Monday, September 3, 2018

How Exercise Affects Adrenal Fatigue

My battle to recover from Adrenal Fatigue has been long and arduous.

To be sure, there have been factors that have contributed to the battle: comfort eating, not recognizing my load limits - just to name a couple.

In fact, last year I nearly gave up on recovery. I was so discouraged by a major setback when my entire right hand was rendered almost useless by severe eczema. The dermatologist told me that the cause wasn't allergy related, but glandular.

I knew what that meant.

It was getting worse, not better.

I finally told the Lord that if this was meant to be my "thorn in the flesh", the thing that would keep me humbling coming before Him for the strength that could only come from Him, I would accept it.
Although deep inside I knew that this couldn't possibly be His will. My family needed me! They needed all of me. Not a shell of me.

There was one thing that holding me back, and I knew it.

Exercise



I have always hated exercise.

Being more of a book worm and nerd, I would much prefer to stay indoors and read a good book, listen to music, cook, bake, clean, research...just about anything else.

In my imagination I would love to be an outdoorsy gardening type - but let's face  it. I'm not. I'm trying to be, and I'm confident that I can learn to be.

For Christmas I received a gift card that enabled me to buy a pedometer. I decided to invest in a good one, so I bought a FitBit Zip.

It tracks my steps, calories burned, miles walked and synchs with My Fitness Pal where I track my food. With the App available, you can compete against other FitBit users as well as track your food and weight loss progress.

This was key to getting me moving.

Now - before I began using the FitBit, I claimed I was "moderately active". I wore the pedometer for 2-3 days and didn't change anything. I wanted to see how active I really was.

They say that an active person tracks a minimum of 10,000 steps. I tracked barely 2,000.

The challenge was on!

I immediately began to search for ways to increase my number of steps and was amazed at how creative I became. But that's not all that amazed me. After only one week I noticed my energy levels increasing.

I have been active and exercising consistently now for a month and the change in my body and metabolism are incredible.

The brain fog I used to have is gone and while I'm sometimes wake up in the morning feeling fatigued, it is significantly less than before.

How Exercise Affects Adrenal Fatigue

Those who suffer with Adrenal Fatigue need to be very careful about exercise. While exercise and physical movement is good for the body, because it increases our  heart rate and releases endorphin levels - the "happy hormone" - and thus increases our metabolism, going overboard can actually be counter productive.

Too much exercise can put stress on the body, which puts stress on the adrenal glands, and therefore exacerbates the problem.

To start, simple walking is good. Just walk. Get those muscles moving. As you begin to building stamina, you can begin doing low-impact exercise and strength training; then slowly build up.

I am now jogging  in 4-minute intervals between 1-minute strength training exercises for 20-25 minutes a day. 3 days a week I add a 30-minute walk up a steep incline near our house.



I saved this article for last because I wanted to illustrate how I had all the other elements in place: I had destressed, I was eating healthier, and taking all the necessary supplements - but this piece of the puzzle was missing. This was the key to my recovery.

You have to have every piece of the puzzle present to make it work!

Adrenal Fatigue recovery is possible. It is a long journey, but there is a destination and that destination is normal, healthy, vibrant living. But you need to be consistent, disciplined and determined to do what it takes to make it happen.

Monday, August 27, 2018

How Food Affects Adrenal Fatigue

"The battle is real" - as my friend says.

And when it comes to Adrenal Fatigue and food, it is a tough battle wage.

I don't know what it's like for others, but for me it was a vicious cycle. Giving into fatigue led to mindless eating, and mindless eating usually meant unhealthy "comfort" foods" that would put my body in a relaxed state that only fed the fatigue. And so the cycle went.



The fact is that much of our diet causes chronic inflammation to our organs and arteries. Inflammation puts stress on our bodies, which causes strain for our already over-taxed adrenals.

