Happy New Year!!

I know I’ve been a little bit lost… But, I will start writing new posts soon!

Don’t be stupid!

Dieting.  I know how hard it is, although it is a new path for me.  When I was younger, I had this great metabolism and since I was not a sedentary person I remained “thin” for a long time.  After I had my first child, I realized that my great metabolism would not last forever.  No matter the reason most of women are obsessed with their weight.  They try anything to shed those pounds off, even if it puts their health in jeopardy.  There are a lot of diets or “diet plans” that are dangerous, but I will talk today about the HCG diet. 

This diet had acquired a lot of followers lately, but is not new.  It was created by endocrinologist Albert T.W. Simeons in the 7o’s after a study he performed with pregnant women in India and boys with pituitary problems.  The Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is a naturally occurring hormone that is made by the embryo after conception and later by the placenta.  It is also produced at lower levels in the pituitary gland of males and females of all ages.  It increases the concentration of progesterone during pregnancy and may be the link in the placenta for the development of local maternal immunotolerance.  Also, it is know that HCG may play a role during cellular differentiation, proliferation and apoptosis.  In basic terms, it helps the mother’s body to not recognize the fetus as an external agent, therefore avoiding miscarriages.  But, what does this have to do with a diet?

Dr. Simeons found that pregnant women in a low-calorie diet and boys with pituitary problems both lose weight after being treated with small doses of HCG.  He acclaimed that the loosen weight was mainly from fat rather than lean muscle tissue.  He concluded that HCG must be programing the hypothalamus to protect the fetus by promoting mobilization and consumption of abnormal and excessive adipose tissue.  Since that, he have proclaimed that HCG can be effective to induce weight loss by targeting the adipose tissue without loosing lean muscle tissue.  But, everything has a “catch”, everything has “small letters”.  The “small letters” of this diet is that in order to work, you must maintain a low-calorie diet.  How low?  As low as 500 calories a day!

Yes! If you want to see results from this “magic” hormone, you must starve to death.  Sound great, right?  This is one-quarter of the commonly accepted value for calories consumption in a day.  Also, the diet is high protein/low carb/low-fat.  For example, for breakfast you will have a black coffee, for lunch a salad with fish, shrimp or poultry (no red meat), nuts for snack and the dinner will be the same as the lunch.  Tasty!  Will you lose weight?  Of course!  Maybe it will be a pound per day.  You will look great!  You will be thin, start to lose your hair, your skin will be dry, your sugar levels will be crazy, your blood pressure will be the lowest, maybe lose your periods and feel miserable.  My recommendation is that if you decide to be anorexic, do it without the hormone and save the money. 

There are many studies that demonstrates the inefficiency of the HCG diet.  The Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said that HCG is neither safe nor effective as a weight-loss aid.  Also, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has stated that the drug sold as “homeopathic HCG” is fraudulent and ineffective for weight loss.  So, what else do you need to know in order to open your eyes and see that this is one of many dangerous diets?  Come on! You must be a moron to think that you are loosing weight because of the hormone instead of the 500 cal/day diet.  And don’t believe the crap that it will help you decrease you appetite, because it won’t.

There is no magic diet or exercise that will work for everybody.  We are all different, what works for me not necessarily work for everybody.  So, if you want to lose weight don’t believe in what other people is doing.  Go to a nutritionist and get a personalize and balance diet that will work for and will take in account any health issues (high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.) that you might have.  Also, have a consult with a personal trainer or an exercise physiologist.  He/she will design exercise routines given your body composition and activity levels. 

Do it the right way.  It will be hard, it will be slow, but it will last.  Don’t take the easy road, don’t be stupid!

To PCOS or not to PCOS, that is the question

If I realize a poll asking how many of you have been “diagnosed” with polycystic ovaries (PCOS), the result will be approximately 75%.  That is the first thing doctors may say to you if you have ever suffered from ovarian cysts and you have not been able to conceive.  They also will say it is PCOS if you are suffering from irregular periods, overweight or have insulin problems.  But is it really PCOS?  There are two different criteria used to diagnose, but some doctors will only diagnose it if you comply with almost all of the following symptoms:

-  anovulation

-  irregular menstruation (few menstrual periods or non at all)

-  polycystic ovaries (as shown by ultrasound)

-  excessive amounts or effects of androgenic hormones (masculinization/hirsutism/acne)

-  insulin resistance  (high insulin levels that are not metabolize correctly)

- high cholesterol levels

-  obesity (mostly abdominal and upper body, not on hips or thighs)

-  infertility problems due to anovulation

But the most confusing thing about PCOS is that not all woman with PCOS have polycystic ovaries, nor do all woman with ovarian cysts have PCOS.  So, many tests should be done before the correct diagnosis.  Those include ultrasounds, hormonal levels, glucose tolerance levels and insulin levels.  Also, an assessment of genetic predisposition and menstrual cycle changes should be done.  If you suspect you might have PCOS talk you your doctor preferably an Ob/Gyn.  If you are already having problems with your sugar levels, then include a visit to an endocrinologist. 

