There were days when I just wanted to go home from work and crawl under the covers. And never come out.
It seemed like I struggled more than everyone else around me at work. I could barely keep my eyes open plus it took all my energy to concentrate on a simple conversation. I constantly felt like my brain was made of cotton.
Life isn’t supposed to be this exhausting, is it???
The problem is that we, as women, are told that it’s normal to feel tired often as we get older. And if you have a family to take care of? Well, of course you’re going to feel exhausted…but that’s life so just get on with it!
How many times have you been told this, or something like it?
The truth is, no one should live their lives feeling exhausted, struggling to concentrate and feeling like a fraud in their home life or their career. No one should consistently, day after day, feel as though they aren’t living a normal life. Or feel frustrated and deeply saddened that they aren’t having as much fun as their friends.
Introducing Adrenal Fatigue…
I first learned about adrenal fatigue while studying for my holistic nutrition certification. The idea that chronic stress could deplete your energy so much was kind of a ground-breaking discovery for me. So, too, was the concept that you could actually manage and reverse the symptoms of adrenal fatigue naturally!
This is the best part because there is no cure for adrenal fatigue. At least not in the world of Western medicine. Most medical doctors don’t even think adrenal fatigue is a real ‘thing’!
Women are told to sleep more, suck it up, and move on when they go to their doctors about chronic fatigue. No one ever asks them about what’s going on in their lives – we just assume that busy moms and career women equals a lot of tiredness.
Feeling sick and tired, the classic adrenal fatigue symptoms, is NOT normal!
The Fascinating World of Nutrition and Disease
Learning about adrenal fatigue and how it relates to so many other health symptoms kind of blew my mind. I am fascinated by how interconnected everything is in our bodies. What you eat, what you think, what you say, what you do…it’s ALL going to ultimately affect how well your adrenals function.
Adrenal fatigue results from chronic stress. If you live a busy life, constantly on the go, working at a job with lots of deadlines and pressure, chances are, if you’re feeling tired all the time, your adrenals need a little love.
When I first got my adrenal fatigue “diagnosis”, my instinct was to learn more. I poured over books and scientific articles about this condition to try to figure out if there was anything I could actually do to feel better.
And, there absolutely are things to try!
Clean up your diet as best as you can. The adrenals, especially when you’re stressed, are sensitive to inflammation caused by poor food choices. Sugar is the worst offender, but of course dairy and gluten are problems, too.
The adrenals are also sensitive to how much of certain foods you’re eating. They need healthy fats so that your body has the resources required to make the stress hormones. But, women with adrenal fatigue need whole grains regularly and will not do well on certain diets (i.e. paleo, keto).
And, of course, tons of fresh fruits and vegetables can really help nourish the adrenals and boost overall energy.
Physical activity is a bit of a balancing act when it comes to women with adrenal fatigue. Exercise helps to reduce your body’s stress response, which is vital to helping you overcome many of the symptoms you feel. However, too much exercise will spike your stress hormones and further deplete your adrenals.
So, if you feel sick, tired, irritable, and don’t respond well to stress, make sure that you exercise only to what your body’s energy levels tell you to. Some days you may feel amazing and want to run 3 miles. Other days you may just want to walk slowly on a treadmill or even skip exercise altogether. That’s okay! As long as you listen to your body.
I’m sure you know that the adrenals are related to stress, right? When you experience any type of stress, these two walnut-sized glands release hormones to help you adapt to the stress.
One hormone is cortisol, which helps to mobilize energy to prepare for fight or flight. Cortisol triggers your liver and muscles to release stored glucose into the blood. When that blood glucose isn’t used up during fight or flight (which is very common today as we don’t tend to do either in response to stress), insulin shunts it to storage in fat cells in the belly.
Another hormone is aldosterone. Aldosterone helps control blood pressure and a good indication your adrenals need some love is if you always feel thirsty, no matter how much water you drink.
And, finally, we have adrenaline, which is another hormone that gets us ready for action!
Because of its interconnections with other body organs, there are actually more hormones at play during a stress response but cortisol and aldosterone are the ones we’ll focus on now.
What all this means is that it’s very important that you learn to manage stress. It doesn’t matter how you do this so long as you are able to relax, worry less, and enjoy a few things in life often.
If you aren’t sure where to start, 5-10 deep belly breaths a few times a day is great!
Adrenal fatigue is something that too many women deal with. Many don’t realize it. By cleaning up your diet, ditching sugar, exercising according to your body’s energy, and managing stress, you will begin to feel more energetic. And eventually those feelings of being sick and tired will start to go away!