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Today Dr. Elana interviews Dr. Alex Golden, MD and Megan Blacksmith, Nurse Practitioner, owners of Zesty Ginger. They are passionate about helping women naturally balance their hormones. Dr. Alex and Megan team up share how we can optimize our cycles by following their 4 phase approach, even if you don’t have your period back postpartum. You may be nursing with no signs of your cycle, or maybe you just got your period back and are feeling a bit off. This episode dives deep into teaching you the different phases of your cycle, what you can expect during each phase, and how to optimize your hormones and get to feeling better.
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Dr. Alex Golden 0:02
Then phase one comes around again and you do it again and` we call it the upward spiral. Your life just gets better and better and better because you’re working with it rather than just always fighting against yourself.
Elana Roumell 0:18
Welcome back to Whole Mamas podcast. We’re here to give you tools, resources and evidence based information so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Whether you’re trying to conceive or navigating life with a toddler or a teenager, we got you covered. I’m Dr. Elana Roumell, pediatric naturopathic doctor, and creator of Med School for moms, an online resource where I teach moms how to safely be a doctor mom. My co host is Stephanie Greunke, registered dietitian and program director for Whole30’s Whole Mamas club and cocreator of Whole30’S pregnancy program and upcoming postpartum program. I’m so happy to welcome our guests, Dr. Alex Golden and Megan Blacksmith. They’re an amazing team of practitioners passionate about helping women balance their hormones. On today’s show, they help teach us mamas how we can optimize our cycles by following the four phase approach. Even if you don’t have your period back; You may be nursing and still no signs of your cycle, or perhaps just got your period back and feeling a bit off. This episode will take a deep dive into teaching you how there are different phases of your cycle, what you can expect during each phase, how to optimize your hormones and so much more. Just a quick sneak peek, the first half of the cycle leading up to ovulation or the full moon, we focus on inflammation and the second half of the cycle, we focus on detoxification. There’s so much great info in this interview, and sadly, we ran out of time. We got so many great community questions and there’s just so much to share. But don’t you worry, Steph, I have a great recap episode to give you more tips and really directly helping you to summarize what Dr. Alex and Megan helped to share. So be sure to check out next week’s episode so you don’t miss a thing.
Before we begin our interview I’d like to take a minute to thank our podcast partner Four Sigmatic. Four Sigmatic is a natural superfood company that specializes in mushroom based drinks that benefit our immunity, energy, longevity, help us live healthier, more enhanced lives. Four Sigmatic makes a wide variety of blends including mushroom coffee, mushroom elixirs, hot cocos, matcha, superfood blends, and more. I’ve mentioned in past episodes how the lattes are my personal favorite. I like to highlight the chai latte mushroom mix in today’s episode and why I enjoy it. This particular mix is blended with turkey tail and reishi mushrooms. So in addition to helping support the stress response with their adaptogen roles, this mix also helps support the gut. When combined with classic chai spices like cinnamon and ginger we have a really nice carminative blend, which is a fancy term for gut soothing and digestion triggering. Turkey tail is one of the best mushrooms for the gut and paired with soothing reishi and carminative spices. It creates a calming blend to support occasional stress and full body well being. In addition, most all chai blends are caffeinated with black tea. But this blend, there’s no caffeine so this been can be enjoyed anytime of the day. I personally enjoy it after dinner, before bed, for both the digestive aid, along with the calming properties. The chai latte mushroom mix can be prepared by simply mixing it in hot water or you can add coconut oil or ghee for an even creamier texture. If you prefer cold chai, feel free to add ice and now you have a nice creamy ice chai latte ready to go. With all four stigmatic blends, you can always add it to a smoothie making your next recipe chai flavor to spice things up. Now please don’t forget about our special offer for whole Mama’s audience you receive 15% off your Four Sigmatic purchase by going to their website at foursigmatic.com/wholemams or use discount code Whole Mamas at at checkout and enjoy this special offer. Now let’s start and invite Dr. Alex and Megan to the show.
All right, well welcome Dr. Alex and Megan to the show. I’m so honored to have both of you guys here. This is actually the first podcast ever with Whole Mamas that we are having two guests, not one. So this is going to be actually fun because now we got two brains, which is so much more powerful than one, but we’re going to kind of go back and forth. You guys are going to help answer some of our community questions and really kind of hone in on your expertise here. We’re really happy to have both of you guys today.
Dr. Alex Golden 4:39
Thanks for having us.
Megan Blacksmith 4:40
Thank you so much.
Dr. Alex Golden 4:41
As you guys know, we start with our nourish yourself segment. Megan, why don’t you go ahead and start with answering “How did you nourish yourself today or what do you expect to do for yourself sometime today or this week”?
Megan Blacksmith 4:51
Absolutely. I have a practice that I have been fine tuning and I do every single morning. I have a sauna, Saunaspace, here in my living room and I do 20 minutes in the sauna, which is great. But even more importantly, is inside the sauna, while I’m in there, I do 20 minutes of priming. Three things I’m grateful for. I send that good energy and vibes to all the people in my life and all of our clients, and then three things that we want to happen. And I imagine like they’ve already happened. This is my get my head set for the day practice.
Elana Roumell 5:25
Oh, I love that so much. First of all, you’re doing so many good things all in one time span. That’s so efficient. And I love efficiency.
Megan Blacksmith 5:33
Yeah, I realized that sauna was something I was already doing and committed to so I added the other thing, and now there’s no excuse for not doing that.
