Tag: Health

One Key Way to Avoid Burnout

One Key Way to Avoid Burnout

avoid burnout

One of the more interesting things I’ve spent time doing is working as a Health Coach for college campuses. In this role, I worked directly with employees as a benefit of their health insurance. The programming varies, however there were very few sessions that didn’t eventually mention stress. College campuses are full of people who deeply care about their work, but they have very limited resources including time. This can lead to exhaustion as well as feeling undervalued, disrespected, and even hopelessness if left unchecked.

We Need People Looking Out for Us

In late October there was a video released of an interview with Meghan Markel (wife of Prince Harry, new mom to Archie) discussing adjusting to her new life. Tom Bradby, the interviewer brought up some concerns Harry mentioned in a previous conversation. His concern for the dynamics surrounding his wife and the press are public, but I believe for many this video humanized Meghan in a new way.

Here is part of the transcript:

“It’s obviously an area one has to tiptoe into very gently,” he added, before asking her what the impact had been “on your physical and mental health of all the pressure that you clearly feel under?”

Meghan replied: “Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable.

“So that was made really challenging and then when you have a newborn … especially as a woman, it’s really, it’s a lot.

“So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mum or trying to be a newlywed.”

Asked by Bradby how she was coping, Meghan said: “Thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m ok.

“But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”

Bradby then added: “And the answer is, would it be fair to say, not really ok? That it’s really been a struggle?”

To which Meghan replied: “Yes.”

Vulnerability = Courage

Meghan’s willingness to answer honestly with a simple yes shifted the dynamics in significant ways. And if Princess Meghan Markel can be honest for the world to watch on repeat the dangit why can’t we? When asked questions like are you ok? Do you say yes or do are you still trying to convince yourself asking for help is failing? The strong thing to do is to grin and bear it right? Suck it up Buttercup! NO!!

HERE’S THE THING: No one is perfect. No one is invincible and No one is able to grin and bear life alone.

We are not meant to live life alone and we are not created to walk through hard seasons by ourselves. But if we tell everyone we are fine or stay silent when we are in hard seasons how can we expect others to know how to step up and surround us when we need them?

We Will Burnout Attempting Life Alone

Whether we are trying to muscle through work or personal challenges it’s important to pause and recognize that our choice is unnecessary. There are people surrounding every one of us that would happily help if they only knew how they could be helpful.

As coaches’ wives, ministry wives, and military wives we already carry a heavy load when our husbands are in their busy seasons at work. When football season hits I know that we are all going to have to step up and do a little more each day to just keep the house running at the bare minimum.

It takes longer to complete the workday because there are more interruptions for errands. Cleaning and laundry happen more frequently because we are all attending more events and the clutter piles up quicker. It’s harder to cook because some days we are hungrier and other days a surprise keeps someone away for dinner. In between everything, there are fewer days to rest and reset and this is a recipe for burnout if we ignore things for too long.

One Key Way to Avoid Burnout is to Connect with Your Community

This doesn’t have to require you to ask people to run errands for you or to leave your kids with them. Try going for coffee with a girlfriend to decompress rather than stress eating. Do you have to redecorate a room? Take that stylish friend with you who always looks put together. Her eye will catch things yours won’t and I guarantee she will show you a few new secrets about local sales too!

When you have hit your limit throw up the white flag and wave it until someone comes to relieve you, and when you are not in the middle of the crazy months be sure to look around and do the same for your fellow coaches’ wives, ministry wives and military wives.

Find your tribe and trust them with your hardest moments. Tell them that you need prayer even when you can’t explain why. Your tribe will understand and they will rally.

Above all, when you can, seize opportunities for extended time away where you can allow others to speak over you and life-giving truths. Take advantage of weekend trips with your husband, your girlfriends, and time alone when you can figure that out.

You will serve your family, your job, and your ministry better after some time away to recalibrate. How do I know? Because I do this fairly regularly and it hasn’t failed yet.

Resources

You know I’m not going to leave you without resources!

Midwest coaches’ wives! Check out this upcoming Retreat JUST FOR YOU! Come hear how several coaches’ wives are pursuing their callings and how you can pursue yours as we focus on our theme verse: Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17

Early Bird Pricing won’t last forever!

