Happy New Year, Experiments for 2024, and Top Tips Recap From Katie

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Child: Welcome to my Mommy’s podcast.

This episode is brought to you by Apollo Neuro. And if you’ve listened for a while, you know that managing stress is important for health and that getting a good night’s sleep is pivotal for our wellbeing. And those are two things we talk a lot about on this podcast, and they’re top of my priority list for this year. Now, if you followed me at all last year, you know last year was also a pretty emotionally taxing year for me. And at times I saw my sleep and my HRV especially take a hit. And one thing that helped a lot for me was the Apollo device.

This is a product I use regularly to help my body manage stress to achieve deeper sleep. And even to help me focus when I’m working, I actually have this on my ankle right now while I am recording podcasts.

The Apollo wearable helps transform how you feel through your sense of touch. And as moms, we can understand this because babies are so responsive to touch. And that’s actually part of how their nervous system regulates. And the Apollo uses same idea and is able to work on children and adults helping you feel well-rested, energetic, have a great mood, and become more resilient to stress. It’s developed by neuroscientists and physicians to deliver gentle, soothing vibrations that condition your body to recover and rebalance after stress, which was part of my journey this past year. It’s essentially like a wearable hug for the nervous system, using touch therapy to help you feel safe and in control, taking you from fight or flight to rest and digest, which we’ve talked a lot about on this podcast. There’s an app that lets you control through your Apple Watch or your phone and transition through day and night with different settings to help you relax or fall asleep or focus, recover, or stay calm and present. It is a safe, natural way to feel your best without drugs and side effects, and my kids love it too. As a listener of this podcast, you can save 15% on the Apollo wearable by visiting apolloneuro.com/wellnessmama.

This podcast is brought to you by Wellnesse. And this is a company that I got to help co-found and formulate the products for and one that I care deeply about. Oral health has been a fun research topic for me for well over a decade. When I discovered I had some cavities and started learning about the process of remineralization and how our teeth have the ability to stay stronger and healthier, dependent on a lot of factors, including our nutrition, our oral microbiome, and the environment of our mouth. And this is why we use something called hydroxyapatite, which is a naturally occurring mineral that is used in the enamel of our teeth. And there’s some fascinating studies that show that this is really effective at helping keep teeth strong and healthy. And this is also why I chose not to use fluoride in my products. Hydroxyapatite has many of the same upsides without the potential downsides that come with fluoride and is certainly much safer for children as well.

I really delved into the research around the oral microbiome. And I love that this is now an emerging area of conversation and research. But when our oral microbiome is strong, that helps us avoid both ends of the spectrum. One would be things like strep mutans, which is the bacteria linked to cavities, as well as the host of bacteria that are linked to things like gingivitis. Both of those can be combated by having a really healthy oral microbiome.

So, we’ve recently released probiotic mints that have four probiotic strains that help enhance the oral microbiome and by choosing microbiome-safe ingredients, as well as hydroxyapatite for tooth enamel in the toothpaste. So, you can check out those as well as our full line of haircare products and other oral health products as well by going to wellnesse.com.

Katie: Hello, happy New Year and welcome to the first episode of the year of the Wellness Mama podcast. I’m so grateful that you’re here. And in this episode, I’m going to recap some of the top advice and tips and recurring themes shared last year in the podcast, talk about my personal and the things you will see on Wellness Mama as experiments and new things next year, and also do a little bit of a breakdown of trends and some other things that I’ve seen in the past year.

I will say it’s been quite a year for me. And it sounds like from interactions with you guys in the comments or emails, it’s been quite a year for a lot of us. And for me personally, of this past year’s 525,600 minutes, I spent around 160,000 sleeping, about 15,000 listening to music or podcast, about 10,000 reading, about 9,300 minutes working out and a lot more time than that walking, about 18,000 minutes podcasting, about the same amount writing, and about 20,000 minutes cooking with my family. And I’d be so curious to hear if you had an end-of-year review of your time spent this year, what would yours look like? What things did you spend the most time on this past year?

