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adrenal fatigue

Anxiety...Taming the Monster

Anxiety...Taming the Monster

Today, I have a treat for you! I have asked my dear friend, Rebecca Hamlin, a LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) that knows so much about the stories we tell ourselves when we are in a state of anxiety/fear/stress/shame/anger, to write something for us here on my piece of the interwebs.

Because she is awesome and because she has the same heart for women- to help every one of us drop the anxiety and stress so that we can fully step into the purpose laid out for us by God, she said YES!

When I read this article she wrote, I kept yelling “YES!!”, as if I was surprised that she shared the same viewpoint. But I think the most exciting part for me was that MORE people are talking about the impact we have on our stress, anxiety, health, and overall well-being when we get to the root cause. I coach women struggling with Adrenal Fatigue and burnout that started with a mindset being rooted in anxiety.

I can throw vitamins at you all day long, but until we do the work to figure out the WHY behind your symptoms, we can’t initiate change, growth, and recovery.

I will stop typing now and let you read for yourself what the expert has to say:


There’s a lot of shame surrounding this topic and that’s why I think it’s so important to have these conversations….to shine a light, to educate, and to make sure that those who may struggle with anxiety know that they are not alone. Here’s the challenge though with this discussion…each individual’s journey with anxiety will be different – their symptoms will be different, the origin will be different, treatment recommendations will be different. Honestly, anxiety can feel like a big scary monster that looks different for a lot of people and there are a lot of ways that you can learn to tame that monster.

I will do my best to cover a wide spectrum of experiences, symptoms, and treatment approaches and to also provide some education about anxiety and some tools for becoming more grounded and more centered with the goal of promoting mental wellness for all of us – and I hope that will be really helpful…if you struggle with anxiety and even if you don’t.

In January of this year, I went through a season of anxiety. At the time, I couldn’t figure out what was causing it – though looking back now, I certainly have some guesses but what I was certain of was the inescapable and paralyzing fear. This season gave me a new perspective on anxiety - both symptoms and approaches. It gave me an opportunity to practice what I preach and to change my relationship with anxiety, such invaluable learning for the rest of my life.

I want to share with you some of what I have learned and lived in just the past 12 months.

ANXIETY – STATS

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States affecting 40 million adults – most of them women. Only 36.9% of the 40 million receive treatment.

Anxiety is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of diagnosis including PTSD, OCD, Panic Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, just to name a few.

Studies have declared millennial's the most anxious generation in history. There are a lot of hypothesis as to why this is but let me start with this encouraging information: there is mounting evidence to suggest that mental health is becoming a priority for millennial's – they’re more willing than previous generations to consult a therapist and to talk about their struggles openly, which is a powerful way to end the stigma and to shine a light on mental wellness.

ANXIETY - SYMPTOMS

Anxiety comes in many forms but almost always causes nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling while severe anxiety can seriously affect day to day living.

There is a strong connection between emotional and physical symptoms and anxiety is often stored in the body…physical manifestations like rapid heart beat, rapid breathing, increasing blood pressure, lack of focus, irritability, nausea, sleepless nights, and muscle tension. When anxiety escalates it can be debilitating and have serious effects on our physical health. By some estimates as much as 80% of all disease and illness is initiated and aggravated by stress and anxiety, diseases like diabetes, heart disease, substance abuse, lower immune system, and GI distress.

With anxiety our body is reacting to a threat and the amygdala (the lower part of our brain) is hijacked – it’s literally as if we are being chased by a bear, and we respond with a fight, flight, or freeze response.

Typically anxiety is long-term and is a very internal experience – it’s possible to hide your anxiety and for no one to know the depth of your struggles. Anxiety is often steady and consistent and there may be no awareness of what is causing our anxiety - it often feels irrational or out of proportion with the actual likelihood or impact of the anticipated event. Anxiety is synonymous with a helpless/powerless feeling, which only leads to more anxiety, leaving you feeling completely stuck.

ORIGINS/ROOT CAUSES

There is a continuum with anxiety which makes this conversation incredibly difficult. There are a lot of different origins and root causes, i.e. childhood onset, adult onset, anxiety caused by trauma, and then of course there are hormonal factors, such as postpartum anxiety.

POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY

Postpartum or Perinatal Mood Disorders, also known as PMD (which includes both postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety) is the most common medical complication of childbirth and it’s estimated that it effects 10 - 20% of women giving birth globally. In Pima county alone 4,000 women suffer with PMD. Baby blues last for a couple of weeks while symptoms that last longer indicate PMD. Sadness is only one symptom and other common symptoms include anxiety, irritability, and nagging self-doubt.

Here's the key to PMD, you don’t have to suffer alone! Here are a few steps if you or someone you love seems to be exhibiting symptoms of PMD;

· Talk to your doctor

· Learn more about the symptoms

· Know that it’s a common complication and it’s not your fault

TREATMENT

For anxiety, most often the best treatment approach is a combination of both therapy and medication. Here’s my disclaimer about medication though…so often we want a quick fix. An easy solution to a complicated problem. I want to encourage you, if you’re struggling with anxiety to not simply treat the symptoms but to discover and treat the root cause. My experience is that anxiety is often rooted in trauma and shame. In many cases, healing is possible and you don’t have to live with anxiety forever. Healing from trauma and shame is the harder path but can lead to incredible freedom and joy.

