FEMALE HORMONES AND EXERCISE - WITH TIA MIERS.
Over the years in my practice as a qualified Naturopath (BHSc), I have worked with many women who have come to me seeking balanced hormones, clear skin, good energy and calm emotions all cycle long. Regularly sweating it out in your living room, backyard or at the HUSTL. studio is key for your wellbeing. It boosts your mood, puts you in touch with your body and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Establishing a routine that incorporates a combination of cardio and restorative exercises is so beneficial for hormonal balance.
Balancing your hormones is so important as it helps promotes healthy detoxification of sex hormones and increases your ability to cope with anxiety and stress. Research has shown just 3-4 x 45 minute sessions per week can improve physical and emotional symptoms of PMS.
Hormones fluctuate throughout the month depending on what phase of our menstrual cycle we are in. This can influence our motivation, appetite and mood. If our hormones are imbalanced, symptoms are exacerbated.
Signs of a hormonal imbalance:
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Painful periods
- Heavy periods
- PMS (irritability, anxiety, poor mood, breast tenderness)
- Breast tenderness
- Food cravings
- Weight gain or loss
If we understand the phases of the cycle we can better predict how we may feel at a certain time and we then have the awareness to plan our work, exercise routine and life events to better suit our needs.
The four phases are:
- Follicular phase
- Luteal phase
Menstruation: When progesterone levels are optimal, your uterine lining sheds easily and your period should arrive with little to no premenstrual pain or spotting. Each female will be different, however a normal period should last anywhere between 3-7 days and will often include a day or two of light spotting towards the end.
- Hormone levels are at their lowest when bleeding starts
- Your energy may feel lower, this is a time to rest (prioritise going to sleep earlier and self care). A Yang/Yoga class would be perfect for this.
- You can feel unmotivated (try mixing up your workout routine by exercising with a friend to keep you accountable or switch your regular early morning session for an afternoon workout, allowing you to hit snooze on the morning alarm)
- Withdrawn (increase self care; a regular journal practice is so beneficial for your mental health).
Follicular phase: The follicular phase: the first phase of your cycle during which time follicles (sacs which contain an egg) in the ovary begin to mature. This phase typically lasts from days 1 to 14.
- Energy builds with an increased urge to exercise. A Form pilates class would be an ideal time for this phase.
- Your body feels lighter and a serotonin surge suppresses your appetite, so naturally appetite drops.
- You will be more outgoing and have an increased desire to socialise
- Libido increases
- Anxiety reduces
Ovulation: Occurs once the dominant follicle has reached maturity in the ovary, following which time the egg is released and enters the fallopian tube ready to travel to the uterus. This ideally occurs between days 13, 14 or 15.
- You will be at your most fertile and sex drive increases
- Your energy peaks; I recommended high intensity workouts like HIIT/PACE in this phase.
- Increased focus and productivity
- Increase desire to socialise
- Increased resilience to stress
The luteal phase: The final stage of your cycle during which time your uterus lining becomes thicker in preparation for a fertilised egg. If the egg is not fertilised, the uterus lining breaks down, resulting in menstruation.
- Your energy will start to decrease
- Motivation towards exercise can reduce, I would suggest light movements like beach walks and Yoga classes.
- Increased appetite and food cravings. Prepped healthy treats and meals will work wonders for you in this phase.
- Body can feel puffy/swollen
- You can become self critical, so prioritising self care rituals can be beneficial (sauna, long warm baths, journaling).
- You can feel more withdrawn and crave alone time during this phase. Be mindful about not locking in social events as you may be more inclined to want to cancel plans. Alone time will help to rebuild your energy.
Effective tools to help balance your hormones
1. Regular exercise routine: Research has shown just 3-4 x 45 minute sessions per week can improve physical and emotional symptoms of PMS.
2. Improve your sleep:
- Establish a set time & routine for going to bed and rising
- Expose yourself to bright light/sunlight in the morning on waking
- Don’t snooze your alarm in the mornings
- No caffeine after 12pm
- One hour before bed engage in a relaxing, non-alerting activity (reading, drawing, journaling)
- Meditation- Insight Timer app
3. Wholefoods: A nutritious wholefoods diet that includes proteins, ‘good’ fats and fresh fruits + vegetables. Eating in this way means that you don’t need to be obsessive over food or count calories; instead your body will regulate its own need for food. When we are filled up with nutritious foods we are less likely to overeat.
4. Swap Instagram for a good book
5. Skip Alcohol: As much as we love to relax with a glass of wine after work with dinner, I suggest no more than 2-3x glasses of red wine per week when regulating hormones.
6. Skip inflammatory foods: This includes processed sugar, gluten and deep fried foods. Increased levels of inflammation in the body and drives hormonal imbalances.
Tia Miers is based on the Gold Coast, Australia and owner of the Whole Health Studio. She has developed an amazing range of products that address the many health imbalances that she sees present in her clinic every week and has very kindly offered our HUSTL. Community 20% off her online store. Our favourite? The Balance Hormone Support Supplement.
Use Code: HUSTL20