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Welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast made for women who want their healthiest years to be ahead of them, not behind them. Join your host Courtney Townley right now. As she breaks down the fairy tale health story, you have been chasing all of your life, indispensable action steps and lasting change.
Hello, hello, and welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast. This is your host, Courtney Townley. As always, I’m thrilled to have you here. And the last episode of the show, I introduced the idea that we have to get our focus off of weight being the problem to all of our health challenges. Because a lot of women that I work with like to hyper focus on their weight being the problem, your weight is not the problem, it might be a symptom of a problem, but it is not the problem. And then I proposed what the actual problems might be in that episode.
So a quick recap, we talked about confused chemistry being a problem. When we send messages to our chemistry via our lifestyle choices, we can experience a lot of chemical disruption. And of course, chemical disruption is going to express itself in the human body in a lot of unhelpful ways. We also talked about the way you approach behavior change can also be a problem. Because the way you approach behavior change can be very stressful. And what I mean by that specifically, is you’re either overly ambitious in your strategy, or you have no strategy at all. Both of which creates stress induces a cascade of disrupted chemistry.
We also talked about the impact of our mindset, and how the inability or unwillingness to parent your brain to take responsibility for the way you are relating to the world and to yourself, can also induce a lot of unnecessary stress, which of course, then impacts chemistry. And then the final thing that we talked about was the challenge that we face when we have a low capacity for emotional agility.
And what I mean by that is when we do not have the tools or the skill sets to process and allow emotion, to move through our body, we behave in ways that disrupt our chemistry. But also, we harbor a lot of unnecessary tension and stress, because we can’t move that emotion. So all of these things contribute to the total stress load of the human body. And the total stress load of the human body is directly connected to the state of our chemistry.
I want to give you a couple concrete examples of how all of these pieces are really connected. Because improving one of these areas will actually improve all of these areas. And here’s how that plays out. Like a couple examples of that. If you don’t allow yourself to feel certain emotions, like frustration, like disappointment, like sadness, and instead, you look for ways to resist, avoid or numb those emotions, when they show up. You’ll do things that temporarily make you feel better, like eat like drink, like get a dopamine hit from being on social media.
But those things compounded over time, really jack up our chemistry. And when I say chemistry, I’m specifically referring to our hormones, which are the government of our body. And then of course, when our hormones are all over the place, it’s really challenging to parent our brain, even if we have the best of intentions because we tend to be more reactive. We also have a lot less drive and motivation to do the things that we’ve called ourselves to do.
Another example of how dysregulation in one of these areas can impact all of the others is that if you’re living your life out of alignment with what you say you want because you don’t have boundaries, or you aren’t really great with time management. You may find yourself spending an awful lot of time beating yourself up because you’re not living in a line with what you say you want. And when we beat ourselves up, essentially, what we’re doing is we’re creating a lot more stress, unnecessary stress, which, of course, disrupts our chemistry, we become more reactive, we want to feel better. So we reach for a lot of things that don’t actually nourish us, but temporarily make us feel a little bit better.
And that to further disrupts our chemistry, so on and on this cycle goes. So you could quite literally focus on any one of these things to improve all of these things. Because ultimately, what we’re talking about is unpacking the stress of your life. And today, I want to give, I want to go a little bit deeper into the first bucket, which is confused chemistry.
When I say chemistry, what I really mean, is the inner workings of your cells. At the most foundational level, you are a compilation of trillions of cells, cells make up every tissue organ and system in the human body. And the word metabolism really refers to the processes that happen within your cells. I know we love to think about metabolism as just energy and energy out. But that is such a drastic oversimplification of what metabolism actually is.
Metabolism is all of the chemistry that keeps you alive and keeps you thriving. And a big part of that chemistry, of course, are hormones. And when hormones get confused, or disrupted, or dysregulated, because of our lifestyle choices, our cellular function becomes subpar. So we don’t, our cells can’t get toxins out as easily, we can’t get new nutrients in as easily. Our cells can’t create energy as easily. They can’t send messages as easily. And then you experience that subpar chemistry as low energy, high reactivity, maybe even depression and anxiety, weight gain, and a lot of other symptoms. Now, of course, biochemistry is highly complex. And while there are a lot of things outside of your control, that impact of your chemistry, like your age, like your genetics, like environmental factors, there’s so much that you can control in keeping harmony within your chemistry. And that’s really what I want to remind you of today.
