Adrenal Fatigue, Hypothyroidism, & Correct Exercise

Re: adrenal fatigue
When I researched how to manage hypothyroidism, I came across the term “adrenal body type” and “adrenal fatigue”. If you tend to have an adrenal body time, you are discouraged to do heavy exercises (HIIT, heavy anabolic exercises) and do more catabolic exercises (yoga, etc). I am someone who has struggled to lose weight pretty much all my life and am planning to do some intense workouts like CrossFit or Insanity, but these ideas regarding adrenal body types confuse me. Any ideas?

Response: 

There many issues in this question and unfortunately a few scientific terms are used to make a simple problem complicated. Let’s break it all down. 

First off, adrenal hormones is cortisol – released when you are stressed. What stresses you can range from personal, environmental, emotional ,physical stress – anything and everything that drives you up the wall or even unnerves you causes releases of stress. 

 

Here is the thing about stress – something I love teaching in my workshops – life is hectic and you will have stress. You don’t have to bend over backwards to solve every problem. What you have to do is identify your reaction to a stressful situation and mindfully take actions to calm down. So this is where the word mindful comes into real play in YOUR life. When you see a situation coming up that will un-nerve you; take actions that control your cortisol. Yes, there are steps you can do to minimise cortisol release but before i get into that, let’s understand cortisol. 

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What are your adrenals? Your adrenal glands (adrenals) are two thumb-sized organs that sit above your kidneys and are part of the endocrine system. Also known as the suprarenal glands, they’re involved in producing over 50 hormones that drive almost every bodily function, many of which are essential for life. Adrenal glands play a huge role in stress response. Your brain registers a threat, whether emotional, mental or physical. The adrenal medulla releases cortisol and adrenaline hormones to help you react to the threat (the fight-or-flight response), rushing blood to your brain, heart and muscles. The adrenal cortex then releases corticosteroids to dampen processes like digestion, immune system response and other functions not necessary for immediate survival.

 

Cortisol is a gluconeogenic hormone – coming from your adrenal glands. Meaning it breaks down other cells to create glucose (food for brain and organs). Why? Because when you are stressed your brain need more fuel to thing and get you out of stress. Cortisol can target any and every cell in your body except the liver. This is why super stressed people can stress themselves into heart attacks, brain strokes, diabetes and metabolism illness and hormones imbalances – such as yourself.  try this, next time you are super stressed, do a quick blood sugar reading – yes you will have more blood sugar now because your brain is needed food to think through the “fight or flight” situation. Make sense? 

 

FYI: something as simple as not enough on regular basis will upset your hormone balance and release more cortisol. So make sure to get 8 hrs unbroken sleep and add in 7 to 20 mins power nap int he day when you can’t sleep 8 hrs. 

Quick question: in a regular basis, how often do you loose your mental cool? Are you managing it? Better than before, I assume. 

(It is not enough to just research a disease – we also have to understand how it applies bio-individually to ourselves!)

So, how cortisol effects you when you are stressed what you have in your genetics. If you are genetically pre-disposed to thyroids weakness and hormone imbalances then all the stress you feel daily and all that cortisol breaks that down and starts to weaken you. In my case, I am genetically pre-disposed to asthma and lung weakness. When I am too stressed + not managing my stress I work myself up to shortness of breath and asthma attacks. So I always have to keep mindful of my weakness, and work on my strengths and prevent the weakness from being in control. 

Control your cortisol. Don’t try to control your stress. Most of the things in our life are out of our control. YOUR HAPPINESS however lies with in you and you have direct control of the damage cortisol does in your body. How to control the cortisol damage? Simple !

Vitamin C. 

Yes vitamin C directly  puts your body in “recovery” mode when you are stressed. The best and most effective way to incorporate Vitamin C is to have a shot of lemon. This will control your cortisol and put you in a better metabolic state to think clear, handle the situation at hand and navigate through a seemingly tough situation – don’t worry girl, you got this. Vitamin C is a non – toxic compound that your body can take up to 9000 mg – and after will just give you loose stomach. So experiment with your lemon shots and have them 5 to 6 times throughout the day. 

