What I do best #1 fatigue in the athlete

This blog-post is the first in a series explaining more about what I can do to support you;.

I can support you in many ways; health is more than just the physical; our health is connected to our body, mind, emotions and our spirit. Our health is formed by our journey in life this far; and even goes back as far as to when we were mere cells in the womb. Everything is connected in a complex web, our bodies, our memories, our experiences, our environment and our world. They all come to play together and when things don’t feel good in our bodies this forces us on a new journey for answers and solutions.

The body always wants to be well, to be healthy and full of vitality. To have an abundance of energy and to feel joy in what we love doing. When we are sick, and don’t have energy, it means that something is wrong.

The symptoms are an alert to deeper problems and to pathological or functional imbalances.

My job working with you is to identify all the triggers and for us then to work on a plan towards health and well-being.

However, you are an athlete, so someone telling you that you have a diagnosis of “chronic fatigue” and that is it not curable, or that you have “fatigue” and to slow down; is simply not acceptable. I am confident that by the time that you find me you have wrecked your head trying to figure this through. That you have broken your heart and confidence in people assisting you, that you are tired from complaining of being tired….. I hear you.

It is possible to heal, and for the body to return to a new place of health and performance. I won’t promise you that this is easy, but with patience, persistence, trust and support IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE.

Even ironman agrees!

 

I will keep this blog-post about how I can support you as short and concise as possible, because that makes it easier for you to read in this time-crunched world (I failed; because there are too many important things to say!).

If any of what I write resonates with you, and you have been experiencing fatigue that “doesn’t feel normal”, please get in touch. I am not in this gig to dupe clients, to give false promise, to make a lot of money out of you selling services, or giving you generic programmes.

I do what I do because of the following; and the fees that I charge are directly related to my time and investment in supporting you and educating myself to the very best of my ability to do so.

Reasons to consider booking an appointment with me.

# I care

I left a career (in pharmacy, making good money), to work as a self-employed consultant solely focused on helping people and to make a difference. If you asked me why I do this, it is to help people feel good; to help them feel energy, joy, love and well-being. To help people shine their light and their gifts and to remove any obstacles in health, confidence, pain or trauma that may be impacting their purpose and potential.

Taking time at the standing stones thinking about life and clients after a wee run.

I have been studying health, wellness, performance, illness, and how to nurture / heal them since 1994. Every day I study: about people, about why they get sick, about what is going on when they get sick and how to heal (in all sense of the word). Every day I know more than yesterday, and every patient teaches me something new. I do this because it is a part of who I am. I feel the world, and I feel peoples pain; and I want for no one to suffer and for every man, woman and child to thrive and chase their dreams.

Yes this is a hard world, the journey can feel so tough and pain-filled at times, the lessons so deep, but the world is also a beautiful place and life is a gift and to experience life in the full of our health with confidence, resilience, curiosity and a sense of humour is what we came here for. This is your right.

Sport is a part of your journey; never feel like your pursuits as an athlete whether Olympic, Age-group, or amateur is something small or to hide.

Sport grows us in so many ways; it lifts us, it connects us, it teaches us to rise above pain and challenge. So yes, you deserve to have the health and resilience to pursue your goals in sport as much as the next person pursuing other goals.

If you are struggling with fatigue; I want to help and I can help.

# I have been there, so I know what it feels like.

The fatigue bit!

I am not an Olympic level athlete, although I do train consistently and throw myself into triathlon training and competing (now – my health is flying it now). I understand sport and the demands of training on the body.

I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue in 2008 after a few years struggling with non-specific fatigue and then it just got progressively worse. 2008 was when it got really bad and it took me the best part of 2 years to unravel the causes in the midst of debilitating symptoms, a health system focused on pathological diagnosis and not solutions. Chronic fatigue syndrome or over-training in sport is very complex, individual and can be due to a whole rake of underlying issues.

I cannot say that the medical system is useless; to heal however does take you owning this journey and seeking answers beyond what our health system can provide (live with it, reduce your expectations, do less sport, start counselling, or take an antidepressant are not helpful options!) Furthermore, chronic fatigue is a whole spectrum of underlying functional imbalances and so most clinical trials are limited from the start in finding meaningful and clinically significant treatments. How can they its like trying to find one solution to a car with many problems.

That said there is some exceptional research coming to light of late about varius causes of fatigue in the athlete such as post-concussion and traumatic brain injury, relative energy deficiency in sport, immune and hormonal dysregulation and the gut-brain axis…. we need medicine AND complementary approaches working together.

