How Adaptogens Have Revolutionized My Wellbeing

For most people, life can get pretty stressful. Whether you’re a mom or not, there are plenty of demands put on us on a daily basis. How we deal with the reality of stress determines how healthy we feel and thus our quality of life. When we’re able to roll with the proverbial punches and keep moving, we are in the best position to make better decisions, and create the kind of life we want. My story is not unique by any means, I definitely deal with stress (some days better than others) but over time I’ve developed some serious non-negotiable self-care habits that have served me incredibly well. One of my favorites is the incorporation of adaptogens into my daily coffee routine.

Before I delve into the benefits of adaptogens, I’ll explain what they are.

The term “adaptogen” comes from Dr. Nikolai Lazarev, a Russian scientist) who first coined in 1947, but Isreal Brekham, PhD and Dr. I. V. Darymovhe created the formal definition in 1968. The formal definitely includes the following criteria:

1. An adaptogen is nontoxic to the recipient.
2. An adaptogen produces a nonspecific response in the body—an increase in the power of resistance against multiple stressors including physical, chemical, or biological agents.
3. An adaptogen has a normalizing influence on physiology, irrespective of the direction of change from physiological norms caused by the stressor. (Source)

In other words, adaptogens must:

  1. Be safe
  2. Work by reducing your body’s stress response
  3. Support overall health by helping the body achieve balance known as homeostasis

The adaptogens I consume in my morning coffee and evening tea have prevented countless colds (reishi, chaga, pollen powder, he shou wu), given me more energy and athletic stamina during my workouts (cordyceps),  lightened sun spots (maitiake), improved my skin’s suppleness (tremella) and increased my sense of calm (reishi and ashwagandha). I began taking them in November 2017, and have not been sick once despite living in a veritable petri dish with two young children. I also travel a ton for work and life, and my immune system has held strong through long flights and late nights.

I am all for trying new things, and in the case of adaptogens, I am so glad I did. My health, both mental and physical, has benefited so much from the exploration of this ancient form of plant medicine. One remaining note, make sure that the adaptogens you buy are from reliable sources. My favorite providers are Root and Bones, Four Sigmatic, or Real Mushrooms. These companies care about the extraction process, and the quality of their products. Like anything, its helpful to do your homework before jumping in. And if you are on any kind of medication, check with your doctor to make sure there wont be any unsavory drug interactions.

At the end of the day, life is meant to be lived fully, and we do that by being in vibrant health. When you’re sick or stressed out, you know you aren’t really living. It’s taken me years to find balance, and the journey is happily ongoing, but when I find something I know in my gut works, I have to talk about it. In the case of adaptogens, there is no doubt that they help provide the building blocks for an incredibly happy, healthy, and less stressful life experience.

Do Weights Not Cardio 

My story is not unique, I am like most people in that I want to look fit and feel amazing in my own skin. We all want that right? The goal is pretty much the same, the challenge arises in how to get there, and in the most efficient way possible.  

After years of exclusively doing cardio to achieve my goals, I have come to the realization that much of that was time wasted. Gone are the days of long runs in punishing weather to attain that feeling of accomplishment for the day. Now I have completely changed gears and the results have already been amazing. A change from cardio-centric workouts to weight lifting using a Smith Machine and dumbells has  drastically changed the shape and strength of my body. I use a great app, 5×5 StrongLifts to guide me on proper form, what I should be doing and how much I should be lifting. 

Research shows that you still achieve all the benefits from an elevated heart rate by lifting weights as you would from cardio, in addition to powerful fat burning properties that last up to a day after lifting! And more muscle means a higher metabolism and a more efficient fat burning machine. 

If the scientific evidence isn’t enough to convince you to change up your gym routine, then let your body sway you. When I was running, I was slim to be sure, but I had no shape and I wasn’t truly physically strong. I suppose it was when I had children, that I realized how much I needed to strengthen every part of my body. My arms, core (which protects the back) and legs all needed reinforcement in order to keep up with highly active kids. I owed it to them and to myself to rise to the task and be the best I could be. And being happy with what you see in the mirror, especially after having kids, is a huge confidence booster. How you feel about your appearance affects how you interact with your family, coworkers, local barista and the rest of the world. And if you emit positivity and joy because you truly feel good, who knows what new things you’ll attract into your life. 

So do not be afraid to let go of old workout habits, because the benefits of weightlifting can be life changing and not exclusive to just your appearance.