Are You a Closet Member of Fatigued Anonymous?

by Simla on March 16, 2011

One of my biggest pet peeves is feeling fatigued. I can’t stand it. Feeling like I can’t get enough sleep and a whole day of dragging and feeling out of it? No thanks.

Having reversed several autoimmune conditions plus Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which once led to my sleeping up to 20 hours a day for months on end, I have no intention of ever heading back there again. These days, my new default looks something like this: bouncing out of bed and sustaining a steady stream of energy all day until my body gently tells me it’s ready to go to sleep again at night… no matter how demanding my day.

When I worked in management consulting, I relied heavily on coffee to get through my days. I needed to feel alert and on point, no matter how tired or stressed out I felt. I also got a thrill from the pick-me-up. If you can relate to this feeling, this month is a good time to wake up from that caffeine haze and give your adrenal glands more love.

Why? Because, conveniently and amusingly, March is National Caffeine Awareness Month and Chronic Fatigue Awareness Month. These two things may seem like total opposites but I’m going to show you why that’s not the case. I’d like to put caffeine and chronic fatigue syndrome (“CFS”) on your radar and discuss their unique relationship in your body.

“But I Only Have One Cup a Day!”

If I had a dollar for every client that has said that, I’d be… well, pretty well off. (Note to self: stick a dollar in the jar every time from now on.)

Let me tell you a story.

I started drinking really strong Nescafé coffee when I was 14 years old, so I could pull all-nighters in school. I soon became a coffee connoisseur, enjoying the taste, smell and good feeling it created in my body. I loved a warm, delicious cup of coffee.

Like many Type A, overachiever, perfectionist, workaholic personality types, coffee became a natural friend. My secret weapon. Through college and in the working world, coffee helped me stay focused and on point.

At the height of my coffee dependence, I would order quadruple Venti lattes in the late afternoon. I would bring my own ground coffee with me to friends’ houses in case they didn’t have any on hand. If I had been carrying any other substance around like this, I would be considered a drug addict. But coffee is an accepted drug in our culture.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “I’m not that bad. I only have one cup a day!” Really? I was down to “only one cup of coffee” per day for the entire year before my health crisis upended my world.

Have you ever stopped to think about how much you really do need that cup of coffee and what it may be hiding? Is it really serving your ultimate goals?

Oh, I get the seduction of coffee. The rush you get from drinking it and even the focus it gives you can quickly become addictive. For me, it was my little boost of energy, a treat that anchored my day, a comforting ritual – available anytime.

I didn’t quite realize at the time that coffee was my crutch. I needed it to get through the day. Its aroma and seduction were masking some pretty intense warnings from my body to slow down.

Once I started reversing my severe health issues, I realized that coffee was one of the contributors to my condition. It acted as a temporary panacea for other deficiencies in my body – and contributed to worsening them – until it was too late. My true fatigue was masked for a long time by the energy of coffee.

Meet Your Adrenals

Similar in shape and size to peanuts, your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys. They are multi-functional organs working as part of your endocrine (hormonal control) system, controlling metabolic rate, carbohydrate metabolism, inflammation, and growth levels, among other things. The adrenals also regulate your body’s automatic response to stress – they produce and pump out your stress hormones.

The adrenal glands are part of your survival mechanism in times of stress. You are genetically programmed to produce the “fight or flight” reaction against life-threatening dangers, such as seeing a bear in the woods or a shark in the ocean.

“Fight or flight” mode is meant to be a temporary state in which your body channels all its energy into supporting emergency biological processes such as:  increasing your brain activity, heart beat, and blood pressure; enabling your lungs to breathe in more oxygen; and, allowing your liver to pump more sugar to give you more energy… to hopefully escape the threat you sense.

The human body is not cut out for sustaining stress over long periods of time, but in reality, that’s exactly how we live. Deadlines, traffic, CNN, pollutants, food colorings: these are all contributors to our bodies’ stress levels.

When your body is stressed due to real or perceived stressors, your digestive, reproductive and immune systems are put on hold. That’s why you may be getting sick when you run yourself ragged and are coming off of an intense stretch at work. Or why you can’t get pregnant. Or why you have heartburn and indigestion.