The trick is to stop listening to our emotions that want to be soothed with chips, cookies, and burgers, and go for the foods that will help heal our bodies, reduce inflammation and boost our metabolism.
Before we get into the dos and don'ts, I just want to say that I am trying my best to follow this plan. I'm not there yet, but I am much better than I used to be. I eat far fewer carbs, far more protein, far less junk food and sugar...but I could eat more leafy greens.

Don't skip breakfast

One of the biggest mistakes people make is skipping breakfast or making breakfast a carb-fest. Dietary experts claim that the best way to start your day is with a protein-rich breakfast 30 minutes after waking. This helps to jump-start your metabolism, plus it helps to keep you feeling fuller longer.

Nix the caffeine

One of the very first things you must do to help good adrenal function is to stop the caffeine habit. Caffeine is a stimulant. It agitates your body and causes your adrenal glands to work needlessly. Replace caffeinated drinks with water and herbal teas.

Cut the carbs

While one needs carbs in their diet, we can all agree that our society consumes far too many carbs and far too few leafy greens. Carbs cause our blood sugar to spike, and in moderation this is okay. But proteins help our energy levels to work at a slow, even pace. To help your adrenal glands function better, switch to a lifestyle of lower carbs, higher protein and a large daily dose of leafy green vegetables.

**Update! In February 2017 I began a Ketogenic lifestyle.**

Gut-healthy foods

To help with good digestion, begin to add foods into your diet that are rich with probiotics. Natural yogurt, homemade sauerkraut, kefir and other fermented foods. These foods promote good health in the body, which aids the body in warding off viruses. By doing so, it cuts down on the stress your body would otherwise face.

Other foods you should eat

Colored vegetables
Sprouts
Ground flax
Brown rice
Oats
Berries
Honey
Fresh/raw seeds and nuts
Black beans
Eggs

** Update 2018 - This list has been edited since writing it. I have crossed out the carb-heavy foods as I truly believe that only whole-food carbs can be advantageous for adrenal fatigue sufferers. Leave behind the grains and sugar, and reach for a sweet potato!**


Avoid

Sugary fruits
Refined grains
Sugar
Caffeine
Starchy foods
Trans-fats

Two More Tips:

1. Food allergies and/or sensitivities put a lot of extra strain on the body. Many times we don't realize that we have a food allergies or sensitivities until we've eliminated those foods from our diet.

I am lactose intolerant, and I've noticed that anytime I have food with milk or cream in it, my body suddenly feels horrible. An easy way to determine a food allergy or sensitivity is to do an elimination diet. Once you've eliminated all foods that typically cause a reaction, introducing them back into your diet one-by-one will help you determine whether you need to avoid a certain food altogether. Typical allergies or sensitivities are: dairy, eggs, gluten, nightshades, and nuts.

2. Candida is an abundance of yeast in the body that can cause fungal infections. The result is a body that falls prey to viruses and an assortment of symptoms very similar - and connected to - adrenal fatigue. Following a Candida diet, that restores your friendly bacteria and stops the yeast overgrowth, will help to reduce stress in the body.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Supplements That Can Help Adrenal Fatigue

If there is one thing I've learned in my journey to recovery from Adrenal Fatigue is that you have to have every piece of the puzzle in place for real recovery to take place. If even one piece is missing, it simply wont work.

Every component is necessary.

One of those components is vitamins and supplements.


Before I launch into this article, I just want to say that I am not a doctor, nutritionist or naturopath. I don't pretend to know the cure for adrenal fatigue.

Anything I share here is what I was given by naturopath, and what I've learned from my hours and hours of research, and from my own N=1 experiments.

Many of them have worked, some of them have worked temporarily.

But I encourage you to first see a professional that can help you, and together work out a protocol that will help you on your path to healing and wellness.

The sad truth is that the food we buy today is lacking in the essential nutrients our bodies need. Whether because our modern farming practices deplete the soil of those nutrients or they have been processed out; we live in a time when it is absolutely necessary to replace those nutrients with good quality supplements.

