News You Can Use
Janet Alexander and Chris Maund
December 2011 

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Sunday January 29th 2012

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Marathon Des Sables 2010
We hope you find something interesting and useful in this month's newsletter. The aim, as always, is to provide some thought provoking insights that challenge commonly held beliefs. The photo above was taken during the Marathon des Sables in April 2010 in the Sahara Desert in Morocco. This race involves running 155 miles in 7 days through the Sahara desert. You will notice we have small back packs on. This is because all competitors must carry everything they need for the entire week including food. The packs weigh about 16lbs on day one and gradually get lighter as the race progresses and you eat your food. Competing in races like this give us a unique level of expertise when it comes to dealing with adrenal fatigue!
Testing Adrenal Function With Saliva Samples
Last month we noted that small daily doses of low intensity cardiovascular exercise can often be successfully used to increase your energy levels when your adrenal glands are fatigued. Most Westerners have some degree of adrenal fatigue and it can be very helpful to test your adrenal function in order to clarify the extent of the problem. Many labs now offer saliva testing for adrenal function and give you both cortisol and DHEA data. Most people fall into one of 3 categories of adrenal fatigue. Stage 1 is characterised by higher than normal levels of cortisol. If you are in stage 1 it's a good idea to calm your self down in the evening by performing gentle stretching, breathing exercises, meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Yoga. However, you should avoid doing back bends or any type of aggressive spinal extension movements in the evening as these will mechanically stimulate the adrenals thus making you very alert. If you find this hard to believe try doing a few back bends when you are next feeling a mid afternoon slump! It's a good way to wake yourself up. If you are in stage 1 it's also a good idea to blow off some steam by getting some exercise at, or very soon after, sunrise. This could be strength training or cardiovascular training or even a mix of both. It's important to create some physical fatigue early in the morning so that you can shut down at night instead of just lying in bed with your brain going round and round. Monkey mind is NOT a good sign!
Stage 2 is characterised by cortisol levels that are in the normal range but lower than normal DHEA levels. Some of you will have symptoms of fatigue/lethargy/depression once you reach stage 2 and some of you won't. However, the longer you continue to do the things that put you in stage 2, the faster you'll eventually end up in stage 3. Once you are in stage 3 it's much more likely that you will have obvious symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Stage 3 is characterised by below normal cortisol and below normal DHEA. By the time you reach this point you will probably feel much less energetic than you used to be and could well be suffering from many of the following:
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of motivation
  • Sensitivity to bright light (sunlight)
  • Intolerance to smells like gasoline and cigarette smoke
  • Dry/thin papery skin
  • Orthostatic hypotension i.e. you get dizzy when you stand up quickly
  • Difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep 
Regardless of whether you are in stage 1, 2 or 3, it's time to make some changes. The first thing to do is to change your diet and sleeping habits. Eliminate all grains, dairy and soy from your diet and eat the best quality fish/meat/eggs/poultry you can get your hands on at every meal i.e. 3 times per day. Eat fresh, locally produced organic vegetables with all 3 meals. Make sure you include all the following fats and oils in your diet:
  • Organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • Grass fed organic butter (Kerry Gold Irish Butter is very good)
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado
  • Nuts and seeds
Get to bed by 10pm at the latest and get 8 hours sleep every night. Next month we'll go over exercise strategies for those of you in adrenal stage 2 and 3. 
Gaining Muscle With High Rep Training
We all know people who workout with weights several days a week and never manage to add any muscle to their physique. How many times have you noticed guys in the gym with enormous torsos and skinny legs? If you are having a hard time getting results from your strength training program it might be time to change the way you train. Most skeletal muscles are composed of both fast twitch fibres (type 2) and slow twitch fibres (type 1). Fast twitch fibres hypertrophy much more readily and to a greater extent than slow twitch fibres. This is why most gym rats train below 15 reps nearly all the time. When you are lifting loads that you cannot move more than 15 times, most of the work is being done by your fast twitch fibres. However, this means that you never expose your slow twitch fibres to a significant training stimulus and if you happen to have a fairly high proportion of slow twitch fibres compared with a natural "sprinter" you are missing out on a golden opportunity to put on muscle mass. So what is to be done? Simple...start using a 20-30 rep range instead. This new training strategy will probably make you quite sore and that's confirms that you are accessing fibres that have been asleep at the wheel for far too long! After 2-3 weeks increase the rep range to 30-40. Keep the recoveries between sets as short as you can and bury your ego because the weight being lifted is going to be VERY light.
In week 4 take the week off strength training. Give your body a break and get mentally ready for another 3 weeks of consistent work starting in week 5. Most of you will do well with this "3 weeks on/1 week off" strategy. Some of you will need to adopt a "2 weeks on/1 week off" strategy. Listen to what your body is telling you.
Please remember that this training strategy will not produce results if you are not getting enough sleep or if you are not eating properly. See the paragraph above for help with these 2 issues.
Next month we'll talk about recovery strategies now you have all sorts of muscle soreness that you have not felt before!  
Using Blood Tests To Evaluate Dietary Changes 
Last month we explained that, contrary to popular belief, grains are NOT good for you. This month we are going to expand on this topic and our message is very simple...if you want to feel more energetic and lose body fat you should completely eliminate all grains, dairy and soy from your diet. In 15 years of helping people improve their health not once have we seen this strategy fail. There is no other single piece of dietary advice that we give our clients that has that success rate. There are many explanations for these clinical results and we won't bore you with the details here. If you'd like more information read the book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes and also "Dangerous Grains" by James Braly M.D. and Ron Hoggan M.A. The bottom line is that getting rid of grains, dairy and soy produces fantastic results. Just because the boffins in the white lab coats cannot prove it with their fancy studies and peer reviewed journals does not change the fact that you should try it. The worst that can happen is that you'll end up eating more fish/meat/eggs/poultry and vegetables! Give it a try for at least 8 weeks and let us know what you notice.
Now let's talk about blood tests to monitor the effects that this dietary change has on your body.
You should get the following blood tests done BEFORE you eliminate grains, dairy and soy:
  • Cholesterol
  • Oxidised LDL (much more relevant than LDL)
  • HDL
  • Lipoprotein(a)
  • Triglycerides
  • Albumin
  • Globulin
  • TSH
  • Homocysteine
  • C reactive protein
  • Creatine kinase
  • Ferritin
  • White blood cell count
  • Haemoglobin A1C
  • 25 hydroxy vitamin D
  • If your doctor is willing to order these tests because you are "too healthy" or "it's not necessary" then go to and buy the tests directly yourself. Once you have paid for the tests you need they will e-mail you a signed requisition authorising the blood draw. Take this piece of paper to your local LabCorps office and get your blood drawn. A few days later the results will be e-mailed to you. No doctors visits...just one trip for the blood draw. Once you have been on your new diet for 8 weeks repeat these tests and compare the results. Next month we'll show you how to make sense of this lab data.