(Breather) On the heels of the previous breather show about the constrained model of energy expenditure, I talk about what happens when you ignore these insights and try to power through hectic modern life like a rock star. You fall into what top MMA trainer (and previous GOY podcast guest) Joel Jamieson calls “recovery debt,” where important body functions get compromised as you overdo it. This can include immune function, inflammation control, and muscle repair, leading to the dreaded breakdown, burnout, illness, and injury.
If you at times feel superhuman in go go go mode, realize that these highs of sustained work performance or training volume are fueled by the chronic overproduction of stress hormones — a state of “Adrenalin Dominance” as detailed by Dr. Michael Platt in his book of the same name. I mention briefly how Dr. Platt recommends applying progesterone cream to blunt the production of adrenalin, estrogen, and insulin, and how “adrenal fatigue” is misunderstood; the cause of this condition is actually adrenalin dominance.
Insufficient attention to recovery, however, is the true cause of your demise here; maybe it’s not the workout itself, but what you did for the remainder of those 22 hours that day affects your body on a deeper level. Does the body like to be pushed hard and challenged? Of course, it does…but when you challenge your body (either in training or just in life, at work), then you do need to compensate with the amount of energy you exert. We know that anything that is stimulating to the body is a form of stress (positive or negative) and should be countered by restful, low-stress activities, but people often forget how important it is to make time for rest and recovery.
Now, there are plenty of people who feel like they have an endless source of energy, who never get tired, who think, “I can go all day without taking breaks and I’m still energized by evening!” Unfortunately, that’s really not the case. People who have massive energy output at all times probably achieve this (in part) due to the fact that their bodies are overproducing stress hormones. They’re in flight or flight mode, and don’t even realize it, in spite of all the obvious signs: increased alertness, energy levels, and endurance…
Some people can sustain this for days, some people can live like this for weeks, months, even years! But at what price? This overstimulation of your body’s natural stress response has serious long term health effects; suppressing your immune system and compromising your ability to control inflammation. To be clear, this is not just about workouts — there are other very important environmental stimuli people often forget even count as stress. An obvious one? The workplace. The moment you enter your place of work, you’ve entered high-stress mode, and regardless of if you love your job, your coworkers, and your work environment, your body still reacts to all the stimuli in your environment.
Are you currently dealing with symptoms of adrenaline dominance? Do you crash out of pure exhaustion on weekends, crave sugar, or suffer from cold hands and feet? Another thing you can watch out for is salivary cortisol levels. According to Dr. Platt, when you test salivary cortisol and find it to be low, that’s a symptom of adrenaline dominance, not adrenal insufficiency, because your body has shut down “superfluous metabolic processes,” like immune function, good digestion, and circulation to your hands and feet, because your body is just trying to deal with the issues at hand: your stress. If you do suffer from any of these symptoms, it’s time to make some changes. This show will inspire you to examine your energy expenditure and also get real with yourself about how you’re really feeling, so you can make the necessary changes to ensure you’re prioritizing rest and recovery and functioning at peak performance.
Do you turn a blind eye to your limit on maximum energy expenditure? [03:34]
When you challenge your body, you need to compensate for the rest of your life behaviors to tone down your energy expenditure. [06:04]
Re-bound workouts are specially designed workouts that can actually speed your recovery. [08:48]
When you overstimulate the stress response, you are looking at long-term repercussions with the suppression of immune function [10:45]
The overproduction of adrenaline appears to be related to mental illness. [15:38]
Around age 50, males stop producing normal levels of progesterone which leads to the spare tire! [17:59]
Watch out for those overstress patterns. [19:16]
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Brad: 00:08 Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author and athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit and happy in hectic, high stress modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge and expertly balanced that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.
Brad: 03:34 Brad. Okay, so we talked about the compensation theory and the constraint model of energy expenditure at a previous show. Now let’s talk about what happens when you ignore this kind of stuff. Don’t care. Turn a blind eye and try to burn the candle at both ends. Ignoring your maximum limit on daily energy expenditure. Or if we take it in a big picture, your monthly or annual energy expenditure. If you try to push too hard and go in too many different directions with your fitness goals, you’re high energy workplace. Oh my gosh, everything can fall apart. Yes. And we have that pattern happening frequently in modern life. So I have some thoughts from my man, Joel Jamieson who had an excellent appearance on the Get Over Yourself podcast.
