How do you know if it is your hormone that is causing you to gain weight, vs. your food choices or your lifestyle? Can it be a combination of both or is it one causing the other? In order to determine this, there are some things that you are going to need to do as well as changes you will have to make to see what is causing what! How do you know what it is and how do we go about making the changes we need to make in order to bring that balance back that we have been seeking for so long?
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Luckily for you, I had Ali Damron on my last podcast who is full of informative knowledge on these things! , Ali is a wife, a mother to two sweet little boys, a licensed acupuncturist and a certified personal trainer. For the last eight years, she has run her own successful private practice as an acupuncturist. Over the last four years, she has also taken her message to the online platform where she does 1:1 consultation’s on women’s health and hormones and offers digital courses! She also has a podcast called The Ali Damron Show that I highly recommend checking out!
Growing up Ali had no idea what acupuncture was or alternative medicine at that. It wasn’t until college that she was exposed to holistic medicine. She saw different ideas of using herbs instead of over-the-counter medicine and all of this started to pique her interest! While in college she went to see an acupuncturist to get some work done and afterwards she had felt amazing. The acupuncturist looked amazing, and she couldn’t believe how healthy and fit they look, and how amazing she felt leaving that session, and she knew that she wanted to study this.
After college Ali went to start her own acupuncture practice as a generalist, but it wasn’t until she started working with more women and having her first child that she realized how floored she was with the act of becoming a mother. No one told her anything about any of this. Baby blues, babies are needy, etc! Everyone sugar coated it so much. And she struggled a lot with learning about breastfeeding and hormone things and it all made her wonder how to treat herself. She realized that she wasn’t the only woman going through this. THIS was a universal thing that people were going through on a daily basis!
People started coming in to see her for menopausal stuff and postpartum period and menstrual issues and it made Ali realized that life is so demanding on women, mothers especially and how much work we needed to do for them. And she knew that she wanted to lead down the path of hormone issues and help women who were struggling day in and day out.
So if you are reading this. How are you to know if it is your HORMONES that are affecting your life, or if it’s your LIFESTYLE that needs some tweaking?
When we think about the hormones, we need to think about it as a pyramid. At the bottom of that pyramid is going to be your insulin, adrenaline and cortisol. And we see symptoms throughout the day of hunger, being tired, etc. So, we have to go to the bottom first to find out exactly what is going on. Insulin and blood sugar all play a lot of roles in nutrition. This would have to do with your lifestyle decisions you are making. Cortisol is our stress hormone. And we need this, but we need it in the right amount at the right time. This is a lifestyle as well. Sleep habits, exercise habits, nutrition habits, our mindset all affect our stress levels. Adrenalin which goes alongside cortisol, is our fight or flight response and if your brain feels like it is in danger of environment, thoughts, personality, etc. it will be in fight or flight mode.
It is a matter of what is affecting what, and where to start when it comes to figuring out what is going on inside and what you need to work on first.
Ali has five pillars that she uses for women when treating hormones. And the first one is mindset, stress management & self care. So we talk about our thoughts and are you filling yourself with garbage? Are you watching the news all day? Are you scrolling social media all day feeling terrible about yourself? Are you scaring yourself all day with the thoughts that you’re telling yourself? All of those things play a huge role in how those stress hormones react.
The second thing is nutrition. Third is sleep, fourth pillar is exercise and fifth we get into where some supplements, vitamins and herbs can help because yes, there are definitely things that can help all of these things. But I found this out the hard way. You can’t out supplement a lifestyle that is not conducive to what you’re doing.
Let’s say this again!!! YOU CAN NOT OUT SUPPLEMENT A LIFESTYLE THAT IS NOT CONDUCIVE TO HEALTHY BODY HEALTHY HORMONES!!!!
Our mindset and nutrition are NUMBER 1 and NUMBER 2 and we have to get those under control to have healthy hormones. We can’t just add in hormone replacement therapy and vitamins or whatever and expect things to be magical and work! Supplements are at the top of the pyramid. But you have to WORK YOUR WAY THERE! You have to take it step by step.
Let’s jump into mindset. Because this part plays a huge role when it comes to this. So, if I am always telling myself x y z and it’s all negative trash talk, that can have an impact on how my hormones respond in my body! It has a direct impact on your nervous system. The mind-body connection that you hear about, this is through your nervous system. If you are telling yourself, you are stupid and fat and inadequate on a daily basis. Your brain is going to be like “oh shit, there is bad stuff going on in there. This is a threat so let’s get the adrenalin running and amygdala is on high alert!!”
When you fill your brain with this all day long your nervous system is going to be on high alert and throw off your adrenaline and cortisol and when that is thrown off it steals from your progesterone that makes us feel calm and sleep well. Which means you are not sleeping well and you sure as hell ARE NOT CALM!
