at home yoga

You’re doing the best you can.

You’re trying to stay at home. You’re homeschooling the kids. You’re trying to keep working at your job, or you’re navigating the waters of having lost employment. You’re trying to remain upbeat and optimistic.

There’s a lot of juggling going on, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 25+ years in the health and fitness industry, it’s that the first ball we let drop is our own – our self-care.

Inertia is a Powerful Force

You may start each day with grand plans for a healthy dose of movement. You may have visions of a long, brisk walk. You may decide that today’s going to be the day you dust off the Bowflex or your dad’s ancient dumbbels in the basement. Whether it’s because you’ve run out of time, energy, or steam, or because your sense of overwhelm is holding you down like lead, perhaps you’re not taking as much care to get your body moving these days.

This has implications for your energy. Energy moves through the body freely when the body is open and unblocked. More energy begets more energy: once you’ve got it flowing, you’ll find yourself coming back
online; fully charged.

Yoga to Unlock Energy and Relieve Pressure

I’ve created the following yoga sequence precisely to help unlock energy and relieve the pressure you’re feeling in your head and heart, and that’s locked up inside your body. This sequence is simple, slow, and low-stress; designed to feel like an exhilarating and relaxing deep sigh.

And we could all use a deep sigh right about now.

So get down on the floor (you don’t even need a yoga mat) and do as many of these easy, feel-good postures as you can, for as long as it feels good.

Your Hips Hold Your Tension

Many yogis affirm that our hips are the spot in our body where we hold much of our emotional and spiritual tension. Whether that sounds plausible or far-fetched to you, there is simply no denying that hip opening yoga postures feel darn good.

So in this series, we’ll focus predominantly through the big hip joints, while also flowing through some spinal rolling. Let’s get your energy flowing again. You can complete the whole sequence in less than 30 minutes; a perfectly affordable amount of time to spend on yourself.

I’ve created short instructional videos for each couplet. I encourage you to linger in each pose of each sequence as long as you like (I move through them more quickly in the videos, in the interest of brevity). This
isn’t meant to be a heart-pumping workout. It’s an exercise in self-kindness; slow and gentle is the name of the game.

I hope it helps you feel better!
——-

Warm-Up Yoga Sequence

  • Spinal roll down
  • Forward fold with dead hang
  • Garland pose (or child’s pose)
  • Spinal roll up

Repeat this sequence as many times as you like until your back and hips feel warm and juicy. Observe how the first round feels. Observe how this improves in the second round, the third, and so on.

On the spinal curls, imagine each of your spinal vertebrae rolling up, one at a time, like a string of pearls. Concentrate on moving each one independently of its neighbors.

In the forward fold, allow your head, shoulders, and arms to hang very heavily, as dead weight, enabling a sensation of traction within the spine.

In garland pose, press your knees out with your elbows, drop your tailbone toward the floor, and try to lift the crown of your head toward the ceiling. If garland pose is eluding you today, take child’s pose and settle right down into the floor. Be sure to emphasize the length of your spine by reaching the arms very far forward, and sending the hips very far back.

Lunge Sequence (front of hip)

  • Upright reaching lunge
  • Low lunge

In the upright version of the lunge, reach the same arm as the downward leg as high as you can. You may choose to lean away, to add more length to the stretch in the front hip.

In the low lunge, bring your arms to the inside of the forward leg. You can remain up on your hands with straight arms, or play around with bending your arms a bit to drop even lower. You may even be able to take your elbows to the floor. Don’t feel the need to push it. This is meant to be gentle.

Linger as long as you like in each lunge, repeating the sequence on the other side.

Frog Sequence (inside of hip)

  • Frog pose
  • Wide child’s pose

To get into frog pose, put your elbows on the floor, then take your knees wide, your ankles wide, and your toes wide (you may wish to double up the mat under your knees or put a pillow under each knee for comfort on a hard floor). Lightly press into your elbows to send your hips and tailbone slightly backward. It doesn’t take long for frog pose to feel intense. Come out of it when you’re ready for a break.

Then move into this very wide-legged version of child’s pose by shifting your weight slightly forward from frog pose, and bringing the tips of your toes together behind you. Keep the knees wide. Reach your arms as far out in front of you as you can. Settle your body into the floor in between your knees.

Repeat this sequence as many times as you like.

Pigeon sequence (side of hips)

  • Half lotus
  • Pigeon/Extended pigeon

Don’t worry if your half lotus or pigeon look a little rougher than what you see on Pinterest. You’re working with what your body is giving you today and that is perfectly enough. Concentrate on how it feels, on letting go of any “hold” though the hips, and in the breath.

Half lotus can be done with the ankle stacked up on the opposite knee, or for a little easier option (depending on how your hips and knees feel) take the ankle to the opposite calf. Can’t manage half lotus? Simply sit cross-legged with one leg folded in front of the other.

In pigeon pose, try your best to extend your leg as far back behind you as you can, allowing your kneecap and all five toenails to anchor to the floor. You can remain upright, fold down to your elbows, or bring your forehead to the floor.

Take your time allowing gravity to sink your pigeon ever-closer to the floor, then repeat on the other side.

Seated bends sequence (lower back, side of trunk)

  • Head to knee forward bend
  • Seated side bend

“Head to knee” is merely a suggestion. A directional aspiration, if you will. Your head does not need to make contact with your knee, but behave as if that’s your desired outcome.

You may find the seated side bend a little “sticky;” I do too. Don’t worry if you can’t get over very far. Rather than leaning to the side, imagine curling your trunk over in a C shape. Observe how your body is suspended by the muscles and connective tissue in your side trunk and see if, with each subsequent round, you can’t bend a little more.

Feel free to cycle back and forth between these two postures, and don’t forget to switch sides. Observe how one side feels compared to the other.

Spinal twist sequence

  • Spinal curls
  • Supine twist

Your spine has 33 individual vertebrae, 17 of which make up the mobile and bendy part of a healthy back. This final sequence is designed to deliver on the spinal suppleness that is your birthright.

As you curl your spine in and out, can you imagine all 5 of your lumbar (lower back) vertebrae and all 12 of your thoracic (middle and upper back) vertebrae moving, one at a time? Observe where you get stuck. On each subsequent curl, observe whether that stickiness begins to loosen up. Complete several rounds of these curls before moving to the twist.

Hug your knees into your chest and then simply allow your bent legs to fall to one side, while keeping your shoulders anchored square to the floor. The weight of your legs will help deepen into this very gentle spinal twist. Switch sides when it feels good.


————
One you’ve finished your sequences, lay quietly or come to seated, and simply observe how different your body feels, and how different you feel in your body. Then go about the business of managing the challenges of the current day, with renewed, flowing energy.

