Hey gang! We are so excited for today’s guest. She’s a nurse practitioner, functional nutritionist, Intermittent Fasting expert, Co-host of the Everyday Wellness Podcast, Owner of CHT Wellness, and a wellness blogger. Please welcome to the show Cynthia Thurlow! Enjoy!
Video Version: https://youtu.be/Dd8QiFnLCT0
Cynthia’s website: https://cynthiathurlow.com/
Chantel Ray: Hey, guys. Welcome to this week’s episode, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for today’s guest. She is an intermittent fasting expert. She’s a nurse practitioner, functional nutritionist, a two-time TEDx speaker, the co-host of Everyday Wellness podcast, and she’s a Wellness blogger. Please welcome to the show, Cynthia Thurlow. Welcome.
Cynthia Thurlow: Thank you so much for having me. It’s really an honor.
Chantel Ray: All right. So, I’d love to have you first discuss your own wellness journey, and how it led to you developing Cynthia Thurlow LLC and your blog and your podcast.
Cynthia Thurlow: Mm, that’s a good question. So, I’ve been a nurse practitioner technically for 19 years, and I truly believe my health and wellness focus really started probably from the very beginning. Just being a nurse practitioner, we’re looking at different resources, different ways of interacting with our patients. But I think when I had children for the first time, when I had my oldest son, he had terrible eczema and so for me it started this journey of really looking at what was I eating, because he was breastfeeding, and that was the deep dive into really more closely examining the choices we were making in our personal lives. Obviously, my husband and I are very fit and healthy, and thought we really were, but started to really clean up our diets, changed our perspectives as it pertained to really investing in lifestyle choices. But I think the big thing for me that probably changed it all, and what pivoted me away from clinical medicine to developing my own business was just my own health journey.
Cynthia Thurlow: I hit perimenopause, I kind of flew into a wall, I’d never heard that term used at all. I always say, “I trained at a big research hospital, I clearly have had an excellent education, I’d never heard the term used,” not by my midwife or my OB-GYN, and it wasn’t until I literally couldn’t get out of bed one day that I started to realize that something needed to shift. I was not depressed but I was so tired, I could barely function, and I think many, many years of what I would refer to as not doing enough self-care. Not sleeping enough, maybe going too low carb, may over exercising without realizing it, and just the cumulative stress of just being a mom and being a wife and having a husband who traveled as well as a stressful job, just really hit me hard. So, I think that’s really where the pivot started for me.
Chantel Ray: Awesome. And if you’re listening to this podcast, you should actually watch it on YouTube and then you’ll be able to see Cynthia’s skin. It’s absolutely glowing. It’s like perfection.
Cynthia Thurlow: Oh, thank you.
Chantel Ray: And I love what you say about getting to the root of things, because I’m about to launch the second edition of my book, Waist Away. And in this new edition, I really start talking about getting to the root of the actual health problems. So, talk about what do you think are some of the most common root causes that are leading to our chronic long-term health issues.
Cynthia Thurlow: Mm. Oh, gosh, this is easy. I think it’s our highly processed diets. We don’t really eat food. We eat food-like substances. I think that’s huge. And I think because the food is so highly processed, we are getting so much cross contamination. So, people will say to me, “Well, I’m gluten free.” But if you’re eating all these processed foods you’re still being exposed to gluten, unless it’s in a gluten-free facility for which there are not a lot of those, and you’ll usually pay a whole lot more money.
Cynthia Thurlow: I think we’re increasingly a society that is overstimulated. You think about the fact that before the advent of the light bulb people went to bed when it was dark and got up when it was light out. But now people are working 24/7, they’re bathed in junk light, just from what we’re exposed to by our computers, or iPhone or laptops, our tablets, and we’re just not investing enough in sleep quality. Sleep is really absolute foundational to our health, and what I find is most people think of sleep as being this have-to kind of thing, like doing your laundry, then I always say, “If you weren’t having high quality sleep every single night of the week, you are really setting yourself up for being much more susceptible to a lot of health problems.”
Cynthia Thurlow: So, those are three big ones that I see with some frequency. I think there’s also this lack of connection with people. People ascribe to social media, they spend hours and hours and hours on their computers, but they’re not really connecting with human beings. They’re not having real relationships. They’re assuming the amount of likes they get on a social media post somehow is really connecting with individuals, and so really making time for the things that you love to do and with the people that you love doing them with, I think that’s another piece.
