Episode 19 – Interview: How to Stay Motivated During the Pandemic, Have Better Productivity, and Use Technology to Download Your Brain (and Sleep Better!)

In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa talks with Valeri Hall-Little, Efficiency Business Coach and Tech Guru, about how busy mamas can leverage routines, mindfulness and technology to maximize productivity, efficiency and energy while minimizing overwhelm and mental exhaustion.

Valeri discusses how to use simple tech tools (such as apps for: meditation, note-taking, task-management and streamlining to-do lists) to help you step back from the daily grind and improve the flow of your day (even if you are working from home right now and are trying to care for your kids at the same time!). She also emphasizes the importance of taking breaks from work and technology, when needed, to recharge and refocus.

In today’s episode, we cover:

  • The importance of sticking to a routine, juggling your schedule with your partner according to the times each of you are the most productive and harnessing the times when you can focus on work
  • Different morning routines to set the tone for a productive day, even if you only have 2 minutes
  • How combining movement and mindfulness can jump start your focus and attention during the day
  • The importance of using technology that serves you and makes your life easier (and avoiding technology that drains and overwhelms you)
  • How to easily compile and access all your online resources using tagging with Pocket
  • Why now is a good time to play with your technology and increase your mastery with tech tools that help you like Evernote
  • How taking the time to “sharpen your saw” and plan is key so that you’re working on the right things and doing it as effectively and efficiently, and not getting stuck in busy work
  • The need to recognize that the most productive thing you could be doing right now is to stop working and take a break
  • The importance of the ergonomics of your workspace at home
  • How noise-cancelling headphones can Increase your focus and decrease interruptions while working from home

Get Valeri’s FREE Ultimate Guide to Untangle Your Tech

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa is using the Insight Timer app and Tapping Solution app to calm her brain and not get into overwhelm.

Valeri is using the Calm app as a sanity saver – not only to meditate, but also to fall asleep to the ocean soundscape function. She is also listening to Calm’s sleep stories and masterclasses, starting and ending her day with it.

She is also loving Zoom to connect with family and friends, especially for special birthday celebrations.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe everyone!

Episode 18: Why Are You So Tired? How Hormonal Imbalances, Nutrient Deficiencies, Inflammation and More Can Leave you Feeling Drained.

In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni talk about fatigue and all the factors that can impact your energy levels. 

How do we get energy? 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy, you are born with a certain amount of energy. We also transform air and food into energy

Sleep is crucial to fill up your gas tank and repair the damage done during the day. Your glymphatic system works to eliminate toxins from the brain while you sleep. Research suggests that 7-9 hours is ideal.

  • When is the best time to sleep? It is based on your chronotype! Take this quiz to find out your chronotype and to learn more.
  • How well does your brain work when you get enough sleep versus when you don’t get enough sleep? You can try this online cognitive assessment from Cambridge Brain Sciences to find out!

For more info on optimizing your sleep, check out the Perimenopausal Mamas Podcast Episode 4: Sleep Solutions .

Nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition  

  • Emerging research demonstrates that despite being extremely well fed, Americans suffer from a wide range of nutrient deficiencies with significant health implications. Nearly one-third of the U.S. population is at risk for at least one vitamin deficiency or anemia!
  • Nutrients to look at specifically for energy include iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

How is it possible that you could have a nutrient deficiency?

  • Soil depletion – the soil feeding the food you eat doesn’t have the same level of vitamins and minerals compared to 20 or 30 years ago
  • Malnutrition and being undernourished – you’re either not eating enough calories or enough nutrient dense calories
  • Malabsorption – you might not be properly absorbing nutrients from your food or supplements due to a gastrointestinal issue like improper stomach acid production (hypochlorhydria) or bile flow 
  • Medications that can cause fatigue and nutrient depletion include some antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, beta-blockers, cholesterol medications, opioids, birth control pills
    • Go to mytavin.com to look up your medications and find out which nutrients can be depleted by them

Blood sugar balance is important to prevent sugar spikes and energy crashes 

Adrenal gland function can be impacted by chronic stress, anxiety and caffeine intake

Thyroid gland function can be impacted by chronic stress, exposure to various environmental toxins and autoimmune disorders

Chronic Inflammation can be a hidden source of your fatigue that needs further assessment.

Mitochondria act like engines in your cells to produce energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). They are found in higher numbers in your muscle, need certain nutrients like CoQ10 to function optimally, and are impacted by certain toxins and medications, like statins for lowering cholesterol.

Mental fatigue can be physically depleting!

Which lab tests can help you figure out why you are tired?

  • Blood tests
    • Iron panel with ferritin
    • High sensitivity C Reactive Protein (hs-CRP)
    • Vitamin B12
    • Vitamin D
    • Thyroid panel including TSH, free T4, free T3, thyroid antibodies (thyroid perioxidase, thyroglobulin)
    • Blood sugar including fasting glucose and insulin, hemoglobin A1c 
    • If you have been told in past you have low iron, vitamin B12 or D, you still may have it, especially if you haven’t had any supplementation
    • Ask your doctor for most recent blood work to share with your Naturopathic Doctor or check your local patient portal to access lab test results
  • Specialized hormone tests
    • DUTCH urine test, including cortisol
    • Salivary cortisol

Tips to increase your energy, other than sleeping more!

