132: Hormone Dysfunction, Low Inflammatory Diets, and Are Hormones Preventing You From Losing Weight? with Karen Martel!
November 8, 2019
Welcome back to the podcast! Today’s guest is Karen Martel. She is a Certified a Transformational Nutrition Coach and expert in women’s weight loss resistance and hormone health. Enjoy!
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Hello, everyone. Now, usually it's me on the end of being the host of the podcast, but today I have the honor of being interviewed by the Chantel Ray show, so I'm looking forward to it.
Hey, guys, welcome to this week's podcast, and I'm super excited to talk with today's guest. She's a certified transformational nutrition coach and weight loss expert and the host of the Other Side of Weight Loss podcast and blog. Please welcome Karen Martelle.
Hi, Chantelle. Thanks for having me on your show.
Well, Karen, let's start by discussing your own wellness journey and how it led you to become a nutritional coach.
Yeah, I mean, like everybody, I've definitely got my own journey. This is how we all end up here, right? Yeah.
And I would say that mine probably you know, I always had grew up with not the best eating behavior I had. I suffered with bulimia throughout high school.
And, you know, I didn't take very good care of my body through my 20s and stuff, but it really hit me hard when I had my first child back in my early thirties. And after having her over the couple of years after having her, I suddenly started to develop a lot of health problems. And I was getting chronic migraines. I was gaining weight. I was having severe, severe insomnia, skin rashes, bloating, like you name. And I had it and I did what every other woman does. And I went online to search for the next best diet. I went and got some dieting books. I went and did add kids. I did the zone. I did some Cleanseas, I did raw food, I did juicing, you name it. I did it. And I was working out harder than I was I had ever worked out before in my life. And I only continued gaining weight and I really was doing everything right that I was apparently supposed to be doing. I didn't have food addictions. I didn't overeats. I ate early. Well, I didn't drink and smoke and do drugs. And yet the weight just kept coming on. And I got so fed up with I was the heaviest I've ever been. And I was just like, what is going on? There's something else that's happening in my body. And I decided that I would get my hormones checked. And after getting my hormones checked, I saw that there was a lot of and I'm in my early thirties, so I didn't think that that was going to be a problem. But I thought, OK, I have to do something. And it came back that I had a lot of hormone dysfunction going on. And I basically I had to look at that. I also realized that I had a lot of emotional stuff from my past that I had to deal with. And I kind of went on this couple of year journey. I would probably say I'm still on the journey of really trying to figure out what was impacting my weight. That wasn't food, that wasn't exercise. And I discovered a lot of things along the way. And so I came into this going, I got to I have to help other women that are going through what I went through, where it's they have what's called weight loss resistance that not the typical lowering calories, exercising more doesn't work.
That's awesome. Well, thank you for being so transparent and talking about your own journey. I when I was in college, I was bulimic as well. So for about three years while I was in school, I was I was bulimic as well. And so thank goodness I don't have to deal with that anymore. But I think that part of that. Had some negative causes on my body from all that throwing up for three years, then on top of that, when I was pregnant with my son, I threw up every single day. I was the sickest pregnant woman ever to be known to man. And I threw up every single day while I was pregnant, minimum of six times a day. I was throwing up when I was giving, like when I was pushing, I was like, push, push. You know, literally it was awful. And so I think our children actually know after that I was like, I'm done. Actually, I made my husband get a vasectomy because I told him. I said, if you ever want to put your thing in my thing, you better get a vasectomy by that. Do that again.
I threw up with both pregnancies, two up until the eighth, seventh or eighth month. So not as bad as you, but very close where I was violently ill through both pregnancies.
So tell us about your on track program. What does it involve and what is the mission of the program?
So I, I first jumped into coaching like just one on one coaching for many years in my practice, and I realized that a women really needed accountability.
They needed to have ongoing support because the journey just never ends right when it comes to food and our health and working on our hormones. And so I wanted to develop a program for my clients actually to graduate into where they could pay a monthly membership fee. They could continue with the meal planning. They could continue getting my support, but not that one on one would be group coaching. And it really took off from there. And then I was like, I obviously have to start sharing this, you know, publicly with everybody else. And so a couple of years ago, I started to do that. And over the years it's actually morphed into something completely different than what it started from. And now the focus of the program is really just helping women step by step, helping them to balance their hormones and to lose weight. I mean, the balancing the hormones will help you to lose weight. But the focus of the program is also what you can do that will help you to lose the weight so that psychology, spirituality, detoxing, fasting, our meal. Are we we have a weekly meal plan that goes out. That is kind of it's what I've compiled over the many years of being in this industry of my own version of the way I feel like is optimal for our hormone health and to lose weight. So it's got weekly fasting in it. It's got cycling of carbs. So we've got some really low carb days. And then we go into a higher carb helio based days and we vary the calories. We vary the carbs in order to help women to continue to lose weight, not hit that weight loss plateau.
