Sleep Tips from an Insomniac

Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Blog, Clinical Aromatherapy, Paleo, post-partum, progesterone, supplement, Uncategorized, Wellness coaching | 0 comments

Sleep.  We all know that we’re supposed to get 8 hours of sleep.  It’s one of those old recommendations from childhood, like how grandma always told you to eat your vegetables.  “Treat others how you wish to be treated.”  “Don’t talk with your mouth full.”  “Sit up straight.”  “Get your beauty rest.” We have all heard of the increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, decreased immune system function, higher rates of depression, and reduced tolerance to stress that are associated with poor sleep. If we know all these things, why are we such an exhausted society?  Many of those who do keep the mojo up all day often rely on energy drinks and coffee.  There are some who enjoy quality sleep on a regular basis, or can at least replenish their inadequate sleep on the weekends.  They are NOT parents of infants or young children. I have had issues with insomnia since I was 8.  It has been a life-long issue, and I like to consider myself well versed in sleep deprivation and home remedies.  At one point in my life, I managed to improve my sleep significantly through nutrition and supplements.  Since having a baby, my body needs a little extra help beyond basic nutrition to get some zzz’s.  After two years of raising Sterling, my body still has a difficult time sleeping through the night.  Sterling is a pretty good sleeper, but sometimes will wake up in the middle of the night.  He’ll either cry for me or come to our room.  Even after we get him back to sleep, my body has a hard time going back to sleep.  It is especially irritating on nights that Sterling sleeps soundly until 7am, but I wake up multiple times. Through continued work with lifestyle, nutrition, and mild supplements, my quality sleep is an ebb and flow.  I am so thankful that I can get help for sleep without the use of prescription pills.  While I am currently in a pretty nasty insomnia spell as I write this (it’s been almost 2 weeks since a good night’s sleep and last night was a disaster), I remain hopeful that rest is just around the corner.  I saw a  few recent posts from women on a couple of internet mom groups asking about tips for sleeping. I’d like to share the habit changes and other tips that can help me sleep.  It really is brighter on the well-rested side. NUTRITION & SUPPLEMENTS –Clean Up the Eats- I finally cleaned it up and did the Whole 30 in October. It’s a super strict paleo cleanse for 30 days. No cheats, no excuses. It was helpful to eliminate all the grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, and added...

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WTH Is up with My Hormones?!? (AKA Things They Never Told Me about Life After Baby)

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Blog, CrossFit Mom, happiness, Mood Disorder, Nutrition, Paleo, post-partum, progesterone, Wellness coaching | 0 comments

This post is specifically for the new mom.  By new, I mean if your kid is under the ripe old age of three. There is something in our society that makes women think we should just bounce right back and keep movin’ and groovin’ like we did before the birth.  If you don’t, you’re considered weak, unstable, and not resilient.  I mean, hell, there are women who CrossFit up to delivery with some pretty simple modifications. (Let the record show I was NOT one of those women)  Some come back insanely strong and go right back to competing (have you heard of Valerie Voboril?).  I honestly remember thinking that I would be able to work during the first month after the baby was born.  I was super fortunate to have a post-partum doula for the first 4 weeks with my sweet bebe.  I actually thought that she would babysit for me and I would go to the office.  HA!  I hardly moved the first two weeks after giving birth.  Instead of watching my kid, she did the laundry, dishes, made us lunch, and just helped where I needed help.  She was instrumental in my initial recovery for sure, but I quickly learned to slow the f#%k down.  Even now, I catch myself going too hard too fast, and my kiddo is almost two years old. To those of you who go back to work after six weeks and just keep trucking, I salute you.  I stayed at home and did nothing but baby for the first three months.  At five months, I went back to the office for my grad school internship.  At eight months, I was back in school full-time for my final semester.  I was also trying to get my bod up to CrossFit competition standards for the 2014 Open.  HOLY CRAP!  What I am about to tell you is not pretty, but I firmly believe there are a lot of women out there going through the same struggle and trying to find answers. On the outside, I looked like I bounced back.  On the inside, I’m a mess.  My endocrine system is so off that I can’t even make it though a full day without a break.  At almost two years post-partum, my adrenals are shot, my DHEA and pregnenolone are super low, and my progesterone is petered out. How does this translate to symptoms?  Fatigue, irritability, insomnia, depressive thoughts, brain fog, lots-o-emotions and anxious energy.  If you are a “new” mom with these symptoms, you are normal.  Let me say that again, you are NORMAL.  I asked my L.Ac. the other day how many women he works with like me.  He smiled and said, “More than...

