20twelve [wk5-7]: stress kills

stressed!?!? who, me? no. never. now, please don’t mistake this as a woe-is-me blog post. quite the contrary. but humor me for a few. to say i’ve had a lot going on in my life for quite awhile now is an understatement and the past few months it’s really started to take a toll on my lil’ bod. here’s a briefing…

  • started fitlosophy just over 4 yrs ago but have seen crazy growth in the past year with revenue doubling and number of employees tripling – this means long hours, sleepless nights…in a way it's (almost) as tough as having a newborn. it’s literally my baby. (please moms, don’t hate me for comparing – God has a sense of humor and i’m sure i’ll be put in my place eventually and eat these words!)
  • the same year i started the company and as my career was takong off, my personal life took a nosedive (to say the least) , often times fitlosophy being the only thing that would get me out of bed each day. with that, my eating disorder which i thought id kicked to the curb nearly 7 years before came back with a vengeance.
  • my weight has fluctuated from 112 10% body fat (competition) all the way up to 130 and 28% at certain points , all the while being very vocal, open and honest about my struggles while running a company where the first thing people do is look me up and down to see if i practice what i preach.
  • just a year ago this month i stupidly busted my tailbone and was forced to sit the bench for a total of 6 months, with workouts suffering for another 3-4 after that….nearly dreadful for someone like me (most of you can relate).
  • so why the sob story? through all this, i’ve been strong, powered through and took life by the reins, often turning to help only when i had no choice.

so ask me (please) how i never figured this out, but what a blessing that we launched 20twelve program..or i never may have reached out for help. over the past 6 weeks i’ve dialed in, cleaned it up, hit the gym hard, so it was a bit of a concern why not only was i not losing weight but i was slowly gaining! oy. those are not things i typically would blog. why would you follow my plan when i can’t even see success myself? that’s like being motivated by the spin instructor who can’t keep up with the class!  so, when you can’t do, teach! so i blog.

what finally drove me to reach out was when my quality of life hit a wall. for about the past 2-3 months it progessively got worse. i couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings, even after 6-7 hours sleep.  then once i did make it out of bed, i’d drag myself to the gym for less-than-intense workouts that used to be the norm for me.  then i’d go home, eat breakfast and literally fall back in bed.  it was hard for me to make it to work on time – and then on the weekends, little miss to-do list, go-go-go, would sleep all day on the couch.

now many might describe me (or what they think of me) as the picture of health. ah, but this is the danger of only judging your health based on your outside appearance. thank goodness i workout, because i know know how my body should respond to exercise.  and when i was seeing the opposite, i knew something was wrong. i felt so horrible that i honestly didn’t care about what i looked like (ok, i did)..but not as much as knew i had to feel better.  how am i supposed to keep up with this growing little company, traveling often 2-3 times a month and needing to put in long days, if i can’t make it to the office before 10am?

so off to the doctor for blood tests and a trip to (what i endearingly call) my “voo-doo” doctor, steve, who is a naturopath and also has his masters in nutrition, along with all these other fancy credentials. he came highly recommended and honestly all i cared was that he would tell me what was going on with my body.  after many tests, i wasn’t surprised when both him and my doctor confirmed what i should have known all along.  every single thing that came back was the results of: stress.

i think we underestimate the (negative) power stress can have on our lives.  i, for one, don’t like to complain about stress because it’s a sign of weakness. and most of my stress (lately) any way is self-induced and i actually enjoy the things in my life that cause me stress.  i love traveling to close deals….i thrive on working late nights so i can feel caught up….i like waking up and working out early to fit it in my day, often sacrificing sleep.  but it looks like it may have caught up with me.  here’s what we found:

*levels of cortisol were extremely high:  this is a stress hormone found in your body, which is often correlated to storing body fat usually around your tummy.  this was one reason i was concerned about my weight gain. usually a few extra pounds settles in around my booty and thighs (mama’s got curves!) but never ever did i carry weight in my tummy!