So when you looked at your let's talk about you for a second. So when you looked at your hormones and you got your blood work done, what did you see? Like what were the triggers that you were like? My my hormones are out of whack.
My big one was the cortisol and cortisol and my DHEA. Both were chaar your adrenal hormones were really, really low. And so that showed me at the time that I was far more stressed than I thought that I was. And so that was a big aha moment because I didn't think I was a stressed out person.
And looking back and knowing what I know now, I think that there was a combination of things happening. I was hypothyroid, which I didn't know at the time. I also had very high levels of lead in my body, which is a heavy metal, which both of these things can actually down regulate cortisol. So I had to look at my lifestyle and really manage my stress because my body at that time couldn't take the load of what was happening. I didn't know that then. So but I did change my lifestyle. So that was a huge thing for me. As I started doing yoga, I started asking for help. I started taking time out for me and it really did. I my cortisol levels came up a little bit. My DHEA never did, but my cortisol did. And I started to feel better. I had estrogen dominance, so I had too much estrogen in comparison to progesterone. So I had to switch that out, which.
So what what did you do to help with that estrogen dominance? Did you take progesterone cream?
I did take progesterone cream and then I was taking supplements to support the adrenal system and to help me detox the estrogen out of the body.
Are you still taking progesterone cream now? I just started back on it because I just recently had my hormones checked again. I been on and off of it since I was in my early thirties. So recently I just went back on it because my progesterone and my estrogen are both low right now.
I don't know, is there any foods for you that you just kind of eliminate or you say, you know, for me, I don't feel great on these foods. These are things that I just.
Don't have in my diet, so for me, it's mostly grains, beans I follow pretty strictly a paleo based diet. I go in and out of ketosis depending on what time of year it is, but mainly for the last 12 years of mainly been doing paleo because definitely one hundred percent. That's what works for me. And wouldn't be back when I was having the weight loss, resistance problems and trying all those different diets.
I actually came across the paleo diet and it really made me feel so much better. I didn't lose a pound, but I felt so much better. My blood sugar stabilized, the bloating went down. You know, it just my body composition changed. And since then I've tried to veer away at times. And it just those foods, those other foods just do not work for my body.
Gotcha. And so walk us through a day in the life of Karen. Like, what did you eat yesterday? What did you eat? When did you eat it? Did you work out what's what's kind of a day in the life of you look like?
Well, this week it's been a little bit crazy and not my usual routine because my son's starting kindergarten this week. So things have changed.
But I yesterday actually wasn't too bad because I did come to town yesterday and I worked out I did the do you know, Jay Teta getta data.
So I love his workouts. And so they're really quick. Fast. He has programs that are built for helping you to rev up fat, burning your fat burning abilities for 24 to 48 hours after you workout. So I've always ohis is there are always my go to work out. So I did a quick 20 minute workout in a fasted state and then I actually fasted till one. I've been fasting all week actually longer than I normally would because I'm doing a heavy metal chelation right now and fasting can really help to get rid of the heavy metals and makes me feel better when I'm off round. So I've been fasting quite a bit this week, so fast until one. And then I had leftover pork chop with that, had Murchison's primal kitchen barbecue sauce on it. Well, which was delicious. And some new baby potatoes and a homemade coleslaw with beets in it. And that was my lunch. And then I came home. I had some cashews and some kombucha that I just made. And it sounds really healthy. I'm not always this perfect. You guys don't be fooled. And then dinner time. What did we have last night?
Oh, we had leftover I had made chicken korma and I love Indian food, so I made a homemade chicken korma and had cauliflower rice with it.
So so I had the someone on our podcast named Michelle Norris and she is the founder and owner of Paleo Effects, which obviously they're huge paleo people. And it was funny. So I said to her something. I asked her, you know, give us a day in the life. And I said, So are you one hundred percent paleo? And I thought she gave me such a good response because she said, I'm going to be honest. I don't think there's anyone that's one hundred percent paleo. She's like, even if they tell you they are, they're really hot. She's and I can't remember the percentage that she told me she was. But, you know, we have certain people who and I just think eating paleo is just eating clean in general. But would you say that 80 are you 80 percent paleo, 90 percent? Ninety five. What would you say if you had to give a percentage and how often would you say, hey, this is when I splurge on something? And how often would that be?
