The Ins and Outs of Losing Weight to Fall Pregnant
Are you on your weight loss journey because you would like to conceive a baby? Today I’m talking to herbalist Kyra Howearth about how combining herbs and nutrition can give you the best chances of success.
Zoe: Okay, welcome everybody. This is a special edition of the ZMN blog. Today I have an incredibly special guest with me, she's my favourite herbalist, based in Tamworth. This is Kyra, Kyra Howearth. She has a special interest in fertility and also has an incredibly interesting and beneficial weight loss program as well, and I'd like to hear a little bit more about her new Preconception Plan program that she's got going, but we'll save that till the end. So, welcome, Kyra!
Kyra: Hi Zoe. Thanks so much for having me on to chat with you today.
Zoe: You're very welcome. It's my pleasure. All right, I'm just going to jump straight in because the reason why I've asked you for this chat today is because one of the main reasons why a lot of my clients are looking to lose weight is because perhaps their doctor has told them that they need to lose weight in order to have a baby, or in order to make conception easier, or that their weight gain is preventing conception, so they marry really well in my mind.
I love to work with herbalists because they have a really special role in helping to heal the body, herbs do, and herbalists, and I just wanted to get some of your thoughts on how nutritionists and herbalists can work together in providing a more holistic approach for people who are trying to lose weight and to conceive a baby at the same time.
So, I wanted to ask you first, for those people who don't know, what exactly it is that herbalists and nutritionists do. With nutritionists, we tend to work on nutritional deficiencies and therapeutically applying nutrients to correct, perhaps, a genetic defect or something that may be preventing someone from conceiving, but also helping them to lose weight in the process. What is it that a herbalist would do to help someone conceive?
Kyra: I often use herbs to help women start ovulating, if that's a problem. Particularly with a woman with PCOS and they aren't ovulating at all or regularly, then that's often one of my main lines of treatment. Also using herbs to regulate hormones and addressing other factors that may be stopping a woman from conceiving.
I find that with herbs, it differs from a nutritional perspective because they work more in a medicinal sort of way, rather than addressing or correcting deficiencies or other sorts of therapeutic methods that nutritionists use.
Zoe: One of the things we struggle with, not struggle, but one of the things we find difficult with correcting nutritional deficiencies, it can often be quite slow and people don't often see the benefit of our work until three months later, after we've worked really hard, and it's very difficult to keep people motivated long enough to actually see the benefits. And especially, as you would know, it often takes at least three months or three cycles in order to see changes in people's fertility. So, can herbs provide something there? Can they fill a gap there in terms of symptomatic relief?
Kyra: Absolutely. Often with herbs, if I'm trying to help someone with their menstrual cycles, regulating those, I do say it can take a number of months. But, on the other hand, herbs are fantastic for relieving immediate symptoms. I did have a client who had endometriosis and she was just having constant bleeding, and I gave her some herbs and within a week, well, it wasn't even a week, it was shorter than week, her bleeding had stopped and she had had constant bleeding for over a year. For her to see some immediate results was just amazing, so definitely herbs can provide that quick support.
Zoe: It's funny. I think I could work in it for 20 years and still be amazed when things like that happen. So, if this is the case for fertility, does this also apply for your weight loss clients? Or, for example, if I had a weight loss client that we were trying to do a slow habit change and really bed down some of those behaviors and then combining it with food, which can actually take a little bit of time, especially if we've got, perhaps, some other issues with stress or inflammation, can herbs help to accelerate results?
Kyra: I definitely think a combined approach could definitely help accelerate results. But in saying that, of course, weight loss is not rapid, unless you go on some crazy restrictive diet. It's not rapid if it's going to be sustainable. But yeah, I think definitely combining a herbal approach to a nutritional approach for weight loss will definitely be beneficial. Like, you've mentioned some of the things that you work on with weight loss there and I work on some of the same things. But, of course, using herbs, it comes from a different approach, and there's other things that I address with weight loss too. So, yeah, absolutely, the combined treatment is fantastic.