That’s not all, you need to actively and mindfully make lifestyle adjustments to recover from cortisol damage. Your recovery programme includes:

  1. Mindfully managing your response to regular stressful situations
  2. Following a non-inflammatory nutrition programme (watch out for carbs)
  3. Adding in smart supplements that boost hormone imbalance, brain performance and physical health

 

Now my favourite part, exercise. The reason we covered cortisol first is so that you can understand what the word anabolic and catabolic. First of all the word catabolic refers to breaking down of tissue / components in your body and anabolic refers to building or creating tissue / muscle / cells in your body. Now which one sounds like cortisol? Cortisol breaks down your cells and catabolism breaks down in your body too. So aren’t they the same then. 

Any exercise can turn into a catabolic exercise. For example, you jogging for too long will start to break down your muscles instead of tapping into your fat stores. Your doing intense yoga for too long can start to break down your muscles ( which are used for fuel) instead of tapping into your fat stores. Ping pong, zumba, cycling even weight training can turn into a catabolic exercise in which your body breaks down muscle tissue to fuel your workouts. 

The correct method of exercising is knowing what to do and how to do it so you don;t stress your body out even more. Remember, you need to build muscle which will help you balance your hormones and make your physically stronger from the cell up. Cardio and HIIT is not for you right now – both of which starts to break down muscle tissue, which causes more cortisol release and now everything start to break down. Make sense?

Here is a proper way to add exercise and training into your life:

  1. Strength train – do muscle centric exercise and stay in the rep range of 8 to 10. Use a weight which you can do easily 8 reps and last 2 reps are moderately difficult. Train all your major muscle groups. So your workout routine may look like this, arm day, chest and shoulder day, back day, leg day repeat with one day a week you do not workout at all. Focus on functional mobility training of delicate joints like shoulder, knees and especially your core and pelvic floor muscles. 
  2. Cardio – nothing crazy like zumba, or running at 10 on the treadmill. Infact stay away from the treadmill and all types of non-sensical cardio. Cardio will not help you burn stored body fat (which releases hormones that disrupt your natural hormone balance). Walking and running on the treadmill will injure your ankles and knees. 
  3. Yoga – a great relaxing way to spend 45 mins on your weekends. 

For you, an ideal workout routine involves you being focussed on your workout and keeping it no longer than 45 mins. Check your heart rate and keep it between 100 and 120 bpm – this is the fat burn zone and will not stress you out by releasing too much cortisol. work on your squats, and deadlifts and do things you love. Remember, exercise is not punishment for something you ate. Exercise finding out the amazing things your body CAN do. 

Insanity workouts – no ! this is going to drive your heart beat way over 150 bpm and start  breaking down muscle tissue even more. Crossfit, should be guided and nothing intense – but then again crossfit is only for conditioning of athletes and involves in intense circuit training – this may not be suitable for you at this stage of your recovery. 

So what can you do? Focus on a proper nutrition plan, try strength training 5 times a week and sleep at night. Once your hormones are balanced using proper nutritional therapy, your body is better predisposed to handle exercise which will further balance your hormones. 

Weight training and strength training is going to help you balance hormones, build more muscle mass (which burns more calories and burns fat) and jump start an anti-aing process in your body that improves your mitochondrial function. 

BUT none of this is going to help you unless you go up to the top of this article and apply techniques of controlling your cortisol. Remember, you can not solve your stress (issues) but you can control the damage cortisol does to your body by being mindful of how to respond. 

So take care of yourself. Do things you love. Start loving your body and not thinking about the negatives. Cortisol damage, adrenal fatigue and thyroid imbalances are under YOUR control and you can transform into a stronger version of yourself. Just control your cortisol. 

Lastly, power pose. Flex in the mirror. Stand in your most powerful stance – because 2 minutes of power posing reduces your cortisol by 25%. So why not? Flex hard and remind yourself how strong you are 😉

 

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