This, of course, does not give us license to eat unhealthily - as we will see tomorrow. While, in the form of pills and capsules, we give our bodies what they need, we still need to make healthy food choices, because our diet also plays a vital role in how we feel. Diet can absolutely either aid our bodies or cause stress - something we are working hard to eliminate!

Supplements That Can Help Adrenal Fatigue

Vitamin C - the highest levels of Vitamin C are found in your adrenal glands. Not only does Vitamin C help to support healthy adrenal function, it also helps to relieve your body of damaged cells and inflammation, which cause extra stress on your body. One great way to get extra Vitamin C is to daily drink my version of the Singing Canary. A minimum dosage of 1,000 mg to start.

Magnesium - I read a report recently that most people suffer with a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency causes anxiety and depression, even aggression. These three symptoms are stressful on the body and increase the body's usage of adrenaline and cortisol. If you suffer with anxiety and depression, think seriously about taking a magnesium supplement - magnesium citrate or malate are best absorbed by your body. A good place to start is with 400 mg. If you take too much, it may give you a bit of digestive trouble, but it is not dangerous to your body.

Vitamin B Complex - The de-stress vitamin. If you are under stress, you need to take Vitamin B complex. Be sure you take a supplement with sufficient amounts of all 8 B vitamins. Here is an excellent article about B vitamins and adrenal health.

Pantothenic acid - As B-5 in the family of B vitamins, it is a great de-stresser and supporter of adrenal function, as it slows down the shrinkage of the adrenal glands. A usual dosage is 100-150 mg.

Omega 3 - This helps to reduce inflammation in the body and the stress it puts on your adrenal glands. Consider a good quality Omega 3 supplement to help aid your body in reducing unnecessary strain on your adrenals!

Probiotics - Much of the strain on our body, and fatigue we experience as a result, is due to an unhealthy gut. Probiotics help to heal that. They aid in good digestion, which aids in our bodies using more essential nutrients found in our food. They also help to increase our supply of healthy bacteria, which allow our body to fight of viruses - which lower our adrenal function. If you have a history of using anitbiotics, you absolutely need to begin taking probiotics immediately!

Licorice Root - Not only does it slow down the breakdown of the adrenal glands and helps to support healthy adrenal function, it also helps to aid in hormone production and increases endurance and energy. Licorice root is not found in licorice candy, so don't go looking down the sweets isle, you need to buy this in a supplement form, but check with your doctor first because it also raises blood pressure.

What are some other good supplement recommendations?


When I first began adrenal recovery, I took the following Standard Process supplements. I highly recommend Standard Process because they are whole food supplements and highly effective.

(disclaimer: I do not receive compensation in any way for recommending Standard Process and am not taking most of these particular ones now, due to the fact that they are not available where I live):

Wheat Germ Oil - Vitamin E
Drenatrophin PMG - A patented supplement for healthy adrenal function
Catalyn - Multi-vitamin
Clorophyll Complex - Vitamin K
Cataplex B - B Complex
Drenamin - A patented supplement for healthy adrenal function

I highly recommend these supplements as after only 30 days I noticed a marked difference in how my body functioned and a remarkable increase in energy.

Currently I take the following: Updated - 2018


3-times weekly I drink a Singing Canary - vitamin CVitamin C
Vitamin B Complex
CalciumMagnesium
Multi-Vitamin
Omega 3Vitamin DDenatrophin PMGAshwaghanda Powder (This is an adaptogen, which helps to regulate hormone levels by raising hormone levels that are too low and lowering hormone levels that are too high. It has been crucial in my health journey)

These three have been an amazing help to me in my health and weight loss. The multi-vitamin alone was more powerful than all of those vitamins I was taking above!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

The truth is, I didn't know myself very well. 

All the signs were present; but as I am often tempted to do, I chose to only see what I wanted to see, not what was so obvious to everyone else.

I was asked numerous times last year, "Are you under stress?" My answer was the same: "Not any more than other moms of two young children."

The fact was, I was violating my own personal code of conduct and didn't want to admit it.

