The Surprising Hormone Stopping You From Losing Weight

 We know that metabolism slows down as you age, but we also know that it is very heavily influenced by our hormones, meaning if our hormones are out of whack, then it results in  many things in the body going awry.

These include not being able to lose fat, because instead of burning it, the body stores it; feeling fatigued and sluggish and even an inability to brighten up your mood.

Yeah, we rely on our metabolism for A LOT, so when things are off-set it, it’s not pretty for us.

If you’re on the path to losing weight or just trying to keep your body in tip top condition, then you need to understand how hormonal imbalances impact your body.

“Almost anyone who struggles with weight also battles a hormone imbalance. It amazes me how easy weight loss becomes once hormones are back in their sweet spot. Hormones control how efficiently a calorie makes you fat.

Most diets don’t work for women, because they fail to address the hormonal root causes that are the most common reasons for weight loss resistance, like excess cortisol, insulin and/or leptin blockage, estrogen dominance, a sluggish thyroid, low testosterone, and problems with the HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal) control system,” Dr Sara Gottfried, New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Reset Diet and Younger tells GOOP.

When asked what the typical hormonal imbalance that makes losing weight hard, Gottfried, singled out cortisol.

“Ninety percent of the time, I find that the main hormone that’s out of whack is cortisol (which ends up disrupting other hormones, too),” she says.

“Your body makes cortisol in response to stress, but most of us run around stressed too much of the time, and our cortisol is off as a result. High or dysregulated cortisol levels wreak havoc over time, depleting your happy brain chemicals like serotonin, robbing your sleep, and making you store fat—especially in your belly. High cortisol is likewise linked to depression, food addiction, and sugar cravings.”

Cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’ is interestingly one of the major drivers of metabolism.

 “Its main function is to prepare the body in times of stress. One way it does this is by blocking the absorption of glucose in order to provide an easy energy source if you need to fight, run, or think quickly,” says says Rocio Salas-Whalen, M.D., an endocrinologist in New York City.

However, the trouble starts when stress becomes chronic and your cortisol levels remain elevated, which results in driving your blood sugar levels up, as well as slowing down your metabolism. This then results in weight gain, feeling fatigued but experiencing trouble sleeping.

So what causes the cortisol imbalances?

According to Gottfried it is usually due to a dysregulated HPA axis, which is the boss of all your hormones.

“When the HPA is up-regulated, you churn out too much cortisol, like I did. Result? Muffin top, feeling like you’re constantly racing from task to task, feeling wired but tired, quickness to anger and irritability, rapid weight gain,” Gottfried notes.

“Over time, the HPA can get burned out and become down-regulated. Then you feel a lack of stamina, have a tendency to hold a negative point of view, catch colds frequently, and you may experience thyroid problems that improve briefly before you crash again,” she continues.

Sounds familiar?

Yeah.

To reset your HPA, and your cortisol, a good place to start is being aware of your stressors and balancing your cortisol. Gottfried outlines a list to help and it is as follows:

Here is my (simplified) protocol for becoming more objective about your stressors and balancing cortisol in women (all suggestions that are proven in randomized trials, the best evidence we have):

  • Talk through what’s stressing you with a girlfriend.
  • Practice some form of “witness” consciousness like meditation or yoga.
  • Add B vitamins and omega-3s if you’re deficient.
  • Take phosphatidyl serine until you perceive less stress and your HPA is no longer hyper-vigilant.
  • Get a massage once or twice per month.
  • Limit alcohol and coffee, or ideally switch to green tea, which contains L-theanine, an amino acid that reduces stress without sedation.
  • Eat extra dark chocolate (80 percent cacao or higher).

If your symptoms don’t resolve, add plant medicine. Ashwagandha is my favorite adaptogen that helps to reset cortisol, so it’s not too high nor too low during the day. If it doesn’t work for you, try rhodiola.

The best way to get your hormones back on track is to take real care of yourself and put your health first.  This means improving your diet, doing adaptive exercises such as yoga, dance or Pilates, incorporating weight training and walking. Not only will this a this make you feel loads better, but losing weight will be much easier.


You made it to the end! Wooot!

