Category: Balanced Living

Well…it’s 2016! What are you making room for this year?

I’m not a resolution girl. I find that I am continually creating new goals throughout the year. However, I think reflecting is something we all do at the New Year, even if we don’t do so purposely. It just happens. It’s natural, as we close one chapter, to sort of evaluate as we enter into a fresh year. That’s how it feels to me, anyway!

Do you ever step back, though, and realize you’ve been stuck on the same goal, perhaps not just this past year, but year after year after year?

Something that kind of smacked me in the face the other day (in a good way) was the idea that I have fallen in love with certain habits in my life and they aren’t hard anymore. I love them so much they have become second nature. I love identifying myself as a fit healthy person and I LOVE how I feel when I pursue things in my life that are in line with those ideals.

I know this stuff doesn’t happen overnight…trust me! What we can do right now though, is shift our perspectives. Rather than dreading letting go of something or dreading the work we know it will take…let’s focus on what we are gaining, what we are making room for in our lives.

Letting go of crappy food in my life makes room for the energizing, health promoting food that will make me feel GOOD. Letting go of laziness and putting forth even 30 minutes of my time every day to move my body will make room for feeling strong and vibrant. Letting go of time wasters in my life will make room for more purposeful things that will bring me closer to my goals, my dreams… letting go of a relationship that is going in the wrong direction or steering me away from what I value in my life might be hard…but as I pry my little fingers off things like this, I will actually have room for something good, that is in line with where I really want my life to go.

See where I’m going with this? It applies to everything; work, worrying, sleep, comfort zones, etc…

I challenge you, as we start #1 of 365 days in 2016, to get in touch with the feeling you are chasing when you make a goal. Hold onto that feeling and run towards it! Don’t think about the cozy things you leave behind (that aren’t helping you move forward anyway….be real about that), or the pain of any effort you might have to put forth…think about how dang AMAZING you will feel as you get closer to embracing that goal and of all the little amazing things that will happen along the way because you are moving in the right direction!

Happy New Year, my friends! I pray God’s abundant love around you every single second of every single day as you step out in faith this year and go for your dreams!

Seeking Balance

According to this is the definition of wellness:

1. the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.
ACE Fitness expands on this by stating, “health and wellness does not mean ‘being without illness.’ Rather, health includes wellness — a sense of well-being and having a positive quality of life.”

We are multi-dimensional beings. To want to change one thing impacting my health means changing several things that I might not even be aware of. The opposite is true as well. When one thing suffers in my life, multiple other things are impacted.
So, what is my point? I’m pretty sure most of us are aware of these truths to some degree. The problem is, recognizing something does nothing for us until we put it into practice. Where are you with your stress level? Where are you with your faith? Where are you with your relationships? Are you in pilot mode? Are you numbing out on things so you can’t even answer these questions for yourself?
I encourage you to take a time-out. “But when? I have no time!” It’s about making the time. If we are off kilter with the things that matter most, our foundation is then off kilter and our entire lives are off balance. The problem is, we often don’t take notice until a crisis happens. We are set up, in our modern day society, to go 100 miles an hour, multi-task as much as possible, and “BUSY” seems to be a “value” we strive for. None of this is healthy, nor does it match any definition of health and wellness.

Give yourself permission to take a minute and breathe, regroup, listen and reflect. If not for you, then for those you love. It has a ripple effect!

5 Questions to Ask When You’re Looking for a Diet/Weight Loss Plan

I don’t know if working in the health and fitness field makes all the information zooming around about health and fitness less confusing, or more confusing than ever! There’s always a new “plan” of some sort, new “super foods”, new theories, new trends, etc. And then there are new findings about “old news”; eggs used to be off limits, now they’re good; butter was bad, now it’s good; low fat used to be the way to go, now full fat is the answer; soy used to be an ultra healthy choice, now it’s a “no no!”… Anyone else feel like they’re getting whip lash dealing with all the back and forth?!

