The next few blog entries will be chapters of the blooklet I created about Invigoral:
New Hope and Help for an Age Old (Old Age) Problem
“Why do my muscles seem to be losing their tone in spite of my workouts? Why do I feel drained all the time? Why do I have such a hard time focusing and remembering? Why can’t I seem to get rid of the fat around my middle?” Complaints like these are almost as common as smart phones.
If you’re prone to philosophical musings, you start to ask questions like: Is this what getting old is supposed to look like? Am I just supposed to suck it up, slip on my ‘Getting Old Isn’t for Sissies’ t-shirt, and get over it?
Indeed, there are a host of culprits that rob us of physical and mental fitness, energy, and agility–agents that make us look and feel old. But the truth is, much of what we see all around us, and even experience ourselves, is NOT normal and NOT inevitable.
Recent personal experiences and subsequent research have taught me that in most cases the typical “getting old” complaints are much deeper than “simply getting old.” And more importantly, resorting to some trite coping mechanism is worse than unsatisfactory. It’s tantamount to blindly jumping onto a high-speed expressway to places no one would knowingly choose to go.
My work with victims of post-traumatic stress has allowed me to stumble upon a health-robbing phenomenon that is epidemic, virtually unrecognized by the professional health community, and consequently untreated. None of us are immune from this potentially debilitating syndrome: the normal human stress response gone awry.
Initially, it shows up as a reduction of muscle mass, an increase in observable fat deposits (euphemistically called “love handles” or a “tummy paunch” and less flattering names like “beer belly” and “man boobs”), hormonal imbalances, a nagging fatigue and lack of energy, and diminishing mental clarity. Left unchecked our bodies drift into an accelerating spiral of unwanted weight gain, lowered immunity, continual fatigue, and mental fog leading to diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and other aging maladies.
Once identified, this common hormonal stress response syndrome is easy to spot and understand. And fortunately, such understanding leads to simple yet powerful tools that lessen and can even reverse its detrimental impact. That’s the subject of this book.
Quaking Earth Leads to Earth Shaking Discovery
The devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti left many dead and thousands more injured. A total disruption in sanitation and other government services brought even more pain and suffering. I felt a need to go and to volunteer my help.
The physical and emotional trauma caused by this natural disaster was off the charts–so much so that the victims’ various stress responses grabbed much of my energy and interest. Upon my return from Haiti, I enrolled in a masters program for disaster preparedness and response at Boston University. My research emphasis focused on post-traumatic stress disorder with a desire to find alternative treatments for it.
My studies in conjunction with a summary review of the many cases of chronic pain and/or chronic disease I’d seen in my practice revealed an obvious pattern: all of these patients had a major event that caused extreme fear or trauma at some time in their past. They are always waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” That kind of anxiety can produce a chemical imbalance that initiates a state of chronic stress. Obviously this is not normal or healthy but further research into the physiology of the stress response led to a powerful two-fold discovery:
Inhibited Stress Response Reset. The healthy body has a normal mechanism that returns the body’s physiology from a state of emergency to a state of relaxation, recovery, and repair. A prolonged state of stress depletes some of the components that are required to restore normal physiology. It can also create or foster other conditions that further inhibit the restoration process.
When the body’s physiology fails to enter and complete the recovery process after a stress event is over, the hormones and steroids released during the stress response promote a self-perpetuating cycle that steadily worsens many of the conditions we often associate with aging. These include:
Reduced muscle strength
Diminished energy levels
Increased body fat (especially around the torso and upper back)
And other conditions that increase risk for diabetes, heart disease, and dementia
Increased Stress Trigger Sensitivity. As the body continues in a prolonged state of physiological stress, it becomes more sensitive to changes that will throw it into another stress response.
Stress Hormones and Electricity
Before the days of social media, instant news, modern conveniences, and even indoor plumbing, life was a little simpler–or so they say. Imagine a man on the hunt for food over 200 years ago. He gets a startling surprise as he hears the rustling of leaves and heavy paws rapidly hitting the ground.
Upon turning he sees an angry grizzly headed his way and moving very fast. Without even thinking his brain and endocrine system shut down all unessential systems (such as digestion, normal cellular repair, production of urine, and random thoughts of food, sleep, and sex) and instantly fuel everything required to “fight” or “flee” this imminent danger.
Assuming he survives the encounter, his heart will slow down, his digestive system will resume, his blood pressure will return to normal, his muscles will relax, and his thoughts can return to more pleasant things within a few minutes.
A special class of hormones and a flurry of electrical impulses flashing through nerve cells (neurons) orchestrate this impressive survival response as directed by the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Without it this man would literally be “toast” for some lucky bear’s breakfast. But if his “fight or flee” response failed to reset to the pre-stress “rest and digest” condition it would generate a host of serious health problems that could kill, not as quickly but just as surely as any grizzly.
Modern life styles and diet have put most of us in a continual state of alert. Although we are consciously aware of some of these stressors, there are others that happen under the radar.
The following chapters will provide specifics about the human stress response–how it works, the avoidable triggers, and tools for preventing and/or reversing the unsightly signs of aging and serious health consequences from never fully recovering from a state of high alert.
By the end of this book, you’ll have specific strategies to employ that can increase energy, improve cognitive function, reverse the metabolism that converts muscle tissue to fat, and produce other appearance and health improvements.
Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion declares: “an object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” In the physiological world this means, for instance, that diminished energy levels lead to further diminished levels, and muscle converting to fat lowers metabolism and results in continued movement in that direction. On the other hand, increased energy levels propel you toward even higher energy levels, replacing fat with muscle raises metabolism and leads to more muscle development.
Our goal is a complete turn about. We can turn back the clock If you’re ready, let’s get going…