Happy Woman

Weight Loss After 40 : Why It’s Harder + 5 Tips for Success

Losing weight anytime can be a real challenge, but being over 40 can present even more struggles! This is because at this age, many women are dealing with unique hormonal and metabolic changes.  

Being overweight can cause you to be at a higher risk for potentially serious health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. This is why reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can help you to age gracefully, feel more confident and energetic, and allow you to spend more meaningful time with your loved ones!

In this article we will discuss how exercise, diet, intermittent fasting and hormones all can help with weight loss as you age. You’ll also learn simple lifestyle changes that will help to boost your metabolism and put you into fat burning mode. 

I even recorded two short videos on this topic that you are definitely going to watch to help you get even more practical tips you can start using right away. 

Click the links below to watch these helpful videos now! 

Trouble with Weight Loss After 40? Try These 3 Things Right Away

Why Is It So Hard for Women Over 40 to Lose Weight? 

Now let’s get into several highly effective ways you can get into fat burning mode for free from the comfort of your own home!

5 Simple Ways to Lose Weight After 40:

1. Get Stronger: With age, metabolism slows down and loss of muscle mass starts to occur (sarcopenia). This means it’s important to make sure to add strength and flexibility training to your workout routine!

Building muscle mass through strength training will help you to lose weight and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time since muscles require more energy to maintain.

Using dumbbells, resistance bands, or even using your own weight at least 3 times per week for a 10 - 20 minute session can help you get a tighter physique.

2. Flexibility training: Stretching exercises help to ease stress on your body and maintain healthy joints. Stretching will also help you feel better during your workouts as it can keep age-related aches and pains away.  

There are plenty of resources on YouTube and free apps like the 7 Minute Workout which provide free videos on stretching. All you need to do is commit to just 10 minutes a day. You will feel so much better after only a few minutes of stretching, allowing you to be more active during the day and reducing your risk of injury and pain in the future. 

3. Focus on Whole Foods: Now more than ever is the time to let go of overly processed and overly sweet foods and instead focus on filling your plate with a variety of whole, nutrient-dense foods. 

Fill half your plate at each meal with vegetables while being sure to include sources of lean protein in your diet throughout the day. Being sure that you get enough protein over the course of each day will help to build and keep muscle mass as you age. In general, the amount of daily protein is recommended as 10-35% of your total caloric intake. This will depend on your goals and the values will differ if you are trying to gain muscle versus maintain muscle versus focusing on weight loss. 

If you’ve never gone gluten-free before, it can also be a great time to make that lifestyle change. Gluten is the protein found in barley, rye, and wheat. Avoiding these food products while adding in more nutritious, whole foods (fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables) can help contribute to weight loss and overall well being! 

It’s important to note that everything labeled as gluten free is not healthy. If you are going gluten free, try your best to skip the highly processed options at the grocery store as they are often laden with sugar and excess salt. For example, instead of choosing a muffin for breakfast, opt for an omelet with a side of fruit.

Also, remember, give yourself some grace! It’s okay to have an occasional treat, but aim to maintain a healthy 80/20 approach to your meal plan. 

4. Intermittent Fasting: Have you heard of intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that follows a regular schedule of eating and then fasting. Timing is key! 

One of the best reasons for women over 40 to start intermittent fasting is for more energy, increased metabolism, and better sleep. Intermittent fasting can offset the weight gain and poor sleep that are the result of hormonal changes.

There are various intermittent fasting schedules, but the most common is the 16/8 method. This means, you should eat during a consistent 8 hour window and fast for the other 16 hours.

I recommend keeping a food journal to help keep track of what hours of the day you find it best to eat, and what nutrient dense foods you are choosing to help you feel satiated and well during the fasting period.

To learn more about intermittent fasting, I wrote a whole blog post on this very topic that you can check out here: The Secret to Losing Weight Without Changing Your Diet

5. Balance Hormones: The endocrine system is a complicated place, but knowledge is power. Learning about your hormones and how they affect you can have a positive impact on your day to day life and help you avoid unpleasant consequences (like weight gain). 

Here is a brief overview of four critical hormones and what you can do to balance them: 

Estrogen - is a hormone that regulates the female reproductive system but is also important for immune, skeletal, and vascular health. Estrogen fluctuates every month if you are in a regular cycle with a period.  In your 40’s though, hormone levels decline and you can end up being estrogen dominant. 

Estrogen dominance can cause a variety of issues such as mood swings, decreased libido, bloating and sudden weight gain and body fat.

Here are some ways to balance your estrogen levels:

  • Avoid environmental toxins such as BPA, phthalates, and fragrances
  • Ensure that you have regular bowel movements
  • Avoid alcohol which can inhibit your body’s ability to metabolize estrogen
  • Avoid processed sugar 
  • Reduce stress
  • Lower body fat
  • Progesterone - this is what I call my “secret weapon”  hormone. It is a female sex hormone but it is also important for heart health, bone health, and it has a natural sedative effect. Progesterone helps you to achieve restorative and healing sleep, and as a result you will be able to think more clearly and have plenty of energy to get through your busy day! 

Symptoms of low progesterone can be: headaches, migraines, anxiety, depression, mood swings, and irregularity in menstrual cycle

You can balance your progesterone levels by:

  • Reducing stress
  • Getting high quality sleep at night
  • Maintaining a moderate weight
  • Living an active lifestyle
  • Testosterone - is a hormone that supports bone growth and strength, promotes cognitive health, and helps to maintain libido. Testosterone exists in both men and women and can decline as we age. 

