Kayla Osterhoff - On Optimizing Female Potential In The Workplace, Biohacking Hacks, Neuroscience Of Human Behavior, The Female Biorhythm, Selfcare First, Hormones As A Superpower, Understanding The Female Brain

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

The Longevity & Lifestyle podcast

Episode 109

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Performance coach, detail-loving educator, big-thinking entrepreneur, podcaster, mama, passionate adventurer, and health optimization activist here to help people transform their lives, and reach their highest potential! All rolled into one.

“We have to change our societal structures to allow women to be included into them, so that they don't have to operate on the outside trying to fit into the system that does not support or foster their success.” - Neuropsychophysiologist, Women’s Health Expert, Founder of Her Biorhythm 

Today’s returning guest is Kayla Osterhoff. Kayla is a neuropsychophysiologist and women's health expert, working on closing the gender gap in health science and also the founder and CEO of Her Biorhythm. 

In this episode, we dig into:

  • How women can start adapting the workplace to better suit the female biorhythm
  • Why women can use hormonal cycles to their advantage
  • The gender gap in research
  • Biohacking - Do’s and Don’ts for women 
  • Neurodiversity and ADHD
  • And Much More!

Please enjoy!


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Show Notes 

(02:04) Kayla shares her family health struggles and how women default to being the caretaker which can be detrimental to women’s health
(6:52) Kayla explains the importance of taking care of oneself before giving to others
(9:30) Kayla gives a brief backstory of her career path to where she is now with Her BioRhythm and explains the gender gap in research
(13:26) Kayla explains the difference in men and women and how the system sets men up for success more than for women
(20:25) Kayla shares what needs to be taken into consideration for women to thrive in today's world
(24:40) Kayla talks about the struggles that corporations face when they want to adapt to womens needs
(30:37) The do’s and dont’s of biohacking for women, especially fasting
(39:24) Kayla gives more biohacking examples on how they affect women and how things shift in the female nervous system in different phases of the hormone cycle
(47:56) Kayla talks about ADHD and the lack of research and undiagnosis in girls and women
(51:53) Kayla gives some good advice on why women should embrace our hormonal changes
(53:41) Kayla recommends ways we can keep track of womens health and cycle
(56:35) Where you can find Kayla on social media
(57:27) What Kayla is excited about and working on
(58:45) Kayla’s final ask, recommendation and parting message

People mentioned


“Women these days are experiencing burnout 200% more often than their male counterparts.” - Neuropsychophysiologist, Women’s Health Expert, Founder of Her Biorhythm ™

“When we're in a place of overwhelm and we have too many things going on, too many tabs open in the brain, we're actually very ineffective in the things that we're trying to do.” - Neuropsychophysiologist, Women’s Health Expert, Founder of Her Biorhythm ™

“Everybody wants fast data, and the only way to get fast cheap data, is to study men.” - Neuropsychophysiologist, Women’s Health Expert, Founder of Her Biorhythm ™

“We have to change our societal structures to allow women to be included into them, so that they don't have to operate on the outside trying to fit into the system that does not support or foster their success.” - Neuropsychophysiologist, Women’s Health Expert, Founder of Her Biorhythm ™

​​”The quality of the nervous system determines what our stress capacity is as humans - The size of our bucket or the threshold of which we can handle stress, is determined by the quality of our nervous system. - Make sure you have room in your stress bucket before you do something like cold exposure.” - Neuropsychophysiologist, Women’s Health Expert, Founder of Her Biorhythm ™

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Claudia von Boeselager: Welcome to another episode of the Longevity and Lifestyle Podcast. I'm your host, Claudia von Boeselager. I'm here to uncover the groundbreaking strategies, tools, and practices from the world's pioneering experts to help you live your best and reach your fullest potential. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast to always catch the latest episodes.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note, to avoid any unnecessary headaches, Longevity & Lifestyle LLC owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as the right of publicity. You are welcome to share parts of the transcript (up to 500 words) in other media (such as press articles, blogs, social media accounts, etc.) for non-commercial use which must also include attribution to “The Longevity & Lifestyle Podcast” with a link back to the URL. It is prohibited to use any portion of the podcast content, names or images for any commercial purposes in digital or non-digital outlets to promote you or another’s products or services.


Claudia von Boeselager: Welcome to another episode of the Longevity and Lifestyle Podcast. I'm your host, Claudia von Boeselager here to uncover the groundbreaking strategies, tools, and practices from the world's pioneering experts to help you live at your best and reach your highest potential.

If you want to get top tips, insights, and strategies and optimizing your life, health, and longevity, grab my weekly newsletter by going to 

Now, today's guest is a returning guest, Kayla Osterhoff. Kayla is a neuropsychophysiologst and she can explain what that is. And women health expert working on closing the gender gap in health science, and also the founder and CEO of Her Biorhythm.

Kayla, welcome back on the show. I'm so happy to have you back on. 

Kayla Osterhoff: Thank you so much for having me on. I've been looking forward to this conversation. We always have very juicy, fun conversations. 

Claudia von Boeselager: I love them too. And I love your area of expertise. I think it's just so fascinating and also for empowering women.

And actually I'd love to start with Kayla, something that we were just talking about offline and to bring it back on so that my audience can benefit from our conversation. We were just discussing family members going through some issues and the importance, what I realized a few weeks ago when I was traveling was that I actually just sat with the sorrow of seeing my mother. And, and for those who listen to me longer will know that she has progressing dementia. And I was very much into, I have to be happy around her, I need to bring good mood and make sure everything's okay and, you know, support and either do, do do or just be happy and positive.

