A few weeks ago I popped on a CGM - a continuous glucose monitor. If you’re not sure what that is, let me explain. A CGM measures your blood sugar levels on a continuous basis 24/7 for as long as you wear it. If you’ve got diabetes or you’re pre-diabetic, this is something your doctor recommends you wear to keep your blood sugar in check.
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.
I’m an energizer bunny - up at 5:30 am and in bed around 10:30 pm. I don’t get energy slumps and according to my Oura ring, I sleep pretty well. I work out 5-6 days a week doing CrossFit or High Intensity Interval Training. At 49 years old, I’m in the best shape of my life. And my actual biological age is only 45 years old - and hopefully getting younger.
So why did I put on a CGM?
I’m working on learning as much about what’s going on inside my body as I possibly can. Looking at things like how my blood sugar responds to diet, stress, exercise and sleep. All of those things affect your hormones, metabolic health and your immune system. And since one of my main goals is to not go through Menopause and age backwards, I needed to understand what’s going on inside my body.
Prior to the CGM, I had also done the following tests:
- a full blood panel measuring over 100 different biomarkers (most doctors only look at approximately 40 during your yearly physical)
- a 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
- a Gut microbiome analysis which takes a deep dive into the health if 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
- a Vaginal biome test to see what kind of good/bad bacteria are living in my Va-jay-jay
Based on the results I received on those tests, I made some major changes to my diet, added in supplements, and bought an Oura ring to track my sleep.
The results: Amazing! I was feeling great, I had tons of energy for my workouts and my body is now fitter than it’s ever been.
So again, why put on a CGM?
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. 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,
I put on a CGM for 10 days, logged my meals, my fluids (including Tequila and Wine), my workouts, and my sleep.
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.
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.
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
Time to make some changes. The #1 change - chill the fuck out! Slow the hell down! Breathe, Relax, find some calm.
Let’s get real here for a second. If you know me, you know I’m a go-go-go type of person. I am a doer, a hard worker, an adventurer… I rarely stop, except to sleep and then I get back up and do it all over again the next day.
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.
#1 - 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.
#2 - Change are 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.
#3 - 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 portent anti-inflammatory AND it’s FREE!! Testosterone production occurs mostly during deep sleep, among other things! My new goal, 7 hours or more per night. I need to get in bed by 9:30/10pm and change my wakeup time to 6:30am instead of 5:30am.
#4 - 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.
#5 - 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.
The bottom line:
SLOW THE FUCK 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.
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.