If you aren’t able to make it to our event here are a few other options to consider:

Spiritual Retreats at Catholic and Jesuit Conference centers are available at almost any length and design you can image and pay for including with counseling from a Spiritual Director.

General Retreats are advertised from around the world here.

Hop on Travelocity or Hotels.com and book a hotel or spa!

Looking for another event with a Spiritual component? I’m headed to St. Louis April 4th for Biblical Theology Workshop for Women with Nancie Guthrie

Hypothyroidism…blood test results

Hypothyroidism…blood test results

living with hypothroidism

Earlier this month I had a semi routine blood drawn done.  I hadn’t been feeling great and my doctor decided to check to see if my thyroid was balanced.  I think we were both to get the results.  My thyroid was balanced (and I’ve been feeling fine so it must of just been some exhaustion to fight) and for the first time since February 2014 at least my A1C was completely in the NORMAL RANGE!!

I did not have my A1C checked prior to 2014, although while pregnant in 2006 it was fine.  Sometime between 2006 and 2014 my A1C bumped into the insulin resistant/pre-diabetic range.  I have a sweet tooth and I’ve tried to avoid artificial sweeteners because there really isn’t much positive to read about them.  As I’ve tried to curb the sweets reserving treats for celebrations and certain times of the month I’ve seen the weight drop and my cravings drop, but the numbers remained the same.

I can only explain my new found blood ranges as a result of prayer, sticking with eating less sweets and a lot of exercise.  My doctor even seemed surprised.

The results of this latest blood draw has given me a new perspective.

  1. For the first time in a very very long time I have stopped waiting for quality of life to become even more compromised and instead have become even more focused on keeping my A1C in range.  Less and less sugar, increased workouts including heavier weights.
  2. I’ve begun thinking about the future more.  What will life be like in 10 or more years?  I’m no longer assuming needles, insulin and full blown diabetes is a given for me.

If you are also fighting hypothyroidism I CAN.NOT stress enough how vital quality health care is to your sustained health.

Further reading: The two BIG Problems with typical thyroid treatment Part 1 and Part 2

Balance Beams, Spoons, and permission to say no

Balance Beams, Spoons, and permission to say no

 

Have you read the Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino?  I stumbled across it the other day and although she is writing about lupus I couldn’t help but nod along feeling as if words for my recent life had just been gifted to me.

The spoon theory, very quickly, is a visual explanation of how the thousands of people in the world balance daily life with chronic illness.  For me, this has played out several ways, with the same results.

For many years I would move through my list of tasks as quickly as I could each day.  I often found that my energy would be zapped when it came to finally giving energy to my kids each afternoon.  This would start the cycle of guilt and frustration.  I’d over compensate the next time I had energy and would neglect cleaning which would then leave me feeling guilty and overwhelmed with tasks.   It took me a long time to figure out that pushing myself to exhaustion was not the best way to go about things.  The spoon analogy would have been helpful back then!

For me, hypothyroidism is something I can ignore one day and be consumed by the next.  When my medicine is at the correct dose and I have gotten enough sleep I can handle a busy day without much concern about napping.  When my dose is off, I’ve not slept or I’ve had several crazy days in a row I have learned the hard way that I need to extend myself the grace to take a day off.

Now that my boys are in school full days and can independently entertain themselves for a few hours life has gotten easier, but the reality is that the laundry never ends and everyone needs to be fed every day.  Priorities need to be shuffled around at times when my exhaustion is at it’s highest with a triage type attitude. When I don’t rest I will find myself with headaches, brain fog and getting ill.

In her book For The Love Jen Hatmaker talks about tasks sitting on a balance beam.  She encourages women to take things off the beam that really don’t need to be there.  For me, things like PTA meetings at 7pm, volunteering to help people who add stress to my life and even certain jobs have been things I’ve had to say no to or “take off my beam”.

When it comes to organizing my daily “spoons” I’ve found Corie Clark’s Purposeful Planner to be the best resource for keeping me going one week at a time. The lay out of each hour for the day being assigned a task even if it’s “rest” gives me the freedom to say no when extra commitments pop up.   This isn’t to say I’ve got giant gaps of time in my days.  Between balancing work, online classes, ministry, devotions, cooking, cleaning, exercise, shopping, being a mom and wife and the occasional fun thing like reading I’ve found that scheduling my days out ensures I actually get everything done.