 

The functional medicine approach certainly has helpful theories and management strategies (e.g. gastrointestinal, gut-brain axis, hormonal, neuro-endocrine, immune, infectious, and inflammation protocols), understanding the physiology of the athlete and their training demands adds more clues, working with the nervous system and sympathetic to parasympathetic NS balance is supportive, exploring environmental, nutritional, and infectious causes can give insights, tapping into the energy systems of the body and its innate capacity to heal is incredibly supportive, and delving into  psychology, patterns and traumas can certainly shed some light.

I have access to more specialist tests should we need to explore things like gut health, adrenal and hormone function, and so on and add these to the tests that we can access via the general medical health services.

In a nutshell I know what this fatigue feels like, I know how useless a diagnosis of chronic fatigue is (what’s next is the important part), and I know just how hard you must work to get better. I trusted in no one; because it seemed no one understood. I had to treat myself as my own patient; ironic I know and also not easy. You don’t need to know all my story; but you are more than welcome to ask me more questions when we meet.

I will add that being the other side of this taught me a lot about how much of a health pickle chronic fatigue is (I mean the symptoms go on and on and on!). It can feel so confusing; and with so many symptoms popping their heads up on random days some-days it feels like your head will explode with worry and self-diagnosis. This really isn’t a health condition that is manageable alone. It is important to seek support; sooner rather than later so that we can get you back fit and fighting; and racing about and kicking ass in the performance field like before…. only it will be a new you.

My journey taught me that the most significant part of the healing journey is feeling understood, listened to, supported and guided.

You have to feel a sense of control in all this; your health team can not take all the decision making or recommendations away from you, this must be a team effort and it also relies heavily on you and your support team building trust in one another.

I also see that clinging on to the diagnosis and not looking forwards can hold your progress back. You cannot overly attach to the diagnosis. I prefer to see things from a place of symptoms, and symptoms guide solutions… and solutions achieve healing.

I also highly recommend, at your own pace and when it feels right, to step back and delve really deeply into all the emotional and psychological factors involved in getting you to where you are with fatigue, and your relationship to your body and your sport; and also to explore your life traumas and triggers and your environment.

Feeling supported in this journey, I believe, is tremendously important. I have done this work myself and with many clients.

 

# I have spent many years learning how best to help you.

My 20+ years of study have gifted me a pharmacy degree and many years of clinical experience, a 3 year diploma in nutritional therapy, an education in herbal medicine (through pharmacy and nutritional therapy), certification in functional medicine (Institute for Functional Medicine AFMCP), metabolic efficiency training certification, energy healing, the use of plant and tree essences, and most importantly experience working with many people from a range of backgrounds with many serious health conditions. I also have 15 years of experience (written in 2019) working with high level and professional athletes. For more details see here.

During these 20 years I have attended numerous seminars and courses and have my head in a book after every client; just to be sure to be sure!

Often times energy healing sessions show me the most amazing solutions and advice and even still I always like to double check myself. Sure enough, what the clients body says is always spot on!

You matter; my clients probably matter more than they should and I take my work with you very seriously.

I regularly meditate with my clients in my heart; seeking guidance and intuition. I see causes and solutions in these meditations, in dream-space and also in channelling and energy work.

I know on a science and logical wavelength of thinking it seems daft; but I can hand on my heart say that there are forces in life that want for you to be well; and there are forces within you striving to give us the information to create health, and that your cells and tissues speak to me to show me what’s wrong.

Embrace this guidance, and the lessons that the journey prompts… we don’t have to understand every part of this journey (the universe has so many secrets). Yet I can tell you that after 20 years working in this realm; there is something far greater involved and we should pay attention to the intuitions and nudges as they arise…..

 

# I keep it simple.

tests:

Being unwell is expensive, I use comprehensive questionnaires, and time talking to you to guide our choices when it comes to medical and functional diagnostic tests should we need them to answer health questions and help hone our plan. Compared to the functional medicine and conventional medicine approach I aim to use the wisdom of what you and your body show me to refine the level of time and investment needed in pinpointing tests and diagnostics that we will use (as opposed to a great big long protocol list). This saves both time and money. That said, ultimately you get to decide; we have many options available to us. I use world class functional medicine tests through Genova diagnostics, Invivo Clinical, Forth, and Microtrace. I also work closely with many other medical providers that clients attend and am proficient at reading blood and other medical test results.

supplements:

Supplement protocols are expensive and so together we work on using your diet and lifestyle changes to limit the amount of necessary supplements used. Sometimes supplements are required, and often herbs will assist your recovery. I promise you that I do aim to keep these to the least amount necessary for the shortest time required. I know just how expensive it can get and many online solutions for fatigue offer long lists of supplements and remedies; not all needed.

