Why am I so tired?
It seems to be a common question I get from new and potential clients. Challenge is, there are a multitude of reasons for why someone can be tired.
Fatigue can be a result of poor sleep, stress, chronic stress, poorly balanced meals, eating the wrong foods, eating too much sugar, too much coffee, too much exercise, needing an easy week in your training cycle, over-training, dehydration and more. For mom’s or busy entreprenuers, it can be a result of a busy schedule and trying to keep the whole family and workplace together.
Does your health professional ask the questions to find out what the answer is? If they do not, you may be asked to take a prescription (when you don’t want to) and may never suggest any lifestyle or nutrition modifications.
Just last week, I had 2 clients come in asking “Why am I so tired?”
Client 1 – Is training for an Ironman. Just starting to increase the mileage on the bike and run, yet tired when they getting close to 60 miles.
They asked a friend for advice as this friend has done 11 Ironman races. (I have completed 2, raced in 3). This friend’s advice ‘You have to increase your calories per hour.” And that may be correct.
They asked me for advice, and I proceeded to ask questions about when the symptoms are occurring, the meals the day before, the conditions/ weather, fueling on the bike as well as asking about how they felt after wards. This way I would know better what the cause of the fatigue was, and not just make an assumption and guess at the solution.
Ok, so a friend is not a professional in most cases on nutrition, but they can offer suggestions based on their own experience. But it is their experience and what they know about how their bodies work. That may not work for you….
I have found that each person is different. I can better understand what your body needs, recommendations are based on me knowing what the cause of the symptoms are. I can take the experince with other clients to find the cause and appropriate solution.
I asked about the training cycle, and when the last easy week or day off was as too many training weeks on can cause fatigue. How are they sleeping? Any new stresses – work, home, training, emotional, etc? After a few more questions, I was getting a clear picture of the cause and why they were so tired.
With this client, we are changing the daily eating to ameliorate the training, and boost his body’s ability to use fat for fuel (which means he will need less calories per hour from carbohydrates – this is the Metabolic Efficiency principle I often use). Has his body adjusted in a week? Probably not, but their diet was not that terribly off so it may respond sooner than later.
I asked more questions, and we found the first step to the solution – in changing one thing, we can isolate the changes. We modified the drink mix concentration and solid food option to meet the hourly needs as well as meeting the need of ‘not being messy’.
My next session with this client will involve Nutrition Response Testing (NRT) so we can identify which grains and foods may be contributing to this fatigue. If you don’t test, you don’t know definitively whether a food is depleting you or providing energy. For example, if wheat were a poor energy choice, then eating Crustables may deplete energy after 2-4 hours rather than provide more as needed. Even if taking in calories, it may be the wrong calories. Check out the video on my personal NRT on grains. It can confirm the apprpriqte foods for you.
Client 2 – Has been experiencing fatigue for almost a year but doesn’t seem to be getting better. Doctors reviewed blood work and said ‘everything looks normal’.
Upon asking questions of the client, I got a better idea of what was or is causing the fatigue.
“When did the fatigue start?”
“Have your changed your diet in any way before that? Did you add a supplement, new food or medication?
“Was there some stress or traumatic event about that time or leading up to it?”
“What have you done thus far to correct it?”
“Does it affect your training? Work? etc?”
I also reviewed details of the blood work and found some borderline highs and lows, and certain combinations, this can be the answer to finding the cause of the fatigue.
This client I know is eating healthy. They changed to a vegan diet almost 5 years ago and was feeling great until about a year ago.
We also reviewed blood work which ruled out dehydration or cholesterol being the issue.
Based on numerous responses to the questions and actual review of certain blood results in combination to each other, I found the potential cause – b-12 anemia mainly as a result of them going vegan several years ago. This is a common issue for vegans. Vegetarians can often become B12 deficient so need a supplement unless they decide to add back red meat which most are not willing to do. They had been using a spray B12 which was working minimally – which mean a.) they are really depleted so they need more or b.) they need an intrinsic factor to help the body absorb the B12. I used this supplement for over 12 years after my adrenal exhaustion!
In both instances, I asked the questions to find the cause of the fatigue. I then used my expertise of 14+ years to come up with a solution using real food and realistic options to get them feeling like their former energetic selves.
If your health professional is not asking the right questions, like I do, then you may never get an answer to “Why am I so tired?”.