And I'd realized when I was away a couple weeks ago, that I hadn't sat with that sadness and sorrow of missing the person she used to be, and obviously the mother that she used to be as well. And how everything had shifted around. And that was my way of caring, but I completely neglected the fact of feeling that sadness, which I had just suppressed.

And Kayla, you were sharing something similar, right? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yeah, it's so common with women and a conversation that I find myself having a lot these days, but in my situations very similar to yours is, especially daughters, we tend to become caretakers of the family unit. And that's certainly the case. In my case, right now my dad is going through stage four cancer, which is originally melanoma, but now it's spread, all over his body, over the past couple of years. We've had some improvements and then some setbacks, but the, the part that we're really struggling with right now is his brain cancer.

There are several tumors in his brain and one of which is on the temporal lobe. And very close to the Brocas area, which is like the language area of the brain. And it's causing a lot of issues with seizures and, uh, with his language and with his mechanical function. And so he recently had brain surgery to remove the tumor. Massive surgery. Very serious. And, you know, going through the recovery right now, I just got back from Seattle. I was there supporting my family. Through all of that, I feel this responsibility to help guide my family, not only in their health and especially, you know, in dealings with the brain, bringing my expertise and really what my family needs is just me to be there, be the daughter.

And so in that role, you know, kind of carrying the weight of the family, I feel on my shoulders to keep things light, keep things positive, just like you said, keep the energy good. Um, you know, create a place where healing can happen. A lot of times women take these responsibilities onto their shoulders, even though it's not really something that we can do on our own, but we feel like we have to, like we must.

And that's actually something that is common to all women. It's like this subconscious program that's running in all women. And it's this psychological propensity that we all have, to what I call, think for the collective or, you know, have this higher level of concern about everyone else around us, even before ourselves.
And that actually comes from an epigenetic predisposition that's passed down through generations and generations and generations since the beginning of time of women having this role in society to be caretakers, you know, caretakers of the children, of the parents, of the family unit, of the community.

It's something that even, the modern woman today is carrying around and operating from to think about others even before herself in a lot of ways. And, it's kind of like a selfless action, which can be beautiful and amazing for leadership and for communities and, you know, for our families to experience this love and effort that we put out to support them.

However, it can be a bit of a detriment if we let this subconscious program just run and we're unaware of it. And so many women are doing that. And that's why, you know, women these days are experiencing burnout 200% more often than their male counterpart. And adrenal fatigue and hormonal burnout and all of these things that are signs that we're not really taking care of ourselves very well.

And the kind of dualism that's going on there is when we're not healthy, we actually can't serve others in the way that we want to. And so, you know, you and I were talking about it and I'm feeling that right now. I'm seeing that play out in my life where I just wanna give everything I have to my family.

And, it's exhausting and it leaves a little left in the tank for me to do what I need to do for myself, for my work, all those things. And so it's kind of this fine line that we have to walk where we have to be aware of this, and we have to also make decisions like, okay, yes, I'm gonna let that be running right now and be dominant.
And other times it's like, okay, I know that that's my psychological propensity to behave this way, but also I'm gonna shut that down for a minute because I need to take care of myself, otherwise I can't serve other people. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah. so beautifully said as well. The analogy on the airplane, right?

You have to put on your oxygen mask first, before you can, you know, help children or help others. I think we as women tend to forget that because it's almost this feeling of, well, as long as everyone else around me is fine. Just remembering that self-care time and really planning that in and prioritizing that even above what you can do for others, I would say. What would you advise Kayla? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Oh, absolutely. I can actually serve my family, my community, my clients, my students better when I have taken really good care of myself.
And sometimes that means, even though there's these kind of emergency situations going, I may have to turn off my phone for a couple of hours and like take a nap or go for a walk in nature or, you know, just relax. Watch a TV show, turn off my mind for a minute, something that can just allow me to kind of refill my energy and get back on track, get back into a positive thinking place.

And then go back in and say, okay, now I'm here. At the very least women can do that is when you're feeling overwhelment and when you're feeling worn down and you don't have energy. What you're trying to do out in the world is not gonna be as effective. So the best thing that you can do for everyone else is to just pause and get yourself back to a place where you feel healthy, calm, focused, have energy, and then jump back in and do what it is that you're doing.

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah. And I think, some people go, well, I don't have, you know, an afternoon to take off, but I even find sometimes like 20 minutes. I do like a BrainTap or, meditate or something like that, or walk in nature obviously depends, where I am, what's possible. I've recently got a little trampoline as well for myself and the kids, but just jumping on that, like a, I feel like this childhood delight and fun. It gets the blood circulating as well. So it doesn't need to be like three hours, five hours or taking a day off. 

Kayla Osterhoff: Absolutely. And you know, the research is pretty clear on this fact, and this is for men and women. But when we're in a place of overwhelm and we have too many things going on, too many tabs open in the brain, we're actually very ineffective in the things that we're trying to do. It's the same research as multitasking, right? When you have too many things going on, you can't be focused and you're not gonna be effective in what you're doing. So even if you did take, 30 minutes, an hour, half a day, you might actually get done what you were planning to take a whole day to do in couple hours if you're really focused and you're in the right mindset and feeling inspired.

Claudia von Boeselager: Super important for those listening: self-care number one. I really struggled when I started to prioritize that. I was like, this doesn't feel great, and I have so much else to do, and everything else is so much more important than me. But it's really, really been helpful as well.

Kayla, for those who missed our first conversation, can you share a bit more about your background, just taking a step back for a moment, and where your passion for this space came from? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yeah, so, I've taken the traditional route in terms of education, and kind of career path even though I'm not so traditional now in what I do.
But, studying the health sciences my whole educational career. And now I'm just finishing up, i'm in my dissertation of my PhD and so I'm officially a PhD candidate. And I have a little bit less than a year left to go with that. That's in neuropsychophysiology, which is what you mentioned earlier, which is just a fancy way of saying that I studied the brain, the mind and the body or the physiology and how everything is interacting with each other to create, you know, the human experience, human behavior, human health.

