Want to improve your health? Become a hacker. A biohacker, that is.
Bio-what? Don’t let the term scare you.
Biohacking is an empowering approach to health care for everyone. It focuses on self-study and daily tweaking, and it can help you dramatically upgrade your health or hormones in a very short period of time.
Made famous by Tim Ferris (“The 4-Hour Body”) and others, biohacking is based on self-ownership of your health – rather than relying on others to “fix” your health for you – so your solutions and healing are tailored completely to what works for YOU and your body.
So how can you become an expert biohacker?
Think about something you’d like to improve – your mood, your fitness level or your diet, for example. Start keeping detailed records of anything related to the area you’d like to change. If you chose your diet, you’d track everything you eat and drink for at least a week, as well as other related measurements like your energy levels, weight, etc. Once you have your baseline data, you’re ready to start the fun part.
Start making small tweaks that you think will improve this area, and again, keep a detailed record of what you’re doing and any changes you notice. Track your successes and your failures. Make charts. Have fun with it! It’s been proven again and again that what you measure, improves.
Try each new strategy out for at least a week. Keep what works; throw away what doesn’t.
Here are some of my favorite biohacks for your mood, sleep and exercise:
• Biohacks for MOOD
Feeling depressed, cranky or just not like yourself? So many factors affect mood, including sleep, diet, exercise, relationships and stress. Start with tracking your mood each morning when you wake up. Write down how much sleep you got the night before. Write down everything that goes into your mouth and how you feel afterward. Once you have a record of a few days, introduce some small changes.
Try taking a brisk 20-minute walk each day and record your progress and your mood. Add in a daily five-minute meditation, or a weekly yoga class. Numerous randomized trials show that exercise is as good or better than taking an antidepressant for mild to moderate depression, so find a form of exercise you like and integrate it into your daily routine. And if you feel like your mood is controlling your life and you would like more support, you may want to check out my Mission Ignition: The Mood Cure home study program.
• Biohacks for SLEEP
Your body needs to recharge, refresh and rejuvenate each night, and it does that through quality sleep. Having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or getting restful sleep? Try these tips before you reach for the sleeping pills. And make sure to track your results, so you can figure out what works (and what doesn’t work) for you.
- Turn out the lights and lower the heat. A darker, cooler bedroom can lead to better sleep.
- Ditch the TV and other electronic devices in the bedroom and stop looking at screens at least an hour before bedtime.
- Take a warm bath or shower just before bed.
- Take a melatonin supplement each night. I recommend 0.5 to 3 mg if you have sleep problems.
- Dab a drop of lavender essential oil at your temples before you climb into bed.
• Biohacks for EXERCISE
There’s just no way around it. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your overall health. A biohack of your exercise routine might include tracking something as simple as your heart rate after your daily run, and what happens when you add in a few sprints.
If you’re not currently exercising, start by adding a daily 20-minute walk (preferably brisk) and go from there. Track how you feel daily, and whether you’re able to walk farther in those 20 minutes a month after you started. If you’re looking to boost your fitness, interval training can help you make huge leaps forward. See my blog post on how I biohacked my exercise routine with interval training. And don’t forget to make exercise fun! You’re more likely to stick with changes you enjoy, so be sure your exercise routine makes you feel good.
A Note on Biohacking Your Hormones…
If you want to biohack your hormones specifically, I recommend working with your doctor, MD, naturopath or osteopath to run baseline tests – and then have them test you again after you make changes.
Prefer to self-test? There are also labs that work directly with consumers, such as www.MyMedLab.com and www.CanaryClub.com. I have a full list of recommended labs for home testing in the appendix of my book, “The Hormone Cure.”