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Recognizing Adrenal Fatigue with Tracy Hughes

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So Tracy, I know you've had a pretty long journey with adrenal fatigue, and just wanna share a little bit of your story, because I think it's amazing to hear stories about people healing and what part of the journey that you're on, what was going on with your health that made you think something was wrong.

Did you have something that kind of triggered you to look further than what you had in the past or kind of make connections to see what was going on?

I think for me it was March of 2021. I messaged you and the reason I messaged you was because I was literally physically exhausted, there was nothing left of me. I had a very full plate at the time, and I had no energy. I could not get the next foot in front of me literally, and I was still trying to survive. And then emotionally, I couldn't even think of what my next sentence was gonna be. So emotionally and physically, I was drained and I was spiritually drained. Now I would say it was probably a burnout.

Do you feel like there were things that, looking back, that kind of led up to that where you could put your finger on certain things and say, this probably did it? Or do you feel like it was a combination of just different stresses, little and big.

I think that I had no idea what the word self-care meant, and I think that I had a family, I had a ministry, I was going to school, and I had a job, and so I just had so much that I think everything just piled. I don't know. There was no really one thing.

Kind of like that bucket analogy I think about for myself that we all have this bucket of limitations, and I think everyone's is different based on their circumstances, but you start adding those things into the bucket that eventually it does spill out, and no matter how well we think we're dealing with something, again, the body kind of tells the truth and that's what adrenal fatigue is really a culmination of all these small and big things. And finally the body says, "Hey, I can't take this anymore." You know, and it's really a way to protect us. But it doesn't feel like that at the time.

No, it doesn't feel like that. If it hadn't have been for you, I don't know where I would be today because it was, I was in a really bad place.

Well, and the Lord really puts people in our life, and I know he does that for me and has done that for me with you, but at the right time, you know when you're like, "I really need to know what's going on." And sometimes, it feels like the answer doesn't come, but it comes at just the right time. What kind of things did you do to help you through this?

Like what had you tried anything when the fatigue came and the tiredness and all. Were you trying some things to see if it would help, or did you just kind of let it go until you were like not really able to do self-care and know what that was? So had you tried some things to see if you could help yourself?

I really hadn't done anything. I remember messaging you and I was literally at a breaking point. It was do or die. Because I could go anymore, and I'd never heard of the adrenal gland. And I thought, stress. You started talking to me about stress and I was like, "Oh, I've got it covered. I'm not stressed."

I didn't even think anything about it. By the time I got to you, it was too late. Like I hadn't tried anything.

Once we talked and you kind of understood, self-care, and that was something I think you've been working through also for yourself and then with clients. But if you had one thing that you felt like this was starting point for some healing, is there something that sticks out in your mind as this is what actually started my journey? Or do you feel like it was more than one thing?

I think reaching out to you is the first step. That was my God moment where I knew that He was gonna, Help me through it because I'll never forget I said to you, I'm gonna try this, that was where I was at, I was gonna try the first thing, and it was gonna be fasting. I was a runner at the time and I was running 3, 4, 5 miles a day and you said, "Well, hold on. You know, let's check this out."

That was the beginning moment of trying, was you saying let's sort through this?

And I think sometimes, you know, exercise we think is a really good thing to do, and I know it does help manage anxiety on one side, but when you're dealing with adrenal fatigue, you have to deal with even the things that we do to help ourselves.

We have to deal with that differently than what we would normally do because there are ideal things we do when we're healing, and then there's the healing phase. And I think you and I talked about what happens to cortisol when you run, or you keep your heart rate up to a certain point after 15 minutes that you actually elevate cortisol levels.

And that's normally a good thing because then you would have the normal decrease of cortisol when you, you know, ceased activity. But where you were at, it was. Fight or flight all the time. That's the precursor to adrenal fatigue, that basically the messaging center from the adrenals to produce cortisol is all out of whack.

Basically you're living in a fight or flight mode and so when you add intense exercise to that, Cardio that lasts longer than 30 minutes. It really does the opposite as far as it doesn't lower cortisol. It kind of keeps it elevated, and it was elevated going in. So I'm all for exercise, but the type that you do to heal from adrenal fatigue is very different than what you do after the fact because then the body can have those normal regulation responses where in the middle of adrenal fatigue, it doesn't work like that.

You know, I even talked to you about that one time that, you know, I was used to doing workouts and everything, but I had done a simple cardio workout that was like 20 minutes long, and I had a panic attack right in the middle of it.

And I think it was just because it wasn't the time for my body to have to face that kind of intense exercise because I was already keyed up all the time. If that kind of makes sense. The type of exercise that we do, it, it makes a big difference in healing. You know, things that are more calming to the body and that's when I took up walking a lot of miles instead of running.

