Tag Archives: health

A Day In The Life Of

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Today I thought I give you a little insight into what life is like when preparing for a bodybuilding competition. I knew a few bodybuilders before I decided to do this and knew it would be hard. But oh boy was I not prepared for what I had coming. It is one thing to hear about someone’s struggles and imagining how they feel vs actually feeling it, believe you me.

So here it goes:

6 am I get up for my first session of cardio. Some of my friends have to get up at 3 or 4 am, so I consider myself lucky!

8:30am I will have meal number 1 – oats and lots and lots of egg whites, which I turn into pancakes. As it turns out, I can turn pretty much anything into pancakes. They are bland, but they look like pancakes, so I imagine they taste good.

10:30am time for meal number 2. Food? Again? Well, when you have 6 meals to get through in a day, you have to eat every 2-3 hours. This is quite time consuming. Although eating the exact same things at the same times every day means I can prepare a lot of it over the weekend and save lots of time during the week. And let’s be honest here for a moment: I never struggle to eat… ;-D

1pm – lunch (ah yesss, I was close to starvation)

2pm – gym for a proper weight session. We are talking bench presses, deadlifts, weighted squats and basically just lifting some heavy stuff. I grunt, I swear, I sweat. It is not pretty… But this part is the one I enjoy the most. Every workout counts and I push myself as hard as I can. Leaving the gym after a really good leg workout and barely being able to walk is one of the most satisfying feelings to have. I can’t deny that I feel a sense of disappointment when I wake up the next morning and am not sore ;-D

3pm – meal 4 straight after the gym to replenish my body. Ooh, that one always feels good!

5pm – meal 5. More food. Glorious food.

7pm – my second cardio session for the day. I get to walk through the local parks for an hour with a heavy bag full of water bottles strapped to my back.

9pm – meal 6, my final bit of food before heading to bed.

10pm – lights out! Sleep is such an important part of life. It is necessary for good health, something that I have chosen to ignore in the past. Sleep is also necessary for muscular development and so now I am making it a priority. I work too hard on my physique to jeopardise it with a lack of sleep. Besides, sleep tastes so, so good (I tend to dream of food… haha)

The cardio sessions are designed for maximum fat burn and so I wear multiple layers (3 pairs of long trousers, a thermal shirt, hoodie with the hood up and fleece on top plus a jacket for the session in the park). The layers ensure that I sweat. A lot. We are talking waterfalls running down my back and sweat dripping into my eyes and off my chin. This is one aspect I don’t love about the process, if I am very honest.

So there you go – a day in the life of… me! Living the rock’n’roll lifestyle 😉

I may be missing out on a social life right now, but it will all be so worth it when I step on that stage for Rosa UK.

If you are feeling generous after reading this, you can sponsor me here.

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Why from Bedridden to Bodybuilding?

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Welcome to summer. A week into the warm weather and everyone seems to be complaining it’s too hot. You’ve gotta love London 😉

For me, the hot weather is fantastic. The aim of my cardio workouts is to sweat as much as possible and so I wrap up in several layers, starting with thermal underwear and ending with a hoodie and extra warm fleece. In this weather I am just dripping with sweat. And yes, that’s a good thing – burning more fat to get me ready for the stage in just over 8 weeks.

Last week I gave you a broad overview of my journey ahead. Today I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about who I am and how it came to this. For that, I will have to take you a little bit back in time:
It was in 2010 that I found my energy levels dwindling. Initially it was cause to annoyance rather than concern and I did what I always do – push through. Hard.
In 2013, at the tender age of 31, I suffered a complete burnout and was bedridden for a year. Not much use while unable to get out of bed, I lost my job, ending my corporate career. What got me there was a culmination of life changing episodes including severe stresses at work, working hours in excess of 80 hours per week on an ongoing basis, multiple trauma, physical attacks (all of which were sexually motivated), divorce, rape, burglary, sexual harassment and bullying, cancer in the family.  I could go on, but I will leave it there.
In 2012 I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after experiencing cluster migraines and I was signed off work, 2 weeks at a time, for the whole year. I suffered severe pain all over my body and was chronically exhausted. Every morning I woke up feeling like I had not slept in days, even after sleeping for 16 hours straight. I’d then have to decide whether I would brush my teeth or my hair. I did not have the strength to do both. Simple day to day tasks had become insurmountable.