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The post Easy At-home Yoga Sequence to Relieve Pressure appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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why do I feel tired all the time“I’m tired all the time.”
“I have no energy.”
“I’m too tired to go to the gym.”
“I need a nap.”

Walking around in a fog seems like standard operating procedure nowadays. No matter how common it is, though, feeling exhausted, low energy, or sleepy all the time is not normal. It’s always a sign that something else is going on.

Tiredness, Sleepiness, Fatigue: What’s the Difference?

What does it mean when someone says, “I’m tired all the time?” Are they falling asleep at their desk? Do they need to take an afternoon nap in order to function in the evening? Perhaps they feel too wiped out to exercise or even get off the couch?

Colloquially, we use the word “tired” to describe the subjective experiences of both sleepiness and fatigue. “Sleepiness” is the familiar experience of needing sleep due to sleep debt. We all know what this feels like.

“Fatigue” can mean a few things. There is the tiredness you experience after overwork or exertion, which is usually temporary. Then there are the chronic feeling of exhaustion, low motivation, physical weakness, or inability to function.

From a medical perspective, sleepiness and fatigue are different. The boundaries are fuzzy, though, and there is a lack of agreement about the best ways to assess and differentiate the two.https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness‘>2

Obviously, the first question you should ask yourself is, “Am I getting at least seven hours of sleep per night?” Really, I’d say at least eight for most people. That doesn’t mean seven hours in bed. It takes a while to fall asleep, and most people wake up at least a couple times per night. An analysis of over 10 million users’ Fitbit data revealed that the average person is awake or restless for 25.5 minutes per night.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8843535/‘>4 If you are maintaining one sleep schedule during the week and a completely different one on the weekends, stop. Make a concerted effort to maintain the same sleep and wake times for a few weeks and see if that helps.

Sleepiness is also a sign of circadian rhythm misalignment.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25367475/‘>6

Consider keeping a sleep-wake diary or using a sleep tracker such as an Oura Ring or Fitbit. This can provide some initial insight into what’s going on.

Can Your Diet Cause You to Feel Tired All the Time?

Possibly. There are certainly links between certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies and fatigue. Low iron (even without anemia),https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5207540/‘>8 B vitamins (especially B12https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10767667/‘>10 Vitamin D in particular seems to be associated with sleep disorders.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12741468/‘>12 and non-celiac gluten sensitivityhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3280075/‘>14,https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16549311/‘>16 Of course, it’s entirely possible that sleepiness leads people to consume more caffeine, not the other way around. Experimental tests on the effects of caffeine consumption are mixed, suggesting individual differences in the degree to which caffeine affects sleep.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1087079201901625‘>18 It’s counter-intuitive, because a lot of people like to have a glass of wine or other beverage to help them sleep. While it may help you fall asleep, alcohol has a tendency to disrupt sleep phases in a way that renders your sleep incomplete.

On the other hand, maybe it’s what you’re not drinking—enough water. Dehydration, perhaps even mild dehydration, can cause fatigue.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26290294/‘>20 You don’t have to force yourself to drink a certain amount each day, but consider adding a glass of water or two, perhaps with a pinch of sea salt, if you’re feeling somewhat fatigued.

Lifestyle Factors That Affect Tiredness

Leading a sedentary, indoor lifestyle

Being sedentary is associated with experiencing greater fatigue.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18277063/‘>22,https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27995604/‘>24 Exercise can also improve sleep.https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/32/2/107‘>26 I don’t think I need to tell you how I feel about chronic cardio, do I?

Taken as a whole, the evidence suggests that low-level aerobic activity is particularly effective for helping to relieve tiredness. If you’re feeling tired all the time, try going for a daily walk. Walking is by far my favorite low-intensity activity. Plus, you get the added bonus of sun exposure, weather permitting. Get that vitamin D boost! One study found that three-quarters of patients who complained of fatigue were deficient in vitamin Dhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5207540/‘>28

Stress

Experiencing extreme and/or chronic stress can also lead to fatigue and sleep problems. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction interventions have been shown in many studies to reduce symptoms of fatigue in individuals with a wide range of chronic health problems.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26519614/‘>30,https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0093775401902076‘>32

  • Type 2 diabeteshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6064586/‘>34
  • Hypothyroidhttps://www.aafp.org/afp/1998/0215/p776.html‘>36
  • Heart diseasehttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3169045/’>38
  • Perimenopause and menopausehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3225130/’>40
  • These are just some of the many issues that are associated with otherwise unexplained sleepiness or fatigue. There are others, namely chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, for which fatigue is a defining characteristic, not just a symptom.

    When you talk to your doctor, try to be as specific as possible about what you are experiencing. Is it fatigue that manifests as physical exhaustion, weakness, or lack of desire or ability to do daily activities? Persistent sleepiness despite apparently good sleep habits? Make a note of frequency and patterns, such as if you experience fatigue more at certain times of day, after meals, or, if applicable, at specific times of your menstrual cycle. Track your sleep for a few nights at least. Your doctor will ask.

    Tell your doctor about any other symptoms you are also experiencing, even if they seem unrelated. Your doctor might spot a pattern that leads to a diagnosis. Finally, make sure you tell your doctor about any medications you are taking, as fatigue might be a side effect.

    Getting to the Root of Your Issues

    As you see, there are lots of possible causes for tiredness. If your sleepiness or fatigue is significantly affecting your quality of life—you have trouble completing your daily tasks, your memory is impaired, your mood is affected or you feel depressed—a doctor’s visit is absolutely in order.

    If you want to try to self-experiment at home first, start with the obvious and easy steps:

    • Optimizing sleep hygiene
    • Staying in bed for eight to nine hours every night at the same time
    • Eliminating gluten if you haven’t already
    • Removing caffeine in the afternoon
    • Making sure you’re hydrated
    • Avoiding long periods of being sedentary
    • Getting outside and getting plenty of sunlight
    • Taking steps to alleviate stress

    You can also try tracking your food for a week using Cronometer to see if you are consistently low on any vitamins or minerals. Up your intake of foods rich in the vitamins or minerals you need. If you’re not already eating a serving of liver each week (for iron and other nutrients) and small, oily fish (for essential fatty acids) on the regular, do that. If you think you’re clinically deficient in one or more areas, get tested before supplementing willy nilly.

    Is Inflammation the Key?

    What do poor sleep, chronic illness, sedentary lifestyles, poor gut health, chronic stress, and nutrient-poor diets all have in common? Inflammation.

    It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that some scientists believe that inflammation is a key feature in fatigue of various etiologies.

    As we covered in Parts I and II of this series, during perimenopause and menopause women can experience a complex web of physical, psychological, and social symptoms.

