Fighting Adrenal Fatigue, Naturally

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After losing our son in the early second trimester in August, my body just never recovered. I lost a lot of blood, resulting in plummeting iron levels and extremely low energy. Walking up the stairs, exercising, and even holding my daughter were exhausting to me.

Even when I got to a point where I was eating a very clean diet, pushing through workouts, and taking my multivitamins regularly, I still couldn’t shake the fatigue and general feeling of “unwell”. I gained 15-20lb in about 3 months. My self confidence was waning and I honestly felt hopeless.

Several friends encouraged me to research adrenal fatigue- and, boy, were they on to something! Adrenal fatigue is kind of complicated, but you can read up on it here. The general premise: stress and life events render your adrenal glands basically inactive. Your body stops making adrenaline, or produces it at inappropriate times, resulting in crazy fatigue but then sometimes insomnia and unnecessary panic. Weight won’t budge no matter what, exercise makes you feel worse, and you can have random bouts of inflammation. I had all of these symptoms and more.

Because I don’t currently have health insurance, I was cornered into a self-diagnosis through trial and error. However, I am happy to report that after about 6 weeks, I am already starting to feel much better! So, I want to share some of the lifestyle changes that I have made to fight my battle with adrenal fatigue.

Cut out the caffeine…
This was so hard for me! I was drinking 4-6 cups of coffee throughout the day and I was feeling NOTHING. No jolt, nothing. It does’t help that I like the taste of coffee, the feeling of a warm mug in my hands- so yeah, it was an issue. Overusing caffeine, particularly after 12PM, overworks and confuses the adrenal glands. So out went coffee.

Now, if I have any, I drink decaf or maybe a half cup of regular- and I feel it. Instead, we drink Chaga concentrate or sometimes even Mate!

…and the sugar…
Sugar functions much like coffee in that it makes it more difficult for the adrenal glands to function properly, let alone the myriad other health issues it causes. Out goes the sugar. Boo!

…and the gluten.
Same thing. Gluten takes a lot of work for the body to digest, and when the body needs to be healing instead…you need to conserve that energy. I am not 100% gluten free at this point, but I try to limit my consumption as much as possible to give it the break it needs.

Support your body’s natural rhythms.
ACV and honey in the morning help naturally jumpstart the metabolism and support the adrenals! Also, see the supplements below.
Magnesium and chamomile or lavender at night- help relax the body and the mind. Tell your body that it’s time to shut off and sleep! I love to drink this magnesium just before bed.
Epsom salt baths to relax at night- again, helps relax the body and get ready for sleep. These are particularly helpful if you are struggling with any kind of sleeping issues. This kind is great!

Add in supplements to support healing.
Ashwagandha, ginseng, and ginkgo biloba all support the adrenals and productively manage stress. You can find formulas with all of these, or each individually. There are also adrenal support specific formulas that often include these.

Support your healing with essential oils.
Essential oils can be very supportive of the healing process. Using “awakening” oils in the morning, such as citruses or mints, and calming oils in the evenings, like lavender, chamomile, or cedarwood, can further support the body’s new rhythms. There are also oils that specifically support the adrenals, such as rosemary and lemongrass. For more information on essential oils and for purchasing options, please email me: karli.vonherbulis@gmail.com.

Replenish minerals and vitamins and FEED your adrenals with SOLE.
Sole water is one of the best ways to do this! Sole is a high-mineral salt water infusion that is drank on an empty stomach each morning (ideally). You can buy high quality sea salt crystals made specifically for making sole and make it at home! This has made a huge difference in my healing process and I have come to (almost) crave the taste 🙂

Limit heavy cardio and stick to restorative exercise
For most healing protocols, this sounds counterintuitive- but when your body isn’t making energy hormones to even get you through the day, making them for a sweaty cardio sesh just isn’t gonna work. Stick to things like yoga, tai chi, or walking until you feel your energy starting to return.