Well, you asked what I did to help. I was learning what self-care was cuz I was in school at the time, but I wasn't associating self-care with like, I was associating self-care with what I was gonna be doing, you know, as a career.

But the self-care that you taught me was the self-care for my adrenal glands. And you asked me what I did and I think the two main things that I had to do was. Was after I started talking to you was do what you said, which was hard because you were pretty, um, adamant about getting my cortisol levels down and you said, I'll never forget it.

You said it, it didn't, "This didn't happen overnight, it's not going be fixed overnight." So I had to buckle up for a long journey, and I'm still on the journey. And I also saw a life coach for eight months and had to deal with some trauma because you and I realized that this was probably stemmed from, you know, young adolescent age on, this wasn't just something that had happened, you know, within that year or something.

I think how important that is to heal completely from anything we have to address everything from a whole life perspective. You know, how do we heal now and things that took us years to culminate if we can't deal with those things in the past? And that's not really as fast of a approach as people want a lot of times, but it is true.

It took time to get there, you know, and to be patient. I think with ourselves that it is actually okay that it's gonna take some time to get out because there is healing in the end, and it's worth the effort. Also setbacks. I mean, I think anytime we're in any kind of healing process, there are times when we get hit again.

I know in my own life where it's like anxiety's under control, managing this well, it's not there. And then get overstressed and avoid those simple things like self-care. And guess what? It's back again. It's like a checks and balance for me where I can tell when I've taken on too much, where maybe for you too, I think that there wasn't a checks and balance before adrenal fatigue, but now do you feel like you definitely know when your limits are being pushed and that you have to pull back sooner than maybe you would've ever done prior to this?

I think, and I was actually just praying about this the other day, I don't think I fully, dove back into my life before you started helping me. I am definitely taking it slower because it, it was a very scary moment. And anyone that ever deals with adrenal fatigue knows that there's that moment when the last straw hits and you're done. And then when you realize later, like, what you started showing me and teaching me.

I listened to your other podcast and you talked about having a panic attack and you were worried about having another one, and that's kind of what where I'm at. It's like I'm afraid to have that where I was. I don't wanna ever go back there. So. I don't know if that answered the question or not.

Yeah, it did.

And I think there's, to me, that for me is like a healthy fear, you know, that it's kind of a warning system. I believe the Lord puts that in us saying, "Hey, here's a little flag that something's not right." And if we pay attention to it, we can usually catch it before it turns into something like that.

But I think it's always kind of something to be aware of that the body has to have boundaries, you know, and, and there has to be a way to direct ourselves either through our nutrition, if we're doing supplementation, our exercise, how we handle our emotions, and just everything going on in our life.

It's important to keep that in the forefront because that's really the only way to stay healthy all around. Do you feel like it was hard, cuz I know you said like in the beginning it was hard to kind of do all the changes. What would you say was the hardest thing about recognizing, okay, I have this thing called adrenal fatigue and this is what it feels like and you absolutely don't wanna be there, but the cost of what it is to do life differently.

Was that really the hard part, or did you feel like it was more, I mean we were dealing with your nutrition and supplementation and so many things, but what do you feel like was the hardest thing to implement?

I think the mindset that this was gonna be a long journey, to be honest. I wanted you to fix me overnight. I'm not gonna lie, that's what I wanted and it didn't happen and I'm still on the journey, but where I was and where I am today, I'm willing to do the journey still however long it takes, which will probably be the rest of my life. But the hardest part was the mindset because you go from 90 to nothing, to stop, be still right, and, you know, reassess everything. That and giving my coffee up, which you know, was a little rough.

But have you have to admit though, that that was a good move because caffeine does really tax the adrenal glands, but I know it's hard I loved my coffee too. I still have the organic, but that was a hard thing for me to give up to. A small thing in the scheme of it, but it felt big at the time. Sometimes I think I'm thankful for decaf anyway.


Well, thank you so much, Tracy, for sharing with us and just letting us have a little window into your story of healing, and I'm really glad that you're at a different place now than you were then and that you've put the hard work in to get there.

And that's what it's really about is we don't get where we are in our health overnight. And I think that is something that we have to keep in the forefront of our mind the entire time we're trying to heal, which is, this was a process to get here and it's a process to get back out. Thankfully, it doesn't take as long usually to get out of it because we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

And so I believe we're made to rebound really well as long as we give our body what it needs. And you know, there's a lot of vitamin and mineral deficiencies that are linked to adrenal fatigue and anxiety and every kind of health issue. But with adrenal fatigue, you know, you have to make sure you're supporting the whole person.

And so, doing self-care, taking care of your, you know, your mental health. And then also nutritionally what we're putting into our body. Is it enough to actually support healing? Is it, you know, is food medicine, or is it hurting us? And kind of looking at food differently so that we have that whole picture of being well.

But anyway, I thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to having you on the podcast again.

Thank you.


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