Tag Archives: Perimenopause

We’re back!!!!

You probably noticed that Candace and I took the summer off from blogging…..but not much else, as summer in the beautiful Pacific NW beckons all of us to spend as much time as we can outside:  hiking, biking, playing golf/tennis/hooky, gardening, dreaming, reading, barbecuing , walking on the beach, rafting, canoeing, SUPing, and just plain relaxing. So that is what we have been doing the past 3 months which means we have walked our walk of trying to live lives of balance.

My daily walk with Riley, our amazing English lab

My daily walk with Riley, our amazing English lab

Fall always brings to me a feeling of new beginnings, of new commitments and of renewed energy. The daylight hours grow shorter each day, bringing us closer to the hearth, the kitchen and to indoor activities. We are excited to share some of our observations about the seasons of our lives, so stay tuned during the next few months for our musings on hormone balance, optimal living and growing through the various stages of our lives with grace and gratitude.

Fall in the wine country: c'est magnifique…...

Fall in the wine country: c’est magnifique……

In September, we recorded a webinar for ZRT laboratory, based here in the Portland area: “What you always wanted to know about menopause…..but were afraid to ask”. We used a conversational format which we think you will really enjoy, as it keeps the information accessible and relevant. Click on this link to listen in:

http://www.zrtlab.com/webinars/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-menopause-but-were-afraid-to-ask

Don’t ‘suffer in silence’ ……if you are going through the many upheavals and changes of perimenopause and beyond, you are definitely NOT alone…and help is only a click away. Join in our conversation and learn how you can gracefully transition through hormonal changes. The conversation is back ….and so are we. So glad you could join us.

Balance is attainable : learn what YOU can do to sustain it in your life

Balance is attainable : learn what YOU can do to sustain it in your life

 

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Hormone Hijack! Women and Weight Loss – Free Webinar – Tomorrow morning – Sign up right now – below…

Weight Loss Winners

If you’ve spent another January battling with your new diet regime only to find your resolve, rather than your weight, deflated you may be experiencing a hormone hijack.In tomorrow morning’s webinar, Dr. Alyssa Burns-Hill, PhD, will help you identify your trouble spots. She will share practical advice about how you can override your hormone saboteurs for an immediate sense of success that can aid weight loss as well as long term weight management – for men and women alike. You will learn:

  • How your willpower can be so easily challenged
  • How your mood can be changed by what you eat
  • How going to the gym might be making things worse
  • How stress and lack of sleep can sabotage your best intentions
  • Why your metabolism may have slowed, making weight loss an almost impossible dream

Date: February 27, 2014 at 11am PT
Presented by: Dr. Alyssa Burns-Hill

alyssa cropped
Dr. Alyssa Burns-Hill, PhD, MSc, FRSPH, MIHPE has clinics in London and the Channel Islands, as well as an international virtual clinic where she helps people overcome imbalance problems naturally. Alyssa’s patients find that stubborn weight, and weight that has changed their shape, effortlessly falls away as a result of learning some key facts about their hormone health.

Mark the time! Tomorrow at 11am free webinar presented by an expert on the subject who lives in Britain and just wrote a book on the very subject …you will love learning tomorrow, not to mention listening to Dr. Alyssa Burns- Hill’s lovely as can be British accent! Here is the link to register now: http://www.zrtlab.com/weight-loss-winners

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Hormones: The Hidden Truth About Weight Gain

What’s the hormone weight gain connection?

 Well, for starters hormones are f-u-n-d-a-m-e-n-t-a-l when it comes to women and weight, key players in regulating how many pounds we put on and where, our rate of metabolism, blood sugar, insulin, AND whether or not the body decides to burn fat or store it.  Thus it can be notoriously difficult to maintain a normal healthy ideal weight if an undetected hormone imbalance is silently sabotaging your best efforts to stay slim.

 As we age, shifting hormone levels trigger imbalances that cause numerous symptoms, chief among them increased fat deposition in the hips, thighs, bottom and belly ( the kind that won’t budge no matter how many crunches we kill ourselves doing), not to mention sugar cravings and/or a raging appetite that induce one to overeat of all the wrong foods leading inevitably to weight gain in all the wrong places. Maddening! So it is no coincidence that the highest prevalence of obesity (as reported by the Centers for Disease Control) is found among midlife men and women over 40, those folks in the very throes of the hormonal woes.