Now, in the past, I’ve explained that I don’t really do resolutions or goals in the typical sense. And the reason for this is those tend to be black-and-white targets and can actually, I find, be for me discouraging if I don’t meet them. So, I do challenges and experiments instead. And I’ve been mapping these out for the next year.

Some of the ones that you will see outwardly facing on Wellness Mama are things like the introduction of podcasts, like this being the first, of shorter podcasts but more of them. I’ll be really excited for your feedback. But in listening to you guys, what we found, and I’ve, of course, seen this in my own life too, is that moms are incredibly busy and often have trouble listening to a one- or two-hour podcast episode. So, starting this week, we’re going to experiment with aiming for about 30-minute episodes, and with the idea of entirely tackling one question or topic and getting a complete answer in the podcast. And my hope is that this newer, shorter format will be more convenient for moms and line up with the time we might spend on a walk or on a commute driving kids around or whatever it may be. But I’m very curious to hear your feedback as we jump into this new shorter format. I would also, of course, always love to hear who you would love to hear from on this podcast, any topics that you would like us to cover. And as always, if you have a moment to subscribe to this podcast in whatever player you listen to it in and leave a rating and review, I read every single one of those. I’m very grateful for your feedback, and that helps other moms find this podcast as well.

Now, another thing that’s not a new experiment, but that I am experimenting with in a new way starting today is my yearly water fast. And I’ve shared about this before. I’ve also written about this before, but I really love doing a water fast once a year. I used to do this for the physical health side. And now I find I learn much more on the mental and sort of emotional side of it, but it does have physical benefits as well. I always get a ton of questions anytime I talk about water fasting. And I want to preface by saying that I’m only sharing my experience and my research around this. This is definitely not medical advice. Definitely consult with a practitioner, especially if you have any health concerns that might make this more complicated for you. I’m always a huge fan of working with practitioners who have very specific expertise. And like I’m sure you’re probably tired of me saying by now, at the end of the day, we are each our own primary healthcare provider, and we are the ones responsible for making the choices that lead to health care. And so, with that in mind, I encourage you to always do your own research, look into everything, question everything, especially the things I say or any other person you encounter on the internet.

But the reason I love water fasting, as the name suggests, it’s drinking or consuming nothing but water for some period of time. There is some debate about this, but I do not include non-caloric drinks like herbal teas, black coffee, etc., as part of fasting. In the past, I have also not taken any supplements while fasting, and this will be a little bit of a change this time as I’m tracking my labs, and I’ll explain that in a minute. I will say I find water fasting easier than some other things that are not technically fasting, but people categorize as fasting like juice fast, bone broth fast. Those are essentially a modified diet, but not technically a fast, even though you are avoiding certain foods. And I find that for me personally, the results are much more profound with a true water fast. This is also considered block fasting or long-term fasting, which would be different than time-restricted eating or eating in a shorter period of time during the day. And I’ve had multiple podcasts on that topic as well. I do think there’s a time and a place for both of them and that both are not going to be beneficial to everybody.

Water fast can vary really in any duration. I typically do seven days at the beginning of the year, which is a very long water fast and not where I would encourage anybody to jump in. I, of course, would not encourage anybody to jump in without talking to a doctor first. Anyway, now the reason I do this, to start high level, we see traditions of fasting in almost every religious tradition throughout history. And throughout history, many people have fasted by default if access to food was limited or during travel. But even without specific fasting, it’s pretty clear that throughout history, we’ve also just eaten less and eaten less often than we currently do. I know in modern times with access to food on every corner, the idea of voluntarily going without eating can seem absurd. But to many people throughout history, the idea of eating four to six times a day would have seemed equally absurd. And the other thing that’s shocking to me is that we think we only eat a few meals a day. But when researchers looked at it, they’ve realized that the actual number of what the body would see as food events is actually closer to 17 or 18 times a day. And biochemically, anytime we put something caloric in our mouths, our digestive system responds. So, every bite or sip of smoothie or coffee with cream, the body views those as digestive events. So, I view fasting as a way to get the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of just taking a break and letting the body reset.

