Have you ever wanted to cut your own arm off for 20 more minutes of sleep?
Does walking up the stairs make you feel like you’re running a marathon?
Are you stressed, irritable or anxious when you’re usually a happy-go-lucky-my-glass-is-half-full sort of gal?
You don’t feel well.
Your energy’s in the toilet.
And you don’t know why because your doctor says “you’re fine.”
Trust me, I know how you feel. I’ve been struggling with this for over a year and finally have some answers.
So why not celebrate by discussing all my private lab tests with you?!
- I want you to see how traditional medical testing can easily miss your diagnosis leaving you frustrated and hopeless. I don’t want this to happen to you!
- I want you learn from my mistakes—I didn’t piece together the warning signs. The longer you feel crappy, the longer it takes to recover.
Can you relate?
Hey it’s Mariah from mariahdolan.com, your busy mom headquarters to help you love the skin you’re in and today I’m getting personal. So personal, that I’m sharing all my private lab tests with you.
So what do my lab tests have to do with you and how can you benefit from this information?
Because I’m the perfect example of somebody who was doing all the right things, and still got sick.
So if you’re gaining weight, fatigued all the time, can’t focus, are stressed/anxious/irritable or depressed, have ruthless PMS symptoms wreaking hormone havoc and you have no idea why because you’re doing all the right things, you need to watch this video.
Secondly, if you’ve been shuffled around from doctor to doctor telling you there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re normal, you need to watch this video.
Over the past year, I’ve been struggling with some health issues that I didn’t want to tell you about, primarily because I’m a physical therapist, personal trainer and a health coach.
How can I possibly have any health issues? I’m supposed to be the model of optimum health, right?
But here’s the deal. I’m human too. Just because I have a fancy health education doesn’t make me immune to disease.
So I decided that if I withhold my personal health struggles from you, that’s such a disservice. What if right now, you’re experiencing the same symptoms that I have?
I want you to be able to use me as an example of what to do, and what NOT to do, so that you don’t have to struggle like I did.
One year ago, I started getting tired, like reeeeeeeallly tired. My alarm clock would go off, and I would just lay there and think, “oh my gosh, I will cut off my right arm for 20 more minutes of sleep!”
The problem was, this incredible sense of fatigue I had, never went away, even if I got enough sleep. So that was warning sign #1.
Eventually, I’d roll out of bed, drag my sluggish body downstairs to workout before my kids woke up.
I’d complete my workout, and literally feel like I did nothing. Seriously, not a drop of sweat on my body, not even that glow that you get like when you just worked out. So that was warning sign #2.
Warning sign #3: I started gaining weight. Now this was the most frustrating symptom of all, because I was doing all the right things. I was eating clean, I was working out, yet I was storing fat around my midsection and couldn’t help it.
Warning sign #4
I had constant PMS symptoms. (Again, another fun one.) I had breast tenderness and swelling, bloating, water retention, irritability, and the strongest high-fat high-carb cravings I’ve ever had. The best way I can describe it is always feeling like you’re just about to get your period. That’s how I felt…all. the. time.
Warning sign #5
I started spotting between periods. Then my periods started getting closer together, then every 2 weeks, to where I eventually never stopped bleeding. And this went on for 2 months. So you can imagine this was the symptom that finally did me in. It was a physical symptom that I couldn’t make an excuse for.
So I went to my doctor like most people would where she ran some blood tests, and there was nothing wrong with me.
Then I went to my gynecologist about the prolonged bleeding, she ordered a vaginal ultrasound and yep, nothing wrong with me.
She prescribed birth control pills, 20 mcg of estrogen per day, to get me back on track. And I’ll tell you, something just didn’t sit right with me that we were throwing something at my symptoms without knowing why.
Plus birth control pills aren’t recommended for women over the age of 35. And yep, I’m over 35!
So here I was, feeling like crap, with nothing wrong with me.
So, I started doing all the wrong things like eating sugar and drinking caffeine because I was desperately trying to borrow energy to get through my day.
Of course this only caused more weight gain and made my energy problems worse.
That’s when I finally decided to find a naturopathic doctor who I hoped would listen, and run some unconventional tests to figure out why I was feeling so crummy.
Here’s what we found.
The CBC (which stands for complete blood count) tests for some standards like your white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin etc, and this showed I was low in many areas but still within normal limits range. For example normal hemoglobin is 12-16 and I was at a 12.9.
Next up was iron testing. And normal is 40-170 and I was at a 49. Again, really low on the “normal” range.
Next up was TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) which measures thyroid function. Normal range is 0.36-3.74 and I’m at 3.27.
These three tests—CBC, iron and TSH is what my primary doctor initially measured in which case found nothing wrong with me because I was technically within normal limits, but still on the outer edges of normal.
So let’s talk about some extra tests my naturopathic doctor ordered.
