Tag: diet

The Power of Mind Over Matter

I knew I was healing when I stopped hating weekends. I was the only person I knew that hated weekends. I hated that my spouse was home with nothing to occupy his time except me. I was supposed to entertain and if I didn’t do a good enough job there would be consequences. I dreaded that and as a result, I hated weekends.

Being in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship had left me with some side effects, and none of them positive. Living in constant fear of another person left me jumpy at home but also afraid to leave the house (more consequences). Although I starting forcing myself out immediately after leaving the relationship, months later I was still a home body that could now run the occasional errand.  After years of being screamed at for talking to anyone I was now learning to talk again, but it was a slow process because I had become so comfortable in my own head that I would go hours without speaking, even in social situations.

After years of control, explosive anger, unpredictable moods and unimaginable verbal abuse, I had escaped and was now trying to put my life and myself back together. A few months in it hit me that I hadn’t dreaded the past weekend. I had actually enjoyed it. This was my first clue that I was healing.

You see, I had been depressed but I didn’t know.  While that may sound unbelievable, it is the truth. Apparently others saw it, but I was oblivious. How was this even possible?

I am naturally a happy person. When my life abruptly changed and I found myself in an abusive situation (it happened suddenly and without any warning, almost immediately after getting married), I was still a happy, optimistic person. Years later, I had retreated into my own head, where I still had that same happy optimism. I had also accomplished a great deal in the year before I left, and as far as I knew, depressed people don’t do that.

During the years of living in the situation, I still felt happy and positive inside, but had retreated so far into my own head that I didn’t notice how I had changed outwardly. I didn’t even realize that I no longer left the house. In fact, I didn’t do anything at all, except work – and only work like writing or working on my website. I didn’t see my friends. I didn’t listen to music or watch movies. I didn’t wear any color anymore. Heck, I didn’t even wear actual clothes anymore. I lived in gray sweatshirts and black yoga pants. Dressing up was putting boots and a sweater with the yoga pants. Toward the end I didn’t even exercise out anymore and had put on weight.

I finally escaped and was not living in that toxicity. However, it wasn’t until a few months later when I started to heal that I realized that I had been depressed and had no idea.

How had I been depressed for so long and not even known? I think it is because I biohacked my way out of feeling it.  I hacked low energy with Bulletproof Coffee and workouts. I hacked overall pain with workouts and sauna.  Most importantly, I hacked my brain. I have covered what I did in both my book and this blog, so I don’t want to bore you by covering it again, but I do want to touch on it.

My brain hacking recipe was this: meditation, sauna, BDNF, brain games and personal development.

Meditation calms an overactive mind. As your breath and mind work together, your brain waves slow down and your breath lengthens. This calms the body and gives you a relaxed feeling – even when surrounded by chaos. It became something I did regularly and almost without thought. I got to a point that I was being screamed at while I was sitting there meditating and calm.

Infrared sauna helps with cellular regeneration. Clearing out the toxins the body created by stress was exactly what I needed. I went twice a week for 30 minutes, and for added bonus, I meditated in the sauna. I would go in a ball of stress and come out relaxed and clear of body and mind.

BDNF is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that controls memory and cognitive function. You can take steps to increase your BDNF, which decreases as we age. I believe that increasing my BDNF allowed me to function under extreme stress. When I would have otherwise been an unfocused mess, I was able to perform at a higher level cognitively because I learned how to increase this.

Brain games (like Lumosity, soduku, etc.) sharpen your focus. Depression and stress decrease your focus. Through brain games I was able to increase my focus, even during this toxic period. I also learned to tune out chaos by playing games in noisy situations, like on a bus or in a crowded coffee-house.

Personal development is different for everyone, but for me, I focused on strengthening my mind, my sense of who I am as a person, and my confidence. I read, listened to podcasts while driving, and surrounded myself online with positive, affirming people. I journaled to keep focused on future goals and what I was grateful for each day. I am now very stable emotionally and have developed an unwavering sense of self. It seems like the toxicity that was my every day was allowing me to grow in ways I wouldn’t  have otherwise. I gained  self-control. I now respond rather than react when challenged. When my integrity is questioned, I no longer question myself. I can now look objectively at my own behavior and change behavior I don’t like without feeling like less of a person.

