Viewing entries tagged
adrenal fatigue

Comment

Are ANTS Stressing You Out?

ANTS. If you’ve ever had an an ant infestation, you’ll know just how pesky and downright yucky those little guys can be. While today’s conversation centers less around the bug-version of the pests, emotional and mental ANTS are just as annoying, persistent and damaging if left to their own devices. If you’re not not familiar with the the acronym, it stands for Automatic Negative Thoughts, and today I want to chat with you guys about why these patterns are so detrimental to our health and how they skyrocket stress levels.

 

First, let’s do a little unpacking of what an ANT is. Like I mentioned before, the name is pretty self-explanatory, but often times we aren’t even aware we’re engaging in ANT activity until we take a purposeful look inside our minds. I remember there being a time when I thought my thoughts were both uncontrollable and coming from somewhere outside of myself. I had negative, sad and pessimistic thoughts all day long, but thought that’s just the way my brain was made and that I was powerless to change it. Then I remember picking up a book called Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (mostly because I was desperate to get rid of my all-consuming anxiety and depression) and in an unexpected turn of events, learned about ANTS. ANTS are just negative thoughts we’ve been thinking so long and so frequently that they are hardly perceptible anymore.

 

For example: If you’re someone who struggles with body image issues, you may think something along the lines of “Ew, look at my love-handles” every time you pass a mirror without thinking twice about it. Your FIRST and most present (read: automatic) thought is to look for what’s wrong on your body, and I’m betting you’d be hard pressed at that point if I asked you to find something positive to note.

 

As another example, perhaps you’re someone who tends to be a worrier. In this instance, you’re probably looking for all that could go wrong in any given situation, event or circumstance rather than what could go right, and you most likely chalk it up to “being safe instead of sorry,” or even pragmatic thinking.

 

But here’s the thing, every time we think a negative thought, our body responds, and it’s not necessarily a good thing. From an evolutionary perspective, negative thoughts turn on the fight-or-flight mechanisms in our body because, essentially, they are signaling that something is wrong and that we should be ready for danger. This sends out stress signals to the brain which then compensate by releasing more signals and stress hormones to deal with the problem. Your body, as brilliant as it is in many ways, doesn’t really know the difference between a real and perceived threat, so whether you are truly in danger, or merely thinking negative thoughts that make you feel threatened, the response is the same.

 

This is why ANTS, which many of us think every day, sometimes all day, are so harmful both physically and emotionally. We are literally our own worst enemy when it comes to the thoughts we think because our thoughts create emotions and emotions create responses, and chronic, long-term exposure to these types of responses has a wearing down effect on the body’s systems. Over time, this exposure leads to stress-related pathologies such as digestive issues, headaches, tension in the jaw and neck, raised blood pressure and heart rate, wonky menstrual cycles, drained energies and much, much more. The human body does an excellent job when acute stress is present (think emergencies), but really isn’t designed to handle the pressure of long-term, low-grade chronic stress day in and day out. When we start to feel these effects, it usually shows up as “just feeling off.”

 

Many, in fact most, of my clients come to me because, while they can’t quite put a finger on what’s wrong, they recognize that they don’t feel alive, vibrant, healthy, and in many cases, happy. That’s when our work begins as we start to uncover and unpack all the ways that stress, in all its many forms, plays a role in our physiology.

 

 

So, now that we know how thoughts impact the body, the question you probably have is, “What should I do about it?

 

I like to tell people, in order to make real, transformative changes, you must first be aware of what it is you’re trying to change. Now, I realize that may seem a bit blatant, but often times we are looking to our immediate problems or issues, rather than the stuff bubbling underneath them. Heading back to our analogy about body image, it would be easy to think that if we could just change our body, we’d be happy. But underneath that desire is really just a wish for more safety and confidence, and those are emotional feelings, not physical ones. By taking a look at the thoughts we’re thinking that are causing us the pain (ie. I hate my body, I’m so ugly, why can’t I look like so-and-so) we can then, and only then, decide to choose again with thoughts that embody those feelings of safety and confidence.

 

 

But first, awareness. In order to become aware, you must bring the idea of ANTS into your immediate presence. I suggest doing this by putting reminders up in the house or on your phone. You can also take a written inventory of your particular ANTS and put that up for you to see somewhere. Get clear on the thoughts you think all day long that are no longer serving you, and then with this awareness, choose new thoughts in their place that feel better every single time they pop up. By doing this, you are re-training your brain to think positively and in a way that actually calms the stress response in your body rather than igniting it. You are your own best soother. You know exactly how to make yourself feel better in a way that no one else can once you tap into that intuition.

