Tag Archives: Adrenal gland

Exercises For Adrenal Fatigue

I have been able to increase the amount of exercise that I do and as I do it, have noticed more and more beneficial effects to how I feel. This has lead me to a new theory that I need to prioritise exercise above other things. So far, I would plan my day and look at what I absolutely had to get done that day. Then, if I still had energy left, I may have spent that on a little exercise. But I now think I need to reverse those priorities. Exercise first and then see what else I still have energy for.

The few exercises I am doing have started to make me feel better. Initially they drained me, so I had to take the intensity and duration right down. Exercise should not drain you while you are nurturing your adrenal glands back to health. I mentioned how I started to swim 3 times a week for only 15 minutes at a time. That enabled me to still go about my day without “passing out on the sofa” afterwards. The good thing about reducing how much exercise you do is that it enables you to

a) make exercise a regular habit again, because you have enough energy left to do something regularly

b) make it a positive experience, because you still have a little left in you.

So far, I have used the weights in the gym, gone for a run outdoors, been swimming regularly and I recently started yoga. My verdict on all of those:

Weights At The Gym:

While I used to love bodyweight and freeweight exercises (I am not a big fan of the isolating machines in the gym), I have found that a little too intense and noticed that I am the most likely to get carried away on that one. My previous mindset of “push harder to get stronger” takes over and I shoot over my now very low limits. I will chuck in the odd session, but am very aware that this will not form my main exercise regime again any time soon. But it will again eventually.

Running Outdoors

I used to love running. It was my form of meditation before I knew about mediation. Getting out in the fresh air is fantastic. Although with Adrenal Fatigue, the colder season really is not the time to do it. When I feel like I need to clear my mind, I might go for a short run, no longer than 15 or 20 minutes. It is a high impact sport, especially if done incorrectly or you do not have the muscles in your legs to support your joints. So when it comes to running, I will not deny myself the fresh air when I really feel the urge (which has only happened once in the past month), but I will also not push this any time soon. It will form a regular part of my life again at some point though and I have just become very interested in barefoot running. Since I am pretty out of it right now, it is the best time to start this new running style before I re-enforce my previous running habits of high impact heal strikes.

Swimming

Swimming has been wonderful. And I am not even a big fan of swimming. My local gym has a nice pool and as I am not a good swimmer with no skills other than a basic breast stroke, I have found this was the easiest to start with. I had no precedence of what I am able to achieve as a swimmer, so it was easier to relax in the water, do my lengths and get out of the water after 15 minutes. I have been able to increase my time to 30 minutes now and when I am in the water, I swim continuously without break. I do find myself competing with other swimmers sometimes, but I am quickly able to focus on relaxing my mind again. I use exercise to do this, as I find it easier than sitting down for meditation. Swimming will remain a regular part of my exercise regime right now, although eventually it will be replaced by running.

Yoga

Now this has been a game changer. After my first yoga session 3 weeks ago, I have to admit I was a little exhausted. But it was not as bad as it used to be. The second time seemed to have been “energy neutral”. By that I mean that I did not have any more or less energy afterwards than I did before. And after today, for the first time in years, I feel actually energised AFTER having exercised!!! This is amazing news, which I am really excited about. In fact, I am positively ecstatic!

While I find yoga physically challenging, the focus on breathing and relaxation means that not only am I able to last the entire hour, but still have energy afterwards. After today’s yoga class I caught up on 3 weeks worth of laundry, did the grocery shopping and got a fancy dinner on as well as pre-cooking lunch for tomorrow. This may not sound like much, but it is more than I have been able to do in a day for months and that was without exercise. Just doing the shopping would be enough to send me back to bed for the rest of that day and the next.

Conclusion

If you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue, I would highly recommend that you start or continue to exercise. BUT

  • form a habit by doing it regularly (this is more important than how much you do or how long you do it for. Just do a little bit as often as possible until you can do something every day. If your fatigue is very severe, you could start by just getting dressed and walk to your local gym and back home several times a week, just to get you started.)
  • keep it light
  • keep it short
  • increase duration and intensity very slowly
  • consider things you have not done before, to avoid the “I used to be able to do this” thinking trap
  • give yoga a go.

I have really fallen in love with yoga in my very first session. With Christmas coming up and me going back home to spend it with my family, I want to ensure that I don’t get out of it and stay true to my new commitment of prioritising exercise. With the internet, I am hoping that I will be able to do 20-30 minutes every morning of yoga.

If anyone has any suggestions of a good youtube channel or similar for a newbie to yoga, please comment below. Your responses would be much appreciated.

Tomorrow morning I am booked to try out Pilates. I missed that class last week and if I go, I will let you know how it went.