Treatment for PCOS depends on the priorities of the patient.  It may concentrate on restoring regular menstruation and fertility or normal insulin levels.  Hirsutism and acne can also be treated if it is really annoying.  There are meds for all the symptoms on the list.  I will also add, it is very important to maintain a good weight by eating a low-carb diet and exercise regularly. 

As for me, I will still have the question, since my Ob/gyn says I don’t have it and my endocrinologist says I have it.  At this point it does not matter!  I am taking the meds for almost all the symptoms on the list.  All because of my crazy hormones!!

The ring

 As times go by and we became older it is expected to pull on some weight.  But women are specially cursed by it.  We are expected to grow up, have children and get older looking like when we were 18 y/old.  Why?  Nobody cares if a man grows a huge belly and looks 10 years older, that is expected.  We have to look like Barbie although they look like Shrek.  That is so unfair!  It will be hilarious to watch a men shed out 50 pounds gained during pregnancy. He would be so depressed that he will put on 50 more because he would not deal with the diet,or having no time to exercise because he’s dealing with work and kids.  We are just a reflexion of what society expect from us.  It is like when you have a boyfriend for a long time, they ask: When are you going to marry?.  Then you marry him and they tell you: Don’t get pregnant too soon!  Finally after a couple of years (too long for them) you have a child and they tell you: When are you going to have a second one? But not too soon or you will get crazy.  You have  another child and the question is:  Did you got sterilized?  Come on!!!  We cannot please everybody!

Going back to the weight thing, it is very complex and sensitive to talk about weight among women.  Sometimes we get overweight because we have bad eating habits.  Those habits could be easily corrected and you can see results just by changing them a little bit.  And if you are brave enough to add some exercise, you will change your body significatively.  But there are some of us that gain weight with no apparent reason.  If someone have told me ten years ago that I will be struggling with my weight I would not believe it.  After my first pregnancy I gained 50 pounds but it was not because I dedicated my days to eat all the time.  A couple of months after delivery I returned to my pre-pregnancy weight with the help of diet, exercise and breastfeeding.  After a year, I gained like 15 pounds more and stayed there until my second pregnancy.

I was never a very skinny girl, most likely I was the athletic type.  As a child and a teenager I used to exercise a lot, so I never had any issues with my weight. So I thought that maybe my metabolism had reach its peak and due to pregnancy, it would never be the same again.  But I was just in my mid-twenties I was too young for that!  Something else was going on…  I found out later thanks to my wedding ring. 

After my first pregnancy I was able to wear again my wedding ring.  With my second pregnancy (at 33) it did not happen.  I shed almost all of the 60 pounds I gained but I was still feeling “bloated”.  Then, I was diagnosed with PMDD and started hormone therapy for progesterone replacement.  I started to feel way better and dropped like 12 pounds, still I was not feeling “normal” yet.  My wedding ring did not fit either, so my husband got me a new one because I was convinced that I would not use the older one again.  But it bugged me a lot!  How could anyone gain weight on a finger?  Is that even possible?  Deep inside I knew what was happening, but I was not ready to deal with it.  I will tell you in another post…

Anyway, it was part a bad habit, part bad genes.  I embraced a change in lifestyle,  dropped 20 pounds and got the ring back in my finger!  So, if you think that something is wrong and it is not that you are eating yourself to death, talk to your doctor.  It could be a lot of things like thyroid problems, PCOS, diabetes, estrogen or progesterone insufficiency, anxiety, depression etc.  The important thing is that your find out what’s going on.

God, I really like that damn ring!

PMS and other demons

Don’t you get mad when people ask you: Do you have PMS?  You look so cranky…  Even if you don’t have any PMS you get crankier just because of the question.  I have the right to be cranky and bitchy if I want to, it does not mean that I have PMS. Maybe I don’t feel well because I had a bad day or a headache.   Men in particular blame the hormones of every mood change women have.  Why?  Can we blame their testosterone because they are not multitasking or incapable of finding “lost” things?  No, we don’t do that!  We help them and get cranky because if we don’t do it, the human race will not be able to survive.  So, please don’t use PMS as an excuse.

But, do PMS really exist?  Some people say it is a product of our womanly imagination.  Others blame the hormonal level differences during the menstrual cycle.  But how can we imagine the headaches, acne, bloating, allergies, depression (should I go on)?    So, it is fair to blame the hormones in this case.  Almost all women have suffered from those symptoms a couple of days before their period. Somehow, our bodies manage it very well by relieving the symptoms as soon as the period begins.  But, how can all women imagine the same? Are they going crazy?  Not at all, this is completely normal unless it affects your quality of life.  When it does, then it is not just PMS.