SLEEP!
For the love, your body is healing! Go to bed early, sleep in if you can, nap if you need it. This is a good, good thing!

Have you suffered from adrenal fatigue? What was helpful for you in recovery?

Brand Removal: Cheese Crackers

Last night, I took the plunge into promoting my writing- so for everyone who “liked” the Feed Me, Mama Facebook Page or followed the Twitter account, thank you! I am so excited to be on this journey with all of you, and I can’t wait to see what conversations and community develop!

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A few weeks ago, a streak of motivation hit me and I decided to take on a new household endeavor: learning how to homemake as many of the things in my home as I can! Food, cleaning supplies, beauty and hygiene items, clothing, you name it- I want to know how to make it. I’ve been overcome with this vision of a kitchen filled with glass jars of whole foods and homemade things, bottles with small labels on them, and no advertisements or brand tags to be found. How peaceful, right? Crazy? Maybe…

While I understand how daunting this task is, I am trying to approach it with grace and just learn what I can, as I can. Some things have turned out great- like this recipe- others, like homemade almond butter, really just didn’t work out, and that’s okay. I am confident that this new ‘mission’ is a move of good stewardship and learning how to care for my home and my family in the most responsible way that I can.

Today, I want to share my very first “brand removal” project: cheese crackers! I think we all know what I’m referring to here 🙂 Pregnancy and snacking go hand in hand, and a little something crunchy and cheesy and salty is just what I’m loving these days.

These crackers turned out amazingly well- the taste was so good, and I know exactly what’s in them! The best part that I found (unlike the original cheese cracker) is that they aren’t addictive or habit forming- meaning, I could have three or four, and that would fulfill my craving. I didn’t feel the need to eat the entire batch in one sitting and mindlessly snack- I think it’s because the quality of the ingredients is so high!

I used this recipe from Girl vs. Dough, and they were phenomenal! Next time, I’m going to work on rolling the dough as thin as possible to make them more crispy 🙂

PIN THIS RECIPE!

Sowing Seeds Botanicals

If you have ever met my mother, you know that she is one of the most driven, passionate, and creative people on the planet.  She has combined these traits with her love of natural beauty and a desire to help families fundraise with her latest brainchild: Sowing Seeds Botanicals!

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I am the lucky guinea pig for many of these great items and I have to say, I love everything I’ve tried.  If you have been searching for a homemade, natural alternative for any of your home, beauty, or hygiene needs, look no further! Scents are customizable, as are certain ingredients.  Each item is made to order to guarantee freshness.  Here’s some of my favorites:

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LUSCIOUS LIP BALM- I’m currently working on a tube of Cotton Candy, but she just made a fresh batch of Chocolate and it smells like you could eat it!  Very smooth, melts right on to your lips.  Yum!

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BODY BUTTER CUBE- So luxurious.  These are the perfect size to fit in your hand. Could be used as a massage bar, too 😉

DEODORANT- as green as can be, and full of things that heal and support your skins natural functions- they don’t clog them up! No parabens, triclosan, aluminum, propylene glycol, or any other gross thing thats probably in your normal tube of deo.  Give it a shot!

100_100_csupload_54991778FELTED SOAP- I personally think these are amazing.  No mess, gently exfoliating, and they smell delicious.  A great conversation starter, too- that is, if you have conversations in the bathroom. Okay, so it’s a great gift!

100_74_csupload_54991450SUGAR SCRUB- I am an exfoliaholic.  I love to exfoliate.  I have naturally dry skin that gets flaky in the winter, and this sugar scrub is packed full of natural scrubby bits and decadent moisturizing oils that will leave skin soft and smooth.

The best part of the vision for Sowing Seeds Botanicals is the desire to give back.  My parents’ passion is adoption, and if you are looking to adopt or know someone who is, SSB would love to help you fundraise and make it happen!  Use the email form on the site to contact Kelly and get started 🙂

Book Review: “Half the Sky”

PrintA few weeks ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the 2013 Justice Conference, held in Philadelphia, PA.  I’ve been wanting to attend this event for several years, and was incredibly grateful for the scholarship that helped me get there.  The Lord knew it was what I needed at that time- an awakening, and an inspiration.

