About two months before my diagnosis I noticed my weight started to increase very uncontrollably. I had experienced weight gain my fair share of times, although this time there was no binge eating or bad diet to blame. I was eating a very lean healthy diet and had cut my calories in half.
Not to mention, I had started a new gym membership and was going to the gym 6, sometimes 7 times a week. I was doing my usual mix-up with plenty of high intensity spin classes and treadmill runs. I was also doing other aerobic fitness classes as well as weight sessions.
This was terrifying!
My exercise regime was more intense than ever, AND I was eating a low calorie diet... why was I continuing to gain weight!? When I lived in Australia I was a bit of a fitness junkie and did spin, aerobic, weights and boxing classes 6 times a week. Even when I was feeling low energy and resistance towards my workout, eventually I would get myself to the class and would always leave feeling amazing and energised.
Although it was different now.
I would go to these classes, slog it out for an hour or an hour and a half, and would leave feeling so exhausted and drained and felt as though I was about to burst into tears.
It probably didn't help that gyms are literally the physical representation of 'the ego mind'. There are mirrors on every single wall for everyone to check their bodies out.
When you aren't feeling so confident about your body this can really take it's toll on you mentally...
I would find myself on the subway back to my apartment, feeling shaky and like I was about to collapse and cry in a heap. At the time I was thinking "I thought working out was supposed to release endorphins and make me feel good?!"
This certainly wasn't the case.
I felt like crap.
I never had the motivation or energy to go to the gym, although would drag myself there anyway and always leave feeling terrible. It felt like I was trying to paddle my boat up-stream and like losing weight was a never-ending battle that I just couldn't win. I was totally read to give up.
Then I started to stumble across the truth around losing weight when your hormones are imbalanced.
Here are some important points every woman should be aware of.
If any of you relate to my experience and are really struggling to lose the extra pounds, please read on.
There is SO much we need to re-learn about our bodies when it comes to hormonal imbalance.
Life should not feel as hard as it does right now. When your body balances so does your life and vice versa. Things will become much less effortless, I assure you.
What I can tell you now is everything we think we know to be true about dieting and exercising to lose weight no longer applies. It's time to re-circuit your mental programming on this topic so you can finally lose weight, feel energised and look your best.
Most of us know now that this is absolutely untrue. But for those of you who don't I will state very clearly now... YOU NEED TO EAT FAT TO LOSE FAT. There is no way around it. A diet high in good fats is absolutely essential. Do not fall into any of the 'fat-free' products at your grocery store. Research has proven...
A gram of fat has more than twice the energy that a gram of protein or carbs. Why is this important? because the body needs energy in order to keep the metabolism moving. It's been therefore proven that consuming fatty acids will boost metabolic health.
Diets rich in Omega-3-fatty-acids satisfy hunger for the longest period of time, to avoid the stomach growling feeling within 2 hours after eating a meal, leaving us lurking around the refrigerator.
Fat also helps to build muscle, has been proven to aid those suffering from binge eating disorder and also helps serotonin secretion (the happy hormone).
Focus on unsaturated fats (avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, fish, ground flaxseed, olive oil, cod liver oil or flaxseed oil).
This is not true at all. Yet so many people have their eyes glued to the 'calories burned' gauge on fitness machines. I'll bust this myth and say this is a total illusion.
This is because it's not really the calories burned that matters. It's all about your metabolic rate and your insulin sensitivity. These two functions in your body is what helps you to shed extra weight.
We improve these two things when focusing on shorter bursts of exercise like 15-30 minute interval training (more on that below).
This is NOT TRUE. Especially for hormonally imbalanced women. Our cycle is made up of 4 different stages. Each different stage of the cycle can be represented as a season:
Follicular - Summer
Ovulation - Spring
Luteal - Fall / Autumn
Menstruation - Winter
We have completely different levels of energy at each of the stages due to our various hormones rising and falling throughout the month.
During the first half of the month (summer and spring) it is great to do some more higher intensity workouts like cardio vascular fitness. Although only if your body feels completely energised for this type of workout. If this feels like too much for your energy levels, I can assure you it likely is. This means you have some adrenal fatigue which needs to be healed before you hit the intense heart-rate-spiking exercise.
Tip: If you suspect you have adrenal fatigue, start with walking 3 times a week and build up from there. Avoid spin classes, running or any other intense cardio workouts for awhile. Read this blog for more guidance.
In the fall and winter seasons / stages of your cycle you don't want to be doing anything too intense. If you feel your energy is high, do a weight training workout. Otherwise stick with more gentle forms of exercise like yoga and walking.
Following this will help to balance your hormones as you'll be syncing up with your inner nature by floating throughout the four seasons rather than creating further imbalances.
This is another myth. You are FAR better doing interval training workouts for a shorter period of time than a longer workout.
Focus on short bursts of heart-rate-spiking exercise and then taking a short rest to bring your heart rate back down, repeat.
This type of training has been proven to be far more effective especially for women with insulin sensitivity. You absolutely do not need 60 minutes of cardio in order to have the most effective workout. In fact, this is harming your hormones.
Stick with 15 high intensity intervals and build up to 30 minutes.
This is another wight loss myth. Yes, you will likely see your weight decrease when you eliminate carbohydrates. This is because carbs hold a certain ratio of water when in your body so we naturally hold more weight which can appear as fat. I've played with my fair share of carb-less diets and I know I can slim down dramatically when following these types of diets.
Although carb-less diets no longer work for me and ESPECIALLY do not work for my hormones. I have experimented enough to know we need a steady balance of all 3 macronutrients in order to LOSE and SUSTAIN our weight loss.
The endocrine system will see a lack of carbs as a stressor on the body and therefore cannot regulate the accurate amount of hormones because the attention is going elsewhere.
This does not mean having a diet predominantly made up of rice, sweet potatoes and fruit. Yes, I encourage you to incorporate these foods into your diet although only covering 15% of your plate.
Adding carb-rich, yet nutrient dense foods like whole grains, sweet potato, pumpkin, squash, quinoa, beans, lentils etc will act like an IV drip of energy into your blood stream because they are all slow-burning carbohydrates.
This will keep your blood sugar balanced which will see that you lose weight. Incorporate these types of foods into breakfast and lunch and decrease them at dinner.
Rather than focusing solely on 'losing weight', focus on balancing your hormones. Because once your body is balanced and your hormonal ratios are in check you will find that everything just works, very effortlessly. Your weight becomes more stable, as do your craving and hunger levels. Things start to flow a lot more smoothly without much thought or effort on your behalf.
If your periods are irregular and you are suffering from other symptoms, then keeping your blood sugar balanced and healing your adrenals is much more important than an exercise routine at this stage.