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Apr
21
Dr. Anna Garrett
Three Ways to Get Back Your Health and Energize Your Life
Healthy Living
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Get back your health

Living in a 24/7 world of “busyness” creates a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows that your body perceives as stressful. This can leave you with one of your fight-or-flight hormones, cortisol, running the show, putting your health and your business or career at risk.

When this happens, you’ve essentially hired cortisol as your C.O.O. And cortisol is not world-renowned for making good decisions!

If health and stress management are not high on your priority list, the challenges of juggling your day-to-day responsibilities increase the likelihood of making less-than-ideal choices about nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management and other health habits.

This creates a vicious cycle. A lack of time and energy to devote to treating your body well leads to fatigue and a bad case of “I don’t give a crap.”

Before you know it, your body, with its toxic load of stress, worn out adrenal glands, processed food and flabby muscles has become a “bad neighborhood”.

This is important because your body is a complex network of systems. When one part of the system (say, cortisol) goes rogue, ALL of your hormones go rogue. Cortisol is made at the expense of your sex hormones (progesterone, estrogen, testosterone) during stressful times, so those levels go down when cortisol goes up. Ignoring this won’t make things better and could ultimately lead to a roaring case of burn out, wild swings in sex hormones or chronic illnesses.

No thanks to that.

So how does a busy, rock star life-juggler get back her health and energize her life? (And fire her C.O.O. on the spot?)

Make Your Health a Priority

Your health should be one of your top 3 priorities in life. Without it, you are unlikely to be wildly successful and able to fully rock your mojo. Give yourself the gift of a conscious commitment to creating the healthiest you possible!


Tweet: Give yourself the gift of a conscious commitment to creating the healthiest you possible!


Create Systems and Habits to Support You

We all know that infants and young children thrive on routine and structure. Why not apply this principle to yourself? Here are several great places to start:

  • Get up and go to bed at the same time every day (even weekends). Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep. This allows your body to repair itself and keeps cortisol in check.
  • Eat on a regular schedule. This goes a long way toward keeping your cortisol levels low. Set an alarm if you need a reminder.
  • Schedule exercise time just as you would any meeting.
  • Take frequent breaks from work. Sitting is the new smoking and actually takes years off your life!

Create a Plan

Creating good long-term health outcomes requires attention to ALL of you – mind, body, and spirit. Try applying the same principles to your health as you would to business: identify the outcomes you want, set reasonable goals and establish a clear path to achieve success.

Creating new habits takes time and a willingness to commit to consistency. The key to success is taking baby steps and giving yourself permission to be imperfect. No one gets it right all the time and that’s fine!

If you find yourself off track, regroup, tweak your strategy if needed and recommit. Before long, you’ll have created a “good neighborhood” that includes a healthy body with rockin’ energy!

And your former C.O.O.? She’ll be hanging out in the unemployment line.

In the comments below, please share one change you’re making to give your health higher priority (or where you’re feeling stuck in doing so).

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

Apr
7
Dr. Anna Garrett
Are You at Risk for Adrenal Fatigue?
Healthy Living
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At Risk for Adrenal Fatigue

Is your stress level putting your health at risk? Every day, your body is subjected to a wide range of physical and psychological stressors that it senses as stress. Typically, we think of work, finances or relationships when it comes to stress.

But the list is much bigger and broader than this. Lack of sleep, dieting and winning the lottery are also stressful! Why? Because all of these situations signal your body to produce cortisol. One of your stress hormones.

This is helpful up to a point (because it helps us get our to-do lists done), but when our adrenals are required to chronically crank out cortisol, they eventually become impaired in their ability to respond. The resulting adrenal imbalance not only zaps your mojo in a big way, but also affects your body’s ability to produce and balance other feel-good hormones like DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This throws your hormone symphony way off key!

Signs that Trouble is Ahead

When symptoms develop, it’s your body’s way of waving a red flag and letting you know that it is not receiving the support it needs. Ignoring what’s going on WON’T make it better….this is not a situation you want to just “power through”.


Tweet: If you have symptoms of adrenal imbalance, your body is waving a red flag letting you know it needs support. Pay attention!


Here are some of the signs and symptoms that can indicate adrenal imbalance. See if you recognize any of these tendencies in yourself:

High Cortisol

Low cortisol

Sleep

  • Difficulty winding down
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Difficulty getting out of bed in the AM
  • Sleep is not refreshing
Energy

  • Always running
  • “Wired and tired”
  • Constant fatigue
  • Weariness
  • Lethargic
  • No energy
Coping style

  • Anxious
  • Panic attacks
  • Short-tempered
  • “Driven”
  • Inability to handle everyday stress
  • Overwhelmed by little things
  • Mild depression
  • Struggling to get through the day
  • Avoid conflict
What Your Mind is Doing

  • Racing
  • Scattered and splattered thoughts
  • Can’t focus
  • Foggy
  • Fuzzy thinking
Weight

  • Abdominal weight gain
  • Eating more at night
  • Carb cravings
  • Caffeine is your best friend

There is a lot of overlap of the signs and symptoms listed above with sex hormone imbalances or other illnesses, so adrenal imbalance may not always be the root cause.  Saliva testing can identify which imbalance is the actual problem, allowing you and your provider to target treatment appropriately and get your mojo back on the right track.

The remedy for adrenal fatigue may be as simple as getting more sleep or cleaning up your diet. But for more advanced cases, support with herbs and vitamins may be necessary. The good news is, when addressed in time with proper support, you can heal adrenal imbalance and reverse the damaging effects of chronic stress.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

 

Mar
17
Dr. Anna Garrett
What is “Normal” in Perimenopause?
Healthy Living
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what is normal in perimenopause

Sarah is ready to lock her teenagers in their rooms.  Her nerves are shot and her patience left the house long ago. On the days she’s not biting the heads of her family off, she can barely drag herself out of bed and her anxiety is crippling.