 

It’s not always easy to see these – after all, they are small and sneaky and sometimes, we don’t know they are there until we get bit – that’s ok. As with everything, noticing ANTS takes practice and commitment, but if you are truly interested in changing the way you perceive your life, body, job, relationships, health etc… this is a fantastic place to start.

 

 

The human brain is powerful beyond measure, and it’s an area of health that continues to expand as we learn more about the mind-body connection. Learning to tap in and tune in to the underlying current we build our lives upon is one of the most empowering steps we can take when it comes to creating a healthy body and a happy life. I’ve seen countless people get stuck in a space of healing and therapy and darkness, despite eating all the right foods and doing all the right programs, because they are too afraid to do the internal work it requires to be free. And that’s ok. It can be scary, and it can put us out of balance to look inside and get pointed and real about the ways in which we’ve been creating our own unhappiness. That’s quite the responsibility. But I believe we are all not only up for the task, but masters at it. You did NOT come into this world to worry about your body, fret over your job, fight with your family or beat yourself up every single day for not being perfect. You came into this world to thrive, love and experience all that life has to offer in the most delicious way!

 

If ANTS are something that have been infesting the deepest regions of your mind for years now, make today the day that changes. Make today the day you shine some light on those dusty old beliefs and shake out the proverbial rug. Your life is calling. Are you ready to answer it?

 

Comment

Comment

Stress and Carbs: Unpacking Low Carb Diets and Female Hormones


How Does Stress Affect Our Bodies? 

Carbs. Most of us these days have a love-hate relationship with carbs, particularly since the introduction of low-carb diets like Atkins and the South Beach Diet. Many people have seen wonderful results switching from a SAD (Standard American Diet) to a low-carb approach and, arguably, many lives have probably been saved with the reduction of starchy, sugary carbohydrates like bread, pasta and pastries. Today’s post in no way, shape or form is meant to demonize low-carb diets or spread dogmatic information related to carbohydrate intake. However, as with any dietary strategy, it’s seem that we’ve taken this one a bit too far, especially as women, and I want to discuss some of the long-term ramifications that an extremely low-carb approach can have on our overall health.

Women are complex creatures. Just ask any man and he’ll most likely back this up! Sadly, most of us have come to despise the beautiful, feminine qualities that make us who we are, a.k.a. hormones. Either we spend our time trying to cover them up and push them away or we don’t give them much though at all and can’t figure out why we feel “off” or not “quite like ourselves.” Simply put, hormones are messengers. They carry signals from your endocrine glands around to various parts of your body to manage processes like hunger, menstrual cycles, stress levels, sleep, bone density, thyroid levels, sex drive and many other daily, bodily functions. In a word, hormones are VITAL to our health. But what happens when they get thrown out of balance? As you can see, hormones play a role in almost every function you can imagine, so they create quite a stir when things get thrown off kilter.

What Do Carbohydrates Have to Do with Hormones?

In order to understand why carbohydrates are important to hormone balance, it’s important to know a little bit about the stress response in the human body and you’ll also need to understand something called the “Pregnenalone Steal.” We’ve talked a lot about stress and how it effects the body. You can find more on the topic here. However, its safe to say that stress comes in both physical and emotional packages. When we refer to stress, most of us are talking about perceived stress, or emotional stress. This is the type of stress that exists in our mind when we’re feeling overwhelmed, scared, anxious, busy, angry etc. The reason we called it perceived stress is because of its relativity – what stresses me out might not bother you one bit and vice versa. Then there’s physical stress, which is the result of outside forces causing internal stress such as too much exercise, eating foods that don’t agree with our body chemistry, lack of sleep, etc. Both of these combine to make up our total stress response.