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The quality I think I value highest in a person is authenticity. I can allow for mistakes and failures, if a person is authentic enough to own up to them. In fact, a person who owns up to their failures is highly esteemed in my eyes.

Better to own up to your failures and admit you have them, than to hide behind a mask of perfection.

I can't trust a person who hides, because I can't tell what they're hiding. And yet, I was not authentic - I was hiding.

I was hiding behind a mask that said, "Nothing to see here. Move along."

It's sad because when you hide from other people, you hide from yourself, too. And when you're not authentic with yourself, you only enable yourself in your own self-destruction.

And that's where I was.

I was self-destructing under a heavy burden of stress, personal expectations, perfectionism, and perceived expectations that I thought others had of me.

I could leave no room for failure.

I worked late into the night, work up early to finish what was left undone at night. I worked feverishly throughout the day - and it placed an enormous strain on my family. This strain only led to further stress because I felt torn between a family who needed me and my expectations that screamed failure if I didn't give them the attention they demanded.

The quest for a perfect image and my family who only wanted a mom and wife who was present with them left me flailing wildly out of control between the two extremes. I desperately wanted to be both:
perfect and present.

But you can't. It's impossible. Perfect is hiding. Present is authentic. You can't have both.

One day, in January, my husband came home from work and like a hurricane I blew out the door and left the kids with him. I was having a meltdown. Truth be told, it was only one in a long series of meltdowns I was having on a weekly basis.

My kids just didn't understand how much work I had to do! Didn't they get it?? Naptime was essential.

Non-optional.

Without them taking naps, work didn't get done. When work didn't get done, it meant even longer nights and even earlier mornings!

Why were my kids working against me??

I climbed into the car, slammed the door, jammed the car into gear and spun out of the driveway.
Face red, heart racing teeth clenched, I drove down our street and turned onto the main road.

And prayed.

Halfway to the store I had an epiphany - I was doing too much.

Now, most people wouldn't call that an epiphany. They'd call it common sense. But that's the problem with common sense, it isn't often very common.

No - to me this was an epiphany.

I had been telling myself over and over that I just needed to be better organized. But God spoke to my heart and said, "There isn't a way to better organize all your responsibilities. There simply are not enough hours in the day to do all you have to do. Something has to go."

From that moment, I began to let responsibilities go.

You see, I learned a very important lesson that day.

You can do 100 things in a mediocre fashion, or you can do a few things well. But you can do nothing well when you are stressed out.


Tips on reducing stress and its effects on Adrenal Fatigue. You need to realize how dangerous stress is for our bodies! #alittleketocoaching #stress #adrenalfatigue #hormonalimbalances


 Not all stress is bad

Stress. 

It isn't all bad.

There are times when stress is needed to help you accomplish a short-term task in an extraordinary way. When your child is in mortal danger, you feel stress, run out into the road and rescue him from oncoming traffic. You perform an extraordinary feat that you would not otherwise do, in a way you physically would otherwise would be incapable of doing.

It gives you the strength to add daily hospital visits to your otherwise packed schedule to sit by the side of your spouse who is enduring a health battle: cancer, a heart attack, stroke....and somehow you carry on.

Why?

Adrenaline. Cortisol. The stress hormones. They are there for a reason.

But they are not there to support our insecurities and pride that lead us to pile on unreasonable expectations that not only place us in a position of feeling constant pressure, but also place undue strain on our families who do not deserve a wife and mom who is constantly at the end of her rope.

When we live under constant pressure and daily stress, cortisol - the slow-burn hormone - meant to sustain our bodies under long-term stress is continually released into the blood stream until our adrenal glands are depleted and our bodies are spent.

This is irresponsible and unnecessary.

God never intended for us to live this way.

The first step to recovery from Adrenal Fatigue is to rid yourself of stress

1. Admit your imperfections and limitations - You cannot do steps 2 & 3 until you are willing to lay down your pride and recognize your limitations. Every person has their own load limit. Some can do more, some should do less.

