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Women, Stress & Fat Loss

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

Let’s Meet Joy!

Joy is married to Michael and they also have two children. The oldest child is 7 years old, and the youngest just turned 5. Joy was a passionate full time nurse for over 10 years prior to having her first child where she switched over to part time in order to be at home during the day with her kids. Now that her youngest child is about to enter school she’s decided to go back to work as a full time nurse.

Joy has also decided this is the time to make some other changes...

Since having her first child, Joy has noticed a lot of changes in her body. Now that she’s getting closer to her 40’s it seems like diet and exercise just isn’t enough. Being a former college athlete and prior to having her first child she’s never had much trouble staying fit by simply dieting and exercising. Compared to her college days she’s eaten healthier than ever before. Joy’s made many new year's resolutions in the past; she’s joined a few gyms and even hired a trainer in the past, but nothing seems to work out long term. After having her second child, stress has been at an all time high and now she’s began to worry if she still looks attractive to her husband because she sure doesn’t feel that way anymore. Joy knows she’s no longer in her 20’s, but she still wants to look attractive for her husband, have energy for both her kids, and be able to keep up with her work and home duties. “Plus age or having kids isn’t an excuse there are many examples of women who look great in their 40’s and beyond and I’m going to be one of them,” she thought to herself.

Even though the stress has piled up Joy decides she will workout 5 days a week at a new gym that just opened. As for dieting she will cut her calories down from 1900 calories to 1300 calories per day. She will hit the treadmill for about 45 minutes followed by 10-15 minutes of machines and some light stretching afterward each day. After two weeks of making this decision she’s happy to see she’s already lost about 8 pounds! On the flipside she’s had less energy than before starting this regimen, her cravings are really intense after most meals and especially late at night even when she’s eaten dinner later in the evening. She can’t seem to wind down and fall asleep even though she feels tired and ready to go bed most of the day and let’s not even mention being intimate she just hasn’t been in the mood.

As times gone on Joy’s energy and mood have been all over the place and it’s reflected in the way she’s shown up for her husband, kids, and work. Over time Joy’s investment in her health by going to the gym and dieting has become inconsistent due to not having the energy and time to keep up with all the other urgent matters going on in her life. To cope with all the stress she frequently gives into her cravings by indulging in her favorite sweets. “Why not? A girl has to treat herself somehow---right?” She’d think. What normally follows these binges, are a load of guilt and shame for not being disciplined enough to keep up with the commitments she’s made to herself. Before going back to work and starting her new health regimen Joy only averaged about 6 hours of sleep a night, but now she’s lucky to get a full 5 hours! Besides tending to her kids and husbands needs she can’t seem to shut her mind down when it’s time to go to bed. To cope with this issue she decided to add a nightcap before heading to bed. “In college I never had much trouble functioning off 5-6 hours of sleep, pulling all nighters and staying up late on weekends partying regularly,” she’d think to herself.

After speaking with a really close friend, Joy gets recommended to go see a new up and coming health and fitness expert in her area. She’s told he can help her take control of her health!

Can you relate to any of Joy’s issues?

Let’s see what advice the health & fitness expert had to say about Joy’s problems...

The Domino Effect Of A Stressed Out Chick!

In our society today women are vying for high position jobs or building their own businesses while still trying to raise children and be a great spouse. With more responsibility and an aging body the simple advice of eat less, exercise more just seems to not work for many women. If you suffer from symptoms such as facial breakouts, missed or infrequent periods, low thyroid readings, intense cravings, poor recovery from intense exercise, mood swings, or poor sleep quality knowing the information that follows will help greatly.

Once women enter their mid-30’s (some even earlier) their begins to be a shift that takes place. Giving birth to children, raising a family, advancing in a career, being a spouse, or even a single mom having to play both roles takes a tool. With all this accumulated stress a woman's body tends to not respond to stress the same as it used to causing many women to fall prey to something called HPA axis dysfunction. This means in simple terms your brain (hypothalamus and pituitary gland) and adrenal glands are no longer in sync.

If you recall from Joy’s story as a young woman (and athlete) she ate what she wanted, exercise often, and had irregular sleep patterns, but still managed to stay in great shape. Calories and exercise are important parts, but the underlying issue is her hormones have changed and after years of accumulated stress her body’s not responding to simply eating less, and exercising more.

Stress is a surefire way to disrupt your hormonal environment. It begins with a back and forth battle between two key hormones cortisol and insulin. Cortisol chronically elevated falls out its normal rhythm which will disrupt all the other key metabolic hormones in the body. Cortisol causes blood sugar levels to continually rise while insulin continually attempts to lower it. After awhile of this tug-of-war you will run into daily energy crashes, intense cravings, and an inconsistent appetite and over time this leads to chronic inflammation, more body fat (mainly around the waist and hips), and you wondering what the heck is going on as we saw with Joy.

Just so you know...

Cortisol and insulin are important hormones that are needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but when they’re both chronically elevated they make losing body fat and feeling great nearly impossible, because they impact your metabolism and every other hormone in the body.

