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15: Optimizing Your Menstrual Cycles & Hormones Through Nutrition with Margaret Powell

15: Optimizing Your Menstrual Cycles & Hormones Through Nutrition with Margaret Powell
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Do you experience bad periods? Maybe your sleep is poor, you lack energy, you feel stressed, you gain or lose weight unexpectedly. Like so many women out there, you might be “doing everything right” –you’re exercising, you’re eating healthy, you avoid toxins. But at the end of the day, you might actually be experiencing hormonal imbalance. And our guest today helps women fix just that.

In today’s episode, I am talking to Margaret Powell, a holistic nutritionist and mom of two who is passionate about helping women break free from restrictive diets through balancing their hormones and supporting their metabolism with food and lifestyle changes. Margaret gives us all the insight into nutrition, metabolism, women’s health, and how to holistically optimize our cycles through metabolic eating.

 

Follow along with Margaret on Instagram + her blog!

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Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of the Whimsy & Wellness Podcast hosted by Meg Ryan and brought to you by Whimsy & Wellness; your go-to shop for essential oil accessories, crystals, and more!

 

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Music by Taylor Ryan


“It’s not just about the food you eat. You can have the most high-quality, nutrient-dense diet, you can be super on point with your nutrition, but if you are slathering on products with lots of toxins in them, or you’re drinking crappy drinking water, or living a high-stress lifestyle, not getting enough sleep. Those things impact your metabolism.”
– Margaret Powell

 

And I urge people to really focus on how you want to feel not how you want to look.”
Margaret Powell

Meg: Today I am so excited to be sitting down with Margaret Powell. Margaret is a holistic nutritionist, mom of two kiddos. And as a self-proclaimed wellness geek, she’s very passionate about helping women break free from restrictive diets and loves teaching about how to balance hormones and support your metabolism with food and lifestyle changes. 

 

I am just thrilled, giddy all of the feelings for you to hear this episode. And for you to hear Margaret’s story, her knowledge. This conversation was a breath of fresh air. We have all had conversations about our health and how we feel, whether that be with a healthcare professional or maybe a nutritionist or even just a friend or your partner. And we walk away almost feeling worse, we feel misunderstood or judged or doomed, like nothing’s ever going to get better. I’m not going to feel better if I’m stuck. Or people won’t listen to me. They won’t listen to what’s going on in my body. 

 

We all probably have some kind of story like that with our health. And the conversation that I had with Margaret today was the opposite of that. Her story is so relatable. if you’re a woman, I would be willing to bet that even just a part of her story. You’ll be nodding along saying Yep, me too. And she gives us tools and information that makes you feel empowered and encouraged. And just really hands us these tools that are doable. They’re bite-size. It’s not some crazy out there, overwhelming thing. It’s she just teaches in such an incredible way. So I could go on and on. But I’m going to start off this episode right now with Margaret. And I hope that you guys enjoy. So grab a pen and paper, you’re definitely going to need it. 

 

Friends, Margaret Powell is here today to talk about nutrition, metabolism, women’s health, staying sane. All the things. Welcome, friend. 

 

Margaret: Hi. Thanks for having me. 

Meg: I am so excited to chat with you today. Number one, because you always make me laugh following along with you on Instagram and stuff. I’m always laughing, one minute you guys she’s sharing a recipe the next minute, she’s dancing. So if you don’t follow Margaret, while you’re listening, look her up on Instagram. But number two, I’m excited. Because the way you teach about health and food is the opposite of intimidating and when I’m learning from you. I feel empowered. Like  I can actually do this or I could actually make that recipe. It’s not like, I have to go buy this weird food I’ve never heard of or this appliance or something. And so I’m just excited for our listeners to feel that too. So thank you so much for coming on. 

Margaret: Thank you. I do try to really keep it real and make what I share achievable for anyone to do. I really have a heart for the woman that’s busy and has a lot going on and doesn’t have tons of time to stress out about food. 

 

How Metabolic & Hormonal Health Impacts Your Life

Meg: Seriously, which is like all our listeners. We did a poll recently and over 50% were Mama’s and 80% were entrepreneurs. So people listening have stuff on their plate. So let’s start by sharing your story with listeners about why you’re passionate about metabolic health and this topic as a whole. 

Margaret: My story pretty much starts when I was around 14, 15 got my first period and I had really bad monthly cycles. It was so bad to the point that I would miss school for a day or two. I had a lot of digestive issues. At the time my family doctor thought I had an ulcer, and at one point had me on like a broth and cracker diet to help with my digestive stuff. Fast forward a year or two I ended up going on birth control at age 16 to help with my PMS and my periods and I also had acne. 

At the time, it was just here, go on the pill. Right. And I ended up being on birth control for pretty much 10 years straight until it was time to start a family. When I was 26, I went off birth control. I had no clue what it was like to have a menstrual cycle or have a period. I was so disconnected with my body’s hormones and all of it, and went off the pill and had my first miscarriage. 

I remember being like, what now? Literally googling, how to regulate my period after having that miscarriage, I would go like 45 days in between periods. My OBGYN at the time was basically like this happens, we really don’t worry about it until you’ve had three miscarriages. Your body was able to get pregnant, it’ll happen. And that was kind of my first venture into hormone imbalance, and just struggling with that aspect of my health. 

I went on then to have four pregnancies and two babies in basically four years. My husband owns multiple businesses, we’re business owners, and I was very involved in helping with his businesses. And I had started a Young Living business shortly after I had Turner, who’s my second child. And so I had this long season of just really burning the candle at both ends, having pregnancy, having a miscarriage, then I got pregnant again. Sleepless nights, breastfeeding, running a business, over-exercising. 

