I'm working on sharing the stories of women, including myself, who have faced extreme exhaustion in some form or another. Sadly, this is an epidemic. 21st Century Stress is a pandemic, a chronic disease we ALL seem to be suffering from. So how do we overcome it? It takes a bit of slowing down and a grand effort to rebalance. Hopefully this story from Tammi Hoerner will help inspire you!
Let's get started by jumping right in. This series is about personal stories of extreme exhaustion, and how they affect us and our lives. Unfortunately people throw around terms like "exhausted" or "burned out" like a badge of honor. When you hit a point where your energy was so low that you really considered it serious, how did you know?
My exhaustion showed up with tears and a realization I’d totally dumped out my bucket. My hair was falling out (this had happened before), I was feeling depressed, I’d lost my inspiration in my work as a coach, I just wanted to sleep - but couldn’t, and I started gaining visible belly weight and couldn’t gather enough energy to seriously develop a workout routine. I toppled when I started getting migraines weekly.
Thank you for sharing. I got inspired to ask others to share their story with exhaustion when I faced my own diagnosis of adrenal fatigue. It's a sad reality that so many people face that or have a lifestyle that is sending them down that path. After you realized you needed things to change how did you go about it?
Because I’ve been an INHC [health coach] for almost a decade, I recognized the symptoms and began first with a commitment from me that my health has to come first, I began to scale back my work. I talked with my husband, set some boundaries with others in my life, and began my journey in extreme self care. This included a visit to the doc to make sure blood work and brain are okay, then I began to hit changes in my food, sleep, boundaries, relationships, and exercise.
Was it a smooth journey?
Ha! Is this a trick question?! It still is not a smooth journey. I currently have migraines still, they are farther between. My hair is not falling out any more and I have most of my energy back. I have days I don’t care about what I eat, and days I don’t want to move, but I am getting better.
You've been through a lot. You've been to what I call "the pit of despair," where everything feels so overwhelming or demanding that you kind of want to throw in the towel. And yet I know for myself that it was not depression. Depression, of course, is its own dark place, but fatigue is different. For me, I still wanted to do the normal things... But felt like it was just too much work. What advice do you have for someone who feels fatigued or even simply worn out on an ongoing basis?
Be kind to yourself. I always felt like I was working in reverse. As I began to set boundaries, I began to keep lists of what I wanted to accomplish. I’d pick a single thing to do a day. Most of these revolved around home care and self care. I’d take one thing on and see how it went. If it went good and I felt good, I’d pick another. I’d celebrate what I did and allow myself to recover/rest afterward.
Was your weight a concern during this time in your life? If so, how did overcoming the fatigue change what was going on with your weight?
As I’ve addressed my adrenal fatigue, I’ve been able to do a lot more for my health and well being. I’ve not lost the weight I gained in numbers, but I’m able to exercise hard a solid 60 minutes and I still have energy to cook all of our meals. Slowly I’m turning all this around.
Is there anything you can say was a silver lining to the experience you had with fatigue/exhaustion?
Sure! This is a real condition, it’s not in your head, - it takes time to heal, but you can heal it. I know that if you rest, eat good food, and take time for other self care, you can get better. The human body is designed to heal itself when given the right tools. You can do it!
OK, now for a few fun questions! Where do you live and what do you do there-for work and for fun?
I am a native Coloradan. I am an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach (In my 9th year!), Herbalist, and Aromatherapist who supports women in moving from undernourished and overwhelmed to living a life fulfilled with Lifestyle and Career Coaching. I homeschool, love paper crafts and fur babies, and am an advocate for green living and the planet.
What is a surprising food you just love to eat?
I love salty crunchy foods - chips and salsa are the key to my heart and the thorn in my paw. Ha!
One thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m multi educated - I have an AAS in Graphic Design, and a Barber Stylist Diploma. (I cut hair for about two years before I gave up my scissors for a different venture).
Thank you, Tammi!
Where can people get in touch with you to learn more about you and your endeavors?
Tammi Hoerner, INHC, Dipl. MH, Aromatherapy Headpositivemom.com
With all the demands of our crazy modern world, we are very quickly disconnected from our own bodies. Despite that we hear the message "listen to your body" on a regular basis... we may not know how or even what exactly that means!!!
There are myriad reasons why we become so disconnected from our bodies. We don't typically use our bodies for our work - we use our brains. We are often living a sedentary lifestyle with a lot of sitting, so we don't get the chance to simply BE in our bodies without distraction. We drive to get places, which further takes away an opportunity to feel what is happening in our bodies in a natural part of the day through simply walking.
And then the people who are telling us to get in tune with our bodies or listen to our bodies... well they can be annoying and come off as self righteous. Yes, I realize I may be including myself in that category!
Hopefully though I can introduce to you a simplified way to listen to your body that isn't quite as obnoxious and does not involved burning nag champa incense (because I actually hate incense!)
My radical point of view is that you can stop and listen to your body at any point in time and the only thing you have to do is slow down. Take a deep breath. What hurts? That is your body talking at the most basic level.
For me, I've been at my computer for about an hour and my back is hurting. I did a trigger point massage class this morning (where I laid around and let tennis balls dig into my muscles from beneath me - hurts so good kind of thing) and I felt AMAZING all day... and now I feel like that looseness is tightening back up while I sit here typing this.
Normally, we just ignore all this information, as I am doing while I continue to type this article. However, by simply stopping to NOTICE these details, I know that I should do something else when this article is done, and NOT write the next one.
What I do next is also simple. Take a short walk, get a drink, do five minutes of stretching, or whatever, it doesn't really matter, as long as we don't keep doing what is making us hurt. This is Body Wisdom 101. Stop doing what makes your body hurt. Simple, but not easy, in fact I've heard my clients say it's "the easiest hardest thing."
Ready for your next lesson? Get your copy of Body Wisdom Journal.
I help busy, ambitious leaders to step off the emotional eating roller coaster, so they can lose weight and keep it off, still eat all the foods they love, and finally find the work life balance they crave.