So you’re going through life feeling like you are surviving rather than thriving. Maybe you’ve got little ones, a business, a house to clean, and a husband to care for and you’re feeling like you are running in overdrive.
Maybe you are fatigued, experience headaches, have high cholesterol, weight problems, develop autoimmune diseases or hormonal imbalances that you just cannot figure out. You are overwhelmed more easily, you have low or no sex drive, and everything you eat seems to make you bloated.
If this is you then you’re likely exhausted and rely on caffeine and sugar to get you through the day and its affecting your ability to function and care for your family, perform at work and enjoy your life.
Many women struggle with these symptoms compounded with not sleeping well- some unable to fall asleep, some waking up multiple times. In addition memory and concentration suffer. ‘
You just want to feel yourself again.
Let me tell you, this does NOT have to be your new normal!
What could be going on is your body is in sympathetic overdrive. Months or years of multiple influences such as chronic stress, food sensitivities, gut imbalances, toxic overload, and even hidden infections (often viral) has overwhelmed two important organs – your thyroid and adrenal glands.
Symptoms you have been in Sympathetic Overload
Many of my clients come to me originally wanting to lose weight or suspecting a hormone imbalance but the at the root of the problem is sympathy overload.
- Need coffee to start day
- tired wired
- you wake up tired
- tired during the day
- feeling like you need a pick me up between 3-4PM
- stressed overwhelmed
- low sex drive
- cravings for sugar, salt, fatty foods, or carbs
- low blood pressure
- overweight, diff losing weight
- mood changes – blues, anxiety
- PCOS, endometriosis, irregular cycles
- sick easily
- hives, or allergic tendencies
- autoimmune diagnosis
- high blood sugar, insulin resistance
- feeling like you never accomplish enough and always pushing to do more
- digestion issues- gas, blasting
You have two walnut sized adrenal glands that sit on top of each of your kidneys. Tiny and mighty, these glands secrete a variety of different hormones and chemicals necessary for survival. The two we will discuss today are adrenalin (epinephrine) and cortisol. Together they regulate your blood sugar, level of inflammation, ability to fight infection, fat storage, energy, sex drive, hormone cycles, and fertility. They also play a critical role in providing you with fuel to escape a dangerous situation.
When you are in a stressful situation, real or perceived, your body responds to the threat by producing adrenaline. This causes increased heart rate, moves blood away from digestive organs to your muscles allowing you to fight if needed. Your respiratory system will dilate to allow for more oxygen, your blood pressure rises, your immune system mobilizes its defenses, your pupils dilate, and you are in a state of hyper vigilance (meaning you are alert and sensitive to everything). In the short term adrenaline is a rush , it keeps you on the edge of your seat in a scary movie, or provides the thrill of a rollercoaster ride, but when it becomes activated too often it can leave you feeling wired, always on edge, negatively affect your heart, and elevate blood pressure to name a few.
After just minutes of a stressor, your brain senses that you are in danger and cortisol production and release occurs. Cortisol frees up glucose to provide extra energy to run or fight the danger. Insulin is released in response to the elevated blood sugar as too much sugar means inflammation and damage. Cortisol kicks your immune system into full gear, amping up protective boundaries against infections. In addition, cortisol dramatically alters not only the integrity of your gut but also the microbiome that occupies it. Your brain also gets affected and turns into more of an autopilot mode rather than using willpower and higher critical thinking abilities.
Over time, elevated cortisol becomes an issue and your body pays the price. The result is chronically high blood pressure, blood sugar, and even insulin resistance when your pancreas becomes too fatigued to keep producing extra insulin. You begin to store weight around the middle, cholesterol builds and you experience relentless sugar, fat, carb or salt cravings. You always feel on edge due to adrenaline which prevents you from falling asleep, your sleep wake cycle and the immune system becomes so imbalanced eventually you can develop an autoimmune condition. Most often the autoimmune condition affects the thyroid due to the impact cortisol has on thyroid function. When this happens the overstimulation and wired feeling you once felt turns into fatigue or extreme exhaustion.
the thyroid influences many of the same functions as your adrenal glands. They cannot be viewed in isolation as one impacts the other profoundly. The thyroid sits in the front of your neck and is butterfly shaped. The thyroid plays a critical role in metabolism, mood, hormones, and cognition. The thyroid sets your body’s thermostat, daily energy expenditure, growth, fertility, metabolism, skin health, and reproductive functions. It determines how easily you can lose weight, whether or not you can achieve and maintain a healthy pregnancy and lactate as well as your mood and capability to experience joy vs. anxiety and depression. It affects your brain’s ability to remember and focus and much more.
The thyroid impacts all these functions through the production of two important hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). T4 is produced in greater amounts but T3 is the active form, made from the conversion of T4 to T3 throughout the body especially in the liver and gut. In order for your thyroid to produce appropriate levels of hormone, it needs a signal from the pituitary, located in the brain. The pituitary produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to tell the thyroid its time to get moving. Once your thyroid receives the signal and produces sufficient hormones they feedback onto the pituitary telling it to put the breaks on creating TSH. As you can imagine, if at any point in this feedback look anything becomes disrupted, a whole host of symptoms will ensue.
Hypothyroidism & Hashimoto’s
Hypothyroidism refers to a decreased thyroid function or decreased thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disturbance in North America. The broad category of hypothyroidism can be separated into nonautoimmune thyroid disease, which is often just called hypothyroidism, and autoimmune thyroid disease, known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s disease is the by far the common form of hypothyroidism.