Previously I had felt unbreakable. Super-human. Slowing down was for other people.
And now here I was. Broken.  

As I mentioned in my last email though, I was not willing to accept living like this for any length of time. For me, this was not living at all. So I started to do research. Initially I could not read for more than 5 minutes at a time, it was too exhausting and the letters on the pages turned into indecipherable dark blobs. I had to learn the hardest of all lessons and the one that would help me the most: accepting where I was right now. That meant accepting that, right now, I could only do as much as I could do. Accepting that rest was ok. Not only that, but it was helpful. Constructive. Productive! I had to learn to stop pushing myself harder and harder, something I’d been very good at. In its place I had to learn to slow down and be kind to myself. Something I had never previously done. And I had to learn to forgive myself. For everything that had happened to me.

I slowly improved and was able to start swimming and later yoga in 2014. Roll on 2016: I am now running my own businesses to empower women and to advise other people who are experiencing signs of burnout. I am in the final weeks of preparation for my first ever bodybuilding competition. I will enter the bikini category which sports a lean but not overly muscular look yet still requires a lot of training and discipline. But more about that at a later stage.

I hope that my journey will inspire someone out there to not give up in the face of adversity. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long that tunnel may be.


He replied, “I’m going through hell!” Said his friend: “Well, keep on going. That is no place to stop!”  ~ John Randall Dunn


Thank you so much for reading, your encouraging emails and support. It means the world to me!

Lots of love
Sarah

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.

Your Body Hears Everything Your Mind Says – The Power of Positive Thinking

Thank you The-Optimism-Revolution for the image

Finding out about Adrenal Fatigue has been a revelation for me. Just knowing what the hell is wrong with me has given me the opportunity to improve. Just from knowing. It has put me back in charge! Because knowing has allowed me to take a long, hard look at myself and look at what I can do better to get better. And as I mentioned yesterday, changing the way I think was the most important part for me. 

For example, before I knew about adrenal fatigue I would beat myself up when I slept until 9am. Because I thought I am such a lazy cow, sleeping through half the day and if only I wasn’t so fucking lazy and would get my arse out of bed at a normal time, I would actually get stuff done. And then I felt so tired!!! Can you imagine waking up with that mind chatter? It makes me tired just thinking about it. Huh, it just dawned on me where that saying has come from…

When I understood how important sleep is for Adrenal Fatigue and that there is some adrenal magic happening especially in the morning hours of 7-9, my thinking was now very different. If I sleep until 9 am, I have an internal celebration going on – Woohoo, well done! Only just woke up and already done some important healing work for my adrenals. Oh yeah, I rock! And I get up feeling a lot better about myself and as a result of it, feeling a lot more energetic as well.

I gave you some examples of where I have already changed my thinking or reframed the self-talk to become more positive. Negative thoughts are poison. Because as the title says: Your body hears everything your mind says. So what? Well, if you have negative thoughts, they are stressful. And if you think stressful thoughts, your body goes into a stress response. And that has a whole host of negative effects on you. Especially if you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. As you just keep feeding the monster that is causing the problem to begin with.

“Only Perfect Is Good Enough” Vs. “Perfectly Good Enough”

I recently came across a wonderful article on the Huffington Post on perfectionism. I found it interesting because, well, I suppose I have to admit that I am a bit of a perfectionist myself. Everyone always used to tell me that I am, but I have spent many years denying it. Because in my head, perfectionists are the ones that do things perfectly. Whereas I never quite got there. Try as hard as I may, I always fell somewhat short of getting it just right. But of course that is exactly it with perfectionists. No matter how well you are doing, you never give yourself any credit because instead of seeing what went well, all you can seem to see is where it could have been that little bit better.

