When Life Gets Extra “Lifey”: A Plan for Stress Management

My husband Craig introduced me to this fabulous thing called leisure time.

Have you heard of it? It’s fantastic.

Once exposed, I happily welcomed it into my life and it has played a vital role in my overall life balance. Of course, life is dynamic and balance will sway from a little too leisurely to a little too much work; but  if I can help it, it’s usually not for too long. That was until this winter when all of a sudden I had a LOT of life going on all at once. Although my logical brain was telling me, “You can do this… this is not too much… this is totally manageable”, my body was sending out MAYDAY signals.

Hair falling out. Craig usually notices this first, quietly picking hair off the back of my shirt.

Tightness in my chest and stomach. Catching myself taking deep breaths to ease the pressure.

Lack of appetite. Did I even eat today? I can’t remember.

Disrupted sleep – and I LOVE sleep. Waking too frequently, waking too early, panicked dreams.

Tightness all around my shoulders blades wishing someone could just stick a knife in there to relieve it.

Mindlessness. Why am I pulling into Craig’s work parking lot when I meant to go to the bank?

Day after day, week after week, I kept waking up feeling the same way experiencing the same things. We call it anxiety from a diagnostic perspective, but I know it is my body’s wise intuition telling me – “MAKE SOME CHANGES LADY”. I quickly reverted back to my type A personality and went into FIX IT mode. Although I knew there was an end in sight, the plan was to get through this chunk of time as unscathed as possible.

The Plan

  1. Accept the things I cannot change. Take the work, sign the contract, get it done. My mantra becomes, “And this too shall pass”.
  2. Do everything I can change to minimize any additional stress to my body.
    1. Eat PERFECTLY. Bad food is an internal stressor to the body and an easy one for me to control. Vegetables, fruits and lean proteins it is.
    2. Drink PERFECTLY. Although a common tendency is to self-medicate with alcohol, caffeine, sugary beverages, I know this too is very stressful to the body so avoid it all. Well not my coffee in the morning. I had anxiety, not psychoses.
    3. Exercise daily. I knew the adrenaline and cortisol was surging through my body and exercising is a great way to “burn it out” so to say. I made it to the gym consistently and walked my dog daily. Sitting is the new smoking. I had to move my body.
    4. Meditate daily. I once read that if you’re stressed and pushed for time be sure to meditate at least once a day. If you’re REALLY stressed and pushed for time, meditate twice a day. For me, meditation means taking the time to quiet my monkey brain. This helps me to be more mindful during the day. I often ask for a light and energized body, an alert mind, an open and compassionate heart, and grace and flow to my day. I was able to fit in 20 minutes daily in the morning, and then read about it at night. I found the book Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan most helpful for implementing meditation as I’ve never been great at it.
  3. Nourish my adrenal glands. These are the 2 little glands that sit on top of your kidneys and secrete your stress hormones and catecholamines (cortisol, DHEA, epinephrine and nor-epinephrine). When chronically kept in stress mode, these glands can get burnt out resulting in chronic fatigue, chronic pain, immune disorders, cognitive dysfunction, muscle wasting, to name a few. Short term, it can show up as weight gain (especially belly fat), anxiety, depression, insomnia, and muscle soreness. Here’s what I took:
  • Adrenogen™ – an adrenal glandular made by Metagenics to nourish the adrenals glands. If you want healthy adrenals, eat adrenals. 2 twice a day.
  • Serenagen™ – a combination of traditional Chinese medicine herbs known as “adaptogens” that can help buffer the adrenal response. Essentially – the stress goes on, but it takes your body’s response to the stress down a notch. 2-4 during the day and 2 at night so I could get a better night sleep. Serenagen™ is what works best for me, but there are a plethora of adaptogen combinations that can be tried for best results.
  • Ultra Clear Renew™ – a medical food designed to help liver detoxification.
    • It works as a macronutrient balance meal (one less meal to make! – sometimes two)
    • It provides targeted nutrition for mitochondria function (cell energy) to help detoxify all of that cortisol.
  • Immune support. It is well documented that stress will lower your immune system and I had NO TIME to be sick with fitting in the meditation, exercise and all. I used a variety of things at different time … Vitamins A, C, E, D, homeopathics, omega 3 fish oils, multivitamins, and probiotics.