Cynthia Thurlow: I think we’re just increasingly getting much more insular. We’re not getting… it’s kind of like plants. We need to be bathed in sunlight first thing in the morning. We’re not connecting enough with nature. We’re not moving our bodies. We’re sitting on our butts a good portion of the day, and I think, I always say, sitting, “Sitting is the new smoking.” I used to get poo-pooed about that, but we’re not designer bodies, we’re not designed to be sedentary, we’re actually meant to be active, not just when we go to crossfit in the morning, we burn so many calories. We are designed to be active throughout our daily lives and I think those are five or six things that I really think are contributing to a lot of diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, a lot of mental health problems, escalating rates of Alzheimer’s which is Type 3 diabetes, as well as cancer risks just based on lifestyle choices.
Chantel Ray: Awesome. And I know you’re very focused on nutrition and a big proponent of intermittent fasting. What’s your normal fasting window that you stick to, and do you do any longer fasts?
Cynthia Thurlow: Great question. I am a 16/8 gal, meaning I fast for 16 hours, I eat within an 8-hour window. However, lately, over the summer, I have been experimenting with different fasting windows. I’ve done one meal a day, which didn’t really work for me because to try to cram in all my calories in a 4-hour window, I was very full and uncomfortable. I’ve done some extended day fasts. The longest one I’ve done has been three days. The longer the fast, the more you can tap into these more profound benefits from intermittent fasting.
Cynthia Thurlow: I think my happy place is 16/8. I think doing one or two 24-hour fasts a month are reasonable for me personally, but I just don’t feel fantastic when I’m fasting for three or four days. I just-
Chantel Ray: Right.
Cynthia Thurlow: … it doesn’t matter how much I hydrate, I like to be active. I just don’t feel like I have as much energy. I’m committed to trying to work through some different tricks and tips to see if that changes because I do have colleagues that really are fans of longer fasts and doing that on the regular, and I’m just not there yet. How about you?
Chantel Ray: Yeah. The longest fast I’ve ever done is an eight-day fast, but by day four I started doing a little bit of green juice. So, basically, I went four days with nothing, and then on day four I had… it was like cucumber, spinach, kale, no fruit in it at all. Some ginger, some lemon. And then day four through eight, I did the green juice. But I’m the same way. I have some thyroid issues and so, for me, the longer day fasts do not work well for me. The one meal a day works very well for me. When I do that, I have tremendous weight loss when I do it and I feel pretty good.
Chantel Ray: And you’re right, the more you do it, the less you get to the place where you’re eating so much on that one meal a day. So, it takes time, because the first time you do it you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, I’m ravenous,” and then you’re eating everything but the kitchen sink, but the more you do it, you go, “Okay, I’m eating in the next 24 hours,” and then you’re not so crazy ravenous.
Cynthia Thurlow: Exactly. I’ve come to find like for me personally I love to break my fast. People are always asking how I break my fast. And one of my favorite things to eat, I don’t know why, ever since I left the hospital earlier this year I’m very preoccupied with eggs, and so there’s a lot of eggs in my world. Eggs and bacon are like my favorite thing to break a fast with. I think one day when I did the one meal a day, which wasn’t truly intentional, I was so full, because there was so much fat in the pork bacon that when my four-hour window came I was like, “I’m really not hungry, so I’m just going to push on through till tomorrow.”
Cynthia Thurlow: But, yeah, you can definitely… It’s all about bio-individuality. It comes down to what works for you. What works for you and for me may not work for 10 other people. So I’m always about embracing… Kind of figuring out for yourself, doing a little bit of detective work, not being a sheeple. Just don’t blindly following that one way works for everyone. I just find that people do much better when they do a little bit of experimentation and really listen to what their bodies are intrinsically telling them.
Chantel Ray: Yeah. That’s a really good point. I’ll show you that I had ordered these things. There’s this thing called Gin Gins, they’re just like little pieces of ginger that has a little bit of cane sugar in them, and I like to have one right after I eat something. After I eat something I usually like something sweet, and these came in the mail. It was about 24 hours and I was breaking my fast, and these happened to come in the mail from Amazon, and I had one of them, and then I was like really hungry, so then I had another one, and I ended up having three of them.
Chantel Ray: That was the worst thing I could do. That is the one piece is that, protein is the thing that… Think about how much protein is in that eggs and bacon. That is the best, best thing for you to be… Fat and protein is super important for you to be breaking your fast with, and so that was a disaster. I had those three Gin Gins and then I went home and then I just ate too much. So, I was like, “Not doing that trick again.” And I tell people not to do that. I don’t know why I thought that that was a good idea.
Cynthia Thurlow: But then you know. Then you can say, “Okay, I can probably do fine with one, but certainly not three.”
