SERIES: How I got the first signs of my period after a year of it going to la-la land #2

Here’s the second part of my series of posts about how I got my period back.

This is the long list of things that I did to help get my period back.

  • ate more good fat like avocado, coconut products, organic animal fat, olive oil, nuts and seeds to help my cells get more fat on them. This doesn’t actually make you fat, it just makes your cells fatter to help with the production of hormones and increase my body fat percentage
  • increased my body weight through more strength exercise and increased food
  • ate more root veggies at dinner as they have more carbs which is very helpful for women and fertility.
  • ate more sweet potato, pumpkin and carrots
  • less chilli and more ginger (decreasing my ‘yang’ and increasing my ‘yin’)
  • decreased my exercise to destress my nervous system and help my body fat to increase
  • increase my feminine practices like yoga, dancing, body scrubs, doing my hair
  • had more ‘rest time’ during the day to reduce my stress levels and just stop and ‘be’
  • saw a naturopath. I highly recommend doing this if you want your period to return naturally. I got a stool sample and blood test done to determine what my gut is doing, and what my hormone levels are at. My gut tests showed that my phase 2 of liver detoxification wasn’t working and therefore my liver was under a lot of stress. It also showed my hormone levels and how LOW they were! By doing these tests, I started taking herbs to help stimulate the production of these hormones and detox my liver
  • got acupuncture with a fertility specialist
  • removed caffeine from my diet as this can act as a stressor to the body deeming the world as ‘unsafe’ to have a baby
  • ate more organic produce
  • removed EVERY toxic beauty product. I always used natural, non-toxic makeup and ‘natural’ facewash/shampoo etc but now all my stuff is so clean, I can understand every ingredient.
  • sitting in the moonlight on a full moon

So this is my LONG list of everything I did to help me. There is no ‘one thing’ that I did that changed everything, but it was rather a combination of things (i believe) that helped to heal my hormonal imbalance.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt…there is no ‘quick fix’ to this. Also, try and learn to love being a woman more – it was only once I started understanding how fricken amazing the women body is that I felt like my period was coming back!

SERIES: How I got the first signs of my period after a year of it going to la-la land #1

Infertility is not a foreign concept these days. The statistics show that infertility and menstrual cycle ‘disorders’ are on the rise and I have one bloody good reason for it – FOOD. You know I would say that, didn’t you….

Well, the thing is while food is a major contributing factor, there are two main others: environmental factors and ….. the pill. (I will do a separate post later on how certain foods can disrupt your fertility) 

I was on the pill for about 2 1/2 years and in just that short amount of time, it seemed to wreak havoc on my body. The last couple of months when I was on the pill, my periods were erratic and sometimes I wouldn’t even get them for months. Since going off the pill at the end of June 2016, I haven’t had a proper period since (but I got my first bit of blood the other day!)  and so have been trying to support my hormones in any way, shape or form to try and get my body back into it’s natural rhythm.

 

Now before I dive into this series of blog posts (which will come out weekly), I feel that it is my duty to share the information that has helped me come to terms with 1) actually needing my period for good health 2) understanding why women carrying more fat than men and 3) loving some fat on my ass

 

So no women thinks she wants blood coming out of her vagina. I mean before I dived into this area I thought it was fucking disgusting. It smells, it stains your cute lacy undies and it can totally disrupt your sex life. However, here are the facts that have made me go ‘wow women are fricken amazing!!!!! I want blood coming out of MA VAGINA!!!”