I was the woman that really thought exercise was the key to having more energy. And exercise was the key to being healthy. I had a home gym. And then at one point, I was going back and forth to our gym locally with both kids. I would load them up in the stroller and race to the gym to my 9 a.m. class and put them in gym childcare, which at the time, that was a lifeline for me. 

But that fast-paced lifestyle that was that I was dealing was putting me into full-blown exhaustion and burnout. And I didn’t understand how important it was to rest and honor my body’s hormones, and fuel my body properly, I was under-eating. I didn’t know how to even feel my body properly. I would just jump on whatever fad diet was in. I did Whole 30 two years in a row, Paleo, I had tried low carb diets. And the longer that I operated in this stressed out state, the worse my hormones were. 

So at the peak of my hormone struggles, I had really bad cystic acne, super painful periods. When my period would come, I would have to call Tyler and be like, “hey, if there’s any way you can come home from work early, my cramps were so bad.” I’d be up in bed and just be I would be out and I had this cycle that when my period would come, I just wanted to lock myself in my room and hide from my family. My anxiety was really bad, sleep, I just had all of the classic signs of hormone imbalance. 

I felt like I was eating really healthy. We were buying organic foods and going to local farmers’ markets, we were using clean products in our home, right. I was really into essential oils and non-toxic products. I felt like I had a good grasp on what healthy was, but I had this super high-stress lifestyle, and still felt like crap. 

At the time, when this was really at its peak, I was, I’m 34 now. At the time, I was 32. And was just like, I am too young to not have a sex drive. I am too young to have all this anxiety, no energy. I remember going to my OBGYN one year for my annual exam and telling her the acne, the anxiety, the sleep issues. And she was like, Well, you could just go back on the birth control pill. Like that was always what they told me to do. That just was not a good enough answer for me. 

 

How Her Own Healing Led Her To Heal Other Women

So that was the impetus that pushed me into learning more about nutrition and holistic health. It was really more for me to learn how to heal my own issues. I also saw that the women around me were struggling with very similar things, too. And so that’s what really got me into nutrition and I ended up pursuing a certification in holistic nutrition, and really dug into women’s health and women’s hormones. 

I got turned on to this whole world of pro metabolic eating, which is eating for your metabolism and your hormone health. And realized like wow, a lot of the healthy foods that I was eating are actually not as healthy as I thought they were. I mean, I was eating lots of vegetables, I would eat a big kale salad all the time, which I’ve since learned that eating too many cruciferous vegetables can actually slow down your metabolism. Your body doesn’t need tons and tons of vegetables, right? 

I realized that my four to five days a week, HIIT workouts were tanking my adrenals. And I should also say, when I was in the peak of trying to work on my hormones, and figure out how to solve a lot of these different symptoms I was dealing with, I had tried everything I was I had eliminated dairy, gluten, I did a Candida cleanse, I tried eating vegan for three months I was doing a lot of restricting, cutting out sugar. I feel like I have literally tried everything. Which I look back and, I don’t have regrets on that, because it helped me realize what didn’t work. 

How Metabolic Eating Changed Her Trajectory

So when I stumbled upon this community of practitioners and doctors that were pushing, hey, let’s eat for your metabolism and your hormones. And this is what it looks like. It was literally everything that is against diet culture. 

Metabolic eating is not focused on counting calories and restriction. It’s focused on eating foods that support yourself on a biological level. It felt so simple and basic. But so freeing, and I implemented this way of eating last summer. You know what? I’m going to reintroduce dairy again, I’m going to start not stressing over carbs anymore, I’m not going to count calories. I’m not going to stress about exercising all the time. If I want to exercise I will. But if I don’t feel like it, I’m not going to beat myself up over it, you know? 

I started learning about my menstrual cycle and how to eat around my cycle and how to exercise around my cycle. I’ve since learned that there’s times of the month that you’re better off doing HIIT workouts, and then there’s times that you’re better doing strength training, or yoga, or just going for a walk, you know? 

I would say it was last summer that I really dug in on this way of eating. And I went from getting my period every 19, 20 days, and having really painful, bad PMS, to normal cycles, my skin cleared, my energy came back. My anxiety got better. My sex drive returned. 

 

Why Most Women Have The Same Story

Meg: You dealt with the low sex drive or low libido. I know that like that might be TMI for people listening. But when you’re in your 20s, 30s, even into your 40s, that is the prime time from a fertility standpoint to have a normal healthy sex drive. And so many women don’t and that’s not right. 

You don’t have a ton of women feeling safe to say, I don’t have a sex drive. As you were sharing your story, I’m thinking, this is unfortunately the anthem of so many people’s lives. From getting your period as a teenager and it being really, really bad. And then the doctor putting you on birth control. I’m just sitting here nodding my head. Is she talking about me? Or her? 

We all know how many friends and how many women who have the same story. And in a way, it’s just so frustrating and heartbreaking. But then the flip side of the coin is if this is so common, we shouldn’t feel shame for having these things. We can feel empowered because she went through this. I feel like for so many listeners, they probably were hearing you talk and like, 

Wait is she talking about me? So I hope that that was exciting for people because even for me,   wow, this sounds so familiar. 

Margaret: It’s the story for so many women and, and I don’t want to demonize and place blame on the medical system and say it’s their fault because they’re not given the tools really to walk alongside a woman that’s struggling with bad hormone stuff and periods and say, “Hey let’s really talk about your diet. Let’s talk about your stress and your lifestyle.”

When I look back to what I was eating and my lifestyle when I was 14,15, 16 years old, and look back, well, no wonder I had so many problems. I was eating Doritos every day after school and we drank soda and easy mac and cheese and Pop-Tarts for breakfast. I was eating a ton of processed foods and not a lot of fresh foods. And we didn’t know. When I was a teenager, we did not know what that stuff did, right? 