But first, let me say this, I realize that honoring your chemistry can feel like an awful lot of work, when you don’t have a regular practice of doing it. And that’s really all it is. It’s a practice. And it’s really important to remember that self care, taking care of your chemistry, honoring your chemistry is not the purpose of your life. It’s really the base camp of life. So the more stable our chemistry is, the more resilient our chemistry is, the more capable we show up in our life. And we actually like how we’re showing up in our life. So I always remind my students and clients that their real work of their life is to become a fully expressed and authentic human, whatever that means for them. And a big part of that expression is being able to maintain integrity from a cellular level to a soul level.
We want integrity on a structural level, we want our cells to be functioning well. We want our tissues to be healthy and vibrant and strong. We want our systems to be online and functioning optimally. And we also want to have integrity in the way that we’re showing up in our life, for our passions and pursuits for the people that we care about. For the things that we are here to cause, contribute and inspire. And that level of integrity from cell to cell soul requires that you take care of your chemistry, because you cannot make the climb of your life.
If your physiology and your psyche and psychology cannot support you, it would be like showing up to the base camp of Everest, with zero physical or mental preparation. That would not go well.
And yet, this is what so many of us are trying to do in our life. We’re trying to show up for big things in our life, without the conditioning and the resilience to be in those spaces and places in a way that we feel good about.
I coached a client the other day, this was a, this was really interesting, we were talking about clutter, you know, just clutter in her space. That was just feeling like it was something that was very out of alignment for her. And what she was really able to see by the end of our session together is that her clutter in her environment, is taking up precious resources, that she could be dedicated to the things that she really cares about. It’s costing her integrity. It’s affecting her on a chemical level, because it’s creating stress in her life.
And so we really talked about this idea, this way of thinking about cleaning up her clutter, not as another to do, right, because when we think of it as another to do, it’s the last thing we want to do, because nobody that I work with needs more to do. But when we look at the task of cleaning up clutter, through the lens, of her reclaiming her resources, removing stress from her life, so she can actually put those resources to the things that she truly cares about. It completely shifts the way she shows up for that activity.
Making decisions on the regular, that allow your chemistry to function easily and effectively, really conditions you to show up in the most powerful way to do the real work of your life. And you know what that work is the real work of your life, right? It’s like your heart song, the things that you’re kind of drawn to in terms of the missions and the aspirations and the contributions you want to make. And to more easily do those things. We have to dedicate our precious resources, like time, energy and mental bandwidth to those things. And our biochemistry, taking care of our chemistry is the most basic level of doing that. That’s why I call it base camp.
Now, if you’ve been around the Grace, & Grit sort of space for a while, you have probably heard me talk about Five2Thrive, which is a five part video series where I kind of go into, you know, pretty deep discussion about what I consider to be the fundamentals of taking care of your chemistry. And Five2Thrive was created several years ago. And so I want to update some of the principles within those lessons here today. So if you haven’t listened to the series, it doesn’t matter. But if you are interested in watching the series, because I think that information is always really helpful. You can check it out by going to graceandgrit.com/five2thrive.
One of the first elements that I discuss in the space of balancing our chemistry and honoring our chemistry is granting yourself permission to restore to rest. And yes, this speaks to the importance of sleep, of course, because the magic of healing and restoring biochemistry happens when we’re sleeping. Largely not only but largely. But permission to restore also refers to slowing down. Not living life so fast and furious all the time. Which is really uncomfortable for an awful lot of people because we’ve been conditioned to believe that our worth is wrapped up in our productivity that we have to hustle to be successful. And so slowing down requires for a lot of people I work with the willingness to lean into discomfort, because it’s not their standard mode of operation. And anything that we don’t do consistently is going to feel uncomfortable.
The value of slowing down is that it helps us to not feel or not generate so much stress all the time, it’s literally a way of decompressing our nervous system. And remember, your nervous system, in sort of the most basic way is these sort of two branches parasympathetic and sympathetic. Sympathetic is fight or flight, parasympathetic is rest and digest.
I would say a large volume of the world is living in a chronic state of sympathetic nervous system activation. Which jacks up our chemistry literally sort of ignites cortisol and other hormones to get us very alert, and it’s very costly for the body to have that kind of response. And being in that kind of response all the time, of course, has a cost. Because it starts to break us down. We’re meant to oscillate between sympathetic nervous system activation and parasympathetic nervous system activation, but we’re not oscillating. What we’re doing is we’re pushing the gas pedal down on the sympathetic nervous system. And we’re keeping it pressed down all the time, which is leading to burnout. It’s leading, leading to all kinds of chemical disruption, which then of course, results as a lot of different symptoms in our life.
