Once people hear that I healed myself from stage 3 adrenal fatigue naturally, they, of course want to know, "how did you do it"?
I have to tell you I'm approaching 40 and I’m experiencing the best health of my life, but this wasn’t always the case.
Hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, allergies. psoriasis. food allergies, chronic exhaustion, and horrible digestion were just one part of my story.
Like anyone experiencing so many different symptoms, I wondered where to begin when it came to tackling this condition.
My adrenal fatigue healing journey was miserable, to say the least.
Luckily, having a background in health coaching and yoga/meditation, I knew healing from any condition/illness/disease needs to happen on all levels; mind, body and spirit.
Where MY HEALING Began
I found a team of different health professionals, healers, coaches, and teachers to help me on my journey, and this made all the difference
(and no I didn't have lots of money, actually quite the opposite, I was making less than 30k/year living near San Francisco California, if that says anything)
It took money, time and patience, but I made it happen.
Once I was able to solve this crazy recovery puzzle, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops because I knew so many people were suffering, just like I did.
I wanted everyone to be able to heal like I did and start living their life again. It shouldn't be so hard.
So I did, I spent the next couple years bringing together a myriad of health professionals to create Fatigued 2 Fabulous, our holistic adrenal fatigue recovery program which is based off my 7 steps of recovery.
You shouldn't have to wait to take action right NOW. So, today, I want to teach you the premise of those 7 steps.
THE 7 STEPS
Step 1: Balance Your Hormones
Adrenal fatigue is a condition of hormone imbalance so you can’t ignore the hormones. Hormones can be confusing, but not if you get tested and work with a professional.
Understanding where you're starting from hormonally, is really a must.
Before getting clarity with hormone testing, I wasted time and energy experimenting with different supplements I read about online.
(I don't even want to tell you how much I spent on supplements, it wasn't pretty).
You can’t assume if you’re stressed your cortisol is high (which I was assuming), because depending on the progression of our fatigue, you could be in stage 3. This is where your cortisol is super low, a classic sign of true burn out from the fact that your adrenals couldn’t keep up with your demands of high cortisol production.
Please don’t assume because your hormone panel from your primary doctor came out fine, that there isn’t more to the picture. Not even close! Depending on HOW your hormones were tested, you might not be getting a clear picture of what is actually going on.
I got my hormone panel blood test done (after I failed to get pregnant after 6 months) from my traditional OBGYN.
My results came back, and my OB told me my tests were normal and my hormones were fine. Later that same month, I got the results of my adrenal stress index saliva test, and this painted a very different story to what I had been told just one week prior. My cortisol was super low most of the day with a slight increase in the afternoon. My DHEA was extremely low, and so was my pregnenolone (a precursor to progesterone). And unfortunately, I hear this same story over and over again with our clients and members of our community.
Please consider alternative practitioners and testing if you are still struggling to get clarity.
Once you know what your hormones are doing and what stage of adrenal fatigue you are in (treatment options are very different for each stage), you can start to bring your hormones back to their optimal levels fairly easily using various different approaches.
TIPS FOR BALANCING YOUR HORMONES NATURALLY
Many of our clients can balance their hormones simply with shifts in their diet and lifestyle. For instance, eating a cleaner, whole food diet (more about diet in step 4) and lifestyle changes like improving sleep patterns (more in step 5) and improving their coping mechanisms for stress (more in step 7).
But for those who need a bit more, this will require herbs, supplements and possibly even bio-identical hormones.
WHAT I DID
- Got tested using the Adrenal Stress Index Test - There are several tests out there that test adrenal hormones, but the most comprehensive and accurate is the adrenal stress index test also known as the saliva test.
- Bio-identical Hormones: I worked with a Naturopath to get non-synthetic, bio-identical hormones. I felt comfortable with these bio-identical hormones because the goal is to give your body small doses of the hormones to trigger your body to start creating its own again. Since bio-identical hormones are easier for the body to recognize and process, I never had ANY side effects after taking these bio-identical hormones. That is not the case with traditional synthetic hormone replacement therapies.
- I introduced a FEW specific supplements, supplements that had been recommended to me by a professional.
No more self-diagnosing or self-medicating for me.
Step 2: Adopt a Healing Mindset
I believe healing one’s body is just as much a spiritual healing journey as it is a physical healing journey. To FULLY heal the physical body, you also need to address the mental, emotional and spiritual parts of yourself.
One of the biggest things I learned during this process was in order to achieve anything in life, WE FIRST HAVE TO BELIVE IN IT.
Adopting a healing mindset is just as important if not more important than diet and hormone balancing.
Here’s why: You can pump your body full of healthy food and supplements all day long, but if your mind is full of messages that you can’t heal or you somehow don’t deserve it, then that perspective or mindset, will cancel out all your other efforts. We have seen this proven in practice over and over again.