Brad: 04:23 So search through the archives, one of the early shows. So this would be combining insights from the compensation theory, the constraint model of energy expenditure and uh, what Joel talks about as recovery debt. You can learn more about his email@example.com. That’s the number eight weeks out.com. That’s like eight weeks out from a title bout because he works with MMA fighters and has revolutionized training in that sport where in the old days the fighters used to spar all the time and practice fighting over and over in practice. Instead of a train like a sophisticated athletes, they would, uh, leave a lot of their fight, so to speak, in the practice session. As we see in many other sports too, especially the endurance sports, training too hard and leaving it out there on the road instead of on the race course. So when you are operating in this recovery debt, burning the candle at both ends trying to exceed that total energy expenditure ceiling, your immune system, uh, starts to feel the pain, feel the brunt of that.
Brad: 05:29 It operates with a skeleton crew. The homeostatic mechanisms that control inflammation, start slacking off, muscle repair processes become delayed and you teeter on or over the edge of breakdown, burnout, illness, and injury. Those are my favorite big four to recite in order. Yes, you’re risking breakdown, burnout, endless and injury. When you burn the candle at both ends. Then what do we do when this happens? We chalk it to working too many hours that week. We chalk it up to, uh, doing a few too many workouts that week or that month. Uh, however, the true instigator of your demise is insufficient attention to recovery. So it arguably right, uh, it might not be the workout itself or the succession of workouts that put you over, but what you did in the other 23 or 22 hours, uh, on those days that put you down. So the body likes to be pushed hard and challenged and uh, extended out to a higher levels of performance.
Brad: 06:40 But when you challenge your body with whatever, if it’s a strenuous grueling week at work where you’re putting in a lot of hours or you’re putting in more miles than usual out on the, uh, training zone, you need to compensate with the rest of your life behaviors to tone down your energy expenditure. Remember, you’re constrained with how much energy you can output. So the athlete, like I referenced my story in the previous episode when I was training hard all day, Hey, I, I survived. I did it right? I put up the numbers, but I didn’t do much with the rest of my life. I just didn’t have the energy to go, uh, building fences, digging ditches, or working in a high energy workplace for 10 hours if I was training for five or six hours a day. And I think the hard driving type A’s, uh, kind of ignore this insight in favor of um, making the flawed assumption that different forms of stress, therefore, uh, compliment each other or somehow don’t push you over the edge because half of your stress comes from your ambitious fitness regimen.
Brad: 07:45 And the other half comes from, from, from the workplace. And then the third half get it like Yogi Berra. Uh, he said baseball is 80% mental and the other half is physical, something like that. Anyway, uh, your stress has come from, uh, an assortment of sources in modern life, but they all weigh down the same side of the scales of justice, right? You know, the blind lady, uh, with the two scales that she’s holding in either hand. So if you envision the scales of justice, one side stress and one side is rest and recovery, your work, your workouts, your social relationships, even your entertainment because stress can be positive or negative. Anything that you’re doing that is stimulatory, right? Stimulus in the environment is a form of stress. And then it needs to be countered with a low stress or restful activities. So if you go out for a stroll into the field and watch birds with your binoculars, you could probably count that on the rest and recovery side of the scale.
Brad: 08:48 The same would be the case for the amazing, wonderful insight of rebound workouts. These are these specially designed workouts, a brainchild of Joel Jamieson where you get your butt to the gym, even if you’re tired, stressed, sore, stiff from previous hard work. And if you do a specially designed workout, it can actually speed your recovery in comparison to sitting on the couch. Amazing modern insight that I’d never even considered back in the day and wish I had known that. And I have, I think, uh, a couple shows dedicated to that concept of rebound workouts where you go in there. So briefly, you’re just getting the blood flowing, you’re stretching, you’re doing foam rolling, you’re possibly doing some very brief bouts of high intensity. As a matter of fact, yes, even on a rest day or recovery day. So let’s say you sprint on the bicycle for 10 seconds and then you make a concerted effort to relax and lower your heart rate with a prolonged recovery period.