    The treatment usually prescribed by doctors, hormone therapy (HT), is controversial and not appropriate for some women. I won’t get into the HT debate here—Mark did a great job covering the pros and cons recently. Suffice it to say that HT isn’t the answer for everyone, and it’s not a panacea by any means.

    Whether or not they choose to go the HT route, many women desire additional support during perimenopause and beyond. For the sake of keeping this post from becoming a novella, I’m going to focus on mind-body therapies today.

    This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of nonhormonal options, nor is it meant to try to dissuade you from trying HT. That’s a decision you have to make for yourself with your doctor. The approaches below can be used alone or in combination with other modalities, including HT.

    As with any medical-adjacent tools, if you are considering any of the options here, take the time to educate yourself, talk to your doctor, and find qualified practitioners to help you implement these practices.

    A Note Regarding Research Evidence…

    Because so many women are interested in complementary or alternative approaches, there’s a fair amount of research into nonhormonal treatments. There are also important limitations.

    A lot of the randomized control trials—experiments that are best for establishing causal effects—are small. There is considerable variability in research design, so it’s difficult to generalize across studies.

    Participants in these studies tend to be white and well-educated. Since there are cross-cultural differences in the experience of menopause, we shouldn’t assume that the findings apply to all women. Likewise, a lot of the research focuses on women with a history of breast cancer because HT is generally contraindicated in this population. While the results of these studies probably generalize to other women, it would be great to have more data.

    Finally, vasomotor symptoms—hot flushes and night sweats—are studied more than other types of symptoms. Though they are the most common complaint, many women do not experience debilitating vasomotor symptoms. They might, however, experience mood fluctuations, depression, sexual issues, memory problems, and more. We know less about how these approaches might help those women.

    Nevertheless, I’ll highlight some of the potentially fruitful avenues you might explore. When possible, I’ll focus on systematic reviews and meta-analyses. They pool the results of multiple smaller studies to help a more reliable picture emerge.

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    In CBT, individuals are encouraged to explore how their thoughts (cognitions) affect feelings, behaviors, and physical symptoms. With help, they change their thoughts or beliefs about a situation to help manage their responses and improve coping skills.

    Although there isn’t a ton of research on CBT for menopause, available studies are very promising. Whether or not CBT reduces the actual number of hot flushes—and the data here are mixed—CBT should work by changing women’s perceptions of their hot flushes. Multiple studies do find that after CBT women view their hot flushes as interfering less with daily life. As expected, they are also less bothered by them.

    Women who see themselves as having less control over their hot flushes also tend to experience more distress. Changing their perceived control could be an effective intervention for improving quality of life. Indeed, in one study, 95 women received either group-based or self-help CBT. After therapy they reported feeling greater control over hot flushes and having better coping skills compared to women in a no-CBT control condition. Further analyses showed that women’s beliefs about control and coping predicted how problematic they found their hot flushes to be. (Having more positive beliefs about how hot flushes affect sleep also helped.)

    Women who participated in CBT also experienced fewer sleep issues and insomnia as well as fewer depressive symptoms and sexual concerns.  They also noticed less impairment at work. Positive results were found with in-person therapy, self-help programs, and telephone-based therapy. When studies included a follow-up assessment, the beneficial effects of CBT persisted for at least six months.

    Mindfulness, Meditation and Relaxation Training

    A cross-sectional study of 1744 women found that women with higher scores on a mindfulness assessment tended to report less severe menopausal symptoms. For women with higher life stress, this association was especially strong. The idea here is that when women are able to be present-focused and observe their symptoms without judgment, they are protected against some of the distress, and possibly the physical symptoms, associated with menopause.

    Although some of the women in that survey are probably mindful by nature—lucky them—mindfulness is also a skill that can be learned and cultivated. Among the many reasons to do so, mindfulness and meditation training can apparently lessen menopausal symptoms.

    For example, researchers assigned 110 women to either an intensive eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program or a control group. The women who received mindfulness training reported having less bothersome hot flushes, better sleep quality, less anxiety and stress, and greater overall quality of life compared to the control group. When the researchers followed participants over the next 11 weeks, these results persisted or became even stronger.

    A few other studies found that women who receive mindfulness or meditation training report fewer and less bothersome hot flushes, improved sleep, and better psychological functioning, though the results have not consistently endured over time. However, when looking at more general relaxation training and paced breathing techniques, effects are minimal, at least for hot flushes.

    Yoga

    An ethnographic study of nine female yogi masters concluded that they tend to skate fairly easily through menopause. The authors concluded that menopausal women should be encouraged to practice yoga. Of course, in addition to yoga, these yogi masters’ lifestyles included “healthy food habits, adequate sleep, and the use of nature cure techniques (i.e., fasting, detoxification, selection of suitable food products, and living in well-ventilated houses) that facilitated the art of living in tune with nature.” This sounds pretty great, but can we give really yoga all the credit here?

    Probably not. However, two recent meta-analyses did conclude that yoga offers small but significant relief from symptoms of all types: vasomotor, psychological (including depression), somatic (including fatigue and sleep disturbances), and urogenital. Women also report better overall well-being and quality of life after receiving yoga training.

    In one study, a group of breast cancer survivors received twelve weeks of yoga and meditation instruction, and they were encouraged to practice daily at home. Compared to women in a control group (no instruction), they reported fewer symptoms and improved quality of life at the end of the twelve weeks and again when asked three months later. A later analysis found that many of the effects were mediated by improved self-esteem in the yoga group.

    Note that most of the individual studies are small, and they employ different types of yoga practices. This might be considered a strength insofar as different practices have been shown to work, or a weakness in that it’s not clear if one approach is particularly effective.

    Exercise

    Cross-cultural surveys find that women who are more active tend to have an easier time with menopause. For example, two large surveys of Swedish women found that women who exercised at least once per week reported less intrusive symptoms than women who never exercised, and women who exercised more than three hours per week were significantly less likely to experience severe symptoms than their less active counterparts. Sedentary women in this Finnish study experienced more vasomotor, psychological, and somatic/pain symptoms than women who were at least somewhat active.

    While promising, experimental studies have not yielded such favorable results. When women were assigned to “physical activity” conditions (often walking), some studies report improvements, but others find no improvements or even worsening symptoms (perhaps depending on women’s baseline fitness). Multiple reviews have concluded that there is no systematic effect of exercise, particularly not for vasomotor symptoms.

    Does that mean menopausal women shouldn’t exercise? Obviously no. It’s clear that being active—or at least not being sedentary—is important for overall health, and it probably helps menopausal women through the transition. However, there isn’t enough research to know what types of exercise are most effective and when. Do the types of movement you enjoy and that make your body feel good.

