Dealing With Chronic Pain or Illness

There is more to chronic pain and chronic illness than just how the illness makes you feel physically.  There is an enormous mental component to it as well.  You are suddenly forced to accept that your life has changed drastically in a negative way and by something you have no control over. That takes a toll.

When my endocrine issue began, I was so focused on how to hack the problem that I don’t think it ever really set in that this could be permanent. Also, it’s an annoyance, but something I am relatively easily able to handle. I was more frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t get help from traditional medicine than anything else.

That is not the case for most people who have a chronic condition. The reality for someone learning they have a chronic illness is that their life changes instantly and completely. Not only are they dealing with a physical condition, but it suddenly becomes about doctor visits, days stuck inside because of pain, family that say they want to help but are busy with their own lives, friends that disappear because they don’t want to make accommodations or just can’t deal with a sick person, health insurance not allowing the treatments you need, and the often insurmountable cost of medical treatment. Life changes, but not in a positive way.

This can be often be worse than dealing the illness itself.

It is easy to say that if you are dealing with a chronic condition, seek therapy to assist with coping.  However, that doesn’t help much when you are laying on a sofa alone, watching everyone you know out enjoying themselves on social media. No matter how many coping skills the therapist gives you, you still know you are missing out.  You feel so alone and isolated. If you are a parent or loved one trying to help someone through this, it’s very hard to watch this play out.  Chances are that no matter what you try to do to help, it will be little more than a short distraction. In this article at themighty.com, the author outlines things that come with chronic illness that you don’t realize – things like sleeplessness, having to ask others to do too much for you, and the need to give up hobbies you love.

When faced with a chronic condition, some will rise up and fight it. Others will retreat and wallow in self-pity. Sometimes the choice to do either isn’t even a choice, it’s just what you have to do. I am continually amazed by the determination and resolve I see from those who face their condition head on and fight it with everything they have (check out @marcusaureliusanderson and @im_taylor_on Instagram; they will inspire you). There are countless people who can barely face a Monday, yet these people soldier on the face of adversities most of us can only imagine.

And while a chronic illness isn’t a death sentence, it is a life sentence that can mean the death of certain things. My daughter was starting to record her first EP when struck with an inflammatory bowel disease (as of the time of writing this we are still waiting on further testing to determine which type). It made singing too painful for to keep going, and for her could mean the loss of her hobby and potential career.  Not wanting to accept that, she hid her symptoms at first, afraid that everyone would be upset that she couldn’t go on and out of fear of being too needy. (Of course when she finally told me I felt awful for pushing her through what I thought was just teenage laziness. Parent guilt is fun too.)

If you are dealing with a chronic condition, find kindred spirits. I found mine online and in targeted groups. It can be extremely helpful to find others who are dealing with your condition, and learn how they handle it.  It is inspiring and gives hope to find people who lead relatively normal lives. You may end up with new friends that “get” you, when all your friends no longer do. There is immense power and comfort in community.

As we embark on this life changing process for my daughter, I am learning about conditions that I had no idea existed and that people I know are living with them – people who I had no idea were suffering. I cannot imagine having to deal with some of the issues I am learning about, and sadly, I wonder how often I have been less than compassionate because I did not know.  I am a very driven, no excuses, get up and do it kind of person, and I fear that I have been intolerant at times with others that aren’t like that, possibly because they can’t be. I can already see a more compassionate being emerging. Hopefully this post will inspire the same in you. Try this – post something on social media to see who is dealing with a chronic condition and watch the responses you get. I bet it will surprise you. It surprised me.

Let me know what happens in the comments or on social media. Together let’s make this a better place for chronic sufferers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Beat Brain Fog

Do you ever find yourself in a room with no idea why you were there? Waking up sluggish? Drinking a third cup of coffee and still not feeling like the brain has turned on? That has been me the last few weeks. I have been experiencing some serious brain fog and even though I am certain it is because I am juggling multiple things right now, I need to take control.

If you are not familiar with the term brain fog, it is loss of focus, inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and memory issues. It’s that feeling you have when your brain is “tired” but not at a time that it should be.

Some of the main things that can cause brain fog are stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes. diet, medications, and medical conditions. I am going to stay away from the latter two, as these are things you should be discussing with your doctor. Aging is another one, which is considered a medical condition, but I will touch on that today.

Chronic stress is a biggie. Not only does it wreak havoc on your brain, but it can cause a number of issues affecting the entire body.  It can also lead to lack of sleep and cause hormonal changes – both of which increase brain fog.

