I USED TO BE FREQUENTLY TOLD …. AGE IS JUST A NUMBER …. YOUR BEST YEARS ARE STILL AHEAD OF YOU ….. WELL I’M HERE TO TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN FORGET THAT OLD TALE!!! FROM MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE GROWING OLD AND HEADING THROUGH YOUR 40’S CAN BE PAINFUL, DEBILITATING AND DEPRESSING By my 40th Birthday I was already beginning to notice a change in my ability to recover from long tough days and exercise sessions. I also felt the need to fight harder to maintain my body and my performances against the enemy of AGING!! In this vain on my 40th Birthday I swore that every Birthday I would run the amount of miles that morning to match my growing age!! I duly ran 40 miles before breakfast that day and in the course of the next 2 years competed in several 50-100 Mile Ultra-Runs, Several IRONMAN events and competed for GB Over 40's in the World Duathlon Championships in Zoffingen - In what is considered by many as The Worlds Toughest Multi-Sport Race.
However I was denying to myself and trying to fight the fact that my physical abilities were declining and everything was becoming much more difficult....and less enjoyable. Behind the mask of apparent Super-Power Fitness there was marked increases in inflammation....Increases in joint pain...Lack of energy...Loss of sex drive...And an inability to manage my weight and Body-Fat like I used to... I lost Strength and Speed and all of my physical performances were getting worse, providing more discomfort and taking longer to recover from. This was a problem caused 50/50 between myself for not paying attention to my aging body's needs and the blameless shift in our human endocrine system as we age.
As we pass into our 40's our Physical chemistry is against us.... Its natural changes are Kryptonite to our once formidable Super-Powers as we enter middle age - and if we try and fight back with Brute Strength and Force and ignore these changes then we will lose the battle and we will be 'BEATEN DOWN'
This was the 50% that was my blame. Instead of using my years of knowledge as a High-Level Sports Performance Coach I instead strangely believed deep down that I was different. For some bizarre reason I believed that if I pushed harder, trained longer, deprived myself more of calories then I would stay Lean, Fit and Strong. I DIDN'T - I FELL APART ... AND I WAS BROKEN DOWN!
IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE COMPLEXITIES OF THE HUMAN HORMONAL SYSTEM AND THE MASSIVE AND DRAMATIC HORMONAL SHIFT THAT HAPPENS TO OUR BODIES AS WE PASS INTO OUR 40’S ……
IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO LEARN THE ABILITIES TO MANAGE THESE CHANGES THEN BECOMING OLDER CAN BE DESTRUCTIVE…..
However, if you are willing to make changes and learn the necessary adaptations that we have to make to our lives then we can rebuild our Super-Powers …You 'DO NOT' have to look and feel like a shadow of your former self. I AM NOW BACK ... And later I will tell you how but firstly lets look at the reasons behind the decline and more than possibly why you are feeling like you do, and then we will take a closer look at our 5 main Arch-Enemies - The 5 Most Powerful Enemies responsible for our potential destruction of Super-Powers that we cannot hide from -
WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ME? WHY AM I FEELING LIKE THIS??
The biggest physiological change that happens to our body after the age of 40 is Hormonal. The main hormones responsible for our Growth, Development, Strength and Vitality when we were younger ie. Growth Hormone and Testosterone naturally decline.
This therefore produces the resulting effect of aging being Muscle Loss, Loss of Bone Density, Tendons and Muscle Fascia becoming Stiffer, A Natural Gaining of Body-Fat and a Decline of Functional Capacity and Movement …. TO NAME JUST A HANDFUL!!!
BUT WHY AM I SUFFERING SO BADLY? I HAVE FRIENDS OF A SIMILAR AGE AND THEY DON’T APPEAR TO BE STRUGGLING AS MUCH AS ME?
Firstly, your body is not the same as everybody else's body. we all have different genetic make up's. Your eyes are possibly stronger than your friends? Maybe you have a stronger muscular or skeletal system or more powerful fast twitch fibres? However quite possibly maybe you have a slightly weaker Endocrine System and your key Male Hormone production was always going to decline sooner than your friends?
However, this probably isn't the main reason. I would take a pretty strong punt and say that you are quite probably a Type 1 / Type A Personality or at least leaning to that Personality Type? Purposeful? - Self Controlled? - Maybe a bit of a Perfectionist? … Always Striving and trying to achieve a High Standard in most things you do? Very probably not a completely chilled, take it or leave it, relaxed dude?!! Well, I have to accept that definitely describes me! You have possibly pushed yourself over the years to have achieved a high level of Physical Performance? Or you may have pushed yourself to have achieved a high level of excellence at work? … or quite possibly and probably both?... and you have fuelled yourself on caffeine and energy drinks in order to keep you charging at 100 miles an hour and to be productive?
You are also very likely to also be a conscientious type and striving at home to always do the right thing? These honourable traits however cause stress... Internal stresses...stresses that cause the adrenal glands to constantly produce Cortisol and our central nervous system to constantly be put into an Emergency Mode of 'FIGHT OR FLIGHT SYNDROME' - Releasing adrenaline and raising blood sugar levels ready for the fight ahead. Years of this lifestyle over-stresses the adrenal gland and additional organs in the body which causes them to literally 'Burn-Out' which in turn will play complete havoc on your whole hormonal system. Combine this with the natural decline from the aging effect and this is a strong reason why you are where you are now but your friend might seem fine.
