By 2:30 in the afternoon, it was time for a Hazelnut latte from the trendy coffee shop up the street from my office. At $4.50 for ten ounces of sweet deliciousness, I sometimes opted for an energy buzz from the dark chocolate bars stashed in my desk drawer instead.
I’m sure this afternoon pick-me-up contributed to fluctuations in my energy and poor sleep patterns, but I couldn’t break the cycle. Usually, the energy surge would last just long enough that I couldn’t quite get to sleep at night. I often had the “tired but wired” feeling and my mind would not stop repeating the day’s activities, plans, thoughts, and worries.
Once I was finally asleep, I’d wake up at around 2 or 3am with enough energy to feel like I could start the day. But then as soon as I got back to sleep, it seemed like my alarm would immediately go off… and I’d feel exhausted.
I’d load up on a sugar-rich breakfast, and then have a mid-morning snack to get myself through until lunch. 2:30 would come around again… and the cycle continues.
I know I wasn’t alone in experiencing this afternoon crash – in fact, I’d often grab coffee or sweets for my coworkers too. Maybe you are familiar with this afternoon running-on-empty feeling too?
But where does this low energy originate? Is it poor sleep, blood sugar problems, imbalanced meal choices, response to stimulants such as caffeine, or other hidden stressors?
On top of struggling with energy, I also suffered with symptoms related to my menstrual cycle. How are these related you ask? HORMONES.
(Gentlemen, you can skip the next paragraph, but sex hormones are very important for you too! Testosterone being one of them…)
I experienced intense moodiness during PMS and cramps that were so bad that I would be sick. My doctor told me I could dose as many as 4x ibuprofen and wrote me a prescription for an anti-depressant I could take the week before my period. I did NOT fill the prescription. In the back of my mind, I kept wondering why this was happening in the first place?
It was at this point my gut symptoms were beginning to worsen. (I discuss more about gut pain and Functional Lab Testing in my second post in this series). As a holistic practitioner, it is important to explain about the interconnected ways in which our bodies actually function. For example, gut problems can actually contribute to hormone imbalances.
In addition to my low energy and cycle issues, I was also in the phase of “eat less, exercise more” in order to lose weight. At the time, I thought my whole grain, vegetarian diet was the best option for me (you can read more about my dietary discoveries in the first post of this series). I did cardio-weight classes, and regularly went running along the river. All of these stressors took a toll on me and were a downward spiral that continued to compromise my health and energy levels.
When I did functional lab testing, I discovered through an Adrenal Stress Profile that all of my hormones were very low. This not only correlated with my low energy, but also the symptoms related to my female cycle. It was clear that my body was not adapting properly to stress and that I was literally burning out.
When considering that the stress hormone (cortisol) is needed to survive, it’s no surprise that the body will push hormones down that pathway and not to the sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone, progesterone), as reproduction is not necessary for survival. This will keep you alive; it just won’t have you feeling your best.
The lab testing has proven to be a critical tool for a proper health coaching program. “Test, don’t Guess” allows evaluation of actual results and correlation with symptoms in order to create a protocol that restores health. Since no one body is the same, the Self Care 90 is customized to address the specific needs of the individual.
Instead of covering up the symptoms with pain medication, anti-inflammatories, and anti-depressants, I decided to do further lab testing to uncover the root of my health complaints. Learning to eat a proper diet for my unique body was the first step, but learning why my body was showing symptoms of digestive struggles, low energy, and hormone problems pointed me in the right direction.
As I tell my clients, we continue to ‘peel back the layers of the onion’ and learn more and more with every test. In my Self Care 90 program, my clients start with a hormone test in order to gauge the body’s ability to adapt to stress as well as the status of their sex hormones.
A recent client said, “I was shocked to see that my cortisol was critically low. I had always thought my cortisol was too high with my years of ongoing stress. Kimball explained the correlation between ongoing stress and low hormones in easy to understand terms. She guided me through the test results, explained how stress relates to low hormones, educated me about my options, and shared her professional opinion about what steps to take in order to rebuild my health.”
Understanding hormone function is a critical first step in improving health. Are you ready to start a health coaching program and get to the root cause of your health concerns? Please click here and fill out an application to set up a time to talk.
I have suffered from numerous health challenges conventional medicine couldn't fix. This blog is a place for me to share my experiences and information with others who want to feel better again too. Please share your thoughts in the comments. I always look forward to supporting you to improve your health!