Like many women, I have spent a lifetime trying to keep my hormones in check. For us women, the slightest amount of stress, whether physical or emotional, can really affect our body’s homeostasis. It’s fantastic to see all these very lean, hot and young Instagram models, or watch a Victoria’s Secret Lingerie show, but to be honest having a body like that is nothing but a dream for 90% of women out there.
Many of us ladies struggle with excess weight that they can’t seem to get rid off. In the meantime we are bombarded with advertisements and commercials about how diet and exercise can transform our bodies into one of a lean 16 year old. Unfortunately we couldn’t be further from the truth. Many women struggle to lose weight due to different imbalances, mostly caused by modern day culprits like lack of sleep, bad diet and high stress levels.
In my belief, the following issues can affect women’s ability to lose weight:
- Hormonal imbalances, in particular low thyroid function
- Emotional Blockages affecting the physical body
- Adrenal fatigue, often caused by chronic stress
- Chronic digestive imbalances
- Chronic inflammation
- The body’s inability to detoxify wastes
To correct a chronic imbalance, one can not simply go to the gym and eat proteins. Much more comes into play when we’re trying to heal the body from a holistic point of view.
For those women who have a chronic low thyroid, high cortisol or drained adrenals, heavy exercise which adds stress to the body might not be the best solution. It could even cause weight gain instead of the desired weight loss. In my experience there is only one way to fix the chronic imbalances I have addressed in this article without resorting to take medication, hormones or artificial supplements. I am all for natural cures as I believe they are more sustainable and less harmful for the body and mind. I know many women who have not reacted well to taking hormones for thyroid imbalance or living on a high protein diet (which somehow is always recommended for adrenal fatigue), not to mention the ethical aspects of eating animals at every meal!
As for having a healthy weight, let’s first please keep in mind that women are not supposed to be lean to begin with! Our bodies are developed for having babies. Therefore a woman’s fat percentage is higher than that of a man, and we have different hormones playing different roles in our well-being. It is harder for women to lose weight, and generally exercise makes us much more hungry than men. Leaning out a woman’s body is not easy, unless we tweak our diet in such a way that different hormones start dominating our physique, turning us into a more masculine type. It always scares me when I see girls with six-packs or massive arms, I don’t think it’s healthy nor something we should aspire to have.
A NORMAL fat percentage for a woman ranges anywhere between 21 and 28 %. There is nothing abnormal about having a fat percentage of 27 or 28%. Whether you’re happy with it, is another question. I personally have a range from anywhere between 18 and 28%. With a lifelong low thyroid function (Inherited by my parents) and years and years of chronic stress, which raised my cortisol and drained by adrenals, I know like no other what it’s like to struggle with weight loss and staying lean. In addition to this, when we carry emotional baggage, for instance childhood trauma’s, lack or self esteem or other issues stored in the cellular memory, we can do whatever we want, but the weight won’t shed, or will keep coming back.
So how do we approach getting fit holistically? Here are my tips for women who struggle to lose weight:
- Make sure you understand your body type. Some women are built differently than others. We all have a perfect weight. BMI doesn’t mean much. You need to work with what suits you, and stop comparing yourself to others. What weight makes you feel good and where do you feel you are most healthy and in balance? Be honest with yourself and work towards health more than being a supermodel. I once managed to weigh 60 kilos, with my 5’9 height and big bones structure that was too little. I stopped getting my period, yet I did everything to maintain that weight. So that’s an example of an unhealthy weight I’d say.
- Get your hormones checked. In Dubai I recommend getting a hormonal profile done at Eternity Medicine in Dubai Marina. Based on the results of the test, you can work with your particular issue.
- For women with chronic stress and adrenal exhaustion, or high cortisol levels, it’s best to avoid stressful situations, coffee, long cardio sessions and stick to a diet of legumes, fish, eggs, nuts and lot’s of vegetables. I honestly feel this works, regardless of the ethical ideas I have about eating animal proteins. Also, taking a good supplement, which includes adaptogens like Maca Root and Ashwaganda can really nourish the adrenals. Personally I feel that even green tea affects my adrenals, so I’d try to stay away from caffeine as much as possible, even though I know this is very hard to do.
- Work with your emotional issues. When you carry resentment, pain, sadness, bitterness, lack of self love etc, all these vibrations affect your body. I don’t believe we are only a product of flesh, blood and bones. Our thoughts affect our life, and with that also our physical being. Work on releasing negative emotions, through prayer, meditation, coaching and other forms of spirituality and self development. I have found that several emotional release techniques have been helpful to shed weight, as well as getting regular sessions of energy healing or shamanic healing.
- Walk as much as possible. Walking should be an absolute must for women. Walking should be done outdoors preferably, in nature or on the beach. Walk 30 minutes a day minimum, this is a great way to stay healthy, lean and happy.
- Do regular fasts. I personally fast at least twice a year for 5 days. During these fasts sometimes I only have water, sometimes green vegetable juice. It really does wonders for the body and at the same time is an emotional purge. A fast can make you lose up to 4 kgs in a week and the weight generally stays off. I also find fasting very beneficial to cure PMS symptoms and it gives a massive energy boost. Generally after a fast I tend to stick to raw foods for a couple of weeks without any issues. This really cleans out your body like nothing else.
- Acupuncture! Getting regular acupuncture sessions can really help balancing out the body and boost the functioning of the vital organs. In Chinese Medicine we look at the body as a whole, not at the individual organs or components like in Western Medicine. Acupuncture treatments stimulate different energy points and meridiens in the body and help to cure imbalances in the system. Acupuncture has now been accepted by Western Medicine as well for effectiveness in curing depression, anxiety and other issues. It really works and I recommend women to have regular sessions.
- Alkalize: Chronic inflammation is caused by an acidic internal climate. It can be cured easily by alkalizing the body. How do we alkalize? Through foods, breathing practices, exercise, fresh air and positive thought forms. A diet of green juices, vegetables and other alkalizing foods is recommended for those who suffer from chronic inflammation. More info on the alkaline diet you can find here. Following a mostly alkaline diet for a while can help cure inflammation.
- Herbs: Many herbs and natural supplements are recommended for women. Some of my favorites for hormonal balance are adaptogens like Maca Root and Ashwaganda. I also am a big fan of Vitex Tinctures to work with estrogen dominance. Furthermore I think all women should take a good quality Omega Oil and Fatty Acids supplement, as well as some herbs to detoxity, clean out the gut and heal the intestinal lining, like charcaol, cayenne, flaxseeds, natural fibers and slippery elm. Again, all these supplements needs to be carefully adjusted to the individual and best is to see a holistic practitioner, herbalist or Chinese Medicine doctor to prescribe these herbs.
- Take regular breaks. It’s really important for women to rest up. Sleep is important, a minimum of 7 – 9 hours is recommended. Rest and recovery time is important. We tend to be overwhelmed by all responsibilities and activities we have. There is nothing bad about doing nothing for a week every 2 months. It makes us more productive and less stressed. I recommend a time out every 6 to 8 weeks to stay balanced. Meditation, Yoga, regular walks, sunshine and restful healing activities are recommended.
These are simple tips to get us through life without burning out while keeping our body healthy. As a Yoga Teacher and Holistic Practitioner, health & life balance remains to be one of my key interests. If you’re interested to learn more about Yoga, visit my other website: www.kayayogatherapy.com
I hope this article has been useful for you! Please do comment below or email me with any questions: [email protected]