Jamie was getting frustrated. 32 years old, running his own business, he was sure he was doing everything right. He’d started training again, which he enjoyed because it helped reduce the stress from work. He’d recently married and was very happy living with his new wife now that the wedding dramas were all finished. His diet was not at all bad compared to most people that come through the doors of the clinic, and he just could not understand why he didn’t lose any weight despite all the training he was doing. His weight just seemed to stay put, unless he had a cheat day, in which case it was immediately reflected on the scales the next day. In other words, he could put on weight really easily, but just seemed unable to lose it.
We looked at his diet first of all and tweaked a few things along with hydration. It was only a few weeks before he left for the trek, so I added in a few supplements and discussed a few possibilities that we would investigate as the programme progressed. One of the things that leapt out from his first appointment was that he seemed to come down with colds and coughs fairly often. He would usually push through them, dosed up on Lemsip or paracetemol, but his immune system was obviously struggling a bit.
4 weeks later, Jamie returned straight after the trek. It had been a disaster. He’d arrived in South America and come down with a virus on day 2. He had to cut short the trek and fly home early because he felt so awful.
At that point it became clear to me what we needed to do, and I sent Jamie home with an Adrenal Stress test kit to complete the next day.
The results arrived back a few days later. Jamie was holding on to so much stress, his adrenals had gone into exhaustion. I’d actually never seen a profile quite that bad. It was the profile you would expect from someone who had undergone severe trauma, such as a PTSD sufferer.
People never really think about the implications of stress on their weight. But when the body is stressed, it makes it extremely hard to lose weight. Evolutionarily, when we were that stressed, it was most likely because of a famine, or something serious enough to interrupt our food supply. So our bodies learned to respond by holding onto energy stores in case food was going to be scarce. I’m simplifying the whole process here, but it involves hormones and the metabolic rate. But in Jamie’s case, there was no way his body was going to let him lose weight when he was under that much stress.
We spent the next 6 months working on supporting Jamie’s adrenal glands and his whole stress response with both dietary and lifestyle changes. After only a couple of months he started responding. His body started to relax and the weight started to shift. He gets sick far less often, and has signed up for a charity trek in India next year.