I assume I can’t be the only person that has had this experience, so in sharing, I am hopeful that if this happens to you, or someone you know:
- you’ll know your not alone
- you’ll have some tools
Cortisol “steals” Progesterone
When we are in stress (and pain is a form of stress on the body) our bodies are resourceful and produce more cortisol by tapping into our progesterone, which is a prehormone to cortisol. While I find it cool that the body knows how to be resourceful, as a 44 year old woman, I am counting on my progesterone to keep my menstrual cycle moving along.
I didn’t fully notice the difference between the first half and the second half of my menstrual cycle until I reached my forties, but I sure do now! Amanda Allen, world class athlete, talks about how her cycles impact her athletic performance in this podcast interview with Dave Asprey.
My Toothache Hormone Spiral Story
It started with a toothache in mid-July. When I was a girl, I had a bicycle accident and landed on my face. Because of the way I landed, every once in a while I have some challenges with my 2 front teeth (ouch!).
Apparently my body interpreted the pain from the tooth as a signal to produce more cortisol. That started the first step into my hormone spiral. The tooth-pain-triggered progesterone “steal” was enough to impact the timing of my period… another step in my hormone spiral.
I ended up needing heavy course of antibiotics followed by a surgery in early August, which was followed by another course of antibiotics. It was totally worth it to save my front teeth, but those heavy-duty antibiotics left my internal terrain vulnerable.
And in less than a month, I had gained 5 pounds! On my 5’4″ frame, five pounds is not insignificant. The good news is, I am now following my action plan (which I share below), and my body is responding well!
Solution for my Hormone Spiral
I didn’t notice the weight-gain at first, but when I finally “woke up” and noticed it, an unkind thought crossed my mind about my shifting hormones. Yet, it feels much better to focus on appreciating that my body is wise and it was doing what it thought was best for me.
What to do when one “wakes up” from a hormone spiral?
Usually it sounds something like this: “not another day, not another minute… this must change right now” From there, we need an action plan. Here’s mine:
Reinoculate my gut after the antibiotics
With the guidance of my nutritionally-informed healthcare professional, Dr. Justin Marchegiani, I will be taking a series of probiotics for the next 60-days to support my internal terrain
Moderate Workouts (not intense)
Movement is a great tool for helping us keep our personal biochemistry in balance. As part of my post-spiral action plan, I am going to keep my workouts to a moderate or mild pace for the next week. I’ll hold off on any intense request from my body as a signal to “stay calm” and hopefully lower my cortisol-demand.
For more about workouts, check out this article on workout portions.
Anti- inflammatory Diet
Even when I’m not coming out of a hormone-spiral, my goal is to mostly choose foods that are nourishing. But mostly does not mean always, since like most humans, I enjoy having some food freedom. However, this next week, I will be very focused on making loving choices about what I put in my body.
- drinking a lot of water
One of my simple secrets for getting in more water is to bring water up to bed with me and leave it on my night stand so I can start the day with 12 ounces of water right when I wake up.
- focusing on anti-inflammatory choices
That includes choosing more alkaline options, such as dark-green leafy vegetables. And also steering clear of my food sensitivities.
- honoring the Digestion Zone (free digestion timer ap in itunes)
The Digestion Zone is one of my favorite go-to tools whenever I am feeling a little bit off. It doesn’t take up any time to get the energy boost! (Thanks so much to Antonios who turned the Digestion Zone into such an awesome ap!!!)
- Patience and Love
My first reaction was feeling uncomfortable in my snuggly fitting clothes, but then I could hear my own words in my head…. “embrace all the hues of our humanness”. This hormone experience is yet another one of my hues. So for now, I can look at the extra weight as a reminder of how complex and inter-connected my body is. And at the same time, appreciate that by following this action plan, I am returning to hormone equilibrium and that awesome hop out of bed in the morning happy and with energy feeling.
- drinking a lot of water
Have you ever had something similar happen to you or someone you know?