adrenal fatigue

Are you “exer-hausted”? Could Be Adrenal Fatigue!

You’re exercising regularly…but you just seem to run out of steam before the end of the workout. It’s basically taking every ounce of your energy just to squeeze that workout in, then you’re spent for the rest of the day… dragging your arse around work and schlepping the kids around is an even bigger chore.

You take longer to recover than you used to…like several days, instead of just a quick 24 hour turn-around. Your muscles are tight and sore, and not that rewarding kind of soreness, like “I just did a kick-ass super woman workout yesterday” sore. And now it seems like you always have a ‘bum knee’ or cranky hips as well.

You’re not even seeing results anymore, although you’re exercising harder or more often than ever.

To top it all off, adding insult to injury (literally)…you’re GAINING WEIGHT! What kind of cruel, sick joke is this?!

Can you relate? Well, that was certainly me…”exer-hausted” just 2 years ago. And yes, I made that term up 😀

Exer-haustion: One of the Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

After years of suffering with a myriad of seemingly unrelated mystery symptoms, in September 2014 I was finally (!!!) diagnosed with hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), adrenal fatigue (more appropriately named adrenal dysfunction = adrenals that aren’t performing as they should) & hypercortisolism = a stress hormone switch that wouldn’t turn off!

Can you imagine feeling “stressed” and “under attack” every minute of every day?!

This came hitched with secondary diagnoses of leaky gut syndrome, low iron/borderline anemia, and B6 & B12 vitamin deficiencies — all likely stemming from the long-standing, untreated hypothyroidism. More specifically, a lack of efficient conversion of the thyroid hormones T4 to the more active T3.

This crazy combination of hormonal disharmony had likely been the cause of my IBS, poor sleep, erratic moods, anxiety, heart palpitations, depression, lack of libido, jawline cystic acne, hair loss (head, eyebrows & eyelashes), poor body temperature regulation (the sweat, oh the sweat!), poor exercise performance & recovery (or “exer-haustion”) and I was consistently gaining weight at a rate of 1/2 pound per week for months on end despite consistent, regular exercise (running & weight training).

Which all left me terribly frustrated to say the least. More like devastated, flat-lined and even more depressed!

In fact, by the time I was completely fed up, I had managed to put back on over 30 pounds (after I had finally just lost my 30 lbs of baby weight – grrrr!), and decided to put the brakes on this runaway freight train!

Other Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue (or Adrenal Dysfunction/Imbalance):

From WomenToWomen.com

  • Blood pressure:  High or low blood pressure are signs to be aware of. Low blood pressure can often have the symptom of lightheadedness associated with it.
  • Energy:  Unable to stop, always on speed forward, ongoing fatigue, lack of stamina, feeling tired and wired much of the time. Lack of get up and go.*Plus poor exercise performance, longer recovery times & lack of results = exer-haustion!
  • Emotions and coping ability:  Inability to deal with day to day stress, feeling overwhelmed much of the time, struggling to get through the day, driven, having a very “short fuse”, anxiety attacks, and/or unable to reframe ones thinking.
  • Thinking:  Mentally foggy, fuzzy thinking, inability to stay focused on one task, chronic racing thoughts.
  • Immune response:  Frequent infections, taking a longer time than others to recover from illness or infections or trauma.
  • Sleep:  Inability to fall asleep or falling asleep well but waking up nightly. Sleeping soundly but waking up exhausted.
  • Hormones/Libido:  Worsening of peri-menopausal symptoms, low libido, severe PMS.
  • Food cravings and weight changes:  Abnormal weight gain in the abdomen and thighs. Do you have cravings for salty or sugary foods, sometimes feeling uncontrollable?

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hormone balancing foods

Foods to Balance Your Hormones & Reduce Inflammation

Hot flashes, unrelenting fatigue, thinning hair, joint pain, no libido, dry skin, brittle nails and weight loss resistance? Oooohhh, the resistant weight! Any of that sound like you?

Maybe you’ve got whacked-out hormones? Me too, or at least I used to!

Think about it: do you know a woman who IS well-balanced in their health & hormones but who also has issues with their hair, skin, nails, sleep/fatigue, menstrual cycles &/or weight? Not likely!

When hormones are in balance, the body & mind are in tune. Nature is smart that way.

According to Dr. Josh Axe:

“Hormonal imbalances affect many millions of people worldwide, in the forms of common disorders like diabetes, thyroid disorders, menstrual irregularities, infertility, low testosterone and estrogen dominance. Causes for hormonal imbalances include poor gut health, inflammation, high amounts of stress, genetic susceptibility, and toxicity.”

