A conscious conversation — with The Period Girl, Nicole Jardim
Nicole is a mentor that arrived at what I believe to be both the right time in my personal life and career, I found her work and her voice to be a profound comfort amongst a sea of ( often confusing) information regarding hormonal wellbeing particularly as a young woman who’s faced hormonal challenges herself.
Nicole has taken her passion from her personal health journey and turned it into her life's work, there is something incredibly admirable about that and her purpose is certainly tangible. I was so taken by her work and her dedicated approach to women's hormonal health coaching that I took the big step and applied for her apprenticeship program. It's an honour to be learning from her and growing my knowledge as a woman as well as gaining valuable skills as a women’s health coach.
We are so excited to share Nicole’s positive voice with you on Glow today and for her to be a light on your journey as well. So without further ado here is Nicole's Why...
What made you want to get into helping women with their menstrual cycles and starting your brand and programs 'fix your period'?
Ah, my big WHY.
My journey began a long time ago! I struggled with a hormonal imbalance that began in my teenage years and lasted until my mid 20′s.
This all manifested as a period that came about 4 times a year and when it did come it came with a vengeance! It was incredibly heavy, I’d have these epic cramps (the kind that make you throw up), major emotional ups and downs, and I gained and lost the same 15lbs over and over.
My doctor put me on the pill to “regulate” my period and while some of the symptoms went away, they were soon replaced with chronic yeast and urinary tract infections, a low sex drive and the constant feeling that things weren’t “right”, especially down there. Eventually I’d reached my tipping point!
At 24 I ditched the pill and saw an acupuncturist who opened me up to new concepts and helped me discover ways I could live healthier and more in harmony with my body and my cycle.
I became so passionate about health and wellness that I moved to New York City, so I could go to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I’ve now come full circle and recently finished creating a hormone health continuing education course for them.
I also went on to train with Dr. Sara Gottfried the author of the Hormone Cure, Dr. Jessica Drummond, the founder of the Integrative Women’s Health Institute and Chris Kresser, founder of the Kresser Institute.
I then created Fix Your Period, a series of programs that empower women to heal their menstrual conditions in a fun way. Because the business of hormones is serious stuff, and sometimes us girls just want to have fun!
In my programs I bridge the gap between conventional thinking about women’s health (drugs and surgery) and the other end of the spectrum which can sometimes feel a little too “woo woo” and out there for many women. My work embodies that “middle ground” so women can find the most effective ways to take care of themselves that resonate deeply with them.
My mission is to empower women in their teens, 20’s and 30’s to take back control of their hormonal health in a fun and sassy way.
In other words, I’m here to teach you how to make your hormones work for you, rather than against you!
Why do you believe it is so important for women to have this kind of information ?
I’m pretty outspoken and opinionated about women’s health issues (you may have noticed lol!), and I am fiercely dedicated to empowering women, no matter where in the world they live, to take back control of their hormones and ultimately their health.
From the beginning, my goal has been to spread the message all over the planet that women don’t have to give their power away – that they can indeed become their own health advocates. Outsourcing our health to someone else hardly ever works. We have to be educated in order to be empowered in our health journey. It’s up to us - not our doctors - to create the conditions in our own lives that make us feel the most energized, balanced, and focused. Ultimately, I believe women have the right to be educated about their bodies -- knowledge is power and knowledge is sexy! And, it’s high time women take back control of their health.
How do you see our hormonal health playing a role in our everyday lives as women?
I often say “it’s not you, it’s your hormones.” Hormones basically govern everything that happens in your body.
Everything in your body is interrelated and a hormone does not exist in a vacuum. Some hormones dramatically affect other hormones, for instance, high levels of one can interfere with the action of another and so on. One of the most powerful hormones in this interplay is Cortisol. The truth is cortisol is one tough cookie, which is why I am surprised that it’s still not properly recognized by conventional physicians as being a major player in hormonal imbalances. Basically Cortisol is the alpha hormone - if we are in a state of stress, it’s production takes precedence over all other hormones. And who isn’t in a state of stress these days??? It’s like a runaway train and the more momentum you give it (by running around like a maniac trying to get more done than a 100 person army) the more it runs roughshod over your other hormones putting you completely out of whack.
