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Environment and your Hormones

What does our Environment have to do with hormones? The answer is — Everything! For this article, the term “environment” means anything that impacts you in your life, for instance:

House and Home: Do you feel comfortable and peaceful at home? Happy even? Do you like your surroundings and feel safe in your neighbourhood?

Our Work: Whether inside the home or outside the home, do you feel fulfilled? If you don’t feel fulfilled and your work is simply a means to an end — you have to support your family — is this okay with you? There has been a major thrust in past years telling us all “let what you love be what you do”. We “should” be in a job or profession that is our passion.   This is, perhaps, something to strive for, but I feel it is a cruel expectation in some ways. Sometimes we are simply in a job that we must do and it’s okay to be okay with that! I know a lady from my hometown who loved scrapbooking. She loved it so much that she opened a scrapbook studio in town as her business. I ran into her a year after she opened, and asked her how it was going. The business was doing well, she told me, but the unfortunate thing was that now she hated scrapbooking. Her hobby had become her work, and having to work at it had ruined the pleasure for her.

Social Life: Do you have friends who add to your experience in life, or do you have friends who bring you down? It’s an easy distinction to make — after being with a particular friend, how do you feel about yourself?

Diet: A diet which doesn’t nourish our bodies properly causes a great deal of stress to the system and can lead to hormone upset. Does your diet include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables; lean proteins, and whole grains, while avoiding over-refined and processed foods?

Water: Do you have access to purified drinking water? There is more and more press about the chemicals and pharmaceuticals which are present in our water — even our processed city water. Many of these chemicals are disrupting to our hormones. We need water for our health and having the best quality water you can is a gift to your hormone health.

Time: Do you have enough “down time”? Do you have time to rest…just rest? When we try to recover from a hormone upset, or we try to keep our balanced hormones balanced, rest is not just important — it’s critical. If you find you are craving some time alone with small fantasies of what you would do, this is something to heed. One of my girlfriends with small children had a small fantasy of having a cup of tea and reading a magazine cover to cover. Once she examined this in her life, she realized the only thing that was keeping her from doing it was guilt. She felt guilty taking some time to herself during the day, even though her job as “mom” went from early morning to late at night. She put her guilt away, and decided that she was worth the effort, and a better-rested and re-charged mom would be a better mom.

The above list is meant as food for thought. Any of the above aspects of life, if unbalanced and in control of us instead of us being in control, will create some kind of stress response in us and our hormones. If something stood out to you as your read this list, maybe this is something to examine in your life. If you feel afraid to make a change for yourself ask a simple question: “what’s the down side of me doing this?” I find when I ask myself this question, it suddenly clarifies for me what I need to do.

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Vega Testing Testimonial

My Experience With Vega Testing

When I visit my Naturopathic Doctor (ND), I am regularly tested for yeast, hormone balance (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone), thyroid, stress, B vitamins and organ function (kidney and liver). It has been my experience that these tests have often accurately indicated the beginning of a problem, sometimes before my family doctor found a problem.  On the flip side, I have had my family doctor make a diagnosis on some aspect of my health and the Vega test has confirmed the findings.

During one testing session, the Vega indicated an imbalance in my thyroid.  I have been on thyroid medication for twenty years, and in the last 10 years, my dosage has never had to change one little bit.  This imbalance in my thyroid, according to the Vega, coincided with symptoms of thyroid upset which I had been experiencing gradually over the past six months.  This cued to me to bring it up with my family doctor who ordered a blood test.   The blood test showed no change in my thyroid.  I tried doing some support for my thyroid through dietary measures, but I was still having no change in my symptoms.  I returned to my doctor six months later for another blood test.  This second blood test showed that my thyroid level, which had remained unchanged for the past 10 years had nearly ceased to function.  I concluded that the Vega has detected a change in my body’s chemistry which had not as yet translated into a change in blood level of thyroid hormone.

On another occasion, several years ago, a Vega test indicated a viral attack on my entire body.  From this test, my ND advised me that the virus may reveal itself through an erupting rash on my skin, which had not yet appeared.  A few days later the rash appeared and a blood test with my family doctor also revealed a strange viral infection.  As I have taken more and more responsibility for my health over the years, I have found the Vega test extremely useful as a tool to confirm a diagnosis.

Is Vega testing for you?  Because it is a completely painless and non-invasive test, what is the downside of trying it?  It may prove to be that extra piece of information that assists your ND in a more accurate diagnosis.  If you already see a Naturopathic Doctor, ask her if she uses Vega testing.  If you are just in the process of finding a Naturopathic Doctor in your area, this is the perfect time to ask the office uses this type of testing.

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Exercise is Essential

Exercise is is not just a suggestion or recommendation when attempting to balance your body’s hormone function. Exercise is a necessity!