Low testosterone levels in women can result in: depression, low energy, and muscle weakness.

Fitting in regular strength training is critical for maintaining balanced testosterone levels. The more muscle you have, the easier it will be to burn that stubborn fat!

Cortisol - is a stress hormone as well as a fat storing hormone. When your cortisol levels are high, your body is in flight or fight mode. Prolonged cortisol elevation can cause a myriad of health issues and can cause your body to store excess fat.

High cortisol levels result in: mood swings, depression, weight gain, heart disease, low energy, and high blood pressure.

Here are some things you can do to decrease cortisol levels:

  • Get plenty of quality sleep
  • Exercise, but not too rigorously
  • Learn some deep breathing techniques
  • Maintain healthy relationships
  • Don’t overschedule
  • Eat a nutrient-dense diet
  • Take time to meditate and pray
  • Spend time in nature

Conclusion 

Strength and flexibility training (even just 10-minutes a day), intermittent fasting, choosing whole foods over processed foods, and balancing your hormones are key steps to burning fat and maintaining good health in your 40s and beyond. 

Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t reached your goals yet. Even if the scale only seems to have gone up since you hit 40, don’t give up! There is still hope for you! 

As you consider the tips I shared here, take a moment to honestly assess where you are on this journey, be honest with yourself and be specific about your goals.

Remember, the daily, small decisions such as choosing to do a few push ups before bed or, skipping the bread at lunch, and learning some new strategies to manage your stress will all add up to great gains. Do the daily work and you will start to experience an improved metabolism, more energy and an overall joy (instead of dread) for your beautiful life beyond 40!


If you enjoyed this blog post, then be sure to check out these helpful videos I recorded on this topic!

Trouble with Weight Loss over 40? Try these 3 things Right Away!

Why is it so hard for women over 40 to lose weight?


Men: Do You Have a Hormone Imbalance?

Men: Do You Have a Hormone Imbalance?

Recently, we covered what women should know about hormone imbalances – the symptoms, causes, and treatment options. In this article, because Father’s Day is also this month, we’ll dive into various hormone imbalance issues men may be facing as well.

As with women, hormone imbalances can present in a number of different ways in men. You may discover a decreased libido, infertility, or even hot flashes if your testosterone numbers are off. Here are some factors to note when it comes to this health issue, potential causes, and your options if you are diagnosed with a hormone imbalance.

Symptoms of Hormone Imbalances in Men

Symptoms of hormone imbalances can pop up at any time, though they do tend to appear as you get older. If you suspect this medical issue or are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor. It can be very easy to overlook signs of low testosterone or attribute it to normal aging. Getting your hormones on track can improve your overall health.

Some signs of low testosterone or other imbalances include

  • Lower sex drive
  • Over-development of breast tissue or tenderness
  • Lower muscle mass
  • Less body hair or beard growth
  • Low sperm count or infertility
  • Erectile dysfunction or ED
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hot flashes
  • Difficulty concentrating

Men could also have high testosterone, but it is extremely rare (unless the patient is taking steroids). Some symptoms are

  • Acne
  • Headaches
  • Excessive body hair
  • Heart problems
  • Liver problems
  • Hypertension
  • Infertility
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Weight gain

Low Testosterone and High Testosterone in Men – The Causes of Hormone Imbalances

One of the most well known causes of hormone imbalances in men is low testosterone. While this could be the cause of your own imbalance, you definitely want to understand exactly what is causing that deficiency.

Low Testosterone or Hypogonadism

Low testosterone, also known as hypogonadism, can actually happen at any age and once the deficiency starts, men will begin to notice issues in just a few weeks. It’s defined as “a failure of the testes to produce the male sex hormone testosterone, sperm, or both” and usually comes from a testicular disorder or interference with the hypothalamus or pituitary gland.

Hypogonadism can be caused by a number of different factors including

  • Stress
  • Some medications
  • Illness
  • Malnutrition, poor diet, or eating disorders
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia
  • Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
  • Tumors
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Allergic reactions
  • Infections

...Or Andropause

Similar to hypogonadism, andropause refers to the normal aging process and the resulting decrease in testosterone production. It’s often compared to menopause in women, though it’s not quite the same thing. Men will often see their testosterone levels decline about 1% a year after the age of 40.

High Testosterone

High testosterone usually doesn’t occur naturally – it’s often caused by steroid use. However, the issue could also be caused by tumors in the testicles or adrenal glands. Sex-hormone producing adrenal tumors though are extremely rare, affecting only about 2 in a million people.

Options for Treatment

Men hiking

When diagnosing a hormone issue in men, blood tests are usually a good start as they will be able to pinpoint your hormone levels. Your doctor may also order a pelvic exam, ultrasound, biopsy, x-ray, thyroid scan, MRI, or a test to check your sperm count, depending on whether your symptoms are related to too much or too little testosterone production. 

If you are diagnosed with a hormone imbalance, treatment depends on the cause. For low testosterone caused by other issues, you will most likely be recommended to take testosterone medications, including bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. These treatments can lead to improved sleeping, increased energy levels, and improved sex drive.

It’s also possible that your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes. Losing weight, for example, could help with ED and hormone levels. Eating well, reducing alcohol intake, and exploring stress management solutions can also benefit your overall health in addition to hormone levels.

If you believe you’re suffering from low testosterone, it’s important to talk to a doctor as soon as possible about causes and treatment options. Catching the symptoms early and taking advantage of treatment options can help your energy levels, mental focus, sex drive, sleep patterns, weight, and more.

