Most of us have our mothers to thank for our ingrained eating habits, exercise approach and self-image.
For me, it was a crazy, yoga-practicing, kale-eating great-grandmother.
When I was little, “Mud” came to visit our family (my grandfather had difficulty pronouncing the German word for “mother,” and his abbreviated version stuck). My sister and I were hoping she would bring presents, cookies, maybe a Barbie or two.
But when she stepped off the plane from California, Mud was pulling a suitcase full of kale, fish oil, wheat berries and Meyer lemons.
Someone still owes me a Barbie.
Mud stuck out like a sore thumb... make that a strong, lithe, beautifully manicured thumb. She drank warm water and lemon all day long. I’ve never met anyone better at cheating at cards. She slept on a board and practiced yoga, decades before it was popular. Mud had perfect teeth, perfect posture, and an unrelenting dedication to whole foods. She looked 25 years younger than her peers and could lift her foot behind her head, as a great-grandmother.
This was a woman seriously in tune with her body. Mud figured out how to keep her body balanced, her metabolism humming, and her lifestyle rejuvenating.
Here’s the truth: Mud shouldn’t be the exception. We’ve all got the potential to be as youthful and energetic as Mud. You’ve heard this before from my friend, Dr. Lissa Rankin, and I’m going to help you get started today with my top 7 ways.
With Mud as my inspiration, I’ve spent decades exploring the world of prevention, healing, and repair through nutrition and lifestyle. Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine prove that health can be managed through daily habits and natural remedies, from what we put in our mouths to when we close our eyes at night.
Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Bruno know how intelligent and adaptable our bodies are:
Cause you’re amazing,
Just the way you are.
- Bruno Mars, Just The way You Are
As a practicing physician who’s worked with over 20,000 women, I know our bodies come with built-in systems designed to help us heal, manage, and live the max out of every hour, of every day. It makes sense, right? The more we own and care for our bodies, the more we’ll get out of them.
1. Work on Your Gut
Health, like beauty, really is an inside job: The zillions of bacteria that make up the microbial garden of your gut are your body’s first line of defense against infections and illness. Known as the microbiome of the gut, science is exploding with studies proving our bodies are designed – like some crazy robot of the future – to heal themselves. When they’re out of balance, bad bacteria start to cause problems, whether it comes from a virus or hormonal imbalance.
Own it: A healthy diet creates healthy bacteria, which turns you into an infection-fighting, cold-thwarting machine. Eat whole foods that balance your blood sugar and provide vitamins and minerals.
2. You Snooze, You Win (Create circadian congruence.)
Humans are designed to rise with the sun and to sleep when it’s dark. Seems a little obvious, but most us are guilty of late nights and days spent in an office. Sure, there are morning people and night owls, but your hormones are released according to your sleep/wake cycle.
Own it: Get your Circadian rhythm in order, and your body will produce the hormones you need when you need them. Do your best to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day. Also remember that there’s no better way to wake up than to expose yourself to sunlight.
3. Exceptional Eating (+ Epigenetics)
If you need a frappucino and muffin to get through your day, that's a sure sign your hormones are off, and bad news for your DNA (50-80% of how your genes are expressed are determined by how you eat, move, think, and supplement—a phenomenon called “epigenetics). Cravings for salt and sugar can be cries for help from your thyroid, your cortisol levels, or your even sleep cycle.
Own it: Create a diet high in whole foods, fiber, and water. Take a hormone quiz (you’ll see how at the end of this post) to see which aspects of your diet might be lacking.
4. Restore, Rejuvenate, Refresh
Accelerated aging, wrinkles, moodiness, low energy... these are all signs that your body hasn’t had a chance to repair itself. Cell repair is an important process that happens every night, but late bedtimes and not enough sleep are serious roadblocks.
Own it: I’m strict because I care: lights out by 10pm (at least 5 of 7 nights each week). Getting in bed by this time is the magic hour to facilitate repair benefit to your body, cells, and muscles. The ratio of catabolism (wear and tear) to anabolism (growth and repair) shifts while you sleep, and the hours before midnight are especially auspicious. This is how to avoid Botox. Do it.
5. Symptoms Are Not a Cry for Pills.
Think about a health problem as a text message from your body: Hard-to-lose belly fat? Your cortisol could be high. Low sex drive? Testosterone and estrogen levels may be off. Memory loss? Estrogen and cortisol could be factors in this equation. These aren’t problems asking for a prescription – they’re asking for a lifestyle change.
Own it: Get to the root cause. Up the Omega 3s in your diet, try GPS for the Soul and take some B6. These are just a few of the gentle, prescription-free ways you can care for your body, and pretty much everyone will benefit from them. Always try lifestyle tweaks such as diet or exercise solutions before you reach for the pill bottle.
6. I Stress, Eustress...
Don't confuse hyperdrive, late-night bursts of energy and other stress-junkie symptoms for productivity. Yes, elevated cortisol is bad for you, but so is low cortisol. Ideally, you get a burst of cortisol in the morning that wakes you up and gets you going. Over the course of the day, your cortisol levels should slowly decline so that when bedtime rolls around (10pm, remember?), it’s easy to relax and fall asleep. Cortisol needs to be in the “Goldilocks” position: not too high, and not too low.
Own it: “Eustress” means good stress, because we all need some cortisol in our lives. It’s what gets us going! The healthy solution is to change your reaction to stressful situations; approach them as a challenge, or try some deep breathing, yoga, or meditation.
7. Be a Good Neighbor
Think of your body as a neighborhood: a busy community of hormones, bacteria, and hard-working organs. Many of these work together – known as “cross talk” – which means that if one aspect of your health is off, chances are it’s affecting something else. HIgh cortisol often results in low thyroid, which means a stressed-out mind and a slowing metabolism. No, thank you.
Own it: Figure out what your body needs, and do it! Returning this interconnected system to balance may have positive effects you didn’t even think of! Healthier skin! More flexible joints! The ability to sleep without a glass of wine!
Your body can do a lot; from a perfect French Braid, to remembering where you left your car keys, to getting over a cold, it’s a pretty incredible machine. Give your body the chance to rise to its full potential by making lifestyle changes, such as reducing your alcohol consumption, exercising more, and losing weight. In this way, you’re maximizing your DNA; keeping your hormones balanced helps prevent your negative genetic tendencies. Non-genetic triggers can cause your genes to behave, or express themselves, differently. This is where being proactive establishes your hormone cure.
You can start the path to your own hormone cure by purchasing my book, The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep, Sex Drive, and Vitality Naturally with The Gottfried Protocol. There you’ll find quizzes, case studies, and advice on a personalized strategy to manage your hormones. As a thank-you for reading, there are some bonus goodies available to you as well! Just check out http://thehormonecurebook.com/ to see what’s in store for you.
Sara Gottfried, MD
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