Here’s why: We have a series of axises in the body. The HPA Axis (Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis) and the OAT Axis (Ovarian Adrenal Thyroid Axis). Essentially, these axises are all tied together and when one endocrine system gland isn’t functioning the way it’s supposed to, the other glands will pay the price. Over time this leads to a domino-effect breakdown in overall endocrine function – adrenals, thyroid and ovaries! Think of it as the hormone superhighway – if there’s traffic or an accident, everything eventually comes to a screeching halt. Ideally, we want 70mph all day every day!
What has balancing your own hormones taught you about health?
Oh sooo much!
The first thing every woman should know about her specific health concerns is they’re likely signs of an underlying hormonal imbalance. This can almost always be fixed with a holistic approach.
These underlying hormonal imbalances also have a root cause, so it is necessary to address the areas of a woman’s life that contribute to these imbalances. I believe that nourishing yourself engages every aspect of your being - physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual. When any of these aspects are unbalanced, we suffer in all areas of our lives. And interestingly, problems with our menstrual cycles are often the first warning sign that something is wrong!
What ALL of this means is that vibrant and abundant health is so much more than eating healthy food!! Learning to love and believe in yourself, cultivating happy and supportive relationships, and finding meaningful work or hobbies will all go a long way towards making you feel all shiny and sparkly inside and out.
What is one of the big misconceptions women have around fixing their periods?
This is a two-part answer. The first misconception is that this is all just normal. Yup, I’m a woman, and this is my lot in life. Um, no. Suffering related to your menstrual cycle is unnecessary… and most definitely NOT normal. (Statistically normal perhaps, but I promise it’s not the way your body was designed.)
The second misconception is that fixing your period is going to be so hard. Oh, the struggle! Believe it or not, women don’t require a great deal of medical intervention to function optimally. I’ve witnessed this time and time again with countless women making small and consistent changes to their diets, lifestyle, supplement regimen, exercise routines and so on, and having massive transformations in their health.
What is one area of a woman's life she can begin considering when starting the journey of healing her hormones?
What’s on your plate? In my opinion, this is the most critical component of a hormone healing regimen. As the old adage goes, you are what you eat. Most people don’t quite believe it, because we’ve become so disconnected from our food, but it is more important than ever before to eat the best food possible. Take an inventory of what you eat on a daily and weekly basis. Keep a food journal and see where you can make small changes, like cutting out sugar or adding in more leafy green vegetables.
In your opinion, how big a role does food play in our hormonal health?
As I said above, I consider it to be the foundation of our health. Every cell in our body is created by the food we eat. Hormones are made from protein, fat and cholesterol. Your body simply cannot make adequate amounts of hormones without the right nutrients in your diet. The second part of this is gut health. You are what you eat, and what your body absorbs! So making sure that your gut is functioning optimally is key. If you have symptoms of GI tract distress, please consider seeing a doctor to get tested so you can start the gut healing process.
We live such fast paced lives and often caffeine is a crutch, what's your take on coffee in relation to our periods?
I don’t drink coffee because I hate the taste of it! However, I know the majority of women adore their coffee and they’d rather I suggest removing their right arm than take their daily caffeine hit away from them! While I don’t think coffee is inherently bad, I do think we are collectively consuming too much of it and for the wrong reasons.
If you’re chronically tired, you wake up feeling exhausted or groggy or have a hard time getting out of bed, you can’t sleep through the night, you have energy crashes mid-morning or mid-afternoon, you have anxiety (this is a big one) or pronounced mood swings, then you seriously need to rethink your coffee consumption.
Coffee (caffeine) artificially raises your blood sugar, and stimulates your adrenals to produce cortisol. This is basically the same effect that stress has on your body. So each morning, you’re triggering your stress response with your cup of coffee. As I mentioned, cortisol has a downstream effect on our sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, which ultimately impacts our periods.
