Blame it on the Hormones!
After having a baby, our bodies naturally change. But that’s not the only thing that changes – our hormones do too! If you’re a mother and you’ve started to get back to your regular workout routine, but it seems like you've hit a plateau then you might have to blame it on the hormones!
Without getting into the nitty gritty science behind how various hormones can impact our body and it’s ability to lose weight or build muscle, I can tell you that hormonal imbalances, especially postpartum, can simply get the best of us … and our waistlines! I will keep it light and touch on a few of the hormonal culprits to be weary of. I’ll also try and give you some tips to help you manage through this hormonal roller coaster and get you well on your way to achieving your postpartum fitness goals.
Say hello to the oh-so-famous stress hormone, cortisol! You’ve probably heard this a million times, but stress can impact your overall health AND your body composition. It’s true – there are so many studies that continue to prove that stress is linked to abdominal fat.
What to do: first take a deep breath and then take a chill pill. Sleep is also one thing that can reduce your cortisol levels, so be sure to hit the sack early mamas!
Your pancreas produces insulin and when your cells are responding accordingly to the insulin in your body, then the pancreas releases even more. And guess what high insulin levels can cause? The storage of glucose as fat! What’s more, elevated insulin can block the use of stored fat as an energy source. This hormone likely takes the cake for being the one to have the most influence on stagnant weight loss.
What to do: get moving and you’ll start to see an improvement in your insulin sensitivity. Equally as important, start to clean up your diet by adding more protein to your meals. Supplements? Vitamin D and zinc have also been shown to help in the insulin department!
Did you know that researchers have found that estrogen receptors in the brains of animals are responsible for controlling food intake, energy expenditure, and body fat distribution? Having too much or too little can really mess with your fitness goals. Too high? It has been suggested that this supports weight gain by interfering with how your boy using fat for energy. Too low? Evidence suggests low levels can lower your body's metabolic rate, which can make it easier to gain weight and harder to lose!
What to do: Simple things like adding turmeric, flax and chia seeds to your diet can help with estrogen levels. Increase your fiber intake (fiber helps to remove excess estrogen) and avoid foods that increase estrogen levels, like soy products, farm-raised fish or non-organic meats.
When it comes to your midsection, low testosterone might be the culprit. The reality is that testosterone decreases as we get older, so until we find that fountain of youth, keep doing what you can to keep your testosterone levels high.
What to do: Don’t be scared to lift! Strength training, as well as increasing your protein intake, can support a healthy testosterone level. Supplements? Zinc!
Most importantly, my advice is to speak to your health-care provider or naturopath to learn more about your personal hormonal imbalances and what you can do. I’ve only named a few of the common hormones in this post that could be holding you back from conquering your postnatal fitness goals. So before you think you’re not doing enough fitness-wise, be sure to check in with an expert. He/she can help to devise a customized plan to reset or balance your hormones. Once you harness your hormones, you can get back to focusing on your achieving your strong and beautiful mom bod!