Less Stress, More Sleep! 25 Cortisol-Busting Foods + In-Home Test

This post is sponsored by EverlyWell.com, however all opinions, experiences and enthusiasm are my own.

Turn on the television or flip through a magazine and you’ll be bombarded with the news that stress and lack of sleep causes health problems. Honestly, these reports stress me out! With three kids, a full-time job (I’m self-employed and typically work from home . . . flexible but often frantic) and a never-ending email inbox, I sometimes feel like my head is going to explode. Add to that a heavy training schedule to stay competitive in the sports I have a passion for, and I am often worn down at the end of the day. And the more tired I get, the less I sleep – it’s a cruel joke that being a middle-aged woman compounds even further.

jen and lucy grassLearning to treat stress more like my dog — if you can’t eat it, play with it, pee on it . . .then turn around and walk away!

I’ve been fighting with this sleep and stress problem for several years now, it’s a constant issue.  Often, I wonder just how bad off I’d be if I didn’t already eat well and exercise. I recently look a Sleep & Stress Test from EverlyWell.com a convenient medical testing company where you perform the tests on yourself in the privacy of your own home and then mail off the data (which things such as urine samples, finger-prick blood draws, vital signs, etc.) to a lab – the results are then delivered in about a week.

sleep funny

I recently received my results via email. It wasn’t surprised to learn that my sleep and stress hormones were elevated, I just had no idea that they would come back “sooooo” off the charts. Yeah, I’m an overachiever – haha!  So the EverlyWell Sleep & Stress Test examined four hormones and how they relate to each other (cortisol, cortisone, melatonin, and creatine) throughout the course of a 24-hour period.

everlywell results collage

So, this is a screen grabs of one of my test results, mainly I am sharing so you can see how the results are super-simple to interpret – an easy “visual” chart approach rather boring, confusing columns of black and white numbers.  So, as you can see, I’ve gotta problem – out of 4 tests with 4 measurements each (for a total of 16 data points), I’ve got 14 data points in the “high-risk category”  (most at the top of it) and 2 data points at the ceiling of the “elevated risk” category.

So, what does this mean and what does Everlywell.com say I should do to bring these numbers down? So, first off, let me just focus on the Cortisol today, it may be the most important. While cortisol levels do fluctuate throughout the day (and can be affected by exercise), they should come back down to a normal level by the next testing period. Sustained elevated cortisol levels have been shown to impair cognitive performance, dampen thyroid function, cause sugar imbalances, decrease bone density, disrupt sleep, decrease muscle mass, elevate blood pressure, lower immune function, slow healing and pack on fat around the abdomen. Oh, yippee – said no one ever!everly woman computerWhile EveryWell.com doesn’t make diagnoses (just the lab facts, ma’am), all test results are reviewed by a board-certified medical doctor and they do advise that I consult with my own personal physician. While I wait for an appointment, I can peruse medical articles that they’ve provided for me that address whatever my pressing issue might be – in this case, Cortisol & Adrenal Function and Cortisol: It’s Role In Stress. I also have the opportunity to ask their Chief Medical Officer a question by filling out a web-based form.

I’m also dialing in my already pretty healthy diet to focus on cortisol-reducing foods, pretty much anything considered “anti-inflammatory,” or high in zinc, folate, Omega3s, vitamin C, theanine, lyphenols, flavonols and all sorts of other soothing and stress-busting nutrients.  Here is a list of 25  Stress-Busting “Comfort” Foods if you want to get some of these on your shopping list – but, hey, don’t stress out about it!

25 Stress Busting Comfort Foods - a healthy shopping list to help reduce inflammation, cortisol levels  and issues with sleep.

Thanks to EverlyWell, it was simple and convenient to get the info I need to put together a plan to get the sleep and stress relief I need. They have all sorts of other regulatory-compliant home tests including Food Sensitivities, Cholesterol & Lipids, Heavy Metals, and more. I’ll be posting a full review and the findings from my Sleep & Stress Test in a week or two – but, in the meantime, if you want to save 10% use the code EVERLY10 at checkout. #KnowYourNumbers #EverlyWell

Another thing I just did to help improve my sleep – ordering these Anti Blue Ray Reading Glasses that obliterate the blue rays emitted by electronic devices (like computers, phone screens, television) that experts say can disrupt your ability to sleep. So far, I love them and I think they are helping! Available in a huge array of magnifications (I take a 2.0x) and frame colors.

***EverlyWell offers lab testing for wellness monitoring, not to diagnose or treat disease, or replace a physician’s consultation. Testing not available in NY, MD, RI, or NJ due to regulatory restrictions. EverlyWell does not provide medical advice and suggests sharing results with primary care physician. 

Do you have trouble managing your stress or sleeping enough? How do you get relief?  What is your favorite food from my Cortisol “Comfort” Food List? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer

Purifying Skin Solution for Run, Yoga and Workout +Giveaway #DermaeDetox16

This post and giveaway are sponsored by Fitfluential on behalf of derma e, however all opinions and enthusiasm are my own!  