Are you curious about how bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help your hormone imbalance? Explore how this effective way of replacing natural hormones could help you get back on track with your health and your life. If you haven’t connected with us yet, give us a call at 816-888-5200 or Schedule your Ready to Feel Good Again Strategy Call by going to this link: https://drwoodswellness.youcanbook.me


How to Focus On Your Mental Health for Mental Health Month

How to Focus On Your Mental Health for Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month! Many individuals are unaware of how to spot mental health issues in themselves and others, as well as how to improve overall mental well being (check out my video on this topic). We’ll cover a few signs in this article, as well as a few ways to focus more on your mental health this month and throughout the year.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is our “emotional, psychological, and social well-being.” It can be impacted by our finances, environment, family, work, experiences, and life in general. This area of our well being deserves attention no matter where we (or our loved ones) are in life, whether a child or retired.

Thirty percent of adults will experience anxiety in their lifetime, but, of course, mental health isn’t just limited to anxiety. It’s believed over 21% of adults in the United States will experience a mood disorder in their lives, for example. And eating disorders “affect at least 9% of the population worldwide.”

How Can You Recognize Problems with Mental Health?

Depressed man

Mental health issues can range from burnout to borderline personality disorder (BPD) and anxiety to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Biology, life experiences, and family history can all be attributed to mental disorders or mental health problems.

Unlike physical ailments like a cold or a broken arm, mental health issues aren’t always apparent, especially if the individual is working to hide them from others or even themselves. It’s easy to get fooled into thinking that, “This is normal.” especially if it is a problem we have lived with for some time.

However, there are quite a few signs that can point to something being wrong with our mental well being, especially early on. They include:

  • Sleeping too much
  • Sleeping too little
  • Fatigue
  • Pulling away from family and friends
  • Pulling away or lack of enjoyment from previously enjoyed activities
  • Disassociation
  • Pain and aches
  • A feeling of hopelessness
  • Mood swings
  • Increased anger
  • Increased anxiety
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating, or forgetfulness
  • Thoughts of self harm
  • Problems performing self care or daily tasks
  • A general feeling of sadness
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Changes in appetite including eating too much, too little, or stress eating
  • GI problems
  • Panic attacks
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sense of danger or doom
  • Nervous or irritable
  • Increased worry

How Can You Focus More On Your Mental Health?

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can focus more on your mental health or to encourage others to seek help. You could…

Stay Active

It has been found that those who stay active tend to have better mental health and lower rates of mental health disorders. Exercise can improve mood, concentration, and, of course, our physical health. Even just a walk outside can do wonders for your well being.

Improve Eating Habits

Improving your eating habits is another way to cut down on stress and mental health problems. If you’re not getting the right nutrients or vitamins, it could be playing quite a number on your brain and body. This can take a toll, especially over time. By focusing on healthier eating habits, you can increase your concentration, cut down on anxiety, and improve your health.

It’s also recommended that you cut back on alcohol as it is not a good way to manage mental health issues and could make them worse.

Have a Support Network

This is truly helpful for a number of people with mental health issues. It’s important to have people you can rely on, even in your darkest of moments. Whether you’re going through a breakup or are having a panic attack, it’s helpful to have a family member or friend with whom you can share your feelings. A support group can also be a great option here.

Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness, like breathing exercises and meditation, can absolutely make a difference in our day to day lives, even if you don’t think you’re suffering from a mental health issue! It can help us become more aware of our surroundings and even more appreciative. Breathing exercises in particular can calm or even stop an anxiety or panic attack.

Seek Professional Help

Sadly, sometimes, our mental health can prevent us from making the very changes we need to make in order to improve our mental well being. This cycle can cause the issues to become worse and even severe over time. You could be stressed over work and stress eating. Then you’re suddenly stressed because you’re over eating on top of your work concerns, making it even more difficult to stop the cycle. It’s vital, then, to recognize when you need outside assistance.

Seeking professional help from your doctor, a therapist, or a psychiatrist can absolutely help put you on track for improved mental health. They can recommend mental and physical exercises and life changes as well as medication if necessary to assist you. They’re also there to listen and help you work through any mental health problems or concerns you have, hopefully getting to the root causes of the issue.

Mental health, although a stigma for decades, is getting the attention it deserves. Whether it’s Mental Health Month or not, your well being deserves and needs attention. If you’re suffering from any of the issues above, or you believe a loved one is, it’s important to take action sooner rather than later.

Is stress, anxiety, or other mental issues taking over your life? It may be time to seek help. What strategies do you use to maintain good mental health? Please share in the comments! 


Woman eating

The Secret to Losing Weight Without Changing Your Diet

With summer right around the corner, becoming leaner, stronger, and healthier is at the forefront of most of our minds. 

And understandably so! 

Between trips to the lake, family get-togethers, and all of the fun outdoor activities that are available to us during these warmer months we want to make sure that we’re looking and feeling good so that we can enjoy ourselves without worrying about being self-conscious, lethargic, or in a brain fog.

So what can you do to release some of those stubborn pounds that have crept up on you over the last few months (or years) while simultaneously improving your energy levels, focus, digestion, and sleep?

The first thing that I recommend that my patients try is intermittent fasting. 

What is Intermittent Fasting? 

Simply put, intermittent fasting is narrowing the window of time that you consume your food every day.

Here are 3 of the most common styles of intermittent fasting:

1. 16:8 Method: In this method, you consume all of your meals within in 8 hour window and then fast from all food for the remaining 16 hours of the day. 

