Balance

Chasing the “Love” Hormone

I have stumbled upon yet again a new Balancebuilding journey for myself that hit me unexpectedly, although it really shouldn’t have. Its the moment I left my Milkmaker title behind and stopped breastfeeding. It was February 14th and Maddux was staying with the in laws while my husband and I went on our annual date to The Forks Inn, Maddux had been only nursing at night for a couple of months and I realized this was my chance to eliminate the night nursing! Yessss! After the roller coaster ride we had been on with breastfeeding, the indescribable bond with Maddux, the oversupply issues, the elimination dieting due to allergies, the gratitude of being able to breastfeed my son who has allergies, the crying over all of the pumped milk that couldn’t be used because of allergies, the abundance of emotion of donating hundreds of ounces of milk to a mother who adopted a baby with formula sensitivities, the pumping and the exhausting self advocacy at work. I am so thankful I was able to breastfeed, but after 15 months of it I was so excited to have some body freedom and sleep back,  so much so, that I didn’t pay attention or plan according to the actual physiological changes that happen afterwards.

Thankfully, we had a long, gradual weaning process which probably made things a little better than they could have potentially been. But my body was definitely missing the prolactin (hormone for milk production- also brings feelings of calmness, well-being, and relaxation) and the oxytocin (hormone required for the “let-down” of breastfeeding- also known as the Love hormone). I felt down, unmotivated, irritable and just not myself. And not to mention, the instant 10 lbs I gained back because I am now not burning the extra 500 calories or more a day, that was nice while it lasted. Breastfeeding was legit my cardio for most of that time period. (Thank you Jesus, because I didn’t sleep for 15 months, so that wasn’t a priority) So with that, and eliminating multiple foods from my diet and going on a more plant based journey I was able to get back to my pre pregnancy weight. But how could I have not planned for this moment?! This is what I do, prepare and recover the body through each Balancebuilding season. Well, I am just a mom like a lot of you, trying to balance everything, family, work, home, and wasn’t as concerned about myself as I should have been. Sometimes it can be so challenging to be proactive for ourselves but it is so important. I think the key thing to remember at all times is that it is NEVER too late to start caring for yourself. One thing I am thankful for that I have been gifted through all of my Balancebuilding journeys is self-awareness. I was self aware enough to know that I wasn’t feeling my normal self, I needed to support myself during this time and that this too shall pass.

Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus and secreted by the tiny, pea sized, pituitary gland. This hormone is associated with trust, anxiety, bonds, and relaxation. The production of oxytocin is controlled by a positive feedback mechanism. When this mechanism is triggered, oxytocin is released.

So mainly what I am after is naturally creating more of the “love” hormone minus the breastfeeding. Whether you are a guy, a girl, a mom who breastfeeds or a mom who doesn’t, this list of ways to chase feel good hormones can benefit anyone. But I am also not discounting real mental health issues, if you are someone who has been dealing with intense feelings of depressions/anxiety, please reach out to your physician.

So, here are some things I am actively working on to boost my mood…

  • Creating a nourishing food/workout plan
    • Now that Maddux has a spot on structure with nap and bedtime, I am able to plan out my days better, my workouts/yoga/cardio, meal planning, etc., I can be more consistent, which is key for success.
    • Reverse dieting- Eating with a caloric intake that is high enough without gaining fat while eating enough to feel satisfied. This helps with cravings and binge eating.
  • Adding in foods that contain Tryptophan which can promote oxytocin production.
    • Eggs
    • Bananas
    • Yogurt
    • Rice
    • Quinoa
    • Salmon
    • Beans
    • Spirulina
    • Potatoes
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
    • Breathing deep and slow, filling up the lower part of the lungs into the belly actually immediately triggers the vagas nerve which is directly related to our parasympathetic nervous system.
    • Lowers stress responses associated with “fight or flight” mechanism
    • Improves heart rate variability- which is the measurement of variations between beat-to-beat intervals.
    • This is great to do anytime, anywhere for any amount of emotion, anxiety, stress, or irritability- because life.
  • Hugs
    • Oxytocin actually gets released when you hug or hold someone close for at least 30 seconds! It is a little tough to hug or hold onto a toddler for this long but I take what I can get!
  • Getting outside
    • Thank goodness it is spring! This warmth and sunlight is everything right now! Nature stimulates all of the feel good emotions.
    • Even taking it a step farther and grounding bare foot in the grass instantly helps balance and transfer energy improving our health.
  • Exercise/Yoga
    • Literally exercise and yoga fixes everything, it boosts dopamine and oxytocin, reducing stress and improving confidence and love for your self. #selflove
  • Increasing Magnesium intake
    • relieves anxiety by promoting oxytocin production
    • relieves constipation
    • strengthens bones
    • can help with migraines and headaches
    • relieves premenstrual symptoms
    • increases energy levels
    • fights inflammation
    • You can find magnesium in foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, avocado, figs, almonds, black beans. You can also take a supplement capsule as well.
  • Meditation
    • Meditation promotes a higher level relationship with yourself and a broader connection with others. It enables oxytocin, positive emotions, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. It can increase pain thresholds and provide healing. Meditation is so powerful and underutilized.

These are things I have always done but now I am reprioritizing my Balancebuilding journey specific to what I need at this moment. Right now I just need a little extra self care to get me through this rough patch. As soon as I came up with a plan I instantly felt better. Just goes to show you, sometimes it is the simple things that make the biggest differences!

 

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