The Menopause Solution to Reclaim Your Energy, Sleep, and Body (with Dr. Mariza Snyder)

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Content By: Ari Whitten & Mariza Snyder

In this episode, I speak with Dr. Mariza Snyder, a functional practitioner and the author of numerous books, including “Smart Mom’s Guide to Essential Oils,” “The Matcha Miracle”, and her latest book “The Essential Oils The Menopause Solution.” Dr. Mariza has helped hundreds of women heal their hormones using lifestyle interventions.

In this podcast, Dr. Snyder and I discuss: 
  • Understanding perimenopause and menopause
  • How much of these hormonal changes are genetic and how much are lifestyle-related?
  • The biggest myths and misunderstandings around hormonal health 
  • The most common symptoms in women with hormone imbalance
  • Dr. Mariza’s top strategies for hormonal optimization before and after menopause
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Transcript

Ari: Hey there. Welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. I’m your host, Ari Whitten. With me now is my good personal friend, Dr. Mariza Snyder who is on for either the second or the third time, I forget, but always a pleasure to have her back on. She is the functional practitioner, women’s health expert and the author of seven books. The number one national best-selling book, The Essential Oils Hormone Solution, which focuses on balancing women’s hormones. Other best-selling books are the Smart Mom’s Guide to Essential Oils and the DASH Diet Cookbook. Dr. Mariza’s upcoming book, The Essential Oils Menopause Solution, which is what we’re going to be talking about today focuses on solutions for women in perimenopause and menopause. For the past 10 years, she has lectured at wellness centers, conferences, and corporations on hormonal health, essential oils, nutrition, and detoxification. She’s been featured on Dr. Oz, Oprah Magazine, Fox News Health, Mindbodygreen, and many publications. She’s also the host of the top-rated Essentially You podcast designed to empower women to become the CEO of their health. You can check out her website at drmariza.com for women’s hormone tips, including recipes and remedies. Welcome back to the show my friend. Such a pleasure to have you. Mariza: Oh, it’s such a pleasure to be here, Ari. Thank you so much for having me back. Ari: Tell us about your defining moment. What’s your personal story behind why you got into studying women’s hormonal health in particular? Mariza: Specifically, it started for me in my 20s. I was dealing with severe menstrual period issues and didn’t really think much of it until finally I went to my doctor and sure enough was given the standard birth control pills. Actually, I was given the depo shot and I was promised that I would not get a period as long as I got these shots, I think four times a year. That sounded really good to me at 19 years old in the middle of college. Little did I know it was going to be a year of a hell health symptoms due to this horrible shot because I think it’s a horrible shot. I don’t wish that shot upon anybody. I lasted about a year on it. When I came off of, it took me about eight months to get my cycle back and the symptoms were just as bad. As most women, I just fought through it and powered through it and was driving into my career and operated in that way until I was 30 when I woke up one day with severe chronic fatigue. Ari, I don’t know where you were in my life. Where were you then 11 years ago when I was dealing with severe chronic fatigue? I needed the Energy Blueprint big time and realized again, I went to the doctor, got my hormones tested, thought I was getting a functional practitioner. Once again was recommended birth control pills. On the cherry on top, I got some Xanax as well for anxiety I didn’t have. I didn’t even have anxiety. I did not fulfill those prescriptions, but I remember [crosstalk]. Ari: Here’s another hysterical woman. Let’s calm her down with some anti-anxiety pills [crosstalk] on top of that. Mariza: Just for good measure or just in case. Just to ensure that you don’t come back to this office again. [laughs] I remember sitting in the car and I was thinking to myself like, “This is not good. I got to figure this out.” Very similar to you, I love doing the research. I really didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t imagine my life continuing at that rate where I was crawling out of bed every single day, if I could get out of bed, I wasn’t showing up for my patients, my relationships, everything. I was constantly debating what I had energy for. I know you probably hear that all the time where you’re like, “Am I going to go do this or do I only have energy for that?” I found myself negotiating in my own life and that’s what it had been whittled down to. I knew I needed to figure this out for myself. It took me two-plus years because when there’s no game plan when there’s no blueprint, it’s a lot of trial and error. Also in that car that day, as I’m sitting there, I thought to myself, “How many women are going in with chronic fatigue, they’re going in with sleep issues, they’re going in with a menstrual cycle that isn’t functioning properly and they’re walking out the door with the same scripts that I was walking out the door with?” I knew in that moment that there was millions of us and I didn’t want to be a part of that problem anymore. I wanted to be a part of the solution. Literally, since that day, I have dedicated every day, I think, almost every single day unless I was in Italy, I probably was drinking, a Prosecco [laughs], but every day I have dedicated to women’s hormone health. Luckily have gotten myself out of my own stuff over the years many times. Ari: Beautiful. I have a bit of a confession to make. I’ve taken many physiology courses over my years of undergraduate and graduate education. I’ve taken hormones-specific graduate-level courses. I have to say that my least favorite topic– I shouldn’t say least favorite because it’s not about my personal preference, but the one that I’ve always found most difficult to wrap my head around when it comes to hormones is women’s hormones. It is just so complex and you end up with these charts, the menstrual cycle of what estrogen is doing, what progesterone is doing, what LH is doing. All these different hormones. You end up with a million different lines spiking and going down all over the course of different parts of this 28-day cycle. I had so much resistance to it the first several physiology courses that I took that covered that material. Where I was just like, “This is just incomprehensible. This is madness. I give up.” [laughs] Women’s hormones are too complex. Women are unexplainable [crosstalk].

