Us ladies are not supposed to feel like we are dragging ourselves around all day every day. Feeling tired, exhausted, unmotivated and a little lifeless is not the way to live life. If it has become your normal and you are tired of being tired all the time, it’s time to take a little look into what might be going on. Shall we?
1. Are you prioritising your sleep?
Sorry to state the obvious but if you aren’t getting at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night then chances are you’re going to feel tired. I’ve written a few blogs on sleep so I won’t harp on about the importance of it yet again BUT if you are struggling with this YOU have to make it a priority to address it. For your energy, health and sanity!
Sleep is so so important - have a read here and sing out if you need more help with this.
Create a bedtime routine and stick to it! Example:
- Set yourself a bedtime (preferably before 10.30pm) and wake up time and stick to it.
- Power down at least 1 hour before bed.
- Make up a roller bottle of Lavender Peace + Vetiver + Balance and apply to the soles of your feet before bed
- Go outside into the sunlight on waking and at lunchtime
- Go for a night walk after dinner
- Light some candles and take a relaxing warm bath
The above are just some ideas. I have found essential oils to be extremely effective at improving my clients' sleep. If you haven’t yet tried Lavender Peace / Vetiver before bed, you’re missing out on some next level sleep.
Here what one oily friend had to say...
Amazing sleep & dreams I’m having using Lavender Peace on my pillow. Switched it up from regular Lavender & bam 💥 great sleep for 7-8hrs per night & very clear dream recall enabling some great work with subconscious insights (I have pretty much only recalled 1 dream a year... now it’s 1 a night!!).
Keen to try some “all-natural” liquid valium? Happy to hook you up.
2. Are you eating enough calories for your activity level?
Again, sounds pretty obvious BUT way too many women that I speak with are eating too few calories for their daily energy requirements. Your body requires a minimum amount of calories to keep the show going (think breathing, heart pumping, brain humming along, hormones buzzing etc).
Women are particularly more sensitive to this minimum calorie requirement which is essential for the production of our sex hormones. Think about it - harvesting a child is a very energy expensive process. So the limitation is energy availability signals to the brain - famine - not a good time for reproduction, therefore leading your ovaries to shut up shop!
The same process is true when you’re stressing like a mofo, training like an athlete and not recovering like an athlete and or any combination of the above three!
This is NOT good as ovulation is how we primarily produce our all-important sex hormones like oestrogen and progesterone which make us feel youthful, full of energy, happy, keep our skin nice, our bones healthy and our heart well. Important stuff. Way more important than six pack abs or a nice booty I’d say!
If you are running on a calorie deficient too often for too long, expect that your energy will not be good. And for the nursing Mumma’s out there who are already sleep deprived you my dear need an extra 300-500 calories per day. So be sure to eat up!
A prolonged calorie deficit can also cause the thyroid gland to slow down (see next point) further contributing to low energy (not fun, don’t go there).
- To get an estimate of your recommended daily calorie intake plug in your details here
- Record a few days worth of food intake into MyFitness Pal
- See how you score? Are you under or overeating? If you are undereating increase your intake of nutrient-dense food. Enjoy more bountiful energy, now that you are properly fuelled.
3. How is your thyroid function?
Your thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck. It’s small but man is it important for so many different aspects of your health including brain function, gastrointestinal function, reproduction/hormone function, cardiovascular system, bone metabolism, red blood cell metabolism, temperature regulation, protein, cholesterol and glucose metabolism. Every cell in your body has receptors for thyroid hormone - this should tell you just how important these hormones are.
Unfortunately, about 12% of people will develop a thyroid condition in their life. More unfortunate and something that really bugs me is that up to 60% of people with thyroid conditions don’t actually know they have one. And what is really unfortunate is that we ladies are 5 to 8 times more likely to develop a thyroid disorder than men.
Fatigue is a prominent symptom of low thyroid function. Other symptoms include: brain fog, poor memory, low mood (often diagnosed as depression), dry skin, constipation, cold hands and feet, hair loss or thinning hair, thinning of the outer third of eyebrows, cold intolerance, hoarse voice, irregular menstruation, fertility issues and high cholesterol.