  • YOU NEED FAT: A scientist by the name of Frisch determined that there was a minimum requirement of 17% body fat in order for menstruation to begin at puberty but a 22% body fat was needed to continue regular menstruation as girls approached the age of 16. Without this amount of fat, girls cannot reproduce. The body is put into a state of stress with low body fat and thus your energy is directed to the important places like your legs and arms and away from your reproductive and digestive system so that you have the energy to keep running from that tiger like you would in the cave man days. The ‘body fat connection’ makes sense as a newborn depends on its birth weight, which is correlated with its mother’s weight BEFORE pregnancy. Fat is a signal to the body that there is enough nourishment available for a baby to grow and survive.
  • On all continents of the world, women store more fat than man. Food intake alone doesn’t account for the difference in fat retention. Both genders will consume roughly the same percentage of fat in their diet, and men actually consume 51% more calories overall than women, but men and women process food differently because of genetics, hormones and the biochemical pathways that cause food to be converted into fat (or not). At the age of 10-17, girls subcutaneous fat increases anywhere from 44 to 93 percent more than a boy. When girls go through puberty, they gain fat and it all goes to their feminine areas (hips, thighs and butt). Additionally the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows that women of all descriptions store fat more effectively than men. 
  • Fat tells our body that all is okay in the world and that there is enough food available for us to start puberty and bear children. Having your period and pregnancy will not even occur if we dont have enough body fat
  • Men can actually eat more than a women pound for pound and still not gain weight
  • Another reason women store more fat than men is ‘nutrient partitioning’ by which the body stores some of the calories you eat as fat and uses the rest for other purposes. Depending on your body you may set aside more or less of your food intake for fat storage.
  • Nature also designed us to eat more than men after a work-out. Women on average are better than men at compensating for physical activity by eating more food. Women will eat more than men because of a fundamental built-in response that we need to carry a baby.
    • A study showed that men’s ghrelin levels (hunger hormone) did not change much after exercise but in women, levels jumped by a third and when researchers added more food into the women’s diet, hunger levels still remained 25% higher than when they started. So, women compensate when calories are expended.
  • A normal-weight woman on average has about 30% body fat whereas a man of the exact same height, weight and age will have about 15% body fat.
  • Men actually burn more calories just doing nothing. 
  • Women are subject to a greater appetite stimulation and more efficient fat storage. Women have more body fat and we actually use it very effectively in exercising but once our exercise is finished, we revert very quickly back into storing fat. So basically, women will tend to eat more after a work out and then the food will turn to fat more quickly. Just because of BIOLOGY!!

Although this talk on fat is a scary thought, it kinda gives me piece of mind knowing that no matter how hard I try, I just won’t be able to have less body fat (or the same amount) as a man. End of story. So to all the fricken amazing women reading this, if you’re on a diet you are serving a lost cause. Just stop now and eat real food cause you ain’t going to lose all your fat – and if you do, you’ve done it in an extremely unhealthy way and that will NOT last forever!!

Okay so now that we’ve covered the base of understanding how women are just SO different to men, I’ll dive into some of the things that I started doing to help my hormones.

EAT FAT: One recent study found that women store omega 3 fatty acids in the fat tissue of our hips and thighs so that a fetus can depend on us while developing in utero. Since you can’t manufacture omega 3 fatty acids on your own, you must include them in your diet. e.g. avocados, chia seeds, almonds, wild caught salmon, grass fed and finished beef and eggs. Remember ladies that FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT! However small amount of estrogen is made from fat, and the rest of the estrogen is made from ovulating ovaries – so if you aren’t ovulating then EAT DA FAT

 

REDUCE INFLAMMATION:  Inflammation in the body can compromise the genetic materials of your eggs so consuming turmeric and ginger in your diet along with other anti-inflammatory foods (avocado, eggs, nuts and seeds) can protect your eggs, increase blood flow to the ovaries, thus keeping them happier and healthier and improving the chances of fertility and a regular cycle.

 

REDUCE EXERCISE AND STRESS: High levels of exercise may be stressing your body out. Our body sees running or lots of exercise as though we are attempting to escape from danger and as a result, the body expels its energy to your arms and legs and away from your digestive system and reproductive system. Try slowing down your exercise regime and include powerwalking, yoga and pilates instead for a couple of months. Many of the HIIT classes, although affective, may be creating inflammation in your body and preventing you from even losing weight because of the stress involved! Those types of activities are great for men, but not so great for women because of our biology. Additionally, reducing your stress and creating more ‘space’ in your life is vital for your hormones and cycle.

 

Cortisol (our stress hormone) tells every cell in the body that food is scarce and slows your metabolic rate. When your body perceives that there is a famine, it will shut down your reproductive system because it doesn’t deem your environment to be safe enough for a baby – pretty incredible right?! When chronic stressors (like your boss, traffic, family issues … the list goes on), your HPA axis is permanently on alert and that perpetual state of always being ‘ready’ can wreak havoc on your entire endocrine system and put you at risk of potentially deadly conditions like heart disease, and stoke and even causes insomnia, weight gain, fatigue and challenges your fertility and sex drive.

