324: Navigating Hormonal Changes in Midlife w/ Laini Gray
“Test don’t guess” is a phrase you will often hear coming from the lips of my podcast guest today, Laini Gray.
Laini is a functional diagnostic practitioner and wellness coach who specializes in helping women understand the root causes of dis-ease at midlife.
Let’s face it, ladies there is a lot that happens on a chemical level (hello hormones) at midlife that demands a different level of self-care if we want to rock our second act.
In this interview, Laini helps us better understand:
- What functional diagnostic testing actually is,
- How functional diagnostic testing can be useful to women in midlife,
- How to navigate the sea of testing options,
- Hormone replacement pros and cons,
- How stress management needs to shift at midlife,
… and so much more!
If you are a midlife woman who is rumbling with understanding the needs of your body in this new season of life, and/or you know of a woman who is, do not miss this episode.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
Laini Gray is a Functional Health Practitioner specializing in women’s hormones and gut health. She helps busy, health minded women take control of their hormone health so they can feel better, have more energy and enjoy life to the fullest!
By getting them access to the right lab tests and resources, she helps then uncover opportunities for healing throughout the body, then teaches them how to take control of their health through healthy living strategies.
Her mission is to educate and empower women to take control of their health, hormones and mindset to live confidently in their body and live their life with purpose and joy!
Are you ready?
Welcome to Grace & Grit.
The Grace & Grit podcast is your go-to resource for reclaiming, generating, protecting and expressing your power as a woman in midlife.
This show will completely change the way you think about health & well-being and help you make your second act the best one yet!
- 348: Boundaries for Breakthroughs: The Upside of Self-Imposed Limits
- 347: Breaking the Mold: Reconsidering Holiday Norms to Protect Your Health
- 346: Navigating the Ecosystem of Midlife Well-Being
- 345: Behind the Scenes: Insights from the Inaugural Grace & Grit Retreat
- 344: Proactive Living: Strategies to Tame Emotional Reactivity
Transcripts are auto-generated.
Courtney Townley 0:00
Welcome to the Grace and 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.
Courtney Townley 0:28
Hello, my friends, and welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast. This is your host, Courtney Townley. And thank you so much for joining me today. If you’ve been around the Grace & Grit block for any length of time, you’ve heard me speak about personal power a lot, especially in 2023. Because I’m a really big believer that learning to own generate respect and express our personal power is really the key to our health and happiness.
Courtney Townley 0:51
And in the work that I do inside of my Rumble & Rise community and with my private clients. There are four areas of focus that I help midlife women work through to reclaim their personal power. And those four areas are biochemistry, strategy, mindset and emotional agility.
Courtney Townley 1:08
And today, I’m super pumped that I am joined by my dear friend and functional health practitioner Laini Gray, to do a deeper dive into that first area around biochemistry. But quite honestly, our conversation will probably go in all the places because we have traveled side by side for so long. And let’s face it, ladies, there’s a lot that happens on a chemical level (hello hormones) at midlife, that demands a different level of self care if we really want to rock our second act.
Courtney Townley 1:37
So without further ado, Laini, welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast.
Laini Gray 1:41
Thank you, Courtney, I’m excited to be here really excited for this conversation.
Courtney Townley 1:45
Me too. And this is certainly not our first conversation you’ve been on the Podcast many times before. It’s been a hot minute, but you’ve been here multiple times. And I’d love to start where I start with everybody which is giving you the opportunity to introduce yourself the work that you currently do in the world, and really share a little bit about how you got into that work.
Laini Gray 2:04
Alright, so way back when I was a personal trainer worked in health and fitness. And I loved working with women, because helping women become stronger and healthier, helps them become more confident in life. Right? It just was really awesome. I felt so empowered, being able to help women make life really awesome.
Laini Gray 2:23
But then there was this group of women, right that struggled with my recommendations, my recommendations to exercise more and to eat less. Yes, I’m old enough that that was something I taught, right. And these women usually in their late 30s, early 40s 50s. were struggling with that. And I was like why I don’t understand what’s happening. And so I have my own struggle with hormones, gut health and different symptoms.
Laini Gray 2:45
And so in my 30s, I expanded my knowledge base, I became a holistic health coach, I earned a master’s degree in holistic nutrition, and then became a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition practitioner, learning all about how to use functional lab testing, to understand my own physiology. And this was really important because from that fitness perspective, I was doing all the right things, right, we were counting the calories, we were doing the exact amount of weights and reps and sets, and it wasn’t working.