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Whole30: FIN and Beyond

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in Blog, CrossFit, CrossFit Mom, Gluten-Free, Goal Setting, Goals, Mood Disorder, Nutrition, Paleo, post-partum weight management, progesterone, Wellness coaching | 0 comments

Here we are, Day 29 of the Whole30.  While I may have seen this challenge as more of an annoyance than a difficulty, I admit that I am glad I did it.  As I stated earlier, I have not been strict with my eating since becoming pregnant in the Spring of 2012.  Goat cheese, gluten free treats, and other non-Paleo items had snuck into my normal life, and it was time to clean up for sure.  I made it the past 30 days adhering to the Whole30 program: no grains, legumes, dairy (butter was out, but ghee was allowed), alcohol, added sweetener (fruit juice sweetened items were ok), or paleo baked treats of any sort.  The Whole30 has really emphasized that it truly STARTS with food, but there is much more to lasting vitality and health. In my opinion, a healthy balance in life considers Stress, Sleep, Nutrition, Physical Activity, Socialization, and Spirituality.  (In the interest of my considerations, Stress includes all contributors such as work, family, education, responsibilities, etc. as well as stress-mitigation, relaxation, and recuperation)  I’ve got my Nutrition dialed in, we are working on improving my Sleep, Physical Activity is still tapering if needed, and Socialization has definitely taken an up-turn.  I want to work more on my Stress management skills and Spirituality, which from my perspective go hand-in-hand.  Kundalini yoga was the perfect outlet for me, but it is currently a challenge to make the scheduled times during the week. Back to my post-Whole30 thoughts.  I have definitely leaned out, and am feeling a bit better, but not feeling fierce by any means.  Here’s why.  On the first day of the Whole30, I did a comprehensive saliva panel through my L.Ac. (licensed acupuncturist) who is also a Functional Medicine practitioner to check: cortisol rhythm, DHEA+DHEA-S/cortisol ratio, SIgA (a salivary mucous that indicates stress effect on digestion), estradoil, progesterone, and testosterone.  If you read a few of my previous posts, you will recall that 6 months ago, my progesterone was a post-menopausal levels, my testosterone was pretty low, and a couple of other issues were brought to light. What we found in this recent panel is that I did indeed have Adrenal Fatigue six months ago.  Watching my nutrition, fitness, stress, receiving regular acupuncture, and a cache of supplements have brought me back to a functioning level; sort of.  My body is healing, but still needs a bit of work.  Currently, my DHEA is almost non-existent, my estradoil and progesterone are within range, but still low, and my SIgA is so low it confirms the excessive levels stress my body has endured.  My L.Ac. (did I mention he is a genius?) and I are meeting tomorrow to...

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CrossFit and Kundalini?!?

Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Blog, Chakra, CrossFit, exercise psychology, happiness, manifesting, post-partum, progesterone, Uncategorized, Wellness coaching | 1 comment

If you have been following my posts, you’ll know that I was really getting into competing in CrossFit when I became pregnant with my baby boy.  I stayed active throughout my pregnancy, and kept my diet relatively clean.  After the natural birth of my little bear, I took appropriate time to rest, and slowing reintroduced CrossFit back into my fitness regimen.  While it may look like I “bounced back” on the outside, my body underwent significant changes from pregnancy and childbirth.  I never quite felt like my “old” self, but have learned to embrace the “new and improved” version as a result of mommyhood.  Sterling is 18 months, and is still nursing a bit.  Relaxin still flows through my veins, I cannot Zone, and I cannot get on a super-pumped supplement plan.  My body is experiencing a crazy shift in hormones, and I am very sensitive to the changes. My girlfriend, Andrea, was in a town a couple of weeks ago.  I love Andrea.  We have this amazing bond and though we only see each other every few years, we always pick up right where we left off.  We can talk for hours in comfort and stay focused on our conversations.  Not to mention, she’s hilarious!  During one of our chats, she told me about how she has added a Kundalini Yoga practice to her life. What enticed me was when she said that it not only works directly on your nervous system, but also on the endocrine system (HELLO HORMONES!!).  The morning before I took her to the airport for the next leg of her travels, we hit up Yoga Yoga for a Kundalini class with DeLora.  It rocked my world.  I knew DeLora from the Austin Area Birthing Center, so it felt like a good transition into the new practice. I have been doing Kundalini for about a month, and I’m hooked.  I’d like to share why I feel Kundalini Yoga fits in a CrossFit lifestyle.  Keep in mind, I’m a newbie, and may mess up a few of these terms. 1. You have to “go there” in your mind.  As many CrossFit workouts push you to keep a continuous pace for a specified amount of time, Kundalini includes kriyas (exercise movements) that generally last 3-7 minutes straight.  You have to relax your body except for the parts engaged and keep them moving with fluidity and purpose to get the endocrine system going.  There is a lot of focus on breath and mantras.  What I have found during many of these is that just as I start to feel that burn and desire to quit, a clarity blossoms in my mind.  A shift happens in my thinking.  I...