But there are some cool benefits that show up in the research beyond that. I actually love delving into the research of this. And the studies on fasting are somewhat limited but fascinating. You’ve probably seen it circulating on social media that a seven-day water fast can increase autophagy, which is when the body breaks down non-optimal cells. And do things like lower inflammation. Again, I’m not recommending this for anyone, but this is circulating on social media, so I wanted to bring it up. There is evidence in studies that fasting in certain parameters can lead to autophagy, that it might lower age-induced inflammation, might help mitigate some oxidative damage in the body, it could lower NF-kB activation, and it might have an immune-boosting potential. There’s also sources that claim that even just a three-day fast can sort of be a gut reset and help with a lot of gut-related issues.

Now, if you’re not familiar with the word autophagy, it means self-eating. And this is basically when the body recycles old parts and cleans up. It’s basically like a housekeeping role in the body. And this is something the body does naturally. And you’ve heard me talk a lot about often it’s not that we need to do anything extreme or that we even need to take a really complicated array of supplements or do any kind of really fancy biohacking thing. The body is always on our side, and it knows how to heal. But often, it either needs us to get something out of its way or to give it something very specific it needs to heal. And I find for me that water fasting is a way to sort of get everything out of the way for a little while and give the body a chance to really go into autophagy and heal. And like I said, I haven’t found the specific study that’s been floating around online referencing that if a seven-day water fast, even just once in your life, can reduce cancer risk, but I know that number is going around on social media. So, I wanted to call it out.

My personal experience with water fasting I started with short ones, even just 24 hours in the beginning and slowly worked up over time to now my yearly seven-day water fast. I personally do lab testing during this process. And I’m using right now a company called Function Health that I’m hoping I’ll have a link to share with you guys in this podcast because they have really made lab testing so much more available and so much less expensive. But I monitor my labs before and after to see what changes happen. I’m also keeping an eye on my glucose with a continuous glucose monitor. And I do check my ketones as well, at least a couple times during the fast.

Now, the part that I’m doing differently this year, in the past, I’ve only done a water fast. I haven’t, I’ve tried to avoid putting even things like natural lotions on my skin. I don’t, I didn’t do non-caloric things or supplements. This time I’m experimenting with adding in some enzymes and a lot of salt water. And I will have podcasts coming in the next few weeks, actually, on both of these topics and why I’m particularly doing this. But I used very specific enzymes when I was working on getting my Hashimoto’s into remission, and I found them helpful. And they can sort of help with that cellular cleanup process within the body. So, I’m going to experiment on taking those during the fast, which should not count as a digestive or caloric event in my hope. So, I’m going to watch those metrics, and I’m wondering if it will speed up the process of autophagy and in theory, make shorter fast more effective. So just a theory, I do not have data to support that, but that’s my new thing I’m experimenting with in water fasting this time.

I will also have a podcast coming soon that will explain why I am drinking what may sound like a lot of salt water per day, which is I’m putting a teaspoon of unrefined sea salt in a quart of water, and I’m drinking three of those a day. And I will continue this during the fast. I have typically put salt in my water during fast anyway because we do need not just water but water with minerals because our bodies are not just 60% water, they are 60% salt water. But this is something I’ve been doing consistently actually for the last couple of months. And I’m going to continue on the fast. So, I will keep you posted on how this year’s water fast goes, but that’ll be the changes. And I will be sharing my day-by-day on Instagram if you guys want to follow along there. And if anybody else also chooses to water fast, please tag me, and we can go through it together.