YOU MAY BE THINKING THAT ISN’T MY PERSONALITY.
Ok maybe not, maybe you have suffered major stress Via an accident? A major illness? Divorce? unemployment? or possibly death of a loved one? All of these stressors will once again overwork your adrenal axis if it is over a prolonged period. You may quite possibly also be guilty of quite simply overstressing your system for too many years with a toxic diet including too much caffeine, energy drinks, alcohol and junk food. All of the above are potential factors as to why you find yourself here today, A Shadow of your Former Self with a Loss of Zest and Energy for Life and unable now to do the things that you once could. The bottom line is that if we have constantly put our body under stress whether that be from life's demands or your self-imposed physical demands or abuse or quite possibly a combination then the body is forced to constantly release cortisol. The Adrenal Glands, which produce Cortisol finally start to become fatigued and 'Burnt-Out' from an overload of work for an over extended period and therefore become less sensitive to how much cortisol they make. Cortisol release is intrinsically linked to a cascade of chemical, hormonal and physiological responses and so therefore when your cortisol release and rhythm becomes irregular, sometimes producing too much cortisol, sometimes not enough and also quite often at the wrong times of day this has a compounding, catastrophic effect on other hormonal production and regulation. This, on top of an already aging, slowing, faltering hormonal system is not a great recipe for feeling or performing OPTIMUM!!... In fact, to put it to you very directly your body is trying to turn your 'POWER BUTTON' OFF and completely 'SHUT YOU DOWN'. The majority of the medical profession do not accept 'ADRENAL FATIGUE' or 'ADRENAL BURN-OUT' or however we wish to classify it. After 5 years of continued English National Health Consultancy they still will not accept it as a reason for my once very declined health and are hence bemused by my recovery also. Part of this is due to the fact that when the cortisol response is faltering that it has such a massive effect on other parts of your biology that you cannot pinpoint it directly to the adrenals. A fairer classification and one slightly more accepted but generally pertaining to the same problem is - HPA AXIS (Hypothalamic-Adrenal Axis) Dysfunction. The HPA AXIS is the major control centre for the glands that make the hormones in your body. The Hypothalamus in the brain receives signals from your central nervous system and triggers the Pituitary Gland, a small pea shaped organ at the base of the brain to send signals to different glands in the body for hormone production. The adrenals being one of the main ones; The adrenals, apparently according to the medical profession do not get fatigued, but it is instead the communication between the Hypothalamus, the Pituitary Gland and the Adrenal Glands that deregulates and misfires as a result of chronic stress that then causes the cascade of hormonal problems to occur. However, if you are suffering any 3 of the following symptoms -
- CONSTANT FATIGUE - POOR SLEEP PATTERNS - FREQUENT URINATION - A CRAVING OF SALT AND OR SUGAR - WORSENING IMMUNE SYSTEM - LACK OF SEX DRIVE - BRAIN FOG
- DECLINING PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE - LIGHT HEADEDNESS UPON STANDING - LACK OF DESIRE AND MOTIVATION - POSSIBLE LOWER HEART RATE LEVELS AT FATIGUE - DIGESTIVE ISSUES
THEN I WILL STAND AND STATE LOUDLY THAT YOU HAVE VERY LIKELY OVERSTRESSED YOUR ADRENAL SYSTEM – QUITE SIMPLE.
ADRENAL FATIGUE – ADRENAL BURN OUT - HPA AXIS DYSFUNCTION – CHRONIC FATIGUE OR ANOTHER TERM I PREFER 'METABOLIC BREAKDOWN' comes from Chronic Stress - The Stress created from pushing our body and our mind too hard for too many years. This is why you find yourself here today. To be clear "Your Energy Bank Account is so Overdrawn that if you do not start to pay back very quick sharp then your Account will be SHUT DOWN" For the sake of the rest of this Article we will simply classify it as 'Adrenal Fatigue'
WHAT IS THIS FIGHT - OR - FLIGHT SYNDROME THAT YOU KEEP MENTIONING?
THE FIGHT - OR - FLIGHT RESPONSE is a physiological reaction that naturally occurs in response to any stress, be it Physical or Psychological. The response is triggered by a release of hormones that prepare you either to do battle or to run away from the issue as fast as possible!! The response represents the very simple choice our ancient ancestors faced with the dangers within their primitive environment -See a Sabre Tooth Tiger, KILL IT... OR RUN AWAY QUICK SHARP!!! Although today's dangers and stressors are somewhat different our body still naturally follows the same physiological process every time we face a Psychological, Physical, Emotional or Environmental Stress. The body activates the sympathetic nervous system which in turn automatically stimulates the adrenal glands to release the catecholamines, the chemicals adrenalin, epinephrine and noradrenaline. The body is flooded with adrenaline, Cortisol is released, blood pressure is elevated, blood is pumped away from your organs and delivered to the muscles and blood glucose levels are elevated to give you a burst of energy - Therefore resulting in elevated Insulin Levels. All of these factors as we now know, if chronically induced results in the draining of our system. Another factor of the 'Metabolic Breakdown' that ultimately arises is that due to over frequent release of adrenaline we become catecholamine resistant and have decreased sympathetic nervous system activity. This shows itself as decreased Maximal Heart rate during exercise and also at Fatigue with ultimately decreased Performance. I remember personally for a period of time heading out on runs and long bike rides and thinking how Super-Fit I was becoming because my Heart Rate just wouldn't elevate!! ... I was stupidly refusing to accept that I wasn't feeling or performing as well as I had done and was in fact burying myself in a hole and simply getting sicker and sicker
SO WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? HOW ARE WE GOING TO BRING BACK YOUR SUPER-POWERS?
