Monday, August 24, 2015

Dealing With Low Energy Levels

Wow! I haven't posted in a really long time! You will know why after you read this post though. It's been a long couple of years, but I think I'm finally starting to feel like my old self again.

I have been in such a slump lately! It all happened so gradually that I'm not even sure exactly when it started. A year ago I was diagnosed with a low thyroid. That gave me an answer to a lot of the symptoms I had been experiencing. I thought being on medication might make things a little better and they WERE for awhile.  I knew that having a low thyroid would be harder to lose weight. (Add that to me being over 40 also.) I also knew that it was still possible to lose weight but it was completely up to me to keep my nutrition in check. If I stayed super strict and NEVER missed a workout - I could actually lose a few pounds. However, the minute I strayed off clean eating - I would gain it all back. I have really struggled with this! Here I was, telling people how to lose weight, coaching them, seeing the results they were getting but then I could never do it myself. It was so frustrating! 

I decided that I just wasn't as active as I used to be. (My kids aren't little anymore so I wasn't chasing after them all day.) I got a Fitbit for Christmas and decided to try to get more steps in during the day. I even set reminders on my phone so I would get up and walk around every so often. I still got my workouts in almost every day as well. But I was still SO TIRED!! I didn't want to do anything.

I kept thinking to myself that I was just being lazy. I would write up my to-do lists and come up with projects that I could work on to keep me busy and motivated. I would fully intend to do them, but just couldn't bring myself to even get started. Ugh! It was AWFUL! I could get some things done if I did them in the morning but by noon I was DONE. And it wasn't even just physically - I was mentally exhausted too. My brain would check. out. I would try to plan out my weekly meals, or write a blog post & I could. not. stay. focused. I seriously couldn't concentrate. All I wanted to do was go take a nap.

I had no motivation to do ANYTHING. If my calendar started to fill up, I would get overwhelmed and stressed out. I just wanted to stay in my own little world. Don't anybody bother me - please.

Now just so you know - this was all happening very gradually. I was coming up with reasons for the way I was feeling. "It's cold outside, so that's why I want to stay curled up with my electric blanket and read a book." "I've been running errands all morning, so I don't want to make dinner tonight."

It just so happened that my thyroid prescription was running out & it was time to make another appointment with my doctor. For some reason I started looking back on how I'd been feeling and realized I had been in a slump for quite awhile. I figured it must be my thyroid. 

Then about a week before my appointment I had a REALLY bad day. I was super exhausted, moody, depressed, didn't want to do anything. I had totally turned into my teenager!! haha ;)  That night my husband took the kids out to dinner and I decided to stay home (because I just felt too fat to eat unhealthy food, plus I didn't think I looked good that day, plus I just didn't want to go anywhere). When I woke up the next day feeling so much better, I started thinking it might be my hormone levels. I AM over 40 - could totally be perimenopause, right? So I talked to my mom and she suggested I get my vitamin levels checked. I started researching low B12 and read that both B12 and D could cause some of the same symptoms I'd been having. I just knew that was what it was and I ordered both vitamins from Amazon. I didn't want to take them until I'd been in to see my doctor though so I could get accurate test results.

When I saw the doctor, she said that my thyroid was right where it should be, my B12 levels were actually pretty high (oh crap) but my vitamin D was really low (whew). I say "whew" because I was actually a little glad that I had something to explain my symptoms, right? After talking with her a little more about how I'd been feeling, she suggested they also check my testosterone levels. She was almost positive that it would end up being low.

While I waited for THOSE results to come back, I researched low testosterone in women. Here's what I came up with:

I chose a picture because it's more fun to look at but there are lots of articles online you can read. 

Who knew, right? 

I never would have thought low testosterone would be an issue for women. So my results came back and my test levels were definitely low. She put me on a really low dose - just enough to raise my levels but not so high that I would have negative effects. I have a special compound made for me that I take daily. It just melts under my tongue. Easy peasy.

I am also taking 5000IU of vitamin D every day. Here are some symptoms of low vitamin D:

I am posting about this in hopes that maybe there is someone reading this that has dealt with something similar. No one understands how horrible you feel unless they have experienced it themselves. My mom totally understands. My sister-in-law....not so much. When I was telling her all the things I'd been going through, guess what she said? "Maybe you need to get a job."

I get that she was trying to help though. It's just that I KNEW something was wrong. This wasn't me AT ALL. I am so glad that I had a doctor willing to help me figure out what was going on.

So I want to let you all know that if you have low energy levels - you DO NOT have to accept it!!  I thought for so long that I was getting older, my metabolism was slowing and I would just "have to live with it". NOT TRUE! Like I told my doctor - "My 72 year-old mother has more energy than me!" 

I have been taking my vitamin D and testosterone for about 2.5 weeks. I noticed a difference in the FIRST WEEK! Now, I run errands after lunch and I'm not tired AT ALL! I haven't had weird mood swings. If I happen to lay down for a real quick "power nap", I hop right up after and feel totally refreshed and energetic. I am not overwhelmed when I have a lot of things going on. I'm so ready to take them on again! I also don't feel like a heavy weight is settling on my mind in the afternoon. (I think some people call it 'brain fog' - totally get it now.) And a great bonus - I've lost a couple pounds this week! I know that's not a huge difference but it's a start. It makes me realize I'm getting back to normal, I have energy again and I CAN DO THIS! 

It makes me think of my favorite part of any Chalene Johnson workout. (If any of you have done her workouts, you'll totally get this.) You're halfway through the workout, out of breath, about to die, and Chalene says:

So - my friends - get out there and get your vitamin and hormone levels checked ASAP! So many people are feeling the exact same way I did every day and like me, just figuring they're being lazy or it's just a part of life. Don't let anyone make you feel like a bad person because of it either! We're hard enough on ourselves! I felt like such a horrible mother and wife. The guilt just adds to it. Go find a doctor who will really listen to you and don't ever stop until you figure it out!!

I'm sorry this was such a long post. If you read the whole thing - thank you. ;) And as always, I am here if you want to talk. 

Have a great day!!