to Confess and Re-balance Her Hormone Resolutions for 2013

A scant year ago in this blog I declared my New Years aspirations to remake my post-menopausal self into a more serene, cleansed, and hormonally balanced version of me. I believe I gave myself the first 30 days of 2012 to become a new woman, a re-woman if you will. Hah! 352 plus days later I am here to report back on the past years’ effort to live up to my aspirations and practice what I preach, followed by an honest as I know how to be, no BS commentary on how I did last year with readjusted expectations for 2013.

2013  Inauguration day

Rewoman and great friend Pamela Bateman (left), founder of the Seventh Woman Foundation (www.theseventhwoman.org) for breast cancer prevention, reinaugurate their pledge to stay (warm) and  balanced at the reinauguration of our 44th President in D.C.!

1) Get into that bed one hour earlier every single night.

Ooops! Well maybe not a total flop …. if you’re a night owl like me you know that getting to bed before midnight is a major feat.  Rewoman confession: I did not live up to the every night part of the aspiration, but did manage to get in bed with a book around 11ish a couple nights of the week. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Lights out by midnight every other night of the week. The earlier bedtimes will lower my cortisol stress hormones to resting levels sooner rather than later, leading to that much coveted deeper sleep and satisfied appetite hormones, thus reducing overeating, cravings and the dreaded result – belly fat!

2) Rise one hour earlier to a cup of green tea instead of coffee.

Green tea is one of the best alternatives to coffee, get to know the different brands….Joy is introducing the Genmaicha powdered version and sharing a cuppa’ with a friend…what could be more healing or stress reducing?

Small triumph: My typical waking time before I made this resolution was 9ish…I now get up about 30 minutes earlier most days, without an alarm clock, now that is progress.  Rewoman confession: I did not convert to the green tea in the morning until just last month when following Kyle’s group cleanse. Good thing I did stop the coffee a week before I went on to do my annual ‘master cleanse’ a detox that can bring on killer headaches, but I never suffered a single one. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Aim for the full hour earlier each day in concert with at least 8 hours of sleep the night before. Studies at Stanford and U. of Chicago observe that “short sleepers,” (defined as 7 hours a night or less) have stress-related hormone imbalances linked to weight gain and higher body fat, a raging appetite, mood swings, memory lapse and low libido.

3) Spend at least 15 to 20 mns. morning and/or evening in stillness: no talking, no electronic stimuli, no nothing – just breathing. (This practice will help me to calm down, FOCUS, and eventually become the most serene woman I have ever met.) Thumbs up: I certainly feel more focused and balanced throughout the day when I spend that first 30 minutes stretching, breathing, sipping or gazing into the distance. Rewoman confession: Well I’m not going to claim I’m the most serene woman I know … but then I have to ask myself how many women I know who describe themselves as serene…perhaps it is the difference between feeling half-crazy and stressed-out when your hormones are out of balance, and the feeling of calm that descends once balance is restored. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Learn to meditate for once and for all, and study up on more deep breathing techniques. Make cultivating stillness my mantra for finding balance within. Also, read: QUIET: the Power of Introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.

gaing out

Gaze into the distance, quiet your mind and find balance in silence some part of every day.

4) Rev up my 40-minute walk to 1 hour a day – and walk faster. No lollygagging and no excuses, even if I have to walk in the rain and the dark.  (This will help to humidify my skin and oxygenate my brain and body so that I will live forever, or at least look and feel like I can!) Getting there! I am up to an hour every other day… and exercising on average 6 days a week; it’s become so normal now that I feel completely out of sorts if I miss a day….have so far invested in warm, absolutely waterproof (don’t settle for water resistant especially in wintry climes) pants, gloves, hat with flaps, and am so far so good, perfectly warm and dry. Not only that, by deciding to take all my exercise outdoors I’m saving 160 bucks a month in athletic club dues. Rewoman confession: I have not done strength training or weight bearing exercises consistently enough to build lean muscle, the key to reviving strength stamina and natural hormone supplies as we age. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Join the Sierra Club to get in more hill walking and hikes that will boost my muscle and bone mass, metabolism, mood, memory and even libido. Always room for improvement there!

CandaceRainGearWeb

Re-woman aspires to walking not 6 but 7 days a week, every day in the great outdoors AND stay completely warm and dry…the key is waterPROOF (as opposed to water resistant …it isn’t protective enough if you’re walking in all weather) gear: windbreaker, vest, overalls, gloves, and boots, a warm hoodie and your favorite hat with a brim (essential for rewomen who wear glasses! ) …45 minutes to an hour a day boosts natural hormone levels, mood and muscle!

5) Learn how to make Brussels sprouts taste good! (Adding way more cruciferous vegetables: kale, chard, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage) to my daily diet will help to metabolize excess and/or toxic, i.e. ‘xeno’ estrogens from my body, thus clearing my onward path to natural hormone balance.) Done! was this ever a success thanks especially to all the great recipes YOU readers sent (see Jan. 15, 2012 blog comments for recipes!) Rewoman confession: I have become addicted to Brussels Sprouts.  Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Learn how to make cauliflower mouthwatering…any recipes for this one ladies?