 

RIGHT!! I feel like that’s probably enough for one blog post on this, but next week I’ll be sharing the top foods for fertility, other lifestyle changes I made to support my fertility, the supplements I started taking and anything else I can think of that works with that theme!

The week after I’ll be focusing on the foods and environmental impacts that can disrupt your cycle and how to avoid them.

Who knows, maybe I’ll continue and keep going on with this theme and start diving into the different hormones and all the juicy stuff so that you guys can mesh it into your lives to create the healthiest babies EVER!

 

Resources:

Want more? Check out Elizabeth DiAlto’s podcast here for TONNES of juicy talks on being a woman. Also, check out Womancode and The Secret Life of Fat if you want to read more on this topic.

How To Overcome Your Pig Outs

I have recently been studying the art of mindful eating and have healed any past ‘bingy’ habits I may have had. I used to be a binge eater back in year 12 when I would restrict myself like crazy and then come home and eat a whole tub of hummus and carrots (with canola oil (cringe)), but I don’t ever have a ‘pig out’ that much … besides maybe Christmas hehe .

Anyway, it doesn’t mean I have healed past hurdles with my relationship with food and I want to provide you with tips and tricks so that you can too. But don’t think that this is an overnight cure – it takes work but I know you can do it!! Now, this is a bit of a long post, but I want to get into things so that you can learn and take stuff away from it – and be sure to let me know if this has helped!

  1. When you set yourself up with black and white rules and abstain from certain foods your inner critic will abuse you as soon as you have the cookie to the point where you just give up eating healthy and turn back to the cookies – it’s a vicious circle. The vilification that your inner mean girl dishes out on you, leads you to feeling worse and you have less energy to change.

    Try this exercise: One of the best lessons I’ve learned from mindfulness is noticing. Just notice the traps and the tricks of a diet mentality on your brain and how not allowing yourself something will have the opposite effect and likely result in you binge eating the exact thing you weren’t allowing yourself. Keep in mind the dance between deprivation and obsession.

    Forbidding yourself from certain foods will only make you want them more, and thus a binge will occur. Instead, schedule time in your week to actually enjoy these foods in moderate amounts. (p.s. they won’t kill you)

  2. When something happens (usually bad) and you feel the need to binge, instead take 20 breathsOnce you are settled into your breath, use the words ‘breathing in one’ then ‘breathing out one’ then ‘breathing in two…” etc. Go up to 10 and then backwards, nine through to zero.This grounds you and helps you to tune into your body and your true desires. Are you actually hungry? Are you angry? Did someone annoy you? Are you stressed?
  3. The positive memories that you have associated food and comfort with have been stored in your brain in an area called the mammillary body within your hypothalamus. Research shows that childhood eating behaviour is a powerful

    factor in adult eating behaviour. One of the factors that influence our mood is serotonin which has a direct link with appetite and food. When our brains are not using serotonin well, we feel sad, depressed and irritable. Guess what nutrient can flip the serotonin switch to increase its availability? Carbs – the primary part of most comfort foods. Dietary fat, another common component, triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates our capacity to experience pleasure. So, when we are depressed – we want food.Stress stimulates our appetite and makes us likely to choose foods that are high in sugar and or fat. So once again, when you are stressed you are likely to binge. A study actually showed that women who have high-stress levels actually engage in comforting eating more than regular women and have higher levels of abdominal fat.

    The takeaway message is that in order to combat binging, you need to identify the TRIGGER. For many, the trigger can actually be a fear of there not being enough food so they binge on what is available before it runs out. This can come from a childhood experience where maybe there wasn’t much food and you always had to fight over it with your brother and sister. This manifests to later in life binging on the foods that taste good (even healthy food!!). A helpful way to respond to this is to constantly tell yourself ‘I can save some for tomorrow’.

    Many people that deprive themselves of foods might also binge on certain foods once they FINALLY get their hands on it and they go for the ‘all or nothing’ approach. They think ‘well fuck I’ve fallen off the waggon so I might as well keep eating and then jump back on the waggon tomorrow’. That won’t help. You will just feel guilty tomorrow and guess what – I can almost guarantee that you will eat less the next day and starve as a way of trying to balance out last night’s binge. Not going to work ’cause you’ll binge eat again cause you’re so hungry!!!

    Instead, have some of your tasty food tonight, and then save some for tomorrow! I guarantee it’s better for your body. You cannot digest a pile of food in one go. Especially if you’re body isn’t used to that food.