Laini Gray 3:15
And so when I started diving in, I realized my stress was out of control. I wasn’t sleeping well. I had gut dysfunction, food sensitivities, all these things. And so this became a really important part of what I was helping women with is how do we reduce our stress, improve our sleep, reduce inflammation, and you know, put all these pieces together so that we can feel good, feeling good became better than I just want to look good, right. And so this became a really important piece.
Laini Gray 3:41
And then just naturally as we age and evolve, I hit this place in my 40s, where everything was great. And then all of a sudden, things started shifting again. And I was super frustrated. I was like, What do you mean, I have eliminated gluten and dairy and I’m following this whole 30 lifestyle, and I sleep eight hours a night and I have reduced my stress. And I’m gaining weight and having hot flashes and can’t remember my name, right? It was really frustrating.
Laini Gray 4:09
And at the time, I was asking for help. And there wasn’t a lot of great information for midlife women or perimenopause. And so this ever since that has become my passion is helping women understand what’s happening in their body during this transition, that can start as early as the late 30s. Go into the mid 50s. But hormones are all over the place, right? Things are changing. And so understanding what’s happening so we can be more strategic about our approach.
Laini Gray 4:36
And so that’s what I do now is help women understand they’re not going crazy. They’re not losing their mind. They’re losing their hormones. And there are things we can do about that.
Courtney Townley 4:46
Yeah, and I know one of your big sort of mantras is test don’t guess. Right? And that’s what Functional Diagnostic testing really allows you to do. So a lot of people listening today really don’t have any idea what Functional Diagnostic testing is. And so let’s just kind of get them the lay of the land. Let’s talk a little bit about what that is.
Laini Gray 5:05
So when we go to the doctor, right, we usually say hey, I have headaches, I have something’s wrong and they run some bloodwork. And let me be clear bloodwork is really important. There’s some really great information in bloodwork. But it doesn’t really tell us how you’re functioning, right? Because your blood works back. And I don’t know, I’ve had this happen multiple times.
Laini Gray 5:22
And pretty much every woman I’ve talked to, they say, you know, I don’t feel well. But the doctor said, my blood works good. Yep. Right. But they’re still tired. They’re still having headaches. So we need to take us testing that goes a little bit deeper. So when we talk about urine testing, or stool testing or micronutrient testing, we’re testing on a deeper level looking at the function, right, because if you drive it at the car, and something’s wrong, you can’t just get the oil changed.
Laini Gray 5:51
Sometimes you have to go deeper, you have to look at the shocks, you have to look at, I don’t know all the parts of a car. So this is, might be a bad analogy. But there’s a lot of things that can go wrong in your vehicle. And if you just attack it, we’ll just use one assessment, that’s not going to that’s not going to solve the problem, right? It’s going to be there’s not enough air in the tire. It could be there’s a hole in the tire, right? There’s a lot of things.
Laini Gray 6:13
So functional lab testing, is really taking a deeper look at how your body is functioning, and uncovering opportunities for us to support our body in a different way.
Courtney Townley 6:25
Yeah, so I hear two things in that like number one, it gives you as the practitioner, a gateway for treating everybody as an individual, right? Like, let’s get to the root of your challenges, and not just kind of do the cookie cutter approach to this. And so the diagnostic testing really allows you to see the individual biochemistry of the person that you’re working with.
Courtney Townley 6:47
And secondly, I love the analogy of the car, because it does give you a sense that yes, there’s so many things that can go wrong. So when a woman comes to you as a client, and is obviously a hot, frustrated mass, because she feels like she’s doing all the right things. And there’s clearly something that she’s not getting to the root of what is like, is there like a standard set of tests that you recommend? Where do you start with her? Like, how does that work?
Laini Gray 7:15
So for a long time, right with my 2030 or 40 year old women, I said, Let’s do Dutch testing, let’s look at your hormones. Sure, there’s not a lot of things going on. And I love that I said, Hey, get your blood chemistry from your doctor, you know that typical CBC CMP lipids, those are all really valuable. And let’s get a Dutch test. Let’s look at what’s happening with your hormones. Let’s look at your estrogen metabolism. Let’s look at your melatonin, your cortisol pattern. And that was really great for that population.
Laini Gray 7:42
But now, the women there literally their entire physiology is shifting, I now say let’s do a Dutch test. But let’s do a more comprehensive blood chemistry. So let’s look at markers like our a one C or a fasting insulin. Let’s look at CRP, what’s our inflammation level in the body? There’s a lot you know, what’s your vitamin D, for heaven’s sake, we need to know these things. Let’s look at your iron panel, let’s get a full thyroid. If you’re tired and losing your hair, we need to look at your thyroid, right. And these are not typically recommended when you go to the doctor just for your checkup.
