In this blog I'm going to do something I haven't done before.
I’m going to lift the lid and reveal the exact coaching process I've used to help over 100 clients overcome their debilitating daily fatigue, tanked energy levels, crippling back pain, and the silent killer... sky-high stress levels.
I’ll explain how I helped my client Nick (I’ve changed his name due to the story’s personal nature) overcome digestive issues, parasitic infection, and dangerous liver stress that led to brain fog, wretched sleep and
Nick reached out to me in July last year. He said he was ready to take the next step in his journey toward optimal health.
Extremely driven, focused and ambitious; Nick freely admits he’s the classic type-A guy. That means he’s highly strung and never does things by halves.
That means five punishing CrossFit workouts a week until his body breaks. It means pulling 80 hour weeks to push his business forward.
And that also means drug and alcohol-fueled benders for days on end.
Nick’s innate drive had made him immensely successful. He owns multiple successful businesses, has plenty of cash and has a house in the hills in a scenic part of Texas.
On the brink
The hard-charging nature that made him successful was also a double-edged sword. You see, Nick only ever had one gear in life: Forward. He had no reverse and certainly no neutral.
Nick had his fair share of stress over the years, and his coping strategies revolved around drugs, alcohol and food. Years of work hard, play harder had taken its toll on Nick’s body and his health was now nothing short of a train wreck.
He knew he had to change his ways or wind up six feet under earlier than anticipated. It’s vital that you learn how to manage stress properly, else you’ll end up paying dearly for it –
Whether it's medication, doctor’s fees, your sense of inner peace, or even your life.
Nick had experimented with elimination diets (i.e. getting rid of specific foods). However, he soon discovered he was out of his depth and that his expertise was in building businesses, not health optimization – hence contacting me.
Given his history of drinking and taking drugs, as well as Hashimoto's diagnosis – an autoimmune disease that is often triggered by poor lifestyle – I recommended a blood panel to see where his health was at.
Adjusting your expectations
Nick had abandoned his old ways a few months before we spoke. Nevertheless, I explained it could take a year or more to undo the effects of the previous 30 years.
Let’s be real:
Years of booze-heavy nights out 4x per week, late-night pizzas, chronic sleep deprivation, skipping workouts for literally anything else, and unmanaged stress from family and career will wreak havoc with your body.
I’m all for the occasional beer and pizza. But when these things become defining pillars of your lifestyle, your body and mind starts to become a product of these choices.
Fixing that is not an overnight job; both in terms of healing your body and developing the right habits and behaviors to prevent it happening again. I cannot ethically or honestly say you’ll turn things around in the next few weeks. It simply doesn’t work like that.
I don’t want you to feel hopeless though. What’s important to understand is while it may have taken you 10-20 years to end up where you are now, it WON’T take you 10-20 years to get to where you want.
In fact, I’d say the average “turnaround time” for my clients is around six months. With anything like this it’s vital that your expectations are grounded in reality. But, if you’re patient and committed, you will see the results you’re hoping for.
Normal vs optimal
Out of 101 markers of Nick’s test blood test, 55 were optimal.
Nobody is going to be 100% optimal, especially in today’s world of toxins and pollution, but typically I’d like to see around 70/100 optimal markers.
A normal doctor’s test doesn’t distinguish between normal and optimal. Which is why people visit the doctor with symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog and depression, only to get the results back and be told everything’s ‘normal.’
A classic example is the testosterone reference range. The ‘normal’ reference range for most testosterone tests is between 300-1000 ng/dL. Yet the difference between how you feel at 300 and 1000 is night and day.
You can be 40 years old and have 301 ng/dL of total testosterone and feel like shit, but as far as medicine is concerned, you’re ‘normal!' This is precisely why the functional blood tests that I offer my clients have much narrower ranges:
His test results...
The first thing that jumped out from his blood test was his poor glucose metabolism. Despite fasting for over 12 hours, his blood sugar and insulin levels were still high.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas and regulates blood sugar levels in your body. If it’s still high after an overnight fast, that means your body is struggling to deal with the sugar.
Elevated blood sugar is not a good look.
Picture what happens when you throw a lit match on a pool of gasoline – it ignites and eventually results in a blazing inferno.
In this case, elevated blood sugar is the matchstick and chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease are gasoline. Consequently, blood sugar is one of the first areas I address when working with clients.
Another concern was his liver. Despite giving up alcohol months prior, he showed early signs of fatty liver disease; a condition where fat builds up in the liver.