When I look back over my own “diet history” I get a little dizzy. I started with the Scarsdale Diet in the 7th grade, then joined the low fat bandwagon (jumped on that one with both feet!), went vegetarian for several years (living in Alaska changed that for me!), I tried Atkins…for like a day, Nutrisystem… you get the idea.

I think somewhere along the lines my frustration with all this information, plus my growing relationship with research while working on my masters degree, made me start to look and things much deeper than how it was presented and I started deciding how it may or may not be a fit for me.

Here are 5 questions I’ve learned to ask when I encounter a new health and fitness program:

1. What does research say?

Regardless of whether it’s a new trend in food, exercise, stress management, supplements, etc…I check on what research has found about it and any individual elements involved in the program. What if it is so new there really isn’t any good evidence on either side? Then I hold back or use whatever it might be with caution. For me Stevia is a good current example of this. I’m not convinced that it’s perfectly safe quite yet. When something is new on the market, even if it is a food that is found naturally, I wonder about how it is modified and what that means. Or, if it really shouldn’t be used the way we humans have decided it should be used!

Need help figuring out what research is good and reliable when you do find it? Chris Kresser is one of my favorite functional and integrative medicine practitioners. Click here for an article he recently wrote on just this subject. This guy is a science nerd and I LOVE it! It is so easy to go with something based on face value, but it is CRITICAL to look behind the scenes when making a decision about something that could dramatically affect your health!

2. Does it involve real food?

If a program comes with it’s own prepackaged foods, I would most definitely think twice about it (or don’t think about it at all and move on!). First of all, you will more likely than not have to sell off all of your belongings in order to afford to pay for all the food. Even more importantly, these foods typically are chalked full of artificial junk: preservatives, fillers, fake sweeteners, etc. Not only are you then putting potentially harmful ingredients into your body, but these “ingredients” are taking the place of other nutrients that are necessary for your body to function the way it is designed to. Ever heard the term garbage in, garbage out? If you fill your body with garbage, it will look and feel like garbage. Pretty simple.

3. Is it working for other people?

Ok, this one comes with a caveat. When I set out to try something new or buy something, whether it’s new running shoes, a class I want to take, a campground, new gadget, you name it…I read reviews. I like hearing inside perspectives of what I’m looking into. HOWEVER, just because someone has a certain opinion, doesn’t mean I will go in the same direction they chose. The reasons for their decision as compared to what I value is important and should be considered during the deciding process. If I don’t jive with their way of looking at something, their opinion will hold less weight. Regardless, I like to hear what others have personally experienced!

4. Is it sustainable?

This is huge. Why buy into a program that will get you to your goal and leave you stranded and back at square one shortly after it’s over? A good weight loss plan will teach you new habits, without adding a ginormous amount of stress to your life. It will be something you will want to continue in your life indefinitely. The hard truth is that often times this way of doing things takes longer. However, if you want it to last and forego the endless merry-go-round with new diets, this really is the way to go!

5. What is my style?

This fits well with question #4. I am a busy working mom and know that something that takes a ton of prep and cooking from scratch is something that, although I would like to do, will not be realistic for me at this stage in my life. I am also a creature of habit. If I have a menu to follow that changes every single day, it will overwhelm me. I need streamlined, easy, as convenient as possible while still being very healthy. Others really prefer to have a lot of creative freedom with their nutrition. What works for me, may not work for you and vice versa. You have to find something that helps you make changes without feeling like you are torturing yourself!

In the end, habits will have to change, effort is required and not all of it will be breeze. A good program, however, will be something that makes you feel great and that is why you will stick with it! The hard stuff will feel so worth it!

Is “everything in moderation” a joke?

Are you sick and tired of hearing “everything in moderation”? Or maybe you are one who preaches this belief system?
One of my favorite podcasters, Chris Kresser, an expert in functional and integrative medicine, will take most health issues he is presented with and usually comes up with the same answer he has for everything before explaining himself. That answer: “it depends”. I LOVE this. Because, the truth is, it does depend. We are not one dimensional beings. We are complicated, in a good way (usually)!