The biggest myths and misconceptions around hormonal health

Ari: I have to say I’ve changed my attitude towards it over the years and I’ve been able to wrap my head around it, but it took me much longer than with basically every other physiology topic I’ve ever studied. Given that, I can imagine it’s difficult for the average person who doesn’t have a background of studying science for 20-plus years in health science and physiology for 20-plus years to wrap their head around hormonal health. What do you think are some of the biggest myths and misunderstandings around this topic and why do you think this topic is so misunderstood by the average woman? Mariza: I think number one is, a lot of the doctors that we’re going to are OBGYNs or primary care doctors, they are not hormone experts either and they’re following a protocol. We’ve all been there. We’ve all been to the doctor’s office and some of us listening to this podcast, your podcast in particular, where we get a little bit more of the why, we get a little bit more of the root cause. We might ask some questions like, “What do you think about that?” You can tell they’re following a protocol. They’re following, “These are the A to B, C steps that I’ve got to follow. I got to make sure I check, check, check this box.” That’s as far as it goes, just like the doctor that I went to. She’s like, “Oh, okay. These symptoms kind of look like you need birth control and Xanax. [chuckles] No I [inaudible 00:07:48] mitochondrial problem. [laughs] [unintelligible 00:07:51] energy issue, but it kind of look like that. I think one of the things is, we still are co-opting our doctors to really have a solution for us, and they don’t. We walk out of that office with not really feeling like we have a plan. Also, the endocrine system is a very complicated system. We’re talking about literally millions of chemical messages every single microsecond of the day telling our cells what genes to express based on what we’re doing right that moment. When you get that text message and you find out your grandfather is in the hospital, this just happened to me yesterday, or you get the text message that the baby fell off the couch, I’m just saying, there is a cascade of events that have to happen that impact the entire body, your entire physiology, that not only runs through the central nervous system but also run through our endocrine system. So yes, there is a lot of complication because it is moving in real-time and a lot of things have to shift very quickly. What a lot of us don’t recognize as we think about the women’s hormone reproductive endocrine system, is just one part of the endocrine system. It’s not thyroid, it’s not cortisol, it’s not insulin. There’re so many other hormones that are playing a role. It’s not melatonin. There’s constant intertwining of when this hormone does something, it has an impact on how these are operating. I think that’s why it can feel a little complicated. Do we need to know all the ins and outs of everything that works? You and I do, but I don’t think that the average person always does. My mom was listening to Dr. Stephanie Estima’s podcast today and they were talking about how genetics affect our hormones. My mom was just like [snoring sound]. I was like, mama– I think it’s important that we get to hear these conversations. At the end of the day, I always say, what does that have to offer to Cheryl in Tennessee and Sandra in North Carolina. At the end of the day, what are some of the things, the actionables that we can walk away from that are going to move the needle? I think that’s one of the things that I love so much about you, Ari, is that a lot of us are struggling with energy issues, and a lot of that connects to our endocrine system. You know that. I know that. It has an impact on our reproductive system. It has an impact on our metabolic system. It’s important that not only do we have a breadth of understanding but that there’s actionables connected to it, there are things that we can do. Reset our circadian rhythms, get sunshine. Be out in nature. Don’t eat fake food. [chuckles] There’s specifics that we can do to help move the needle. That was a little bit of a long breadth of an answer, but the point is is that I think there’s a lot that we can offer women without them having to know everything when it comes to the endocrine system. Ari: Totally. It’s a funny next place to go given what you just said, but let’s now go into this- Mariza: Let’s go into the details. [laughs]

What happens with your hormones during perimenopause

Ari: -of what is happening. Let’s just estimate this next section of the podcast is going to be 5 to 10 minutes long, maybe 15 minutes. If anybody’s only interested in the actionables, skip over the next 10 minutes, but if you’re interested in geeking out on the science and actually understanding what is happening, then listen in. My question is, given this complexity of female hormones that I was alluding to a few minutes ago, what is going on? How do things change in what is called perimenopause and menopause? What’s specifically happening to our hormones during those phases?

