Female Biohacking Part 1: Stress & Movement as Freedom

As a woman, my idea of biohacking is supporting my hormones and menstrual cycle for optimal energy, flow, and regularity. I haven’t dipped my toe into a lot of recommendations from experts because they’re mostly men. And as you know, men have a different ratio of hormones that run through them. This makes biohacking different for women and we have to be careful, our hormones are delicate and powerful. These posts are my journey so far with research and trying supplements out on myself. So I guess this is a living journal of my experiences and what I’ve learned to date.

Back story so you understand why I’m doing all of this. I was diagnosed with PCOS as a 16 year old, confirmed cysts on my ovaries, infrequent menstruation, hair growth, and was told by my OB-GYN (which I’ve since learned was the routine speech OBs gave) that birth control was my only route and I would probably suffer with infertility when I was older. Cool? Being a 16 year old I said yes to birth control because, hello raging hormones!, and my period was quite infrequent so I figured it would be better then nothing. Well, my period never got super consistent. I also remained highly athletic and active.

My father’s father had triple heart by-pass in his 50’s and passed away from Alzheimer’s and my mom’s mother has dementia. Not a lot of great brain-genes getting passed down my way. When I decided to take myself off birth control because I no longer wanted prescription medications in my body, I was 22. As much as I cleaned up my diet, I still was having PMS, infrequent cycles, hair growth. I started my business as a strength coach and learned soooo much about holistic modalities around fertility, pregnancy, postpartum. If I didn’t want to have children, it would be a CHOICE I had, not because of my inability to properly take care of my body.

In 2014, I went on the ketogenic diet. I had blood work done before, 6 months in, 12 months in. I felt amazing!! For 2 years I was keto. In 2016, it got to a point where my symptoms hadn’t really improved even with great sleep, clean water, clean/organic diet, low-ish stress. So it was time for a change. With guidance from a nutritionist specializing in fertility, I’m now gluten-free, paleo with still a lower carbohydrate intake due to the possibility that I have insulin resistance. No matter, on days I exercise, I consume more carbohydrates than on days I do not. Now, symptoms have been improving! And that brings me to the next steps, which is where you’re now joining me. Let’s dive in!

There are factors one must take into consideration before adding in herbs and other supplements:

  • Blood work/hormone results
  • Stress Levels
  • Sleep Quality
  • Activity/Exercise/Movement
  • Environmental Toxins
  • Food Quality & Quantity

The first thing you should do before supplementing is a full blood and hormone panel. This will provide a baseline for you and your care providers to work from. They can be ordered by a PCP but you should have it read by a functional medicine doctor or homeopathic practitioner who is looking for OPTIMAL levels not just those that “fall within the norm”.  This is important because a lot of test results can range significantly and sometimes ratios between items can be more important than the result (ex. ratio of progesterone and estrogen at certain times of your cycle.). I had a PCP who told me, “everything is normal” but a functional medicine doc told me which hormones were less than optimal and what I could do or take to create more balance. THIS IS VITAL!! Please don’t just blindly do or take things. Be effective with your efforts, time, and money woman!

This is going to be a series on biohacking for women and the points above will be discussed in upcoming posts. With that said, these points don’t exist on their own. Sleep effects stress, stress effects food choices, exercise effects sleep, and so on! We are wonderfully complicated beings who can’t push a button to turn off cortisol production. It’s what we think, who we surround ourselves with, what we eat that influences all of it. I’m going to try and provide you with simple ways to bio-hack your feminine bod to live the glowing life you want and deserve!

So let’s look at stress. A little bit of stress and the hormone cortisol in our blood stream is good for our bodies and minds. It keeps us engaged, perked, alive. It’s when the feeling of overwhelm, being overly-stressed, feeling anxious, most days of the week, wrecks havoc on our insides. These higher levels of cortisol start to interrupt the homeostasis of our hormones that allow us to live optimally. Cortisol will actually attach to other hormone receptors, like the one for progesterone, and block the progesterone from being used! What a dick cortisol is!

Questions to consider about stress in your life:

  • Do you put yourself in stressful situations or with stressful people?
  • How do you calm yourself in these situations or do you just sit in the stress?
  • How do you generally handle stress in your life? Is it in a positive (breathing exercises) or a negative (consuming alcohol) way?

You are in charge of everything you react to, everything you think, and everywhere you go. You are in control which means you can change to feel better!

Meditation is a stress-buster, is free, and can be done anywhere. I use a great app called Insight Timer. Download it and go get your meditation on! Of course, seek guidance of a professional or use guided meditations to learn more. I only sit for 15-25 minutes right now. Just like any PRACTICE, it takes….PRACTICE. Start with 10 minutes and build from there. There’s a whole bunch of other stuff meditation works wonders for, like brain health due to the certain types of waves it induces, but for this post, you’ve got enough for now. J

I was asked yesterday if I use exercise (I call it movement) for stress management. I proclaimed, “no!” My thought and feeling process has never been, “I’m stressed so I must go to the gym”. Since I began strength and conditioning at age 14, I simply LOVED lifting, moving, building strength. My cells craved it! Plus, I enjoy the outcomes of strength, agility, energy, great sleep! Movement was never programmed to be my stress-reducer.

That’s only my experience. But in a world of media bullshit, I think it’s important to understand there is another way of thinking about our bodies. Movement is NOT PUNISHMENT. It’s something our bodies naturally want to do. We are not meant to be sitting 9 hours a day. Don’t you feel achy and creeky after you sit for a long time? That’s because your body isn’t meant to do it! Compare that to how you feel after hiking or taking a long walk. Don’t you feel a little achy but more invigorated and energized? Our bodies are extremely smart, they have much to say if we pay attention.

Again, MOVEMENT IS NOT PUNISHMENT for what you ate or drank. It is not punishment for your highly stressful job you CHOOSE to keep. It is not punishment. Period.

Movement is freedom. Repeat after me, movement is FREEDOM. Freedom to do more of what makes you feel good. Freedom of lifting the burdens off your shoulders to think clearly. Freedom to breathe. Freedom to sweat out the toxins. Freedom to allow yourself to just…..be.

In relation to stress, movement allows us to feel and be less stressed because of the chemical concoctions happening inside us. It also frees our minds of worry, fear, decisions, fret. We NEED movement to process. We NEED movement to let go. We NEED movement to provide stability within our hearts. We NEED movement to prove to ourselves how fucking awesome we are.

Herbs that support your adrenals, the little gals that get taxed when you’re go-go-go conquering the world with love or highly stressed, are ashwaganda and rhodiola. These are the ones I take and have been lovin’ them:


Leave your comments or questions below about stress, movement, herbs, or life! Stay tuned as more posts about female biohacking and lifestyle optimization will be released!

Much love bright one! xoxo