The Five Stages of Adrenal Exhaustion

Fatigue, nervousness, sleep problems, mood swings, muscle twitches, digestive disorders, lack of concentration and proneness to illness does not just happen over night.

Often, the above symptoms are the result of adrenal exhaustion. Many of use have been there and have not realized it until it was too late. Just like many other mental, physical and even financial ailments, there is usually a process leading up to the problem.

Let’s look at the body’s nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system gives us adrenaline and cortisol and the parasympathetic nervous system calms us down with sedating hormones such as calcitonin. Both nervous systems work to keep our bodies in balance and harmony.

When we get into a stressful situation, like a threatening stranger on a dark street or what looks like a bear stumbing through the bush. The sympathetic nervous kicks into high gear and dumps adrenaline, cortisol and sugar into your blood stream. Your blood pressure gets cranked up and you become very alert, aware and ready to fight, flee or freeze like a statue.

In 1956, researcher Hans Selye, wrote The Stress of Life and identified three stages of stress. In 1990, Dr. David Watts, author of Trace Elements and Other Essential Elements added two more stages. These five stages of stress are:

  1. Alarm
  2. Resistance
  3. Recovery
  4. Adaptation
  5. Exhaustion

During the alarm stage, you are totally focused on fighting or getting away. Your heart rate and blood pressure and sugar levels are “through the roof.” Your body’s resources are all focused on your immediate, short-term survival.

As you run or fight, you enter the resistance stage. Your adrenaline is still high, but you are more aware of your surroundings and starting to think more clearly. As a kick-boxer, I usually got to this high-adrenaline “thinking stage” by round two.

At the recovery stage, the danger has passed, you have found a safe place and are calming down.

The adaptation stage is where people do not reach the recovery stage. They spend too much time in the resistance stage and are constantly looking over their shoulder for more danger. When I was on a peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia (the Balkans), I was constantly wired for an emergency. I had trouble sleeping and was constantly urinating. Later, back in Canada, I lived in a low-end neighbourhood where I was overly cautious of being robbed or assaulted. I confess, at the time, I kind of thrived on the adrenaline high. It was like being overseas again.

This where you either learn to take the stress or start taking precautions so that the stress does not ruin your health.

The exhaustion stage comes after your body is drained of essential nutrients and breaks down from fatigue. This exhaustion can also lead to disorders such as: arthritis, eating disorders, back pain, teeth grinding, insomina, irritability, increased use of stimulants (alcohol and drugs) and proness to accidents.

Modern living makes it difficult to resist this exhaustion stage. Modern living cuts us with a two-edged sword. On one edge, the high stress of work, home and education can make huge stress demands. On the other edge of the exhaustion sword, people seldom allow themselves to recover. They eat poorly and run on coffee, cigarettes and processed foods to keep themselves going through the day.

If you want to build a resilient mind and body, learn more about re-programming yourself to being stronger, fitter and faster, in my book:

Strength-Endurance Secrets: Build an Unstoppable 2nd Wind

In Health,

Coach Doug

Bully Busting 110: High Risk Times at High School

So, you return to high school into grade 9 or 10.  You are almost into adulthood and close to being finished with this school prison.  It is also where a majority of physical bullying takes place, especially to low-income teens from single parent families.

After your summer break, you, as a bully’s target, might find out that most of the bullies have undergone growth spurts.  While, you, my friend have not.

If you had been following the previous advice in the other lessons, you will have, at least, improved your health, strength and stamina.  This applies to the gals, as well as the guys.  Your status with the general teen population will almost always increase with your physical abilities.   The smart, strong, attractive girl or smart, strong guy is usually in a better position to deal with bullies than their weaker counterparts.

Regardless how much stronger you have gotten, everyone wants to re-establish the school “pecking order” for the rest of the school year.  That is, certain people want to “put you in your place” and keep you there.