Mariza: Absolutely. Let’s start with perimenopause. Let’s start with phase one of perimenopause. You are 35 years old maybe, maybe you get to be 38, 39, 40, I don’t know. With today’s world and a modern assaults, modern stressors, and go to any of these podcast episodes and you’ll learn about all the modern stressors that affect us, we’re seeing perimenopause come on a little bit earlier.

We do know biologically the body starts to think about our reproductive system is starting to slow down a little bit around 35, 36 give or take. For some of us, we really start to feel it then, others, we don’t. Basically, what’s happening there is the body, within our hormone system, the hypothalamus, pituitary gland starts to send messages to the ovaries where we just start decreasing progesterone levels. Now, progesterone is released after what I call the main event, ovulation, where we’re feeling on top of the world. It’s phase two of our cycle. We’re the most nurturing. We feel the most sexy, the most luscious. We feel the most energetic during this time because it is babymaking time.

Ovulation is usually between day 13 and 16 depending on where your cycle lands, and that is where we release the egg so that we can fertilize it and make a baby. With the release of that egg, we’ve got the corpus luteum which is this really fatty cholesterol-driven yumminess that happens, and it is excreting all the progesterone. Without a really healthy corpus luteum, we’re not going to see the amount of progesterone we’re looking for, peaking around day 19, day 20 give or take in the cycle.

35 to 40, I call it phase one of perimenopause, and that’s where we start to see a little bit of a slight decrease in progesterone levels. Things you’re going to notice is that energy is going to wane a little bit, your PMS symptoms may start to kick in a little bit. You’ll notice some mood swings maybe, but really you’re just noticing maybe a slight shift in resilience. Nothing super noticeable, but just maybe just a little something is shifting. I would say where women really begin to notice a major shift as progesterone really starts to begin to drop off around 42, 43. That’s where I start to see women are like, “Things are shifting for me.”

A little bit of more estrogen dominance relative to progesterone is happening. Maybe they start to experience migraines before their cycle. They start to see more bloating, more brain fog, mood swings, heavier periods, inconsistent periods, and around 43, 44, 45, our cycles begin to shorten. That’s another thing you’ll start to notice. All of a sudden, if you’re checking your cycle, which I recommend everybody does, always a great idea, your menstrual cycle is a vital sign to your overall health and well-being, whether you’re trying to get pregnant or not, but especially in perimenopause just to see what’s happening with you, where you’re at. Maybe a 28-day cycle is now 27 on average or 26 on average.

Then we step into phase two of perimenopause. Throughout this whole time, estrogen, she’s a queen, she’s like the Beyonce. She’s been holding on doing her job, handling business, but now, it’s becoming a little bit of a rollercoaster. Estrogen is starting to wane and deep, mainly because the ovaries are like, “Hey, it’s time for vacation. I’m almost done with this.”

The brain, the folliculator stimulating hormone is getting cranked, and luteinizing hormone is also cranking. Your brain is like, “You are not done we’re probing you.” Sometimes the ovaries– It’s like if you have someone in your family when you try to poke them and wake them up in the morning, and they just won’t budge that’s like your ovary.

There are just going to be months where you just can’t wake that person up. Maybe your husband. It’s my husband. [laughs] Other months, your ovaries are like, “I’ll make up for it and it’ll pump out two ways.” It’s just this back and forth between the pituitary gland telling your ovaries to keep cranking and your ovaries saying, “I’m almost done with this. Leave me alone.” That’s where estrogen will spatter up some months higher than you ever experience and lower than you ever experience. In phase two of perimenopause, you have a situation where progesterone is almost taint. It’s the hormone we took for granted.

That’s the hormone that helps to support our mood support. It helps to support stress and resilience. It’s the hormone that allows you to maybe not pop off at everybody in your household. When that’s gone, there’s nothing to help you out. Progesterone, we definitely feel in terms of sleep, in terms of emotional resilience, in terms of just like that steady mode. Also, progesterone was helping insulin in a big way. We may start to see an increase in belly fat as well and an increase in stress levels.

With estrogen, again, it’s a lot of things like fibroids, migraines, hot flashes, maybe depression, definitely fat deposits around the hips, the thighs, and the booty, and really just months where no period, and then months where there is until you get into what I call the waiting room. The waiting room is where you’ll have a period, and then there’s no period.

Two months later, a period pops back up. You just never know what’s going to happen. You’ll go four months, and then one comes back. At this time, I find women are having definitely heavy bleeding when those cycles happen. They’re definitely experiencing hot flashes, night sweats.

A lot of the symptoms of what we call menopause are actually at the end stages of perimenopause. That’s where I feel like things really go off the rails, is that age 48 to 52 where we’re just in this waiting game where estrogen will spike up really high and then plummet really low. I find that a lot of the most serious symptoms that you ever had during your 20s and your 30s when you’ve had PMS before your menstrual cycle, your period, that this is like an exacerbation of those symptoms if you haven’t done some of the lifestyle stuff that will be talking about in a moment.

