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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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Brian Wu

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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