This is why the first couple of weeks is essential for not getting bullied.  I know when I was training all summer and came back to school at with about four extra pounds of muscle, I made a point of not falling back into that being pushed around routine.  It was hard to break old habits and I had to back down when outnumbered and out muscled.

This is where the confrontational skills come in.

  1.  If a punk makes an insult, you can do an eye roll their way or make a funny remark.
  2. If a group makes an insult or tries to bully you just look at them blankly, then corner one of them later.  And casually ask what was up?  Watch the reaction.  It will usually be a bit of a tough guy act or a fast “hey just joking” remark.
  3. Look at people without staring them down.  This can be done with by throwing your eyes out of focus or looking at their foreheads.  This is like avoiding a dog.  You watch it without starring at it.
  4. If you think that you can handle a bully (male or female) and they are insulting you, invade their space.  This takes the fight right out of some people.  Especially if it is done suddenly.   (Eg. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I quite heard you right.)
  5. Lastly, of course, is the actual defending oneself.  It is better to get sent to the office or take a bit of a beating than to be harassed and picked on for the rest of the year.

Acting a little more aggressive will probably draw more attention to yourself, at first.  But, then, at least some of the bullies will back off or think twice before bothering you.  They will probably step it up when they feel safer in greater numbers.  In which case, stay alert.

Stand Up Without Using Your Hands

One of the most direct ways of testing core strength, flexibility, balance and body control is simply landing up from the prone position…without using your hands.

Start with the Pilates Roll-Like-a-Ball exercise by lying on a mat on the ground and curling into a ball.  Hold your shins (beginners grab the backs of your thighs), then roll forward and, using momentum, stand up.

Watch how, after four months of training 50-something, Steve, rolls up onto his feet.  Way to go Steve!

Bully Busting 109: Strengths and Weaknesses

If you are really dedicated to “unbullying” your life, you need to be aware of who your bullies are and what makes them tick.

Everyone has a weakness, personal problems, crazy relatives and something that they are deeply ashamed of.  This is especially true of bullies.  They are terrified of being exposed of what they really are.  Case in point:  I was constantly bullied by a small group of athletes throughout junior and senior high school.  The head guy was an Olympic style weight-lifter, who ranked something like number six in the province.  Now, why he had to pick on someone 5o pounds (2o kg) lighter than him was beyond me.

Even then, I started to pick out certain weaknesses.  The weightlifter was sensitive about his small hands and used amphetamines during track and field.  He often treated his girl friend roughly, which told me something about his girlfriend’s low self-esteem.

Then the hockey team captain often got drunk on Friday nights and had crying spell, etc. etc.  I started to see patterns of how insecure many of the bullies really were.

I noticed even more how their collective courage seemed to waiver as their fitness levels dropped.  They started driving cars and stopped playing sports.  They lost status as high school athletes.  While I still took some abuse, many of the usual bullies started backing off.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was going through the Canadian military boot camp (years before all of the Human Rights).  There was this ex-convict, “Rusty,”who constantly insulted me and made threats.  A couple of the bigger guys would sometimes put this guy in his place, but he would always find a way to make a threat or insult my way.  This went on for 10 weeks.

Then an interesting thing happened.  During the last week of training, I was crossing a three-rope bridge an obstacle course.  This where you walk on the center rope, while holding the two flanking, chest-high ropes, acting as hand rails.   It is simple if you take your time and walk carefully.

Suddenly, I heard this panicked whimpering behind me.  Curious, I looked back to see who was having trouble and maybe I could help them out.

It was good ol’ Rusty. Mr. tough-guy, who, for over 10 weeks bragged about robbing banks, welding a shot gun, having sex with dozens of women, being in prison riots, etc. etc.  It appeared that the same rough, tough ex-con who was constantly threatening and attempting to bully me was afraid of heights.

Well, well, well.  As the saying goes”every dog has their day” and “what goes around comes around.” So, I grabbed the hand rail ropes and swung my body sideways as hard as I could.  Behind me I heard Rusty making these threats only this time in a high-pitched, terrified voice.

