Hormones, hormones, hormones.
A term I guess we aren’t always up for talking about or even listening to, but as of late, something I’ve gotten a whole lot used to. The word hormone is usually, and probably obviously, always linked to the period talk. Sure, it has a huge role to play in the woman’s cycle, but actually, as I’ve recently discovered, it’s goes a whole lot further.
To go back a little, 2 years ago to be precise, I’d just moved back from Australia to my family home in London. I was jobless and trying to figure out where I belonged. Having set up a small granola business whilst in Australia, I was keen to see if I could take that anywhere here. In order to do this, I of course need a part time job to help coincide with my granola brain. Within a few weeks, I managed to get a job working as a waitress at an extremely busy restaurant. I was quick to learn, that although I’d worked in hospitality before, this particular one was definitely not for me. I quit, thus jobless again. Being jobless in itself was weird to me, as I’d been employed since I was 16. A keen bean to earn some money, obviously to throw it left right and centre at all of the clothes, shoes, products that I didn’t need; I’m sure most of you can relate when it comes to our 16 year old pasts. I was stressed, tired and with the added pressure of society, I felt quite hopeless. This, is what I believe led me to have my first ‘hormonal episode’ if you wish. I was breaking out more than ever before, mostly around my chin and jawline. I will add, that I was known for having great skin growing up. Not to blow my own trumpet or sound ever so shallow, but I was extremely lucky to have very clear skin going through my teenage years. I ate well and exercised regularly, I didn’t understand where on earth this was coming from, painful cystic type acne, to the point where I didn’t want to leave the house. A few weeks had passed and I was working again, but having these constant terrible breakouts, they would clear, then the next day come back with a vengeance. Alongside these cystic breakouts, came a constant feeling of tiredness and adrenal fatigue. I had trouble sleeping and had lost some much needed weight. I was embarrassed and confused and was trying to figure out what on earth was going on with my body. I will add, I also hadn’t had a period in at least 6 months at this point, but had always been very irregular, so always brushed it under the carpet. I’d had tests done before, to which nothing came back and I was told it was mostly a combination of naturally have a small frame, being very active with a fast metabolism. I also used to be a serious runner, so at the ripe age of 12, I was running between 10-15k a week..
A few months had past and many internet sites had been visited, my skin was finally starting to clear up. I’d made a few changes in my diet, which was mostly upping my fat content; I’m talking about all the good kinds of fats, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut. See from the short time I spent back home prior to this episode, I realised, although I was eating what looked like and I thought was a healthy diet, realistically, my body was not responding well to it. I’d fallen into a then current online fad in vegan world of HCLF, to which I had pretty much removed most of the healthy fats from my diet. So some obvious changes were made and I’d started to see a huge improvement in my skin, it was almost back to normal. I also started using coconut oil and coconut oil only when moisturising, which let me tell you is a magical ingredient indeed.
Fast forward to a few months ago, after pretty much having my normal skin back, plus a regular few months of periods, I started to feel a very familiar jabbing pain on my chin. I brushed it aside and thought perhaps it was just the odd one coming to say hey at the time of the month.. oh how I was wrong. I was going through a very hard time with the business that I was still running, mixed with a few home issues, it’s safe to say, I had reached an extremely stressed out Soph, and again, probably lacking in the nourishing of myself side. I was working out to excess to combat the stress, thus probably not eating enough of the right foods, sleeping very little and spending way too much time on all of my electronic devices stressing about ‘what was next’. The cystic acne was angry, I missed my last two periods and the fatigue was worse than I remember before. I was short with anyone and everyone I knew and going through the rest of the ol’ stuff life throws at us, I was not in a good place.
I decided to once and for all, take it into my own hands and sort out whatever was going on in my body. I spoke to people who I knew had been through a similar things as it was quite clear to me now, that my hormones were well and truly out of whack. I got some tests done, got myself a copy of ‘The Woman Code’ and really started working on my diet and overall lifestyle. I was making sure to include plenty of fats at each meal, plus snacks and also limiting my fructose consumption. A few days later I got my tests back. I had extreme low levels of oestrogen and vitamin D (no surprise given that I live in the UK), which given that this is the hormone us females produce, this was not good. The doctors did what they normally do and tried to prescribe me what we know as ‘the pill’. Heeeeell no. There was no way I was going to take that sh*t and was adamant to the fact that I would heal myself naturally. From then on so many things started to make sense. I went back in a time a little and In some ways, it’s almost as if I didn’t properly hit puberty in terms of my cycle, as its common to have low oestrogen before you start and also right before menopause.
My body had decided enough was enough and, clearly, or not so clearly, showed up right where I didn’t want it. I’ve spent the last few months reading/researching copious amounts of information, talking to a naturopath and really working hard at my overall diet and lifestyle. As someone who works, lives and breathes the current health, food and wellness scene, I was so shocked that I had such an imbalance that I really didn’t know anything about. A lot of it has been about balancing my blood sugar levels, making sure they are stable in order for my hormones to work or run properly. Don’t get me wrong, it can be scary and sometimes makes no sense to me, but it’s a learning curve right.. and I’m sure at some point we’ve all had some sort of hormonal scare.
So, why am I sharing this (and hopefully not boring you to want to have a quick midday nap).. well, my story is only one story and very minor in the grand schemes of things. But, as I said, I thought I was extremely healthy, working out, and enjoying being a long term vegan, but everyone is so different and one persons way of living/eating may not be for you.
Side note, during this time I was infuriated by the amount of people that had a similar thing (low oestrogen), that they had gone back to eating animals products. By no means does this put a downer on veganism, nor my belief that eating a vegan diet is the best one for us (again, my opinion, each to their own) so don’t by any means let this put you off. Anyone no matter what you choose to eat or not eat, can have an imbalance. Lifestyle is everything and the learning about the way your body works, is they key.
So in light of my story, my advice to you is, if you think something is wrong, don’t waste time in getting it checked out. Listen to your body, get those blood tests and make sure you are getting plenty of what YOU need. It’s very easy to get carried away with the latest workout online or new way of eating, from juice cleanses to limiting carbs altogether (both of which you shouldn’t do by the way).. I’m still figuring things out and getting back on track, but having healthy hormones is way more important and making small lifestyle changes has helped me more than I thought it could. Things as simple as eliminating as much stress as possible, lighting candles, aromatherapy, long walks instead of runs, yoga, a balanced diet, taking herbs in my smoothies/hot drinks such as maca, ashwagandha and most importantly, a work life balance. It’s so easy for us to become our work and forget to see friends or have any ‘down’ time, but believe you me, my Saturday morning market/yoga/brunch ritual has done wonders!
Sophie, an avid foodie, yogi and entrepreneur, founded her company Dust Foods back in 2015. She now now launched her first products; Dust Granola in a variety of stores around the UK; Planet Organic and Waitrose being her biggest sellers. Along side running the company, Sophie caters for events and pop ups, as well as hosting her own. She is passionate about the way we live our lives and focuses on nourishing as naturally as possible. She runs her blog sophgordon.com, where she posts recipes, wellness tips and advice and everything in between. She will be doing her first Yoga Teacher Training in March 2018, working towards hosting her own retreats, whilst catering at the same time.