More and more often I'm seeing hormonal skin on my clients and it's on the increase. It's very frustrating for them (and me!) and no one ever seems to take the time to explain to them what causes an increase in hormonal activity nor what it will do to your skin.
Basically, you should know that everything that happens in your body is linked to hormones. The food you eat, the stress you take on, the chemicals you ingest, your age and your body condition all affect your hormones. For example : high amounts of stress raise your cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone) which then have a direct effect on your thyroid hormones, blood sugar hormones and your sex hormones. In turn, long periods of high cortisol levels will affect your weight, your ability to lose weight, your skin, your sex drive and your overall mood. When my clients experience high levels of stress, I see an increase in hormonal breakouts as well as a general lethargy, often an increase in facial hair and weight gain/loss that they can't control.
When I was 24 I went for a regular pap smear and found out I had PCOS. All through my teens and up until I was 22-23 I was a size 8-10, ate whatever I wanted and didn't have to work terribly hard at maintaining my figure. Suddenly I was experiencing regular weight gain, facial hair growth, acne and very painful periods (although they had always been an issue, right from when I was a teenager). Of course I went to the Dr who advised me I would have to go on the pill (to sort out my hormones) and I would need to diet and exercise for the rest of my life to keep the weight off. Of course, I know now that treating a hormonal condition with hormones (the pill) was my first mistake. No one ever mentioned clean eating, reducing the amount of processed foods I ingested and certainly "gut health" was something that would take another two decades to become an option. I was lucky though - no one tried to put me onto Roaccutane to "fix" my skin so I was saved that misery.
This story is something I hear from clients on a weekly basis. MOST of my ladies have PCOS or unstable hormones and I'm lucky to have a great endocrinologist to send them to - someone who does very specific testing and then puts strict guidelines in to place to settle the hormonal issues that they have. As well, we treat the acne and hair growth in the clinic. Together, we have amazing results.
However, for me, it was the weight gain that caused the most trauma as I despised being fat but had no knowledge of how to control my weight. I joined Sureslim, Weight Watchers, Lite n Easy and many gyms with little to no result. After having two children, two things happened....I had a Marena inserted for birth control and I peaked at my highest weight. I went to a weight loss specialist who told me that due to my hormones I would never be able to lose the weight normally and so I recently opted for a bariatric sleeve. Secondly, I started learning more about the connection between food, gut and skin. I'd always been interested in a Paleo lifestyle as I have known for a long time that processed carbohydrates are not a healthy option for someone like me with hormonal issues. I learnt (the hard way) that dairy, wheat and sugar are not my friends. I love them - but they don't love me!!
So, for me, I have to have a high (healthy) fat diet that is 80% clean. I'm no saint with my eating, so I'll never be perfect. I love my coffee and I enjoy a whisky at the end of the day with my husband so those things will never go. However, thanks to a very knowledgeable friend, I now know that there are good options with regards to the food I consume. If it comes from a packet, I probably don't want it. Vegetables, clean meat, in season fruit and clean drinks are the staples that work best for me and my unruly hormones! Due to the sleeve, I no longer have fizzy drinks in my diet which is a major drop on processed sugars for me. Also, as I can only have very small amounts of food, what I do eat has to be nutritionally dense...for example - breakfast needs to be one egg, half an avocado with a shot of clean olive oil. It takes me FOREVER to eat this amount! And as someone who prefers two coffees instead of food at that time of day, it's been a real test for me.
So, if you're struggling with your weight or your skin, come and have a chat with me. I'm not a doctor but I have walked my own path with hormonal struggles and I can probably give you some information that the medical professionals won't. I have no agenda, other than to help women like me who have really reached the end of their tether.