Elana Roumell 5:41
I love that. Can you tell me a little bit about the the “envisioning something”? Like do you envision something that you hope to happen?
Megan Blacksmith 5:48
Yeah. So I pick three goals and that could be personal, business or whatever I’m working on the time. And let’s say you know, we have our healthy hormones group coming up and we want to have 50 amazing laides. I would envision as if that is already happened. They are in the group, they’re emailing us, and I celebrate that in my head.
Elana Roumell 6:06
Oh, okay. I love this so much. I’m a total believer in this, so I think that is so great. Hopefully that inspires some of the listeners, because I think that is so powerful, and it really does work.
Megan Blacksmith 6:16
Elana Roumell 6:17
Great. What about you, Dr. Alex, what did you do today to nurse yourself? Or what do you expect to do?
Dr. Alex Golden 6:21
Yeah, great question. So I have a similar process to Megan. It looks different, but I have a shielding and grounding procedure that I do when I wake up every single morning. Then from that place, I spend time being grateful, and then when I wake up I have my morning routine where I feed myself and our pets. I listen to recordings that motivate me and uplift me. So it’s a similar sort of procedure to Megan, we just do it in a little bit different ways. Then for me, I knew that today was going to be like a high energy day. And we have a bunch of discovery calls with the ladies doing healthy hormones with us, and this podcast and lots of stuff. So those days, I especially make it a point to get balanced macronutrients in the morning. I had hard boiled eggs for protein. I had a piece of gluten free sourdough bread with almond butter on it. So I had my carbs and my fats and my proteins, and then I had coffee with cinnamon for help with blood sugar regulation and inflammation. I felt like, with all of that I had, physically, emotionally mentally and spiritually nourish myself from the get go. Then after that we got to work and it’s kind of been a high energy sorted morning.
Elana Roumell 8:06
Man, you two are on it. I love this, and these are such great ideas. I think one of the reasons why we love starting with the nurse yourself segment is that, you know, we’re all real people too. We all have our ups and downs and, you know, stressful days and such. But it is so important that we take the time to do these nourishing practices, so that we can really give our gifts in the world. For you guys, you’ll be there now for your healthy hormone discovery calls. I know Dr. Alex, you’re kind of in between patients right now so you could be present for your patients. Megan, I know you’re a mom of two. So you guys have a lot on your plate. I just think it’s so nice that you guys are really practicing what you preach. Stephanie and I are also very passionate about that as well so we really appreciate getting some more cool ideas. I really love both of what you guys do and it’s also so neat to see that even though you guys have similar, I like to call them procedures, they’re so unique you know to you because that’s what works for you. What works for Megan may not work for you Alex, and works for you Alex may not work for Megan and that’s completely okay. So I think it’s just fantastic. Well the thing that I did today to nourish myself was I took my daily walk and so I’m really happy I got to do that. I got to listen to a podcast and that always is nourishing to me, and I really just got to spend some time with my toddler. Honestly that is just so special to me. I love these days because, as you guys know, I’m pregnant. I’m going to have a second child and I keep on thinking to myself, “oh my goodness, I’m not gonna always have the one-on-one time with with my toddler, with with Aveba”. Pretty sure when our show airs, the baby boy will be born and so I’ll probably listen back thinking, how special those times were and how much more love and abundance we now have in the family with another boy. I just I cherish that and it really is nourishing to me to do my morning walks and podcast and spend some time with the Aveba before I start my day. Okay, so let’s go ahead and jump into the interview questions because you guys, we have so many. I don’t know how we’re going to get through all them. We reached out to our community and on Instagram, you guys had such fantastic questions, so we’re going to do our very best. Before we do, I do always like to ask our guests just how they got interested in in helping in their specific field. Megan, you can first start off by answering just how you got so interested in helping women with hormone health. Then if you don’t mind, Dr. Alex, just going in and following up with that question.
Megan Blacksmith 10:33
Absolutely, Dr. Elana. Megan here, what got me into this field is the situation you’re in right now Dr. Alana, having a baby. When I had my first child I was in a completely different field. I was a mechanical engineer, and I had what I like to call “I fell off the hormone Cliff” after I had her. I had never had any real health complaints of any kind, I just didn’t go the doctor, did my normal thing. Everything was good. So it really threw me off when nine months postpartum, year postpartum and on, I was having severe anxiety, panic attacks, and such intense fatigue that I thought was normal. This was my first child and I started to look around and realize, I don’t think that this is actually normal. That’s when I found holistic nutrition. I found functional lab work because I had been to every doctor that I could find who would listen. I said, I do not feel right, something is going on, but all of my normal blood work said I was in range, I was good. I was not overweight, so they’d send me on my way. I knew in my gut and my heart that something was off. So finally finding functional lab work, which is what Alex and I now use in our programs to look at, things like the Dutch test, look at hormone levels at more of a subclinical level like that. When you start to fall off, when things start to imbalance before you are actually in a disease state, and those lined up completely 100% with the way I felt. I finally felt like, okay, this is not in my head, this is a real thing. I really feel this and then there was something to work on. So from there, finding that not only could I come back to a good place, but feel better than I ever had. Then now I have two children, I was able to experience baby number one where I had never worked on my health. I hadn’t optimize my hormones before having her and what we went through there, it was a really rough pregnancy really rough, rough, postpartum. My oldest daughter has had a lot of health challenges and gut complaints and issues herself. And then baby to five years later where I had had the time and the knowledge and that functional lab work to balance hormones in between. I have the most amazing pregnancy, the easiest. I had a home birth that went incredibly well, great postpartum period and probably had more energy after that than I did even in my 20s. So I now have this very clear contrast of having the toolkit to balance and optimize hormones and not. This is why we’ve created the programs that we have, to hopefully catch those ladies before they even go into this or at least help them after.
