A special guest post from Sara Gottfried, M.D.
Here’s the truth: You need boundless energy in order to lose weight, get in better shape, greet your kids with enthusiasm at the end of the day, and all the other hundreds of things that you do every day. Nothing is worse than reaching into your energy reserve … and finding nothing there. When you’re dragged out and exhausted, no one wins — especially you.
My energy crisis
Ten years ago, my battery was totally drained. As a working mom and wife, I was frumpy, frazzled and fat. I felt depleted. Life was hard, as though I was pushing a rock up a hill. At the same time, I kept telling myself that I was too young to feel so old and tired; to have a nonexistent libido, a short fuse and no energy. I realized, very clearly, that my life was a battle. I felt like I needed to be all things to all people, and I was buckling under the constant assault on my self-esteem.
My patients were also complaining about being tired, and all I could think was, “I’m a doctor. I should be able to help these people — myself included!” After all, being tired is the #1 health complaint doctors hear from their patients. However, I couldn’t get decent advice from my doctors on how to cure the disastrous mess my own hormones had become during my 30s — let alone give helpful advice to my patients. I was resistant to prescribing drugs such as antidepressants or sleeping pills. They don’t do much beyond mask the symptoms and don’t even come close to dealing with the cause of the problem. On the other hand, alternative medicine doctors suggest bottle after bottle of supplements and fringe therapies, which are not the answer either, because they are often unproven and a complete waste of money.
I tried following the same advice that everyone, everywhere is given: East LESS, exercise MORE! I tried living on lettuce and lint, but it didn’t work — and I felt like a failure. The extra 25 pounds of baby weight I was carrying wouldn’t go away, and those images of beautiful thin people everywhere soured my attitude. I felt like I was smart and should have the answers (c’mon, I was a doctor!), but I didn’t, so I got even more depressed.
Finally, a light bulb went off. I realized that there were 3 things I kept doing that made my body and my mind lose energy. Once I started addressing them — I mean really fixing them — everything began to turn around. That’s what I’m going to share with you: the top 3 undiagnosed energy suckers and what you can do to stop them from draining you.
Energy suck #1: Pushing too hard
The more I struggled against the demands that made up my life — career, motherhood, marriage and friendships — the more depleted I felt. This led to adrenal burnout and was a major contributor to my energy tank running on empty.
I realized that the solution was to surrender and swim downstream. I had to give over to the fact that sometimes my problems were bigger than me. That 1 decision — to stop fighting everything all the time — made all the difference in the world.
One way I did this was to put on my “now” watch. That means paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment. Instead of saying, “Once I get the dream job, once I lose 10 pounds, or once I get the perfect partner,” I started telling myself, “This is exactly the job I want, the partner I want, and the life I want.” It’s like that old song, “Love the One You’re With.”
The “now” watch put me in the present moment. It let me appreciate what I already have and motivated me to start making the changes I want for myself, rather than blaming outside circumstances and other people.
Once I put on my “now” watch, I doubled my energy, dropped the stress eating and got that bounce back in my step again. I finally felt like I brought my entire body back into a balanced, revitalized state and realized that I was in the right place, right now, so I could enjoy what my life was bringing me.
Energy suck #2: Leaky gut and food intolerances
Leaky gut is a condition whereby toxic food particles, environmental chemicals and bacterial waste leak through your digestive tract and enter your body. These foreign particles raise your cortisol and push your immune system into battle, which can cause inflammation and jump-start the development of chronic disease. Leaky gut has been linked to asthma, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel, kidney disease, psoriasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart failure … the list goes on and on. As you can imagine, fighting this kind of chronic pain is totally depleting.
Leaky gut is tricky to diagnose. There are a couple of tests for it, but leaky gut often masquerades as different illnesses. In fact, some studies suggest that more than a hundred autoimmune diseases all begin with leaky gut. Plus, it’s not always related to digestive problems. Nearly 30% of people with leaky gut report no digestive issues at all. For them, leaky gut is associated with some other chronic condition, where the connection to leaky gut is not obvious.
There is a definitive connection between leaky gut and the food you eat. Studies show that gluten contributes to leaky gut. So do other problematic foods such as eggs, tomatoes and eggplants, peppers, certain spices, nuts and seeds. Eliminating some or all of these foods (plus cutting out “cheat days” where you sneak them in) really helps relieve leaky gut. Finally, cutting out non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), lowering stress and checking for gut infections all help reduce leaky gut symptoms.
The result for me? Nasty bad moods and endless worrying became a thing of the past. I began rediscovering what it’s like to feel happy and at home in my body again. I became a master at managing stress spikes throughout the day and started living that ripe, sexy, energized life I had been missing out on. I found myself full of endless energy, free of joint pain, bloating and extra weight. It was amazing — all because I started resolving my leaky gut issues.
Energy suck #3: Saying “yes” too much of the time
There’s a lot expected of us as women, and we deliver — for everybody else, right? I was a busy working mom of a baby daughter, just like many of you. I was slogging through all of the requests that were being asked of me every day, and I had a mindset of saying “yes” to everything, all the time. Was I fatigued? Exhausted? Worn out? Who wouldn’t be when there are no boundaries in place?
That’s when I realized that “yes” can be a terrible energy suck. I changed my mindset and started saying, “Probably not.” I set boundaries. I created priorities. I gave myself permission to step aside and let someone else take charge, and I told myself that I didn’t have to do everything for everybody.
That’s when the energy started flowing back. I felt as if I was stress-proofing my entire body. I began sleeping better than I had in years. I was leaner and had more vitality back in my life — all because I was learning that every request did not come with a mandatory “yes.”
As a traditionally trained doctor, I had to fight off the medical dogma I’d been taught at Harvard and dig deeper to get at the root causes of my misery. That’s when I uncovered the 3 energy sucks: pushing too hard, leaky gut and food intolerance, and saying “yes” too much. I created my own natural, step-by-step approach to getting back my joyful, energized self and underwent a life-changing transformation.
Here’s the best part: It only took me 30 days. I’m serous. I reclaimed my hormonal balance and kicked my energy and mojo into high gear in about a month — just by addressing these 3 energy sucks. I felt empowered to nurture and heal my adrenals and bring my cortisol and other hormones back into balance. My frantic, frustrated, chronically exhausted self became a thing of the past, and I began to honor that sacred space inside of me that deserves to be taken care of, once I realize that I wasn’t going to waste another minute feeling rotten and flat-out exhausted.
There’s no magic “when” that marks the perfect time to make a change. As Emily Dickinson said, “Forever is composed of Nows.” With the proper program and a little dedication, I found my energy again — and I’ve never looked back since.
SARA GOTTFRIED, M.D., is the New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure. After graduating from the physician-scientist training program at Harvard Medical School and MIT, Dr. Gottfried completed her residency at the University of California at San Francisco. She is a board-certified gynecologist who teaches natural hormone balancing in her novel online programs so that women can lose weight, detoxify and feel great. Dr. Gottfried lives in Berkeley, Calif., with her husband and 2 daughters. For more information about her amazing energy transformation program called Mission Ignition: The Energy Cure, please click here.