This time of year sparks reflection and dreaming for many as we move into a new year. It’s a time of hope and new beginnings…and who doesn’t love a new beginning. I DO! However, I DON’T enjoy unnecessary failure.
Over the many years I’ve spent educating and coaching women through nutrition and lifestyle transformations, I’ve seen women repeatedly implement tired ‘old’ strategies that are counter productive to their success. If you’re contemplating making changes in the new year, I want you to be successful, so I thought I would share a few NEW Year’s Rebel-utions to help you to REBEL against the same old strategies that can wreck your hormone balance and damage your self-esteem in the process. I’m even sharing some great tools to help you plan and take action in your own personal health rebel-ution!
1) Rebel against perfectionism.
Many people start the year off with the intention to get healthy. Something I frequently hear from clients is that they have sworn off ALL ‘unhealthy’ foods that they’ve eaten and will now only eat ‘healthy’ foods. This mindset can be a recipe for disaster.
Frequently, a client reports starting the day with a smoothie and having a salad for lunch. She may have a low-fat, sugar-free yogurt before her hour-long gym and then she’ll scarf down a grilled chicken breast & veggies for a much needed dinner meal.
This routine is repeated 5-6 days a week. Determined not to “cheat”, she may actually eat this way 7 days a week.
The first couple days might go ‘ok’ as she blows through all of her willpower, but this type of dieting and exercise pattern can promote cravings, binging, unbalanced macronutrient intake and poor micronutrient intake leading to fatigue and irritability. Unbalanced nutrition and blood sugar fluctuations also disrupt hormone balance and sleep, creating a snowball effect if continued.
While this behavior may briefly satisfy the perfectionist personality, it won’t last. Nourishing your body with foods that support energy, focus, mood and hormone balance requires trying new things, connecting with your body and discovering what works for your unique physiology. Many of my clients discover this as a first step in their REBEL-ution against perfectionism through my 10 Day Energy Reset & Detox.
2) Rebel against the lie that healthy = skinny = happy (It never does.)
At one point in my adult life, I was very thin, and because I was young, I still had a lean and defined body. I wasn’t well. I had lots of digestive challenges that kept me from eating consistently. I was underweight and wasn’t healthy.
During that time in my life, I was frequently approached by women who wanted to know what I did to get and remain so ‘skinny’. They were seeking advice because they wanted to discover my secret to the physique they desired. Disturbing.
They had no idea what my health was like, they didn’t want to know. They just assumed I was healthy because I was thin and well defined. They often made comments about how “healthy” I was. I gained lots of insight about how the pressure on women to be thin affected their psyche. For many it tied deeply to their self-image and worth. It saddened me. This mindset can lead women to try all sorts of unhealthy methods to get and remain skinny.
Unfortunately, many of the diets, weight-loss pills, workouts and supplements that promise ‘skinny’ produce short-term results, if any. They frequently leave behind ‘fatter’ bodies, thinner wallets and hormone imbalance that can take many months to restore.
There are no quick fixes when it comes to building lasting health. Nourishing the body, moving with purpose and supporting the body’s ability to heal and restore itself is the only path to sustainable hormone health for women. Give your body what it needs and it will LOVE you back.
3) Rebel against extended cardio sessions.
While exercising the cardiovascular systems is great for heart health and can help you burn fat, extended cardio sessions are NOT as effective as once thought. Not only do lengthy cardio sessions burn fat, they burn away your precious time and rob you of important hormones.
Women’s physiology is uniquely built to prioritize survival over reproduction. As such, women are more sensitive to environmental changes that threaten their reproductive capabilities.
Believe it or not, chronic extended cardio sessions stimulate the stress response, triggering cortisol production and robbing you of precious progesterone. This can cause chronic fatigue, stall weight loss efforts and leave you irritable and moody. The ‘Pregnenalone Steal’ is a frequently used term for this physiological adaptation to stress. I talk about this a lot. If you haven’t heard me share this before, you can check out this video I created and shared on my Facebook Page (I hope you like metaphors!)
Mind-Body exercise not only supports a deeper connection between the body and mind, it also helps mitigate the stress response that disrupts hormone balance. Discovering ways to reduce all types of stress is important for women, especially as a means of maintaining hormone balance.
For Cardio training, I love to recommend HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). It’s effective and efficient and won’t throw off hormone balance if used appropriately. This article at Women’s Health explains it well with some great reasons to try it!
4) Rebel against calorie restriction.
What can I say about this? So much has already been said. Excessive restriction of calories to force weight loss is a recipe for hypothalmic dysregulation leading to hormone imbalance.
While mild caloric restriction has been shown to support weight loss, long-term calorie restriction can slow metabolism, the body’s response to famine. As I stated before, the female body is designed to prioritize survival over reproduction. A ‘famine state’ caused by caloric restriction is frequently the cause of hormone imbalance in women who chronically restrict caloric/food intake. In extreme cases, women with anorexia can lose their menstrual cycle altogether due to severe hormone depletion.
Focusing on nutrient dense food intake, like my clients learn to do in my 10 Day Energy Reset & Detox, is a great way to discover how to nourish the body to ensure energy, focus and healthy hormone balance. One of my favorite shifts to see in clients I work with is when they begin making food choices based on overall nutritional quality instead of calories. It is a beautiful thing to watch a woman nourish and nurture her body. It reveals the shift from being “at war” with her body to actively “loving’ her body. Some powerful stuff.
5) Rebel against ‘diet foods’
Remember that client I mentioned earlier who switched to smoothies and salads. These are common ‘diet foods’ that women report eating when trying to eat healthy. While these foods can be very nutritious, and it sounds great on paper, when I dig a little deeper to find out what’s in the smoothie and salad, I see a ‘land mine’…
I discover that the smoothie is filled with high glycemic fruits and sugar-laden, low-fat dairy. The lunch salad purchased at the local supermarket is a pre-made ‘healthy’ item with iceburg, a little romaine lettuce, some carrots, corn, cheese and a load of seed oil-based salad dressing, or worse, ranch dressing.
While smoothies and salads seem like healthy choices, the devil is in the details. Quality of ingredients, proportions, and macronutrient balance are critical to building nourishing and hormone balancing recipes.
Top this off with ‘diet foods’ like protein bars, sugar-laden granola, granola bars, trail mix, sugar-free ice creams and cookies. Even processed frozen dinners like Healthy Choice and Lean Cuisine are deceptive and devoid of many important nutrients.
Avoiding these ‘diet foods’ and opting for whole foods will support the body with the necessary nutrients to help anyone reach their health goals. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Smoothies CAN be a quick, easy, and nourishing breakfast when prepared correctly, like the smoothies in my 10 Day Energy Reset & Detox. Preparing foods at home can save you money and time and offer you the opportunity to nurture and connect with your body more deeply.
Discovering nourishing recipes that sustain your energy can be simple and easy to do. It takes a little planning but adds so much value to your overall health.
If you are planning on setting health goals for the new year, I’m sharing my Goal Getter Worksheet with you here, so you can plan and implement sustainable goals and find lasting success and health in 2019! Feel free to share your goals with me in the comments! I’d love to know what your plans are and help you along the way!