Elana Roumell 13:24
That’s so powerful to have a personal story. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I want to say sorry for your struggles with the first one. I then catch myself to think, no, if you didn’t have those struggles, you actually wouldn’t be doing the work that you’re doing with Dr. Alex as a team, helping so many women all around the world. So I’m glad you almost had that struggle to then see what it was like to go through it. You can really empathize with all the clients that you work with, so I actually think this is such a beautiful story and so hopeful for so many moms who may have experienced a similar situation.
Megan Blacksmith 14:00
I love that you say that Dr. Elana, because I think that’s been the biggest reframe for me looking back, is that the biggest health struggles I’ve had are now the things that allow me to help the most people and women so you just can’t separate that from life.
Elana Roumell 14:16
No question. We’re all kind of given our own various gifts in life, whether they seem like struggles in the moment. Dr. Alex, tell me how you got into this and what your medical background is?
Dr. Alex Golden 14:28
Yeah, abolutelty. And I will say just from outside, I didn’t know Megan when she was pregnant with her first child, but when she was pregnant with their second, she was like a wild woman of productivity, I’ve never seen a pregnant woman get after it so hard and so efficiently as Megan did and so she’s always been an inspiration to me in that way because I saw what it could actually be like. Now, I have not had kids myself and it’s been a little bit of a struggle situation. But same thing, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had this. I started to have issues with pelvic pain when I was 18. I had just gotten to college. I was going to, well, I did. I was a piano major, I was going to be a piano professor. When I started having pelvic pain at 18, I had the exact same experience that Megan was talking about where I went to provider after provider, and I was saying, I think I have endometriosis. They were like, your labs are fine, your ultrasound fine, this is not anything, here some ibuprofen. So I had a couple of years of that and then what I had with undiagnosed chronic pain. Basically my central nervous system began to dysfunction and I developed what’s called central pain syndrome where it’s widespread pain because of imbalances and how the central nervous system signals. Then at that point, that kind of led me down a path where I kept going to providers, and no one was really hearing me and I felt more and more disempowered. I felt like I was losing parts of my life. I couldn’t really move normally in the world, and I would look around and there’d be 21-year-olds my age and they’re doing whatever and I just was so completely debilitated. I thought there has to be a better way to do this, and so I shifted gears and I decided to go to medical school. My goal was to become a pain doctor so that I could help women with chronic pain syndromes. And so I did, I went to medical school, then I did an anesthesia and critical care residency, and now I am gearing up to do a pain fellowship, my final stage of the game to become pain doctor and help women with chronic pain syndromes. But I had a little bump in the road along the way to, in the form of infertility. I had been trying with my husband to get pregnant, and when I went into the reproductive endocrinologist at 27, she tested all my labs and said, “oops, I think you have had undiagnosed endometriosis this whole time and your ovarian function is completely shot and you’re going into menopause”. And she said, “If you don’t do IVF in the next six months, that’s probably going to be it for you”. So I had surgery, then I had three rounds of IVF with not so much success. After that, I kind of went into this place where I said, okay, I’m going to stop trying for a while and just take care of me. Really the last few years have been this really amazing recovery journey with the work that Megan and I have done. We always joke that I’m like our hardest patient to work on, but we were able to have my ovaries start functioning more optimally again, all my labs went up and the reproductive endocrinologist looked at me like I was like growing a second head or something, but she was like, ovarian function doesn’t recover like this. And I was like, I don’t know. I think it does. So she retested me a bunch and it was true. Really, I just stopped all the hormones and everything that I had been given and rebalanced my whole system. At this point, I’m in a completely different place and hope to sort of restart the fertility process from this more healthier place, and also just a more aligned mental place because I needed the time to find some clarity and also work with other women and see why I was going through this, kind of like what you guys were talking about earlier, it all feels like it’s part of my learning path so that I know exactly what people are going through whether they have kids, whether they don’t, whether it’s a struggle, is just been my lesson to learn to be able to go through it and then help others along the same path.
Elana Roumell 19:20
Oh my goodness, another amazing story of real true struggle that has gifted you in so many ways. I have to just give you so much credit, Dr. Alex, going through medical school and trying to optimize your health at the same time is a huge obstacle. I mean, it is so demanding and so many hours and it just pushes us in so many ways. I’m also in awe that your labs have, and because it’s true premature ovarian failure is not something that’s just easy to recover and amidst the hardships of schooling and emotionally being told something like this, you still progress. I just think that’s amazing. And I think, really, for both of you guys, it’s a testimony to the approach that you have with how you help your clients with balancing their hormones. So let’s jump into that. You guys take this really neat four phase approach to really understanding and teaching your clients and patients about the female hormones. And I know that this is a very basic kind of physiological experience for us women, but I don’t think a lot of us really understand what that means. So I would love if one of you guys can just at least explain what this four phase cycle is, and why you guys focus on this in order to help restore balance, whether it’s before pregnancy, after pregnancy. We’re going to really focus on what it is for after pregnancy, but let’s just go to the basics here and why you guys do focus on the phases of the female cycle.
