A Bio-Hacker's Field Guide: Practices to Say "I Love You" To – Clean Coach Carly

A Bio-Hacker's Field Guide: Practices to Say "I Love You" To

If you have been with me for more than a minute, you know I am a fan of the phrase "bio-hack". If you haven't already, you can read more about "bio-hacking" here. In short, when I say "bio-hacks" I am simply referring to the practices that will make your life and your health better, no matter where your health is now. 

Bio-hacking is not some extreme sport. It is everyday things we can do to make our lives a little easier, our health a little better and our minds a little clearer. Investing in your health can be enjoyable! Start taking small steps to set yourself up for success. Here are some easy starters to help you bio-hack your home and your health...

Products to Bio-Hack Your Home

Having the right tools makes all the difference! This does not mean you have to go invest in a full-fledged at home sauna or buy a Peloton bike. Sometimes it is as simple as changing the type of lights in your room and the lotion you use. Let's keep this simple. Here are some easy changes you can make to bio-hack your home. 

Bio-hack your kitchen

Bio-hack your bathroom

Bio-hack your lights + sleep

Practices to Bio-Hack Your Life

1. Morning Hacks

One of my favorite reads is The Power of Habit. If you think that all the little mundane things you do each day have a little-to-no impact, THINK AGAIN.  Science has proven the old saying that “Habits definitely define your destiny.” Moreover, your morning habits set the course for your day. But wait! Don’t stop reading if you aren’t a morning person because neither am I.  

I am a self-proclaimed morning hater. I am not a morning person nor have I ever been one.  And yet I have learned to appreciate, nay, even love my morning routine. The key to my love for the morning comes with flexibility and knowledge.  

I lived decades of my life unable to get out of bed before 9 am. I can thank adrenal fatigue, medications, and my multiple other diagnoses for that. I read all the books and blogs about how effective and efficient you are when you get up early.  I love yoga and often saw articles about Ayurvedic medicine’s recommendations of getting up between 4:30 am and 6:30 am.   

I wanted to get up early and I lived with the embarrassment and shame of “sleeping in” every day. Every morning as my hubs would get up and get ready to go to work, I would shamefully roll over and hide from the sadness that he was leaving without a “proper” send-off from me. The truth is, when I would get up early, I would get so nauseous and lightheaded that sometimes I would end up back in bed by 10 am. If I didn’t have to get back in bed I would be exhausted by 3 pm and suffer from body aches for the rest of the day.  

Some might say, “stay the course and you will adapt.” Believe me, I tried that. The bottom line was that so many of my body systems were dysregulated. I was always exhausted and no amount of sleep seemed to fill the void. I had a lot of foundational work to do before I could ask my circadian rhythms to adapt.  Circadian rhythms control all living things on earth. When the sun goes down, plants, animals, and humans have a shift in their hormones based on a lack of light. The same thing happens when the sun comes up.  

But if you are dealing with adrenal fatigue, thyroid disorder, hormone imbalances, food sensitivities, chronic infections, mold toxicity, and the depression that comes along with those issues, those circadian rhythm messages are lost in a firestorm of cytokines (inflammatory messengers) and the resulting symptoms. 

While most bio-hackers will recommend that you get up before the sun, I recommend that you get up when you can. Getting up with or before the sun is a tall order for many people and can come off very elitist. There is no reason for you to miss out on the healing power of light just because you get up at 9 am.  

So forget the shame, and bio-hack your morning the way that works for you. While I won’t insist you get up with the morning light, I strongly recommend going outside as soon as you wake up. At the very least, open your blackout curtains so that your brain and body know that it is daytime.  

We all instinctively know that lying in a dark room during daylight hours is “not good” for us. That is because darkness signals melatonin and light signals serotonin. Of course, there are other hormones involved, but the basics are pretty straight forward. Melatonin tells your body to sleep and serotonin tells your body to be alert and happy. So, if you want to help your brain and body wake up, you turn on a light or better yet, you go outside. Natural light is far superior to the man-made artificial lighting in your house. Natural sunlight, even if it is overcast, has a full spectrum of light, whereas the lights in your house have only a few blue wavelengths.  