Having attended a Christian university filled with young, enthusiastic activists and having worked in the social justice/nonprofit field for some time now, I can see in retrospect a numbness that crept into my heart and stole my fire- one that couldn’t link statistics to individuals, one that had heard all of the horror stories, one that silently acknowledged that there would always be problems, and there was only so much we could do.  It was a numbness that was comfortable knowing the “sound bite” of an issue, feeling informed by a radio broadcast, but not knowing the depths of an issue or the nuances of what it would take to properly address them.  The Justice Conference, however, rekindled the call in my heart to the work of justice and the desire I once had to be informed and to be a voice for those who may not have a voice- and to speak well on their behalf, in a way that would truly benefit them, not just inject western culture into their lives in a way that would be harmful.

One of the many speakers to grace the stage was the captivating Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer Prize winner and wife of NY Times’ Nick Kristof.  As with each speaker, she spoke of a specific injustice taking place in the world today- her speech was focused on injustices towards women, as she chronicles in her and her husband’s recent book, Half the Sky. As she eloquently engaged the audience in her stories of horror and hope from around the world, I knew that my next step would be to read her book- so I did!

The journey that reading Half the Sky has taken me on in the past week has been one that I will never forget- I don’t think I will ever look at the world the same way.  To think about the 100 million women who are missing from today’s population because of forced/coerced abortion, infanticide, genocide, spousal abuse, malnutrition based on gender preference, and honor killings breaks my heart.  Stories of young girls being tricked into sex slavery and trafficked far away from their home haunt me each time I see a small child. To read the studies that detail the power that putting funding into girl’s education in Asia could have, or even the difference that something as menial as iodizing salt could make, is infuriating and confusing.  To read about the millions women who are sentenced to be ostracized as pariahs because of fistulas that form during unattended births makes me almost as sad as thinking of the one woman- every MINUTE- that dies in childbirth, almost always from an entirely preventable, common complication.  The young girls forced into genital mutilation.  The women who must ask their alcoholic husbands for permission to leave their homes. There is so much more- and so much work to be done.

I really appreciated the honesty that the book brings to the table, especially in chronicling US foreign aid.  While certain efforts are celebrated, others are questioned, all when appropriate.  Stories of aid efforts failed are told alongside of brilliant plans to support cultures, giving the reader a deeper, more holistic understanding of the issue of injustice towards women. The most effective part, however, is that WuDunn and Kristof tell real stories of real women in the book- stories that you will remember and that will come alongside you in your journey to understand this issue.

If you read one book this year, make it this one.  Just as racial injustice didn’t see any measurable improvement until the public banded together and put pressure on governments and cultural norms, so will be the fight against gender injustice.  This fight will not be won by  quoting soundbites, but by understanding the issues on an intimate level and being able to articulate the problems and possible solutions in the most informed way possible.  Don’t settle for knowing the surface of the horror that millions of women around the world face.  Know their names, let them make a difference in your heart, and join the fight.

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There is also a “Half the Sky” documentary series available on PBS and Netflix.  I haven’t seen it yet but I am thinking about holding a screening- let me know if you would be interested!

Quick and Easy Lunch: Cran-Lentil Salad

Happy Monday, my friends!  Are you staying warm? Christmas is coming so soon- just two more weeks!

Believe it or not, I actually adapted this week’s lunch recipe from one that I found in a Panera Bread email a few years back!  I simplified it a lot, and I love to make it the night before for work, or even as a quick supper.  It’s very high in protein and fiber, and the pepitas add great boosts of iron and zinc! Lentils and dried cranberries are great pantry staples that make this recipe full of flavor and easy on the budget.

