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Personal trainer Rachael Attard shares the shocking effect stress had on her body

A personal trainer has shared the shocking impact stress has on your body, after she struggled with adrenal fatigue for years.

Rachael Attard, from Sydney, shared side-by-side photos of her face that show the effect working 60+ hour weeks, partying and binge drinking at the weekend had on her skin and body. 

‘You can tell by looking at the first picture that this is not the face of a healthy person,’ Rachael posted on Instagram.

‘This wasn’t weight loss – the weight difference in these two photos is only 1-2kg.’

A personal trainer (Rachael Attard pictured) has shared the shocking impact stress has on your body, after she struggled with adrenal fatigue for years

A personal trainer (pictured) has shared the shocking impact stress has on your body, after she struggled with adrenal fatigue for years

Rachael Attard, from Sydney, shared side-by-side photos of her face that show the effect working 60+ hours weeks, partying and binge drinking at the weekend had on her skin and body (pictured before and now)

Rachael Attard, from Sydney, shared side-by-side photos of her face that show the effect working 60+ hours weeks, partying and binge drinking at the weekend had on her skin and body (pictured before and now)

Instead, Rachael said she was struggling adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue is a theory that suggests high levels of stress can trigger a mild form of adrenal insufficiency.

It’s a condition in which the body and adrenal glands can’t keep up with the tremendous amount of daily stress many people experience. 

‘At my worst in 2017/2018 I couldn’t find much information about adrenal fatigue or any professionals to help me,’ Rachael said.

‘I researched everything like crazy and sought to heal myself with little help from medical professionals.’ 

Rachael (pictured) revealed she was struggling with adrenal fatigue, and was severely stressed out when she sought to change her health

Rachael (pictured) revealed she was struggling with adrenal fatigue, and was severely stressed out when she sought to change her health 

The shocking impact of stress revealed 

The effects of stress include water retention, weight gain and poor gut health (Rachael pictured now)

The effects of stress include water retention, weight gain and poor gut health (Rachael pictured now)

1. WEIGHT GAIN: The first thing Rachael noticed with her adrenal fatigue was weight gain. ‘For your body to lose weight or just maintain a healthy weight, your hormones need to be optimal,’ she said. ‘In times of stress, your body produces high amounts of cortisol, which causes your body to store fat.’

2. WATER RETENTION: Closely linked to weight gain is water retention. ‘When stressed, your body loses electrolytes,’ Rachael said. ‘An imbalance of these causes water retention.’ When combined with high levels of inflammation, she said you are likely to be ‘extremely puffy’. 

3. HYPOTHYROIDISM: Rachael explained that the stress hormones (especially cortisol) are produced by your adrenal glands, and your body needs adrenal hormones for survival. Because it can survive without your other hormones, it will prioritise cortisol. As a result, all your other hormones will suffer, including thyroid, sex hormones, insulin and leptin. All of this leads to weight gain.

4. GUT HEALTH: Finally, stress impacts your gut microbiome, and poor gut health has a huge impact on your adrenals. Taking charge of your gut health will help with overall stress hugely.

Source: Rachael Attard 

Rachael explained her own adrenal fatigue was caused mostly by lack of sleep, poor gut health, always feeling like she was ‘on and having zero chill’, travel, excessive workouts and feeling stressed.

‘When most of us think of stress, we think of mental stress from work,’ Rachael said.

‘But this is just one type of stress and there are many things that are stressful to your body.’ 

Rachael said at her worst with adrenal fatigue she was ‘always jetlagged, developed major sleep anxiety and was so tired I had to drag myself out of bed every morning’.

‘One morning in September 2017 I couldn’t get out of bed,’ she said.

‘For the next six months I slept for 15 hours every night without waking once and I still couldn’t get out of bed. All I did was sleep.’ 

Rachael (pictured) took charge of her health by switching out her high impact workouts for lower impact forms of exercise like yoga and Pilates

Rachael (pictured) took charge of her health by switching out her high impact workouts for lower impact forms of exercise like yoga and Pilates

It was at this stage that the personal trainer knew she had to do something about her worsening health. 

‘My face and body were so puffy and bloated from inflammation and water retention,’ Rachael said.

‘I had dark circles and bags under my eyes. People said I always looked tired.’ 

Adrenal fatigue: The facts 

* Adrenal fatigue isn’t an accepted medical diagnosis. 

* It is a lay term applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems.

* Your adrenal glands produce a variety of hormones that are essential to life. The medical term ‘adrenal insufficiency’ refers to inadequate production of one or more of these hormones as a result of an underlying disease or surgery. 

* Signs and symptoms of adrenal insufficiency may include: 

* Fatigue 

* Body aches 

* Unexplained weight loss 

* Low blood pressure 

* Lightheadedness 

* Loss of body hair 

* Skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation) 

* Adrenal insufficiency can be diagnosed by blood tests and special stimulation tests that show inadequate levels of adrenal hormones.

Source: Mayo Clinic 

'I focused on prioritising protein and fats and made sure I ate first thing in the morning,' Rachael (pictured) said

'I focused on prioritising protein and fats and made sure I ate first thing in the morning,' Rachael (pictured) said

‘I focused on prioritising protein and fats and made sure I ate first thing in the morning,’ Rachael (pictured) said

The steps Rachael took with her health were simple but soon had a huge impact.

‘I slept as much as I could to allow myself to heal,’ she said. 

She also switched out her high impact workouts for lower impact options like yoga and Pilates, replacing the alcohol with the healthiest meal options she could manage.

‘I focused on prioritising protein and fats and made sure I ate first thing in the morning,’ Rachael said.

‘I also took supplements and minerals to help correct my deficiencies.’

Finally, the PT said she built time in her day to relax and ‘do things that make me happy’.

She ‘developed a good sleep routine’ and stopped drinking alcohol.

‘Now, I listen to my body and when I’m not feeling my best, I let it rest,’ Rachael said.

‘There was no doctor who told me what to do. The work came down to me.’ 

When it comes to others who struggle with adrenal fatigue, the personal trainer advises them to reach out and seek help if they are struggling.

‘It’s a tough journey to go alone, so I advise people get help,’ she said.

For more information about Rachael Attard, please click here



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