Just to be clear: if you’re struggling with a chronic hormonal issue like PCOS, infertility, or amenorrhea your best bet is to go find a good endocrinologist who can run blood tests and give you specific advice. Diagnosing yourself over the internet is not a substitute for a doctor! But while you’re waiting for an appointment, here are some studies that point to possible avenues for normalizing estrogen levels.
Like many other overweight and obese people, particularly women, you may have tried time and time again to lose weight with little to no success. You may feel discouraged and wonder what’s the point in even trying? While you’re not alone in these feelings and frustrations, there are some key weight loss tips involved in women’s weight loss you might not know about — and that could make all the difference.
3. Be realistic about which habits need to go. "When I was heavy, I'd eat French fries every single day, plus carbs at almost every meal—like a sandwich for lunch or bread with pasta for dinner. A diet so heavy in fried food and carbs just isn't conducive to weight loss. To lose the weight, I went from three large meals a day to six small meals, mostly made of fresh vegetable salads with lean meats and nuts. And no more bread!"
While many people turn to artificial sweeteners in a misguided attempt to whittle their waistlines, those fake sugars are likely to have the opposite effect. According to researchers at Yale, artificial sweeteners are actually linked with an increased risk of abdominal obesity and weight gain, possibly because they can trigger cravings for the real stuff and spike insulin levels in a similar fashion to real sugar.
1 Reference for 5%: Blackburn G. (1995). Effect of degree of weight loss on health benefits. Obesity Research 3: 211S-216S. Reference for 10%: NIH, NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/ob_gdlns.pdf Cdc-pdf[PDF-1.25MB]External
Unfortunately, that balance can be hard to find when our ancient evolutionary responses just aren’t appropriate for the modern food environment. Especially for women who are already overweight, it’s entirely possible that the fat -> estrogen -> fat cycle can spiral out of control. Weight loss by itself approaches this problem from one angle (less fat means lower estrogen production), but specifically addressing estrogen might also be helpful.
Sit up tall on the floor with your knees bent and feet off the ground. You can use a medicine ball or hold a weighted plate with your hands at chest height. Lean backward with a long, tall spine, holding your torso at a 45-degree angle and keeping your arms a few inches away from your chest. From here, turn your torso to the right, pause and squeeze your core muscles, then turn your torso fully to the left, and pause and squeeze your ab muscles. That’s one rep. Continue alternating sides and twisting for a total of 20 reps. Then rest for 30 seconds and repeat the movement for 30 reps. Rest for one minute and complete a third set for 40 reps.
If you follow food trends, you might think you have to fall in love with cauliflower and kale to reap all the rewards that veggies offer, but that isn’t the case. Be it broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, red peppers, cabbage, spinach, or any other vegetable, the idea is to eat a variety of them and find plenty of ways to enjoy their goodness. So if you just can’t stomach steamed Brussels sprouts, try them roasted, or give sautéed Brussels sprouts a try. If raw zucchini isn’t your thing, see if you like it spiralized into noodles or grilled on a grill pan.
5. Start with one small change. "I realized that a lot of sugar and calories that I consumed came from drinks, so I challenged myself to drink only water—no sugary drinks!—for 30 days. After just one successful week, I decided to add another challenge: to cut back on the carbs I was eating. When I did eat bread, I switched to wheat bread and when I wanted rice, I used brown rice."
Food preferences: Think about whether the foods on a given diet are things that you generally enjoy. If you hate eating greens, you won’t like a diet filled with salads; but if you have a sweet tooth, a diet that substitutes milkshakes for meals might be more your speed. Consider a diet's overall approach to food and ask yourself, realistically, if you can eat the foods on this plan more or less for the rest of your life? And will you enjoy the foods on a given diet plan, or if it will feel like a “diet” food that you won’t be able to stick with long-term?
Remember that these are all perfectly understandable evolutionary design features. Higher estrogen levels during puberty drive fat gain as an energy reserve in case you get pregnant. During early pregnancy, they go into overdrive to “stock up” for the approaching challenge. Your body still hasn’t caught up to the 21st century; it still thinks its job is to keep you (a) alive, and (b) fertile in an environment of extreme food scarcity and a constant threat of famine. So storing extra fat at every opportunity makes perfect sense: back in the day, it could have meant the difference between life and death (or a healthy baby and a miscarriage).
Eat Breakfast Every Day. One habit that's common to many people who have lost weight and kept it off is eating breakfast every day. "Many people think skipping breakfast is a great way to cut calories, but they usually end up eating more throughout the day, says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. "Studies show people who eat breakfast have lower BMIs than breakfast-skippers and perform better, whether at school or in the boardroom." Try a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and low-fat dairy for a quick and nutritious start to your day.