Sarah is 42, scared and wondering what the hell is going on.

She wants to know if what she is experiencing is normal.

Sound familiar?

A New Normal

Hormonal transitions can start as early as your mid-late 30’s. While you’re in the thick of raising kids (or considering having just one more), your ovaries may be looking toward retirement.

Maybe you notice that you’re just a little grouchier or that your periods aren’t quite as regular. Or, like Sarah, you may be a bitch-on-wheels. Your PMS symptoms, which were once mildly annoying, are now raging. You gain weight even though you’re exercising and eating right. And you lie awake night after night, staring at the ceiling.

In a perfect world, estrogen and progesterone start to taper off very gradually prior to menopause. Because this is usually such a slow shift, many women may hardly notice this change happening in their bodies. However, for some, these hormonal shifts may overwhelm the body’s ability to maintain any semblance of balance. The result is severe symptoms that can go on for years (on average, 5-10).

And then… there are some very lucky women for whom the whole perimenopause/menopause thing is just a blip on the radar. That’s normal too.

Is it PMS or Perimenopause?

Many of the symptoms of PMS overlap with perimenopause. In both cases, hormone swings are the culprit. The difference is that PMS happens during the second half of your cycle. Perimenopause symptoms can happen at any time. Keep a journaling of your symptoms may help you sort this out if you’re not sure what’s going on.


Tweet: Many symptoms of PMS overlap with perimenopause. In both cases, hormone swings are the culprit.


How Can I know for Sure if I’m in Perimenopause?

The short answer is… you can’t. The symptoms you’re experiencing are the most reliable indicator. Many a woman has been dismissed with “your lab tests are normal” when she is, in fact, in perimenopause. You know your body better than anyone, so don’t settle for this if you feel like something is off.

If you do have blood tests, your doctor will most likely test your FSH (and maybe your estrogen or testosterone levels).  The closer your FSH is to 50, the closer you are to menopause. But that number tells you nothing about your progesterone/estrogen balance… and that’s what you really care about. Saliva testing on day 19-21 of your cycle (when progesterone should be highest) can give a snapshot of whether these 2 hormones are in balance.

It’s a Hormone Problem, not a Prozac® Deficiency

It’s important to recognize what’s going on because many a woman has ended up on antidepressants or sleeping pills because she (and her healthcare provider) did not recognize that these problems were related to a HORMONE IMBALANCE and not true depression. Antidepressants won’t fix the root cause of the problem. Neither will birth control pills.

Misbehaving hormones can often be corrected with lifestyle, herbal and nutritional supplements. In some cases, hormone replacement may be necessary, but that’s not usually the place to start.

The Next Step

If changes in lifestyle don’t help, then it may be time to test your sex hormone levels and your cortisol levels. This is important because signs of imbalance overlap. Low progesterone can look like low thyroid; high cortisol can look like low progesterone, etc.

Testing can be done with saliva, blood or urine (there are plusses and minuses for each method). Knowing your specific imbalances allows your hormone care provider to create a unique management plan for you.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Find out more about working with her at http://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.

Feb
25
Dr. Anna Garrett
How to Lower Your Cortisol in 4 Minutes
Healthy Living
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lower your cortisol

We live in a soundbite, fragmented world. Some days it feels like you’ve been tossed into your Vitamix with no escape route.

All of this rushing around leads to high cortisol which creates a LOT of problems you don’t want like insomnia, weight gain, anxiety and that wired but tired feeling most of us know too well.

The cure for high cortisol is managing stress. And one way to manage stress is to spend time in nature… just being present and appreciating everything that surrounds you. Trees, flowers, birds, the smell of the woods, wind rustling through the trees.


Tweet: The cure for high cortisol is managing stress.


Or perhaps it’s stopping long enough to view a gorgeous sunrise or sunset.

I am finishing up a vacation in Kaua’i as I write this. And last week, I decided to create 4-minute video of the sunset from our condo. I posted it on Facebook and got lots of “thank-yous” for the chance to pause.

So I offer this to you today as a pause.  Click the link below and give yourself a 4-minute break during your hectic day. Or save it til bedtime if you need to unwind.

AG_videothumb_02-25-2016

Mahalo

p.s…I’d love to see what beauty looks like in YOUR world. Please post a video or image to share with us in the comments section or in the Hormone Harmony Club on Facebook.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.

Feb
18
Dr. Anna Garrett
What to do When Your Sex Drive Goes Missing
Healthy Living
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sex drive
Tip of the Week

Of all the changes perimenopause brings, lack of interest in sex due to hormone imbalance is one of THE most common (and least discussed symptoms).

How Perimenopause Creates Hormone Imbalance

Thanks to progesterone production, Mother Nature gives us a natural increase in the desire for sex beginning just prior to ovulation. This lasts for several days afterwards to make sure our bodies take full advantage of prime time for conception. But as we enter perimenopause we ovulate less frequently and lose that regularly scheduled boost.

A decrease in circulating estrogen can bring your sex drive down for the count AND cause thinning of the lining of the vagina, which makes sex very painful for some women. Testosterone production also declines as we age. This is the hormone we typically think about when it comes to sex drive.

Sprinkle some negative thoughts about aging or weight into the mix and it’s no wonder things come to a screeching halt.

This is not a recipe for fun times!


Tweet: Lack of interest in sex due to hormone imbalance is one of THE most common symptoms of perimenopause.


Ready to Ditch the Dry Spell?

