Ann Marie McQueen/Hotflash inc

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background, and how it relates to health?


I hit a wall in my early 40s: nightmares, terrible anxiety, feelings of doom and dread, sleep issues, intrusive thoughts, trouble sleeping and even a fear of flying. I saw so many doctors and no one mentioned perimenopause, and it was only when I missed a period at 47 that I realized what was happening. And then when Iaunched this platform, I’ve learned so much about the role of progesterone in our stress response, and how the trauma and lifestyle habits we bring with us to this age have an impact. I’m sure I had high estrogen and low progesterone, and I wish one of the doctors I’d seen had pointed that out. But I also brought two decades of IBS, a bunch of unprocessed emotional stuff from childhood and early in my career and like a lot of us, bad habits including binge drinking, overwork, overexercise, avoiding emotional processing and shadow. So now I understand what happened and have worked really hard to overcome that. 


  1.   What specific hormones or hormones?


My mom was a nurse and was what made you focus on hormone health. She was an awesome person, but she was always pretty ill. She had migraines, bladder and kidney infections, strep, mono, endometriosis then chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. When she was 53, the age I am now we found out she had pancreatic cancer and she died three months later. I was 27 and just setting out on my journalism career. And although I covered many things, I always came back to healthcare, science, alternative health and wellness. In the fullness of time I can see that is connected to losing her, and the sense of frustration and helplessness we felt back in 1997 when she got sick. 


  1. How do you focus on your health routine?


Those years of IBS, and mostly ignoring it, led to a health explosion during my late perimenopause. Leaky gut, fatty liver, low thyroid and Hashimoto’s, insulin resistance and pre-diabetes. And this in a “healthy” person. So the way I focus on my hormones is to focus on my digestion. Going from chronically undernourished to good gut health and proper detoxification with the help of an integrative physician helped to balance all of my hormones (just the way she said it would) cleared up most of my perimenopause symptoms, including a reduction in inflammation and a 20 pound weight loss. Looking back I was really puffy and inflamed. I’m through menopause now and feeling pretty good. 


  1. How do you stay informed about the latest developments and research related to hormone health?


Good old google alerts! Social media. And as a journalist I’m on mailing lists for many of the medical journals, although I don’t subscribe to them all as it’s very expensive. I’ve been watching trends for many years and have gotten pretty good at discerning what’s a trend and what’s a narrative created by PR and marketing. We are seeing a lot of the latter, unfortunately. 


  1. Are there particular foods or dietary choices that you find helpful in maintaining hormone balance?


This gets trashed so much on social media by doctors, but if I eat one massive carrot every day, it keeps me regular and that keeps my whole system humming. I am a big fan of making sure your digestive system is working the way it should, right down to your mitochondria. Problems happen when it doesn’t. 


  1. Can you describe any stress-reduction techniques or practices you use to manage cortisol levels and stress-related hormones?


Morning walks and meditation are key. So are a nighttime routine and to minimize scrolling. I have used the app BrainWave for more than a decade. It uses binaural beats and you can use different ones to wake up, fall asleep, come down from anxiety, reduce stress etc. It’s one of the most effective things out there. I am also a big fan of stretching or doing yin yoga before bed. This leads to a great sleep and a great sleep is the foundation for everything else that is good. 


  1. Are there any specific lifestyle changes you’ve made to improve your hormone health that you’d like to share with our readers?


I have removed a lot of foods that were messing with my digestion, including things with lectins. When I start eating certain nuts or too many greens or hot peppers, I’ll start having issues. I’m not on thyroid medication as my condition is mild, but I really have to manage stress, sleep and exercise and move regularly or I will get hit hard. I walk a lot and try to move around after every meal for at least 15 minutes. Morning light and if I can catch it, the sunset. Those really help to keep me balanced. I had to quit drinking in 2022 as my health was so bad, and even though I didn’t drink very often, that has been pivotal. I don’t eat much sugar or processed foods. And I did a lot of work to process that trauma I talked about, including exercises with The Workout Witch, Tension and Trauma Release (TRE) and 9D Breathwork. All of those have been pivotal to creating inner balance and ease, emotionally as well as physically. 


  1. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting to explore hormone health and wants to establish a balanced routine?


I would advise them to get really focused on being in their body and knowing how they are feeling. So many of us rush around and can’t connect anything we do or experience with how we feel. Learning to listen to your body and talk to it is key. My doctor, who is also trained in homeopathy and counselling, firmly believes that our bodies are always trying to get back in balance. And after working with her and seeing the results, I believe it too. If we aren’t metabolizing our hormones properly, how can we expect good health – at any age?


  1. What are your future goals and aspirations regarding your hormone health journey?


I am currently considering whether to go on hormone therapy (and what kind) for better health and longevity. I live in the Middle East and have had a hard time finding a doctor covered by insurance, and am not sure I want to take on the expense outside of insurance – or the headache of the prescriptions, filling them etc. I do wish I was in the US where telehealth companies are making things like this easier. The bottom line is I feel pretty good doing what I’m doing, better than I have since my 30s, so at this point I’m almost grateful for the health explosion. I want more of how I feel on my most energetic days and to get better at the foundational habits that help me get there. 

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