Brad: 09:46 And by spiking the stress response, spiking the sympathetic response with that ten second sprint, then you trigger a compensatory parasympathetic reaction during the minute rest period and your deep breathing and you’re focusing perhaps on your heart watch, trying to get the number down lower and lower. And you develop this skill that you can access any time to lower your stress levels. So if you do this rebound workout in the gym and you get used to doing let’s say six sprints on the exercise bike, low impact or no impact is best, uh, 10 seconds lasting 10 seconds and then chill for at least 60 seconds afterward, you can implement the same strategy when you’re at work and hang up the phone from a stressful phone call and you can feel your blood pressure, heart rate, and other sources of stress, uh, kick in. You can take control again, stimulate parasympathetic function with a methodical, deep breathing and lower that heart rate over that.
Brad: 10:45 I mean raise that heart rate variability score right there when you’re sitting in the workplace. Oops. Okay. Mr. big shot is listening. Ms big shot thinking, no, this doesn’t apply to me. I’m a high energy person. I can go, go, go all day till I drop. Get up the next day and do it again. Put in awesome workouts, kick butt in the workplace. Guess what? If you feel like you’re one of those precious chosen few that can cut corners with sleep hours that you can stay hyper-connected and suffer no ill effects but be the fastest text responder in the land, generally perform and have a massive energy output at all times. You are likely achieving this due to due in part to the overproduction of stress hormones overstimulating the fight or flight response because when you kick into fight or flight mode, when you kick into sympathetic dominance, indeed you have increased energy levels, increased alertness, increased endurance.
Brad: 11:49 You’re go, go, go. The energy feeds off the energy it seems, and you can sustain this for sometimes long periods of time, years, decades, maybe days. Other people are more sensitive and need their ups and downs. But what’s happening when you overstimulate the stress response is you are looking at a longterm repercussions with the suppression of immune function, the suppression of uh, inflammatory control processes, uh, all due to a chronic over production of stress hormones caused by these environmental stimulus is that we face every single day. So the moment you, uh, leave the parking lot and enter the front door at work, you kick into high stress mode because of all the stimulus. Now you might enjoy it, you might thrive on it. It might be exciting for you to appear in court as a trial lawyer every single day and get up there and you don’t feel the ill effects of breakdown, burnout, illness, and injury when you’re making your case.
Brad: 12:53 Then, at some point, whether it’s weekend, whether it’s vacation time, when you’re finally able to unplug and your body finally stops over-producing or chronically over-producing the stress hormones, that’s when you kind of fall apart and crash and burn. So if you’re in this pattern now as a warning sign and you make it through five days a week, cranking and having that alarm blast you every single morning, getting up and going and being supermom and meeting the morning workout obligations and then off to the busy day with schoolkids or at work, and then you get to the weekend and you’re just fried. Or even if you get to evening time and you get home at 8:30 PM and you’re just fried on the couch and trending toward high sugar treats because that’s what happens to the body when it gets depleted. It wants that quick energy in the form of sugar and then exacerbates your problems.
Brad: 13:45 If you have any of these symptoms. Oh boy. Let’s put up a red flag right now and see if you can make some wholesale lifestyle changes in order to get out of these danger zones of the burnout pattern. And I’ll reference my athletic experience where I would have these amazing phases of training that would last for six weeks or sometimes three months, right? Just go, go, go every single day, feel fantastic, get in better and better shape, no complaints of SyFy, stiffness, soreness, uh, feeling burned out, feeling unmotivated. And then it would seem like I fell off a cliff. So I’d go whatever traveled to a distant race, perhaps get my ass kicked because the fatigue was accumulating and I didn’t realize it until the gun went off. And I was on the starting line and asked to really dig deep and, uh, asked for reserve tank performance that just wasn’t there.
Brad: 14:39 And then I’d come back and have these down periods that would last three weeks, four weeks, maybe even six weeks where I just didn’t feel sharp and there was something missing. And this is sort of the aftermath of being bathed in stress hormones for a prolonged period of time. No bueno. And if you continue to cycle through these patterns like the work week and then the burnout weekend or the, uh, high hours at work for an entire season of tax preparation and then going to Hawaii for nine days, thinking that’s going to balance out five months of extreme work patterns. What’s going to happen is that the years and decades go by and then you’re going to be more and more vulnerable to disease processes because you’ve been living out of balance for a long time. That out of balance defined as chronic overproduction of stress hormones. I had an interesting guest on the primal blueprint podcast named Dr. Michael Platt, and he wrote a book called Adrenaline Dominance.