Struggles with anxiety or even depression, don’t have to define you, in fact, learning to cope and manage it well can lead to being a wiser and more compassionate human, but we have to do the hard work of healing.

Here are some important factors to consider as we work at changing our relationship with anxiety.

SELF-EXPLORATION AS A FIRST STEP

As you work with a therapist, part of the process is self-learning and self-exploration. Understanding the emotional continuum and where you land on that will help you know how to treat your symptoms - both when you are experiencing acute anxiety and then how to lower your overall level of anxiety. In addition to understanding your anxiety intensity you will identify patterns and triggers and learn to avoid them if possible. Many people identify too much caffeine, not enough sleep, or too much social media as major anxiety triggers. When you’re more aware of these triggers you can do a better job of planning and preparing for them.

LOWERING YOUR OVERALL ANXIETY LEVELS

The second important step in treating anxiety, after learning about your anxiety, is to lower your overall anxiety level. When you work with a therapist, you will learn coping skills and distraction skills for both preventing anxiety (to the degree you are able to) and to manage anxiety. Everyone is different and different things work for different people so testing this and trying new things becomes really important. While there may be no cure for your particular anxiety, there are things that can help you in your journey. Just a few of the things I often recommend;

· Meditation – head space app

· Yoga

· Exercise

In addition to these tools, mindfulness becomes an invaluable skill. Anxiety means our brains are disconnecting from our bodies. Mindfulness becomes a priority to learn to manage anxiety. Get out of your head and into your body…slow down, be present and avoid judgement. Meditation and yoga are both great tools for developing and strengthening the skill of mindfulness.

DEVELOPING RESILIENCY – HOW DO WE PROMOTE MENTAL WELLNESS

Resiliency is a critical component to not allowing these struggles – if it’s anxiety or something completely different – to define us. How do we develop this skill?

COMMUNITY/REDUCING THE STIGMA

Individuals who struggle with anxiety are more likely than the general population to feel lonely and isolated from others. Yet, close relationships are both preventative and restorative when it comes to emotional wellness. Our minds and emotions are healthiest when we maintain strong attachments to people whom we can be open, honest, and vulnerable.

I realize that there is still a significant amount of shame involved in being honest. My hope is that you will do the hard work of building a community where you can be honest about your struggles. There is freedom in honesty and honesty can begin the healing process. Freedom from shame and stigma releases us to do the work of healing – this work requires vulnerability, honesty, connection and empathy.

Thank you, Rebecca, for your honest and brave work. Visit her website.

If you are ready to embrace your wellness, starting with mindfulness and intention, head over to Revitalized Wellness! The 12-week group program is open now! There is an AMAZING bonus for those who join by 4/28! 💜

In health,

Ericka



Stress Management: Pursuit for Peace

Stress Management: Pursuit for Peace

At the end of 2017 I received the best gift and the most unsatisfying diagnosis of severe hormonal imbalance with Hypothyroidism. Despite my focused approach to “health”, I had some major blind spots. I had to take a long, hard look at what was in my life that didn’t need to be and what was missing.

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How does this happen to a health coach?

I’d gotten lost in the day to day. I was tied to my commitments and obligations. I was ruled by the “shoulds”. I allowed the “chores” to become my beacon of direction. What needed my attention? Who needed something from me? What wasn’t complete and was needing only me to be finished? These days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months.  My life was much more reactive than intentional.

I focused on my work, my tasks, and “what can I control”?

In this season, I allowed all of the “shoulds” and “need-tos” to consume me. Yet, that wasn’t the part that rendered me ineffective as a wife, mom, daughter of God, friend, daughter, employee, or business owner. The largest missing piece for me was my time with God. I had allowed the excuses of why my health could not be a priority or why my time with God would be compromised during this season of my busy. You see, those things can’t be SEEN. They aren’t necessarily physically in front of me demanding my attention. God isn’t like a child, always pulling at you and grabbing your face to look at Him. He doesn’t give you deadlines to meet. He patiently waits for us to seek Him. I believe there are blessings within our days that God places to remind us of His faithfulness and love.  But you must be still to find them.

There was very little room for stillness. When I found it, I typically saw some shiny object begging for my attention, and there is where my attention went. “Sorry peace, you’ll just have to wait until I complete this project or travel for this conference or create more content” …blah blah blah.

I tend to strive for perfection and sometimes it paralyzes me and renders me ineffective, looking like a deer in headlights. I want to meet the expectations of all the people, I desire to please, and I will sometimes forget that my needs are important too. Does that sounds familiar?

I swapped out my morning walks for email responses and never-ending meetings about the meetings. I missed my time in nature, but God’s creation wasn’t going anywhere, right? So I kept striving. I was working about 50 hours a week in a full-time career and I was building my growing coaching practice. I was still a wife and a mom. I was burning the candle at both ends and pouring gasoline in the middle.

As time went on and the demands grew, it felt like walls were closing in on me. I yearned for time to just be. To be still and just be in God’s presence. My health wasn’t nearly as patient as God. The reminders of the importance of maintaining my health came frequent like an annoying neighbor kid who rings the doorbell every 30 minutes. I was fatigued most of the time, I started gaining weight, I was irritable with most, but especially my family. 