So for example, you could eat in between the hours of 11am-7pm and then fast from all food and caloric beverages from 7pm-11am. 

This is perhaps the most common style of intermittent fasting, and quite simple to maintain! It’s important to choose what eating/fasting hours work best for you and your schedule. 

When doing this style, you could eat a hearty lunch at the start of your eating window, followed by a light snack a few hours later, and then a wholesome dinner right towards the end of your eating window. 

2. Eat.Stop.Eat Method: In this method, you will fast for 24hrs two nonconsecutive days of the week. For example, you could fast on Tuesdays and Fridays and then eat as you normally do on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

During your fasting days it’s especially important to make sure that you’re staying extremely well hydrated with noncaloric beverages such as water and herbal teas. 

3. The 5/2 Method: In this method, you will reduce the amount of calories that you consume to 500 calories or less two nonconsecutive days per week and then eat as you normally would the other five days of the week. Once again, be sure to make sure that you are staying well hydrated!

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting 

The benefits of intermittent fasting are numerous and enough to convince even the most skeptical person to try it out.

Here are some of the top benefits of intermittent fasting:

  • Weight Loss
  • Improves Focus and Memory 
  • May Help Prevent Some Types of Cancer
  • Lowers the Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease 
  • Lowers Resting Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
  • May Help Lengthen Your Lifespan 
  • Improves Insulin Sensitivity 
  • Improves Cellular Turnover
  • Reduces Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Another added benefit of intermittent fasting is that it frees up a lot of your time! Since you will likely be skipping breakfast, you will have more time in the morning to tackle your long to-do list. On days that you are partaking in a caloric deficit of 500 calories or less or fasting completely from food you will have even more time to put your focus on other things! 

Tips for Success at Intermittent Fasting 

  • Start slow - if the idea of any of these styles of fasting is too intimidating for you, no worries! You can start by avoiding all food 2-3 hours before bed so that your body can focus on healing and repairing instead of digesting food while you sleep.
  • If a 16 hour fast seems too daunting, start by fasting for 12 hours and slowly working your way up! 
  • Release the notion that you “have” to eat breakfast to be healthy. Most of the breakfasts that people eat are packed with refined sugar (think pastries, donuts, flavored coffee drinks, cold cereal, and even many store bought yogurts) and can actually do more harm to your body than good. Many people do well skipping breakfast altogether and then enjoying a delicious, nutrient-dense lunch at the start of their eating window.
  • You don’t have to change what you eat to practice intermittent fasting, but if you start eliminating processed foods and incorporating more whole foods into your diet you will likely experience positive results much faster - weight loss, reduced cravings, more energy, better sleep, and improved focus! 

Cautions of Intermittent Fasting

When you’re first getting started, you may notice a dip in your energy levels, nausea, headaches, and moodiness. This is all perfectly normal, as your body is adjusting from eating continuously throughout the day to consuming calories in a designated period of time. These symptoms will likely all disappear in a week or two and you will likely start to feel much more energetic, focused, and balanced once your body adjusts. 

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, or having an eating disorder then intermittent fasting is not for you at this time. 

Conclusion 

Remember to start slow and keep it simple as you get started with your intermittent fasting journey! Be sure to create an eating and fasting schedule that works well for you and your schedule, and if you want to experience even more benefits, then challenge yourself to eliminate processed foods and enjoy whole foods during your eating window.


What Do You Need to Know About Thyroid Health?

What Do You Need to Know About Thyroid Health?

It’s likely that you don’t give much thought to your thyroid in your day-to-day life, but this gland is actually essential to your health and well-being. But what is its function and what do you need to know if something goes wrong? We’ll cover the importance of the thyroid, problems that can arise, treatment options, and natural ways to support your thyroid health in this article.

Why Is Your Thyroid Important?

The endocrine system is a system of glands that produce hormones, and the thyroid is one of them. It’s a butterfly-shaped gland that can be found at the base of the neck just below the larynx. The thyroid produces two hormones, known as triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), that affect your metabolism – but this does so much more than affect your ability to gain or lose weight.

These hormones and your metabolism can affect

            • How you break down what you eat

            • Heart rate

            • Breathing

            • The nervous system

            • Muscle strength

            • Body temperature

            • Cholesterol

            • Menstrual cycles

What Problems Can Arise With Your Thyroid?

Thyroid problems aren’t unheard of – in fact, over 12% of people will experience some trouble with this gland during their life, and it affects more women than men. Some examples of issues with the thyroid include

Hypothyroidism

If your thyroid is underactive, you could suffer from hypothyroidism. This slows down your metabolism and could cause symptoms such as

            • Weight gain

            • Fatigue

            • Depression

            • Dry skin

            • Difficulty concentrating

            • Issues sleeping

            • Sensitive to cold

            • Heavy and/or frequent periods

            • Joint pain

            • Muscle pain

Hyperthyroidism

On the other hand, if your thyroid is overactive and producing too much T3 and T4, you could suffer from hyperthyroidism. Symptoms to watch out for are

            • Irritability

            • Anxiety

            • Weight loss

            • Hyperactivity

            • Sensitivity to heat

            • Sweating

            • Hair loss

            • Missed and/or light periods

            • Hand tremors

Goiters

If your thyroid gland is swollen, this could be evidence of a goiter. Not all goiters produce symptoms, however, but you may also experience

            • A cough

            • Tightness of the throat

            • Trouble breathing

            • Weight gain

            • Sensitivity to heat

            • Fast heart beat

            • Hoarse voice

Growths on the thyroid could also be nodules or cancer, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about thyroid health, especially if it seems swollen or aggravated.

