If you’ve turned on the TV lately, you’ve probably seen commercials for them. The-Health-Technique-Lies-that-Keep-You-Tired-Fat-and-Grumpy. They’re touted as the answer to all of your problems: They can banish your fatigue, fix your cranky moods, help you sleep at night and quell your anxiety.
I’m talking about pills, of course.
Prescription drugs are doled out like candy these days for every ailment under the sun. And if you’re feeling overweight, unsexy or depressed, it’s tempting to believe that simply popping a pill – whether it’s an antidepressant, a birth control prescription or something to help your insomnia – will offer a miracle cure.
Before I go any further, I’ll preface this article by saying that prescription medications can be incredibly important when it comes to treating certain diseases and saving lives. But in far too many cases, they are over-prescribed and used as a cure-all for conditions that could be treated far more effectively by addressing the root cause of whatever is going on.
It’s time to dig a little deeper, and take back control of your health. You deserve to have a body that simply works – like a smooth operator. This article is your road map.
• Back When I Was a Basket Case
In my 30s, I was suffering from what I call the four “Fs”: frazzled, frumpy, fat and, well – you can imagine the fourth one. Due to the ups and downs of raging PMS, constant fatigue and a low libido, I had about one good week a month. My marriage was suffering, I was constantly snapping at my kids and I seemed to be at the mercy of every passing mood. Needless to say, I was a basket case. But deep down I knew there had to be a solution – one that didn’t require the Prozac and birth control pills my doctor at the time wanted to prescribe.
Applying my medical training on myself, I began testing my hormone levels in attempts to identify what underlying issues might be making my body and brain go haywire. As it turned out, my cortisol level was too high, my thyroid too low and my estrogen was out of balance. To achieve a state of equilibrium again, I began to develop a step-by-step, lifestyle-driven approach that would treat these issues naturally – no drugs required. I drastically changed my diet, became religious about certain supplements (namely fish oil and vitamin D) and started exercising smarter, not harder.
I lost 25 pounds, my energy level skyrocketed, I found my libido again, and I was able to cultivate that peace of mind that had so often eluded me before.
Clearly, I was on to something.
• Paging Dr. “You”
That’s all well and good, you’re thinking. But I’m not a doctor. I can’t fix my body the way you did!
While it’s true you may not have a lab coat or an M.D., there are plenty of steps you can take on your own to uncover the root cause of your health and hormone issues. Prescription drugs aren’t the only way to manage your health or reclaim the energy and vitality you once had. I promise.
With a doctor who is willing to support you in this process (or sometimes even without one), you can often avoid expensive and potentially unnecessary medications. While this process will be a highly individual one, based on your specific health needs…
Here are a few general tips for getting started:
Use Your Intuition – It’s Your Best Barometer. Have you ever tuned into the vague aches and pains that precede the onset of a bad flu? Or maybe you just “knew” when you were pregnant before you actually took a test? If so, then you’ve already experienced connecting to your intuition. I strongly believe we have our own inherent wisdom when it comes to our health; if you think there’s a particular problem going on, you’re probably right. Follow those internal nudges when it comes to seeking care, changing your diet or questioning your doctor about whether you really need to take a medication that doesn’t feel right for you.
Educate Yourself. Knowledge Is Power! True, there is a lot of conflicting information (not to mention misinformation) at our fingertips these days, but there has also never been a better time to be your own health advocate. As you start to educate yourself more about holistic ways to treat mental or physical issues, you’ll probably start seeing patterns or similar information touted by different experts in the field. Every strategy or tactic may not be right for you, but learning as much as you can on your own will empower you to ask your doctor the right questions. Ultimately, the more educated you are, the better you’re able to make the best decisions for your health.
Take My Free Hormone Quiz. An easy way to get a jumpstart on educating yourself is to take my hormone quiz – a simple questionnaire that can help you identify which hormonal imbalances are likely a problem for you based on information about your moods, your physical health, your sleep patterns, your energy and more. The quiz will give you a glimpse of what areas you should look into more thoroughly or what changes you may want to implement to correct certain imbalances (and you can find out more about that in my book “The Hormone Cure”).
Ask About Alternatives. If you find yourself armed with information but your doctor is still pushing medication as a solution, don’t be afraid to ask about alternative treatments. Oftentimes, a doctor will initially suggest medication because it tends to be the fastest way to rectify the problem (or at least mask the symptoms). But probing for a different option is completely within your rights as a patient, so don’t hesitate to ask if there is something else you can explore. Ideally, see if there are more natural remedies that might solve the problem, along with specific diet and lifestyle changes you can implement right away.
If you find that your doctor doesn’t seem to get that there are alternative, or at least complementary, ways of addressing your issues, see my list of trained practitioners at http://thehormonecurebook.com/practitioners.
In some cases, it might be right for you to take a prescription medication, but remember that pills don’t address the underlying cause of mental or physical illness; they just temporarily relieve the symptoms (and may make things worse). Sometimes healing can be a long process, but the destination – that juicy place where you feel youthful, energized, sexy and balanced again – is worth the journey.
Sara Gottfried, M.D. teaches women how to balance their hormones naturally so they can rock their mission. She is a Harvard-educated physician, speaker and New York Times best-selling author of The Hormone Cure (Simon & Schuster, 2013). She is board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and is regularly featured in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Redbook, O Magazine, and Yoga Journal, and TV including The Ricki Lake Show and 20/20. Known for effortlessly blending the seriousness of women’s health with playfulness and humor, Dr. Sara’s mission is to help women lose weight, feel great and vital from their cells to their soul.