I have been suffering from “severe PMS” symptoms for almost a decade.  My previous ob/gyn thought I was crazy and told me to “concentrate” on other things.  But after I had my second child and quit the pill forever (got sterilized) then things got nasty.  My cycles were crazier and I was feeling “hormonally” worst than when I was pregnant.  I got very anxious and irritated, the weight gain was out of control.  I had so much bloating that I gained 6 pound of “water” in 2 days and lost them the first day of my period!  My shoes would not fit during those days.  Also, I had a couple of jeans a size bigger to fit me during those days.  It was an emotional roller coaster.  Until the day my new ob/gyn talked to me about PMDD.

PMDD (Premenstrual Dysforic Disorder) is a severe form of PMS.  It disrupt your life and interfere with your daily activities as well with your relationship with others.  Here is a list of  some of the symptoms (not necessarily you will have all of them):

- mild to severe depression, lost of interest of your usual activities

-mood swings

- anxiety and irritability

-difficulty to concentrate

-weight gain, bloating, headaches, muscle pain

-fatigue, tiredness

Your doctor can do the screening and based on the severity of the symptoms, he or she will order some hormonal tests.  It is not clear which are the reasons, but it may have several components based on the treatment available.  Some patients will respond to hormones (because they have hormonal imbalances) and others to antidepressants.  There are only two prescribed medicines approved by the FDA to treat PMDD:

- Yaz :  an oral contraceptive with a new form of progesterone with a diuretic component

- Sarafem:  formerly known as Prozac!  FDA approved Prozac for PMDD under a new name. 

Although PMDD has not been “officially” accepted as a disorder per se, the American Psychiatric Association classifies it as a “disorder requiring further study”.  Nevertheless, the FDA accept it as an “illness” so that’s why there are some drugs in the market with that indication.  The causes of PMDD may be various, but it is most likely related to fluctuations of the serotonin levels due to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle.  So, if you feel that you are really going crazy because of your PMS, talk to your doctor.  And if he or she does not bother enough, get a second opinion.

As for me, I was going crazy, my periods were wildly irregular, I was not able to lose weight and the worst, I was going dumb!  I was not able to concentrate at all!   And that was NOT NORMAL for me!!!  So, my decent doctor listened, did all the tests and discovered that my body was out of progesterone.  After a couple of months of unsucessfull hormonal replacement therapy with progesterone alone, he switched to Yaz.  AND I HAD MY LIFE BACK!

Is this normal?

Is this normal? That was the first question I asked my mom when I first got my period.  I was 8yrs and I thought I was dying, literally!  The only thing that she told me was: “This is completely normal.  You are not going to die today.  This is going to happen every month from now on.”  Obviously, that night I didn’t sleep.  She knew this was not normal, I recall her speaking to my pediatrician about how fast I was growing.  I grew very fast so at 8yrs my appearance was the one of a 12 y/old.  Everybody was talking about how tall I was going to be (jaja!).   By the time I was really 12yrs I stopped growing (I am 4’11” not joking!).  Then, when I was in seventh grade a teacher explained to all the girls what the period was about.  It all made sense, but in my mind I was still pissed because I hated my period since day one. And I still hate it!

After that experience, I became fascinated by hormones.  How it controlled our bodies whether we have acne, a headache or a baby!  I was so uninformed at first, obviously I was not emotionally prepared for that.  So, I decided to learn as much as I can about my body changes.  At first it was hard to have bodily proportions not similar to my peers, but after a couple of years it all balanced out.  So, when all my friends finally got boobs, I was happier than them.  It is a miracle that I didn’t develop body image issues, I just wanted to be “normal” for my age.  I appeared “normal” for a while but then the hormones got a rest.

For several years the time stopped in “hormone land”.  I remember one time when my mom and I went to a store to buy my high school uniform.  She asked the woman about a uniform for me and she showed her an elementary school uniform.  Was it a joke?  I don’t know, but I still remember it.  I hated when people treated me as a little girl instead of a teenager.  Several times I wished to look older (be careful what you wish for…).  Ironically, now I try my best to look as young as I can!!!  I agree when people say nobody can understand a woman. 

I have tried to understand the reasons why I developed so soon.  I have heard that maybe it was because of hormones added to poultry or dairy products.  Also, I have heard that girls who lived in a stressful environment develop earlier (I had a tough childhood).  But I really think that it is all about genes.  Living in an island does not allow us to have a big gene pool.  No matter the reason, I managed to accept that I was slightly different.

As you may read later in this blog, hormones express in mysterious ways.

Welcome!

Hi everybody!  Welcome to “The Crazy Hormone”.  Please, feel free to read my “about” section to see what would you expect to find in this blog.  I will be posting more soon.

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