6) Tune out talking heads before bedtime. (This will stop the overstimulation of the 24/7 news cycles and rid my tired brain of useless chatter AND prevent me from becoming one of those people who develops ADHD in her 60s, heaven forbid!) FLOP: Pre-election addiction to the latest news from the campaign trail made me a liar on this aspiration HOWEVER I did find that after following the cleansing fast this past month (and of course after the election was finally over) I did not feel like watching the news much at all. Rewoman Confession: I still watch Washington Week in Review on Friday nights and Meet the Press on Sundays, but I follow it up with Downton Abbey, a real escape from the here and now… makes me wonder how women stuck in the British class system at the turn of the century dealt with their symptoms of menopause? Readjusted aspiration for 2013: No-TV-at-all-nights, at least twice a week. Continue to beat husband at scrabble. Learn Bananagrams. And Chess!

Mind/body balance: part of the equation for all of us

Tune out to practice  balance

7) Reject all foods that are genetically modified and/or any household or personal care products  that contain  pesticides, synthetic hormones, xenoestrogens, antibiotics, or empty calories. (This will significantly reduce my risk of getting indigestion, a fat belly, and a leaky gut, gluten-intolerance, insomnia and hormone imbalance, not to mention diseases of aging like breast cancer!) Challenge: This one is tough since we health care consumers cannot be sure what we are getting…witness the failure of Californians to pass a ballot for GMO modified foods to be labeled as such (in the face of enormous pressure from the likes of Monsanto…but that’s another blog).  At the very least we can inform ourselves to choose foods raised without (make sure the label reads that way) synthetic hormones, RBST, or antibiotics. If you do nothing else, do this! Rewoman Confession: I have on more than one occasion had my hair colored in salons that do not use plant-based dyes and products. In my defense there are not many hair colorists who do use completely non-toxic hair products. Nevertheless this cannot be an excuse. These are toxic chemicals that once slathered on my head, sink into my very tissues, putting me at risk for gawd knows what, hormone imbalance at the very least, and I let it happen! Why? because the color lasts longer. So who is gonna’ last longer if I get cancer after all these years of allowing toxic chemicals to seep into my brain, just because I am not ready to go gray!  Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Never again upon pain of bladder cancer risks, use harsh ‘endocrine disrupting’ (e.g. man-made toxins lethal to normal hormone operating systems) chemicals on my hair; seek out more hair salons that offer organic, ammonia-free, plant-based hair dyes (Google: Aveda and local colorists that use organic hair dyes, bleaches and styling products.)

8) Cancel at least one appointment a week and banish anything, anyone, and everything else in my life that is an unnecessary stressor. (This will enable me to become more authentic and the most stress-free person I could ever hope to meet!) Score: I averaged 2 cancelled appointments a week, have erased at least 3 high-maintenance soul-draining so-called ‘friends’ from my contact list, and changed jobs! Rewoman Confession: I’d been carrying a few dysfunctional relationships  against my better judgment for far too long.  Shedding them at long last feels good, a liberation! Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Choose friends who nourish one’s strengths vs. one’s weaknesses; do not allow what I do to become who I am; and for goodness sake, stop overbooking however well-intentioned!

9) Re-testing my hormones was also on the list for 2012: Check! Rewoman confession: found out through testing that I’d been over-supplementing a bit, so made the necessary adjustments – this  by the way is one of the most important benefits of testing your hormone levels at least once or twice a year, especially when using supplementation, its’ essential to get the dose right!

10) Last but not least, I aspired to redouble my efforts to educate more women and I just might get the chance as I’ve been invited to travel to China to give a talk on hormone balance this March. Evidently this is a topic of interest to women around the world! If YOU have a Re-balance plan you’d like to share, or for that matter, a great mouthwatering cauliflower recipe you can pass on PLEASE sign up to become a follower and comment right here on the blog!! We’re all ears!

Masking the menopause madness

Rewoman behind the scenes:  getting your hormones back in sync can’t be a rehearsal, its a balancing act we practice every day.

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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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From Awareness to Action: The Anti-Cancer Way of Life

As the pinking of America during national breast cancer awareness month gives way to the reds and blues of the national election, it occurs to me that we cannot let our awareness of a disease that still kills one out of every 8 women in this country be packed away with the ribbons, teeshirts, and pink running shoes until next October. Awareness is meant to be a catalyst for action. And taking action against breast cancer boils down to prevention. I keep a clipping on my bulletin board, a letter to the editor of the NY Times that speaks to rising health care costs: “the 800-pound gorilla in the room – that large percentage of health care dollars consumed by a small percentage of the population who have illnesses that are preventable.” It goes on to say that the cost savings of people taking responsibility for their own health.. to stop smoking, overeating, and start exercising, would far outweigh the trillions of dollars spent on treating disease that is preventable. The writer is a breast cancer surgeon who in making the argument would presumably rather go out of business than perform  another mastectomy that could have been prevented.

