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So, you work the night shift and you’re not a real zombie!? What!?

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As a new RN, I recently accepted my first night shift job working in the emergency department. I’ll be working the graveyard shift of 11 PM – 7AM and no I am not nuts. Working in the emergency department has always been a dream of mine and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunitiy to do it so early in my nursing career. That being said, I was willing to take whatever crappy shift they would give me in order to get my foot in the door. I’ve been googling (pitiful how that’s not a commonly accepted verb) the sh*t out of night shift work, health, paleo, primal, Weston A. Price…all the hippie stuff and have come up with some strategies I’m going to try to implement to keep my sanity and health.

1. Keep the sugar to a minimum. Calories after midnight still count, even though those chick-flicks say they don’t, trust me…they do.

2. Sleep in a cave. I’ve started the process of turning my bedroom into a girl cave. Painted neutral grey walls, made my bed so cozy and working on ordering blackout curtains and shades.

3. Protect my sleep. I’ll be on a schedule opposite of normal humans so it’s going to be really important to say no to commitments and protect my 7-8 hours of dreams during the day. If I’m going against everything my body wants to do, sleep wise, I better at least be getting 7 hours a night..err..day.

4. Limit the coffee. After reading this great article by Mark Sisson, I’m going to keep my coffee to 2 cups per day when I get up and then switch over to tea. I tolerate coffee well but also don’t want to stress my adrenals more than they already will be.

5. Accept and be at peace. While working the night shift is far from ideal, there are a lot of positives that can come of it. Finding those positive aspects and accepting that this is my life for the moment will help keep my stress level low. I’m lucky enough to be working my dream job, full time and have benefits. Pretty awesome if you ask me!

Any night shift workers out there with any tips? Hooray for fellow zombie workers!

Rest and Recover

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So by now you’re probably thinking, “wow this sucks….guess this is just how it’s going to be” NOT TRUE! There is a whole lot you can do to get better and feel better!

Let’s get to it:

 

1. SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP! For some reason just because you can survive, albeit poorly, on 4 or 5 hours of sleep people think it’s a good idea. It’s not, it’s a horrible idea and you will get fat and depressed.  Lack of sleep causes all sorts of cravings, specifically sugary carbs. So now you’re tired, probably stressed, and you’re eating candy.  Massive fail. Please go to bed. Just get in bed an hour earlier than you usually do, leave your computer in the living room and put your phone on silent. If you have an iPhone turn it over, when it lights but it is very bright. Try to get yourself on a solid sleep schedule, at least 7-8 hours every night. You will be amazed how much better you feel after a few weeks.  Lastly, the theory that you can sleep in on the weekends and “catch up” on sleep is not true. It’s a load of crap.

 

2. Try going gluten free.  Although it seems that going gluten-free is pretty trendy these days, about 50% of the US population (celiacdisease.about.com) could potentially benefit from it. 

 

 

3. Cut the caffeine. No one needs to drink a Trenta size coffee from Starbucks. No one. However, since you’re exhausted and just trying to get through the day the coffee pot is calling your name all day. Resist it! Caffeine triggers the adrenals to release more hormones; you want them to rest, not work! Try cutting back a cup of day or switching to an herbal tea. You will give your adrenals a rest and be more hydrated.

 

Healing your adrenal fatigue can seem overwhelming so just stick to a few changes at a time. If three changes seem too much, just focus on one, sleep would be my recommendation! Good luck!

Hormones: More than just PMS!

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 Adrenal Fatigue: Part 2

I don’t think hormones get the attention and respect they deserve; they are kind of like the passive-aggressive (or sometimes very aggressive) logistic coordinators of the body. EVERYTHING is controlled by hormones, especially in adrenal fatigue.

Let’s break it down:

Your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys like two little kidney hats. They are responsible for mediating stress responses and releasing specific hormones in charge of that.

Adrenallocation

Epinephrine and Norepinephrine – also known as adrenaline, these two hormones are your “fight or flight” directors. You know that feeling when you barely miss a dangerous situation, say rear-ending a car because you’re changing the radio? That dropping stomach, flushed face, shaky hands feeling? That is all because of an instant release and response to adrenaline!

            Side note – stress doesn’t have to be just an acute situation. Unfortunately, our lives are more about chronic stress than having to run away from a lion cave-man style. As I mentioned previously, we were built to deal with acute stressors followed by a period of long rest, not the constant stress we deal with in modern lives.

Cortisol – I’m sure everyone has heard those BS diet commercials talking about the connection between cortisol and belly fat, well, part of that is true but the rest of it is garbage (don’t take diet pills. Ever.). The adrenals release cortisol in response to, you guessed it, stress! 

            -tells the liver to release sugar in to the blood

            -raises blood sugar (so you can run away from that lion that is trying to kill you, not sit in traffic)

            -suppresses the immune systembelly-fat

These are just a few of the things cortisol does, but, clearly it is a very important hormone but not so good when it is being released all the time. Ever wonder why people seem to be running themselves ragged and then end up sick? Thank cortisol.

 

These few hormones are just the tip of the adrenal ice berg. Next post I’ll explain the brain connection to all of this…I promise I’ll get to how to fix it!  

 

Can’t Sleep? Are you Tired and Wired?

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Adrenal Fatigue: Part 1

We’ve all been there; you’re exhausted but can’t sleep. You stare at the ceiling and get legitimately mad at your dog/cat/partner for sleeping while you’re awake, hey if you’re up everyone should be up right? Just kidding. Sort of.

Unfortunately a lot of people head to their doctor and get a prescription sleep aid as a band-aid to their problem instead of investigating the actual cause.

Anyone ever heard of adrenal fatigue? Unless you’ve done some independent googling or spent some time in the holistic medical community you probably haven’t.