  • Drink more water
  • Practice deep breathing exercises, like Breath of Fire
  • Movement and physical activity
  • Get outside in the sun, especially upon rising 
  • Avoid multitasking and work on healthy daily habits
  • Schedule in breaks during your day for rest
  • Refuel your body
    • balanced macronutrients and blood sugar
    • replete nutrients from depletion of medication
    • consider adaptogens like ashwagandha, holy basil, Siberian ginseng, cordyceps, rhodiola
  • Address your stress and emotional health, including your relationships
    •  For example, are you avoiding certain difficult conversations that could be draining you of energy?

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni loves her homemade elixirs, but her most dependable energy pick-me-up for times of need is instant Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane by Four Sigmatic

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Episode 17: Keeping Your Relationship Strong – In Conversation with Allison Villa

In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa talks with Registered Psychotherapist and relationship expert Allison Villa about strengthening our relationships even as we’re raising kids during stressful times. They discuss: simple strategies on how to connect with and communicate effectively with your partner; why self-care is so important and how to fit it in daily; how to prepare for meltdowns; a simple challenge to shift your focus to more positivity; and how to fit in dates and romance even when you are exhausted and pressed for time.

In addition to being a mom of 2 young daughters, Allison is also the founder of House and Hook, an online platform specializing in keeping couples thriving throughout parenthood.

In today’s episode, we cover:

  • Finding time to check-in with your partner for preventive relationship care instead of being 2 ships passing in the night 
  • The benefit of connecting and checking in with your partner first before going through the logistics of everyone’s schedules or expressing and asking for what you need
  • If you and your partner are both working at home with kids, consider time blocking your day to support each other, work as a team and focus on one thing at a time successfully instead of feeling unsuccessful and guilty trying to work and parent at the same time
  • Choosing what you want this time to look and feel like 
  • Recognizing that there will be moments of challenge, difficulty and feeling depleted – stress impacts how well you can regulate your emotions
  • How to have a pre-meltdown conversation with your partner to discuss strategies to support each other when the meltdowns happen (and they will!)
  • That your body and brain is not designed to consume information constantly
  • The idea of challenging yourself and your partner to take a 24 hour break from consuming news
  • How whatever already exists in your relationships will be magnified right now
  • Being playful and making a game out of the frustrating or mundane things that can be draining every day
  • How self care is the foundation of every health relationship and how to re-define self care when you don’t have a lot of time on your own
  • Getting in self-care, as an intentional act of restoring yourself – it doesn’t happen by accident!
  • Scheduling day dates with your partner

Check out some free resources from Allison:

Self-care tool kit

Masterclass on How To Stay Connected During Times of Stress

Get in touch with Allison on Instagram @houseandhook and her websites: House and Hook and allisonvilla.com

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa and Allison both love Joy McCarthy’s Joyous Health website for all of the healthier versions of foods like cookies and banana bread that you can make with your little ones. Find it here: https://www.joyoushealth.com/

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5 star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Episode 16: How Not to Gain Weight During Times of Stress – Part 2

In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni continue the conversation around weight gain and metabolism. This time we focus on which behaviours and habits are important so that you don’t gain the “pandemic 15” or the “quarantine 15”!

Tips for Portion Control and Snacking:

  • Focus on nutrient dense food, avoiding processed foods with simple sugars
  • Use smaller plates, don’t eat as much as the men in your life
  • Enjoy smaller serving sizes for treats – not the whole bag or chocolate bar
  • Avoid snacks for more time fasting, reduce insulin resistance
  • Have set meal times
  • If you’re eating your kids leftovers, don’t take a full serving for yourself first
  • Try intermittent fasting/time-restricted eating to reduce evening snacking – start with 12 hour fast, increase up to 16 hours or more
  • Experiment with your portion size to see how long it takes for you to feel hungry again, especially when you increase amounts of healthy fats and protein
  • Is it time for a detox cleanse, go sugar free or increase your fasting window?

Habits and Routine: 

Your willpower sucks! Your body thrives with routine.  Once you have a habit going, you don’t have to rely on your willpower multiple times throughout a day. 

Getting a quality sleep and managing stress is also key!

  • Simplest thing for weight loss is getting 8 hours of sleep a night
  • Practice sleep hygiene – revisit Episode 4: Sleep Solutions.
  • Some ways you can increase relaxation and lower cortisol include: 
    • Sleepy time teas that have tulsi, skullcap, passionflower, lavender and oats
    • Meditation, yoga 
    • Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping – The Tapping Solution app

Exercise is also a great stress reliever!

