Over the weekend, I watched the Olympic Marathon Trials on television. If you're not familiar with the trials, the top three finishers in both the men's and women's races will go on to compete at the Olympics in Rio later this summer.
Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan are training partners and led most of the race in stride with each other. But in the last few miles Shalane started to fade because of the hot weather and Amy pulled her through. It was an amazing display of friendship and sisterhood in sport.
After training for eight marathons, finishing four, and developing Adrenal Fatigue, I thought I was done with marathons. And I have been (mostly) okay with it. But damn if I didn't miss it a whole lot while cheering on the pros!
You see, I thrive on structure, discipline and pushing myself to see what I'm capable of. And that, my friends pretty much sums up the essence of the marathon.
But for all the joy and fulfillment it brought me, it caused me a whole of stress and grief too.
Well duh, Naomi, of course running 26.2 (we never forget the .2!) is stressful! Other than the obvious physical stress it imposes on the human body, running all those miles caused an imbalance in my hormones, specifically cortisol. And when there is an imbalance with one hormone, it usually leads to other imbalances with other hormones too.
Many people don't understand this, and I most certainly didn't. All I knew is that the more I ran and trained, the cleaner I ate, the more toxins I eliminated, the harder it was to maintain or lose weight. And even worse, I started gaining weight.
It was maddening and created a dangerous cycle. The more I gained weight the more I felt like I needed to do more - run more, spend more hours in the gym, burn more calories than I eat. And the more I did this, the more imbalanced my hormones became, the more stressed I got, now not just physically, but mental and emotional stress too.
It got to a point where I started to resent the things that I love - the runners high (or any high after a workout), food, and even the success of others.
I finally got to the point of exhaustion where I felt that I had done all that I could. And that maybe there was something else going on inside of me, an underlying factor that, no matter how healthy I ate, or how much I worked out, it wouldn't fix whatever it was that was wrong.
That exhaustion point for me came last year. And since then, I've been researching and educating myself to figure out, "what's going on in there."
So far I've learned, that I have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). I tested positive for it twice last year (and have a third test scheduled this week). The second test results were worse than the first. I've done three rounds of the recommended antibiotics for it and they haven't really helped. SIBO is fairly new (well not new, but newly talked about) and the medical community (both conventional and functional) is still trying to understand it. That being said, I believe that SIBO is a symptom of something else, meaning, it's not the root cause of, "what's going on in there*."
It's been challenging to find a doctor who is willing to be my partner and figure this out. The conventional doctors I've seen are content to just keep prescribing drugs. That treats the symptoms but does not uncover the root cause and address how to fix it.
That is what functional medicine doctors do. Unfortunately, medical insurance companies usually don't cover the costs of functional medicine so those doctors are very expensive to work with. I did that for a year and a half until my doctor closed her practice to realign her business.
Fortunately, through the power of social media, I discovered the Sutter Health Institute of Health and Healing. This is a center that specializes in functional medicine, that is in-network for me! This means that I can see a functional medicine doctor and my insurance will cover it!
I cannot begin to tell you how much joy this brought me. Not only do their doctors want to find the root cause of your health conditions, they also factor in your mind, body and spirit.
I had my first appointment with my new doctor last week and I finally feel like I have a doctor who is willing to partner with me to figure out, "what is going on in there."
This new doctor spent an entire hour with me reviewing my health history and just having a two-way conversation about what I've experienced, what I've done so far, what's worked, what hasn't worked, what my goals are, and setting a course of action of how we can work together.
When was the last time your conventional doctor did that with you?
I will absolutely be sharing my experiences and findings over the next few weeks, months, and years. But for today my takeaway for you is this:
When you feel like you have done all that you've can and it hasn't worked, look at things from another angle.
This can apply to your health, but really, for any situation you face in life.
Instead of driving yourself crazy, try to look at things from another perspective and see if there's something you're missing.
For me, it was SIBO and the other new findings I'm learning about that I will share with you in the weeks to come.
Take meticulous notes and be your own detective.
Whether you're trying to figure out your health woes, or another difficult situation, be kind to yourself knowing you've done everything you can think of up to that point. Then maybe take a break from dealing with it (even if it's just for a few hours), and come back with a fresh pair of eyes. You might see something new that's been sitting there all long.
And as always, thanks for reading!
HI I'M NAOMI!
I’m a Certified Holistic Health Coach who helps people who suffer from fatigue and digestive distress learn how to eat real food and adopt clean living practices for better health energy, and endurance. Why feel tired when you can feel fired up and ready to go every single day?
I love running outdoors, connecting with like-minded people, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with my pup, Coco Pop.