*underactive thyroid: so again, stress is the most common factor to causing thyroid disfunction…and this would be why i was experiencing fatique, wacky hormones, weight gain, and the one that surprised me the most: a slow metabolism. ME!  steve said my metabolism was much lower than it should be, obviously a result of the thyroid issues and a key reason why my body wouldn’t respond to exercise.

* adrenal fatigue: so apparently stress can wreak havoc on your adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing certain levels of cortisol and hormones…and when your levels of epinephrine are off in your body, this is a sign of adrenal fatique.  this is what would have been causing my moodiness (yes me!), again contributing to the weight gain, and basically having no energy whatsoever.

so all these things combined, it wasn’t a surprise to my docs that i had no energy. so, wonderful…what to do?  i am taking  a boat-load of (natural) pills to get my body back on track.  we’re loading me up with b-vitamins, drinking green-tea extract (to boost my metabolism), as well as a bunch of other pills that frankly i just don’t even know what they’re doing, but i’ve done it for almost 2 weeks and can see a difference.  i’m also following a specific meal plan.  why? well, apparently your body’s energy (the little that i have right now) goes to  digesting my food.  so i’ve done a lot of research on it and everything steve said made sense. and i was hesitant to even share it on my blog because i’m all about enjoying all things in moderation and not cutting out any one thing. but when you don’t feel well, you’ll try anything!  so here’s what i’ve been doing the past few weeks:

  • eating as much RAW food as possible:  from sushi, raw veggies, raw nuts and seeds, and steak cooked medium rare.  i’d heard about the raw food craze but didn’t know much about it…but i’m convinced.  apparently, this will help my body heal because eating raw takes up a LOT less energy because raw foods are easier to digest. so it saves my energy for other things, like living life!
  • no grains for a month: grains – whether whole or not – take a lot more energy to digest, so steve wants me to avoid all grains just for a month to let my body restore energy and also get the inflammation down. when i do reintroduce grains he said his top picks (in order) are: buckwheat, whole oats, and quinoa. (love!)
  • no dairy except raw, aged cheese:for a month…  not really sure why, except for he did say there are a lot of hormones in pasteurized dairy so he just wants me to avoid any dairy that’s not raw. except he did let me keep my cream in my coffee!
  • water out the wazoo: i knew this would be part of it, and i immediately saw an improvement.  minimum of 3 liters per day if i only have 1 cup of coffee and an extra liter if i have 2. so i nixed my 2nd cup of coffee.
  • only meat + fish: raw is preferred, but not necessary and for a month he wants me pretty much only eating meat (grass-fed beef, bison) and fish.  he’s not a fan of turkey (i need to find out why…i used to eat this in mass) and he’s okay with organic chicken, but again prefers beef and fish over poultry.
  • healthy fats!: so aside from a ton of veggies, fruits, fish and meat, he wants me eating a lot of healthy fats coming from raw nuts and seeds, avocado, eggs, oils (olive, sesame, flax, coconut), and butter – like real butter.  of course you have to eat fats in moderation but i’ve seen a decrease in appetite after increasing my fats and (surprise!) a significant decline in sugar cravings!

ok so now that i’m done boring you, i just thought it was all so interesting…and what’s MORE interesting is that it’s working. so if you see my random facebook postings of RAW food…this would be why. more than anything i wanted to share just in case someone else out there might be powering through, stressing themselves out, and actually hurting versus helping their health.  usually when people say their gaining weight and they don’t know why, it’s because they’re consuming more than their working off.  so i must say, my lil’ fitbook has been a bit of a lifesaver in a way because it did reveal that i was eating clean and very lean, getting in my workouts….and something had to explain my new friend we’ll call the muffin top and my extreme levels of fatique.  so all complaining aside, i feel: grateful!  it may take time to be back to the new peppy lil’ me, but i assure you i’m well on my way.  hence the 2-day workcation to get caught up on work, but also relax and recharge!

anyone out there share a simliar experience? give me your tips: i’m all ears!
stressfully yours,

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