Greasy, sweaty and covered in city grime. Eek, that sure sounds yucky as I type it out, but that’s pretty much describes the condition of my skin on a daily basis. Well, that is, until I started using the Purify line from derma e.  One of my favorites is the 2-in-Charcoal Mask – more on that below!

jennifer face mask

I knew I had to do something to freshen up my skin and stat. Many days (okay, most days), I live in my fitness clothes from dawn until dusk — sometimes it’s because I’m knocking out two-a-day workouts, and sometimes it’s just because I don’t know exactly when I’m running or hitting the gym — and I want to be dressed ready! Anyhow, I was getting breakouts from not being able to jump in the shower right after exercise.  Plus, my skin just looked dull and sallow from lack of attention, (ahem) middle age, pollution, and who knows what else. Obviously, had made a priority out of taking care of my body, but not so much my skin!

I couldn’t have discovered the products from derma e at a better time. I had booked for some fun jobs booked where I would be in the public eye in January and I hoped to put my best foot (and face) forward! The perfect time for a derma e New Year’s Detox!

dermae skincare

There are so many fabulous products in the Purify line – Gel Cleanser, Daily Detox Scrub, Toner Mist, Oil-Free Moisturizer, Youth Serum and 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask.  All are designed specifically for oily and active skin types and work to draw out toxins, replenish vital nutrients and help skin resist oxidative stress. Two thumbs up to the “Green Chemistry” what combines the best of modern science with eco-friendly, sustainable and plant-focused ingredients to create natural, planet-friendly products that really work! And, of course, the company is cruelty-free when it comes to testing their products.

dermae skin care purifying mask

One of my favorite products is the Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask – it makes me feel like I’m getting a special spa treatment! The dual-action formula purges pores of deeply rooted toxins and yucky stuff and exfoliates everything away until I’m glowing! Look for new derma e Purifying products at your local health food store as well as Whole Foods Markets (on sale at Whole Foods through end of January).

Don’t just take my word for it! Enter for a chance to win a derma e New Year’s Detox Kit! The lucky winner will win the entire @derma-e Purifying line (including the amazing 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask pictured above). It’s a $150+ value!

Follow these steps to enter:

 One winner will be chosen on Jan. 31, 2015.  Contest is open to USA and must be 18 years or older to enter. Enter as many times as you like but spam and giveaway accounts will be disqualified. Thank you to @derma_e for sponsoring this great giveaway — I have personally been delighted with the detox!

The Run, Jump, CrossFit, Trampoline Secret I Just Can’t Hold In!

No worries thanks to #AlwaysDiscreetatTarget

No worries thanks to #AlwaysDiscreetatTarget

Okay, this post is just more proof that I cannot be easily embarrassed, much to my three teenagers’ mortification.  That’s one of the better things about advancing in age (and, no, I’m not talking about having older kids who prefer to hang out in the video games department while on shopping trips to Target), but rather the fact that there’s not too much that can make me blush. I mean, geeze, when you are a blogger your life is pretty much on full display – have you SEEN my Instagram account?!

An ALWAYS DISCREET #selfie at Target!

An ALWAYS DISCREET #selfie at Target!

I’ll ask complete strangers what they think of so-and-so, I’ll pose for selfies in the store aisles, and I’ve done handstands and cheerleader jumps in public. I don’t have a problem complaining if I’m getting bad service or a product doesn’t meet my expectations, I hate flying under the radar and blending into the crowd and “YES,”  my dear children, I AM wearing this outfit to your football game and/or band concert.

So, do you really think I mind walking into Target to stock up on P&G Always Discreet products?  No, in fact, I wanted to load up my cart with tampons, granny underwear, lice shampoo, athlete’s foot spray and other unmentionables that might make my boys (and the cashier dude) really squirm! But, I behaved myself!

Loading up my cart -- hey, where did the kids go?!

Loading up my cart — hey, where did the kids go?!

So, if you’ve had three kids like me – three really large babies with really big heads, you may have had some issues with bladder leakage.  This is really all THEIR fault! For years, I would show up at my races wearing shorts that I knew would camouflage the problem and bring along a spare pair to change into right after crossing the finish line. This still didn’t prevent the stress of worrying just how bad “the situation” would be. I’d heard that doing kegels religiously could help, but amazingly it was CrossFit that help tighten up my innards and pulled everything mostly back into place. Sometimes there can still be a little “oops” and an almost unnoticeable liner from Always Discreet keeps me confident to run, trampoline, and jump rope without worry of a puddle.

always discreet linerIf you shop at Target (and who doesn’t?) text DISCREET to TARGET (827438) for instant coupons on Always Discreet – they also make pads and disposable underwear in addition the little liners. BTW, coupons expire 12/31/14. Also, now through October 25, when you buy $20 of Always Discreet products, you get a FREE carrying case ($6 value). Look for the Always Discreet display at your local Target!  Target has online savings going on, too – enter promo code DISCREET at checkout for a $1 savings. You can also use Target’s “Subscribe and Save” service and have Discreet delivered straight to your door. You’ll get 5% off your order; free shipping and even an additional 5% off if you use your red card. Find out how to get a free sample and more details here.

Care to share on this one? Pees do . .. uh, I mean PLEASE do!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.