Tag Archives: depletion

Why from Bedridden to Bodybuilding?

af19191c-e7ab-4a12-904a-a93a61cff6d2

Welcome to summer. A week into the warm weather and everyone seems to be complaining it’s too hot. You’ve gotta love London 😉

For me, the hot weather is fantastic. The aim of my cardio workouts is to sweat as much as possible and so I wrap up in several layers, starting with thermal underwear and ending with a hoodie and extra warm fleece. In this weather I am just dripping with sweat. And yes, that’s a good thing – burning more fat to get me ready for the stage in just over 8 weeks.

Last week I gave you a broad overview of my journey ahead. Today I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about who I am and how it came to this. For that, I will have to take you a little bit back in time:
It was in 2010 that I found my energy levels dwindling. Initially it was cause to annoyance rather than concern and I did what I always do – push through. Hard.
In 2013, at the tender age of 31, I suffered a complete burnout and was bedridden for a year. Not much use while unable to get out of bed, I lost my job, ending my corporate career. What got me there was a culmination of life changing episodes including severe stresses at work, working hours in excess of 80 hours per week on an ongoing basis, multiple trauma, physical attacks (all of which were sexually motivated), divorce, rape, burglary, sexual harassment and bullying, cancer in the family.  I could go on, but I will leave it there.
In 2012 I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after experiencing cluster migraines and I was signed off work, 2 weeks at a time, for the whole year. I suffered severe pain all over my body and was chronically exhausted. Every morning I woke up feeling like I had not slept in days, even after sleeping for 16 hours straight. I’d then have to decide whether I would brush my teeth or my hair. I did not have the strength to do both. Simple day to day tasks had become insurmountable.

Previously I had felt unbreakable. Super-human. Slowing down was for other people.
And now here I was. Broken.  

As I mentioned in my last email though, I was not willing to accept living like this for any length of time. For me, this was not living at all. So I started to do research. Initially I could not read for more than 5 minutes at a time, it was too exhausting and the letters on the pages turned into indecipherable dark blobs. I had to learn the hardest of all lessons and the one that would help me the most: accepting where I was right now. That meant accepting that, right now, I could only do as much as I could do. Accepting that rest was ok. Not only that, but it was helpful. Constructive. Productive! I had to learn to stop pushing myself harder and harder, something I’d been very good at. In its place I had to learn to slow down and be kind to myself. Something I had never previously done. And I had to learn to forgive myself. For everything that had happened to me.

I slowly improved and was able to start swimming and later yoga in 2014. Roll on 2016: I am now running my own businesses to empower women and to advise other people who are experiencing signs of burnout. I am in the final weeks of preparation for my first ever bodybuilding competition. I will enter the bikini category which sports a lean but not overly muscular look yet still requires a lot of training and discipline. But more about that at a later stage.

I hope that my journey will inspire someone out there to not give up in the face of adversity. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long that tunnel may be.


He replied, “I’m going through hell!” Said his friend: “Well, keep on going. That is no place to stop!”  ~ John Randall Dunn


Thank you so much for reading, your encouraging emails and support. It means the world to me!

Lots of love
Sarah

Advertisements

A Bad Day Allows Time to Consciously Appreciate The Good Ones

Yesterday I missed publishing my blogpost. I already had an idea of what I wanted to write about. In fact, when I write a post, I usually have the idea for the next 3 or 4 which I briefly outline to myself in a few bullet points. That allows me to keep some kind of flow going between posts. At least that is what I aim to achieve.

So yesterday’s blogpost was outlined. I already had the idea. I just needed to write it. But yesterday was a bad day . I only managed to drag myself out of bed around 11am and spent the rest of the day on the sofa or eating on the sofa. Adrenal rest days are characterized by cravings, insatiable hunger and lots and lots of eating all day long.

Where did the day go? What did I do all day? Apart from eating… Well, mainly I spent the day staring into space. I was back to being so desperately tired, I could not even be bothered to sit up straight and type a post for my blog. It just seemed too much to ask of me or anyone who feels that way. And I did have a little “here we go again” thought creep into my mind. But I took a long hard look at that “thought gremlin”. Do you know “thought gremlins”? Those little lying fuckers that tell you all the shit you don’t need to hear, like you are useless, you cannot achieve something or you are not good enough.

