When we all think of hormones we likely think of junior high or high school when we hit puberty and experience the joys of maturing into the man or woman we were born to be. Some good changes and some questionable ones too. I cant be the only one who thought, “What the heck” when I went through puberty.
Now when we get older and have children of our own, hormones play a much bigger roll. But after that, what’s “Normal” with hormones? What do we compare to?. Even as competitors we cant look at the girl or guy next to us and think, well this seems to work for them and go off of that. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Then we get *Cough* older and experience exhaustion, plateaus in mood and energy. What’s normal? When do we take a pro active approach and get things checked out? It’s normal to feel depleted after a show and feel down. But how long is normal? And are we feeling down because our bodies are tired? Or because our hormones crashed? Good question! I kept assuming I was like the next person and chalked how I felt into this reason or that reason. Even assumed I knew what the issue was, most likely and self treated.
DON’T DO THIS. Our bodies are so amazing. If something doesn’t feel right, chances are something isn’t. Our bodies do so much in protecting itself from imbalances and results of this can hurt a competitor. The longer we stay at an imbalance the longer we can see progress.
Then we all get to the panic mode, “Maybe I’m just old”. “Maybe that one cheat meal I had like a month ago was worse than I thought”. You know what I’m talking about. We’re smart enough to know one cheat meal isn’t going to stop progress but maybe were too busy or keep rationalizing in our heads what our bodies are experiencing that we ignore help. I even convinced my self that maybe I was depressed! Ha! I wasn’t.
I haven’t felt 100% since my last show! That’s 7 months people. I finally got tired of my family doctor treating my symptoms and went to a hormone doctor who specializes in hormone balance in our bodies. After a lengthy work up, Saliva testing and blood work the doctor could pin point what my hormone issues were.
I was convinced in my own head that my Testosterone levels must be crashed and my Cortisol levels sky rocketed from stress. Figured I needed Testosterone supplements and something to help my cortisol levels come down.
Boy was I shocked to find out that my Testosterone levels were actually abnormally high and my Estrogen/Progesterone levels were super low. Also, my cortisol levels were way below the normal range. Also, my body was in phase 2-3 in adrenal insufficiency. MIND BLOWN.
I wanted to share this because look how bad this could have gone for me if I tried to treat this myself based on what I know about hormones and or compared myself to the girl next to me. Or kept ignoring it for another month or two or six. Imagine I self treated for low test? That would be so terrible. I feel bad enough man, I don’t need help feeling worse.
I am now working with the doctor to balance out my hormones so I can get back to making this prep count. It’s hard to get your body to cooperate when its in protection mode.
I had asked the doctor if my age had anything to do with the hormone issues I was dealing with. He said absolutely not. That this could be the results of dealing with a bad back for so long, a rough back surgery, then a year competing. My body just got tired and over worked. He suspected I’ll be all balanced out within a short time. YAY!!
It is so hard to convince my brain to trust the process when I know I am working my butt off, meal prepping, doing my training, not mission cardio and seeing no results! Tears have been shed. I have big expectations of myself and this is a set back I didn’t for see. Why didn’t I get this looked at after my last show? I actually had some symptoms after my first show nearly one year ago.
My family doctor is good. But they dont check for all these things in basic blood panels. Saliva testing is huge. My thyroid numbers are perfect, even my gut numbers came back perfect. The doctor told me he could tell my diet is good. He suspected the gut would play a bigger roll in all of this but to his surprise its all hormones. YAY!!!
I cannot wait to get me back. If I can give any advice. Don’t assume your age plays a roll in symptoms that your feeling. Don’t assume how you feel is “Normal” if its new to you. If you feel “Off” for a month, check it out! Ask around for a good referral. Go to a specialist who specializes in hormones. Family doctors treat symptoms and dont necessarily help with diagnosing the issue.
Being in top shape is an amazing feeling but we have to have balance in our bodies to achieve that. Some hormones that affect this are:
- Cortisol: It is produced in the adrenal gland. It is released in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration. It functions to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, to suppress the immune system, and to aid in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Studies show high or prolonged stress can actually break that initial internal slingshot, leaving you with too little cortisol and making you feel perpetually spent.
- Thyroid: Stimulates metabolic functions through its creation and distribution of hormones which all interplay within the endocrine system. Thyroid activity helps to determine how much cholesterol is converted into pegnenolone, progesterone, and DHEA, and these compounds begin a process of conversion resulting in the production of testosterone, estrogen, and the “stress hormone” cortisol. Factors such as chronic stress, nutritional deficiencies, and inflammation can throw these hormones out of whack, leaving you with too much or too little, and feeling constantly fatigued.
- Estrogen & Progesterone: Estrogen works to increase fat storage by up-regulating what is known as alpha-adrenergic receptors in female fat depots around the hips and thighs. Adrenergic receptors are like the gas and brake peddles on your car and work to accelerate or decrease fat usage. Progesterone can be used to make cortisol in the adrenal glands.
- Testosterone: While a woman’s ovaries and adrenal glands only pump out just a mere 10% of the testosterone that our male counterparts have. It pumps up sexual desire, muscle strength, bone density, and metabolism. Too little of the stuff can leave you sluggish and even feeling depressed.