If you’re ready to put some sizzle back into a sagging love life, check out these suggestions:

  • Rule out medical reasons. Get tested for low thyroid function and iron deficiency anemia. These are two common disorders that can affect sex drive.
  • Find out if your hormones are imbalanced.  Low testosterone can zap your sex drive. This can be replaced with compounded cream. You’ll need a prescription for this.
  • Look in your medicine cabinet.  If you are taking an SSRI antidepressant drug, birth control pills or diabetes medications, these may be contributing to lack of interest. You may have other options that won’t cause this side effect, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this.
  • Put estrogen on the spot. Using estrogen cream in the vagina plumps up that tender tissue. Estrogen is available as suppository tablets, creams, or “rings,” which sit inside the vagina and give off small doses of the hormone over time. It’s minimally absorbed into your body which reduces the chance of side effects.
  • Vitamin E. When used in the vagina, Vitamin E can help rehydrate tissue and may possibly increase sensation. No need for a prescription here. Just stick a pin in a vitamin E capsule and apply to the vagina several times a week, even if you’re not having sex. And be sure to use a lubricant when you are having sex – either vitamin E or a commercially prepared product such as K-Y Jelly or Astroglide.
  • Go nuts for coconut. Coconut oil (organic/expeller pressed) is very helpful as a moisturizer and lubricant. Proceed with caution if you’re also using latex condoms. Many oil-based lubricants can increase the risk of condoms breaking.
  • Talk to your partner. Open communication is always important…this is especially true in this situation. None of us wants our partner to feel rejected and that’s exactly what can happen if we’re not talking to each other! Explain what’s going on and the options you have to improve things. Approaching the problems as a team will help alleviate anxiety and fear.

Mojo that is MIA in perimenopause can be frustrating. It’s important to note that any loss of libido during perimenopause is not necessarily a permanent condition.  Once the hormonal chaos of perimenopause passes, many women report the return of their sexual desire. With the added benefit of hormone therapy to address any potential physical issues, there is no reason that women in menopause cannot continue to enjoy a healthy sex life.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.

Jan
28
Dr. Anna Garrett
5 Things Men Should Know about Menopause
Healthy Living
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men should know about menopause

“I don’t need him to fix me! I just want him to listen and try to understand that I’m doing the best I can.”

This is a sentiment I hear a lot in my Hormone Harmony Club. I recently asked these ladies what they want men to understand about menopause. As you might expect, the responses were plentiful and varied.

Women aren’t the only ones who need to understand menopause. As a woman, you are one-half of your marriage and when that half changes, it changes the relationship right along with it. It’s hard enough for the women who are experiencing these bewildering changes, but try imagining what it must be like for the men who navigate this time with us!

We’ve only just begun to talk openly about menopause; so while we’re at it, let’s include men in the conversation.

Here are the top 5 things we’d like them to understand:

  1. We don’t need you to fix us. We’re not broken and menopause is not a disease. We don’t need advice. Even though you can’t experience what we’re feeling, please take the time to just listen. Sometimes a big hug and a sincere “I love you” can completely turn our day around. We really are doing the best we can in spite of the hormonal chaos that’s raging inside.
  2. Don’t make fun of us. When you crack jokes about menopause or being old in front of us (and other people) it doesn’t feel very good. Women don’t want to be the object of jokes and this kind of behavior doesn’t do anything to build your relationship. How would you feel if we were making jokes about your “Low T” or ED?
  3. Don’t touch the thermostat. Go put on a sweater. ‘Nuff said.
  4. Tell us we’re beautiful (especially when we aren’t feeling it). Wrinkles, saggy bits, expanding waistlines, thinning hair. These are all a recipe for self-confidence and mojo that’s in the toilet. We want to feel like we’re still hot in your eyes. The years may be taking their toll physically, but we want to know you’d choose us all over again and that we’re aging like fine wine. Tell us. Often.
  5. We still love you (even if our mood swings suggest otherwise). Let’s face it, when riding the hormonal highs and lows of menopause, we can say and do some pretty hurtful things. Sometimes they shock even us. We are sorry and we’re doing the best we can to keep ourselves together. It’s not you; it’s our hormones.

Click to Tweet: The best thing that men and women can do for each other is learn what happens in menopause.


Don’t withdraw and pretend like nothing’s happening. Openly talking about the process can lead to creative problem-solving. Enlist professional help when needed and get to the root causes of hormone imbalance. Remember, this is a season and eventually it will pass!

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.

Jan
21
Dr. Anna Garrett
The Top 5 Myths of Menopause Debunked
Healthy Living
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Menopause Myths Debunked

The changes that women experience during menopause are confusing and Dr. Google doesn’t always point you in the right direction. Let’s take a look at the top 5 myths I commonly hear and set the record straight.

Myth #1: Menopause begins at 50

Truth: The average age of menopause is 52…but there’s a huge range of what’s normal.


Tweet: Menopause is the day that marks 1 year since your last period, so it’s technically one day of your life.


Anything before that is perimenopause; anything after is considered post-menopause. It’s possible to reach menopause in your 30’s or 60’s; both of which are normal even though outside the average.

Myth #2: Weight gain is inevitable in menopause

Truth: Weight gain is very common in menopause because hormonal shifts make weight loss more complex. It’s no longer as simple as “calories in, calories out.”

As you transition into perimenopause and menopause, your ovaries make fewer sex hormones, and your body may respond by trying to protect itself. Its preferred method of protection is to store fat, especially around the waist, hips, and thighs. Fat stored in these areas also produces more estrogen, which in turn, leads to more weight gain. Add stress to the mix with higher cortisol production and it’s a recipe for weight gain around the waist.

Despite these changes, you can still achieve a healthy weight. If your first reaction to weight gain is to cut back calories, think again. That throws your body into stress mode and cortisol kicks in. Excellent nutrition and lowered carbohydrates help women balance their hormones and gradually return to their natural weight.