Next domino to fall…

A women's metabolism is set up to create an environment appropriate enough to have a baby. Cortisol (and adrenaline another adrenal hormone) negatively impact insulin levels, while increasing inflammation and oxidative stress causing the brain (pituitary gland) to signal to the ovaries that reproducing may not be a good idea (lowering levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH)) which will cause a late or missed period, increase the chance of perimenopause (PMS), puffiness, and not being very joyful to be around. Estrogen can also drop here; this will mimic what women go through during menses when both progesterone and estrogen levels fall which are things such as low libido, intense sugar cravings, and high irritability. But, when these two are low long term it increases your chance to entering menopause early (PMS), wrinkles, loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis, and increase of body fat.

More on Estrogen…

(Estrogen Dominance)

Estrogen is a hormone that promotes cell growth, cell division, and in excessive amounts (absolute or relative to low progesterone levels) fat formation. Overtly high estrogen levels can be caused by estrogen-based medications (birth-control), ovarian cysts, excessive alcohol consumption, increased exposure to environmental estrogens in dairy products, plastics, and parabens, being overweight (body fat produces estrone - a form of estrogen) or it can become high relative to progesterone levels. Either absolute or relative estrogen dominance can occur as you go through PMS, chronic poor sleep quality, chronic stress, overtraining (form of high stress), poor diet, or a combination of these things. Common symptoms are tender breast, heavier or more frequent periods, bloating and increase fat (especially around the hips and waist), and difficulty losing fat.

Last of the dominos to fall…

As cortisol continues to increase inflammation, this will affect your metabolism and the hormones that are behind your metabolism collectively called your thyroid hormones. High inflammation levels will lower your thyroids ability to convert an inactive hormone called T4 into active T3. It will also cause active T3 to enter an irreversible pathway toward something called reverse T3 (inactive version of T3). To put the icing on the cake, high levels of stress can negatively impact your gut health causing even higher levels of inflammation. Your gut microbiome is responsible for forming two active versions of T3 (T3 acetate and T3 sulfate). T3 is needed for every cell in the body to function properly.

As you can see through Joy’s story and the science that follows cortisol along with insulin out of balance can cause a serious domino effect leading to common issues such as mood swings, energy crashes, cravings, an inconsistent appetite, sleep trouble, and increase weight gain.

If eating less, and exercising more aren’t the cure what can I do about it?

4 recommendations to reset your hormones:

  1. Eat a high protein low carb breakfast in the morning. This will honor your hormonal rhythm by helping balance out cortisol production while not spiking insulin as well. Avoid processed sugar as much as possible outside fruits (recommend going berries before any other fruit). Avoid daily, gluten, and vegetable oils.

  2. Drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces of water daily (preferably a gallon a day). Start your morning off with 20-30 ounces of quality water. I suggest adding electrolytes to your water like magnesium, vitamin C, or potassium. This will help flush a lot of the toxins built up in your system and hydrate you tissues to operate optimally. Every process in the body requires water.

  3. Set-up a bedtime ritual: One way to disrupt your hormone function is an irregular sleep schedule. Plan to go to bed every night around the same time including weekends (preferably between 10pm-11pm). Avoid blue screens from laptops, ipads, and TV’s and bright lights at least an hour before bed. Keep your bedroom dark (blackout shades are great), cool (65-68 degrees), and comfortable. Some great options here are to read a physical book, journal, talk with a spouse (or be intimate which has some great hormonal benefits for sleep), or meditate.

  4. Use smart supplements:

  • Zinc - all hormones use zinc including cortisol and thyroid hormone. Zinc provides benefits for great skin and a healthy immune system. If you’re a vegetarian, taking birth control, have poor digestion, drink alcohol regularly, supplementing with zinc will most likely be beneficial for you. The recommendation is about 8mg per day, but upping your intake to no more than 30 mg will help with a zinc imbalance.

  • Magnesium - has been a hot topic lately and for good reason it’s involved in over 350 processes in the body including performance and recovery in the gym, boosting mood, energy production, bone formation (helps absorb calcium), brain health, blood sugar control, improving PMS symptoms, and helping with sleep. The recommendation for magnesium is 300 mg per day, but those who are deficient consuming upwards to 1000-1200 mg per day will help balance out your deficiencies. Magnesium citrate is widely used form; taking 400-600 mg in warm water before bed can help with sleep. If you tend to get a huge laxative effect from taking magnesium using magnesium chelate will be a better option.

  • Omega-3 (Essential Fatty Acids) - help with immune system function, inflammation, neurodegeneration, and insulin sensitivity . The issue most people run into is that it’s not they don’t consume enough omega-3’s, the issue is our diet consist of way more omega-6 fatty acids which cause the balance between the two to be really lopsided. You want your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio be 1:1 to 1:2 ratio. (Modern ratio 1:10). You want to take 1-2 grams of a high quality fish oil. If you buy a random fish oil that’s low quality you will only add fuel to the fire because the fish oil can go rancid in the body causing more inflammation. Krill Oil is a great source of omega-3’s and contains something called astaxanthin (protects the oils from going rancid).

  • Vitamin D - is essential for fat metabolism, bone health, skin health, cancer prevention, fertility, insulin regulation, and anti-inflammatory. Getting sunlight even on gloomy winter days is the best way to get adequate amounts of vitamin-D, but supplementing with a vitamin D3 can also help if you’re deficient.

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