Laini Gray 8:16
So the one thing I’ve been telling everyone now is, it kind of feels like you don’t know your own body, or like you’re moving without an owner’s manual. Yeah, so we can recreate that. But we got to get the data. So let’s get a good picture of your stress and hormones, and some really great blood chemistry to get started.
Courtney Townley 8:33
Yeah, I love it. So just to kind of reiterate, because I think this is so important for people to hear, because I think people are hearing pieces of this and a lot of places, but you’re kind of bringing it all together, which is the Functional Diagnostic testing, when you work with a Functional Diagnostic practitioner can really go to the length of blood sugar, inflammation, hormones, vitamins, and minerals, gut health, and probably even other things that we didn’t mention. That’s like, that’s a great like, foundation, first of all.
Laini Gray 9:03
And let’s jump in and say that there’s there’s lots of other testing stool testing all of these different really cool niche tests. I don’t start with those. But the one thing you want with a functional practitioner is a really solid intake. Okay, so if I look at your blood chemistry, there are a lot of hints about your gut, in typical blood chemistry when you put it in a functional range. Yeah. And I always have already do a gut questionnaire. Do you have gas? Do you have Lloyd bloating? Do you have a heaviness in your stomach? Right? Are you having constipation? Where are your bowel movements? So we can do a lot we really have to do that lifestyle assessment as well.
Laini Gray 9:40
There are times when we’re looking at things that seems like nothing’s you know, nothing’s wrong. I’ve had I’ve had women come in and they’ve told me that they’ve had 12 of their fillings removed in the last year. And their toxicity level, right. We have to we have to think about that getting your fillings removed or having root canals that plays into our overall Stress inflammation. So we really have to get a good picture. So it’s that intake form with some really great functional lab testing, and then coming up with a strategic game plan.
Courtney Townley 10:09
Yeah. And everyone’s game plan. While it is obviously a little bit different because everyone’s biochemistry is struggling on different levels. I would imagine that you see some very common threads among the midlife population. And I’m really curious to know what some of those threads are like, what are some of the things that you consistently see in these tests?
Laini Gray 10:29
Courtney Townley 10:31
Yeah, of course, I feel like stress is underneath the root of all of it, right? It’s like the name of the game.
Laini Gray 10:35
It really is. And what we see is that it’s not so Wait, let’s talk about this adrenal fatigue thing. So Adrenal Fatigue is not a really great definition of what’s happening, because the adrenals don’t really fatigue, the process by which your adrenals and cortisol work just changes. So when that does stress, we can see that your adrenals are definitely producing cortisol, what we get to see a pattern of what your body does with that cortisol.
Laini Gray 10:57
And if you’ve been under chronic stress for a long time, the body can actually deactivate your active cortisol, which is how you get up and have energy every day. And it can shut it down to cortisone. So I see these patterns of high cortisone, and lower cortisol. So the adrenals are working just fine. But that body is saying slow down, sister, slow down. Because we know what happens when there’s too much cortisol. We have inflammation, we have chronic aches and pains. We’re sick all the time. Your muscle mass, yeah, yes. So there’s this this interplay.
Laini Gray 11:29
Another thing I see is thyroid function, right, the TSH looks normal, but when we do the full thyroid panel, T three is low. And usually that’s related to stress, because stress affects your thyroids ability to function. We see a lot of times I will see liver dysfunction in terms of estrogen detoxification. So we look on the Dutch tasks and things aren’t clearing the body the way they should. This is where we are, like feeling more heavy periods and bloating and, and just feeling like oh my gosh, that’s the worst PMS I’ve ever had, right? And that’s part of, you know, the perimenopause, that will happen for a lot of us because of the low progesterone. But if our liver doesn’t function well, and we don’t clear and metabolize our estrogen, it just recycled does within the body.
Laini Gray 12:17
And then that brings me to the next part. I have a ton of women who are not pooping. Right? We have this conversation every time Courtney,
Courtney Townley 12:24
every time we get to poop, we always do. I’m so glad we landed here so early.
Laini Gray 12:30
Over and over, it comes out and they’re like, Oh, I’ve been constipated my whole life. Yeah, whole life. We’re talking. You’re 48 years old and you haven’t had regular bowel movements for 48 years. This is a big deal in midlife, because if we’re not getting those hormones and toxins out the recirculating getting backed up in the body. Yeah, because we’re women, we always think we want to lose weight. Well, guess what if your livers not working well, and your bowels aren’t working? Well, it’s really hard.