But I do remember when I went through going on birth control, there was no question of like, “Well, what’s your diet look like?” Or “Have you experienced…” At the time when I was in high school, I had two parents that were addicts. And my childhood years, especially during high school, were really just, it was a very dysfunctional situation, I was going back and forth between living with my dad and stepmom, and then I’d go stay with my mom and my grandmother. And even that I’ve learned can really influence how your hormones are exposed. If you’re dealing with trauma, or dysfunction, or high stress, high cortisol from lots of stress, that’ll throw things off. But it’s hard because you really do see where we’re failing women with that.

 

Listening To Your Inner Knowing

Meg: For sure. I love what you said about you going back to OBGYN and she said, you can go back on birth control, and you were not going to accept that. Oftentimes we’ll get an answer from a medical professional or someone and we know in our gut that isn’t what I need to do. But we feel like they’re in charge. But listening to that inner knowing of this is not it, keep looking for answers. They work for you and be your own advocate. I love that you listen to that. I am just now learning to really listen to that. 

That’s such a good word for listeners to know. If you’re told something by doctors, they aren’t God, they don’t know everything. and the best doctors and healthcare professionals are the ones that admit I don’t know everything. Get a second opinion, those are the best. 

Margaret: Absolutely. And there’s also seasons for this. Sometimes we’re in a place where birth control or the band-aid solution is just what we got to do to get by. Because we’re not in a place of being able to really focus on our health, right. So I don’t fault women for deciding to do that. But I felt that this is not a long-term solution. I don’t want to be on birth control for 20 years.

 

Debunking The Diet Culture

Meg: So, I know you’re really passionate about debunking diet culture, especially because you have tried them all, pretty much. So can you explain for people who are listening that are like, what is diet culture? Can you just break that down to start right now? 

Margaret: What I see in diet culture is it’s very focused on appearance and looking a certain way. There’s always that big push of having the perfect body, right. And I just want to remind women that fitness does not equal health. And what I see happening in diet culture right now is it’s very focused on either restricting or eliminating a certain food or food group. Especially the Keto, low carb craze of carbs will make you fat, carbs are bad, right? 

I also see that even with plant-based eating some of my education and books that I had to read for my certification really talked about the importance of implementing more plants into your diet. And there’s a lot of articles and studies quote, unquote, studies out there that say animal fats and animal proteins will lead to high cholesterol. The reality with studies is, you can make any study show you want it to show and you have to know who’s actually funding the study. 

I urge people to really focus on how you want to feel, not how you want to look. When I eat plant-based, that was the peak of when I felt the worst personally. What I see with diet culture right now is just a lot of restricting and a lot of demonizing foods. And it puts women in this place of utter confusion, overwhelm, it also disconnects us from our bodies. It disconnects us from our relationship with food. I mean God gave us things like the ability to smell, and taste. And if you know anything about how the brain works, our memories are stored in our limbic system in our brain. And there’s a reason why certain foods will elicit a certain emotion. 

A lot of what diet culture pushes is suppressing that relationship with food. It’s so structured on rules like no eating after dinner, and the intermittent fasting culture right now, that’s really big on only eating in an eight-hour window. That’s not how we are biologically designed to live. And it’s hard because people will say eat what our ancestors ate, right? But we’re not living at all like our ancestors lived. You can’t compare. I mean, yes, we can draw from our ancestors on certain aspects of nutrition, but it’s not apples to apples. Our ancestors didn’t walk around with smartphones in their hands. And they didn’t drive cars, they didn’t have stress, fast-paced lifestyles, like it’s not even close to the same. 

Meg: That is so true. I got in the spiral of food documentaries that kept coming out. And I was in this trap of it’s a documentary, it must be true. It just goes back to you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. It’s true with that, too. And so often, when we try to do better, we get caught up in this tornado. I’m sure you felt this and listeners have felt this. What do I eat? Or what do I do, because this person saying this is wrong. And this is saying this is wrong. And I feel awful about this, and it’s so confusing. It just leaves you in this place of like, I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing because I don’t know what to do where to turn. All of that it’s just really frustrating. 

Margaret: Absolutely. And one of the things specifically, I’m thinking of like dairy right now. I see there’s a lot of plant-based milks, like almond milk and coconut milk. Milk is really popular. Soy was popular for a while which we a lot of people now know that soy milk is not something that you should be drinking on the regular. And I kind of find it’s funny that we’re trying to mimic things like meat, or mimic things like regular milk with a fake alternative. 

 

Getting Back To The Root Of Food

Many of these products are packed with additives, and thickeners, and emulsifiers, and all these junky industrial ingredients that can destroy your gut and lead to more inflammation. And it just makes me laugh, because I have a couple of friends that are really into their plant-based milks, and they’re like, “Oh, dairy upsets my stomach. Dairy is super inflammatory.” I hear that a lot. I believed that for a long time, too. And we have to ask ourselves: Is it the dairy that’s inflaming your gut? Or is it the fake foods that you’re eating that are inflaming your gut? And when you really get back to the root of food and what it’s supposed to do from a biological level to support your metabolism, the fake replacement stuff is not cutting it. 

Meg: That’s a good word, for sure. I saw one of your stories, or Reel or something that you had made about what to do if you are going to not drink milk, look for this. I go to my fridge, and like that Guar gum is right on the label. But it’s so true. We think that we’re doing better. 

