Hormones for Dummies, kind of

Movie Mondays at the Martini Mansion

(aka short documentary at my crappy apartment)

Having put on my student of science cap last night, I watched an hour-long documentary on hormones by the name of The Fantastical World of Hormones, with Dr. John Wass (see Mr. Wass below).

john-wass

I feel like it is widely accepted that hormones control just about everything in our lives.  From the exciting (libido, emotions, passions) to the boring (puberty, hairline, voice).  I watched this short film with a learning mindset, and here is what I found out:

1.     The study of hormones is called, “Endocrinology.” It’s a unique and sexy area of scientific inquiry with many discoveries remaining to be made.  How scientists study the tiny mysteries involve  bizarre albeit intelligent experiments, as the endocrine system is not an anatomical system like the cardiovascular or nervous system (meaning that it cannot be seen).   One crazy experiment involved removing the sexual organs – testicles for males and ovaries and part of the wombs for females – of different animals and inserting them under the animals’ skin in a different area of the body.  No matter where the sexual organs were placed in the animals’ bodies, they continued to deliver hormones throughout the body.  This particular discovery revolutionized women’s health and endocrinology, because hormones were finally understood as chemicals independent from the nervous system (ovaries didn’t need to send estrogen through the nervous system to different parts of the body).

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2.     Hormones are chemical secretions that travel by blood.  In men, for example, the testicles release testosterone into the blood, and the bloodstream carries the chemicals to different parts of the parties, spurring physiological changes (i.e. puberty).

3.     If a man is castracastratoted before puberty (such man-boys are called “castratos”), then his voice will remain at that angelic choir-boy pitch despite their physical growth– this was somehow a common procedure for male opera singers that continued until the early twentieth century.

4.     Doctors used to believe that ovaries were the cause of various physical and mental disabilities, and would, in hopes of curing the ailments, remove the ovaries of the afflicted women (Is anyone else greatly disturbed by this?)  If both ovaries are removed, women experience early menopause systems such as hot flashes, irregular periods, insomnia, and bladder irritability.

5.     Cortisol is the stress hormone, while addrenaline is the fight or flight hormone, and oxycotin is the bonding hormone.  Each hormone is aimed at a particular cell, and only works on that target cells.

6.     The pituitary gland regulates the distribution of hormones. . . Generally.  Apparently there are other parts of our bodies functioning as hormone regulators as well, such as our fat.  Fat creates the hormone leptin, which in turn, affects the amount of food we eat. It works like this: Leptin is constantly being produced by our fat cells, and the more fat stores we have, in general, the more leptin flows in the blood.  This hormone essentially tells our brain that we’ve eaten enough, and we lose our appetite.  BUT, the system doesn’t always work properly.  Sometimes, fat cells don’t produce leptin, and those afflicted won’t be able to control their appetites.  Often times, these people over eat and become obese.  As the inability to produce leptin is genetic, let’s take the time to blame the original villains in our lives: our parents  ;).  I’ll say this, though: it’s not always a lack of self-control, #mondaymotivation; sometimes, it’s a hormone deficiency.

fatmouse

Looking Forward

Endocrinology, as a science, is a relatively young field of inquiry, being just over 100 years old.  There has been a lot of progress with the abandonment of male youth castration and oophorectomies (procedure removing the ovaries), but as doctors discover more about the ways hormones affect our minds and bodies, I’m sure we’ll see new and potentially horrifying methods and procedures to retain and/or regain youth and beauty.

Would I recommend watching the movie?

If you like documentaries and are interested in human chemistry with a pinch of history, it’s definitely worth the watch!  That said, I might have spoiled a lot of those fun, “What?! I didn’t know that!” moments.  While I watched it on Amazon Prime, it is also available to watch on Youtube.

 

❤ EM

 

Operation: Don’t Eat Foods that Make me Poop Myself

Hot off the heels of my “#change” post, I have landed on my first course of action!

I will be starting an Elimination Diet.

elimination-diet_v4

I know, I know, it sounds like another crackpot/roundabout/pseudo-committed attempt at weight loss, but I assure you, that is only…. 11% of why I am doing this.  I will be sharing my experience along the way, but here is a list of my reasons behind this decision.

  1. Bad Skin

I am 25, and I have struggled with acne since I was a teen.  Granted, some of the struggle is hormonal, but I would like to find out, once and for all, just how much my diet affects my breakouts.