Dr. Alex Golden 20:50
Absolutely. So this is a Dr. Alex. We love this four phase cycle approach because it totally goes by what the body is already doing, and just supporting and optimizing the efforts along with the body, rather than what most of us do and how most of us think about the body is that we want to tell it what to do. We want to give it a certain input and have it give us a certain output. It really makes it so much more efficient and effective, or when we work with the cycles of our body because then we’re not dividing the function. We’re not saying on Monday lets start the diet, or on Monday, I start eating a different way or fueling myself a different way. It’s mostly what is my body doing? I understand that and I’m going to bring that love and compassion to it by supporting it and what it’s already doing for me. That is the basis of how we approach the body and you can see that that is drastically different from what a lot of us do. We can break it up to work with any cycle for any female whether she has one or not, or it’s not regular or she’s breastfeeding and maybe only had two cycles so far and they’ve all been or both of them have been different. It doesn’t matter. There’s a way to follow what the system and the flow that the body is providing, and then just go ahead and work with them. And so we break up the phases into two categories for women who don’t have a cycle, like if you’re breastfeeding, just had a baby, whatever it is after childbirth, then we have women cycle with the moon because we don’t think it’s a coincidence. We probably evolved along with it, but the fact that that 28 and a half day moon cycle is so correlated with the female cycle. It goes phase one starts at the new moon, phase two starts at the quarter moon, phase three starts at the full moon and phase four starts on the third quarter moon. So every seven days, there’s a new phase and there’s a way to cycle with it. Then that sort of work with our body really helps it figure out what it wants to do and then we can get our periods back after childbirth so much more smoothly without all of this fighting and dealing with symptoms like mood swings, anxiety, fatigue and everything that Megan was talking about and more. That can also work as a schedule if someone just has an irregular cycle right now. So that’s the one way to break down the phases. The other way is the exact same concept, but we let the native cycle of a female dictate where the phases are. So phase one starts at the very first day of full flow period, and that’s kind of like the new moon equivalent. That’s phase one, then phase two is about seven days later. Then ovulation is the mark for phase three. and then about seven days later, the week before your period is phase four. So as you can see, any female can fall into one of these categories and flow with these cycles. The idea is that in doing that, we just support the physiology so much that we help the body lead the charge, and we use the wisdom of the body to help guide how we best fuel ourselves and how we best show up for ourselves in the world.
Elana Roumell 24:57
Okay, so I’m a huge fan of that. I love it. You explained it so beautifully. I think to myself, I’m a naturopathic doctor and obviously, our biggest goal with our patients is working with their natural environment and giving their bodies what they need in order for the bodies to do the work that it is just brilliantly designed to do. I feel like your approach is exactly that. You want to have a great understanding that there are four different phases, so really the four different weeks of someone’s cycle, how do we really work with it, so that it can then take over and do the natural thing? Ithink this is wonderful. I just wanted to share personally, I was so excited before I got pregnant with the Aviva that I just was naturally cycling on the moon cycle, and I remember saying to my husband, this is so cool. I bet we’re going to get pregnant just because, I could look at the moon and I’ll know if I’m ovulating or if I’m going to bleed and he’s like, that’s really weird. He took it as, Whoa, that’s kind of strange. I’m like no, but I actually think this is a really a great thing and this is so neat. And so I remember when I was the nursing Aveva and I wanted to get my period back because I wanted to get pregnant again. I was thinking to myself, like, there has to be something I could do. I’m not ready to wean, and I don’t have my period back. What can I do? And for some reason, I never really thought about this approach of just get back to like the moon cycle. We’ve got such great community questions and I am kind of curious about this myself. What would you say to a woman who’s literally still nursing who wants to get their period back? What are the things that they could do? Or what are tips that they can do to get back on that moon cycle, so that they can try to get their period to then conceive another baby.
Megan Blacksmith 26:43
What we see often with this is that we personally just want to kind of consider how old baby is and whether baby’s exclusively breastfed because, as you know, obviously a doctor Elana, there’s going to be a way to optimize and kind of hurry up what you’re body’s ready to do. But at the same time, if your body is not ready to get your period back, and you weren’t because your body’s not ready to have another baby, right, like you haven’t had that time to restore and recover, there’s going to be no amount of support to really do that. But once we’ve hit, let’s say baby’s six months or starting to eat, a lot of women are wondering if they’re exclusively breastfed, you usually don’t get their period back to maybe three or six months and many many women who we work with still don’t have their period at a year and 18 months. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I understand if you’re trying to have another baby then you want to hurry it along. Nothing wrong with that. At the same time we feel like for Alex and I, when somebody comes into the first pregnancy or the previous pregnancy, with a lot of concerns or a lot of hormone imbalances they knew of, maybe it was really hard to get pregnant, then for that person we’re really going to have to start early on, like at six months will say, hey, really start looking at functional lab work. Otherwise, for me, I did that a year just to kind of check in with how things are. The more skewed things are going in, the more you would want to really optimize and restore coming out so that you know, you’re not setting yourself up for more imbalances or another child. What can happen here is just by optimizing like, like you said, using the moon cycle as your guide, and starting to optimize what the body would be doing if it were cycling, then we can start to in the very first half of the cycle, so that would be from your period to ovulation. Otherwise, it’s going to be from the new moon to the full moon, we’re really focusing on optimizing inflammation. So inflammation. This is going to be really, really important and we can use foods and we can use lifestyle factors to help that person and that mom feel like they’re safe. If anything, the last thing that’s going to happen is get your period back and be in a place to have another child if you’re in a state of stress, you’re not sleeping and you’re just constantly in fight or flight. Lack of sleep and all that comes with having a child, there is only so much you can do about that, but how you perceive the stress, whether you’re looking at it and saying, I’m stressed out, this baby never sleeps, I don’t have enough time for myself, your state of the way you perceive that will change how your hormones come back online. With breastfeeding moms or moms who have just had a baby, we really like to ease them in slowly and add the nourishing steps. We’re adding things to optimize the inflammation. We use a lot of elixirs. We use things like pomegranate concentrate, cherry, tart cherry, chlorophyll and lemon and things to just kind of nourish the body. Things like vitamin C and fish oil to optimize that inflammation in the first half. then the second half, this would normally be when with a cycle your hormones are running high, right? So estrogen and progesterone are at their highest point in relationship to each other around that day 19 to 22. And that’s when a lot of people then deal with excess estrogen symptoms. So that’s a lot of the PMS and that heavy periods and the bloating. So during that time, we really focus on optimizing detoxification, helping women. When you’re breastfeeding, we do not want to be adding, forcing detox beyond your body’s natural detoxification so we aren’t adding things like milk thistle, or saunas or things that can stir things up into the milk but what we can do is do food based things like cruciferous veggies where your body is still going to support detoxification but in a kind of a calm in a nice way that’s not like pumping toxins out into the milk. We just have women follow this flow cycle to nourish themselves as much as possible and follow the moon and we see that their periods are able to return a lot more smoothly without all the symptoms that could come after a baby.