Chantel Ray: Yeah. So, are there any food types or food groups that you say, “Look, for me, absolutely not. I’ve got to avoid this food, because I don’t feel good when I eat it.” Anything for you?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. Oh, wow, I’ve got a bunch. So, gluten, grains, dairy, although my functional medicine providers are trying to convince me to reintroduce rice and oats, and I tried rice yesterday and it wasn’t… Same thing, it just drops my blood sugar. So that and my new thing, that I’m not thrilled about but since I left the hospital, I’m not tolerating oxalates. So, for someone that’s eating a gluten-free diet, that’s a lot of my diet, so that includes nuts, and citrus fruits, and a few other things that make me particularly unhappy, as well as sulfur-rich foods.
Cynthia Thurlow: I love Brussels sprouts, but my body is just not tolerating high fiber foods, so all the cruciferous vegetables, the kale, the broccoli, makes me sad to say this. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and then, one of the big ones that’s also causing me a lot of duress these days are some of the seeds. So, I’ve had to rethink a lot of my meals, which, again, I keep going back to bacon, beef, bison, are all working well for me. I’m almost a carnivore, which was never my intention to be that focused, but it’s amazing.
Cynthia Thurlow: If you are hospitalized and you have issues with your digestive system, it may take a while for your body to kind of reacclimate to eating real food. So, I’m just trying to be patient and if anyone that’s listening that’s had to be on elimination diet, I understand it can really be a bear, but I always say, “Stay true to why you’re doing this, trying to reroute the digestive system.” But for me, absolutely, I feel terrible if I have dairy, I feel terrible if I have gluten. I don’t feel great with grains. And the rest, I kind of look at as temporary. Temporary eliminations that I have to make.
Chantel Ray: Yeah. I just had a listener or a guest on our show that talked about… If she has white rice, she does not feel good, but if she has white rice that she cooks and then refrigerates and puts the next day and then she eats it, she feels fine. And it’s all these different things. You have to listen to your own body and figure out that question, how do I feel when I eat this?
Chantel Ray: So, if you had to name the top three things that our listeners should be doing daily to help their overall wellness, any little things that you do daily, what would they be?
Cynthia Thurlow: I would say, first and foremost, I think it’s really important to be grateful and it could be something small, so starting your day with writing down three things you’re grateful for, and it could be something really small. Like, I, sometimes, I’m just happy it’s not raining. So I think practicing gratitude, it’s an active practice for which, after everything I’ve been through this year, I always say that practicing gratitude is really critical. It can change your brain chemistry.
Cynthia Thurlow: You know, the sleep for me is huge. I don’t care who I talk to, I think we’re just conditioned as individuals to not put a lot of high priority on sleep. So, getting high quality sleep, at least seven, eight hours a night, cold, dark room, wearing blue blockers after 6:00 o’clock at night, wearing a face mask if you need to get off of electronics. Put them in airplane mode if you need to have them in your bedroom. I think those are really helpful. And then I think just being open-minded to the fact that, just because something worked for you for 10 or 15 years, doesn’t necessarily mean it will continue working for you.
Cynthia Thurlow: Being open-minded about the fact that, as we evolve, mature and grow, sometimes we have to kick old habits to the curb, as challenging as it is to do that. And a lot of the work that I do is centering around food, and for a lot of people food is comfort. For many, food is fuel. If you’re part of the former and not the later, making dietary changes can be particularly challenging, so if they’re just remaining open-minded that old habits may not work for you for ever.
Chantel Ray: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love that. And now, something I ask all my guests. Take me through a day in the life of Cynthia. Like, what did you eat yesterday? When did you eat it? Did you work out? How long?
Cynthia Thurlow: Oh, yeah. So, yesterday, it turned out it was a rest day because I’m a big believer if I don’t have a great night of sleep, I won’t necessarily push myself through a really tough workout, and today was yesterday’s workout, so it would have been a leg day. But I get up in the morning, I do my gratitude work, I will try to read for 30 minutes. Oftentimes that can on a device, it might be that I’m listening to a book. I could go out for a walk and just be exposed to the sunlight, which is really helpful with all the receptors we have on our skin and our retinas for letting our bodies know it’s time to wake up and get going.
Cynthia Thurlow: Yesterday I showered, I went downstairs. I take thyroid medications so that’s the first thing I usually do. Get my dogs out, get my kids up. My husband is totally able to get himself up and moving in the morning, but did quite a bit of work for my clients in the morning. Taped a couple of podcasts. In the afternoon, work-related responsibilities. You know, I’m in the midst of heading out to LA in about a week-and-a-half so I was setting up some appointments for people that I’ll be meeting with when I’m out there. Coordinating things with my team. And then some other things with my kids, activities, allergy appointment, et cetera. And then typically, depending on what’s going on, my husband went golfing yesterday, so my kids were eating in shifts. We weren’t all eating at the same time. Got them their dinners, got myself kind of geared down, did some laundry, and then went to bed around 9:30.