Myth #3: There’s no difference between natural menopause and “surgical” menopause

If you’ve had a hysterectomy, you probably know this is UNTRUE. If you have your ovaries removed, you’re thrown into menopause overnight instead of gradually. This is very hard on your body.

Even if your ovaries are left intact, there’s likely disruption of the blood supply to them which will keep them from fully functioning. Changes may be less severe when you keep your ovaries, but they are unpredictable. Many women need estrogen, progesterone and testosterone replacement to feel their best after a hysterectomy.

And don’t let your doctor tell you that you don’t need progesterone. You have progesterone receptors all over your body (not just in your uterus). They need love too.

Myth #4: The first sign of menopause is hot flashes

There’s huge variation in the symptoms women experience in perimenopause. Some women sail through with nary a hot flash. But others begin having symptoms like weight gain, irritability, fatigue, anxiety and insomnia in their mid-30’s. And symptoms can last for more than 10 years!

There are approximately 34 symptoms of perimenopause….any of which could be your first sign that your hormones are shifting.

This why it’s critical to pay attention to your body. If you’re starting to feel like Mother Nature has doing a hit-and-run on your mojo, consider the possibility that hormone shifts are beginning.

Myth #5:  After menopause, your body doesn’t produce hormones

Truth: No matter how far past menopause you are, you still have hormones! Most of the production is from the adrenal glands. In fact, in menopause 50% of the estrogen and progesterone are produced by the adrenals.

Some hormones like estrogen and progesterone do decrease once your reproductive cycle ends because they’re needed less. Your body still produces them, just in smaller amounts. Even so, they can still be out of balance.

For some women, the symptoms of hormonal imbalance disappear or decrease post-menopause. For others, symptoms continue and include vaginal dryness, hot flashes, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections and weight gain.

With such a wide variety of symptoms and the fact that many of them look like something else, it’s no wonder that many women don’t connect these to a perimenopausal hormonal imbalance. If you want to understand more about what’s going on you’re your body, let’s talk. You can schedule a complimentary 30-minute call with me to talk about ways we might work together.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.

Dec
23
Dr. Anna Garrett
Why You Can’t Diet and Exercise Past a Hormone Imbalance
Healthy Living
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hormone imbalance

One of the most common complaints I hear from clients (and most women in midlife for that matter) is that they can’t lose weight no matter how much they diet and exercise. This is incredibly frustrating!

The thing is, it may not have anything to do with what you’re doing (or not doing).

It may be your hormones.

Hormone imbalances lead to difficulty losing weight and an increased risk of obesity. Unfortunately, the most common imbalances can’t be solved by dieting alone. In fact, they can prevent successful fat loss even when great diet and exercise plans are in place. If you haven’t been successful in the past, chances are, one or more the following hormonal imbalances could be the problem:

1) Inflammation

Digestive disorders, allergies, autoimmune disease, arthritis, asthma, eczema, acne, abdominal fat, headaches, depression or sinus disorders are ALL associated with chronic inflammation, which has become recognized as the root cause of obesity and most diseases associated with aging.

Inflammation causes production of cortisol which is associated with that muffin top you just can’t lose.

2) Insulin excess

Insulin’s main function is to process carbohydrates in the bloodstream and carry it into cells to be used as fuel or stored as fat. There are several reasons for excess insulin, but the main culprits are: stress, consuming too many nutrient-poor carbohydrates (the type found in processed foods, sugary drinks and sodas, packaged low-fat foods and artificial sweeteners), insufficient protein intake, inadequate fat intake and low fiber consumption.

Heart palpitations, sweating, poor concentration, weakness, anxiety, fogginess, fatigue, irritability or impaired thinking are common short-term side effects of high insulin. And our body typically responds to these unpleasant feelings by making us think we’re hungry, which causes us to reach for high-sugar foods and drinks. It’s a vicious cycle which only furthers weight gain and our risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Click here to learn more about insulin and weight gain.

3) Depression or anxiety

Serotonin exerts a powerful influence over our mood, emotions, memory, cravings (especially for carbohydrates), self-esteem, pain tolerance, sleep habits, appetite, digestion and body temperature regulation. When we’re depressed or down, we naturally crave more sugars and starches to stimulate the production of serotonin. And then we become more depressed because we’re gaining weight. The stress of this creates more cortisol which creates more cravings!

4) Chronic stress

Under situations of chronic stress — whether the stress is physical, emotional, mental or environmental, real or imagined — our bodies release high amounts of the hormone cortisol. If you have a mood disorder like anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder or exhaustion, or if you have a digestive issue such as irritable bowel syndrome, you can bet your body is cranking up your cortisol… even if you don’t FEEL stressed.

Click here to find out if your adrenals are fine or frazzled.

5) High levels of estrogen

Researchers have identified excess estrogen (in both sexes) to be as great a risk factor for obesity as poor eating habits and lack of exercise.

There are two ways to accumulate excess estrogen in the body: we either produce too much of it on our own or acquire it from our environment or diet. We’re constantly exposed to estrogen-like compounds in foods that contain toxic pesticides, herbicides and growth hormones. To compound all of this, fat cells MAKE estrogen…so the more fat you have, the higher your estrogen is likely to be.

6) Low testosterone

Testosterone enhances libido, bone density, muscle mass, strength, motivation, memory, fat burning and skin tone in both men and women. When testosterone is low, an increase of body fat and loss of muscle may still happen – even with dieting and exercise.

Testosterone levels tend to taper off with age, increased obesity and stress, but today men are experiencing testosterone decline much earlier in life — an alarming finding, considering low testosterone has been linked to depression, obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease and even death.