All of these factors led to me living in a chaotic, stressful environment and being in a depressed state without being aware of it. To me, this is testament to what cane be accomplished with biohacking, and a testament to the power of the mind. We have the ability to control our own experience much more than we realize.

Please do not misunderstand me – I am not saying that everyone with depression can biohack it. I am saying I think that is why I didn’t realize I had a problem. However, my depression was caused by the perceived hopelessness of the situation I was in, and not something chemical. I am also not suggesting that anyone in an abusive situation retreat into their own head and biohack how they feel. Safety and sanity are the goals, and getting out of the situation is the way to achieve that. However, or the average person who experiences normal mood swings and minor depressive incidents, maybe biohacking can be part of the solution.

I get better and better as I get farther and farther removed from the situation. I feel very fortunate that depression did not get the best of me. I am hopeful that I can find a way to help others through situations like this at some point. For now, I hope this helps you understand what you can accomplish through biohacking. Regardless of where you are on your journey, keep experimenting and trying new things. You won’t know what works until it works and when it does, it can be amazing.

 

 

 

 

Biohacking Stress to Power Through Everyday

We all know that stress wreaks havoc on the body, but did you know that there are other ways to deal with stress than pummeling a punching bag or screaming into a pillow? Biohackers do, and they employ these alternative techniques to help them handle the every day stressors, which makes them better equipped to handle it when major stressors occur.

MCT oil is pretty much the answer to life, as far as I am concerned. When it comes to battling stress, the two major benefits are energy and cognitive function. Stress wreaks havoc on your brain. When you are stressed, your brain produces hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. While an occasional adrenaline rush can be fun, a consistent overproduction of these hormones can lead to problems like fatigue, memory issues, confusion, the inability to concentrate and impaired decision-making. When you are experiencing stress, it is important to feed your brain what it needs to continual to function. MCT oil is exactly that. This high quality, low carb fat will provide your brain a readily accessible and easy to process form of energy that your brain needs continue functioning optimally, even when bombarded with stress hormones. It also feeds your body with a healthy source of energy, which can keep you from feeling the fatigue that often comes with the stress hormones.

Exercise is a powerful mood booster and stress reliever. Not only does it allow you to work out your frustrations doing something productive, but it gives more energy following your workout, which can help you battle the fatigue and brain fog you may feel.It also provides a strong dose of endorphins, and thanks to Elle Woods, we already know that endorphins make you happy.

Supplements like GABA, 5-htp, and fish oil can also help combat the effects of stress. GABA is a neurotransmitter that is inhibited by cortisol and adrenaline. It promotes a feeling of calm, so adding a GABA supplement when stressed can help you maintain your sanity. 5-htp is a neurotransmitter with a similar function, but it can make you drowsy to best to use this one at night. Omega 3 or fish oil is another quality fat that provides energy to your brain and helps with cognitive function.

If these aren’t your thing, a trip to the local day spa can melt away all of your cares. There you will usually find a sauna, you can get a massage, and get a good dose of aromatherapy.

I have mentioned  infrared sauna in multiple posts. There is a reason I go twice a week – it is good for the body and the soul. It promotes healing at the cellular level, meaning it cleanses old cell tissue and allows reproduction of new, healthy cells. It eliminates toxins and promotes a general feeling of relaxation and well-being.  For an added bonus, I meditate in the sauna. I am stuck in there for 30 minutes, might as well, right?

If your local spa doesn’t have an infrared sauna, you can still benefit from infrared technology by using Athlete Recovery sleep wear. Created by Tom Brady for Under Armour, this sleepwear is bio-ceramic and has infrared technology woven into the fabric. While you sleep, the infrared waves promote healing and regeneration. I know it sounds crazy, but it works. I have several pairs now and have seen a huge benefit from wearing them. I sleep much better, and better sleep means a more resilient brain to handle the stress of the day. I also wake up less sore than I used to (even while in training for a Spartan race) and it helps to keep night sweats at bay.  (Side note – the line also includes some day wear as well. More updates on the track suit to come.)