Cynthia Thurlow: So, not the most exciting of days for me, but, definitely, things that typically play a huge role are nutrition and so I broke my fast yesterday. Not so exciting with bacon and eggs which has been my mainstay. I only had two meals. I had a grassfed beefburger with some asparagus last night, and some guacamole. I’m always focusing when I’m eating. Always focus on protein and healthy fats. Depending on whether or not I’m carb cycling that day, yesterday was a low carb day because I wasn’t exercising doing intense exercise, so I really upped my fat intake and keep my carbs pretty low. And obviously today is a high carb day because I did leg day, but, yeah, that’s about as exciting as it is for me at home.
Cynthia Thurlow: It’s a lot of focus on family and business stuff mindset, and then, one thing I did do, I’m trying to commit to 30 minutes of reading in the evening, and I’m working on a couple of nutrition books right now that I’ve been listening to. This one’s on… It’s actually Nutrition in Crisis: Flawed Studies, Misleading Advice, and the Real Science of Human Metabolism. One of my geeky books, but really helps me when I’m trying to, on social media, dispense some of the nonsense science that goes on, or the nonsense results that are reported. It’s really helpful to have good information available to draw upon.
Chantel Ray: So, would you say in general, for the most part, you’re eating two meals per day? Would that be pretty much on the average? And then, you’re not snacking in between those two meals, just those two meals?
Cynthia Thurlow: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chantel Ray: And then, how many days a week would you say you’re eating a higher carb and how many would you say you’re doing a lower carb?
Cynthia Thurlow: Typically, it’s two low carb days. Other days I usually do HIIT or Tabata. I typically have two moderate carb days. I have one day that’s a high carb day, and then I give myself flexibility on the other two days. It really depends on what’s my body telling me it needs, and for me, right now, some fruits are safe for me to eat that don’t upset my digestive system. There are some vegetables as well. It really depends on what my energy levels are like, how do my muscles feel, how was my sleep? I’m very, very tapped into how my body feels, and so therefore even if it’s a lower carb day, if I have some berries I’m not going to stress about it. I’m not rigid with my diet at all, other than, it’s protein and healthy fats with every meal. Those are my two things that are really important for me personally.
Cynthia Thurlow: Obviously my vegetable consumption has gone down a lot since I was in the hospital, just because I just don’t tolerate it, but I would say the consistency is this. Two low carb days, two moderate carb days, one high carb day, and then the other two days are some flexibility, depending on how my body feels.
Chantel Ray: And when you’re… Let’s pretend that today was a high carb day, what would that day look like for you, of what you’re eating?
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. So, right now, it’s usually less healthy fats, so my meals will mostly be protein, smaller portions of healthy carbs, so, when I eat after this podcast I’ll probably have a grassfed beefburger, probably some avocado, I’ll very likely have sweet potato or spaghetti squash, so I will up the starchy carbs. Earlier today when I broke my fast, I actually had a banana, which I don’t eat all that often, but I do enjoy bananas when I’m able to eat them.
Cynthia Thurlow: I normally would have had some nut butter. I had to have some sunflower seed butter, just to have some fat with the carbs. I do better when I have a combination of a piece of fruit with some type of a healthy fat. It just slows the absorption of the fruit, and then probably tonight for dinner, I know we have some bison, so I may a bison steak, and I may have a sweet potato then. So, for me, I get a lot of my starchy carbs from sweet potatoes, white potatoes, depending on if I’m tolerating them, squash, are really good indicators. I’ve been pushed occasionally, lately, to incorporate some other things, like I mentioned the rice which I tried yesterday. I didn’t do really well with, so, just remaining attuned to what I want to do.
Cynthia Thurlow: And then I have a lot of berries. Berries are in season right now, so if I feel like having berries after my dinner I will as something that’s a little bit sweet. And so that’s the typical day. It’s actually not all that exciting when I talk about my diet out loud. But with the sweet potato, I would definitely have some butter, some grassfed butter.
Chantel Ray: So, talk about, what happened when you went to the hospital? How did you get there? What happened?
Cynthia Thurlow: That’s a good question. So, in February my husband and I went to Hawaii. My husband had business there and I kind of tagged along with him. I was starting to work on my second TED talk, and when we came back, about 48 hours after we came back, I started having nausea and vomiting and I just assumed I had picked up a bug with really long flights across the United States.