7) Hypothyroidism

Without enough thyroid hormone, every system in the body slows down. People who suffer from hypothyroidism feel tired, tend to sleep a lot, and experience constipation and weight gain. Other common symptoms include extremely dry skin, hair loss, feeling cold, brittle hair, splitting nails, and decreased libido.

If you think you may have a thyroid condition, make sure your doctor assesses you and your full range of symptoms, not just your blood work. Even levels of TSH (an indicator of thyroid function) within the normal range have been proven to accelerate weight gain and to interfere with a healthy metabolic rate in both men and women.

Click here to find out more about thyroid’s effects on weight.

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Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

About Dr. Anna

Dr. Anna Garrett is a pharmacist and menopause expert who helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. But her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim pieces of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working 1-1 with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.

Dec
3
Dr. Anna Garrett
Why Blood Sugar Balance Matters if Weight Loss is Your Goal
Healthy Living
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blood sugar

Many midlife weight problems can be tied directly to insulin resistance. This imbalance is underappreciated as a player in midlife weight gain, but understanding it is critical for weight management and preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Biochem 101

Insulin is a hormone that’s produced by your pancreas when you eat. It helps break down carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose is used by your cells for energy. When all is going well, your body produces an amount of insulin that matches the amount of glucose present in your body…..the more glucose…. the more insulin. This keeps your blood sugar in the sweet spot…not too high and not too low.

When you eat a large amount of carbohydrates, the body has to release lots of insulin to make sure your blood sugar doesn’t get out of control. Eventually, the receptors in your cells become less sensitive to having insulin around and they stop responding. That’s called insulin resistance.

Here’s how this process contributes to weight gain. When your cells can’t absorb all the glucose, your liver converts it to fat. All those extra fat cells crank out estrogen. Weight gain contributes to the estrogen dominance that causes so many of the symptoms of perimenopause. In addition, fluctuations in adrenal and thyroid hormones contribute to insulin resistance.

How do I Know if I’m Insulin Resistant?

You are at highest risk for developing insulin resistance if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes or if you’ve had gestational diabetes, high blood pressure or are overweight.

Apple-shaped women who carry their fat round their middle of their bodies are more prone to insulin resistance as are women with abnormal cholesterol readings. And they’re at higher risk of heart disease, which is the number one killer of menopausal women.

If you have a skin change called acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin on the neck or armpits), chances are you have insulin resistance. Ninety percent of women who have this also have insulin resistance.

If you believe you are at risk, talk with your health care provider. Your blood sugar and insulin levels can be tested to give you more info.

How to Eat and Move to Control Blood Sugar Swings

Eating and exercise habits play a major role in preventing insulin resistance (or improving it if you’ve got it). Tweet: Eating habits consist of not only what you eat, but how you eat and when you eat. These practices can help keep blood sugar on an even keel:

  1. Eat regular meals. Have healthy snacks that contain protein and fiber in between meals.
  2. Avoid large quantities of food at meal times. Learn to pay attention to your body’s signals and put your fork down when you’re 80% full.
  3. Avoid “white” foods like bread, sugar and pasta.
  4. Make lean meats, veggies and high-fiber grains the mainstay of your diet. If you’re already insulin resistant, eat no more than 15 grams of carbohydrates (from veggies and fruit) per meal. My personal bias is toward a Paleo approach to eating although this may not be right for everyone.
  5. Do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise or aerobic physical activity every day. Do weight training at least twice a week.
  6. Increase the general level of physical activity in your life.

The Bottom Line

Insulin doesn’t get as much attention as the other hormones in menopause, but it’s key to maintaining metabolism. If your metabolism goes off the rails, everything else goes with it. The good news is that with careful attention to lifestyle, insulin resistance can be reversed… allowing all of your hormones to do their jobs so you can maintain a healthy weight and decrease your risk of heart disease.

Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

About Dr. Anna

Dr. Anna Garrett is a pharmacist and menopause expert who helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. But her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim pieces of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working 1-1 with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here.
Please email info@drannagarrett.com for more info.

Nov
6
Dr. Anna Garrett
Why Can’t I Lose Weight??? Conquer Cortisol with 3 Simple (But Powerful) Lifestyle Practices
Healthy Living
0
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womaneatingsalad2-200There you sit, staring at what seems like your millionth chicken salad (with dressing on the side). Day after day…chicken salad. You’re barely eating enough to keep a bird alive and exercising like a crazy woman.

And yet, the needle on the scale continues to creep up.

You wonder what you’re doing wrong.

You feel like a stuffed sausage in your skinny jeans.

Your muffin top keeps growing.

The good news is that you may be doing nothing “wrong”. The bad news is that cortisol may have climbed into the driver’s seat on the bus…and you’re going to have to put her back where she belongs.

Cortisol can be your best friend or your worst enemy. If a speeding train is heading toward you, she’s your BFF for sure…a rush of cortisol will spur you to jump out of the way.

But in overdoses, cortisol is the “mean girl” in your body’s neighborhood.

Cortisol is released in stressful situations. On a short-term basis, this is healthy. Long-term, it leads to chronic illness, body breakdown and weight gain. Unfortunately, something can be stressful to your body without you actually FEELING the stress in a big way. Three excellent examples of this are lack of sleep, eating at irregular times and overtraining.

In all of these cases, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode and begins to produce more cortisol and hang onto fat. YOU, on the other hand, notice the weight gain and begin to cut back even more on food and exercise harder. You lie awake at night wondering what the heck is going on and your body never has a chance to repair itself. This sets up a vicious cycle that cannot be broken by pushing through it.

What’s a Girl to Do??

