February 18, 2021
Hi hey hello Shop Good family!
This month we’re diving deep into the wild world of hormones. My oh my — is there anything more confusing than our hormones sometimes? I think not. That’s why we’re so excited to be bringing you the best of the best in the world of hormone balancing and managing. Alongside our incredible #ShopGoodgang of women in shop, we’ve partnered with others in the community to offer their hormone wisdom.
Let me introduce you to Minna Lee! Hailing from New York, Minna is an advocate for humanness + conscious living, making “well-being” accessible to all, and minimalist living. She’s had her own battle with unruly hormones and has found herself victorious! Keep reading to learn more about Minna and her journey.
SG: Tell us a little about who you are + your journey to becoming a mental wellness + health advocate.
Minna: My name is Minna (pronounced ME-na), and the best way to describe myself is a Jill of all trades. I got into the health and wellness industry before it really boomed– I had quit a desk job I hated, and as a former elite athlete, I found myself gravitating towards the gym and the people there. I became a certified personal trainer back in 2013, then a certified nutrition coach. I really wanted to help people with their health because I had first-hand experience with how much your mental and physical well-being affected your entire life. I struggled with an eating disorder for a decade, and I wanted to use that experience to help others with their relationships to food, fitness, and mental health. This then catapulted into creating a blog, which has brought me to where I am today. Being able to use the challenges I’ve overcome to help others do the same– to advocate for and empower others– is my main calling in life.
SG: You offer some great tips for the minimalist lifestyle — what is “minimalism” in your own words?
Minna: I used to be a bit of a hoarder when I was younger — a part of it is definitely an immigrant mentality passed down, in the sense that you saved things because you didn’t know if you’d need them and be able to afford to get them again. But as I got older, I got really good about parting with the things I genuinely didn’t need. Clutter drives me crazy now, especially this past year sharing such a small space (600 sq. ft) with my boyfriend and my dog, while we both WFH. Minimalism to me is letting go of what doesn’t truly serve you in some way. I think this mentality also extends beyond physical things and spaces; it’s also about letting go of things in the past and focusing your efforts on the now.
SG: This month we’re talking about all things “hormones”. Can you share a little bit about your journey with balancing your hormones? (How imbalance impacted you, etc)
Minna: Oh boy, are you ready for my saga? 🤣 I had hip surgery when I was 23, and my body essentially imploded on itself afterwards, leading up to my autoimmune disease diagnosis (Hashimoto’s). While I was already a personal trainer and nutrition coach, this kicked off my deeper education on hormonal health management. I had to make a lot of dietary and lifestyle adjustments to manage my symptoms and address the deeper-rooted problems around my autoimmune issues. Then in 2019, my periods started becoming excruciating in a way I had never experienced before– and I don’t use the word excruciating lightly, as a former elite athlete who has had multiple concussions, broken and torn body parts, and surgery. After some diagnostic tests, it turns out that I have adenomyosis — a condition that is similar to the better-known condition of endometriosis, but more targeted. Basically, I have endometrial tissue (tissue that normally lines the uterus and sheds during your period) growing IN to my uterine muscle and walls. So think about your body trying to shed tissue that is embedded into your muscle and can’t really “shed.” Not really fun. And while there are no cures for this condition, there is a lot that I do on my end with keeping my hormones as happy as possible to help ease my symptoms.
I also have a blog post on all my tips I have on helping manage PMS symptoms more holistically.
SG: What are 3 easy practices we can adopt today to start balancing our hormones?
Minna: Stress, sleep, sugar. Learn how to manage stress the best you can, as it really is one of the biggest chronic issues we run into with making our hormones happier. Quality sleep and an appropriate amount of sleep (7-8 hours for most people) is the only thing that helps our bodies recover that efficiently– think of it as a factory cleaning and reset of your body at night. Then lastly, inflammatory foods like sugar, fried things (cheap oils high in omega-6’s like canola and soybean oils), and then gluten and dairy for some people (myself included)– while I refuse to demonize any one food, it’s just explicitly clear at this point that consistent consumption of these foods over a prolonged period of time doesn’t help your health and hormones. Everything in moderation.
SG: What’s your best advice for those struggling with hormonal acne?
Minna: First and foremost, know that your skin doesn’t define you, does not indicate how healthy you are inside, and is not any kind of reflection of your value. Acne can be a huge confidence-killer, and it doesn’t help that the media does not showcase normal skin enough. SO many people deal with acne issues, particularly hormonal acne, even as adults — so you’re not alone. As I detail in my hormonal acne blog post, there is no one magical product that will save your skin if you’re dealing with real hormonal acne — it is much more about your lifestyle (stressors, sleep, unresolved emotional trauma). Be kind to yourself and know that it takes time to find what works best for YOUR skin, because everyone is different.
SG: What are two easy ways we can use food as a hormone balancer?
Minna: Everyone can benefit from more greens and veggies in their daily food consumption — EVERYONE. Secondly, pay attention to what foods make you physically feel good, because it’s different for everyone– what foods make you feel energized (no energy 2pm slumps or lethargy after eating), keep you satiated, and that make your digestion happy? Do more of that stuff.
SG: A huge part of balancing hormones for so many of us is finding ways to support our menstrual cycles + minimize PMS symptoms. What are a few practices / tools that have worked for you?
Minna: I wish someone had laid out a list of practices / tools to choose from when I was first navigating my adenomyosis and just desperate for any kind of relief aside from over-the-counter meds — so I made a guide. Even if you don’t have a condition like mine, you absolutely can choose some practices that will improve your quality of life during those times of your cycle when you experience symptoms.
SG: What is your definition of success? What do you consider your most recent accomplishment? (This can be anything! Within business, your own personal health goals, family, etc.)
Minna: Finding harmony. Harmony doesn’t mean balance, because I don’t believe that balance is a thing you can realistically find and maintain. I really seek to find harmony in my life — I always like to say that happiness is not my goal, but fulfillment is. I think that is what success looks like — feeling fulfilled in multiple areas of your life (personal, work, self, family, etc.). My most recent accomplishment is having made it through this past year, that was traumatic on so many levels for absolutely everyone.
SG: Who is a woman who inspires you and why?
Minna: My mom. As I get older and hear more of her stories; stories of what she had to do to survive as an immigrant and a mother of 2 kids that she essentially raised by herself with no emotional support for her…it both breaks my heart and makes my heart swell in admiration. I think any first-gen children of immigrants feel this immense duality of duty — both to do their parents struggles justice by achieving whatever success they couldn’t have because they sacrificed their chances for you, and also out of love and admiration for them.
SG: Just for fun, how do you take your coffee? If you don’t drink coffee, what’s your go-to drink of choice for a pick me up?
Minna: Coffee is something that brings me immense joy — at home, we do pour overs and I take mine with a splash of oat milk. Out at a coffeeshop, I’m all about oat milk lattes.
Okay, did you catch her 3 easy tips for balancing hormones?! Talk about a “do it right now” opportunity to pave your way to better hormone health. Oh, and her gushing over her mom — my heart can feel all the love!
Thank you so much for offering us your story, wisdom, and tips from your hormone health journey, Minna!