“Everything in moderation” is something I live by. It jives with the 80/20 principle of eating. 80% of the time I’m really on top of eating clean, unprocessed, foods and focusing on the right amount of macro and micro nutrients for my body and activity type and level (not as complicated as it might sound…don’t be scared). The other 20%? That’s my ice cream, my donut on my friend’s birthday weekend, the coffee creamer I “shouldn’t” have but sorta love, the delicious chicken enchilada casserole I had at the church potluck today… You get the idea.

I know myself and this is what I know: I LOVE to be healthy. I love how it feels. I love what it does for my goals. I love the energy it gives me. I love that I don’t have a million health issues and take ZERO medication. I feel pretty darn good!

I also know, however, that if I go extreme in my diet, you won’t want to be around me. 🙂 Just sayin’. I will get grouchy. I will be far too focused on food. I will feel deprived and at the end of the night eat whatever might be considered edible in my kitchen and then polish it off with “that food” I wasn’t “supposed” to have. So. What’s the point. For me, this whole moderation thing works.

I also subscribe to the 80/20 thing when it comes to activity and exercise. I’m busy. I don’t like to sit down. I exercise regularly. However, there’s a thought in the health and fitness industry that 80% of your results will come from diet and the other 20% from exercise. I believe this to be true from my very own first hand experience. I mean for real…if I’m a regular at McDonald’s I can pretty much put money on it that my 40 minutes on the treadmill (or whatever your exercise might look like) is not going to be super effective. It’s that phrase I love so much: YOU CAN’T OUTRUN YOUR FORK. #truth

(***Disclaimer…you will NEVER see me at McDonald’s. Part of that is due to the level of unhealthy foods they offer and the other part of that is because I’m a snob. I won’t give money to people or businesses I don’t believe in. Period.***)

Here is where you might decide you don’t like me and my advice/perspective doesn’t serve you (ok maybe you already did, but obviously you’re still reading!)…this whole moderation idea does not apply to everyone and I totally get that. There are those with some pretty intense, underlying health issues that can’t survive by such guidelines. Understood. I’m that middle of the road girl. That’s the amazing thing about having so many different people out in the health and fitness world. There’s someone for everyone.

I’m the one that watches portions, listens to my body, eats really healthy MOST of the time and just LOVES to love life! I don’t want to stress over everything I’m eating all the time. Thankfully I don’t have to. I am mindful, and I move on.

NOW, that being said…I do think it takes some training to get yourself to the point where you know what moderation looks like…where portions come naturally and you can listen to your body when it is satisfied and not go beyond that point. Trust me, I wasn’t always able to do it. The 80/20 principle takes time to grasp. It’s a learning curve if you aren’t used to it. Absolutely.

One more point: when I am over focused on what I am eating, that brings my life more away from balance. Balance is my thing. I strive for that. I do not in the slightest bit believe I was put on this earth to stress over my food all day every day. To be healthy and to help others be healthy…heck yeah! There’s a pretty darn big difference.

I hope you all had a wonderful, restful, rejuvenating weekend with people you love and food you love! 🙂 My son and I made some pretty delish oatmeal cookies tonight…oh yes we did!

I’ll share the recipe in the “food” section of my site. Warning…it does contain things I would consider “healthy” such as craisins, whole wheat flour and flax. See…balance. 🙂

Love ya!

Choose Your Own Adventure

The other day I had to go to court. Yup. Traffic court. Yours truly earned herself a speeding ticket. When I saw those lovely red and blue lights behind me I was instantly ticked off. With me, with the officer, but then just with me, realizing…well…it was my fault. I actually caught myself speeding and just as I realized it and slowed down, the lights appeared. *sigh*
I observed the irritation I had and was kind of intrigued by it, realizing how automatic a reaction I had to blame someone else for what was clearly my fault. I had a moment with myself, talked myself back into reality. This was my wake up call that my life is just too busy. The reason (not excuse) for me speeding in that very moment was distraction. Not by my phone, or radio or other people in the car, or any other typical distractions; by my own thoughts and high gear that I had been running in all day….all week….for several years, really.

