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Who Wants to Crawl Back from Fatigued to Fabulous?

Many years ago, fresh out of med school I was so fatigued that I needed a 2 hour afternoon nap almost every day because I would have a brown out around 3-5 PM. I would go home from work, crash out, and wake up in time to throw something together for dinner.   Even though I was relatively young I needed to nap just to function and take care of my work and living needs. Even when I would wake up every morning and go for a 3-5 mile run, or go to a yoga class, I would still come home from work and crash.   Something was definitely very off. Thankfully at that time in my life, I was still single and childless. In fact, until I met my husband who at the time already had a 3 year old child, I could not even fathom having the energy to bear or raise a child of my own. Watching my friends have their kids, I just knew I wouldn’t be up to the task because of my chronic fatigue issues.

I DID figure out and heal my fatigue issues eventually, and at the age of 41 my husband and I had our son and after getting through the early childhood stuff in my 40’s (the sleep deprivation was HARD!) I have enjoyed being a mom as well as having a thriving practice. But I wouldn’t have been able to have the life I dreamed of and more had I not done the right things to heal myself because fatigue and other health issues would have gotten in my way.

Optimize your Diet and Heal Your Gut

If you are eating foods that cause inflammation and gut health issues, you will more than likely experience fatigue.   So the first step is identifying food allergens and sensitivities and then eliminating them from your diet. Gluten, dairy, beans and most other grains are often big culprits but foods that we usually think of as innocuous (like parsley or broccoli) can also often culprits. The best way to figure this stuff out is to run a food allergy test, or just start with a restricted diet such as Paleo , GAPS or SCD.

In order to speed gut healing, I also often order a very comprehensive stool test from a functional medicine lab to check the balance of the microbiome, check for gut inflammation and IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) as well as checking for parasites or a bowel flora pathogen.   Once I see the results of the tests I can create a treatment plan specific to my patient’s needs.   This approach is key to working with many autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Celiac, Hashimotos Thyroiditis, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohns Disease and many more.

I also wanted to add that if you have chronic gut inflammation, then you are most likely not absorbing many of your nutrients and so you will be nutritionally depleted and fatigued. So healing the gut so you can once again absorb nutrients is also critical!

Optimize Sleep

Adequate deep sleep is also a pillar to maintaining health and energy levels. In fact, sleeping is one of my favorite hobbies! I love climbing into bed after a good productive and active day and falling into a deep deep sleep! That is just heaven to me! And the next day I am well rested and ready to do another great productive active day!

It has been confirmed in multiple research studies that people who work the night shift, even if they sleep during the day, are more prone to getting cancer than those who sleep during the night hours. And the research also shows that those who have poor sleep in general have a higher risk of cancer.

But even beyond that, if you don’t sleep well, or enough, you increase your levels of fatigue and decrease your performance. If you are wanting to achieve your dreams and have the life you want, then sleeping well is key. And if you have trouble sleeping, it may be a simple thing for me to fix. It is often connected to adrenal health and thyroid health so it is all connected.

If you have gut issues AND sleep issues, like many of my patients have, you also likely have or will develop Adrenal and maybe even thyroid issues too. Most of the time I am working to heal someone on many fronts to get to the root of fatigue.

Manage Stress

Building even more upon what I just wrote, if you are experiencing a high level of stress (like medical school, or really any other stressful situation) your body will produce more of the fight or flight hormone, Cortisol, which in itself can make sleeping more difficult. AND, another terrible thing that cortisol does is make it more difficult to lose weight. If you are stressed, not sleeping, and gaining weight, it is likely due to elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol also has an effect on your insulin levels, spiking it, and making you hungrier, especially for carbs which REALLY starts to pack on the pounds. I have worked to break the cycle in many of my patients, and once we do that, energy and stamina starts to come back.

Exercise Moderately but Don’t Overdo it!

Moderate daily exercise actually increases physical energy, as well as reducing stress, but be careful not to overdo it or you may be increasing your levels of fatigue. Moderate intensity exercise like hiking, walking, yoga, and swimming will build strength and keep your muscles from atrophying. High intensity exercise could increase fatigue by depleting nutrients and overtraining, so be mindful and keep it moderate!

What have YOU found in your life that has helped you combat fatigue? What didn’t work? Please SHARE in the comments below. I would love to learn about your experiences with this!

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