Navigating Your Career

Biohack Your Brain with Tanessa Shears

July 28, 2021 Melissa Lawrence Season 1 Episode 44
Navigating Your Career
Biohack Your Brain with Tanessa Shears
Show Notes Transcript

You know when….

  • You try everything but still feel drained.
  • Maybe you can’t get rid of that 3pm slump.
  • You are stressed no matter how many meditations you try.
  • You are getting 7+ hours of sleep but are still tired.
  • You want to feel better but nothing seems to work.

Did you know there is a thing called Biohacking that actually helps you optimize your brain function for reduced stress, improved memory, productivity, and health?

This week I have my friend and health consultant/biohacking expert Tanessa Shears on the podcast. 

She is sharing so many tangible actions you can take right now that will help you:

  • Have more energy
  • Reduce stress
  • Sleep better
  • Be more productive
  • Feel healthier and happier

We are talking about the science behind biohacking and how high performers like you can use these strategies to optimize your work performance, brain and your wellbeing.

Mentioned in the episode:

Try the Brain FM app
Deep Work:  Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? by Dr. Mark Hyman
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Dr. Matthew Walker
Boundless: Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body & Defy Aging by Ben Greenfield

Listen to Tanessa's podcast - Becoming Limitless
Connect with Tanessa on Instagram @tanessashears
12 Ways to Biohack Your Energy
 
Learn more about Career Coaching with Melissa
Discover if you're in the right career by taking the quiz


Melissa

Welcome to Navigating Your Career, the only podcast that blends personal development, professional skills and psychology to help you get happy at work and live the life you want. If you want to stop feeling stuck and start feeling better, this is the place for you. I'm your host, Melissa Lawrence.

 


Melissa

Let's get started.

 


Melissa

Hello and welcome to this week's episode of the podcast. This week, I have a very special guest joining me, Tanessa Shears. She is a health consultant, coach and she specializes in biohacking, which is a really cool method for optimizing your brain functioning and your brain health to get more energy, to maximize your mental health and your well-being. And she is going to be sharing all of the tips and tricks that she finds are most impactful to give you more time, to give you more energy, to bust through stress and to feel better along the way.

 


Melissa

So I can't wait for you to listen to this. There is so much you're going to want to write down and take with you to start feeling better right now. So let's just go ahead and get started.

 


Melissa

Hi Tanessa!

 


Tanessa

Hey, Melissa, how's it going?

 


Melissa

Good, how are you?

 


Tanessa

I'm doing great. I have a lovely gap this afternoon. Baby's down for a nap. I'm excited to be talking to you.

 


Melissa

Yes. That is so awesome when the babies take the nap and you can do the things.

 


Tanessa

The best.

 


Melissa

Yeah. So why don't you tell the listeners a little bit about you and what you do?

 


Tanessa

Yeah, so my name is Tanessa and I'm a health consultant. I work with high performers and entrepreneurs. And what I do is I help them biohack, their brain and their body to really help optimize it so that they can have more productivity and energy and growth in their business. Right? Because usually when they come to me, they're at that place where they're waking up really tired or they have, you know, fluctuating energy or they're just feeling really overstressed and overtired.

 


Tanessa

And the biggest thing they notice is that lack of focus. And they are so easily distracted during the day. And when they come to me, they're just like, I just want to have the energy because I'm so drained at the end of my day that I can't be present with my family. I can't be present with my partner. All I want to do is watch Netflix and I feel like I'm just wasting the evening and I don't ever feel refreshed.

 


Tanessa

And what I usually will do with them is I will take a systematic approach and go through these different areas of their health, like sleep and movement and nutrition and stress management. And I'll customize a very specific protocol for them that helps them kind of reach that 90 percent of peak capacity. Because when we are able to show up to our work or our business fully focused, we can get so much more done in a day so that we can spend time at work not thinking about what we were doing all day, but really being present with the people that matter.

 


Melissa

Yeah, that is so great. And I know that those that are listening are going to love this topic and this interview with you, because there's a lot of scientists that listen to this show. And I heard you mention biohacking and all of the overwhelm of like work life balance and stress. And we're going to get into all of that, and I'm so excited to dig in. But for those that might be new to biohacking, can you tell me a little bit more about what that is?

 


Tanessa

Yeah, isn't that a word, though? When I first started, I was like...

 


Melissa

I love it.

 


Tanessa

I was like, that sounds illegal. Like, what are we implanting? It does, it sounds like, what, what, what, what are we hacking? I actually you know, I found it was a very intimidating word when I first heard it, but when I started really getting into what it was, I was like, oh my gosh, this is such a cool field.

