Is a Hidden Hormone Imbalance Wrecking your Health and Fitness Goals?

Okay, so you’ve tried all the diets, you’ve done all the workouts, and you’re still not feeling 100% your best? Battling constant lack of energy, struggling to lose stubborn weight, dealing with less than perfect skin, brain fog and crazy female cycles is no joke. Let’s just say, before we go meticulously checking the details of everything we’ve eaten, every workout we’ve done, or every thought we’ve had, that it may be something deeper that’s holding you back from reaching your health and wellness goals.

I’m talking about your hormones. Cortisol, sex hormones, insulin, thyroid, all the hormones. An internal hormone imbalance, which is increasingly common in our stressful world, can wreak havoc on our bodies quicker than that green juice can fix it. For most wellness-focused individuals, like you and me, we think we’re doing it all right, and in most cases we are! We eat nourishing foods, we do intense exercise, we chill out with yoga and meditation, we socialize, and we, almost always, get eight hours of sleep. In a perfect world, this is the perfect way to live. But unfortunately we’re not focusing on a huge influential aspect of our health: our hormones. Before you go blaming that square of dark chocolate on recent weight gain, bloat or breakout, let’s look a bit deeper.

What is a hormone imbalance exactly and how do they happen? It’s essentially when hormones that are supposed to work in conjunction with one another don’t. These hormones include estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol, and also leptin, ghrelin, and thyroid hormones, which monitor our hunger levels and metabolism function.

A common hormone issue that creates imbalances in multiple hormones, and is often undiagnosed, is adrenal fatigue. This occurs when our adrenal glands, which produce cortisol in response to a stressor, can no longer keep producing cortisol at the rate that stress within the body demands it to. This is so common, and currently dealing with it myself, it is not something people should have to be dealing with, especially when we put so much effort into maintaining healthy lifestyles.

Ultimately, adrenal fatigue, and other hormone imbalances, is caused by stress. Physical stress from extreme workouts, dietary stress from eating foods our bodies don’t love, mental stress from external demands, or emotional stress from negative self-talk and feelings. It all causes stress within our body, and leads to the overproduction, and eventual burnout, of cortisol from the adrenal glands. From here, it’s almost impossible to have our other hormones in balance because our bodies are under so much stress and can’t keep up. Cue: fat storage, painful acne, brain fog and fatigue, wacky cycles, all despite healthy diets and plenty of sleep.

Most people will say our health is 80% diet and 20% fitness, but I argue for a sliver of that to include our hormone health. If our hormones aren’t balanced, meaning they're not working synergistically to keep our endocrine system in homeostasis, we won’t feel nearly our best and we’ll pick up a lot of nasty symptoms we thought we were trying to cure by putting such pressure on ourselves to lead healthy lifestyles. We owe it to ourselves, and our health, to correct these underlying imbalances.

From personal experience, I can attest to the importance of getting hormones (cortisol, sex hormones and thyroid hormones) tested if you have any of the above symptoms, so that from there you can supplement appropriately. Consulting a functional practitioner is the best way to do this, along with creating a mindful, relaxing routine to eliminate some of the stressors in your life. Creating a balance of your hormones could finally be the answer to your ailments. Once your hormones are back in balance, you will find you’re not gaining unexplained weight, your skin will be clear and glowing, you’ll experience super high energy levels, and an overall happy, blissed-out mood.

Amylou McBride is a lifestyle and wellness blogger for her blog, The No Grainer, sharing tips and information on how to create the ultimate healthy lifestyle, one positive, mindful change at a time. When she isn’t blogging, Amylou is either practicing yoga, researching the science behind health, traveling the world or taking a break from it all to just be.

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Jessica Baumgardner