I used to have multiple hormonal imbalances (due to many of the factors listed above including undiagnosed hypothyroidism) until I discovered some key foods that are known for having hormone balancing elements.

In my recent DIY beauty blog series that highlighted the potential impact of what we put ON our body, it’s equally important, if not more so, to be mindful of what we put IN our body – especially in the pursuit of better hormonal health & balance.

I now try to incorporate several of these foods into my daily diet and, combined with other lifestyle changes like a better sleep routine, this makes up my overall hormone balancing + anti-inflammation strategy. In addition to a few other tweaks in my diet like having a high-protein, high-fat, low-carb breakfast, I’m also exercising daily using my “hormone fit method” as well as scheduling in daily self-care and using stress management tools.

I’ll fill you in on my Hormone Fit Method soon too 😉

My Top 10 Hormone Balancing Foods

Of course THIS had to be first on this list!

1) Dark chocolate

As I wrote in my blog post: Chocolate: Friend with Benefits, chocolate made from 70% or more natural cacao has been shown to:

Dark chocolate is a great source of the mineral Magnesium – critical in many of the body’s hormonal processes.

Cocoa butter, the natural source of fat that is extracted from cacao beans is what gives chocolate its silky “mouth feel”. It’s also amazing in DIY skin beauty products!

Why dark and not milk chocolate?

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DIY beauty skin

DIY Beauty for Skin

Has your skin lost its glow? Could it be your gloomy beauty routine?

Get back to radiant!

Did you know that the skin is our largest organ and it absorbs ~60% of what it comes in contact with?

Our bodies then store and try to make use of some of that, all having to be metabolized by the liver – our body’s major detoxification channel.

Most of the store-bought products that we choose to smear on our faces and slop on our bodies in the hopes of having smooth, unwrinkled, and unblemished skin are some of the most toxic substances we can expose ourselves, and our children, to.

The average person is exposed to hundreds, and possibly thousands of chemicals before they even leave the house in the morning. Sulphates, phthalates, parabens, triclosan, artificial colours and fragrances, even formaldehyde…good grief!

The solution? DIY beauty for skin

Ever heard the saying, “if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin”?

A good start would be to make the switch from conventional, big brand beauty to the more natural products that are now widely available.

But taking that a step further, and from my recent DIY Beauty for Hair post, why not try the “kitchen beautician” approach with your beauty regime by using at least a few homemade products? It really is incredibly easy and many of the ingredients can be found right in your kitchen!

Did you ever witness your Grandma using her old school apple cider vinegar (ACV) for things other than on salads? Mine would put it in her bathwater which I’ve come to understand is how that beautiful 92 year old woman is so well preserved…she pickled herself for all those years! ;-D

All kidding aside, you would be amazed at what this multi-tasking “virtuous vinegar” can do.

Some interesting uses for Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV):

  • underarm deodorant – and no, it won’t leave you smelling like a salad, or like Grandma for that matter!
  • added to bone broth to help draw out minerals and other nutrients in the bones while simmering for 18+ hours.
  • as a drinkable tonic for improved digestion and better blood sugar control – ACV is known to be high in antioxidants and organic acids; drink 1 tsp raw, unpasteurized ACV in 1 cup warm water 30 minutes before meals; drink through a straw to protect the enamel on your teeth. 
  • as a holistic acne treatment, both internally & externally – because of its astringent, antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties

Positive Health & Wellness advises that to get the most benefits out of using ACV, whether internally or externally, be sure to use unpasteurized, unfiltered ACV with “the Mother” in it, like Bragg’s.

Also be sure to dilute ACV when using it on the skin, and to rinse your mouth out after drinking if taking as a tonic.

The one exception, according to the Thank Your Skin ~ Ultimate Acne Guide is when using ACV as an acne spot treatment: just apply a single drop of vinegar to your pimple, allow to sit overnight, and watch it decrease in size and redness.

6 DIY Beauty for Skin Recipes

Again, here’s where you get to play Kitchen Beautician, rounding up ingredients right from your own kitchen.

We know the WHY of using apple cider vinegar in beauty products – but what about green tea?

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DIY beauty hair

DIY Beauty for Hair

Hair lost its lustre? Maybe it’s your dull beauty routine?

Shine it up!

As you can probably tell, I’m already a pretty holistic livin’ gal, but I’ve been trying to be even more mindful in my beauty routine.

Most of the store-bought products that we choose to slather on our strands, smear on our faces and slop on our bodies in the hopes of having soft, shiny hair and smooth, unwrinkled, and unblemished skin are some of the most toxic substances we can expose ourselves, and our children, to.

Sulphates, phthalates, parabens, triclosan, artificial colours and fragrances, even formaldehyde…oh my!