We hear a lot about this phrase ' estrogen dominance', can you explain a little more about this and why it's a reality for many women nowadays?
The most common hormonal imbalance I see with my clients and generally with all women in their 20’s and 30’s is an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone, the two primary female sex hormones.
A lot of the time, this imbalance is referred to as Estrogen Dominance. Basically Estrogen dominance means that the level of estrogen in your body is high relative to the level of progesterone, it’s sister hormone.
I think estrogen dominance is a somewhat misleading term and instead I like to refer to this imbalance as lopsided estrogen and progesterone. Yeah I am super scientific over here! The reason I prefer to describe estrogen dominance this way is because estrogen dominance indicates that there is too much estrogen, which is not always the case.
Estrogen dominance actually shows up in these five different ways:
1. Some women have high estrogen and normal progesterone.
2. Some women have high estrogen and low progesterone. That would be the classic definition of this imbalance.
3. Some women have normal estrogen and low progesterone
4. Some women have low estrogen and super low progesterone - so basically you might have come off the birth control pill and your hormones are all very low but your estrogen/progesterone ratio might still be high.
5. Many women actually have normal levels of estrogen and progesterone but because we are so bombarded by estrogen-mimicking chemicals in our environment we develop symptoms of estrogen dominance.
What is most important to know is that conventionally raised meat and dairy, and environmental chemicals like pesticides and those found in plastics (BPA etc), play a massive role in estrogen imbalance. In addition, if our liver and gut aren’t working optimally, it’s much harder for our bodies to process and release estrogen.
So we must work to avoid the external sources of estrogen by eating organic whenever possible and avoiding plastics. And we must support our gut and liver with the right food and supplements.
What would you like to say to women out there who are currently struggling with hormonal imbalance?
For any woman who is struggling with a hormone imbalance, there is hope and there are answers. Educating yourself and taking ownership of your body is the first step. Please don’t just accept whatever diagnosis you’ve been given as a life sentence. There is literally so much you can do to either improve your symptoms or eliminate them completely. You just need the right protocol!
How effective do you feel working with a health coach can be, with regards to a women's wellness journey?
Super effective! Deciding to make changes to your diet and lifestyle is the easy part. Sticking with those changes over weeks and months is a whole other story.
As a health coach, I partner and collaborate with women to support them in making behavior changes that allow them to live a healthier lifestyle. I believe that my clients have most of the answers inside of them, and that their inner healing wisdom can be trusted. They just need accountability and support.
I take an integrative approach and support women to make healthy lifestyle changes in all areas of life from nutrition to movement to sleep to relationships, spirituality, stress, and more. Health coaching is very much a client-led approach, assisted by me offering inspiration, motivation, and providing clients with accountability tools and strategies, so they can reach their goals.
Who has been one of your greatest mentors when learning about hormonal health?
Dr. Jessica Drummond, the founder of the Integrative Women’s Health Institute. She has played an instrumental role in my journey from health coach who had NO idea what I was doing, to a capable confident certified women’s health coach who is aiming for period world domination! :-)
One book that you'd recommend all women read with regards to hormones?
Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup. I consider Dr. Northrup to be the high priestess of women’s health!
What is one word you'd use to describe Women's Wellness?
Nicole is a Certified Women’s Health Coach and the creator of Fix Your Period, a series of programs that empower women to reclaim their hormone health using a method that combines simplicity and sass. Her incredible work has impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of women around the world in effectively addressing a wide variety of period problems, including PMS, irregular periods, PCOS, painful periods, amenorrhea, and many more.
Nicole is also the co-host of The Period Party, a top-rated podcast on iTunes—be sure to tune into that if you want to learn more about how to fix your period—and she’s the creator of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s hormone health continuing education course.
Take Nicole’s Period Quiz to find out what’s up with your period! Sign up here for her Fix Your Period Quickstart Kit, a FREE 7-Day E-Course, to discover the top secrets doctors don’t tell you about your hormones, your symptoms & how to finally fix them!