In Exercise, Hormones

In the last blog, I opened up a series of posts about hormone-exercise relationships to help you identify the hormones that might be the biggest reason for fatigue, belly fat, or maybe it’s sudden cellulite or sleep disruption for you. Knowing that you can adjust for the optimal exercise.

This blog continues the conversation, paying more attention to ghrelin and leptin. In most resources you’ll read about these two and the typical way these to behave badly when things aren’t going well.

Having worked with thousands of women I can tell you that not only are these two a challenge but they show up differently, particularly if you’ve got more than 20 pounds to lose and you have ignored your hunger signals in attempt to be a disciplined dieter. [Please don’t take this as a suggestion that anyone should aspire to be a “dieter!” Kick that idea to the curb.]

Portrait of a young woman making face while holding cupcake

GHRELIN

Ghrelin is just a little follower. Ghrelin follows cortisol’s lead. So if you are sleep deprived and or overly stressed ghrelin is likely to show up and tell you you’re hungry. Even if physiologically you should be full and content for hours because you just ate… ghrelin will override that and make you want things NOW.

If you’re experiencing cravings you need to keep temptation out of the picture. A dish of candy corn sitting on the table may look fall festive but it’s a matter of time before you’re ingesting corn syrup.

Exercise in this case may distract you. A walk after lunch can be a powerful thing. Appetite can dissipate after even just six one-minute power walks. You’ll tune back into what’s going on physiologically and regain a little control. Stop and think. How recently did I eat? Did I have protein, fat, and smart carbs? By smart carbs, I mean those that satisfy without spiking blood sugar. You’ve seen the list: sweet potatoes, beans, quinoa are some rock stars.

If you’ve chosen well at meals and still you’re getting the little “feed me, feed me” signals, snack smart with raw almonds or Greek yogurt (yes, please to fat) if you’ve #testedandtolerate dairy. That’s your immediate fix: 1. Quick exercise diversion, and then a smart snack if you have to but you want to get to the root of ghrelin through cortisol and make it go away. That is, reduce your stress response.

LEPTIN

Together with ghrelin, leptin is just evil. Leptin should tell you you’re satisfied after eating a reasonable amount. It makes it easy to push away from the table – even with food on your plate – and remain comfortably full.

When it’s gone haywire, leptin fails to tell you that you’re satisfied. Certain food manufacturers love to capitalize on this. Some of the chemicals in snacks that masquerade as “healthy” turn on your craving and then leptin is going to fail to tell you that you’re full. This makes it impossible to eat just one. You’re hand pretty soon is going to hit the bottom of the bag or the popcorn bowl and want a refill.

Here’s a game-changer though: if leptin is failing to signal satiety, you need to change your exercise to late day instead of morning. For 70% of us morning exercise is going to help most because it will target cortisol. This is the exception. You’re eating but NEVER full? Exercise later in the day.

But wait, it’s not that simple. These hormone wenches can do all kinds of things. Sometimes the problem is early satiety. What? Yes. It happens most often with women who have a significant amount of weight to lose. You are someone who eats much less than your skinny bitch friends for instance, and get full fast but still are not losing weight. Leptin has done a role-reversal in this case.

Scouring research studies, there’s little conclusive evidence about what’s caused this or how to heal this gone-wrong-signaling. Here’s what’s worked for some of my clients along with why.

We get a body in the beginning that for the majority of us works really well. Then, we decide we know better. If you grew up as so many of us in the second fifty have, thinking that being hungry meant we were losing weight, you likely ignored a growling stomach more than once in your life. You may even have gotten good at it. Embarrassing as it might have been, weight loss was way more important. We assumed our bodies were trying to make us fat and that if we took control into our own starving hands we’d be thin and beautiful.

So much is wrong with that last paragraph, but I have only so much space in a blog. Ignoring red lights in your car is never a good idea, would you agree? More bad tends to happen. It doesn’t go away and get better, it gets worse! So it is with you.

The solution to that is to reroute and give your body and hormones a chance to figure things out again. Far less exercise and a change in the way that you eat temporarily can help your body both get hungry, and learn healthy full all over again. You haven’t lost your body’s wisdom. You just need to listen to it again.

What currently may feel like the hormone mafia can be your healing hormone army.

Let me know if this has triggered some questions for you. I’d love to hear about your hormone journey. Is your exercise supporting hormone balance?

 

 


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