Don’t we all just want a quick fix for our health?  If there were a magic pill out there, we would all give our kingdoms for that pill!  When it comes to diets, and diet pills and exercise programs, I always think that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  We may try fad items, but I think we all know in our hearts that the only solution to maintaining or regaining our health is old-fashioned exercise and watching our diet.

Our bodies are made to move and many of our internal systems are designed to run with exercise.  Balanced health is only accomplished by having activity as part of your life.  This doesn’t mean you have to join a gym, but if you can that’s great!  Take your kids to the park or walk around the block after supper.  Our bodies are so amazing that even a small amount of exercise is going to improve your health and your outlook!

There is no “secret” to exercise.  The infomercials show a myriad of different exercise equipment and programs to follow.  The great news is there is no right or wrong plan.  You are not going to miss the “magic solution” if you don’t think a particular method appeals to you.  Choose something that works for you.  I always say it’s so great that there are so many forms of exercise, because there are so many people with different tastes and budgets.  Everyone has a chance to do something that appeals to them.  I have a girlfriend who loves to go for a run — on the pavement out in the city.  She loves it.  This would be my own personal torture.  I can hear my ankle tendons snap just thinking about it!  My favourite activity is a 30 minute brisk walk on the treadmill and some yoga stretches.  Another friend of mine loves golf.  She opts out of the golf cart and wheels your golf bag across the links.

The key…the absolutely key to exercise, is regularity.  Whatever activity you choose, be faithful to yourself and do it several times a week.  Two, three or even four times a week.

Things to consider when choosing an activity:

1.  What is your goal?  What are you trying to accomplish through exercise?  There is a big difference between wanting to improve your general well-being and wanting to join the ladies’ weightlifting team.  Be honest with yourself about your goal and be realistic.  If you set too high of an expectation, you will not stick with your program.

2.  What is your health condition at the moment and what may be some physical limitations to keep in mind?  This is the time to talk to your doctor about wanting to begin an exercise plan.  Your doctor and your health history will dictate the type of activity and the intensity.  You must see your doctor before implementing any change in diet or exercise to your life.

3.  Consider your budget.  In these trying economic times, we don’t need to add extra pressure on ourselves by thinking that if we can’t join a costly gym, or attend yoga classes then there’s no use in trying to get in shape.  If you have a bicycle, get on it or go for a walk.  Plain old push ups, sit ups and jumping jacks are effective exercises that the military still uses to this day.  But don’t forget to check with your doctor before attempting anything new.

The great thing about exercise is that it’s never too late to start.  It is an investment in your future health!

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Difficulty Losing Weight – Hormone Weight Gain

It can be very difficult, if not impossible, to lose weight if hormones are unbalanced.  Weight gain from hormone imbalance usually collects around the mid-section (belly) and thighs. It can seem that no matter which diet you try or which exercise you pursue, the weight doesn’t budge.

Particularly, once we hit menopause, it seems that all the old rules of fitness which we’ve clung to our whole lives no longer work for us. The rules have changed and no one has given us the new play book! It is imperative to understand that we will not lose our “hormone weight” until our hormones are balanced for our optimum health. The first step to this balancing act is to have our hormone levels tested, through blood test, saliva test, Vega test, or all three.

Once you receive your test results and have agreed on a plan with your doctor as to how to correct your hormone balance problem, be sure to speak to your doctor about what type of exercise would be appropriate for you. This is very important because depending on your particular hormone profile, some exercises may be better than others, and some exercises may even be dangerous for you to try during this time.

It should be noted here, that even if your doctor recommends an exercise plan for you, be sure to do just a little investigation on her recommendation yourself. This comment comes from my personal experience. When I was diagnosed with an extremely overactive thyroid, my doctor at the time said that it was okay for me to continue the heavy cardio exercise program that I was on. This in fact was very bad advice. My own research showed me that cardio in particular, was very dangerous for my condition. This was due to the fact that in an overactive thyroid state, my resting heart rate was already 120 beats per minute. My exercise was throwing my rate through the roof and into a dangerous zone of cardiac arrest.

Battling this weight gain can be such a discouraging time for women.  Earlier in life, when our hormones were perfectly balanced, our exercise was often a means-to-an-end — to get fit and slim and improve our appearance.  Now, in the midst of menopause or other hormonal upset, it just doesn’t seem to work that way.  We have to put a “new tape” in our head as far as how we talk to ourselves about this.  The only way to succeed in losing hormone weight gain is, let me say it again, to ensure that our hormones are balanced.  Then we have to be faithful every day to eat properly and exercise.  It can take a long time for the body to release this weight.  Sorry for this bit of bad news, but there is no magic formula.  While we wait, continue to be faithful to yourself.  Instead of succombing to a pill that promises it all, spend that energy examining your diet.  Drink lots of clean water, and incorporate fresh veggies and lean proteins into your diet.  Be aware of what you are drinking when it comes to alcohol and caffeine.

