part 5: kim’s adrenals – success! (so far – it’s a lifestyle thing)

quick disclaimer: all the stuff i write about in my adrenal blog posts are relative to my own personal experience and recommendations.  what was recommended to and worked for me may not work for you, so please proceed with caution and enlist the help of a naturopathic doctor in your area for the best + safest results!

after seeing dr. day for my consultation on 11/20/15, she ordered some tests – one of them, in particular, that would find out what kind (and levels) of brain chemicals were running in my body.  we thought for sure that i was low on dopamine and seratonin, which would make sense of my low moods and irritability.  but, when we got the results back late december 2015, we were both surprised.

TEST RESULTS

it turned out that out of the 12 hormones that were tested, 2 were on the high end of normal, 2 were just over the high end of normal, and 5 were just about double what the high end of normal should be.  a total of 9 out of 12 hormones were high (or way higher) than what they should have been!

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my visit notes with dr. day said:

Overall I’m seeing that your nervous system is quite flared up, but is trying to compensate with high levels of Serotonin and GABA to calm things. Your adrenals/cortisol are overall high, but with a strange dip at 6pm that we’ll need to discuss. Assuming this was a Day 21, your sex hormones actually look quite good, and your melatonin is rocking so I hope you are sleeping well 🙂 

i also got some bloodwork testing done at kaiser, and the results showed:

Blood sugar improving but still high (stress plays a role, also diet/exercise), Ferritin (iron) high end – organ meats, oysters and cast iron are factors.  D and B12 levels ok but could be higher, cholesterol ok but keep up the good fats, thyroid is ok (primary focus is adrenals).
HOMEWORK
dr. day gave me some homework, with lots of supplements.  i straight up told her that my max was going to be 4 supplements a day, and she respected my boundary, but of course encouraged me to build upon my limit of 4, for best results.  🙂
supplements aside, she emphasized the lifestyle changes i needed to make were going to have the biggest impact on my success (read: stress management. sound familiar, sSer’s?).  she thought that the stress of the strict dietary restrictions was a bigger deal than i thought and surprisingly, also said that food reactions weren’t necessarily the first place she looked when addressing her patients imbalances – which was a great relief to me.
here is/was dr. day’s rx for me:
ACTIVITY:
  • More vigorous exercise in the mornings – try this and see how it feels, may help to burn off the excess, and feel more calm and alert through the day.  (ps – for some who are super energy depleted, vigorous exercise may not be the best course of action – restorative yoga or walking may be a better choice; consult a professional for the best + safest results!)
    • done! i got a personal trainer because there was no way i was going to self-start exercise torture.. but am really enjoying the strong empowered feelings from sweating and breathing heavily after said torture 🙂
  • Calming, centering activities in the evening
    • still hard to get off the electronics, but doing the ny times crosswords (albeit on my phone) and putting on brainwave sleep music via youtube videos with the screen face down works wonders, and gets me snoozing in less than 10 minutes, every time)

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AM SUPPLEMENTS:

  • Probiotics approx 20 billion, away from meals, shelf stable for travel
    • i was already doing this first thing in the AM on on empty stomach so no big deal; but the amount of probiotic bacteria is much higher than what i was taking, a blog post about this should be up soon!  i got these from jarrow.  the kyodophilus that sS carries is shelf-stable, but only has 1-2 billion count bacteria; the jarrow ones i picked up have 25 billion each capsule, plus an enteric coating which helps make sure the bacteria get into the small intestine where it needs to get to to be effective, vs dying the stomach’s acids.)
  • Adrenal ADAPTOGEN for day time, try one of the following:
    • Herbs like Ashwaganda, Holy Basil, Maca, Eleuthero (Rhodiola good option, but caution if too stimulating)
    • Adaptogen Blends sent in Healthwave (dr. day’s online herbal dispensary): HPA Adapt or Gaia Adrenal Support (Caution milky oats allergy) – take 2 AM and another 2 between noon-2pm.
    • L-Theanine – test this out as a single ingredient supplement, start with 100mg – take up to 400mg spread out over the day (200mg twice per day for example)
      • i ended up getting new chapter’s holy basil and took this for the month of january – seemed to work well as i was less stressed and felt more centered, but i was also on vacation for three weeks at the same time so, hard to tell what really did it.  i’ve since run out and bought a tincture instead, but am having trouble keeping up with it.
PM SUPPLEMENTS:
  • Adrenal CALMING for bedtime:
    • Cortisol Manager – take 1, 30-60min before bed (aka “Sleep Tonight!” over the counter)
      • this i take on and off – i hate waking in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, but dr. day said i could take it 1-2 hours before bed.  for some reason though, i feel like this gives me more active dreams (thus not as restful sleep) when i take it, versus when i don’t.  still experimenting with it.
AND WITH MEALS, for GI SUPPORT – continue (And notice what it takes to maintain the relief from the swelling that was happening before)
  • Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes with HCl – 2 or more as needed, with each meal
    • taking this is definitely helpful in my digesting of foods = less bloating, but what really helps the most is if i just avoid the inflammatory foods (for me, it’s wheat, corn, rice, dairy.. eggs i still avoid, but am not sure if they bloat me up; i tested highly negatively to all these foods with dr. fig so dr. day thought it best to keep avoiding, especially since i could feel the negative effects from eating them)
After you get back from Japan, add these as a foundational routine…
  • Vit D – 5,000iu total (2 in multi, 1 in fish oil so take 2 drops of the liquid), take it with a meal that contains fat/oil – retest at Kaiser in about 3 months
  • The Big One Plus – 1 per day, WITH food – contains 2,000iu of Vit D
  • B complex – 1 per day, WITH food – more B12 to help with stress/energy
  • ProOmegaD (caps) – 2 per day WITH food (we didn’t discuss this but please add along with the multi and B complex as a foundational supplement for you… source of good fats and anti-inflammatory and helps calm the adrenals – plus many other long term health benefits.)
    • i was in japan for a few weeks in january and i have to admit, i have not added these yet.  i know, i know!  but will be more accountable since i am back on writing out my experience for the world to hold me accountable!
ALSO:
  • Stop using the cast iron pots and retest ferritin in 3 months
  • Stay off caffeine
  • Continue to avoid/minimize any known/suspected allergens
  • Turn computer screens (and brain) off in the evenings, allow 2 hours (or at least 1 hour) of peaceful and calm time before bed.
    • for the most part, all this was no prob.  i switched out my cast iron for stainless, and an enamel coated aluminum one i got at rainbow grocery. (apparently the enamel makes it safe, since the aluminum is never in direct contact with food).
    • i’m great at avoiding caffeine, except for the VERY rare almond-milk tea tapioca drink from boba guys!  i’ve never been a coffee drinker so this is was easy.
    • allergies have actually been non-existent this year, even with an accidental eye-rubbing-after-a-cat-hair-covered-sofa exposure.  2015 was the worst allergy season i could remember in all my life (likely because my body was already so stressed out, physically and mentally).  i got a series or two of treatments at advanced allergy clinics in hayes valley.  yes, it was super expensive, and the technology + science is really out there, but i had tried everything else over the years, and this totally worked for me.  
    • the reactive foods for the most part i am doing ok with, and am occasionally cheating with a bite of the BF’s morning buttered toast, or a few corn chips at lunch.  😉  and when i do cheat, i definitely feel bloated, and sometimes i’ll even get a headache – so after feeling shitty, that i’m good for a week or two until my next time of weakness.  sigh.  it’s a work in progress.
    • a little bit of crossword and finding my sleep track on my phone, but am trying to catch up on my new yorker + afar magazine back issues more and staying off the blue screens.  i also tried using f.lux for a while, an app designed to eliminate the blue-rays from electronic screens.  i’m not sure if it helped, but it did let me know when it was getting close to bedtime, and drained my battery, which i suppose both help to support the cause?

