I have a confession.
I’m not as healthy as I thought I was.
A month or so ago I had some blood work done. Nothing’s outright bad, but neither is it as good as it should be for a man of my profession and knowledge.
My blood pressure is borderline high.
So’s my cholesterol.
Testosterone is borderline low.
WTF? I mean, I thought I was doing all the right things. My diet is good. I exercise regularly. I average seven to eight hours of sleep a night. What gives?
After the interview I did with Elliott’s younger brother, Eric Hulse, Samantha suggested that maybe I should contact him about a consultation. I have to admit, my initial response was one of ego. I thought, “I’m a fitness professional. I’m supposed to know this shit. I can figure it out.”
Only clearly I couldn’t or at least I hadn’t done so so far.
I reminded myself, I expect people to hire me for my professional expertise and had to admit it was time I did the same.
I contacted Eric and we made plans for our first consultation.
Prior to our conversation Eric sent me a few questionnaires to fill out; a list of my goals, both short and longer term; a health history; and a metabolic typing test.
The first two are pretty straight forward and the metabolic typing test I was familiar with but I always face it with a bit of trepidation. The typing test is a way to determine whether you are a slow or fast oxidizer or are somewhere in between.
Simply put, some people metabolize their food more quickly than others. Those who metabolize quickly are termed “protein types” as in order to maintain a steady blood sugar they do better on slow digesting foods like proteins and fats. Slow metabolizers are “carbohydrate types” as they do better on the faster digesting fruits, vegetables and grains.
I know my preferences and I know which way my tastes dictate. In the back of my mind I fretted that the test would reveal a betrayal, either by my body or the test, and I would be prescribed a diet that would be an effort to maintain.
Luckily for me I fall squarely into the protein or fast oxidizer group. In our consultation, Eric and I discussed my diet, my exercise and my sleep.
His approach is very interesting. It all comes down to stress. Are you eating foods that are stressful to your system? Is your exercise program generating more stress than necessary? How about in light of all the other stressors in your life? Are you getting the recovery time necessary to repair from all of your stressors?
Here’s what I learned about me:
For the most part my diet is good. I do rely too much on protein powder and meal supplements and should apply the same principles I apply to evening meals to breakfast and lunch. That means EAT REAL FOOD.
I don’t drink enough water. Knowing this isn’t good enough, though. I must actually drink more water. At ½ ounce per pound of bodyweight that comes to four liters a day. I keep a liter bottle on my desk and carry it with me throughout the day. After three days of concerted effort, filling and refilling that bottle FOUR times a day, I can tell a difference. Silly rabbit.
I exercise too much, especially in light of my general stress. Eric recommended that I implement one to two “working in” workouts a week. Think yoga, tai chi, or a hike in the woods. It’s high time I restarted my tai chi practice, so I guess I can give it a try…
How does this all add up to my borderline blood work? At this point it’s too early to tell. We’ll meet again in two weeks and discuss the next phase, which includes some lab work to look at hormone levels and possible bacterial or parasitic infection.
However, there is much to be said about this initial phase. Eating the wrong foods for my body, not drinking enough water and working out too much all generate stress. Add this stress to my generally stressful lifestyle and you’ve got a recipe ripe for adrenal fatigue.
Here’s how it works. Cortisol, commonly called a stress hormone, plays an essential role in your daily circadian rhythm. Cortisol is what wakes you up in the morning and gets you energized for your day. As the day goes on those levels are supposed to naturally decrease until they reach a low at bedtime.
If these levels stay unnaturally high due to external stressors for an extended period of time your adrenal gland’s ability to produce cortisol become diminished. The real kicker is that we need cortisol. If the adrenals are no longer able to generate it they rob other hormones to produce it, which may explain why my T-levels are somewhat low.
Also, as most of us know cortisol also encourages the body to hoard body fat, especially around the belly. An issue I’m acutely familiar with.
For our next meeting I have homework; a gluten sensitivity questionnaire; a daily meal questionnaire to help me identify those foods I do best on; to include one or two “work ins” a week; and to keep up my water intake.
Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
To our perfect imperfection,