CHAPTER 1: Hormonal Balance
If you have picked up this book, you want real answers to the questions that are affecting your life the most at this phase. You want to feel good. You want to look good. You want to be happy and you want to be in control of your body physically and emotionally. The only way to achieve these goals is through hormonal balance. Hormonal balance is something we generally take for granted. For most of our early lives it is not an issue, until we hit puberty. Remember? Suddenly things started happening to our bodies and we felt out of control. For girls the breasts swelled and the hips became rounder. For boys the voice became deeper and they began to grow facial hair. For both, pimples arrived without an invitation and hair grew on your private parts (gasp!). For many it was also the ﬁrst time that we struggled with our weight. And quite commonly, we felt weird! We had angst and we were angry but didn’t know why. Or we were confused or depressed. Or we had strong sexual urges. This was our ﬁrst experience with hormonal imbalance.
For women, we also feel hormonal imbalance at certain times of the month. PMS can be worse for some than others. I know when it hits me because I look at my darling husband, Alan, whom I adore, and think, “Why the hell did I ever marry you?” These irrational feelings are from your whacked-out hormones. (And God help Alan if he EVER insinuates that I am having PMS. He might as well put a gun to his own head.) We’ve all said things like, “I don’t know why I’m so weepy.” And, “I am just craving chocolate.” That’s the hormones talking!
If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know that your body is completely altered by hormones. Cravings, breast tenderness, weight gain, feeling tired, heightened sexual feelings, depression, an acute sense of smell, nausea, gray hair, straight hair gone curly or curly hair gone straight. Your body is no longer your own. These are all results of hormonal changes. Our bodies are ruled by hormones!
In this book I want to talk with you again about hormones, and how they affect your weight and overall health. The second half of life gets a little tricky, but you can manage your hormones once you are armed with the proper information. You’ll want to devour this material because, ﬁrst of all, you are probably interested in losing weight. Am I right? You’ve come to the right place.
No weight-loss program will work for you until you balance your hormones.
The weight-loss piece always gets everyone’s attention, because who wants to give up her favorite foods and work out and still not be able to be at her ideal weight? It's one thing if you are eating poorly and neglecting to exercise, but if you are really trying to take care of yourself and you are hitting the wall, you may very well be experiencing hormonal imbalance. In the next section of this book I will share with you my Somersize program so you can learn how to eat in a way that controls the hormone insulin. This weight-loss plan is nothing short of miraculous, as you will see from the astounding testimonials. HOWEVER, even Somersize will not work as well as you would like if you are experiencing a decline in hormone production (which occurs naturally as we age).
We will discuss weight at length, but hormonal imbalance affects much more than the size of your derriere. It affects everything!
Hormones regulate the biochemical reactions in the body. I know you’re thinking, “What the hell does that mean?” Think about it this way: To keep your body alive and functioning well, you need to have chemicals that are used for structure, function, and energy. According to Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, a leading endocrinologist and my personal doctor, these chemicals are known as biochemicals. Cells, cell membranes, organs, glands, teeth, hair, skin, nails, muscles, bones, and connective tissue are all structural biochemicals. Hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, cell mediators, and antibodies are examples of functional biochemicals. Some of the energy biochemicals are sugar, ketones, triglycerides, and glycogen. They are burned for fuel to keep biochemical reactions occurring.
The hormones in your body regulate all these biochemical reactions. Everything your body does and makes is regulated by the hormones in your body. The point is, hormones are really important to our existence. If hormones regulate all of the above, then no wonder we all feel so lousy as we start to lose our hormones. Without hormones what do you think will happen to you? Everything starts going wacky. Hormones are a language and all hormones communicate with the other hormones, so when there is a deﬁciency how can we expect our bodies to work properly anymore?
That is why I want you to understand the importance of replacing hormones lost in the aging process. When you understand the key functions hormones play in our bodies you will understand that without balanced hormones you will not be able to control your weight. You will do better at it than others if you are eating correctly, but to really be in charge and control of your weight, you need to eat properly and balance your hormones with bioidentical hormones.