I went to court and stood in front of the judge and all the other people with my tail between my legs. When he asked if I had anything I wanted to say, in my head I was going through all the things that led me to this spot, the fine I had to pay and how I totally get that I deserved that, and how this little moment in court represented a wake up call for me…instead I said, “No”. He smiled at me, not a smirk, a smile. It told me that he knew and maybe appreciated that I “got it”.

What happened next almost sent me over the edge. This man walked up before the judge as I stepped to the side and got my paperwork from the court clerk. If there was an excuse to have, this guy had it. Literally I heard, “I am not used to this new bureaucracy…”, “I couldn’t pay my registration because I have this mental health stuff going on…”, “I don’t see the big deal with using your cell phone in a car…”. It took a lot to not turn around and say a few things to this guy. Then we walked out into the hall to pay our fines and I was privileged enough to hear more as he complained to the people in line with us and continued to plea his “not guilty” case.

This man is quite obviously a victim. I don’t just mean that day; he is a victim of life. The thing is, this is his choice. This guy, like many of us, has chosen to walk through life without an ounce of responsibility for himself. He wants the easy road. He wants to be babied and to escape any consequences bad choices might have for him.

So, there it is. We all have circumstances that occur in our lives that we do not plan for, ask for, nor want. Some circumstances occur because of our own choices. Regardless, what you do with those circumstances is what matters. That is the fork in the road we all choose. I’m not suggesting it’s easy to put your big person pants on and be an adult about things. Sometimes you just want to curl up in a ball and cry. And that is necessary from time to time. But, you do it for a time, a short time, and then you get up, brush yourself off, lift your chin, and decide what path you will follow next.

My fork in the road is deciding if I want to continue on in this unbalanced, high speed, auto pilot life I have created for myself. Yes, I realize being a single mom and trying to work my way into a better and better life for my son and myself carries some of that “busyness” necessarily…but not all of it. This is where I step into a conscious moment and take the steering wheel. I’m inviting you to do the same.

Christmas “stuff”

Wellllll. There goes Christmas and in a week we will be saying goodbye to 2014. I know we say it all the time…but, really…what happened to the year?!

The holiday season always makes us kind of take inventory of our lives, doesn’t it? This time of year brings joy and pain and struggle and closeness; creates memories as well as brings up hard ones. It’s a chaotic whirlwind that ends up in a pile of wrapping paper and ribbon in an unbelievable short amount of time. So much effort is put into creating this big show…this production that we hope impresses our loved ones, our neighbors, our coworkers. Some of us are really interested in it and some of us just go through the motions. The lights, the movies, the cookies and candy….so much. I really always love Christmas Eve and taking time out to go to church to quiet all of that and refocus on the reason for all the buzz. Today, we went on a hike and I felt like that was part 2 of that “refocusing”.

All of this is such a great metaphor for life. Constantly busy trying to GET more and BE more. We are professionals at being distracted. I mean…we’re good. This afternoon I went and watched the movie, “Wild” based off the book by Cheryl Strayed about her Pacific Crest Trail hike; but really, about her life. Have you seen it? More importantly…did you read it? We can sit here and debate the stupidness of some of her decisions regarding her hike; but I’m more interested in the “about her life” piece.

Here is a lady who physically removed herself from the “chaos of it all” and was able to, thankfully, set herself back on a good path after experiencing heartbreaking loss. She was able to get out there and be alone with her struggle to just stay alive and take care of her physical needs. It cut away all the excess struggles we often times create for ourselves. Granted, it’s sort of fairy-tale land for most of us to even consider “dropping” life for a few months to do something like that. Perhaps we can purpose to create lives that are just a little bit more mindful in the day-to-day stuff, though?