Another good example is my approach to exercise. How much exercise is too much very much depends on your fitness level. Going for a half an hour run can be barely achievable for some, especially if they have never run before. For me it used to be nothing. A half hour run is what I did when I had no time for a real workout. But of course now I cannot do that any more. And running for only 15 minutes seemed like failure to me. But the more I felt like failing at my workouts, the more fatigued I had felt. Because my body was listening! And as I said in my previous post Working Hard For Your Health – Not A Good Idea: Overdoing it will result in you doing nothing. And doing something is a hell of a lot better than doing nothing!

If you are interested, I would recommend reading the Huffington Post article on perfectionism, which you can find here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/06/why-perfectionism-is-ruin_n_4212069.html?&ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000070

Say A Great Big “Fuck It” To Perfectionism

I did mention that I like to swear. But actually, in this case, I am merely using a quote. One of the best things I have read in a long time was “F**ck It” by John C. Parkin. The idea behind the book is that if we stop attaching meaning to things, life gets so much easier. In the words of Hamlet:

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

I have been wanting to start a blog for weeks before I actually did it. I was so worried about getting it right, about finding the right subject to write about and what if I was not writing well? But then I thought What is the worst thing that could happen? That nobody reads the blog? Maybe. And then I read another blogger saying If you enjoy writing it, your blog is already a success. So I decided FUCK IT! I am just going to do it. And now I am and the world has not come to an end. In fact, I do enjoy writing my blog.

Can you imagine if you said Fuck It to all the things that are holding you back? If you felt the fear and did it anyway? You would be UNSTOPPABLE!!! Imagine if you said Fuck It to everything that is bothering you. How much more mindspace would you have if you did not have to worry about it any more? Your husband leaves his socks in the sink all the time? Every time you get annoyed about it, you go through a stress response. The cost of that is paid only by you. Imagine if you could just say fuck it and get on with life. So what there are socks in the sink? In the great scheme of things, what does it really matter? I mean REALLY? Bigger picture, people.

Look at me talking… Truth is, I read the book about a year ago and I am obviously still not quite there. It is a work in progress. But isn’t everything? And every improvement is a success. Instead of trying to make today PERFECT, why not try to just make today better than yesterday. And if you do that every day, you get a little further every time.

If you want to read more about saying Fuck It and learn how to do it and where to apply it, read the book or have a look at John’s Fuck It website http://www.thefuckitlife.com/

 

I like that little story of the old Cherokee and the two wolves. The good thing is that if you keep feeding the good wolf, not only will you starve out the bad one, but as the good one gets bigger and stronger, it will fight the bad one for you and before you know it the good one will be there to respond before the bad one gets there. And in the meantime it can harm to just tell the bad wolf to go fuck himself!

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.

 

A Bad Day Allows Time to Consciously Appreciate The Good Ones

Yesterday I missed publishing my blogpost. I already had an idea of what I wanted to write about. In fact, when I write a post, I usually have the idea for the next 3 or 4 which I briefly outline to myself in a few bullet points. That allows me to keep some kind of flow going between posts. At least that is what I aim to achieve.

So yesterday’s blogpost was outlined. I already had the idea. I just needed to write it. But yesterday was a bad day . I only managed to drag myself out of bed around 11am and spent the rest of the day on the sofa or eating on the sofa. Adrenal rest days are characterized by cravings, insatiable hunger and lots and lots of eating all day long.

Where did the day go? What did I do all day? Apart from eating… Well, mainly I spent the day staring into space. I was back to being so desperately tired, I could not even be bothered to sit up straight and type a post for my blog. It just seemed too much to ask of me or anyone who feels that way. And I did have a little “here we go again” thought creep into my mind. But I took a long hard look at that “thought gremlin”. Do you know “thought gremlins”? Those little lying fuckers that tell you all the shit you don’t need to hear, like you are useless, you cannot achieve something or you are not good enough.