We often hear about stress management as it relates to cortisol. But there are other strategies that can help keep the “mean girl” under control. Best of all, these things are free and will really improve the way you feel (and your ability to get to your natural weight).

  1. Get enough sleep. There are reams of data that prove sleeping less than 6 hours a night leads to weight gain. We don’t need more studies. We need to go to bed. Seven to eight hours a night is ideal.
  2. Eat on a regular schedule. Your body expects to be fed at regular intervals. When that doesn’t happen, it thinks it’s going into starvation mode. Cortisol rushes in to save the day by preserving fat stores…this is the exactly what you DON’T want! If you are so busy that you forget to eat, set an alarm that reminds you to do this. Include plenty of protein to keep blood sugar swings to a minimum.
  3. Be gentle on your body. When I trained for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in 2011, I walked MILES and MILES every week. I did not lose an ounce. But after it was over, I immediately lost 8 lbs. I asked my trainer what was up with that? He said I had been overtraining (more cortisol). When I stopped, the weight came off.

The message here is that flogging  your body with more workouts isn’t the answer. Add in some yoga or a contemplative practice or try gentle exercise like walking to tame your cortisol levels.

Using these 3 practices is a great start toward achieving your weight goals because unless you conquer cortisol, your efforts will feel like slogging through molasses. If you want to go deeper, it’s possible to map out your daily cortisol pattern to help you target your management efforts. This can be done with a simple saliva test. Knowing your baseline allows you to track the effectiveness of changes you make and tweak your plan if needed.