I don’t know. Sometimes I just don’t think I have “that” in me. Being more mindful. What does that look like? Have you ever seen the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”? Remember when she is…wherever she was, at a retreat perhaps…and she was trying to mediate in that room full of people. She was trying so hard and just so awkward about it. It seemed as though 20 minutes had passed with the way her mind raced from thing to thing. Then, she looks up just as the clock ticks over one minute. It had been one WHOLE minute that she had been sitting there “meditating”. Well, I’m that girl. I don’t like to force myself to be still. I don’t like it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing either. What I have discovered about myself is that I get centered and grounded through active things. Running and hiking and just being outside in general do that for me. Really working hard and sweating takes me to a different place physically and my mind and emotions follow suit. Writing is another form of that for me, but a good hard run is my absolute favorite.

So now that we’ve gone down that tangent…we’re going to go down the whole tangent of exercise and fitness in general. I mean, this is a health and fitness blog after all. 🙂 The bottom line when I am working with clients or participants in a class, is that I want to help them get to this “mindful space”. I truly believe that struggle with weight and health in general stems directly from our crazy relationship with distraction. It is a symptom of it. This is one HUGE reason it is so. darn. hard. to lose weight! It really is about changing mindset and lifestyle. FOOD IS OUR DRUG. It is. Watching “Wild” tonight made that realization surface for me once again as I watched her sabotage her life with drugs, sex, bad relationships. We use food and no one can say a darn thing about it…because “everybody’s doin’ it” AND we need food to survive. Dang that’s a hard one.

So to wrap it all up (excuse thebad pun), I challenge you each to think about this whole “mindfulness” thing. What works for you? How can you be more mindful in your life? Is there excess that needs trimming (I’m not taking about pant size…well, that too) that is unnecessary distraction? A worse crime than picking up another cookie, downing another soda and adding to your overflowing calorie allotment for the day, is the heart and mind numbing effect that takes place because of it. Think about that one for a few.

I truly hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

Real Moments

OHmygosh. I love these “real moments” we sometimes get when people let us see the “behind the scenes” stuff! Don’t you?! This was Thanksgiving & I was having my mom take pics for Christmas cards. I don’t remember what was going on here aside from the fact that I was going “full dork”. Apparently my little man was sick of it? I can only do so much of that without the, “MoooooM” look from him. Did you get that? It was Mom…totally dramatic. That last M was capitalized on purpose. He closes that word with vigor when he’s telling me “I’m done with your dorkiness”.

But isn’t it just FUN to drive our kids nuts sometimes?! 🙂 I do it in love.

I’ll tell ya what. That little guy keeps it real for me. That same night he sooooooo badly wanted to make a bed out in the living room and have a slumber party…just him and I. So, we did. We watched Elf (“I’m a cotton-headed ninny-muggins!”). We had a little fire in our fireplace. The dog decided to crash the party and lay ON me (she’s not little). It was awesome. I usually do work in the evenings and catch up with chores. I decided to just chill with my little man since he had been gone with his dad for 5 days and it was so great.

Do you ever notice your kiddos just really opening up to you more when you allow yourself to be less distracted? We can be “with” them and yet not be with them at all. So much distracts us these days. OHMYGOSH this is a huge struggle for me. I feel like just when I get home from work then other work is there for me. I have a really hard time just letting things be. It starts to stress me out and then it’s not good for anyone. I have recently really been putting effort into simplifying my life and focusing on really where I want my life to go. It’s a work in progress. BUT…I can see the effects on my son and it is GOOD!

Just sharing some reflections…

Sticking to it!

Wow, I have been so inspired by people I’ve had the privilege of coaching lately; whether that be individually, in a challenge group or in a class. It is motivating to me to see the hard work some of these people are putting into their plans and seeing it pay off! The truth is…there’s no magic potion or pill. Most of us really want that, though. Admit it. I’d sooooooo love to be able to sit down with a tub of ice cream at night and just go. to. town. AND wake up 5 pounds lighter. Magic.

It just sucks. It all takes work.

On the other hand…when it clicks and things are working…AMAZING. It feels beyond good to reap the benefits of honestly doing what it takes. It’s easy, though, to read a book, see an ad on TV, look at pictures in a magazine or WHATEVER and think, “OK. Today is the day!” How many times have you done that?