Also, an experiment for me for next year after a pretty emotionally tough year where I spent a lot of time what I call cocooning and healing and being with my kids, I am also going to get back to writing next year. There’s actually three books that I feel like are ready to get out of my brain and onto paper. And so, I’m going to be blocking time to write those, and we’ll see if I release them. I feel like, for me, they need to come out, and I hopefully will get to share them with you guys.

I’m also working on a surprise that I am not able to share quite yet, but when it’s finished, I will be able to share with you guys. And I’m excited to be able to tell you more about that this year.

And then my other experiment is an in-person wellness space in my local area where I live that will be a center for community and a lot of the things that people categorize as biohacking. But our real focus is just going to be wellness and community and a space for people to come together.

I’m also going to be sharing a lot of new blog content next year, including a lot more video and talking about plants and DIY, lots of talk about mindset, and even some business stuff mixed in. So, a lot of new blog content coming soon, talking about lots of new topics. And I’m gonna try to do really short, concise videos that explain things as well. So, keep an eye out for those, both on YouTube and on Instagram. I’m also, on a personal level, going to be mostly focused on being home with my kids in the next year. Now being a fully single mom of six, they’re certainly a priority. And also, just realizing my oldest is less than a year from being a legal adult, even though I already consider him an adult as far as responsibility and capability. And so, I want to just savor the time with him while he still lives at home and before those moments slip away. And it’s really, really fun.

I’ve enjoyed so much the change in relationship with my teenagers. Getting to really have what seems like a very adult relationship with him, not needing to limit his freedom in any way because he’s shown that he’s incredibly responsible, but also realizing with teenagers, if you want to spend time with them, at least in my experience, you go where they are, and you are around when they decide they want to spend time. And so really just focusing on being present and home and spending time with my kids.

One of my kids is still very actively pursuing pole vaulting. So, I actually spend quite a bit of time now helping coach her high school team. And that’s where I get to show up and spend time with her when she’s interested. And then all of my other kids also have things that they are interested in and pursuing. And so, making time to be available and be there for them in those things.

Now, as in the past, I always loved to sort of set a focus or a tone for the year with a word that I sort of keep as a theme for the year. And last year, that word for me was peace. And in many ways, especially the second half of the year, I felt like things were incredibly peaceful and that definitely, that theme did show up in my life. For this year, I’m actually borrowing a phrase from my friend, Joy Martina, and the phrase is grace, ease, and joy. And so, I am focused this year, and that is my theme of having grace, ease, and joy in my life. And also the word present. As the kids get older and every day they get a step closer to being adults and not being as much in my daily life, I want to make sure that I’m both physically and mentally and emotionally present with them this year and just really soaking up that time.

Now for a quick recap of some of the top tips and recurring themes from this past year’s podcast episode. Also keep an eye out this year for videos that sort of recap all the differing opinions on a certain topic and share my personal takeaways and what I’m doing, as well as springboards for you to do your own research and experimentation.

But certainly, one of the top recurring themes in the podcast episodes this year was the topic of minerals. And there are more of these coming even this month, talking about minerals. There’s a little bit of disagreement at times over what type of minerals and how much. But there seems to be agreement that we often don’t get enough minerals with our depleted food supply and that some form of these can be helpful. I will link in the show notes to some of the ones I use, but like I said, I get the master minerals like sodium and chloride from the salt water I’m drinking and keep an eye out for that episode to explain why. I also include things like fulvic and humic plant-based minerals from Beam and then various trace minerals at different times, including silica from Eidon Minerals and several of the blends from Upgraded Formula. And I do notice a difference in my sleep and my recovery, especially when I get the minerals dialed in.

Another recurring theme of this past year’s podcast episode is the importance of clean protein for not just building muscle, but for repair and for so many aspects of health. And experts like Dr. Gabrielle Lyon explain how muscle is the organ of longevity and that having more lean muscle reduces the risk of all-cause mortality and why this especially gets important as we age. And protein is only one part of this, but consuming dietary protein, especially when combined with certain movements and strength training, increases muscle protein synthesis and seems to contribute to better maintenance of lean muscle as we age. So that has been a focus for me. And with all of my kids being very athletic, it’s something I focus on in our family meals as well.