And in that I focus primarily on women and I study exclusively now, women. Which is something that you know, and that I'm very, very passionate about, and is actually a really fascinating area of research because women. Probably, surprisingly to many of your listeners are a novel area of research.

There's very little known about the female biology and neurology and physiology. And so I get to kind of be in on this cutting edge area of science that is really fascinating. I'm sad that it's the case that women are this new area, new frontier of research, but I'm really happy to kind of be one of those pioneering scientists at the helm of this research and being able to bring this to the world, which is what I do now through Her BioRhythm, and the things that I do out there in the world now.

Claudia von Boeselager: Thank you for what you're doing! It's so scary to think that we're talking over half of the world's population, but that women were omitted for so many years from research, I think starting in 1977, right. And we've had also people like Dr. Jennifer Garrison on as well that really struggle to find the right funding model to fund research and not just on these short term funding cycles. So it is a real challenge. So thank you for the work you're doing and changing the face of women's medicine as well.

Kayla Osterhoff: I'm so happy to be here and I invite, so many others to join this area of research. It's super fun. And like you mentioned, the real issue is a resource issue. Because when you're studying women, there's a lot more moving parts. The female biology, neurology, physiology, psychology is more complex than the male equivalence.

And the data that we have, the data pool that we're working from is very male centric, so it adds another layer of complexity. And so with that, when you're studying women, it takes more time. It takes a lot more money because you have to collect data, every day across several cycles. Whereas with your male counterparts, you can just collect data, you know, 1, 2, 3, 5 times at any interval and it's okay. It makes things more simple and easy when you're studying men. 

So when they're doing research, they want data, right? And everybody wants fast data, and the only way to get fast cheap data, is to study men. Even when you're looking at animal models, even in rats, we still study the male rats primarily because for the same reasons. It's cheaper, it's faster, it's easier. If you're up for the challenge and you're in the field of science, health sciences, research, or thinking about it, come join us. This is my call for researchers who wanna study women, and especially, you know, more women to join the STEM fields is really what's needed. 

Claudia von Boeselager: So one of your areas of passion, which I absolutely adore, is the female biorhythm. Can you share more about what this is and why every woman and even men should be paying closer attention to- especially employers or fathers or brothers or whatever it might be? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yes, you know, the female biorhythm is a term that I coined to describe the female global physiology and the pace at which it works, right? Female biological rhythm, bio rhythm, right? So there's a biological rhythm to every being out there, right? 

Let's start with men, which is what we know best, which is how we've designed our world because we have a lot of data that drives those decisions. So for men, their bio rhythm is set to the pace of this 24 hour repeating cycle. It aligns with the circadian rhythm, the sleep wake cycle, and it's set to the pace of really the workings of the adrenals. And so it's our waking hormone, cortisol, and our sleep hormone melatonin in this 24 hour system that is driven by that hormone cycle, and the male physiology at large. So everything else, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the nervous system, the brain, the metabolism, the immune system, the neuroendocrine system, literally everything else, right?

All the other parts, work on the basis of this clock, this 24 hour repeating system. And so what that means is from day to day, the male biology and physiology is very consistently the same. Every day it pretty much operates repeatingly the same way. There are small changes that occur over long periods of time, just like everything, for women, for men, for animals, for plants, same thing. You know, small changes over long periods of time over the lifetime. However, when you're looking from day to day to day, pretty much the same. So that's why men make amazing research subjects because they're consistent and they can be relied on to be the same. When I'm collecting data from a man, I can collect it today, tomorrow, next week, it's all gonna be relevant and comparable to each other because it's collecting from the same repeating system. 

Now when we're looking at women, things get a lot more complex because the female biological rhythm is not set to the pace of the adrenals, even though we still have that sleep wake circadian rhythm cycle. That's a 24 hour. That's absolutely true. But all those other systems that I mentioned, you know, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, immune system, all of that, right? That follows the pace of two other hormones in a different hormone cycle, which is essentially the menstrual or the ovarian hormone cycle, which is the two dominating hormones that ebb and flow significantly.

They are estrogen and progesterone. So what that means is estrogen and progesterone, as we know, ebb and flow over the course of a month or about a 28 day length. So what that means is that the female biological rhythm is not a 24 hour repeating, it's a 28 day-ish- every woman's a little different- cycle.

So it's a month long biological rhythm, and every day the female physiology is a little bit different and a little bit different, a little bit different, and significantly different through four starkly different hormonal changes that occur over that time. So what this means is that women are not the same research subject from day to day, which is why it's so crazy expensive time intensive, hard to study women because you essentially have, if you really wanna dive into it, you have 28 potentially different subjects, but really what you have is at least four different subjects because that's how significantly different our whole entire physiology is, through those different hormonal phases. So that's why we're left out of the research, that's why women, even though today we're allowed or suggested to be included in the research, equally to our male counterparts we're not, because it's so much more complex and you can't compare apples to apples because it's not. It's not apples to apples.

So what has happened in our society is a couple of things that really disempower women and are driving some of these negative health outcomes that women are experiencing, including what I mentioned before, which is this massive higher level of burnout, and adrenal issues and hormonal dysfunction and things like that.
But what are driving those kind of negative health outcomes is the fact that, number one, our society is built based on the data that we have, which is very male-centric. So what does that mean? Our society is built on a repeating daily schedule. It's a 24 hour system. Things happen pretty much the same from day to day.