How Are Thyroid Problems Treated?

doctor and patient

Thyroid issues first need to be diagnosed, which can be difficult as symptoms can often appear to be other illnesses. If your doctor suspects a problem with your thyroid, however, or is trying to get to the bottom of your symptoms, they could ask you to complete blood tests, imaging tests, and physical exams.

It’s also important to note that certain illnesses are often the culprit behind hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. They could be caused by

            • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

                        ◦ An autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the thyroid

            • Graves’ disease

                        ◦ An immune disease that causes hyperthyroidism

            • Too much iodine

            • Subacute thyroiditis

                        ◦ Inflammation of the thyroid

            • Cancer

            • Toxic adenomas

                        ◦ Nodules in the gland

            • Pituitary gland malfunctions

                        ◦ The pituitary gland is responsible for telling your thyroid how much T3 and T4 to produce

The treatment required for thyroid issues depends on the cause and symptoms. Your doctor could recommend

            • Anti-thyroid drugs

            • Beta blockers

            • Radioactive iodine

            • Thyroid replacement medication

            • Surgery and replacement hormones

How Can You Naturally Support Thyroid Health?

Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can naturally support your thyroid’s health.

A Better Diet

Thyroid issues can be caused by a poor diet and missing nutrients. A balanced diet is one of the best ways you can work to improve your thyroid (and overall) health and ensure you’re getting enough iodine. It’s also been suggested that you

            • Cut down on sugars and processed foods as they can lead to inflammation

            • Take vitamins and supplements

                        ◦ Vitamins B and D can influence thyroid health in particular

            • Take probiotics or eat probiotic foods

Exercise

Since movement impacts your metabolism, it can, in turn, impact your thyroid. If you’re suffering from joint pain though from hypothyroidism, you’ll want to participate in low-impact exercises instead. But studies have found that exercise and movement can improve thyroid hormone levels.

Watch Your Stress

Stress has the ability to wreak havoc on our lives and health – and it can absolutely affect your thyroid, especially if you already have an underlying condition. Stress on the gland can also slow your body’s metabolism. From meditation to exercise and mindfulness to deep breathing, there are plenty of ways to get a better control over stress.

The thyroid may be small but it plays a starring role in our body’s health. If you suspect an issue with your thyroid or endocrine system, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a doctor right away. If you’re curious about how we can help you take control of your health, from a natural approach, start here.


How to Better Support Your Immune Health

How to Better Support Your Immune Health

There are plenty of steps you can take and changes you can make right now in your life to better support (or even boost) your immune health. An individual’s immune system often does a wonderful job of protecting someone from a variety of diseases and illnesses, but your lifestyle and habits could make it more difficult to fight off germs and infections. Here are some healthy habits you’ll want to get into to help out your immune system and overall well being going forward.

Tip #1: Quit Smoking

One of the best things you can do for your health and immune system is to quit smoking! It’s definitely a tough habit to break, but it is possible – and you don’t have to wait until January 1st to quit. Even just smoking “every once in a while” can have detrimental effects on your health, including increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Dropping the habit can actually reduce inflammation in your body and help you better fight infections. Lung health actually improves rather rapidly, too (in just a matter of days or weeks), and the risk of lung cancer can drop by nearly 40% in just five years.

Tip #2: Improve your Diet

Healthy Salad

How many times throughout the week do you get a good amount of fruits and vegetables in your meals? Or get the nutrients you need?

Our diet has a huge impact on our overall health, and a diet that is lacking in healthy foods or nutrients can negatively affect someone’s immune system. A poor diet can lead to an imbalanced microbiome, impaired immune response, inflammation, and more.

Taking the time to really focus on what you’re eating and making an effort to eat healthier will help ensure your immune system is up to the task of protecting you.

Tip #3: Get Enough Exercise

Exercise is known to affect physical and mental health as well as wellbeing – and it can affect your immune system, too. It’s a necessity just like a healthy diet is, yet many people simply don’t get enough exercise.

It’s recommended that you “get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.” This includes walking, swimming, running, dancing, biking, and more. Strength training exercises should also happen around two times a week, which are things like weight machines, weights, rock climbing, or using your own body weight to tone up.

Tip #4: Sleep For 7-8 Hours a Night

Did you know that people who don’t get enough sleep (or get enough quality sleep) are more likely to get sick? It can also have a major impact on how well you recover from these illnesses. Sleep is necessary to keep disease and illness at bay, and it also helps with stress, obesity, heart health, and more.

For adults, 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night is necessary. And don’t just catch up on the weekend – it doesn’t work that way. It’s important to set a schedule so you get enough sleep each and every night of the week. For teenagers, 9 to 10 hours a night is recommended.

Tip #5: Reduce Stress

What stresses a person and how they react to that stress or anxiety can vary from individual to individual, but, as with sleep, exercise, and diet, stress can absolutely impact your overall health, including your immune system and its ability to respond to a threat. Too much stress can affect your sleep (it can reduce the quality or cause you to not fall asleep, meaning you don’t get a full 8 hours), cause you to under or overeat, or cause an imbalance of your bacteria in your gut, among other things.

All of these have an effect on your immune health and system. It can be difficult, but taking time to meditate can do wonders for stress levels, as can exercise.

