Debi Silber’s WAC Teleconference: Stress & Your Health Worksheet

27 Talking Points Worksheet

Debi Silber MS, RD, WHC™, FDN The Mojo Coach®, President of Lifestyle Fitness, Inc. and founder of www.TheMojoCoach.com shared her valuable expertise with us, relating to stress and our bodies, during a teleconference in February 2015. Her tips and advice are remarkably mind-opening, equipping each of us with the insight to recognize our own alarming stress symptoms and take real steps toward mitigating their effects without medication. The following 27 points, although not transcribed verbatim, represent our most essential takeaways from her one-hour talk. The portions in italics are what we’ve added as food-for-thought. Read through the worksheet, situate yourself in the stress equation, and visit Debi’s website to explore the best “next steps” for you.

A “Thesis” for Addressing Stress:

-Stress makes us sick, fat, old and exhausted. When we’re stressed, our bodies will rat us out, in the way we look, feel and act….evidence that something mental or emotional can manifest as physical.

-With unmanaged chronic stress, your short-term stress response system or “crisis control center” is working full-time, slowly killing you. Over time, you become exhausted, and symptoms reveal themselves.

-Busy, stressed, over-worked women are entirely too capable. This circumstance is our enemy because, since we can do it all, we attempt to go ahead and do it all. It comes at a price.

What would you estimate your own physical stress manifestations to be? Jot down some ideas, and compare them to the long list of symptoms which follows in this worksheet.

With Respect to Diet:

-Your body will hang on to excess weight, even when you eat a proper diet, if you have stress in your life.

-The emotional eater doesn’t read food labels. They eat irresponsibly, flooding their body with cortisol. This drives body fat straight to the mid-section. Stubborn belly fat is a classic stress indicator. Does this describe your physicality?

-We tend to choose foods that give us dopamine release. Oreos, for instance, are more addictive than cocaine. We are wired to feel better, and foods like this are a set-up for a stress-related eating binge. We just “go for it”. Are there any such cookies in your own pantry, just waiting for you to cave in?

The Symptoms of Stress, and Healing vs Medicating:

-Stress starts as a symptom before it becomes a host of conditions, and then finally a full-blown disease. Symptoms are your body’s way of telling you it needs your attention. It’s similar to a “check engine” light in your car’s dashboard. You shouldn’t put a sticker over it; you should instead take the car for servicing. Many of us are not servicing our bodies. We are putting a sticker over the problem, in the form of medication or binge-eating. By ignoring our body’s check engine light, we are allowing it to stop functioning properly.

-If you’ve experienced 5 or more of these symptoms over the last six months, your body’s check engine light is on: headache, sleep problems, fatigue, allergies, moodiness, irritability, neck tension, digestive issues, anxiety, panic, depression, lethargy, poor memory/concentration, hot flashes, night sweats, thinning skin, reduced libido, weight gain, weight loss, increased appetite, reduced appetite, osteoporosis, heart disease.

-Chronic stress will suppress your immune system. When your system is strong, it will protect your “borders”. When it’s weak, it lets the “invaders” get through. This is where illness begins. Have you ever noticed a correlation between the time you catch the flu and your stress level leading up to the illness?

-When you’re constantly under stress, your adrenal glands have to crank out so much cortisol that other bodily functions/needs get put on hold. This becomes a new pathway, and other pathways get squeezed off, creating strange symptoms, including hot flashes that aren’t related to menopause.

-We can medicate all of our symptoms, but it’s a better idea to uncover the root causes, which are the internal and external stressors. Start by laying off the adrenal glands and allowing them to heal….like laying off a broken ankle until it sets. For this process to work, it’s important to know what adrenal fatigue stage you are in. Hot Yoga or intense exercise wouldn’t be appropriate responses to Level 3 fatigue, for instance.

-What we sometimes dismiss as “senior moments” or “forces of nature” are actually driven by chronic stress. When we are irritable and intolerant, exhausted after a full night’s sleep, grinding our teeth, experiencing frequent headaches, and lacking in focus and memory, we are in deep adrenal fatigue, which needs to be addressed at once through healing.