When we cease to compare our abilities with those around us, we are able to see clearly what we are capable to do.

Reject the tendency to say, "But my friend Mary has 7 children and still manages to ______."

God didn't give you the grace He gave Mary. He gave you the grace He gave you to do the tasks He intended for you to do. Not to place on your shoulders extra expectations!

2. Learn to recognize your stressors - What makes you feel panic, pressure, that sinking feeling, or dread? Take one month and pay attention to those feelings.

Write down the triggers, and then ask yourself if those triggers are an essential part of your life or something you need to let go.

3. Relieve yourself of all unnecessary commitments - Take a notebook and begin listing every responsibility and commitment you have. Underneath every item, list every task and deadline associated with that item. Last, circle the ones that:

a) put extra pressure on the family,

b) do not help to support your husband's job or call,

c) takes unnecessary time away from the family,

 d) is not something you feel very passionate about.  Once you've circled these items, begin to slowly extricate yourself from these commitments.

Repeat steps 1-3 until you have finally come to a place in your life where you daily live without pressure.  If you're having trouble, ask your close friends and family to help you with this process.  What helps is to list your responsibilities and write down every detail and deadline into a calendar.

If you sense that you are not able to adequately, and without stress and pressure, perform every task, something needs to go.

4. Sleep
To overcome Adrenal Fatigue, 8-9 hours of sleep each night is necessary. It's not that "it would be nice" or "it would be good".

No.

It is necessary. Essential. Required.


In order to get 8-9 hours of healthy sleep each night, follow these instructions:


1. Turn of all screens and devices 1 hour before bedtime. Yes, even your T.V. and iPhone. Or you can use these blue blocker glasses - they also help:



2. Remove your T.V. from your bedroom and make your bedroom a sleeping room only

3. Choose a relaxing routine before bedtime: shower, hot camomile or lavender tea, a relaxing book (not a mystery or intellectual read)

4. Make your room as dark as possible to eliminate all possible distractions while sleeping. I sleep with an eye mask:



5. Wear earplugs if necessary



Studies show that we live in a sleep-deprived, stressed out culture.

This is not God's will for His people. While "burn out" has become a word to negatively describe Christians, the fact is that many are needlessly burned out because of personal, perceived or actual expectations that are too heavy for them to bear and adequately fulfill their primary call to a personal relationship with Jesus and their family.

Perhaps its time to lower our expectations, admit that we are flesh-and-blood, and realize that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost!

Here is some recommended reading: Adrenaline and Stress by Dr. Archibald D. Hart

Thursday, August 9, 2018

What Is Adrenal Fatigue?

I remember the first time I heard the term Adrenal Fatigue.

I was on the phone with a doctor who had done some testing for me while we were Stateside in early 2009.

I didn't fully understand what we were testing. All I knew was that he came highly recommended in the field of female hormones and was working with us in the aftermath of my first two miscarriages to determine how my hormone levels may be affecting my ability to carry a pregnancy to full-term.

The test results were back.

Adrenal Fatigue.



What in the world did that mean and how did I get it?

He carefully explained it to me, and while I grasped the serious tone of voice, I still didn't understand fully how this affected me, my health, or even what really caused Adrenal Fatigue.

But I wanted to know everything about it.

Since that day, I have committed myself to much research: both about Adrenal Fatigue and about recovery.

But how did I get it? That remains a mystery. It could have been through any number of things.  I had battled mononucleosis in Bible school and my diet had been poor at that time. I had also worked 4 part-time jobs while juggling too many classes.

But the likely candidate was an abusive relationship I had been in for 16 months. Engaged to a guy who from day one began to verbally and psychologically abuse me, I chose to leave him for the 3rd and final time 4 months prior to our wedding. I walked away from him and never looked back.

But the sudden release of all that fear and trauma was too much as within a week odd symptoms began to crop up: large hives covered my arms and legs and I was forced to take leave of absence from work. From then on a slow breakdown in my health began to occur. Only two years later I boarded a one-way plane for Croatia. The following 12-months would be a grueling lesson in how to endure language courses, visa-troubles, and navigation in a strange city.

