Recently, I had the pleasure of talking to Sara Gottfried, a Harvard-educated physician, wife, mom and author of the New York Times best-selling book, “The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep, Sex Drive and Vitality With The Gottfried Protocol.“
If you click the play button on the video at the top of the page, you’ll be able to hear the entire podcast. But if you’re short on time — or if reading’s more your thing — I have an excerpt of our conversation here.
In this second installment, Dr. Sara and I talk about what she did to reset her hormones and take off the weight …
Dr. Steve: We talked already about how your cortisol levels were off. Let’s hear what you did to reset them.
Dr. Sara: Number 1 was Rhodiola. I love, love, love me some Rhodiola because it is so profound. Within an hour you feel the difference.
Dr. Steve: Rhodiola is one of the ingredients we use in one of our products, and I think our customers have the same response. It changes their lives. But it’s important to get it from the right source and the right dosage, and it’s got to be pure and clean and properly processed. But that’s a separate topic …
Dr. Sara: It’s a good topic. The fact that so many supplements are not regulated by the FDA and so we end up relying on the morality and the ethics of supplement manufacturers. Getting a clean, pure form is so crucial. What I like about Rhodiola is that it allows you to not feel like you’re rushing from one task to the next. It helps you hit that pause button.
And speaking of hitting the pause button, my number 2 way to reset cortisol is to actually hit the pause button. One of my favorite ways is to call a girlfriend. Chat with her for 10–15 minutes; it’s going to raise your oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone.
Another thing I do is spend 30 minutes every morning in a contemplative practice. I’ve got an app on my iPhone called “Inner Balance,” which uses heart-rate variability to help me train to become more stress-resilient.
Dr. Steve: Anything to stay away from?
Dr. Sara: Now I know that by running, I was raising cortisol like crazy. That’s one of the biggest problems with chronic cardio.
Dr. Steve: So getting on a treadmill for 45 minutes or running for an hour is not necessarily the way to go?
Dr. Sara: No. I started practicing yoga. And then a little bit later, I started doing burst training. I go as hard as I can with either weights or running or a cardio machine for 1 minute, and then do a more leisurely pace for 1 minute.
Dr. Steve: You also talked about how your blood sugar and insulin response were off. This is a big problem we see in this country with all the refined carbohydrates we eat. They turn to sugar so quickly in the body, sending you quick energy but then the body produces a spike in insulin to mop up the sugar in the blood, and blood sugar levels come crashing down. Eventually the body stops responding to insulin as well, which leads to insulin resistance. What did you do to get that under control?
Dr. Sara: Food first. Take out all processed foods, get more vegetables, eat more lean protein. And cut out the refined carbs.
Dr. Steve: How do you get people to stick to that? I think I’m doing pretty well, but I still have those cravings here and there. I feel like I’m constantly getting off and on the wagon.
Dr. Sara: Don’t rely on willpower, because willpower is tenuous. Bypass the willpower issue altogether by setting up habits that support you best. One of the most helpful habits I have is to write down what I’m going to eat the next day, every night before I go to bed.
Dr. Steve: That sounds like a lot of work.
Dr. Sara: It’s actually a time saver for me because it keeps me from opening the fridge with like a, “Hmmm, what can I eat? What would taste good?” at 5 p.m. That’s when people start eating the pasta and the cheese. The really cool part? When you follow through and eat the food that you commit to, it creates a sense of integrity and grace.
I also think that it’s very helpful to have crazy healthy friends. Just like when you hang out with people who have a cold, you’re going to catch the cold? You can do the opposite. You can hang out with people who are ridiculously healthy and like catch their healthy habits.
Dr. Steve: I think social media can really help with that, too. If you choose to follow all the folks who are going to be serving up inspirational messages and information about how to stay healthy, you’ll have constant healthy feedback.
Dr. Sara: Yes, use technology to support yourself. It’s been said that Facebook can raise your oxytocin when you connect with like-minded people. Follow the people that you aspire to be like.
Dr. Steve: Any other steps we can take to move toward balance?
Dr. Sara: Another botanical I like for women who have high estrogen is resveratrol, which is an extract from grape skins. A lot of women say to me, “I have a glass or 2 or 3 of wine every night, I think I’m getting enough resveratrol.” Unfortunately, while red wine does have resveratrol, the alcohol raises cortisol.
The last step is to take proven bio-identical hormones for the shortest duration and at the lowest doses. But I really consider that a last resort. I find that most people are able to correct their hormones just with steps 1 and 2.
Dr. Steve: That’s a flip of how the establishment will treat it, right? Step 1 will be the hormone replacement.
Dr. Sara: You got it.
I hope you enjoyed my talk with Dr. Sara. If you want to hear more, you can go here and click play on the video to see the entire podcast