The expectations are the same from day to day. The environments, the infrastructures, the schedules, all that stuff is consistently the same every day. So what does that mean? It means that our male counterparts are set up for pretty good success. They have the ability to operate in a system that aligns beautifully with their biology and their bio rhythm.

And then women we're trying to operate in this environment, infrastructure systems, expectations that do not align with our biology, with our bio rhythm, with our physiology. And so it's kind of like trying to swim up river all the time. We're trying to force a square peg in a circle hole and it's exhausting and that's why women are burning out and it's very difficult.

So my research and my kind of call to the world is to acknowledge that things are different for women than they are for men. We have to have different environments, different support systems, different schedules, different things that, address a woman's basic biological needs, which are very different than her male counterpart.
But these assumptions that we've made globally is that the parts that men and women share. So all those things that I mentioned, the global physiology that are the same in men and women, brain, neurology, nervous system, immune system, all that stuff. Our assumption is that they operate the same way and at the same pace.
But we know now that that's not the case and it's starting to make its way into mainstream research and media. There's starting to be this acknowledgement, but we need much more because we have to change our societal structures to allow women to be included into them, and so that they don't have to operate kind of on the outside trying to fit into the system that does not support or foster their success.

Claudia von Boeselager: What are some practical strategies that you recommend that people can already start looking at. Obviously number one is their recognition, but number two is what can I do? How can I make life easier so I can be more productive so I can thrive? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yeah, so this is really important. And I work with very large corporations, organizations across the globe so I can help them to create environments and infrastructures and systems and schedules and supports that actually include women that finally are inclusive of women.

Um, not that they exclude men, but now we're just expanding to bring women in and include women in these systems and structures that are unknowingly, unintentionally, only really set up to allow men to thrive. And so in that work, it's always the same first two steps. One is awareness, right? We have to raise awareness around the key differences.

We have to start to understand what are these key differences between men and women? What does this mean for women? How can we support them in each one of these phases that they experience over the course of a month. So that they can have success and operate at their highest level all the time. And be in an environment that fosters that.

So, yes, awareness is number one and it's the most important. And if you don't have that, basically, you can't move forward from there. So it's like education is step one. Step two is flexibility. This piece looks so different for every situation. It just depends on where you are or where you're starting from, what kind of structure you have, whether it be in your household or in your organization.

If you run a business, you have to start looking at, okay, what do I have in place? And how may this be a little too rigid for women? So there's a lot of rigidity around there in policies, in structures, in schedules, expectations, in reward systems, that really disempower women and don't allow them to be at their best and really kind of be in the climb the ranks and be in their leadership, what I call superpowers. But it's really around providing flexibility. We can get into all the nitty gritty of what that means. And it can look different from situation to situation, but it can be as simple as, instead of for instance, in a organizational setting, instead of creating things around a time structure, or reward systems around time.

So a lot of organizations for instance, including the ones that I've been a part of in the corporate world, including even CDC, which I used to work for. These corporations tend to reward processed metrics. So how long are you in the office? How quickly are you responding to email? Things like that. So we're moving away from rewarding that kind of behavior and rewarding outcome behavior. So moving away from process into outcome, because that's really what we all want. It doesn't really matter how many emails I'm responding to or how many hours I'm in the office, or how often you see my face in meetings, as long as the work that I'm assigned is being done at a really high level, right?

So rewarding the outcome, rewarding the product, right? The product of the work rather than the work itself. So this also requires a shift from this work hard to succeed mentality that we have in our world. This consistency is key to success. These are really disempowering thought processes for women because they don't align with our physiology, with our biology and our innate gifts as women.

And so kind of moving away from those thought processes into let's work smart. Let's focus on the outcome. Let's make sure that the work is getting done and however the person needs to be supported in order to get the work done. Let's focus on that. And that's just one kind of simple example of how flexibility can start to be built in from a rigid structure.

Claudia von Boeselager: I think there's probably gonna be a few people listening, like, oh, that's well and good, but you know in my organization, they're so far away... 

What are some success stories with some of the companies that you work with? And which areas do they struggle most with trying to make these changes? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yes. So the areas that I see these companies struggling with most, and most companies are actually struggling with this, is really in the area of equity, inclusion and diversity, right?

Because this has become a really popular place for companies to funnel money into. And it's a great thing because companies are acknowledging, okay, we have some issues, in our organization and societally where women are unable to climb the ladder and we're unable to maintain female talent within our work pipelines, right?
And so there's been questions like, is it a pipeline issue? Meaning are there not enough women being educated in these areas and coming up the pipeline? What we've seen over and over and over is it is not a pipeline issue. It's that women are opting out from these companies and these opportunities because they do not align with them, they don't feel supportive.

So companies now are wanting to be more inclusive of women and they wanna create equity for everyone. So in that kind of funnel of money, they're acknowledging the problem and unfortunately they're just focusing on the symptoms and putting a bandaid on the symptoms. And what I mean by that is they're focusing on, okay, if we wanna have a higher percentage of women in our organization, then we just need to hire more of women.

Or if we wanna have more women in our C-suite, in our leadership status of our company, then we're gonna go ahead and just hire women into this certain position. That's not the answer, because the woman's gonna go into these positions. The organization is still not gonna be supportive and aligned with her.

She may or may not have success, but certainly after a certain point, she's not gonna feel supported. She's going to start to feel the symptoms of burnout and the, kind of resistance of working in a structure that is not truly aligned with her basic biological needs and her physiological operations and gifts.

I would love to see companies move away from just trying to fix the statistics because in the end, it's not sustainable and it's not gonna fix your problem. We need to get to the root of the problem within your organization, which is that the structure of it is not supportive of the women you have.

