Tag: infrared

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.

 

 

 

 

Favorite Biohack #7 – Infrared Sauna

Warning, this post contains information on sex. It is basic and vague, but it is there.

Men: this is one you may not want to read. You are welcome to, but consider yourself warned – it contains information you may not want.

I covered the sauna recently in its own post, but I wanted to revisit it because I realized the sauna has had a benefit to me that I didn’t address.

In my book, I touched in the changes that occur in the female body during aging, one of which is a biological change in the nether regions. (Last chance to stop, guys!)  As I mentioned, in addition to dryness, your skin thins and tear easily, and the combo can make sex painful.

What does this have to do with the sauna? I remember hearing on the One Life Radio show with guest Shawn Wells that he found that infrared sauna visits had a positive effect on the skin of the elderly while working in a nursing home. They bruised less and the skin didn’t split as easily. (Shawn explains it better; I think this is the episode here.)  I had forgotten about this until this week, when I was thinking about how my own skin didn’t seem to be as affected by rough play with my dog as it used to be even a year ago.

Infrared sauna helps to regenerate you at the cellular level. Essentially this means that your cells function better following a sauna visit, and a healthy cell creates new healthy cells. The inability to generate new skin cells causes our skin to thin as we age, which is part of why it tears so easily. Promoting the generation of new skin cells will help thicken skin, and the benefits of this affect all skin, including where it counts.

I have no idea if there is any research to support this specific benefit because I haven’t researched it. It makes sense that it would – skin is skin.  I will tell you that I have noticed a positive difference. (Don’t worry – that is all the detail you are going to get!)

I promised to update you on any new discoveries in this area in my blog, and this is what I have found in this area since writing the book.  Hope it helps.

Infrared Sauna – Hot or Hype?

It was September, 2017. I swear it was sauna month. It started with my daughter, who wanted a sauna membership for the health benefits. Next it was my mentor, who did at least four podcasts on how great it was. Finally, it was my day spa, who gave me a free session for by birthday. Fast forward to January 2018, and I am hooked.

To me, the sauna was a hot, steamy place at the gym filled with smelly bodies in various states of undress, and that just seemed like a hotbox of bacteria to me. I could not understand why my child wanted to start doing this. According to her I had it all wrong, and there are multiple health benefits to the new saunas. Who listens to their children, though, right? But when my bio-hacking mentor started talking about it, I started to pay attention.

Still skeptical, I wasn’t on board yet, but I gave in to the daughter and got her a membership at the local day spa where I go for monthly massages. Then my birthday rolled around and I was given a free session. Why not, I said.

On the day of, I was presented with a towel wrap and a small, dark box. “Hop in,” the clerk said cheerfully. She showed me how to work the light and radio, and said, “okay, now you just sit and sweat!”

Feeling a little odd, I donned my wrap and climbed in. It was a two-person, infrared sauna. It wasn’t steamy, no smelly bodies aside from mine, and my choice of music and heat level. It’s a dry heat, so I was able to tolerate 130 degrees with no problem. (Yes, dry heat really does make a difference.) The zen-like music of the spa and the aromatherapy scents filtered in the through the dark glass.  In the solitude of the darkened box, I completely relaxed. And sweat I did! I emerged thirty minutes later feeling like a new person. The ever-present plantar fasciitis pain in my foot was decreased, my allergy symptoms had lessened, and my entire body felt rejuvenated.

Still thinking this might be all in my head, I headed home to do some more research on this. I found that infrared sauna is used to detoxify the body, reduce inflammation, enhance metabolism, and reduce anxiety and depression. This is basically what I had just experienced.

To explain a little further, infrared sauna ignites your cells at a metabolic level, promoting cleansing and rejuvenation at the cellular level. When your cells are detoxified and functioning better, it makes sense that you will feel better and perform better. Your circulation improves, heart function improves, inflammation reduces, which decreases chronic pain, and your mood improves. (For a more scientific explanation of the benefits of infrared sauna, please visit https://draxe.com/infrared-sauna/.)