Courtney Townley 12:56
Very hard. And it’s so true. Yeah. So good. Okay, so we’ve we’ve said, like the big S word, which is stress. And I love you know, you and I have known each other for a really long time. And I think we both it’s interesting, I think we work very much with the same population in different ways. And we’re also kind of working on the same problem, which is the total stress load, right? So stress comes into our life in so many different ways. It’s not just mental, it’s not just emotional. It’s not just the food we eat, or the exercise that we don’t do. It’s all of those things.
Courtney Townley 13:32
And so really, what I hear you saying is that these Functional Diagnostic tests are giving us very clear and strategic ways to quickly identify where we need to start unpacking stress. And so when you see that a woman’s liver obviously isn’t processing in the way that it should, that maybe that a woman is constipated, that her estrogen isn’t metabolizing in a healthy way. How do you know, lifestyle wise, where she should begin unpacking stress? Like, where do you go with that?
Laini Gray 14:07
So and that’s where that intake comes in. Right? So it’s just like, when you go to the doctor, they only asked you a very few questions. I want to know how often you’re sleeping, are you drinking regularly. So what I see a lot is that women are having a glass of wine every night, that’s going to affect both your liver function and your estrogen detoxification. So we kind of have to look at the idea that there are certain stressors we can’t remove, right? Our families, our family, we love them, even if they cause us stress. Most of us have to have a job. There are certain things that we can’t get rid of, but we can change what we’re eating. We can change how we’re sleeping, we can change how we handle stress.
Courtney Townley 14:45
And we can change how we’re thinking about those things that we can’t get rid of.
Laini Gray 14:48
Totally and so everybody’s different. So for some people, starting with the nutrition is great other people is going to be let’s start with the sleep right. And that’s the reminder to if we’re already stressed out, we’ve probably not a good idea to start 10 new things, right? Because then we’re not going to do any of them well, right? Let’s take some a simple step, is it drinking water? doing one thing that’s going to bring the energy back into our system, so that we can heal and move forward? Right? And yes, there are supplements, and yes, there are diet recommendations. But if you’re still not sleeping, none of that’s gonna work.
Courtney Townley 15:21
Yeah, and I know you and I’ve had this conversation so many times in the past. But, you know, you and I have both had the great privilege of interacting with so many other health practitioners. And it’s so interesting that even though everyone has their level of specialty, doing their, you know, special things, it really everyone is kind of coming back to those basic tenants of lifestyle change, which is we have to be getting enough sleep, we need to be eating real food, and we need to be eating enough of it at midlife, which I know is probably something that you see a lot of women neglecting to do. We need to parent our brain, we need to hydrate, we need to have connection.
Courtney Townley 15:58
And that’s something that I also really appreciate about you is I think that you are always pushing this message of connecting with community connecting with loved ones, enjoying life, taking time for deep rest. And for a lot of women, they’re still stuck in that mindset that those things are luxuries that they can’t afford.
Laini Gray 16:19
Yeah, yeah, I think the interesting thing to talk about is when we are in our cycling years, right, and we’re in these, these years, when we can have children and we’re having a menstrual cycle, literally our physiology is is keyed up to take care of things. And that’s why we have this right we we can take care of a family, we start a new job, we do all of these things. And our hormones are working in our favor at that point for us to go go go and get things done.
Laini Gray 16:47
And most of us start to notice in our late 30s, early 40s, that it’s harder for us to do those things. Yeah, right. And this is the body number one saying slow down. But as our physiology changes, as our hormones shift, and we go into that hormone decline state are truly supposed to be in the second second chapter. And it’s supposed to be different. Yeah, we’re not the same person. Yeah.
Laini Gray 17:10
So when we talk about this, we really wish we had this awesome luxury of moving into the second chapter where we get to be the wise woman, where we don’t have to take care of everybody else all the time. We need to take care of ourselves, and be an example to those around us. Right. So this is our opportunity to give back and help that younger generation. But that’s a really hard thing, too. Because if we’ve been go go go all the time, we think that’s how we’re supposed to, you know, be living like.
Courtney Townley 17:36
And look at cultural messaging. Like it’s not, we don’t ever get the message that we should slow down and be enjoying this phase of our life. It’s like, No, you still haven’t achieved enough and you still have to push harder, and you still have to.
Courtney Townley 17:48
And you know, it’s so interesting, because I do speak so much to personal power. And a lot of women when they even hear that word kind of retreat, because power to them, they’re often thinking of it as more energy out and more effort and more proving. And that to me is not at all what power is power is honoring what you really need at this age and stage of life to be a happy and healthy and fully expressed human. And you’re absolutely right, that is very different than what it looked like 1020 years ago, and we rumble with that hard.