Now, the main hormone responsible for regulating our stress response is named Cortisol. Cortisol has several really interesting jobs in the body, but it’s mainly used to mobilize and gather up glucose to provide our arms, legs and heart with the energy they need to deal with a given stressor. For example: Let’s say you’re walking down a dark alley (not sure why, but just go with it) and a man in a dark hoodie comes up to you with a gun and asks for your wallet. In this instance, your body is immediately going to go into what’s called Fight-or-Flight mode, or in more technical terms, sympathetic dominance. During this time, you’re making split decisions about whether to fight him off or run away. Either way, you’re going to need a lot of extra energy and wits to get the job done, and this is what cortisol and adrenaline are responsible for. They do things like increase your heart rate and blood pressure, break down stored glucose for energy needs and increase your cognitive abilities. Cortisol is also released like this during exercise, which is why some people can get addicted to high intensity regiments. Cortisol makes us feel powerful, alert and energetic…to a certain point. You see, cortisol was never meant to exist in our systems for too long. It was made for acute, more natural, stressors like the scene described above. Similar to recreational drugs, the effects are only fun for the body and brain up to a certain point, at which they become degrading and dangerous.

So here’s the thing: The stress response will ALWAYS take precedence over every other function in the body. It was meant to get you out of dodge and save your life and dag nabit that’s what it’s going to do. Heading back to the scene above, do you imagine your body is thinking about digesting your dinner or making a baby? If you’re not sure, the answer is NO! Your body is thinking about two things – fighting or “flight-ing.” So – stay with me here and listen closely to this next part. Cortisol is released during both acute bouts of stress (the gunman) AND chronic ones. Chronic referring to: traffic on your way to work, fights with your spouse, hating the job you go to every day, eating too much sugar, eating foods you’re allergic or sensitive too, exercising too much with little recovery, worrying about money, worrying about health, worrying about your weight, worrying about anything and everything, staying up late watching TV instead of sleeping… you get the idea. Basically, most of us have created lives for ourselves that require us to put out much more than we put in and our scales are left way out of balance. During all of this, cortisol is being released leading to heighted and chronic amount circulating through our blood stream, which, funny enough, is stressful to our body.

Now, back to that strange term, “prenenalone-steal.” Your sex hormones and cortisol are made from the same building block called pregnenalone, which is made from cholesterol. In a perfect world, pregnenalone gets evenly distributed to all the different hormone pathways and all is well. However, in someone with high stress levels, there is a greater need for cortisol which means there is a higher need for pregnenalone. Your body will shuttle any and all pregnenalone to the process of making cortisol in order to keep up with those stress demands to the detriment of your other hormones. This is why we refer to it as a “steal,” because cortisol is essentially hogging all the good stuff for itself and leaving everyone else high and dry.

Tweetable (or something like that): If you’re experiencing chronic stress, and not taking any measures to reduce it, it will be impossible to balance your hormones.

So What’s the Deal with Carbs?

Now, you might be wondering at this point how your carbohydrate intake fits into this picture. We’re getting there, just had to throw in the foundations first. Carbohydrates play sort of a double role here.

In times of stress, we use up more nutrients because stress is expensive. It amps up our bodily functions and puts us in a state of high alert. This means we need more calories, more carbs, more fats and proteins and more vitamins and minerals than we usually would to keep up with the demands. This goes for physical AND emotional stress. Now, our bodies are pretty neat since they can literally turn proteins and fats into usable glucose. But, and here is the caveat, that is a slow process no matter how efficient your body is at it. Eating carbohydrates will always be the fastest way to increase blood sugar levels, thereby usable energy. When blood sugar levels drop, this is registered as a top priority stressor to your body. So – what happens? You’ve probably got it by now, but yes, cortisol gets called to action once again, further perpetuating the cycle. This is why, particularly in times of stress, eating some slow-digesting, complex carbohydrates can go a long way in putting a wrench in the nasty blood sugar/cortisol cycle we see so many women going through. Often times you’ll see someone start on a low-carb/high fat approach and it works wonders (by the way, we’re talking 10-50 grams of carbohydrates daily here) Their skin clears up, their energy shoots through the roof, the fat melts away and their periods balance out. But then, a little while later (sometimes months, sometimes years) things start to shift. Usually, we can trace it back to a stressful time period or event, and they start to feel terrible. They begin to feel bloated, tired and heavy, their cycles get irregular or go missing all together, their energy plummits and sleeping becomes erratic and unsatisfying. They can’t understand what happened or why they aren’t feeling good, so they naturally think, “I must be eating too many carbs again,” and start to restrict even more leading to greater and greater disturbances.