 The Typical Symptom Picture

Women in  perimenopause, (the transitional years starting in our late 30s, early 4Os that end with the end of  periods at menopause)  are the first to notice the encroachment of surplus adipose  and may be WAY frustrated that they can’t shed pounds as easily as they used to. These are the women who simply can’t abide the stubborn belly fat they never had before and will do just about anything to get rid of it. Trouble is doing anything and everything if it does not include detecting and correcting a hidden hormone imbalance will ultimately prove fruitless. These are the women who say that since they hit menopause they can put on pounds just looking at a sweet roll.

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 Men over 40 whose hormones are downsizing as they move into andropause (a.ka. the male menopause) may notice a drop in strength stamina and the slow slide of ‘six-pack abs’ into an abdominal ‘spare tire’ of fat.

 Younger women and adolescents, particularly those whose dietary and sleeping habits are seriously lacking, are also  at risk for hormone imbalances that encourage excess weight gain or obesity. The CDC tells us that obesity rates among teens and adolescents are also at epidemic levels.

 Can’t Lose Weight? Blame it on your Hormones!

 Do the following symptoms sound familiar?

  • weight gain in hips, thighs, breast (known as gynecomastia in men)
  • belly fat
  • water retention or bloating
  • premenstrual weight gain
  • PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
  • increased appetite/hunger/a sense of never feeling full
  • sugar cravings
  • decreasing lean muscle being replaced by increased body fat
  •  low thyroid symptoms: can’t lose weight, stalled weight loss, sluggish metabolism,
  • tend to regain weight once lost (sometimes more)
  • can’t get to sleep/stay asleep

 Got two or more (troubling or persistent) symptoms? These are hallmarks of weight linked hormone imbalances that could be thwarting your ability to lose weight, and/or control your weight over time. There is no better approach to avoiding serious obesity-related diseases such as Type2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer, than maintaining a healthy weight.

 The Missing Link: Hormone Testing

 Attempting to maintain a healthy weight without taking hormone levels into account, is like starting a weight loss program without ever stepping on a scale or measuring your waist line. Sidebar: for the average women, a waist circumference over 35″  (in men, over 40″) is an important marker of insulin resistance* /metabolic syndrome**  harbingers of Type 2 diabetes.

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*when muscle cells become desensitized to the actions of insulin they shut down and resist taking up glucose for energy and calorie burning. So what happens instead is that sugar is shunted into fat, particularly around the waist! Mon dieu!!
**that cluster of metabolic mishaps that include: high blood pressure, high Triglycerides, low HDL,  insulin resistance, and abdominal obesity as the primary determining factors.

Your Best Efforts to Control Your Weight  can be derailed by undetected imbalances of:

Estrogen

-Progesterone

-Testosterone

-DHEAs

-Cortisol

-Vitamin D

-Thyroid hormones

-Insulin

Eating whole, hormone- free foods, exercising, reducing stress and exposure to environmental toxins, getting enough sleep, and using natural hormone therapies and supplements as needed can help you raise the bar to ultimate weight control.

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So ……IF:

  • You’ve tried every diet
  • You eat healthy, whole foods for the most part
  • You workout or get regular exercise
  • You weigh yourself every morning
  • For gawd’s sake you even ran a marathon last week….and STILL cannot lose weight !!!

Have you considered testing your hormones?

I trust that by now you are all ears,  and if so I encourage you to keep them perked, listening and  learning at our webinar, “The Hidden Truth About Weight Gain and Hormones”, coming up this Wednesday, the 16th of October, at 9am. ZRT Laboratory will be hosting the webinar as they have recently developed a special hormone test collection (a.k.a. The Weight Management Profile), that detects hormone imbalances linked to weight gain as well as major risk markers for insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. As the past director of education at ZRT and now a consultant, yours truly will be presenting. Join me for some life changing edutainment. The webinar is of course free to all comers (and who knows we might just give away a hormone test kit).  Here is the link to sign up for the webinar, coming up very soon, this wednesday in fact, Oct. 16th, just a week away: http://www.zrtlab.com/specialty-profiles/weight-management

