As women, keeping our hormone balance and health in check is not an easy task in today's highly endocrine-disruptive society. Due to job-related and self-induced stress, harmful chemicals found in certain foods and beauty products, and prioritizing the needs of others before ourselves, we may feel quite defeated and flat-out exhausted much of the time. It is a vicious cycle, trying to navigate life while maintaining our most optimal, healthy state.
If you're like me, tack on years of body shaming, overindulging in sugar and caffeine, excessive alcohol consumption, toxic relationships, and wacky sleep cycles. It was a recipe for complete disaster that wreaked havoc on my hormones. Only recently was I so rudely awakened by how much of a burden those years of unhealthy lifestyle habits had become, resulting in what I self-diagnosed to be endometriosis. From the outside, all was seemingly well and things appeared to be smooth sailing. On the inside, my hormones were a wreck.
The advice from my gynecologist was to go back on birth control, but for me, that was not an option. I stuck with my intuition and chose to move forward with a holistic approach and sought out alternative ways of getting relief and healing. Much of the work now lies in understanding how to reverse the damage that I created and reduce the excess buildup of estrogen in my body, which played a huge role in what led to my endometriosis. While it can feel very complex and consuming at times, the journey itself has been far more rewarding than I expected, and I am honored to bring awareness to other women who may be suffering silently.
Here are seven ways in which I’m finding much relief and healing:
1. Regular acupuncture
Acupuncture has been the catalyst for my healing. I've witnessed a tremendous amount of pain relief and with the help and support of my acupuncturist, I'm discovering what types of foods are either contributing to or assisting in the breakdown of excess estrogen in my body. Because the liver is the main pathway in breaking down estrogen, we've targeted certain catechol-heavy foods to remove from my diet, including caffeine, alcohol, meat, dairy, and soy. (Note: This is not a universal protocol but one that we have identified to work based on my individual needs.)
2. Intuitive eating
I once thought that a vegan diet worked for me, but I'm now learning that it doesn't. In order to better nourish my hormones, I now favor an intuitive approach to eating. It allows me the freedom to eat based on my body's current needs and hormonal state. While some days I may eat a mostly plant-based diet, other days may consist of eggs, fish, bone broths, and protein to ensure that I'm keeping my blood sugar levels in check. It's important that I constantly listen to my body to better understand where I need additional nourishment in order to maintain hormonal balance.
3. Limiting caffeine and alcohol
The reduction has been a game-changer. When my symptoms were at their height, any form of caffeine (including matcha) immediately made me nauseous. I have significantly cut back my consumption (one to two times a week at most) and remove it completely two weeks prior to my period. I've replaced caffeine with Ayurvedic blends (golden milk) and experiment with adaptogenic herbs. It's rare that I indulge in alcohol these days, but I appreciate when establishments serve kombucha on tap, as that's usually my "social" go-to.
4. Leaving my job
I know, it's a big one. I've dramatically reduced the level of stress in my life by choosing to leave my career in advertising. The decision was a commitment to my overall health in order to give my body the attention it deserved. As a result, I've awakened to a greater purpose and have shifted my focus toward more fulfilling and healing work. Teaching yoga allows me to find and share my voice while holistic health counseling allows me to help other women find healing who may be facing similar struggles.
5. Building a restorative yoga and meditation practice
I've dialed down the more aggressive forms of movement in favor of restorative and yin. Gentle movement is much better on my body, and when combined with a consistent meditation practice and deep breathing, the effects are transformative.
6. Prioritizing self-care and rest
In addition to a consistent yoga and meditation practice, I've come to understand the importance of proper self-care, which includes an abundance of rest. When I overcommit or overly exhaust my energy, I immediately begin to notice that heightened symptoms reappear. I've accepted the fact that I require a significant amount of rest and prioritize it among all else. I'm mindful about how I choose to spend my time and make sure to balance social engagements with self-care and moments of solitude.
7. Syncing my cycle with the moon
This method allows me to honor my femininity and assists with how I schedule my time and commitments each month. I'm completely in sync with the new moon, meaning that my period begins with the onset of each new moon. During my follicular phase (waxing crescent moon), I feel a burst of energy and motivation. That's when I tend to increase physical activity, begin new projects, and spend more time socializing and connecting with my community. During ovulation and when approaching my menstrual cycle (full and waning crescent moons), my energy levels are extremely low and I feel my heaviest and most painful symptoms arise. I limit commitments and try to keep my calendar flexible so that I can rest as often as I need it. The foods that I eat during each phase are extremely important as well, and for that I have been following Alisa Vitti’s Woman Code protocol.
As women, I truly believe that we must put ourselves and our health first. Too many of us are fighting quietly. Our struggles deserve attention so that we may get to the root cause of our imbalances in order to find healing. Just know that you are not alone.