From the Desk of Dr. Len
Over-Training and Plateau’s
Dr. Len Lopez – Friday, December 13, 2013
It is often assumed that over-training simply means you are spending too much time working out and that is why you hit a plateau or sticking point. But let me give you a better explanation of over-training and how it is often mis-diagnosed.
First of all exercise is another type of stress you are throwing on your body, specifically your adrenal glands. These little organs are responsible for producing both cortisol and adrenaline, two important stress hormones that SHOULD rise when you perform any type of intense exercise.
I did say, Should – didn’t I? Because many of the patients and clients I work with may have already depleted and exhausted their little adrenal glands, because of all the stress going on in their life. This makes it near impossible to produce the normal ‘fight or flight’ response that you should get from a good workout.
Yes, I said “fight or flight” because exercise is perceived and responds the same way it would if it was preparing to fight or flee from the proverbial saber tooth tiger. The problem is that so many people Don’t realize that they have already pushed their adrenal glands to the point of exhaustion that the additional stress from exercise is over-working their body the same way over-training depletes the body.
Stress is anything that causes your adrenal glands to pump out more cortisol and adrenaline.
There are different types of stressors that stimulate your adrenal glands.
- Mental/Emotional stress – worry, fear, anxiety, always being on the go
- Physical stress – not enough rest, too much exercise, being overweight (extra bodyweight taxes your body and joints)
- Inflammation – exercise triggers inflammation and causes the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol to reduce inflammation. Obesity and those ugly fat cells also produce more inflammation within the body
- Dietary stresses
- Blood sugar surges – when you skip meals or eat the wrong foods it causes a drop in blood sugar that triggers the adrenal to produce cortisol and adrenaline to raise blood sugar
- Digestive difficulties – Indigestion, Heartburn, bloating, irritable bowel, etc causes inflammation that stimulates more cortisol
The point is that the more you keep stimulating those adrenal glands, without properly resting and nourishing them the quicker you deplete and exhaust them. When that happens it slows down your metabolism and keeps your body in a constant state of catabolism, which means your body isn’t repairing and rebuilding.
The best way to determine if your adrenal glands are exhausted from too much stress in your life is to have your cortisol levels checked. A 24-hour saliva test that includes 4 samples is the most accurate test. Blood tests would only be good if they can be done over a 24 hour period, but most doctors, labs and people don’t like running to a blood draw center every few hours. This is also one of the biggest reasons mainstream medicine doesn’t use this test too often.
The 24-hour Saliva test will let you see how Stress is truly affecting your body. This will than help explain why we feel the way we do because adrenal fatigue has a direct effect on our metabolism, recovery, hormones, sleep, mood, digestion, heart and immune system.
FYI…the more stress you are under the weaker your immune system becomes.
So if you’ve hit a plateau or sticking point from your health and fitness program and can’t understand why you always seem to be fatigued, can’t lose weight, or can’t add lean muscle – you should get your adrenal glands tested to see if you are dealing with adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. It would also be good to get a Second Opinion on your health and fitness program to make sure it is the appropriate program for you, otherwise you might not overcome that dreaded plateau.
I encourage you to use the online health quiz and take the Stress Test as a first step. Don’t forget your workout could also be the problem.