 

 

 

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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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How the WHI turned things on its head and we have come a long way baby!! Happy 2012

It is hard to believe that 10 years ago this July, the first reports from the WHI(Women’s Health Initiative) first hit the press and caused a major upheaval in our country in terms of how we viewed hormone treatment for women.  Headlines appeared in all of the major newspapers, soundbites aired on TV and radio shows, all echoing the same information:  based on this study(despite conflicting evidence from dozens of studies prior to this one), it was felt that hormone replacement therapy was no longer something that should routinely be prescribed to postmenopausal women due to the increased risks of breast cancer and cardiovascular complications.

The release of this information was a veritable nightmare for clinicians like myself who have worked with women for years trying to find the safest and most effective treatment options to deal with the challenges of perimenopause and beyond. Suddenly everything we had trusted was brought into question and the reaction was loud, contentious and confusing. We were advised by our various medical organizations(such as NAMS:North American Menopause Society; ACOG: American College of OB/Gyn, AMA: American Medical Society, and so on) to get women off of HRT(hormone replacement therapy) and advise them of their risks.

I have been a Nurse Practitioner since 1988 and I can honestly say, this was a pivotal moment in my evolution as a clinician. I felt as though I was between a rock and a hard place. How do I honor the “wisdom of the powers that be” yet take excellent care of the women who trusted me to provide them with accurate, up-to-date health information and help them find relief for their innumerable symptoms of hormonal imbalance? This was not an easy task but in many ways, I am thankful for the stir caused by this study as it forced many clinicians like myself to take a hard look at the information coming to us from these large scale, big Pharma-financed studies. It was time for a seismic shift for me, that’s for sure.

I have always been more holistic in my approach towards health care than what I learned in my allopathic undergraduate and graduate programs.  I had long developed a mistrust from some of the “studies” and abstracts given to me by pharmaceutical reps and this new turn of events just confirmed for me the need for ME to sort through the information myself, to resist believing the latest “headline du jour”. And I was in a perfect position to change my approach to taking care of women approaching menopause.

Thankfully one of my patients at the time told me about a special that had aired on public television highlighting “Bio-identical Hormones”, something I had heard of but honestly, didn’t know much about. I sought out a local compounding pharmacist, Alison Johnston and asked her to teach me. Not only did she mentor me and turn me on to a whole new world of compounding, but she sponsored me to go to a conference put on by PCCA(Professional Compounding Corporation of America). This is where I learned about the value of saliva testing, met the wonderful folks of ZRT lab and from that point on , I knew I had found what I was looking for: a safe, non-invasive, accurate, comprehensive way to test actual hormone levels.

My next challenge was to learn to interpret these levels and then how to prescribe BHRT in PHYSIOLOGIC doses to help alleviate symptoms of hormone imbalance and provide the many benefits of hormone treatment(see our previous blog posts on this). I had no local providers to ask….I was completely on my own and sometimes it was a scary place. But I knew there was no turning back. I had the support of my local pharmacists and the providers and staff at ZRT lab. I continued to go to any conference I could find on the topic, I read countless books and articles and soon I was treating hundreds, then thousands of women.  Not just treating them but helping them regain balance, hope and quality of life. I will soon be sharing some of their testimonials with you all in future blogposts.

So that’s the story of how I became so passionate about saliva testing and BHRT. I see thousands of women every year and I get such joy out of partnering with my patients. So many of them are like some of the people who have commented on our blog: at their wit’s end. Help is just around the corner ladies. Stay tuned and we will continue to provide you with the information and optimism that you need to get on your own road back to balance.

Oh, and by the way, patience really is a virtue. After 10 years of arguing back and forth about whether hormones are safe for women, just this week a statement was issued by NAMS and supported by 15 major medical organizations that now states that hormone replacement therapy should be offered to women.  AMEN!!! Remember, we support the use of BHRT… but this is such a sweet victory for women and those who care for them. Here is the link to the article:

NAMS statement

One last thing in closing. Today is Candace’s birthday so wishing my dear friend and colleague a wonderful celebration of life and a toast to many decades of happiness and balanced living to come!