 


Tanessa

So essentially what biohacking is, is it's altering our external environment and our internal environment. So thinking things like our surroundings, our computers, how we sit at our desk, our external environment and our internal environments, that's things like we're covering with sleep and nutrition and movement and how we can strategically alter those so that we can have more longevity, we can have more brain energy, we can focus better and we can just have more overall health.

 


Tanessa

So when I look at biohacking, that's what it is. Now that way I differentiate from just like regular health habits, like, you know, working out four times a week or eating clean. The way I differentiate it is I like to do biohacking in a way that is measurable and that I can see if what I am doing is making a difference. Because my clients are busy people just like we all are. Right? Like, we don't have time to be doing all the health habits if they're not working.

 


Tanessa

So I use wearable trackers, which is kind of like, you know, Fitbit and Apple watches and Oura Rings. And what I do is I analyze the data to see if the habits that you're doing are yielding the results you want or they are just a waste of time.

 


Melissa

Nice! So is this like, if I put this another way, is this like optimizing your brain health and then kind of maximizing the ripple effects that you would have from doing that? Or do I have that wrong?

 


Tanessa

No, that's totally it.

 


Melissa

OK.

 


Tanessa

It's coming from a place of being optimized, right? Like the whole idea of being optimized is doing something to reach another level. Right? And that's where my whole becoming limitless philosophy is. It's not about perfection. It's just about finding out what your brain and your body are capable of and what is possible, because I often find that we look around at everyone else in our industry or at our workplace and everyone is tired in the morning and they're dragging, they're on their fourth cup of coffee.

 


Tanessa

We don't ever think to question if that's normal or not because everyone is tired, but why wouldn't we want to question that and see? And so I'm always like, let's figure out what is possible, because in my experience, once you realize how good your brain and your body are supposed to feel, you can't go back. You just can't live that life anymore.

 


Melissa

Yeah, that's so awesome. So tell me a little bit about the science behind this, because I know that those listening might be like, well, tell me a little bit more.

 


Tanessa

Well, that could be a very big question because there's science behind every area, whether you're looking at exercise or nutrition or sleep or anything like that, but everything, every change that you want to be making to your health has to be founded in science, in my opinion at least. So like if I'm asking a client to invest in blackout blinds because it can help promote more REM or dream sleep, that is something that we can fundamentally lean back on and learn how to make our choices from.

 


Tanessa

And then what I do is we watch the data coming in from our trackers and see if our guess at what we tried is actually making a difference. So the science behind it, we're always just looking at what are the selection of things we can try and then going through each thing one at a time, making one small change, seeing if it had the result we wanted or not, assessing whether we want to keep that habit that we've implemented or disregard it and try something new or, you know, we can layer different things.

 


Tanessa

So it's kind of like literally the scientific process where you make a hypothesis. Is this going to make the difference I think it is? It's testing it. It's analyzing your results and then beyond that, deciding what you want to do with those results.

 


Melissa

Yeah, and I think that there are a lot of neurologists that study this, too. And look at kind of the impact of your brain health and your overall health on things like a disease that you may have, memory, cognitive functioning. So it sounds like it's really taking it beyond kind of those like brainteaser apps or those like do this puzzle a day for your brain. And really looking at, like a holistic view of your health.

 


Tanessa

Yeah.  Well, I think medicine has gone kind of an interesting direction, meaning we have a specialist for the brain and we have specialists for the heart and we have specialists to the guts as if they're all individual things that are not connected. But if you look at the body from a functional medicine perspective, everything is connected. There is bidirectional communication between the brain and the gut. If the gut is experiencing inflammation, the brain is going to and vice versa. So we're always standing back and look at everything as a whole instead of all these individual pieces that we're trying to make work individually.

 


Melissa

Yeah, that is so true. I actually was just having a conversation about that recently and we had some people that had difficult health diagnosis and it was caught because of like, kind of like, a trail of one thing leading the other, leading the other, because they're all segmented. When you go to the doctor, it's like, oh, there might be something wrong with your pancreas, go to this person. Or you're having headaches, go to a neurologist. And so there isn't really, and then the general practitioners are kind of just more general.

 


Melissa

So there isn't really very good. I should say there's more of a gap when it comes to health care when you look at a holistic view of your health and what might actually be going wrong and what is actually working. So I love this idea of really looking at them all together as like one body, one human. How can you optimize the health and energy of that person? So you mentioned high performers in the beginning, and I know a lot of my listeners, probably all of them are high performers who are trying to do all of the things.

