A lot of the topics that I choose to write about are ones that my clients have asked about or are suffering from. Sometimes I choose topics because it is an issue I have dealt with. Today, I am choosing a topic that is often a problem for my clients and something I dealt with this summer. So, let me tell you a little about my experience first. My youngest daughter was born last September and as I usually do, I bounced right back from the birth. I had great energy and mood, even while breastfeeding and getting up with her at night. But then when she was about 6 months old, I found my energy levels were decreasing and I was often moody and irritable. By the time this summer rolled around, I knew something abnormal was going on. I was always tired and wanted to sleep all the time, but sleep never made me feel rested. I also did not want to do the fun summer activities that you do with your children (swimming, parks, ect.). Everything felt like a chore!!! I was no longer just a little tire; I was fatigued all the time. It was very frustrating to me because I am a nutrition and exercise coach and I know the correct ways to eat, exercise, and manage stress. To make a long story short, there are some awesome naturopathic physicians and integrated physicians in my area. They helped diagnosis some digestive issues and hypothyroidism. I have been being treated since early August and my progress has been amazing to me. I am (almost) a morning person again, I no longer dread working out, I want to play with my kids, and I feel blessed and thankful. Because of my first-hand experience and issues my clients have had, I wanted to interview an expert on this topic and give some practical solutions. As you will see from the interview, fatigue can be very much lifestyle related and not related to an underlying medical condition. Fatigue is not mandatory for all moms!!! So, below I share my interview with Dr. Amber Golshani and some information on her background!
I’m Dr Amber Golshani, integrative doctor, woman’s fatigue expert and author of Radical Energy Recovery (www.beatyourfatigue.com/rer). I choose this area to focus on mostly because it’s something that I have battled with myself. At 22 years old, I was tired, overweight, cranky and had all sort of various menstrual problems. The doctors wanted to put my on birth control pills to ‘fix’ my period, but offered no other advice about my increasing weight, mood swings and energy crashes. I took matters into my own hands and booted up the ol’ dail-up internet, bought some books and basically pieced together a plan to help me feel better. You can read more about that here if you want. (http://drambergolshani.com/confessions-from-a-former-fat-girl-me/).
To make a long story short, it took a long time, lots of effort, learning and education, but I figured out how to make my body work—stable moods, good balanced energy and even my periods got better. Yay! J My quality of life is so much better now…my fatigue, or cramps, or whatever, don’t stop me from doing everything I want and feeling great while doing it. I even did two obstacle races and two triathlons in the last two years— if you asked me 15 years ago, I would have said you are crazy, I can’t do that!!
The thing I am most proud of is that I have two kids, in addition to running two businesses, a household, volunteering and a marriage. I honestly feel excited about my life and have the energy to get everything done I want to. And I do it happily-not saying I never loss my cool, but I can only imagine how hard it must be to not feel good, to never feel like you have enough energy to go kick the soccer ball with your daughter, or have the energy to cook the healthy meals you want to. Not feeling like you are living anymore, but just surviving can definitely bring you down.
And that’s why I love working with woman who are tired. When they feel better, EVERYONE around them feels better too. Kids (and spouses) get better care and more attention. When you are not worried about your health you can go out in the world and shine.
1. How common is fatigue among women, especially moms? (not sure is you know any statistics but some info about what you find in your practice would be fine)
Fatigue is very common in women, especially moms. It is one of the most common complaints to medical providers. And motherhood adds a new layer of responsibility onto our already busy lives. Many of the women I work with are not just physically tired and worn out, but mentally and emotionally too. I would say that 70-80% of the women I work with take no time to relax, no time for stress management or even exercise. One patient asked me if the 1 minute she spent peeing (alone) in the morning counted!
2. What are the consequences of chronic fatigue for a woman’s health?
Fatigue is a daily feeling of a lack of energy that inhibits your ability to perform normal functions. Everyone gets tired sometimes—late at night, or if you had a bad night of sleep the night before, or after you run 10K. These are examples of ‘normal’ tiredness. Fatigue is a feeling that is with you day after day.
The other-side of fatigue, is, then paradoxically many woman find they can’t calm down or relax at night. I call this the “wired but tired” syndrome and this is where I see MOST of my moms. Running around all day, taking care of others, fueled by coffee, teas, sugar or energy drinks, and then when it comes time that they can actually rest their weary bodies, they can’t. They are up cleaning the counter, folding one more load of laundry, checking their email. “I know I should relax, but I can’t!” is something I hear all the time!
What we are talking about here are symptoms though. Fatigue, or tension, or “up-tightness” (it’s a word, trust me!), are all symptoms of some underlying causes. It’s my job to figure out what that is for each individual woman and then work to correct that. It may be a food intolerance, it may be circadian rhythm disruption from reading too late at night, it may be a thyroid issues, sleep disruption or doing a job you hate. The list goes on. But until that underlying reason for the fatigue is fixed, everything else is just a band-aid-the coffee, the herbs, the sugar, etc.
3. There are several of my clients with young children that may be up with them multiple times a night, what is the best way for them to deal with this?
Speaking of sleep, for mothers of young children waking at night, the number one best advice I can give is to keep things as dark as possible. Do not turn on any lights (even night lights) if possible. Even a little light can disrupt your nighttime hormone secretion that helps you sleep deeply and wake rested. This is even good advice for your kids. Growth hormone is released at night and those nightlights may be inhibiting optimal secretion.
4. What are the causes of fatigue?
The 4 main causes of physical fatigue are blood sugar issues, what you eat (food intolerances), adrenal issues, and thyroid issues. My BEAT Your Fatigue program is dedicated to correcting these underlying issues, but one them that runs through them all is the importance of what you eat. There are some foods which can help fatigue, depending on what is going on. One little nugget of advice I can give, is that many women simply aren’t eating enough protein to sustain their energy and moods.
5. What are your top tips for moms to start using now to increase their energy?
Top 10 Fatigue-Proof Life Tips
This checklist is meant to address some of the potential underlying causes of fatigue that come from lifestyle issues. It is not exhaustive or complete. That is beyond the scope of this two page report!
These ‘to-do’s’ are lifestyle changes that will help to increase the overall function and performance of your body and not treatment of any specific illness or disease. This is not meant to take the place of a doctors visit and diagnosis.
□ Drink lots of water.
□ Eat real, whole, unprocessed foods
□ Have protein and veggies at each meal
□ Get some sunshine every day
□ Rise in the morning and retire at night at the same time everyday
□ Take deep, full abdominal breathes
□ Say “no” when you need to
□ Aim for 8+ hours of sleep a night
□ Make sure your bedroom is completely, 100% dark
□ Adjust your exercise: If you aren’t doing any, start. If you are doing too much, slow down.
If you want more tips, tools and info on how to Fatigue-Proof your life, sign up here.
If you want more info about the BEAT Your Fatigue Program (coming October 2013), get on the early-bird list here.
AS THE DOCTOR MENTIONED ABOVE, DIET AND EXERICSE CAN PLAY A HUGE ROLE IN YOUR ENERGY LEVELS AND ARE SOME OF THE FIRST THINGS TO ADDRESS! I AM A FAT-LOSS COACH THAT WORKS DIRECTLY WITH CLIENTS DEVELOPING PERSONAL NUTRITION AND EXERCISE PROGRAMS THAT OPTIMIZE NUTRITION AND EXERCISE FOR BOTH ENERGY LEVELS AND BODY COMPOSITION. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE, PLEASE EMAIL ME AT firstname.lastname@example.org.