And yet the National Cancer Institute’s expenditure of dollars for prevention is less than ten percent of its’ entire budget, despite the fact that most breast cancers are not a result of genetic risk, but of the risks we take with our god-given health.  When Kyle issued her cleansing challenge last month, simple sugars and carbs were at the very top of her NO GO list because not only do they cause blood sugar irregularities, hormone imbalances, and the dreaded belly fat, they cause insulin levels to rise. That in turn triggers the secretion of another molecule called  “insulinlike growth factor” (IGF-1) whose job it is to stimulate cell growth, an effect that not only creates inflammation in the body (a now recognized risk for cancer) but ultimately provides fuel for cancer cells! To make matters worse, this lethal spinoff of elevated blood sugar and insulin levels also promotes the ability of tumors to invade neighboring tissues. So when we take action to reduce our intake of simple carbs and sugars and find (as most of us did during the cleanse) that we are reducing inches around our waistlines, we are at the same time significantly reducing our greater risks for breast cancer… and obesity, diabetes, and heart disease too.

A study that tracked breast cancer patients for 6 years showed that those who ate the most foods rich in carotenoids, the brightly colored, red, orange and yellow fruit and veg lived longer than those who ate less. Lesson: eat all you want!

As we move forward into ever more optimal food choices that not only help us lose weight, but also boost our immunities against disease, I’d like to share with you some of the latest scientific information from a recent book that is all the rage on the subject.  ANTI-Cancer: A New Way of Life, has been credited with causing a sea change in the way providers and patients now confront cancer. It is written by David-Servan-Schreiber, a scientist, M.D, PhD. who when diagnosed with brain cancer refused to accept it as a death sentence. Over a 15-year period he learned what he needed to do to fight the disease and cure himself of the “incurable.”  Please check out the following Top 10 of Dr. Servan-Schrieber’s recommended Anti-cancer foods:

1) Green Tea 2 to 3 cups a day– steeped for at least 5-8 minutes to release the magic “catechins” that  block the growth of blood vessels tumors need to grow.

2)  Olives and Olive Oil – Black olives (vs. green) in salads, risottos, etc., and cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil – one half to one tablespoon used daily in cooking – are particularly rich in cancer fighting antioxidants.

3) Turmeric spice the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory known also helps stimulate the death of cancer cells. Mix 1/4 tsp. with 1/2 TB of olive oil and a generous pinch of black pepper. A few drops of agave nectar can remove any slight bitter taste. Add to vegetables, soups, salad dressings.

4) Ginger root is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Add grated ginger to a wok vegetable mixture; marinate fruits in lime juice and grated ginger and a few drops of agave nectar. Make an infusion or tea by cutting into one inch slices and steeping in boiling water for 10-15 minutes.

5) Cruciferous vegetables (Brussells sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, chinese cabbage) contain powerful anticancer molecules called indole-3 carbinoles (I3Cs). They prevent pre-cancerous cells from turning into malignant tumors and promote the suicide of cancer cells. Cover and steam briefly or stir-fry rapidly in a wok with a little olive oil, sea salt, etc. Note: boiling destroys the anticancer properties.

6) Vegetables/Fruits rich in Carotenoids – carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, persimmons, apricots, beets and all the bright-colored (orange, red, yellow, and green) fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin A and lycopene, which inhibit the growth of cells of several cancer lines.

There are significantly fewer breast cancers among Asian women who have eaten soy since adolescence; those that do occur are less aggressive with higher survival rates.

7) Soy compounds (edamame beans, miso, tofu, tamari, tahini, soy milk, etc.) block the stimulation of cancer cells by estrogens and the development of blood vessels that feed tumor growth. Use tofu, tempeh, miso, with onions, garlic, curry in vegetable dishes and wok meals.

8) Mushrooms – shitake, maitake (has the most pronounced effect on the immune system), portobello, oyster and thistle oyster all have properties that stimulate the reproduction and activity of immune cells. Use in soups, vegetables, oven-grilled or stir-fried in a wok with other vegetables.

Red wine, Pinot noir in particular, is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant protector of healthy cells against aging. When taken in moderation it  is known to have hormone balancing benefits.

9) Red wine – contains resveratrol a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to slow the progressive stages of cancer development.  One glass of wine provides the observed effect – but caution, more is not better. Avoid in pregnancy.

last but not least! Drum roll please……

10) Dark chocolate – contains a number of antioxidants that limit the growth of cancer cells and the blood vessels that feed tumors. Eat a few squares of dark chocolate instead of dessert at the end of a meal (with your green tea!) Or melt dark chocolate in a double boiler, then pour over pears or any fruit combination. Also delicious with grated ginger or tangerine peel.

Let’s keep up the momentum …if adding any of these AntiCancer foods to your daily diet helps you feel better, stronger, calmer, safer and more balanced as you go about your everyday life…We’d LOVE to hear from you…and as always any great recipes you come up with please pass them on by commenting on the blog!

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