I started an mini email course on healing hormones – if you missed it you can sign up here. Hormones are a trendy word in the health world. Especially “hormonal balance” – it’s catchy and everyone is talking about hormones. Including me. I’ve spent a long time thinking about that word and how to phrase it in a way that doesn’t feel trendy…kind of like the world holistic. While I fully believe in the therapeutic effect of food, I just think it’s really easy to get caught up in the hype of a promising superfood, protocol, or program. It sounds soooo good. Take these steps or eat these particular foods and you’re problems will be solved. Throughout my first 1 year as an RD, I thought plant based diets where the cure to almost anything. Sure, there are many health benefits of eating plant based foods, but I overemphasized the power of food alone and failed to look outside the box at the many other parameters of health. I was 23 and had a lot to learn.
What I do know is that truly learning to care for yourself and your health isn’t a protocol or program…rather it’s a dynamic process that is anything but linear. Because there’s this thing called LIFE. I think it would be really easy to have harmonious, happy, hormones if we lived in a stress free world that was predictable and we could all eat organic, home cooked meals using vegetables from our own garden and go to yoga at a studio everyday that includes warm lavender towels on your forehead at the end and then we nestled into bed by 10pm for a restful 8 hours of sleep and woke up by the sounds of birds chirping and then headed to the kitchen to brew a cup of lemon ginger tea and blend up a green smoothie to get our day started. We’d put non toxic makeup on our skin, grab a homemade granola bar made with chia seeds and goji berries and peacefully walk to work.
That thing called life. It gets in the way. And all of us are busy and juggling a lot of things on our plate. Maybe some with disagree and that’s okay, but often I think we complicate hormonal health. We get nutrition and health information thrown at us ALL DAY LONG. It’s completely overwhelming. I can remember multiple times being almost paralyzed by all the information I would read on how to get my thyroid hormone levels normalized and “balance my female hormones.” Looking back I now realize how stressful implementing any of those changes felt. I didn’t need more stress I needed less! Stress was the reason my thyroid was under functioning and I hadn’t been getting a normal period for 10 years.
I also don’t think the answer is oversimplifying and fixing hormonal imbalances with more hormones, either synthetic or bioidentical or natural, but I do think healing hormonal problems can be overcomplicated. There can be a lot of dietary rules to follow and supplements to take. And even more so, what I experienced when I initially set out to find some answers 6 years ago and still today is a lot of extremes. At least for me it felt like “omg my gut is crap and anything outside of these foods is going to cause more damage and if I don’t get perfect sleep all the time and take all these supplements perfectly my hormones are screwed forever.”
I think there are definitely extreme conditions that call for extreme healing therapies – whether that’s medication or dietary changes or alternative therapies – but for most of us, a gentler, less extreme approach usually works. And this approach can happen through small changes that add up over a long period of time. Because any change in life – whether positive or negative – is stressful.
In my own journey with figuring out how to best nourish myself – physically, but also in a way that was good for my mental/emotional health – move my body in a way that was healthy for me and actually learn some ways to counter balance stress with rest and DO THOSE THINGS (actually doing it is the hardest part right?) ….I learned that this process takes a while. Months. And that bleeds into years because life is always changing and we are always learning about ourselves and adjusting how we care for ourselves based on our lives in that season.
I also learned that I didn’t need a slew of expensive supplements. I needed a good multivitamin, less thoughts and planning around what foods to eat that would help my hormones and instead more ways to calm my ever thinking mind.
I learned that my gut health didn’t depend on nutritional minutiae, rather the big picture. Normalizing my eating, decreasing stress around eating and my life. Eating foods that made me feel physically well and were also satisfying. Eating enough. Those things actually helped me poop normally and allowed my body to digest everything without problems. The gut-brain connection is so real.
I learned that it wasn’t about making my life stress free. That was impossible. Instead it was learning how to counter stressful events and days with rest. Even if that was 30 seconds of deep breathing after a stressful commute to work, 5 minutes of stretching after a weighty phone call or coffee with a friend after a big exam. Not necessarily exercising, that in retrospect, was causing more stress on my body and numbing me out.
I learned that getting a normal period every month required me taking inventory on my life through different seasons, weeks and even on a day to day basis. If I got crappy sleep and my body was stressed from that that meant I didn’t go on a run that morning. If I had a lot of personal emotional stress, that meant I needed to get on my yoga mat more and say no to more things and so I could handle that stress. If life was more stable, then maybe I could train for that 1/2 marathon while being mindful I was eating enough (even if I wasn’t hungry because exercise can suppress appetite) and still get a healthy menstrual cycle. Other seasons in life when there was a lot of stress (like planning a wedding while studying for nursing boards and starting a new job) the last thing my body needed was intense exercise.
I learned that health takes on a lot of different forms given the circumstances of life. And I also learned that the body is really resilient and has a large capacity for healing. I hadn’t had a natural period in 10 years. And even in my teens, I wasn’t having regular periods. So really, I hadn’t gotten a regular, rhythmic period ever in my entire life. When given the necessary and uncomplicated tools, thankfully my reproductive system flipped back on rather quickly. But it took getting really honest with myself.