It is important to rationalise and individualise what is taken to prevent over-consumption of unnecessary or unproven nutritional supplements.

Furthermore it is crucial to purchase practitioner quality products manufactured with strict quality control procedures and formulated with best science practice. If you are a “clean” athlete then I will only consider products that are free from any chance of contamination or informed sport/ NSF safe in sport approved.

diet:

I don’t have a long book written on a specific healing diet for chronic fatigue or the fatigued athlete; I use a practical, possible, locally sourced and affordable individualized approach.

I prefer to take where you are, in your chosen diet and food patterns, your level of cooking skills and the time that you have available to make changes and improvements to support your healing journey. I.e. we start where you are…

For whatever time we work together I will provide guidance, education and empowerment so that you learn the skills and tools to take care of your health, fuel your sports performance, and nurture your well-being.

Training:

Although I am not a coach; I do understand the principles and practice of how to train and compete in several sports (especially endurance sports; triathlon, running, cycling, adventure sports, rowing. Also swimming, rugby, GAA, martial arts, tennis and ball sports, and track and field).

Having a keen interest in triathlon and running I have also read a lot into training and from my studies understand the application of diet and nutrition to sports performance.

Combining this to an in-depth knowledge of fatigue and over-training in sport, sports injury and complex and chronic health conditions in normal people I am comfortable talking with you about your training and how to manage your body and energy and recovery alongside a gradual return to training and competition. Many medical experts recommend a complete rest from sport and this can be incredibly challenging to an athlete or very active person; and not always needed or helpful. The body does need to move, and to stimulate energy processes and the movement of oxygen and wastes.

Sometimes however you may need to downscale your expectations and focus on new regimes and routines; for a while at least. Trust me you will learn many new skills so just suck it up for the learning. Ultimately everything adds to who you are becoming as an athlete and if Yoga, Pilates and Breathwork are on the cards for a few months then it is best to approach this with the attitude of an athlete; it is all part of the process. Furthermore, as an athlete you have deep wisdom about what is going on in your body; we start to tap into this….

I am more than happy to work alongside your coach and will never undermine their recommendations. Working as a team is the only way to achieve progress.

Look, I won’t hold back if we need to have honest conversations about continued over-training while fatigued (the body cannot heal while also murdering itself in training. We only have so much energy and you get to choose where it goes).

We can also discuss anxiety and concerns about rest, or an inability to stop pushing it in training, and disordered eating; but I will promise you that I do understand.

I understand on many levels because of my own history so I promise you that I will meet you where you are at and invite honest communication between us both about how to proceed in a manner that works for you in mind and body. We can also discuss tools and skills to manage emotions and anxiety or whatever we learn along the way. Lets promise to stay open and curious….your fatigue is a meaningful place of learning and personal growth.

I am here for as long as you feel I am supposed to be guiding your journey…I understand that birds fly the nest and my job is support and education and my goal is empowerment.

I have studied all my life so that I can help you; not control you. You guide this and your body for sure is guiding this. You are not broken please don’t ever see yourself as broken. This is all part of your journey so embrace where you are and lets learn from it!

 

Phew that was longer than I meant…

The bottom line is this: You.

Yes I can hand on my heart say I have been through hell and back on this fatigue journey also and it sucks. But I am not you; this journey is about you. However, if we uncover causes such as gastrointestinal infections, or elevated levels of metals, or poorly functioning immune system showing up in blood test markers, or viral markers telling the story of virus, or elevated lymes markers, or issues like migraine, anxiety, insomnia or pain, or dysfunctioning hormonal systems please trust that I do understand, and I have personal insights as well as practical experience with many clients that have suffered similar never-mind a gazillion books and texts and clinical papers read.

You should not suffer this alone, you should not feel like there is no one out there that gets it.

You should not stop at the point of getting a diagnosis; that is beyond useless. The point is to heal this.

The point is to look at everything about you, your journey, your training, and all the factors going on that may be leading to you experiencing fatigue, complex health problems.

