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EP #56: What You Need To Know About Adrenal Fatigue

It’s shocking to think of how many successful entrepreneurs we know who have had adrenal problems. Both of us have suffered from adrenal fatigue and it’s the WORST. It’s also completely preventable with simple self-care and mindset strategies. Listen to this episode to find out what you need to know about how to identify, prevent, and heal adrenal fatigue.

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What You Need To Know About Adrenal Fatigue

We are diving into this concept called adrenal fatigue. If you are any type of high achiever, high performer athlete, entrepreneur, business owner or even somebody who works in corporate, this applies all across the board. You may or may not have experienced this. What we want to touch on here and what we’re going to talk about is having the awareness of what adrenal fatigue is because it’s a real thing and how to prevent it. More importantly, how to take care of yourself throughout the process, so that you don’t experience it. If you are, some tips and tricks on what you can do to start to shift that, so you can get back to living your best life, which is what we’re here for. Dan, why don’t you go ahead and start us off and share a little bit about what adrenal fatigue is?

Your adrenals are responsible for producing adrenaline but essentially responsible for giving you energy and keeping it stable throughout the day. When your adrenals are fatigued, that means that your energy production is all out of whack. I remember when I was suffering from that, I needed multiple cups of coffee to stay awake throughout the day. If I didn’t have the coffee, it wasn’t that I fell asleep, it was that I became a zombie. I couldn’t sleep at night. My adrenals are out of whack, I couldn’t sleep at all. It was this crazy double hit where I couldn’t sleep enough because my adrenals were jacked up, but I couldn’t stay awake enough because my adrenals were jacked up. I had to drink massive amounts of caffeine to get through the day, but that also made my sleep even worse.

I started feeling weak. It fried my energy. I was never fully energetic either even after getting a night of sleep, which by the way, it was a terrible night of sleep. I’d wake up all the time. The quality of sleep would be garbage. I would sleep a lot less. I stay asleep a lot less. Even if I got a decent night’s sleep for me back then and had a lot of coffee, the maximum I felt it ever fully be awake was 60% of what I could have been. It can get dangerous because when your adrenals get super fatigued, your body doesn’t have energy. You can’t function. You can be hospitalized for it. If it gets bad enough, you can die from it. This isn’t just, “I’m tired.” This is a very serious physical condition. It can take you months to fully recover after you get it, especially if you’re on the deeper levels. There are levels of severity. When you get into the deeper levels, you need medical supervision. They might even keep you in the hospital until you’re fully back, which could be months at a time, so it’s a serious thing.

The more serious part about this is that a lot of high achievers, a lot of high performers experience it and they don’t even realize that they have it, which is why we wanted to bring this up. We know that a lot of our audience are about wanting to perform at a higher level, about wanting to create your best life. It’s important to be aware of some of the effects that may or may not happen if you’re not careful, aware and cautious about how you’re taking care of yourself. Dan, you mentioned that you experienced adrenal fatigue. I know more especially when I was going through in the bikini competition, I definitely hit a plateau. It was intense. Not the level of constant exhaustion as Dan was talking about, but the level of anxiety and depression that came with it as well. I was constantly feeling on edge. Similar to what Dan was mentioning, feeling like you need caffeine to get through the day. The caffeine would make me so anxious because my heart would be beating so fast and then my blood pressure was so low. I can remember very clearly being on a sales call at one point. When I was on that sales call with this woman, I had to stop halfway through the call because I felt like I was going to pass out. It scared the living out of me.

[bctt tweet=”Anxiety doesn’t contradict what or who we are. What contradicts it is ignoring it.” username=””]

At that point I was like, “This isn’t you being tired. This isn’t you needing to push yourself anymore.” I think that’s the mistake that a lot of us high achievers will make is we want to push ourselves. It’s becoming aware of when it’s time to slow down and pay attention to what your body is saying. Let’s explore a little bit about where it comes from and why you get it. I’ve touched on this a little bit. A big component is you pushing yourself a little too hard, a little too long. What that looks like is consistently living with stress.