So if you wanna maintain the female talent that you have in your organization, you need to properly support them. You need to understand them. The biggest issue that so many companies are experiencing because they're like, we've got this diversity, equity, inclusion, department of our company now. We're putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into it. We're hiring more women. So we're still having the problem. What, what's going on? Well, you didn't fix the problem. You put a bandaid on the problem. So, What I'm asking them to do is a lot harder, because it's actually starting to restructure their company and the company culture and the way that they think and the way that they operate.

So it's always baby steps and when I work with an organization, it always starts from a different starting point because it depends on where they are. We have to meet the company where they are. Some companies already have some systems and structures that are somewhat aligned and supportive and flexible for women.

However, they just need small tweaks and they need more awareness raised within the organization and a few more support systems. So the changes can be quite small, but have huge impact. And every organization that I've worked with so far over, you know, several months to several years, they all see improvement in their bottom line, which is in the end what everybody wants, right?

That's the end goal that everybody is looking for, is they want to make more money, they wanna be more profitable, right? And that ends up happening when what you do is you take your human resources, which is the most valuable part of any company, and you're actually taking the portion that is female, right.

And now you're getting more out of that portion of the company, so you're actually utilizing your resources to their fullest potential. Whereas before you had this whole part of your resources that not only were you not utilizing to its full potential, but you're also were disempowering unknowingly.

So I know that this is kind of very strong, probably triggering language. And every company is different. Every place that we start is different. And the way that you communicate with folks with this information, it depends on where they are because you have to build awareness, build openness to start to think differently, to start to operate differently.

And then it kind of splinters and spiders out from there. And it's really a beautiful unfolding when big corporations can start to make small changes, and now everybody's feeling empowered. The company culture is improving and the bottom line is improving, and it's really just kind of a awesome process to be a part of.

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah, for sure. Because it's such a struggle and what you said with burnout as well, and there's such a huge fraction of the workforce that want to, but they, they just can't make it happen. And then , they leave and they go to work for themselves or whatever it is as well. 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yes. 

Claudia von Boeselager: It is definitely needed. And I think it's the missing piece in that puzzle of diversity inclusion, well let's make it not just adding more to it, but actually making the environment such that people can thrive in it as well. So, thank you for sharing that and amazing work in that space. 

Kayla, I'd love to go down the route of biohacking and biohacking for women, an area that you and I both love very much. What are some of the biggest must-dos that you recommend for women in the biohacking space? And what are some things that they should avoid and not do?

Kayla Osterhoff: Yeah. So this goes back to the same issues that we're seeing societally in corporations. It's the same for the individual woman, which is a lack of understanding that women are consistently kind of evolving and changing over the course of a month, and that we have to take this daily repetition, routines and health practices and all of that, that we're taught, right, even within our health, that consistency is the key to success.

But we don't learn the caveat that consistency is the key to success for men. For women it's not, it's consistent, but zoomed out to a month long consistency. So things repeat on a monthly basis, not on a daily basis. So this is the key to health, happiness, success for women. Is that we have to zoom out from a day to a month and then create routines around a month long schedule and allow things to evolve over the course of a month.

And again, going back to these four significant hormonal phases, what that means is that essentially women are like these four different women over the course of a month. And each of these four women that we are over the course of a month has different basic biological needs and also has different physiological operations and also needs different support, different environment, different infrastructure, different practices that will benefit us in each of these phases.

So, going back to biohacking specifically, there's some kind of pitfalls that so many women fall into. And it's not their fault. It's because in the biohacking community, which is very male dominant, if you look at all the major influencers in biohacking, you have, you know, the Ben Greenfields and the Dave Aspery's and the, you know, these men who are amazing leaders in the space of biohacking.

And they've done their research and they put that research out there. But what they're maybe not realizing and what the biohacking community is not acknowledging is that yes, they're putting out this research and data and also practicing on themselves and sharing their success. But remember the research is done on men.

So those findings and those outcomes are relevant to men. So we have to always have that caveat. And if somebody is referencing research and they're saying, for instance, intermittent fasting is healthy for everyone's metabolic function and it's something that everybody should be doing and the research is in and it helps with human growth factor.

It helps with brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It helps with ketogenesis, it helps with bio energetics, all this stuff right? It boosts immune system. Yes, yes, yes, yes. All of that is true and it is true for women, but only at specific times. So that's the big piece. So for women, just with the intermittent fasting example. Women should never be intermittent fasting or any kind of fasting every day consistently, because that is a sure way to burn out your hormones. It'll start with burning out your adrenals and then it will go downstream and start to burn out your female hormones, and also cause thyroid dysfunction and everything will go outta whack from there.

And women who are listening to this who have done intermittent fasting for, you know, several months to maybe even years, are probably saying, oh yeah, that's true. At first I started feeling really good and I had more energy and had more focus and all this stuff, but then, ooh, my face started breaking out, my hair started falling out. I may have had weight fluctuations, my energy levels are not maintained. And that's because it's not sustainable for women long term. So with every biohacking practice, it's the same thing. You have to understand how the physiology is shifting through the four different phases to understand when is it going to be an appropriate time to apply this particular health practice.

Or even maybe you still wanna use that health practice every day, but how you use it, the timing of how you use it, or the length or the duration or dosage might be different in different phases. And so that's where I suggest that women start is first of all, start with the reflection that you are actually four different women. You have different needs. And even just with that thought, you're already having ideas like, oh yeah, sometimes when I do this, it feels really good. And then sometimes it feels horrible. Well, that's because your physiological operations are changing and your biological needs are changing and shifting. 