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Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue

I mentioned yesterday that Monday was a rest day. Today was not active either, hence the late post. I don’t suppose you noticed what I did with my wording here? Instead of saying that Monday was a bad day, I said it was a rest day. And this is how I have decided to see it now. I have spent most of today resting also. It is dawning on me that I may have overdone it just a tad last week. I probably got a little excited when I started to feel better, you see.

For your adrenal glands to recover from Adrenal Fatigue, there are many factors to consider. Below I have outlined a few tips and my experiences with those. As you might notice, for me it is mainly in the head. I mentioned before that I used to follow a very healthy diet and I have been trying to exercise ever since I came back from abroad 4 years ago, but that did not work. So what is it then?

The Good And The Bad

It is very important to know what is good for you and what is not. And it is very useful to write those things down. Make a list of everything that is GOOD FOR YOU and everything that is BAD FOR YOU. Select the top 3 for each out of that list and come up with an action plan to ensure you get more of what is good for you and reduce exposure of the things that are bad for you. I suggest the top 3 as a starting point. Rome was not built in a day. Improve on the top 3, then move on to the next top 3.

Jayne Morris, the amazing coach I have mentioned before, refers to these “bad for you” things as the Energy Vampires, because they literally suck the energy right out of you. When creating your action plan on your top 3 Energy Vampires, consider that you have 3 choices:

1. Change The Situation

Note that it is the situation you change. You cannot EVER change another person. If it is a particular situation that costs you your energy, change it. If it is a person, you may have to reconsider the relationship you have with that person.

Changing a situation can be simple. If the ever dripping tap does your head in, just call someone to fix it. If you are always fighting with your flatmates about cleaning chores, hire a cleaner. I recently did. Not because I cannot do the cleaning, but because I don’t mind cleaning but get super upset when cleaning up after others. So it is well worth the money. Think about it this way: Rather than wasting £20 or £30 on something that you can easily do yourself, you are investing that money in a harmonic home life. That is well worth the money, I’d say. And another beautiful  re-framing example.

2. Change yourself to adapt to the situation

While you cannot change another person, you CAN change yourself. In fact, YOU are the only person you can ever change. The changes you can make are usually straight forward (in theory):

If a poor diet robs your energy – eat more healthily. While I had a pretty good diet, I had some really odd cravings that I had been giving in to more and more. Mainly for very fatty, salty and sweet foods. I ate things that I would have never previously eaten, such as a meal at a self-proclaimed Burger Royalty chain. I am not proud of it and needless to say, it did not make me feel better. So being reminded of good nutrition was very useful and I went back to a better diet to help control blood sugar levels.  I also had a little reminder of that food allergies and intolerances can do to your body and those become more prevalent during times of fatigue or stress. For example, I am usually ok to eat wheat and gluten. I am German after all, I come from the country of bread! But whenever I am ill or very stressed, my body does not seem to handle wheat very well and I serve myself best by swapping normal bread for rye and pasta for brown rice during those times. That, of course, applies right now.

One thing that I found the most impactful was to drink salted water. I know it does not sound very nice, but tired adrenals love sodium and so every morning I drink about half a litre of salted water before even getting out of bed. When I feel a dip during the day, I have another glass and usually feel a little lift shortly after.

Another thing to consider are supplements. I am taking a high quality multi, high strength Vitamin C (adrenal glands’ best friend) and an omega mix. But why? Well, when your body is going through stress, your metabolism speeds up and your body burns through nutrition at a much higher rate. That is why a nutritious diet is so very important as well.

If the way you see yourself or others causes problems – change your thinking (for example through reframing). This was a biggy for me. But I am changing my thinking every day and that helps. You have already witnessed a re-frame in this blog when I mentioned in the beginning that I have decided to refer to last Monday as a rest day rather than a bad day. And I had another one today when I mentioned to an acquaintance today that I am “nurturing my adrenals back to health” when only a month ago I would have said that I am “kicking them back into gear”.

If your hectic lifestyle is at fault – schedule more time to relax. I started off in the first week by meditating for 20 minutes every morning. Unfortunately that has fallen by the roadside again, but I truly believe that it had a big part in why my second week was so darn good. Even just belly breathing for 10 minutes will bring down your heart rate and is a good way to relax. In fact, belly breathing has so many benefits, that I have just decided to dedicate a whole post on it in the near future.

If you do meditate, using a mantra or affirmation can be very useful. I made up my own to suit my history with Post Traumatic Stress: I said “I am safe” on the in-breath and “I let go of the past” on the out-breath. The theory in my head was that I am breathing in more of feeling save and breathing out the bad memories.