It only took a few seconds of bridge shaking to make my point.  I finished the obstacle course and did not mention the incident to anyone afterwards.  For the next few days, Rusty kept away from me and was pretty quiet.  I kind of felt sorry for him after that.  But, the threats and snide remarks had stopped and that felt pretty good.  I was just glad to be finishing basic training, “boot camp,” to be free of some bully.*

I know that it sounds a bit cruel scaring a bully to make them stop.   But, often that is all that these two-legged animals understand.  They have little  or no empathy for other people.  Otherwise, they would not bully others in the first place.   Sometimes you to have to throw (or pretend to throw) rocks to keep the mean dogs away.

(*About 20 years later, I found out that Rusty had committed suicide a few months after boot camp.   It makes you wonder what kind of internal torture he had been going through to act the way that he did.)

 

Bully Busting 108: Verbal Fast Balls

Verbal bullying feeds off of reactions. The more that the receiver reacts, the more that the bully enjoys the taunting. The bully feeds off the pain of others. Eventually, he/she steps it up into more physical abuse.

One can “tough out” the taunts, which sometimes leads to a physical altercation. Or one can provide whitty remarks which might embarrass the taunter and lead to a physical beating.

I had the privilege of learning how to deal with verbal bullying with anti-bully expert, Izzy Kalman. Izzy talked me through a typical scenario where I played the bad guy and began to taunt him. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey wimp. How come you can’t make the hockey team?

Izzy: Just leave me alone! Stop bothering me!

Me: Ah, you can’t cut it. What a weakling.

Izzy: You watch out! Or else!

Me: Or else what?

Then Izzy asked me who looked the most ridiculous? Well, I admitted that he was getting upset and agitated and to an onlooker, the bullied person looked like an immature idiot and the bully was in control.

So, we did it again. Same roles.

Me: Hey wimp. How come you can’t make the hockey team?

Izzy: You guys are amazing athletes. I admire that.

Me: You trying to be smart? You can’t cut it. Woosie.

Izzy: I never put in the time to play hockey like you did. It shows dedication.

Me: Well…. ???

This time, I felt like an idiot. Onlookers would see a bully like this as an idiot with no reason to bother someone else. “The trick,” Izzy explained. “Is to stay calm regardless and then to maintain the same kind of responses every time. This may take several months.”

In my own experiences, this kind of clever response does not usually escalate into an argument.  But, when you are dealing with a real dumb type of bully, you have to be ready for the shove, getting personal items knocked around or a fight.  In which case, the previous lessons on strength and martial arts will have to be used.  Just let witnessed know who started it.

Note: I did sucker punch a couple of guys in my early years.  One was from being made fun of because of my bucked teeth and another was a guy who kicked me during a volley ball game.  They survived and left me alone.  I have to admit, it kept the other bullies at bay for awhile anyway.

How Gut Bacteria Can Reduce Depression and Anxiety

Gut bacteria will determine your health. Thank you to Creative Commons.

Raising your mood might be as far as bacteria in your refrigerator.

I mean friendly bacteria from fermented foods. This is this friendly bacteria, effects levels of serotonin in your body. Serotonin, which influences mood, sleep, depression and aggression, is more concentrated in the gut than the brain. Something like 5-10% is stored in the brain and the remaining 90-95% is in your intestines. This might explain the problems of using certain drugs to raise serotonin in your brain and not your intestines. The brain and intestines produce serotonin separately from each other. So, the level of serotonin in the intestines will affect the brain.

Many drugs, such as SSI Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors, work by aiding the body to keep most of its mood-calming serotonin in the brain. Fact is, 90% of your body’s serotonin is in the gut. The gut then sends a signal to the brain that all is good.

The Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto conducted a study of 39 people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. One group of subjects were randomly given significant amounts (24 billion Colony Forming Units:CFUs) of a yogurt-type of bacteria (lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (LcS)).  The second group received placebos.

Within two months, the probiotic group demonstrated a marked decrease in anxiety, dizziness, appetite changes and shortness of breath as well as an improvement in their sleep patterns.

A similar study involving mice was reported in the December 2011 Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility. In this experiment the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum, was found to reduce anxiety behavior in mice with colitis. Better bacteria meant happier mice.

To improve your own anxiety and depression, you can take commercially available probiotics or eat any of the following fermented foods:

  • The Korean kimchi
  • The European sauerkraut
  • Inuit fermented seal
  • East India Dahi
  • Japanese natto and miso
  • European and Mongolian yogurt and kefir

To get the maximum benefit, of probiotics, you can also reduce all white sugar.  This means even artificial sweeteners.  A 2008 study at Duke University found that rats fed Splenda had a significant reduction of good bacteria in their in their digestive tract.

Bully-Busting 107 Martial Arts

Winning a full contact kung fu match in Vancouver, Canada

When a child, teen or adult gets bullied, they often run to the nearest martial arts school. Too often, the martial arts schools are either: (1) incompetent; or (2) full of bullies who like to practice on new comers. Sometimes, the school is so hard-core, like many Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) schools that the newcomer is over-whelmed. As one lady’s son once told me, “You’ll push me over my limits!” before running out of the room. (Well, yeah, it was my job to do that, but not to an extreme.)

If you are bullied (or just lost a fight) you need to commit to the training, just like exercise, eating and sleeping. You have to approach martial arts with the same dedication. Former world karate champion, Chuck Norris, once described in an article, a student who could only perform six situps and three pushups. Yet, the student persisted and eventually earned a black belt.

Now the question is always, “what is the best martial art?” Short answer: all of them if they are taught properly. I trained in different styles, but settled on western kick-boxing as I was already fit from the military and distance running. Plus, I just had my butt kicked a few days before. I was determined to hand out my own butt-kickings, so I trained hard and worked on my strength. Within four months of training I was able to hold my own in the ring and win a confrontation. Within seven months, I had my first kick-boxing match (and won by a Technical Knock Out (TKO)).

The fastest way to decide on the competency of a school is to look at the students. The instructor might be a great athlete, but unable to pass on their skills to their students. Hence, you might see lots of nice, but very unfit, uncoordinated people. If they hang out, talk lots and goof around, then you might be wasting your time. The same goes for long training sessions of little or no explanations.

Kick-boxing, boxing, wrestling, judo, jujitsu, some forms of karate and other contact martial arts rely heavily on physical conditioning. Some tae kwon do and karate training are disciplined, but may take longer to learn than the contact styles. This is why I recommend them to younger, fit people who have the stamina and ability to recover from training to take the “hard” martial arts. The internal forms of martial arts like aikido and tai chi are also very demanding, but require less heavy physical conditioning.

But here is the thing that people confuse over and over again regarding martial arts. Self-defense expert, Marc MacYoung explains that martial arts, fighting and self-defense are separate. Unlike martial art sparring, fighting is never a fair one-on-one event. Often attacks are not fights, but rather ambushes. In the military, we trained for ambushes, raids and reacting to being fired at. (The old charging across an open field at an enemy went out of fashion back in the Napoleonic times.) This means that self-defense is being able to avoid the attack and see trouble coming before trouble starts.

So, does this mean that martial arts training is useless?

Heck, no. Martial arts training is an awesome way to build some handy skills to use in a fight or self-protection, along with fitness, health and self-discipline. The self-discipline enables a person to avoid being hurt by insults or drawn into an argument or fight. The trained martial artist has the patience and confidence to avoid trouble. They will tend to walk straight and unhurried and will often project confidence. This makes the bully think twice about attacking someone who appears confident.