My goal has always been to never have to say “I’m to tired to help, or be present”. Being too sick to go someplace, help or be present has in past years been reserved for my family. Today, it is reserved for times when I am forced to say it.  My priorities now start with family and health. This means my “spoons” for other people are severely limited.  Unfortunately, saying no is the only way to keep my priorities balanced and my health intact.

I used to think having to say no made me a bad friend.  I used to think that if others were told no that I didn’t have the right to ask for help myself.   I’ve come to realize that we all live our lives with a fist full of spoons, it’s just that for some that pile is smaller than for others.  On the days I have more spoons I can do more, and on the days I have less spoons I trust my friends and family will extend me the grace to rest up for another day.

What I realize today is that having to learn to balance my priorities actually makes me a better friend, employee, wife and mother because I reserve energy to be present with each encounter regardless of how infrequently they occur.

Switching Thyroid Meds…again

Switching Thyroid Meds…again

 

It’s been awhile since I gave an update on my Hypothyroidism journey and to be honest, that was in large part because I wasn’t sure what else to say.

This summer I was more intune with my body and how I was feeling than I had been in years.  When I got strep throat I was able to pinpoint the cause as exhaustion even before I actually got sick.  Both my stress levels and physical activity increased significantly causing a bit of adrenal fatigue and imbalance in cortisol levels.

One of the things I have had to learn over the past few years is that internalizing situations and trying to handle things myself has not worked.  I need to ask for help and be wise about what I say yes to.  The reality in life is that there are unavoidable stresses.  Having children, dealing with the sale of a house in another state, renters who aren’t great about paying rent and instead vacation is their priority….these things happen.  At the same time, not giving myself margin in my daily life giving no room for reaction or adjustment to a change in plan can certainly add unnecessary stress.

Whether it was in response to my stress this summer, the fact that I’ve lost even more weight, or just a natural adjustment, I began to find this summer that napping was again part of my daily routine.  My nails were brittle, my hair was falling out and I my emotions were a bit more extreme.  All this was a hard to attribute specifically to my thyroid at first because I was teaching swim lessons 4-6 hours each day, and chlorine can be a bear on our bodies.

A blood test confirmed that my T3 was yet again out of range and comparison wise it was actually worse than the last time a blood draw was done.  It seems that Armor Thyroid itself is not going to be be enough to keep my thyroid functioning so a new medicine has been added.

Cytomel, a specific T3 synthetic seems to be the aid I need right now.  5 days in I’m thinking clearly again and no longer crave that late afternoon nap.  There are side effects related to this drug when the dose isn’t correct, but for now things seem to be fine.

As I reflect on this additional change I have a few recurring thoughts.

Concerns: First, I have to admit, this is my second football season adjusting to medicine.  Football season itself can be our most stressful time of year and I’m disappointed to still be dealing with medicine adjustments.  Secondly, I’m a bit nervous to be on a synthetic drug.  Levothyroxine is a synthetic and is the cause of my thyroid decline.

Positives: It’s hard to trust a synthetic after having such good results with Armor.  At the same, time, I’m feeling better, and it’s always good to feel good!  I’m still losing and maintaining weight.  2 Augusts ago I was in a 16 by October and 18/20.  Last August a firm 14 for pants still and XL for shirts.  This August I’m in a firm 10 for pants and shirts really vary, mostly a M/L.  Some XL’s on name brand tight fitting cuts.

Where do I go from here?  My doctors have begun to disagree about my weight.  My OB/GYN says I’m fine where I’m at as long as my thyroid stays stable.  My endocrinologist says another 20 lbs will keep me stable longer and help me feel my best.  It’s hard to imagine what another 20lbs would look like, but until my thyroid levels stabilize again I’m not arguing on weight.