So, no matter what time you wake up, head outside for 15-20 minutes of natural full-spectrum light.

And while you are outside, take the opportunity to cold adapt... 

2. Cold Therapy 

My dislike for mornings is almost as strong as my distaste for being cold. I’ve suffered from hypothyroidism and low body temperature for as long as I can remember. I recently realized I have the symptoms of Raynaud’s syndrome. When I get cold it takes at least 3 more layers, a hot shower, or a heating pad to bring my temperature and energy back to baseline. And yet, even after despising the cold for over 20 years, I find myself outside every morning in my undies. I’ve got on gloves, socks, and a hat to protect my extremities, but everything else is hanging out in the cold. Now if that isn’t an oxymoron, I don’t know what is!  

Cold adaptation is a hot topic and habit with bio-hackers. Wim Hoff has, almost single-handedly, created a cold-adaptation movement for the masses. Cryotherapy chambers used to be reserved for elite athletes but are now found in day spas and gym across the globe. Don’t mistakenly think that getting cold is a new idea. The oldest known papyrus dated at 3500 BC describe cold therapy as medical treatments.  

Cold therapy boasts an impressive list of health benefits including:

  • Improved ability to burn fat
  • Reduces inflammation (think about when you sprain your ankle and use an ice pack on it)
  • Supports longevity of life
  • Speeds up tissue healing
  • Improves sleep
  • Regulates blood sugar
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Reduces pain
  • Decreases oxidative stress

I have used a cryotherapy chamber a handful of times and I got some great, albeit temporary, pain relief for my back. I don’t have the time or the money to use cryotherapy chambers on the regular, so I employ the DIY versions of cold therapy for more regular care.  

Many people take a cold shower as their cold therapy routine. I would rather cut my feet off and poke my eyes out. The sensation of cold water pelting my skin is enough to cause me to forgo taking a shower for a year. I opt for going outside and waiting for a shiver. I usually listen to a podcast, do light gardening, walk or do some sort of functional exercises (lunges or planks). I stay outside for about 15 minutes during the winter months and that is plenty of time for me to start to shiver. I take ice baths in the summer months or go swimming in a cold lake. These options, including the dreaded cold shower, are far less glamorous and less expensive than a cryotherapy chamber, and yet they achieve the same health results. 

3. Warming Up (Mind, Body + Digestion)

After forcing my body to adapt to the cold, I like to warm up. My digestion is always surprising me so I start with warm liquids in the morning. I change up the routine, but it is always warm. Currently, I sip on a warm cup of Cistus tea with a cinnamon stick.  During the winter months, I use my homemade fire cider and hot water for a morning elixir.  And if I’m keeping it simple, I warm some water and squeeze lemon or splash apple cider vinegar (ACV) into it.  

I have various other habits that I perform several times a week. I use guided meditation because without someone’s voice guiding me, I get distracted and lost in my own thoughts. I would love to say after years of attempting to practice meditation that I am close to nirvana, but that simply isn’t true. I also lift my kettlebell or use resistance bands several times per week. 

Make Your Bio-Hacks Work For You... 

My routine changes frequently and I allow myself flexibility. If I were trying to hold myself to a rigid routine, I simply wouldn’t succeed. Sometimes I get up at 5 am (rarely) and sometimes I get up at 8 am. No matter the time, I always get morning light, some cold therapy, and warm liquids. I may not ever love the morning hours, but I do love my routine because I make it fit my needs.  

Bio-hacking does not need to be elaborate or even an expensive endeavor. Bio-hackers (people who are truly dedicated to making a difference in their health) are simply willing to say "I love you" to their body's needs, even if the practice is a little uncomfortable. Think about the basics: how is my lighting, how is my environment, how am I starting my day for success? 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

What part of your morning routine do you love? 

Are there any parts you hate?  

What are you doing to set the tone physically/mentally for the rest of the day?

Are you being too rigid?

Are you being too lax/without a concrete plan?

Want some support with your morning routines? Set up a discovery call.

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