After three months of consistent training, the trainee usually becomes physically fitter and healthier. After six months, they are mentally stronger. After a couple of years of training, the martial artist finds that the self-discipline moves into other areas of their life and are able to handle situations in school, work and home. The person with the self-discipline and determination will be able to ignore the put-downs, insults and jeers from low-level people.

The trick is to keep training while life, work, school and, yes, some bullying continues. That, my friend is the hardest part. That is what keeps you going when family, friends and institutions (like schools) fail. Chuck Norris called it developing inner strength.

John Gray’s Take on Testosterone

Supporting a 220 lb. paratrooper on my stomach

Testosterone levels was a subject of a recent talk by John Gray. At a Vancouver seminar in August, 2018, the world famous author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus told the audience:

  • The average North American male has low testosterone.
  • The average married man has low testosterone.
  • A man needs 30 times the testosterone as a woman.
  • Excessive talking raises estrogen.
  • Guys with more time to themselves tend to have more testosterone.

Now, you wonder why that might be?  Aside from not attending dirty, dangerous jobs or playing contact sports, men don’t have much time to regenerate testosterone.   Gray explained the mental need for men to work on their own or “retire to their caves” to restore their natural testosterone levels. This can be that dirty, dangerous work, watching sports, car maintenance or working out. Guys need their time away from their women, period. Gray describes the men’s actions being like rubber bands. They run away, then they come back, they go away and come back. It is nothing vindictive, but rather a natural behavior.

I know myself that I could not handle being around my girlfriend for more than a few days.  I needed to get out and do guy stuff with the army reserves, hiking, training or just hunkering down to some project.  It is mentally healthy for guys to do guy things.  Women had better pay attention as not only has guy-girl behavior lowered testosterone, the whole North American lifestyle is draining away the male drive.

I have observed in both the workplace and the media, a definite drop in North American male testosterone.  There are currently significant levels of the following:

  1. Depression. There is a major increase in a lack of sex drive and poor concentration in males. In the last few years, five of the funerals that I have attended were from male suicides, mostly soldiers and a firefighter.
  2. Weight gain. You cannot walk down a street without seeing beer guts and man boobs.  It might be time to start marketing a “Manssierre” (designed by the character Kramer on the Seinfeld show).   I don’t understand how I guy can wobble around like that.  (I used to counsel a former Canadian Special Operations soldier with drug and PTSD problems.  One day, I told him flat out that he was not living up to the CSOR reputation and was forming man boobs. This insult seemed to snap him out of his depressed state and we started working out.)
  3. Lack of ambition. You see this with the docile types on the campus or work place. There is a real “who cares” attitude, irritability, whininess and lack of personal drive.
  4. Reduced muscles. It is the man’s testosterone that builds bigger muscles.
  5. Fatigue. Again, a lack of personal drive.

Aside from John Gray’s recommendations in general behavior, men can greatly increase their testosterone by taking action in their own personal lives. Namely:

  • Avoid soy products. They contain plant estrogens.
  • Avoid high sugar intake. Sugar inhibits the growth hormone need to grow muscle and burn fat.
  • Performing strength training. Get off of the cardio machines earlier and lift heavier weights. The strength building increases growth hormone and testosterone and burns fat. It also trains your body to regenerate itself faster than cardio exercises.
  • Get a good eight hours of solid sleep per night. Even five or six hours of deep sleep are more productive than eight to ten hours of restless sleep.
  • Eat high protein meals. Your muscles, skin, hair, brain and nerves are made of protein. The women’s fashion magazine weight-loss diets will often NOT work for men. Protein is needed to not only build tissue, but to fight infection and remove excess water.

I have seen marked physical, as well as mental and emotional improvements in men (and women) when they improve their hormonal balances through proper exercise, nutrition and proper rest. Before you reach for another pill, consider improving your overall health first with lifestyle changes. Life is so much more fun and fulfilling when one is stronger and healthier.