Courtney Townley 18:21
And, and I think and I love this because I see you really working to help women redefine menopause and what the invitation really stands for. And I always say to women, like you can really fight this, you can be pissed about it. You can resist it and deny it and all the things but you still have to go through it. Yeah. And if you can retrain your brain to really look at it as an invitation to renovate, which is always a word that I use, right? I always think of this as the renovation years, it’s really an opportunity to take a look around and be very honest with yourself about what is working, and what isn’t, because you don’t have a lot of extra resources on board to deal with the things that aren’t working.
Courtney Townley 19:07
So can I ask you from like a personal perspective, what did that look like for you? Like, what are some of the shifts that you had to go through? Because you’re in you are menopausal now Right? Like, you know, yeah, okay.
Laini Gray 19:18
Yes, I made it to the other side, ladies. And it’s, it’s great. It’s great I promise.
Courtney Townley 19:24
I so look forward to that day. I always ask my provider, I’m like, can we just turn it? Can we just switch the off button like now because I don’t Why do I have to go through this massive transition, like just shut it off?
Laini Gray 19:34
I know. And I will say one of my mentors told me once, this perimenopause, transition is that opportunity, saying it’s time for you to relearn something? Yes, I’ve had to relearn and if you find it, you’re going to have to relearn it longer. Right. So for me, what was really interesting is, you know, we talk about all these health practices and we should eat the clean food. We should do this and we should be more in tune with nature and more tuned into our circadian rhythm.
Laini Gray 19:57
For me, that was one of the biggest things that I know Notice, I got tired of getting up in the morning and going to the gym to train other people. Yeah. And that was my whole life. I was the early riser. I was the early 5am. Waitress, I was the 5am trainer. That’s how I lived my 20s, my 30s and into my 40s.
Laini Gray 20:15
And all of a sudden, as all of this shift is taking place, I was like, You know what? I’m tired of taking care of everybody else at five and six in the morning, when I don’t even want to get up that early because the sun’s not up. And so I stopped. Yeah, I stopped. And now I decided I should take care of myself first. Before. Yeah, I know. Right. And but it’s really interesting, because my whole physiology my whole manner. Everything is shifted and appeals really good. Yeah.
Laini Gray 20:46
So now I get up in the morning, and I have a nice slow morning, I’ve worked out eight or nine, I cleaned the house a little bit. And then I don’t really start my workday until 11. Or after. And I work within my energy window, and I prioritize, I want to be done by such and such a time. So I can hang out with my husband or go for a walk outside.
Laini Gray 21:06
So that was a big shift, and just realizing, you know, the things that really matter to me are my family. Are my home are these things. Right? And that’s a big deal. And as much as I have always loved traveling, and I still do I actually feel better staying home more often. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s okay, though. But so for so long, we start fighting against that, like we really have to check in and what does that look like? What’s what really works for you? And make it happen? Yeah.
Courtney Townley 21:35
And I just want to say that, like, from the outside looking in as your friend, it wasn’t an easy transition to like, give yourself permission to let go of the early morning clients and sort of transition into a different phase of your career. Like, we’re not saying that these decisions are easy to make. And this is honestly why I think a lot of women end up suffering much longer and harder than necessary. Because we do have so much wrestling going on with the actual letting go. And to me, that’s where self trust and all the other things come in. But that’s part of the lesson.
Laini Gray 22:10
Yeah. And I mean, and then let’s, let’s go right to the vanity part of it. Yeah. Part of that was having to let go of a certain size. Sure. Of a certain body shape. Yes. And, and, you know, I’m gonna guess that most everybody listening has been in that place where they’re like, if I could just lose five pounds, those pants will fit again. Right? And after two years, right? Stop it, get a new pair of pants. Right, right, if you’re doing the things and here’s, here’s an I just did an article about this interview. And I said, even when you’re doing all the things perimenopause doesn’t let you get ahead all the time. Right, there’s gonna be some shifts.
Laini Gray 22:47
So you do the things because of what Courtney says, because these are good, you feel empowered. When you do these, you become powerful. And you exercise because you feel good. And you eat well, because you’re energized, not for the pant size, and you get something instead that you feel confident in. Because guess what, no one has asked me what my weight is for the last five years. No one’s asked me. Oh, Laini, have you gained weight?
Laini Gray 23:08
Yes, I wear a bigger size now. Right? Do I still work out? Yes. But I also have a different mindset, do I want to work out seven days a week? No, I have no desire to go back to that way of living.