The things I have noticed in those who are just doing it?? Here it is…

They own it. Those who are really successful with a program don’t just do what is lined out, they tweak it to make it their own. They WANT to be successful and they do what it takes to make that happen. One gal in a class made a spreadsheet for herself to track her food in a way that really works for her. I’ve had other people make other charts that are similar. Some people take a Sunday and plan for the entire week ahead and that includes grocery shopping and food prep. Other’s need the freedom of having certain choices and then picking what they want dependent upon what they feel like that day. Being creative and building upon a program really makes it YOURS and makes it work for you. The one thing I would be careful about…NOT doing the program. Don’t change it so much that you aren’t doing it! It’s about enhancing a program, not nixing it altogether bit by bit.

They DO it. Ok, this might sound weird following the paragraph you just read. However, I have to emphasis the last part of that point…the program still needs to be followed. Make sense? Probably not. Am I confusing you? If you have a certain amount of food you are supposed to eat (yes I’m talking about calories) and you are supposed to exercise a certain amount of days per week (granted there are other parameters, but let’s keep it simple)…then do that. BUT, you can make up your own recipes, do the kind of exercise that you like, workout in the morning OR afternoon…up to you, etc. The bottom line is, you still have to do it if you want the benefits of following the program.

Little rant…there really are a gazillion programs and plans out there floating around that WILL work (even if some of them aren’t the healthiest options!!!). People go on and off of those programs daily. Is it the program’s fault?? Typically not. Unless you have underlying issues, such as thyroid, you’re on a particular medication, etc, then you should have success on a plan that you are indeed following. But, are you actually following it like you think you are? Or sneaking bits of this and that? Oops, too busy to workout for the third day in a row… It was so and so’s birthday, so I HAD to have the cake so they didn’t think I was rude (but I had two pieces! AND three pieces of pizza). Are ya pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down here? That leads to my next point…

They want it. Those people who want something SHOW it and they do something about it. They don’t just buy a book or sign up for a class. They have taken a good, hard look in the mirror and decided that how they feel now is not worth it. No excuse is good enough for these people. Instead of saying, “well, Thanksgiving is coming so I’ll be eating and hanging out with family…” they do what one of the participants in a class I’m teaching told me tonight. She said she’s aware of Thanksgiving and being away from home and around other family and she’s nervous about how she’s going to fit in her workouts…so she’s coming up with a plan ahead of time. YES. Of course there’s a fine line. We don’t wan’t people to freak out if they can’t workout and then end up obsessed and in a very unhealthy place (I have lived that life and I don’t miss it). But, if you have a significant amount of weight to lose and you can be honest and be real about the fact that if it’s not that excuse then it’s something else…then YOU, my friend, need to worry far less about becoming obsessive and fare MORE about DOING THE WORK!!!! Are you an excuse maker or an excuse smasher?? Get rid of them!!

If they fall, they get up immediately! Key word here is “immediately”! It’s one thing to slip up and have more than you thought you would at the part, or have an emotional day and use food to comfort you. However, do NOT let that carry into the next day. Start fresh and NO LOOKING BACK. We all mess up. We all stumble. You have to keep going and pretty soon those fumbles will happen less and less. I promise.

That’s really it in a nutshell. I could go on and on about this. Don’t be surprised if you are doing awesome and I come to you to pick your brain about it! I want to help other people have that same drive. It kind of fascinates me how some people just dig in and GO and others just chase their tails. What gives??? I am going to find out!

With that said…have yourselves a beautiful Thanksgiving! And, I hope you enjoy your last days of November as we get closer to Winter!!!

Love & blessings,

The faith conundrum

Well. How to start a post like this… My faith is huge to me…HUGE. It drives my health and fitness. Running or hiking are two of my favorite ways to connect with God. By myself, sometimes with music, sometimes not. Out in the elements, whether that’s heat, snow, rain, wind…I LOVE those times. I crave those times. That’s when my head and heart get clear.

There’s more, though.