Bully Busting 106: Winning the Interview

Bullies (and other criminals) are like wild animals testing out their prey before they make their put down, lunch robbery, strong arming or assault.  They have no conscious of hurting someone weaker or out-numbered. (Man, it was five to one.  He was the toughest guy that we ever beat up.”)   This “sniffing out the prey” usually involves what self-defense expert Marc MacYoung describes as the interview[1].

Interviewing is basically how the criminal “smells you out.”  Just like how a strange dog approaches you to see if you are friendly or scared.  They stop to smell you and look you over.  If the dog is cowardly it might try to intimidate you and see if it is safe to bite you.

In many ways, an interview is like a sales person’s approach.  They want to know if you are a good prospect.  In the criminal’s case, they want to know if you are a good target. They need to know if they can hurt you without getting hurt in the process.  They need to measure out the risks.

There are several types of interviews.[2] According to MacYoung, they are the:

  • Regular
  • Silent
  • Escalating
  • Hot
  • Prolonged

The regular interview is when the criminal or bully is looking for tell-tale signs of nervousness or “jumpiness” in a targeted person.  They want to see how much they can push their limits.  A bully will toss insults or try to invade a person’s space.  It can be a casual bump. (“Hey, watch where you are going.”)

You have to avoid reacting to this kind of interview.  This is where the criminal will make the snap decision about whether or not to rob, assault, con or intimidate you.  If they are unsure, they will usually just move onto another target.

The silent interview is where the criminal waits and watches.  You can see some of these types usually hanging around public places, like malls, parking lots and parks.

I have read about studies of muggers, in “correction facilities” (jails), being shown video clips of different people walking.  The muggers almost all consistently chose the same people as potential crime victims.

You can test this silent interviewing with your friends the next time that you are in a public place.  You might be surprised at how obvious it is sometimes. Usually, the potential crime victim will display a certain lack of confidence about them, like an awkward gait, with their arms out of sync with their legs.  They will also act unaware of their surroundings, either in a focused or “spaced out” manner.  Don’t be either of them.  Walk with a purpose, like you know where you are going.

I recall an example of the silent interviewing when I was freelancing as a crime reporter.  There were a group of 15 year old girls who used to hang around the Metrotown Shopping Center in Burnaby, B.C. Canada.  They knew what a typical victim looked like.  They would wait for a younger girl with several shopping bags of high-end clothing to walk by them in an isolated walkway near the sky train (above ground subway) and then take the girl’s belongings.

The Escalating Interview is when a seemingly harmless encounter turns ugly.  The aggressive panhandler is a prime example.  “Gotta a quarter?” can escalade into “Gotta a dollar?” or “How about a dime?  You can’t even spare a dime?  What’s wrong with you?[3]” Or they will start talking about how their mother died or some sob story.  The situation also escalates by walking past a group in an isolated area.  I talked to a man who experienced this first hand.  He had been approached by a teenager asking him “what was he doing here?” and that the man “looked like a thief.”  While the man protested, seven youths surrounded him and proceeded to beat him up.

As a teenager I was once approached by a couple of bigger, older, drunken teenagers.  One walked up to me and accused me of bothering his sister.  As I tried to explain that he had the wrong guy, he became agitated.  Then, I foolishly tried a karate back fist and straight punch.  Only I pulled them, just I did in karate practice.  The guy threw me down on the ground and pounded me into the ground.[4]  (Fortunately, the unpaved dirt took some of the shock.)

The Hot Interview can be seen coming a mile away.  This is typical of the high school bully’s phrase, “You looking at me?”  It is very aggressive and often uses any excuse to attack, even sexual assault.  It is never their fault.  They will insult someone and use the rebuttal as an excuse to attack.

The typical approach is the car full of drunks, thugs, sport fans or in one of my encounters, members of a sports team looking for a target to take their hyped up aggression on.  Once in Vernon, B.C. three athletes in their sports jackets, were yelling insults from their car, trying to pick a fight with me. with me.  Lucky for me, I had been competing in kick-boxing for several years.  Which, turned out to be unlucky for them.