Your overall health and wellbeing will have a direct impact on your immune health and system. Your diet, quality of sleep, habits, and stress levels could affect whether or not you catch a cold or the flu, and how well you can recover afterwards. It’s essential to practice healthy habits to improve your immune system going forward.

Do you need help getting on top of your health goals? We can help. Discover what we can do for you, your health, and your immune system by getting in touch with us today.


5 Ways to Boost your Mental Health

5 Ways to Boost your Mental Health

With busy lives, it can be tough to keep on top of your mental health. Between work, kids, and everything else going on daily, life can sometimes feel like a never-ending mountain. However, just taking a little bit of time out of your day can add up and improve your overall well being. If you’re not sure where to start, begin with these 5 tricks and strategies that will boost your mental health.

#1: Practice Self Care

One of the most important things you can do to improve your mental health is to practice self care. Setting goals for yourself is a great way to tackle this step and help you move at your own pace according to your needs. Self care can include things like:

• Eating a healthy, balanced diet

     ◦ What you eat affects you more than most people realize!

Getting enough sleep

Prayer, Meditation, Moments of Gratitude

     ◦ Even just 3 to 10 minutes a day can help you quiet your mind

• Exercise

     ◦ This could be getting up and walking around or a full workout session

#2: Take Time Away from Electronics

Do you feel like you’re constantly checking social media to see what’s happening or if you received a message? Would you say most of your time is spent on your phone or computer? This could be eating into more of your free time than you realize. And not looking on your phone just before bed will actually improve your sleep!

If you struggle with checking your social media pages every few minutes, turn off all notifications so that you are not constantly hearing dings or feeling buzzes from your phone. Also, try setting yourself only a few periods a day where you’re allowed to check and set an alarm for a specified period of time. For example, set a timer for 20 minutes before you go to your social media pages and disengage when the timer goes off. Remember, these pages are designed to pull you in and never let you go! Get control of it by setting and sticking to your boundaries. Taking breaks can be tough, but it can lower negative feelings like unhealthy comparisons or fear of missing out (FOMO).

You also want to be sure you’re establishing a work-life balance. If you find you’re constantly checking your work email while you’re supposed to be relaxing, set boundaries and don’t look at your email outside of work hours. Take this a step further and spend time on your top work priorities first, and then check your emails--you’ll get more done each day which will reduce work stress. 

#3: Start a Hobby

Sometimes, people can feel like their life is only work, kids, sleep, and repeat. If you’re in this boat, it may be time to add a new hobby to your day. This could be something you did years ago that you really enjoyed or something entirely new. A few hobbies you may want to consider include

• Starting a journal

     ◦ This could detail your day, be an outlet for creativity, or something else.

• Volunteer

     ◦ Have a passion? You may be able to turn it into a volunteering opportunity and 

help others in your community.

• Read

• Learn a language

• Exercise or fitness activities

• Woodworking

• Or anything else you enjoy!

#4: Manage your Stress

Pile of stones

Managing your stress is often easier said than done, but it is possible with practice. First, you need to understand your stressors and learn to identify when you’re stressed or anxious. This will help you understand exactly what you need to do to calm down or collect yourself, and how to avoid your stressors if possible.

Hobbies, meditation, and mindfulness can definitely help here. You may also want to try taking a walk in nature, spend time with your pet, hang out with friends, and just take time for yourself.

#5: Be Kind to Yourself

It can be easy to be harsh to yourself. It’s often said that you are your own worst critic. Do you find you’re often putting yourself down? You should work on cutting the habit. It’s doing much more harm than good. You want to surround yourself with positivity, treat yourself with kindness, and always respect yourself.

Here’s a saying that I’ve shared with my online community: Embrace G&G. Grace and Gratitude. Give more to yourself and more to others. 

If you’re still struggling, try taking out that journal and writing down your achievements for the day, week, or month. Also remind yourself of all that you are grateful for. You could also practice positive affirmations in the morning to set yourself up for success.

It can be difficult to focus on your mental health with everything going on in life, but it’s a must for your overall health and wellbeing. Never put it on the backburner. Simple steps now can pay dividends later. Try setting goals for yourself and you could find it easier than you realized. And remember: if you’re struggling with severe anxiety, stress, depression, or other mental issues, it’s okay not to be okay--seek professional help.

Do you want to take control of your health? We can help. We take a root-cause approach to help you with hormone balance, fatigue, weight loss, and more. Discover everything we can offer you, your health, your wellness, and your mental health here.


Causes of Decreased Libido in Men and Women

Causes of Decreased Libido in Men and Women

Have you noticed that your libido has declined slightly or even drastically in recent months or years? It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause for each individual at times, but it’s important to know the different reasons it may have dipped to determine the best treatment plan for you. These are just a few reasons both men and women can see a decline in libido. Keep reading to find out the reasons and what you can do to help fix it.

Relationship Issues

One of the biggest reasons for a decreased libido that many may ignore is actually relationship issues. This could be due to lack of emotional satisfaction with the relationship, unresolved arguments, poor communication, trust issues, or performance issues from your partner.

Low libido could also be caused by the birth of a baby and it can take months for parents to get back on track with their sex lives in this case. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also cause hormonal changes that make it difficult to increase libido.

Treatment Options: If you’ve recently had a child, talking with your doctors and knowing when it’s safe to restart sex can help you get in the right direction. If there are other issues within the relationship, counseling may be suggested.

Age

For both men and women, age can be a factor when it comes to decreased libido. Menopause leads to a drop in estrogen and may result in vaginal dryness which can make intimacy more painful and thus less desirable. 

