Are Your Everyday Stressors Making You Fat?

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The typical American is chronically stressed in ways that they may not realize. What does it take to trigger your adrenal glands to secrete cortisol, the stress hormone, into your system? 

Say you set the alarm for 6:00 am, (because you can’t wake up without it), that’s your first hit of stress.  Next you stumble to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee, that’s your second hit.  Then you get into your car and proceed to battle traffic to get to work, POW, more cortisol.  Once at work, your boss is on your case about a report he wanted yesterday that you are frantically finishing up.  All of the frustrations, arguments or rushing around at work add to your load of cortisol.  Lunch of McDonalds latest delight eaten at your desk adds nutritional stress to the picture.  Let’s not forget the Red Bull to keep you going at 3:00 pm, which triggers a flood of cortisol.  The drive home adds to your stress, as does whatever “situation” awaits you at home.  The final overdose of cortisol comes as you stay awake under artificial light, (not sunlight), until midnight.

All of that cortisol in your system keeps you from burning fat for energy and also sets you up for metabolic syndrome and diabetes because cortisol causes an increase in blood sugar and therefore insulin to carry the excess sugar out of the blood and into your cells for usable energy. 

Once your cells are full, which happens very quickly, the excess glucose gets stored as fat.  Meanwhile, the more your overworked pancreas pumps out insulin, the more your cells become insulin resistant. 

As your blood sugar lowers from the insulin, your body begins to crave more sugar to come back to a stable level.  Not only that, but cortisol also suppresses leptin, the hormone that signals your brain that you are full, so now you are eating sugary processed carbohydrates because every cell in your body is screaming for them, and you have no shut off valve. 

As the cycle of stress, low blood sugar, then binging on sugary carbohydrates continues you get fatter and fatter, typically around the middle. 

Here are some suggestions to break that cycle of stress=fat:

*  Get to bed as close to 10:00 pm as possible.  As in lights out, not with a computer on your lap.

*  If you need coffee in the morning, make sure it's organic, and stick to one cup.  Better yet switch to green tea for some energy in the morning.

*  Eating some protein in the morning will also help keep your blood sugar level and avoid cortisol spikes.

*  Take some nuts and veggies to work as an alternative to whatever highly processed sweet is in the break room.

*  Give ourself time in the morning so your drive won't be panicked.

*  Take short 5 minute breaks during the day to breathe and smile.

*  If your drive home is in heavy traffic, accept it and listen to a book on tape, classical music, or whatever puts you at ease.

*  Practice patience at the end of the day when dealing with family members.  They've had "a day" as well.  Compassion and gratitude when shared will be returned.

For one-on-one help managing stress and weight gain, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

Can Lack of Sleep Make You Diabetic?

A sleep study done at the University of Chicago’s medical center in 1999, and published in The Lancet, showed that sleep deprivation reduces the capacity of even young healthy adults to properly maintain blood sugar levels or hormonal balance. 

The study involved manipulating the sleep of 11 healthy young men over 16 consecutive nights.  The first 3 nights they slept 8 hours, the next 6 nights they slept 4 hours and the last 7 nights they slept for 12 hours. 

All 11 participants ate the same diet.  The metabolic changes that were observed resembled the effects of advanced age or early signs of diabetes.  These findings were after less than one week!

This is due to the fact that the hormone cortisol stays elevated when we are awake, especially under artificial light (light bulbs), and computer or television screens. 

Because cortisol mobilizes blood sugar, it signals the release of insulin to carry that sugar out of the blood and into our cells.  That would be our fat cells when we are lying around late at night. 

The later you stay awake, the more cortisol is in your system. The more cortisol, the more insulin.  The more insulin, the  more insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes.  Evidently very quickly.

The only variable in this study was the amount of sleep the subjects received, which shows just how important sleep is to your overall health. 

The adverse effects returned to normal when the subjects slept for 12 hours.  Interestingly, 8 hours of sleep did not bring them to full recovery, which is why many sleep experts suggest 9 ½ hours of sleep a night to keep your body functioning at its peak.  More recent research however suggests between 7-8 hours to be adequate.  I can hear your sigh of relief. 

For guidance and support for better sleep and health, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

The Spider Web Of Hormone Balance

Hormones are the body’s messengers, directing all of its functioning.  In a healthy body the hormonal system maintains a finely tuned balance.  Think of it like a spider’s web.  When one hormone is out of balance it’s like flicking the web, it affects the whole web of your hormonal system.   

The major hormones, insulin, cortisol, and adrenaline control life sustaining bodily functions like maintaining blood pressure and heart rate, blood sugar regulation, ph balance and stress adaptation.  

The minor hormones like melatonin, pregnenolone, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and human growth hormone rely on the proper balance of the major players in order to fully function. 

That is why it is so important to keep your insulin and cortisol levels steady and in balance.  They provide the rhythm for the rest of your hormones to keep up with the dance.  

However, if you eat too many refined carbohydrates, your insulin levels will be off the charts and that will eventually lead to insulin resistance.  

Likewise, stressors of all kinds cause high cortisol levels, which if chronic (as with most people) will leave you with adrenal exhaustion resulting in low cortisol levels and an inability to handle stress.  