People constantly are saying that stress is their life, and they can’t avoid it… Some of the stress, absolutely but our bodies are designed for the peaks and valleys of stress and if we are always pushing the button of OMG that button is going to burn out! But remember… Stress is different than stressors and you have to learn how to respond to them. [ Ali recommended this amazing book and you should check it out. It’s called Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle check it out it really has a ton of amazing information and strategies to help you with reducing stress in your life!]
If you go through tons of stress during your day, you have to learn to balance that out in the evening, etc. When you get home take it easy, stay relaxed and avoid stressful situations. Ask yourself, what are your stressors? Is it you or something truly outside of you stressing you out? Takes time to get to self-awareness and the willingness to change your life somewhat… Willingness and patience!
When we talk about stress, I think many of us bring stress on ourselves because we caught up in the game. What it should be, what it should look like, should my kids always be clean, should the kitchen never have shit on the counters, should I have my Christmas tree up right after thanksgiving????? But you know what??? The gap between reality and expectation is where the anxiety lies!!!!!! Many people have unspoken expectations, and you arrive somewhere and, in your head,, it’s supposed to be something. But if you never articulated them to a person or an experience. How is it their fault?
Now I want to also talk to you about the nutrition part of this because this is a huge part of this entire topic. Many people come to me and they’re like ugh my hormones, I am packing on the weight… my hormone is affecting me. But we have to start somewhere before we leap into your hormones. Ali’s initial consult, she will ask them every single symptom. How’s your digestion, sleep, mood, hot flashes, period, energy, cravings? They go through all of it and with women, if you have hormonal issues, you are going to have a lot of symptoms or several. Not just that I can’t lose weight and feel fine outside of that.
So, for this, it’s really important to track things. Track what you eat, how you feel, how you sleep, your exercise so that you can see what you are doing vs how you are feeling! I always challenge people for 1 year or 6 months to track everything. Track everything I just said above to really take a look at what is going on. We all just want to jump to a pill to solve all of our problems and I blame tv and social media for that.. But we also have to control our lifestyle too! It can be soooo empowering to lose weight and figure out what is going on. But it’s not empowering to just say we can’t lose the weight, or I can’t do this.
Become self-aware or what you are eating every day. Extra snacks off your kid’s plate add up daily. And could be what’s causing you to hold onto those 10 extra pounds onto your frame. Yes, hormone issues are 100% real, but before you make that leap, start to look at that lifestyle. It’s so important to look at this part because we don’t want you or our clients wasting their money or chasing windmills when it could be them just having a couple of bites of here and there….
Alright… so my foods on spot, I am working out great and I am still putting on the weight… where does acupuncture come in?
Acupuncture is a comprehensive way to treat. It can help your brain produce the right number of hormones at the right time to help balance everything out. It calms down the nervous system and calms down cortisol. The way that she diagnoses in Chinese medicine is really different from Western medicine, like using words like dampness and heat, and just things that you’ll never hear about at all. It can help rebalance your whole body. They look at your tongue and look at your pulse. And then they will again ask you 100 questions about patterns and symptoms and things like that. That way they can just put together a comprehensive treatment just for you.
The one takeaway I would say for a lot of people is that even though acupuncture can help you with everything, instead of chasing everything, decide what would make things a little more tolerable. And for me, my hot flashes were debilitating. I just could not stand in front of you and continue to just melt, I just couldn’t do it anymore!
Listen, you have to find your rock bottom and just say I cannot take myself anymore… You have to GET TO THAT PLACE to have the willpower to make a change. We hear excuses a lot from women but it’s just that they are not there yet and it’s ok that they aren’t there yet, but we can get there!
Ali and I are both huge fans of slow habit change… Just start with 1 habit and focus on it and build on it. We can’t just flip our lifestyle on its lid all the time… Ali doesn’t focus on all 5 pillars at once because it isn’t going to work. We have to start 1 at a time and build ourselves up to the next. Just like I tell you ladies! One small change at a time. One thing that you know you can start and you can handle. And as you go, you move on to the next and to the next.
Listen mamas, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to really realize where you want to go. And I know you got this. I know you can do what you need to do to figure out what is going on. And if you think your hormones could possibly be playing a role in what is going on in your body. Reach out to Ali! She does most of her business via over the phone and Zoom and I know that she will be an amazing tool for you to guide you where you need to go next!
What is one thing that makes you feel magical?
I think when I am in my genius zone in my business. I love to talk to women about their mindset and how huge of a role that plates on their health and on their hormones in general and they have an ah hah moment. That is amazing to me because it took me so freaking long to understand that and change that and its life work. But it makes me feel so happy when people get that and it clicks for them. – Ali Damron
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the book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle https://amzn.to/3oB83CY