With love,

Kyle

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

Return to Balance

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

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

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Key hormone players achieve balance through synchrony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8.   Take your vitamin Zzzs – power nap!

9.   Make more ME time

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

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

Rebalancing amongst the Rhododendrens

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

The Provider’s Perspective on First Person Story

We are very excited to have a real live person for our readers to follow as she sorts through the maze of information and tries to make the best choice for herself in her quest towards wellness and balance(which are actually synonymous!). Her story is one of many that Candace and I have heard throughout the years and hopefully will resonate with quite a few of you. Sadly, I hear over and over again how alone women feel when they start to experience some of the myriad of symptoms that can be caused by the waxing and waning of hormone levels.
Just this week I saw a 43 year old woman who has a friend she is concerned about : thinks she may be going through perimenopause but is afraid to talk about it and has no ideas of how to proceed.
I remember that it wasn’t so long ago that we didn’t even mention the word “breast” in public , yet now there are numerous events dedicated towards raising money for breast cancer. For women who are pregnant, there are prepared childbirth classes, books and endless information available from all sorts of sources; not so for my mother’s generation, so ‘we have come a long way, baby’.

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

Not far enough though for women struggling with perimenopausal or menopausal issues or even those who suffer with terrible symptoms of PMS early on. This was the main motivation for us to launch this blog, to create a safe, fun, informative and interactive place for women to come to in order to pose questions and find answers. Our blog will continue to morph and mature over time as you will see. This new feature, the ‘First Person Story’ , will grow over the months into a complete narrative tracing this individual’s thoughts, actions and responses to our recommendations.

We are currently waiting for the saliva test results to arrive. Once they do, Candace and I will post our recommendations(and many of those will be very similar, by the way; the main differences will have more to do with my ability to prescribe actual bio-identical hormones. The other differences will be how we each interpret her results and where we think the focus should be: and this will change over time as well, as it should. )
Then our first person will make some choices and we will periodically be checking in with her to see how she is progressing(or not) and make adjustments to her plans as needed.

Stay tuned! And don’t forget to jump in any time with questions you might have as well.  Remember you are not alone in feeling the way you do and there are many possibilities awaiting you…..menopausibilities indeed.

 

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, First Person, Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness

Don’t Let Hot Flashes Warm Up Your Holidays…Stay Cool This Christmas!

How well I remember a certain Christmas season in Idaho about 15 years ago ….I was in my late 40s then and had just moved back to the States from England – a culture shock and-a-half. My daughters, Jess and Rye were still little, 9 and 6 years old, and having a hard time making friends who could understand their English accents. My husband was setting up a photography studio in our garage (bad idea).  I was looking for work in health publishing where there was none. It was a tough transition and to top it off, my hormones were in full revolt. Between the mood swings and hot flashes every 20 minutes, no amount of holiday cheer could cheer me up. In the dead of winter I kept opening up the windows, and gawd help anyone who complained of frostbite. “Try putting on another sweater,” I would bark at my shivering little ones… Needless to say, my family was beginning to hate me…. That Christmas Ebenezer Scrooge had nothin’ on me!

Christmas coming on – not hot flashes! Daughters Rye and Jess (not pictured) and hubby Dave like mom much better in rather than out of balance!

I guess I should have built an igloo in the back yard and moved in… that might have helped. But when it came to helping myself, I was my own worst enemy…drinking too much caffeine, eating all the wrong things, and not getting enough sleep! Forget hitting the pause button – I was in  full-throttle Peri-menopause and letting it get the best of me.

The night before Christmas, the only creature stirring all through the house was I, woken by the sound of night sweats dripping on the floor (well it was almost that bad). Around 2am, I went outside to stand on the deck (in minus 10 degrees… ahh relief) when I heard a noise behind me. Was I about to meet the jolly man himself? Would he wag his finger in my face for scarfing all his cookies and for being a mostly naughty, not nice, peri-menopausal person? He would have been perfectly within his rights to say so. But no, it was Ryan, my little one, too excited to sleep. “Mommy, has Santa been here yet?” She looked over at the tree and then up at me, crumbs trailing down my PJ’s. “Mommy, did you eat the cookies we made for Santa!!” She started to wail; “now he’ll never come! You’re a mean mommy!”  A mean (hot, sweaty, flabby, crabby, itchy, bitchy) mommy, that’s what I was. But I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to be that person. And I never wanted to see that look on my child’s face again!! That Christmas was the beginning, the eve of my journey back to balance.