I was trying to manage my stress as best as I could and my symptoms smelled of Adrenal Fatigue but it seemed like something more. After my visit to my primary care physician, I was frustrated and confused. I KNEW something was off and all she could gather was a “mid-life slide”.

You know, the downhill slide you embark on once you hit 40 (and this was just before that)? Your metabolism slides down, your energy slides down, your weight slides up and your boobs and belly button also head south. She made me feel like my extreme fatigue, brain fog, irritability, weight gain, heavy periods and dry skin were just a sign that I had one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel. Her solution? How about an anti-depressant?!

I didn’t have a Xanax deficiency, my body was telling me (loudly) that I had no longer made my health a priority.

In my pursuit of success, I had lost the roadmap I give to my clients to prevent and recover from burnout. I had allowed the voice of social media and “experts” to shift my attention and priorities.

My next best steps?

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FIND SUPPORT:

Thankfully, I had created amazing connections with practitioners that I trusted to help me uncover the root cause of my symptoms. I asked for help. I knew that I couldn’t see all my blind spots. I needed some people to guide me through this time. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and severe hormone imbalance. We are talking crazytown imbalance.

I gained new insight into what was going on within my body and a plan to lead me back to recovery and homeostasis. I had new adjustments to make. I also needed to focus on restorative exercise (yoga, walking, stretching, deep breathing).

REASSESS MY PRIORITIES & GOALS:

As I was working on healing my body and recovering from stress induced hormone imbalance and hypothyroidism, I knew that I could no longer keep up the pace I was running in life. It was time to let go of my full-time position that I had held for over five years as a Business Development Manager of a supplement company and focus on my health, family, and growing coaching practice.

I understand that not everyone has the ability or luxury to take this step; I am so grateful that I could. I worked hard to build my practice and gain new clients (I’m still working on this!) and I desired to build upon what I had started a few years before.

It was time to shift my lifestyle to promote wellness. Again, let me say, the answer isn’t for everyone to quit their job and become a full-time entrepreneur (and this could be more stressful), the point is to dig in, seek God and ask what He has for you. For me, I had a calling to build my business and reach more women.

I allowed myself to build margin into my day. I allowed myself to rest. I allowed myself to just be.

SEEK GOD:

Another “next best step” was for me to lean into God. I had missed the connection, the peace, the growth, and the relationship that I gained when I made time to listen to His voice. I couldn’t move forward without His direction.

This time of physical challenges left me grateful that I was given an opportunity to stop looking inward and instead, focus my eyes back to God. I had been living in my own strength for some time. It was time to get His help.

What did I learn?

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In the past 12 months of changing my lifestyle, my career, my priorities I have learned so much about myself and was able to increase a better understanding of my clients. What were my main lessons?

I was not as much of a time-management ninja as I thought. Being in charge of your own time can be challenging when you do not report to anyone, have nobody expecting deliverables with a deadline, and have open structure to your day. I had to create structure for myself. My time is a commodity and I was wasting it at a neck-breaking speed. I had to implement systems, processes, and time limits to get things done (even writing this blog has a time limit).

Health is not a constant. Once you figure something out and feel pretty comfortable, you may need to make new changes. I have spent the past year doing lots of tweaking, testing, changing, and going back to the drawing board. I feel like I have a good hold of what is working for me to normalize my hormones and thyroid function but I understand that it can change and I will be ok when it does. Being frustrated and stressed about it doesn’t improve my health. I can only pay attention to what my body is telling me and move from there.

Comparison is a thief of joy. Embarrassingly, I spent too much of this past year looking at other coaches in my industry and wishing I was where they are. I wanted the number of clients they had, I wanted my website to look like theirs, I wanted my photos to look beautiful like theirs. I was focused on other people more than I was on my own journey. This creates a root of bitterness and resentment. It makes us discontent where we are. We get so focused on what we are lacking and where we want to be next that we miss the joy of right now.

What I came to know? I have a journey to experience and teach me. There are no short cuts. I can have a growth mindset or fixed mindset about my journey. I can be positive or negative. It’s up to me. I have a choice. Thankfully, I chose to embrace my place and I have felt the freedom and success that brings.

There are not fast fixes that last. We all want the easy button. I am totally guilty of this. Why draw out a process and the results to be had by taking the long way? Here’s why: Because the quick fixes are often not sustainable. They work temporarily because you can only do the work for a short time (think crash diets, long hours working, caffeine dependency) and they are never something you can build a healthy lifestyle around. I wanted to jump 1,000 steps forward . In my own health and business, I wanted to get to the glory days of success without the work…because that just feels better, right? I mean, why can’t it just be easy? You know the saying, “you don’t appreciate what you didn’t earn”? It’s true. I have earned my success (and I will continue to earn my future success) in my current business and health and family life and it’s amazing to know I put in the work. I appreciate the people, the journey, and the results so much more. The best part? I can keep this pace forever or until God asks me to change my direction.

Community is key. I have had struggles in my path (and some continue) but I asked for help. I knew that I couldn’t do everything on my own. I have an amazing support system between my husband, kids, friends, and experts that help guide me, pray for me, keep me accountable and check in on my progress.