Unfortunately you did not reach this stage overnight and we therefore aren't going to be able to repair it overnight. The time that it takes to Rebuild you back to your Prime will ultimately depend upon the severity of your condition, how willing you are to follow all of the necessary practices and if you are able to give your body a period of No Stress. Even though you will start to feel better much sooner please do not think that you are recovered. To fully reset your hormones and repair the damage done to your system will take a minimum applied 6 months and hen ongoing management thereafter. The 'REBUILD YOUR POWERS' Plan is a 6 Month Program with each stage progressively and slowly constructed to bring you back to your best … and often Beyond. The focus throughout however is based upon the key principals of -
- RECOVERING, RESTING AND REPAIRING YOUR ADRENALS
- DOING BATTLE INDIVIDUALLY WITH EACH OF THE 5 MAIN ARCH ENEMIES
- IMPROVING YOUR GUT HEALTH
Gut Health is becoming an increasingly discussed and researched topic at the moment. There are literally millions and trillions of bacteria that live in our digestive tracts made up of about 500 different species and are known as microbiome. These bacteria help us break down the food that we consume and digest its nutrients. Having a wide variety of this bacteria however is now also being shown to have a very large impact on our overall Health, improving mental wellbeing and more. Many years of stress, lack of sleep, high sugar foods, alcohol intake, processed foods and antibiotics damage our gut health and therefore in turn damage our health. There has been proven to be a very direct connection between the gut, the stress hormones and the adrenal glands. In fact one of the most commonly overlooked factors involved in 'Adrenal Stress' is the poor health of the gut and unfortunately its perpetuating cycle this creates; Those that have suffered Adrenal Fatigue and have therefore been in a constant state of Fight or Flight will undoubtedly have compromised the health of their gut.
A problematic gut will then cause inflammation, a stress response and therefore further ongoing stress - stress as we know causes the release of cortisol and this as we also know further drains the adrenals. This has a further effect on the health f the gut and so the cycle continues and worsens.
There is much research that one of the most effective but also overlooked ways to improve 'Adrenal Fatigue' quicker is to reduce the stress on the gut
- REPAIRING YOUR LIVER Your liver is the second largest organ in the body and is responsible for over 600 Metabolic Activities including a multitude of hormonal tasks including metabolizing the Steroid Hormones. It is also 'The Waste Management Plant' of the human body filtering and removing toxins from the system. Quite simply if you wish to Be Healthy, Perform Optimally and Improve your Body-Composition then YOU NEED A HEALTHY LIVER.
If your liver is tired and sluggish then you will be beating your head against a wall with no possibility of improvements.
To be in the physical condition that you are now then there is no escaping the fact that you have also put your liver under strain and that it will not be performing optimally. It will be drained and performing very sluggishly simply due to the amount of overwork that your body has required it to do. Chronically elevated cortisol has a direct result on the liver and has in fact been linked to Fatty Liver Disease by promoting fatty deposits in the liver. The liver also helps regulate blood sugar levels which is another task that it will be called upon frequently to manage and this is another common problem with people in such a state of chronic fatigue.
If one wishes to Recover and Rebuild their Powers then very simply Liver Health is of paramount importance to enable this.
Now that we have an understanding of how we got here and why we feel this way we can now appreciate that we need to -
RECOVER - REPAIR AND REBUILD OUR ADRENALS OUR GUT AND OUR LIVER AND WE MUST ALSO START TO DO BATTLE INDIVIDUALLY WITH EACH OF THE FACTORS THAT HAVE BEEN CAUSED BY OUR NATURAL AGING AND THE DECLINE OF THESE ORGANS - I have categorised these factors as our 5 Arch-Enemies
ENEMY 1 - A DECLINE IN TESTOSTERONE AND GROWTH HORMONE
ENEMY 2 - A DECREASE IN DHEA
ENEMY 3 - A DECLINE IN T4 THYROID PRODUCTION
ENEMY 4 -AN ELEVATION OF CORTISOL
ENEMY 5 - AN ELEVATION OF INSULIN LEVELS WITH A DECREASE IN INSULIN SENSITIVITY
IN THE NEXT CHAPTER WE WILL LOOK AT EACH ENEMY IN GREATER DETAIL AND LOOK AT THE STEPS THAT I RECOMMEND WITHIN MY ‘REBUILD YOUR POWERS’ PLAN TO COMBAT THESE ENEMIES.