The other thing that I want to speak to about this permission to restore is one of the ways we can do this is by reducing the number of decisions that we make in a day by being very clear on our values and priorities. And making sure that the bulk of our day is spent on those things. And we eliminate things that are not that. And I’ve done a lot of episodes about the power of making decisions in advance based on your values and priorities. Because decision making is a lot of work for your brain. And so when we give ourselves extend ourselves, the grace of making less decisions, we’re actually building in restoration. And some of you, some of you listening to this are making decisions, right?
You live in this constant space of indecision, which is exhausting, very taxing. Some of you make decisions, but then you never set boundaries. You don’t set boundaries with yourself, you don’t set boundaries with others. And so you end up exhausting yourself. The next thing I think, is really important to speak to in terms of the basics, this base camp idea of how we can really honor chemistry so we can get to the real work of our life, is of course we have to nourish ourselves. And in that Five2Thrive video series, of course, I talk about nourishing the body by eating real food.
But today I want to elaborate on this concept of nourishment. Because nourishment isn’t just about food. It’s about fueling all of the senses, nourishing all of the senses. Because so often, we turn to food, for nourishment. With something that can’t be satisfied through food. In other words, what we’re really hungry for a lot of time is rest and connection and play and depth to our life. And when we are nourishing ourselves on those levels, it’s really easy to turn to food to try and fill that void and when we’re always turning to food to fill the void Have those other needs. First of all, you know, the quality of the food we’re choosing is not so awesome. When we turn to food for reasons other than hunger, we’re not making awesome choices with food. And then, of course, that wildly disrupts our chemistry.
Instead of putting ourselves to bed, when we said we would, we stay up late watching Netflix, because we’re so hungry for decompression and alone time. But that, of course, that costs us tremendously, because we don’t get enough sleep. And then, of course, not getting enough sleep has so many consequences inside of that cellular function that I refer to earlier.
When we drink, to feel connected with others, and I hear this a lot, actually, in the work that I do with my clients, a lot of people want to improve their relationship with alcohol. They honestly have this belief that they’re not going to be any fun, or they’re not going to be able to connect with others unless they’re participating in the drinking of alcohol. Because alcohol is such a baked in part of our social environment these days. But when you’re really looking for connection, drinking actually disconnects us right, because we aren’t authentically who we are when we’re drinking. There’s a consequence, of course, to how we feel the next day, which massively influences our capacity to show up in relationships in the way that we want to. So all of this to say, nourish nourishing our senses.
All of our senses is so important to stabilizing our chemistry. So stay awake to what you’re consuming, visually, audibly. Right. Like, a contact with other people contact with your environment. What are you eating? Why are you eating, you can learn a lot about yourself by staying awake to that.
The next thing I want to just mention is movement, which I have done so many podcasts on. Specifically, I’ve done a lot of podcasts about the importance of movement as it pertains to the health of our biochemistry. But taking this a step further, in order to keep our chemistry in harmony, stabilized we also need to move our emotions. Which just means that we need to feel our emotions.
Because if we don’t, we try to resist our emotions, which is an awful lot of work. We try to avoid our emotions. By tapping into substances that aren’t so awesome for our chemistry. We try to numb our emotions with those same substances. And all of those things disrupt our chemistry even further, it doesn’t really solve the problem. So moving our emotions, which really means that we just allow ourselves to feel the full spectrum of human emotion is just as important as moving the human body to keep our tendons and muscle tissue and blood flow, really healthy. movement also refers to moving your life taking risks, going after the things on your heart. renovating your life when you feel like something is no longer nourishing your life.
So again, it goes back to that making decision bit that I spoke to earlier. And moving our life often requires getting uncomfortable because we aren’t exactly sure how it’s going to turn out. So there’s a level of discomfort we have to be willing to experience and if we aren’t willing to move our life to lean into discomfort, we risk stagnation. And I always say stagnation is where things go to die not to thrive. The next layer of this sort of chemical balancing conversation, which again is the base camp of life is connection.
I actually this past month, I have taught a masterclass inside of Rumble & Rise, my private membership community all about connection. And it was so powerful for me to do the research for this masterclass, but also for the members. I’ve taught master classes on all kinds of topics. And this is one that I think is so timely and so needed, and really seemed to resonate with a lot of people.