With all of that in mind: Could your beauty products actually be making you sick, depressed and overweight?

So now that I’ve used some scare tactics with you, why not try a more “naked” approach with your beauty regime? How about trying out some homemade products, and maybe introduce a new one each week into your routine?

It’s super easy and you really don’t have to look any further than your own kitchen!

 

Be a Kitchen Beautician: 6 DIY Beauty for Hair Recipes

There’s nothing I love more (besides kale chips) than to whip up my own beauty products!

Today’s holistic adventure is DIY Beauty for your Hair with recipes that replace your hormone-disrupting, gunk-filled shampoo & conditioners with 100% gunk-free recipes that will leave your hair silky, manageable, tangle & frizz-free.

These are suitable for most hair types but especially suited to medium to long hair, dry/coarse hair & curls.

They’re also safe, and recommended for children’s hair, especially #4 on the list. If you’ve got a little girl with long hair who screams every time you brush it, like mine does…these will be your saving grace!

By the way, for ideas of how to beautify your hair from the inside out – check out my colourful article about How to Reverse Grays Naturally.

 

DIY Beauty for Hair Recipe #1: ACV Hair Rinse (no-poo method)

Got unruly, over-styled hair? Tame the frizzies and get back to basics with only a few ingredients found in your kitchen.

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beauty products hormonal balance

Are Your Beauty Products Causing a Hormonal Imbalance?

Your bath, beauty, and cleaning products may be making you sick, depressed, and overweight!

Adapted from a guest post for Gold Mountain Beauty

By the time you leave your home in the morning, you may have been exposed to hundreds of chemicals. Think about the toothpastes, shaving creams, deodorants, soap and lotions, shampoos and conditioners, laundry detergent and fabric softeners, and makeup that you wouldn’t dare go without. Those products all contain chemicals that can lead to a hormonal imbalance.

Common Chemicals Found in Beauty Products

Skin is our largest organ. It absorbs a lot of what it comes in contact with—more than you might imagine. Then, it’s up to our liver to metabolize those chemicals. Unfortunately, a lot of those chemicals are not healthy. For example:

The David Suzuki Foundation reports that U.S. researchers found that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals.

Signs Your Hormones Are Out of Whack

Unfortunately, these chemicals are not widely known by consumers in general, but may be especially foreign to those experiencing hormonal imbalances. This is simply because we don’t tend to think of the contents of our bathroom cabinets as being part of the root cause of hormonal upset.

And when your hormones are out of whack, you may be plagued by symptoms such as brain fog, anxiety, depression, disturbed sleep, decreased libido, weight gain, especially around the belly, as well as undesirable changes in your hair, skin, and nails. Which is especially frustrating as these are the things we’re trying to beautify in the first place 🙁

What’s the solution?

Start by throwing all of your beauty products – and bath & cleaning products, in the garbage and then go au naturel.

Ok, so that’s not likely going to happen!

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exercising not losing weight

Exercising, But Not Losing Weight?

I recently wrote a post as to why the number on the bathroom scale wasn’t moving in the desired direction, despite your best efforts.

I wanted to further expand on those ideas in this post because it’s something many people, especially women – are often frustrated by at some point in their lives.

Like me. Right NOW.

Ok, so you’re exercising regularly. Maybe even daily. Maybe even “hard” by all accounts – but that pudge won’t budge?!

Here are all the reasons why you’re exercising and you’re still not losing weight, as adapted from Jennifer Cohen’s article on News.Health.com, plus my own personal and professional experiences.

You’re exercising, but you’re still eating what?!

“If you’re not shedding the pounds, or your sustainable weight dropping efforts have stalled — the first place you should look is in the kitchen.”

~ Krista Goncalves, Holistic Nutritionist

BTW, you’ll notice that I don’t often use the term “weight loss”…because I strongly dislike it! It implies that the weight shed from our bodies is only temporary as it can be found again (insert big frownie face). I prefer “effective or sustainable weight drop” to describe the process or journey of shedding unhealthy pounds from one’s body.

Phew, glad we got THAT out of the way!

The Wrong Foods

People are often so focused on burning off calories through exercise that they don’t consider what foods they’re actually putting in their bodies as FUEL.

It is my belief that your daily diet, or daily nutrition, should be 75-90% of the focus where body weight goals are concerned, especially when it comes to significant body composition changes, i.e. fat loss & muscle gain.

The particular foods you should be eating, and in what combination, depend on your body type, metabolic rate, as well as some other factors. But it’s always been my advice to stick to all natural, whole foods.

Consider eating most of your fruit & starchier carbohydrates, like sweet potatoes, brown rice, and whole grains on days when you do strength training or more intense exercise.