What I did:
- I used positive affirmations (like these) to reframe my negative/toxic thoughts about my health and flood my mind with powerful healing messages.
- I got gentle and forgiving with myself. Afterall, even though my body felt like it was working against me, it had actually been doing the very best it could to keep me alive and balanced.
My body is my friend, not my enemy.
Step 3: Optimize Nutrient Absorption
If you don’t address some issues that lie at the very root of many health conditions than most likely find yourself right back where you started either months down the road or a year or two. So along with addressing the mental, emotional and spiritual components holding us back, it’s time to bring out the big guns.
Certain PHYSICAL barriers, if left untreated have the ability to stop the healing process in its tracks.
The problem is adrenal fatigue is a condition of depletion.
My body needed extra nutrients, but because I was dealing with these gut issues, I couldn’t properly access and absorb these MUCH NEEDED nutrients from the expensive supplements and healthy foods I was buying.
I wasted precious time and money not knowing the whole picture.
What I did:
- I learned about these conditions and if I had many of the common symptoms I got tested. Many of them can be healed through supplements and a clean diet. Some require eliminating some key foods for a few weeks, but it’s only temporary.
- For me, I was pretty certain I had leaky gut and started take L-glutamine to repair my gut and followed a leaky gut healing diet.
- I tested positive for parasites so with the help of my Naturopath, I took a supplement to eliminate them.
- As for Candida, it was obvious I had it, but took a free at home test to confirm. Then I went on a pretty strict candida diet for about 6 weeks along with taking a high-quality probiotic recommended by my Naturopathic Doctor.
This process made allowed me to break through the gut health barriers that had been holding me back and take my healing to a whole new level.
I broke through barriers.
Step 4: Eat an Adrenal Healing Diet
The first thing we want to do when we are tired and not feeling well is reach for comforting foods and most often these are NOT the foods that are going to nourish our adrenals back to health. These foods make us feel more tired and stress our tired adrenals and allow the unhealthy balance to continue.
What I did:
- Started eating nutrient dense foods and balanced out my proteins, fats and carbs. The key is eating whole foods vs. processed (vegetables, meat/fish, whole grains, seeds/nuts, and low glycemic fruits). The best choice especially for meat/fish is organic foods, free range, free of hormone and preservatives. Getting your carbs mainly from vegetables and whole grains is ideal.
- Eliminated foods I was sensitive to like gluten, dairy and soy. This took learning how to listen to my body, doing a bit of trial and error, and keeping a food journal.
Things I learned the hard way
This is not the time to fast or jump into fad diets or to focus your attention heavily on weight loss.
If weight is an issue for you, fret not! It is very common for those recover from adrenal fatigue and re-balance their hormones have an easier time losing weight. If you want your weight loss efforts to be balanced with real results, balance your hormones.
Step 5: Get Your Sleep in Rhythm
Hormone imbalance and poor lifestyle habits can make quality sleep really challenging.
Insomnia is a big problem for us adrenal fatigue sufferers.
You can be doing all the right things, eating all the right foods, taking all the right supplements, but when you don't sleep adequately, you miss out on vital rejuvenation and repair time for your body.
A poor night's sleep contributes to MORE than just feeling tired the next day-- it leads to blood sugar imbalances, massive cravings, increased inflammation and more, it simply perpetuates the adrenal fatigue cycle.
So to heal, I had to learn how to change my habits around sleep.
I'll warn you this wasn't easy for me.
What I did:
- Went to sleep earlier. Going to sleep before 10:30 before the cortisol surge around 11pm leads to easier time falling asleep and less sleep interruptions throughout the night
- Stopped screen time an hour before sleep. I don’t watch much TV. My max is about an hour a day if that. But I would watch that hour of TV right before bed, which was stimulating for my mind, making it hard to wind down and fall asleep. It actually disrupts the production of melatonin which is the hormone that makes you sleepy.
- Incorporated calming practices the hour before bed: journaling, reading, meditation, light stretching/yoga or deep breathing.
- Started taking a magnesium supplement. For me, magnesium oil or getting magnesium through Epsom salt baths was more effective than pill form, but you need decide what is best for you. I spray (and still do) magnesium on my skin topically every night.
Once I made these lifestyle changes and started getting to bed earlier, it made ALL the difference.
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve seen people with adrenal fatigue have it far worse than me in the sleep department, but I might just beat them in the food department. After eating any food I felt horrible and had allergic reactions. I went entire year without sugar ( fruit too, except for berries and green apple) and for 6 months I was only able to ate vegetables.
Everyone's struggle is different.
Anyways, I do know our bodies are meant to sleep more in rhythm is our light and darkness, we are diurnal beings after all.
