Hey friend! My husband and I have felt so loved since we announced the news of Baby Markovitz... it's helped me not to feel so crappy knowing that so many are praying and thinking about our little one <3
It was a long road to get my body and hormones prepared for pregnancy. I spent over 2 years eating a very "cleaned up" Paleo diet, but still suffered with irregular cycles and hormones, which was so disheartening and frustrating!
I started digging deeper with my practitioner and discovered some pretty alarming test results: late ovulation and very low progesterone (the hormone responsible for helping to carry a pregnancy, especially during the first trimester), in addition to a parasite, suppressed immune system, adrenal dysfunction and gut troubles.
It was at this time I realized how important it is to listen to your body. Deep down, I knew my changes with food were not enough, but the truth is, I really needed to look at my entire lifestyle. I wanted to "fix" one pillar, without addressing the rest (but after working with many clients, I think we all like to try to get away with that!)
You'll find, most of the changes I made were focused on changing what was happening in my life... and clearly, it has made all the difference!
How I Balanced My Hormones
and Improved My Fertility
1. Lots of Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are critical for balancing hormones, including saturated fats and cholesterol. Eating a combination of short, medium, and long chain fatty acids is the best way to ensure you are giving your body what it needs to produce hormones properly.
While eating a Paleo diet, I still managed to be on the "lower fat" side... probably from years of only hearing about "low fat diets." It was a hard one to break!
However, I committed to eating healthy fats at every meal in the form of grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and most especially, avocados (avocado "toast" became my favorite breakfast!). I also increased my Omega-3 intake by eating wild-caught salmon a couple times a week. During this time, I discovered that nuts seemed to irritate my skin, so I kept those out to help with my gut integrity.
ACTION TIP: Add healthy fats to each of your meals this week (just make sure you also rebalance the rest of your plate so you aren't just adding calories!)
2. Improved Gut Health & Digestion
Discovering I had a parasite was difficult to wrap my head around, but honestly, with the amount of bloating and distress I felt, I was happy to have an answer. I dealt with the parasite using a separate, very involved protocol, but did not have to make many changes to my food since it was cleaned up.
Instead, I really focused on improving my gut integrity (specifically any issues of leaky gut - read my post about it here) and proper digestion. This included sitting down to eat, taking a few deep breaths to get into parasympathetic mode, chewing my food to liquid and avoiding liquids during my meals.
I also included some digestive enzymes and stomach acid supplements, as needed. Additionally, I drank bone broth and ate/drank probiotic foods nearly every day (kombucha and saurkraut were the most frequent!).
Without a strong digestive system, it is hard to absorb and use macronutrients and micronutrients appropriately. It also causes a lot of inflammation and distress in the body. Focusing on proper digestion will always be critical to improving health. This is definitely something I chat about with every 1-1 client.
ACTION TIP: Take 3-5 deep breaths and sit down before you begin each meal.
3. Switched to Non-Toxic Products (Beauty, Household, etc)
I avoided this one for a long time... perhaps I just didn't realize the impact it could have on my hormones.
To make the switch, I used the Environmental Working Groups (EWG) rating system of over 72,000 products. I mostly used the app and would scan products in the stores, or look them up ahead of time. It was an easy switch - once I knew what I wanted to use, I just continued to purchase those products.
I also started transitioning to stainless steel and cast iron pans instead of the nonstick pans, and I started buying glass products instead of plastic (for drinking glasses, storage containers, and more).
I also began using Beautycounter products over the summer in 2016 and have slowly been replacing my beauty products to this company (or again, I check the EWG rating!). I've been so happy with their performance I became a consultant and now have helped women choose safer beauty products for themselves and their families. Reach out if you need to start lowering your toxic load from your beauty products!
I started with makeup or products that were going to be on my skin for a long period of time (foundation, moisterizer, creams, sunscreen) and now I'm almost fully converted :)
ACTION TIP: Switch at least 2 products in your home, bathroom, beauty routine this week... and then continue the trend next week!