    Acupuncture

    A recent review concluded that acupuncture is effective for reducing vasomotor symptoms, both frequency and severity, as well as for improving quality of life. However, the reviewers also found that acupuncture was not reliably better than sham acupuncture where needles are inserted at points other than the prescribed pressure points and at a shallower depth—a placebo condition.

    Hypnosis

    A handful of studies have shown that clinical hypnosis can reduce hot flush frequency and distress among breast cancer patients. Another study of 187 women without breast cancer found that women who received hypnotherapy had fewer, less severe, and less bothersome hot flashes, as well as improved sleep. These results were evident at the end of the five-week treatment protocol, and they remained or got stronger in the six-week follow-up period.

    The Experts Weigh In…

    In 2015, the North American Menopause Society released a position statement on nonhormonal management of vasomotor symptoms. Of the approaches discussed here, the only ones NAMS recommended based on the strength of the available evidence were CBT and hypnosis. Mindfulness-based stress reduction earned a “recommend with caution,” which means, “We think it might work, but the evidence isn’t conclusive.”

    The others—yoga, exercise, relaxation and paced breathing techniques, and acupuncture—were not recommended. This does not mean they are not worth trying! It simply means that based on their standards, the evidence was not strong enough for the committee to conclude that they are likely to be effective treatments for vasomotor symptoms specifically. This says nothing about other types of symptoms, nor about general well-being or quality of life.

    Mind-Body Therapy Pros and Cons

    So where does this leave us? Each of these therapies shows promise for alleviating at least some symptoms of menopause. Moreover, all these therapies have the potential to improve overall quality of life, sleep, stress, and general health. While reading these studies, I did wonder whether some of the women felt better simply because they were investing time and energy in taking care of themselves. If so, is that a problem? I don’t think so. They are low-risk interventions with a lot of potential upside.

    That said, these aren’t quick solutions. The effective mindfulness/mediation trainings included six to eight weeks of classes and multiple hours per week. Women practiced yoga for two to four months during the study periods. Hypnotherapy was five weeks or longer. It’s not clear what the minimum time frame is for each of these therapies to be useful, but they’ll certainly involve a time commitment that might not be practical for all women. However, yoga, mindfulness/meditation, exercise, and even CBT can all be practiced at home once you know the proper technique.

    As I said at the beginning, this is not an exhaustive list of nonhormonal therapies. There are also various supplements that might help, as well as lifestyle modifications that most of you Primal-savvy readers are probably already implementing: eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods, getting plenty of sunlight, practicing good sleep hygiene, and nurturing social connections.

    Whatever you choose, be patient. Don’t just focus on one symptom; focus on the big picture. Pay attention to how you’re feeling more globally. Consider that while an intervention might not hit its desired mark, it might help you in ways you didn’t expect.

    Have you used mind-body techniques (these or others)? What’s been your experience? Share your insights and questions below, and have a great week, everyone.

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    References:

    Atapattu PM. Vasomotor symptoms: What is the impact of physical exercise? J SAFOMS. 2105 Jan-Jun;3(1):15-19.

    Goldstein KM, et al. Use of mindfulness, meditation and relaxation to treat vasomotor symptoms. Climacteric. 2017 Apr;20(2):178-182.

    McMillan TL, Mark S. Complementary and alternative medicine and physical activity for menopausal symptoms. J Am Med Womens Assoc (1972). 2004 Fall;59(4):270-7.

    Molefi-Youri W. Is there a role for mindfulness-based interventions (here defined as MBCT and MBSR) in facilitating optimal psychological adjustment in the menopause? Post Reprod Health. 2019 Sep;25(3):143-149

    Moore TR, Franks RB, Fox C. Review of Efficacy of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments for Menopausal Symptoms. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2017 May;62(3):286-297.

    Sliwinski JR, Johnson AK, Elkins GR. Memory Decline in Peri- and Post-menopausal Women: The Potential of Mind-Body Medicine to Improve Cognitive Performance. Integr Med Insights. 2014;9:17–23.

    van Driel CM, Stuursma A, Schroevers MJ, Mourits MJ, de Bock GH. Mindfulness, cognitive behavioural and behaviour-based therapy for natural and treatment-induced menopausal symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BJOG. 2019;126(3):330–339.

    The post 6 Mind-Body Approaches for Menopause appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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    For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a bunch of questions from readers. The first one concerns another inflammatory marker, homocysteine. How could CRP be low but homocysteine be high? What could cause that? Next, I answer a barrage of kefir questions, including ones on kefir carb counts, pasteurized kefir, and water and coconut kefir. Finally, I address the elephant in the room: stressing out about your diet.

    Let’s go:

    How do Homocysteine levels figure in this equation? I have C-reactive protein under 1, but Homocysteine levels of 15, slightly high. Seems odd one so low and one a bit high.

    Both indicate elevated inflammation, but they can have different causes. There are many nutrient deficiencies and interactions that go into elevated homocysteine levels—that’s why they indicate inflammation. What are they?

    It all comes down to methionine. That’s the essential amino acid most abundant in muscle meats, the one most of you are getting a ton of if you’re eating a standard Primal, keto, or carnivore diet. We use it to perform cellular communication, regulate gene expression, repair cells, and build new tissue. It does some really important stuff, but it needs several different co-factors to work properly.

    B12 and Folate—Vitamin B12 is a major one. So is folate. In fact, I lumped them together in one section because they are co-dependents. Vitamin B12 requires folate to do its job. Folate requires vitamin B12 to do its job. Both vitamins are necessary co-factors for methionine to do its important cellular work. Without either one, methionine builds up and contributes to homocysteine.

    They even tested this in a controlled human trial. Giving a big dose of methionine without increasing B12 or folate increased homocysteine levels. Supplementing with B12 and folate protected against the methionine-induced increase in homocysteine.

    Riboflavin—Some groups may need extra riboflavin to deal with homocysteine levels.

    Glycine—After teaming up with the B-vitamins to do the gene expression and cellular repair/buildup, any excess methionine combines with glycine to form glutathione. That’s the body’s main antioxidant, and it’s very helpful to have. If you have low glycine levels/intake, then any leftover methionine goes into the homocysteine cycle.

    B6—Vitamin B6 is also used to mop up and convert into glutathione any excess methionine after methylation.

    Betaine—Similar to glycine, betaine acts as a buffer for excess methionine. In fact, high intakes of methionine deplete the body of betaine, while supplementing with betaine reduces homocysteine levels.

    Choline—Choline is another methionine buffer. High methionine increases the need for choline, while adequate choline or supplementation reduces homocysteine.

    If you’re missing those co-factors, methionine fails to assist with cellular communication, gene expression, cellular repair, or new tissue formation. Instead, it generates homocysteine.

    For a primer on obtaining adequate B-vitamins, read this post. Meat of all kinds, eggs, organ meats, seafood, dairy, green vegetables, and even legumes are ways to obtain them.