It doesn’t necessarily need to be the stress of working out hard. It can be an emotional stress or a mental stress of maybe a demanding career. Years of operating at that level where you’re constantly needing to drink a ton of coffee to get through the day. You’re constantly living in these emotional states of overwhelm, frustration, exhaustion or anxiety even over an extended period of time because you’re not giving your body time to rest, recover and recuperate. It starts to burn you out. You’ll hear people joke around about burnout, but it’s a real thing. That’s probably one of the first symptoms around you starting to experience adrenal fatigue.

There’s another very important component of pushing yourself like that. That’s stress because stress taxes your adrenals. When you’re stressed out, you’re pushing adrenaline and cortisol into your blood at a much higher rate. That’s putting pressure on those guys. I know as a high achiever, as a high performer, it’s easy to get into this mindset of, “No, I don’t get stressed or I feel stressed. I feel a lot of it, but I manage it.” That’s your ego getting in your own way because you are a human. You’re not immune to stress. None of us are. I don’t care how well you think you manage it. If you feel it, it’s having an impact on your adrenals. Because you’re so stressed out and you’re pushing yourself that you’re drinking many cups of coffee, I’m going to say any more than three is too much. That caffeine also taxes your adrenals.

You may think, “The stress isn’t that bad.” Let’s add up all the things that might be happening. You’re pushing yourself too hard, not listening to your body when you need to rest. You’re drinking a lot of caffeine to make up for that. You’re feeling a lot of stress from whatever’s going on in your life and your business and handling all of that. You’re not sleeping as much because all of this stuff put together bit by bit starts punching your adrenals. All of a sudden you find yourself needing four cups of coffee, five cups of coffee to get through the day. These are real big warning shots. This is letting you know something is wrong here. You shouldn’t need four or five cups of coffee. You shouldn’t even need three in order to get through the day. I’m not talking about be wired. I’m talking just getting through the day. These are symptoms that you’re taxing your adrenals too much.

[bctt tweet=”The less sleep you get, the closer you get to a burnout, and the closer you get to adrenal fatigue.” username=””]

Remember feeling stressed and acknowledging that is a good thing. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s not a sign that you are not good enough. It’s not a sign that you can’t handle the job or your life. Feeling anxiety is a natural part of life. We all do it in various times of life. It doesn’t matter how good you are. It doesn’t matter how successful you are. It doesn’t matter how happy you are. Anxiety doesn’t contradict any of that. What contradicts it is ignoring it. It’s saying that for some reason you’re the one person on the planet who doesn’t feel it. Sweeping it under the rug, that contradicts all of your success and your happiness because it will only build. Treat yourself with that love to say, “It’s okay to feel it. It’s okay to need rest. It’s okay to need to slow down. It’s okay to feel like you’re burning out and to give yourself some space, so that you can recover and that you can treat your adrenals right.”

One of the other things that you can tune into as well is your emotional state. When you’re operating at a place of massive stress, oftentimes you’ll find that you’re not living from elevated emotional states very frequently. Oftentimes, you’ll see people want to take the edge off, as you’ll hear it by going out and grabbing a beer, going out and needing to drink or smoke or whatever it is that you need to do. If you’re finding that the only way that you can feel any type of elevated emotional state is through some substance that you need, that’s another little trigger to know that something’s going on if I can’t produce that elevated emotional state from myself. You want to be able to know that if I want to feel happy or if I want to feel grateful or if I want to feel anything else other than exhaustion, frustration, stress and anxiety, that I can do without needing to induce that for myself from some outside source.

MMM 56 | Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal Fatigue: Acknowledge that feeling stressed is a good thing. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s not a sign that you are not good enough.

One of the best prevention techniques is to be able to rely entirely on yourself. Sophie, you’re telling me that you ditched your pre-workout stuff. I ditched it a while back also because of that. First of all, pre-workout stuff is super fun. I’m not going to lie. It gives you three cups of coffee worth of caffeine and all sorts of other fun stuff that it puts into your veins. You feel like you’re Superman or Superwoman. You get this jolt of energy that you can lift and do anything. That is messing up your adrenals. If you take it every day, you are ahead of doubt in a very interesting road, especially if you drink coffee afterwards.