Often times, fixing these issues and imbalances is merely an equation of carbohydrates. Our needs to various nutrients change as the season and tides of our lives change as well. Sure, maybe high fat and 20 grams of carbs a day worked, but then you had a baby, started working out more to lose the post-pardem weight, got a full time job, lost a full time job, went back to school, had another baby, started eating more sugar because you’re tired all the time, started exercising even more to make up for it, and on and on and on… Life happens. Our job is to flexible and intuitive enough to understand this and to adjust our nutrition and exercise with the tides of our life. When our body needs a rest, give it a rest. When we are working harder than usual, give it more carbs. When you’re feeling rested, pull back a bit or up the exercise volume. Listen and flow. Usually when we get stuck, it’s because we’ve gotten stiff. Dead trees are stiff trees and they break in the wind. Trees that are full of life sway and bend when the winds of life stir. Which one would you rather be?

That’s all for today friends. If you’ve been struggling with any of the issues above or have been considering changing up your nutrition routine, you can always schedule a free discovery call here to see if Nutritional Therapy could benefit your health.

Much love,

Sy

 

 

 

 

Comment

Comment

What IS Adrenal Fatigue Anyway?



So, there’s a term that’s been floating around for a couple years in the health and wellness sphere, but it’s still not one you’re likely to see plastered on the pages of magazines or even books for that matter. The term is Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome and if you’re a woman who feels tired, overwhelmed and generally “off” there’s a good chance you’ve got it goin on. Before you panic, though, keep in mind that Adrenal Fatigue is NOT a disease nor is it something sufferers are plagued with for life. Rather, it’s a syndrome, which essentially means it’s a name for a bundle of symptoms that no one can quite put a finger on.

The name Adrenal Fatigue is actually a misnomer, as it implies that your adrenal glands (which sit on top of your kidneys/renals) are tired, which in fact they are not. However, I personally think it does a wonderful job of explaining just how adrenal dysfunction feels, because at the end of the day there is an intense fatigue of both the body and mind. A better, more correct, title is actually HPA-Axis dysregulation which stands for Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis and describes the chaos that occurs when those three main organs responsible for your stress response are out-of-balance, overworked and unable to cope with the demands placed upon them.

So, while I’ve talked a lot about adrenal fatigue in posts, I realized that it may not be exactly clear what I’m referring to and wanted to throw together a description to avoid confusion. Before we move on, I’m going to list out the common symptoms of Adrenal dysregulation, but please be aware that stress in the body can take on hundreds of different faces, and this list is by no means exhaustive. If you have several of these symptoms mixed with some others not on this list, I would highly suggest speaking with a practitioner about the possibility of adrenal dysfunction, hormonal imbalance or digestive problems.

 

Symptoms:

 

Feeling burned out, overly stressed or unable to unwind

Bloating after meals

A burning or gnawing feeling after meals

Excessive hunger or no appetite at all

Any and all digestive issues including heartburn, indigestion, diarrhea or constipation

Moodiness and irritability

Lightheadedness, particularly when going from sitting to standing

Harsh PMS or menopause

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar swings)

Frequent nausea

Feeling unmotivated or “lazy”

Intense fatigue

Brain fog or feeling spacy with an inability to concentrate

Joint pain, muscle aches or sensitive skin

TMJ or jaw clenching

Anxiety and depression

Cravings for sugar or salt

Feeling tired but can’t sleep – Tired and wired

Frequent colds or flus that lasts for weeks

A feeling of shaking or vibrating on the inside

Feeling abnormally cold or hot

Flushing easily, particularly during winter

Dizziness or feeling disconnected from conversations and activities

Intolerance to caffeine or alcohol

Weight loss resistance or “spare tire” despite lots of exercise

Low sex drive or inability to orgasm

 

So, what causes adrenal fatigue? Well, in a word: Stress. But I’m not just talking about emotional, or perceived, stress. I’m also referring to physical stress which is just as harmful to the body as mental stressors. Essentially, your adrenals are the organs in your body responsible for managing the stress response in your body, whether it comes from external or internal sources. Some of the main external sources of stress I see are food intolerances, over-exercising, environmental toxins, and eating a diet high in sugar. Some internal sources include negative emotional experiences, worrying or apprehension, perception of fear or anxiety and internal inflammation. When your brain registers stress of any kind, it sends a message down to the adrenals to release stress hormones, mainly cortisol and epinephrine. For purposes of this post, we’ll mostly be focusing on cortisol, but it should be noted that the effects of epinephrine take several days to exit the body and is highly stimulating. Not a state we want to be walking around in consistently.