I believe that we can saunter through perimenopause and menopause with a lot of ease and grace, we just really got to prepare our bodies as early as possible, to be honest. Energy is tanking. Insomnia is happening, the worst of it. Once we are at that point of menopause which is technically defined as it’s been a full year since you’ve had a period, no more periods, and not to say that there isn’t moments where that can just acts like little things can happen, but let’s just say that that’s the defining moment. The rest of your time is menopause.

You are at a point where your adrenals are cranking a little bit of progesterone and estrogen, not a lot for some women to feel like it’s enough. Ovaries are definitely on their permanent vacation at that point. Now, we’re just running on the rest of our hormone system and what we can do lifestyle-wise to manage it. Now, I think some women in menopause do phenomenally. I think it has a lot to do with a lot of other external factors and a lot of other parts of the endocrine system. I don’t think that everyone always needs bioidentical estrogen and progesterone to get by those next five to seven years, but for some women, they absolutely do. For a lot of women, they don’t. I think we confuse a lot of other symptoms with other endocrine issues that are going on in the body.

When hormonal support is necessary

Ari: I’m glad you brought up the topic of hormonal support via just exogenous hormone use. I have a big, complex question for you. This whole process of basically the shutting down of the female reproductive system is essentially genetically evolutionarily determined. Basically, the evolution is saying, “Hey, you’re getting past the age of childbearing, we don’t really need this system anymore, so we’re going to start shutting it down rather than continuing to invest so much energy into it.” In that sense, you’re not going to have a woman who just purely based on nutrition and lifestyle changes goes to the age of 80 or 90 while continuing to have periods, and so on.

These processes are pretty much guaranteed to happen. In that sense, or when they do happen to what degree does the system get turned off, and to what degree nutrition lifestyle changes can continue to support optimal progesterone and estrogen levels and balance of those two. To what degree do you think there is a need for hormonal support from exogenous hormones?

Mariza: I think a lot of the research was stopped when we had a lot of synthetic hormones that we were using for women in the ’80s and ’90s, is really where a lot of that research came in. We stopped looking at hormones in general. We found that they could be damaging, they could cause symptomology around cardiovascular issues and cancer issues. This is like the million-dollar question is because you’re right.

At the end of the day, let’s say 100 years ago, the majority of us were living just a little bit past when our cycle would have stopped. Basically, the body just thought, “Well, we don’t need these hormones anymore because we’re not living any longer.” I’d just be really clear that progesterone and estrogen, there’s receptor sites for these two hormones in a lot of the body, including the brain. I think the biggest we’re coming into this conversation and especially this nuance question is neurologically are we supported?

If we don’t have progesterone and estrogen, natural progesterone estrogen in our bodies for the 20, 40, 50 plus years we’ll live after, especially if someone’s had a hysterectomy in their 40s after we stopped producing these hormones. Yes, that is a great question. There will be doctors that argue that absolutely without a shadow of a doubt, all women need natural progesterone and natural estrogen for decades after their cycle has finished. There’s other people who will argue that that’s not necessarily the case, that if we can get the right lifestyle shifts and changes in place and only maybe there’s a little bit of progesterone and estrogen in a five-year window after menopause or as we saunter into menopause. After menopause, that we find it’s the most effective and can get us through, and then there’s no need for them after the fact. My position on it, in all the research that I did for this book, is that for the most of us, we could use a little bit of bioidentical estrogen or progesterone, especially bioidentical progesterone, I would say during perimenopause. I find that steep decline of progesterone during perimenopause is a lot for women to handle, especially with all of the stressors that our genetics, wasn’t really prepared for. Definitely, not our stress response system.

I find that those 10 years, that decade can be extremely detrimental to women if they don’t have enough progesterone to help support or to help counteract the amount of swings that estrogen is going up and down at that time. Like estrogen dominance is just definitely a concern that can lead to uterine and breast cancer among other things with 85% of women having fibroids, that can also pose an issue as well, knowing that estrogen is such a proliferative growth hormone. In the research right now, what we see in all the research that I have read is that we have an estrogen window, right in menopause, right before menopause until that five years where bioidentical estrogen is safe to take.

Definitely in the lowest dose possible, but then after that five years, we do start to see more contra-indications than not. Again, I think more and more research is happening. We’re not as scared anymore since we’re not recommending Premarin or progestins that we’re looking at natural hormones, instead. Again, it’s still all in a lab. You’re not snaring a yam on you or some soy on you. This still has to be derived in a lab. In a lot of ways, it’s still created. It’s not natural, natural. It’s not like your body’s making it necessarily. [crosstalk]

Ari: It’s lab-created instead of derived from something in nature, a plant or even an animal, but it’s bioidentical. It’s molecularly chemically identical to what our bodies naturally produce as opposed to distinct from [unintelligible ], Premarin and these non-bio-identical hormones that were used for hormonal replacement therapy for women for many, many years.