I have good news for you: You can remain healthy, vital, and happy—in other words, you can age successfully—if you understand the important role that hormones play in your life. Not only will balanced hormones help you to avoid the diseases of aging, you will have restored energy, vitality, a youthful glow, sexuality, a slim ﬁgure, a good attitude, healthier bones, a healthier heart, and most important, in my opinion, a healthier brain.
Ever notice that since your estrogen levels have started to diminish you are having trouble ﬁnishing a thought? Have you secretly harbored fears that you have Alz-heimer’s disease because you are becoming so forgetful? I know I had these worries, but no more. Now that my hormones have returned to balance, my brain is working better than ever. My energy is fantastic, I have no plaque in my heart or arteries, I have no menopausal symptoms, my skin has become more youthful, even my breasts have a certain perkiness to them. Instead of going south they are deﬁnitely looking to the north. (Just a little side beneﬁt.)
Mainly, I am impressed with bioidentical hormone replacement because I feel good. Isn’t that what we all want . . . not to have aches and pains and stiffness, inertia, moodiness, depression, or unexplained weight gain? Don’t we want to feel happy and upbeat? Well it’s available to you. The combination of eating properly (Somersize) and replacing hormones lost in the aging process, coupled with your new wisdom and life perspective, can make this passage the best ever.
The maximum lifespan of the human race is 120 years old, yet few of us ever live that long. Our daily habits, not genetics, determine our life span. Sometimes I wonder why we take our bodies for granted. We never appreciate them when our bodies are working perfectly. It’s only when our bodies start malfunctioning that we begin to panic and change our lifestyles. Most of us take better care of our cars than we do our bodies.
Aging is loss of hormones. The less stress we have, the longer we keep our hormones in balance. That is why in some cultures people actually live to be 120 years old, because their lives are devoid of stress. Now it’s not reasonable to expect all of us to suddenly throw away our cell phones and move beside a remote river, but it is deﬁnitely time to start paying attention to how our bodies are working.MENOPAUSE: NOT FOR SISSIES
This is one heck of a passage. We women lose 90 percent of our hormones over a two-year period. Imagine! The very chemicals (hormones) that keep us alive are running out of us like water down a drain. When I discovered that I could PUT BACK what I had lost so far in the aging process, and that I could PUT BACK an exact, NON DRUG replica of the hormones my body makes (bioidentical hormones), I was pretty excited; so excited that I had to write a whole book on the subject: The Sexy Years. The changes in my body were profound and what I learned in researching menopause and its symptoms was so life altering that I had to share with the world what I had found out about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Like you, all I had ever heard about HRT was that you got fat and that hormones were dangerous. I was going to be one of the women to “tough it out.” I could get through this. No big deal! That all changed when I reached my sixth month of not sleeping for longer than ﬁfteen-minute intervals, only to be awakened soaking wet, as if someone had thrown a bucket of water on me. I “toughed it out” until I was so exhausted that I was weepy and depressed. I remember feeling that this was all terribly unfair. Sound familiar?
I am going to explain to you the difference between HRT using bioidentical hormones—exact, non drug replicas of what your own body makes—and HRT using synthetic hormones, which are drugs made from pregnant mares’ urine and formed into a “one-pill-ﬁts-all” type of therapy that has been proven to be harmful to our health. This is information that I shared with readers in The Sexy Years, but I want to share it again with you now as we go through my program for weight loss and optimum living. The information makes even more sense as part of this program!BIOIDENTICAL VS. SYNTHETIC
In 2002 the Women’s Health Initiative abruptly stopped the study of hormone replacement, saying that HRT increased the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, and blood clots. No wonder women all over America (and the globe, for that matter) dumped their synthetic hormones down the toilet. Justiﬁably so, I might add. The study on Prempro, a drug that millions of American women had been taking, was supposed to be an 8-year study, but they stopped the study after 5.2 years, concluding that it would be better for women not to take anything at all than to take this drug. Yet as I write, doctors all over America are still writing prescriptions for this dangerous drug. The word is not yet out on Premarin, although it has not yet proven to be of any beneﬁt.