A primary function of the liver is to filter toxins from your bloodstream. Harmful substances build up in your body if the liver can’t do its job.
If your liver doesn’t work, you’re basically signing your own death warrant. Below is an image that explains the role of the liver.
You may not care about yourself, but if you continue to avoid your health challenges, then it’s your wife and children who ultimately pay the price. They won’t have a father to support them while they grow up and your spouse will have to bring them up alone.
Back to Nick...
His test also showed signs of leaky gut and digestive inflammation.
Leaky gut syndrome means that food gets through the lining of the gut (which is normally sealed), leading to infections and all sorts of nasty problems.
Incidentally, having a leaky gut makes you much more prone to infection, as your immune system is already busy fighting off bacteria that gets through the tiny holes in your small intestine. This is vital to understand, especially during the coronavirus crisis – your gut health plays a crucial role in your immune function.
Inflammation in the gut can come from a number of things, but in most people these stem from poor diet, alcohol and stress. This is where context is important and we'll get to this in a moment.
Earlier, I mentioned that Nick had thyroid Hashimoto's – an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid, resulting in low thyroid function.
Nick was already taking medication to manage his thyroid. However, the report indicated that his thyroid antibodies, also known as thyroid peroxidase, (a marker your doctor will probably not test for) were still extremely high.
This meant that his diet and lifestyle were contributing to poor thyroid function, despite being on medication.
If you're curious to understand what Hashimoto's (i.e. an under active thyroid or hypothyroidism) looks like, then take a look at the chart below.
Hashimoto's or hypothyroidism is surprisingly common. If you feel sluggish throughout the day and everything feels like a struggle, it may be worth investigating your thyroid function.
Although it must be noted, as I'll discuss in this article, that nothing happens in isolation. In other words, a poorly functioning thyroid doesn't happen by itself. It's often the result of poor gut health, leading to malabsorption and lack of nutrients, which has a downstream negative impact on thyroid function.
For example, I see zinc deficiency an awful lot in my clients' blood tests. This either because they're not getting enough in their diet or they're simply not absorbing it because their gut health is compromised – maybe both.
Context is king
A blood test alone won’t tell you jack unless you understand someone’s lifestyle and medical history.
It’s like evaluating a business from its profit and loss statement alone – without knowing anything about the business; it’s management, operations, marketing strategy, etc.
I knew Nick had given up alcohol, thus I could rule this out and our coaching would focus mainly on nutrition and stress management.
The report also indicated a potential parasite infection. People can get parasite infections in a number of ways – from food poisoning, to drinking contaminated water, to insect bites while on vacation.
If you don’t deal with a parasite, it can linger, leading to brain fog, water stools / diarrhea, fatigue and even anxiety.
There were a number of things we needed to work on. Nonetheless, as a coach it’s imperative to prioritize.
Imagine you’ve been tasked with turning around a failing business that’s hemorrhaging money. After careful analysis you realize there’s much work to do.
You identify that the management has become complacent, and many of them are stuck in their ways. So you decide to hire hungry managers to get the business back on track.
Still, you recognize the business won’t stop losing money overnight. It will take time for the new management to get up speed and do their jobs effectively.
It’s exactly the same when making lifestyle changes that will improve your health.
Now, I’m the first to admit that not everything works straight away, such as changes in diet or specific supplements. So, part of my job as a coach is to adapt and change tact when things don’t always work. And I wouldn't be able to do it with a guns blazing approach.
This is why the minimum turnaround time for my clients is six months, as it takes time to improve crucial health markers such as liver, hormone and kidneys, as well as ingrained habits and behaviors.
The immediate priorities for Nick were a) his diet and b) improving his gut health.
Getting these fixed will potentially add decades to his life by taking stress off his vital organs. So, if you're looking for a good anti-aging strategy, then your first port of call should be lifestyle change.
Below is a screenshot from the report so you get an idea of the work needed. The report gives us an idea of the main health concerns that you face.
Anything above 50% is something we need to look at. As you can see from this screenshot, Nick has a lot of issues going on. In the next part in this series, we'll compare his first and second test side by side.
Check out the second part of this series where I reveal the coaching strategy we used. I’ll also share the results of his blood panel after six months of working together.
If you can relate to Nick's story and are keen to find out how my coaching might be able to help you, then click the button below to schedule your FREE "Fountain of Youth" coaching call.