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7 Signs You Might Have A Hormonal Imbalance

7 Signs You Might Have A Hormonal Imbalance

Hormones are in the news a lot nowadays as people begin to realize just how important they are to the health and wellness of the body. As a matter of fact, hormones — chemicals which are released from glands all over our body — are responsible for everything from our sexual development to our metabolisms to the strength and health of our bones.

While the body has dozens of hormones, some of the most important include:

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  • Insulin: Produced by the pancreas, insulin helps to regulate how glucose (sugar) from the food we eat enters our cells, where it is used for energy.
  • Testosterone: Produced in the ovaries and testes, testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and is responsible for male sexual development; it also helps with energy levels and to build muscle mass.
  • Estrogen and progesterone: Also produced in the ovaries and testes, these are the primary female sex hormones which are responsible for the menstrual cycle, ovulation and the maintenance of a pregnancy after conception.
  • Cortisol. Produced by the adrenal glands, which lie atop the kidneys, this hormone is produced in response to stress and is part of the “fight or flight” response.

The problem is that, because the hormones are in such delicate balance, if you have too much or too little of a hormone, a whole variety of symptoms can result.  Below are some of the most common symptoms of a hormonal imbalance:

1. Fatigue

Feeling tired all the time, in spite of getting enough sleep, is one of the most common warning signs of a hormonal imbalance.  There are several culprits that could be responsible for this, but insulin is the most likely explanation, particularly when insulin levels remain high due to the development of insulin resistance. The good news is that making dietary changes (such as reducing the amount of simple carbohydrates like sugar and white flour in the diet), losing weight and exercising regularly can help lower insulin levels naturally and keep the blood sugar steady throughout the day.

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2. Trouble Sleeping

Along with fatigue, insomnia is also a common side effect of a hormonal imbalance.  In men, this can often be a sign that testosterone levels are low, while in women, low progesterone levels are the culprit.  Again, hormone replacement therapy is a possibility, but there are also other more natural options to choose from.  Low progesterone levels can be helped by herbs like chasteberry, while herbs are also available to help increase testosterone as well.

3. Decreased Sex Drive

A loss of interest in sex can be a sign of low estrogen in women and low testosterone in men.  Estrogen levels drop in women around the time they hit menopause.  What many men may not be aware of, however, is that their testosterone levels also drop off after 50, a phenomenon many doctors are now calling “male menopause“. The good news is, however, that testosterone and estrogen replacement therapies are available by prescription, and across the country, more clinics are offering bioidentical hormone therapy as a more natural alternative.

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4. Night Sweats and Hot Flashes

One of the earliest signs of menopause for many women is the phenomenon of night sweats and hot flashes which can make life pretty miserable when you’re trying to sleep and cause a lot of discomfort even during the day.  This is a sign that estrogen levels are beginning to drop as menopause approaches.  Fortunately, hormone replacement therapy can help correct this imbalance. Some women also choose to use herbal therapies such as black cohosh to help.

5. Poor Memory and Concentration

If you find yourself forgetting your purse or wallet on the regular basis or have problems concentrating or focusing at work, these lapses also might be a sign that your hormones — specifically cortisol — is out of balance. When you are stressed for a long period of time, your adrenal glands become fatigued and can no longer produce adequate amounts of cortisol.  And when your cortisol levels are low, this can affect your cognitive functions like memory and focus.

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 6. Emotional Issues

Anxiety, irritability, depression and mood swings are also common symptoms with  a hormonal imbalance, particularly with levels of progesterone and estrogen levels that are too low or too high.  Hormone replacement therapy can help to correct a deficiency, while weight loss can help correct estrogen levels that are too high. Again, many women will also use herbs like black cohosh to help correct this problem.

7. Weight Gain

Weight gain — especially weight gain in the abdominal area — is a common problem as well as a very frustrating one. While several hormones can play a role in weight problems, the most common culprits are insulin and cortisol.  When levels of these hormones are high, they signal to the body that it needs to take glucose and store it as fat — usually on the tummy. However, stress management (such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercises) can help to reduce cortisol levels while weight loss and dietary changes can reduce insulin levels and make it easier to lose weight.

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, be sure to report them to your doctor.  The good news is that hormone deficiencies are fairly easy to diagnose (it is possible to do this either through a saliva test or through bloodwork).

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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