Don’t stop if you get an all clear from the doctor even when you know things aren’t right.

We can solve this.

Andrea x

Nutrition, PEMF and many other rarely discussed approaches can help Traumatic Brain Injury

Here is a snippet of some helpful research that I do to help those with concussion, post concussion or suspected traumatic brain injury. it is far more common than you think!

This article here is eye opening:

Pop in and I can help.

Andrea

Nutr Neurosci. 2018 Feb;21(2):79-91. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2016.1236174. Epub 2016 Oct 5.

Supplements, nutrition, and alternative therapies for the treatment of traumatic brain injury.

Lucke-Wold BP1,2, Logsdon AF2, Nguyen L2, Eltanahay A3, Turner RC1, Bonasso P2, Knotts C1, Moeck A4, Maroon JC5, Bailes JE6, Rosen CL1.

Abstract
Studies using traditional treatment strategies for mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) have produced limited clinical success. Interest in treatment for mild TBI is at an all time high due to its association with the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and other neurodegenerative diseases, yet therapeutic options remain limited. Traditional pharmaceutical interventions have failed to transition to the clinic for the treatment of mild TBI. As such, many pre-clinical studies are now implementing non-pharmaceutical therapies for TBI. These studies have demonstrated promise, particularly those that modulate secondary injury cascades activated after injury. Because no TBI therapy has been discovered for mild injury, researchers now look to pharmaceutical supplementation in an attempt to foster success in human clinical trials. Non-traditional therapies, such as acupuncture and even music therapy are being considered to combat the neuropsychiatric symptoms of TBI. In this review, we highlight alternative approaches that have been studied in clinical and pre-clinical studies of TBI, and other related forms of neural injury. The purpose of this review is to stimulate further investigation into novel and innovative approaches that can be used to treat the mechanisms and symptoms of mild TBI.

KEYWORDS:
Alternative therapies; Chronic symptoms; Mild traumatic brain injury; Secondary injury cascades; Supplementation

Full link here:

Continue reading

Concussion and Traumatic Brain injury, could PEMF help?

Here is a very important article on Concussion and Traumatic Brain injury with a recommended suggestion of PEMF as a supportive therapy.

I believe that creatine and omega 3 may also be of benefit and would include bioavailable turmeric in this list. For more significant neural and inflammation sequalae which are common more complex nutrition protocols can be added. I have touched on the research in this blog here. Contact me for more information.

Please read on here:

If you are interested to book PEMF sessions contact me:

 

Coaches corner podcast getting rough and gels 101

So our latest podcast on Endurance Lab coaches corner is available: Getting rough in a group, how to practice for this and own your space and then the main topic of gels; what are they, how do we use them, should we use them in training and what about natural foods?

Check out our complete podcast playlist here:

On the coaches corner we always advocate using real foods in training and in our diets when possible (except for race nutrition practice, which is important). Gels, the better formulated ones do play a role in racing. The better ones are formulated to optimise absorption and oxidation rates, to be easily carried, to minimize gastro issues and to not taste too sweet. Many also contain electrolytes and some contain amino acids and caffeine. This is what science says… for most this works.

Do I like that we take straight sugars when the research regarding health says otherwise? Well an ironman isn’t a normal event it is far and fasts and long!

Most people’s stomach digestive function is poor due to sympathetic nervous system drive, and pace and practical run and bike issues make it hard to eat solids and real foods and hot humid weather or body heat compounds these issues; the result being we suffer! Altered digestive function will also create microbial fermentation so gas and wind and more serious digestive side effects may occur with high fructose or fruit products.

So yes for the purposes of a race do what works for you. Slower paced racing can tolerate more solids and real foods but the faster intensities due to how our bodies function will not be able to tolerate foods requiring complex digestion and so gels and liquids are superior.

What do I do? In the podcast I mentioned that my goal for future races is to use more gels. Not because I am a fan of straight sickly gels but because after 4 years of exploring combos of real foods and products like drinks and bars I feel that gels do get the sugar where you need it and fast. And I will benefit from this in a race scenario. For all training I choose real food. I have a box of products that are reserved for racing and race nutrition practice and this only gets opened on occasion. At all other times I let real food do the work and this is what I recommend most athletes do.

Honey and maple syrup are often discussed. What do I think?

Well… there is a lot of fake adulterated honey out there and maple “type” syrups are not real maple syrup so first check are you buying the real deal. Even here in Ireland most honey on the shelf is mixed source from EU and non EU states.