One of the biggest messages I “get” from the Christian perspective is that people think focusing on themselves is selfish. I say “get” because it’s something I observe more than something people say out loud. I think focusing on your fitness and nutrition is categorized as vanity. Selfisness.

What’s the truth here? Sure, I agree 110% that one can easily go to an extreme and become shallow and motivated by purely appearance and attention, etc. What I see more often, however, is faith being used as an excuse NOT to seek a healthy lifestyle. We don’t want to be perceived as being focused on worldly things. We fear what people will say about us. Really, what I think we really fear is work! Honestly…this excuse to not be caught up in ourselves is something to hide behind.

Now, take a minute to think of what we are doing when we are ignoring our health. Food can be a very intense drug for some. It can be worse than drugs or alcohol in terms of the grip it can have on our hearts and spirits. We worship it. We love it so much we dream about it, obsess about it, can’t say no to it. It is the centerpiece to most of our gatherings and times of fellowship. We are “fellowshipping” ourselves into an early grave.

Food tends to help us numb out. It becomes a buffer between us and people and us and God. If you don’t see this, try getting together with people and NOT eating. Try fasting and spending some time praying. Give up your evening ice cream and spend some quiet time instead. Woah. That’s boring. What’s the point? The point is…food is a huge distraction.

What I suggest is balance. Balance can be pretty hard to figure out when you’re used to….well…not having balance. Having normal portions and exercising regularly…you would be surprised how much serenity that brings to your life. Having just enough and allowing your soul to breathe…it’s kind of nice. NOT hiding behind desserts, but really connecting with people. Amazing. Feeling strong and healthy and better able to be there for others. Wow. Why would any of this not be a good thing?

I really challenge you to think deeply about your excuses for not taking the steps to create strong and good habits in your health and fitness. Be real about who you want to be, who you think God wants you to be and what that means in terms of your health and fitness. I would LOVE to hear from you and know what it is you came up with….even if you disagree with me!

Remember…YOU are entirely up to YOU!

Love and blessings…

Stress and Adrenal Fatigue: What next??

I particularly run across women who deal with adrenal fatigue to the point that it has really messed with their hormones (however this is not just a female issue). What does this look like? It’s different for each person depending upon the severity of the adrenal issues, the health and balance in their body and life in general, their diet, age, etc. It is, obviously, a multidimensional issue.

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone….say that three times fast!) is one main androgen produced by the adrenal glands. DHEA is our support when cortisol is out of control. It helps to balance out of balance cortisol issues. DHEA works to protect our bone density and cardiovascular health. It fights bad cholesterol and gives us energy both physically and mentally as well as helps us maintain normal sleep patterns. DHEA is our friend especially when fighting stress of any kind (this can be physical stress just as much as emotional or mental, etc.). DHEA is key in the manufacturing of testosterone as well, therefore libido is at the mercy of DHEA levels. Anyone experience a good amount of stress for a prolonged period and find that you’re just not “in the mood”? Bingo.

Something important to understand is that when stress becomes chronic, it will damage adrenal functioning in such a way that symptoms just don’t go away once the stress is relieved. When you’re body has been out of balance long enough and depending upon the severity, it takes a good amount of work to get things back to a healthy point. Sometimes damage is permanent. Here is a perfect example: my mom was engaged to a man when she was in her early 20’s. From the stories I hear they had quite a close relationship. He became terminally ill. My mom spent months taking care of him. Think of what occurs mentally, emotionally and physically when we encounter such circumstances in our lives. Physical demands of taking care of someone who is terminally ill can be extreme, sleep deprivation, lifting, cleaning up, around the clock work, etc. The mental strain of figuring out how to manage finances, understand medical issues… Then the biggest piece is emotional. I really cannot even imagine. In that position you are likely tying to remain strong while caring for your loved one and yet your world is falling apart and chaotic. When my mom’s fiance passed away, her thyroid quit. Period. It was done.

