Tag Archives: exercise

Now what was I coming into this room for???(musings on keeping your memory sharp)

What I am doing here? who is this???(compliments of "Menopaws"

What I am doing here? who is this???(compliments of “Menopaws”)

I would bet that most of you have experienced at least one moment of wondering why the heck you wandered into a room…..and then just stood there looking around in hopes that some sort of message would magically appear reminding you of your purpose. I cannot tell you how many times that has happened to me but I can say it has happened far too often.  I am also going to assume that most of you are concerned with memory loss and the possibility of dementia and/or Alzheimers as you age.  As many of us are destined to live longer lives, it becomes more likely that our minds will age along with our bodies: a scary thought indeed. Ah, but there are many strategies available to us in our quest to keep our minds and memories sharp as we age. Gracefuly aging in all aspects of our lives is the key to living a higher quality and quantity of life.

So let’s review some of the strategies that we have at our disposal to keep our minds sharp and our memories intact as we do begin to age.  I heard a wonderful piece this morning on NPR that talks about some of the latest research re: memory and the best ways to make sure that we stretch and grow new neuronal connections as we get older, which will enhance our ability to keep learning, stay vibrant and store new memories as well.

http://www.npr.org/2014/05/05/309006780/learning-a-new-skill-works-best-to-keep-your-brain-sharp?ft=1&f=3

Learning a new skill can help your brain be sharper and improve your memory

Learning a new skill can help your brain be sharper and improve your memory

In addition, getting regular exercise is another pillar of memory strength. I have always loved to work out in some form or another(running in my 20’s and 30’s, walking regularly since then, swimming, pretending to play golf(seriously that is one fun but frustrating sport!), hiking, and skiing.  I took up tennis almost 2 years ago and it has been a blast. There is quite a learning curve involved and I am definitely still climbing up that curve but it has forced me to think while I build new muscle memory. There have been some studies that promote this kind of thinking while exercising as one of the better ways to build memory, but any aerobic and active type of exercise enhances the brain’s potential for learning and storing new information. The most important thing is to just get out there and get active. Here is a link to the importance  between exercise and brain health:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

Exercise is not only great for your body: it is also essential for your brain and memory…find something you love to do….another essential of balance

Exercise is not only great for your body: it is also essential for your brain and memory…find something you love to do….another essential of balance

Vitamin D also plays a role in brain health and cognitive strength. According to Dr. Oz, “Scientists hypothesize that improved cognition may be linked to the sun’s effect on the body’s internal clock; exposure to daylight(natural vitamin D) may boost the production of the neurotransmitter seritonin, which in turn spurs growth of the hippocampus, that part of the brain crucial to forming and storing memories.” He recommends( as do I) that every day we should go outside and spend between 15-20 minutes  before applying sunscreen so that our bodies can make Vitamin D ourselves. In general, we still do need to take additional vitamin D: more on that in a future blogpost. Bottomline, make sure you get outside every day possible as this will help both your brain and your mood.

Adequate sleep also clearly has an effect on our memory. Most of us(myself included, far too: often, mea culpa) get far too little of this precious activity most days.  In general, 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended to help our bodies and our brain to restore and rejuvenate. Think of sleep as time to recharge your battery. I imagine you have the same reaction that I do when I see that dreaded message on my cell phone: “less than 20% battery” and I have left my cord at home: panic! I usually feel the same way towards the end of a busy work day when I stayed up and out too late the night before and I am dragging, just not as sharp as usual. Note to self: get more sleep.

A baby seal taking a 'catnip' on the beach: ah, the bliss of a deep sleep…..

A baby seal taking a ‘catnip’ on the beach: ah, the bliss of a deep sleep…..

One more memory/brain potential robber: STRESS!!! We have touched on this in previous blogposts but briefly, when we are under stress(prolonged, frequent, unrelenting stress), cortisol is released to help our body fight “the attacker”, real or perceived.  Unfortunately, this adaptive response often leads to a maladaptive state, leaving our mind and body depleted. The result: poorer learning capability and difficulty storing new memories. Studies of inner city children, faced with the stresses of poverty, crime, poor nutrition and inadequate social support, have shown over and over how difficult it is to try to learn in school when under chronic stress. The same concept applies to all of us, whatever our stresses may be.  So managing your stress is something each of us must learn to do.  Think exercise, meditation, eating whole foods, making time for yourself, your family, your friends, take regular vacations, prayer…more work is not usually the answer…

Meditation, exercise, quiet time…all ways to manage your stress.  Be sure to find time each day for activities like these.

