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Our Hormones Play a Huge Role In Our Fitness Journey, Here’s How

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Our Hormones Play a Huge Role In Our Fitness Journey, Here’s How

Hormones are funny things. For something we can’t see or even necessarily understand, they get the blame for an awful lot. Mood swings? That’ll be our hormones. Food cravings? Blame the hormones. Pre menstrual headaches? Yep, hormones.

If you’re struggling to lose weight or you notice that your weight is fluctuating regularly, then your hormones could be to blame for that, too.

Let’s take our periods as a starting point. During our monthly cycle, our levels of two female sex hormones, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) peak and trough. This is a perfectly normal biological system that helps the ovaries release an egg, ready for fertilisation and the lining of the womb thicken and then fall away in the form of our period if there’s no fertilised egg.

The effects of these hormones can cause the familiar symptoms of pre-menstrual tension (PMT) such as mood swings, feeling tearful, bloating and sore breasts. Since periods are under hormonal control, our hormones are also responsible for the symptoms we can experience during our period, such as cramping, pain and feeling low.

Around the time of our period, we may feel less inclined to want to exercise. This can mean that our good intentions fall by the wayside, we stop exercising and we make poor food choices, which can lead to us gaining weight (or not losing it). 

At the time of our period, levels of our female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone drop. This causes the tissues of the body to hold onto, or retain, water, causing bloating around the stomach area and larger, heavier breasts. This will cause us to be slightly heavier on the scales (but it will drop again after our period) which can mean that we feel demotivated to exercise or eat well.

Things don’t stop there. When a woman gets older, she will begin to go through the perimenopause and then the menopause, until eventually she stops having periods. This is all under hormonal control too, as levels of the most crucial female sex hormone, oestrogen, begin to decline.

As a consequence of this decline in levels of oestrogen, a woman may notice that her body shape and composition changes. Often, a woman will find that she develops ‘menopause midriff’, an accumulation of fat around her middle that she may never have had before. It also means that our levels of lean muscle mass may decrease.

Plus, a drop in oestrogen also means that a woman’s bone density can decrease, putting her at risk of brittle bones, making exercise to promote strong muscles and bones even more crucial.

Also, as we age, our metabolism tends to slow down, meaning that we might gain weight by eating and exercising in the same way we always have without any problems before.

So we can see that our hormones play a huge part in our fitness journey. Hormonal fluctuations and declines are an inevitable part of life. So the best thing we can do is embrace them and try to remember, it’s what makes us female. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular exercise will help us to regain a sense of control over our bodies, regardless of what our hormones are up to!

 

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