Knowing the link between mood and food can help you to loosen the grip of judgement and shame that will often accompany overeating and this will help you to understand why willpower isn’t enough! Learning the links between mood and food actually enabled me to recognise my triggers. When I would feel like I just wanted to grab a bag of coconut chips and hop on the sofa, the trigger that made me want this was maybe a bad day at uni or work, a fight with a loved one, or serious stress/being tired. THIS was my coping tool and since recognising my triggers I have been able to say to myself ‘I only want that food because I just had a fight with xyz…instead I am going to NOT have the food because I’m not actually hungry and don’t want to feel guilty tomorrow.’

Now when I want to treat myself I actually sit down with my treat and enjoy it mindfully. I’m NOT in a bad mood, tired, cranky etc and I am simply indulging! (You can read about why I indulge mindfully here)

Here is a list of triggers, see which of them you identify with:

  • advertisements of food
  • baked goods, candy and snacks in the workplace
  • working lunches or dinners
  • problem foods – e.g. chips or chocolate that are readily available
  • certain times of day
  • friends or family eating
  • certain activities that have been paired with eating like watching TV
  • certain people
  • family gatherings
  • childhood associations
  • chronic stress
  • anxiety
  • hunger (esp when strong)- people that ‘forget’ to eat breakfast typically with binge later in the evening
  • loneliness
  • negative feelings and thoughts about your body
  • harsh, self-critical thoughts
  • all-or-nothing thinking
  • catastrophic beliefs
  • fatigue
  • boredom
  • pain

Now that you have identified your triggers, it can help you to look back and search for patterns. When you last had a binge, was it after something happened? If so what? And how can you reduce this from happening again?

Having a grasp of your triggers will help you to delve more deeply and see how your triggers interact with your binge. Work backwards from the time that your binge happened through the events that led up to the incident. Start with the overheating incident itself, then explore what happened right before that, and right before that, and before that ….and so on. Look at the tiny events as well as the binge events until you get to the trigger. Write these events down on a piece of paper until you track the initial trigger.

 

I also do not recommend removing your ‘problem foods’ out of your house. Doing this will mean that you 1) want the food more and 2) will pig out on it when you get your hands on it. You need to learn to start to trust yourself to have those foods around. So let’s say that Oreos are your ‘problem food’ and all you want to do is come home and eat them each day. Do this exercise:

  1. Keep them in your cupboard
  2. Every day after work, allow yourself to come home and have ONE Oreo sitting down eating it. DO NOT DO ANYTHING ELSE. Just sit and eat it.
  3. Do this every afternoon/night when you get home at a designated time until you no longer want to binge eat the Oreo.

The idea behind this is that you begin to trust yourself that you can eat ONE Oreo, not one packet. Soon, you won’t actually want the Oreo and they will sit in your cupboard and you won’t want them at all. You will also realise that when you come home from work, it isn’t the Oreo that will fix the problem, it’s more likely a hug from your partner, a warm bath or a meditation. Plus, you are less likely to feel crap after eating one Oreo compared to eating one packet!

Reconstructing your events back and back and BACK until you figure out your trigger will help you to identify what you really need. That chocolate bar, a packet of chips or ice cream – whilst those may seem comforting at the time, they are not what you really need. For example, sitting down with a block of chocolate at night instead of a cup of herbal tea might respond to your short term need for comfort because you are stressed, but your true long standing need is stress relief – having a bath or meditation might help to cure this. Perhaps going to bed earlier or meeting with some friends might also help. Thinking in the LONG TERM is challenging yet essential in this fast paced environment we live in.

Next time, ask yourself – is what I’m doing addressing an immediate wish or need but undermining a bigger, longer-term need? For example, you are tired and stressed so you sit on the sofa with some of your favourite food to ‘relax’ but are you responding to your immediate need or long term need? Do you actually need more sleep? Maybe going to bed early is a better option than watching TV…..??

Remember that our mind is in constant chatter. Much of what it says in not the truth and we just need to learn to observe the truth and recognise a specific thought or judgement as ‘only a thought’. You can question your thoughts (“is this true?”) or just choose to let it pass without giving it much attention at all. Try to be present, scan your body for what you truly want. Sometimes you do just want a bag of chips, but MOST of the time, you need a hug, a bath or a better night sleep.