Only recently did I decide that biohacking the female body through self experimentation should be my personal focus. However, the sum of the health-pursuing actions that I have been taking since September of 2016 have all really been setting me up for this “Ladyhacking”. I am really excited to share with you the tools to apply holistic approach that has brought me to the place where I am able to embrace the 6-week challenge that I started last week – er, rather imperfectly, so I may extend to 7 weeks!!
For the last 9 months or so, I have been following a very “lazy” low carb eating plan. This means that while I have been eating all low-carb, high-fat meals and ingredients, I was not very closely monitoring overall consumption. No consistent tracking, no staying within recommended limits of macronutrient concentrations, no worries! Despite the very easy-going approach, my results were still staggeringly positive.
(Disclaimer: You have to remember that my career has been as a professional chef for the last 15 years now. Every single year, the cuisine that I have served my clients and guests has gotten consistently more health-promoting, more complex, and tastier. My actual motto is “Healthy and delicious are not mutually exclusive”! However, this constant focus on tending to the needs and tastes of my treasured clients has often come at the price of neglecting some of my own dietary goals. Enter lazy low-carbing.)
THIS WAY OF EATING IS THE KEY TO GETTING STARTED. To reiterate some of the amazing results that I experienced:
- Increased brainpower, focus, and concentration
- Consistent uplifted mood
- Easier time falling and staying asleep
- Increased energy and productivity in both work and life
- Greater desire to exercise
- A little weight loss
And these results were achieved WITHOUT even following a plan strictly. You might have guessed, I am very much looking forward to seeing where the next weeks of strict adherance will take me! From the anecdotes of others, there are endless other benefits of leveraging your nutrition this way.
The Rest of the “Toolkit”:
Make a commitment to YOURSELF for at least 4 weeks.
This is the hardest step for everybody. Even with the gals who are excited about joining me for this challenge, I have already gotten pushback. If you want to change your body and balance your hormones as quickly as possible, if you want to see the most drastic and encouraging changes in the shortest amount of time, YOU NEED TO COMMIT.
Four weeks is not that long in the grand scheme of things. You could say there is never going to be a perfect time to get started, or you could change your perspective and admit that it is ALWAYS a perfect time to get started. There are always going to be holidays and social events breaking up your calendar. But you need 4 solid weeks both to change your eating habits and get into a consistent ketogenic state.
So, first you need to decide that you want to do this ladyhacking thing! You need to decide that the healthiest, happiest, most energetic version of you that you dream about is worth sacrificing your comfortable eating habits and willingness to give into cravings for. And you should be GENTLE with yourself as you start this, because willpower is indeed a limited resource. As you think about making this commitment, you may want to write down important things like:
- why you want to do this, what your goal is (lose weight, build muscle, gain energy, kick PCOS’ ass, minimize PMDD symptoms, whatever)
- how you envision yourself looking and feeling when you succeed
- which other daily decisions and tasks can be automated or outsourced to help you focus on the first four weeks of your pursuit of optimal health and habit building
- what small and easily definable actions you can take to help make this change easier (meal planning, always having approved snacks handy, cleaning out your cupboards to remove temptations, looking up restaurant menus before going out, having a hearty and healthy meal before attending a social event where you may not have many options)
The more fleshed-out your goals and actions are, the easier it will be to stick to your plan. The following behaviors make being inspired and re-committing daily much easier.
Start each day with meditation.
I followed a plan laid out in a wonderful book recommended to me by a friend back when I started low-carbing in general. Now, 15 minutes each morning is just part of what I do! However, if you are just starting and want a little guidance, there is a free phone app called Calm that helps to teach you AND can be used to help you fall asleep. I have used it and it is really terrific.
And by the way, you do NOT have to sit like the illustration. You can just sit in a chair or on your bed. I do not recommend lying down – it is too easy to fall asleep!
Write your goals daily in a goal journal to help keep yourself accountable.
Write them in the present tense. This is a habit that I learned from sales guru Grant Cardone’s latest book, The 10X Rule, and WHOA! It’s another gamechanger.
When you write down “I love exercise and enjoy doing it every day” (one of my own actual personal goals), you are MUCH more likely to get off your keister and go for a walk. You have already promised your mind and body that treat. To deny yourself your love for exercise is really cheating yourself when you have written it down like this.
A note on journalling: YOU ARE FREE TO DO IT WHEN YOU REMEMBER. We’re adding quite a few habits that may be completely new to you right now. There have been so many studies about how helpful a little journalling – whether goal, gratitude, or mindfulness related – is wonderful for your health and even hormone balance. YES – WRITING BALANCES HORMONES!!
But if you’re anything like me, you may not get to it immediately. Don’t worry – just start carrying your journal with you and do it when you can.
