Jeanette Cajide is a figure skater and your typical MBA with a background as an investment banking analyst, consultant, and startup founder. She has college degrees from UT Austin, Northwestern and Harvard.
She is a beta tester enthusiast and her hobby is predicting future technology trends. She started writing in 2012 when Arianna Huffington invited her to become a guest blogger for the Huffington Post.
After her startup failed, she became highly sought out as a speaker and writer where she guest wrote for Entrepreneur Magazine and Thrive Global. Jeanette returned to competitive figure skating at the age of 40 and two years later, she won the Gold Medal at both Adult Sectionals and Adult Nationals in her division.
Although they warned her in business school to never end up on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, she recently made the front page as a human interest story on her training, biohacking and what it takes to win as you get older.
In this article, Jeanette shares the lessons she’s learned on her journey to reverse aging and achieving performance and recovery through biohacking.
I am in better shape now as a 45 year old figure skater than I was in my 30s. In order to understand the significance of this, you need to understand where I came from. By the time I turned 30 years old, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, PCOS, IBS, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and ADHD. I have overcome all of these health issues except for one - endometriosis, a painful condition that affects the quality of your life.
I always assumed biohacking was for males in technology, who drank nothing but Soylent, raved about how much energy they got from MCT oil, let you know how focused they feel doing intermittent fasting and how they walk 20,000 steps a day. Stereotype much? I was never interested in this kind of extreme nonsense.
I became interested in biohacking in 2015 when I received the devastating news that my ten year old golden retriever Brinkley had cancer. Of course, I wanted to do everything I could to save his life. Although he was old for a golden retriever, I was not ready to lose him. He was my first child, my best friend, my soulmate, my rock. When I said I’d do everything, I meant it.
I leveraged the information I had previously learned on nutrigenomics to help Brinkley. We followed the conventional medicine approach with multiple surgeries and medication, but I did my own research as well. I learned about a wonderful mushroom called Turkey Tail. In clinical studies, it has been proven to shrink cancerous tumors. I loaded up all of his meals with a powder form of the mushroom. For pain meds, I gave him a steady dose of CBD Oil.
Brinkley passed in 2018 and lived to be almost 14 battling three different forms of cancer after trying acupuncture treatments, cold laser therapy, and energy healing. The vet acknowledged that I had done everything humanly possible to extend his life. I squeezed every last drop of his pure soul.
I canvased my brain for my happier days and one memory jumped out -- ice skating. I was a naturally gifted skater and quit abruptly to train full-time as a professional ballerina. I chose ballet because it was the safest route. In figure skating, I’d be competing for three spots every year whereas in ballet, each company had 20+ ballerinas and there were several companies that I could dance with.
When I returned to figure skating at age 40, I learned U.S. Figure Skating had a competitive adult training program. We have our own levels, Sectionals and Nationals. I immediately went to work. Initially I started training one hour a day, four to five days a week. I now can train six days a week for two to three hours a day (this includes both my on ice and off ice workouts) and I am able to recover daily without concerns. I suffered a lot of injuries including broken bones and I was on the cusp of a Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis.
“I became interested in biohacking out of necessity. The body will go where the mind tells it to go and I was so sick of myself at this point I was willing to try anything”
I’m going to fast forward and tell you how I rehabilitated myself to be disease free -- or at least in remission of a lot of what troubled me in the past. I could not rely on my doctors to help me because I needed to iterate quickly (much like building a product) and Western medicine is better at treating symptoms not treating the root cause.
I did have a friend who was getting her functional medicine certification (she is a doctor) and she helped me navigate the medical world. She was the one who tested my CRP-r which came back high, indicating inflammatory response in the body. This set the wheels in motion for more testing that led me to seeing a Rheumatoid Arthritis specialist. I also used an at-home testing service, EverlyWell for additional medical testing.
Nearly 75% of U.S. adults over 20 years old are either overweight or obese. I think this starts with overeating and lack of exercise, but later snowballs into metabolic disorders. Here is what helped me lose 30 pounds:
When starting a new lifestyle, it is good to track what you eat so you can learn how much you actually need to eat. I use MyFitnessPal to track all of my food and I paid for the premium service so I can see the breakdown of macros.
Get yourself a food scale. If you don’t have a food scale here is an easy way to gauge a serving: full fist is 1 cup of carbs, half a fist is ½ cup of carbs, your thumb is your fat and your palm (not including your fingers) is a serving of protein. Learn about macros but do not obsess. Macros are Protein, Fat and Carbs. The reason why I track macros is that I notice different ratios affect my body differently. I have experimented with 50/20/30, 50/30/20, 40/30/30 and as it turns out, my best is 50 Fat, 25 Protein, 25 Carbs. I eat a lot of olive oil, avocado, nuts and eggs so fats add up fast. It keeps me full and I’m able to use fat for fuel when I train.