I would do pre-workout in the morning to go to work out. Afterwards, I’d have three cups of coffee during the day. Afterwards I’d go to bed late. I would work on the weekends and I wouldn’t give myself time to rest. No wonder I gave myself adrenal fatigue. No wonder especially because I would drink on the weekends, substance after substance after substance just to feel okay. The more you can stay away from that, the more you can rely on yourself. Go to natural sources. Eat good food to give yourself the energy you need. Rest, give yourself time. Maybe you do have to work on the weekends for what you’re doing, but give yourself some breaks or one day that you can chill and do nothing.

[bctt tweet=”The best athletes know when to rest.” username=””]

By the way, running around and doing errands on your day of rest is not your day of rest. I don’t care if that means lying on a couch, going to a beach, reading a book, watching movies or hanging out with friends but chill. Do something for you. Make sure you have that as part of your routine. Do something every day that helps you rejuvenate and take care of yourself. Whatever that means, whether it’s reading or learning or watching a documentary, meditating or doing Tai chi. Give yourself a little TLC every day. It helps you bring yourself back to balance, lowering the amount of adrenaline that’s being produced. Checking out the amounts of coffee that you’re drinking is also a good thing and taking care of your sleep. Sleep is important. I know we think it’s too much work. I can’t sleep. The less sleep you get, the closer you get to a burnout, the closer you get to adrenal fatigue. Trust me, if you burn out or you get your adrenal fatigue, you’re not going to be doing any work at all. You’re doing even more work by sleeping even more, not less.

The other big thing too is looking at your hormones, your hormonal imbalances, especially for the women out there and tuning into what’s happening in your body. If you’re somebody who maybe in your diet alone, you’re not getting enough magnesium, calcium or zinc. Whatever your lifestyle is, these can be one of the many things that are contributing to the fact that you’re experiencing and you’re feeling what you’re feeling. Number one, having a nutritional lifestyle, whatever that may be for you that supports your hormonal balance. Making sure it supports you, having all the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to operate at its best level. You won’t be depending on the caffeine anymore to make you feel good because you’re taking care of all of your nutrients, your vitamins and your supplements.

Ideally you want to be getting as much of that as possible from your nutrition and your food. Anything that you can’t necessarily get from your food or you need to get more of it than what you can consume on a daily basis. I would highly encourage speaking to an actual health professional who can assess that for you and let you know, “You need to be taking more magnesium or calcium.” As you start to do that, and as you start to depend on a more natural lifestyle where you become the resource versus constantly seeking other things outside of you, you’ll be amazed at how different you feel on a daily basis. Ideally, it’s going to take some time, especially if you’ve been operating at a high stress, high strung level for an extended period of time.

Give yourself time to rest and to recover. We’re talking about this in these actual components specifically because it does relate directly to your health and wellness. You pushing yourself to work out six, seven days a week trying to get your body to a certain level when you’re already stressed out. You’re already tired, you’re exhausted and you’re also drinking a bunch of pre-workout to get through your workout is not serving you. If anything, it’s making it so much worse because you’re not going to be able to function normally. It’s an important topic because we want to do it all. We want to be super human. We want to be superheroes and build a business and make a ton of money and have a bunch of impact or whatever it is that you want to do in your own life and you’re human. There’s no denying that.

[bctt tweet=”Going to sleep is not ditching work. That is part of your work.” username=””]

Getting adamant about a self-care routine is huge and making yourself care are non-negotiable. I know especially the women, so many of you, especially the mama bears out there, put ourselves last. That is one of the most dangerous things that you can do. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re never going to be able to take care of anything or anyone else, including your business, your family, or whatever it is. Making yourself a care routine, a non-negotiable is the most important thing that you can do to prevent adrenal fatigue, but more importantly for you to create a more optimal health and lifestyle.