Elana Roumell 31:14
Great. I love this. And I love that you really tailor it to where the individual is at because I do agree with you, you don’t want to push detox during the nursing phase. Otherwise, there’s toxins are just now dumping into the milk. So you want to do that a little bit more gently. But perhaps you’re working with an individual who’s not nursing. And so you really can add a lot more to that type of protocol. And the other thing you said, Megan, I just wanted to address because I really agree with you is that, you know, everyone does get their cycle back at different times. And I think that is a really important sign of the body, almost protecting the child that you’re nursing and the possibility of you getting pregnant maybe too early. So for example, I have some moms who come to see me and maybe they’ve been breastfeeding exclusively. Well, not exclusively, but they’re breastfeeding for a year even though child is maybe on solid foods still and getting some supplement, but she still hasn’t gone her period and she wants to get pregnant, and the conversation really goes to, do you feel like you’re ready for another baby? Maybe your body’s telling you something, or maybe your body’s not ready or, let’s just explore all of this. For me personally, I didn’t get my period back until 23 months, because I was nursing for 22 months and my body just wasn’t okay getting my cycle back until I fully weaned at 22 months I weaned and exactly four weeks later, I got my cycle. And it was normal. It was great. It was easy. Then I got pregnant again, which was a really awesome experience for me, because I do totally acknowledge that there’s a lot of struggle there. But for me, my struggle was I wanted to get pregnant sooner, but I I wasn’t ready to wean yet. So I think we all have our own individual paths. And I know one of the community questions was, when is it too long to not have your period. And I don’t think there is an answer to that. I think that again, you just have to trust your body with that, and there’s really no wrong or right answer for that. Do you agree with my recommendation in that way? As far as there’s really no, too long or too short? There’s, you know, everyone’s so different.
Megan Blacksmith 33:17
Yeah, I do 100% agree. It’s like if you don’t slow yourself down, then nature and your body will slow yourself down. It’s the same thing for people just who don’t have any children who are having a hard time getting pregnant or they’re not getting their period. It’s the same thing. If things aren’t aligned, if we don’t have enough nutrients, if we’re in that state of fight or flight a baby is just not going to happen. I have a really interesting example of that. Dr. Elana how powerful the body is, is when I was pregnant, will not just pregnant when I was in labor with my first child, 10 days late, and I was really really close to going to the hospital. It was like six minutes apart, contractions and somebody knocked on the door. It was a really stressful situation that happened, it is a crazy story, but he knocked on the door as soon as he knocked on the door, I was like, oh, how am I going to deal with this person right now? I’m having contractions. And from the second I stood up and talk to him, every single contraction stopped. All labor completely stopped for the next nine hours while we did what we needed to do to deal with the situation, my body put everything on hold, and nine hours later when everything was safe and good, it all came back full force, but I just thought, I was in full labor and my body could stop that. If the body wants to stop you, it will.
Elana Roumell 34:40
I get the chills because I completely can understand that from a physiological standpoint as well, but it is powerful, what happened, so thanks for sharing that example.
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One of the community questions that I really liked, and I think that it’s an important one to speak on, maybe Dr. Alex, you could speak on this too is, one of the moms is in postpartum, is breastfeeding, she doesn’t have her cycle but she still feels like a fluctuation of her hormones. She gives the example of she just feels like this emotional impact during certain times of the month even though she’s not bleeding. So is it possible to still have hormones fluctuate even without a period?
Dr. Alex Golden 36:55
Yeah, that’s a great question and it’s awesome that she is aware of that because yeah, you can. So basically, the entire cascade of hormones really does have its own rhythm and it will modulate. It never really stops doing it, but it will just decrease that signal to a point where you’re not getting the actual ovulation and bleeding signals. That’s where I think the cycling with it in the phases work so well, because it is doing that. Even if people aren’t aware of it as much, they can get their body to go with it when they start cycling with the moon, but if someone actually feels that native rhythm, I would think that the best thing for her to do would be to cycle with those and basically turn it into her own rhythm because it sounds like her body is starting to get there. All she really has to do is just support it and then she can get her period back when her body feels like it’s ready to give it back.
