Tag: recovery

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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 #9 – External Testosterone Cream

Another disclosure on this one:  Consult your physician before using this.  This is my experience based on my particular situation and it may be different for you.

Back when I was trying to figure out what was “wrong” with me, I had a full panel of lab work done and in doing so, discovered that I was not producing anywhere near the acceptable level of testosterone.  Because my health insurer decided I didn’t need the prescribed medication regardless of what my doctor said, I turned to biohacking.

Enter testosterone cream. I tried a few before settling on the one I use now (click here for the details) from BioLabs Pro. I like this one because its not greasy and absorbs well, so it easily fits into my post-shower ritual.

I noticed a huge difference in my attitude using this. For example, I stopped crying over EVERYTHING, which was really annoying. I gained my normal edge back, and a little more bravado as well.  (I did manipulate this when I discovered I don’t like going over obstacles during Spartan training. A little more cream and over I went with no problem. I don’t condone this, fyi. It worked, but probably not the best idea I have ever had.)  I would like to say I put on more muscle using this, but it could also be from increased weight training. I would also like to say I was leaner (before getting sick) but that may also have been due to the increase in workout intensity.

You will deal with some acne while adjusting to this, as it is a hormone, but it went away after a few months. The annoyance factor of that was offset by my skin healing faster.  I also noticed a need for stronger deodorant. That did not go away. Be prepared!

There are also some nasty side effects to testosterone supplementation, such as an increased risk of cancer. and some lesser ones like increased hair growth,  changes in sleep and appetite, and headaches. (For the full list from the Mayo Clinic, click here.) Definitely get your lab work done before taking this on because if you don’t need it, it may not be worth the risks.

Small annoyances aside, I feel better overall when I use this cream. I simply function better.  To me, it is worth trying just for that.

*image from BioLabs Pro site

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.