Feeling tired all the time is not normal at any age. True, there may be times when we are tired for some time and for good reason. Talk to the mum of a newborn baby, speak to someone who is in chronic pain with arthritis, spend a day with someone who has depression, and you will see that fatigue can show up in many different ways and for completely different reasons.
But what if you simply can’t figure out why you are so tired all the time? What if, no matter how much you sleep, or try to take the very best care of yourself, you are still stuck in fatigue? Having far less energy you really need to live your life to the full? Feeling like you are just dragging yourself through each and every day? Feeling hopeless and in despair, because nothing you do or try seems to make any difference?
The layer cake of fatigue
To understand fatigue and how to successfully put an end to feeling tired all the time, we need to get clear on a few things.
First of all we are brought up to think about our health as a ‘ logical and linear’ thing. . We have a symptom such as fatigue. We pinpoint the cause of that symptom and then we ‘fix’ that cause (or cover up the symptoms) and the problem is solved. It goes away.
When it comes to feeling tired all the time, this ‘cause and effect’ approach simply won’t work. This is because fatigue is rarely caused by one thing and instead it is usually the result of a whole bunch of things that have happened over time.
Over time your health adjusts, shifts and adapts to cope with a number of situations and experiences it is going through. These can gradually deplete your energy levels until some kind of ‘ threshold’ is reached. And then the next’ thing ‘that comes along sets off the ‘real’ fatigue. The kind of ‘feeling tired’ that simply won’t budge, no matter what you do.
So the key to working out what is driving your fatigue, lies in recognising that it is about a number of ‘ layers’ that have built up, often over a very long time – years and months. I like to think of this as ‘ the layer cake of fatigue’.
The ‘pill for an ill’ myth
Secondly, at the same time as wanting to understand the ‘cause’ of feeling tired all the time and fixing that issue, we also like to think that one solution will take care of it. It stands to reason, right? Identify the cause, fix the cause and the job is done.
In other words we are used to the ‘ pill for an ill’ type of approach. One problem, one solution. This is the ‘health culture’ we have grown up in, so it is totally understanding that we expect this to work.
Here are 7 things most common ‘ pill for an ill’ approaches I see in people who feel tired all the time:
- It’s because I am unfit (cause) so I need to exercise more (solution).
- It’s because I am overweight (cause) so I need to lose weight and ‘ go on diet’ (solution)
- It’s because I have ‘ adrenal fatigue’ (cause) so I need to take supplements (solution)
- It’s because I have an underactive thyroid(cause) so I take my meds (solution)
- It’s because of my menopause (cause) so I need to take HRT
- It’s because of my lack of sleep (cause) so I need to sleep more(solution)
- It’s because I have a busy job/ a lot on my plate(cause) so I need to rest more(solution)
But here is the thing: depending on your ‘layer cake of fatigue’, all of the stuff that has built up over the years, this might solve your feeling tired all the time. And if a few good nights of sleep, or HRT, or a losing a few pounds does it for you, then that is great.
But what if it doesn’t work? What if resting more, sleeping more, trying to eat healthy and lose weight makes no difference? Or what if it works for a while but simply doesn’t give you the lasting results you were hoping for? Or it is simply too hard , takes too much time and you need to find a way that is truly sustainable? Or what if you don’t want to take the risks of HRT, or be on lifelong medications?
Is there another way of working with your health? Of boosting your energy levels? Optimizing your sense of vitality? If these are the questions you are asking yourself right now, then I have good news!
The functional medicine systems approach
Now that you understand that it is about more than one cause, one solution and that we need to work on the ‘layer cake of fatigue’. Let me introduce you to Functional Medicine or FM for short.
Functional medicine (FM) is the ‘new kid’ on the block, relatively speaking. It has been around for 25 years or so and uses a science-based, evidence-based approach to your health, in the same way that conventional western medicine does. But with one HUGE difference: functional medicine looks at your health from the perspective of ‘ how your body systems are actually working, functioning and talking to each other’. The technical terms for this is ‘ complex systems biology’ – for those of you who love that stuff!
So in functional medicine we don’t talk about ‘ here is skin problem, go see the skin people’ or this is a gut health problem go see the gastroenterology team. In other words, we don’t divide the body up into ‘ sections’ each with their own healthcare team of specialists.
Instead, in FM we look at the body as a whole, and we look at how each of the systems are working and interacting with each other. So that they all ‘talk to each other’.
In FM we ask what is happening, where are the systems ‘ breaking down’ or not functioning optimally, and what do we need to do to support this and help the body turn this back the right way around? In other words, what is the underlying cause? The root cause for the problems we are encountering in our health. And WHY is this happening.
These are incredibly powerful questions, and when we start to work with our health in this way, using systems biology, asking questions like what is the underlying problem here and why is it happening, then a lot of doors open up. Health situations that seem to be ‘impossible to resolve’ can start to have answers again.
Functional medicine and the ‘layer cake of fatigue’
FM is an incredibly powerful approach to many complex health situations like type 2 diabetes, wobbly menopause and auto-immune disease. It is especially powerful when we are stuck in ‘feeling tired all the time’ Lets take a closer look.
When we feel tired, our underlying ‘energy production systems’ need some very careful nurturing, in order for them to recover and start working properly again. At the heart of the energy creation process in our bodies sit the mitochondria , which are tiny little ‘ energy factories’ inside our cells.
And when we nurture and support our mitochondrial functioning, your energy levels can start to turn around incredibly quickly. When we give our mitochondria exactly what they need to function optimally, when we make sure that we remove anything that will slow them down and take care of the anything that will get in the way of having healthy mitochondria in the first place, then your health and your energy levels can start to recover quickly and effectively. You can hear all about this in more detail in my masterclass ‘Easy All Day Energy’ (See the link below this blog to take you straight there)
FM is a fantastic approach to almost any health situation, but when it comes to tackling those energy levels it is a powerhouse approach. This is because by the time you are stuck in fatigue, almost every single ‘ system’ in your body is involved. Which makes it very exciting as there is such a lot we can do.
The 6 key systems of your body that we work on to restore energy levels.
Here is a quick checklist that we use as a framework to optimize your energy levels using a FM approach:
- The assimilation system: think gut health, and optimizing nutrient absorption
- The detox and biotransformations: think ‘effective garbage disposal’
- The defense, immune and inflammatory system: think lowering levels of chronic inflammation
- The communication and hormone system: think balanced hormones
- The energy system: think mitochondrial health
- Structural integrity systems: think leaky gut.
This might sound complicated and like it would take a really long time, but in reality I have seen this work in as little as 8 weeks, using a FM approach..
Putting it all together
If you are struggling with feeling tired all the time, or you simply don’t have the energy and vitality you would really love….
If you have tried all the usual approaches but either they don’t work or they are simply not sustainable, or don’t give you the lasting results you are looking for….
If you want to understand more about what it really takes to build incredible energy levels and support your health from the inside out…
And if you are looking for an approach that will not only give you far more energy, health and vitality but also the toolkit so that you know how to do this for the rest of your life….
Then you need:
- A new way of thinking
- A new approach
- The support of a proven system that delivers incredible results
- And the support of an expert mentor and guide to guide you through.
PS Here is the link to that masterclass I was telling you about. Click right here.