The other energy crisis

Women can recharge with their own renewable resources

Trainer Stacy Johnson works with Meta Greenan, who calls these sessions “life changing.”

Trainer Stacy Johnson works with Meta Greenan, who calls these sessions “life changing.”


Despite the advent of the telecommute, the flex schedule and high tech gadgets, many women are working harder to meet demands at work and home. As a result, some in the local health field have witnessed an increasing number of women living in a haze of perpetual exhaustion.

“I have personally experienced and noticed a large increase in clients with day-to-day fatigue issues—especially in the last 10 years,” says certified personal trainer Stacy Johnson.

Likewise, psychotherapist Patty Noyes has observed a rise in exhaustion among her clientele with the decline of the economy. When faced with financial uncertainty, people tend to consume more carbohydrates, exercise less or simply oversleep, all of which contribute to fatigue. Noyes also notes that Seasonal Affective Disorder was pervasive last winter, as the cumulative effect of life in hibernation mode also triggers weariness.

“When we’re fatigued or depressed, we don’t do the things that bring us joy,” she explains.

Dr. Joe Johnson of Sierra Nevada Wellness Center also confirms an increase in fatigue levels among his patients. He estimates that the ratio of exhaustion among his female patients is 3-to-1 compared to their male counterparts. Possible medical causes of fatigue include anemia, sleep apnea or imbalances in thyroid, B-12 or cortisol levels. Under normal conditions, cortisol levels rise in the morning and decrease during the evening. However, chronic stress reverses the cortisol levels, leaving individuals tired at breakfast and wired at bedtime.

“Women are having to fill multiple roles—stress burns them out,” says Johnson.

After a stressful day in the operating room, surgical nurse Meta Greenan languished on the couch or retreated to her computer. As she grew older, the 56-year-old noticed her strength and energy diminish as her weight gradually increased. Greenan had no specific fitness goals in mind when she joined a gym with her husband 11 months ago. While at the gym, she observed Stacy Johnson training other women, liked her methods and decided to work with her. Greenan calls her training with Johnson “life changing.” The regular workouts helped her manage stress and, within a month, Greenan noticed she had increased stamina as well as a youthful glow to her skin.

“I am stronger now than I have ever been in my life and with more stamina,” says Greenan. “It is a wonderful feeling that everyone should get to experience.”

Her current goal is to remain in shape in order to enjoy her future retirement.

“I would rather invest in my health now with a trainer than to spend it on prescription medication to control high blood pressure or high cholesterol,” she says.

“For many women, taking the time to exercise and eat healthy can alleviate fatigue symptoms,” says Stacy Johnson.

If fatigue persists, an evaluation with an appropriate professional can determine if there is a psychological or medical root to the fatigue. Dr. Johnson notes that realignment of a patient’s thyroid, B-12 and cortisol levels has been successful with his patients.

Noyes says a key point when considering possible solutions is “What can we do that is kind to oneself?” A rejuvenation break can be as brief as a 20-minute walk or as long as an hour massage. Scheduled self-time spent journaling, in meditation or reading for pleasure are also effective methods to recharge. Noyes strongly recommends visits with loved ones, either in person or by phone. An elaborate online social network is no substitute for personal contact.

For women who struggle with fatigue, the time to act is now, says Noyes.

“We have to be proactive and not wait for spring,” says Noyes. “These are our days on the planet, and we won’t get them back.”