Four Ways You’re Perpetuating the Exhaustion Cycle

Teenagers – with frontal lobes that haven’t completed their myelination process – actually do show physical warning signs of wear and tear while they’re living recklessly.

They just might not have the self-awareness to recognize what’s happening. 

Our idea about what it was like to be young, and our frustration about recalibrating our lifestyles to suit our aging bodies, is something of a fallacy. 

The truth is, our teenage years and early twenties are where we built lots of the habits that remain in place well into our adulthood.

And… as we just learned, our frontal lobes weren’t fully developed when we started building those habits. We didn’t make the best choices then, and those continued choices are robbing us of our vitality today, in the here and now.

We’re all forced to reckon with our choices in one huge, unavoidable way: our energy levels.

Literally, our cells are weak, damaged, and flimsy. That could be because:

  • We’re not feeding them the pockets of sunlight they need to energize mitochondria…
  • We’re not eating the right combination of nutrients for our individual needs…
  • We’re overusing stimulants that cause our hormones to tap into our energy reserves…
  • Or any number of other distinct causes.

That’s where the repair work has to begin – with the way that we live.

And there are (at least) four major ways we’re perpetuating the cycle of exhaustion.


Human beings form bonds – that’s inescapable. 

Powerful, healthy bonds are meant to energize us. Unhealthy bonds and lack of bonds totally deplete us.

Studies show that feeling fulfilled, heard, and helped in our social lives actually does increase our store of available energy  – because we feel inspired to action through empathy, reliable friendships help us shoulder our burdens, or venting to loved ones helps us move from a sympathetic and reactive state to a parasympathetic state of rest.

Conversely, toxic friendships and relationships distract us from our own lives, weigh us down with negativity, and fail to provide stress-relief. Instead, they encourage us to over-produce cortisol… which we know puts pressure on our adrenal glands.

Invest more into friendships that feel balanced, restorative, and mutually beneficial. 


The cardiovascular system is actually engineered to be the most mitochondria-dense environment in the entire body.

Simply put, there are about 5,000 mitochondria per heart muscle cell, which is more than you’ll find in any other cellular system. Since the heart muscle can never stop expanding and contracting (otherwise… well, you know), it needs the best energy system and the best production of ATP available.

By strengthening our heart muscle with cardiovascular-centric exercise, we strengthen the mitochondria in heart muscle cells.

Studies have shown that this type of exercise can also literally increase the number of mitochondria, and not just in quantity. It also fuels a process called mitochondrial biogenesis, which increases mitochondria in size. 

Bigger and more mitochondria means more ATP. 

More ATP means more energy.


Cruciferous vegetables help lighten the load of the liver by activating detoxification pathways. 

The liver’s detoxification occurs in three phases:

  • Phase One: breaking down toxins into smaller, more reactive, and more potent versions of their original molecules
  • Phase Two: binding or conjugating those smaller toxic molecules with other smaller chemicals via enzymes in order for the toxins to be excreted from the body.
  • Phase Three: the actual excretion of these toxins and chemicals via the gut, liver, and kidneys. 

Crucifers have been found to help support phase two of the detoxification process. 

The isothiocyanates – members of a family of organic compounds found in abundance in crucifers – work wonders in activating the enzymes essential to Phase Two detoxification. Specifically, aldoreductase, glutamate cysteine ligase, heme oygenase, and quinone reductase.

If this detoxification effort is bolstered, the liver can focus on bringing you the energy that you need, instead of battling against the constant influx of toxins we face in today’s world.


There’s no denying that Westerners seem to prefer things on the sweet side…

But that’s a more insidious truth than we realize. You see, sugar does a few things to our energy:

  • It feeds harmful yeast, like Candida, that ends up crowding out space in our gut’s microbiome and not allowing beneficial bacteria to flourish. 
  • It causes insulin spikes if we’re not eating enough fiber with our sugar, and it creates inflammation, which slowly drains our energy in having to either calm it or work around it.
  • Insulin spikes can cause insulin resistance… which is when we can’t get glucose into our cells for storage because our cells sense too much insulin and won’t allow it, and our blood sugar rises. 

The initial burst of energy you get from eating sugar eventually causes a crash. It does much more long-term damage to the way your body collects, stores, and uses not just sugar, but insulin, and ultimately…


Throw a wrench in your exhaustion cycle today. 

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Dr. Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.