We tend to have a default setting that tells us we can do it all alone; it will be faster, cheaper, and keep the anonymity. If we don’t share the struggle, it’s not really a struggle, right? WRONG. It continues to fester and eat away at us until burnout, breakdown, or both, happen. Gather your people and ask for help. Seek expert advice and trust the process.

What does this mean for you?

I pray that my lessons offer a light of hope for you. In my struggles, observations, and research, I was able to better understand you! I understand your stress (even better!) and I know how to help you increase your energy, focus, time management to improve your success in work, family, and lifestyle.

During this year, I was able to fine-tune my programs based off of feedback and need. Revitalized Wellness is now open and offers you a sustainable roadmap to beating burnout! Click the link to find out more about the 12-week group program that is offering my clients AMAZING results-greater than they imagined!

I am making this journey one of ease for you (notice I didn’t say EASY). I guide you, you become more aware of your lifestyle, choices, and the impact on your health.

Drop the shame.

Lose the guilt.

Feel empowered.

Believe you can feel better.

Accept help.

Make a choice.

I hope you choose you.

In health, Ericka 💜

Additional resources:

Facebook Live - What causes burnout?

5 Ways Stress Impacts Weight Loss

What is Adrenal Fatigue and how does it impact health? - Interview with Dr. James Wilson




How my pursuit of "perfection" led me to burnout

The question frequently asked of me: How does one become an expert in stress and adrenal fatigue? My answer: go through burnout twice and get mentored by the leading expert in Adrenal Fatigue, Dr. James L. Wilson.

Did you catch that? Twice. I suffered through a burnout TWICE.

You would think I would figure out what went wrong in my health and not do that again, right? That seems reasonable for sure; however, my burnouts were a result of two completely different circumstances.

Something to note: it’s not unusual to hear from my clients suffering through burnout for a second time; they slowly slid back into a lifestyle that resulted in the first burnout and leads to a second episode.

That isn’t necessarily my story, but I do find my story to be the same story of most women. I was striving for perfection.

My first burnout (and the focus of this blog post) was a result of over-exercising and under-eating. After going on birth control in 1999, I struggled with maintaining a healthy weight. I decided to stop taking the pill in 2000 after suffering debilitating migraines. I had never experienced headaches of this magnitude before and the pill was really the only thing that had changed in my life that could be leading to severe headaches. After I stopped the pill, the weight continued to be difficult to manage.

Add in getting pregnant and birthing three children in 5 years and weight loss seemed elusive. I tried everything under the sun to lose weight: fasting, Weight Watchers, juice cleanses, Isagenix, South Beach, Atkins, low fat- low calorie, Nutrisystem, diet pills. Everything.

In 2012, I went all in. Whatever it took, I would do. I sought coaching from a former physique competitor and began heavy weight training. I also added in a ton of cardio. I woke up at 2:30 AM to get to the gym at 3. I trained with weights for an hour and then did an hour of cardio.

I would go to work, come home and go for a 3-5 mile run. Sometimes I would play an exercise video on my laptop during my lunch hour and workout in the warehouse at my office.

I kept my calories around 1,200 most days and focused on consuming all the protein. I had two protein shakes a day. I was severely under-eating for the amount of activity I had each day. I became orthorexic. I measured and journaled each morsel. If I ate something that wasn’t “clean”, I added in extra exercise. I felt shame and guilt for not being “perfect”.

This went on for 1 ½ years. During this time, I went through a divorce, became a single mom, switched from a part-time photographer to a full-time business development manager that traveled, got into another relationship that was unhealthy, and now had this obsessive “fitlife”.

I had lost 40 pounds and was the leanest I had ever been since high school. To society, I looked perfect. I never saw it. I was so critical of myself. I was addicted to the creation of my “perfect” body. I yearned for better and continued to drive myself until I hit the wall. In 2014, I got so sick that I was out of work for close to three weeks.

Almost every infection possible had hit me at once (sinus, double ear, upper respiratory, urinary tract, and eye). I went through multiple rounds of antibiotics to recover. I was left weak, fatigued, and lethargic.

The ironic part? I was working with THE leading stress and Adrenal Fatigue expert, Dr. James L. Wilson. In fact, my job was to train and educate practitioners that were treating their patients for symptoms of stress that led to Adrenal Fatigue. I knew what led to Adrenal Fatigue and burnout. I taught medical practitioners how to treat their patients. I had the tools and education. But I didn’t live it. I thought I was living the healthy life!

I exercised. I ate clean. I took my supplements. But it was excessive. There was no rest. No grace for myself. No room to be gentle. Rest days were only for those who didn’t want it enough.

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The Road to Recovery

This incident of burnout led me to an entire new life and perspective of wellness. Dr. Wilson helped guide me back to a path to healing and health. I found out my hormones were a mess, my cortisol levels were completely opposite of what they should be, and I had some severe vitamin deficiencies. As I researched my way to recovery, I took my mentoring and education to heart. It lit a fire deep within me to teach other women how to avoid burnout and pursue recovery.