She wanted to test ferritin since my iron results were low. Ferritin is the major iron storage protein of the body. Ferritin levels can drop quite a bit before you’ll see a dip in iron.
There’s a wide range of normal on this one at 8-388 but here’s the kicker. Mine was 5. My doctor said she didn’t think she’d ever seen a case with that low of ferritin.
Finally, we’re starting to get somewhere! My low levels of hemoglobin and iron coupled with off the charts low ferritin puts me in the anemic category, which starts to explain my severe fatigue.
Next up T3 and T4—which are thyroid hormones. Basically speaking hypothyroidism involves high levels of TSH and low levels of T3 and T4.
Normal T3 is 2.18-3.98 and mine was 3.1.
Normal T4 is 0.76-1.46 and mine was 0.96.
All in all not too shabby for me. It looks like my thyroid is hanging in there, but it definitely could be better.
The takeaway from this is similar to the iron testing. Your thyroid may be considered normal based on TSH results from your primary doctor, but you may have abnormal T3 and T4 which could require thyroid medication, but you’ll never know that because T3 and T4 aren’t normally tested.
Moving onto hormones.
DHEA—is a hormone made by the adrenal glands that’s considered a precursor to your sex hormones. So basically you need the DHEA hormone to make estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. Normal is 4-11 for somebody my age. Mine was 2.9.
Testosterone—normal is 16-55. For a woman my age testosterone should be in the 30’s. Mine was 19.
Estrogen—normal estrogen is 1.3-3.3. Mine is 1.6. So technically within normal limits but on the low range.
Progesterone—normal is 75-270 mine is 42. Off the charts, waaaaaaay to low.
So even though my estrogen is on the low side of normal, my estrogen to progesterone ratio makes me extremely estrogen dominant. And when you’re estrogen dominant you get symptoms of weight gain, cravings, messed up menstrual cycles and prolonged bleeding—just all that yuck!
Now can you imagine if I would have taken those estrogen birth control pills prescribed to me by my gynecologist? It would have put me into more estrogen dominance which would have compounded my problems only to make me feel worse.
A quick aside—I don’t want to demonize traditional doctors in any way. They can’t possibly know everything about everything, right? Nobody can. Their scope of practice is limited to what they’re taught, so you can’t fault them for that, it just means you have to keep looking for answers.
Last but not least cortisol. Cortisol gets tested 4 times per day, because cortisol naturally fluctuates throughout the day.
As you can see cortisol levels start to raise in early morning around 3:00 am and continue to raise until about 7:00 am, in which case they start to come back down again.
By the way this is why I recommend you work out first thing in the morning around this 5:00am-7:00am area when you’re cortisol levels are naturally elevated.
So I’ve graphed out what’s considered normal, and that is anything between these two lines. This line would be considered low, this one high, and the one in the middle, average.
Here I am first thing in the morning at 2.9—so not even on the charts. Which is MORE evidence of why I could not get out of bed in the morning let alone work out.
As the day progresses I pop back on around the average mark, fall off again early evening then just pop back in again before bed.
This would be categorized as adrenal insufficient. Adrenal fatigue is when you sort of flat-line out like there’s little cortisol response anymore.
Stress is the culprit
At this point you’re probably asking yourself the same question I did…WHY? What happened that caused my system to get so whacked?
And the answer is stress.
If we take a look at this diagram of the hormones you see that cholesterol is at the top making it the backbone of hormones, and then you see the hormones branch out.
When you have all of this stress coming in it stimulates cortisol production. (Which is why cortisol is known as the stress hormone.) As you can see that affects all of your other hormones because it works it’s way up the chain.
So here I am anemic, estrogen dominant, adrenal insufficient verging on adrenal fatigue with off the charts low hormones and a sub-optimal thyroid, yet there was nothing wrong with me.
My goal in sharing this information with you today is two-fold.
#1. For the love of all things holy, do NOT let stress go unchecked. And in my next video, I’ll talk about how to do this.
#2. Fight for your health. If you know there’s something wrong don’t settle—find somebody who will listen and order some unconventional tests.
In the U.S. these doctors are called Naturopathic Doctors or Functional Medicine Doctors. Here’s a link to my Naturopathic Doctor.
There’s a wonderful book called The Adrenal Fatigue Solution by Fawn Henson that is a must read. It covers everything you need about adrenal fatigue and how to cure it. It’s my new Adrenal Fatigue Bible. If you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue, run and get this!
In my next video we’ll cover how to treat adrenal fatigue, chronic stress and hormone havoc in order to get your energy back so if you haven’t already signed up for updates scurry on over to mariahdolan.com.
Now I want to hear from you.
If you’ve ever suffered from hormone changes or adrenal fatigue due to chronic stress, what are your best recovery tips? Let me know in the comments below.
Cheers to your health,