For the guys, it’s fun to be a machine, “I can do everything. I’m the best guy in the room. I’m the smartest one. I can get more done. I can achieve everything. I’ve got these big goals.” It feels good to kick ass and take names. I got it. The best athletes know when to rest. Resting is part of the routine because they know that it will give them the opportunity to replenish their resources. If you wanted to be the badass on top of the mountain, you want to dominate your market. You want to kick ass and take all the names, then you would also rest. You would also pay attention to your stress levels and your anxiety. You would treat yourself. You’d have fun and rest as part of your routine because it lowers your stress and anxiety. There’s a reason that now we have more young healthy men having heart attacks, strokes and weird things early in their 50s. That shouldn’t happen. It’s what happens when you become a machine and you forget that you’re a human.

You’re not a machine. Even machines, when you work them like that tirelessly, nonstop, forever, they break down too. We want to make sure that you give yourself the best chances of achieving your goals in the ways that makes you feel good and that they’re sustainable. Going back to the fitness thing, when you’re working out, you go to the gym and that’s when you tear your muscles. When you rest, that’s when they get stronger. You don’t get stronger in the gym. You get stronger out of the gym. It’s the same deal. It’s like sleep. Sleep is so critical for you to think well, perform well, incorporate knowledge and wisdom into your mind and into your memory. It’s not a cop-out from work. Going to sleep, that’s not ditching work. That is part of your work. I want you to consider these different performance strategies to make sure that you can perform as best as you can, for as long as you can and feel as good as you can throughout the whole thing. Remember that. We are like, “I got it,” but you’re also human.

MMM 56 | Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal Fatigue: If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re never going to be able to take care of anything or anyone else.

You are a human being. I can’t say it enough. I know that we all want to be invincible. I can be the testament for the women out there. Dan is willing to be the testament for the men out there. We’re all human. There’s no avoiding it. No amount of caffeine or pre-workout is going to take care of that. With that being said, we hope that if you’re in a space where maybe you’re starting to recognize, “Some of the things you guys are talking about resonate with where I’m at right now. I’m feeling or I’m experiencing that or that’s relevant to me.” Take some time to really slow down and tune into what’s present for you in your life and your lifestyle especially.

My encouragement and some of the tips and tricks that I’ve been taking more especially having experienced adrenal fatigue. I’m sure Dan will share some of the things that he had to do as well. Diet change has been tremendous and shifting what I eat. Cutting caffeine out completely, which is hard at first but also sleeping. I took a week of sleeping ten to twelve hours a day. My body was so exhausted. Giving it the right nutrients and drinking a ton of water.

As counterproductive as it sounds, decreasing my workload, which allowed me to be more productive because I was spending the time on things that I needed to instead of doing all of these other things that didn’t make sense for me to be doing. That may mean for you delegating, hiring a team. Maybe it’s looking at ways that you can start to become more productive in the time that you’re working, which is you showing up with a more mentally clear state of mind. Those are some of the biggest things. I would say if it is something that’s serious, to reach out to professional help. Especially somebody who can help you more so from naturopathic perspective of looking at not let’s take some drugs for it, but let’s look at what’s happening inside of your blood and inside of your hormones, so that you can start to rebalance that.

All those are beautiful tips. I’ll add from my perspective, the thing that I needed to learn and incorporate into my habits were checking in with myself and being honest and open without trying to be manly or trying to be the machine. Just checking, “How’s my anxiety? How’s my stress? How am I feeling? How have I been feeling? How has that been impacting me?” Taking a moment of reflection to see where I’m at, to see whether I’m going in the right direction or ready to change things. That can be a very powerful first step to see whether you need to make the changes that Sophie is talking about. Acting on it as fast as you possibly can. Your task for this episode is to review, take a hard look and see whether your habits are promoting sustainability, promoting even less stress and anxiety or promoting even greater health. Whether some things need to shift with respect the different symptoms or the habits or warning signals that we’ve explained throughout this episode.

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