Cynthia Thurlow: By the following day I had the worst abdominal pain I’d ever experienced in my entire life, and so that clued me in that something was not right. Went to the emergency room and I was informed that my appendix had ruptured and that I had an inflamed colon, the entire length of my colon. Because my colon was inflamed, they couldn’t do surgery, and I was very, very adamant that I didn’t want them to take out my colon, that I wanted to try to fight this on my own. On day two I developed a small bowel obstruction. By day five I was really very depressed. I’d never been that sick before. I was really just very uncomfortable, and so I ended up developing a couple of abscesses in my peritoneum which is your abdominal cavity. I ended up with a fistula, I had multiple procedures while I was in the hospital.
Cynthia Thurlow: I was in the hospital for 13 days. I lost 13 pounds, and I went home on March 2nd, and was so weak I could barely walk up the stairs. And so, it was a lot of a mental and emotional journey. And so, six weeks after I left the hospital, I had my appendix taken out, but before then, I did my TED talk with a ruptured appendix. So that was a cool thing and I think it really speaks to… I tell my children all the time, “Mindset is everything.” And in my mind, the two things that were going to happen was I was to get home to my family, because I was too young to die, and I was very sick, and I was going to do this TED talk because I felt that people really needed to hear this information. And so I was able to accomplish that. You know, it goes back to being grateful, and I feel great.
Cynthia Thurlow: I mean, I’m back to the gym. I’m lifting heavy. I’m sleeping well. I just… my digestive system, since February, has not been its normal, very efficient machine that it was, so it’s recognizing that, like I said earlier, sometimes things that used to work for you no longer work, and so I’m having to rethink all the foods that I’m eating and how I eat and find a way that works well for my body.
Chantel Ray: Okay. Well, we’re going to jump right into the listener questions, and this first one is from Kristen in Boise. “Hi, I’ve done a couple of extended water fasts in the past, and I felt really great on them. I have hyperthyroid and I’m planning to do another fast after seeing my doctor. I’m doing some research trying to find the information on best practices regarding my thyroid medication, of whether to take it or not take it, while I’m fasting. Or do you have any resources I could check out? I’m only finding information on IF, unfortunately. Any ideas or information would be so appreciated.”
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. I would say, whether you’re doing intermittent fasting or doing extended fast, you should absolutely take your thyroid medication, whether it’s because you have an autoimmune problem or some other reason that your thyroid… You might be in perimenopause or menopause. You can still safely take your medication, and I would definitely encourage you to do so.
Cynthia Thurlow: When it comes to extended fast, I always like people to be introspective and ask themselves, why are you doing an extended fast? I mean, I think, that is super helpful. Some people do it because they want to jump-start weight loss or they’re just looking to really tap into telomere length which impacts aging. I don’t, however, think that most people need to be doing extended fasts on the regular. If they do it every once in a while that’s fine. I just don’t think it’s something that people need to be doing regularly unless there’s a specific purpose behind that, and I’m not sure what your purpose is.
Chantel Ray: Yeah. I think, for me, I agree. I think you should still be taking it. The only thing is, is that when you start doing a longer fast, for me personally, what happened was when I was taking my thyroid medicine, the more days you take it, your thyroid works better when you’re not eating, so what happens is is that the more days you’re fasting, you might feel like, “Oh, my thyroid is functioning better,” because you are fasting.
Chantel Ray: So, unfortunately, if you have thyroid issues, you just have to be more careful. One of the things I did when I was doing that eight-day fast, I actually just took my thyroid medicine because I started feeling like my thyroid was working more. I actually still was taking it, but I actually took the pill and cut it in half on those last couple of days, just because I felt like, “Oh, my gosh, my thyroid’s really starting to function.” I think you just have to play it by ear and see how you’re doing it. But, yeah, if you have thyroid issues, doing too long of a fast, I don’t think it’s… It’s harder, let’s put it that way, when you are taking it.
Cynthia Thurlow: And I think there are still a lot of Western medicine trained providers that aren’t familiar with intermittent fasting, and so they hear that, they think you’re trying to starve yourself. Working with someone that has some familiarity about the endocrine system, you know, a solid foundation of the endocrine system and how intermittent fasting can be beneficial, is really critical as well.
Chantel Ray: Okay. This is from Heidi in Dover. “So, I do IF and work out first thing in the morning, 5:15 a.m. I was having half of a 5-hour Energy to help me. Am I breaking my fast? Then later I also have one cup of coffee with heavy cream. Am I breaking my fast then? Heidi in Dover.”