  1. Unpredictable (and sometimes irritable) Bowels

You would think that by now I would have figured out exactly what foods upset my stomach, but nope.  I’ve never paid much attention to how the food I eat affects my bowel movements, but it’s undeniable that it does.  I would like to know what foods to avoid, so that as I get older, the chance of shitting myself does not increase.  I don’t think that’s too much to hope for.

  1. Mood Swings

I suffer from…. not depression or bipolar disorder (or maybe I do, and I’m undiagnosed), but I definitely experience substantial mood swings.  And I know it’s related to my diet.  Even though I don’t understand the science, I accept it as a fact that certain foods have specific chemical properties and provide different vitamins that affect my mood in a physiological way.  To put is crassly, some foods fuck with my head at a basic biological way.  Some foods also mess with my head in an emotional way, too.  It’s certainly something I have to let go, but I feel guilty for eating various foods and proud for eating others, which definitely contributes to my mood swings.  I hope that this elimination diet will allow me to appreciate the physical effect food as energy has on my body, as opposed to the emotional effect food as a drug has on my mind.

  1. Restaurants are Expensive! And I’d like to become a better cook.

I eat out WAY too much.  Not only does it strain my bank account, but it’s disheartening that the best dish I can make from scratch – without a recipe – is scrambled eggs on toast.  I would like to feel comfortable– dare I say confident in the kitchen.  Am I the only person who romanticizes having the ability to cook my friends and family a beautiful meal?

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If you identify with any, some, or all of these, I encourage you to join me in this Elimination Diet challenge!  I start tomorrow: Monday, September 26, 2016!

❤ EM

 

 

 

#Change

It has been an exciting week!  Not in the sense that I’ve done anything incredible or even all that interesting, but based on the fact that Wednesday was Peace Day and Thursday was the first day of Autumn(!!).  I had been trying to find the time to write something about each day, but alas, here I am on Friday, finally making the time to say a little somethin’-somethin’.

fall

If the fall season were to have a hashtag, I would argue that it is “#change.”  Yes, there is a valid point to be made that “#pumpkinspicelatte” or “#sweaterweather” could be the true autumnal hashtag, but that wouldn’t give me much to talk about that hasn’t already been criticized by a buzzfeed author or sorry-not-sorry’d by every proud autumnophile (I’m not sure what the real word is for someone who harbors a burning passion for all things fall, and I don’t care to look it up).

Change

Today is a day for it.  I began a post on Wednesday in honor of Peace Day, but I found my thoughts unfocused and a little confused, to be honest.  I wanted to draft something about picking up the pieces on Peace Day– see the word play and alliteration?  I am one of those classic millennials who, although I’ve been given every opportunity and have even taken advantage of those opportunities (I’ll be a 25-year-old lawyer in November, if all goes well!), feels like their body and mind have been spinning out of control for the past 10 years.  To put it plainly and in too many works, my mind and body have been a royal wreck for the better part of my adult life.  When I learned it was Peace Day, I was inspired to take the time to reflect on the phrase “peace of mind,” to both honor the holiday and argue that the phrase has become another unobtainable standard in today’s low-attention span society (I mean, let’s be real.. who’s even still reading this).

Peace of Mind

What does it really mean?  Because, surely, it doesn’t mean self-compassion, love, and acceptance.  Why does it seem like, in this world captivated by looks and coolness, that the new trend to watch is a balanced lifestyle?  And yes, my heart wants to cheer for the women who are making oatmeal and walking meditation cool, but my head is telling me that “peace of mind” and “balance” have been swallowed whole by the big beast that is capitalism.  How can I love, care for, and accept myself if there is now a standard of how to love, care for, and accept oneself?  There are whole lifestyle blogs (quite like this one), instagrams, and brands with the public message of “ladies, you can all have this beautiful smile, this perfect skin, this rockin’ bod, AND be your true happy self,” but all my insecure mind registers is that “this woman will always be happier and more at peace than you.”

My point is this: because having peace of mind is now a requirement of the perfect woman, and because the perfect woman does not exist beyond airbrushing and edited words on a photo or page, finding balance has become a heart-breaking exercise in failing to meet an unobtainable standard. When, in reality, I think peace of mind would be to abandon the active search for such balance.

Which brings me to my first point about the autumnal hashtag being #change, because that’s what I am pledging today: to change.  Just as the perfect guy comes along once you stop looking for him, I hope that peace of mind will come along once I stop trying to attain it.

#Change

❤ EM