You mentioned metabolism a couple of times. So I want to dive into that. Because speaking for myself, but I feel like a lot of people are this way, I never truly understood metabolism. My past understanding up until you started doing this work and sharing it on social media was, to me metabolism was people would just tell me like, “Oh, you have a fast metabolism, because I am not a huge like, I don’t work out a ton but I’m thin and so people just said you have a fast metabolism. Which goes back to what you were saying about thin doesn’t always mean healthy. People would always comment like, “You’re so lucky, blah, blah, blah…” And thanks. I feel terrible. I have all these autoimmune illnesses and I’m getting iron infusions and taking all these things. But sure, that’s all that matters. That’s a little side note, so fast metabolism was all I really knew about metabolism. If you’re thin, if you can eat a cupcake and not gain five pounds, you have a fast metabolism. I feel like that’s all a lot of people hear about it. So what does our metabolism do? Why is it important? Can you go over the basics of that? 

 

What To Know About Metabolism

Margaret: Yes, absolutely. It’s such a good question. So your metabolism is your body’s ability to take the food that you’re eating and the calories that you’re intaking, whether it’s through food, or what you’re drinking, and the body’s ability to then convert it into energy. 

A fast metabolism is a body that generates heat, so it’s a body that has a decent body temperature. You don’t have the cold hands and feet, you’re not cold all the time. A fast metabolism means you have a painless, normal, regular menstrual cycle, clear skin, normal digestion, and the ability to go to the bathroom at least once a day, preferably twice, which a lot of people don’t. 

It’s not just about weight, I mean, weight is a part of it as well. But it’s more focused on how you feel, your energy. A solid, healthy metabolism has enough energy to get through the day without needing to drink lots of coffee, right? You’re able to exercise and move your body without crashing later on the day. It’s the body’s ability to take what you’re eating, and what you’re drinking and what you’re doing and using it for energy effectively, to fuel your cells. 

Meg: That is very interesting. And I think it is so important to note, just because you’re thin, that can be genetics. Which I think for me it is, I don’t think I have a fast metabolism, everything that you were just naming, I’m like nope, nope, nobody. 

Margaret: Some of those things are inherited genetically, that is true. I mean, some of the health issues that we experience are a byproduct of what we got from our ancestors.

Meg: I like that you listed those things because that is all I ever heard about metabolism, was if they’re thin, without working out, they have a fast metabolism when it just isn’t that simple. 

Margaret: It goes without saying. It’s not just about the food you eat. You can have the most high quality, nutrient-dense diet, you can be super on point with your nutrition but if you are slathering on products with lots of toxins in them, or you’re drinking crappy drinking water, or living a high-stress lifestyle, not getting enough sleep, those things impact your metabolism as well. 

Meg: And that’s just being healthy. This is a perfect example before I started using essential oils, which then led me to using non-toxic products. I thought, “Oh, we were so healthy because we eat right.” But health and good health has so many pillars. Sometimes we think we’re healthy because we exercise but if this piece and that piece are missing. That’s why we feel bad. One pillar is not all of health. It’s not the whole umbrella. And that’s so important. 

So what are some of your easy to implement nutrition habits that you recommend specifically for women? 

 

Nutrition Habits For Women

Margaret: I actually got this question the other day that’s from someone that was like, “If I wanted to get started on balancing my hormones and restoring my metabolism, where would you start?”

In the first place, I would start by eliminating what I call PUFAS. PUFAS are polyunsaturated fats and PUFAS are found in a lot of processed foods. To say that you should never eat food with a PUFA in it, but I don’t think we realize how often we’re consuming them. 

So PUFAS will be like your canola oil, palm oil, vegetable oil, soy, which it’s a lot, and a lot of processed foods like cookies and crackers and cereals. Even in our ice cream. It’s in a lot of nut milks and non-dairy milks. Believe it or not, nuts and seeds and legumes can have PUFAS in them. And what happens is if you’re drinking the almond milk, and you’re baking with almond flour, or non regular flours, and you’re eating processed foods with PUFAS, and then you get Chinese takeout on Friday night, which has soy in it, you suddenly you look at your diet. Even tortilla chips, like CFA chips, are the only tortilla chips I have been able to find that are cooked in coconut oil. They’re not cooked in vegetable oil or canola oil.  

You don’t realize how quickly if you look at your week’s worth of food, it’s in everything. I still consume foods that have PUFAS in them. But if you’re in a season of really needing to dial in and heal, and overcome some chronic things that you think that you’re dealing with, that is the first thing that I would say. Cut out the nut butters and eating the whole handful of almonds, or the nut milks, and things like that. 

What happens with PUFAS is they create oxidative stress when you go to consume something with a PUFAS in it. When your body goes to metabolize that food, the heat from your body breaks down that oil and it creates oxidative stress called free radicals. It can damage your cells, and it can cause a whole slew of health issues. They can be very inflammatory to your gut as well, which I cannot stress enough how important it is to support our gut. Gut health impacts so many things. 

That would be the first place that I would start cutting out.They’re really an anti-nutrient, they don’t do anything positive for your body. And I talked about gut health a lot because again, you could be eating all of the right foods, but if your gut is not well supported, your body’s not going to properly absorb the nutrients in the food that you’re eating. 

You could be eating an 1800 calorie 2000 calorie diet and think, “I’m eating enough food. I’m eating high-quality foods.” But if your body is only able to absorb 70% of that nutrients, you actually need to be eating a higher calorie above that to get what your body needs. Does that make sense? 

 

Unpacking What Pro Metabolic Eating Is

Meg: Yes. So what is pro metabolic eating? Can you explain what that is and why it’s important? 

Margaret: So it’s eating in a way that supports your metabolism. So when I look at a food now if I’m making a decision of what I’m going to eat, I look at a plate in front of me that I need to fill with food for lunch, and I want to fill it with protein first. Typically I’m eating animal protein. I do chicken, beef, lamb, shellfish, cod, oysters, shrimp, things like that. I don’t eat a ton of pork. I’ll have bacon from time to time or will cook a pork shoulder and make pulled pork. 