I hired a nutritionist friend who also experiments on her own body. For her own curiosity, she has tried popular diets (Paleo, Keto, Plant-Based, etc.) so she can learn how it affects her body and mind. She also experiments with different competitive sports and everything she sets her mind out to do, she accomplishes it. I think it is easier to take advice from people who walk the walk.
We did eventually eliminate foods that tend to be inflammatory for a while (eggs, dairy, soy, corn, beans, nuts) and that really helped me. I don’t believe you have to eliminate foods forever.
Remember, diets are cults. People bond around their diet labels. Read the book “Diet Cults”. I also recommend the book “The Beck Diet Solution” which is a cognitive approach to eating.
I also use a continuous glucose monitor -- Levels Health which has helped me in ways I could not articulate. Learning how my body responds to different foods has been a game changer. I started using Levels in November 2020 and felt like I had a good handle on things. Then I broke my wrist in April 2021 and had surgery. There were weeks where a salad would spike my glucose. It is fascinating to see how it’s not just what we eat that affects our bodies but the environment around us.
I used a DNA test to get custom vitamins made just for me. I think they help as I never felt a benefit from over-the-counter vitamins. I use Vitamin Lab.
I take N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) which is an amino acid that increases glutathione levels. I’ve been told that if you have any athletic ambition, to ensure your glutathione levels are high. I supplement with glutathione when I feel energy depleted.
I also take Wobenzym N (by Douglas Labs), which is recommended for the treatment of pain and inflammation associated with musculoskeletal disorders.
I take CBD Oil from CV Sciences. Not all CBD Oil is created equally and I’ve tried several. The one I like from CV Sciences is the Gold Formula. I take it every morning before I skate.
I take Vitamin D, Calcium and some extra B-6 to help the nervous system.
I’ll talk about this for a second because I feel like a lot of people are not super in tune with their nervous system. This is the computer center of the body. Recovery is measured by how well your nervous system bounces back from stress. How do you know? HRV (heart rate variability) is key. You can objectively measure your stress levels every day.
I do Muscle Activation Technique every other week. MAT restores symmetry and balance to the body's muscular system. This is my pre-hab.
I do acupuncture every other week. My acupuncturist is a nervous system specialist. He helps people who have had tragic spinal cord injuries regain sensation.
I do not use sound alarms to wake up. This stresses me out. I use a Hatch Rest which is a light that turns on in my room.
I use the Ooler Chilipad to keep my core body temperature low while I sleep. This helps lower inflammation and helps with recovery.
I wear an Oura Ring and study my readiness metrics religiously. I pay attention to the trends for HRV, respiratory rate, body temperature and resting heart rate.
Things that affect my scores:
Drinking alcohol - even 4 ounces will trigger higher resting heart rate and low HRV score
Eating too soon before bed or eating a heavy meal - I eat light dinners and try to eat between 4-5 p.m. every night
I go to bed by 8:30 PM and aim for a 90% efficiency score - the amount of time I am asleep vs how much time I’m in bed.
I try to sleep 7.5 - 9 hours a night.
My average HRV is now 49 vs 35 which is around when I had surgery on my wrist and had to stop skating for a month.
I use binaural beats to help my brain recover. I find this type of music also helps me with concentration, thus reducing a lot of my ADHD symptoms.
When I work out, I use a HR monitor from MyZone. This data gets fed into my Oura, giving me a more complete picture of how hard my body is working and how well I’m recovering.
If you really want to help your brain, limit social media and aim to do a digital sabbath at least one day a week. Your brain is constantly scanning for danger and/or judgment. You think that scrolling, even things you love like Pinterest, is ok? It is not. Do you feel refreshed? No. You are exhausted because you’ve had to make so many decisions (like, share, comment, think) in those hours when you were supposed to be “resting!”
I’ve shared a lot of life hacks that I learned through trial and error. This summary took me about three years worth of research and experimenting on myself. There were many more tools I used (like FitBit) and supplements. What works for me may not work for you. What excites me the most is how adaptive the body is. Consistency is boring. Most people give up if they do not see results right away. But it is consistency that leads to breakthroughs.
I think the reason why I got so sick in my 20s and 30s is that I never learned how to manage stress. I was working 80 hour weeks, eating the worst food, getting very little sleep and not committing to workouts because I preferred to sleep or work. There was never anything really wrong with me except for my lifestyle.
Biohacking has given me an objective and measurable way to track success that is not a number on a scale. It helps me fine tune my body with data. I wish the medical profession could incorporate technology into how they treat patients. The future of medicine will be personalized medicine.