Lower testosterone levels, which decrease with age, can actually affect women as well as men, making it more difficult to become aroused.

Treatment Options: If you think you’re experiencing low testosterone levels or going through menopause, you may want to explore bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and similar treatments.

Poor Sleep

Lack of quality sleep can affect just about everything in our lives, from our moods to our work. That includes a person’s libido. It was actually found in a study that men with obstructive sleep apnea can experience low testosterone. Even in younger men, less than five hours of sleep a night over a period of a week can result in lower testosterone levels.

Treatment Options: It’s important to pin down the reason for your poor sleep. You may want to opt for black out curtains, noise machines, or a new bed to ensure you’re getting 8 hours of quality sleep each and every night. If you snore and/or you awake feeling tired even with 8 or more hours of sleep, you might also need a sleep study to check for obstructive sleep apnea.

Mental Health Concerns

Depressed man

Your mental health can absolutely play a role in your libido levels. Stress can do a number on your overall health, including your sex life. Even just a little anxiety can wreak havoc. Depression in particular is known to reduce or even completely erase any interest in sex.

Low self-esteem or peer pressure can also be factors at play and put a damper on your sexual encounters, which in turn, can result in further anxiety regarding sex.

Treatment Options: If you’re suffering from depression, it’s essential to talk to your doctor about activities and treatment options. For stress and anxiety, breathing techniques, regular exercise, and meditation can do wonders. You may also want to opt to talk to a therapist for self-esteem or stress related issues.

Medications and Drugs

A number of current medications could be the cause of your lower libido. Just a few include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Opioids
  • Some antidepressants including SSRIs
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation treatment for cancer
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Oral contraceptives
  • And others
  • Even if you don’t see your medication on this list, it still could be the reason.

Lower libido can also be caused by alcohol intake and drug use. Even just tobacco has been linked to a decrease in testosterone production.

Treatment Options: If you are taking any of these medications or others you may suspect are impacting your libido, it’s important to talk to your doctor. You do not want to quit any prescribed medication without speaking to your physician first. It may be possible to adjust your dose or switch to another medication without the side effect of decreased libido.

If you drink, smoke, or do illicit drugs, you should consider quitting in order to increase your libido and overall health.

Medical Problems

In addition to medications, medical issues, including chronic illnesses, can lead to a decreased interest in sex or make sex uncomfortable or difficult. A few examples include:

These medical concerns and others can impact a person’s sex drive physically as well as mentally.

Treatment Options: Treating the medical condition can help you get your interest in sex back, but it’s essential to talk to a doctor about your options. Each medical condition requires different care and medication, so each situation is unique.

If you notice a decrease in your libido, it’s important to start thinking over potential causes. It could be caused by aging, an ongoing medical issue, or concerns within the relationship. Talking with a doctor and therapist can help you get back on track.

Do you think your lack of interest in your sex life is due to the aging process? You may want to consider Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy. In addition to getting back your libido and increased function, you may also notice better mental clarity, improved sleeping, and increased energy levels. Click here to schedule your free Ready to Feel Good Again Strategy Call to learn how we can help.


What You Need to Know about Medical Cannabis and CBD Oil

What You Need to Know about Medical Cannabis and CBD Oil

You’ve probably heard quite a bit about medical cannabis and CBD oil in relation to various diseases and illnesses lately. As they become more legal across the United States, it’s important to note the differences between the two, the benefits of each, and what they can actually help with.

What’s the Difference Between Medical Cannabis and CBD Oil?

Although both medicinal cannabis and CBD oil derive from the same plant, the cannabis plant, and both have active compounds known as cannabinoids, they have slightly different effects and uses.

Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the plant and contains a high ratio of THC (also known as tetrahydrocannabinoil). THC is the compound that is famous for that “high” that is associated with cannabis. It also has a number of health benefits that we will discuss shortly. However, not everyone has access to medical cannabis. In the state of Missouri, cannabis is approved for certain medical conditions only after receiving certification of need by a physician in good standing. In other states, like Colorado, the plant is fully legalized, while other states are still working through the logistics of medical options. It also remains illegal on the federal level. 

CBD does not have the high that comes with THC. The process of extracting CBD is slightly different than it is for marijuana. The plant first needs to be a strain that has a high amount of CBD and the oil is extracted from the buds, leaves, and stalks. This option is less controversial than marijuana as it doesn’t have the intoxicating properties, is not illegal, and is more widely available as a result.

Both marijuana and CBD have the capability to interact with your cannabinoid receptors, which results in a release of neurotransmitters. I call the neurotransmitters your “feel good” hormones, like serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are responsible for talking with the rest of your body and have an impact on motivation, depression, sleep, stress, and pain.

The Benefits of Medical Cannabis and CBD Oil

Hemp leaf

There is quite a bit of overlap when it comes to the benefits of medical cannabis and CBD oil, but some options may work better for different health issues. Research is regularly being done into the advantages of these treatment options, but there have been plenty of benefits of the plant unlocked already.

For example, they may both help with:

CBD is also known for assisting with

  • Mental disorders
  • Migraines
  • Depression
  • Seizures

THC has been shown to help treat

  • Muscle spasticity
  • Glaucoma
  • Low appetite

This is not the full list of medical issues that can be treated with CBD oil or cannabis either. It’s important to talk to your doctor before deciding whether to take either for your health issues as they may direct you towards the best option between the two.