Diet is one of the main factors of brain fog. Allergies, food sensitivities, an overload of carbohydrates or sugar can all trigger that foggy feeling.  Vitamin deficiencies, specifically B-12, will give you brain fog as well. And, unfortunately, if you are past the age of 40, you know all too well that you are just not the same cognitively anymore. Years of stress and dietary miscalculations create the perfect recipe for brain fog.

So what can we do? Fortunately there are several things.

Hands down my favorite, Bulletproof Coffee is one. Your brain needs fat to function optimally, and the combination of grass-fed butter and MCT oil give it exactly what it needs. The caffeine gives you a little boost and gets the neurons firing on all cylinders as well. If you want to skip the caffeine, you can make a sugar-free bulletproof hot cocoa with water, a scoop of cacao, grass fed butter, MCT oil and stevia. (I have a recipe if you want it). It also works well with tea. Fat bombs are also a great way to give your brain a quick hit of the fat it needs.

Another way to quickly banish the fog is with B-12. If you are not able or willing to have B-12 shots on hand, you can get a liquid that goes under the tongue. It isn’t quite as effective, but you will still notice the effect. You will feel the fog melt away pretty quickly with this. You can get B-12 injections over the counter in some countries, but in the USA it is prescription only. You can also get them at the local med spa. Liquids are available online and in most health food stores. Quality is key, and remember that you get what you pay for.  I don’t recommend relying on multi-vitamins for B-12, as you don’t absorb much of what is in them. The exception is a live vitamin like Sport Formula.

If you have read anything I have posted, you probably know what is coming next… exercise. Get up from your desk. Take a walk. Run the stairs a few times. Even doing  some stretching at your desk can help stave off that feeling. A morning workout can rid yourself of brain fog for the entire day, and an after work session will banish the stress and anxiety that builds during the day.

And of course, get some sleep. If sleep doesn’t come easily to you, check my bog post on sleep. My current favorite is California Poppy Seed Extract, followed by Brandon Burchard’s Release Meditation. This combination has finally allowed me to stop falling asleep to old television shows and sleep in the dark like a normal human.

As I wrote this I literally took my own advice. It is too late for coffee so I chose a B-12 shot and a fat bomb. Feeling better already!

 

My Favorite Productivity Hack

OK, no judging…I am sharing my favorite productivity hack with you because I love you and want the best for you. Even if it means sharing something I am slightly ashamed of!

 

 

For more productivity hacks, check out the podcast from BioTrust Radio,

titled 7 Steps to Be More Productive:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/biotrust-radio/id1307215363?mt=2&i=1000417452066

Don’t Skimp on Sleep, No Matter What Your Mentor Says!

I am exhausted today and cannot think straight. I wanted to write a post about good supplements vs. bad ones, but I can’t seem to organize my thoughts. Why am I telling you this? Because sleep is important, and if you are burning the candle at both ends, you are shortchanging yourself!

It is very common for entrepreneurs to be sleep deprived. We work in the business during work hours doing the work itself, and at night, we work on the business. However, it is important to remember to take care of yourself because you are not at your best during the day when you are sleep deprived. You can’t think as quickly, you can’t focus, and you can’t multitask. If you can’t be focused or unfocused at the same time, you have a problem!

You are physically slower when you are tired. You are weaker and less likely to work out. Plus, you look awful. And who wants to do business with someone who looks like the walking dead? You are less efficient, and you can’t remember anything. You snack on sugary foods to stay awake and pour in the coffee with an IV.

If sleep doesn’t come easy to you, there are a few things you can try. A good evening routine will wind down your mind so when you hit the pillow, you are already relaxed and primed for sleep. Turn off your TV and phone, try some chamomile or reishi elixir ( I hear this one is awesome but I haven’t tried it yet), and read a book.  To calm the monkey mind and fall asleep quickly, I like California Poppy Seed extract (click here for the one I use). Trying to go to bed a regular time can also help you fall asleep faster.

A cool, dark room is the ideal environment, so try room darkening shades or a sleep mask. A recent study published in ScienceDaily.com links the small amounts of light at night to sleep interruptions, which can increase insulin resistance. I am experimenting with a sleep mask, and have noticed an increase in quality of sleep when using it. (Its too early to comment on the effects on insulin resistance.)

Sometimes you cannot help the disturbances,  like when your neighbor decides to light fireworks off in the middle of the night. However, keeping pets out of the bed and getting kids on a schedule will help with that too.

You owe it to yourself to get some zzzzz’s. You will be a better person and a better worker for it. So hit the sack, and don;t feel guilty about it!

As for me, I need some more coffee today…

Hacking Insulin Resistance with IC-5

I am experimenting with the Biotrust product IC-5 to see what affect it has on my battle with insulin resistance.  I am combining this with the keto diet and intermittent fasting.