When your insulin and cortisol levels are dysregulated, that "flicks the web" and throws your entire hormonal system out of balance.  

To feel your best your hormones must be balanced.  Fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, cravings headaches, depression, PMS, and premature aging are all symptoms of hormonal imbalances. 

Women experiencing peri-menopause and menopause are quite familiar with these symptoms of hormone imbalance as their progesterone levels drop, and estrogen follows along.     

Because the precursors to hormones are protein, cholesterol and essential fats, your diet should include these nutrients to ensure proper hormone production.  

These same macronutrients are also necessary to keep blood sugar balanced and insulin regulated.  

By eating clean grass fed meats, organic eggs from cage free hens, and healthy fats like organic nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, fish oil and flax seeds, you are “feeding” your hormones and addressing the above symptoms.  

If at the same time you reduce and manage your stress, get adequate sleep, exercise regularly and maintain a positive attitude, cortisol and insulin levels will stay on track, and you have set the stage for overall hormonal balance.  

For guidance and support on your journey to hormonal balance and well being, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

Is Your Exercise Routine Feeding Your Cellulite?

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Cellulite is about more than just fat.  The condition of your skin determines whether the fat on your thighs appears smooth or lumpy.  

The reason 80% of women experience cellulite compared to only 5% of men is because cellulite is related to female hormones.  

Estrogen affects the skin’s structure on the thighs, hips and buttocks, allowing it to be more pliable or loose to accommodate extra fat storage for child bearing.  It’s the loose connective tissue and skin over the fat that creates the puckered look. 

So what does that have to do with your exercise routine? 

When you do intense aerobic exercise, like a spin class, you are putting your body under tremendous stress and your adrenal glands frantically pour out cortisol.  If you take that spin class 3 days a week, before long you’ll be swimming in cortisol.

Cortisol encourages fat storage and also interferes with the functioning of progesterone, which leads to estrogen dominance.  Carrying extra fat around the hips, thighs and buttocks is a sign of estrogen dominance, and that extra estrogen is contributing to your cellulite. 

If you want to reduce cellulite you’ll need to reduce stress from ALL areas of your life.  Stress, worry, depression anxiety all drive up your cortisol, and that elevated cortisol disrupts the functioning of all your hormones.  

That means your sex hormones, thyroid, insulin, and of course stress hormones are not balanced, so YOU are not balanced.  

*  Reducing your amount of aerobic workout and adding more resistance weight training to your gym time will result in less cortisol in your system and more fat burning shapely muscle.  

*  Stress reduction and adequate sleep will help reduce the amount of cortisol in your system and result in better hormonal balance.

*  Increasing your consumption of clean filtered water with a pinch of Celtic sea salt will help keep you hydrated, and support your adrenal glands that work so hard at producing cortisol.

*  Enjoying fresh whole organic fruits and vegetables and organic meats will help keep your toxic load down, while providing your body with the nutrients it needs. 

*  Juicing fresh organic veggies is a great way to detox, which will reflect in your skin. 

Liposuction, unfortunately, has limited benefit for cellulite because it does not change skin structure, or affect the influence of estrogen.  

I have known several women who have been disappointed with liposuction and still struggled with cellulite.  

As with all areas of your health, reducing cellulite is an inside job.  Let me help you sleep, eat and exercise your cellulite away.

Contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.

 

Easy Breezy Menopause

Why do some women sail through menopause while others suffer from hot flashes, mood swings, food cravings, brain fog, and fatigue? The answer may be in part due to the state of your adrenal glands. Healthy adrenals can alleviate much of the discomfort that accompanies this rite of passage.  

Your adrenal glands produce more than just the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.  DHEA, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are also produced by the adrenal glands.  Before menopause 40% of the sex hormones your body produces come from the precursors produced in your adrenal glands.  After menopause that number shifts to 90%!  

If your adrenals are exhausted they won’t be able to provide you with the estrogen and progesterone you need to help keep your entire web of hormones balanced, and menopause becomes challenging.  Unfortunately, adrenal exhaustion is an epidemic in America due to our stressful lifestyles, and many women are suffering for it.

So how do you breeze through menopause with healthy adrenals? Here are some tips:

*  Getting to bed by 10:00 pm keeps your cortisol levels low and helps regenerate your adrenal glands. 

*  Take breaks throughout your day to do breathing exercises, yoga poses, tai chi or loving visualizations to shift your nervous system into a state of rest and repair. 

*  Manage psychological stress by putting things into perspective.  We often make mountains out of mole hills.  Let's keep everything a mole hill.

*  Assure for proper nutrition by planning your meals ahead, not eating on the fly.  This will assure you get whole real food, not overly processed "faux" food.

*  Honor your physical self by moving your body everyday, in a pleasurable way.  

*  Love and gratitude are universally healing for every cell in your body, and by the time you reach menopause you should have plenty to love and be grateful for.  I know I do.  

All of these things will help revitalize your adrenal glands, reduce your everyday stress, and make menopause more manageable.

Navigating Menopause can be overwhelming.  I know, I've been there, done that.  That's why I'm here to guide and support you through this rite of passage.  With support and guidance, you can not only survive menopause, you may even enjoy it.  

For guidance and support on your journey through Menopause, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at nina.lynn@me.com, or call me at 301-332-5732.