 1 cup cooked green lentils (or whatever variety you prefer)

¼ cup dried cranberries (Craisins are perfect)

¼ cup either black peppered  or regular feta cheese, or blue cheese if you’re really bold

¼ pepitas (dried pumpkin seeds) or slivered almonds

Salt and pepper to taste (especially if using plain feta)

OPTIONAL: 1 T olive oil, citrus-based salad dressing, or 1 T orange juice: makes the salad more moist, adds a pop of flavor, and reconstitutes the cranberries a bit

This is easy- combine everything together!  I think this is another salad that is better the next day, after the flavors have time to really meld together.  I prefer it cold, or at least room temperature. Make it the night before and keep it in the fridge for the perfect lunch!

My Signature Quick Curry Recipe

There is nothing more satisfying, to me, than a piping hot bowl of curry on a winter (or, let’s face it, summer) night. This recipe has been perfected over the last few years, is easily adaptable, and kicks that sluggish winter digestive system into gear with lots of spices and fiber. Very easily doubles and triples for company, and can even be made in the slow-cooker.

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By the way, I didn’t leave out the curry powder. Traditionally, curry is a blend of regional spices- whatever a certain town had a lot of or favored, that’s what went in. This is my favorite blend. I have been known to add in some sweet cinnamon a time or two, but beware- it definitely changes the flavor to a more fall/winteresque stew. Still delicious, though. Come up with your own signature curry spice blend!

2 cans organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

1 medium-sized white onion, diced small

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 medium-sized tomatoes, diced (or 1 can organic stewed tomatoes)

2 T olive oil

1 T crushed red pepper

2 T cumin

1 T turmeric

1 T ginger

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon ground red pepper

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in the bottom of a large sauce pot. Once the oil begins to shimmer, sauté the onions until barely translucent, then top with crushed red pepper to toast and make fragrant. Once the onions are nice and soft, add the garlic until just browned- be careful not to burn it. NOTE: It is important to cook the onions before the garlic; not at the same time, so as not to burn the garlic. This will ruin your curry, and nobody likes that!

As soon as the garlic is cooked and fragrant, stir in the tomatoes. You’ll be ready to do this because you’ll be scared that everything is burning and that there isn’t enough liquid- the tomatoes solve that problem! Stir them in and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck bits off the bottom. Now, pour in the rest of the spices and thoroughly combine. Let this tomato-onion-garlic-spice mixture simmer for a bit, maybe 5 or ten minutes.

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When you are ready, stir in the garbanzo beans. Let this simmer and soak up flavor for as long as you like, then serve it up nice and hot. At our house, we make homemade whole wheat na’an bread (or get storebought na’an or pita in a pinch) and eat the curry with our hands- way more fun and less dishes to clean up!

Quick and Easy Lunch: Grape and Couscous Salad

Can you believe its Monday already?  I can’t.  I just want to rebel.  Sometimes I get in a real funk on Mondays- but a great way to brighten the day is to fix yourself a yummy, nutritious lunch that you can look forward to all morning!  This is one of my staples.

One of the first easy and healthy lunch recipes that ever caught my eye was this beauty from Real Simple Magazine.  Every month they feature a brown bag lunch recipe, and I’ve been using this one for over two years now!  I just love the clash of the sweet and juice grapes with the salty feta- and the couscous holds everything together just enough to keep you full until dinnertime. The Mediterranean flavors really balance each other well, so try the entire recipe before altering it or leaving something out 🙂

1 cup cooked whole-wheat couscous

¼ cup feta cheese

¼ cup red grapes, sliced in half

¼ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 T olive oil

1 T lemon juice

Salt, Pepper, and Parsley to taste

Stir together the couscous, oil, and lemon juice.  Fold in the cheese, grapes, and walnuts.  Season to your liking and enjoy!

This recipe is great freshly made, and equally satisfying kept in the fridge overnight to eat for lunch the next day (or more!).