Hayley Foster: The Mid-Life Pivot Leader
In my last article, I wrote about how excited I am about turning 50 and all the ways I am choosing to change about my life so that I can live as long as possible feeling as good as I do today.
“I’m not diabetic or even pre diabetic. I eat 99% clean..”
As part of my longevity journey, my doctor recommended that I wear a Continuous Glucose Monitor for 10 days to track my blood sugar levels. I’m not diabetic or even pre-diabetic. I eat 99% clean, whole foods, no dairy, no soy, virtually no gluten and have almost no added sugar in my diet.
However, prior to the CGM, I had also done the following tests:
- Full blood panel measuring over 100 different biomarkers (most doctors only look at approximately 40 during your yearly physical)
- DUTCH test to measure my hormones through a 4-sample dried urine analysis taken throughout a 24 hour period – any other hormone test is not as accurate
- Gut microbiome analysis which takes a deep dive into the health of my gut, It reveals who’s taking up real estate in my gut. What “friendly” bacteria and what “unfriendly” bacteria are living there, and in turn how is that affecting structure (the health of my intestinal barrier) and overall function. this was interesting and could be a whole other article
- Vaginal biome test to see what kind of good/bad bacteria are living in my Va-jay-jay
The results of the above revealed that a few of my numbers were off. I needed more data to help me find ways to live longer and healthier.
Well, my DUTCH test revealed some interesting things, such as:
- My dopamine metabolite levels were low.
- My four point cortisol curve was abnormal. I wasn’t getting the healthy rise and fall that indicated my adrenals are not too “stressed out.”
- My estrogen levels were elevated.
“Most traditional medical doctors don’t routinely check insulin levels. “
My bloodwork also showed that my inflammation markers were also elevated and my blood glucose levels were at the higher range of normal. Which was weird since I don’t eat sugar except on very rare occasions.
Most traditional medical doctors don’t routinely check insulin levels. They just look at other analites, including HbA1c and fasting glucose, but without the insulin they are missing the full picture. What my functional medicine doctor, Dr. Robin Rose of Terrain Health wanted to know was how my body was was handling stress, inflammation, and detoxifying,
Type A Personality, Enneagram 7:
When you’re on the journey to get to the root cause of the matter, you dig deeper when things are ‘off’. Did I feel off? Not at all.
So I popped on (painlessly) a CGM and went about my business for the next 10 days. I tracked my workouts, my sleep, my fluid and food intake, and of course, my alcohol, wine, and sugar. I splurged a bit just to see what the results would be on my blood sugar, because, why not?
If you don’t know me, let me give you a little background on how I roll. I’m a go-go-go Type A personality, Enneagram 7. The more I do the more I do. I’m a hustler. If I say I’m going to do something, you bet your ass I’m going to do it. I don’t like to half-ass anything. Let’s just sum it up with I function daily at a higher level and faster speed than most. And I’ve been doing it for years and years and years.
Rest and Relaxation:
I’m a CrossFit fanatic and the thought of laying on a yoga mat for sevasana makes me twitch. I’m up at 5:30am daily so I can get my workout in and get the most work hours out of my day. Some days I work right up until 10pm and then hit the pillow hard around 10:45, only to wake up and do it all again the next day.
And I freaking love it! It’s me! It’s who I am and how I roll!
“Some days I work right up until 10pm and then hit the pillow hard around 10:45, only to wake up and do it all again the next day.”
Rest and relaxation – not my jam. Meditation – no thanks.
The bad news is, as I’m sure most of you already know, operating on this level may enable me to get more done and feel super effective but it is NOT healthy!
The hustle is not sustainable!
Here’s what we found:
Even though on a normal blood test my insulin levels showed I was ‘in range’, the CGM revealed that my glucose levels were elevated, and this could unfortunately lead to insulin resistance and likely at some point Dr. Rose will see a rising insulin level if we never had this information and weren’t able to intervene.
It also showed that on the days when I didn’t workout hard, my blood sugars were more stable.
Certain foods and meals caused my blood sugar levels to spike, but on days when I’m working out, my levels don’t come back down as quickly as they should.
Long-term Insulin Resistance:
When I sleep, my glucose levels are also elevated – which is NOT what they are supposed to do. They should be dropping below 100, but mine are up in the 130 – 140 range.
“Damage to blood vessels leading to heart attack, stroke..”