Zoe: You treat the whole person, don't you? It makes the world of difference.
Zoe: So, when people come to see you for weight loss, and, really, it applies to fertility as well, because in the end they still have to change their behavior. Something has to change, right-
Zoe: ... if their food or what they're doing is not working for them from a fertility perspective and also from a weight perspective. What do you find are some of the biggest barriers to weight loss?
Kyra: I think from my clinical experience, some of the biggest barriers are just the excuses. I live in Tamworth, we have 40 degrees plus during the summer and it has just been an absolutely scorching summer, and so with my weight loss clients lately, they've been like, "Oh, it's been too hot. I can't go exercise. I can't even go for a walk. It's just too hot." I think that's probably one of the main barriers at the moment, and I know that as we go into winter there's going to be the same sorts of excuses.
Zoe: It’s too cold!
Kyra: But another big barrier that I see is women with PCOS, because often these women, they've been trying to lose weight and it just hasn't happened. This is often due to the hormone imbalances that are going on and the insulin resistance and often they're going about trying to lose weight the wrong way. They're going out and doing high intensity workouts and trying all these restrictive diets. It's just not working for their bodies. So, breaking down that obstacle and educating them about the correct way to lose weight for them is just how I approach those sorts of obstacles.
Zoe: Yeah, everybody's different, right? Even within PCOS women, whatever has got them to that point in their life is different to the next PCOS woman, so even though there's, well, I find that even though there are ... You know, even at university we get taught that there are certain protocols or certain fundamentals based on human physiology that we know is going on in the body with PCOS, but treating it doesn't necessarily help us treat that particular individual's stress levels or that particular person's aversion to cooking for themselves or ...
Zoe: ….So we need to take the whole person into consideration.
Kyra: Yes, that’s right.
Zoe: I don't know about you, but I find that when someone's starting off on a weight loss regime, one of the hugest barriers to change is dealing with cravings, and especially when there's hormonal disruption, because cravings can hit when PMS is really bad or we've got an estrogen imbalance or the diet is perhaps not as nutritious as it could be.
From a nutritional perspective we can do some things to help with cravings, but I tend to work on it with habit change processes, but sometimes that's not always enough. Can herbs help at all on the craving side of things?
Kyra: Absolutely. There is actually one particular herb that I love to use for cravings. It's called Gymnema, and it numbs the taste buds and it just kills those cravings. This is one that I like to dose differently to the other herbs, particularly in women who do experience cravings. Just having a few drops on their tongue whenever cravings come up and the cravings just disappear. And Gymnema is fantastic as well because it helps regulate the blood sugar as well, so I do use Gymnema a lot with my clients who do have PCOS and also have that insulin resistance.
Zoe: I love that about herbs, and it's the same with nutrients, is that it never just does one thing in the body.
Kyra: Yeah, that's right. It's so good.
Zoe: So, what about other things? For us, one of the hugest obstacles to long-term sustainable weight loss is actually a fear of failure, or a lack of motivation. It's like the example that you gave with the really hot weather. Is there anything you can do from a herbal perspective?
Kyra: Not so much. There's no magic herb that's just going to work, but I probably process from the same way that you do and that's just through regular appointments, keeping them motivated, bit of counseling, bit of a pep talk, just really connecting with the client and discussing what's their obstacles and working out a solution so they can achieve their goals.
Zoe: Regular keeping in touch is the only way, isn't it?
Kyra: Yeah, that's right.
Zoe: I don't think we can really change our behaviours or lose weight effectively without having some sort of a support mechanism.
Kyra: Absolutely. That's right.
Zoe: Not that long ago, I had somebody wanting to lose weight but also wanting to have a baby at the same time. And it's a bit of a controversial topic, because often we don't know whether we are able to lose weight and have a baby or try to lose weight or try to have a baby at the same time. What's your thoughts on that?