I had already begun coaching women on a weight loss journey, but I changed the way I coached my clients after my burnout because I realized I was leading women toward the same disaster I had just gone through myself. And so many other coaches have been doing the same!

We have women chasing this “ideal” and compromising their health in doing so. I have made it my personal mission to offer a comprehensive and holistic approach to prevent and recover from burnout. It’s not enough to give a client a meal and exercise plan; we must address the emotional, lifestyle, and nutritional changes that need to take place for sustainable results.

The effects of stress on the body are of enormous proportion. When a stress response is kicked on (and stays on in times of chronic stress), EVERYTHING is affected: hormones, blood sugar, digestive system, brain cognition, immune system, tissue health.

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Adrenal Fatigue doesn't have to be permanent.

Adrenal Fatigue is completely preventable when you are intentional towards a holistic approach to health. Stress is a choice, burnout is a result.

If you think you may be suffering from burnout, click the button to download “5 SIGNS OF BURNOUT” to understand the symptoms and steps needed to promote recovery.

What questions do YOU have about adrenal fatigue? Let me know in the comments!

How burnout can be caused by over exercising and under eating

How burnout can be caused by over exercising and under eating

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.

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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.

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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.

Do you want to learn more? Check out my interview for the FitFluential Radio Podcast : https://fitfluential.com/from-adrenal-burnout-to-stress-expert/

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.




What Do I Eat If I Have Adrenal Fatigue?

What Do I Eat If I Have Adrenal Fatigue?

As I have coached my clients that are undergoing immense amounts of stress in their lives, I have noticed a common pattern with regard to nutrition. High carb, sugar-laden food that is lacking dense nutrition and only provides an energy crash and endless cups of coffee is the usual diet of those living a modern, fast-paced life.

Leading a life that has never-ending to-do lists and expectations that are elusive, yet continue to leave us striving toward “accomplishment” has a tendency to grab on-the-go meals that can be consumed quickly and typically during a commute. A breakfast consisting of baked goods, bars, packaged shakes, or designated “breakfast” options being sold in the aisles of the grocery store that contain more sugar, preservatives, and white processed flour than the “vitamins & minerals” being touted as being delivered in each delicious bite is the norm.

Friends, if this is you, I beg of you to consider your nutrition in order to begin a road to new energy and mental clarity.

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food"  ~Hippocrates

When you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue, nutrition is critical to recovery. Rather than looking to a prescription or a crash-diet to solve your problems, take a good look at what you are putting in your body. Food is healing and quality is everything. Poor diet can exacerbate the suffering you experience.

There are three things to keep in mind when you are trying to recover from chronic stress and Adrenal Fatigue and trying to understand what is important with your nutrition in order to recover from Adrenal Fatigue.

  1. All macronutrients are important and necessary.

With the common and popular diets eliminating an entire macronutrient group, carbs are getting a really bad wrap. What people need to understand is that carbs are an essential source of vitamins and minerals that provide energy; one of the top symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue is chronic fatigue. Therefore, you NEED carbohydrates to create ATP (energy) without creating more stress internally.

However, not all carbs are equal. The carbs you want to eat will consist of whole, unprocessed foods full of fiber (flax, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and cruciferous vegetables).

You will want to combine a fat, protein, and complex carbohydrate with every meal. Combine fat, fiber (carbs), and organic protein when creating your meals. This offers longer satiation and a more balanced blood sugar level that doesn’t leave you with a crash an hour later.

2. The sweet limitations of fruit

People with adrenal fatigue and blood sugar problems should go lightly on fruits, especially in the morning. But if you exercise early in the day, it may be possible for you to handle a small amount of fruit for breakfast. Exercise elevates cortisol and aldosterone levels, which in turn raise sodium levels in your blood, allowing for greater tolerance to the effects of fruit.

However, be very careful of fruit consumption and if you notice that you become more tired, thick headed or start to experience other symptoms of either low blood sugar or low adrenals, then eliminate fruit in the morning. Any fruit that you do eat should be organically grown. Many people who suffer from adrenal fatigue are sensitive to chemicals in foods.

Here are some recommended fruits for those with adrenal fatigue: papaya, mango, plums, pears, kiwi, apples, and cherries. Fruits to avoid would be bananas, raisins, dates, figs, oranges, and grapefruit.

3. Caffeine Prolongs Exhaustion

People with adrenal fatigue often crave caffeine or cola beverages because of the stimulatory effect of the caffeine. The difficulty with this is that caffeine also over-stimulates the adrenals, which leads to further fatiguing when the caffeine wears off. Therefore, many people with adrenal fatigue get through the day by kicking their adrenals with several cups of coffee and beverages containing caffeine or by combining caffeine, sweets, and chocolate (which contains caffeine and a caffeine-like substance). Although this makes them feel better temporarily, this regimen will eventually exhaust the adrenals even more, leading them into further difficulties.

Now they have a vicious cycle repeating. They need coffee to be productive, they crash, they are exhausted and need more caffeine and sugar. And on and on it goes. Therefore, avoid or limit caffeine containing foods and beverages.

Replace your coffee habit with herbal teas, mushroom elixirs, and lots of water.


Next steps…

If you’re confused about what to eat, remember this: lean protein, carbs (in the form of greens and fiber) and fat. Every meal. It’s key to recovery.