I hit the books, starting with What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, by Dr. John R. Lee, the bible for women in menopause. (A couple pages in, I started to cry, he was speaking to ME!) Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain, the dreaded belly fat in particular, nervousness, irritability, i.e. behaving like the wicked witch of the west to those you love best in all the world? I could blame it on my hormones. The extent to which I was out-of-sync had everything to do with the extent to which my hormones were out-of-sync. Yes, I could expect my hormones to significantly shift in mid-life, but however steep or  rapidly the shift occurred was clearly up to me. I could stop the rollercoaster and get off. So I did, and so can you! In fact it’s one of our essential guiding principles: You can get off the rollercoaster and get your mojo back!

                                        Christmas Cool…Practice Balance!

Start now:1) Buy Dr. Lee’s book and read it cover to cover. (Stay tuned for other selected books that Kyle and I love, and that will be available for you to order in the New Year right here on our blog.)
2) Get your hormones tested (www.zrtlab.com) to determine whether and to what extent your hormones are out of balance.
3) If testing reveals imbalances requiring hormone support insist on bioidentical vs. synthetic hormones (HT).
4) Find a provider to partner with for prescribed hormone therapy
5) Support your adrenal glands! They have to manage your stress response, energy levels, immunities AND take over all hormone production in mid-life so these mighty little glands need all the help they can get: optimal nutrition, exercise, stress control, sleep and pursuit of meaningful work and ME time.

For specific tips about how to quell the hot flashes please keep reading:
• Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, spicy foods, hot soups and drinks that can trigger hot flashes and worsen mood swings.
• Steer clear of unnecessary, avoidable stress since it is one of the biggest causes of hot flashes and night sweats. Your body reacts to constant stress by raising cortisol levels, which alters the normal balance of hormones in the body. Vow not to let stress take center stage in your life. Start to banish it
now by breathing deep to get oxygen to the brain, an instant stress reliever. Make time to read, relax, soak in the tub, take a 20-minute walk, or a 10-minute catnap, cancel at least one appointment a week.
• Reset the temperature in your house to 68 degrees.
Studies show that sleeping in a cooler room can lead to deeper sleep. Night sweats can be triggered by changes in room temperature, so if you start off cool and use minimal covers, you are less likely to wake in a sweat as your body warms up through the night.
• Daily exercise can release held tension in the body, so you can truly relax. It also triggers endorphins; the “feel good” hormones that help you feel calmer and increase your overall sense of well being. Studies tell us that woman who make exercise a part of their daily routine have fewer hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms of imbalance.
Supplements that can help relieve hot flashes:
Bioidentical progesterone (balanced by bioidentical estrogen as need be) may dramatically reduce the strength and frequency of hot flashes by keeping estrogen and progesterone balanced and less prone to fluctuate erratically. Studies have shown up to 80 percent relief from hot flashes in women using bioidentical progesterone in a ‘Goldilocks’ dose – no more and no less than the body needs.
Multivitamins and Trace Minerals (zinc, selenium, etc), B-complex, Vitamin E, and Flax seed (grind your own and sprinkle on salads, oatmeal, in smoothies etc.) help to optimize hormone production and metabolism, and diminish hot flashes and night sweats.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are essentials for balanced estrogen production and GOOD for hot flashes
Soy protein in moderation has been shown in studies to relieve hot flashes and night sweats. Asian women with soy-rich diets are famous for their lack of hot flashes and menopause symptoms. (Best sources of soy are fermented as the Asians take them in, e.g. tofu, tempeh, miso, etc. vs. overdoing it with soy lattes, chips and bars.)
Phytonutrients found in plants and herb supplements, such as magnolia, red clover, dong quai, black cohosh, rhodiola, etc. and other “weak plant-based estrogens” can cool hot flashes and help you refocus.

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Candace Burch