Since I was not going to do anything but sit on my arse all day, I decided to reflect on the last couple of weeks since I found out about Adrenal Fatigue and the improvements I have made since then to help my adrenals back to good health. And immediately I did not feel bad about being so “lazy” any more. Because for one, I was being quite productive by thinking about all the good stuff that has been happening. And I realised that things have improved so dramatically over the last two weeks. I now had one day of lying around incapable of doing anything, yes, but after I had spent two full days over the weekend helping to facilitate training sessions and having spent a full day working on various things on Friday. Three full days in a row. How amazing is that? I have not managed to do that for about a year!!!

I would not even call yesterday a set back. Just a logical conclusion – a day of necessary recharge. My adrenals are getting noticeably better. And going from having a productive hour 2-3 times a week to 3 full days of doing things, being active and productive and after having hit the gym 3 times as well last week, I think that is quite an achievement.

Yes, yesterday was not a good day. I was tired. I could not think. I just wanted to sleep all day. But I am no longer hopeless. No longer accepting that this may just be how it is now, this is what life has become. Having those thoughts bashes your adrenals even more and feelings of being helpless and hopeless.

So my top tip to anyone who suffers from Adrenal Fatigue is: Be conscious of the good times and know that those can become permanent again. But not over night. So cherish them when they come along and be conscious and grateful for them when the bad times come knocking again. Cut yourself some slack. You won’t go back from 0-100 in a day. But while acceleration may be slow, it is also steady. When I started two weeks ago, I got a productive morning followed by a day in bed. But wow, I had a whole morning of feeling awake. Then last week, two weeks into the changes I have made, I had 3 whole days.

Yesterday’s bad day was not a reason to be distraught. It was a reason to celebrate. I had 3 full days. And I am feeling really good today. So after 3 days I needed 1 day rest. So what? Soon I will get 4 days and 1 day rest. Eventually I will only need half a day rest. And over time I will be able to do more and more without feeling exhausted while my body will be able to recover in shorter periods of time.

One thing is for sure, I will now always make time and space in my schedule to rest and recharge, even though one day I won’t feel the need for it any more.

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.

The Leverage of Knowledge

Knowledge

 

I was talking about knowing your starting point to determine your route to your destination yesterday. Earlier last week, I discovered my own starting point.

Remember when I suggested that you do not stop looking for the answer just because a medical professional ran a test and did not find anything? You know your body best. You know best how you feel. If the test did not reveal what the problem is, it does not mean that there isn’t a problem. It just means that your GP ran the wrong bloody test.

When my blood tests came back and were all ok, I did have a long hard think about what on earth is going on. I even considered that maybe I was making it all up. So I tried to pretend as if I was not feeling tired. But that didn’t work. And it almost went pretty wrong when on a day out I felt very unwell, became dizzy and couldn’t even see properly any more. That freaked me somewhat out, which you may understand, and so I decided to start looking for answers myself.

I had been working with Jayne Morris, a Burnout Expert, just a couple of months prior, as I had been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after my work abroad and despite receiving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at London’s foremost Anxiety Clinic, I had not been able to quite let go of what had happened. Working with her was a tremendous experience and it helped me greatly. I barely worked since January this year and was signed off by my GP for most of this year. Finally, in September, after a long, drawn out process, I decided to move on from my employment as an IT consultant.

I fully expected that with this chapter of my life being over I would now be unstoppable in the pursuit of a new life. Except it did not quite work out that way. While Jayne had helped me to greatly reduce my anxieties and opened my eyes to new ways of thinking that are invaluable to start a new life, I was still awfully tired all the time. And I don’t mean the “I’d fancy a wee nap” kind of tired. I mean desperately tired. The kind where you sit on the sofa staring into nothing contemplating if anyone would notice if I wet myself because I didn’t want to get up to go to the bathroom. I NEVER actually did wet myself. Having that thought on a recurring basis is on it’s own alarming.