Mariza: Absolutely, yes. I want to make that really clear. It’s still bio-identical in women’s who’ve [unintelligible on it. I just wanted to just clear the air. I think sometimes it’s a misconception or misunderstanding there as well, so I wanted to make that really clear. What we know based on all the research right now that I’ve dived into is we’ve got a window where it’s still very, very safe and even beneficial, but then after that time, we’ve got to figure this out. Maybe it’s the dosage that we’re not getting, right. It’s not really clear, but that five years it’s neuroprotective, it’s breast protective, it’s cardiovascular protective.

Because the number one killer in women still to this day is cardiovascular disease. We just got it has to be known, but I think that has a lot to do with insulin deregulation. I think it has a lot to do with mitochondrial dysfunction. There are complications here. The last thing I want to note is that a lot of parts of the world, and I get that, we’re not speaking to everybody, but bio-identicals and hormones are just not even on the table. There are no words for menopause in other cultures, and we’re talking about millions upon millions of people, in other cultures around the world, including Japan and even China where women aren’t using bio-identicals they never had.

Ari: They don’t have a word for menopause, is that because they don’t experience it as a really significant thing, where it’s really noticeable like it is for so many of us?

Mariza: Yes. Culturally, I think a lot to do with culture too.

Ari: A lot to do with what? Culture?

Mariza: Culture. How do we feel about older women in this country or in Europe or Canada or especially the US?

Ari: I think they [crosstalk] hysterical and they should be given Xanax and Valium to just calm down.

Mariza: Exactly, hysterectomy, hysterical, just take it out.

Ari: Just to [inaudible ] they probably don’t need it anyway, right?

Mariza: Definitely don’t need it. There’s a lot of value placed on women in other cultures where that woman’s wisdom is so valued. There’s just no word for menopause. They don’t experience, no hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog, no loads, different energy. If anything, they feel like they get more energized at this new beginning because whether women know it or not, the whole menstrual cycle reproduction is such an energetic process. You think about all different other animals where if they had to choose and we did too, we do choose survival over reproduction. You see this every day I do too.

You think about a bunny where they’re choosing survival over reproduction or other animals like it’s one or the other, you’ve got the energy for it or you don’t. I think we don’t realize how much energy it requires to run that system, that reproductive system every single month. In other cultures, it’s like a resurgence of energy, and hormones were never on the table. These are also cultures that are also living into their 80s, 90s with ease. I think it has a lot to do with the way that we live life. I think we could have neurally protected ourselves, other ways than meeting with that little extra boost of estrogen, those 5 to 10 years after we went through menopause.

Ari: That answers part of the question that I asked you, which is to what degree do you think that lifestyle factors can influence I guess the ease of which someone goes through these hormonal changes without experiencing much symptoms. Based on what you’re saying about, for example, the Eastern cultures you mentioned, like in Japan, it sounds like it’s possible with a more optimal nutrition and lifestyle regimen and maybe more optimal body composition that the body can go through perimenopause and menopause without a huge disruption of your life and lots and lots of symptoms. Is that accurate to say?

Mariza: Yes, that’s accurate to say, or you think about after the ’90s, doctors were scared to recommend any type of hormones. Only 20% to 25% of women in their 50s and beyond in the United States are even on hormones right now. Now, not to say that that 75% isn’t struggling. I think I can’t speak into that necessarily, but a lot of women in the US are not on hormones at all. I do believe if we can set ourselves up for success, again, with that knowing what’s going on, it’s such an important piece of knowing what’s going on with our bodies, then we can preemptively prepare. Also, a lot of what’s talked on in this podcast, a lot of the most– I know the most disruptive symptoms for women in perimenopause and menopause because I’ve surveyed almost 50,000 women. I know where they are. Number two is energy. They are like, “Give it back. Give it back now.” Number one is weight resistance. Weight resistance, energy, and sleep. We’re tied to energy. Next is going to be brain fog and then the feeling of burnout, which I still think they’re all tied together.

Ari: Totally.

Mariza: We’ve dived on multiple surveys and these are the top five things that come up every single time. Do I think that estrogen and progesterone are taking that from us, naturally take, that’s just designed to happen? Are the culprits for those five massive symptoms? No, I do not. I think it’s lifestyle, and I can get into that too.

Ari: Let’s go there now.

Mariza: [inaudible ]

Ari: Were you going to say something? I feel like I’m interrupting one last thing you were going to say there.

Mariza: No. I was basically going to sum that up.