Since I was not going to do anything but sit on my arse all day, I decided to reflect on the last couple of weeks since I found out about Adrenal Fatigue and the improvements I have made since then to help my adrenals back to good health. And immediately I did not feel bad about being so “lazy” any more. Because for one, I was being quite productive by thinking about all the good stuff that has been happening. And I realised that things have improved so dramatically over the last two weeks. I now had one day of lying around incapable of doing anything, yes, but after I had spent two full days over the weekend helping to facilitate training sessions and having spent a full day working on various things on Friday. Three full days in a row. How amazing is that? I have not managed to do that for about a year!!!

I would not even call yesterday a set back. Just a logical conclusion – a day of necessary recharge. My adrenals are getting noticeably better. And going from having a productive hour 2-3 times a week to 3 full days of doing things, being active and productive and after having hit the gym 3 times as well last week, I think that is quite an achievement.

Yes, yesterday was not a good day. I was tired. I could not think. I just wanted to sleep all day. But I am no longer hopeless. No longer accepting that this may just be how it is now, this is what life has become. Having those thoughts bashes your adrenals even more and feelings of being helpless and hopeless.

So my top tip to anyone who suffers from Adrenal Fatigue is: Be conscious of the good times and know that those can become permanent again. But not over night. So cherish them when they come along and be conscious and grateful for them when the bad times come knocking again. Cut yourself some slack. You won’t go back from 0-100 in a day. But while acceleration may be slow, it is also steady. When I started two weeks ago, I got a productive morning followed by a day in bed. But wow, I had a whole morning of feeling awake. Then last week, two weeks into the changes I have made, I had 3 whole days.

Yesterday’s bad day was not a reason to be distraught. It was a reason to celebrate. I had 3 full days. And I am feeling really good today. So after 3 days I needed 1 day rest. So what? Soon I will get 4 days and 1 day rest. Eventually I will only need half a day rest. And over time I will be able to do more and more without feeling exhausted while my body will be able to recover in shorter periods of time.

One thing is for sure, I will now always make time and space in my schedule to rest and recharge, even though one day I won’t feel the need for it any more.

What T. F. Is Adrenal Fatigue?

When I first heard about Adrenal Fatigue, I thought WTF is that? Some new fad? Some new scam to sell us whatever supplements or rubbish? Until I started reading and it sounded as if someone had taken notes when I was complaining about how I was feeling.

Below I have summarised some of the information taken from Dr Wilson’s website http://www.adrenalfatigue.org, which you can check out for further details.

What is adrenal fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. However, it is not as easy to identify it as other illnesses because of its array of perceivingly unrelated symptoms.

As the name suggests, the paramount symptom is fatigue that does not seem to be alleviated by sleep. While you may look healthy and may not even be able to quite pinpoint what may be wrong, there may be a sense of unwellness, tiredness or “gray feelings”, similar to depression. Although I was not so lucky. I don’t just feel like shit, I look it too. Friends and family have repeatedly been pointing that out to me, as I have become increasingly paler and the rings under my eyes increasingly darker.

Adrenal fatigue has been known and researched by the medical profession for over 100 years and has been known under several names, such as non-Addison’s hypoadrenia, sub-clinical hypoadrenia, neurasthenia, adrenal neurasthenia, adrenal apathy and adrenal fatigue.

The more severely fatigued the adrenals are, the bigger the impact it has on every organ and system in your body. The changes can affect the metabolism, thereby contributing to weight gain as well. Our bodies are amazing pieces of engineering (Mother Nature must be German…!) and so they try to make up for the under-functioning adrenal glands, but hat comes at a price.

Ugh, just a quick nap. About 8 hours or so…
What causes adrenal fatigue?

The adrenals are called into action each time stress is being put on the body, whether that be negative stress from grief or work or positive stress from exercise, for example. They are responsible to regulate the body’s response through hormones to stabilize the body’s health and functioning and to enable you to respond to those.

