This article was a piece I recently published in collaboration with Dr. Hillary Martin at Naturopathic Womens Wellness in Boulder, Colorado. To contact Dr. Martin to schedule an appointment, call (303) 545-2021. Her wonderful team of practitioners support all humans in their endeavor to live holistically.
Happy Fathers Day!
~by Dr. Hillary Martin and Psychotherapist Jeremy Allen on FATHERHOOD, PARENTING and SUPPORT.
Learn how to elevate testosterone levels and keep stress levels low!
Fatherhood is stressful. And when I refer to fatherhood I mean anyone who raises a child yes, but also, anyone who fosters a new idea, a pet, a friend a loved one and helps raise or elevate those they come in contact with.
Join me today in learning from, local Psychotherapist Jeremy Allen, as he discusses Fatherhood Through the Years, answering questions on how to be our best selves, manage stress and maintain happy, healthy hormones!
Learn How to Elevate Testosterone Levels and Keep Stress Levels Low!
By Dr. Hillary Martin
I love this Ted talk by Amy Cuddy where she shows us uniquely how our body language shapes who we are and how changing that body language can raise our feel good hormones, powerful confidence building testosterone and on contrary keep our stress hormone, cortisol, low….in 2 minutes!
We are all built from hormones, in all shapes and sizes, in all doses and they change at alarming rates at stages in our life. In essence we eat food and absorb cholesterol from that food into the bloodstream where the liver processes it. The liver then determines where that cholesterol backbone will go to produce hormones ie testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, hormones, adrenaline, cortisol, etc… This fundamental pathway then can show us how STRESS affects our hormones, how food, lack of food, and food choices affect our hormones and that there is a delicate balance that we need to keep in check to maintain homeostasis within the endocrine system for energy, for libido, for happiness and for health.
What can we do to keep stress low and hormones healthy high? First lets look at the signs and symptoms.
Are you low in testosterone?
If you are low in Testosterone you may experience:
- Low libido
- Low sperm count
- Erectile dysfunction
- Poor muscle mass
- Cardiovascular risk
- Hair loss
- Low energy
- Weight Gain
You may suffer from these signs of Adrenal Fatigue:
- Low sex hormones
- Pain and inflammation
- Poor detoxification
- GI upset
- Night sweats
- Crave coffee, caffeine, stimulants, sugar
- Crave salt
- Excessive sweating
- Hair loss
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
To read more on how cortisol affects you adrenals (click here)
What can we do to increase testosterone and manage stress naturally?
- SLEEP HYGEINE: Make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. (The more hours before midnight the better). Cut screen time to a minimum and none an hour before bed. No technology in the bedroom. Keep the bedroom for sex and sleep!
- EXERCISE: 30 minutes of cardio at least 5 days a week to keep blood flow up and cardiovascular risk down. Weight lifting can help build lean muscle and release hormones into the bloodstream.
- DIET: 3-5 small meals a day with foods rich in healthy fats, high veggies, nuts seeds for selenium and zinc, oysters. 8 glasses of water a day. Eat well, not too much, and don’t skip meals. When blood sugar drops your hormones start to sag and cortisol spikes. Keep alcohol and sugar to 0-1 per day.
- MANAGE STRESS: For men stress is not commonly expressed but will manifest in an upset stomach, heartburn, diarrhea, insomnia, heart palpitations or irritability we learn to uncover later as anxiety. Ask for help. Create a relationship with a therapist that you trust to help navigate and separate internal stress from external stress. Have fun, make a date, join a team, play music!
- GET LABS DONE! Look at your HORMONE levels including FSH, LH, Testosterone, E2, Prolactin, TSH, CARDIOVASCULAR markers and risk as well as THYROID and NUTRIENT deficiencies.
Dr. Hillary Martin, ND
Fatherhood through the years.
By Jeremy R. Allen, Psychotherapist.
The idea of fatherhood has evolved over the decades. For older men raised in more traditional, patriarchal roles, fathers are the “breadwinners” of the household. Fathers provide discipline, focus, and stability. This idea of fatherhood was often depicted in television programs like Ozzie and Harrietand Father Knows Best. The challenge of course was that a real life family was much more complicated.