So protein first or eggs, like protein from dairy. I aim to have about 20 to 25% of my plate be some protein right? And then I want some carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source for energy. And I like to eat easy-to-digest carbohydrates like fruit, some bright ripe fresh fruit. Right now mangoes are in season. Berries are coming into season, citrus fruits. Some other carbs that I’ll have are sourdough. You might see I bake my own sourdough. Root vegetables are great, rice, I’ll do some white rice or basmati rice and then a little bit of fat. 

Again, I talked about those polyunsaturated fats, I try not to have my fat be something like nuts or a PUFA. I opt for saturated fat. So for me, that might be some butter on my sourdough toast or a couple pieces of really high-quality cheese. There’s also fat in a lot of the meat that we eat. So if you’re making chicken thighs, there’s automatically going to be fat in that. 

So when you balance your plate with a combination of some good protein, some easy-to-digest carbohydrates, and some good quality saturated fat that is supporting what your metabolism needs. The other thing I look at food that is going to support and offer calories and good nutrition for what my body needs? And then I ask, is there anything in this food that could be inflammatory or has any anti-nutrients in it?

It’s not to say that I never consumed foods that are suppressive to my metabolism, but I do try to limit them. Some of those foods that could have suppressive qualities to your metabolism are things raw cruciferous vegetables. I used to load my lunch with salad every day, I would do a big leafy green salad with spinach, or kale or spring melons, which a lot of those cruciferous vegetables have compounds in them, that are God-given compounds that are in that food to prevent animals from wanting to eat them. 

A lot of those foods, when you consume them in high amounts can trigger a really inflammatory response. That’s why when you eat Brussel sprouts, or for some people, if they have broccoli or kale, you get kind of that bloating and digestive upset. That’s not the case for everyone. Some people can tolerate lots of vegetables just fine. But for me when I was really dealing with a lot of imbalances and gut issues, and my cycles were all over the place. I had to really cut out beans, and a lot of the vegetables that I was eating. I didn’t eat kale or any of that stuff for a while, and really saw a lot of those symptoms clear when I caught a lot of those foods out. And now I’ve been able to kind of reintroduce myself. I don’t eat salad all the time anymore. I went from eating salad every day to now I have a salad once a week. 

Meg: That is so interesting. For me nursing, I will have big salads for dinner. Like, what is wrong with me that I am still starving? I feel like I didn’t eat anything. With breastfeeding, compared to Dave, he’s like, “Oh, that was so filling.” And I don’t feel full at all, but I just ate a bunch of spinach or kale. So that’s really interesting. 

Margaret: And that’s an issue I see with a lot of women is we’re not getting enough protein. We’re not eating enough of the right carbs. I used to do the same thing, I would do a big leafy salad and I would put goat cheese on it and pumpkin seeds and doctored up with some fun toppings and a good dressing and I’d throw on some protein, like grilled chicken. Sometimes I’d fry an egg or two and put that on a salad. And within an hour I would be hungry. And I balance it with a good amount of carbohydrates, you know?  

 

Signs Of A Slow Or Fast Metabolism

Meg: Wow, that’s so interesting. Can you remind us again, what are some signs of a slow down or fast metabolism? I wonder if I have a fast or slow one. What are some signs?  

Margaret: Good question. So some signs would be if you’re cold all the time, the cold hands and feet. Low body temperature, I always tell people to buy a cheap digital thermometer and take your temperature when you wake up, before you go to bed and see where it is. If your temperature is below 97.8 really if it’s in the low 90 sevens, 90 sixes. I’ve even had women have temperatures in the 95 range that is too low. That is a sign of a slowed down metabolism. 

Your morning temperature should be at least 97.8 or higher. You also will see it change as your cycle goes on. Your body temperature actually goes up after you ovulate. And that’s due to the hormonal fluctuations. Other signs would be slow digestion, no sex drive, irregular cycles or bad PMS, unexplained weight gain. But you haven’t changed anything you haven’t. Also unexplained weight loss. You haven’t changed anything in your diet and you haven’t changed your exercise habits. And you’re losing weight or gaining weight in it, and you’re kind of like, “What’s going on?” That’s a sign that something could be off. 

The reason I talk a lot about supporting metabolism is your metabolism impacts so many things: your thyroid, your hormone health, with your cycles that can impact your fertility, and impacts your gut health, a lot of different aspects of the body. And I like to tell people to look at your metabolism as a car, and your food and your nutrition is gasoline for your body, right? Your self-care practices that you do to support your health, that’s gasoline for your body. Even some supplements that you can take –I’m not against supplements, but also we culturally kind of can overdo it. There are some really high-quality targeted supplements that you can take that can also fill the gaps in your nutrition that also serve as fuel for the body. 

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How Stress Impacts Our Health

Meg: Wow, this is fascinating. So I know you are really passionate about stress, too. You mentioned you see both within yourself and the women you work with. Stress being the root of a lot of health issues. So what does it look like to implement stress reduction? 

Margaret: Well, we have so many habits that we don’t even realize are stressful on the body, one of the biggest things I see is undereating. Women are just not eating enough calories throughout the day. And we don’t realize that when we’re not getting enough calories, and there’s a large deficit, you can get away with under-eating if you’re trying to quickly lose some weight, or you know debloat before you got a zip into a dress for the weekend. Women can get away with doing that short-term.