What is IC-5? It is a blend of chromium, berberine, cinnamon bark extract, naringin and biofotiamine specifically designed to support a healthy metabolism and control blood sugar. For all the specifics and the product information, click here.

I decided to try this because berberine has a similar effect in the body to metformin, which is used to control blood sugar in diabetics.  Because I am not there yet I don’t need (or want) something as strong as metformin, so berberine was a good choice to start with. Berberine is used to control blood sugar, promote weight loss, and regulate metabolism.  (For more information on Berberine, click here for an article from Healthline.com.)

When taken as directed, I noticed a difference in how I metabolize food. Meaning, I don’t crave anything, and I have level energy without spikes or drops in my blood sugar. I don’t eat much in the way of carbohydrates, so I don’t get “sugar spikes” but I do notice more energy when I have eaten followed by a drop a couple hours later. This product seems to take that away.

I dropped a few pounds the first two weeks of taking it. It leveled off after that. Not sure if I am doing something different, but I will try to figure that out and update this post.

I have a family member who started taking this at the same time. She has noticed her hair stopped falling out and also reported feeling more energy overall versus spikes. She does eat carbohydrates, and still reports feeling a difference. No weight loss either – but she also eats food I wouldn’t even consider eating. I don’t know if she is lucky or crazy.

So far I am impressed. I will continue taking this and see what happens long term.

Please note: this is what I am doing and this is not medical advice. It is biohacking, which most medical professionals do not appreciate, and it is my experience. I am not suggesting or promoting any products,  it is just what is working for me.

 

PROMO ALERT!!

Free Kindle downloads this weekend in honor of the audio book release!  You can also get the audio book for free here.

Click on the link under Get the Book to grab your free copy starting tomorrow.

Happy reading!

A Must Listen To Podcast Episode

Short post today because I want to say only one thing:

You must listen to this podcast.

If you are: keto, thinking about keto, curious about keto, just getting into biohacking, have any health issues you want to find a way to get rid of, looking for a way to increase energy, looking for a way to lose weight, want to erase brain fog, want to improve your memory, or human in any way, you MUST listen to this podcast. 

This episode is from BioTrust Radio and it features Shawn Wells (my biohacking mentor, formulator of most of the supplements I use and founder of Zone Halo Research – you can find him on Instagram @zonehalo, or on his website). It is called The ABCs of the Keto Diet: Avocados, Bacon, Coconut oil, and beyond!  You can find it on iTunes as well as here.

I am fired up about this episode because not only is it everything keto, it goes into so much more that we are all struggling with. It may be a long episode (just short of 2 hours) but it is worth every second. Play it in the car while stuck in traffic if you have to, just get through it. It is jam packed with great information. Shawn Wells is a wealth of information and we are fortunate that he shares it with us…and for free! You will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take advantage.

So, happy listening! Hope you find something useful.

What Is Insulin Resistance?

Most of my life I struggled with low blood sugar.  I was tested on multiple occasions and everything was functioning properly, so I can only assume that it was because of an undiagnosed eating disorder that led to me not eating right, or just not eating at all at times.

When I started having health issues several years ago, having too much blood sugar never occurred to me. However, after studying insulin resistance for the last month or so, it looks like it is time to consider it as a factor.

What is insulin resistance? In a nutshell, its when your body stops using the insulin it produces. This leads to results in your cells not using blood glucose, which means the means the sugar you ingest stays in your blood. As you can imagine, this is not a good thing. It causes weight gain, lethargy, brain fog, hormonal disruptions, and can lead to type II diabetes.

According to and article in Everyday Health, titled What is Insulin Resistance? Everything You Have Ever Wanted to Know, “insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas, and it plays an important role in metabolism. Your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream after you eat a meal. Insulin allows sugar in your bloodstream to enter into muscles, cells, and fat.  This hormone is also important because it stops sugar from accumulating in your bloodstream. The more you eat, the more insulin your body releases to regulate your blood sugar and keep it within a healthy range.”

For an explanation of the process, Medical News Today outlines what is known currently as the following  process:

  • “The cells of the body develop a resistance to the effects of insulin.
  • Insulin is essential for the regulation of the glucose circulating in the blood – it induces glucose to be taken up by the cells.
  • Insulin is also the chemical messenger that signals to the liver (which stores glucose), to hold on to its glucose and store it rather than release it into the blood. Glucose is packaged up for storage in the liver in the form of glycogen.
  • Insulin normally maintains a fine energy balance, never allowing the blood glucose level to rise too much for too long.
  • Resistance initially results in the pancreas simply secreting more insulin to maintain safe blood glucose levels and keep high blood sugars at bay.
  • Insulin resistance can eventually be accompanied by persistently higher glucose levels (prediabetes), and then the persistent hyperglycemia of type 2 diabetes; the release of extra insulin cannot be maintained to compensate for the increasing insulin resistance.”