Meditation, exercise, quiet time…all ways to manage your stress. Be sure to find time each day for activities like these.

I haven’t touched on everything that can impact your memory but these are some of the more powerful things that you can work on.  Obviously eating whole foods diet and balancing your hormones are both essential for brain health as well. Hopefully that goes without saying if you have been reading our blog for awhile.

As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts and ideas . Stay tuned as Candace and I are getting ready to do some webinars together starting in July. We will provide the links for these so that you can log in and listen.

To building  great memories…..and remembering them, LOL.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

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

This year is ‘the year’ that I am going to….

Happy 2014 to all of our wonderful readers and followers. Candace and I have been blogging together for 2 years and this is the year that we are hoping to take a synopsis of our book, with several chapters written  up in the format we think will be the most readable and visually lovely, to a perspective publisher and see what happens. We realize that there are scores of books written on the top of hormone balance but we think we have a unique perspective and style that is not only accessible, but that resonates with our readers. We have punted around many ideas(you have no idea how many!!) from publishing an e-book, to self-publishing, to throwing in the towel(gasp) ….But we keep coming back to the idea of a real, hold in your hand, prop on your shelf, cuddle up in your bed, kind of book as that is what WE like and what most of our friends/family members/patients/colleagues/acquaintance turn to for the kind of content we are offering. So we would like to hear from YOU: what do you like about our blog, what have been some of your favorite topics, what haven’t we covered that you want to know more about?? Of course we value your honesty as that will help us write a better book so please give us your ‘from the heart’ feedback. We will keep you posted as to our progress, but that is MP’s overriding goal for this year.

Oh no, we admitted our goal OUT LOUD…now that should motivate us(one technique towards reaching one's goals….)

Oh no, we admitted our goal OUT LOUD…now that should motivate us(one technique towards reaching one’s goals….)

What have YOU been saying that you hope to do, to change, to re-invent, to re-consider, to move towards or perhaps away from, in this coming year?  Every newspaper and magazine that I have opened this past week had something about weight loss, exercising more, eating cleaner, etc but one thing I did notice that was different this year was the wording of the articles. Almost every one alluded to the concept that our goals should be towards making sustainable changes, not radical ones. To do that , it helps to make small changes, ones that you can stick to (like our 10 day ‘consciousness cleanses’, something anyone can do and benefit from): not saying , “I will NEVER eat potato chips and sour cream again after work(one of my personal favorite guilty pleasures…)” because that is just never going to happen. It is so much more realistic to write down what you hope to accomplish and then identify the obstacles, your strengths, a timeline and then formulate a plan. We will keep coming back to this topic in the upcoming weeks and months but I just want to leave you with a few simple thoughts as you think about the year ahead.

1. It DOES matter what you eat. This is probably the single most important thing that you do each day in terms of supporting or hurting your body. You can exercise until the cows come home, but if you are eating a diet high in processed foods, sugary beverages, calorie dense/nutrient poor foods(most of these come in a box/can/or a wrapper, by the way), you will gain weight in all the wrong places and you will not achieve optimal fitness….or fit into those favorite pair of jeans.

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

2.Follow the wise words of Michael Pollan: “Eat food(WHOLE food), not too much, mostly plants”. Do this and you will see results, sustainable ones.

3. Spend a few minutes each day being grateful for the wonders of your body. Focus more on how your body feels and how it does whatever you ask it to do day after day, a miracle in and of itself.  Take care of your body: feed it whole foods, clean water, take it out for a walk, a jog, a hike, expose it to natural vitamin D and the elements like the wind, the rain, the snow. Take note of how alive you feel when you have spent some time outside or just being active. Your body will thank you by continuing to do what you ask of it and by sticking around for awhile.

Hiking with my wonderful black lab Riley: sitting at the top of the world and feeling like it

Hiking with my wonderful black lab Riley: sitting at the top of the world and feeling like it

4. Take time to sleep, to rest and to restore yourself. You need this more than you know(see Candace’s last post).

5. Make time for play, for love, for friendship, for prayer and meditation, for doing the things you love to do, for visiting someone who needs you to be there. Life often goes by in a blur so paying attention each day to the moments that matter and making time for the things that matter to you is crucial for living a life that has meaning.

