If you are like many of my small group training clients and struggle to find the right way to lose weight because you were told you have a hormonal condition, this article is for you.
Having trained women of all ages throughout my career, I met a good few ladies who were desperate to get rid of their unwanted pounds, tried many diets and training methods to no avail and started wondering if they should accept that their body will never become lean and fit again.
There's good news and bad news if that's you. The bad news is that you may find the process harder and will need to have much more patience, resilience and commitment as well as willingness to learn a whole lot more about your own body, nutrition and how other lifestyle choices affect your hormones.
The good news is that it's possible. I have seen women excel once they found the best way their body liked to workout and what it preferred to use as fuel.
So, don't give up just yet and instead read this short guide to help you start your journey towards a fitter, leaner and stronger body, whatever your medical history.
Step 1. Get Yourself Diagnosed
The symptoms of many hormonal conditions are very similar, so if you suspect something is not right, don't stop talking to your GP until the appropriate tests are performed to reach a diagnosis. Sadly, thyroid conditions, PCOS, endometriosis and even Insulin Resistance can take a long time before they get diagnosed, and that's a problem. You can't expect to find the right solution without knowing what the problem is.
The sooner you know if there's an underlying problem, and what exactly it is, the sooner you can start working with the right medical, health care and fitness professionals to address it adequately.
Step 2. Sort Out Your Nutrition
Nutrition is essential for weight loss. There is no discussion about that. If your hormones are not playing nice, it will become vital. Otherwise healthy people can achieve fat loss results by just increasing their activity levels to burn more calories.
Women who suffer from hormone imbalance or are going through peri-menopause or menopause will less likely to see any change unless they re-shape their diet.
What changes you need to make will depend on your current eating habits and the condition you have. I highly recommend seeking expert nutritionist or dietitian help to determine the foods to avoid and include, your portion sizes and timings of your meals.
In general, working towards a balanced diet low in processed foods, higher in protein and whole grains and increasing your veg and fruit intake can make a difference. A professional can help you nail the details of the changes to make though.
Step 3. Focus on Stress Management
I bet you heard a million times that you should relax more, shouldn't stress about things as much and should sleep more. I understand how much of a challenge that is when you have a demanding job, you need to meet your family's demand for attention, and you need to deal with everyday stress wherever you go.
However, unfortunately, stress increases your cortisol levels, which why it is also called the stress hormone. When you are high on cortisol, you may experience cravings more intensely, and more often, it can distract your sleep pattern which in exchange will put even more stress on your body, and you may start to feel like you are in a Catch 22.
The best way to break the cycle is to schedule an activity ASAP that will take your mind off of everything else and let you enjoy the moment. Whether that's a live music gig, yoga or a dance session, go for it. The sooner, the better. Once you feel a little more relaxed, you'll be able to make better decisions and create a plan to manage your stress levels better.
Step 4. Make Your #2 a Daily Priority
So, this is a topic nobody likes to talk about, even though your bathroom schedule is one of the best indications of how your metabolism is working. Constipation is your enemy for a myriad of reasons: it can mess with your hormones, inhibit a healthy gut environment, increase your stress levels and even show a number on the scale that is frustrating and not even true.
There are many reasons you may not be able to go every day: dehydration, low fibre content in your diet, vitamin or nutrient deficiency, a side-effect of medications or even stress around the process. Let me be clear. If your body doesn't eliminate daily, something doesn't work the way it should, and that should alarm you to make changes to your lifestyle instantly. If increasing your water and fibre intake doesn't help within a few days, seek medical help.
Step 5. Exercise
I bet you knew this point was going to come into play at some point. It's dead simple. Training will make you feel better because you will feel accomplished, it will increase your "feel good" hormone levels and of course burn extra calories.
The type of exercise however is crucial. Many women who have hormonal problems will have some level of chronic inflammation present in their body. That in itself puts stress on your body, so you want to make sure you don't do too much, but you do enough and the right kind of exercise to aid your weight loss goals.
A balanced combination of strength training, aerobic and anaerobic cardio and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is an excellent recipe for fat loss success. At the same time, such routine will keep your stress hormone under control, especially if you include regular stress management methods into your routine: stretching, Pilates or yoga practice can all do the job for peace of mind.
If you are curious about how to find the right balance or need help figuring out what to do for your exercise routines, feel free to get in touch.
My name is Calumn Duthie, founder of CD Fitness Coaching. You’ll find me in and around the gym and helping like minded people just like you get the results they deserve. I enjoy everything from keeping fit, yoga, snowboarding, coffee and making people happy. If you would like to improve your nutrition, training and mindset then you definitely want to be part of my bigger community. Join my Facebook group,Healthy Living With CD Fitness Coaching is a must.