    For a primer on obtaining adequate glycine, read this post. You can get it through collagen, gelatin, bone broth, or bone-in, skin-on meats with a lot of gelatinous connective tissue.

    To get enough betaine, include some beets and/or spinach in your diet. Wheat germ is the best source, but most of you aren’t eating wheat germ (nor would I recommend you start).

    To get choline, eat egg yolks. That’s the single best source. If you’re not going to eat betaine-rich foods (beets, spinach, wheat), eat extra choline; you can make betaine from choline.

    Isn’t there a relatively large amount of carbs in kefir, when consumed in quantity?

    The fermentation process digests most of the lactose present in milk. The sourer the product, the lower the residual lactose. The sweeter the product (or even just less sour), the higher the residual lactose. At any rate, I wouldn’t worry too much about the carb content of kefir. It’s assuredly lower than advertised, and probably low enough for even keto eaters to incorporate at least a little.

    There are even lactose-free kefirs that will be definitely near-zero in carbs. If that’s the case, it will be prominently displayed on the label.

    Mark, don’t they at least partially”clean up” kefir? Does it really contain all that good stuff, or is pasteurized?

    Commercial kefir uses pasteurized dairy, but the fermentation takes places after pasteurization. This means the finished product is fermented with living bacteria (and yeast, in the case of kefir).

    I’ve never seen a commercial kefir that pasteurized after fermentation. If you’re worried, you can always get your own kefir grains and make your own kefir. It’s pretty easy and delicious.

    Kefir – I just did a test of dairy and it definitely gives me a reaction. I’d love to read your take on water kefir though I’m not pleased that the recipes use sugar. What about coconut milk kefir?

    Don’t worry about water kefir that uses sugar. All the sugar gets consumed by the kefir grains, leaving little to no residual sugar for you. You can tell by the taste (and I admit I’m no fan/expert of water kefir, only because I can tolerate dairy kefir). If it’s sweet, it contains sugar. If not, it doesn’t. Even if it has some sugar left, it’ll be far less than indicated on the label.

    Coconut milk kefir is a good option too. Again, I prefer the dairy kefir, but I see nothing wrong with coconut milk kefir. I even put up a coconut milk kefir recipe some time ago.

    Funny you mentioned to drink bone broth (for the glycine) to help with sleep. I have been keto-carnivore for 9 months and recently realized that the high level of histamines in bone broth was giving me insomnia. I can eat most foods that contain a moderate level of histamines, but canned fish and long-cooked bone broth have derailed my sleep on carnivore.

    If that’s the case, straight glycine can work. That’s what several studies actually used to improve sleep in humans—isolated glycine.

    Collagen may also work for you.

    Could all this be too much worry from being obsessed with checking if they are doing the keto diet “right” ?

    Ha! Yeah. That’s the issue with a certain subset of the Primal/keto crowd. Worrying about every little thing until it becomes a stressor. Ketone numbers running through the head as you lie awake. Waking up at 2 AM to test your urine. “Did I remember to Amazon Prime the MCT oil?” Wondering “Is the olive oil in my canned sardines truly the highest quality olive oil?”

    Then there’s the true classic: stressing out about the stress you’re inducing from worrying about your diet. Educate yourself, but don’t forget to enjoy life. There’s only so much diligence we can orchestrate without losing the forest through the trees.

    That’s it for today, everyone. Take care and be well, and make sure to leave any comments or questions down below.

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    The post Dear Mark: Homocysteine, Some Kefir Questions, and the Stress of Worrying appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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    When I did my first earnest attempt at a keto diet a few years ago, one of the benefits I quickly noticed was improved wakefulness and energy during the day. I chalked this up to sleeping better on keto.

    It turns out that I might have been one of the lucky ones. While plenty of people report improved sleep, a fair number also complain of insomnia, sleep disruptions (waking frequently during the night), and generally poor sleep once they go keto.

    Can a keto diet really impact sleep quality? What might be the mechanism behind a correlation? And how does one work around any potential effect?

    I’ve written a lot about sleep over the years, and I don’t intend to rehash what I’ve already written. Rather, I want to explore why a very-low-carb ketogenic diet specifically might impact sleep. I’ll link to some of my past posts at the bottom for those interested in improving overall sleep hygiene.

    What is “Keto Insomnia?”

    Insomnia disorder, as defined in the DSM-5, involves the following:

    • Difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and/or waking too early without being able to fall back to sleep
    • Symptoms occur at least three nights per week for at least three months
    • Sleep problems are not explained by other illness, medication, and so on
    • Distress and/or impaired ability to function in daily life

    Acute insomnia is similar, but it’s short-term and might be attributable to a specific trigger, such as a stressful event, major life change, or travel.

    People who complain about “keto insomnia” seem to mean one of two things:

    • Sleep disruptions that occur during the transition phase—the days or weeks immediately after starting keto (acute)
    • Sleep issues that start after being keto for a few months or longer (might be acute or chronic)

    It can be hard to know whether the latter are actually related to keto at all. However, if diet is the only obvious change these folks have made, keto seemingly takes the rap.

    Why Might Keto Mess with Your Sleep?

    On possible clue is this oft-cited study in which participants experienced decreased REM and increased slow-wave sleep when following a keto diet. Decreased REM sleep can contribute to the subjective experience of insomnia. However, total sleep was not impacted. This study was also small, involving 14 participants who followed a keto diet for just two days.

    Other than that, however, there’s not much to go on. A couple studies found no change in sleep quality among healthy adults following a keto diet, and a handful of others reported improved sleep quality (in epileptic children and obese adolescents).

    Moreover, the team at Virta Health recently released their findings after one year of treating diabetic and prediabetic patients with keto diet interventions. Their patients enjoyed significant improvements in sleep quality and daily functioning compared to baseline and compared to individuals who didn’t go keto.

    All together, the research so far suggests that when it comes to sleep, keto is neutral-to-positive for healthy adults and beneficial for individuals struggling with certain health conditions. Of course, the data are still quite sparse.

    A somewhat larger, but still limited, body of research has looked more generally at how the macronutrient composition of one’s diet affects sleep. To be blunt, the results of these studies are all over the map. There’s tremendous variation from study to study in terms of how diets were constructed or measured, food timing, other relevant dietary factors such as total calorie intake and fiber content, as well as what aspects of sleep were assessed and how. Depending on which study you’re reading, consuming fat, protein, or carbohydrates might seem to help, hurt, or have no effect on sleep.

    In short, there’s no compelling scientific explanation for when or why keto would harm your sleep. I know this is no comfort to those of you who are experiencing sleep disruptions now, however. Let’s turn to some things you can try if you’re not in the camp of good sleep while keto.