Courtney Townley 23:21
Well, and this is this is the part that I wish everybody understood and could accept is that there’s trade offs to everything. And part of that that wisdom piece that you were speaking to earlier, I truly believe is recognizing that, you know, I can really have whatever I want. But there is a price to pay for everything. And if you want to spend copious amounts of time in the gym, and you want to calculate every bite of food that goes into your mouth, and be hyper vigilant about, you know, constantly keeping tabs on the way your body looks, and how much it weighs, and all those things, you can do that. And you will not have time for the other things in your life that truly bring you alive. Right. And so it’s it’s really, to me, it’s such an opportunity to weigh what is really important to me, because I think that life is also like we’re a little bit more aware of life not being a forever thing. It’s never a forever thing.
Courtney Townley 24:20
But I know this year on my birthday, I was just like, I’ve always had this like little bit of sadness. And this year, I was really investigating it and I’m like, I think it’s because I love it so much. I enjoy the ride so much. And I just feel like I’m creeping closer to the end even though I know I hope I hope it’s still so far away. And yeah, I’ve just faced a little bit more with my own mortality. And that’s a gift because it also really makes me consider where I am putting my life energy. And I was in that space to you know that for years on, you know, body fat percentage and fitness levels and all the things and man Do I just feel like a radically different person. I still do lot of those things because I love it. But I’m not doing it to prove anything. And I’m certainly not doing it for a certain number. So I can just say, Oh, I weighed the same amount I did in high school.
Laini Gray 25:10
My earrings are the same as they were in high school, just see, my earrings still fit.
Courtney Townley 25:17
It’s not that exact pair, you had. Impressive. I like that.
Laini Gray 25:25
I suppose still fit, right. But the other thing too, is that our stress has changed. And so with those priorities, the stresses change, and they’re bigger, and they take a lot more recovery. And so that’s the thing to have. There’s a lot of things that happen in midlife, like parents losing parents or having a caregiver to your parents. That’s a huge stressor.
Laini Gray 25:48
And depending on where you’re at, I was just started, Courtney, our hound dog got hit on the highway two weeks ago. So for the last week, I’ve had to be babysitting this dog and take him outside on multiple walks. So guess what, I didn’t lift weights for the last two weeks. But I got like two to three hours outside walking with my dog. Yeah. And that was more important. I was trying to keep him healthy. And I was like, You know what, I feel way better going outside three times a day than working constantly. And you know, yes, now I’m ready to work out. I feel like I need to lift something heavy. But there’s so many things that change and are we have to change with them.
Courtney Townley 26:22
Right. And we have to stand face to face with a lot of decisions that we’ve made. And it makes me think of, I don’t remember, like do you remember as a kid going into your first ever buffet? Right, and like, your eyes are just so big, you want to taste everything, and you make an effort to taste everything, like you literally stack your plate a mile high. Because you can. That’s how I look at like the 20s and 30s. Like we’re stacking and stacking and stacking, because everything just We’re so excited. And we can build and we can bring in all these responsibilities. And then I feel like in our 40s and 50s It’s like sitting at the table with that mile high plate of food recognizing that I can’t possibly eat all this. Yes, right.
Courtney Townley 27:03
So we have to start making some decisions about what am I going to keep on my plate? And what am I just gonna, like, you know, save for a later date, or maybe just completely scrap altogether? Because I really wasn’t that interested in it, or it’s not serving me at this point in my life.
Laini Gray 27:16
Totally, totally. And I think that’s the other thing too, just as women supporting women, we have to be more respectful of everyone’s journey, you know, because in our 20s, and 30s, there’s a lot of that, oh, you’re kind of judging people by how they look, or whatever. And so I think that’s the thing that we have to just be kind to ourselves and kind to the women around us. And understand everybody’s going through something different.
Laini Gray 27:39
And look at them as the beautiful soul that they are and acknowledge, hey, that must be hard. What can I do to help you? Instead of focus for so long? What would we say? Would you want to come to a workout class with us? Have you tried this diet? You know, we need to get away from those recommendations. Hey, do you want to go for a walk? Let’s go for a walk, hey, do you want to go to lunch, like start really reaching out to people on that soul level on that spirit level? Because that’s what needs the support. And when we feel that we are supported, you know, in our own thinking, and by the women around us, then we become more powerful to take on the next day of whatever it is.
Courtney Townley 28:16
Yeah, I love that you’re mentioning this because I feel like a big part of the message I’m always trying to push is that health is so much bigger than our physicality. It’s it’s our relationships, our it’s our mental health, our emotional health, it’s all the things. And so yeah, we have to be starting to look at people as whole humans, rather than like a meat sack. Right? Like, we’re so much more than our bodies and facts, our bodies is so much more complex than the amount of exercise that we’re doing or the food that we’re eating.
