Today I'm going to share how burnout can be caused by over exercising and under eating. I'm going to be sharing my personal story of how I experienced my first burnout and that's right, I said my first burn out because there were actually two separate instances, both completely different circumstances of me burning out. But today we're going to focus on over-exercising and under-eating and what that looks like to your health.
As a certified wellness coach, I help high achieving women increase their network, both financially and relationally by beating burnout and revitalizing their health and I having a personal experience of burning out by going after that “ideal body”, you know, that slim perfect figure where there are no bumps, nothing's poking out. Everything is exactly where it should be. You are perky and you are tight and you are super fit and lean, right? There is no wiggle and no jiggle. Is that what we're all going for is? Does that sound a little familiar to you?
I was going after that ideal body and after years and years of fighting with my weight, and it actually all started when I went on the birth control pill in 1999. After that my body was just no longer my own. I had no control, or so I thought, of what my body was doing, and I basically played the weight game from then until 2012. In 2012 I had had enough, I had had three kids, I was not planning to have any more kids. And I said this is the time for me to just basically reinvent myself, and I am taking charge of me and my health by focusing in on my weight, and I'm going after that very ideal, fit, Barbie-esque type shape. So, what did that look like? I threw everything of who I was into working out. I was working out morning and night. I was waking up at two thirty in the morning to get to the gym by three o'clock in the morning. I was doing a little bit of cardio before weights, an hour of weight training and then another hour of cardio when I was done weight training. And then in the evening, I was doing more. Sometimes I went for a 3-5 mile run and sometimes I did a cardio type of workout video.
But often times it was more weight training with a run. That can only be sustained for so long. Basically, I started hitting a wall. I was definitely losing weight. My shape was definitely changing. I had gotten to the leanest that I had ever been. But here's the thing, I technically “looked the best” according to society but I felt the worst that I ever had, and it was awful.
I had also gone through a separation and divorce in 2012-2013. I had gone from being a stay at home mom with a successful photography business that I had on the side to being a single mom and being thrust into the workforce. I got a job working full time for a nutritional supplement company and I had also dove right into a terrible relationship. I don't recommend that by the way. Going through a divorce, becoming a single mom, going to work full time, having a terrible relationship, and then coupling that with insane exercise and under eating led to my first burnout.
Recipe for disaster
I was so hyper-focused on what I was eating. I was eating a high protein, low carb, zero fat diet, and that just does not allow for any energy to be produced whatsoever. I was getting sick all the time. I was irritable, I was cranky, I wasn't sleeping well, and I wasn't performing well at work. I was struggling with mental fogginess, I wasn't thinking straight, I was forgetting things, and that's just not who I was. It was kind of freaking me out a little bit about what I was becoming. Then what I was also dealing with was sickness, chronic sickness; I was getting colds over and over and over, it was taking so long to get over them, and then finally in 2014 I had a prolonged sickness that kept me home for nearly three weeks!! At that time I had to pause and ask myself “what am I doing in my life that's causing all of this sickness and this fatigue in this overall exhaustion?”. I realized that I was not the mom that I want to be at all, I was not the employee that I want to be. I was still trying to run a coaching business on the side while still doing some photography, that was just a recipe for disaster. I was juggling everything and striving to do more.
Call to action
So, I had to literally take a step back, look at my schedule and see what needs to go, what needed to be removed. The very first thing that I let go of was the exercise and the under-eating. I also happened to be working for the foremost expert in adrenal fatigue. And so through my education and my training and working with Dr. Wilson, the reality hit me- I was basically burnt out. I had adrenal fatigue, I had run a cortisol panel to check my hormones to see where they were; and let me tell you, that was a hot mess. What is considered normal was nowhere near where I was at all. So, I took a six month break from any exercise whatsoever, basically, the only exercise that I was doing was pretty much walking the dog. Once in awhile I did some yoga, but other than that there was nothing else. I definitely got rid of the terrible relationship because that wasn't serving me well at all. I decided to just focus in on myself and being the best me that I could be and that started with eating properly.
There is currently an overabundance of people that are scared of carbs right now. When you are burnt out it is essential that you have carbs and fat along with protein in your diet for energy production and healthy hormone conversion.
Your body simply can not create energy if you are missing key nutrients that come from carbohydrates and fats and proteins. So, if you're omitting any of that let me just warn you right now to maybe consider taking a look at your diet. If you are struggling with burnout, chances are that your diet could have a huge impact on your recovery.
So, in time, between working with Dr. Wilson, working with some other practitioners to help me get back on track, and really becoming okay with the way that my body looks (and I won't lie that was a huge work), I began working towards my recovery. I had to work on my mindset, leaving behind the thoughts telling me I was failing because everything in society is saying, if you don't look a certain way then you are not worthy. That's a hard thing to change when you've been hearing, believing, or thinking that for so many years.
What I realized is that my overall outlook on my health will impact my future generations. I have a daughter, what was the example that I was setting for her by being hyper-focused on an ideal body image for me? I don’t want her to have a distorted image of health and think her worth is tied to her appearance.
For the past four years I zeroed in on what healthy looks like for me and learned what I need to do to avoid burnout. That's been trial and error. It's a practice, you never “arrive”. Some days are better than others. I pay attention to what is going on during my current season.
But what I do know is this… as we search for an ideal body and we do things that are more detrimental to get to it, it's not going to pay off in the long run. I'm going to be sharing my story in another post with the details of my second burnout that was totally different; you'll see why when when I share that with you. Today I really just wanted to focus on burn out that is a result of over-exercising and under-eating; you can recover, but it does take some intention in how you treat your body and how you feed your body.
Think you might be experiencing burnout? Download the “5 Signs Of Burnout” information guide to find out if you are burning out and what your next steps should be.