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The Importance of Blood Work

Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Blog, boundaries, brain health, drug-free, Gluten-Free, Graduate School, happiness, Mood Disorder, Nutrition, Paleo, post-partum, progesterone, supplement, Uncategorized | 3 comments

As with all of my blog posts, it is my hope that I can help someone out there by sharing a story from my own journey. Sterling just turned 17-months old, and I am currently working part-time on this company.  I spent his first 5 months of life exclusively with him.  In the spring, I went back to my internship and my final semester of Graduate School at UT-Austin, and graduated in December.  The effort to complete my master’s degree, resume CrossFit training, and balance the baby and family duties was quite taxing to say the least.  This is an excerpt from my journal shortly after graduating. “12/6/13 Finally finished grad school.  I feel like my adrenals have been on over-drive pumping my veins with adrenaline to keep up with everything.  I want to collapse and do NOTHING for at least 3 days…. I am taking a [CrossFit] break to give my [parasympathetic nervous system] a chance to recharge my body.  I finally crossed the finish line and need to collapse and shudder all the excess away. .. Thanksgiving took a lot out of me. … I want to : yoga, meditate, get a massage, watch a movie, sleep uninterrupted, dance, laugh, take a hike, sit, NOTHING.” After a month of family time, I started LCR Wellness.  I thought my short “break” was enough to recharge my body, and I was ready to press on.  (Come on, moms.  We all know that taking time off to be with the baby is hardly a break.)  By March, I was exhausted.  None of my old nutrition or supplement tricks worked.  My energy and motivation had dwindled to a slowing trickle.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  My outlook on most things became quite negative, and I started experiencing intrusive thoughts.  I was well beyond the time frame for post-partum depression, though I presented with similar symptoms.  After all I have been though in two combat deployments and my time in the Army, I felt ashamed.  Here I was, an emerging Wellness Coach, yet I felt that I my own health needed help.  This was not something I could suck up and endure. One evening, we ended up in the ER as my hands started to tingle and go numb.  The ER doctor recommended I go on anti-depressants based on my symptoms.  It saddens me to think of how many women have been in a similar circumstance and decided to take the advice of doctors such as this.  How unfortunate that our societal norm is for professionals with over a decade of medical training to hand out pharmaceuticals without hesitation.  Seriously, this needs to stop.  Instead of popping a pill, I knew my...

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The Journey Continues- Lasting Health and Vitality

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 in Blog, progesterone | 1 comment

If you read my previous post, you may have detected a somber over-tone.  Yes, it is good to express disappointment occasionally in order to move forward.  I have to be honest.  I felt that since my body had been through so much already (See My Journey) and that I had “cracked the code” on nutrition and fitness, that I had it all figured out.  I am still nursing the Baby Bear, and finishing grad school was quite a battle.  But, my training was going well, and I thought I was on the up and up.  Then, a little over a month ago, I hit a wall. None of my nutrition, supplement, and essential oil tricks seemed to work.  My scores on the CrossFit Open were nothing short of disappointing.  And, instead of getting to work after the baby would go off with the nanny, I would rest.  This is no way to live, my friends.  I was exhausted beyond recognition, and finally found some help. I found an ND here in Austin and we decided to run an extensive blood panel.  My cholesterol and triglycerides are gorgeous.  My iron is solid.  My hemoglobin A1c (fasting glucose) is almost perfect.  And I have almost 0 inflammation.  My vitamin D (though really not a vitamin) is a little on the low side.  Here’s the kicker.  My main problem in is my progesterone.  Progesterone does so much more than keep us fertile.  It is so important in so many ways and my levels are that of a post-menopausal woman.  The list of causes of low progesterone are long and varied.  Specifically, we don’t know exactly what caused my hormone levels to drop.   My LAc, who detected that my pituitary gland was on the fritz, currently has me on some great supplements to help out my endocrine and digestive systems.  They are working wonders and I owe a lot of my score on 14.5 to their ability to help my body function.  We’re waiting on an additional test, and the next step is to get some progesterone cream. Of course, I went straight to the research to see what I can do in addition to following the guidance of my medical practitioners. #1. Reduce stress.  While my life circumstances are not nearly as “stressful” as I have previously experienced (my time flying helicopters in the Army in various sandy and remote locations comes to mind), at this point, less is better.  Did you know that stress can actually stunt your body’s production of key hormones to make cortisol instead?  While it may be helpful in a life-threatening situation, chronic stress can literally shut you down.  Have you heard of progesterone steal? #2....

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