My Health Journey
When I sat down to do my usual writing, I knew that I wanted to talk about my health journey for the benefit of others. I’m not sure how to start, so I guess I’ll just get to it. You see, I went through a period in my life where everything sucked. I had fatigue issues, libido issues (not fun by the way), I was gaining body fat, had sleep issues, experienced bloating and I was unmotivated to do anything. As you might have guessed, these are all very bad symptoms for a 35-year-old professional in the health and fitness industry.
Let me rewind a bit. I had just moved from Los Angeles to Phoenix for the love of my life. Before Los Angeles, I had recently left the University of Florida as the strength and conditioning coordinator for basketball, tennis and golf. As you can imagine, like most people, I was stressed and excited at the same time. I couldn’t believe that I found that special young lady, and stressed because I just left a business in Los Angeles to start over knowing no one in Phoenix. Life was great for a while.
My Health Unravels
After about three months in Phoenix, I caught pneumonia. At the same time, I was training for my first physique show. If you don’t know what goes into training for those shows it is strict nutrition and calculated training. Since I was more accustomed to training high level athletes and making sure body fat was appropriate for athletics, I used some old school guidelines to lean myself out to be show ready. Of course, I now know there are better ways. However, at the time this type of preparation was new I and decided to go with a method that has been used for decades.
During this time in my life, sleep started to become an issue. I used supplements to aid in sleep and even turned to over-the-counter drugs. My libido also started to take a hit during this time. As you can imagine, my psyche and girlfriend had some major issues with no sex life. This led to more stress.
As this scenario continued, life only became more difficult. Now my body fat was increasing. For a strength coach, this is one of the worst things that can happen. Getting people in shape is my career. Who wants to work with someone who is out of shape?! More stress.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, now every time I ate I would get bloated and feel horrible. I also started reacting to foods that I have never had an issue with before. Mind you, I was already gluten-free and dairy-free. I became bloated eating healthy, natural, organic food.
All of this lead to becoming unmotivated. Not because I got lazy, I just lost my drive to do anything. My life had turned upside down and my girlfriend and I were on the fritz. More stress.
The Physical Implications of Stress
If you haven’t noticed a pattern yet, I’ll just tell you. Life got stressful. What does stress do to the body? Everything! Stress causes inflammation, which can lead to hormone imbalances, which leads to gut dysfunction leading to more hormone imbalance and eventually a shut down. When the gut shuts down, also known as leaky gut, it no longer protects you from any outside intruders such as bacteria, fungi and parasites. This is a very basic explanation so as not to turn this into a science essay.
My Attempts to Pick Up the Pieces
At this point, I used all the knowledge I had at the time to try and fix myself. I did strict Paleo, used so many supplements my cabinets looked like a drugstore and even took a break from working out. Nothing worked. I went to my doctor; he drew blood and said everything looked fine and normal. Really? I have all of these symptoms and nothing is wrong with me?? His solution was Viagra. All these symptoms were to be reduced down to a single sex drug. On a side note, the Viagra worked but it was only a mask for the actual issue. It was not a solution or an answer.
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition
I spoke to a close colleague and friend about my situation. He suggested I get educated in Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN). This way of thinking is very new in the Western world. It looks at internal malfunctions that are causing the symptoms. This means that FDN practitioners basically use symptoms as guidelines and not just things to treat. FDN doesn’t treat symptoms; they use them as clues to treat the malfunction. Makes sense to me!
After learning about FDN, I decided to get certified as a practitioner. As part of the certification, you need to treat yourself. Perfect, two for one. Through this process, I found that I was in Stage 3 adrenal fatigue. Wow, I knew I was bad but that is really bad. This means that my adrenal glands were so stressed out that they couldn’t even produce enough cortisol to deal with life. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. It balances both blood sugar and circadian rhythm. This imbalance of cortisol can affect the gut lining by redirecting other hormones to deal with other problems. This is basically bad. I found out that I wasn’t producing much melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for both sleep control and gut lining! Of course, this contributed to sleep issues.
Here comes the good news. My mentor showed me that it is possible to correct these issues. I followed up my testing with a simple spit test to look for candida. I failed the test miserably! That means that my body had a major candida overgrowth. Everyone has some candida as the body needs it. However, when stress gets out of control it starts a cascade of events that promote candida growth. Hard to say which came first, but I couldn’t get better if the internal malfunction (candida) blocked the pathways to healing.
After learning this new information, I started a candida diet and also used the appropriate supplements instead of guessing which ones to take. And then I waited. Within a few days, I was already feeling better. Two weeks later I was like a new man! My symptoms were gone and I was feeling like myself. I was able to start working out again, I was sleeping better and yes, libido had returned! I continued this treatment for three months. The length of time varies per person. However, the minimum is three months.
Answers At Last
Unfortunately, my symptoms had lasted over a year before I got help and started feeling better. I lost the girlfriend, some business and also myself. The solution was so simple, but so foreign that no one knew how to help me. I am guessing that I am not the only one who has had a similar story. I imagine there are many people dealing with a similar situation right now and no one has been able to help them.
The point of me sharing this story is not to promote myself, or the services I can offer to others. I am sharing this because I want others to know that even the healthiest of people can get bogged down and affected by both life and stress. It affects everyone no matter how healthy you are. I’ve worked with many people who have come to me after they’ve tried everything: new diets, different trainers and doctors. No one helped them. In fact, from what I’ve heard, most people get accused of not following the diet or workout.
Most people who want change follow the plans because they are sick of the way they look, feel and perform. Through lifestyle changes suggested by professionals in their fields, they still find no success. So frustrating! Trust me, I know because I was there with you! With all of my knowledge, I couldn’t even help myself.
If you or someone you know can relate to this story, please let me know. Don’t give up yet! You are not crazy or helpless. Contact me today to fix the malfunction and also fix your life. There is hope.
Rich Jacobs is a Board Certified Integrative and Functional Nutrition Practitioner who specializes in resolving gut, insomnia, low libido, fatigue and fat issues. He uses a holistic approach and functional lab work to identify root causes such as hormone imbalances or gut pathogens that could be impacting your health.