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The Day After: Neurohormonal Reverb After Finishing Somethin' Big (A Book, For Instance)

Posted on 07 June 2012

  Have you ever finished a gigantic project, and been surprised by how you felt the next day? A bit unsettled. Out of sorts, maybe? Adrift? That’s how I feel today. Baby is launched. But why such weirdness? And my enduring followup question: What's the neurohormonal backstory? It’s been an 18-month arc of getting my book done, from when I first pitched the idea for The Hormone Cure in 2010 to sending the final manuscript back to my editor at Simon and Schuster yesterday. Much longer than a pregnancy. More consuming than caring for either of my kids when they were infants. No days off--because I loved it so much and I overprovide (and my boundaries could always use a tune up). I slept and slept last night. Yes, still had to tend to the kids and Darling Husband this morning. First moment of neurohormonal reverb: need to get butt in gear and be the mom vs want to sleep. I wanted to stay in bed for many more hours. And I’m a morning person. Note to Self #1Schedule more time to repair when you finish the next book. As in a week off...unplugged, unavailable. Plan on 10+ hours of sleep. I know, I know. Not rocket science. It's basic lifestyle management, but I'm flawed and need a daily reminder on how to do it all. My mess is my message. Yesterday, I was still on the positive side of the cortisol power curve, before the "cortisol switch" I've been writing about lately. I've gotten up each morning, happy to rock the book, including yesterday. Leapt out of bed, hungry to synthesize the 5000 studies I've reviewed and thought about carefully - and integrated into my model of The Female Matrix. So, I get up and make the coffee. Herd kids off to school. Two final hours of editing. Two bulletproof coffee-fueled hours of laser focus. Document attached to editor's email. Send. Done! That's when things unravelled. Next I go a 3-Day conference with a good friend. I shift from perky-Berkeley-mom-who-sent-off-book-this-morn to...Cortisol Switcharoo. The dark side of cortisol hijacks me. Bleary, red-rimmed eyes that suddenly appear...in the space of one hour. Deep fatigue. Can't concentrate. ADD. Who's bad idea was this to go to a conference and sit all day after such a mammoth undertaking? Nothing the speaker said make sense. I thought she was not as smart as she thought. Then I realized that I was the problem, not her. The speaker was my mirror. I did us both a favor and left early. Honestly, I wasn't fit to drive, let alone be in the company of other humans. Note to Self #2. Apply the "Two-Day Rule." It applies in PMS and it damn well applies after finishing something big. Don't say anything for 2 days. Don't do anything, like send inflammatory emails, or rant about a speaker. Wait 2 days and notice if it still seems like a good idea. I arrive back home. I'm too tired to send away the babysitter. I'm holed up in the bedroom looking at my emails. Bad choice. As Brendon Burchard famously said: Your inbox is a convenient organizational system for other people's agendas. That's when the chocolate aspect of the cortisol switch comes in. My email inbox immediately sent me into my least resourceful place called overwhelm. I could have chosen to take 10 and meditate. Instead, I eat a chunk of chocolate. Full disclosure: Chocolate and caffeine have played a major role in the productivity of the last leg of this book race. And they aren't doing me any favors. Like a high-interest loan against my adrenal glands, I got the cash call. Public Enemy #1. I suspect both my cortisol and my testosterone levels tanked yesterday. And when cortisol free falls, so does your thyroid hormone (glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, inversely and reciprocally modulate the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid axis). Tiger no longer chasing me, my amygdala decided the danger was over, and my hormonal warriorship put down the fight. Hormonally, I hit the wall. Here's my hypothesis: I've been pushing the cortisol too much lately. I suspect that yesterday I went from high, agro cortisol levels to low. Maybe I even became cortisol resistant during the course of this book. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I also decided to launch my brand new program, Get Vital/Stay Vital--my inner circle for anyone who wants to join me on the path of optimizing hormones. I hosted my first call today, which you can hear right here. There's even a special, introductory rate that you can get only for the next 48 hours.  I had plenty to talk about, especially how important it is to prevent cortisol swings, and thereby prevent cortisol resistance. Recently, I've been reading about endurance training in athletes and how it raises cortisol--overall amateur endurance athletes, such as ultramarathoners, have 42% higher cortisol than controls. One important biomarker is the free-testosterone-to-cortisol ratio (FT/C), and it's lowest in endurance athletes (and much higher, which is good, in people who perform resistance exercise, such as lifting weights). I feel like I just ran 10 ultramarathons. I learned that writing a book is an endurance sport. I've got the ache in my low back to prove it. Hello, Curcumax Pro! Note to Self #3. Slow down on the chocolate when writing. Sedentary tendencies don't mix well with extra calories, especially the dark chocolate variety. Add to a perimenopausal body and you've got trouble.  Fortunately, the matrix loves homeostasis. Time to ban the chocolate and bulletproof coffee, lift some weights, and get back into equilibrium. But first, just let me catch up on sleep! xo Dr. Sara PS: Remember to check out my brand new inner circle, Get Vital/Stay Vital. We have a private Facebook Page, a monthly Teaching Jam (via teleseminar/webinar), and a monthly Q&A, plus lots of exciting things to keep you in action and closing the gap on how you want to feel vs how you feel in your body. To learn more about the GVSV program, which is shiny and new today (but you can join any time), link here.

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