A Closer Look at Diet:

-Ladies should be conscious of what they eat. Our adrenal glands can be assaulted by poor or odd diets. And a note to those with sensible and nutritious diets: Some generally healthy foods may be toxic to you, and you don’t realize it. Have you ever had unpredictable or allergic reactions to otherwise healthy food types?

-One simple diet change can be the tipping point for positive body change. One woman had a “picture-perfect” diet but couldn’t get rid of her fat belly. She needed to discover that she was intolerant to the eggs in her diet, and eliminate them. Once she did, the belly fat was gone in just a few days.

-When it comes to foods you may be intolerant of, start by eliminating the usual suspects: grains, sugar and gluten. You may be shocked at how quickly your body feels and looks better. We are not necessarily meant to eat those things. Is your diet laced with sugar in a way you might not be aware of?

-Highly-processed foods are huge culprits. They suppress the immune system by burdening it with the task of trying to figure out what the heck we’ve just ingested. Auto-immune disease can be set off by toxicity in processed foods, and even in the household cleaning products we use. Have you considered what percentage of the foods you consume are processed? And remember: Organic doesn’t mean unprocessed. Think also about the non-food chemicals you are inhaling, just in your home. If it comes from an aerosol can, notate your body’s reaction.

A Word on Excess Weight in Relation to Stress:

-Toxins remain in our bodies as a defense toward releasing such dangerous substances into our blood stream. Where do these toxins get stored?….In our fat tissue, keeping us fatter than we need to be. For many women, this translates to 5 extra pounds of stubborn belly fat!

In Response to Participants’ Specific Food-Related Questions:

-Whole wheat pasta being healthier than white pasta is a myth. There is no such thing as whole-grain goodness. White bread and wheat bread are marginally different when it comes to inflammation and food addiction. The only edge that whole wheat has over the other is a trace of fiber.

-Coffee is not an enemy unless you’re in a state of adrenal fatigue. However, it will impact your sleep if you consume more than a cup per day.

On Diet Supplements:

-Consider temporary diet supplementation, and observe the effects. And don’t stay on the supplements for more than a few weeks, since side-effects and interactions can worsen your condition through taxing your adrenal glands.

The Importance of Rest:

-Proper rest is essential for adrenal recovery. Gain adequate, restorative rest, instead of being a hero by only getting 5 hours of sleep per night. We can put ourselves into a state of insulin resistance and become diabetic from the stress of lacking sleep.

-When you have kids, and you’re a career woman trying to “have it all”, you must seriously consider new patterns that help you sleep longer and better. Eliminate noises, care-take in shifts with your husband, don’t try to squeeze in work when your kids have finally gone to sleep, and don’t ingest caffeine at the end of the day. You are encouraged to get creative in the quest for more and better sleep, depending upon your individual circumstance. These ideas are great starting points.

Concerning Exercise:

-Exercise according to your level of adrenal fatigue. It may turn out you’re in need of rest instead. Long drawn-out cardio sessions can flood your body with cortisol. Ask yourself: Are you realistic in your exercise regimen? Or are you pushing yourself, unmonitored, potentially doing your body more harm than good with the frequency and types of exercise you engage in?

-We used to think it necessary to put in an hour or two at the gym each day. We now know that high-intensity training gets more done, and it takes less time. Working out 20 or 30 minutes, two times a week tops, will likely put you in better shape than you were before you had kids.

-With over-doing it at the gym, you’ll gain minimal progress, while spending time you don’t have on working out. This leads to frustration and will work against you.

-When you get your nutrition situation sorted out, your confidence goes up, you form good habits, and your body starts to look trim. You’re then ready to embark upon a more enhanced fitness program. Remember, you can’t out-train a bad diet. Think about it: Are your end-results disappointing or otherwise out of proportion with the amount of training you do?

The Next Step:

-To diagnose what level of adrenal fatigue you’re in, a saliva test is the most accurate and least invasive. The saliva test is called Functional Diagnostic Nutritional Testing. Anyone who wants to take the test can schedule it on Debi Silber’s website: www.themojocoach.com.