Other useful changes to your lifestyle is to go to bed earlier. I really noticed a difference when I was in bed by 10:30 rather than past 11, another thing that has slipped again in recent days. Try to be asleep before 11 and sleep in as often as you can. And do not underestimate the power of rest. When you feel tired, have a little lie down or power nap. Lying down for just 15-30 minutes will be more effective than sitting for the same amount of time (unless you meditate)

Exercise is also an important part, but as described in my post Working Hard For Your Health – Not A Good Idea, keep it fun, light and DO NOT PUSH YOURSELF.

3. Leave the situation

This is something that luckily I started before knowing I suffered from Adrenal Fatigue. Over years, I had tried to improve my working life by making changes. To the jobs at hand, to the people around me. But of course you cannot change others. And feelings of helplessness are killers for your adrenal glands, so eventually I decided to leave. And I feel it was the right decision for me.

By far the most difficult to get my head around are relationships though. Relatives, friends, colleagues… What if you used to be really good friends with someone? But lately, every time you see that person you come away feeling bad? For me, there have been a few people that I have slowed the contact with. It is not that I no longer like them or am no longer their friend. It is more about accepting that the friendship has changed and instead of fighting to keep what you had, you embrace a new type of friendship. While I did cut some of my old friends out of my life (not aggressively, but rather just by stopping to pursue the friendship), I have managed to keep most of them just by re-defining that friendship. This is not easy, but possible. And bear in mind that the most important thing in your life is YOU! And when you feel good and healthy, you can contribute so much more to a healthy, mutually beneficial friendship.

Why not try out some of those tips? Which ones work best for you? Let me know in the comments. And if you have questions, I will gladly respond.

 

Why Is A National Epidemic Not Being Recognised By The Medical Profession?

Thank you to Food Matter for the image

I say national, but actually I think this statement can be expanded for the entirety of Western society.

Of course we can spend some time discussing on whether there is an epidemic of Adrenal Fatigue in the Western World or whether it is wise to make such sweeping statements. Or we just accept that this is my blog with a representation of my opinions. Great – now that we have cleared that up, let me tell you that I believe it is an epidemic. And I am sure you will want to know why, so I shall oblige:

I’d say 90% of people I have worked with during my 8 years in a consultancy firm have complained about being tired. A lot. And now I understand how I got to suffer from it myself – mainly due to ignorance,mind.

Adrenal Fatigue can be easily prevented. But to do so, you’d have to know about its existence. And that is where the problem starts. Many moons ago, after adrenal fatigue was discovered over 100 years ago, it was a big thing for the first 50 years. It was being researched and studied. Then someone figured out that medication can’t really do much about it. Rather getting better requires healthy lifestyle choices. Now there is a shocker. And let’s face it, unless there is money to be made for Old Daddy Big Pharma, nobody is interested in it.

Anyone who is vaguely interested in nutrition may have heard of people who healed their MS or cancer purely through nutrition. You may have even heard of studies proving that very high amounts of Vitamin C (over 1,200 times the RDA) cannot only stop the growth of cancer cells, but heal it completely. And we have all heard about the impact of fast food, with a certain skinny bitch of a clown and Burger royalty receiving regular media attention. Yet nothing is really being done about it. In fact, the U.S National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library, does not even index studies into the positive effects of “natural medicine”, such as curing cancer with Vitamin C (and this, dear haters, is why it is so blooming difficult to find them!).

I have to warn you before you read on – this next part will be a bit of a conspiracy theory:

There is no money to be made from dead people. No Shit Sherlock. But there is also no money to be made from really healthy people. Not in the medical sense. So what to do when the pharmaceutical industry is so immensely powerful. How can we keep them happy? And we do want to keep them happy!

Oh hang on, here is an idea: How about we keep the population just a little bit ill. Preferably chronically. Severely enough to have them running to a doctor and begging for relieve of their symptoms. But preferably without killing too many of them. And to make sure this model actually works, we just adjust the education system and make sure that a certain level of ignorance is being maintained in the masses. Such as telling everyone that Fluoride is good for their teeth, but just omitting the fact that it is also a toxic sedative. Adolf Hitler was a big fan – he used it in the concentration camps. And now it is used in our tapwater. Glorious!

Coming back to Adrenal Fatigue, www.adrenalfatigue.org (currenlty my favourite but not only source of information on this subject) states:

“Although there are no recent statistics available, Dr. John Tinterra, a medical doctor who specialized in low adrenal function, said in 1969 that he estimated that approximately 16% of the public could be classified as severe, but that if all indications of low cortisol were included, the percentage would be more like 66%. This was before the extreme stress of 21st century living, 9/11, and the severe economic recession we are experiencing.”