Brad: 15:38 So go check out that podcast, check out the book. But he is contending that the root cause of virtually every mental health condition, uh, depression, anxiety are prominent at record rates in modern times. Even the more severe mental illnesses he is claiming is driven by at the, at the, at the core adrenaline dominance or, uh, overproduction of adrenaline, uh, also known as uh, norepinephrine technically. So when you’re over-producing and into these, uh, stress hormone patterns, you may appear to have adrenal burnout, adrenal fatigue. These are terms that are commonly used for people that present with these symptoms. One of them being low salivary cortisol levels. Uh, but the contention by Dr Platt is then when, when you test salivary cortisol and it’s low, it’s a symptom of actually adrenaline dominance rather than a adrenal insufficiency. Because when your adrenaline dominant, you, uh, shut down, uh, superficialis, uh, metabolic processes such as immune function, uh, such as a circulation to your hands and feet.
Brad: 16:54 So that symptom of having cold hands or cold feet is also a sign of adrenaline dominance. And also, uh, sending, uh, less cortisol to the salivary glands because that’s also deemed to be unnecessary. Things like digestion, successful digestion, things like that. When you’re in survival fight or flight mode, you’re just trying to liquidate your assets as Dr Tommy Wood says, and deal with the immediate issues at hand such as your busy, stressful day. So it was an interesting spin on that. Uh, in the show, he talks about his seemingly miracle solution of rubbing progesterone cream on your skin. Uh, this is a common treatment method for post-menopausal females who stopped producing a progesterone. And what it does is it blocks estrogen. It actually blocks insulin and also adrenaline according to Dr Platt. So you can, uh, heal or correct adrenaline dominance with this progesterone treatment, uh, offers a compelling idea to, uh, try to heal.
Brad: 17:59 And it’s even for males, even though progesterone has been a female, uh, predominantly female, uh, treatment method, he claims that males, uh, around age 50 stop producing, uh, normal levels or stop producing progesterone. And this leads to estrogen dominance. Remember I said progesterone blocks estrogen? So you start to become more estrogen dominant, uh, producing more insulin. And guess what is symptomatic of that? That’s right. The spare tire club. Welcome, welcome. 50 plus to the spare tire world. And as I’ve said, uh, in books and in other episodes, when you accumulate a little bit of spare tire, that would be visceral fat around the midsection. This sets you up on a disastrous, slippery slope to make that spare tire get bigger and bigger because the spare tire, the visceral fat is an organ unto itself that secretes inflammatory chemicals. They’re called cytokines. It secretes inflammatory cytokines into the bloodstream. And so you’re in an inflamed state because of your little bit of spare tire and when you’re inflamed, estrogen dominant and
Brad: 19:16 producing too much insulin, guess what? You get a bigger spare tire. So fighting this battle, the spare tire battle is extremely urgent for males as they get into the advanced years. And of course the females have all kinds of considerations and concerns for post-menopausal. So just an interesting tidbit that might interest you in listening to that show. And of course we’ll get into this further because we want to fight that battle successfully for now. Watch out for those overstress patterns. And when you think you’re superhuman and you’re not even tired after that transcontinental jet travel and the workout you did at the hotel gym and then getting up the next right when you get home and getting up at 6:00 AM the next morning for your spin class. Yeah, take a deep breath and realize that sometimes your intuition, your logical brain might see a necessary rest period coming even when you feel great.
Brad: 20:11 And Oh my gosh, that was the greatest growth experience of my career as a professional athlete. When I could apply that higher level reasoning to my training decisions rather than just operating on a lower brain power of animal instinct, I feel great. Let’s go. I’m going to chase that guy on the bike path cause he looks like a geek. You know that kind of mentality where you’re just burning energy indiscriminately. Like a dog is a great example. My dog will run himself into the ground with his tongue hanging out and then if a squirrel appears, uh, up ahead, he’ll sprint again and then be exhausted all day long. Probably not sustainable, especially for a human. Hey, thanks for listening to the breather show.
Brad: 20:56 Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your firstname.lastname@example.org and we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop, iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars and it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves cause they need to. Thanks for doing it.