Please skip to the bottom of the page to the section “what your consultation covers” to read more specific details about what a consultation for the fatigued or health-challenged athlete covers.
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.
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; yes I am on the floor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although I am not a coach; I do understand the principles and practices 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.
What your consultation covers:
Chronic fatigue, and fatigue due to over-training, post-viral illness or relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) are very close to my heart. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue in 2008; I will never forget the feeling created from of a lack of medical support and compassion or the failure of the system to identify the causes for my fatigue (they did their best). Mostly however, I will not forget the utter overwhelm of feeling so utterly drained and fatigued on what felt like a permanent basis. To friends and family you “look” ok, and so it is very challenging for people to understand just how wrecked you feel. Like a fog over everything that you do, whether you rest or push.
So, this consultation is personal to me, your health matters and I won’t leave any stones unturned. I am here in support: 100%.
The good news is that fatigue, chronic fatigue, over training syndrome, RED-S, and most other health issues are curable and at the very least, significantly manageable. The key is to identify all the underlying factors and address them in a logical pattern such that health, vitality and energy returns. The true healing actually happens deep on a cellular, tissue and organ level but what matters from your perspective is feeling better and being able to function at high performance once more as an athlete. Often along this journey you learn a lot about yourself as a person and athlete; embrace this!
The journey can take commitment and a bit of investment; I will be honest here. Yet all the commitment is worth it. You don’t expect results in your athletic endeavours without a significant commitment; your health is the same.
The first thing I will ask you to do is to try see your health issues as symptoms and not a permanent diagnosis; this can start right now before we even meet. Fatigue is not a disease; it is a sign that something is wrong and a body cry for help for you to slow down and do something about it; push against it and it just keeps getting worse. Believe that it is forever, and it will be. You probably have discovered this. Finding the root causes however can be challenging and this is where I am here to support you.
The causes of fatigue or other health problems can be varied and complex; often times conventional medicine can highlight various issues and imbalances but more times than not all tests are negative and clear leaving Doctors scratching their heads saying that symptoms must be psychological or psychosomatic; in other words you are told that it is all in your head, that you must be stressed and you leave the office feeling equal parts mad and frustrated.
Personally speaking, I felt very disillusioned by the whole system and vowed to be better at my job supporting others and getting to the bottom of things for patients. There is a growing field of research now supporting the various theories and explanations pioneering people in the field of fatigue have had for decades. For example the brain-gut link via the vagus, the freeze response in relation to “trauma” be that a viral, experiential, physical or chemical trauma, for the impact that infections have on the body, or environmental exposures such as heavy metals and of course for various endocrine-hormonal, immunological, nutritional, or energy imbalance causes.
The medical system does do its best; and it’s all about being smart in how we use it to support us. All the same let’s acknowledge just how difficult it is when you have all the tests and they shed very little light. This is not a bad thing; medical tests are looking for serious gross pathology (i.e. serious stuff); it does not mean that you may not have a lot going on; it just means that perhaps the body is “not working optimally” rather than “completely kaput and broken” or that the dysfunction requires more expensive specialist tests that may not be available through the mainstream or out of a clinical research setting. There is hope.
I have a range of functional medicine diagnostics tests available to me that may be more sensitive to identify functional imbalances (e.g. stool testing, adrenal testing, hormone profiling, nutritional balance testing, thyroid antibody testing, hair mineral analysis, viral screening). When appropriate and helpful I will recommend these tests to you. The rest of the time we have symptoms to go by; however, symptoms don’t lie! I take your symptoms, your personal observations and recent and past health history very serious and when you add it all together symptoms and your story provide a wealth of information to guide us.
I add intuitive energy healing into the diagnostics tools also, along with measurement of your cell health via bioelectrical impedance (Bodystat 1500 MDD); and simple in clinic tests like the postural hypotension blood pressure challenge test.
So, the aim is to leave no stone unturned; to find out as many why’s and what’s as possible.
Every client is individual and with every individual I take you as your own unique case story, but in general I explore the following areas. This is done using detailed questionnaire, timeline, food and training diary, tests when necessary, and blood or other medical test results:
- Body composition, hydration and cellular health (phase angle) markers.
- Blood pressure and postural hypotension blood pressure challenge test.
- Energy balance and intuitive reading of the cells, tissues and organs. We may also use PEMF therapy in our consultation as supportive energy healing medicine.