When you take time to engage in meaningful connections in your life, you feel better. Because you literally promote and ignite a cascade of chemicals that promote well being rather than deplete your well being. So when you are connecting with yourself with your environment, with your with other people, you are releasing chemicals like serotonin, and oxytocin and endorphins. And dopamine. And all of these things help us to feel good naturally. So we aren’t having to reach for things that make us feel better temporarily, but then cost us our health down the road.
So connecting with yourself with your environment with other people is a really powerful way to bring pleasure into your life in a way that serves your well being. And when we don’t feel connected, the cost is steep, we get reactive. We seek validation from other people, we work really hard to people, please. We use those false pleasures, right, like really concentrated things to manage our emotional landscape, like the sugar, like the alcohol, like the Netflix. And we even outsource our life choices to other people. Right, we look to other people to tell us how to live our life. And all of that very dangerous. Because it doesn’t really fulfill us it doesn’t really meet our nutrient need.
The final thing I want to say, and again, I’ve done a lot of podcasts on this. So I won’t spend a lot of time here. But I have to say that a piece of this Basecamp conversation, taking responsibility for honoring your chemistry is the willingness to parent your brain. The willingness to develop a growth mindset. Because how you perceive the world and your place in it, the way you think about yourself, your life and what happens in your life. Massively impacts your chemistry. And it can impact your chemistry in ways that are really helpful, or it can impact your chemistry in ways that’s really harmful.
This past week on Instagram, I actually shared a story of something that was so close to massively disrupting my chemistry and I shared the story, because I just wanted to give people an example of how easy it is to make choices in our thinking that really cost us on a chemical level. And the story was this, I was walking my dog last week, it was about 10 days ago at a park down the street. And we had just finished our walk. And an older woman had pulled up next to me in her car. And she was looking a little distressed. So I asked her if there was anything I could help her with. And she said she forgot her leash to walk her own dog. So I offered her mine. I said, you know I live just down the street, I’ll give you my address and my phone number. And when you’re done walking your dog, you can just put the leash in my mailbox. And here we are 10 days later, and I have never seen the leash again. And I have you know, it was really easy for me to start spinning out that people suck. That this is why you know I shouldn’t do nice things for people like my brain so quickly wanted to gravitate towards this very negative storyline about this woman and why didn’t get the leash back. But the truth is, I don’t know why I didn’t get the leash back. And there’s a lot Have other possible storylines that are actually way more useful for me to consider. And here’s what I mean by useful.
I could choose to think that this woman had evil intent, that she was a terrible person that I shouldn’t trust people, which makes me feel awful, right. And when I feel awful, I make a lot of choices in my life, that aren’t really nourishing my health, I want to eat chocolate, I want to drink alcohol, I want to kind of zone out in front of TV, all the things which doesn’t help me in any way.
I was able to sort of coach myself through the moment and remind myself Courtney, it could also be true, that she got confused. Maybe she left the leash in someone else’s mailbox, how nice for them. You know, maybe something happened to her. Maybe she really needed a leash. I don’t necessarily agree with her taking it if that was the case. But hey, if it means her dog is going to get walked, I’m willing to make that contribution. And when I turn my head to all these other possibilities of what could also be true. I give myself the grace, of taking my foot off that gas pedal of stress. Right. Which is so valuable to me, because it’s helping me to maintain harmony in my chemistry.
When you find yourself spinning out about something, you’ve done someone else’s behavior, something that’s happened in your day, and you start to see that it’s leading you to wanting to behave in ways that take you out of integrity with yourself. Consider the other possibilities, consider what also might be true. Because it can go a long way in helping you to honor your chemistry in a way that supports you rather than depletes you. So quick recap. honoring our chemistry is the base camp of doing life. If we don’t honor our chemistry, we cannot make the climb of our life, we cannot show up as our best selves to the things that we really care about.
So, honoring chemistry looks like permission to restore. It looks like nourishing all the senses. It looks like moving your body, your emotions, your life. It looks like connecting, taking time to connect with yourself with your environment with other humans. And it also requires that you parent your brain, that you take responsibility for the storylines you are attaching to the things that happen in your life. And if you do these things, the byproduct is a happier and healthier human and happier and healthier humans do a hell of a lot more good in the world. So if you are someone who like this resonates for and you really need some help developing practices, developing skill sets around these types of things. Consider coming into Rumble & Rise, you can check out all the details of the space by going to graceandgrit.com/readytorumble I hope you have a wonderful day. I’ll see you again soon. Take care
Thank you for listening to the Grace & Grit Podcast. It is time to mend the fabric of the female health story. And it starts with you taking radical responsibility for your own self care. You are worth the effort and with a little Grace & Grit anything is possible.