Cortisol gets a bad rap, but it’s really very vital to our survival. Cortisol has several functions, but three of the most notable are to raise blood sugar, raise blood pressure and to work as an anti-inflammatory substance. The first two are key players when we are under stress becausestress is known as expensive. What does this mean? It means that when we are stressed (again physically OR emotionally), our body requires more nutrients than normal to function. This means that we are using up blood sugar faster, which is full of nutrients we get from our food. So, cortisol signals to the body to produce more blood sugar out of stored energy found in our muscle and liver. This is how we continue to produce energy during activities like exercise. Cool, right?

Well, yes and no. If we only triggered this response every once in a while, things would be great. Cortisol would do its job and then a negative feedback loop would turn production off body allowing us to come back to center. Unfortunately, we are being bombarded by stressors these days, particularly environmental and food stressors, and are triggering this response almost all day long. From traffic accidents to sugar donuts for breakfast and fights with our boss or spouse we are under constant attack. Chronic elevated cortisol leads to raised blood sugar and raised blood pressure – for a while. And here is where adrenal fatigue sets in…

 

Eventually, in the presence of all this sugar in the blood from cortisol doing its job, the cells become resistant because they’re packed to the brim and don’t need anymore. Basically, they push the plate away and tell us they’re full. At this point, we may have plenty of circulating cortisol, but it’s messages are not being received and we actually see blood sugar begin to decline and blood pressure as well. It’s like someone put a cement wall up between cortisol and the cells and no communication can take place. This is in the later stages of adrenal dysfunction and what contributes to symptoms of fatigue, lightheadedness, feelings of insatiable hunger or weakness and hypoglycemic episodes. Now, we have a cycle where we are stressed to the max and still pumping out cortisol but not feeling it’s effects because the cells won’t let it in. So, we continue to pump out more and more essentially “exhausting” or fatiguing the adrenal organs and the entire stress response.

 

As with any syndrome, disease or condition, these details are more nuanced then we can describe in one measly blog post. But hopefully it gives you an idea of how Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is essentially a stress syndrome of the 21st century. Never before in history have we been bombarded by so many external and environmental stressors or been able to explore our emotions beyond survival. While this has afforded us many opportunities and growth, it’s also opened up a whole new can of worms when it comes to our tolerance levels for stress. So, what are some of the biggest ways we can make a dent in our stress cup?

 

Here are the ones I see most in practice that are really putting a burden on people’s bodies:

 

1.     Food intolerances and poor digestion. Eating something your body can’t process every single day is stressful. Period. It will be nearly impossible to clear up imbalanced cortisol without also addressing digestive function and food choices because every cell in your body is dependent upon those nutrients, so I highly suggest taking on some sort of elimination protocol or hooking up with a practitioner who can guide you through the process.

 

2.     Over-exercising and training. You remember how we mentioned that cortisol raises blood sugar and pressure? Well, it’s main job is to do this during intense activity, which also includes exercise. Assuming you have no other stressors, this would be fine. But pile it on top of everything else going on in your life and it’s a recipe for disaster. Try cutting down on intensity, duration or frequency to give your adrenals the rest they’re craving or add in some gentle exercise in place of your regular routine.

 

3.     Lack of sleep. The body repairs and detoxifies while sleeping. If we aren’t giving it the rest it needs to do these jobs, it will become congested and backed up which leads to things like recycled chemicals and hormones. This is stressful for the body as your toxic load builds up. Sleeping does more than just make us feel good and it’s important to respect the processes of repair just as much as the others. Hacking your sleep will be on the best decisions you can make for your health.

 

4.     A negative emotional outlook or self-loathing and perfectionism. Ok, so this one is really much larger than one sentence can sum up, but taking a serious approach to shifting your mindset is the most important key to clearing up adrenal fatigue. Sadly, this piece is missing in most protocols because we get so caught up in the nitty-gritty physical aspects of healing and miss out on all the juiciness that comes with the spiritual, energetic growth. Many people say that they were never able to shift out the adrenal fatigue cycle until they finally began some sort of emotional stress reducing practices.

