And now, back to your regularly scheduled Adrenal Fatigue update.
My problems with adrenal fatigue ended up affecting my energy and performance much more than I thought possible and even the less is more nature of Josh’s System Six program proved to be too much for me at the time. So I had to scale back to the very basics, keep listening to how I was feeling each day and plan my training accordingly. I’ve stuck mostly with the RKC “big 6” kettlebell exercises and went down in weight 1 or 2 bell sizes. Some days are great and I can train harder or heavier, some days aren’t great and I have to train easier and lighter. It’s just the nature of the beast with Adrenal Fatigue and learning to listen to your body during a time of upheaval can be a very powerful lesson to us all. System Six is an awesome program, and I look forward to doing it in the future, but for now it’s just not meant to be.
I did, however, tackle Josh’s other awesome program, The 21 Day Swing Challenge. At just $9.77, the program packs a big punch. I went really conservative and did the beginner program, just to make sure I wasn’t pushing too hard. (and also because I was doing it with my husband who is newer to kettlebells) I varied my weights and decided between 1 hand or 2 hand swings based on how I felt both earlier that day and at that moment. I tell you, that beginner program is nothing to sneeze at and still gives a great level of conditioning! It proved to be a great choice to maintain my fitness while having to scale back, and I loved the simplicity of it.
I’m definitely getting better but I still have some days where I feel like I’m just dragging butt. In my first post, I provided some lessons I had learned in regards to my kettlebell training. Now I have two new lessons to share. First, a pre-existing hormonal condition such as my PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) can put a daily burden on the adrenal glands regardless of training or life environment. The addition of other life stressors can overwhelm the adrenal glands that much more. Second, life stressors are a HUGE factor in Adrenal Fatigue; way more than I ever realized possible.
I lead a pretty stressful life – in addition to my true love of owning my kettlebell and personal training business, I also work a high pressure full time job. During this time of Adrenal Fatigue, in addition to my typical symptoms, I noticed lots of odd aches and pains in my body that I never used to have. It’s easy enough to chalk them up to training incorrectly, pushing too hard, etc. Those things certainly can have a factor, and I did need to spend some time tweaking my form on a few exercises. However, during an extended vacation from my full time job this summer, I noticed one day that many of those aches and pains seemed to magically disappear! I felt more rested with the same amount of sleep, had a lot more energy and I felt much stronger. I was able to increase the intensity of my training a bit and I started playing with my old friends, the heavier kettlebells.
Aside from learning to listen very deeply to your body and your energy on a daily basis, finding ways to eliminate or manage your stress can make a huge difference when it comes to overcoming Adrenal Fatigue in general and especially in regards to any type of training. But the reality is that sometimes we just can’t eliminate some of life’s stressors. In that case, you must turn to things that you can control. As good as it may be for you, exercise is stress on your body. When your life stress is on overdrive for an extended period of time and you’re feeling like you just can’t deal with life, your training intensity is one thing you have complete control over. It may be only a matter of time before your body revolts in some way, whether it is a sudden strength loss, aches and pains or a serious injury. You might need to scale back to lighter weights and lower intensity for a period of time as either a preventive approach or as a recovery approach to adrenal burn-out.
If you’re unsure what to do with your training, listen to your inner voice of reason first and foremost and don’t just push through it. If you find that you don’t feel energized after a workout, then chances are you’ve pushed too hard. The risks of making your condition worse and/or injuring yourself are just not worth it! Seek out some experts who can help you – some type of natural doctor who can recommend the right supplements to support your stressed adrenal glands, perhaps an acupuncturist who can also treat you with a Chinese Medicine approach, and definitely a personal trainer who understands the body’s need to rest and recover, not one who will “encourage” you to keep pushing. I feel lucky to have had some great practitioners in these categories that helped me get over that hump and on a path to recovery. Thank you Dr. Kristen Lee, Sara Johnston and Val Hedlund! Not only has your guidance helped me with my personal adrenal fatigue battle, but you have also taught me things that will help me help others.