Elana Roumell 38:04
Okay, great. I think that is important for moms to just know is, it’s okay to feel these ways. And it’s also really a beautiful sign that, hey, maybe let’s start tuning in more to the moon and starting to find our patterns and focusing on where we can optimize. Do you agree with that?
Dr. Alex Golden 38:19
Absolutely. And I can actually kind of talk to the mental emotional experience of the phases too, if you’d like.
Elana Roumell 38:26
Oh, great. Yes, I would love to hear that. I’m sure the listeners would.
Dr. Alex Golden 38:29
Absolutely. And when you’re listening to this podcast, we actually have a mini series on Instagram it’s in our Instagram feed, so you’ll always be able to go back and look through these if you want to see them written out for you. But there’s basically things that we are mentally and emotionally set up for throughout the phases that if we are aware of it, we can actually flip to use to our advantage, rather than feeling at the mercy of it. I’ll start with phase one is really easy for people to understand since that’s the start of a full blown cycle, and most people know how they feel. You’re kind of called to chill out, you want to put on sweatpants and watch Netflix like your body is giving you these signals to calm down because it’s undergoing something that is energetically costly. It has to have a period, it takes a lot of energy. And so people have this experience of quieting down and what our brain does at this time, so when we have our period are the two halves of our brains are super connected. And so we are really good at planning and doing like introspective work. And you’ll notice yourself at this time start nitpicking things in your environment. Like you won’t like your hair, you won’t like your clothes, you won’t like the state of your home, like you’ll want to clean or rearrange things and it’s because your brain hemispheres are just basically going, like, what needs work? What needs to happen? And how do I take action to make this happen? Because that’s what it’s trying to do, and if you don’t control it or give it any guidance, what it will do is just nitpick every little thing that it sees, right? It’s just doing it automatically. If we can actually say, this is the time when I get really clear on my goals, I’m going to highlight my top three priorities during this week, And then I’m going to sit down and do some planning, like I schedule when I cook, I schedule when I’m going to meditate, I schedule my morning routine, and I know exactly what it’s going to be the night before. Then your brain has something to work for. And so instead of overwhelmed, you get like, super clear on your priorities. Then phase two comes around, which is a beautiful balance to the phase one which is when your hormones are really rising, even if it’s not triggering ovulation, there is still starting to flow up, the estrogen starts to build, the signaling from the pituitary starts to increase, and you have so much energy at your disposal. At this time, if you’re not directing it, then a lot of times people feel like they’ll make to do lists that are like a mile long, and then they’ll be like, I’m going to do all of it. And then at some point, they get burnout and tired, and then all of a sudden, it switches to I can’t do this an it’s defeating. Whereas if you’ve done the planning, you’ve set your priorities when you were in the quiet place, then when you hit that energetic spike, you’re going to be so clear on what you need to do. You’re not going to have that experience of I’m trying to do it all and I can’t keep up. And the beautiful thing is you can go cycle by cycle, it’s only a month so you’re not setting a goal. Like I want to make a million dollars. You’re just saying what do I have to do next in my business, or what do I have to do next in my practice or whatever it is that you’re working on. Okay. And phase…
Elana Roumell 42:03
I get so excited. This is like fascinating to me. Can I just interrupt quickly only because you mentioned in the beginning how you were so in awe of Megan’s productivity during her pregnancy or the second pregnancy, and how she just like implemented things like a rock star, right? You said that earlier? Could it have been just because her hormones were elevated? I mean, she was pregnant, and she was just so clear on her goals and so focused that she just got to work. Do you think that that’s the connection with it? Was I listening correctly?
Dr. Alex Golden 42:33
I do think that that played a role. I think Megan had very clear goals that she was motivated and knew exactly what she was going for. So I do think that’s true. I think that the stability of the hormones when you’re pregnant is a nice place to be. If you have the the power like if your energetic reserves can sustain that, then you get a situation like Megan. If you don’t, then it could be a very different experience even though you have stable hormones. Does that make sense…
Elana Roumell 43:06
Okay, that does
Dr. Alex Golden 43:07
why it doesn’t guarantee that it’s going to be like that? But when you have it all playing together, that is the positive experience that you have.
Elana Roumell 43:17
Okay. The reason I bring that up is I can relate so much in my nine months of pregnancy, I really created my program Med School for Moms, and people literally will like, message me, and like, how did you do this pregnant? And how are you doing this? And I’m like, I don’t know. But like, I was so clear with what matters to me and what I’m passionate about. I just like kept on going. Maybe because I was so prepared hormonally, and I had those energy reserves going into it. But I think I was very similar to Megan in that way. And I just I find that to be kind of fascinating using the hormones as this type of metaphor with the phases and really where your energy can lie. So anyway, I’m sorry to interrupt. I just am very fascinated by that.
Dr. Alex Golden 44:00
Absolutely, and I think that’s true because really, we’re talking about impacting the body’s physiology, right? And so we can do that from the mind down or the body up. The best thing in our opinion is to have it you know, be working up where you’re actually doing stuff that nourish you and feel your body and make you feel good, and you have balanced hormones. Then also that clarity piece, when you begin to work with what your mind is doing and see past the constant chatter that we have going on, then you can really impact your physiology from the bottom down, where you guys were very clear on your goals and what you were hoping to accomplish in the world. That sort of approach to our lives and our health causes changes in our physiology, like you cannot feel productive and like you’re creating something for humanity that will go on to help other people in a ripple effect without… You can’t feel that without sending out neurotransmitters and chemicals to create that soup of emotion, right? So you are physically changing how you are and what you’re signaling. You can come at it both ways, and really, we think you should, because that is the perfect mix of rolling with your life but also having about as much control as we all can have in this world.