But a lot of people chronically under-eat. A large deficit long term can really slow things down because the body is not being properly supported and fed. And also what happens is when we under-eat, it spikes your stress hormones, your cortisol, and adrenaline because the body realizes, “Oh, we’re not getting enough fuel, I’m not safe.” And when the body doesn’t feel safe, it goes into that fight or flight mode, which is a stress response. That fight or flight mode puts that body into kind of conservation. And what happens is when we’re in conservation, the body stops sending hormones and energy to non-essential things like supporting your skin, supporting your hair, supporting your nails, even supporting your digestion. So that’s why oftentimes, constipation and slow digestion happens when we’re stressed out. Because that part of your body is just not giving as much attention the body goes into conservation mode. And that’s when we can really see some chronic health issues happen. 

Another thing that happens with stress is if you wake up and you drink a cup of coffee, on an empty stomach the first thing which I did for a decade. That was my thing, my routine. I’d wake up and have my morning coffee, and I pull up my Bible and my journal, and I’d have an hour or half-hour, and just have my quiet time. And then I learned about how stressful that is on the body to do because you’re already in a depleted state from fasting all night, if you went to bed at 10 o’clock, and you didn’t eat all night long. And then you wake up at 6 a.m. And you throw a high caffeine beverage into your system. That’s just asking for spiked stress hormones, right? 

For me, I started to really make the correlation in that I was really snappy and short with my kids in the morning. The smallest thing would set me off and I would yell or just be short with my kids. And it was because I was doing the coffee on the empty stomach. I really tell people to drink your coffee after you’ve had a well-balanced breakfast. 

You should also eat breakfast within 30 to 60 minutes of waking up. That’s another great way to keep your stress hormones supported and balances your blood sugar. When our blood sugar is not balanced, that creates high stress in the body. I talk a lot on my Instagram about eating every three to four hours. And so for me, I eat five to six small meals a day. I do my breakfast when I wake up around seven and then I eat a little snack around 10, lunch around one, then I need a snack with the kids when they get home. 

If you think about it when we’re babies and we’re toddlers and we’re little kids You’re probably experiencing this they want to eat every three hours. That’s a fast, well-fueled metabolism. And then suddenly, as we grow up, we just disconnect with our body’s hunger cues. And we follow these rules of “Oh, it’s not time to eat right now.”

Meg: That’s a good example that everyone probably experiences is hangry. I get so angry. And like taking those little signs, whether it’s being hangry, or for you, snapping at your kids in the morning. We often just accept that’s who I am. I’m not a morning person. That’s why I do it. Instead of like, “Oh, this could be because I am literally starving. I’m running on nothing.”

Margaret: Yes, I used to tell myself, “I must have anger issues. I yell too much.” Now I look back. And my blood sugar was completely not regulated. I wasn’t eating enough. We see that my kids. Turner, I pick him up from school around three. And I know when I go to pick him up, I better have a snack in the car for him. I remember being like that after school. If my mom doesn’t have a snack, she’s gonna get it. 

 

How To Reduce Your Stress

Meg: So what are some good stress reduction, things that people can do?

Margaret: Eating consistently throughout the day. Eat breakfast when you wake up. Don’t drink coffee on an empty stomach. Don’t work out on an empty stomach. That’s another super stressful thing. I also think another stress reduction thing that we can do is get outside and go for a walk and get in the natural, unfiltered sunlight as often as you can. The winter brought out a lot of seasonal depression for people and winter blues. A lot of that’s from low vitamin D. Just getting outside and moving the body and getting natural sunlight. That is really important. 

I’m also a huge fan of taking a nightly bath. I don’t do it every night. But I tried to take a bath a couple times a week with a big scoop of Epsom salts, and I do my oils and I’ll read a book or listen to a podcast, whatever. 

I can’t say enough about quality sleep. Create a sleep routine. It looks different for everyone. For us, it’s the diffuser, I leave my phone downstairs. I no longer sleep with my phone in my room, which is such a hard habit to break. I still occasionally bring my phone with me up to my room. We do the white noise machine. I did sleep with a weighted blanket for a while. But now we have the dog in bed. 

Meg: We accept stress, because especially for moms, we live in a very fast-paced, schedule-packed culture, so we just think because we’re busy, which, we’re all busy. Everyone’s busy, right? Because we’re busy, we think that stress is normal. We’re not like, I am really stressed out. What’s going on? It’s just like, this is life. This is how it is. Instead of saying like, “I have to do something,” or we think, especially as women, that it’s selfish to pour into stress reduction. 

 

How To Tune Into Your Period

Margaret: I will say, when you tune into your hormones, when you tune into when you’re getting your period, there is a huge difference in your energy, in your mental clarity in your mood, in your appetite. Even when you are about to get your period or on your period versus when you are ovulating. One of the things that I’ve learned to do and I talked about this with anyone that’s willing to listen, if I have a friend that’s having a meltdown, we all have that time with our friends like, my husband is driving me crazy. I always asked my friend, Where are you in your cycle? I don’t know. Well, it sounds like you might be about to get your period. 

It’s not that you want to blame everything on your period. But when we can listen to our hormonal cues and understand like, “Oh, in the two or three days when I am leading up to my period, those are days that I should not have anything super important on my schedule.” That’s probably not the time to host a big get-together or have a super important intense work meeting. 

I mean, sometimes stuff comes up that we just have to show up for. But I do think there is a little bit of a science to tuning into that and leaning into it. And when you start to pay attention to that, you’ll find that your periods are less stressful, you’ll feel less frazzled. I personally try to schedule the important things like my extroverted tasks, a zoom call, or meetings, or if we’re having people over for a dinner, I try to schedule that around the time that I’m ovulating when I know I’ll have more energy, or in the beginning of my cycle. 