Now come join me in the Ash Files, where we are talking, sharing and story-telling about this and other Ashlee Unscripted posts! Subscribe here.


Read Next



5 Beauty Related Mood Boosters

It’s no secret that life can be hectic, stressful and frustrating, however, just as there are foods to boost your mood and increase your confidence, there are some self-care practices that goes a very long to increase your good mood and give you the shot of confidence you will need as you go through your day.

Looking good, makes you feel good and all you’ll need throughout the day is a mirror.


7 Health Practices to Keep After the Covid-19 Lockdown

If anyone had told me there would be a global pandemic that would lock-down the entire world and confine humans to their homes, stopping all manufacturing and travelling, I would have laughed and laughed and laughed.

Prior to 2020, none of that seemed even remotely possible!

And yet, here we are.

Across the globe we have all faced the exact same challenges, with the pandemic known as the Corona Virus (Covid-19).

Thanks to this virus and the way it so quickly infected people and some animals, with its varying aggressive strains, we as the human race had to take a hard look at our health practices and drastically upgrade them.

As I write this, many countries around the world are beginning to reopen up their businesses and people are coming out of quarantine, and interacting with each other in person again, after months of online socializing , but even as we are aware there must now be a ‘new normal’ as there is yet no marketable vaccine for this highly contagious virus, I know there are many practices that will continue to be enforced as good health practices, even after the epic time of Covid-19.

For me, here are the top personal practices that I’m going to be practicing forever!

(Click through the numbers below to read all of 7!)

Your Metabolism: More Important Than You Think

When you hear the word ‘metabolism’ the thoughts that pop up are usually along the lines of the body burning calories when active.

 Metabolism brings to mind sweat, weights and movement in the gym, however, the process is much more than simply the body burning calories.

Metabolism literally means ‘a state of change’ and whether you’re in the middle of a deep sleep, reading a book or playing with your pets, the body is always active.

 There is never a time when you’re not using calories, because the body is always storing and consuming energy as well as building up and breaking down molecules necessary to maintain health.

That process is what metabolism is all about and why when it is working as it should, you don’t feel sluggish or fatigued; rather you’re full of energy throughout the day and have brighter moods.

 This is also the reason why it’s easier to gain muscle mass and lose fat, because your body is sending the right hormone signals to your metabolic system.

Is it any surprise then that the body tries its best to tightly control this process?

Metabolism is a super important process in the body and so to keep control, the body sends out swarms of hormones to travel throughout the body.

 The connection between your hormones and metabolism influences everything in your body, so checking your hormone levels can give you a great gauge of how healthy your metabolism and overall body really are.

“Metabolism isn’t just about how quickly you burn calories—it encompasses all the ways your body stores and uses energy from food,” says Rocio Salas-Whalen, M.D., an endocrinologist in New York City.

Metabolism turns the proteins, fats and carbs from your delicious meals into compounds like amino acids, fatty acids and simple glucose, before transporting them into your cells.

The process is necessary to grow and maintain muscles and to break down fat that is stored by your body.

All these metabolic functions are completely controlled by your hormones,” she adds.

To keep your body’s systems humming along smoothly, your hormones need to be in balance. If one shoots up too high or dips too low, your metabolism can get thrown out of whack, which can affect your workout, your mood, and your weight, says Liz Lyster, M.D., an ob-gyn in Foster City, California, who specializes in hormone imbalances.

As you can see, your metabolism is necessary for all processes of your body to be completed properly, but for women, one of the many factors which impacts our metabolic rate is your period, which can throw our hormones out of whack and affect our bodies, moods and how much energy we have.

When thinking about your metabolism, your menstrual cycle and your period are very important factors to consider.

“Throughout the menstrual cycle, the hormone levels in a person’s body change,” says Dr Virginia J. Vitzthum, director of scientific research at period tracking app, Clue,. “Oestrogen will rise during days 1-14 in an average 28-day cycle (known as the follicular phase), dip during ovulation (around day 14), briefly rise again afterwards (the part of the cycle after ovulation is called theluteal phase), falling back to baseline during the final days of the cycle as your period approaches again.