Essential oils are also a very underrated way to combat the effects of stress. Lavender is a very soothing scent and it helps to induce a calm feeling. It also acts as a sleep aid and relieves muscle soreness, which can follow the adrenaline boost you get with stress. It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory agent, which you will need if the stress becomes chronic. Peppermint acts as a mood booster and energizes you. It can also aid in relief of sore muscles, but is best used in the morning or when you need a pick me up due to its energizing properties.

Getting a massage feels great but it can also relax even the angriest of minds. Releasing tense muscles reduces overall tension. As you release the trapped lactic acid from tight muscles, you can feel the tension melting away and being cleared from your system. When your system cleanses, so does your mind and with it goes some of the stress. The spa atmosphere is designed to relax you as well.  I don’t know about you, but I have never left a massage feeling anxious.

In summary, go for a run, get a massage after, and then run your diffuser while sipping a Bulletproof Coffee and wearing your Athlete Recovery track suit. Life will be good again.

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!

 

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?

 

 

 

 

Favorite Biohack #8 – Exercise

Let me start by saying that my daughter says I should have moved to this number one.  Apparently I am crazy and obsessive about exercise. This from a teen who thinks exercise is getting up to go to the kitchen…but I digress.

I am not going to beat a dead horse and tell you exercise is important. You know it is. What I am going to tell you is why its one of my favorite biohacks.

Exercise a biohack because it is a fast, easy, and proven way to change how you feel immediately, and it changes both the way your body functions and your body composition based on the effort you put in.  In other words, you are doing something that makes your body act in a certain way.

I work out five mornings a week and rest two. I work out in the morning because it gives me endorphins, and that means I start every day with my stress worked out, endorphins flowing and feeling energized  Plus it is done, so I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day, worrying about when I will get to it and thus adding stress.

My regular daily workout is P90X3. I do it at home because it works with my schedule, and I enjoy it. Enjoying your workout is key – you are not going to do what you hate. I found something I like so I actually look forward to it. Most days, anyway – I am not superhuman and some days it takes a bit to get me off the sofa.  However, it is a lot easier to get off the sofa for something you enjoy.  I like being at home because I do it when I want and I don’t have to sit in traffic, deal with the locker room, wait around for equipment or a class time, or deal with the gym hours. All of that would be a source of stress for me, and that negates the point of a stress reliever!

When I exercise, I feel better about myself. I am still struggling with the hormonal issues that made me start biohacking, so when something happens (like being sick for two months, which just happened) I still gain weight. However, as soon as I am able to I am back to the workouts, and even though I still have some weight to work off from this last round of illness, I feel like I am doing something about it. I do not like the feeling of being helpless and if I didn’t work out, I would feel like my physical condition is out of my control. I also feel stronger and able to do more.  For my crazy life I need to be able to do more, and this is my key to making sure I can keep up with myself.

We all know cardiovascular health increases with exercise, so I will only say that I think its nice to be able to go up a flight of stairs and not be winded.

Exercise increases BDNF, an important factor in memory, focus and overall cognitive function. If you would like a more scientific explanation of that, please refer to this article from the Harvard Health Blog from the Harvard School of Medicine.  For this blog, suffice it to say that it clears the brain fog that we can feel from a number of different factors. It is amazing what you can accomplish without brain fog and with increased focus.

I touched on the stress relief factor, but it bears mentioning again. Exercise can reduce the damaging effects of stress by reducing stress, but also by increasing your ability to deal with stress. It increases the cheicals in your brain that are responsible for mood regulation and calm, and it promotes cellular rejuvenation, which helps your body defend against and repair the damage that stress does to your systems.

The benefits of exercise go far beyond just losing weight. If you already exercise regularly, awesome! If not, just try it. Find a class or an activity that works for you, give it a week or two and see what happens. See how you feel. Then let me know!

 

P.S. I am in the photo above –  this was my first time doing Acroyoga at SunSpark Yoga. If you haven’t done this, do it. Its a lot of fun!