Eventually, in the spring, many things did wrap up and I was back to my life of balance, structure and routine where my body functions best. I am happy for the experience as it has brought a new sensitivity towards my patients who are also experiencing intuition.  If your body is telling you that it’s time to make some changes, it’s a good time to listen.

 

 

Live CLEAN Through 2017: 8 Toxins You Can Remove From Your Life Today

Humans are exposed to environmental and biological toxins on a daily basis.  This can overburden the body’s natural ability to detoxify.  Mounting evidence has linked the accumulation of toxins to many chronic conditions including fatigue, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.  Although we can’t avoid ALL toxins ALL of the time, focusing on the things we use the most and choosing less toxic versions of these things can make an impactful difference.  Here’s my list of 8 things I’ve personally chosen to focus on to lessen the toxic load in my life.

  1. Glass or stainless steel containers to prepare, store and transport food and drinks. Plastics are a remarkable material offering us many functional, practical, and efficient products. But while they have many functional benefits, they can also contribute to health and environmental detriments. Plus, they are EVERYWHERE.  Any chance I get to use a little less plastic, I’ll do my best.  One really easy swap was all of my plastic containers (especially water bottles) for glass or stainless steel alternatives.
  2. Shampoo, conditioner and soap. Since I use these every day, choosing products free of triclosan (recently BANNED in Minnesota), parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, and phthalates – just to name a few, seemed like an easy thing to do.  For myself, I buy Intelligent Nutrients shampoo and conditioner and homemade soaps made by a few of my patients which I sell here at the clinic.  A great resource to check out the toxins in your products and find cleaner alternatives is the Environmental Working Group.
  3. Organic tea and coffee. I don’t do everything organic, but I won’t compromise on coffee or tea – two of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crops.  I drink coffee every day and I drink tea in the winter to warm me up.  Since organic versions are so easy to access, it is a simple thing for me to implement.
  4. Reverse osmosis water filter system. Chlorine and fluoride are added to my city water in Osceola.  Chlorine is easily removed by carbon filter systems, but reverse osmosis is the only water system that will remove the fluoride.  You may be undecided on fluoride, but for me – since I’ve never had a cavity, it’s simply a drug I don’t feel I need or want.
  5. Dryer balls. I don’t know what is in those dryer sheets, but the fragrance gives me a slight headache and why have the extra expense?  Dryer balls last forever and work well enough for me!
  6. Toothpaste. I recently switched from Crest to using straight Thieves Oil from Young Living.  One drop on my brush does the trick better than anything else I’ve tried including baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.  I can’t go back.
  7. Deodorant. I don’t “perspire”, I sweat.  A lot.  I’ve tried many “natural deodorants” –   the crystal stick, primal pit… none have worked well enough for me to make the switch from the aluminum filled ones.  But I think I’m on to something.  Jenn introduced me to NATIVE deodorant which looks, feels and smells better than regular deodorant but is aluminum free and works!
  8. Higher quality meat.  It can be difficult to find, so here are some local suggestions:
  • Crystal Ball Farms, Osceola, WI (pasture raised chicken and eggs)
  • Silver Creek Springs, Clayton, WI (pasture raised chicken and turkey)
  • Bull Brook Keep, Clear Lake, WI (grass fed and finished beef)
  • Northstar Bison, Rice Lake, WI (grass fed bison, elk, venison, beef)
  • Misty Fjord, Alaska (okay, not local – but they ship awesome salmon right to your door!)

Higher quality animal proteins can also be more expensive so I add a lot of beans to my meat dishes whether its chicken stir fry with garbanzo beans, meat loaf with pinto beans, or spaghetti squash with ground beef and black beans.