We'll just go back to the example of fasting. With fasting there is time periods when our biology is aligned with that kind of a practice, and it is beneficial and it perpetuates our physiology in the direction it's already going. And that's kind of the key is you wanna go in the direction where the physiology is already going. You wanna go with the flow of the river rather than swimming up river, burning through your resources, which means, burnout, right? When you run out of resources and you're kind of running on empty. So with fasting, it can be a really supportive practice in certain phases where the hormones or the hormonal requirements are less dominant. So just for instance, phase one of the female hormone cycle, which is the menstrual phase, this is when the hormones are of estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest level.

There's also this metabolic and physiological downshift during this phase. And so even the caloric requirement for women is lower at that time, but also because the hormones are so low and there's not a focus on producing and maintaining either estrogen or progesterone at that time. You don't have to feed the hormones as much, right. It's actually a great time to be doing your fasting routine. But a lot of women are doing the opposite because they may go into that phase and have cravings for carbs and all these things, and the reason why they're having cravings is because they didn't feed their hormones and they didn't feed their body in the way that it needed to be fed in the phases going up to that phase.

So when you're having like cravings for sugar and carbs and all that inflammatory stuff that we may want in phase one, it's just a sign of hormonal dysfunction and which is caused by kind of being out of alignment with what your body needed in the phases moving up to that phase. So if you wanna practice intermittent fasting, start with doing it about the first week of your female hormone cycle and start to see how that feels.

And then you want to wean off of that as you go into the second week. And estrogen starts to rise because one, you wanna start feeding estrogen and you wanna get those building blocks in. Two, your caloric requirements are going up because your metabolism is speeding up. Also your neurochemical function is shifting and different things need to be fed there too.

And the way that your body metabolizes macros, so fats, carbs, and proteins into, ATP essentially, so it goes Acetyl-CoA through the citric acid cycle ends in ATP. That whole process shifts and changes and speeds up and slows down through each phase, and the amount of conversion of each one, fat, carb, protein actually changes as the metabolism shifts through each phase.

So that's a whole thing that would take a whole other conversation really get into. But having awareness that your metabolic activity, your metabolic requirements and the requirements to feed and maintain your hormones and your neurochemicals and all of this neuroendocrine cascade that happens from there, it does change significantly through each phase. So the way that you're eating also has to shift. 

Claudia von Boeselager: So I think, the key for people trying intermittent fasting, I think one is to focus on making sure you have a strong baseline, right? So that you're not depleted in minerals. I think a lot of people forget about that. And then number two, I like what you said as well, is that if you wanna try it out or adjust, do it during your menstrual cycle. And then, decrease from there. What about some other biohacking things? Cold exposure? Saunas for example. And things like that should women be more cautious about? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yeah. So again, it really applies to every kind of biohack, especially because biohacks, when they're labeled as biohacks, they tend to be kind of more invasive or have a more of a therapeutic effect, right?

So these are kind of big changes that you're doing in your lifestyle, big effort. So with biohacks in general, we just have to understand when is gonna be the right timing to apply this. And there's not really ever gonna be a biohack that should be consistently applied every single day the same for women.

At the very least, it should be four different ways that this is applied or maybe not used and used. One more example with cold exposure. With cold exposure, I'm gonna talk a little bit about the nervous system and how things shift in the female nervous system in different phases.

So the nervous system, and the quality of the nervous system determines what our stress capacity is as humans, right? So when the quality of our nervous system is poor or more sensitive, our capacity to handle stress is lower, or our stress bucket, right? The thing that carries all of our stress, this is an example that many people have been using lately.

So let's say we all have a stress bucket, and let's call this your nervous system, the quality of your nervous system. And all of our stressors go into our stress bucket. And that includes, you know, mental stressors or emotional stressors. So maybe family situations like what you and I are experiencing.

That's a big one. That's a lot is going in the bucket for that. Maybe work stress, maybe there's toxins in your environment. Maybe you're working out consistently every day. All of these things are stressors. Some of those things are positive forms of stress. Like exercise, like cold exposure, like fasting.

These are positive forms of stress. However, they all go in the stress bucket. And once that bucket is full, even if it's a positive form of stress and it's overflowing, it becomes distress. So the size of our bucket or the threshold of which we can handle stress, is determined by the quality of our nervous system. How much can we handle? 

That applies to everybody, men, women, everybody right? So with women, where it gets a lot more complex is the size of our bucket, naturally, no matter what's going on in our environment, which also changes the size of our bucket. Our bucket naturally gets bigger and smaller throughout the different phases.

What happens in general is the size of our nervous system bucket, our stress bucket, it starts out at its kind of smallest size at day zero or day one. So right at the end of phase four, the end of the lutial phase and the beginning of the menstrual phase, are buckets at its smallest size. And again, that's at the lowest hormonal state.

At this lowest place, it also, this is why things are really complex with women. It also is the size of the bucket is also influenced by the environment, right. By how many stressors are going on. But no matter what that is for you in your particular situation.

The bucket is smaller in this phase than it is in another phase. Going from there, as estrogen rises to a peak, the bucket gets bigger and there's more of a parasympathetic quality to the nervous system. There's a higher ability for rest and digest. There's a higher ability to handle things. So a woman's strength and endurance and capacity to do more things and outward focus.

And there's a lot of things contributing to this, but just in general, as estrogen rises the stress bucket gets bigger. And again, this is still influenced by the environment. So if your environment is pretty much staying the same, then your stress bucket is just gonna follow this curve. If your environment is changing, then it's gonna have dual influence of the hormones and environment.

So, as you go through and you get to the peak of estrogen, because of the global physiological shifts, it's not just estrogen, it's actually how estrogen influences everything else physiologically, that changes, and increases the size of the stress bucket. So now we can handle more than we can at day zero, once we get to like mid cycle.