Another recurring theme is the importance of movement. Again, there’s thousands of differing opinions on what the optimal is within the broad category of movement. And I do think it’s personalized for each of us. So, some experimentation is required, but I’m yet to see any expert argue that we don’t need to move. And common themes include getting low-level movement, like walking and zone two movement, in certain amounts every single day and every single week, and the importance of strength training in some capacity that is safe and beneficial for your specific case. And many experts have touched on these this year. So, if you’re interested, there’s a lot of podcasts to delve into on that.

What I personally do is try to get a couple miles of walking in every day, even if it’s raining and it’s just on a treadmill while listening to a podcast, and then to strength train at least three times a week. And I have noticed good results from that. I would be curious to hear what all of you guys do and any favorite movements or programs that you found.

Of course, another theme that is present every single year when I do these recaps is the importance of sleep. And I’m yet to hear any, again, health expert argue that we do not need sleep or that we do not need quality sleep. And people like Molly Eastman give so many wonderful and specific tips on how to achieve better sleep and how to figure out what might be inhibiting your sleep if you’re having issues there. But some of the big categories that recur are managing our light exposure, especially artificial light after sunset, getting morning sunlight, which is actually well supported by data. And many people find in their anecdotal experience a pretty drastic change simply by getting outside for 10 minutes without looking at light through windows, but outdoor light, as soon as possible after waking up.

Simple things like doing breathing exercises or breath work before sleep can often be very helpful. Even just a pattern of 4-7-8 breathing, which is where you inhale for 4 seconds, gentle hold of your breath for seven seconds, and then exhale for eight. Even just a few rounds of that can often really help prime the body and the brain for sleep.

Other experts have mentioned tips like supplementing with glycine and inositol to help sleep. I find I actually sleep better if I take those during the day instead of right before sleep, but you can experiment with what works for you. But with all of the differing advice, everybody does seem to agree sleep duration and quality are both important. And that spending some time figuring out your own variables of what’s going to contribute to the best sleep for you is a worthwhile endeavor. I also personally love things like Chilisleep or the Dock Pro or any of these systems that cool the bed because there is an optimal temperature range for sleep. And I love devices like this because they don’t require any extra effort. Once they’re set up, you’re going to be sleeping anyway. You’re laying in your bed. This is something that can potentially help improve your health without daily effort from you.

I also think for that same reason, anything we do to improve our sleep environment, or our sleep quality, has compounding benefits to all our areas of health. And if we can do it in a way that doesn’t increase effort, it makes the habit more likely to stick.

Another big recurring theme topic is that of mindset. And quite a few guests this year have delved into this in various ways. I would encourage you to check out specific podcast episodes if you have a specific thing that you know you’re going to work on or a specific trauma from your past. But there was also an agreement among many of these experts on the importance of mindset and that it’s not just what happens to us, but our stories around it. It’s not just what we eat, but our feelings about what we’re eating.

Some of the great podcasts there I will link to in the show notes, but you could delve into episodes with Mark Wolin, which was not this past year, but it’s a great one. You can look into the book, The Emotion Code, or It Didn’t Start with You. And I’ll include some other resources there in the show notes. But again, agreement among the experts that mindset is a very important piece.

I was also very happy to see a recurring theme of more conversation around the microbiome, whether that be the oral microbiome, the skin microbiome, even the vaginal microbiome, and, of course, the gut microbiome. I will link to some podcasts there as well, but there seems to be a consensus that we do need to support the microbiome in all of those areas. And that we perhaps encounter many things in the modern life that are not microbiome friendly and how to create a better environment in our homes and our habits that support the microbiome.