I’ve begun to crave sugar again, likely due to my exhaustion.  This is complicated because I have registered as insulin resistant in the past.  Nutrition wise I’ll be working to get my sugar intake back under control (no small feat during football season) and I’ll also be monitoring my gluten intake as well.  One thing that has come up in the past month specifically is consistent symptoms that may be related to a building gluten intolerance.  Of course, bread can also add to insulin resistance symptoms, so it’s possible bread and sugar are simply giving the same reaction.

Hypothyroidism is a life long battle for many, it seems I fall into that category.

 

 

 

 

 

Thyroid Reality Check

Thyroid Reality Check

living with hypothroidism

This week marks the “end” of summer for our family.  The football staff is back in the office, and for my boys, that means they spend time hanging out in dad’s office or in mine.  Now, granted, his office includes a weight room and mine is a swimming pool right now, but I still feel guilty.

Over the last 10 years of being a mom I’ve spent many a day feeling guilty, it’s part of the baggage most 21st century mothers carry, but for me, it is tied to the fact that for the first 9 years of motherhood every day I had to make a choice between resting and cleaning, resting and playing with the boys, relaxing and cooking, etc.   The early years were easy, I just napped when the kids napped.  When they went to school, and I entered back into working outside the home a few days a week things got a bit trickier.  This isn’t to say that we never had fun, we did…I have the pictures to prove it.  At the same time, every choice felt like a compromise.

Since finding my new endocrinologist and switching to Armour Thyroid, I have found my days of compromise becoming less and less necessary.  As long as I take my medicine, eat a healthy diet and exercise I seem to function just like everyone else.

This summer after a 2-year break I took a job back in aquatics.  Swimming can be draining, and I’ve found this summer to be a challenging one.  It’s a good job, working for good people, and right now it’s also necessary, so we’ve made adjustments at the house including the boys learning how to load the dishwasher, Coach taking care of dinner most nights and many more cleaning chores around the house.  Still, adding on this extra job has been a huge reality check.

After the first session of swimming (2 weeks long), I ended up in bed all weekend with strep throat.  There was a gap week in the calendar, and during that week I spent time creating freezer meals for the month of July and getting as much done around the house as I could.  Thankfully, this allowed for a healthier second session.  I’ll admit, I’m looking forward to wrapping up swim lessons for the summer regardless of how thankful I am for the job.

I’m also thankful for this summer because it has reminded me that I have limits, and boundaries need to be firmly stuck to.  Living with hypothyroidism means I have to make choices and prioritize tasks but it doesn’t mean I have to stop living.

Insulin Resistance and Hypothyroidism

Insulin Resistance and Hypothyroidism

health and hypothyroism

One of the first things my endocrinologist did was to have a lot of blood drawn.  3 vials to be specific.  The tests run were for my TSH, T4, hormone levels, cholesterol, Vitamin D, Vitamin B, Magnesium, Iron, A1C and many other things.

A week later I was back in the office where (as I said previously) I was informed that in addition to needing my thyroid medicine changed, I needed to change my vitamins and my diet.

Women to Women.com explains:

“The body works hard to balance what is digested, monitor blood sugar levels, meet cell demands, and release insulin in just the right amounts. Metabolism plays a key role in glucose functioning–it defines how the body regulates energy. Our diets affect our metabolism, and a diet consisting mostly of simple carbohydrates found in refined and processed foods, results in the fast break down of sugars that quickly enter the bloodstream. As this occurs, the body releases more insulin to try to control the glucose levels, creating a downward spiral. However, a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, aids metabolism and its relationship to insulin, tipping the scales in the right direction.”

I had been eating a diet that I considered to be well balanced.  I was following Weight Watchers and was always well within my points range.  I ate salad for a meal almost every day, had plenty of fruit as snacks and always had vegetables with dinner.  For me, what it came down to was eliminating bread almost entirely, limiting sugar in everything including coffee creamer and yogurt and focusing on my protein intake.  I stopped counting calories and points and even stopped measuring out foods.  I didn’t eliminate carbs altogether, I only limited myself to one serving a day.  I created the “menu” shown below for my health coaching clients as a springboard to taking control of their eating. For me personally, I have found that I don’t really need that much variety in my diet, breakfast is either eggs or a protein shake with chia seeds, lunch is soup and salad or hummus and veggies 5 days of the week, and dinner is a good variety of things.  I want to expose my boys to as many flavors as I can, so dinners vary every day.