And again, it's increasing that whole time. So then we get to the peak, the biggest part of our stress bucket. Okay, now we can handle more than we can handle at other times. So we can fit more stressors into the bucket and we have more space for those you stress that positive forms of stress. So again, going back to the cold exposure.

Cold exposure is amazing. It's really, really good to train our nervous system and actually help to increase that stress bucket over time. However, in the acute experience of cold exposure, it is a stressor and it does go into the stress bucket. So, what I wanna say about that is just make sure you have room in your stress bucket before you do something like cold exposure. Because your nervous system has to have the capacity to handle it in order to get the benefits of it. So my suggestion would be when your stress bucket is at its biggest size, as long as your bucket is actually creating space, and again, that's dependent on what your environment, what's going in.

Then great time to be doing cold exposure. Then as your stress bucket shrinks back down towards the end, you know, in the fourth week or first week, maybe you wanna reflect and see how are you feeling? How is the quality of your nervous system? Even though your stress bucket is smaller, some women may still have space in there, they may still have some room.

So in that case, go for it. But if you don't, if you're feeling that, if you're, for instance, experiencing symptoms of PMS, right? That is a sign that your stress bucket has gotten smaller than what you can handle and what you're putting into it. So absolutely do not do anything like cold exposure or any forms of positive stress that are just gonna overflow outta your bucket.

Claudia von Boeselager: It depends on the time of year and also my willpower I will do at the end of a shower, either just at the end, turn it cold or have a full prolonged cold shower. So I just wonder, am I causing more stress? 
If I don't do it, I notice such a huge difference, is that just cause I do have space in the, in the stress bucket as you call it? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Most likely, and somebody like you, you're doing a lot of things to increase the size of your stress bucket on a daily basis. I know you practice meditation, you do breath work, you do self-care, you do all of these things to maintain a healthy nervous system and keep your stress bucket bigger. So most likely that is the case.

And I would just also reflect on how you feel not right after, but later on in the day. Because part of what wakes you up from a cold shower, is it does increase and spike your cortisol right? Which also at the same time, is also going to increase your blood sugar levels because your body is going, oh, we need energy, so we're gonna increased blood sugar levels too. So at the same time of doing that, you're kind of getting this physiological boost of energy that later, if not properly supported can cause a crash. So if you feel really good after your cold shower, but then a few hours later you kind of go into a slump, then you know that maybe your stress bucket couldn't really handle it.

Because yes, it does wake you up, it does make you more alert, it gets you in the body, which is beautiful and amazing, and no matter what, it's still going to increase cortisol. It's going to rev up the nervous system, it's gonna rev up the metabolism and it's gonna increase your blood sugar. And then over time as you train your nervous system to not feel the shock, you know, as you are able to maintain just peace and calm through that, then those physiological effects will be less, but they'll still be there. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Okay. That's a really good indicator I think as well. We're all into optimizing ourselves, but we are human. 
Kayla I'd love to touch on a point around neurodiversity. I know that you study the brain and many different areas, but not specifically this area. What are you seeing in the neurodiversity space? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yeah. So this is a really interesting area of research and understanding human health and behavior. And, you know, we're acknowledging now as a society that there is neurodiversity, right. Which is great.

And one thing that we are acknowledging too, but just starting to scratch the little surface is that there's neurodiversity between men and women. The female brain and the male brain are completely different organisms. They operate completely differently. The neuro electrical function, the neurochemical function, and the connectivity, all of that stuff is actually very different in the female brain versus the male brain.

So that's one thing, but what you're talking about is neurodiversity in terms of, like ADHD, autism and some of these, I guess diverse, we could call them, these different ways that the brain may operate, that shows up in behavioral patterns. So the interesting part about this is that for women, the diagnosis of some of these conditions, some of these neurological conditions, happens a lot later or sometimes never.

Whereas for men, it's usually caught, diagnosed, treated, a lot earlier on. And again, this goes back to that gap in the health science research. It's because women are not studied and understood. The female brain is certainly not understood at the level that it should be. We're starting to make these discoveries and connections, but it's not kind of mainstream yet.

And we need a whole lot more research just looking at the female brain and the differences to really understand this. But that's also why women are diagnosed later on. And some of these conditions are caught a lot later in life. So that's a big contributing factor is that women are not studied, not understood at the same level.
But there's also, going back to what we were talking about at the very beginning, is that women have this propensity to think about others first. And they're really concerned about how others feel and what others think. And so when women think, oh, you know, maybe there's something wrong with me, or I'm different than other people, they compensate at a higher level because they are concerned about the outside world, other people. And that's what's called masking, right? And so women may be able to hide this difference in their neurology that does have an impact on how they function, but they are able to hide it a lot easier, and they have this kind of propensity to do so. So there's kind of like two things working against women in terms of really getting an understanding of neurodiversity, what that means for women.

We don't have an understanding of what that means for women. The research and the data is not there. It needs to be there. But we also have to be acknowledging and catching these differences and these changes in women sooner, and have abilities to identify masking, even at a really young age so that we can start to, get the information that we need in order for these treatment pathways or even societal changes that are needed to support folks with different neurological functioning. In order to do that, we really have to understand what's going on with them. And so it goes back to my initial call, which is, you know, we need to study women more. We need to understand what's going on in women's physiology and neurology, and look at those differences even starting at a young age.

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah, super important because if it can be picked up earlier then children can learn key strategies and tools instead of suppressing. 

And so the more we're able to support, not just women, but in general, I think, the workplace and life and open up to the fact that, hey, we're all different and that's actually really cool. And let's see how we can support each other. So I really applaud the work that you're doing in this space Kayla.

Kayla Osterhoff: Thank you. Yeah. And one other thing there that comes to mind that we really need to be aware of as a society is that, with women in general, our cognitive function and capacity does change through the different phases of the female hormone cycle.