Courtney Townley 28:49
And I think that to me that that is not something that I really deeply understood as it as a woman or even as a practitioner, until I really entered my late 30s and into my 40s. And now I just feel like oh, if people can understand this so much earlier, right? People so much of that unnecessary stress.
Courtney Townley 29:08
Okay, I want to switch gears for a second because I want to make sure that we touch on gut health, because I know this is a big piece. I know we mentioned it a little bit earlier. But I think a lot of women Yes, we mentioned the pooping because we always talk about pooping. But can you explain in a little bit more detail, like how the disruption of the microbiome because you not only know a lot because of your education, but you literally did your thesis on the microbiome, right? Yeah, I don’t know why I remember that. But I do. So yeah, the ways in which our our microbiome disruption kind of influences not kind of but does influence our Hormonal Health and our overall biochemistry.
Laini Gray 29:48
Yeah, so our microbiome is all these bacteria, these trillions of bacteria that live in our you know, large intestine and they do a lot of things for us. They outnumber ourselves tend to one. They help us with our metabolism. They help us with nutrient creating nutrients and neurotransmitters. And they help us with getting rid of toxins and excess hormones. So when we produce our hormones, they go through the body, they do their jobs, and then they have to be eliminated. And we actually have a whole series or a system in the microbiome called the strobe alone, that is responsible for helping break down the estrogen and get it out of the body.
Laini Gray 30:23
Now, if we have dysbiosis, so if our gut bacteria is not balanced, we actually don’t have enough of the good guys to get it out. And so this, this imbalance actually causes the estrogen to get reabsorbed into the system, we don’t get to clear it from our body. So that’s just one of the ways that it affects our hormones, but our digestive system as a whole. Right now, I would say nine out of 10 women and men that I work with, are low in stomach acid. And so that’s the first step of digestion, we chew our food, the food goes into our stomach, and we have these enzymes and this hydrochloric acid that helps us break down our foods, so it’s ready for absorption.
Laini Gray 31:06
Now, as women in midlife, we need more protein, right to help with our muscle mass. Guess what you need in your body to absorb protein
Courtney Townley 31:14
Laini Gray 31:15
Stomach acid? We need more magnesium, we need more of all of our minerals in midlife. Guess what you need to absorb minerals in your body? Stomach acid. And so like I said, nine times out of 10, the women I work with are low stomach acid. So if you have low stomach acid, you’re not absorbing your minerals. So you’re gonna have more of that restless leg more of the cramping, more constipation, more low thyroid, that’s a mineral situation, right? All of these things.
Laini Gray 31:43
So what are we doing here? It’s because we’re not chewing our food. And we’re not sitting down to eat, everyone. So really, that calming down while we eat is the first step to improving our digestion. And when we sit down to eat, it’s easier to put nice meals together and feed our microbiome if we’re actually making mealtime this wonderful experience that it should be one that chance for us to nourish our body on every level.
Courtney Townley 32:09
Not to mention, I think that when we actually take the time to enjoy our food, we tend to eat less of it, because we’re actually in the experience of it. And so we’re tasting it and chewing it and savoring it and all the things where if we’re multitasking while we eat, we miss the experience. And so we keep eating. Yeah. So many reasons, though. Okay, I don’t watch it in about Yeah, sorry.
Laini Gray 32:34
I will say how often does it happen when you’re eating healthy food? Because usually when you’re multitasking and eating late, it’s because you’re grabbing something that’s probably not the best new way? So if you can make that a better priority. I like saying it make it meditation. Right, be really involved in the eating food.
Courtney Townley 32:52
Absolutely. Yeah, I love that. And I know that’s gonna resonate for a lot of people in the in the community, because we just did a whole workshop on mindful eating and like, what it actually looks like to sit down and sort of, you know, to have to taste your food and be grateful for the food and all that things. So there, is there specific testing that you do for stomach acid?
Laini Gray 33:11
Okay, this one’s gonna knock your socks off, everybody get out your bloodwork, okay, there is a marker called alkaline phosphatase. It’s in your CMP. So it’s going to come right after your calcium and total protein. And right above your liver enzymes, usually it’s a LK, pH o s alkaline phosphatase. Now this enzyme depends on zinc. Okay, optimal, we wanted above 70. Okay, we wanted above 7070 to 100 is optimal. Now, that’s not going to be what’s on your typical lab range, the range is going to be a lot bigger. But when we are lower than that, it’s we’re zinc deficient, because you can’t make alkaline phosphatase without zinc.
