Are your weight-loss attempts being hindered by your hormones?

Hello everyone!

I can’t tell you how many clients show up at our ‘virtual' door step complaining of an inability to lose weight. There are some more obvious solutions relating to general diet that I’ve talked about before (see below), and I will preface that eating bags of chips and lots of sugar will certainly hinder your weight-loss.

But what happens when you feel as if you’re doing everything right – you’re hitting the gym,  and you’re even watching your carb intake.  Don’t people tell you that the weight should just “fall right off”? Why doesn’t that happen?

Well, a missing piece could very well be your hormones, which are a tricky piece to the health puzzle. I like this image here that shows the different hormones and how they are all interrelated.

Source: Dr Saul Marcus


In general, the first step of a hormonal imbalance actually comes from prolonged stress, and this stress could even have been a while ago. Although the stressful period is over now, unfortunately your body doesn’t necessarily repair itself without extra steps. Maybe someone you were close to passed away, maybe you had a crappy breakup (or were/are in a terrible relationship), maybe you’ve been in overdrive at the gym (without enough recovery) or maybe you have/had a job that is or was mega stressful. If you were able to cope with the stress, your body recovers; but, if the alarm bells were on for a long time, that’s where a problem arises.

When your cortisol (stress hormone) is out of balance, symptoms that you experience might be something like this:

  • A ‘tired but wired’ feeling – you know you need to sleep but you’re WIDE awake
  • A real loss of stamina – getting through the regular things like making dinner, or going to the gym has now become a struggle
  • Brain fog like none other – you are seriously thinking of being tested for early onset Alzheimer’s
  • Crazy cravings – like…GET ME A BAG OF CHIPS, NOW.
  • A lacklustre sex drive – you’d rather do dishes and clean the house.…
  • Pesky belly fat that won’t go away – no matter how many sit-ups

The extra cortisol that your body is releasing in response to the stress you’ve experienced tells your body to store fat, lose muscle and slow your metabolism. But here’s the real kicker: cortisol regulates the levels of other hormones including your thyroid (which keeps you slim) and your estrogen (which also keeps you slim, happy and clear headed). So, if left unmanaged for a while, your thyroid and sex hormones also become out of balance, and excess estrogen is a ticket to weight-gain in the hips, butt and thigh area.


If you’ve put on excess weight in the hips, butt and thighs specifically, estrogen and progesterone are to blame. The most common cause is that your estrogen is higher than it should be in relation to progesterone – this is something called estrogen dominance.

Other common signs of estrogen dominance:

  • Very heavy periods – you’re going through a super tampon in <2-3 hours
  • Terrible cramping – you are popping the Advil like it’s your job
  • Breast tenderness – you can’t WAIT to get home to take your bra off
  • Water retention / puffiness – your ankles or knees are swollen, and maybe even your face feels a bit puffy

Estrogen is the hormone responsible for your lovely lady humps (your curves), and the more you have, the higher the likelihood to excess weight.


I have written lots about the thyroid:

If your thyroid isn't functioning optimally, you may feel really tired, no matter how much sleep you get. You may also notice sluggish digestion. From a weight standpoint though, it will seem like no matter how little you eat, nothing changes. OR, you may notice an increase in weight.

The interesting thing about your thyroid is that it's often the second system to get out of whack, after cortisol. So, typically (and not in all cases) a cortisol imbalance exists in combination with the thyroid.

When you go to your doctor and complain of feeling tired or excess weight and they do decide to run a thyroid test, they usually only do TSH. The issue with just TSH is that is only one of four hormones that we like to see to understand if your thyroid is working properly. Your TSH could come back normal, you're told it's not thyroid related, but your T3 could be low (for example) and then you will still be experiencing symptoms.

This is why we like to test your hormones more thoroughly. As you can read about in the above case study on hypothyroidism, it helps us see what's really going on and then bring your hormones into balance so that your weight adjusts to what it should be.

As you can see, there is a lot to know about hormones, and this post is just the beginning. Hormones are really individual. If you want to balance your hormones to help lose weight, please set up a free 15 minute consult to learn more about how we work with clients to lose weight.

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