In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid. White blood cells called lymphocytes accumulate in the thyroid and make antibodies that damage the thyroid and interfere with its ability to produce thyroid hormones.
Nonautoimmune thyroid disease is not an autoimmune condition and may be caused by nutritional deficiencies, excess iodine, or over exposure to certain foods. Chronic or severe stress can negatively impact the pituitary and affect the signaling pathways to the thyroid.
In some cases the body’s conversion of inactive T4 to active T3 is sluggish. In other cases, the body will make sufficient hormones but the active T3 gets converted to inactive reverse T3 (rT3). This is essentially the storage form of thyroid hormone and can also lead to symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Steps to healing your adrenals & thyroid
- Restart your system
- Stop chronic stress
- Support the Gut & Liver
- Recharge your adrenals & thyroid
- Replenish: A life long strategy to ensure you no longer run on empty
#1 Restart your System
Remove food triggers & restore self-healing by eliminating obstacles to health. Not sure where to start? I’ve put together a FREE 3 day cleanse which removes top inflammatory foods. Download here.
- Toxins in your environment: Ensure you are breathing quality air, drinking clean water, as well as using toxin free cleaning & personal care products.
- Food sensitivities: Remove the top triggers such as gluten & cross reactivity foods which include oats, corn, rye, wheat, barley millet.
- Dairy is also inflammatory for many people.
- Discover your unique food intolerances. If you need more help on this my 10-day challenge would be perfect for you.Click here to register.
- Eliminate SUGAR: make sure to limit both natural and artificial.
- white refined carbs
- artificial sweeteners
- fruit juice & soda
- High fructose
- Night Shades (tomatoes, egg plant, pepper, potato)
- Nuts – peanuts
- Yeasted products – wine, beer, alcohol
In addition to removing triggers, it is important to replenish your body with nutrients and foods that stabilize blood sugar and increase metabolism. Aim for healthy fats, dark leafy greens, and lean protein at every meal. Other nutrients such as an omega 3, multivitamin, magnesium, selenium, B5, B6, vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D are important to name a few.
#2 Stop chronic stress
Limit Negative Self Talk: Always remember that you have the power to write and rewrite your story and rewire your brain. You weren’t born with negative self-talk and beliefs about yourself, they have been developed through encountering people and situations that fed you negatively, inhibiting messages and beliefs. You need to develop a new path for your thoughts and once you walk this path over and over it becomes easier. Once you’ve created this new path inner peace, confidence and optimism will begin to replace anxiety, self-doubt, and stress. Brene Brown says “Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.”Changing these patterns and behaviors takes practice but they can be overcome.
Count your Wins: Everyday celebrate a small success. This is one of the very important exercises we do in my Wild Side Wellness program. Optimism and gratitude release hormones that counteract the stress response and rewires your brain. Also, research shows that optimism can attract more success and wealth into your life!
Quit Comparing: As a perfectionist myself, I know how easy it is to compare your self to someone who seems to be more successful, accomplished, a better mom, and smarter. While having role models to learn from is important, there is a big difference between inspiring and comparing. Successful women lift up one another. So next time you find yourself comparing to another, instead wish them success, go on their social media accounts and “like”, comment and share their posts. Focus on offering your gifts to the world and abundance rather than being distracted by someone else’s.
Practice meditation, gratitude, yoga: these activities will reduce tension, calm the mind and help shift you into the present moment (which is also important when healing). There are many free restorative yoga videos that can be done in your home on youtube.
Sleep: Sleep is so so important, I cannot stress this enough! If you’re having troubles sleeping, make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. It needs to be dark, cool, and clutter free. Get a head start and establish a sleep routine. Aim to start getting ready for bed by 9 pm and be in bed by 10 pm. Avoid screens, as well as eating or exercising close to bedtime. If you find worry at night, keeping you awake get a worry journal. Write down your worries before bed and know you can return to them in the morning. Also writing down a to-do list for the following day so you are not going through your list in your head at night.
Be in Nature: Being in nature is powerful. Fresh air and outdoor activity can reduce cortisol, lower inflammation, and shift you into a calm mindset. Go for a walk outdoors every day and use this time to unplug!! Stand in the sunshine, place bare feet on the ground, and breathe fresh air even just for 3 minutes.
Have Sex: Having sex with someone you love has been shown to improve sleep, reduce cortisol, as well as boost DHEA and oxytocin. It is also great for pelvic floor health and enhancing immunity. If your libido isn’t quite what you want it to be, you may need to address underlying hormone imbalances as well. My favorite hormone supporting adrenal boosting powder is Maca. I add 1-2tsp of maca powder to a protein shake with extra raw cocoa powder.
Steps #3- 5
Steps 3-5 involve a more individualized approach and vary greatly depending on the client. In step 3 the focus should be on healing the gut and supporting the liver. These are two organ systems that are often overlooked, but in my opinion, they cannot be missed. Step 4 includes recharging the adrenals and thyroid potentially with key nutrients, herbs, and vitamins. Finally, the last phase is a life long strategy to ensure you no longer run on empty. The last phase of your healing should include removing unnecessary supplements and continuing lifestyle changes that prevent you from entering back into a state overwhelm.
Adaptogenic herbs, adrenal supplements, and thyroid supports are all valuable tools that can be used to rescue your metabolism, hormones, and mood. BUT, as you can see this didn’t come into play until steps 3-5. Focusing on reducing inflammation by removing food triggers, managing chronic stress and supporting the gut and liver are all aspects that need to be considered before jumping to targeting the thyroid or adrenals. I hope this was helpful and gives you a jump start on healing and address the root cause of your symptoms.
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