I’ll also include links to things like the toothpaste I helped develop from Wellnesse that is microbiome friendly and can help balance the oral microbiome to microbiome-friendly skincare. Then my favorite Just Thrive products that help contribute to good gut microbiome, and even a podcast with Evie Founder about, if you’re a woman, vaginal microbiome and how to optimize that.

Some other random tips that were recurring themes, but that are also just things I’m enjoying right now, and then I’m going to talk more about this year and do videos on are things like I’ve been making rosemary serums and rinses for my hair. And I often sleep with diluted rosemary oil on my scalp. I am loving castor oil packs from Queen of Thrones because these are another habit that you can easily do while you’re sleeping. She makes sleep-friendly castor oil packs, so I can just put it on, not have to think about it, sleep with it with no extra effort and get the benefits. And I’ll include her episode as well so that you can hear why I started doing those and sort of the research behind it.

Of course, I mentioned minerals. Those are now very much a part of my daily routine. I still regularly consume Just Thrive supplements and notice better digestion and gut health when I do that. I’ve also, in the past six months or so, been learning and experimenting with lymphatic massage and supporting lymphatic health, which is an area I have not talked about as much on here, but I’m excited to talk about more and do some videos about that. But I would be really curious to hear if any of you are experimenting with this and what your experience has been.

Another very easy, free habit that I do often at night while I’m reading is to lay with my feet straight up against a wall. And that is lymphatic supporting, to touch on what I was just explaining, but also seems to help with sleep quality and also is just good for sort of like relaxation. And in theory, there’s some sources that claim that helps cortisol patterns or helps drain fluid from the legs.

I haven’t explained why yet, but I also mentioned I’m drinking quite a bit of salt water every day and keep an eye out for that podcast episode coming soon. But this has had a pretty noticeable effect actually on my energy levels. And I think, of course, we know hydration is important. I wonder if we haven’t gotten the full story about hydration and that perhaps we need more salt water to pure water ratio, or that at least there’s a lot more nuance there.

And then, of course, for me, recurring themes that will always make the list of my favorite things would be the importance of sunlight and natural light. Both in the morning sunlight perspective and getting enough sunlight during the day. I think that is also something that has done a disservice to ourselves by becoming afraid of the sun and not that we want to ever, of course, get a sunburn or get skin damage, but our cells depend on light from the sun for so much more than just vitamin D. And I’m going to be talking more about this in the coming year as well.

So that’s just a fun recap of some top tips. I hope that you, if you haven’t, will check out some of these episodes from the past year because I’ve had some incredible experts share some incredible wisdom in these past 100 episodes that have aired this year. And like I said in the beginning, keep an eye out for shorter and easier to listen to episodes starting now and more of them per week. So, there will be four shorter episodes, same amount of time, but hopefully easier listens for you guys. And I would love any feedback as we go into these from you guys about what you would love to see, anything you don’t like. I always listen to that feedback.

And I would also like to spend a moment saying how grateful I am for you and for you being here as part of this community. What got me into the health and wellness world years and years ago now was seeing what our children would face in health statistics. And it’s been an absolutely incredible journey to be part of this amazing community and see so many moms and families making choices that are helping in their own lives and in their children’s lives to build healthier foundations. And I am grateful every single day to get to be part of this community, to get to speak with all of you, to get to speak to these incredible experts on this podcast.

And as I say so often on here, most importantly, I am grateful for you for sharing truly what are your most valuable resources, the ones that are not renewable, that you only get so much of, and that’s your time, especially, but also your energy and your attention. I don’t take that lightly. I’m so grateful and honored that you spend time here on this podcast and that you are interested in these topics and making changes in your families. And that’s what I just get to say gratitude for every day and what really fuels me to stay here with Wellness Mama and to get to speak to you. So, thank you for sharing your time with me. Thank you for listening. Please share any feedback in the comments or leave a review. And I cannot wait to hear from you. And I hope that you have a wonderful, not just new year day, but entire year ahead. I hope that you have lots of happiness and joy and peace in your life. And thank you for being here.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

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