    Possible Solutions

    Despite the dearth of research, it’s possible to make some reasonable guesses about what might be causing your sleep issues. Of course, before trying any of the supplement suggestions below, consult your doctor. Likewise, get help if your sleep is so poor that you are having trouble functioning.

    First, the obvious: basic sleep hygiene. These are the things I harp on all the time, like avoiding blue light at night and honoring a consistent bedtime. Sure, you probably didn’t change any of these when you went keto. However, it might be that something about keto eating—like getting less tryptophan to your brain (I’ll explain in a minute)—is making you more sensitive to poor sleep habits. Refer to my other sleep posts linked below for more details.

    Check your electrolytes. Especially if you’re new to keto, electrolytes are the most likely culprit for sleep issues. You want to aim for the following daily:

    • 3-5 grams of sodium on top of what you get from food
    • 3-5 grams of potassium
    • 500 mg of magnesium

    Most keto newbies drastically underestimate how important electrolytes are, not just for sleep but for energy, workout performance, and avoiding the keto flu. Check out this post for more details.

    For sleep issues, start with magnesium. Make sure you’re including plenty of magnesium-rich foods such as leafy greens, dark chocolate, and hemp seeds in your diet.  You can also supplement with magnesium—the glycinate form is preferred for sleep—starting with 100-400 mg as needed.

    Also consider adding a mug of warm bone broth to your evening routine. Besides being soothing, it’s a great way to get sodium and the amino acid glycine. Glycine is the most abundant amino acid in collagen. Supplementing with 3 grams of glycine before bed has been shown to improve sleep.

    You can also supplement collagen for its many benefits. Aim for at least 10 grams at night. Maybe whip up a batch of Chocolate Collagen Pudding (sweetened with stevia or monk fruit for keto).

    Make sure you’re neither too hungry nor too full at bedtime. As you adjust to your new way of eating, try to avoid extremes of hunger in the evening. If you’re practicing intermittent fasting, make sure your fasting window isn’t leaving you stuffed or famished at when it’s time to hit the hay.

    Dial back the caffeine. Is it possible you’ve been a little too enthusiastic about fatty coffee since going keto?

    Get your stress in check. We all know that stress is a sleep killer, and I see stress running high in the keto community. Micromanaging macros, worrying about which foods are and are not “allowed,” trying to do too much too soon—keto folks can really get themselves worked up. If this sounds familiar, you need to take a step back and work on stress reduction.

    Try adding a small amount of high-glycemic carbs to your dinner. Wait, what? Am I really telling you to eat more carbs on keto? Yes, for a good reason.

    As you probably know, melatonin is the hormone primarily responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. The amino acid tryptophan is a precursor of melatonin. In the brain, tryptophan converts to 5-HTP, then serotonin, then melatonin. To get into the brain, tryptophan relies on protein transporters, which also carry other amino acids across the blood-brain barrier. When there is too much traffic—that is, too many other amino acids trying to use the protein transporters—not enough tryptophan can get across.

    Insulin shuttles those competing amino acids into muscles, leaving the roads clear for tryptophan so to speak. By adding some high-GI carbs to your last meal of the day, you bump up insulin and facilitate this process.

    Now, I wouldn’t recommend this as your first option if you are brand new to keto. However, if you’re one of those people who is suddenly struggling with sleep after being keto for a while, this is worth trying. Michael Rutherford, NTP, Primal Health Coach, and moderator of our Keto Reset Facebook group says his clients have had good results adding ~20 grams of carbs to their last meal of the day. Potatoes or sweet potatoes are good choices.

    If you just can’t bring yourself to eat more carbs, you can also supplement with tryptophan. A dose of 250-500 mg is a good place to start, increasing as needed. Chris Masterjohn recommends taking tryptophan on an empty stomach and as far as possible from other sources of protein.

    Another possible workaround is to supplement with 5-HTP, which is a common ingredient in sleep aids. Rutherford advises his clients to start with 100 mg of 5-HTP taken 30-60 minutes before bed. Be cautious with this supplement if you have depression or anxiety.

    Skip the middlemen and supplement melatonin. Melatonin supplementation is somewhat controversial. It’s not my first choice—I’d rather you start by addressing sleep hygiene and tweaking your diet—but I’m not opposed to supplementing as needed.

    Doses as low as 0.5 mg can be effective, although as much as 5 mg is generally regarded as safe. I recommend starting at the bottom end, since lower doses are closer to normal physiological levels. Take melatonin at least an hour after eating your last food of the day.

    Get your thyroid and cortisol levels checked. If none of your self-experimentation works, or if you’re having other signs of thyroid imbalance, get your thyroid function and cortisol levels checked. While I don’t believe keto is inherently bad for thyroid or adrenal health, it’s certainly worth a trip to your doc.

    What’s your experience? Are you sleeping like a baby on low-carb/keto—or not? Have you found any solutions other than those suggested here? Comment below, and have a great week, everyone.

    ______________

    More sleep tips from Mark’s Daily Apple

    7 Ways You Might Be Inadvertently Sabotaging a Good Night’s Sleep

    10 Natural Sleep Aids: What Works and Why

    Does “Sleep Hacking” Work?

    How to Manufacture the Best Night of Sleep in Your Life

    The Definitive Guide to Sleep

    ______________

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    References

    Herrera CP, Smith K, Atkinson F, Ruell P, Chow CM, O’Connor H, Brand-Miller J. High-glycaemic index and -glycaemic load meals increase the availability of tryptophan in healthy volunteers. Br J Nutr. 2011 Jun;105(11):1601-6.

    Levenson JC, Kay DB, Buysse DJ. The pathophysiology of insomnia. Chest. 2015;147(4):1179–1192.

    Peuhkuri K, Sihvola N, Korpela R. Diet promotes sleep duration and quality. Nutr Res. 2012 May;32(5):309-19.

    Riemann D, Spiegelhalder K, Nissen C, Hirscher V, Baglioni C, Feige B. REM sleep instability–a new pathway for insomnia? Pharmacopsychiatry. 2012 Jul;45(5):167-76.

    Silber BY, Schmitt JA. Effects of tryptophan loading on human cognition, mood, and sleep. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2010 Mar;34(3):387-407.

    St-Onge MP, Mikic A, Pietrolungo CE. Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Adv Nutr. 2016 Sep 15;7(5):938-49.

    The post Is Keto Insomnia a Common Problem? appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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    For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering another round of questions asked by Twitter followers. First up is a three-parter, including a query about extra virgin olive oil, one about supplements everyone should take, and one about autoimmune arthritis in an athlete. Second, I cover whether sauna is a hormetic stressor or a way to relax (or both). Next, I give my recommendation for staying keto or carnivore while camping (it’s a quick one). And finally, I explore a potential protocol for using exogenous ketones to curb autoimmune inflammation.