How lifestyle factors affect your hormone balance

Ari: Let’s jump into the lifestyle changes that you think can influence or that you’ve experienced with all of your clientele can influence the health of your body and the symptoms that the optimal hormonal balance as someone goes through perimenopause and menopause. What are some of the biggest needle movers in your experience?

Mariza: I think one of the biggest needle movers and especially after this pandemic that we’ve been in, is really just wrangling in our stress response system. I think that’s going to be one of the number one things I speak into all the time. You cannot green smoothie, kale salad even supplement your way out of chronic stress because those things are going to aid. Oh my gosh, they’re going to help in a big way, but if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you’re just going to find yourself right back on the floor. I can speak to that myself personally.

I think that big thing is this really creating routines, habits, whatever they may be, recognizing when you’re in that stress response system, pull yourself out of it, get yourself in a different state. Literally shake it off, because the brain, it can snap out of that state really quickly if you know how to get yourself out of that state. I think getting really mindful about your circadian rhythms are going to be super critical here. You got to put your phone away. You cannot start and end your day with your phone or your iPad, whatever you’re using, so much of the things you talked about here. Making sure that you’re getting sunshine and nature and really just taking breaks. That’s really what it comes down to.

Number one, we’ve got to get our stress response system under control. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why we see symptoms of perimenopause a lot earlier than we used to. Women go in for symptoms of perimenopause and their doctor talks it up to, “You’re too young. There’s no way that you’re having perimenopausal symptoms already.” Because they have this graph, I guess they follow. It’s only after 45, but it’s, no, we’re starting to see massive shifts in DUTCH tests across the board where progesterone levels are plummeting in our mid-30s.

That first step is just getting really clear on how to carve out time for you, whether it is a five-minute meditation, it is grabbing a little essential oil and breathing it in, or whether it’s having a little Aretha Franklin dance party. Whatever it is, we got to get ourselves out of that stress response mode. Eating up all of the news that’s popping up on your phone, all the Instagram posts, whatever that may be, especially when you’re going to bed and you’re waking up in the morning, the first thing that you’re doing, it’s literally programming your body and your brain to just trigger into a stress response system. We know that has a profound impact.

The next thing I think the most important is food. What we put into our bodies every day matters. I’m not going to lie, as a new mom, I’ve always been great about sugar. When I was pregnant, I passed all of my fasting, blood glucose tests with flying colors, even though my doctor knew I wasn’t, because she’s like, “You’re 41. It’s impossible. You will fail these tests.” I was like, “I will show you, woman.” When you’re pregnant, you get insulin resistance. That’s just the way it is. It’s the way your hormones work.

Ari: Knowing your personality from hanging out with you in person, I can just picture getting the results back with your doctor and you’re just being like, “In your face sucker.”

Mariza: I was in your face because she was like, “It’s just a guarantee.” I think what blew my mind there is that they know, your doctors know, especially as we head into our 40s, especially women, I think that they know how hormone endocrine system works. That most of us are experiencing some level or a big level of insulin resistance. She’s like, “You’re already 40. You already have insulin resistance. We just slapped pregnancy on top of it. It’s a guarantee. It’s a done deal. You’re going to need to do all these things.”

I’m like, [unintelligible 00:35:42] doing anything. I thought that was really fascinating, but our medical system is a wait-and-see. Wait and see, wait and see, wait and see. Your hemoglobin A1c is still at 5.5. Let’s stay till it gets to a six, and then bam, you got diabetes. Now we’re going to give you some medicine because we couldn’t do anything for you before that.

Back to what I was talking about, food, it’s really, really critical about what we’re putting into our bodies, especially as we start to see in perimenopause an increase in insulin resistance. It’s a real thing. What I was saying is, now that I’m a mama, I’m eating chocolate. I’m eating Hu chocolate. It’s really clean chocolate, but I have been doing– I wouldn’t call it emotional eating, more like mom reward eating. They make these huge gems. They make these little gems [unintelligible 00:36:36] and they’re super teeny and I have like three a day, but I used to never have any of it a day. I can see how that can spiral out of control for people. [laughs] [crosstalk]

Ari: You can just take a few in three months. and we’ll see how out of control you are. [laughs]

Mariza: The huge ones are off the table. No more new gems. Now that I’m out of the fourth trimester, I feel like now I’m back to my very clean– I operate it really in a no sugar zone. That’s hard to ask people to do, but just don’t eat sugar. That’ll do it. If there’s anything you took away from this episode.

[laughter]

No, but eating lots of protein, healthy fats, lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of fiber. If you can get a pound of greens and veggies in a day, you are 100% all-star rockstar. That’s what I try to do. I really want that fiber. I want to keep things moving and I want to keep my insulin in a really happy Goldilocks place. I think that that’s going to be so critical for women. I think a lot of the symptomology that we’re seeing for women in premenopause and menopause is actually insulin resistance, to be honest. The low energy, the sluggishness, the sluggish digestion, the brain fog, the cravings, the belly fat. Again, those are the top five symptoms I talked about.