So the way that we operate is gonna be different in terms of our mood our kind of personality, how we show up in the world, our emotional intelligence, our mental acuity, our energy levels, all of that stuff ebbs and flows. And if we don't acknowledge that, then we may think, oh, I've got something wrong with me, or I'm depressed, or, you know, I need to go on some kind of antidepressant or anti-anxiety.

When really what needs to happen is an embracing of these changes and shifts to allow it to be okay. It's okay if my mood is different in this phase versus this phase. And actually I'm gonna embrace that and lean into it. It's okay if I have more mental energy at this time and then less at this time.

It doesn't mean that I need to drink extra cups of coffee and take all the new tropics and force myself to try to be the same every single day. If we can take that pressure off to be the same, even cognitively. And what the skills that we're able to operate with, then we might have women able to kind of, navigate with their mental wellbeing and with their cognitive capacities better. And some of these diagnosises, may actually just be a result of being forced out of their natural rhythm. 

Claudia von Boeselager: How would you recommend women better understand their hormones, so that they can manage their own health a bit better? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yeah, so there's not that many really great tools in order to really understand what's going on with your hormones, especially your female hormones. And the tools that are out there are pretty expensive and inaccessible to some folks.
So for instance, like the gold standard would be to get a dry urine test of hormones because you really wanna be looking at the metabolites of hormones, which again, is more than you need to know. But anyway, you don't really wanna be looking at blood levels of hormones, because first of all gonna tell you very little.

You wanna be looking at the metabolites and you also wanna be looking at the hormones within the context of when are these hormones being measured and what would the normal levels be? And then what are my levels? so a DUTCH test is kind of the best case scenario. It's available in many countries.

I know for sure it's really accessible here in the US. It's something you can order for yourself. And then DUTCH also has a ton of like YouTube videos to learn how to read your results. So it is pretty accessible, but it is expensive. The other thing that women can do is, you know, start to at least track your menstrual cycle, and there's a whole other aspect of this, how women still have a biological rhythm that's about a month long, whether you have a period or not. So it can be hard to track if you don't have a period to mark. I know I'm in phase one. Pretty easy to tell, right? Some women can't tell when they're in phase one versus another phase.

So then understanding, you know, how the hormones ebb and flow, how they're supposed to naturally ebb and flow in each phase, and then start to kind of learn some of these key aspects of the physiology that go along and correlate with those hormonal changes. I provide lots of free information and resources around this through my social media, through my website,

And I do masterclass all the time, and then I have courses on this as well. It gets pretty complex, and again, there's a lot of moving parts and it's, it takes a while to build your understanding around it, but at least starting with tracking, at least starting with what you know is naturally supposed to occur.

And then start learning kind of build your knowledge base from there. Start learning how these interactions with these different hormones, have different physiological outcomes like we talked about earlier with energy levels and conversion of macros and our neuroelectricity or neurochemistry.

All of these things have implications. So, I know that's not like a very straightforward answer, but this is the problem is that women don't have a straightforward answer. Things are very complex, so it's gonna take us a little time to learn and understand and grow that knowledge base, and start to get this information out there in the mainstream.

Claudia von Boeselager: Can you just for people listening or watching, just say again where people can find the resources. And what are your social media handles? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yeah, on socials, I'm @biocurious_kayla. And I have all kinds of free resources there.
If you scroll back, you'll find a lot of my posts are like mini research papers and a lot of free information. That's a great place to start. If you go to, you can also hop on my email list. If you get on my email list, you'll get announcements whenever I'm having free classes, whenever I have new offerings, new courses.

And I'm also offering a monthly newsletter with some of these, kind of key pieces about female health and physiology and neurology. And so that's a great place to be connected as well. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Amazing. And we'll link those, also on the show notes for people listening. Kayla, what are some things that excites you most? What are some things that you're working on that you'd like to share? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yeah, I think right now I'm really excited to be kind of finishing up my doctoral degree. And I'm in my research phase of my dissertation. And that's really exciting because in my dissertation, I'm a actually mapping the global female physiology, including the brain function and all of these, kind of other physiological shifts that occur through the female hormone cycle to build more of this awareness, more of this evidence space.

So when that comes out, I will share those publications with folks, and I hope that this will spark some more interest for more women to join the science field and start studying women and also, you know, men to start getting curious in this kind of new frontier of research. And so, I'm just excited to be kind of on this leading edge of this new frontier of research, and I hope to eventually work myself out of a job where we understand the female physiology very well, and we don't need folks like me out there educating. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Well, I'd love to have you back on when you have your results out and we can discuss it again. Kayla, before we sign off, any final ask, recommendation or parting thoughts or message for my audience today. 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yeah. So my ask is, for men, women, everybody out there listening is to reflect on your female counterparts in the world. And, you know, maybe give them some time today a little acknowledgement that things are different for them. And if you can go one step past that, then maybe you can also provide them a little flexibility to actually do things differently. And that would be amazing. If we could all just do that. We would have massive shift in the world and change, I think. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Yeah. And less anxiety and stress and actually creativity and intuition, all these other beautiful things that can come through, right? 

Kayla Osterhoff: Yes. Absolutely. 

Claudia von Boeselager: Kayla, so amazing to have you back on. Thank you so much for your time. Always wonderful seeing you. And, and best of luck with your father. 

Kayla Osterhoff: Thank you. And you as well with, with your mama and family situation. 

I’m Claudia von Boeselager

Longevity Coach, detail-loving educator, big-thinking entrepreneur, podcaster, mama, passionate adventurer, and health optimization activist here to help people transform their lives, and reach their highest potential! All rolled into one.

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