Lets face it fat loss is not easy. Our society these days on the whole is lazy compared to 100-200 years ago, most of us live life at 100mph, some burn the candle at both ends and to make it even worse most of us under eat and/or pick the easy processed food option.
Constantly living like this means that the only thing to suffer is our health. If we are not healthy we can forget about fat loss. Its a case of us surviving throughout the day instead of surviving, we are rolling out of bed instead of jumping out of bed, we are nodding off at our desks mid-afternoon instead of sealing vital business deals for your company.
We haven’t got an internal environment set up to sear fat or to build muscle and I hate to say it but you slogging your guts in the gym might be in vain or even worse detrimental to you, your health and fat loss efforts.
This is all because you may have Adrenal Fatigue at some level!
Now before I go explaining what the adrenals are, what adrenal fatigue is and what the signs and symptoms are don’t go jumping to conclusions thinking you have chronic adrenal fatigue. This blog is to make you aware of the syndrome and also making sure you don’t fall in to the trap that I did when starting my own business.
About 18 months ago I remember reading through a book that I had been recommended to by a fellow professional called ‘Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome’.
I remember reading it and looking through the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue and there were about 6 out of the 25 symptoms on the page that I couldn’t associate with, all the others I was at that time possessing in some shape or form!
It was around the time when I first started running my own gym working 7 days a week, 14-16 hour days, staying within the confines of a gym day-in, day-out, sleeping terribly, eating poorly, not finding time for myself or people that were important to me, relying on stimulants such as coffee to keep me going throughout the day, the smaller tasks were seeming like mountains, I had no motivation to train and I was starting to get fat.
What made it even worse was that I was prescribing all nutritional and exercise protocols to my clients who I was trying to prevent creating these type of symptoms that I possessed at the time!
It was a wake-up call to me and I had to make changes on all fronts, business, lifestyle and family. If I was to continue like I was i don’t know where I would of ended up.
I wasn’t THRIVING I was merely surviving
It was time to change.
What is adrenal fatigue and where are your adrenals situated?
Adrenal fatigue covers a broad spectrum from you struggling to get out of bed in the morning to lacking motivation in something you used to be so passionate about. It is a condition that is usually not serious enough to feature on a TV programme or be considered medically as serious however if untreated or not addressed hormonally it can wreak havoc with your life.
With each incremental reduction in adrenal function, the chances of you burning fat as a fuel also reduce.
Your body will do its best to compensate for the underperforming adrenals but it does so at a price.
People with forms of adrenal fatigue may look relatively normal with no obvious sign of illnesss, yet behind the curtain they feel unwell, use stimulants like coffee to get through the day, have joint pain , frequent inflammation, abnormal blood sugar levels, increased anxiety, depression, fears, confusion, and decreased concentration, memory recall, tolerance and become easily frustrated. Also when the adrenals are not secreting proper amounts of hormones, insomnia is a likely outcome.
On the outside to friends and family you might appear to be lazy, unmotivated and to have lost your ambition which you once had when in reality the opposite is true. You have to drive yourself much harder than the average person with healthy adrenal glands just in order to accomplish everyday tasks.
The purpose of your adrenals is to help your body cope with stresses and survive. Your resiliency, energy, endurance and your life as a whole depend on the functioning properly.
They are known as the ‘napoleon gland’ just as napoleon was a small man with great power, these walnut sized glands situated on top of your kidneys command powerful hormones to extend their influence throughout the body which then translates in to your life. They affect every tissue, organ and gland in your body as well as affecting the way you think and feel.
It is estimated that up to 80% of the adult population in western countries suffer on some level with adrenal fatigue!!!!
Adrenal fatigue in all its forms is usually caused by some sort of stress. This can be physical, emotional, psychological, environmental, infectious or a combination of all these. You need to know that your adrenals respond to all different kind of stresses the same wherever it comes from
These stresses at their most severe can be such things as:
- Death of a loved one
- Major surgery
- car accident
And less known stresses such as:
- an abscessed tooth
- a period with the flu
- intense exercise
- an unhappy relationship
- an intense argument
- pressure at work
- environmental toxins
- poor diet
Factors affecting the adrenals
It is imperative that you understand that if these smaller stresses occur simultaneously, they can accumulate and can possibly become chronic. This therefore means that the adrenals have no opportunity to fully recover therefore meaning that adrenal fatigue is more than likely to be present.
In short adrenal fatigue occurs when the amount of stress overextends the capacity of the body (mediated by the adrenals) to compensate and recover from that stress or combined stresses. once this capacity to cope and recover is exceeded, some form of adrenal fatigue occurs.
How is adrenal fatigue hampering your fat loss efforts?
The hormones secreted by the adrenals influence so many physiological processes in your body. They are a massive player in affecting the utilisation of carbohydrates and fats, the conversion of protein and fats in to energy and also the distribution on stored fat (especially stubborn areas).