I would say a lot of the time I'm actually close to 90 percent paleo. The things that I would splurge on that sometimes, like if I leave, if I go for breakfast or something, I might have gluten free toast with my breakfasts. That would kind of be a big splurge. It doesn't seem to bother me too much either. Gluten free toast, depending on what the brand is. Also, I also am a total die hard for ice cream, especially in the summer.
I don't ever eat it in the winter. I have no cravings for it whatsoever. But come summertime, at least once a week, I'm going for ice cream. Yeah. So that's kind of that's about it for me. I don't eat. Some people feel like paleo. You can eat full fat dairy.
I will occasionally eat some cheese or I will put some whipping cream in my coffee butter. I make my own yogurt. So I do have, I make it from two milk and I, you know, I ferment it for twenty four hours of the lactose is gone. So I do eat a little bit of dairy but not a lot.
Awesome. Yeah. OK, so let's jump right into the listener questions. This one is from Beth from Chicago. I'm a thirty five year old mother of two. It's always been pretty easy for me to lose weight when I put on a few pounds just by working out a little more and eating less. But in the last. I've gained five pounds, I tried working out and eating less, but I can't lose the weight. What's going on is at my age or my hormones, I really want to fit into my genes before the fall. Please help.
So it's you know, I said was my own story at 30 in my early 30s, I was already having a lot of hormone dysfunction. There's some of us that are just way more prone to it than others with our environment as well.
And the toxic load that we have, we're Senik hormone dysfunction coming at an earlier an earlier age. So 35 is actually when you start to really see it. Thirty five to thirty eight is now the kind of the age where women start to have some hormone dysfunction going on. So if it because she's thirty five and this has suddenly happened, then I would one hundred percent say that is likely your hormones because things are changing now. Other things can come into play. It might not be your sex hormones, it might be that you now have become insulin resistance. And so what you were doing before isn't working. And actually things like cardio could be making it worse and eating less can be making things worse as well. If you've got cortisol dysfunction, let's say you've got low cortisol because you've been stressed out for too long. If you go low calorie and lower calorie and you start to work out more so with cardio, you can actually make it worse and actually put weight on because that's hard on the adrenal system. So getting that hormone testing done at this point would be great because you are starting to feel the effects of hormone dysfunction. So before things get worse, because no amount of dieting or exercise will likely help, it may help a little bit, but it'll help you so you won't maybe lose weight, gain more. But at this point, you really want to jump in and go and get them tested and start working on it now, because that will be the answer to losing weight and keeping it off.
Awesome. All right. This next one's from Lindsay in Orlando. I'm pretty healthy and have no food sensitivities that I know of, but I have depression and anxiety. I've been on medicine for them for years. My sister told me that cutting out gluten might help with the anxiety and depression. Is this true? And should I try it?
Yes, absolutely it's true. I have worked with hundreds of women that have anxiety and depression and many of them, not all of them, but many of them after switching to a low inflammatory diet. So that is the removal of gluten. It is the removal of grains and beans.
They do come back to say that they cannot believe how much different they feel as far as their anxiety and depression goes. I've had women that have been able to get off medication by just changing their diet and had no idea that they were sensitive or anything like that. It's really about the information of what your gut microbiome, because it's direct, can have a direct impact on your brain. So it's about reducing inflammation. And so you want to be going low, inflammatory and watching the foods that you eat.
And the many, many people definitely feel better. Carnivore, which is becoming a bit of what the next popular diet right now. But one of the things that people say time and time again about going Carnivore, which is complete removal of all carbohydrates and you're eating them eat only diet, is that they it's curing their anxiety and depression, which I think is fascinating. And it has something to do with the poisons in the plants that can be affecting some people's brain chemistry. It's a very interesting. But for her, I would look into it.
I don't always suggest Carnivore to everybody is a pretty pretty I'm totally like that is just it doesn't even make sense to me. I am I completely agree that is ridiculous.
But some people are really helped by it. Like, I can't do it myself and I don't I don't need to do it. So I won't. But I've interviewed some people for my podcast about it, and I've listened to a lot of podcasts about the Carnivore diet. And I, I see that it really can help certain people that it can be therapeutically.
Right. All right. This next. I'm Sarah in Milwaukee. I'm generally a thin woman. I workout and want to look tone and fit, but not bulky. Should I be doing more cardio or more lifting?
More lifting, for sure. It's very hard for women to look bulky, period.