This example shows us what can happen on an extreme level. My mom’s doctor said that this is something that may not happen to everyone in such a situation, but it definitely happens. Essentially, her body was in a high state of stress for such a period of time that things went to the next level. If you can imagine a little factory inside each of us with the workers trying to do their job… Her adrenal glands were working triple time trying to manage levels such as cortisol that become out of control in response to stress. They got tired. They just couldn’t keep up with it for that long and to that level. When your adrenal glands get tired and take a time out, then everything else is affected. Your thyroid is next to give.

Please understand that this is not a situation in which there is a quick switch. There is a gradual eroding that occurs. We can deal with quite a good amount of stress and bounce back. However, if the stress continues or if you aren’t eating right, sleeping enough, if you smoke, etc., or if the stress is beyond what a human being is designed to handle (unthinkable situations unfortunately), then this downward spiral will start.

If you are in the beginning stages of adrenal fatigue, simple steps can be taken to help remedy the situation. I know when I am dipping into the “danger zone” because I am tired no matter how much sleep I get, I might become more emotional, I don’t have energy to do things I love, my immune system isn’t strong, I get depressed, etc. My stress comes from a busy lifestyle and raising a kiddo on my own. So, for people like me it’s fairly straight forward. I know this is when I need to take some things off my plate, say “no” to some stuff. This is when I need a night out with friends (seriously) to take my mom hat off and not worry about my five jobs! Ha! Funny, but true. However, I also know its when I need to ask for help, because when I am home from my girls night out, I still have a ton of stuff to do that is too much for one person. So, I have learned to say “help”. I eat well and exercise and rely on my faith…these are POWERFUL tools, my friends!! So, for me I know my problem is that I have become overloaded.

For others it is not such an easy fix. My mom’s example is one such situation. When the stress is more involved with emotion, it gets tricky. There are plenty of people walking around this earth who deal with PTSD that is from crazy childhoods or abusive relationships in some form or fashion or severe self-esteem issues. This is very real and will absolutely have a detrimental impact on your physical body as much as any other kind of stress, in fact, quite possibly more than other forms of stress! I am a huge advocate of therapy for really anyone. We all go through things that require a third party, a professional, to guide us through more healthy ways of dealing. For those who have experienced chronic abuse of any form or deal with more deep emotional and mental issues ongoing professional help is essential. This is not to be taken lightly. Our society is so backwards with mental health issues. There is nothing wrong with seeing a counselor. If my body is sick somehow, I take myself to the doctor. If you’re sick more on the inside…your having heart and head issues…take yourself to the doctor! There are some very wonderful therapists that can help you really change the course of your life. You don’t need to suffer. And, I promise, you’re not the only one. Us Americans like to make sure everything looks good on the outside and we like to focus on our cool “stuff” and having our kids involved in every sport available and just being “so busy”…but often times there are a lot of things we are unnecessarily masking with all of that. It’s not worth it. If you ignore it for too long, you will most definitely pay for it physically. Take care of yourself! If not for yourself…for your loved ones.

If you have crossed the line into extreme levels and it’s not just a matter of taking better care of yourself via better diet, exercise, decreasing stress…you will need to work with a doctor. Here’s where things get tricky. I mentioned in my previous post on adrenal fatigue that main stream medicine doesn’t necessarily recognize adrenal fatigue. They’ll help you when you reach the point that your thyroid is broken. I would highly recommend a doctor who practices naturopathic medicine if you feel your doc isn’t on the same page. I am not discounting main stream doctors! I go to one…I work for one! I really believe we need both. I pray and rely on my faith a lot, but I take ibuprofen if I have cramps. That’s a very simplified example of what I am trying to say. Naturopathic doctors will look at things main stream docs won’t and vice versa. With stuff like this you want to make sure you have someone who is looking at the full spectrum, because this is about seeking good health before it gets to a critical point in which you will most assuredly need some medication. Bioidential hormone therapy, DHEA, etc…these are things you might be looking at in terms of help if you are at this point and seek out a naturopathic doc. You will go through extensive testing as well. It is worth it to be your own advocate friends!


Love & Blessings