We must always consult with our doctor when we make a change in our lifestyle, and just as importantly, we must take responsibility for ourselves and do just a bit of research on our own.

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Meet the Author – Brenda Thompson

Meet the Author

Hi, my name is Brenda Thompson and I have been dealing with hormone issues my whole life.  It is my desire to share with you both my experience and what I have learned as a result of my journey.  It is my hope that the information I share in this Website may benefit you and that with the help and supervision of your health-care professional(s), you can find your own unique solution for your optimal hormone health.  It is my goal to continually build and update this Website as a free support forum for both you and me.   Facing my hormone issues through my life has been a lonely road.  You don’t have to feel the same way.

This Website is written out of my experience with debilitating hormonal issues. My body of knowledge is…my body’s knowledge.  Welcome to my Website and I hope you enjoy your visit here.  I always enjoy hearing from my visitors, so please feel free to send me a note through the email link using “Contact Info” on the top menu bar.  If there is a topic of interest for you which you do not see here, please email me and I will research and compile the information for you to the best of my ability.

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Briefly then, I will share 40 years of hormone history in a few paragraphs!  At the ripe old age of 9 years, I had my first ovary removed.  This seemed to have little impact on my life at the time, other than being an omen of things to come.  At age 21, I was diagnosed with a major over-active thyroid problem.  My thyroid condition was so severe that my specialist told me he didn’t know exactly how over-active my thyroid actually was.  My test scored off their charts.  It is also unknown for how many years my over-active thyroid had raged.  At each annual doctor appointment I would share my symptoms:  extreme sweating throughout the day; tremors and shakiness; migraines; my hair fell out by the handful; a completely compromised immune system — I had severe allergies and came down with every bug that was going around from the stomach flu to larangitis and pleurisy (a very painful type of pneumonia).   In spite of these symptoms, my thyroid was never tested.

Finally treating my thyroid brought on a too-low-thyroid response which had to be corrected through medication.  This severe swing in my condition brought on a lengthy depression, as well a battle to re-build my immune system and general health.  This is when I started reading everything I could find on the thyroid.  It is interesting to note, that during these years, which would be the mid-80’s, thyroid problems were not investigated readily by doctors.  I have many friends who, based on my experience, would ask their family doctor to test their thyroid and were flatly told that it was not necessary.  There was an article in the Readers’ Digest magazine in 1988 which brought awareness to this condition to their readership.  I rejoiced when I saw this issue.  I took it around to everyone I knew and said “see, see…I wasn’t crazy!”  From this point on, I noticed that more and more mainstream magazines were picking up on this subject.  Now, thank goodness, the thyroid test is usually included in a general battery of blood work.

In 1997, at age 33, the surgical removal of my last existing ovary plunged me into what is called “surgical menopause”. My entry to this phase of life was termed by my doctor as “violent”, due to my young age and unnatural method.   I began another battle of symptoms such as I had never experienced:  hot flashes; night sweats; forgetfulness; weight loss and weight gain;  complete emotional instability.  I literally turned into a person I did not recognize.  Immediately after my surgery, and before I even knew what was happening, I was on synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy to try to control the menopausal symptoms I was having.  I knew in my heart that this was the wrong treatment for me.  This was reinforced to me years later  when the Women’s Health Initiative abandoned their study on HRT due to unfavourable results.

I had to get off of HRT.  In the face of unsupportive doctors I began what was to become a lifelong quest to find the most natural therapies and support in order to regain my health.  Shortly after my surgery, I went to my local library and checked out every book I could find on the subject of menopause and hormones.  I came home with 5 books.  One was a highly technical medical journal, one was a woman’s rant about her menopause, and the other three offered no more than the odd tidbit of moderately-helpful information.  Over a decade later, the information which is now available to us on the Internet and in print is profound.

During my research, I began to challenge my doctors about the dangers of synthetic HRT, the risk of not balancing progesterone and estrogen, and other related issues.  These and other arguments were met with either a dismissive pat on the head, or an inference that I knew not of which I spoke.   Now, over a decade later, mainstream medical doctors are writing articles proving the positions I had held for myself on these topics.   So, mainstream medicine is opening their minds; we have so much available to us in terms of natural remedies and therapies; we can visit Naturopathic Doctors and other alternative health-care providers and use their support in concert with that of our mainstream Medical Doctor.  Let’s make the most of the beginning of this enlightened time and find our path to optimal hormone health!