The top 3 energy suckers and how to fix them

A special guest post from Sara Gottfried, M.D.

Guest author Sara Gottfried, M.D.
Guest author Sara Gottfried, M.D.

You weren’t meant to go through life feeling tired, fat, cranky, stressed out, sleep-deprived and unhappy. These negative patterns are a sure sign that something is out of whack in your body — and the most likely culprit is that your hormones are misfiring.

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

Overworked businesswoman at homeThe 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

woman_pressed_for_time_smallThere’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.

Steve Sisskind, M.D.

Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.

As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.

Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?

I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.

I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!

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  1. Ig we eliminate NSAIDS , what can we take for pain, inflammation??

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Shirley,

      Thank you for writing in and for posting your question! NSAID or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have, over the years, become a staple in every home. They are the quick fix for chronic or acute pain which range from migraines to muscle pain. However, not many know that abuse of these medicines can also lead to other complications such as hearing impairment, gastrointestinal distress, allergies and in some cases, heart attacks.

      That said, with the challenges we face every day, we cannot cut out NSAIDs from our lives, completely. However, I do recommend that you limit use to a minimum and instead, concentrate on getting a balanced diet with plenty of Omega 3 rich foods (they help fight inflammation), adapt an active lifestyle or exercise regimen and get enough sleep to allow your body to recuperate from the day’s wear and tear. Lastly, if you are to take anti-inflammatory drugs, be sure to eat before and have a small snack in between meals to avoid gastric distress and potentially, heartburn. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  2. Is there some type of test to determine if you have leaky gut? If you have no real outward signs of a problem, other than being hypothyroid for example, and have been gluten free for a year, how do you know that you should perhaps give up tomatoes, or eggplant, for that matter?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Darlene,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! There is no one specific test to determine if you have leaky gut syndrome, however, it’s diagnosis is often found after a series of symptoms, otherwise unrelated, begin to manifest themselves. The most common factor is any sign of inflammation, especially in the gut, which in turn affects proper nutrient absorption and impaired immune response. That said, to know if you ought to give up the consumption of tomatoes or eggplant, the best course would be to give it a try and see how your body reacts. The reason being, you may not be outright allergic to either ingredient, per se but instead experience an adverse reaction to other items in your recipe such as cheese (for eggplant parmigiana) or gluten from bread and pasta.

      Also, a sick thyroid could precipitate some of the discomforts you may be feeling. It always helps if you work closely with your personal doctor in addressing your hypothyroid before making any drastic changes in your diet or lifestyle in order to move forward safely and with as little complications as possible. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  3. Malinda Westerlund

    Thank you for your three points to a better “You”! I especially appreciate the third point. Learning to say “NO” is so important.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Malinda,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! I completely agree with you. Sometimes, we just really need to draw the line in order to preserve our well being and have enough energy for the next day. I find that the hardest part is learning to say “NO” but once you start letting go, you feel lighter and able to focus on more pressing matters. Have a healthy day!

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