So you're not you know, when you see these women that are all jacked up, I'll tell you right now they're likely on some form of a steroid. Very few women can look like that without taking steroids. Trust me, I know I workout. I've done very heavy lifting in my time and I have never looked bulky. And it'll make you look shapely and it increases. Your metabolism is great for your bone health. Cardio, on the other hand, can be really hard on the adrenal system if you're not careful with that.
And so as far as like shape goes and health goes, I definitely think that weight lifting outweighs the.
All right, this next one's from Andy in Tulsa. I have two cups of coffee every morning for energy, but about two p.m. I'm exhausted and hit a big slump. What are the best foods to eat to keep me energized all day?
So if you in the first half of your day, try to minimize the amount of carbohydrates are eating and keep the carbohydrates for dinner time. That's a really great hack to use. Because if you start your morning out with, let's say, a fruit smoothie or something that has oatmeal, something like that, that has a higher carb count to it, you're starting your morning with a blood sugar spike and coffee will also spike your blood sugar because it raises cortisol. So cutting your coffee down to one cup and then having some protein, some fats and maybe a little tiny bit of carbs in that first meal of your day will help you to sustain energy throughout the day. Not have you not you will be riding that blood sugar roller coaster come two o'clock when you crash. So keep your blood sugar stable and you're going to find that that 2:00 p.m. gets a lot better.
And I want to get you to talk a little bit about getting to the root of hypothyroidism to lose weight and talk a little bit about your own personal journey through hypothyroidism and what medication you're taking and what you've kind of found that's really helped you.
Yeah, I think with hypothyroidism, I in my own journey, I realized that it is so important to get to the root of the problem because so many of us just think that, oh, well, we're going to take this pill, the Synthroid, the level thyroxine, and everything's going to be great. We're going to lose all this weight. And it very rarely happens like that.
I'm sure you know this. And and so when I finally got diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I what I did have those hopes that, hey, maybe mine's just a genetic thing. And I'm sure my naturopath was like, it's probably just diet is probably just familial and it's through your genes. And I was like, yeah, you know, my granny's got it. So, yeah, OK, just give me the medication. Let's try this out. And I went on natural dessicated thyroid and this was all of last year and I. How much were you on? I went up to about one hundred and twenty. My labs looked amazing. I felt amazing. I was losing weight effortlessly. For the first time in my life. I could actually eat more. My food sensitivities were down. All these things started going away. I was like, oh, hallelujah. I found the answer. And come October of last year, I suddenly started to feel not so good and I couldn't get off my couch and I was depressed and I and I couldn't figure out what it was. And I was like, what is going on? Why do I feel like this? Have I overdone it? Am I working too much?
And I went and got my labs checked to think maybe it's my thyroid and my labs were like my T three MIT for like a third of the range, which is where they should be if you're optimized on your hormones. And my reverse T3 came back, it always comes back like two weeks later because we have nowhere to test it here in Canada. So I sent away my RiverCity three and that came back and it came back that it went from 16, I think it was 15 to 19. Now the range is over twenty two here. I think it is that then it gets Fleck's. So it hadn't been flagged. Point being had not been flagged, but it had gone up and it was enough that it was creating hypothyroidism again in severely hypothyroid. I mean I gained ten pounds in a month. I was depressed like like I said, everything just suddenly went haywire in my body and I had to then go on a journey of OK, then what is causing this? Like, why is my reverse T3 going high? Why am I not converting T for to T three. Because that was my original problem was and then why I was misdiagnosed was my test age in 84 were always in great range and that's all the doctors were testing. So everybody, no one thought that I had a thyroid problem because of those numbers. When I finally got my teeth, three checked, my T three was undervalued. So I knew then that I was hypothyroid. But the conversion problem was my issue. And so I had to go on this very intense journey of what are the causes of high reverse T three and this conversion problem. And that's when I did my heavy metal testing and I found out that I had like off the chart levels of lead in my body and mercury and thallium. And so I had a lot of heavy metals. I'm in the process now of chelating them. And, you know, just getting to the root of that thyroid problem for any of your listeners is super key. And it can sound overwhelming because it's like, oh, my gosh, there's so much that it could be. But really, there's some top things that you need to look at. And that's your heavy metals, mold toxicity, gut gut infections is another one. And you can look at your genetics to to see if there is a conversion problem.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the show today. Can you tell listeners where they can find more information about you and your podcast?
Yes, you bet. So, Karen Martel, dot com, you can head over there. I have a free hormone quiz that I think your your people are putting in the show notes, and you can find me on iTunes or any other podcast platform at the other side of weight loss.
And you can also find it with our video channel on YouTube.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here again. And if you have a question that you want answered, go to questions at Chantel Ray Dotcom. We'll see you next time. Bye.