 

5.     Not making any time for connection and fun. Bluntly put, I know this can be hard when you feel like shit. You may not feel like connected with friends and family or you may not have a whole lot of interest in activities that used to bring you joy. That’s ok. Do them anyway or find some new ones that agree with your symptoms more. Eventually, when you are feeling better, you will be amazed at the growth and strength of your relationships for having weathered the storm together. Writing in a gratitude journal can very soothing to the body as it releases feel good hormones and allows us to step outside of our mind’s chatter for a moment. Even if you only find a moment’s worth of peace, cultivating authentic, vulnerable relationships will go a long way in making the healing process easier and more enjoyable. And if you’re worried, try having a conversation and letting those around you know that you may not be fully yourself right now and could just use a little support. Most people are very willing, loving and accommodating if you give them the chance to be. Remember, they love you too.

 

 

So there you have it. A generalized look at what this thing called Adrenal Fatigue actually is and some ways to help mitigate the nasty symptoms that come with it. Again, if you are reading this blog and feel like you might be experiencing this condition, never hesitate to reach out to a practitioner or do some research. There are so many valuable resources online and some great practitioners who are aware of stress’ harmful effects on the body. It is very real and very important so don’t let anyone tell you it’s all in your head or that you just need to “try harder” to feel good. Until next time.

 

Much love,

 

Sy

 

Comment

Comment

The Straw that Broke The Camel's Back


Our blog today has a funny title, and it might not make sense at first glance. Particularly because I’m in a rambling sort of mood, so I wish you the best of luck in making sense of this all! (Insert laughing emoji) My apologies.

What I want to talk about today is an analogy that I use to help women struggling through adrenal or chronic fatigue, or any chronic symptoms for that matter, to understand that the process of healing requires us to find a new relationship to our bodies and lifestyle. I like to compare adrenal fatigue and digestive issues to a yo-yo dieter who loses and gains weight every diet cycle. These people often feel confused when they regain weight upon returning to their old eating habits, but to the outsider it seems very clear. It was the previous habits that led to weight gain once, and it it those same habits that will lead to it again. Similarly, going back to our old lifestyle, habits and diet will, in most cases, plummet us right back to where we started, regardless of their effects on us before.

One of the things I hear a lot when working to figure out the root of someone’s symptoms is: “well I used to be able to do that” or “I used to be able to eat that” and never had any problems. It must not be that or maybe I can go back to that now that I feel better. And just to be clear, I get it. I SOOOO get it. I still to this day wish that I could go Crossfit 4-5 times a week like I used to because I love the mental rush and feeling of empowerment I got from the workouts. I also wish I could go eat a donut every now and again and not worry about losing 4 months of my life. But alas, a couple weeks of intense workouts or too much sugar and my body starts to get pissy. So trust me, I know how tempting it can be to get better and want to jump right back into your life like you never skipped a beat. But, I also know this: You will never, and I repeat never be able to return to your old blueprint for living without ending up right back where you started. That may sound harsh, and it’s really not meant to be but chances are if you return to your old patterns, you will end up, once again, sick and tired of being sick and tired.

This is where the analogy of the straw that broke the camels back comes in. You see, we are all given a set point in our biology that allows us to deal with a certain amount of stressors. When I say stressors, keep in mind that I’m not just talking about mental or emotional stress, but physical too. So include things like food allergies, chronic infections, overtraining, inflammation, etc. in your thoughts about this. I do believe that we can learn to reframe stressful situations and sort of up our tolerance factor, so-to-speak, but nonetheless, there’s only so much your body will handle before it reaches what is called "loss of tolerance," or, in other words, the fingers finally slipped off the cliff. Historically speaking, stressors used to be acute and short lived. Our bodies were able to send out an appropriate stress response and then recalibrate afterward and all was well. More recently, in the past couple hundred years, and particularly during this information age, we are bombarded with stressors, both physical and emotional, almost all day long. These range from our thoughts about our jobs, to cell phone notifications, to traffic, our kids, our health, our spouses and beyond, not even touching on things like death of a loved one, relationship break ups, loss of a job, terminal illnesses or accidents, addictions, etc. We are using a system in our body that was never meant for chronic abuse and we see it failing more often and more rapidly than ever before.