Elana Roumell 45:27
Well, beautifully said, and so go ahead and continue. I’m sorry to interrupt. I hope that that was ok.
Dr. Alex Golden 45:33
Phase three basically is right after you ovulate, then that’s what we call the plateau phase.That’s because that’s what your hormones do. Estrogen and progesterone really balance out. Phase three is another actionable phase but it’s a little different. Instead of this explosive starting new things, like phase two is great for starting elimination diets are cutting out sugar or whatever because you just get after it. Whereas phase three is still action oriented, but the focus is different. We’re really good at keeping up with things and one foot in front of the other. So you know, how did last night’s meal go? Like was it successful with what your goals were for the meal prep? What do I have to do today to change that to closer to what I want to be? So we’re really good at taking action, but in small concrete steps that just make incremental improvements. When we let that run rampant, we just feel a little bit like we don’t know what’s happening and we’re too scattered to feel effective. But when we can focus then we really know, you know, the top three things. If that’s what you’ve outlined, then you know exactly what’s the next small step. What’s the next small step you don’t need to know a mile from now you just got to see the 10 feet ahead of you to be efficient and effective and phase three is fantastic for that. And then just because everything seems balanced in physiology. Phase four is another quiet, and what we see as the retrospective. So phase four is where we can really find balance. And it’s a time when people have PMS. It is the time when people have cravings. It is the time when people have mood swings. And a lot of what makes that worse from a mental standpoint is the expectations of, I shouldn’t have these cravings. I don’t have any willpower and blah, blah, blah, you know, our minds get going with it. Whereas, when we take a second and look back and say, look at all the cool stuff I’ve started. Here’s where my successes were. Here’s where I’m feeling like, I still have these cravings, and then we begin to find a balance like, do those cravings come from a lack of connection and would a walk with a good girlfriend to talk about your life, be that what you need? Or is it that you’re just okay with including some chocolate in your life. And that’s the balance that you’re going to choose to have. And here’s the thing, everything is the correct answer. If that works for you, and you feel really good and you enjoy your life doing it. But if not, then we start to figure out how can I find this balance? What does actually make me happy? Am I doing this because it feels good? Or is this a reflex of like, I’m just cramming chocolate in my mouth because I’m sad right now. It really all goes together because when you have that balance, look and you look back and kind of reassess, then phase one comes around again, and you do it again. And you just we call it the upward spiral. Your life just gets better and better and better because you’re working with it rather than just always fighting against yourself.
Elana Roumell 48:51
Well, I love this so much because I think it normalizes a woman’s experience. I think we can all relate to all of these cycles, because we’re women and we go through them every month when we do have our cycles, and even when we’re not having our cycles. Like this mom mentioned how she can still feel those fluctuations even without a period. So I think really understanding it from a physiological level and then taking it and saying, oh, that’s why I’m having this craving or, oh, that’s why I’m so motivated right now, or that’s why I’m feeling overwhelmed, but this is what I can do. I just think that it gives you this power of being more in the driver’s seat than just being this like passive participant in your life, letting your hormones just take the best of you. So I really love this approach. I’m truly so fascinated with it. And one of the another community question someone asked is, what does it mean if her cycle is just so drastically different from before she had the baby to then now after she has this baby? What can she do to then restored and what are some of the causes of this type of difference that she’s having where maybe before baby everything was fine and she had a lot more of an understanding and control over it but postpartum she is just like a whole nother person.
Megan Blacksmith 50:04
Well Dr. Elana, I feel like that’s what I experienced with my first child is that if there are underlying imbalances that you aren’t aware that are there, because our bodies are amazing, right? Even if we are totally depleted in one nutrient or things are starting to be imbalanced, everything will shift around and steal from other things to make what you need. You can do that for a long time and a lot of us let’s say you’re having kids in your 20s or 30s, like I had mine, you’ve been kind of shifting things around and depleting things for a long time and they’re not showing up as far as symptoms. They maybe would show up on functional lab work but they’re not showing up as symptoms or regular lab work and then you have a pregnancy and all of your nutrients, you know baby takes everything. Everything goes to the baby and then you throw on top of that, lack of sleep, lack of good nutrition, all the things you know, breastfeeding, everything that comes that you’re still getting depleted. And I think it just will really highlight something that was already there, you know, something that was already kind of imbalanced. It’s just like putting a magnifying glass on it. Now you had something and now it’s just, it’s just being shown to you exactly. And that’s what happened to me. I had no health complaints. And after baby It was like, really, really intense. So, the good thing is, is that if you didn’t go into it with a lot of symptoms, then that just means, you weren’t in a place that you were super, super depleted, you were just kind of borderline and this is just really, really heavy nourishment in every way, mind, body, soul. We have like a whole three month program to help women’s restore hormones and make sure they’re getting all the building blocks and fat and carbs and protein, you know, sleep like everything as much as possible to make their body feel safe again, because that might be a big trigger for them is that they’re just in this state of like, I don’t know if you’re going to sleep, I don’t know if I’m going to get nutrients. I don’t what going to happen to me.
