Stress and Fatigue

August has been delightful busy for me. Paul McCartney in concert, camping, meeting new friends through an AIP meetup group, the state fair and the last week was spent getting ready to enrich the lives of about 460 middle school kids. All in all Augusts has been a great month.

Being a librarian/teacher gives me a different perspective on the year. Where most people set their goals from January 1 to January 1 mine go from Sept 1 to Sept 1. A new school year filled with hope and new goal setting.

There are many changes coming down the education pipe and educators have many more hoops to jump through to show their effectiveness. Stress and fatigue are going to be the words of the year. So here are some tips that I use to deal with both. I’m not an expert and I do have days where no matter how closely I follow my own advice by 7:30 in the evening I’m exhausted, it doesn’t matter what else needs to get done that day nothing else is going to be accomplished. Though if I prioritize these 3 things exhaustion and stress happens less often.

And here they are the 3 things I do to minimize stress and fatigue:

SLEEP! All health experts agree that sleep is one of the most important things you can do to reduce stress and improve your health.While you are sleeping your body repairs itself and new information is committed to memory. Sleep deprivation can lead to chronic stress, a compromised immune system, heart problems and obesity. I set aside 7-9 hours a night for sleeping. It wasn’t easy in the beginning but as I reflected on my productivity cycle I realized that I am more productive in the morning so trying to stay up until 11:00 to finish a project often resulted in project that really didn’t meet my standards. After about 10:00 PM I often hear myself say “Good enough” even when it’s far from it.

It is not always easy to shut down, especially after a busy and stressful day, I have created a bedtime routine that I follow. By following a routine it signals my body it’s time to slow down. I also wear amber-colored glasses once I have to start turning on the lights in the evening to reduce the blue light which can signal your brain that it’s daytime and I use f.lux on all my computers to remove the blue light from the monitor.

Remove sugar from my diet: This sounds impossible; I know when I start eating more sugar, even natural sugars in dates or honey, I start to crave sugar, I become tired more quickly and I start to gain weight. The buzz on the internet is that sugar is the next cigarettes, negatively effecting your health. Eating too much sugar can cause insulin resistance which leads to more insulin production which can cause type II diabetes. Sugar causes the release of dopamine in the same area of your brain that is affected by cocaine and heroine. It releases opioids, which makes you feel good so you want more sugar, which sounds a little like addition to me .Sugar also causes fatigue. When you eat something sugary your pancreas releases insulin to regulate the sugar in your blood, this causes a drop in sugar in your bloodstream causing fatigue. I know on days that I consume more sugar I crash earlier than normal, which causes me to not get as much done which causes me stress which causes me to eat more sugar, you get the point. Back in February I read The 21-Day Sugar Detox: Bust Sugar & Carb Cravings Naturally
by Dianne Sanflippio. After my detox I really began to really understand sugar’s negative affect on my health. (My sugar detox journey)

Meditation: The most important thing I do is meditate. It doesn’t matter if I meditate for 5 minutes or 20 minutes, on days I meditate I am just a calmer, more patient person. Meditation has been shown to decrease anxiety, stress, and slow down the aging process.I have never really done much research into why meditation does these things I just know when I meditate I feel better. Doing the research for this post I have learned it is a very interesting and complex process and feel that it will have to be a blog post of it’s own. In treating my blepharitis I put a hot compress on my eyes for 10 minutes every morning to help get the oils moving. This is when I meditate. On mornings I’m running behind and I skip my hot packing meditation I feel more stressed at work, I complain more, and I am less focused.

No matter if you’re a teacher having to deal with PDPs, PLCs SLOs and PPGs, (and that is just the tip of the iceberg) work in a stressful industry , work from home, are retired, or a stay at home parent, you get stressed and fatigued. I hope these tips will bring a little more balance to your life.