Want to know more about hormone testing? I offer this in my practice. If you’d like to explore ways in which we might work together, let’s talk. I offer a complimentary 30-minute call to discuss your needs and how I can help you. You can schedule that here.

~~~

About Dr. Anna

Dr. Anna Garrett is a pharmacist and menopause expert who helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. But her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim pieces of themselves they thought were gone forever.

Dr. Anna offers a complimentary 30-minute Get Acquainted Call to anyone who’d like to learn more about working 1-1 with her. You can schedule that at your convenience by clicking here

Please contact her at dranna@drannagarrett.com. Visit Dr. Anna’s website at www.drannagarrett.com.

Feb
26
Dr. Anna Garrett
14 Years of Hot Flashes and Night Sweats?? Say It Isn’t So!
Healthy Living
2
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    In case you missed it, PBS recently interviewed the lead researcher about her study of women and the duration of hot flashes and night sweats.

      And the news wasn’t good.

      Her team studied nearly 1500 women (aged 42–52 at baseline) who reported frequent vasomotor symptoms (6 days or more over a 2-week period) at least once during roughly 13 years’ follow-up. Vasomotor symptoms include hot flashes and night sweats.

      The most common duration of VMS was 7.4 years. Women who were premenopausal or early in perimenopause when they first reported frequent VMS had the longest total VMS duration (most common duration >11.8 years) and these symptoms most commonly lasted 9.4 years after the last menstrual period.

      That’s a lot of “personal days at the beach”.

      Women who were postmenopausal when they first experienced symptoms had the shortest duration of problems (3.4 years).

      African American women reported the longest total VMS duration (10.1 years). Additional factors related to longer duration of VMS were younger age, lower educational level, greater perceived stress and symptom sensitivity, and higher depressive symptoms and anxiety at first report of VMS.

      What’s a Girl to Do??

      VMS are one of the problems my clients most commonly complain about (right after weight gain and insomnia). Hormone replacement therapy helps, but I most commonly work with women who are hesitant about going this route for a variety of reasons.

      Pharmaceutical manufacturers would have you believe that hormones and antidepressants are the way to go, but the truth is that lifestyle changes can be very effective. These include:

      • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol. These 2 are huge and in some cases have completely eliminated hot flashes and night sweats.
      • Avoiding spicy foods.
      • Avoiding processed foods. Eliminating sugar and lowering carbohydrate intake can be very effective.
      • Exercising regularly. In perimenopausal women, frequency is more important than duration.

      Consider the Alternatives

      What’s interesting to me is the link between stress, anxiety and depression, and length of symptoms. Given this relationship, it’s clear that learning to de-stress and take personal time outs can make a difference in your experience.

      Depression and anxiety are symptoms of perimenopause, but the study wasn’t designed to delve into whether or not the women in the study were suffering from clinical depression or a hormone imbalance. Distinguishing between these is important because the treatments are very different. Antidepressants can be useful for hot flashes, but they don’t solve the underlying imbalance.

      Alternative practices such as acupuncture, mindfulness and meditation can also help reduce suffering. And using specific breathing techniques has been shown to reduce hot flashes by 44%. That’s better than any thing else that’s been studied (and it’s free!). Read more on that here.

      Herbs and Supplements Can Make a Difference

      The data on supplement use is lacking, but it’s unlikely that large scale studies will be done to prove efficacy. Supplements to consider include chasteberry, black cohosh, soy, clary sage oil, crinum latifolium (Crila®), fish oil, dong quai, DHEA, and progesterone cream. Many of these supplements are not appropriate for women with a history of estrogen sensitive cancer (breast, uterine), so if you have a personal history of this, ask your pharmacist before taking them. In my experience, clients have gotten the best results with progesterone cream.

      As with all supplements, quality matters. Make sure you are buying from a quality manufacturer. You can read more about choosing supplements wisely here.

      And remember, just because the symptoms CAN last up to 14 years doesn’t mean they will for you. Each woman’s journey is very unique. If you’re having trouble managing your symptoms, don’t suffer in silence. There are well-trained practitioners out there who can help you find relief. If you’re looking for a different direction for your menopause experience, I’d love to chat with you

      Feb
      12
      Dr. Anna Garrett
      What To Do When Hormone Imbalance Torpedoes Your Sex Drive
      Love & Sex
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      Of all the changes perimenopause brings, lack of interest in sex due to hormone imbalance is one of THE most common (and least discussed symptoms).

      How Perimenopause Creates Hormone Imbalance

      Thanks to progesterone production, Mother Nature gives us a natural increase in the desire for sex beginning just prior to ovulation. This lasts for several days afterwards to make sure our bodies take full advantage of prime time for conception. But as we enter perimenopause we ovulate less frequently and lose that regularly scheduled boost.

      A decrease in circulating estrogen can bring your sex drive down for the count AND cause thinning of the lining of the vagina which makes sex very painful for some women. Testosterone production also declines as we age. This is the hormone we typically think about when it comes to sex drive.

      Sprinkle some negative thoughts about aging or weight into the mix and it’s no wonder things come to a screeching halt.

      This is not a recipe for fun times!

      Ready to Ditch the Dry Spell?

      If you’re ready to put some sizzle back into a sagging love life, check out these suggestions:

      • Rule out medical reasons. Get tested for low thyroid function and iron deficiency anemia. These are two common disorders that can affect sex drive.
      • Find out if your hormones are imbalanced. You may have low testosterone which can be replaced with compounded cream. You’ll need a prescription for this.
      • Look in your medicine cabinet. If you are taking an SSRI antidepressant drug, birth control pills or diabetes medications, these may be contributing to lack of interest. You may have other options that won’t cause this side effect, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this.
      • Put estrogen on the spot. Using estrogen cream in the vagina soothes vaginal tissue, and allows the secretions necessary for comfortable sex. Estrogen is available as suppository tablets, creams, or “rings,” which sit inside the vagina and give off small doses of the hormone over time.
      • Vitamin E. When used locally in the vagina, Vitamin E can help rehydrate tissue and may possibly increase sensation. No need for a prescription here. Just stick a pin in a vitamin E capsule and apply to the vagina several times a week, even if you’re not having sex. And be sure to use a lubricant when you are having sex – either vitamin E or a commercially-prepared product such as K-Y Jelly or Astroglide.
      • Go nuts for coconut. Coconut oil (organic/expeller pressed) is very helpful as a moisturizer and lubricant. Proceed with caution if you’re also using latex condoms. Many oil-based lubricants can increase the risk of condoms breaking.
      • Talk to your partner. Open communication is always important…this is especially true in this situation. None of us wants our partner to feel rejected and that’s exactly what can happen if we’re not talking to each other! Explain what’s going on and the options you have to improve things. Approaching the problems as a team will help alleviate anxiety and fear.

      Mojo that is MIA in menopause can be frustrating. But fortunately, there are a variety of options to try. Once the underlying cause is identified and addressed, you’ll be back on track!

      Jan
      15
      Dr. Anna Garrett
      Is Perimenopause Sneaking up on You?
      Healthy Living
      0
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      My client, Sarah, is ready to kill her teenage children. Her nerves are shot and her patience left the building long ago.

      On the days she’s not in a murderous mood, she can barely drag herself out of bed.

      And she is wondering what the hell is going on.

      If you feel like your once-pleasant personality and your mojo have skipped town together, you’re not alone. The likely explanation is that perimenopause has kidnapped them.

      Perimenopause is sneaky.

      Some days she’s subtle, but other days she plows through your body like a pack of alien invaders.

      AND she is the mistress of disguise.

      Signs of perimenopause can start as early as your mid-late 30’s. While you’re in the thick of raising kids (or considering having more), your ovaries may be looking toward retirement.