Elana Roumell 52:05
I think we can all relate to that. Absolutely. You guys, you guys have such great information I can keep on talking for so much longer and have so many questions, but I’m looking at the time, we’re just going to have to wrap up. You know, you guys you mentioned programs or you mentioned different resources, can you please share with the moms listening like where they can find more about you guys, because I know we only just touched a tip of the iceberg. I mean, there’s just so much great content that you guys have put together and I just love how well organized it is and simple so can you please just let them know like where else can they go so that they can learn more about this great topic?
Megan Blacksmith 52:39
Yes. Okay, top three resources. I’d say our Instagram is where community is the most interactive, so it’s zesty_ginger, and then we have a podcas the Four Phase Cycle podcast, which Dr. Elana has been on and hers was extremely popular. So if you haven’t listened to that, go over there. And then the last is our website is zestyginger.com. We have our actual programs, such as our healthy hormones group is a three month program where we include functional lab work and testing. We’re helping women figure out what’s going on with them and their imbalances, but we’re also using the lab work as a gauge. So we’re not going to tell you what’s best for you, you’re going to do it and then you’re going to watch and do my levels improve, do they not, and that’s how each person can figure out what they need.
Elana Roumell 53:25
That’s so great. I’m going to list all of that in the show notes. So for the listeners, so you know that it’s all going to be there. I really I’m so inspired by this work, you know, here here in San Diego at our medical center, you know, we see a lot of women with hormone balance. I don’t necessarily see a ton now just because I am so focused on pediatrics, but I know so many of my colleagues are just, you know, they work with these women all day every day. And these functional labs are so important and all of this advice is just so great. I know there’s such a need for this and so I just think this is such a brilliant idea and concept. I really wish you guys all the best. I know you guys are doing great things in the world. So thank you for your time just coming on our show. I love being on your podcast as well. I love that we can help share different content with our different communities and also just build our communities together. So thank you so much, Dr. Alex, and Megan, for your time today.
Megan Blacksmith 54:17
Thank you, Dr. Elana.
Elana Roumell 54:18
You got it.
Dr. Alex Golden 54:19
Thanks for having us.
Elana Roumell 54:20
Of course,bye bye.
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. I know I really enjoyed talking to Dr. Alex and Megan. And I know that there’s still so much more to go over. So they’ve been kind enough to offer a discount code on one of their programs that they’re having on PMS specifically. It’s essentially about how women have this hidden superpower that they aren’t utilizing, and how to use the phases of their cycle to optimize energy productivity mood and reduce unwanted symptoms that come and go with the month. So for 15% off, you can use code Whole Mamas. You visit their website at zestyginger.com/PMSproject. We’ll put that in the show notes. This code expires two weeks after we air so it should be expiring around December 17. So get in now and hopefully you can continue to learn more from them and enjoy that program.
We also want to thank our partner Four Sigmatic. Don’t forget about their special offer as well with 15% off. You can go and purchase any of their products over at their website foursigmatic.com/wholemamas, or just use their discount code whole mamas at checkout and enjoy the special offer as well. If you enjoyed this episode, please help us out by sharing our podcast with your mama friends and writing us a review on iTunes. Let us know what you enjoyed about this episode and help grow our village. You can also visit our website at wholemamasclub.com/podcasts. To review show notes find past episodes and leave comments and questions for future shows. Please remember that the views and ideas present on the podcast for informational purposes only. All information content and material presented is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis or medical treatment of a qualified physician or health care provider. Consult your provider before starting any diet supplement regimen or determine the appropriateness of the information shared on the podcast. Or if you have any questions regarding pediatrics, pregnancy or prenatal treatment plan. Now go on, have a good day and nourish and nurture yourself and your family.
- How to work with your body’s natural hormone phases before, during or after baby
- What the 4 phase approach is and how it can help balance hormones
- What emotions to expect during the 4 phases and how to use them to your advantage
- Support for moms who haven’t had their cycle back postpartum
- When you can expect your cycle to return postpartum and how to nourish this transition
- Support for moms who have difficulties with their cycle postpartum
- Connect with Zesty Ginger on Instagram
- 4 Phase Cycle Approach Podcast
- Check out their program at ZestyGinger.com
- Free Feminine Wild Cycle Guide
- The PMS Project
- Learn more about Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program
- Sign up for our Weekly Pregnancy Emails
- Take the Free Mini-Course at Dr. Elana’s Med School For Moms
- Schedule an appointment with Dr. Elana
- Follow Steph and Elana on Instagram
- Whole Mamas Podcast Archive
This episode's guest
Dr. Alex Golden (M.D.) and Megan Blacksmith (Health Coach & Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner) of Zesty Ginger work with pre-menopausal women in an online group format. We focus on balancing hormones and supporting detoxification by teaching women to use the phases of their menstrual cycles to their advantage.
The natural ebb and flow that happens to our hormones, organ systems, and bodies overall as women is there to renew and strengthen us. When we work with the natural cycles of our bodies, we allow ourselves to heal and recover on a level that few of us ever reach when we operate within the “rules” of the hectic modern world. Even the alternative medicine world has lost its connection to how the female body operates. Most protocols and health programs out there show no regard for the cycles that govern the flow of our bodies as women. By focusing on different activities, elixirs, foods and rituals each week of your cycle we can help the body to detoxify naturally.
They are the founders of the PMS Project and Healthy Hormones group as well as hosts of the 4 Phase Cycle Podcast.
To learn more, follow them on Instagram @zesty_ginger where they share tips for optimizing your cycle & hormones, naturally supporting detoxification and upgrading your food, products and mindset!