Honeygate: How Europe is being flooded with fake honey: here

The scourge of honey fraud: here
Choosing Maple Syrup: What Grade Should You Buy? here

Secondly honey can be high in fructose and this may create significant gastrointestinal issues due to its osmotic load in the gut and furthermore fructose is metabolised by the liver and so is slower to get to the muscles than glucose and maltodextrin. This is what science says; if you want to try a more natural approach try it before you let the research sway you. I would like to think that our bodies do deal better with natural foods.

Maple syrup that is REAL has a slightly better glucose to fructose ratio. There is nothing wrong with these options but despite being natural they may not suit everyone. But are they better for you; well of course! But you want to race a fast race yeah?

Gels are a means to a fast end… choose the best ones, reserve for racing except for race fuel practice and for the rest of the time EAT REAL FOOD

I hope you enjoy the podcast; I had a few tongue-tied moments but hey that’s me… I’m all in my head!

Andrea x

PEMF for athletes

Kona ironman nutrition

Hi folks

Just a reminder nudge that in the clinic healing therapies are available, either hands on (yep, I also do this – its a cool way of listening to see what the body needs in the moment) and also through energy frequencies on the PEMF device.

Here is a super cool article explaining a bit more about the use of and benefits of PEMF to athletes:

ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE

Do every thing you can to support your body in its journey to optimal performance.

Success is based on all the small percentages.

Andrea

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Our first coaches corner where you can see us!

We had super fun today on coaches corner; our first time using Skype and I sense that the competition is on now for best hat and mug combo. Mitch won today; with Ian in sensible grown up clothes coming in a firm second.

We have built up a real treasure trove of resources for cyclists and triathletes; so if you are interested in having a listen to other podcasts you can find there here to stream in any format that suits you best and also here on YouTube. I have also detailed many of the podcasts here: (I may have missed a few).

Here is today’s awesome podcast 🙂

Today we discussed:

  • Early (warning) signs of health crashing and tips about what to do to prevent getting sick and return to full form as quickly as possible.
  • Indoor vs outdoor powermeter and what to do with your numbers – also, if you do not have a PM outdoors – how to pace yourself?
  • Theia offers words of wisdom on “failure- or is it?” I felt like she was speaking to my soul given the personal context for me; thanks Theia! Her words are worth listening to. I really enjoyed the tip on  “what am I going to give in a race” and I learnt that for me the importance of holding my health sometimes has far greater meaning in the context of my work and home life. I need to be healthy for what matters; and crushing this in a race just isn’t worth it.
  • Concept of a “Floor” in our Training Peaks numbers – and how to use it.
  • This week in the LAB.

As promised here are my words of advice regarding what to look out for and what to do when your health starts to veer off track:

Warning signs:

I have kept it light hearted; if you wish to read the official consensus on Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of the Overtraining Syndrome: Joint Consensus Statement of the European College of Sport Science and the American College of Sports Medicine click here and another topic close to this and equally concerning is relative energy deficiency in sport and here is the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Consensus Statement on Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S): 2018 update.

Normal warning signs and symptoms that I see when training stress starts to ramp up are the following – without getting too in-depth!

Respiratory tract:

  • Allergies and asthma
  • Sinus infections
  • Head colds
  • Sore/ tickly throats
  • Constant cough
  • If really unlucky chest infections or pneumonia and viral conditions (that don’t need an antibiotic) worsening into bacteria complicated infections (that may need an antibiotic).

Gastrointestinal tract:

  • IBS type symptoms
  • Looser stools
  • Greater difficulty managing nutrition and feeling like food isn’t digesting well
  • Reflux and indigestion
  • More frequent food poisoning / gastritis incidents
  • Poor nutrient absorption – iron and B12 deficiency

Continue reading

Two great website resources!

click here folks: http://burnfatnotsugar.com

and here: https://optimisingnutrition.com/2018/03/17/energy-density/

Remember these mantras:

  • Keep it real (food).
  • Be environmentally aware and ethically conscious.
  • How can I make this meal better? Do what you can and then go one step better.
  • Preparation makes a big difference in our success.
  • Have I earned it with activity?
  • Become a master of your emotions; eating them away rarely helps.
  • Food builds you, heals you, powers your brain and body, recovers you, fuels you, protects you from illness, sustains you for the long-haul. The right food is life changing (and so is the wrong food).

Andrea x