Today, thanks to more realistic ideas of fatherhood, along with the changing roles of mothers, the role of fathers are now more creative and free from the bonds of patriarchy. Fathers may be married, or divorced, or raising a child on their own. They may be a stay at home dad, or not the primary breadwinner in a household. Fatherhood therefore is an evolving dynamic that can be challenging for some men, and frightening for others. What kind of father a man becomes is often determined based on the parenting skills (or lack thereof) of his own father. If a young boy is denied experience of the father, or only experiences a negative male influence, it is difficult to imagine a positive male role model. Fortunately, with practice and a positive role modeling, men can learn how to open up to the incredible wonders of fatherhood.
To Father something is to inspire growth while loving.
As Dr. Hillary Martin observes, fathering can be more than a physical presence in the household. We can “father” an idea, parent a pet, or provide focus and determination in a role assigned at work. As the role of fatherhood evolves, so does its positive aspects. Fatherhood can be loving, caring, nurturing, as well as a guide to ensure a young child’s energy stays focused. Like the rails for bumper cars. As children get older we try to let them experience all life has to offer, including the bumps and bruises, but like the rails on bumper cars, we try to keep the pain and suffering to a minimal.
The truth resides in the body.
In viewing the TED talk by Amy Cuddy, I was drawn into her discussion of body and mind. As she comments, “the mind can change the body and the body can change the mind.” Fathers have very definite body language. Angry fathers are often filled with rage and a deep sense of loss and frustration. They hold their body rigid, and often lean into the child in what is perceived as threatening. Anger is an emotion that plagues many men and is a focus of my work with men I see in therapy. At the core of anger is understanding what emotions are present. What is our body trying to tell us in the moment? Is it sadness? Loneliness? Fear? Is there something we need to let go of?
Imagine Col. Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicolson) in A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth!” As he screams his body becomes rigid and eyes bulge. In answer to a question that challenges his authority, he answers the question with a threat. Chilling. I believe it is Col. Jessup that is afraid of the truth.
Fathers that take the time to understand their emotions can then emotionally connect with their children and are ultimately more comfortable in their own skin. They are not concerned with machismoand instead focus on a bonding experience. There have been several magazine articles that explore Prince William’s parenting of his children based on his body language. He holds his children in full embrace, often kisses them and tries to talk with his son by bringing himself eye level with young Prince George. He is engaged in fatherhood.
Aging as a negative narrative for a fathers.
As men get older there is a propensity to reflect on their lives, especially fatherhood, and depending on their performance may judge themselves harshly. This personal judgment becomes the father’s narrative, and if it is a negative narrative, coupled with low testosterone levels, it can exacerbate aging issues like depression, fatigue, mental fogginess, weight gain, and low sex drive. These symptoms can be frightening to many men and create a false narrative of “I am not good enough” or “I am unattractive” or even “If I was a better father (or man) I would not be feeling this way.” This negative dialog, or negative self-talk usually leads to further self-harm. When we cannot get in touch with our emotions they eventually ruin us. We become incapable of love and desire, and instead become entrenched in hate and resentment.
There is more to us than we know.
The good news is that men have options today. We no longer need to suffer silently to prove we are men. We don’t need to know the answers to yet unformed questions. We don’t need to have solutions to problems still seeking definition. We can learn about our bodies and minds and find ways to adjust to the changes naturally. Sometimes it’s a matter of adjusting hormones, sometimes it’s a matter of looking at our life from a different or more meaningful perspective. If men feel out of sorts they should explore all avenues available to them to align their body and mind to perform optimally at work and play. Naturopaths, psychotherapy, meditation, yoga, cross-fit training. Whatever works for you. As long as you are working toward maintaining a healthy body and mind.
In my opinion, the most important thing I can do as a father is continue to be present. Present for my wife, present for my children, and present for myself. To be there everyday, no matter what. At my core, I need to know that I am a man who has a deep history of abandonment and anger, yet I still find a way to be present for myself.
Son. Husband. Father. Psychotherapist.