Prempro is a synthetic drug. It is a combination of Premarin (an estrogen substitute made from pregnant mares’ urine) and Provera (a progesterone substitute). Aside from the dangers this drug imposes by creating a state of hormonal imbalance, and the fact that you are not putting a REAL hormone in your body when you take this drug, taking hormones this way mimics pregnancy. During pregnancy you have high levels of estrogen and HIGHER levels of progesterone. Remember in pregnancy that your ankles, breasts, stomach, and wrists were swollen and bloated? If you have been on synthetic hormones does this sound and feel familiar? Normally when we are young and pregnant we are at our healthiest, so our bodies can tolerate being in a high-insulin state for nine months, but to put a middle-aged woman on combined hormone therapy, meaning high levels of estrogen and higher levels of progesterone, which causes a high-insulin state, is dangerous to her health.
Most women who have been on these synthetic hormones have been on them for years. There are long-term negative consequences for a woman being in a high-insulin state for so long. The connection has already been made between obesity, which creates a high-estrogen effect, and type 2 diabetes. To intentionally put a woman into false pregnancy is dangerous to her health. This is just one of the reasons that the Women’s Health Initiative advised women to stop taking these drugs.
These synthetic so-called hormones were able to give women a measure of relief from a few of the nasty symptoms of menopause, namely hot ﬂashes and night sweats. There are many symptoms this drug does not take away, such as depression and weepiness. For these symptoms, women are routinely given prescriptions for antidepressants to take the blues away. That’s the state of HRT for women in this country! Treat the symptoms, not the problem. Load us up with drugs. It’s time for all of us to wake up and realize that we are on our own during this very difﬁcult and confusing passage.
As our men lose their hormones, they are also left adrift, uninformed, and too embarrassed to be proactive, which prevents them from ﬁnding a doctor who understands their lack of vitality, lack of energy, shrinking muscles, grumpiness, and impotence. None of this has to be this way, but unfortunately most of our doctors do not understand the hormonal system, even though in medical school our doctors have had twelve weeks of endocrinology. Twelve weeks may sound substantial, but it’s hardly enough time to understand this complex subject. This is especially true when you realize that of those twelve weeks, only four hours (approximately) are spent in learning how to prescribe HRT. No wonder most of our doctors have opted for the synthetic “one-pill-ﬁts-all” type of therapy. Only a doctor (usually an endocrinologist) who has chosen to specialize in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can assist you during this time.
Synthetic hormones such as those mentioned above have been the standard of care for women for the last ﬁfty years, and they are not working. Women are getting sick and some are dying as a result of these drugs. These drugs have nothing to do with anything we make in our own bodies. Here is the irony and the tragedy: Fifty years ago menopausal women were given bioidentical hormones to help them through the nasty effects of menopause. Bioidentical hormones are natural; they are not a drug. Because of this, they are not patentable, and therefore not profitable. About ﬁfty years ago the pharmaceutical companies realized that around the year 2000, all the baby boomers would be going into menopause. They took the essence of bioidentical hormones, pharmaceuticalized them into a drug, patented them, and created a one-pill-ﬁts-all type of therapy for women that has become the standard of care ever since.
Remember when we were told that formula was better for our babies than breast milk? This, again, was the drug companies at work. Now we realize that NOTHING is better than breast milk. When it comes to hormones, NOTHING IS BETTER THAN THE ACTUAL HORMONES YOUR BODY MAKES. A synthetic replacement cannot be better. How can anyone possibly think that all women are the same, and that our hormonal needs are exactly the same? Hormones ﬂuctuate constantly throughout the day. How could a “one-pill-ﬁts-all” type of drug possibly work? Well, the answer is that it doesn’t.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Suzanne Somers' Slim and Sexy Forever by Suzanne Somers. Copyright © 2005 by Suzanne Somers. Excerpted by permission of Harmony, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.