The prolonged interview is perhaps the creepiest.  Where the other interviews are crimes of opportunity, the prolonged interview is used by professional burglars, stalkers and some rapists.  The professional burglar[5] will watch a place to learn the movements of shift workers, security systems and escape routes.  They will “case a joint” and weigh the risks prior to stealing from a place.

Stalkers include celebrity fans, former employees and co-workers, rapists and even high school students stalking people in person or on the internet.   Stalkers can be mean and threatening.  They can make threatening phone calls, letters and face-to-face taunts.  The best defense is, again, NOT to engage in conversation.  The next stage is to record the incidents, hopefully with actual sound and video recording so that the police have evidence to act on.

People receiving a prolonged interview are often not aware that they are being interviewed.  The criminals may appear very innocent. They might even have their own kids with them, while they are looking for break-in, robbing or assaulting opportunities.

I once had two guys knock on the door of a house that I was renovating.  They were asking for work and one of them was holding a baby.  A few weeks later, when I was working late, one of the previous visitors, with a new friend, entered my building and started poking around.   When they saw me coming down the stairs (with a crow bar), they promptly ran out the front door.

If you have a bad feeling about someone, regardless of who they are with, trust your own judgment and avoid them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] MacYoung, M. Pfouts, C (1994) Safe in the City. Paladin Press, Boulder. Pp.vii-xii,

[2] For an in-depth explanation, watch the video Safe in the Street by Marc MacYoung.

[3] Actual conversation with a Winnipeg panhandler in 2000.

[4] 15 years later, at 40 pounds heavier with seven years of kick-boxing, I pummeled two guys who attempted a similar approach.

[5] Barnes, R.E. (1971) Are You Safe From Burglars? Simon and Schuster: Richmond Hill

Bully Busting 105: Recovery, Rest & Sleep

Yukon hunting lab snuggles up protectively with four month old Lewis

One thing that picked-on kids and adults have in common is their inability to relax and sleep.  Unless the sleep is used as a type of escapism, deep rest is often difficult for the bullied.

I know as a kid, I had constant nightmares from listening to my mother and step-dad argue.  I recall lying in bed scared that my drunken step-dad would come in my room ranting.  (Or sometimes he wanted to kiss my sister good night, which creeped me out even more.)

Despite how much I ate, I could not seem to gain much muscle.  It was not until years later, when I became more independent and confident that I was able to rest and sleep deeper and gain more muscle weight.  I could concentrate better as well.  So, later I attended university and would actually remember what I was supposed to.

Rest is often ignored by those in a hurry to lose weight, gain muscle, get through school or learn to defend themselves.  That is often because the adrenaline glands are stuck on high.  Trust me on this one.

To support this theory, I read about a study in Montreal, Canada, in 1958, where school children were on meal programs and generally ate about the same amount of food.  Fairly consistently, the children from high-stress families almost always were under-weight and tired. 

Well, this was a relief as I realized that I was not a total moron.  My mind could not process information while stuck in the survival mode most of the time.

So, what does this means to you, my friends, who might be struggling with under or over-weight (too much cortisol from stress)?

It means that to make greater muscle gains, fat burning and improved concentration, you must include rest and sleep in your routine.  If you have topped up your school course load and are holding down two jobs, then it is time for a serious rescheduling as the lack of sleep can ruin your school marks, ability to earn a living and your relationships.

I used to work 12 to 18 hour days all summer and then return home to school and/or work and be tired and restless for about three weeks while my mind and body tried to recover from the hectic pace of training with the army reserves.  Sleep is nature’s loan shark.  It will collect that recovery period eventually.

Train hard.  But, give yourself that well-deserved rest and sleep.  Your mind and body will thank you for it.

To learn more about effective sleep techniques, read: STRENGTH ENDURANCE SECRETS.