Identifying toxins in our environment helps us avoid or find alternatives for some of the most common and frequent ones.  For the ones we can’t identify, using targeted nutrition and phytonutrients can help your body optimize all three phases of detoxification to help minimize accumulation and maximize elimination.  This year I’ll be traveling to San Diego and Chicago teaching other practitioners how to create detoxification programs for their patients.  Would you like me to create one for you?  Just give our office a call to set up a time for us to meet.  Are you more of a Do-It-Yourself kind?  If so, check out our 10 Day Clear Change Detoxification Program which you can order online or stop by and pick it up!

Here’s to a happy, healthy new year!  And as Joyce Meyer once said “I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.”

Imperfectly Authentic: When the Health Coach Needs Coaching

Authenticity QuoteLast night, I had a terrible night’s sleep. I woke up around 2 in the morning, moved to the couch because hearing my husband sleep was making me angry (sorry honey – I know it’s not your fault) and proceeded to toss and turn until close to 4AM. My shirt was annoying me and I felt it was making me hot so I took that off. The legs on my sweatpants were riding up to my knees and felt too tight around my calves. And my shins were extremely itchy to the point where I sprayed them with Benadryl spray to make it stop. Everything was annoying! It was too bright outside with the snow, the light coming from the kitchen nightlight was in my eyes, the humidifier was making too much noise, and my eight-year-old woke up with a bad dream.

The most frustrating part of all of this is that I really wanted to sleep. So very badly. Our schedule at work for today is very full so I knew that I was going to need to bring my A-game. Instead, things were looking like I was going to be bringing my “Three cups of coffee game”. As is the case when I find myself restless and unable to sleep, I know to check in and see if I can ask myself why. The closer I can get to understanding what is literally keeping me awake at night, the sooner I can usually find myself nodding off and getting back to sleep. (more…)

A “Type-A” Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving SQuareSure, I’ll host Thanksgiving.

Actually, saying it that way means that I was answering a question.  As in, “Will you host Thanksgiving?”

And that’s not really how it went.

It actually came out as, “Hey, I can host Thanksgiving.”

I grew up in a small family where my aunt hosted Thanksgiving in her home every year. While the last minute cooking was underway with gravy simmering and grandpa carving the turkey, my ten year old self was enjoying shrimp cocktail, black and green olives, mixed nuts and a cheese ball with crackers. Eight of us would then sit around her dining room table quietly enjoying a thoughtfully prepared Thanksgiving feast. I would sip cranberry ginger ale from a pewter wine glass and anxiously await the arrival of the next dish to scoop onto my plate.

After dinner, we would find ourselves in the living room while Kenny G lulled us into a turkey-induced nap. Upon waking up from our food comas, round two would be taking place with at least three different pies, coffee and vanilla ice cream.  And if I was lucky, after dessert was done, I would have birthday presents to open with my birthday falling toward the end of November. I did this every year for almost 25 years.

When I volunteered (sacrificed) myself to host Thanksgiving, it was for my father-in-law’s family. There would be around 35 people in attendance. A few years earlier, I had hosted a combined Thanksgiving and Christmas for my mother-in-law’s side with close to 70 people so I thought, “I got this.”

Gone were the relaxed, intimate holidays I had grown up with. This was a whole new ball-game- the kind with no referees, or rules, but still lots of yelling, cheering, booing and whistles.  It is here that I should mention that I am also a type-A introvert so clearly, this was a great plan. (more…)

I Have a Secret to Share…And You’re Not Going to Like It

Are you ready for the bad news?

The initial changes as you transition to healthy eating habits are not going to come naturally and they are going to be hard.

Yep, it’s not going to be easy. But if you keep on at it and if you keep on trying, eventually you’ll get it. I promise. I know this because I’ve been there. I’ve been where you are right now. And sometimes, when I fall out of sync, I’m right back in that spot of “stuck.” But when you have a system, when you have a plan, getting back on track is easy. Okay, easier.  (more…)