Focus on what you CAN eat/have/do as opposed to what you can’t.
I’ll be you never were on a diet plan before that allowed you to eat a pound of bacon every day, AND encouraged you to dip it in guacamole. My Ladyhacking way of eating (WOE) does. You CAN eat steak or fish or eggs and almost unlimited green veggies slathered in butter and cheese. There are special brands of ice cream made for you. You can get bunless burgers (Hello Five Guys, In ‘n Out, and more…) up the wazoo, and Chipotle can be your best friend if you’re craving fast food because meat + cheese + sour cream + guacamole + vegetables = YES! There are recipes for chicken crust pizza all over the place right now!
You WILL have to either prepare or carefully choose your food more frequently, but is that such a high price to pay for health, wellness, fertility, fewer prescriptions, and end to chronic pain? Oh, when you put it like that, I GUESS NOT…
Download a food-tracking app and stick with it.
I use MyFitnessPal, aka MFP. It’s free, it’s easy, it has most foods listed as well as a recipe calculator. Custome-determining macros does require a Premium account, but it’s not necessary. And photographing your meals, whether you share them or not, is also an excellent tool!
Eat more salt, and supplement with potassium and magnesium.
That’s right – SALT IS YOUR FRIEND! Sodium and chloride are two of the seven key electrolytes that humans need to survive. Along with potassium and magnesium, they keep the heart pumping and fluid levels steady within your body, which is important because we humans are made up of up to 60% water. In fact, your brain and heart, which we recognize as two of the most vital organs, are up to 73% water!
One of the effects of switching to a low carb or ketogenic diet is that you will very quickly expel water weight, and this can have potentially uncomfortable consequences even if you are doing the happy dance that the numbers on teh scale are going down. For the first week, you can expect to feel a little crummy. Your body is used to a certain routine, and switching it up will definitely have side effects, especially since we’re switching the fuel that our human engines use from quick-burning sugar to steady, clean-burning fat. My favorite sources of these key electrolytes:
Sodium & Chloride – Himalayan Pink Sea Salt – and here’s a nice little article about the health benefits!
Potassium – Hibiscus or black tea, hot or iced (I LOVE green tea and still highly recommend drinking it as I sip a glass now, but it’s just not high in potassium)
Magnesium – Natural Calm – This link is to the neutral flavor, but the raspberry lemon is quite yummy in my estimation!
And a great recipe to get all of your electrolytes together is right here. Ketodietapp.com is one of my FAVORITE Keto websites. It and my other fave, healthfulpursuit.com, are both founded by amazing women who are winning the battle with hormone balancing there, too.
Go For a Walk
Aha! “Finally she mentions exercise!” you’re thinking! “What is a four-week plan without an hour per day in the gym?” you’re asking! That is NOT what I’m implying here. In fact, I’d prefer it if you did no strenuous exercise whatsoever for your first 4 – 6 weeks. Your body has enough to get used to and we humans have very limited “willpower”. It is actually finite, and when it gets used up with other acts of self-control during the day, we experience what is called ego-depletion.
According to Wikipedia, “A depleting task requiring self-control can have a hindering effect on a subsequent self-control task, even if the tasks are seemingly unrelated.” So, forcing yourself to go to the gym when you’re in your first week of eating no pizza, meditating, and journalling every day is NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE.
The 15 – 60 minute walk I am recommending is more for reconnecting with your body and flushing your lungs and blood with fresh oxygen. Beneficial side effects that I have experienced? Happy muscles, a quicker rate of inches dropping, and best of all – creative inspiration! I have come to love my daily walk if only for the ideas I know it will bring. It will also help you…
GO TO BED!
Do you know when my biggest issues with sticking to my plan come? Late at night, a few hours after dinner when I’m watching Netflix and researching stuff on the web or sometimes just reading. I get uncontrollable hunger pangs! The midnight munchies are REAL, and even if you’re sticking to approved foods, you can blow the strides in health you’re working to make.
Sleep deprivation has seriously bad effects on the body and the hormones, especially for women. We suffer greater consequences than men when we do not get the prescribed 7 – 9 hours, for reasons this article explains very well. If you need more proof, check out this fancy picture below I found on the internets. Do yourself a favor and both eat dinner AND go to bed earlier; your body will love you for it!
Packed and Ready to Go!
That rounds out my list of “tools” to help get you started in the journey towards greater health through biohacking. Clearly, this is the starter kit and I will be addressing everything listed as well as about a zillion other subjects in greater detail.
What do you think? Are you interested in joining the fun? Because I am going to be inviting EVERYBODY to start their tracking as of July 1!
Linda Stanton says
Great start! This is really helping me to start the journey to helping older women (including me!) get on track!