Welcome to the written version of The Total Package! We will start with hormones and their effect on appetite and fat loss and then move on to PMS an d menopause. Lastly, we will discuss thyroid imbalance.
Hormones are the chemical messengers in our bodies that are responsible for everything from our mood to our metabolism. They control the communication between our body and brain through the endocrine system. If all is well in our world, the system is incredible and efficient. Unfortunately, all is not well in our world. The processed food, the plastics, the cleansers (both for home and personal care), the stress, the air, the lack of sleep, the lack of daily exercise........so many things out there to mess up our endocrine system. Unfortunately, many of these things are out of our control. That is why it is so important to take ownership of the things that are within our control. The easiest area for us to make our own is the food that we eat. We can change our eating habits immediately. It might take a little longer to organize our life to ensure better sleep and more exercise and it will take some budgeting to afford 'cleaner' cleaning products - but, we can choose the apple over the cupcake instantly and effectively!
The challenge lies in the time it takes for our hormones to readjust to our better eating habits. It will take time for the adjustment to be made. We must be patient!
Let's begin with the annoyance many of you feel when you are eating well and exercising and yet are still unable to lose the fat that theoretically should be gone. Or how about that constant feeling of hunger? Or what about no hunger, but just cannot control that craving for something crappy? Or what about the late night snacking? You know it's wrong, but just can't seem to gain control over it.
The hormones that are mainly responsible for these frustrations are: LEPTIN and GHRELIN.
Leptin is produced by fat cells and works as an appetite suppressant. It keeps your metabolism high and works with other hormones - thyroid, cortisol and insulin. It is most active in the brain (meaning the most receptors are there), but there are leptin receptors throughout the body. When it is working properly, it helps the body tap into fat storage for energy and thereby reduce fat. When leptin levels are low, this hormone will signal the body to store fat. One would then assume that low levels are the problem, right? Nope. The key is maintaining the RIGHT amount and staying in a balanced state. Having too high a level of leptin is usually the issue.
When the body keeps producing leptin - a natural response to overeating - the leptin receptors get worn out and no longer recognize it. This is the same thing that happens with insulin resistance and the development of diabetes. Your body becomes leptin resistant and the signal that you are full never gets sent. You remain hungry and your metabolism slows right down. This condition also interferes with your T4 (a thyroid hormone) which further damages your metabolism.
It is crucial to find the right balance of leptin and create the right environment in the body for proper communication for all hormonal activity. Dare I state the obvious?! Let's just get them out of the way: Get more sleep. Reduce your stress. Exercise. Avoid processed foods. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Don't smoke.
There. Now, here are a couple of other things you can do to help bring balance back:
Replace vegetable oils with coconut oil and olive oil for the most part. Once in awhile, using vegetable oil is okay - however, in excess it causes inflammation which upsets balance in the body (among all kinds of other horrible things). Vegetable oils are part of the Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acid group and we need to increase our Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids and lessen the Omega 6.
Eat more almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds - all good sources of Omega 3. Use flaxseed oil in your salad dressings (keep it in the fridge). Find grass fed beef which is far richer in Omega 3 than the corn fed (high in Omega 6).
There is a delicate ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6 in our human body. On average, we are at a 20:1 (Omega 6:Omega 3) and we need to be at a 2 or 1:1 ratio.
Increase your zinc. Good sources are pumpkin seeds, oysters, kidney beans (most beans), sesame seeds (most seeds) and cashews (most nuts).
Eat slowly. It takes approximately 20 minutes for leptin to kick in and for you to start to feel full. This will help you not over eat.
Don't have a huge dinner. Make your last meal the smallest one.
Strength Train! Yay, Inner Athletes!!! More muscle mass means smaller fat cells and better hormonal balance.
Yes, I listed getting enough sleep in the obvious pile of things we need to do. But, sleep is when leptin is produced. In order to achieve balance, we need to let the body do it's thing when it is scheduled to do so. Aim for 8 hours :)
Next up: GHRELIN.