For You…

Need a breakfast or lunch that is quick to make, packed full of vitamins & minerals and gives the nutrition you need to support a body in stress? Here is a quick, cheat sheet to print and hang in your kitchen for powerful smoothies that help to promote Adrenal Fatigue recovery. Click the image below to download!


Avocado Deviled Eggs

This is such a quick and easy snack! It also happens to be a favorite breakfast to make myself.

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Ingredients:

6 hard boiled eggs

1 ripe avocado

1 Tbsp. Primal Kitchen Chipotle Lime Mayo

salt & pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cut eggs in half. Remove the yolk and place in bowl with avocado and mayo. Mix yolks, avocado and mayo together. Scoop the magic mix into the halved egg whites. Sprinkle paprika (optional).

Make sure you “mmmm” at least five times while eating. *note: this will give you 3 servings of 4 egg halves. Sometimes I eat 6 halves. Eating the whole batch at once is very tempting, but 6 eggs at one time may make your family not want to be near you later. Ha!

Noatmeal Porridge

This is so hearty and filling and it stays with you all morning. It’s the PERFECT comfort food for Fall.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water or Coconut Milk

  • 2 tablespoons hemp hearts

  • 2 tablespoons almond flour

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated stevia (or any kind of sweetener you like, to taste)

  • 1 pinch sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Stovetop Method: Add all ingredients except the vanilla to a small saucepan over low heat. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly, about 3 to 5 minutes; stir in the vanilla. Serve warm.

  2. Microwave Method: Add all ingredients except the vanilla to a large cereal bowl that’s microwave-safe. Microwave on high until thickened, about 2 minutes; stir in the vanilla. Serve warm.


    Note: I added pumpkin seeds, walnuts, dried cranberries, shredded coconut and cinnamon as topping. I also like to add more almond milk. This is completely optional but why would you delete magic? Muy delicioso!!

Low-Carb Mind-blowing Pancakes

These are completely mind-blowing and you truly won’t even miss all the naughty carbs from regular pancakes. Still a treat and not as depleting.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Eggs, large

  • 2 oz Cream cheese

  • 2/3 cup Almond flour

  • 1 tsp Baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp Sweetleaf - stevia sweetener

  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract

Liquids

  • 1 tbsp Water

Condiments

  • 1 Butter and syrup

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add all ingredients to blender. Start with eggs and water and cream cheese so you don't have anything get stuck at bottom.

  2. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides if needed. Let batter sit for 2 minutes.

  3. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium heat. For each pancake, pour 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter onto skillet.

  4. Once you start to see little bubbles form, flip and continue to cook until pancake is browned on each side. Continue until you have used all pancake batter.

  5. Serve pancakes topped with butter and syrup!

How Does Stress Disrupt Blood Sugar Balance?

How Does Stress Disrupt Blood Sugar Balance?

Your body and brain depend on balanced levels of blood sugar (glucose) to steadily supply your cells with fuel for energy. Stress normally drives blood sugar up to power a “fight or flight” physical response via the adrenal stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol converts energy stored in your body into glucose so that your blood sugar rises to energize that anticipated surge in activity. As your blood sugar goes up, insulin is secreted by your pancreas to move the glucose from your blood into your cells.

This extra glucose is meant to be used up by a strenuous physical response to the stress, which restores blood sugar back to normal. In the prehistoric world, stress typically came from physical threats against which a short burst of activity increased the odds of survival. However, in the modern world stressors are typically ongoing pressures against which physical activity is seldom used or useful.

If your life is stressful, especially with a diet high in refined carbohydrates and without regular vigorous exercise, the consequent repeated or chronic blood sugar and insulin elevation you experience can create problems over time that prehistoric humans probably never had to face.

When this is occurs too frequently, your cells become more resistant to insulin to avoid the toxicity of excess glucose. This can leave too much glucose in your blood and too little in your cells. To maintain balance, your body converts and stores the excess blood sugar as fat – usually around your abdomen.

Paradoxically the decreased amount of glucose getting into your cells triggers hunger and you may find yourself craving carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrate consumption spikes your blood sugar up and the vicious cycle of blood sugar imbalance and insulin resistance continues – an added stress with ever greater negative consequences for your whole body over time. When it comes to blood sugar, maintaining balance is the key for good health and steady energy.

Tips for Keeping Blood Sugar Balanced

  • Keep a daily account of everything you eat for a week. In one column, list every bit of food, drink and medication that you take and at what time. In the second column, list your symptoms and the time at which you experience them. Very often you will see a correlation between what you have consumed and your symptoms. When you do, eliminate those foods or drinks that you notice are contributing to your behavior and note the difference. Important: do not stop any medication cold turkey. If you believe that your medication may be contributing to your symptoms, contact your physician. A diet diary is your personal blueprint: a clear overall view of what you are eating, digesting and assimilating. It can be the first indicator that something is wrong and, perhaps, a very inexpensive way of correcting a very simple problem.

  • Eliminate the “main offenders” from your diet. These include sugar, white flour, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, junk food and fast food.