You may have been able to stay out late, drink too much, eat a so-so diet, work too hard, sleep too little, go to the gym every single day, take a million credits in school and hold down a full time job, and so on, in your earlier years - But chances are, your body began whispering to you a while ago and you just may not have heard it. Or, perhaps you did, but you chose to turn the volume wayyyy down, drank another cup of coffee (or 3) and handled it with a glass of wine or some over-the-counter meds. And that’s ok. It’s easy in our world, especially as Americans, to believe that hard work is the answer to everything and if you’re failing at something, your health included, it’s because your weak and lazy. So, why WOULD you take the time to tune in and listen to those subtle messages. Why would you risk being labeled weak or lazy or better yet, no-fun? Certainly none of us want to feel that sort of disconnection with our peers. This post isn’t about blaming you for you not listening, but rather about inviting you, now that your body is screaming and you don’t have another choice, to reframe and rededicate yourself to finding out which kind life actually works best for your individual needs, whatever they may be or however they may look.

Disclaimer: I don’t mean to say that every single person who has a busy life will inevitable end up in adrenal “fatigue” or chronically ill. How you perceive your life is just as much, if not more, important that what your life actually looks like. But the majority of people burning their candle at both ends will at some point begin to get messages from their bodies that they’ve reached those upper limits and need to scale back.

This is what we refer to as the straw. That camel may have had a healthy, well-functioning and sturdy back. But we began to pile more and more loads on top of it until one day we put the final straw on and KABOOM! But here’s the thing about broken backs… they take a while to repair. And sometimes, (not every time) but sometimes, that back may not be able to handle the same type of abuse ever again. - OR - That back may return to normal function and may be stronger in some ways, but piling on the same load and expecting a different result would be, by definition, crazy. You see where I’m going with this?

You’re right. Caffeine was never a problem before for you, but now it is. Staying up past midnight used to be commonplace, but now it’s not. Perhaps you’re even to the point where grocery shopping seems like a hurdle, when before you used to run marathons. Your body has changed and that can be scary and frustrating, but it can also be liberating. Healing through acceptance helps us to move out of depression about the past and into excitement about the future. Essentially, you have the chance to try new things, make new habits and find out things about yourself you might never have known otherwise. It gives you the break your body and mind have been craving and allows you to step back and be present. When we go, go, go, it’s very hard to be, be, be, but the soul needs time to just BE. After all, we are human BEINGS not human DOINGS.

So, there you have it. My ramblings of the day, but also something I think is incredibly important to realize and play with. Instead of beating our bodies and minds up for not being what we want them to be, why don’t we take the time to get to know them and really love them exactly for what they are. Much like a friend, our bodies are so much more willing to open up and flourish when they feel loved and accepted, not in spite of, but because of their uniqueness. TIl next time.

 

Much love,

Sy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment

Comment

What Digestion has To Do With Your Energy



Adrenal and chronic fatigue are funny creatures. And when I say funny, I don’t mean in the humorous sense. Not even a little bit. They’re hardly funny and often bring the people experiencing them many, many tears and feelings of frustration. What I mean by funny, is that they’re extremely non-descript, which can make them tough to wrangle. I see so many women (and sometimes men) getting caught up in the tiny nuances that can be easy to get carried away in when it comes to adrenal and endocrine issues.

 

What is my basal body temperature?  Which minerals am I lacking?  What does my cortisol panel look like? Which supplements should I take? What can I DO?!

 

While I understand how easy it can be to travel down the rabbit hole (Trust me, I was once the most neurotic of them all!)  getting back to the basics and setting up stellar foundations is often what tips the scales in our favor. It’s hard to have a healthy, well-functioning body without a sturdy base. Similar to a house, our foundation is of the utmost importance and digestion is one of those pillars –in fact, arguably the absolute most important one.

 

You see, digestion affects every cell, in every tissue, in every organ, in every system in the entire body. Think about that for a minute. Really let is sink in.

 

As a society, we’ve become very disconnected from the idea that food is our livelihood. I think this has happened in part because it’s so readily available. We have the wonderful luxury of thinking about our food in terms of taste and calories and weight gain or loss – but ancestrally speaking, it was about staying alive. Without the nutrients we receive from food, our cells quite literally shrivel up and die. We are made of cells so… I’m sure you can see where this is going. Therefore, to think that food can’t change the landscape of what’s going on in our bodies would be illogical.