    Let’s go:

    1. Is very-high-polyphenol EVOO legitly far superior to easily-avail. qual EVOO?
    2. What handful of supplems (broadly defined) make sense for almost everyone?
    3. Any advice for age 20 elite athlete cursed w genetic autoimmune arthritis where keto, paleo, Mediterranean all failed? Carnivore?

    Olive oil:

    All else being equal, very high polyphenol EVOO should be superior to normal EVOO. Be careful in weighing messaging around this, however.

    But, yes, the more polyphenols your oil has, the better it will resist oxidative damage when exposed to heat, light, and the ravages of time. By extension, the more an olive oil is sheltered from heat, light and the ravages of time, the more polyphenol content will be preserved.

    And when you consume high polyphenol EVOO, your LDL actually becomes more resistant to oxidative damage. One study found that men who ate high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil had lower oxidized LDL levels than men who ate normal EVOO. They even had higher HDL levels, another indication of improved heart health.

    Supplements for all:

    Collagen—vast majority of people don’t get enough collagen/gelatin in their diets, whereas historically people were eating the entire animal, including skin, bones, tendons, fascia, ligaments, and cartilage (about 40-50% of animal by weight). A couple scoops of collagen gets you most of the way there.

    Magnesium—vast majority of people don’t get enough magnesium. Our water is stripped of it and our soil is deficient in it. Foods that a generation or two ago were excellent sources of magnesium are now middling. Get one of the magnesium “-ates,” like citrate, glycinate, or threonate.

    Vitamin K2—another nutrient most people miss that’s absolutely crucial to heart, bone, dental, and hormonal health.

    Egg yolks—best source of choline and a great source of many other nutrients in a highly bioavailable package.

    Liver—eat it once a week at least.

    If you don’t get sunlight or eat a lot of vitamin D-rich foods (wild salmon, pastured eggs, salmon eggs), vitamin D is a good one.

    If you don’t eat seafood regularly, a good fish oil is worthwhile. Omega-3s are a critical nutrient.

    Autoimmune arthritis in athlete:

    I saw that the athlete in question has done “everything right”: Primal, paleo, the whole nine. Right?

    Assuming that’s the case and they’re not eating grains, seed oils, sugar, and other things known to be inflammatory and irritating:

    Carnivore is an option. Mikhaila Peterson battled a particularly severe case of autoimmune arthritis for most of her life and reports that going carnivore was the only thing that really fixed things.

    Elite athletes often overdo it. I certainly did. And although exercise is a crucial part of preventing, recovering from and defeating arthritis, too much exercise can have the opposite effect. It can be too much. It can increase stress rather than mitigate it. It can overload the tissues rather than strengthen them.

    I’d also consider trying exogenous ketones to blunt autoimmune inflammation. Check out the last answer in today’s post for more insight on that one.

    Is sauna best utilized as a relaxing tool for recovery like meditation or as a hormetic stressor like a challenging workout?

    Physiologically, saunas are stressful. A 30-minute sauna session at 174 ºF/80 ºC raises body temperature by almost 1 degree C, spikes your flight-or-flight hormones, raises cortisol, and triggers a powerful hormetic response by the rest of your body. That’s a stressor.

    But ultimately, they reduce stress by making you more resistant to it. After such a sauna session, for example, subjects report feeling “calm” and “pleasant.” This isn’t a surprise, if you’ve ever completed a tough workout. That’s how a training session makes you feel, isn’t it?

    Just because sauna resembles exercise doesn’t mean you have to keep them separate. It even gets better when you stack the two. For instance, people who frequent the sauna and the gym have a drastically lower risk of heart attack death than people who do either alone. That combo also reduces 24-hour blood pressure in hypertensive patients and confers special protection against all-cause mortality above and beyond either variable alone.

    That said, post-workout sauna appears to be especially good at enhancing the training effect.

    In runners, post workout sauna use increased time to exhaustion by 32%, plasma cell volume by 7.1%, and red cell volume by 3.2% (both plasma cell and red cell volume are markers of increased endurance performance).

    In cyclists, post workout sauna increased plasma volume. This is important because increasing plasma volume improves heat dissipation, thermoregulation, heart rate, and cardiac stroke volume during exercise.

    Any thoughts on how to stay keto/ carnivore when camping or backpacking?

    There’s a Facebook group devoted to Ketogenic Backpacking. Join that for some ideas.

    As for car camping, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do keto or carnivore.

    Bring some cast iron pans, some meat, and a cooler full of ice.

    Gather a ton of wood.

    Light the wood on fire. Allow it to cook down to coals.

    Place cast iron over fire. Cook meat on cast iron.

    Repeat as needed.

    What should the timing and dosage be if you are planning to use exogenous ketone supplements as part of treatment for an autoimmune condition or flare?

    Unfortunately, this stuff is so new that there aren’t any established guidelines. However, a recent case study gives a hint at a protocol someone might want to try. This isn’t medical advice, mind you—just a suggestion for further reading and consideration.

    The subject had Crohn’s disease, a pretty serious autoimmune gastrointestinal condition characterized by chronic inflammation, painful and frequent bowel movements (around ten per day in this subject’s case), and elevated inflammatory markers. In other words, something that ketone bodies should be able to help.

    Every morning for two weeks, he took 4 grams of sodium betahydroxybutyrate (BHB). This helped, but after two weeks he increased the dosage to 8 grams split between sodium BHB, magnesium BHB, and calcium BHB. He took half in the morning and half in the early afternoon. Did it work?

    Following the intervention, the subject reported feeling “dramatically better” with significantly lower GI issues and trips to the bathroom. The subject provided weekly urinary and blood ketones following supplementation to ensure a significant rise in ketone levels. Blood glucose levels fell back into the normal range after the intervention (105 mg/dl to 94 mg/dl). White blood cell (WBC) count, neutrophils, and monocytes returned to the normal range following the intervention. The most remarkable finding was that following the intervention, C-reactive protein returned to the normal range from 62.5 mg/l to 4.4 mg/l.

    I’d say 4 grams of BHB would be a safe start. If your bowels tolerate it—no small feat, as exogenous ketones can really hit that hard—and they seem to be helping, move toward 8 grams. As always, work with your physician and discuss supplement protocols or changes to them.

    That’s it for today, everyone. Take care, be well, and comment down below if you have anything to add or ask.

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    The post Dear Mark: EVOO, Supplements, Autoimmune Arthritis, Sauna, Keto Camping, Ketones for Autoimmune appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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    Last week, speaking as an elder of physical culture, I wrote a list of ten fitness tips for younger readers: the things that every young to middle-aged man or woman should know about training. Some were things I learned along the way. Some were mistakes I made. And some were big wins I figured out early. At any rate, people found it helpful, and quite a few asked for a follow-up—this time around general life advice.