 


Melissa

And they're working. Many of them have families or have personal lives that they like to be active in. And they're always kind of striving for more. And everyone always wants more time. So what are some quick wins that people can do to kind of get more energy?

 


Tanessa

The biggest thing that I always love sharing is we need to place more emphasis and priority on our sleep. And not just how many hours you spend with your eyes closed, but how many of those hours you are actually sleeping and what is going on in your brain while you are asleep. Because one of the most fabulous things I learned is when I was pregnant, I had decided that I was going to be the pregnant lady that took all the steps. Little did I know that I would end up with such bad pelvic pain that I was basically couldn't take more than a thousand steps a day.

 


Tanessa

So that didn't work. But what my tracker taught me about was actually my sleep. So I always thought I was the best sleeper. So some of you, some of you listening might even be like no, sleep's a category that I'm good in, I get my eight hours, right? I used to think I was like that, too. I was like clockwork. I went to bed at 11 and I woke up at seven, maybe slept in a little bit later on the weekend.

 


Tanessa

And I never thought anything of it. And there were like influencers I was following at the time that posted about sleep studies and were getting scans on their brain. And I just, I remember skipping them and being like, yup, got it. Not a big deal. So I started like watching my sleep on my Fitbit tracker. I was like, wait a minute, why am I not getting eight hours of sleep? I went to bed at eleven and woke up at seven.

 


Tanessa

What I didn't know at the time was that there's a difference between the amount of time that you spend with your eyes closed, which is called your sleep opportunity, how much time you give yourself to sleep and the actual amount of time that you spend asleep. So when I work with my clients, when I first start looking at their data, on average we spend about an hour to an hour, 15 minutes awake per night, so that not only includes the time your brain spends falling asleep, that's called your sleep latency, but when you're tossing and turning at night or if you wake up to use the washroom or, you know, when you're waking up in the morning. So now if you're thinking, well, yeah, I go to bed at 11, I wake up at seven, that's eight hours. But if I'm awake an hour 15, you're actually only coming in at six hours, forty five and you're now classified as sleep deprived. And that's where we start to see the toll on our brain, because when we aren't able to get high quality, full duration sleep during the night, we don't get to recover and inflammation starts to happen in our brain and our body.

 


Tanessa

And when inflammation happens, that's what begins to zap our energy.

 


Melissa

Oh, OK. So when that happens, what do you do? Like, how do you, can you make yourself sleep in higher quality?

 


Tanessa

That's where biohacking comes in. That's the fun part. So one of the cool things to know is actually kind of what happens during our sleep. So at the earlier part of the night, like in the first three to four hours, our brain waves slow down quite a bit. We experience the majority of our deep sleep. So think like consolidating memories that you had during the day, recovering and refreshing your brain, recovering and refreshing your muscles. So one of the cool things that happens is your brain cells actually shrink back a little bit during deep sleep and your spinal fluid washes your brain out, which is fantastic because it moves, it relieves your brain of a lot of the metabolites that have accumulated during the day, which down the road lead to dementia and Alzheimer's.

 


Tanessa

So this is a critical part of sleep and that happens early in the night. But at the other end of the night is what I think of as gold for high performers, because that's when we experience most of our dream sleep. So a couple of really neat things happens during dream sleep. Number one, your body stops producing epinephrine, which is the stress hormone. So if we are spending quality time dreaming every night, that's when your body gets to stop being under stress, whether it's relationship stress, family, from your work.

 


Tanessa

But if our sleep is compromised, we don't get that opportunity. And it builds day after day. Other cool things that happen. You can think out of the box, solve problems a lot better, read facial expressions better, which is so important, especially if you're working with other people, being able to read that body language. And beyond that, one of the things I find most important is our ability to regulate our emotions. So think about the last time you didn't have a good night of sleep and how irritable or maybe snappy you were the next day.

 


Tanessa

Right? Like, I always want to be showing up in integrity in my work and being able to manage my emotions. If you get a critical email or you get negative feedback, I always want to be in a place where I can respond professionally from a place of higher thinking instead of from an emotional standpoint. So that all happens at the end of the night.

 


Melissa

That's fascinating. I love hearing all of that. So when it comes to productivity then so kind of on the tail end of wanting more time, if we can do more with less time and do it at higher quality, faster pace, how can biohacking help with productivity?