Then on your rest days, or when you’re doing light cardio &/or yoga, try to stick to just protein, some good fats, a bit of low-glycemic/low-fructose fruit, like apples, pears & berries, and gobs of veggies, while limiting all other starchy foods.

Also, try to greatly limit excess bread, sugar, and anything else that’s processed. Look for foods that have the fewest ingredients on the label—if you can’t pronounce it, it likely isn’t capable of fueling your body.

By the way, it’s not necessarily about what you’ve eaten in any given day, it’s what you’ve eaten over the course of the week that drives balance – think about it in a cumulative sense.

Too Much Food + Excess Energy Intake

If you’ve already cleaned up your diet by eating all of the “right foods”, and you’re still not shedding weight – it may be that you’re simply taking in too much. This often happens if you’re unknowingly “drinking your calories“.

In order to shed pounds your body needs to run an energy (calorie) deficit, meaning you need to burn more than you consume.

Exercising is obviously one way in which we can create a caloric deficit. But what is often more important is consuming less or restricting energy intake. This does not mean counting every calorie we consume!! There are other ways to gauge energy intake.

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sensory deprivation float

Floating Naked in the Dark – Float Therapy Review

Consider this: there are upwards of 70,000 thoughts going through your mind in any one day and the average person speaks at a rate of 110-150 words per minute.

  • What should I make for dinner? Should I go to the gym before dinner? Screw it, I’m skipping the gym and ordering pizza.
  • Why are my kids such circus animals – is it my fault? No, definitely their dad’s fault.
  • Did I respond to that email? Oh no, did I hit ‘Reply All’ to that email?! Crap, I’m gonna be fired!

Blah, blah, blah.

But what if you could turn off all of that internal and external “chatter”, even for an hour or so?

Get that hamster off the perpetual squeaky wheel and just listen to the gentle rhythm of your own breathing. Naked. In the dark.

Sounds like a fanciful, impossible task. But it is possible and within reach.

Float Therapy

I recently found myself doing just such a thing, while floating buck naked in a pitch dark tank full of salt water for 90 minutes on a Saturday morning.

I had been thinking about trying sensory deprivation or float therapy for quite some time. Then I finally got my salt together and decided to go for it.

So let me sink into my whole experience (inperience?) and give you my honest opinion on whether I think it’s worth its brine… all 1000 pounds of it.

But first, a bit of background on the origins of sensory deprivation.

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stress management

Stress Management & Self Care

What did a Nutritionist do to R-E-L-A-X this past long weekend?

Slept! Spent time with girlfriends. Enjoyed long walks and adult conversation by the water. Sipped good red wine. Star gazed.

Being a busy Mom of two young children while trying to work from home at the same time (‘trying’ being the operative word) can be difficult and downright stressful. There’s no doubt that stress affects each of us differently, or rather, we each handle it differently.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my journey back to better health — it’s to take extra measures to manage stress, because it truly is TOXIC. I’ve learned better coping mechanisms (red wine??) and how to unload some it all together.

Stress Management Tool Kit

A well-rounded Stress Management Tool Kit should include most, if not all of the following components:

  • Learn to recognize the signs of stress

    The Fusion Model says to “get familiar with what an emotional hijack looks and feels like. Learn to ‘tune in’ to the signs and symptoms of an adrenaline rush.”

  • Mindfulness

    This simply means living consciously in the present moment, instead of being derailed by worry, anger or fear. Mindfulness encourages you to notice thoughts and feelings without clutching at them or being dragged along with their, often harmful, effects. It is best practiced for a few minutes or longer, once, or better still, several times a day.

    Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is the formal name of a distinct program for stress management, the principles of which were introduced to Western medicine in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.

  • Breathing techniques

    Breathing techniques, such as Left Nostril Breathing. This works well when you’re experiencing an especially stressful situation, or when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get that hamster off that blasted squeaky wheel!

  • Walking or other forms of daily exercise, preferably in nature

  • Quality, restorative sleep

    If you do not have adequate quality sleep, nothing else will fall in line. Exercise habits (you’ll be too tired), mood (you’ll be cranky), nutrition (you’ll crave comfort food), work (you’ll lack concentration), patience with kids (you’ll have none), and talk about “not tonight honey…”

Stress is one of the main factors causing insomnia and other sleep disorders. When stressors are present, the body naturally heightens its response system, thus, leading to wakefulness.

Did you know that 42% of Americans report lying awake at night due to stress? ~ American Psychological Association Stress in America Report 2013

  • A personalized set of Self Care options, practiced daily

    Check out the list of 30 ideas below to get started right now!

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