Meet today's guest:
After failing to find any medical help for her health issues herself in her early 40’s, Nicki Williams discovered that she could turn things around using diet, lifestyle and natural supplements. She is now an award winning nutritionist, author, speaker and a leading expert in women’s health and hormones. She is the founder of Happy Hormones for Life, helping women in their 40’s and 50’s to feel better than they did in their 30’s!
Did you know peri-menopause can start as early as 35 years old?
According to my guest, Nicki Williams, this is something many women are not aware of and because the symptoms can be blamed on so many other things, even doctors fail to figure it out.
In our discussion last week, Nicki shared her own wake up call when her daughter accused her of being grumpy all the time and she realized her daughter was right. We talked about how she turned her life around and how she helps other women in this age group do the same thing.
Time flew by so quickly, we didn’t even get into the solution portion of our chat, so we decided Nicki simply had to come back this week and share some tips to guide us to rebalancing our hormones.
Be sure to check out last week’s podcast if peri-menopause is a new topic for you or if you want ideas on the signs and symptoms that could indicate hormone imbalance.
This week, Nicki reminded us of her Feisty Four Hormones, which tend to dictate how we look, feel, think and behave after 40 and right up and through menopause.
She explained how all four of these hormones – namely cortisol, thyroid, insulin and oestrogen* - can play a part in your symptoms during peri-menopause and how a slight shift in one can push the others out of balance, leading to cross-overs and making it harder to pinpoint which hormone is causing trouble.
The goal, she told us, is to get your healthy foundation in place through natural solutions such as diet, lifestyle and supplements, and then hormone replacement therapy can be an option if you still need help.
I’ve put these into a 4-step program which I call the Happy Hormone Code. This is a hormone balancing plan as well as a bit of a gentle detox and a very healthy way to live. It’s certainly not a one-off either…if you adopt these principles for good, you’re in a really good place then to feel better but also to prevent future, more serious, conditions.
Step one is eat. I’m a nutritionist by trade so food is my passion and I’ll always start there. This is about eating the right foods for your hormones.
Nicki talked about outdated models of eating – like calorie restriction diets and why this doesn’t work well, especially once you’re over 40.
…what generally happens is they stress the body out. So, the body thinks there must be a famine or you’re not getting the right nutrients… so it goes into fight or flight mode. When you’re in survival mode, it shuts down all your hormones. You get that belly fat around the middle, your brain goes to sludge, you feel awful and you’re pretty miserable because you’re not eating… nobody wants to be deprived.
She shared what you can do instead to ensure your hormones are happy and your body is getting what it needs to thrive and feel safe. Her book, It’s Not You, It’s Your Hormones is packed with information on this including lists and recipes, so if you want more, be sure to pick up a copy.
Step 2 is rest; Unless we manage our stress and unless we sleep well, we’re going to be in fight or flight mode still. Cortisol is the alpha male of all your hormones so when it’s dominant nothing else is going to work properly and not only that…cortisol has a big impact on other areas of your body – your brain, your digestive system, your immune system …so your whole body really is not going to function properly if you’re stressed and not sleeping well.
It’s critical, Nicki told us, that we take some time everyday to slow down, unplug and take a breather.
…just taking 10 – 20 minutes to yourself every single day, sitting quietly, switching off the brain, switching everything off and just being in the moment. You don’t have to sit there cross-legged meditating, you can be in a nice warm bath with some candles, just sitting reading a book for a few minutes, or doing something you just really love doing… cooking, gardening, going for a walk in nature.
She talked about why it’s important to leave your cell phone behind when you do this and how even checking your cell phone can result in a hormonal hit.
Step 3 is cleanse; this is about the environment you’re in and the toxins you’re exposed to on a daily basis.
Nicki told us about Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC’s) and shared three of the biggest concerns in this regard.
If you google EDC’s, you’ll get a ton of research on how a certain number of chemicals are affecting our hormones and our health.
One of the three she shared with us is BPA which is so prevalent in our lives it’s in our blood and our babies are born with it. Scary, but Nicki reminded us that when it comes to toxins, awareness is the key. Once you know what’s hurting you and your loved ones, you can make a choice to start looking for alternatives, one product at a time.
You can’t ditch everything all at once, but when we are aware of it we can then see if there’s a more natural alternative. Such as things made with essential oils…there are a lot of things now that are available that didn’t used to be, so it’s a lot easier.
She told us about a helpful app where you can write in the brand of your favorite product and it will give you a number telling you how toxic it is. There’s nothing more frustrating in my book than putting in the time, effort and money to search out a healthy alternative only to find out later it’s not as ‘healthy’ as they claim, so this was one of my favorite tips.
Step 4 is to move.
Nicki talked about the importance of finding movement that works for you and serves your body/hormones well. She addressed some common exercises that people do because they think it’s good for them when in fact its actually adding to the problem.
Be aware that you only have so much in your energy reserve, so you need to spend it wisely and not deplete yourself too much – whether that depleting is from going out every night, having a very stressful job or travelling the world. Whatever it is you’re doing then, just being aware that balance is really key. Quality of life is so affected by how much you are pushing yourself.
Tune in to the podcast for all the helpful tips and information Nicki shared and be sure to pick up her book, It’s Not You, It’s Your Hormones as well as her free Hormone Balancing Guide off her website
Listen to Part 1 of this interview here
*Where Nicki lives, in the UK, they spell Estrogen with an O!