In other words, resistance results in the manufacturing of more and more insulin to keep blood sugar within a normal range, and eventually your pancreas can no longer keep up. This eventually leads to pre-diabetes and finally, diabetes.

Factors that can cause insulin resistance are age, diet that includes excess alcohol, high amounts of sugar, processed foods and dairy, lack of physical activity, and stress.  Family history, steroid use and certain health conditions, such as PCOS, can also contribute to insulin resistance.

Testing for insulin resistance is difficult because while your pancreas is working, it is providing the amount of insulin needed to control the blood sugar, even if it working overtime. Apparently there is no test for the amount of insulin being produced, just the concentration of sugar in your blood.

Insulin resistance can be controlled with diet and lifestyle changes. A low carbohydrate diet combined with regular activity can reduce or reverse the effects of insulin resistance. Intermittent fasting can help regulate blood sugar and aid in controlling insulin resistance.  Lack of sleep, smoking and chronic stress all contribute to insulin resistance. Making lifestyle changes to ensure adequate rest, reducing stress and stopping smoking will also assist in controlling insulin resistance.

And yes, diet and lifestyle changes means cutting out foods that contain sugar or convert to sugar. 

The effects of insulin resistance sounds like my laundry list of issues that caused me to start biohacking. Due to an eating disorder outlined in my book (restriction of foods to an extreme level that left little on the menu, healthy or not) I certainly had the diet issues. Once I added chronic and extreme stress, my body broke down.  I was extremely lethargic, I gained weight rapidly despite restricting calories to an unhealthy level, I couldn’t think straight and couldn’t recall basic words and my memory was non-existent.  I also felt like what I was experiencing mimicked a metabolic condition – all of which is what insulin resistance can do. 

During all my blood work, I was tested for diabetes and my blood sugar levels were found to be in the normal range. However, I think this bears more investigation and perhaps more testing. Definitely more experimenting with Intermittent Fasting, the Keto Diet and things yet to be discovered. 

If you want more information on insulin resistance, there is a great article from NIH (National Institute of Health) that you can find here.

Check back in for updates as I biohack this. Let’s see what we find out!

 

 

Favorite Biohack #10 – Coconut Oil

Am I beating a dead horse with this one? Yes. I can’t say enough about coconut oil. I covered it under MCT oils, Bulletproof coffee, and in a host of other places and posts. However, there is a reason. This stuff is amazing.  I use it as lotion, to remove eye makeup, on my hair after blow drying, on my dog’s skin, and for hiding dog pills.  I also cook with it (food grade) and use it in fat bombs. In a pinch, it will go in coffee as a substitute for MCT oil if I am out.

Other using include oil pulling, which removes toxins, whitens teeth and freshens breath, to kill lice when combined with apple cider vinegar, to clean and moisturize makeup brushes, a body/lip scrub, a massage oil, eyelash growth serum, cold sore treatment, to reduce indigestion, and a chest rub when combined with eucalyptus oil.

I started using coconut oil in 2008 as a moisturizer. I had to use something all-natural for a few weeks on doctor orders, and never went back to traditional lotions again. I liked the smell and the way my skin reacted (or didn’t react, is more like it) so much that I haven’t used traditional moisturizer since that time.  Not only does it moisturize well, the antibacterial properties help heal small cuts and scrapes quickly and without scarring.

It also aids the treatment of minor  skin problems, such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema, (fortunately I have no experience with these) and helps to delay the appearance of wrinkles. The is the result of its antioxidant properties. and is part of the reason coconut oil is often included in soaps, lotions and creams.

However, I prefer the raw form.  I use Parachute, which is pure coconut oil. It is somewhat greasy and will ruin clothing if you use too much, so beware, but the moisturizing properties and healing effects far outweigh the occasional clothing mishap. My teenage daughter adopted it  about a year ago and now refuses to use anything else on her skin.  Even my husband will use it on occasion.

I have previously covered the benefits of MCTs on weight loss and energy (see Favorite Biohack #1, Bulletproof Coffee), so I won’t go into detail on that again, but do not forget those benefits. They are important ones when you hit midlife.

Also don’t forget that it can help fight and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. There is an NIH sponsored study on this ongoing. Results are pending, but you can check it out here if you would like more information on the study, or read this article from a few years ago for more detailed information on a previous study.

Still think I am off my rocker? For a review of the top 77 uses for coconut oil, some of which I have listed already, view this article from Dr. Josh Axe. He isn’t off his rocker.

What are you thoughts in this? Do you use coconut oil? If so, for what?