I write all that not to say all these other ways of going about health are wrong. And I certainly don’t know everything. But I think we sometimes complicate issues and also put too high expectations on ourselves to fix it and to fix it fast. I get it. I want to fix all my problems fast too. But wading through those hard, mucky waters is where we experience true, refining growth.
My own experience coupled with working with a lot of other women in similar shoes over the years compelled me to finally create an online course on healing your hormones. Course sounds like an intimidating word I think…because when I think of course I think of steps and assignments and expectations. But this is anything but that. Really, it’s about offering knowledge to women so they can understand their body in a non-intimidating, easy to understand way. And from there it’s about giving you the tools you need so you can make simple changes in a way that feels non-stressful and feasible for your life. You can make changes in any order, there are no rules and there is no protocol. I want this to relieve stress, not add to it. Because it’s as cliche as it sounds….small changes over time really do lead to lasting change.
Healing any hormonal issues (getting your period back, normalizing an irregular period, decreasing PMS, managing PCOS, caring for your thyroid health, etc etc) isn’t about small details, it’s about the big picture. Often it doesn’t matter what supplements we’re taking or how many green foods we’re eating if we can’t take care of our most basic needs…nourishing ourselves with enough energy, allowing our bodies relaxation and getting enough sleep.
And in all this, learning to extend compassion and kindness to ourselves. Way easier said than done. If any of that resonates with you, I hope you’ll either sign up for my free mini course where I walk you through some starting steps you can take today to better care for yourself.
Share your thoughts in the comments – I love hearing you guy’s experiences and thoughts!
emily vardy says
I always enjoy reading your posts, but lately they’ve been even more insightful! Love it.
So glad you are enjoying Emily!
Megan @ A Continual Feast says
This is amazing, and I think it is a message women are dying to hear. You’re so right that all day long we are bombarded with info telling us do this/don’t do that and it adds more stress! Always love your posts
So much info overload!
Thank you for this post! I love reading your post about hormonal health! Thankfully I do have a regular period but I do sometimes wonder if my hormones are out of whack… I’ve been under a lot of stress, and that is affecting me in so many ways. I signed up for the course! Can’t wait!
Hope you enjoy the course!!
I. Love. This. This is what everyone on earth needs to hear. Thank you Robyn!!!
It seems like everyone these days wants to make food the ANSWER. The cure for illness, the way to happiness, etc. I recently got my period back after 16 years and am dealing with some frustrating acne all around my mouth and chin. This is not a pimple or two, this is constantly red, bumpy, obvious acne. There have been many tears shed (I am 30, but feel like I have the acne of a teenager). Do you know how many people, strangers even, have said, “oh, you just need to figure out what foods are causing the acne and inflammation.” Or, “I went on a raw, vegan diet and my acne cleared right up!” Hearing these things are so frustrating and slightly triggering as someone who is still working on cultivating a healthy relationship with food after 16 years of weaving in and out of pretty severe anorexia. To a few of those people I’ve actually said, “Well, my husband and I are trying to get pregnant, so, nope, a restrictive diet isn’t going to fix this. Thanks, though” and walked away. From what I have read this is pretty typical of going off birth control and regaining a lost period after not producing hormones for so long. My hormones are going a little crazy and my body is trying to adjust. I am going to keep eating my frosted flakes and my roasted veggies. My focus right now needs to be on stress reduction. I have pretty severe anxiety as well and the acne has only made it worse. Surprise, surprise, I didn’t get my period this month after having the flu and freaking out about my face constantly. You can take your “Food Heals All!” suggestions, I’m going to go take some deep breaths. Thank you, Robyn, for creating this space for people to come and get a much-needed reality check.
Love your passion behind sharing this Hillary! It is pretty common as your body is trying to figure itself out. You’re doing just fine and caring for yourself. Deep breaths all the time 🙂 So glad you are enjoying the posts. Keep rocking on!
Thank you for that first quote about caring for yourself not being linear. I’m currently trying to lose weight after gaining about 20 pounds, and was feeling incredibly frustrated this morning about the whole situation. Needed that reminder that any health journey will have ebbs and flows.
Nicole @ Laughing My Abs Off says
I love this so much and agree with everything said. I also used to think that to be “healthy” I needed two protein powders, a greens powder, 5 superfoods, to work out in a specific manner 5-6 times a week, and eat the same amount every day. Thank goodness current Nicole is much the wiser. It’s amazing how when you really go back to the BASICS, sleep, adequate nutrition, feel-good movement, your body WANTS to feel better and it DOES. I think it’s that whole mentality of our bodies are “out to get us” so we need to “show them” with these rigorous routines, when in reality our bodies only want and know whats best for us if we only stopped to really listen. Thank you for this <3
are bodies are just waiting for us to work with them instead of against them <3
Maggie Niemiec says
I resonate with this so much. A plant-based diet simply isn’t the cure for everything. We forget how much stress (including over-exercise) and sleep play a role. Not to mention this little thing called genetics 🙂 Thank you for sharing, Robyn!
yes Maggie! and genetics – something we have NO control over. 🙂
Emily Swanson says
I so appreciated that you said we have to take inventory on different seasons of our life and be ok with the UPS and downs. I really appreciate the sweet gracious God given wisdom that you share on these issues Robyn; you have such balance and finesse in sharing the fine balance between taking care of your health but not being anxious about it. I’m too guilty lately of being way over concerned about enough sleep or not getting enough good supplements.