As you can see this is a not so fun list with a wide range of symptoms that I see too often palmed off as “common” or worse yet “treated” with symptom suppressing drugs that don’t address the underlying thyroid issue (which is sometimes not even fully investigated).
Now thyroid function is tricky, complicated and not well understood by most conventionally trained Docs. I did intend to write a thyroid hormone blog (as it has become so common) but in the meantime if you do suspect your fatigue is caused by a thyroid condition check out this article by Izabella Wentz aka The Thyroid Pharmacist, who has dedicated her life work to helping women with thyroid conditions, in particular, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (the autoimmune version and the most common cause of Hypothyroidism).
- The first place to start if you suspect your fatigue may be due to your thyroid function is to get a thorough and complete thyroid blood test from a Doctor willing to listen and HEAR you.
- This should include:
- TSH (this is your thyroid stimulating hormone that is released from your pituitary gland that tells your thyroid gland to release thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)
- Free T4 (T4 is the inactive form of thyroid hormone and needs to be converted to T3 before the body can utilise it)
- Free T3 (hormones are often bound to proteins to carry them throughout the body. Free versus Total T4 and T3 give a better indication of what is happening at a cellular level)
- Reverse T3 (an inactive form of T3)
- Thyroid Antibodies - Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) & Thyroglobulin (TG) (to check for an autoimmune thyroid condition such as Hashimoto’s)
- In my experience, you will have to find a functional/integrative doctor that understands thyroid physiology to get this full panel. This means paying out of pocket for some markers. But trust me, getting to the root of a thyroid problem is so worth it if you want to start feeling better.
4. Are you low in these nutrients?
Now that we agree calories kind of do matter, I mean getting enough calories in, where those calories come from is also super important. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals are all required to run this engine, that is our body. Lack in any of these can contribute to feeling sluggish and tired. Therefore focussing on a whole foods, nutrient dense diet with variety is key.
Some key nutrient deficiencies to consider for fatigue:
- be sure to get your levels checked - especially if you are vegan or vegetarian and a woman. Iron is required to produce red blood cells and make haemoglobin which carries oxygen around the body to tissues and cells - if your starving of oxygen, you’ll feel tired.
- Glucose is an important energy substrate required for many processes in the body including fuelling our brains and muscles. Carbohydrates also trigger an insulin response which is an important factor in the conversion of T4 to T3.
- Glucose is also important for ensuring the brain knows there is enough energy around to trigger ovulation and hence all our sexy hormones.
- So if you’ve been low carbing and you’re now finding yourself struggling to stay awake all day, now might be time to consider adding some carbs back in.
- There’s a high probability that you will start to feel more energised. Remember that an intervention that achieves results doesn’t always mean it’s the best thing for us long term. Be open to adapt and change direction when things are no longer serving you, ok?
- Get your iron levels checked if fatigued especially if vegetarian or vegan and a woman
- Consume nutrient-dense foods that contain these key nutrients. Food high in iron include (oysters, clams, liver, beef)
- For females, ensure you are getting around 150g of good quality, whole food carbohydrates per day to support hormone health (***more depending on activity levels and height and weight etc).
- Take a high-quality wholefood-based multivitamin supplement. I like the doTERRA Life Long Vitality (LLV) The number one feedback from this top-selling product (yep above any oil) is how well it improves peoples energy levels (there are also reports of improvement in thyroid antibodies, stonger hair and nails, better sleep, improved mood, stonger immunity and loads more. I take it personally and feel very confident recommending it to clients. It also has a 30 day money back guarantee! If you want some info on it, shoot me an email, I’ve got a really great PDF on it’s benefits.
Here's what some people from my wider oily group have to say about LLV:
" I’ve been taking it for about two years now. I have more energy, no sugar cravings because of this. Stronger hair and nails, better skin complexion, no brain fog, better mood, gosh the list goes on....
And my wee is not fluro yellow like other supplements I have taken in the past.
I certainly notice when I miss a day or two."