Who suffers from adrenal fatigue?
- Drives themselves constantly,
- Is never satisfied and is a perfectionist,
- Is under constant pressure,
- Feels trapped or helpless,
- Feels overwhelmed by repeated or continuous difficulties,
- Has experienced severe or chronic emotional or physical trauma or illness.
- Lacks enjoyable to rejuvenating activities
- makes poor food choices
- has a consistently poor sleep night after night
- uses food and drinks as stimulants when tired
No one is immune to adrenal fatigue. From a top poiltician to a university student or the mother with more than one child and very little support to the factory worker with varying shift patterns. All these lifestyles in some way promote adrenal dysfunction which can lead to:
- loss of productiveness
- loss of creativity
- poor business decisions
- poor health
- poor quality of life
Look at your Job and lifestyle
There is no doubt about it some professions are harder not he adrenal glands than other. Shift work such as being a nurse in the NHS can be very hard on the adrenals. The long hours, the varying shift patterns, seeing trauma and being exposed to emotional situations are a lot of things for the adrenals to deal with.
Being a nurse is just one example but have a look at the questions below and answer them honestly.
Do you finish work at work or do you take it home with you?
Have you got time to switch off throughout the day and at weekends?
Does the stress with family life continue when you get home?
Do you have an interest/hobbie which is just for you?
Is 24 hours not enough time in the day?
Is you diet poor throughout the week?
Do you drink alcohol most nights of the week?
Do you rely on stimulants to get you through the day? (coffee etc)
Do you struggle to get to sleep and once asleep get in to a deep sleep?
These by no means are the definitive questions which would confirm whether you have some form of adrenal dysfunction but hopefully it may ring a few alarm bells and will mean you start to address your work/life balance if you haven’t already.
As some one who went through some level of adrenal fatigue make sure:
- You put time aside for yourself
- You put time aside for what you love (family, hobbies sport)
- find a place at work which is quiet and tranquil where you can gather your thoughts for 10-15 minutes (park bench, quiet room)
- Off all the 100’s of thoughts going through your head deal with 1 at a time. Also make sure you write them all down on paper so you are seen to be emptying your head
- Find a well qualified personal trainer who can help you tidy up your nutrition and give you an exercise programme which isn’t too much of a stress on the body but is enough to create a training stimulus and make sure you
- enjoy life!
This blog was written to help make you are aware of this condition which isn’t talked about enough yet it is so rife in our society. You will go to doctors with these sort of symptoms listed and they will prescribe you with medication which 9 times out of 10 is detrimental on your health and doesn’t address the root cause of the problem that you are facing.
Like I said earlier don’t go jumping to conclusions and think that you now have a severe form of adrenal fatigue because you have 9 out of the 12 symptoms listed!
Just take note that how you work and live your life affects your day to day running, productivity, happiness, creativity and I would hate you to fall in to the traps I did 18 months ago.
Its very rare that someone comes to me and I have to reduce their calorie intake. In fact the opposite is true. Most of the time I have to gradually increase what they eat on a daily basis.
Not giving your body the fuel it requires on a daily basis can have huge health consequences for the short and long term and generally starts a domino effect of problems which take time to reverse and change for the better.
I prime example would be what happens when you try a FAD diet.
1. first of all you are calorie restricted which means you lose shit loads of weight in the first fews weeks
2. Secondly you start to plateau. This is mainly because the body has now readjusted its BMR (number of calories your require to survive) in order to meet with its new calorie intake and therefore has learnt to be more efficient and store energy for when it needs it. (By the way being more efficient in relation to this point isn’t a good thing).
3. After 8-10 weeks or so you stop the FAD diet and go back to eating how you used to. The likely hood is that you are now eating more calories than when you were on your FAD diet and because your Basal metabolic rate has lowered to a much lower calorie intake all additional calories you are now taking are surplus to requirement and store as fat and get this you actually become heavier than when you first started the FAD diet!!!!
After a few weeks or months you look to start the next FAD diet and the process starts again. All in all you become an internal mess and you are just making results harder to come by.
This type of person who Yo Yo’s from diet to diet are then ironically after the quickest results which just won’t happen because you need to make yourself healthier before changes start to occur.
When anyone comes to see me and they call something a diet I get worried. Calling something a diet has a definitive beginning and at some point a definitive end. There should be no end. It should be a way of life.
If you are eating plenty to start with then you should find results easier to come by than someone who hasn’t been eating enough for the last 1-20 years of their life.
If you have been eating on a very low calorie diet for the past X number of years be realistic and don’t expect results to happen straight away. Start by gradually increasing what you eat week by week. This should in time make you so much healthier and then you just may be in a position to see some great body composition changes.