And then as my cycle goes on, and I get closer to my period, that’s when I’m doing more of like, introverted head down tasks, like paying bills, or organizing or admin related stuff. And scheduling in rest, when I know my periods due next week. I will proactively look at the week when I’m planning out what I’m doing and say, okay I’m not going to decide to cook five dinners from scratch this week. Instead, we’ll cook two dinners from scratch. We’ll order a pizza one night, and another night, we will eat out of the freezer, or I’ll have something easy. But the problem is we don’t step off the crazy hamster wheel of life to do that. And we have to do that. We really do. 

 

What Is Cycle Syncing?

Meg: Right? So that’s a sneak peek into Cycle Syncing. I wish we had enough time to do a deep dive into Cycle Syncing. And maybe that should be a whole other episode because it’s so interesting. But can you do a brief little overview of cycle thinking? And a resource to learn more.

Margaret: Absolutely. So, Cycle Syncing is tuning into your body’s hormonal highs and lows. And from a biological standpoint, your hormones are not the same in the beginning of the month, versus the end of the month, we are not like men. Men have a 24-hour clock, we have more of like a 30 day clock, if that. 

We have a lot of fluctuations that change your energy throughout the month. And so in the beginning of your cycle, you’re day one is really when you get your period. So pretend you get your period on April 1, that’s day one. Your uterus is shedding its lining, that is when you are going to have the lowest energy. That’s a good time to really just rest and I always say, reflect. It’s a good time to look back at the prior four to five weeks and say, what went really well? What didn’t? What worked? Internal time. A lot of time to be brainstorming or taking on a big project. 

Most women, the first two or three days in your period, you’re just like, I can’t even think. And then after your period tapers off, we transition to the follicular phase. And that lasts about 10 or so days. And that is when your hormones are starting to surge again, you’re starting to kind of regain your energy. And that is the brainstorm time of the month. That’s when you get out your calendar, your notebook, and you’re like, what do we want to get done? 

Maybe you have more creativity, ideas, planning, get stuff scheduled. And from an exercise standpoint, as your energy starts to increase, that’s a good time to do those HIIT workouts, get on a bike, go for a run, you start to feel good again. And then when you ovulate, which you know typically happens for most women between like days 12 and 16 of their cycle really depends. It can look different for everyone. But I ovulate pretty much right around day 14. That is when you typically have the most energy. Your skin is actually more glowy. You might have better hair days. You have those days that you get dressed and you put on your makeup and you put on a little lipstick and you’re like, Damn, I look good. Yes. Versus like right before you get your period you’re like, oh. 

But that time is when you are best for communicating extroverted stuff. So that’s a good time to do projects, collaborate with people, schedule Girls Night, have people over. You’re better at having hard conversations when you’re ovulating as well. And from an exercise standpoint, that is when your energy should be at its prime. Have at it at the gym. 

I should also say your appetite is typically lower than the beginning of your cycle. I always find the first two weeks of my cycle, I’m just not as hungry. And that’s because the metabolism is not as fired up. And then after you ovulate you will start to feel maybe just a little bit more tired. The energy does start to taper down a little bit. And that’s when you’ll potentially feel more pulled to do inward tasks like the head down stuff, the admin work, the finish the things that you said you were going to do this month. Get the crap done. From an exercise standpoint, that’s when I do more weightlifting. 

Walking and yoga are just not as, not as intensive a workout. Your metabolism also speeds up in the second half of your cycle. So you’re going to need more calories. It’s not uncommon, right before you get your period to have more cravings. That’s why women crave chocolate, sweets, and carbs. Because your body is preparing to shed its lining, and it needs more food. So don’t silence those cues. I mean, be mindful of what you eat. Don’t just grab a chick fil a milkshake, although those are really good when you’re PMS. But there’s a reason why you have more cravings at that time, you just need to eat more. 

I do have a Cycle Syncing mini class with a really good ebook. It’s linked on my Instagram profile. And it’s also linked on my website, too. 

Meg: I’ll pop that in the show notes. So, you guys listening are like this is so cool, just go to the show notes. And that’ll be linked. And you have an upcoming course. Right? Can you tell us about that? 

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Teaching Women To Implement Pro Metabolic Eating

Margaret: Yes. So the course is going to be really a framework for a lot of things that we just talked about, it will be launching in early May. I don’t have a date set in stone yet. I’m trying to be fluid about that. What I’m going to really do is teach women how to implement pro-metabolic eating. We’re going to really talk about the diet culture stuff and better understand what our bodies need on a biological level for longevity for long-term health. 

I’m going to teach women how to really tune into their hormones. There will be a whole section on the cycle thinking, and also teaching women how to troubleshoot. There’s a lot of different little things you can do to learn how to tune in and figure out like, oh, why am I responding this way to this food? Or just teaching people how to tune in and do a check-in with the body. 

I’m going to give some really practical kitchen tips, like meal prep, shopping lists, and a meal plan. Some really good recipes will come with it and really break it down in a practical, easy to implement way. We will have a whole section on stress as well with some more practical things to implement a section with exercise and how to exercise in a way that supports your metabolism. 

Because believe it or not, if you overdo it with exercise, you can end up doing more harm than good. That’s why people get injured or you can actually end up destroying more muscle than building muscle if you overdo it. So, I’m really excited about that. That will launch in May. And I’m also going to be implementing pocket coaching with that, which will be a little bit different. So you’ll have the online modules with videos and worksheets and things like that. But I’m also going to incorporate texting with it. And that will give people more direct access to me as they go through the course. I don’t know that I’m offering that long-term. But for this first round, I’m really excited to do that. And that’ll also just give people a next level of accountability.

Meg: That sounds amazing. I’m so excited for this. For listeners that were nodding their head and like, “Yep, I struggle with this,” this course would be perfect for you. So, I will also link the course registration in the show notes too. So, I’m really excited about that. 