It truly does change from season to season – I hope you find some freedom in that Emily <3
Dana Wansing says
I’ve been loving your posts lately, Robyn! Do you have a recommendation on a good multi-vitamin?
I just take any organic brand on sale at WF 🙂
This is amazing! Your words always resonate for me, and your posts in the last few years have helped me make such positive changes in my life. You rock!
I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed them Ashley! Love to you!
Thanks so much Robyn!
It is so important to listen to your body. Life is changing and that will happen whether we want it to or not! Thanks so much for your post. You have God-given talents!! Thanks for continuing to go against the norms of dieting and exercise.
Hi Robyn! I have loved reading your blog over 5 years (and ironically started reading it when I retired from my first career and moved to NYC to go to Columbia!). I’m so interested in all of your knowledge about healing hormones, and SO respect and admire the message you put forth.
This is kind of a shot in the dark, but I figured with you being an NP and RD I would love to ask…I am wondering if you have any insight on healing hormones postpartum. Because girl they are a mess LOL. I had my second baby four months ago, so I’m no stranger to postpartum hormonal swings, but I wanted to see if there was anything I could be doing to try to feel a little more in control and more like myself. I truly don’t feel like I am eating enough because of all that I’ve had to cut out for breastfeeding (can’t have dairy, eggs, soy, raw veggies) – not to mention not really having time to get food – so I feel like I’m pretty much just eating whole grains and fruit and peanut butter until dinner time every day, and don’t have enough nearly energy to sustain everything! I’m really struggling with this and don’t really know where or how to help myself, especially because I am so dedicated to breastfeeding my baby. Just a shot in the dark, but praying you might be able to share some insight. thank you in advance for your time and any help!
Robyn, you are my favorite blogger. You are so insightful and wise, warm and caring, honest and real. Thank God for the internet so that we can all get a piece of your important messages. Thanks for everything you write and share. I very seldom leave comments, but after reading your posts I always send you some gratitude and love. THANKS, you are awesome and your passion for your work is inspiring! Hug, Koala
Also, a question for you: Do you have any thoughts on Stevia when it comes to hormones/periods/fertility?
This post is one of my favorites- so.much.truth. Thank you!
I traded my obsessive thoughts about food/exercise for obsessing over my missing period and the “right” way to recover (which lead to so many more negative feelings). It wasn’t until I decided to just focus on how to live my every day life better/with intention that I could calm down about it and let my body have more time to heal itself (because it knows what it needs so much better than I think I do).
I was also just thinking while reading that I wish in addition to its traditional filters, Instagram (well, the entire internet really) had filters for the huge amounts of misinformation, health generalizations, harmful “help”, etc. that are constantly surrounding us- it’s a bit scary!
Thanks for this post! There’s so much information out there about how we MUST be eating clean, at all times, and cut out this or that, in order to heal our hormones. It’s exhausting.
This brings up a topic that I wonder if you have any thoughts on: menopause, and perimenopause. I’m in my mid-40s so I’m staring this down right now. Everything I read about how to lessen the symptoms and prevent rapid hormonal weight gain says – as I jokingly said to a friend, “stop eating everything you like, and get off your butt and exercise for hours every day, you lazy #$%&!” …. Except, I wasn’t kidding. Everything I read about lessening my perimenopause symptoms tells me what foods I should be restricting or eliminating, how my metabolism is now shot so I have to carefully count calories to avoid becoming obese, and how I should be exercising – one article said that menopausal women have to get an hour of cardio a DAY just to SLOW the weight gain, not even to maintain or to lose. Seriously?
At any rate, this has made the disordered-eating behaviors that I thought I kicked 20 years ago, come back with a vengeance. I keep reading about how after menopause all women will get a huge stomach and just pack on weight like there’s no tomorrow. This hasn’t happened to me yet, but my body is starting to feel out of my control since the perimenopause symptoms have started, and I’m scared. Any thoughts?
Meghan Dillon says
I really connected to this post – after feeling like crap on the IUD, I got my hormones tested and found out I had “estrogen dominance.” However, the supplements recommendations, ect. ect, to get back in balance were totally overwhelming, that I just keep thinking it has to be easier than this. Love your insight here – definitely looking to sign up for the mini course!
Abigail T says
I resonated so much with these sentences: “But I think we sometimes complicate issues and also put too high expectations on ourselves to fix it and to fix it fast. I get it. I want to fix all my problems fast too. But wading through those hard, mucky waters is where we experience true, refining growth.”
Everyday Science says
We present the 4 main happy hormones and neurotransmitters chemicals of happiness and the natural ways to stimulate them day by day.