Kyra: I find that generally, like with my method of weight loss, is that the clients are making these really healthy changes, which is going to support their egg quality, which is what I'm trying to achieve with clients who are coming to me who are looking for help with conceiving.
The preconception period is three months, because that's how long it takes approximately for the eggs to reach those vital stages of development of maturation. So this three months can give the woman a fantastic opportunity to lose weight before they actually conceive and at the same time working on their egg quality, so I think combining those two treatment approaches together works really well.
Zoe: So do you recommend that somebody stops trying to lose weight once they fall pregnant?
Kyra: It depends on their weight and whether they really do need to continue to lose weight or if they have reached a good weight that's not going to impact the rest of the pregnancy.
Zoe: Yeah, it's the same for us. It's all individual and depending on where they started from.
I think a lot of clients don't really realize just how much prep needs to go into preconception. A lot of us are on the back foot with regard to fertility, even if we think we're not, and it can also make a big difference as to how they feel throughout the pregnancy and how the baby is then delivered and the risk of complications in delivery and with birth as well. So putting in that prep time is really worth it.
Kyra: Yeah, that's right. Yeah, absolutely
Zoe: So, we've come to the point where I just want to hear more about your Ultimate Preconception Program that you're doing. A lot of my clients are not based in Tamworth, so can they still access the program?
Kyra: Absolutely. It's all online. With the program, there is an online private support group and also individual consultations as well. Again, this is all online, so no matter where you are in Australia, you can join into the Ultimate Preconception Program. It is starting on the 25th of February, but enrollments are open now and the sooner that you enroll ... you don't have to wait until the 25th of February to get started, you can start your individual consultations with me straight away.
It's designed for women who have been trying to conceive for a while, if they've had recurrent miscarriages or if they're considering IVF, this is also perfect as well because it's going to be working on that egg quality and there's also components in there that's going to be helping with the partner's sperm health as well.
So, yeah, I'm really excited about the Ultimate Preconception Program.
Zoe: It sounds awesome. So it involves a series of consultations?
Kyra: It does. It does. There's a series of consultations included, as well as herbal prescriptions delivered to your door. It's all very individualized, so it's going to have results.
It's based on how I've practiced in my clinic and also online Preconception Programs that I run and I'm combining the best of the two to bring the Ultimate Preconception Program. It's going to be amazing.
Zoe: And if somebody is doing IVF at the moment, can it also apply to them?
Kyra: It may depend on where they are in their IVF. If they've already had their eggs taken out then it's not really going to have much effect for that part, for improving their egg quality.
So, ideally, if you are considering IVF, we do want to start the Preconception Program before the eggs are taken out.
Zoe: Okay, that's good to know. Excellent. Well, unless you have anything else that I've missed in this wonderful interview ... All good?
Kyra: No, I think that covers heaps. That's awesome. Thank you so much, Zoe.
Zoe: Well, actually, I have missed out something. Kyra, how can people sign up to your program?
Kyra: Oh, absolutely. Of course. If you just go to my website, which is my name, kyrahowearth.com.au, there will be a link on their for the Ultimate Preconception Program. It's up on the menu. That's probably the easiest way to find it.
Zoe: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time. It's always just such a pleasure to see you and I hope everyone who is wanting to conceive, benefits from your wonderful program that you've developed.
Kyra: Thank you so much, Zoe.
Zoe: Oh, you're welcome, Kyra. Talk to you again soon.
Kyra: Okay. Thanks, Zoe. Bye.
Want to know more? Kyra is offering a FREE 7 day Preconception Challenge delivered by daily emails to help you improve your chances of conceiving naturally.
She looks at different factors that affect your chances of conceiving, and you'll be taking action steps each day so you can immediately start improving your fertility. You'll also get a downloadable Preconception Challenge workbook so you can record your action steps - there's something powerful that happens when we actually write down our goals! Let's make 2019 the year you have a baby! Sign up below!