If you’re a busy, active women looking for more all-day energy and focus, fewer cravings that outwit your will power every day, and a slimmer tummy…then I’ve got some news for you.
A lot of women struggle with these same problems – low energy, stubborn belly fat, cravings – and they all go about trying to fix them completely wrong. So, let’s take a look at common mistakes you could be making that are actually messing up your hormones and making it near impossible to reach your health goals.
Quick, what is the first thing you turn to when your jeans won’t do up anymore?
If you’re like most busy, active women, you probably answered “hit the gym hard!”. (Okay, it is possible you answered “eat less” but most workout warriors I know will always choose to work out more rather than give up food! But more on this in a bit.)
So, you’ve tried hitting the gym harder and longer, you’ve had weeks where you work out twice in a single day, and you’ve pushed yourself so hard that it feels like you’re gonna die afterwards.
Yet, doing all this extra exercise has gotten you nowhere…your jeans are still too tight, your cravings are out of control, and, what the heck, you actually feel MORE tired now?
The problem with exercising like a madwoman to regain control of your health is that you actually end up messing up your stress hormones.
Exercise naturally increases your cortisol production BUT when you exercise too much, too long or too hard, cortisol is kept high all day long.
This wreaks havoc on your blood sugar, spiking insulin. It also causes a dysregulation in your energy metabolism, and high levels of cortisol signal belly fat storage.
So, the more you exercise, the more belly fat you’re triggering, plus you’re making yourself more exhausted and prone to cravings.
Not good, right?
Within my 40 or Less Method, I teach my clients about “exercise cycling” where they start working out according to their energy levels.
This helps to keep cortisol levels balanced, allowing for it to recalibrate to normal levels. When cortisol is happy, your belly naturally slims down, your energy soars and you’re done with cravings.
Hormone mistake #2 is the other part of the traditional weight loss equation…eat less food. Coinciding with this mistake is eating too few carbs.
It should make sense…eat less food, take in fewer calories or carbs, and your body should shrink and your health should improve. Right?
But, over time, the opposite actually happens.
And it feels frustrating, confusing, annoying, aggravating, disheartening…the list goes on.
I mean, have you ever dropped your calories to less than 1000 per day and still gotten bigger?
Or, ditched all the carbs you could think of only to fight off insane cravings for the WORST carbs out there?
Or maybe you’re tried diet after diet because you can never keep the weight off long-term, believing there is something wrong with YOU?
Here’s the thing…low-calorie and low-carb diets are not set up for long-term sustainability or health.
When you eat low-cal or low-carb diets, especially when you repeatedly go on and off them (hands up if you’re guilty of the yo-yo dieting phenomenon!), you wreck your hormones, specifically stress and thyroid hormones.
These types of diets don’t give your body enough fuel or nutrients to be healthy. So, your stress response is triggered – that’s cortisol again – telling your body to retain all the fat (aka fuel) it can because it just doesn’t know when you’ll eat enough again.
Then, because cortisol is out of whack AND you aren’t getting enough nutrients, your metabolism slows way down, causing an imbalance in how your thyroid functions.
When I work with my clients who have yo-yo dieted for years, or who have been living off less than 1200 calories a month, the first thing I get them to do is to eat MORE food.
Yes, you heard that right.
You need to eat more food to regulate your hormones, renourish your body and kick start your metabolism again.
Too Much Inflammation
The third biggest mistake women make when it comes to trying to lose the belly and increase energy is to unknowingly increase their internal inflammation.
Chronic low-grade inflammation is one the most common causes of feeling and looking puffy and bloated. Or water retention, as it’s often called.
Inside my program, I have my clients reduce the most common food triggers for inflammation – dairy, grains and sugar. We also work on reducing or eliminating coffee and alcohol, along with other personal triggers.
Eating fewer pro-inflammatory foods helps them boost all-day energy, which is a great way to increase overall motivation to stick to their healthy fat loss plan.
It took me years to finally test this theory out…and I was so surprised by the results that it became a crucial component to my hormonal fat loss program.
Toxicity of the body happens from exposure to toxins in our environment, our food, our homes, our household and personal care products, and even negative thoughts.
When our bodies are overly toxic, excess hormones can’t be removed. Some toxins are endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with how your body’s natural hormones function.
Within my world, the easiest way to reduce toxicity is to reduce exposure to certain foods and products.
Processed, packaged, junk foods are out. Trans fats are banned. Where possible, organic, natural foods are the only option.
My clients work on replacing common household and personal care products with all natural ones.
Perfumes and plastics are some of the most common endocrine disruptors, so eliminate as many of these from your life as you can.
Pay Attention to Your Cycle
Each phase of your cycle requires specific nutrients to keep your hormone levels where they should be.
You need certain nutrients at certain times of the month to detoxify excess estrogen. This is one way to avoid a fat-storage health imbalance called estrogen dominance.
Likewise, to ensure enough progesterone is available at other times, specific hormone nutrients are needed.
Just like your hormones fluctuate throughout the month, it’s important to nourish your body in a cyclical pattern. Often, when you listen to your body, you’ll intuitively know exactly what your body needs to keep its hormones happy and healthy.
For busy, active women, it’s easy to overlook the importance of keeping our hormones healthy when it comes to more energy, fewer cravings and, of course, a slimmer tummy.
Eating less, exercising more, avoiding carbs…these are all superficial “fixes” to your health issues, and don’t get you anywhere long term.
Instead, focus on listening to your body to understand its energy levels and workout accordingly. This will rebalance stress hormones, which will directly lead to a slimmer waistline and more all-day energy.
Eat appropriate hormone nutrients at the right times of the month to fuel your body, keep it nourished and strong, and experience fewer hormonal imbalances.
Finally, reduce your exposure to toxins and inflammation triggers to ensure high energy, less belly fat, and lifelong health.