Progesterone levels also fluctuate – these are very low until the point of ovulation, then rise during the early luteal phase until, like oestrogen, they fall in the final days of the cycle,” the doctor continues.

The expert explains that these hormonal fluctuations are thought to be responsible for a number of changes within the body as well as influencing female metabolism.

While it is thought that metabolism speeds up around the third quarter of your 28-day cycle, meaning your urge to eat is greater, the truth is that the process is  different for everyone, as metabolism and your cycle are both affected by many factors, including age, diet and daily activities.


You made it to the end! Wooot!

Now come join me in the Ash Files, where we are talking, sharing and story-telling about this and other Ashlee Unscripted posts! Subscribe here.


Read Next



Skin Care: The Essentials You Need To Know

Much to my friend’s chagrin, I never understood the need for a skin care routine.

  Growing up, I felt there was a certain stigma associated to being ‘one of those girls’, you know the ones, the ones who were forever moisturizing, the ones who very girly and had to maintain their appearance and I began associating being girly with most ‘ self- care’ routines.

So I lost my interest in make-up, only cared about skin care when I needed to get rid of a pimple and moisturized once a day.

 I had a lip balm because I didn’t like cracked lips, but those were the only concessions I allowed myself, because I thought being a ‘ real girl’ meant spending less time being vain and more time being productive.

As I got older, I began to realize how important my skin and overall health actually was and started to slowly move out of the mindset that taking care of myself was vain or shallow, instead I noticed the health benefits, however, I then felt overwhelmed by the sheer about of products out there that seemed necessary.

So yeah, I abandoned ship again.

Recently, after a very thorough massage, the masseur told me my skin was too dry… that made no sense to me; my skin was clear and glowing right?

The culture shock after she explained that I needed a better skin care regiment, including needing to protect myself from UV rays, made me realize that maybe I needed to bite the proverbial bullet and figure out a regimen that made sense to me.

If you’re like me, buckle up as I break down the real things you need for your skin and as it turns out, it’s not that difficult!

A healthy body shows in your skin, so whatever you’re putting into your body will impact your skin.

This is why increasing your veggie intake as well as eating foods rich in healthy oils, zinc and beta carotene are so highly recommended for better health and skin.

Caroline Cederquist, MD, author of The MD Factor Diet, explains that an overall healthy diet, including at least 2 litres of water goes a very long way in keeping the skin healthy.

“… it is also the combination of eating a well-balanced diet in lean, adequate protein, and healthy fats along with staying hydrated,” says Cederquist.

Board-certified dermatologist and surgeon Margarita Lolis, MD, goes further, explaining water hydrates the cells in the body, and flushes toxins, resulting in a healthier system.

“The truth is that when you drink water, it doesn’t automatically go to the skin. It hydrates cells once absorbed into the bloodstream and filtered by the kidneys. So at the cellular level, drinking water is great as it flushes the system and hydrates our bodies overall,” says Lolis.

Skin care routines when you boil it all down consist of three main steps including cleansing, toning and moisturizing.

It starts with washing your face ( cleansing) this most basic and essential step is the best way to get rid of sebum and other environmental pollutants and should be done twice a day to avoid acne and clogged pores.

New York City dermatologist Dr. Carlos Charles, says “Our skin comes in contact with environmental pollutants, dirt and other factors each day that should be gently removed.”

Lolis recommends using a gentle cleanser rather than soap, to avoid stripping your skin of essential and healthy oils.

The second step in the routine is toner, which is basically balancing your skin and should be done after washing your face to further remove dead skin cells or to boost hydration and subtly treat fine lines.

Toners are most helpful and necessary for people with oily or acne-prone skin, or for people who want extra cleansing after wearing makeup or other heavy skin products such as sunscreen,” says Dr. Hadley King, a New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist.

The last step in this process is to moisturize your skin, which is where the hydration and softening of the skin happens.

“Essentially, moisturizers assist in preventing water loss through the outer layers of skin,” Dr. Charles explains. “They can also complement the naturally found protective oils and other building blocks within the skin, such as ceramides.” 