I think insulin resistance, so what we put in our bodies and mindfully doing it, mindfully eating. I’ve never been a mindful eater. Now that I’m a mom, I feel like I have an excuse to eat fast, but I always eat fast. If you could mindfully do as I say, not as I do, that’d be great. Then the last thing I think is super, super critical is really filling in those nutrient deficiencies. I like your energy. Say it for me. [crosstalk] That’s what it is. I think having a great supplement like that and filling in your nutrient gap, looking at your vitamin D levels, looking at your magnesium, looking at your ferritin and your iron, making sure that you’re taking methylated or activated B vitamins.

These are [unintelligible 00:38:51] it’s such so important to ensure, especially for women, majority of us, especially if we’re stressed, we are burning through that like nobody’s business. It goes in, it goes right out. Your mitochondrion is like the cookie monster. It just is right out the door. It’s super critical for us to be filling in those nutrient gaps. Majority of us don’t realize we have nutrient deficiencies. I would say that most women I run into, 100% do, especially if you are wearing all the hats in the family and you’re taking care of everybody.

I feel like I’m speaking mostly to women because we’re talking about perimenopause and menopause, men too as well, but that’s going to be the other critical piece I have found to be the game change. For me, I take a lot of supplements because I have to.

Ari: There’s a very common question that I’ve gotten and I’m sure you’ve gotten probably 1,000 fold more than I have. That is from women going through menopause who are dealing with that number one symptom that you described earlier, which is resistance to weight loss or weight gain. Who basically say something to the effect of “I’ve gone through this process or I’m going through, this process of menopause and I’m just finding it more difficult than ever to get the weight off or I’m finding myself gaining weight despite maintaining the same habits that I’ve always had.” They’re asking this thinking that there’s some unique trick to weight loss that applies to them specifically as like, how do I lose weight as a woman going through menopause? What are the unique strategies for menopausal women? What do you say to women who are going through that?

Mariza: One, I let them know that they are not alone. We talked about estrogen and progesterone. Being big players here, both estrogen and progesterone are insulin protective, so there’s definitely something going on there where we lose estrogen and progesterone. I think as I mentioned before the bigger player for what I’ve seen is in so much the loss of estrogen and progesterone, it is the concern around insulin resistance. We’re starting to see more of that. That resilience is decreasing and then also the stress response system. The women are oftentimes still feeling burned out in stress and we know that that has a major impact and then the other thing that I see that is always worth looking at for women, just to look out and get tested is how is their thyroid hormones functioning. I love to see that because that is playing.

I know so often I hear from other medical doctors. It’s not a matter if it’s a matter of when your thyroid begins to just decrease in function. It’s worth looking into that as well, but basically, I let women know that there are definitely some changes they can make. The same things that were working back then aren’t working. That 15-minute peloton ride, it’s actually doing potentially the opposite. My mom is a marathon runner. Don’t mean to throw her under the bus [laughs] but she has a little bit of belly fat and actually, she has insulin resistance herself right now. She’s got great energy.

I told her, “You running marathons and half marathons that isn’t the activity that is going to help ensure that you are staying lean.” I really like to move women into building muscle.

We know that muscle is a sponge for glucose and it can’t leave. Once it’s there, it doesn’t get to go anywhere, so I’m a big proponent of women moving into strength training. For me, for my pregnancy, I was lifting weights the whole time. I was not on a peloton, I was not running outside. I was in the gym lifting heavy weights because I knew that that was going to help me help my insulin stay in check because I was using a lot of that glucose in the system.

Other areas I like women to focus on is specifically what’s they’re eating, making sure that, again, it’s a lot of protein, it’s a lot of healthy fats, it’s a lot of green leafy vegetables, and the color of the rainbow look and see where the sugar is coming from. Is it in the coffee? Is it in your drinks that you’re having every single day? Where are ways in which that we can make those swaps? Also, I’d love women to look into exploring a little bit of intermittent fasting, see if they can do that as well to stabilize insulin levels, and then also, clearly, I think it’s very, very important to be optimizing their mitochondrial function.

Ari: Amen to that for a woman, I should say.

Mariza: Oh, yes. I used to get away with our half-spin classes and drop weight like nobody’s business. If I do that, my energy is tanked for the rest of the day. My cortisol is just out the roof. What I would really love because this is my vision for us moving into the future of medicine is that we all could be using continuous glucose monitors, so we can look at real-time what is having an impact on us. What exercise is having an impact on us? Did that text message have an impact on us? Not just what we put into our bodies but how we respond to the world and watch how our blood glucose levels respond to those stressors and those stimulus and that we can measure our circadian rhythms.