- Childhood health history including adverse pre-natal and baby experiences and childhood illness.
- Assessment of illness as an adult, surgeries, accidents and “traumas”.
- Gut health, digestive function, microbiome health, and gastrointestinal symptoms while training and racing.
- Function of the organs of detoxification and elimination.
- Endocrine function and balance (for example the adrenals, thyroid, pituitary and hypothalamus, sex organs and their respective hormones).
- The female and male sex hormone balance and for women, cycle.
- Immune function and your ability to ward off infection and control inflammation. History of viral, bacterial, yeast or other infections such as Lymes disease.
- Recent travel, vaccine history and history of travel related illness or infection.
- Nervous system balance; vagal nerve function.
- Mental emotional health, anxiety, hypervigilance, tension and how this can impact your ability to relax, flow and achieve bodily homeostasis. Stress resilience, emotional eating patterns and more. Did you know that fatigue, chronic health problems and pain have a direct link to adverse life events, chronic stress and suppressed emotions. If you are comfortable, we will discuss this.
- Lifestyle habits, sleep patterns.
- Environmental triggers and exposures and our ability to deal with them.
- Nutritional balance, nutrient and calorie intake and their ability to match your training, mental and physical demands.
- Blood test review or any other medical test review (send it all on to me for review; there is never too much information).
- Training energy, training quality and recovery from training should you be actively training.
- Signs and symptoms of over-reaching, over-training or relative energy deficiency in sport.
- There is probably more; I tend to focus on what each patient needs individually!
I run a very thorough assessment on all these areas and more depending on your specific health issues, concerns, and your goals for working with me.
Armed with this information we can plan a strategy which we shall discuss briefly in our first appointment and then more in depth in our 60 minutes follow up review once you have had time to digest all the information. The strategy may look like this:
- Further specific tests should they be deemed necessary and important to drive diagnosis and decision making. (I never order tests without seriously evaluating their clinical benefit; this is different to many clinics that just blank screen you with a rake of expensive tests).
- Identification of the key core underlying triggers and causes.
- Treatment recommendations for the main core underlying causes and removal of the key triggers.
- Diet to support healing.
- Nutritional supplements, herbs or functional foods to support healing.
- Special diets when appropriate (e.g. gluten free).
- Practical strategies to implement in your day.
- Lifestyle changes to support healing.
- Recovery strategies.
- Sleep routine.
- Self talk, stress management, relationship with food or alcohol, etc.
- Energy healing sessions to support cell healing and emotions release.
The outcome of this consultation is that you will have information regarding what we suspect is going on and then we can make a strategic plan. You get to decide with me what this plan looks like, and how you will invest your time and finances to restore heath.
Knowledge drives action.
Your appointments may also include optional PEMF therapy, energy healing, bodystat assessment, and aromatherapy treatment. You may be prescribed functional diagnostics tests, and herbal or supplement prescriptions. All actions and strategies are decided together. This is team-work and my intention is to empower you with multiple skills and healing strategies such that you learn from this journey as we restore you back to full health.
Understand that sometimes it takes a little time to address all the causes and triggers, or for tests to come back and for diet and healing strategies to take effect. The healing curve may be up and down, or a very slow start and then more momentum, or up up and then slow; it is rarely all in a straight line. The negative dips provide a wealth of information so don’t give up and keep talking to me; observe your emotional responses as healing progresses; share your intuitions.
We may require a few sessions initially, or a few approaches with the support of other therapists. My intention for you is to heal completely, as quickly as possible and to empower you along the way. Trust in the process as best you can. By the time many clients come to me with fatigue or complex issues they have already been beaten down by many consultants and experts, so I understand if trust takes a while.
I highly recommend that you consider booking 2 further appointments anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks apart after our initial appointments depending on what you feel will best support your needs. Expect that we may use 2 hours for the first appointment. For follow up appointments book the one-hour athlete appointment option (your first follow up appointment is free). Don’t quit on the work too early; see it through.
I have training as a pharmacist and also in sports nutrition, nutrition, functional medicine, diagnostics, herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, the mind-body connection and energy healing and also experience from working with amateur and world class athletes, athletes with chronic fatigue or serious health issues and also more “normal people” with chronic health illness. You are in good hands.
This Post Has One Comment
Andreacullen25 Jul 2019
Reblogged this on Kona ironman nutrition.
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