I am very easily overwhelmed and if something overwhelms me, I’m not doing any of it. I’m just sitting here with my PUFAS, because I’m too confused. And I love that about learning from you because it doesn’t feel so complicated. So I just really appreciate that and I’m excited to hear this and all of the things. If you were to pick one takeaway for people to have from this episode, what would it be? 

Margaret: If I had to tell women one thing that they could do, even just from a food standpoint, eat a daily raw carrot salad. 

Meg: I love that. So simple and basic. 

Margaret: But if your health is in a place of, something feels off, or if anything I said really resonated with you that you’re like, man, I have that issue, or I totally relate. The Daily raw carrot salad can be such a good tool to do to support your digestion. The raw carrot can help bind to endotoxins in the gut and help remove endotoxins from the gut. And so if you’re dealing with digestive issues, even if you have acne, a lot of your acne and skin stuff is linked to gut imbalances. That daily raw carrot can really help support the raw carrot can also help with symptoms from estrogen dominance, a lot of women have estrogen dominance, and that happens from the food we eat the products, we use stress. That’s such an easy thing to implement. And it can really make a big difference for people. Eating every three to four hours. Like don’t skip food all day long. It’s not worth it. 

Meg: I’m nodding my head, but I needed that. Because I definitely skip. So if you guys are feeling like a dog getting in trouble, because you’re like, “Oops, that’s me,” I’m right there with you. But we can do better. I said that you deliver things in a very easy, doable way. And then you did it. Eat raw carrots. 

So that’s encouraging. Are you ready for rapid-fire? I wish I could tell my younger self “blank.” 

Margaret: I wish I could tell my younger self that you don’t have to overachieve on everything. I didn’t even know I was an overachiever. I didn’t, I wanted to have the perfect grades and be recognized as successful and, and that even translated into college and post-college like, I just was so like, overachiever. It was rooted in some of the wrong things.  

Meg: That’s really good. I didn’t ask you in this interview what your enneagram number is, but since Whimsy + Wellness fans are pretty into the enneagram. So, can you share that? 

Margaret: I’m a 3w4. Which, the three is the achiever, but I didn’t stop to smell the roses enough. When I was younger. I was too serious about life. 

Meg: That’s a good one. What’s a book that changed your life? 

Margaret: Oh, I have it right here. The soul by Michael Singer. It’s so so good. It really helps you silence the inner voice in your head that messes with whatever it is you’re trying to do. You know how we all have that voice that’s like, you don’t have time for that. Or you’re not qualified or just we make up stories and lies. And this book is really about detaching yourself from that. And it’s really good. 

Meg: Oh, I’ve heard of that. So I’ll link that in the show notes, too. We’ll just have a bunch of links for you guys listening. 

Margaret: It’s a self-help book. I pick it up once a year. I’ll page through it. It’s super underlined.  

Meg: Oh, those are the best kind. Since we’re Whimsey + Wellness, what is your go to essential oil? Roller blend? 

Margaret: Ooh, I have a blend that I use. It’s called slay. Oh, and it has Valor. Sacred frankincense, Royal Hawaiian. sandalwood, patchouli, bergamot. Yes. It’s a really good one. 10 drops of each. I love anything with Valor in it personally. 

Meg: Do you know what’s so funny, is every Young Living member that I’ve interviewed on the show that I’ve asked, what’s your go to blend? Maybe with the exception of one, but everyone has said Valor with something. So fun. They’re all just like, Oh, definitely Valor. 

Margaret: Well, I don’t know if you remember, but there was a time when Valor, I’m dating myself, there was a time when you couldn’t get Valor, it was not available for a long time. And I remember I was pregnant with Turner. And I had a really old bottle with just a little bit left at the bottom. And I saved it for labor. Because I knew that oil was going to help me, that was a labor that I actually had to go natural because I had low blood platelets and low iron, which now I know I was, that was probably a nutrition issue. And my OBGYN was like, you can’t get an epidural. Because if you have low blood platelets that puts you at risk for excess bleeding. And so I went into that labor like, I have to have all the tools to have this baby naturally. And that little bottle of Valor with the old label. 

Meg: For listeners who aren’t familiar with Valor, maybe they are a Young Living member, what I’ve heard, do you know what’s in it? Not to put you on the spot, but just do you know what’s in the blend?

Margaret: It is definitely Blue Tansy. I think there’s Patchouli in it, too. And there’s, I forget what else, but when you don’t have access to one of your favorite oils for a while, then you’re like, “hoard it.” 

Meg: Where can listeners find you? 

Margaret: You can find me on Instagram. My Instagram is @margaretannpowell. And then I have a blog, that’s just www.margaretpowell.com. Those are probably the two main places. 

Meg: Perfect. Thank you so much. I’ve learned so much. And like I said, it’s just been really encouraging and empowering. I so appreciate you. 

Margaret: Good. Thank you. I really enjoyed it. 

Haylee + AD: Yay! Wow, I love these amazing conversations we get to have. I hope you heard something today that inspired you, that made you smile, and that brought just a little more happiness into your life.

My personal mantra is that wellness should be happy and so last summer, I decided to write the book on it. I created a beautiful DIY recipe book for essential oils and crystals called Beyond Lavender. 

If you’re tired of all those little essential oil bottles piling up in your drawers or bathroom shelves, you want to learn how to pair crystals and oils, this book will help you break out of your rut and embrace the “fun” in wellness, again. 

Just between you and me, this may be the most fun you’ve ever had with wellness. Grab your copy at whimsyandwellness.com/beyondlavender

Join Haylee Crowley, Creator of Whimsy + Wellness, and Meg Ryan, content creator at Whimsy + Wellness, to talk all things wellness, entrepreneurship, motherhood, and womanhood.

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