Cynthia Thurlow: I don’t know what’s in the 5-hour Energy drink. I’m going to assume it’s a ton of caffeine and probably a bunch of chemicals, so, that would be a no. You should not be drinking that. I’m a purist when it comes to intermittent fasting. There’s fat fasting and then there’s water fasting. Water fasting is just water, plain coffee or tea. Fat fasting is when you start adding fats to your coffee. So, to answer your question, if you’re doing fat fasting, that’s what that is. If you intend to do traditional fasting, I’m a purist and I would suggest that you omit the cream from your coffee if you’re still within your fasting window.
Chantel Ray: Perfect. I agree. All right, this next one is Suzie [Naggie 00:26:39] from Monticello, Florida. “I’ve been doing IF and I’ve reached my goal weight, and I feel amazing. Thanks so much. So my question is, since I got to this point by only eating when I was hungry and knowing that mindful eating is a great choice, how do I proceed? I feel like I either have to start eating more than it takes to be satisfied, or eating when I’m not hungry to not lose any more weight. Never thought I would have that problem. Just in case it’s important, I’m 42, 5’5″, and 125 pounds. Thank you. Suzie Naggie.”
Cynthia Thurlow: Well, I mean, there are plenty of people that are at their goal weights that continue to practice intermittent fasting. I mean, I’m one of them. I would say that, I think it’s really critical that you’re not not eating. It’s very common as women get older with the loss of estrogen that we just don’t have the same… We just don’t feel as hungry. We don’t feel like we have to eat quite as much food. I think that’s a normal function of aging and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I would still ascribe to, you’re going to eat at 10:00, you’re going to eat at 6:00, or whatever schedule works best for you and your personal life. I think you should break your fast, you should enjoy some food, you should go a couple of hours before considering if you are indeed hungry.
Cynthia Thurlow: The other thing is you can end up slowing your metabolism if you’re not eating at all, so I would definitely recommend that you still stick to some intervals. You don’t have to eat a large portion of food, but you should definitely be focusing on those protein and healthy fats and carbs as your body dictates. And mindful eating, it actually will force us to question whether or not we’re hungry, but I think being full and being satiated is very different than just not eating at all. So, I think that you just have to remain mindful to what your body’s telling you. Maybe you’re going to have a green juice instead of having a meal, and that’s okay one day, but ensuring that you’re getting sufficient calories in from day to day is really critical.
Chantel Ray: I know. I wish I had that problem that I was just losing too much weight. I know a lot of people are thinking that. But my suggestion for her would be that, I definitely, my biggest thing is, always never eating beyond full. That’s number one. And definitely, if she feels like she is losing too much weight, that to increase that eating window to a longer period if she feels like she’s losing too much weight.
Cynthia Thurlow: And the other thing is, you can really liberalize your fats. Those are the kind of people that I say, you know, you might feel [crosstalk 00:29:16] an avocado. You might be able to have more grassfed butter or coconut oil or avocado oil or whatever… nuts. Although nuts are tricky for women in particular. I think people have portion distortion and so, I always say, you want to be mindful but not feel like you have to measure every single meal. But if it’s really 14 almonds as a serving, just be mindful of the portion sizes that you’re creating for those fats. Yeah, increasing your healthy fats can be really helpful for that.
Chantel Ray: All right. This one is from Alaya in Mali. “So, I’ve been on intermittent fasting for about 24 days now. I’ve done fasting and keto before and hadn’t had success, but since stick with it. This time I gained 30 pounds from a poor diet though I believe some of it is from muscle gain because I do landscaping for work. Here’s my question. I’ve always had poor circulation in my legs. They’ve had little white spots on it ever since I can remember. Sometimes I get restless legs at night, but since fasting it’s gotten worse. I specifically wake up early in the morning with my right leg feeling strange. I have to massage it and stretch it for about 10 minutes before I can fall back asleep. I’m not sure what the reason is. If it’s circulation, what would you recommend? And if it’s fasting, is it affecting it, why might that be?”
Cynthia Thurlow: Okay. So, if you think it might be circulation, you need to be evaluated by a medical provider, whether it’s a physician or nurse practitioner or a PA, because I can’t diagnose what’s going on just with the information that you have provided us with. The one thing that can happen when people start intermittent fasting is they may need more electrolytes, and it could be that you need more magnesium and potassium. There are a lot of electrolyte replacements, and by this we’re not talking about Gatorade. There’s a product by Jigsaw that I’m a huge fan of, that has some Vitamin C and some sodium and potassium that I think is really awesome.