  • Exercise caution when eliminating certain substances from your diet, especially ones that are addictive. For example: if you tend to drink a pot of coffee a day, gradually decrease your consumption over time. The same is true for tobacco and alcohol. If you are addicted to tobacco, alcohol or other substances, it’s often best to quit under the guidance of a professional. There are many physicians and support groups helping people deal with all sorts of addiction, which can be very difficult to beat on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  • Replace the bad foods with good ones. Aim for a diet that focuses on the natural: Lean meats, whole grains, brightly colored vegetables and some fruits (those with lower amounts of fructose). Instead of focusing on the foods you can’t have, focus on all the foods that you can have. You’ll soon find that healthy foods can have an addictive taste as well, but without the negative effects.

  • Eat 4-6 small meals throughout the day, with snacks in-between. This helps balance blood sugar and energy levels throughout the day. Reminder: do your best not to overeat. Having smaller meals at more frequent intervals can help avoid overeating.

  • Be prepared: have food with you at all times to balance blood sugar. Keep healthy snacks at work, at home, and anywhere you spend a lot of time. Having healthy snacks and food on hand will also make it harder to cheat by hitting the drive-thru or a convenience store.

  • Be careful of how much fruit you consume. Fruit is generally considered healthy, but can be detrimental for those with hypoglycemia. Many fruits are high in natural sugar, which can further disrupt blood sugar imbalance. Generally, fruits are better to have at lunch are later in the day. Avoid dried fruits altogether, as they are quite high in fructose.

  • Be mindful of natural sugars occurring in some natural foods, or foods marketed as natural. Fruit juices, smoothies, and yogurts (especially those with fruit) often contain high levels of sugar. Natural or not sugar is sugar, and your body will react to an excess regardless of source.

  • Build up a library of cookbooks. These can help give ideas of healthy, low-sugar recipes. Sometimes coming up with food plans can be frustrating, so keep helpful resources on hand. Bookmark recipes and meal ideas on your tablet, phone or laptop for quick reference. There are many websites that offer free healthy recipes, including ones that focus on hypoglycemia-friendly foods.

Material for this blog sourced by Adrenalfatigue.org
Photo by Audrey Fretz on Unsplash

5 Ways to Prevent Burnout

5 Ways to Prevent Burnout

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Work-related stress is at an all time high and progressing steadily. It has been estimated that 75-90% of patient visits to primary care practitioners are due to stress-related illness.* Stress and busy have become synonymous; while being touted as a badge of honor.

We have become a society that is always connected to technology, never taking a break for fear of missing out on something (FOMO anyone?). We have businesses to build, sales to make and connections to create. Who has time to stop and relax? The ironic part is that without the rest, our best efforts are ineffectual.

Stress causes fatigue, sleeplessness or over-sleeping, feelings of lethargy and depression, weight gain, headaches, muscle pain, digestive issues, low libido, increasing symptoms of PMS and menopause, irritability, poor skin and tissue health, hormone imbalance, chronic sickness, and the list goes on and on.

So if a person is suffering from these symptoms and has an inability to manage stress, how effective can they be in their daily work? We simply can’t do the great work we are passionate about when we feel terrible every single day. The question then becomes, how do we manage stress and prevent ourselves from burnout so that we can continue to build business and increase success?

Here are five strategies that will get you on the right track:

1. Have a plan

Most people that struggle with feelings of overwhelm and stress don’t necessarily have a plan of action on how they will tackle the day. We may stroll into the office and get sucked into the email matrix for hours on end, responding to email, sending email, reading more email, responding and sending a bit more. Instead of doing the deep work that moves the needle in their business, we become daily email managers. When working without a plan of action, it’s easy at the end of the day to wonder what in the world we accomplished. The best sales reps have a distinct plan each day. They know who they are talking to and the purpose of the conversation. There are outcomes from each activity that will lead to achieving goals. To manage your day, use these tips to create a plan that will have you working with purpose.

  • Work with intention

  • Use a calendar or planner to stay on target for the day, week, month, and year

  • Work with an objective in mind

  • Plan each quarter backwards from your goals.

2. Prioritize your to-do list

It’s very easy (and normal) to brain dump all of the things we need to do each day and week on a list and hope for the best when it comes to accomplishing the tasks we listed. When the list is arbitrary and without focus, it’s hard to feel productive and easy to feel pressured. In order to conquer the overwhelm, start with three tasks on the list that you feel will push your business and success forward, rather than simply “busy work”.  Getting caught in the paperwork matrix distracts us from the deep work that generates revenue. While I could organize my desk over and over or arrange files and pens (ROYGBIV is how I roll), it doesn’t replace the activity of actually getting on the phone to talk to prospects or creating content for my programs. After I prioritize my to-do list, I use these prompts to move forward:

  • How much time is needed (realistically) to complete the task?

  • Add the task with the given time to my daily schedule to make sure that I have the dedicated time per task.

  • Focus on one task at a time (no multitasking) to maximize my attention and effort. The best work comes when the distractions are minimal.