    Note: I’m no life coach. But I do have a nice life, one I figured out on my own through trial and error and with a good deal of hard work. I speak just for myself, but maybe some insights will resonate. (And I hope you’ll share your own hard-won wisdom below.)

    What should you keep in mind as you look forward to a long, well-lived life?

    1) “Prioritize Sleep Above Everything.”

    Don’t get romantically involved with someone who wants to stay up until 2 A.M., whether it’s watching Netflix or partying.

    Don’t sign up for the 5 A.M. CrossFit class (unless—big maybe—you’re a natural early riser anyway).

    Don’t relax with late night T.V. after a long day.

    This isn’t easy. It’s not. It’s harder for people coming up now than it was for me. I didn’t have digital devices vying for my every waking moment or corporations whose expressly stated purpose was to compete with your sleep. That sucks, but it’s also reality, so you have to make it a huge priority—the biggest in your life.

    The older you get, the more precious sleep gets. Your cognitive function, your memory, your physical preparedness, your metabolic health, your mental state, your emotional resiliency—everything depends on you getting a good night’s sleep. When you’re young, you believe you can skip sleep and feel okay. Don’t believe it. The damage is accumulating.

    2) “Don’t Worry If You Don’t Know What To Be When You Grow Up—But Never Stop Looking.”

    I didn’t figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up until I was 40. And I changed my mind about it ten years later. Before that, I bounced around from gig to gig, career to career, consistently thinking I had found the thing, throwing myself wholeheartedly into it, and then having my hopes dashed when it didn’t work. But I didn’t give up. And I always learned something from my forays. I always picked up a skill, made a connection, or figured out what I wasn’t good at. It all paid off when I threw myself into the Primal Blueprint, Mark’s Daily Apple, and, later, Primal Kitchen®.

    Having a life purpose is one of the biggest predictors of longevity. Sure, there are dozens of longevity biomarkers you could look at, but one of my favorite (and one of the more malleable) positive predictors is having a life purpose.

    3) “If You Want To Have Kids At Some Point (and You Have a Suitable Partner or Incredible Support System), Have Them.”

    This dovetails with the last one, actually. Kids are kinda like “insta-purpose.” That said, they’re not for everyone. I’m not saying everyone should or has to have kids. But if you want them, you should have them. It gives you purpose. It gives you a lifelong project. And no matter what people say, it’s fun, awesome, and incredibly rewarding.

    It also doesn’t get easier the older you get. Some aspects might. Financially, perhaps, you’ll probably be better equipped as an older person to pay for kids. But as far as energy goes, probably not. Hence, the importance of an all-in partner—or barring that—a committed support system you can genuinely count on for the little things…and the long haul.

    4) “Deal With Your Stress.”

    I don’t care who you are: Humans aren’t built to handle unending stress. It breaks us down, ruins our sleep, destroys our relationships, and kills our health. It also makes life very unpleasant. It snuffs out fun. It colors every interaction, every waking moment.

    Find a way to deal with your stress that works. Doesn’t have to be a 10-day silent meditation retreat. It just has to work, and be something you’re willing to do consistently.

    5) “The Sprinting/Chronic Cardio Dichotomy Applies to Everything, Especially Work.”

    Whenever possible, work like a sprinter.

    Do: You go hard for a week or two, doing long intense hours as needed to knock out that project, get your product launched, complete your to-do list, or whatever else needs doing. Then deload. Take a rest. Go camping, go hiking, read some fiction, watch a movie.

    Don’t: You procrastinate, letting the project linger and languish for weeks on end. It haunts your days and nights, sitting in the back of your mind rapping on the window, never giving you a moment’s true rest.

    Do: When the day begins, you get moving, do a solid 2-4 hours of deep work right away, then take a walking break and leisurely lunch. Come back for another 2-4 hours, then break. Go home.

    Don’t: You never really get going, never spend more than five uninterrupted minutes working hard throughout the day. You avoid deep work, instead flipping back and forth between social media, your phone, and your work. You skip lunch because you’re never caught up, and you end up taking your work home with you where, again, you limp through it with half-focus. You just spent 14 hours “working” without much to show for it.

    Apply everywhere as needed.

    6) “Listen to Your Gut.”

    This doesn’t just apply to those physiological warnings we get when an injury is about to occur in the gym, the ones I spoke about last week. It also applies to matters of life, business, personal growth, and love. Just know that there’s another wrinkle to this: the second voice that arises and says “don’t trust your gut, it’s more complex than that.” Life, business, and love are often more complicated than training, so take it on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes the gut is misguided, but it’s always got an insight.

    Don’t always trust your gut unquestioningly. Always listen to it, however.

    7) “Invest in Yourself.”

    Anytime you’re making a decision, whether it be large or small, ask if the outcome will contribute to your growth and development. Will it give a valuable skill? Will it help you make interesting connections? What will you learn?

    That’s how I’ve always approached business. I left a comfortable and well-paying job to start Primal Nutrition in 1997. At the time, I had a wife and two small children, and no money in the bank—but I had a vision of how I wanted to live my life. I wanted to be on the cutting edge of a health movement about which I was incredibly passionate. While some might have said that it was a risky move given my circumstances (and it was), I knew deep down that it was what I needed to do to feel fulfilled. I also knew deep down that it would succeed eventually on some level if I stuck with it. I knew it was a good investment.

    Exercising regularly is an investment into your future self’s ability to stand up from the chair and chase youngsters around. Eating a healthy diet is an investment into how much health care you’ll be consuming thirty years from now. Putting profits back into the business instead of paying yourself a big salary is an investment in future profits. Regular date nights are investments into your relationship.

    Whenever you can, make the good investments.

    8) “Be Serious, But Don’t Take Life Too Seriously.”

    This is one of those truths that looks like a paradox if you think too hard about it but works quite elegantly in real life.

    Be serious about the things you care about: your work, your relationships, your family, your passions, your free time, your food, your exercise. These all matter. These are all sacred artifacts of a life well-lived, to be treasured and cared for.

    But don’t take things too seriously. Don’t flip out because your kid spilled some paint or your partner left socks on the kitchen floor. Don’t develop an inability to laugh at yourself. Don’t beat yourself up because you ate a French fry.

    Those are the 8 life lessons I wish I knew from the start. Well, maybe not from the start—learning these lessons from experience is far more powerful than having them handed to you. But maybe these will give you a head start—or some food for thought along the way.

    Take care, everyone. What would you tell your younger self about life, love, business, and everything else? Thanks for reading.

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    The post 8 Life Lessons From a Primal Elder to Younger Groks appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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