 


Tanessa

So when we're looking at how our productivity actually manifests, we often think it's things like how nice our calendar is or what planners we have or the scheduling apps. And we think it's just how our day is organized that makes us productive. Well, I want you to think about this. The last time you were able to show up to your work and you felt really tired, you weren't very productive. So productivity doesn't actually hinge so much on the systems as it does on your ability to have high, consistent energy, right? And if we want that to be happening, we need to keep the inflammation low in our body. So we're making sure that we are doing things to proactively protect our sleep, to keep our gut lining healthy and eat whole foods, and to make sure that we are having periods of time where we have, you know, relaxation, and stress and that we're not always on. So if we think about productivity, it really comes down to our energy.

 


Tanessa

And there's so many specific biohacks that we can go into in terms of how to improve sleep quality and how to improve nutrition. So I don't know if that would be helpful to even go into some fun biohacks for that.

 


Melissa

Yeah, I think we would love to hear some biohacks.

 


Tanessa

So across the board.

 


Melissa

Give us one or two.

 


Tanessa

OK, OK, you're right, because I have a ton of them. So the two that are going to make the most bang for your buck are number one to remove blue light in at least the hour to two before bed. And blue light is something that we've all heard a bit about. You might have heard of blue light blocking glasses, but what I didn't know about it before was that the light that's coming from our screens actually acts as a brake on the hormone melatonin, and melatonin is responsible for signaling sleep and letting us stay asleep all night, so we're not waking up at three a.m. with our brains going through our to-to list and to stay asleep with high quality sleep. So having said that, what that actually means is we need to remove blue light sources. So there's three quick ways to do that. Number one, you can install scheduled blue light filters on our devices, phones, computers, all of that. They go on, they pull the blue light out of the screen. You never need to think about it again.

 


Tanessa

Option number two, investing in blue light, blocking glasses. And I don't mean the clear ones or the light yellow ones. If you want to protect your sleep, you're looking at red lenses because these will filter out the blue light. You look like, it looks like you're on Mars, but they are wonderful for creating that drowsy effect. And option number three is to give yourself a break from technology. This plays into so many other things like, you know, just being able to disconnect, but actually being able for a minimum 30 minutes, put down our devices.

 


Tanessa

So that relationship with blue light has such an effect because there's something called a digital hangover effect. And they did a research study and they had two groups, group number one was reading on a paper book, and they watched their REM sleep levels. Remember, REM sleep is the dream sleep that's responsible for all those great things that make our brain great at seeing body gestures and facial expressions. So the group that read on a book found that they had consistent dream sleep night after night.

 


Tanessa

The group that actually was on their iPad reading before bed and seeing that blue light in their eyes, they had suppressed levels of dream sleep for three nights after blue light exposure. So it's called a digital hangover and it's actually affecting our ability to feel refreshed and sharp and focused day after day.

 


Melissa

Oh, my gosh, that's amazing, and it's making me want to, like, not be looking at you during this interview and turn off the screen like, oh my gosh, I need to turn this off right away.

 


Tanessa

You know, at different times of day are different things. In the morning we really want blue light because that's what signals our brain that it is day and we want to be alert, right? So usually anywhere between 12 and 2:00 p.m., I actually put on yellow lensed, blue light blockers to kind of begin filtering the light and then the serious red ones, they don't come on until about an hour before I go to sleep.

 


Melissa

OK, I love that you have different lenses that you swap out during the day. That is so good. OK, so talk to me a little bit about stress relief, because I was just reading a study this week that it was 95 percent of workers are looking for a new job right now and a big attributing factor is burnout. So stress is obviously part of burnout. So what are some things that people can do to really lessen their stress?

 


Tanessa

Yeah, one of the things that I love to do, I call a cognitive load detox, specifically. And what I really like to do is think of your brain not in terms of like stressed or not stressed, but in terms of your brainwaves' speed. So right now, while me and you are talking right now or, you know, if we're driving and focusing or we're writing or whatever that might be, our brain is considered to be in beta brainwaves.

 


Tanessa

It's a certain frequency of brain waves and it allows us to be attentive and focused and sharp. This is amazing while we want to be alert and focused. But the last thing we want to be is alert and focused right before bed. So we need to allow our brains time each day to slip into the next state down called alpha brainwaves. Watching "Friends" is a really good example of that. You know how you don't need to pay attention because we've all seen every episode like six times and you get a good giggle out of it and it's light and you don't really need to think.  And there's a different feeling in your brainwaves.

 


Tanessa

So I often find that that is what we are looking for, is that contrast between beta and alpha during our day. Now, it doesn't come down to specifically activities, like we are very much sold the activity that like, or, the idea that bubble baths are relaxing. But if you're having a bubble bath and you're thinking about work all day, that's not going to do it for you. The same way with reading, if I'm reading a personal development book or a nutrition book, my brain is like, oh, that's so good.

 


Tanessa

How can I try that? I can make that into content for my clients. Like, how can I how can I start applying this tomorrow? That's not getting my brain into alpha, but a fun, fluffy romance novel? That'll do the trick. So what we're actually looking for when we're talking about destressing is having that contrast between beta that we're in all day and alpha and it's not about the activities, but how you feel. So if you're seeking out that feeling of calm and refreshed and peaceful, those are the feelings that you want to be going after and looking at your brainwaves.

 


Tanessa

Now, a lot of the clients that I work with are like, what do you mean? What? How? I haven't felt that in so long. So there's actually an app that I have and I use it all the time and I love it's called Brain FM and they have like this patented note technology and what it does is it invites your brain to sync its brainwaves with the note bots in the music. So it just sounds like normal music to you and I, but it has a certain frequency in the underlying tones of the music that match the brainwave state you want to get into.

 


Tanessa

So I think of it having it like a remote control and being able to dial your brain into the state you want to be in. And it has four states. But the ones that I really like to use, I can dial into focus, which is wonderful for getting a lot of deep work done. I can dial into relaxed. I can dial into meditation, or I can dial into deep sleep. And it's fantastic to kind of feel this technology work.

 


Tanessa

And I use this with my clients and I invite them to try this if they are having trouble really getting to that place of slower brainwaves on their own.

 


Melissa

That's fascinating. I love that. We will all have to check out that Brain FM.

 


Tanessa

Yes, it's great.

 


Melissa

That's so great, so much better. And I think that's so much more intentional than going to Spotify and finding classical music playlist or something which are all great. Or thinking hard YouTube channel. To find something to like channel it on your own.

 


Tanessa

Well, totally. It's I think it's because I did a lot of reading on it before I started using it, because I always want to recommend things that I've actually looked into. And it's it's not the same as regular auditory music. So what you're probably used to listening to when you YouTube is something called binaural beats. It's when they play music in your ears and usually with headphones and the tone difference frequency is different in each ear and it cancels out to sync with a certain frequency that you want to get into.

 


Tanessa

So this is actually a little bit different. And I have found trying both Brain FM and binaural beats, which you can find on YouTube, that Brain FM works a lot faster. Which I mean, that's great. Who wants to spend more time trying to get relaxed?

 


Melissa

Right, yeah, we like to optimize our time.

 


Tanessa

Totally.

 


Melissa

So, what are some misconceptions about biohacking or maybe even some mistakes that people might make when they're trying to apply some of these hacks and tips that you've given us?

 


Tanessa

Well, if you just go to Google biohacking, you are going to find the people that are doing the advanced things, right? And we often think that those are the shiny new things. They're things like laying on mats that have these pulsed electromagnetic frequencies that help your body, you know, ground. It's like there's so many things you can inject stem cells, you can... Biohacking goes really deep and really techie. And sometimes if we if we just go to Google and pick some things up, it either can be intimidating or expensive.

 


Tanessa

And I often find that many things to do with biohacking are expensive. I mean, you have saunas that you can buy and put in your house. You can get inversion tables, like the wearable track, and that can feel like a barrier for some people. It's like, I don't want to spend that much and that just looks scary. So I always love the idea of meeting people where they're at. For the most part, everyone could probably optimize their sleep and that just might be as simple as, you know, turning your phone off 30 minutes before bed or with your food, making sure that while you are at work that your blood sugar is stabilized.

 


Tanessa

So picking things specifically for breakfast and lunch that are Whole Foods. So they came from the ground or they had a mother. So plenty of protein sources and vegetables and leaving our carbohydrates for the afternoon because those do promote a bit of a slowdown. So biohacking doesn't have to be techie. It can be super basic, but I think really realizing is what small area can I choose to implement something? Even if it's just during the weekdays I save my carbs for dinner and see how you feel after two weeks.

 


Tanessa

How's my energy? How's my alertness, how's my cognition? How are these things? And then if you love it, keep it and add one more thing instead of doing all the things at once.

 


Melissa

Yeah, so that made me think of your tip that you had that I saw a while ago with the pillow. And I know we tried this at home and we have been telling everyone in our family about it and having them do it. I mean, honestly, we had we helped someone move and we tried out the mattress and the mattress did not pop open. It was no, it was a very old mattress. But could you tell everyone what that is?

 


Melissa

They're probably like, oh, my gosh, what is this?

 


Tanessa

I have this, like, bizarre idea. I was, so I like to research things for my clients and make them like lists so that they know exactly what type of pillows are the best, mattresses. And I was reading about the amount of bacteria and oil and mites that are in our pillows and realizing that our pillows only have a lifespan of two to three years. Well, I literally everyone I talk to has a pillow that's five years or older. My sister was like, yeah, this pillow has been with me since I was a kid.

 


Tanessa

And so there's this thing you can do called like the pillow test. And you, this doesn't work from memory foam pillows, I'll give you that. But if you have most of the type of pillows, you take your pillow and fold it in half and it stays folded in half. There is so much mite poop in your pillow that it has become too heavy to spring open. So what should happen? If you fold your pillow in half, it should spring back open. Or does the rule of thumb, if you've had your pillow longer than three years, time to change it out. You spend a third of your life on it. You spend the whole night sweating and drooling and your skin flakes flake off. It's lovely. But to think that your face is on this, like I had to do a whole podcast episode on it because I was mildly traumatized. We, uh, we went for a double date with my sister and her husband. The next day we went to a store called Sleep Country.

 


Tanessa

And we're like, tell us all the things about the pillows. Give us the perfect pillow. And we walked out of there with like five hundred dollars in pillows because it was just I was sold on trying everything. It was so good.

 


Melissa

Oh, my gosh. Everyone is going, I don't know where you are when you're listening to this, but everyone is going to go and test their pillows because I don't know how even out of curiosity you wouldn't want to just like make sure before you put your face on your pillow or a hotel pillow. Yes. Oh my gosh, yes. Hotels. That could be a whole other episode.

 


Tanessa

OK, I was just in an Airbnb for like four nights between, you know, when we moved out and into the new house and I brought my own pillow. I'm like, I'm not taking any chances of being stranded anywhere with a pillow that won't spring back open.  No thank you.

 


Melissa

We might be doing that in the future, too. So what are some ways that you have seen biohacking really make a difference for people? I know that you work with a lot of different people, especially those that work full time, like what are some wins or just kind of big ahas that people have had, like their before and after from applying these tips.

 


Tanessa

Yeah, I think one of my favorite stories is a client. I've been working with her about four months now. And when she came to me, she was running two tech startups at the time, of course, two, you know, not just one, because why not? One more is better,right? So anyway, she came to me and she was sleeping about four to five hours a night and eating one meal a day. And it was usually noodles around four p.m. But she's like, yeah, no, I'm fine.

 


Tanessa

I just need a little bit of help with just getting more productive. And I was like, no, no, no. Let us start with your sleep. So she's now sleeping about seven hours a night, which is still, we're still working on bringing that up. But she says to me the other day she's like, you know what, Tanessa? I'm now getting more done in six hours than I used to get done in two days because I'm not so easily distracted.

 


Tanessa

Like when I sit down to go to work, I just get everything done instead of, like, flipping between Instagram, Facebook, Gmail, ooh I've got an Amazon tab open, oh my Outlook's open. All of the things right? So with seeing how well her brain performed and I said to her, can you imagine if I told you, because she works like 12 hour days, if I took two hours out of your work schedule every day to give you to sleep, she's like, I would have panicked at even thinking about that.

 


Tanessa

But now I see it. Like I'm getting all these full night's sleep and I'm getting time done and my energy is up. And she's like, I just have this time left over in the day now and I don't know what to do with it. I'm like, this is where we bring in hobbies, those things that we lose when we're so focused on our work like a lot of us are like, what are hobbies? Isn't it work, make dinner, watch a Netflix episode, go to bed, repeat? Like it's really fun when we get to start bringing back in, like, life things that people have given up, like, you know, piano.

 


Tanessa

They love to play and haven't played in a long time. Reading, you know, like going out for walks in nature, drawing, like all of those things that we've given up just when we become too overwhelmed in our own minds to be present and have a life outside of work. I read Deep Work by Cal Newport and it was a wonderful book. And he was referring to this idea in the book of having an intention of having a day within a day.

 


Tanessa

And we often think of our work days as the day and everything else is left over. But he talked about this idea of being intentional with your other day, meaning you still have a day that's within a day. And instead of just treating it as those extra hours that you get through to go to sleep and do it again, like be intentional plan those, what do you want to get out of those? Do you want to go for a walk with your family or do you actually intentionally want to watch Netflix?

 


Tanessa

I mean, there's nothing wrong with that. I think it's when we go numb and unconscious and you know just end up going through life, that we really start to feel like we're missing out on what we used to have before we got too busy.

 


Melissa

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that's what I tell my clients, too, around the kind of things they like to do around TV. And because I talk a lot about TV, shopping, drinking, eating, all these things can be distractors when you're stressed and overwhelmed or you don't want to process something and it's OK to do those things. It's not like I'm saying, don't ever do those things. It's just be intentional about it. Like you're saying.

 


Melissa

Don't make it something that you're doing to distract yourself from actually being present in your life.

 


Tanessa

No buffering.

 


Melissa

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So are there any preventative measures that we can take other than, we talked about sleep, to just kind of help optimize our brain function?

 


Tanessa

Yeah, I don't know if it's so much as preventative because I think we have to get in that usually I find so many people it takes getting to that point, unfortunately, until we're ready to make that change. But one of the wonderful things that you can do is take a look at what we're eating. I think we grossly underestimate how much the food that we eat impacts our brain. We just think, you know, food in, food out has to do with, you know, if we gain weight or we lose weight the same way with exercise, it's really painted into this corner.

 


Tanessa

But when we think about things like if it's creating inflammation, that's leading to brain fog. So what I always really like to do is start by looking at what we're eating during our work week because, you know, going and implementing the whole week's worth of changes and, you know, completely changing what we're eating can be a lot. I mean, it's very doable, but sometimes people just want a bit more of a slower approach. So I always just like to think during our work days, can we eat whole foods?

 


Tanessa

So I always ask that question, and I think I mentioned earlier, did it come from the ground or did it have a mother at some point? Those are really good ways to tell if it's a whole food, because what these foods do is when we start introducing these foreign foods into our body, it actually can damage the lining of our intestines, right? And the problem with that is when you damage those linings, then it can't keep what's supposed to be out, out and what in, in.

 


Tanessa

So we get some, like, partially digested food bacteria that gets into our bloodstream. Our body freaks out. It's like that's not supposed to be in the bloodstream, so it sets off an immune response and we get a lot of inflammation and that will lead to, like you talked about, the fatigue and the burn out and the memory issues and stuff like that, because when inflammation goes unchecked. So I think looking at nutrition and one of the easiest ways that you can do is just go on to Pinterest and look what's in your fridge that's a whole food, and if you have say, let's say like I have zucchini and I have chicken and I have cucumbers, if you type those ingredients into Pinterest, it'll spit out a whole bunch of recipes that use those three ingredients. So you don't even need to be creative and go shopping right away to change everything. You can literally just look in your fridge and start with your next meal.

 


Melissa

Yeah, that's great. So you've given us so many tips and I am very appreciative. I'm sure everyone listening is like, oh my gosh, trying to, like, frantically write down everything they need to try. If you could kind of boil it down to three things that you think everyone should do to optimize their brain health and kind of use the biohacking principles, what would they be?

 


Tanessa

Oh, so number one would be, I would say, eliminate the blue light. We talked about earlier. Number two would be no sugar, no flour. And I know that's not everyone's favorite thing because they're like, what? What do you eat when there's no sugar, no flour? I promise there is so much tasty food on the other side of that belief that all good food comes from pasta. Because I remember that very much like, what the heck do we eat if we don't eat flour during the week?

 


Tanessa

But it really asks you to explore because there's so many nutrients that we end up missing out on when we fill our plates with, you know, food that doesn't have the nutrient values of the vegetables and stuff like that. So that would be number two. And I think number three would be allowing time to do nothing. And whether you have that as mindfulness or a walk in nature or you meditate, I think there needs to be time where you allow yourself to just be with your own thoughts without trying to distract yourself or escape them.

 


Tanessa

That's often something that I'll give my clients. I actually just gave two of them that exercise this week is they take five minutes a day to do nothing. I'm like, you can look out the window, you can pet your dog, but I just want you just to do nothing. And if your brain decides to wander away to your to do list, gently bring it back. Nothing's gone wrong. It's going to feel terrible at first. But learning how to be present, it really helps with managing cortisol levels.

 


Tanessa

And I think that so many of us have forgotten what it means to be in the moment because our brains are so busy all the time thinking about being productive. But it's really these moments and these strategies that lead back to productivity. They don't take away from it. They create it.

 


Melissa

Mm hmm. I think that's so important. And I think same with the people that I work with. They often come without a lot of time and they find that hour a week coaching creates so much time where they're like playing solitaire and doing all these things when they feel like just like your client, they just didn't have enough time to do anything and then suddenly they have all this extra time on their hands. But that practice of taking five, ten, 15 minutes of not doing anything I find is very hard for people to do.

 


Tanessa

Yes.

 


Melissa

And it sounds simple because time goes by so quick and it's the same thought processing that's saying I don't have enough time. But then to take five minutes, it's like I can't do that. I need to be scrolling, I need to be walking the dog. I need to be doing something and just saying I'm going to sit there and I'm not going to look at my phone. I'm not going to watch TV. I'm just going to be with my thoughts.

 


Melissa

I think is so important for your own mental health and well-being, but I think it really helps you get in touch with what you want and who you are when you don't have all of that noise around you.

 


Tanessa

Yeah, and I think we we don't even see sometimes how busy we keep our brain. I had a client and we were working on her wind down routine before bed. And she's like, oh yeah, well, I listen to an audio book. I was like, Oh. Are you just, like, laying in your bed and relaxing and staring at the ceiling because I always like to kind of think, what are we doing? And she goes, oh, no, I'm playing online chess.

 


Tanessa

I was like and listening to your audiobook? Like, I'm like, OK, we need to just take a second and just focus on one thing at a time. And I think that's another good tip as well. Like we said, just focus on what's in front of you. And then just be present with that,

 


Melissa

Yeah, OK, so if people want to kind of check out a book at the library, if people still do that or get some more resources around biohacking other than coming to you, because I'm going to talk about how they can get in contact with you, too.

 


Melissa

Is there anything that you would direct them to?

 


Tanessa

Yeah. So if you're wanting to start with your food, specifically, any book that you pick up by Dr. Mark Hyman will be fantastic. Specifically, my favorite one has been called Food: What the Heck Do I Eat? And it looks at actually quality of food, not just telling you the same old like eat vegetables and protein, but like when you're looking at your protein, how do you choose choices which are the healthiest with the most nutrients? And it was wonderful.

 


Tanessa

It was the book that actually got me to eat wild salmon instead of farmed salmon. And I was like, oh my gosh, there is such a difference. It's such a good book. If you're talking about sleep, Why We Sleep by Dr Matthew Walker was phenomenal. You just can never look at sleep again the same after that. So good. And the last book I'd love to recommend. It's a big one. It's like the size of one of my university textbooks.

 


Tanessa

It's called Boundless by Ben Greenfield. He pioneers a lot of biohacking things. And there is a chapter in that book on literally every biohacking thing you could think of, whether it be from nutrition to sleep to tech to symmetry and beauty, like everything you could want to biohack about yourself, it's in this book and it's like six hundred pages. But it is phenomenal. And I absolutely love that book.

 


Melissa

Thank you so much for that. So now tell us how to get in contact with you. I know you have a podcast and all the things, so let us know how we can get in touch with you.

 


Tanessa

Yeah. So I do have a podcast where I totally nerd out and really deep dive on a different topic every week. For example, what's really going on in your pillow? A whole topic on that. But my podcast is called Becoming Limitless and it's really how to teach you how to optimize your brain and body with science and biohacking so that, you know, you can have more energy and productivity. So that. But beyond that, I am on Instagram @tanessashears and I'm always posting kind of what's going on and how I'm biohacking my own sleep and what I'm eating and all the fun things on there.

 


Tanessa

And I'm definitely easy to get a hold of in terms of, you know, saying hi or asking a question if you have one.

 


Melissa

Yeah. And I think you have such great stories too. So definitely would encourage people to reach out and follow there. That's where I learned the pillow, the pillow trick. There's a lot of really valuable tips that you provide in there, so.

 


Tanessa

It's a very vulnerable thing to go on Instagram and show everyone that your pillow does not unfold. That very much happened to me. I was like, eww, but I guess it's real.

 


Melissa

That's very relatable.

 


Melissa

All right. Well, thank you so much for joining me on the show. It was such a pleasure having you.

 


Tanessa

Yes, thanks for having me.

 


Melissa

I get asked all of the time, how do I know if I'm in the right career? Now you can find out. I created a free quiz using my criteria for what makes a great job fit. You can take the quiz at my website www.melissamlawrence.com. And in less than three minutes, you'll know the answer so you can stop guessing and take some action. And as a bonus, if your job isn't a great fit, you'll get some resources to help you decide what to do about it.

 


Melissa

Head there now.