The trauma of the abusive relationship combined with the overwhelming stress of moving to a new country, learning a new language and integrating into a new culture is likely what brought me to that moment on the phone as the words "Adrenal Fatigue" were uttered.

Yet - had those been the only two stressful moments in the nine years between entering an abusive relationship and the phone call, I would likely not be here. No, it all exacerbated by all of the additional stress I faced in that time. I could fill volumes and months of blog posts talking about the stress I endured in those years. Yet, that would accomplish nothing.

It's not the fact that I had stress, it was that I didn't know how to handle stress. I didn't know how to say no (I wrote more about stress here).

I was my own worst enemy.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

First you need to know what your adrenal glands are. They are small endocrine glands that sit above your kidneys. Their primary function is to help your body deal with stress. There are two parts to the adrenal gland: the outer part is vital as it produces the hormones cortisol and aldosterone. The inner part produces adrenaline.

What do these hormones do?

We know that adrenaline is the "fight or flight" hormone. It is what enables our body to react in emergency situations with a strength that we may not otherwise have. We gain sudden clarity and a burst of energy. It's not essential for life everyday, but it can sure save our life when we need it. We can call this "blow torch".

Cortisol is the slow burn to adrenaline's blow torch. Cortisol is what helps support your body under more long-term stressful situations: a parent dying of cancer, an addicted child in recovery. Long-term, but with an end in sight. It is also what regulates our metabolism.

Aldosterone is what regulates our blood pressure.

Now that we know what the adrenals do, what is Adrenal Fatigue?

Simply put, Adrenal Fatigue is when our adrenal glands are depleted of cortisol. That slow-burn hormone.

This occurs when cortisol is daily released into the blood stream.

You see, the body was never meant to release stress-hormones into the blood stream on a daily basis. The adrenal glands store them up so that when they are needed, there is a supply enough of cortisol to support the body long-term. When that supply is exhausted, and the body has come to rely on cortisol being there - for whatever reason - problems begin to occur.

There are a number of symptoms a person experiences with Adrenal Fatigue, and because they mask other problems most times they do not realize the source of the problem.

Let me take a moment and address something:

Most medical doctors do not recognize Adrenal Fatigue as an genuine problem or diagnosis. They will work to try to resolve some of the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue: such as thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, or depression. Yet, if the underlying issue as to why these symptoms have occurred are not addressed, the root of the problem will remain the same.

Before we discount Adrenal Fatigue as a legitimate diagnosis, let us remember other diagnoses that the medical community was slow to accept: such as Fibromyalgia.

What is adrenal fatigue? What are the symptoms? How do I start healing it? This series answers all those questions and more.

What are the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?

* Chronic Fatigue
* Insomnia
* Inability to handle stress
* Weight gain
* Arthritis
* Brain fog
* Inability to concentrate
* Salt cravings
* Sudden burst of energy in the evening
* Weak immune system
* Allergies
* Irritable Bowel Sydrome
* Low libido
* Low blood pressure
* Low blood sugar

How can I find out if I have Adrenal Fatigue?

The best way to test for Adrenal Fatigue is through a cortisol/DHEAS saliva test.

A saliva sample is taken 4 times during the day and then sent to a lab to test the levels of various hormones present in the sample at key times of the day to measure their rise and fall against what should be the norm.

While some people diagnose adrenal fatigue based solely on the symptoms alone, in order to properly treat whatever may be wrong, one does need to have an accurate diagnosis from a professional.

If your medical doctor does not recognize Adrenal Fatigue as a legitimate medical problem, consider seeing a naturopath.

What if I have Adrenal Fatigue?

I am so glad you're here! In the days to come we will talk about four things you need to do to overcome Adrenal Fatigue naturally:

* Stress management and sleep
* Vitamins and supplements
* Food and diet
* Exercise