 

Moving forward, digestion is the process by which we extract nutrients from the food we eat and turn them into usable energy in the cells we talked about above. When our digestive process is broken or sluggish, we aren’t able to extract the vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbs which all play irreplaceable roles in the body’s metabolic functions. Without the basic building blocks it needs, it becomes taxing for your body to do its many jobs which can make us feel depleted, tired and fatigued. For example: amino acids from protein are needed to repair the body’s tissues, carry toxins out of the body, build hormones and much more. Without sufficient stomach acid, we cannot cleave the proteins we eat into their amino acid form. If those proteins never get digested/broken down, we can’t carry out the necessary processes from above. Now, the body has to work twice as hard to carry out those functions AND it will probably steal nutrients from other stores to get the job done, depleting your body even further. It is here that we start to see how fatigue ties in to digestion.

 

This is just ONE simple scenario, but there are thousands of functions that suffer when we aren’t able to break down our food. In a way, you can think of it like a car without gas. A car can’t run without gas, and digestion is the process of going to the gas station and filling up so that you can continue to drive.

 

I’ve never met someone with adrenal or chronic fatigue that didn’t also suffer from some sort of digestive issue. The sad thing is, sometimes we get so used to having them, that we forget what proper digestion feels like. In case you’re not sure whether or not your digestion could use some TLC, here are the most common digestive symptoms you may experience: bloating, heartburn, indigestion, nausea, alternating diarrhea and constipation, feeling of fullness or tightness in stomach or intestines, pain when pressing on stomach, gas, burning feeling after eating. These responses to eating are by no means optimal nor are they pleasant and a lot of times, it can even become painful or unsatisfying to eat.

 

So, knowing that digestion is integral to energy production, what can we do about it? Well, each person is unique in the way that their body processes and responds to foods, and it can take some navigation. The foods I eat may be really irritating for another and my given levels of stress, exercise, blood sugar regulation etc… will also affect my outcomes. However, there are a few tried and true basics you can use to get yourself started on the right track and I’ve listed my favorite 3 below:

 

1.     Work to increase stomach acid, naturally or supplementary. Foods that increase stomach acid are usually bitter and sour. Some of my favorites include lemon, apple cider vinegar, green apple, bitters, ginger, papaya, and pineapple. Things which decrease stomach acid are: eating while under stress, eating without chewing, eating too quickly, diets high in sugar, drinking too much liquid with meals, use of antacids, over the counter pain meds like ibuprofen, and highly processed foods. By introducing healing foods and taking out the stressors mentioned above, we can go a long way in increasing our best ally when it comes to digestion.

 

 

2.     Add in digestive enzymes. If your digestion has been suffering for a while, chances are you are low in the enzymes which do the job of breaking down proteins, fats and carbs that you eat. Adding in a supplemental enzyme is not only beneficial, but a highly safe and easy way to aide digestion. This is especially important is stomach acid is low as that is usually the first line of defense in breaking down proteins. Once your food reaches the small intestine, it needs to be in small enough molecules that it doesn’t irritate the delicate lining of the gut. Enzymes will help to ensure that foods enter the gut in smaller, more manageable molecules which means easier absorption and more nutrients and energy for you!

 

 

3.     Relax. I know it sounds easier than it is, especially if you tend to be tightly wound, but digestion is a parasympathetic activity, meaning it can’t take place in a physically or emotionally stressed state. Try taking a few deep breaths before you eat, or practicing real, true gratitude for the meal you’re about to eat. Thinking about things that make us smile, or feel grateful, instantly puts us in a state of relaxation and peace. Taking time to sit down for meals can greatly help rather than standing at the counter or eating over your laptop while you work. The body puts safety and survival before anything else and digestion is not imperative to survival when faced with a life-threatening stressor. Fortunately, these days we don’t deal with many life or death situations like running after or away from our food, but our brain doesn’t really recognize stress that way. Stress about our boss or spouse could easily be stress about a tiger as far as our brain is concerned, which means out with digestion and in with adrenaline. Reframing is also another powerful tool for moving out of stress, as is picking up a daily meditation or mindfulness practice. You can find out more about those at www.headspace.com .

 

 

Hopefully this gives you a brief look into why digestion is so closely linked with our energy levels. If you’ve been battling fatigue or adrenal symptoms for a while now, I would highly suggest starting with the basics and diving head first into healing your digestion function. Until next time!

 

Much love,

Sy

 

Comment