That’s where I really hope medicine gets to take out so that we can make real-time tweaks and changes to lifestyle. I think that will have a profound impact not only in our energy levels but also on our metabolism because that’s what it’s showing me is we have a lack of metabolic resilience. That’s concerning that leads to inflammation. There’s bigger problems on the horizon. I know weight can feel like the biggest issue clearly for women it feels like that. I always say weight is a symptom of something bigger going on behind the scenes.

Ari: Absolutely. I have one more question for you and then and then we’ll wrap up. A big part of your work is essential oils. I feel like be remiss by not mentioning essential oils at all here. You’ve talked about nutrition and lifestyle just now as the foundation and I’d love your message around that. Are there any essential oils that you found particularly beneficial for women in perimenopause and menopause?

Mariza: Absolutely, and I just want to speak to oil. This is a journey you know this already. I know this. I’m in it. It’s a journey. To say that you’re ever going to get to optimal, optimal, for most of us, it’s very challenging. These things are just goings to come up, so I just want people to recognize it. This is a journey and every day we’re learning to become the CEO of our health and be empowered, so I hope that that’s the big message we get from this podcast from your wisdom, from this interview, is that we’ve got to take charge of it.

You and I have both been there and that we’ve had to take charge of our health. I do believe that we also get to experience wins. We get to experience instant wins. Right now, besides essential oil, the only other real instant win I know it’s like baby giggles and Hu gem chocolates. I’ll tell you what, I will go from a hot mess to happy with a baby giggle and a Hu gem chocolate like that but we deserve– Not all of us can just do that. I honestly, I’m not a proponent of eating chocolate just to get you to that place and essential oils to me are that swap. You want to go from a stress state to an energized state, grab a wild orange, or a peppermint or grapefruit oil, and it will bring you into another state. Every morning, I start my day with tangerine essential oil. It’s an oil of joy and gratitude and it literally sets me on my path of life is happening to me, or life is happening for me, not to me.

I’m just in a great state of joy and gratitude when I set the tone for my day with that one with of tangerine essential oil. There are oils we can use like peppermint for a hot flash spray. You can spritz yourself in that hot flash will go away. Lavender to literally reset your stress response system in a matter of seconds. Peppermint and rosemary, for instance, alertness, and cognition, and brain function, and memory and focus. These are the little wins we get to experience throughout the day and then they also just smell good. They just feel good. They just get them into that great place.

If one of the biggest root causes for hormone disruption and low energy is that we’re stressed and we’re burned out. We’re easily triggered into that a lot throughout the day. If we can just grab an oil that can transport us and send safety signals to the brain that everything is okay and that we’re all right, then to me, that is a mega, mega win. That’s the reason why I love oil so much and only there’s a lot of research that demonstrates that we can make massive shifts in our neurochemistry even in our endocrine system. That’s awesome. I think that we deserve wins. If we can create those every single day just that magic, especially tying it to rituals and self-care, well then count me in for oils all day long.

Ari: Yes, absolutely. Your new book coming out. When and did it already come out? What is the date?

Mariza: April 20th.

Ari: April 20th. Show us the book. Oh, that’s a beautiful cover. Nicely done.

Mariza: We put a little glow. I have a glow.

Ari: Yes, I can see your aura on the book.

Mariza: Yes. Exactly, I have a white aura. It’s called The Essential Oils Menopause Solution but it is comprehensive. It is comprehensive. I poured my soul into this book and I really, really wanted women to feel that one, they felt understood. Number two, the why behind all of it. We need to understand what’s going on and then a full-on game plan. It’s a 21-day program to kickstart to so much of what we’re looking for. The ease, the grace, the metabolic flexibility, the energy. That was the intention for this book and essential oil recipes punctuated but also supplement recommendation, detoxification recommendations, and then clearly recipes meal plan the whole nine.

Ari: Beautiful. Well, Mariza, this has been a pleasure as always, and I wish you amazing luck with the launch of your new book. I’m going to support it, do everything I can to help you get it out there, and help lots and lots of women who are dealing with perimenopause and menopause. Thank you so much for the work that you’re doing. Thank you for coming on the show again and sharing your beautiful self and all of your wisdom. This has been a pleasure as always, so thank you and where’s the best place to get your book?

Mariza: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Indie Books, local bookstores. I don’t know about in Costa Rica, but definitely, Amazon internationally is going to be the easiest place to get it.

Ari: Awesome. Thank you so much, my friend. I look forward to talking to you again very soon.

Mariza: Me too.

Show Notes

The biggest myths and misconceptions around hormonal health (10:22)
What happens with your hormones during perimenopause (15:03)
When hormonal support is necessary (23:43)
How lifestyle factors affect your hormone balance (33:00)

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