HOW I’M FEELING NOW

i have to say that since switching over to working with dr. day, i have been feeling much better, and stress has been easier for me to deal with.  stress management was and still is the biggest part of my wellness plan.

i accredit many things to the stress relief i’ve gotten since the first meeting with dr. day.  she opened up my eyes to the possibility of making some drastic moves, in search of greatly improving my quality of life:

  • i (drastically) simplified my work day before it had even started.  i moved from oakland back to san francisco, and traded in my SUPER stressful + ridiculous 1 hour commute (each way, during non-rush hours mind you) to 10 minutes, to work each day.  those traffic days had me arriving to work furious and annoyed, which was not a healthy nor productive way to be, especially as a leader for an awesome team!
  • i asked for, and received, awesome help + support.  liesse really stepped up into her clinic manager role, which has immensely helped unload a lot of the day to day things that kept me from working on the higher-level projects – ones that i was always frustrated about never being able to complete.  and now that lacey is on our management team, she’s been able to help liesse with her duties so that we can all work together to tackle larger projects.  my partner, family and friends also know that i am keeping it low-key and am avoiding certain foods, and support me through the process.  prioritizing relationships that matter the most to me has helped as well; i didn’t want to years to fly by without my seeing my closest girlfriends and their babies grow up!  so i am more, now than ever, putting more effort into keeping in touch with my peeps.  being more active in my professional colleague networks also is great; i can let off steam and share stories of tough times and questionable sanity with a community i can relate to, learn from and laugh with!
  • i started working out.  i bit the bullet and hired a personal trainer.  an accountability buddy would work too, or a strong STRONG sense of willpower.  i needed to get my body moving (aside from walking to the car, and walking from the car to work) and needed someone to motivate me and hold me accountable.  nyrene garces of n-training has been great, supportive, and inspiring.  she comes directly to my house, so i have no excuse to not work out.  it’s a luxury, but hopefully i’ll get myself to a point where i will self-motivate everyday (fingers crossed!).  PLUS, my physical and mental health is not something i can put a price on.  now, when i leave town, i do my best to work out because 1. i miss feeling that positive-attitude and empowered-strength-high from working out, 2. i would like to be buff, fit and fly at some point in my life and 3. i don’t want to eat it hard when i get back into town – nyrene kicks my butt with her action-packed 45-minute exercise routines!
  • i took time off alone to rest, rejuvenate.. and work.  i was fortunate enough to score a black friday deal on those tickets to japan, so i took advantage and went for three weeks, on my own.  with liesse at the helm, i could relax in knowing sS would be ok without me physically being in the office.  being in a space where i didn’t have the distractions of my day to day life at work and home (laundry!  cooking!  cleaning!  social life!) helped me regain some energy and motivation to take care of myself.  i was able to get more fresh air and sunshine, be alone with myself, take my supplements, eat well..  and since i felt much better overall, i was able to get down to the nitty gritty of some WAY overdue projects i had been putting off, along with keeping up on emails without getting stressed out (or distracted by) the day-to-day happenings in the clinic.  when taking that much time away or finances don’t allow for that long a getaway, going camping, heading to kabuki hot springs or imperial spa for an afternoon, and/or getting massages or taking walk listening to spa music are also great + accessible ways to do you.

i have to honestly say, that i am feeling the best i ever have in the last handful of years, and am doing, thinking, and feeling positively about the future.  the stress of the last several years had definitely turned me down the path of thinking all would be better if i just shut sS down and sold donuts at the mall.  but with all the support and work i am doing on/for myself everyday, i am back on the train to growing sS’s reach, and achieving total world domination 🙂

i’lll check back after i’ve started taking the recommended supplements and retest to see if my blood work and hormone levels have changed at all, and any other tricks and tips i’ve picked up along the way to help and inspire those who may be affected the same way i was before i got better!