Drinking coffee each day puts your body in an even more heightened state of stress. Your adrenals have to work even harder, pumping out more adrenaline and more cortisol (the key stress hormone). More, more, more… until those little peanuts start getting exhausted. Once you reach your threshold, you start losing the ability to focus, you get anxious, feel nervous and start dragging. Caffeine stabs you in the back.

When your adrenals are off-kilter, you experience issues like fatigue, stubborn weight gain, cravings, sleep disorders, disrupted immune system including autoimmune conditions, and hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism. The great majority of adrenal gland imbalances go undiagnosed because the symptoms look so much like other conditions. But even a small change, like some good R&R and letting go of coffee, for example, can help you lose those stubborn last 10-15 pounds or eliminate PMS symptoms.

It’s critical to support your adrenal health, especially if you live a modern lifestyle with chronic stress – which I know you do – and have the inevitable exposure to physical, social, emotional, psychological and environmental stressors in our world such as pollution, artificial sweeteners, arguments, idiots at work, colds, and injuries from tripping over your shoes because you were too tired to see them in front of you.

Are you Proud of Your Fatigue?

In today’s working world, people at the top wear their fatigue like a badge of honor. If you are busy, you are working hard and, ultimately, are perceived as successful.

People are proud to say, “I don’t take vacations,” or “I don’t take sick days.” Some people even “train” themselves to get only 4 or 6 hours of sleep every night (One of my former bosses! I wonder how he’s doing these days…). The long-term affects of this behavior can take its toll on your body.

It’s not surprising that many super-successful people are also known adrenaline junkies. They seek out high-stake adventures like skydiving or Iron Man competitions – and coffee – because they love the rush. In small doses, it’s fine. But you can’t overlook what your body is really calling for on a daily basis.

Coffee might get you through the day, but it will not give you the energy you need to get through your life.

You don’t want to live your life on a perpetual collision course. Or, in my case, experience the actual collision head-on. Have you ever wondered if there’s another way?

There is. I call it energy nirvana. Think of it as a parallel universe from where you look back over to your formerly dependent, caffeinated self and smugly yell out, “Ha! Loser!”

You can become more productive. Work less but do more. Have better moods and be more pleasant to be around. Let go of that tire around your middle. And tap into an energy that leaves everything else in the dust. I say that as someone who has made it to that other side. And I never want to go back.

What are YOU Going to Do About It?

It may seem now like you would never be able to give up the beautiful spell of coffee, or have enough time to “get it all done” without the caffeine high. And it certainly doesn’t seem possible to do it all and feel good throughout the day. But it is. An emerging legion of happy, energized people (my clients) are ready to welcome you to the other side.

Take a peek at how you can do it here.

If you are curious how I do it and how you could too NOW, then I invite you to do something about it:  schedule a complimentary 30-minute Delicious Health Discovery Session by clicking here.

I work privately and in small groups with busy entrepreneurs and professionals – clients just like you – to help them tap into their own natural, incomparable energy source in a sustainable way. The outcome? More productive days spent in the “flow” to grow your business or get that promotion, more restful nights sleeping like a happy peanut, and – ultimately – the Taming of the Overwhelm Shrew.

Still going? Don’t know what to do with all your caffeine-induced nervous energy? If you would like to learn even more about coffee and caffeine, check out my other articles on the topic:

Great Coffee

Coffee Conundrum

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You may reprint / repost this article as long as you do so together with the entire blurb below:

Simla Somturk Wickless, founder of Delicious Health, is a holistic health coach, nutritionist, healthy life/work expert, writer, and speaker who works with women entrepreneurs, professionals, businesses, and autoimmune clients worldwide. She inspires, educates, and enables her clients to make lasting changes to increase energy, tame stress, find their natural weight, and promote self-healing for good. Learn more at www.EnjoyDeliciousHealth.com or call 1-877-211-0220 for a complimentary 30-minute Delicious Health Discovery Session.

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