Cynthia Thurlow: I’m not a huge fan of electrolyte water. I just still think that’s a gimmick, but there are drops, electrolyte drops, that you can put safely into your water, and I would imagine with the kind of work that you’re doing, you’re probably sweating quite a bit. So, it may be that you’re losing electrolytes. That might explain why you have that charley horse in your calf that one morning. So I would definitely look into that. Get your legs examined. Make sure your magnesium and your potassium aren’t really low. They can do blood work for that, and then if all else looks good, then I would focus on the electrolyte replacement.
Chantel Ray: Awesome. Real quick before we move on the next question. What other products do you say, “These are some of the different products that I use, that I love.” Anything that you can think of that you can share?
Cynthia Thurlow: Are you talking about like food or supplements-
Chantel Ray: Any. Any. It’d be like, “These are some of my favorites.”
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. I would say I’m a huge fan of adaptogenic herbs. I think that these are naturally occurring plants and substances that can really be beneficial, and I start to think about things that can calm the central nervous system. They can help blunt the impact of cortisol so I think about Maca, I think about Eleuthero, I think about Siberian ginseng, I think about Ashwagandha, Rhodiola. So, whether you take it by tea or you put it into a smoothie or you stick it in your coffee, they’re all hugely beneficial. Those are things that I would say are super important.
Cynthia Thurlow: You know, there’s a supplement called Seriphos, and that’s the trade name, and it’s phosphoserine, and so again, it’s very fat-loving, so it loves the brain, it helps to blunt the impact of cortisol. Those are things that I take on a daily basis that I really enjoy. I think about… I have an Oura Ring, which helps kind of calibrate the bodily processes. I love it. I actually don’t have it on right now, I’m laughing, otherwise I would show it to you. I really like the Oura Ring. I would say, kind of silly things. Like I love my Audible, I know that sounds so silly, but it’s such a great way to listen to books to learn. I’m all about learning.
Cynthia Thurlow: I’m one of those people, if I’m walking outside I might be listening to music or if I’m with my kids and they’re on their bikes I’m talking with them, but sometimes it’s such a fantastic way to enjoy hearing a story. I think that we’ve gotten so far removed from storytelling. We’re so plugged into watching visually things that are going on, but I love listening to a book because it forces my brain to be imagining what things look like, what things taste like, what things really appear to be. I would say those are three or four of my favorite things when I’m thinking about things I don’t want to be without. Those are definitely a couple.
Chantel Ray: Awesome. All right, this next one is Maggie from [Seroken 00:34:08], Cranston. Some of these places I’m thinking, like, what is that? I have never heard of that. Have you ever of that?
Cynthia Thurlow: No. No, no. [crosstalk 00:34:16] to be a state after that, though.
Chantel Ray: Yeah. Never. Okay. “So, I’ve been doing IF since the beginning of the year, and I’ve lost 10 to 15 pounds. I have yet to test my ketones, but that’s the next step for me.” She says, “I want to take some blood work to see what might be missing in my body and to check my blood levels. I would love to get some guidance with that for someone who is starting out and needs it to be a bit more simple. What should I get tested on?”
Cynthia Thurlow: With what little information I was given, I would say, getting a complete blood count I think is a nice first step. Doing a total cholesterol panel to see where those numbers are, looking at a full thyroid panel which means more than a TSH and a free T4. You know, hemoglobin A1C which is a snapshot of what has been going on with your blood sugar control over the last three months. An insulin level which is one of the things we really focus on in intermittent fasting. We want to keep those insulin levels low, and I always say, low within a healthy range is really important.
Cynthia Thurlow: And then probably an LDH, but without knowing more, that’s probably where I would start if we’re starting to keep it really simple. I always get questions about, how do I test my adrenals? How do I test this? How do I test that? I would say, it’s always in the context of, what’s the history? What are your symptoms? If your energy levels are good, you’re sleeping well, you’re not having hot flashes, that’s probably where I would start.
Chantel Ray: All right. This is from Linda from Highland Village, Texas. “I was told by my genetic doctor that I have an appetite gene. I came home and told my husband and he said, ‘I could have told you that for $2, not $20,000’. I said, yes, but that would have not been a marriage enhancing move. LOL. My question is, I love intermittent fasting because it does seem to correct that gene, so I’ve been doing it for over a year and I’ve lost about 10 pounds. I mostly do a six-hour window and I’ve done some two to three hours, and that didn’t help. I’m wondering if you have any suggestions. I hear keto could help but I don’t want to be eating that strictly. I feel anxious and don’t sleep well on keto, and it’s so confusing to count macros. It’s frustrating when I hear others that have lost so much and pretty much eat whatever they want, and although I don’t eat perfectly, I eat so much better. Thanks. Linda from Highland Village, Texas.”
Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah. The ketogenic diet can be really, hugely beneficial for so many people, but what I find is that it’s not a panacea for everyone. Sometimes women don’t do well on a ketogenic diet because it’s too low carb. Some people don’t do well on a ketogenic diet because it’s too high carb, and if you’re not breaking down and metabolizing your fats properly, that could be problematic. And so, I think the fact that you’ve lost 10 pounds with intermittent fasting as a strategy tells me you’re on the right path.
Cynthia Thurlow: If what you’re saying is, is that this appetite gene that’s been turned on, because we have lots of genes, it’s all about whether or not the genes are turned on or turned off, you know, it’s the science of epigenetics, and for some people the gene gets turned on and it gets more problematic. I would say that my best recommendation for most women north of 40 is they really need to be lower carb. That doesn’t mean no carbs. That doesn’t mean less than 20 grams of carbs. That means low carb, meaning, 50 to 100 a day, at most. That’s where most of us get in trouble and so that’s the portion size piece.
Cynthia Thurlow: So, always focus on the protein and healthy fats. Adding in those carbs depending on whether or not you’re active, I always say, “Earn your carbs.” No one needs to be eating 300 grams of carbs a day. Let me give you an example. If you go to fast-food place and you get a sweet tea or a sweet soda, and you have fries and you have a Big Mac, I mean, you could easily blow through 300 grams of carbs just with that meal. So, I always remind people, when you’re getting your carbohydrates from real whole foods, that’s very different than getting them from processed foods.
Cynthia Thurlow: I would encourage you to consume less processed foods. If you can’t actually pronounce an ingredient, it’s probably not worth consuming it. You get away from the shake nonsense. There’s just far too many people consuming smoothies and shakes every single day instead of eating real food. Our bodies are designed to chew food, swallow it, and have the food hit our stomachs so that we feel full.
Cynthia Thurlow: What I’m seeing is people are consuming four, five hundred calories in a smoothie or in a shake, and they’re obsessed with them. I mean, I don’t know any other way to describe it. They’re not eating real food, and instead they should be eating a piece of chicken, or a piece of steak, or a piece of pork or fish, or whatever your preference is with some real vegetables, with some healthy fats, adding in carbs if you’ve earned them, meaning, did you exercise that day, and by exercise, I don’t mean you went for a walk in your neighborhood. That you’ve really earned that carbohydrate so that you actually are going to burn it efficiently. And then, when you’re consuming carbs, whether it’s rice or quinoa or sweet potato or squash, as an example, your portion sizes are mindful. You’re not going to eat two cups of rice. You’re going to have half-a-cup and see how well you tolerate that.
Cynthia Thurlow: And when I find, when women start tweaking their macros just a bit, I’m not a fan of tracking macros, I just think that’s not something that’s sustainable long-term and I’m all about sustainable practices. When women stop tracking their macros and start really tuning into what their body is telling them, are you satiated with that piece of chicken and that broccoli and that grassfed butter? And maybe you have half-a-cup of rice. Most people will be.
Cynthia Thurlow: Here’s the other thing, ladies. If you have a meal and then you’re really tired afterwards, wrong composition of meals. We don’t talk a lot about that. How did you feel after you ate? An hour? Two hours? Did you want to go take a nap? Wrong combination and certainly the carbohydrates that are driving that. I find if people are really doing protein and healthy fats, they’re not having those energy dives, so really critical that you get real about what it is that you’re eating. Get really honest with yourself. If you feel like you have to write everything down, some people do better writing it down than tracking it in their phone because it feels a little bit more tangible. Those are all good strategies to start with.
Cynthia Thurlow: But continue, it sounds like you’re doing a great job.
Chantel Ray: Awesome. Well, that was our last question, but where can listeners go to follow you and your work?
Cynthia Thurlow: Bingo. So, www.cynthiathurlow.com. I’m very active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I’ve got a private Facebook group, it’s a free group called Cynthia’s Circle. I know it’s not a great name, but when we were rebranding from my prior business day, and that’s what we came up with just for a temporary effects. And for your listeners, I’m going to give away one copy of Balance + Thrive Healthy Hormones which is a great eBook.
Chantel Ray: Great. Well, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure having you on the show today. Thank you for coming on.
Cynthia Thurlow: Thank you.
Chantel Ray: And if you have a question that you want answered, go to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.
***As always, this podcast is not designed to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any condition and is for information purposes only. Please consult with your healthcare professional before making any changes to your current lifestyle.***