Laini Gray 33:54
So I see that in nine out of 10 people, myself included a couple of years ago. And that was we looked down the blood chemistry and Calcium is a little low, and proteins a couple tenths low. And we start looking at their thyroid numbers. And they’re a little bit hypothyroid, which could be Selenium or iodine deficiency, right? Everything links back to stomach acid. So when we add digestive enzymes and you know that include a hydrochloric acid, we can actually bring all those numbers up in a couple of months. Yeah, just because we’re able to to absorb our nutrients better. So look at that number on your test.
Laini Gray 34:28
I see a lot of people in the 30s and the 40s. And those same people have a lot of gas and bloating and constipation, because if we don’t break our food down well in that first phase, the whole digestive system can get disrupted. That makes total sense with everything. I mean, we come all of that we need stomach acid for our B 12. So all of these things, we really have to go back to those foundations because they’re so important. And making that one shift can change our entire physiology. That’s pretty empowering. It’s really empowering.
Courtney Townley 34:59
Absolutely So I just want to pause here and say that, like we’ve talked a lot about Functional Diagnostic testing, at least we’ve kind of, you know, scraped the surface of it. We’ve talked about stomach acid. And I just want listeners to know that you have an opt in called Top Recommended Testing for Women in Midlife, because we understand that this is a very overwhelming topic, and we want to be able to make it as simple for people as possible. So I will be attaching that link to the page on our website where this Podcast is found. So anyone listening, if that is something you’re interested in to find out more information about this type of testing, you will be able to find the link to registering for that document on our website.
Courtney Townley 35:44
Alright, so Lanie, we could talk all day long, which is why we’re fast friends, and we’ve been friends for years. But what would you like to say in closing about any advice or any like one bit of information that you really want listeners to leave with? What would that be?
Laini Gray 36:03
They know it can seem overwhelming and frustrating going into this midlife transition because you think you have life all figured out. And then all of a sudden, you’re like, what just happened? I don’t feel like myself, I can’t. Now I can’t sleep, I’m sweating, you know, all of these things start to happen. And you’re gonna be okay, you’re not crazy, you’re not losing your mind. It’s a natural process. And there are things we can do.
Laini Gray 36:29
But you have to take, as Courtney would say, you got to take your power back and put you know, and invest in yourself. So doing all the things making those changes. And then what I tell people start a little health savings account of your own so that you can do some of this investigative lab work, because it’s not always covered by insurance. And it’s not always recommended by your provider. And that doesn’t mean your provider is not awesome. It just means that’s not their specialty. And so it’s it’s taking responsibility and ownership of how much we want to know about our body so that we can take better care of it. From here on
Courtney Townley 37:04
I think that’s such an important point. Because I you know, I know you and I both. It’s so funny, I always joke, it’s not funny, but I always say like if I was a business coach or I was, you know, selling so many other things that really aren’t necessary in life, right, like health is pretty necessary. But for whatever reason, people have a really hard time investing in their own well being. And I just think of, you know, all the things that we’re spending money on that are costing us our well being, right, the alcohol and the eating out all the time and the, you know, things that we’re doing to make up for not feeling good if we could just take some of that money and dedicate it towards things like diagnostic testing, or coaching or whatever it is that’s going to help you take better care of yourself. It will reward you tenfold. Yes, like, because if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.
Laini Gray 37:57
No. And this this chapter, it’s a gift. Aging is a gift, right? And we have to look at it that way. And so going, Oh, I’m getting older and things don’t work the same. Do you really want to be 16? Again? Do you want to be 23? Again? No, I’m actually 31. Yeah, I don’t really want to go back there either. Right? We this is a gift, we made it this far. We made it this far. This is awesome. And if we want to keep going, let’s let’s adjust our course and go the way that we want to and the way we deserve to and reach out for help. Because guess what? Somebody is going to be there to help us and we just have to reach out.
Courtney Townley 38:32
Yeah, absolutely. I love you, my friend. I so appreciate you and your wisdom. And there’s again, there’s so many different pathways we could have gone down today. But I think this is a really important one because I think the diagnostic testing can give people a glimpse into information that they probably don’t currently have. And that could be so instrumental in helping them to ease the frustration of what this transition can cause. So yeah, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate you.
Laini Gray 39:01
Thank you for having me. And thank you for doing the work that you do because it’s so important.
Courtney Townley 39:05
Absolutely. I love it. It’s my pleasure.
Courtney Townley 39:13
Thank you for listening to the Grace and 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 and grit anything is possible.
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