Anne Macaulay, Ph.D.
ADAPT Certified Functional Health Coach
National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach

Hormesis, or what doesn’t kill you…

Anne Macaulay | First Thoughts

Greetings friends!

Here are my “First Thoughts” on mindset, real food and behavior change. 

Quote that I am pondering: “The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well” Alfred Adler. This reminds me that if people seem boring, it’s because I’m only seeing the surface. If I ask good questions and get under the surface, people are fascinating in a way that ‘normal’ never could be!

What I’m Excited About: Hormesis. Hormesis is the concept that unifies the expressions “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “The dose makes the poison.” Hormesis is any kind of stress that makes you healthier but that would be bad for you in excess. Exercise is what first comes to mind, but many other activities that are associated with longevity also fall in this category. For example:

  • Plant toxins: Toxins that plants use against predators (such as carotenoids and polyphenols) are good for us when consumed at low levels in fruits and vegetables. This is one reason that organic produce is better for you—exposure to bugs causes veggies to make more of these beneficial toxins. 
  • Cold: cold showers, walking outdoors in just a T shirt in cold weather, keeping the thermostat low in the winter
  • Heat: sauna, hot yoga, walking outdoors in hot weather
  • Infrared radiation: from infrared sauna or from natural sunlight on bare skin
  • Fasting: either intermittent or traditional
  • Breath holding: intermittent hypoxia training

To get into the hormesis mindset, consider keeping your body safe while worrying less about keeping it comfortable. If you are in the habit of being comfortable all the time, you may find that your amygdala considers discomfort a threat to safety and over reacts by making you feel stressed and panicky when you are a little bit cold, short on breath etc. To work through this, start slowly and focus your attention on your breath or music to stay calm and in the moment. Remind yourself that you are perfectly safe. 
You’ll get the most bang for your buck by adding a new practice rather than by doing more of what you already do. Have fun getting out of your comfort zone!

What I’m cooking right now: Thai Beef Salad

You may notice a Southeast Asian theme! This is a great way to use up leftover steak. You could also save time using Sous Vide Sliced Grass-Fed Beef Sirloin (Costco).

  • 1 lb steak cooked to desired doneness, cooled and sliced thinly against the grain 
  • 5 T fresh lime juice
  • 3 T fish sauce 
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or desired sweetener
  • 2-3 Thai chiles or 2 Serrano chiles seeded and minced (wear gloves!)
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh mint
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 pickling cucumbers, sliced in half lengthwise and seeds scooped out, then thinly sliced. 

Combine the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and chiles and stir until sugar dissolves. Toss with all remaining ingredients. 

Note on growing scallions: Scallions can easily be grown from the root ends of ones you bought at the grocery store. Save the last 1/2 inch of the stalk including the roots. Leave them sitting out on a paper towel for a day or two (or as long as a couple of months) to let the cut ends dry. Then plant so that the root is in the soil and the cut end just protrudes. Firm in well and water regularly until new grown appears. If you only harvest the greens, they will produce all summer.  

  • What’s in bloom: Rudbeckia herbstsonne (shown with Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ in the background)

I love Rudbeckia of all types, but the shorter black eyed susans usually get eaten by rabbits in my garden. Rudbeckia herbstsonne is so tall that it is out of harms way. It makes a fabulous cut flower. I cut it back by half (see the Chelsea chop) in late May to keep it in the 5-6 foot range, otherwise it may be 8-9 feet. You will want to stake it.

That’s all for now.

Love, Anne