Saunas are now being used to aid and/or treat skin issues, metabolic conditions, diabetes, anxiety and depression, arthritis, digestion problems, chronic pain, aid in weight loss, and many other issues. There is also some rumination about infrared saunas being anti-aging, although this is still being tested. (I volunteer to test it! Guinea pig here!)

The benefits of infrared sauna can be seen in as little as 15-20 minutes, but I prefer 30 minute sessions, as I now use my sauna time to meditate to increase relaxation and cognitive effects.  I have also noticed improved skin, a decrease in chronic pain and an overall decrease in allergy symptoms.

In a few short months I have grown to look forward to my sauna time and miss it when I am not able to make it. I don;t know how I lived without this, or why I waited so long to try it, but I am now a believer.

If you are already in, you can find personal infrared saunas on Amazon here. Otherwise, check with your local spa or gym to see if they have an infrared sauna, and if they do, hop in and give it a try. Many day spas now offer monthly memberships as well.

You will not regret it if you try this. Let me know what you think after you do!

 

Dreaming of Tom Brady…sleepwear. Really, the sleepwear.

I don’t sleep. I haven’t since I was a kid. That was, until I got the Athlete Recovery Sleepwear. The day I got these pajamas, my life changed.

I know, that sounds dramatic. I assure you that it is not. I thought I had found the answer to hacking my sleep with California Poppy Seed extract, but I was wrong. The answer is this sleepwear.

Created by TB12, aka Tom Brady, and Under Armour, the Athlete Recovery Sleepwear is specifically designed to help athletes recover faster. According to the website, its patented  “bioceramic print on the inside of the sleepwear absorbs natural heat and reflects Far infrared back into the skin, helping the body sleep better and recover faster.” When you sleep, you recover, so it makes sense that when you sleep better, your recovery will be enhanced. There is also a growing amount of information about the benefits of infrared on the body, one of which is that is promotes healing on a cellular level. (Here is a great article from Dr. Axe on the effects of infrared on the body.)

Bioceramic. Hmm. Sounds comfortable, right? Surprisingly, it is. It is incredibly soft material. I have the shorts and t-shirt, because I am constantly plagued with mid back soreness and tight hip muscles.  They fit true to size, with just enough room to not be overly snug, but not enough to bunch in the night.

At the time I write this, I have only been using these for about a week. I can’t provide evidence that I am healing faster. However, on the morning of the first night I tried the sleep set, I did a trial run for a Spartan Race, where I completed 12 of the more challenging obstacles. (And fell off one; I am not that bad ass.) I expected to wake up feeling like I had been hit by a truck, but I didn’t. I was a little sore, but when you climb ropes, scale walls, carry buckets of rocks, throw a spear and fall from a log 6’ above the ground, you should be REALLY sore. I wasn’t.

sleep cycle 1I can provide evidence that I am sleeping better. Courtesy of the Sleep Cycle app, I have been tracking my sleep quality over the last few months. On the average, my sleep quality ranges from between 35-50% (left photo). This means that only 35-50% of the time I am asleep is quality sleep. (No wonder I need coffee to stay awake.) Since using the Athlete Recovery sleepwear, my sleep quality has improved to 80-85% sleep 2(right photo). That is a marked increase in quality sleep. I still use the poppy-seed extract to fall asleep quickly, but now I am staying asleep, and waking up ready to go.

From what I have seen so far, I want more of these. I want the pants, the tank top, and the sheets. They are pricey (fortunately mine were a gift) and they rarely go on sale. The pajamas range from $59.00-$99.00, and the sheets from $100.00 – $350.00. I will be buying more. For me to say that at these prices, they must be worth it.

Regardless of whether you love or hate Tom Brady, you will love this sleepwear. I highly recommend it,  for everyone, not just athletes.

If you want to check them out, click here. You can thank me later.