Once I started eating an egg and fruit for breakfast instead of an egg on a bagel thin, changed my Greek yogurt from one with 18 carbs to 8 and cut out wraps for lunch the weight dropped very consistently.  Part of this for me was also the adjustment of my thyroid medicines which allowed my metabolism to function.  I have some amazing friends, and I gave a few of them this eating plan and asked them to see if this way of eating worked for them as well.  Each person who stuck to the ideas below lost a minimum of 5lbs the first month.  One girlfriend has adopted this eating plan and since the first week of December has lost 2 or more lbs consistently for a total of 26lbs to date.

The reason this has been working, in my opinion, points back directly to what research has found.  Depending on which study you refer to experts state that about 25% of women or 14 million men and women are currently insulin resistant in the US alone.  So, if you are having trouble losing weight consider switching up your menu.

A Week of Healthy Eating

Breakfast:

Freezer smoothies, Frittata, Microwave Omelet or Egg, Hard Boiled Egg, Greek Yogurt, Fruit, nd nuts or nut butter or PB2, cottage cheese, protein shake**

Lunch:

Hummus and veggies, Salad with Grilled Chicken Strips or beans or tuna, Taco Salad with out tortillas, soup, baked potato, wrap or ½ sandwich BLT, Turkey, egg salad, tuna, eggs if didn’t have with breakfast

Dinner:

choose a plate that is 50% fruit and veggies, 25% protein and 25% starch*

Snacks:

protein bar, lara bar, almonds, cashews, pistachios, yogurt, fruit, veggies, Kashi Dark Chocolate Sea Salt and Chia Seed Granola Bar (my chocolate fix), air popped popcorn, PB2, nut butter or dressing for dip, cheese stick

*Try: Quoina recipes (great source of protein), check out pinterest, search by ingredient. Also AllRecipes.com is a great resource. You can search for a recipe by ingredients and even omit items.

**Protein powders come in all forms, stay away from soy. Whey protein is the least expensive. For a vegan option pea protein or brown rice is your least expensive. Raw Fusion, Plant Fusion, Alive, Usana are vegans. Whey protein is your low carb choice. Read taste reviews on amazon or health food websites.

Grabbing ahold of my health

Grabbing ahold of my health

health and hypothyroism 2

Almost exactly one year ago I was in bad shape.  I had been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism in 2005 my first pregnancy and had been being monitored by my GP ever since. By 2012 I had lost and gained the same 10 lbs over and over and began telling my GP that I was concerned my medicines needed to be adjusted. I was on a steady stream of caffeine and exercising regularly, yet most days I was in need of a nap or an early bedtime.

My blood draw showed my numbers were in range, so I was told to try to lose more weight.  I cut down my caffeine, which increased my need for naps, increased my exercise which increased the aches in my body and cut my calories, which increased my weight.

By December of 2013, 7 months after our move I found myself with clumps of hair falling out, the need for a nap after every 4 hours of being awake, fog brain, nails cracking, and weight increasing and increasing.  I called an Endocrinologist and was filled out a questionnaire that I was to bring with me.  The 3 pages asked questions about symptoms, and I answered yes to almost each question.  I arrived for my appointment and was given an order for blood work.  I had brought my medical records to be reviewed, and the following week came back at the Endocrinologist to discover that not only had my records revealed my thyroid levels had not been in range for several years.  Additionally, I was vitamin deficient in many areas and had high blood sugar.

I was placed on a high protein/low carb diet, given Armour thyroid instead of Synthroid, and told to be patient.  3 days on this new medicine and I was able to go the entire day without napping.  With the fog brain lifting, I began to do a little research on some of the terms that had been tossed around at my Dr. appt.  Insulin Resistance, Armour Thyroid, and even a bit on Hypothyroidism.

I began to realize how sick I really was, and with each day of feeling healthier I also noticed I could think more clearly, I had more patience, and my clothes were getting looser.  I had been told by many people that you don’t realize how sick you are until you begin to feel healthy, and that was absolutely right for me. Stay tuned for more tips and lessons about health I’ve learned on this journey!  My first tip, take charge of your health and get a second opinion!