Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book Review: The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried, MD

I rarely review a book before I finish reading it, but this one is compelling enough and probably would be of interest to my blog readers, so I'm jumping the gun a bit. I'm about 2/3 through the Audible version of The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried, and it's helping a lot of the issues that I have been having and working through with my alternative practitioner fall into place.

I have Margo to thank for getting me interested in this book. It sort of struck me that, duh, at 44 I am definitely in the middle of perimenopause, even though I take the birth control pill so I haven't noticed a lot of the classic symptoms. I have been wondering if I should continue taking it or if my hormonal issues would be better if I stopped, and this book has a great "Balance Sheet" on the birth control pill that helped me think through that issue.

Even though I'm listening to it on Audible, I can't totally recommend that format because of the narrator. She probably would be a great narrator for a mystery novel or some other dramatic book, but she puts dramatic emphasis on words in strange places, and I find myself having to re-listen to spots to figure out what was really important in each section. Sometimes it feels like I am being yelled at, and in a book that talks so much about the importance of reducing stress in our lives, the choice of shouting narrator seems especially off-kilter. I also saw reviews that the tables don't work well in Kindle, so it may be best to go old-school on this book. I found a used copy on Amazon that was $10 including shipping so I can go back and get information that is hard to capture from the audio version.

This book has a quiz (which is included as a PDF with the Audible version) to help readers figure out which hormones might be out of whack: cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and/or thyroid. I found I had cortisol and (not surprisingly) thyroid issues. There are "Gottfried Protocol" suggestions for each imbalance. I like that she recommends starting with lifestyle interventions, like cutting back on coffee or adding in relaxation, before suggesting a lot of more aggressive interventions like hormone replacement. This seems safe and sensible. It seems dangerous for women to rush to add progesterone cream or other potentially-dangerous remedies without a doctor's advice like some other experts recommend.

The thing I don't love about this author is that somewhere between writing her first book and moving on to her second, she seems to have gone into hard-sell mode. If you follow the link for the quiz, you have to give your email address, so that she can send you advertisements for her supplements and virtual workshops. I'm glad I'm reading the edition of the book that is free from this seeming conflict of interest -- in fact, she criticizes other authors in this version for having such conflicts. I suppose it's a fact of life that someone who has had such a success would be tempted to cash in, especially when women were probably contacting her and asking for supplement advice.

There's enough good in this book for me to recommend it anyway, especially if you are struggling with weight, sleep, or mood issues that might be hormone-related.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Book Review: Fat Chance by Nick Spalding

I read Nick Spalding's Fat Chance (not an affiliate link) because it was recommended on The Nutrition Diva's podcast.  I have mixed feelings about it -- as opposed to Robert Lustig's Fat Chance, which I think is brilliant and helpful. On the one hand, I agreed with Monica Reinagel that on the surface, it was a fun, fluffy read. On the other hand, though, it perpetuates some of the worst and most unhelpful stereotypes about people with weight problems, and I think that someone who studies nutrition should know better than to promote a book like this. I listened to it on Audible does not sponsor my blog, even though I really think they should. In general, I don't review books that I don't love, but I think this one is worth a little bit of a second look because of the issues it raises. 
What stereotypes does this book perpetuate? When we first meet our heroine Zoe, she is hilariously stuck in a dress in a too-small dressing room. Besides being tiresomely drawn out, this incident provides the last-straw moment that launches her into her weight-loss effort, in this case, a Biggest-Loser-style radio competition in which she enlists the help of her lovable-but-also-overweight husband, Greg, who we learned has broken a chair in an equally longwinded story and laugh-to-keep-from-crying story at a barbecue. The book is written as a series of diary entries supposedly meant to provide content for the radio show's website. 

Greg and Zoe were both hotties when they met, but they have "let themselves go" by doing things like eating entire trifles and other oversized British snacks. Their problems are all caused only by their weight, and as they lose weight, their problems vanish along with the extra pounds. Poof!

The weight loss, once they stop trying fad diets and rubbishy fitness items they find on late-night-TV, is steady and seemingly uninterrupted by plateaus or injuries. It had just never occurred to these two that they could be thinner if they just ate less and exercised more! Wow, what a discovery! They just never heard that before, apparently.  Once they lose weight they have all kinds of confidence and a fabulous sex life. There is no thought that weight regain is a possibility, because they have learned the magic eat-less-exercise-more formula. 

It was a nice, escapist fantasy while it lasted. I'm guessing the author has not experienced the reality of weight loss, because this version does not seem to even remotely reflect the experiences of most people I know with serious weight to lose.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gluten-free Hashimoto's experiment results

I thought I'd share this since it may be able to help someone else. After 6 years of conventional thyroid treatment for Hashimoto's, I was only getting worse. I went to an alternative practitioner, who suggested I try going gluten- and dairy-free.

Here are my numbers before and after:

In addition to going gluten-free and (mostly) dairy-free, I also have stopped drinking coffee, started taking 1000 IU of Vitamin D3, and have been taking a smaller dose of T4. I have also backed down a bit on my workouts and have been trying to get more sleep.

The most important changes are the decrease in CRP (an inflammation marker) and in my thyroid antibodies. The changes to my thyroid hormones are probably mostly due to the dose change. 

I had noticed almost immediately that I had less aches and pains after dropping the gluten, even after a tough workout. I might have muscles that felt sore, but my joints didn't hurt. 

I think that this is a big change in such a short time. I am hoping that if I continue to make healthy changes, I can see these numbers get even better. 

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07