Our bodies are built to deal with acute, intense stressors for a short period of time followed by a long period of rest and recovery. So in real life, you head to CrossFit and do a 15 minute intense work out but then you chill out for the next 24 hours. When people are sleeping well, have a healthy gut, and minimal stress or effective stress coping techniques your body handles this great, it was built to!

However, if like most Americans, you are not sleeping enough, eating crap and experiencing long-term chronic stress you probably have some sort of adrenal fatigue. It’s that tired and wired feeling. You so desperately want to sleep but can’t. When you do finally sleep, morning comes way too fast and you can barely stumble out of bed in the morning. Oh yeah, and don’t talk to you until you’ve had your venti Starbucks. Sound like you?

In my next post I’ll breakdown the key hormone players and some things you can do to FEEL better, isn’t that what we all want anyways?

How to NOT Murder Your Family During the Holidays

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The holidays are a notoriously stressful time for everyone, so I’ve come up with a list of things I do to try to keep my sanity.

 

1. Say no and stick to it.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned is to know your boundaries and stick to them. There are an insane amount of social opportunities during the holidays so pick some that are really important to you and go! If there are others that you feel obligated to go to or just don’t want to, stop by for a little bit or politefully decline the invite. There is nothing wrong with saying no! I promise, once the guests have a few eggnogs in them they won’t notice if you stayed for 30 minutes or 3 hours.

2. Protect your work out/alone time.

As I’ve said, since the holidays are stressful and you are often pulled in many different directions it is SO important to protect some time every day for just you. This is the time to do your work out or veg out and catch up on Dexter.  Just a side note, please do not underestimate the effect stress has on our bodies. I always tell people to err on the side of rest during exhausting times. For example, if you normally run a few times a week, try walking or yoga instead.

3. Eat like you know you should.

Just because it is a festive time of year that doesn’t mean you should face-plant into a goblet of spiced wine and that questionable, gross, from-a-package onion dip YUCKKKK! Eat a vegetable every day. Now do it again. Now again…oh wait you’re eating like you do the other 10 months of the year. Good work!

4. Keep a budget.

Gifts are expensive. I have the budget of a fruit fly, so this year, I’m going the homemade route for most of my presents. People know how much thought, time and effort goes in to homemade gifts so I really believe they are more meaningful than a pair of China town earrings of a stupid fruit cake (which really, who eats one of those??).

Feeding Primal

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Most of us think of our pets as family. I know I refer to Nola as my daughter most of the time…I know it’s a little ridiculous but that’s O.K.

Since she is my family I care deeply about what I feed her and how she is nourished.

My grandma has been really into feeding raw to her Bichon-Poo for a while so I purchased a book she recommended and was blown away at how it just makes SENSE to feed our pets the way they evolved. Just like how it makes SENSE for humans to eat the way we evolved to (Twinkies not included, RIP Hostess).

So, Nola will be eating a primarily raw diet including lots of raw meaty bones (RMBs), cooked organ meats, full fat dairy, veggies and eggs. Sounds an awful lot like a paleo diet huh?

So far I’ve been feeding her a mix of homemade food and kibble and she has been thriving! A trip the vet this past week was only confirmation that this new diet is working for us. Her previously flakey skin is now gone, her eyes are clear, she has a bunny hop in her step and she has put on a whole FIVE POUNDS! She still needs to gain at least 7-10 more but I’ll take 5 pounds in 2 weeks!

 

For Nola’s meals I usually put together the following:

-Whatever left over protein I have on hand and usually a small amount of chicken/beef liver I’ve sautéed in butter previously

-yogurt/cottage cheese

-1-2 eggs

-small scoop of kibble

-scoop of pureed veggies

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Little Nola LOVES her homemade food, she was always a super picky eater but since I’ve been feeding her this way she gets incredibly excited for meals 

If you don’t like dogs, I don’t like you

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If you don’t like dogs, I’m not sure I like you…

Sometimes things are just meant to be…at least that’s how I see this past week.

Since moving to southern Mississippi I’ve been tossing around the idea about getting a dog. I always grew up with dogs and find their unconditional love incredibly therapeutic.

Last weekend, I decided to check out the local shelter’s page of available dogs and ran across a picture of a Great Dane who looked like she needed tons of love. My cousin, Shannon and our friend, Emily, all hopped in the car and took a ride to check out “Cleopatra”. It was LOVE at first sight! As soon as I took her for a short walk around the shelter property I knew she was the right dog for me. She was shy but soon warmed up and was covering me with kisses and “hugs”. I signed the adoption papers that day.

The amazing staff at the shelter told me they were really getting concerned that she wasn’t going to find her forever home because she is so big, can easily jump a six-foot fence and is heartworm positive. Luckily, we have a 12-foot fence in the backyard, big, goofy dogs rock and I can afford to treat the heartworm. 

I got to pick up my new pupeen yesterday afternoon and it has been amazing how well she has integrated in to our pet crazy home. Our house has 4 girls, 3 dogs and 4 kitties…unbelievably; NoLa has blended in seamlessly besides the fact that she had never been around cats until yesterday.

Since I got her home yesterday, her demeanor has changed almost 100%. Less than 24 hours ago I brought home a terrified, skinny, horribly neglected (prior to the shelter taking her in) Great Dane and today, she is a smiling, tail wagging, PLAYING dog. It’s amazing how resilient animals are and how they give their love so freely, I hope she is feeling a sense of relief that she is in her forever home and will never again have to worry about being fed, loved or taken care of in only the best possible way.

I think I needed her just as much, if not more, than she needed me.

Now the real question….what am I going to feed my new Paleo Pup!? Sweet potatoes and liver for the nutrient-density-win!!!

One Happy Nurse

Where food and medicine meet

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