I am no doctor and I don’t play one on T.V. I do have a very sloppy signature that has gotten people to ask if I was a doctor, though. So what I’ll bring today, as we wrap up this topic of Entrepreneurial Health, is based on the help I received, the research I did and the results that came from it.
I don’t want you to ever suffer from adrenal fatigue. It was the only time in my life that I felt like I was truly dying. Often, being faced with a desperate situation is the catalyst to make the hard changes. The changes that I made were not ones that I was interested in, or inspired to do when things were good. It was only when the pain was so great that I reluctantly made big changes.
So what did I do to turn my adrenal fatigue around and create what became a much more balanced, healthy and calmer life?
1- Eliminate added sugar and bread from my diet.
Doing this sent many of my friends into a tizzy. The phrase, “I could never do that” was uttered more than I could count. You would if you felt like you were dying, I responded. I was challenged by my nutritionist to cut out all added sugar- meaning the only sugar I would consume would come from fruit- and to also cut out any bread from my diet. Do you know how hard it is for an Italian to not eat bread? And one with a giant sweet tooth? I could eat ice cream after breakfast, lunch and dinner and never get bored with it.
But I need to cut them both out- cold turkey? Cold turkey without the stuffing, since there will be no bread. I was asked to eliminate it for two weeks to see how it went. She then moved the goalposts on me and said it really would have to be more like two months. I’m not sure if it was a bait and switch tactic, but it worked. I wouldn’t have signed on for two months even feeling like death. But two weeks? Even I could do that.
What was remarkable was that after two weeks, I didn’t miss it. I felt a little proud that I actually possessed a little willpower. After a month, I was shocked to see that the sugar cravings were mostly gone. I also noticed that my taste buds were beginning to change. When I would have an orange- my fruit of choice- it began to taste sweeter. Almost like candy. It was almost like all of the artificial sugar dulled my taste buds towards the real stuff.
After six months, I fully embraced the change. Somewhere along the way, I decided that I would go a full year without any added sugar or bread. It was during this time when I realized how much societal pressures bleed into our decisions, even unconsciously. I didn’t even think about sugar or bread unless we went out to eat. It was then that I realized how unhealthy our culture really is. I had to accept that 90% of the items on the menu I could not get because of either added sugar or bread. On top of that, it was interesting to see the reactions from others. When going out to dinner with friends, I became a bit of a sideshow to everyone's curiosity and even their judgement.
I would get peppers with questions. Often, in a dismissive way. Condescending even. Alcohol was one of the things I gave up, which led to even greater scorn. I finally began speaking up, addressing the fact that I never even brought up the sugar or bread- it was only discussed by what I chose to order. From there, because I was different, there was this need to poke at me like I was some type of science experiment. I’m not questioning what you are eating (even though I probably had more of a reason to do so), so why are you questioning me?
That showed me how societal norms and peer pressure often help keep people unhealthy.
After a year, I felt physically better than ever, a side effect that wasn’t even the goal with cutting these things out. I lost weight, became leaner and even noticed changes in me face by reducing the inflammation. The mental side was harder. We were trying to reverse years of apparent stress that I never addressed, and reverse it after an adrenal crash. Just so you know, it’s much harder to repair your adrenals after a big crash. So I beg you not to let it get there.
Cutting out sugar and bread was a life changing decision for me. If I didn’t make those changes, the road that I was on was a dire one. Like is often the case, when we get healthier, we slip back into our old patterns. I did as well. After years of letting sugar creep back in, I got focused enough to do it again. On my 49th birthday, I decided to cut sugar out again for a full year. And after a fabulous, peanut butter ice cream sundae on my 50th birthday, I am once again going sugar free for the next year.
I did many things and made many changes to overcome my adrenal fatigue and become healthy again. Elizabeth and I set much more focused sleep goals. We invested in proper supplements. I intentionally got more sunshine, more movement, meditation as well as more breaks in my work. But the thing that changed my life for the better- and seemed to turn it all around- were the changes that I made in my diet.
If diving deeper into the topic of adrenal fatigue, food choices, or any of the areas of change that I made are interesting to you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any potential new topics for the podcast!