While moisturizers are necessary for all skin types, especially since as we age, skin will naturally lose the ability to retain moisture and some daily activities will strip natural hydrators from the surface, the texture of the moisturizer will be dependent on your skin type.

It’s no surprise in this day and age how good exercise is for your physical, mental and even emotional health and so when it comes to skin, the biggest organ on the body, getting ourselves moving on a regular basis will not just have endorphins soaring, but also help you to keep that fresh faced and youthful appearance.

Dr Rekha Tailor, Aesthetic Doctor of health + aesthetics clinic, Farnham, lists Zumba, Yoga, Running, Cycling, Swimming, Pilates, Resistance and Weight training as some of the best exercises to help with healthy skin.

“Resistance training helps to stimulate the production of collagen within the body, which makes the skin, appear thicker and suppler; this form of training also helps to reduce the appearance of cellulite,” says Tailor. “Cycling encourages blood flow around the body and helps to get rid of toxins, resulting in clearer skin. Taking to your bike is also a great exercise to protect the skin from pollution. Air pollutants rob the skin of oxygen resulting in a dull and tired complexion and damage to the skin”.


You made it to the end! Wooot!

Now come join me in the Ash Files, where we are talking, sharing and story-telling about this and other Ashlee Unscripted posts! Subscribe here.


Read Next



Lingerie: Your Secret Power

Power suit? Check. Business Tie? Check. Button up? Double check.

Lingerie…Wait what?

When it comes to clothes that exude power and the idea of confidence, we think of the manlier type of clothes right, and the idea that lingerie could rank up there seems abit incredulous, because lingerie in many of our minds have no place outside of the bedroom.

When we think of power, assertiveness and confidence, it’s hard to reconcile those attributes with the idea of femininity because of how often we think of those things as masculine.

So the idea of wearing lingerie under your power suit?

Nope, that would be a sign of weakness right?

Turns out, it could be the extra boost of confidence you need!

Lingerie is about feeling fun, comfortable and sexy, all things that go a long way in boosting your confidence, because when you feel sexy, in control and comfortable in your skin, you’re unstoppable.

I was not always a believer in lingerie, eschewing it as impractical and garish.

 I was embarrassed at the very idea of even buying it, even as I love black lace and the way some styles define my natural curves.

Lingerie was in my mind a fun fantasy for a partner, something to put on for date night and easily thrown away.

In short I was not comfortable with seeing myself as a sexual being, nor was I comfortable with the idea of being that naughty.

That all changed really quickly, when I finally found the right pair of lingerie for me.

The kind that was soft fit right and made me feel sexy all day. 

 There are an array of options to choose from when it comes to lingerie, including bodysuits, corsets, garter belts, bras and panties.

Experimenting with them allowed me to start appreciating my body and my own sexual confidence proudly.

Lingerie can help you reclaim your sexuality. Masturbation is frequently discussed when to comes to cis males.  There seems to be this fog of shame and secretiveness that hangs over the world of female and nonbinary masturbation,” notes, writer and marketing consultant, India Kushner on The Tempest.

“Enjoying your own sexuality is healthy and normal. Sexuality doesn’t always have to revolve around pleasing people during the act of sex. Lingerie can be an excellent way to titillate and excite in more ways than one”.

Comfortable lingerie is also a celebration of femininity; it’s soft, comfortable, pretty and private. 

 Finding the right fit, cut and design are all important, as you don’t need your underwear to be uncomfortable nor do you want to be counting down the seconds until you can chuck them off, rather, you should enjoy your underwear and feel supported all day.

“The fit of your lingerie affects more than just its comfort,” says Estelle Puleston, founder of Esty Lingerie , “Whatever shape you want your chest to be, there’s a bra out there for that. You can give your bust a boost, or minimise it down. And from corsets to shaping shorts, there’s lingerie to transform the rest of your figure too. We should all love the bodies we’re in, but it’s nice to have a helping hand here and there right?

Lingerie can help you to tweak those things you’re not so confident about, as well as emphasizing your favourite bits. It can even improve the way your clothes fit. And when you love the way you look, you’ll shine with self-esteem”.