Citations:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why.html
http://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/stress-management-37/stress-health-news-640/sleep-deprivation-and-stress-646063.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2399351/SUGAR-real-reason-feel-stressed-Learn-CAN-break-habit.html
http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/features/diabetes-stress
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201302/why-our-brains-love-sugar-and-why-our-bodies-dont
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/fatigue-after-eating-sugar.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/30/meditation-health-benefits_n_3178731.html
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201305/is-your-brain-meditation

Another Book Review

This last weekend I had the chance to review the book Wheat Belly  by William Davis MD. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about food but was shocked to hear about how we have altered wheat to the point where someone from 100 years ago would find it almost unrecognizable. No wonder there are more and more of my family and friends discovering that they feel better without wheat. Most of the book said things I’m already familiar with, wheat consumption causes all sorts of negative things to the body. Inflammation, insulin spiking, diabetes, mood swings and more.

What I didn’t like about the book, and I had the opportunity to look at the accompanying cook book, was that I felt Dr. Davis contradicted himself. At one point he mentioned quinao as a grain not to eat yet it was listed in a few recipes. The big one for me was his including of sweeteners like stevia . The research used in the book Skinny Bitch stated that even though stevia is a plant the process they use to create the sweetener  uses chemicals that are not natural.  Why would I give up wheat and then put a chemically treated sweetener in my body?

Except for a few contradictions I enjoyed the book. It pushed me to do more research and as my journey continues to get fit I decided to take it one step further and go completely grain free for one month. In the last 70 hours I’ve only had 2 things that  contain a grain. And I will add them to my wall of excuses.

I Found My Magic Pill!

I’ve been s-l-o-w-l-y loosing weight and inches.

A lot of factors have fallen into this Magic Pill with the biggest one being consistency. So what I have been doing is trying to eat clean, making choices about my food not based on calories, or fat but on how processed it is. I’ve been making sure if I buy any produce that if it falls in the dirty dozen it’s organic. I stay away from processed foods, if possible. I bake my own bread (super good, super easy 100% whole wheat) Yes it has sugar in it but…I make my own peanut butter and eat a salad every day.

I do yoga at least 5 days a week complete with meditation (only 8 minutes worth but I swear by it)

And lastly I walk my dogs 2 miles everyday. They love it! It’s a hilly route so I get a good work out.

I’ve lost 4 lbs and 3 inches. Like I said it’s slow, but it’s happening.

The best thing is I’m not stressed about it. I love yoga and walking and I don’t worry about what I eat.

Who Knew This Would Be So Hard!!!

I am very disappointed in myself. A few bad days and I almost gave up. I really don’t want to do a fit by 60 blog. It is just so hard to figure out what will really work for me. I’ve tried enough things in my life when it comes to dieting to know that the only thing that will really work is changing my food habits and exercise. I really do like myfitnesspal so I have to keep coming back and using it. While I wait for my knee to heal I still need to walk the dogs (or they are naughty) and I’m going to get serious about yoga-for so many reasons beyond getting fit.

I did warn you, I’m just a person. A person on a journey to get fit, complete with pit stops and pit falls. I thinks I have crawled out of this pit, very beat up but…

So don’t be disappointed in Saturday’s pictures, they will be the same as always.

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

Dinner-I forgot to take a picture but it was yummy.

WoW!! Disappointing Day 700 calories over my target even with a walk!

I knew today would be hard, it’s a rest day in my training so the amount of calories burned would be few. I started the day tough, smaller breakfast, filling lunch and then it was off to a class where they put chocolate on the table. I had a peice and told myself “I can be good, no more.” then I had another piece and thought “yuck, that didn’t even taste good.” I was doing well until my friend asked me to hand her a piece, so I had another. Well there were 4 different kinds so what the hell I had to have my 4th piece (200 calories that if I had stayed home I would not have had)

My next hurtle was my son was home visiting and when I went to drive him home he asked if we could stop at Subway. Come on, Jared lost weight eating Subway and is now worth 18 million, how bad could it be? (510 calories) Being strong in those two incidences  alone would have kept me in my range.

My big problem today was that I did not record food as I went along so I had no idea how many calories I had until I add it to MyFitnessPal this evening and  it was a good eye opener. I really need to look at calories before I eat and then determine if I can eat them.

My strategy for tomorrow at class? Don’t laugh but I’m taking a measured out bag of prunes (I love prunes and they are sweet) that way when I’m tempted by the candy I’ll pop a prune instead.