Science of Vigor

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? Here’s an excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:
*Lose Weight
*Get in Shape
*Reduce Stress
*Get Healthier
*Win the Lottery

The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at or at your favorite library or bookstore.

Part I: The Science of Vigor
If the secret of vigor is to balance the biochemistry of your body to beat burnout, then you need to know a little about how that biochemistry works. Don’t worry, you won’t need to memorize complex anatomy charts or chemical formulas. Instead, if you simply understand a few key insights about the vital processes that occur within your body, you will be armed with the knowledge you need to become healthier and happier. These insights provide the foundation for what I call the “science of vigor.”

One of the fundamental biochemical facts you need to know is this: Chronic stress robs you of vigor. The unrelenting, chronic stress that most people put up with every day can wreak havoc with their sleep, weight, and general health—and it can also lead to serious medical problems, ranging from diabetes and osteoporosis to cancer and heart disease. In Chapter 1, you’ll find out some of the ways stress affects the body—and why stress is the nemesis of vigor.

Your biochemistry affects you not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. In fact, the second key insight in the science of vigor is this: Biochemistry drives emotions—and behavior. Not only that, but your brain chemistry also affects your actions to a much greater degree than has ever been recognized before. Chapter 2 covers all these issues.

After reading about the basics of biochemistry in Part I, you’ll be ready to drill down a little deeper into the hidden chemistry taking place on the cellular level of your body. These biochemical activities—the Four Pillars of Health—are the focus of Part II.
Finally, in Part III, you’ll discover how you can apply these concepts about biochemistry to your own daily life by engaging in Vigor Improvement Practices—and that is where you will find the real value of the science of vigor.

Chapter 1: Chronic Stress—The Enemy of Vigor
Conventional wisdom and countless commercials bombard us with the idea that the way to get healthy is simply to exercise more and eat a better diet. Both these habits are certainly important parts of being healthy, but from my perspective as a biochemist, I’m going to tell you something you’ll hardly hear from anyone else: If you truly want to improve your health, it is just as important to get your stress levels under control as it is to eat a healthy diet and to get physical activity! Quite simply, stress has a bigger impact on your life and well-being than almost anything else you encounter. Most people don’t understand this fact, or else they ignore it. Worse, some people think they’re “tough” enough to handle all the stress in their lives. Nothing could be farther from the truth, because stress sets off major biochemical changes in the body. And that is why I call stress the number-one enemy of vigor.

The stressed-out feeling that many people experience may seem “typical,” simply because everyone else is experiencing it, too. But that does not mean it is “normal” in a physiological sense, nor is it an indicator of good health or well-being. The body, including the nervous system and endocrine (hormonal) system, was simply not meant for the chronic stress that people face as part of their everyday lives in the twenty-first century. Most people simply endure this “twenty-first-century syndrome,” that familiar feeling of always being “on,” of being rushed, harried, and frantic. That is what chronic stress feels like, and it leads to a state of low vigor or “burnout,” with its accompanying fatigue, depression, and mental fog.

As just one indication that chronic stress is taking a toll on the populace, consider this: The incidence of depression and anxiety in modern society is now ten times higher than it was just a generation ago. Some researchers attribute this staggering increase to physicians’ diagnosing psychological “diseases” at a higher rate, because they now have drugs to “cure” them. But it could also be due to the fact that many people are simply living lives that feel constantly out of control. Not only are levels of depression and anxiety on the rise, but close to ninety million cases of diseases with “no known cause” have been diagnosed. These diseases range from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), vital exhaustion (“burnout”), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to recurrent yeast infections, autoimmune disease, chronic back pain, and other “nonspecific” conditions. The never-ending stress under which people toil on a daily basis plays a role in all these illnesses and conditions, yet Western doctors and researchers are often slow to admit that “mental” conditions, such as stress, can have physical effects upon the rest of the body. They fail to recognize that stress, which leads to biochemical imbalances, is the underlying cause of poor health and low vigor.

Because your ability to improve your vigor is so intricately connected to the way you deal with stress, I want to give you a brief tutorial on this subject. Readers interested in a more detailed overview of the relationship between stress and disease may want to refer to my previous book, The Cortisol Connection, 2nd edition (Hunter House Publishers) =

Tune in to the next installment from The Secret of Vigor for a look at the definition of stress…

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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