So I spent most of my day either asleep or on the couch in a somewhat vegetative state. I used to cycle to the stables, clean out the horse boxes, ride for a couple of hours, then go for a 10 mile run only to still be able to tear up the dancefloor in a salsa joint later that same night. Now I needed a nap after just having had a shower because it took so much out of me. All I did was eat and sleep. Needless to say, my food choices were not ideal for the most part and certainly nowhere near my usual standards. I was just too tired.

I spoke to Jayne about this in a follow up and being a Burnout Expert, she threw a few leads at me which gave me something to work with. Looking into different things, I came across a great book “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome™” by Dr. James L. Wilson. It has been a REVELATION. It all added up. The symptoms, my stress history, everything. You have to understand, stress has an accumulative effect on the body. Especially during times of prolonged stress the adrenals take quite a bashing and if there is no recovery time in between, well, it only gets worse. Having suffered post traumatic stress disorder, working 60-80 hours a week, going through a long drawn out grievance process with my employer which resulted in me leaving eventually, all of that had been eating my adrenals, chewing them up, spitting them out and dancing a particularly stompy version of Flamenco on them. In short, I had shot my adrenals to bits.

You might ask “Why self-diagnose?” A good friend asked me this unhelpful and discouraging question when I told her about what I was going through. But here is the thing: I do not need a doctor to tell me how I feel. I know that how I am feeling right now is not normal – FOR ME. I cannot speak for anyone else. Maybe some people are comfortable in a borderline comatose state on a permanent basis. I wasn’t and I knew that my body could do better. I knew that something was wrong. And as I have followed the advice given in Dr Wilson’s book for almost 2 weeks now and am seeing significant improvements, I don’t really care if anyone thinks that only a doctor can make a diagnosis. I used common sense, read, researched, tried it out and made an executive decision – I have finally found my starting point. And I AM ROCKING IT!

If you would like to know more about Jayne Morris and the work she does, check out her website on http://www.jaynemorris.com/

For more information on the medical site of Adrenal Fatigue and to take a test if you may be suffering, visit Dr James L Wilson’s website http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/

Working Hard For Your Health – Not A Good Idea

So yesterday I mentioned that you have to accept your current state. But actually, before you can accept anything, you need to KNOW what is going on with yourself. The natural state is to be fit, lean, energetic and clear-minded. And while I am not there, I have been working really hard to get it back. Hard work is what I am used to, it is what gets the results, right? And if I am not working hard, if I do not feel exhausted and almost constantly overwhelmed, then I am just not working hard enough. That is the only way to achieve anything, right?  Well, not always.

In fact, in my case it is the very reason why, after 4 years, I am not back to feeling so gloriously uber healthy. By constantly pushing myself beyond my new, much lower, limits I only contributed to not recovering and continuing to feeling tired.

Yesterday I mentioned that feeling tired or being ill was not natural. So being awake, fit and healthy is natural. And if it is natural, then shouldn’t it be easy? HELL YES!!! The natural state is the easiest of all. This is why we call it dis-EASE when we are ill. We are not at ease. Stress causes and contributes to pretty much all illnesses in some way or another these days. If you work hard to be healthy, you are just contributing to dis-ease!

And so what I have learned over the last 4 years of continuously failing at regaining my health, it is because I was trying to force it, rather than easing back into it. If you want to learn a language, you will start with learning your first few words, then the first easy sentences,  a bit of grammar and some more words. You continue doing that and you will be fluent before you know it. But start yourself off in a debate club of your chosen language and you will feel pretty frustrated straight away and possibly give up. The trick is to do a little bit at a time. Take it step by step. Introduce one new thing, like a new vocabulary, and keep rehearsing it. When it becomes second nature, you can introduce more and more. But do it all at once and you have single-handedly put yourself into a position where it is almost impossible to succeed.

As I mentioned yesterday, I used to work out a minimum of 2 hours a day. Now I go to the gym for 15 minutes at a time. Failure? I don’t think so. I tried to push myself and ended up not going at all any more, because I felt so ill afterwards for several days. So I would say 15 minutes is a hell of an improvement. It is not a competition. It is your life. Do what you can and you will naturally be able to increase it over time.