Our conversation will continue. We look forward to writing to you and hearing from you in the upcoming year. Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts with us. We so appreciate all of you.

Take time to see and smell the flowers and other small wonders

Take time to see and smell the flowers and other small wonders

Leave a comment

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy

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.”

Image

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

Image

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.

Image

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.  

Image

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

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Women's Health & Happiness

Fall cleansing is in the air

We have been truly blessed with a warm and sunny ‘Indian summer’ here in the Pacific NW this year but 2 days ago, the autumn switch turned on, dropping the temperatures down into the 50’s by day and 40’s by night. Any illusions of an endless summer were quickly abandoned, so back indoors we go for the majority of our waking hours.

I imagine many of you, like me, find yourself purging your house of excess things, rearranging cupboards and closets, raking up the fallen leaves and turning over the soil in the garden. There is something about the transition from living outdoors as much as possible to nestling inside that makes me want to simplify my surroundings before adorning the house with decorations for our fall and winter festivities. One of my fall rituals is moving all of my spring and summer clothes(after taking all of the ones I still didn’t wear to Good Will for a better home) from my bedroom closet to my spare one,  in exchange for my fall and winter wardrobe.  Doing this always makes the seasonal change so definite for me.  I actually enjoy this ritual as it makes me reflect on the activities of the past few months while thinking ahead to the upcoming holidays.

Fall lights add to a warm and cozy atmosphere: I can't resist!

Fall lights add to a warm and cozy atmosphere: I can’t resist!

For those of you who are faithful MP blog followers, you know that fall also means thinking of ways to be more conscious and mindful about the food and beverage choices we will be making in order to stay balanced despite the holiday festivities. This can be a huge challenge to many of us: avoiding unwanted weight gain, getting inadequate sleep, feeling stressed out about shopping(perhaps on a more limited budget than in years past), getting burned out by the extra demands placed upon us, all of this leading to cortisol overdrive and its many associated symptoms(irritability, insomnia, anxiety, depression, belly fat, salt and sugar cravings, to name a few).

So we will be hosting another “Consciousness Cleanse” starting on Sunday, November 17th and will run for 10 days, ending just in time for Thanksgiving. As in years past, there are 4 major food/beverage groups that we will avoid during the ‘cleanse’ . These are caffeine, alcohol, sugar and ‘the whites'(white flour, rice, potatoes, pasta and again white sugar).  Some of you who want to do a deeper detox/cleanse of sorts may also want to eliminate gluten and/or dairy and/or soy, particularly if you suspect a sensitivity to a particular food type.

Some examples of the kinds of food you CAN eat and that will make you feel wonderful

Some examples of the kinds of food you CAN eat and that will make you feel wonderful

Last year we had approximately 60 people participating in our fall ‘cleanse’ and it was pretty remarkable to listen to the various comments people had about their personal experiences.  To view these, please go to ‘Kyle’s blog’ and scroll back to Oct 2012 and March 2013 blogposts to learn more about the cleanse and the reactions of the participants.  We are excited to be doing this again and we hope that you will join us.

For those of you who are interested in a longer term detox, please click on this link

http://bit.ly/HkqEyt

to work along with Andrea Nayakama and her staff of functional nutritionists for 21 days starting on Monday November 4th. Once you click on the link, you can listen to the  webinar she did yesterday: Tipping the Scales. This which was a really nice overview of the link between what we eat and our hormone balance and I recommend that all of you take the time to listen to it. We have written quite a bit about the importance of hormone balance and health/ optimal weight over the past 2 years so some of the content will be familiar to many of you, but I know that no matter how much I learn about this amazing and complex topic, I inevitably take away another ‘pearl’ with every new talk or article I come across.

Stay tuned. We will be posting more in the upcoming weeks to help you get ready for your 10 day fall cleanse. I promise you that if you partake in either the deeper detox or the 10 day mini-cleanse, you will gain a new awareness that what you put into your mouth  really matters . More about the details and benefits in upcoming posts. For now, remember to drink tea(all types but green is great for weight control and immune system), plenty of water, choose organic foods as much as possible, exercise  a minimum of 4-5 days a week and get at least 7 hours of sleep every night for optimal health and wellness.

Fall morning walk at sunrise: a lovely way to get daily exercise

Fall morning walk at sunrise: a lovely way to get daily exercise

Leave a comment

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

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!

