Hormone Health Educator Candace Burch hosted an informational webinar explaining how hormones affect our weight - specifically, how they inhibit our ability to lose weight and keep the pounds off. During the webinar, we received many great questions from the audience and Candace has answered them below.
I've reduced my stress and eat well, but still have high cortisol levels. What else can I do?
It sounds like you are making progress in reducing your stress and eating well, but as someone once said - "it's not always what you're eating, but what's eating you that is the real problem." You may need to dig a little deeper to tackle some of the thornier issues that may still remain unresolved in your life - particularly unresolved anger or frustration. Nothing keeps those cortisol fires burning better than a sense of feeling overwhelmed by life - that your stress is controlling you - rather than you controlling your stress.
Keep in mind there is good stress (weddings, Christmas, newborns) and bad stress (injury, accident, riots in the streets). Stress comes in many forms: the physical stress of an injury or chronic pain; the mental stress of job strain or performance anxiety; or the emotional stress of an abusive relationship or unmet personal needs. Extremes of anything - relentless bodybuilding, junk food diets, or an overbooked lifestyle wreak havoc on cortisol levels. Eventually, the adrenal glands become fatigued and fail to keep pace with demand. The bottom line: whether we're talking about a divorce or doughnuts, once you determine where the constant demand for stress hormones is coming from, you can develop strategies to cut it off at the source.
I'm on BHRT (bioidentical hormone therapy) but am still gaining weight. What more can I do?
Bioidentical hormones are an excellent way to get healthy again, due to their capacity to duplicate the body's natural physiology with few side effects if used appropriately. However, hormones are potent substances. Even very small amounts can be very powerful. Too much of a good thing, even a hormone derived from plants and made to mimic Mother Nature, can pose a problem. Anyone supplementing with hormones needs to periodically monitor their impact - just as those taking thyroid or insulin hormones routinely test their levels. With BHRT, or any type of hormone therapy, re-testing within three months of beginning a regimen is suggested to track progress and determine the need to make adjustments to the dose. You and your provider always want to make sure you are using hormones in the correct, so-called "Goldilocks" amounts - not too much, not too little, but just right!
How long will it be before I see results after I start hormone therapy?
The short answer is that it depends on how long you have been suffering from a hormone imbalance. Re-balancing is doable and life changing. But just as each of us are unique in hormone levels and body chemistry, our individual response to hormone therapy will differ. Some people feel better overnight or within days; for others it takes longer. The results depend on pursuing a lifestyle that supports your program therapy; reducing unnecessary stress, practicing optimal "hormone-free" nutrition, getting regular exercise and enough sleep, reducing toxic chemicals that disrupt hormone function (xenoestrogens) and cultivating a satisfactory work / life balance. If you have been burning the candle at both ends for a prolonged period of time, it may take a while for hormone therapy to kick in. But stay the course, be consistent, and allow treatment to take effect. Hormones are potent substances and when used in the proper amounts at the proper times, and monitored accordingly, they can be our greatest secret weapon against chronic symptoms, rapid aging, and disease.
Can you help me find a doctor to test my levels?
Your doctor can work with our doctors on staff to review and discuss test results and considerations for natural treatments. To find a provider in your area who is knowledgeable about hormone testing and natural hormone therapy, please click here.
By Candace Burch, ZRT Laboratory