"Me ! Energy, clearer skin, less brain fog, less inflammation, hair and nails grow faster ... And those are just a few benefits I feel xx"
"No brain fog!!! Is most definitely the best side effect! But also increased stamina and alertness .. and .. for the first time ever (not including pregnancies) I have strong finger nails!"
"Omg , I trialled another companies products as a learning and OMG did my body especially my thyroid function miss the LLV ! I am never going off it again"
Did I mention they have a 30 day money back gurantee?
5. Are you burning the candle at both ends?
Women have a tendency to do this. Always sacrificing our own needs before others and never stopping to fill up our own tanks. Are you guilty of it? Have you heard of Rushing Women's Syndrome? Dr. Libby appropriately coined the term and did a fantastic and impactful TedTalk on it. I highly suggest you go and watch it NOW.
If you constantly go go go (work, training, kids, cooking, cleaning, spouse, bills, worries, negative self talk, unfulfilled at work or home or both) and never taking time out to nourish your physical, mental and emotionally being that is you, you are sending a very clear message to your brain that it is under threat and to merely SURVIVE.
This internally presents with the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline which keep you going, but overtime, only just barely. These hormones are short-term hormones. Only meant to hang around long enough for you to fight or flee.
As a consequence to protect itself the body has mechanisms inbuilt that downregulate it’s response to these “stress hormones” and eventually their stimulating effects also become downregulated. This is when you really start struggling and reaching for more caffeine and sugary things to get you over the line. At this point, fatigue is inevitable without some external stimulus to temporarily counteract it.
This my hardworking, stress head friend is what we call Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis Dysfunction which is science speak for Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. Symptoms include fatigue, poor exercise tolerance and recovery, low libido, brain fog, weakened immune system, postural hypotension and reduced stress tolerance.
It is caused by many aspects of our modern life such as -
- poor diet (not enough calories and or nutrients)
- lack of sleep and lack of down time
- chronic stress (high level of perceived stress)
- lack of or too much exercise
- inflammation (gut issues)
Like the thyroid, the HPA-axis affects nearly every cell and tissue in the body and is why I have to address this in nearly every woman I have ever worked with. It also interacts with thyroid hormone and sex hormone function and is integral to feeling energised and well.
- Run the DUTCH Test to assess HPA-axis function and sex hormones and work with a practitioner to get you some tailored supplement and diet and lifestyle protocols
- Adrenal adaptogens can be very helpful. I like the Gaia Adrenal Support
- Eat regular well-balanced meals, no fasting at this stage
- Avoid or minimise stimulants like caffeine
- Sleep, sleep and more sleep
- Gentle exercise like long walks in nature, short sessions, and minimal or very short High-intensity sessions
- Adequate calories, carbohydrates (see point 2), vitamin C and B vitamins
- Apply a dilution of basil, clove, rosemary and geranium over the adrenal area (lower back) morning and evening; diffuse and or inhale basil / rosemary / peppermint oils when feeling fatigued. These oils help to combat fatigue are more stimulating allowing you to focus and feel more alert.
6. Do you need a vacation?
You’re all nodding, aren’t you! Well my friend, make it happen. I’m serious. There will never be a perfect time. One of the things I learnt in Italy whilst on vacation (took a leaflet from my own book) is that we do not honour rest.
"Rest is to work like night is to day."
They cannot exist without each other. We try - we invented lights and we work longer hours, and we push and we think we are succeeding in life. But at the expense of our bodies and life itself. So find a way to bring more siestas into your day, week or year.
- Schedule work free days
- Schedule in periodic breaks
- Cut back a day at work
- Book a holiday
- Fill your day with nothing! Zilch! Just let your mind wander and see how much more energised you feel after. You may even get some brilliant ideas worth pursuing.
- Best oils for relaxation: doTERRA Aromatouch, Balance, Lavender, Frankincense are my fav go to's to diffuse and apply to bring about a state of relaxation.
Ok, so clearly I missed writing and couldn’t help but to write you a long one. If you made it this far thanks for sticking with me. Hope it helps and if you need more support on getting to the root cause of your fatigue or you would like to learn more about any of the above-mentioned oils, then please just reach out. I'm here to help. You deserve to feel your best!