4. Targeted Supplements
I mentioned above that I did take some supplements to help support my digestion as needed, but I took several other supplements that I think helped with stabilizing my hormones.
I do not want to share exactly what I was taking, as I think each woman is unique and should honor her individual body, but one supplement was specifically used to help the production of progesterone. I can definitely say that my cycles were more regular once I took this religiously (and I even noticed that my cycle would go "wonky" if I missed it for a while... I did this on accident while traveling!)
I also took adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens are herbs that promote hormone balance according to what your body needs, aka it helps your body adapt. It also is very helpful in aiding with immune function and combating stress. I felt a noticable difference when I added in adaptogens.
I also want to note that I took professional grade supplements, nothing that I was picking up at the regular grocery store. A few brands I love: Biotics Research, Standard Process, Pure Encapsulations, and more!
ACTION TIP: Reach out to a practitioner or nutritionist to discover what supplements would be good for you to add to your routine.
5. Low-Impact & Less Stressful Exercise
This one was really hard for this HIIT junkie! I stopped my intense exercises and switched to low-impact, less stress workouts. In fact, most days I went for hour+ long walks (lots of podcasts and audiobooks!). I also went to hot yoga up to 3x a week.
Towards the time Baby Markovitz happened, I started to add in more weight/resistance training (2x a week), but I made sure I kept my heart rate low and did not do any cardio between sets. If anything, I went for a walk later in the day.
Because I was most afraid of my weight changing by doing this, I want to add that my body hardly changed! My weight stayed pretty consistent, possibly even a little less, and I still had a lot of tone (probably from holding down dog so long!). I think this really helped reduce my overall stress impact.
I also suggest getting your workout first this in the morning whenever you feel rested and refreshed so that you don't go through a stressful day AND THEN add another stressful workout at night.
ACTION TIP: Replace one of your HIIT workouts this week for a nice long walk to decrease your stress load.
6. More Rest & Sleep
Breathe in-2-3-4, Breathe out-2-3-4.
I did this an awful lot ;) especially when I could feel my heart rate racing or when I could physically feel myself staying in that fight-or-flight mode, high stress mode.
While I would not necessarily call it meditation, I did create my own meditation practice in the morning by gratitude journaling, breathing, and setting myself up for a low stress day.
My husband and I also started going to bed whenever we were tired. What an idea, right?! I felt like there were so many days we were saying away later because... you aren't "supposed" to go to bed at 8?! I'm not sure, but once I shoved that stereotype to the side, I started feeling SO much better.
A big thing that helps me is turning off the TV in the bedroom. My husband loves watching TV in bed, especially to unwind in the evening, but recently, we've been turning it off and chatting before falling asleep - although the chatting doesn't last too long because one of us is snoring much quicker these days!
ACTION TIP: Go to bed before you feel tired and relax in bed!
7. Reduced Stress
Of all 7 tips, this is the one that matters the most. YOU MUST REDUCE YOUR STRESS.
Sometimes, that may mean making really hard decisions... such as quitting your stressful job or moving. In fact, that's what we did! We ended up moving from FL to PA to be near our families and immediately my stress levels plummeted... I was so much more "at home." I did not even realize how much stress I was carrying around until stressor was gone.
The truth is that our body does not decipher where the stress is coming from... meaning the stress from a workout is the same as the stress for your demanding and the stress from eating inflammatory foods.
The more control you can gain over controlling and decreasing your overall stress, the better!
ACTION TIP: It's hard to give specific tips because everyone experiences and deals with stress differently. I would consider several areas of your life and figure out one way you can decrease stress in each area.
* Food/Nutrition * Exercise * Relationships * Sleep * Job/Career *
If working on balancing your hormones is something you are struggling with or would like to investigate further, I work with 1-1 clients. Please feel free to email me and see if we are a good match!