So, when I do stay up late for a special occasion I could get the same 8.5 hours of sleep waking up around 8 or 9, but I don’t feel the same. I’m so much more tired and never get the feeling of being rested, like I do when I go to bed around 9:30 or 10.
I know you probably won’t believe in this difference until you try it for yourself, but once you do-- comment below and let me know!
Step 6: Find your Healing Movement
There is nothing better than getting our blood flowing and increasing feel good endorphins in the brain with an amazing workout.
But is that amazing workout helping you feel amazing or is it actually contributing to your burn out?
Personally, I was in the beginning stages of studying to be a yoga teacher and I was practicing Vinyasa level 2-3 (similar to power style yoga) yoga ever day after work for 2.5 hours and then on the weekends too. I was strong and becoming quite the yoga badass, but little did I know I was burning myself out. I needed to balance that intense workout with more restorative and calming movement.
I needed to become more mindful of what types of exercise and movement are most appropriate for my particular stage of adrenal fatigue.
Also, this type of yoga was very stimulating and I was already such a over-stimulated person overcommitting, burning the candle at both ends.
My body needed to have down time and my mind needed time to be still.
What I did:
I started doing less physical yoga and more intentional breath work and meditation.
Now I make a 15-minute a day meditation practice way more of a priority than my yoga practice and I’m healthier than ever.
All I've got to say is the mind is a powerful thing!
Step 7: Transform Your Relationship with Stress
This was the most challenging step for me by far, but no question the most beneficial and effective step in my healing process.
And now that I’ve been working as a coach in this specialty, I see it over and over again.
Once I learned the root cause of adrenal fatigue stress, it was a wake up call.
I now know the symptoms of my adrenal fatigue were the universe's way (which it had been telling me for years, but I was ignoring it) to slow the F-down.
I was living my life in fast forward, so focused on the next thing and accomplishing, that I couldn’t enjoy the moment. I fed on stress and drama; it fueled me.
I finally got real with myself and took responsibility for what I had created. It wasn’t my adrenals fault, (they just didn’t one day poop out on me), it was years of me burning the candle at both ends. It was me. I gave myself adrenal fatigue. I admit it, it’s okay. No shame. I like to call myself out on my SH$&!
But that’s not the case for all of us.
For some, adrenal fatigue might have been a result of physical stress from a major accident or surgery or other illness/condition or maybe it was emotional stress from a childhood trauma or difficult divorce.
But there is something to be said about getting to the root so we can address conditions at the root.
So luckily, I had a spiritual mentor who helped me address my stress habits and retrain my stress response with intentional breathing, mindfulness work and meditation.
What I did:
- I started meditating for just a few minutes a day, incorporating intentional breathing techniques
- I used mantras like “I am peace” in meditation to send positive message to my brain and to calm my body and mind
- I used positive affirmations to reframe my negative/toxic thoughts and retrain my brain to look at life and potentially stressful situations differently.
The truth is, there are always going to be stressful situations/people surrounding you, so the key is learning how do you keep the internal peace the best you can.
I learned, I was more in control of how I perceive stress, how I internalize it and how I handled it.. and THIS, gave me the tools to never get back to where I was when I started.
Once I did the work, my whole life changed.
In just weeks, I felt better physically, I felt less pain, I felt more connected to myself and to everyone around you.
This allowed my nervous system to repair faster and my adrenals too.
I’m the same person, but now I have tools.
When I see myself falling into old patterns and habits that got me sick, I stop and choose differently. I have more control now.
This step alone changed my life FOREVER.
I am certain the key to my recovery was approaching my healing from a holistic approach. Not just taking hormones, not just supplements, not just eating healthy, but all of these 7 steps combined.
The hardest part of all
The hardest part of all of this, was that my learning and the information I needed was scattered and not all in one place. For this, I spent years of my time suffering and spent thousands of dollars that in hindsight, I now see I should have been spending on vacations (this probably would of done me better than the all the supplements I was experimenting with).
I kept thinking, it shouldn't be this hard.
I imagined what this experience would be like for others if all this information could be presented all in one place... perhaps nicely, in a box, with a pretty bow on top.. and maybe a hug.. because I know I for sure needed one of those at the start of all this.
This is when I made the decision to take matters into my own hands.
I gathered a team of experts together so FINALLY everything to heal from this crazy, confusing condition could be in one place.
No more guessing, no more months of reading books, blog posts and FB comments to get answers.
For the past 3 years my team and I have been busy creating a holistic recovery program, and we called it FATIGUED 2 FABULOUS!
If you know these 7 steps, but you’re having trouble implementing them and you need a little support along the way, we've got you covered. That’s why we created Fatigued 2 Fabulous our proven adrenal fatigue recovery program.
If you want someone guiding you every step of the way through these 7 steps, this is for you.
So when you’re ready we are here for you.