The Female Body

Here is the truth ladies. Your body is not the same body as it was before pregnancy and it never will be.

The good news is we are not actually working toward getting your old body back BUT rehabilitating,  transforming and working with the new one; you can have the fitness,  health and body you want.

Pregnancy is a big deal and just because the 9 months has ended does not mean your body goes back to your pre baby ‘normal’,  and I’m talking about that normal on a much deeper level than physically.  Internally everything has changed, and whether you like it or not it’s your hormones that control everything from how you feel to how you store fat, where it comes off and how your body reacts to external stimulus.  Your body post pregnancy is in hormonal chaos,  and exercise and nutrition can greatly assist in finding a positive homeostasis (balance) . If you’re breastfeeding remember that the hormone relaxin will not leave your system until 6 months post breastfeeding (this means continued hypermobility in joints and ligaments) breastfeeding also encourages fat storage so contrary to popular belief , it is not the time to over indulge in refined sugars and trans-fats as this will reek havoc on your hormones and actually cause more weight gain /fat storage than pregnancy. It is not known how many calories breastfeeding burns, the main thing to focus on is including healthy fats/protein in your  diet and drinking plenty of water.  

Understanding your ovulation cycle can also be key to unlocking your mood, health,  fat loss and fitness potential. Keeping a record of cycle length, symptoms,  cravings,  mood can indicate what is really going on internally. How ever if you are breast feeding periods may not have returned but you can still keep a record of cravings,  moods and premenstrual symptoms and of course the return of your cycle.  

Fine Tuning your fitness and health. …breaking down the cycle and what it means..

Week 1 ( day 1 of your period)  oestrogen and testosterone levels start to increase- now is the time to make the most of increased energy levels. Nutritional know how ; you don’t want to elevate blood sugar levels and trigger cravings so steer clear of refined sugar/carb foods- to curb sweet cravings opt for high protein/high fat meals with complex carbs such as sweet potato.

Week 2 ( typically days 8-14) hormone levels are still rising (leading to ovulation)  which give you maximum work out power-  this is the time to get high intensity training in! Nutrition know how ; It also means your appetite is lower- so now is the time to have smaller more frequent meals, this will keep your metabolism revved.

Week 3 ( typically days 15-21) Body will ovulate this week which means oestrogen levels drop , leaving you irritable and when oestrogen surges again this can leave you feeling bloated.  Progesterone levels steadily increase which is what causes you to feel tired. This is the week to maintain and keep energy levels even. Nutrition know how- now is the time to balance fats and carbs- fats don’t spike blood sugar and keeping the ratio of fats to carbs high means fighting off those PMT cravings.

Week 4 (typically days 22-28) All of the hormones in play plummet this week which leaves you feeling exhausted and experiences the typical PMS symptoms.  This is the week your appetite for high calorie carb rich foods peaks!  This is time when you’re most likely to skip workouts- stay strong! Nutrition know how ; watch your sodium intake you’ll only compound water weight gain – drink plenty of water and consume natural diuretics such as asparagus,  cucumber and dandelion tea to help aid water retention.

Hormones…What’s their connection with  PROBLEM SPOTS? .

And what about problem spots? Those areas that no matter what you do always remain much the same? Again it is more to do with hormone imbalances rather than strictly diet and nutrition.

Stubborn fat on the back of the arms can indicate low androgens

Stubborn fat around your stomach can indicate high stress levels and the stress hormone cortisol

Stubborn fat on your butt and legs can indicate estrogen dominance

Stubborn fat on the hips can indicate a problem with insulin.

Androgens are ‘male hormones’  but women still need them, especially if your goal is to get stronger and leaner, and to lose body fat. Fat on your triceps can suggest they are a little low but there is a lot you can do to support your levels naturally.

Estrogen dominance can often lead to trouble losing fat of legs and butt. There is a lot you can try if this is your problem.  Eating more cruciferous vegetables and brassica (think broccoli,  cabbage, brussel sprouts, and removing excess toxins from your food and skin care as well as weight training to increase testosterone levels naturally.

Cortisol is a hormone our body produces as a response to ongoing stress, so if this is your issue,  reducing stress levels is key, there are lots of things you can try, walking, being outdoors, reducing stimulants to reduce anxiety levels, meditation,  sleep and regular time out for yourself (a challenge for mums everywhere!)

Problems with insulin can be more tricky,  but ideally you want to stop your body from releasing insulin every time you eat, typically a diet high in sugar (carbohydrates e.g fruit, grain based carbs, starchy carbs, sugar, refined foods) means higher insulin levels-when insulin is released it means there is a high amount of sugar in your blood, insulin takes and stores the excess sugar as fat- fat that is stored in such a way that it is not easily available as fuel. Keeping meals balanced (fats, protein, carbohydrates from vegetables and other sources) will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

Unfortunately I  can’t solve the problems with your hormones in one write up, and if you’re fortunate hormones may not be a massive issue for you but If hormones are something that’s causing problems for you, then some one to one coaching may be of use in order to  delve a little deeper.