When I met my trainer, Tomery, the first time, she looked me up and down and said, “I want you to take a test that will measure your estrogen levels. We are going to discover some interesting things."
The results of the saliva test indeed revealed some interesting things, including that my estrogen was very high. A woman my age (37) should have an estradiol + estrone: progesterone ratio between 10:1 and 14:1; mine was 635:1.
The first thing I wanted to know was how Tomery knew my estrogen was off. She explained that women (and sometimes men) with high estrogen tend to hold their weight in their hips and middle section. I am the perfect example.
My next question was, “What does high estrogen mean?”
“Am I extra womanly?” I said with a laugh.
It turns out high estrogen isn’t a funny thing. It may increase the risk of high blood pressure, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, depression, PMS, and breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer. It also plays a role in fibrocystic breast changes, which explains why every time I go in for a mammogram I’m called back for additional screening because of my dense breast tissue. Luckily none of my symptoms—muscle aches, miserable PMS, dense breasts, and occasional mild depression—are severe or life-threatening.
RELATED: Too much estrogen is bad, but other hormones can help you lose weight. Meet the eight essential fat-loss hormones your body naturally produces.
But I didn't want to ignore my high estrogen. After all, prevention is the key to a healthy life.
I talked to my experts about a strategy to lower my estrogen, and both recommended I stop adding soy milk to my coffee and oatmeal, especially because I was drinking it every day. While soy has its place in the world, it has been linked to increased estrogen levels. To be on the safe side, I’ve switched to almond and coconut milk.
Lauren also told me some chemicals in and on our food appear to raise estrogen, and she suggested that I opt for organic fruits and vegetables when I can and make an effort to include cruciferous vegetables such cauliflower and broccoli in my diet since some studies show they help lower estrogen. Since then I’ve been having fun trying new recipes with things like mustard greens and kale.
RELATED: Don't know how to prepare mustard greens or kale? Try these super tasty leafy green recipes using the healthiest greens.
Tomery and Lauren also said that giving up alcohol is key to lowering estrogen because the liver metabolizes the hormone and alcohol can affect that process. Even though I've written off alcohol for the time being, it will make me think twice in the future when I'm offered a glass of wine.
Tomery warned me that it could take some time for my estrogen to lower and for the weight to come off in these areas. So far, she’s right. My weight’s not falling off as quickly as I had hoped, but I am starting to feel toned in my arms and legs thanks to all of my hard work in the gym.
On the positive side, my PMS and cramps are non-existent, which seems incredulous considering I’ve always suffered monthly. I’m excited to take a follow-up test in a few months to see how my numbers have improved.
I’ve made so many healthy changes recently and I know that everything thus far (eating healthier and more varied vegetables, exercise, and taking regular vitamins) is contributing to my overall well-being, long-term health, and upbeat attitude. Maybe that's why I keep singing, "Man! I feel like a woman..."