Plus, building muscle is important to maintain healthy bones and testosterone levels. You need to watch out for over-exercise, which can stimulate appetite and increase cortisol (not what you want!)

Some ways you can move your body to relieve stress and support your metabolism:

  • Low intensity exercise that combines breathing and relaxation like yoga, qi gong or tai chi
  • Strength focused workouts like pilates, ballet barre, and strength-training workouts, like on Heather Robert’s You Tube Video
  • Getting outside for walk
  • Exercise snacks – dance, walk, jumping jacks, low intensity burpees

Address emotional eating:

  • Why are you eating? Is it hunger?
  • Eat slowly until you are 80% full so your brain can catch up
  • What else is a reward for you other than food (or other unhealthy behaviours) to increase your dopamine and serotonin feel good neurotransmitters?
  • Use aromatherapy: smelling citrus essential oils can increase your dopamine levels
  • Practice mindful eating instead of distracted eating in front of your TV or phone

Your metabolism can slow down with food sensitivities and leaky gut – revisit episode 8 for more details on supporting your gut health and microbiome.

Mama Must Haves:

Dr. Toni satisfies her sweet tooth with sweet treats made without sugar or artificial sweeteners like Zevia soda and teas, as well as Starbucks’ Whole Earth Sweetener with monk fruit and stevia. Dr. Toni also loves the vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, sugar-free chocolates from Dwarf Stars (you can order them online) and her very own Hemp Protein Power Ball recipe.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5 star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Episode 15: How Not to Gain Weight During Times of Stress – Part 1

In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni are discussing the impact of your hormones on your weight and metabolism, especially during times of stress…like during a pandemic!

Weight gain is not a normal function of aging or just about calories in and calories out!

The probability of achieving normal weight with eating less, exercising more for people who are obese (BMI 30-34.9) is less than 1% (over 9 years in UK study).

Which hormones are impacting your weight?

  1. Insulin – a fat storage hormone produced by the pancreas for blood sugar balance which can cause weight gain around the waist
  • Macronutrient balance in your diet is important, especially first thing in the morning
  • Eat enough healthy fat, protein and fibre to slow release of sugar into your bloodstream
  • Set limits for your sugar and alcohol intake, eg. only on the weekend, 2 drinks/night, ideally with supper
  • How well you sleep the night before has a huge impact on if you reach for carbs for breakfast the next morning
  • Moving your body and using your muscles can lower glucose and insulin levels to get out of fat storage mode
    • Have fun with your exercise snacks! Yoga, zumba, dance, walks, play
  1. Thyroid hormones – controls metabolism, energy and body temperature
  • Synthetic estrogen from birth control pill use can impact thyroid function, as well as stress, immune system function and certain toxins
  1. Testosterone – supports energy and libido, as well as builds muscle, which is metabolically active tissue that burns calories
  • Be aware of over-exercise causes your body more stress and inflammation, especially with too much cardio and not enough strength training or weight-bearing exercise
  1. Cortisol – stress hormone that promotes fat storage around waist 
  • Reduces serotonin, leading to increased carb cravings and emotional eating
  • Increases ghrelin, leading to more feelings of hunger
  • Lowers progesterone, leading to relative estrogen excess and weight gain around the hips
  • Reduce your stress with healthy coping strategies like limiting your media intake, exercise, deep breathing and meditation, calming herbal teas

What else can cause weight gain?

Environmental toxins! Certain chemicals you are exposed to every day have been found to act as obesogens, causing weight gain, hormone imbalance and insulin resistance. 

No wonder 64% of Canadian adult are overweight or obese and 30% of children (5-17 years of age) are overweight or obese!

What can you do?

  • Avoid chemicals like flame retardants, phthalates and BPA/BPS in plastic
  • Reduce your use of plastic and use glass, stainless steel and silicone containers
  • Follow the recommendations of David Suzuki Foundation to avoid the Dirty Dozen cosmetic chemicals.
  • Eat organic when you can or use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list to reduce pesticide exposure.
  • Support your liver detoxification pathways and gut microbiome 
    • Sulfurophane from broccoli sprouts resulted in less weight gain in animal study, while balancing blood sugar and reducing fatty liver
    • Fermented foods support gut bacteria diversity
    • Fibre acts as food to feed our beneficial bacteria, as well as bind up toxic compounds to be eliminated instead of reabsorbed

How do you know what hormones are causing your weight gain?

Laboratory testing with a naturopathic doctor can be helpful for determining what hormones are out of optimal range and develop a strategic plan to correct any imbalances.

  • Thyroid panel (TSH, free T4 and T3) 
  • Blood sugar (HbA1c, fasting glucose and fasting insulin) or home glucometer to check blood sugar after meals throughout the day
  • DUTCH (dried urine hormone test) for cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, melatonin

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni is thankful for Camp Hoo-ha online for adult social activity during this time of self-isolation and social distancing. Learn a new skill and earn a badge while enjoying a glass of wine or other adult beverage and connecting with women across Canada.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Have any comments, suggestions or burning questions? Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5 star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!