You may have noticed that your heart starts racing or your muscles tense up when your favourite boss screams at you from across the open plan office about that report that was due on his desk 2 minutes ago while you are still typing the last paragraph. Those feelings, that’s your adrenals at work.

During adrenal fatigue your adrenal glands function, but not well enough to maintain your body’s equilibrium because their hormonal output has been weakened. In extreme cases such as Addison’s disease, the adrenals cease to work completely, usually because of over-stimulation. Over-stimulation of your adrenals can be caused either by a very intense single stress, or by chronic or repeated stresses that have a cumulative effect.

Who is susceptible to adrenal fatigue?

Anyone can experience it and there are many different levels to it. Whenever you have experienced trauma or prolonged stress, chances are you have worn your adrenals out. Interestingly, feelings of being trapped or helpless are a big drain on your adrenals. So if you tend to see yourself as a victim, you may be more susceptible. Lifestyle choices will also influence your adrenals’ performance, such as diet, substance abuse, sleep patterns, lack of rest and the way you deal with stresses in your mind (more on that bit in a future post).

How can I tell if my adrenals are fatigued?

Some common symptoms, which I experience myself:

  • Feeling tired for no reason
  • Having trouble getting up in the morning, even after a good night’s sleep
  • Feeling rundown and overwhelmed
  • Difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness (already had 3 colds earlier this year, each took ages to shift!)
  • Craving salty and sweet snacks
  • Feeling more awake towards the evenings (I barely got that. I was always tired)

When I saw this, I started thinking back to my “stress history”

  • Working long hours in a high pressure performance driven environment
  • Experienced a whole series of traumatic events while working abroad and after return, which resulted in post traumatic stress disorder
  • Taking on my employer through a grievance process and getting ready to possibly take them to court, talking to solicitors and worrying about upsetting old friends I worked with
  • Trying to force my way back into fitness and beating myself up for feeling tired

If you think you have some of those symptoms and may not have had a chance to recover from accumulated stress, you may want to take Dr Wilson’s adrenal fatigue test. Check out the questionnaire at http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/take-the-adrenal-fatigue-quiz

Continue to follow my blog to learn more about adrenal fatigue and how I am overcoming it by supporting my body to heal itself naturally.

To Determine Your Route You Have To Know Where You Are

Yesterday I mentioned the importance of taking one step at a time to achieve a goal. To know what a step is, you need to know where you are stepping from.

So let’s say you want to go to Leeds (don’t ask why, just stay with me here). If I gave you directions from Manchester but you are in Glasgow or London, my directions would be pretty useless. And this is what I feel some nutritionists and trainers do. They just make an assumption of where you are. I did try training with the help of a PT, but he just pushed me to work harder and harder without any previous chat on where I was right now.

And for me, knowing my starting point was not as easy. I would throw myself into exercise and good nutrition again and again, injure myself, get frustrated, give up, start again and so it went on and on. Only this was not a viscous circle but rather a downward spiral. I felt worse and worse and this came to a peak at the beginning of this year. For a while I accepted it but eventually went to see my GP who ran a few blood test to see why I was always so very tired. Many days I barely make it out of bed. Just getting onto the sofa is an achievement.

The blood tests came back within the acceptable range so my GP told me that I am ok. Oh great thanks. Now that I know that, I suppose I will just wake up tomorrow morning and all my symptoms will have magically disappeared? That is just awesome. Only they didn’t. I woke up the next day feeling just as shitty as I have done for months.

But what do you do when your doctor is not very helpful? My answer is: READ!!! You know your body best. You know how you feel. If you feel like shit, chances are something is wrong there somewhere. No matter what the doctor says. You have to trust yourself and your own judgement and remember that your GP gets 15 minutes with each patient. Everyone puts how they feel into their own words rather than textbook terms and even a doctor, whilst highly educated, is only human.

So educate yourself, read, search online. Whatever is the matter, chances are it is not unique and there are others who have been through it already. Establishing your starting point is so important that you should not allow anyone to gloss over how you feel just because they cannot find the cause easily.

Read, see what sits well with you and then try things out. This is all I am doing right now and what this blog is about. Every day I will write about my trials and mis-trials, see what worked and what didn’t. And hopefully, if any of it resonates with you, my journey can help you on your own.