3 Comments

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

How do Hormone Imbalances Make us Gain Weight ? Let’s Count the Ways!

In my last post I talked about the hormonal links to unwanted weight gain and immovable belly fat. If you simply cannot figure out why you can no longer shed pounds easily like you used to even though you try to eat right, exercise, and take your vitamins every morning, you might be walking around with an undetected hormone imbalance that is sabotaging your best efforts. How does hormone imbalance contribute to weight gain? Let me count the ways!  Better still I’ll let naturopathic Dr. Amy Shah, boil it down for you here (with a few italicized notes from me in there)….read on:
These are the top areas women neglect, even when they think they’re being healthy.
1. You have an estrogen to progesterone imbalance.

Many women — especially those of child-bearing age — have an estrogen dominance problem. If you exercise daily, it’s likely that you’re using up your progesterone and estrogen is dominating. Other causes of estrogen dominance include environmental factors such as pesticides, plastics, industrial waste products, car exhaust, meat, soaps, furniture and carpet.

Diet, most importantly making sure you eat “hormone-free” (the label should clearly read “these animals were raised without hormones or antibiotics) environmental avoidance of xenoestrogens, and taking supplements can bolster your progesterone and decrease estrogen dominance. Check out the Environmental Working Group on line (www.ewg.org) for the full revelations and actions you can take!

2. You’re not getting enough vitamin D.

Possibly due to our awareness of skin cancer and the use of sunscreen, our levels of vitamin D are lower than they were decades ago. Not to mention that we are spending more time working indoors in front of computers, or exercising inside vs. in the great outdoors. Vitamin D in that is it synthesized by the action of sunlight upon the skin acts like a hormone in our bodies, and deficiency has been linked to allergies, asthma, weight gain, fatigue, food allergies and even cancer. Vitamin D levels can be tested by your healthcare provider, and supplemental vitamin D can be found in various forms.

3. You have high cortisol.

High levels of cortisol (our “stress hormone”) is another big reason we tend to store fat and keep weight on our abdominal area until the stressor is minimized or resolved.. I used to wake up very early to do a spin class or intense run, then race home to get ready for work, then deal with my young kids and chores. That increased my cortisol levels and working against my goals of having a lean body.

Image

If you feel like you need to be on a caffeine drip at all times, it means you’re having too many highs and lows with cortisol as a big culprit. Cortisol is associated with increased appetite, cravings for sugar, and weight gain, belly fat in particular. You need to unwind everyday with whatever it is that shuts off your hypervigilence — even if it’s for 10 minutes per day.

4. You’re eating processed “healthy.”

Excess sodium, GMOs and sugar are all hidden ingredients that are both inflammatory and causes of excess weight gain. Just because it’s at a health food store and it’s “gluten free” or “low fat” or “natural,” DOES NOT mean it’s good for you. It took me a long time to get over this, because packaging with the words “natural” and “healthy” are very enticing.

5. You’re eating too much fat.

Paleo and other higher-fat diets work for some people, but many women, such as myself, don’t do well with them. Our bodies may do well with fat — especially when added to greens — but be careful not to go overboard.

6. You’re skimping on quality sleep.

This still remains tried and true. Your hormones need it. Your muscles need it for repair, and your brain needs it. The two hormones that are key in the relationship between sleep and weight loss are ghrelin and leptin. These hormones operate on the sleep-wake cycle so when you get less than 7 hours a night appetite hormones are disrupted. Put very simply, leptin tells us when to stop eating and when you’re sleep deprived it plummets so you have less. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you’re sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin and more appetite but may never feel full.

Often when I am having sleep disturbances or jet lag, I use melatonin and magnesium (an all too common deficiency associated with sleep disturbances AND chocolate cravings) as supplements to get me on the right track.

7. You’re not eating your cruciferous vegetables.

Cruciferous vegetables from the vegetable family Brassicaceae include cabbage, kale, cauliflower, bok choy, broccoli and other similar green vegetables. Not only are they good for you because of the feeling of fullness you get from the fiber, but they’re also good for estrogen metabolism through a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C). It is a natural source of DIM (3,3-Diindolylmethane) that helps promote estrogen balance AND helps clear the body of the toxic xenoestrogens we pick up from the environment. This is the cheapest, easiest way to get your hormones — and your weight — in balance.
Image
http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-10296/why-so-many-healthy-women-cant-lose-weight.html

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Women's Health & Happiness

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!

1 Comment

Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness