Debbie: You mean like the Westin hotel? (we were staying at the Sheraton by the way)
Me and Masterjohn: No (conveyed loudly, with large inflection in our voices, and in creative language)
I just finished up with the 2011 Wise Traditions Conference, the annual conference of the Weston A. Price Foundation. I finally did my talk yesterday in the biggest ballroom, which was pretty flippin’ full – somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 people in there I would say. Having to wait all weekend to give my talk was tough. I felt like they were “icing the kicker” as they say in American football, and interestingly, my kickers were quite icy. So were my hands.
I think of acute and chronic stresses alike as being the trigger for these icy hands and feet (like getting nervous for a wedding – or having ‘cold feet’) – activating the adrenals and slurping up all the warm blood from the extremities. I’ve felt cold hands and feet at various points throughout my life and on various diets and things, but this weekend was quite interesting. As a conference presenter newbie, and never doing any public talking to a group larger than 22, and with the stress of just appearing in public… from the moment I walked into the conference my hands were icy cold. This was no problem prior to Thursday. I was fiery hot then.
What I found most remarkable was that my hands stayed icy cold all weekend. Like, constantly. And I had no appetite – sort of a dull nausea. I was quite self-conscious about it actually. I’m supposed to be that warm guy who eats a lot, and I was shaking hands with tons of people and nibbling at the food I was served.
But then something quite amazing happened. Towards the end of my talk, just prior to switching over to taking questions (the home stretch), I felt a huge physiological shift occur. Suddenly I felt hot and my fingers were practically burning. My hands got raging hot and stayed that way, and are still fiery hot a day later. My palms and fingers have a pinkish-orange hue from all the circulating blood.
In addition I felt very tired and started noticing aches and pains in my body. My appetite returned and I woofed down a plate of French toast at lunch and couldn’t seem to get last night’s dinner into my mouth fast enough. My throat felt scratchy like a sore throat was coming on. Basically, my body was letting go and winding down, converting over from a stressful sympathetic-dominant state to a parasympathetic-dominant healing state.
Anyway, I write all this because it was remarkable how influential my mind was over my physiology. The power that our thoughts have over our physical bodies is something that is nebulous and poorly understood because it cannot be explained clearly or studied with the same exactitude of say, substances (like medications).
But our minds are incredibly powerful. Our thoughts exert a far-reaching influence over our biochemistry. Likewise, our physical bodies exert a powerful influence over our thoughts and how we perceive things. It’s a two-way street. You can improve your health by improving your thoughts and attitudes. And you can improve your thoughts and attitudes by improving your health.
If you suffer from cold hands and feet it is primarily due to an excess secretion of catabolic hormones unopposed by anabolic hormones. In more simple terms, you are pumping out the adrenaline.
Being in an unfamiliar and daunting situation can put you in this state. But that’s not the only way to arrive at such a place. Of course my focus over the years has been overexercising and dieting – (vegan, low-carb, low-fat, calorie restriction, other forms of restrained eating), as these are surefire ways to get there. But you can get there by an infinite number of pathways – from sleep loss to emotional trauma to chronic inflammation to lacking glucose at a cellular level. While the adrenaline may be the universal cause, every set of cold hands has its own unique trigger.
The best way to address it is to have a de-stressing diet (eating to fullness, no macronutrient restriction), exercise program, sleep schedule, and lifestyle. Something that feels like a vacation, at least until you get those hands and feet to warm up.
If you need some short-term relief, have just a little bit of something sugary (fruit, juice, dried fruit) and don’t drink too much plain water. Interestingly, in the high adrenaline state your mouth often gets very dry (as mine was during my talk – and if you ever have a chance to watch the whole thing you will laugh at how much I gravitate towards my cup of water behind the podium). This can really get you into trouble, as the more water you drink the more you dilute the sugar in your system, and the more “hypoglycemic” you become.
Or, even better – have a couple of tablespoons of Granpa’s old cough medicine (alcohol).
Anyway, here are a few video clips taken by Debina Haguilera (Lady Haga, Grassfed Momma, etc.) of my talk. The talk was certainly not as good as it could have been, but it was a great start. Sorry you guys weren’t there to see the talk, or to see Rob A. crumping like nobody’s business.
Oh, and apologies for all the emails that I couldn’t respond to from those who entered something into the “contact” form on the site. Functionality issue there. Should be fixed now. Please try again.