Having taken the Dr Wilson’s test, my own rating suggested very severe Adrenal Fatigue, in fact it was not far off Addison’s. In Addison’s disease, the adrenals have stopped working all together and sufferers need to take medication to replace the cortisol that their adrenals are no longer producing. The NHS website states that Addison’s patients need to take cortisol for the rest of their lives. Go figure. They make no recommendations to how you can enable your body to heal itself, which IT IS DESIGNED TO DO by the way. However, at least Addison’s is being diagnosed. And if the medical profession acknowledges and treats Addison’s and Cushing’s, which represent the 2% extremes of each end of a bell curve (I have popped a nice little generic bell curve picture down there so you get an idea), does anyone seriously expect me to believe that the entire 96% in between those two extremes is normal and would have no effect on how I feel? Really? So forgive me when I come to the conclusion that the existence of medication is paramount in the acceptance of a condition in medical terms.

Bell Curve
Section F = Addison’s
Section A = Cushing’s
And according to the medical profession in general, EVERYTHING in between is just dandy.

What T. F. Is Adrenal Fatigue?

When I first heard about Adrenal Fatigue, I thought WTF is that? Some new fad? Some new scam to sell us whatever supplements or rubbish? Until I started reading and it sounded as if someone had taken notes when I was complaining about how I was feeling.

Below I have summarised some of the information taken from Dr Wilson’s website http://www.adrenalfatigue.org, which you can check out for further details.

What is adrenal fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. However, it is not as easy to identify it as other illnesses because of its array of perceivingly unrelated symptoms.

As the name suggests, the paramount symptom is fatigue that does not seem to be alleviated by sleep. While you may look healthy and may not even be able to quite pinpoint what may be wrong, there may be a sense of unwellness, tiredness or “gray feelings”, similar to depression. Although I was not so lucky. I don’t just feel like shit, I look it too. Friends and family have repeatedly been pointing that out to me, as I have become increasingly paler and the rings under my eyes increasingly darker.

Adrenal fatigue has been known and researched by the medical profession for over 100 years and has been known under several names, such as non-Addison’s hypoadrenia, sub-clinical hypoadrenia, neurasthenia, adrenal neurasthenia, adrenal apathy and adrenal fatigue.

The more severely fatigued the adrenals are, the bigger the impact it has on every organ and system in your body. The changes can affect the metabolism, thereby contributing to weight gain as well. Our bodies are amazing pieces of engineering (Mother Nature must be German…!) and so they try to make up for the under-functioning adrenal glands, but hat comes at a price.

Ugh, just a quick nap. About 8 hours or so…
What causes adrenal fatigue?

The adrenals are called into action each time stress is being put on the body, whether that be negative stress from grief or work or positive stress from exercise, for example. They are responsible to regulate the body’s response through hormones to stabilize the body’s health and functioning and to enable you to respond to those.

You may have noticed that your heart starts racing or your muscles tense up when your favourite boss screams at you from across the open plan office about that report that was due on his desk 2 minutes ago while you are still typing the last paragraph. Those feelings, that’s your adrenals at work.

During adrenal fatigue your adrenal glands function, but not well enough to maintain your body’s equilibrium because their hormonal output has been weakened. In extreme cases such as Addison’s disease, the adrenals cease to work completely, usually because of over-stimulation. Over-stimulation of your adrenals can be caused either by a very intense single stress, or by chronic or repeated stresses that have a cumulative effect.

Who is susceptible to adrenal fatigue?

Anyone can experience it and there are many different levels to it. Whenever you have experienced trauma or prolonged stress, chances are you have worn your adrenals out. Interestingly, feelings of being trapped or helpless are a big drain on your adrenals. So if you tend to see yourself as a victim, you may be more susceptible. Lifestyle choices will also influence your adrenals’ performance, such as diet, substance abuse, sleep patterns, lack of rest and the way you deal with stresses in your mind (more on that bit in a future post).

How can I tell if my adrenals are fatigued?

Some common symptoms, which I experience myself:

  • Feeling tired for no reason
  • Having trouble getting up in the morning, even after a good night’s sleep
  • Feeling rundown and overwhelmed
  • Difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness (already had 3 colds earlier this year, each took ages to shift!)
  • Craving salty and sweet snacks
  • Feeling more awake towards the evenings (I barely got that. I was always tired)

When I saw this, I started thinking back to my “stress history”

  • Working long hours in a high pressure performance driven environment
  • Experienced a whole series of traumatic events while working abroad and after return, which resulted in post traumatic stress disorder
  • Taking on my employer through a grievance process and getting ready to possibly take them to court, talking to solicitors and worrying about upsetting old friends I worked with
  • Trying to force my way back into fitness and beating myself up for feeling tired

If you think you have some of those symptoms and may not have had a chance to recover from accumulated stress, you may want to take Dr Wilson’s adrenal fatigue test. Check out the questionnaire at http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/take-the-adrenal-fatigue-quiz

Continue to follow my blog to learn more about adrenal fatigue and how I am overcoming it by supporting my body to heal itself naturally.