You should also note that certain strains have different impacts on individuals. It may take you a little bit of time to find the right product for you. For example, sativa strains are known for increased creativity, alertness, and energy and are best for the daytime. Whereas indica is better for night time and works to stimulate your appetite, relieve insomnia and anxiety, and reduce pain. Hybrid strains can also be found.

The Side Effects of Medical Cannabis and CBD Oil

Although there are plenty of benefits when it comes to medical cannabis and CBD oil, it’s essential to talk about the side effects, too. CBD oil, as mentioned before, does have fewer side effects, but here are some you’ll need to note for both.

Some medical cannabis, or THC, side effects you may experience include:

  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of coordination
  • Memory difficulties
  • Anxiety
  • Higher heart rate

The side effects of CBD are less clear as research has shown they may actually be caused by drug-to-drug interactions. However, it is still important to note them.

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Diarrhea

Always talk to your doctor before taking multiple drugs, and that includes CBD oil or medical marijuana.

Medical cannabis and CBD oil have plenty of benefits for individuals already, and more are constantly being uncovered. Which you have access to depends on your locale but also your specific medical condition. If you’re not sure where to start or which is best for you, it’s essential that you speak with a doctor before making a decision.

Do you have a question about the benefits, the pros, or the cons of taking medical cannabis or CBD oil? We’d love to help. You can contact us by calling 816-888-5200 or through the form on our website here.


Starting the New Year Right – How to Stick To Your New Year’s Resolution

Starting the New Year Right – How to Stick To Your New Year’s Resolution

With the New Year just around the corner, you may be giving thought to your resolution. But did you know that 80% fail to keep their New Year’s resolution each year? Many lose steam in their efforts by mid-February.

Don’t let those statistics deter you! It is possible to be part of that 20% with the right plan. Here are some tips and tricks to help ensure you stick to it this year!

Set Realistic Goals

Setting goals is the main part of the resolution, of course! Yet many fail to reach their end goal – why? It could be partly due to the fact that it was unrealistic. They may have wanted to lose 10 pounds by February for example, yet the average for healthy weight loss tends to be around 4 to 8 pounds a month. While the 10 pounds is by no means unachievable, it may not be realistic for every individual.

Take the time to write out your goal or goals for the new year. Are you being honest with yourself and what you can achieve? It’s okay to take on a challenge, but you don’t want to take on too much that you discourage yourself just a few weeks in. And remember: You can always change your goals a few weeks in. If you find out you have bitten off more than you can chew, adjust your resolution. These goals aren’t written in stone.

Design a Plan

Shoes and exercise equipment

Now that you have your goal in mind, it’s time to develop a plan and develop it early. Don’t wait until the clock strikes 11:59pm to set up your strategy. Think about it in the weeks leading up to the holiday. How will you work to achieve your goal? What changes will you have to make? Are there any equipment or things you need to start on January 1st?

It’s also a good idea to break the goal up into bite sized pieces. If you’re looking to learn a new language, for example, you may want to try to learn 25 words in the first week, 50 in the second, and 60 in the third. If you’re looking to exercise more, you may start off walking and then begin running a few weeks into your new routine. Create an outline for your success.

Track Your Progress (and Reward Yourself)

Tracking your progress in regards to your New Year’s resolution can be quite rewarding! Even those small victories can keep you motivated. When you complete a bite sized goal, mark it down and celebrate. A journal can be a great way to keep track of your successes, small or large. This is especially handy when it comes to losing weight. You can track what you ate, your current weight, exercise completed, and other aspects so you can see how you improve week after week. It helps to see your progress clearly in front of you.

Plan your rewards ahead of time too! When you do hit that first goal, how will you celebrate? If you’ve been losing weight, you don’t want to congratulate yourself with sweets, but rather buy a book, a movie, or a new piece of clothing for yourself.

Remember: It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

People are going to make mistakes when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions and goals. When you make them, don’t throw up your hands and give up on it all. Too often, people take on the all-or-nothing mentality, and that’s why they go from one extreme to another.  Instead, remember that tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to get it right.

The all-or-nothing approach tends to deter quite a few people from keeping their resolutions. One mistake can have them give up, thinking it was all for naught and too difficult. However, it’s important to note that new habits take, on average, twenty one days to stick. And it will be six months before it’s a part of your personality. Missing a day won’t ruin your efforts and all your progress, so it’s essential to remember that and get back on track the next day.

Some of you know that I started a daily exercise challenge in October. What you may not know is that I started exercising daily in mid-September and I’ve kept it going. As of this publication, I’ve exercised 91 days in a row! I never thought I would or could do that because I am not one who loves to exercise. But I can truly tell you that it feels to be a part of my DNA now. I must do it. Even if I start late, I will not allow the day to pass without logging in at least 30 minutes of exercise. 

One powerful tool that has helped me stick to my daily exercise is my community. I have a small group, we call ourselves the Fab 4. I post my exercise everyday. And you all are part of my community as well because I keep telling you how I’m doing with my goal. My next goal is to get to 100 consecutive days and to just keep going from there. 

Remember, even if you find your New Year’s resolution falters at that mid-February line, it’s never too late to try again. You can keep working to achieve your goals, even if it turns out to be mid-June! All it takes is a few weeks of commitment before you start building a habit. Writing out your goals, making a plan ahead of time, tracking your progress, and remembering it’s okay to make mistakes will help set you up for success. And last, but certainly not least--get involved in a supportive community that will cheer you on!

Are you looking to lose weight in the new year? Or wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle? We’re here to help. Discover what we can do for you through weight management assistance, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, and more.