Even though I “feel great” and my body looks great on the outside, it turns out that I’m stressing the hell out of my body.
Here’s what happens if nothing changes. Well, nothing changes. And if nothing changes, the long-term effects could be ugly. How ugly?
Long-term Insulin resistance.
Pre-diabetes down the road.
Damage to blood vessels leading to heart attack, stroke or problems with other organs such as kidneys, eyes, gums, feet and nerves.
6 Ways To Live Longer And Healthier:
Time to make some changes.
#1: Chill The F#¢K Out!
Slow the hell down! Breathe, Relax, find some calm. There is a lot of fear behind this which I won’t even get into. I’m about to turn 50 in November and as we women get older, we lose our cortisol resilience. How we exercise affects our cortisol levels which affects glucose and insulin. So working out TOO hard for too long, which I do 5-6 days a week, negatively impacts this.
#2: Lower My Workout Intensity.
It doesn’t mean I’m giving up my Crossfit workouts. After all, weight lifting and resistance training are incredibly important to women over 50. However, I will be a little less intense and start mixing in more light jogging and maybe, maybe some yoga or pilates.
“Testosterone production occurs mostly during deep sleep, among other things!”
#3: Change The way I Pair My Foods.
Eating a large carb load – even if some are complex carbs, these need to be paired with a healthy protein, and even healthy fat most times. This helps stabilize glucose levels, preventing spikes and keeping that glucose number nice and level.
#4: Get More Sleep!
I’m a 6-6.5 hour sleeper a night. That is clearly not enough for my body to get fully rested and recover. As we get older, we need to recover. During sleep, our bodies repair, regenerate, and detoxify. Sleep is our most potent anti-inflammatory AND it’s FREE!!
Testosterone production occurs mostly during deep sleep, among other things! My new goal, seven hours or more per night. I need to get in bed by 9:30/10pm and change my wake-up time to 6:30am instead of 5:30am.
#5: Take Evening Walks.
When my hubby had back surgery last month, we started taking evening walks and it was a great way to get out from behind my desk at night, get some fresh air, catch up with him and have some quiet time. More of this please.
#6: Journaling Daily.
This is hard for me but something I am trying to do more of. In the past, I’ve been doing this 1-2x/week but to take a bit of my own advice from my own Foster Your Life workbook, a practice of daily journaling helps you unwind, clear your brain, find calm and get organized.
“Knowledge is power. A lot of you might be thinking, this is too much information.”
The Bottom Line:
SLOW THE F#¢K DOWN! CHILL OUT! RELAX! FIND CALM! UGH… FINE!
Knowledge is power. A lot of you might be thinking, this is too much information. I don’t want to know what’s going on inside my body. I feel fine, I’m good. Well, I felt fine too. And by the time my body would start to push back on me, I might be in a bad place, too far into the damage to be able to do something about it. To each his own. If you don’t want to know, then just follow along for the entertainment as I overshare what’s going on in my life. I will continue to share ways to live longer and healthier.
If you ARE looking to arm yourself with knowledge about what is happening inside your body so you can work on living longer and feeling better, find a doctor that specializes in getting to the root cause of your problems and optimizing your health.
You can find them online as functional medicine doctors, precision health care, integrative health professionals. I love my doctor, Dr. Robin Rose, and highly recommend her practice. Feel free to check them out at www.terrainhealth.org.
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About the Author:
Hayley has been an entrepreneur for as far back as she can remember, always motivated to find creative ways to help others. Hayley is a two-time author, speaker, consultant, coach, podcaster, motivator, and mentor. In 2002, Hayley founded her first company, Verge Marketing Inc – a bag and accessory design and manufacturing company with offices located in New York City and Shenzhen, China (a WBE certified by the WBENC and member of WPO of New York). From building the infrastructure from the ground up to managing all aspects of the business, Hayley grew Verge to over $5M in revenues, earning accolades from Entrepreneur magazine as a “fastest-growing company” and landing on the Inc. 5000 list for three years. After 12 years, Hayley lost her passion for what she was doing.
In January 2015, Hayley felt it was time to take her 20 plus years of experience and give back in a way that would inspire, support and educate other women entrepreneurs. She started Foster Inc., a network and consultancy for women-owned businesses. Through peer-to-peer advisory and accountability groups, one-on-one consulting, boot camp workshops, masterminds and value-added networking events, Hayley works with women entrepreneurs to help them either get started or take their businesses to the next level.