      Maybe you notice that you’re just a little grouchier or that your periods aren’t quite as regular. Your PMS symptoms, which were once mildly annoying, are now raging. You gain weight even though you’re exercising and eating right.

      Is This Normal?

      Hormones begin shifting naturally around the age of 35 when estrogen and progesterone start to taper off very gradually prior to menopause. Because this is usually such a slow shift, many women may hardly feel this change happening in their bodies. However, for many women, these hormonal shifts may overwhelm the body’s ability to maintain balance. The result is severe symptoms that can go on for years. There are some very lucky women who don’t experience any of this until much later…and their symptoms are mild or non-existent. That’s normal too.

      Is It PMS or Perimenopause?

      Many of the symptoms of PMS overlap with perimenopause. In both cases, hormonal swings are the culprit. The difference is that PMS happens during the second half of your cycle. Perimenopause symptoms can happen at any time. Keeping a journal of your symptoms may help you sort this out if you’re not sure what’s going on.

      How Can I know for Sure if I’m in Perimenopause?

      The short answer is…you can’t. Lab tests in perimenopause can be unreliable because your hormones are bouncing around constantly on any given day. A lab test only gives a snapshot of what’s going on, and results can vary depending on the timing of the test. Many a woman has been dismissed with “your lab tests are normal” when she is, in fact, in perimenopause. You know your body better than anyone, so don’t settle for this if you feel like something is off.

      If you do have blood tests, your doctor will most likely test your FSH (and maybe your estrogen or progesterone levels). The closer your FSH is to 50, the closer you are to menopause.

      It’s a Hormone Problem, not a Prozac® Deficiency

      It’s important to recognize what’s going on because many a woman has ended up on antidepressants or sleeping pills because she (and her healthcare provider) did not recognize that these problems were related to a HORMONE IMBALANCE and not true depression. Antidepressants won’t fix the root cause of the problem.

      Misbehaving hormones can often be corrected with lifestyle, herbal and nutritional supplements. In some cases, hormone replacement may be necessary, but that’s not usually the place to start. The first step is to get tested to see what your imbalance is. This is important because signs of imbalance overlap. Low progesterone can look like low thyroid; high cortisol can look like low progesterone, etc.

      What If That Doesn’t Work?

      If changes in lifestyle don’t help, then it may be time to test your sex hormone levels and your cortisol levels. High cortisol levels can keep the rest of the musicians in your body’s orchestra from playing their best, so it’s important to have a picture of how you handle stress and address that first. Testing can be done with saliva, blood or urine (there are plusses and minuses for each method). Knowing your specific imbalances allows your hormone care provider to create a unique management plan for you.

      Sep
      17
      Dr. Anna Garrett
      Why You Can’t Diet and Exercise Past a Hormone Imbalance
      Healthy Living
      0
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      One of the most common complaints I hear from clients (and most women in midlife for that matter) is that they can’t lose weight no matter how much they diet and exercise. This is incredibly frustrating!

      The thing is, it may not have anything to do with what you’re doing or not doing.

      It may be your hormones.

      Any and all hormonal imbalances lead to difficulty losing weight and an increased risk of obesity. Unfortunately, the most common imbalances can’t be solved by dieting alone. In fact,they can prevent successful fat loss even when great diet and exercise plans are in place. If you haven’t been successful in the past, chances are, one or more the following hormonal imbalances could be the problem:

      1. Inflammation

      Digestive disorders, allergies, autoimmune disease, arthritis, asthma, eczema, acne, abdominal fat, headaches, depression or sinus disorders are ALL associated with chronic inflammation, which has become recognized as the root cause of obesity and most diseases associated with aging.

      Inflammation causes production of cortisol which is associated with that muffin top you just can’t lose.

      2. Insulin excess

      Insulin’s main function is to process carbohydrates in the bloodstream and carry it into cells to be used as fuel or stored as fat. There are several reasons for excess insulin, but the main culprits are: stress, consuming too many nutrient-poor carbohydrates (the type found in processed foods, sugary drinks and sodas, packaged low-fat foods and artificial sweeteners), insufficient protein intake, inadequate fat intake, and low fiber consumption.

      Heart palpitations, sweating, poor concentration, weakness, anxiety, fogginess, fatigue, irritability or impaired thinking are common short-term side effects of high insulin. And our body typically responds to these unpleasant feelings by making us think we’re hungry, which causes us to reach for high-sugar foods and drinks. It’s a vicious cycle which only furthers weight gain and our risk of diabetes and heart disease.

      Click here to learn more about insulin and weight gain.

      3. Depression or anxiety

      Serotonin exerts a powerful influence over our mood, emotions, memory, cravings (especially for carbohydrates), self-esteem, pain tolerance, sleep habits, appetite, digestion and body temperature regulation. When we’re depressed or down, we naturally crave more sugars and starches to stimulate the production of serotonin. And then we become more depressed because we’re gaining weight. The stress of this creates more cortisol which creates more cravings!

      4. Chronic stress

      Under situations of chronic stress – whether the stress is physical, emotional, mental or environmental, real or imagined – our bodies release high amounts of the hormone cortisol. If you have a mood disorder like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or exhaustion, or if you have a digestive issue such as irritable bowel syndrome, you can bet your body is cranking up your cortisol…even if you don’t FEEL stressed.

      Through a complicated network of hormonal interactions, prolonged stress results in a raging appetite, metabolic decline, belly fat and a loss of hard-won, metabolically active muscle tissue. In other words, stress makes us soft, flabby and much older than we truly are! And it wears out our poor little adrenal glands, resulting in adrenal fatigue.

      Click here to find out if your adrenals are fine or frazzled.

      5. High levels of estrogen

      Researchers have identified excess estrogen (in both sexes) to be as great a risk factor for obesity as poor eating habits and lack of exercise.

      There are two ways to accumulate excess estrogen in the body: we either produce too much of it on our own or acquire it from our environment or diet. We’re constantly exposed to estrogen-like compounds in foods that contain toxic pesticides, herbicides and growth hormones. A premenopausal woman with estrogen dominance will likely have PMS, too much body fat around the hips and difficulty losing weight.

      Menopausal women and men with too much estrogen may experience low libido, memory loss, poor motivation, depression, loss of muscle mass and increased belly fat.

      To compound all of this, fat cells MAKE estrogen…so the more fat you have, the higher your estrogen is likely to be.

      6. Low testosterone

      Testosterone enhances libido, bone density, muscle mass, strength, motivation, memory, fat burning and skin tone in both men and women. When testosterone is low, an increase of body fat and loss of muscle may still happen – even with dieting and exercise.

      Testosterone levels tend to taper off with age, increased obesity and stress, but today men are experiencing testosterone decline much earlier in life – an alarming finding, considering low testosterone has been linked to depression, obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease and even death.

      Endocrine-suppressing, estrogen-like compounds used in pesticides and other farming chemicals may be to blame for the downward trend in male testosterone levels. Phthalates, commonly found in cosmetics, soaps and most plastics are another known cause of testosterone suppression.

      7. Hypothyroidism

      Without enough thyroid hormone, every system in the body slows down. People who suffer from hypothyroidism feel tired, tend to sleep a lot, and experience constipation and weight gain. Other common symptoms include extremely dry skin, hair loss, feeling cold, brittle hair, splitting nails, and decreased libido.

      If you think you may have a thyroid condition, make sure your doctor assesses you and your full range of symptoms, not just your blood work. Even levels of TSH (an indicator of thyroid function) within the normal range have been proven to accelerate weight gain and to interfere with a healthy metabolic rate in both men and women.

      Click here to find out more about thyroid’s effects on weight.

      If you’d like to know more about the complexities of weight gain in midlife, please join me TONIGHT for Cracking the Midlife Weight Loss Code: Your 3-Step Plan to Stop the Yo-Yo FOREVER! You can find all the details right here.