Lingerie also gives you an outlet to express your own personality and thinking about what you’re wearing under your clothes can make you smile and give you an added boost of ‘ I’m bold, I’ve got this!’

You’re sexy; you know it and you should be proud of it. Have fun picking up and changing up your pairs of lingerie.

The same way you know wearing them would titillate your partner, is the same premise on why you should enjoy them for yourself first.

Have fun, go wild and find you faves, play dress up, feel the materials and what emotions they bring out of you.

 You’re entitled and encouraged, so wear them with confidence!


You made it to the end! Wooot!

Now come join me in the Ash Files, where we are talking, sharing and story-telling about this and other Ashlee Unscripted posts! Subscribe here.


Read Next



Breaking the Fast Gently Before 11 am

It’s been eight whole hours or longer since you’ve last consumed anything and now that you are conscious again and aware of your world, so is the untamed beast that is your growling stomach.

What do you do?

Some have conditioned themselves to just ignore their tummy’s demands, choosing to get dressed for work, maybe grabbing a coffee and maybe a banana or muffin on their way to the office.

Others take the ‘ breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ to heart and go ham on pancakes, eggs, sausages and baked beans, while others take just a bit more care of their stomach’s needs, choosing to drink a smoothie and get their hit of necessary vitamins and proteins.

Depending on your routine, your obsession with health and your own personal beliefs on breakfast, the way you decide to break your fast when your eyes open to a new day is all subjective, however, there are things that most experts agree on when it comes to breaking any fast, and it includes taking it slow, being gentle on your stomach and being healthy.

Breakfast is of course one of the most important meals of the day, since it jump starts your metabolism, helps with mental clarity and eases our body from a state of fasting and rest, to one of eating and movement, which will help you to perform better during the day, and burn more calories.

Elissa Mirsky, a published author and former editor-in-chief of Bold Magazine, notes ‘While there are many healthy breakfast options adding or eating fruit for your morning meal contributes many benefits to your overall health”.

Mirsky maintains that eating fruit during the pre-lunch hours can add many benefits, including, strengthening the immune system, improves the digestive system, promotes weight loss, and boosts energy.

“Fruit is high in vitamin C and antioxidants which help to boost the immune system throughout the day. Fruit helps the body go through a detoxification phase that helps rid the body of excess toxins which help the body to lose weight.

 Lemon is a major source to release toxins into the body every morning. A simple glass of water and a squeeze of fresh lemon your body almost immediately goes through its own cleanses phase,” she notes.

The general consensus is that eating fruit, veggies and flushing your body with water in the morning are infact the healthiest thing to do to get your body back on track for your day ahead.

Jody Braverman, certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and yoga teacher, agrees that fruits are a must have when it comes to breakfast food selection.

“Many typical breakfast foods — pancakes, muffins, waffles and bacon — are high in fat, sugar and simple carbs that give you an immediate rush of energy but leave you feeling flat by mid-morning.

Fruit, on the other hand, is a rich source of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals that fill you up and give you energy. Pair fruit with a source of lean protein for a day that’s off to a great start,” Braverman recommends.

Fruits and veggies are great ways to get dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars, minerals you need and will help to down digestion as well as cleansing the colon. Absorption of fruit sugars provide long lasting energy.

Berries, nuts, tomatoes, bananas, citrus fruits, avocados, spinach, kale and sprouts are all great to have in the morning, as they are easy on the stomach and offers multi-vitamins, minerals and nutrients you will need to kick start your morning right.

Now fruits and veggies while light and cleansing are not in fact very filling and it will come as a surprise to absolutely no one when you start feeling hungry again.

After 11 am, you can have a light morning track, since your body will now be in the phase to break down complex carbohydrates and proteins better.

Such foods as eggs, oats, Greek yogurt, green tea, coffee and nuts are all good things to eat when you start to feel hungry again around 11 am as they include complex carbohydrates and fiber, lean protein as well as healthy fats, which will all work to feel you feeling full until lunch time


You made it to the end! Wooot!

Now come join me in the Ash Files, where we are talking, sharing and story-telling about this and other Ashlee Unscripted posts! Subscribe here.


Read Next