3. Delegate

As a first-born, I have held onto my responsibilities in a very serious way. Because let’s be honest, nobody can do things the way I can do them. I take pride in my work, I am very detailed and thorough. It just never occurred to me that someone else could help ease my burden. At the same time, I have felt resentful that I am doing all of the work. While in college, being assigned to a group was a nightmare for me. I loved being in charge and I took on way too much because I couldn’t leave my grade in the hands of a stranger. Then I would be stressed out because I had so much to do. Change the scenario to marriage & family. I relish the systems I have in place and border insanity if someone in my family veers off from the way I do things. I want my kids to put the clean sheets on their beds; yet, when the bed covers aren’t as taught as I like them, I have to fight the urge to re-make the bed! Friends, if you are nodding your head right now in understanding, here is some sage advice. STOP IT. Seriously, save yourself from unnecessary anguish. There are people who love you and want to see you succeed; they want to help you in any way they can. Let them help and feel the burden of your tasks lighten.

  • Ask for help (and let out a sigh of relief)

  • Work in your strengths- these are things you should hang on to! This is your voice and your addition to your work

  • Pass things on which don’t require you personally to be accomplished-these are things that aren’t necessarily your strengths and can be better handled by someone else.

4. Manage your health

This is the part that most business people push to the back burner, especially if you are pretty healthy to begin with. When we get busy and put our heads down in our work, the last thing we think about is how much exercise we can get in and how many whole food meals we can consume. Yet, this is the part of our life that we should take the MOST serious. I have seen way too many executives that are on the verge of burnout because health has just not been the priority. Success is on the rise, so we continue to push harder towards greater success. Or maybe the numbers are not in alignment with the goals, so we drive ourselves to do more. We start work earlier and stop later. We start losing sleep, become dependent on caffeine and sugar to keep ourselves awake, eat food on the go and at our desk or in our cars. It doesn’t take long to feel the energy drain and the chronic fatigue to kick into high gear. What you may not be considering when you tell your health to please hold, is that your health is what drives success. If you feel terrible, you can’t possibly do quality work. You don't think clearly, you don’t have the extra drive to give when it matters, you miss details, you aren’t prepared or organized. You allow the competitor to have an edge because you are not at your best. To prevent the burnout, health must take priority. The good news is that wellness doesn’t have to be complicated:

  • Plan exercise at least three times a week (do anything you enjoy)

  • Plan your meals ahead of time-minimize sugar and processed foods

  • Sleep at least 8 hours a night

  • Schedule your wellness exams each year

  • Write in a gratitude journal each day, highlight things from your day that you are thankful for or which brought you joy.

5. Rest and Restore

Rest is necessary to recover and revitalize. Planning rest time is just as important as planning your time to prospect. Make time in your calendar each week to do absolutely nothing that resembles “work”.  How each of us experiences rest will differ so try out new things and see how you feel. Some people love tackling home projects while others like to be outdoors to experience nature. Try these on for size to recover during your week:

  • Read a book

  • Work on your hobby

  • Take a walk, a nap or a bath

  • Have lunch with a mentor

  • Take a day trip or plan a long weekend

Grasping these five points will give you stronger business acumen and push burnout to the outer edges. Let’s take charge of our success by managing our stress and letting go of the standards that society says we must have in order to gain success.

If you want to take your business to the next level, then you need to join the waitlist for my program Revitalized Wellness. I give you the roadmap to avoid burnout, increase energy, feel revitalized and increase your productivity. Join the waitlist here



 

How Exercise Caused My Burnout

How Exercise Caused My Burnout

Exercise is a good thing, right? It's supposed to make you healthier, no? Doesn't it build muscle and strong bones? It improves cardiovascular health, right? The obvious answer to those questions is a resounding YES! But...

There is a "But" in there? Yep. 

Stress Management: Hormone Imbalance

Stress Management: Hormone Imbalance

As I coach women that need help to manage the stress in their lives, we often discuss some of the "clues" or symptoms that drove them to work with me. Number 1 reason: weight gain. As we dig in, I have been able, with help from friends like Candace Burch, to uncover a hormone imbalance. Stress can play a HUGE piece of hormone imbalance that leads to so many symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, irritability, mental fog, melancholy, and a TON of other not so special things. I decided to interview my friend and trusted hormone advisor, Candace Burch from Your Hormone Balance. This interview is LOADED with helpful information and I promise you that you will want to get your hormones checked right away. Spoiler: Candace gives a GENEROUS code to my friends, because my people are the best!! 

I dare you to NOT love Candace! You just can't!! No way! She is a wealth of information and so very awesome-she truly understands what each of us struggles with! 

If weight gain IS a struggle, hormones could be the bozo to blame! There could also be a few other tricks that you are playing on your body making weight loss difficult. Download my guide, "5 Critical Mistakes Preventing You From Weight Loss" to find out what could be keeping weight loss at bay. 

 

You Might Be A Woman With Stress If...

This “stress” topic isn’t new if you are a human. Who might be a woman. And probably has a career. And a family. And you need to bring treats for the classroom party. And you’re trying to make healthy meals for your family but the kids have soccer practice 4 days of the week during dinner time. And you have to schedule your dentist appointment that you are 8 months late for. pic isn’t new if you are a human. Who might be a woman. And probably has a career. And a family. And you need to bring treats for the classroom party. And you’re trying to make healthy meals for your family but the kids have soccer practice 4 days of the week during dinner time. And you have to schedule your dentist appointment that you are 8 months late for.