Review: New Mood

I have written a few different times about my experiences with Onnit products.  I have had really great results with both Alpha Brain and ShroomTech Sport.

As a little update on the ShroomTech… In my original review, I said that I thought it was possible I was naturally increasing my endurance and so maybe it was more of a placebo effect.  While I believe I am increasing my endurance and ability just from keeping up on work outs, I have learned that I can absolutely tell a difference between when I work out with ShroomTech and when I don’t.  Runs are an especially different experience.  I think I have more energy, perform better, and recover faster on the ShroomTech than without it.  I didn’t re-order more for a long time and not taking it as much, if at all, and that’s when I noticed the difference.  My pace was getting better, but not like it was when I was on using the supplements.  I know that it gets advertised for really hard exercise like jiu jitsu, kickboxing, etc, but I definitely think it is worth it even for a run lasting longer than a couple of miles.  You’ll definitely feel the difference after activity, if not during.

Onto the next one..

New Mood

New Mood was the obvious next try in the list of Onnit products.  I was really interested in the idea of this since it promotes relaxation, better sleep, and serotonin production. If you are curious about the benefits of serotonin you can read up or just know that it plays a big part in your mood, appetite, sleep, etc.  Anti-depressants are often classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), helping your brain to better use this oh-so-important neurotransmitter to overcome depression, anxiety, etc.  I have used SSRIs myself in the past both for anxiety and depression, so I was especially interested to see what effect New Mood might have on me.

As per usual, Onnit talks about the science behind the product.  The product page tells you all kinds of things about the ingredients and what they’re for, so I won’t go crazy with all the details.  Basic things though: L-tryptophan (that stuff that puts you to sleep after Thanksgiving dinner) and 5-HTP (often recommended as a sleeping aid and for mood)  are big components.  It also has vitamins B6 and D3, magnesium, niacin, as well as things like chamomile. Upon first look at the ingredients, I was feeling pretty good.  I like post-turkey dinner naps and anything that boosts my mood and helps calm my anxiety.  The formula seemed full of that stuff.

As I usually do, I started out with the taking just one pill. I didn’t see much of anything from that so then I upped it the next day to two, which is the recommended dose.  I remember waking up after taking New Mood the night before and feeling a little more refreshed, I’d say.  I didn’t feel as dragged down.  It was probably the second or third day that I started to have the problem: headaches. Every morning, I was waking up with a headache.  I do get a lot of headaches, so I didn’t think too much about it until it started to become a real trend. I stopped taking the New Mood after I realized that it could be the one causing the problem and things seemed to return to normal.

I can’t tell you 100% that the New Mood is what was giving me headaches.  I contacted Onnit and asked them if they had gotten any other responses related to migraines or if I had neglected to notice a migraine/headache trigger in the list of ingredients.  I had a little trouble getting a hold of someone, but once I did, I was told that they had not been getting negative feedback on this issue.  They also mentioned the niacin could cause problems, but my own basic searches haven’t brought up much related to niacin causing headaches.  The nice customer service person did recommend that I could try a combination of 5-HTP and and B6 on my own to try and get a similar effect to the New Mood. This I haven’t tried yet.

Overall, I don’t feel like I can say much more other than I did feel well rested and good the next day, but unfortunately in pain.  Onnit was great about it, of course, and held up to their money-back guarantee.  I really appreciate that they took the time to get back to me about my concerns and try to right the problem.  I have heard good things about New Mood from other places, so I recommend giving it a try if you’re interested.  I still think that anything Onnit makes is probably worth a test drive since I’ve had such good experiences with most of it.

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Review: ShroomTech Sport

A few months ago, I talked about my experience with Alpha Brain from Onnit.  So a little update on that before I get started talking about ShroomTech… I began taking it in September, had to stop for my surgery in October, but have been taking it pretty steadily.  I can tell you that it definitely does something for my mood.  I’m less grouchy overall. I still feel like my brain is just firing better most days.  The cloudiness from the nerve medicine I was on for my back has gone away.  I am also experiencing the crazy dreams that people mention having while they’re taking it.  You can read more about Alpha Brain and dreaming here. The short of it is that Alpha Brain encourages more REM sleep, which is why dreams become more vivid and just plain crazier.  The other day I had a dream that I had body guards and got married naked.  It was a crazy ride.

The dreaming for me, though, is not the main attraction or the main benefit.  The fact that my brain just feels like it’s working better is the winning part and what keeps me using it.  If I start to feel a little out of it mid-day, I will pop an extra one on occasion and it seems to help. If I have had a couple of drinks and wake up groggy and out of it the next day, Alpha Brain has helped clear that away.  The website has updated side effects and dosing, as well as a lot of other great info.  I can’t speak highly enough about it. Go check it out.

ShroomTech Sport

Because of how much I liked the Alpha Brain, I ordered some of their new sport performance formula ShroomTech Sport around the time that it first came out.  I wanted to see if it would help with running and/or weightlifting. I was skeptical about it, but gave it a few tries. It’s been a couple of months since I started using it on and off.

I started using one pill a day, as I prefer to use the least amount of something necessary.  At first, it didn’t seem to do much.  I began to notice that recovery seemed a little smoother, though. I upped my dose to two pills randomly one day and ended up with my fastest pace to date (and since) on a run. I haven’t sat down and logged what work-outs I’ve used it on and what ones I haven’t so I can’t give a good baseline.  When I’m paying attention, I feel the most difference with recovery and end up still feeling pretty energized after my cooldown and stretching.  I believe that my longest run time was also done while using ShroomTech, which speaks to it’s help towards energy and endurance.

It could easily be said that I’m just improving my fitness and pace naturally, so I can’t attribute performance to ShroomTech yet.  That would be a fair statement to make and I definitely recognize that.  I also know the power of the placebo effect and there are some days when I specifically tell myself, “I’m taking this to get better results.”  Sometimes that works and sometimes not.  I don’t think that ShroomTech can totally take over and make your work-out amazing if you didn’t get proper rest or nutrition, etc.  I think that just like the Alpha Brain, it’s just going to give you a little edge.  I will take that.  I’ll also take all the great B12 in it. Ha! The website lists all the ingredients and will explain all about the cordyceps sinensis, the mushroom behind the “shroom” part.

While I don’t recommend ShroomTech Sport with the same confidence that I do Alpha Brain, I definitely say it’s worth a shot if you want to just get a little bit more out of whatever your work-out may be.

The next thing I plan to try is their New Mood formula. It’s got 5-HTP among other things to help balance your mood and also things to help you relax and get better rest.  It should be arriving in the next day or so and with holiday stress upon us all, I’m really interested to see if it helps me out.

 

EDITED 03.30.12: New Mood review is here.

The Great Gallbladder Break-Up: 1 Month Later

A month ago today, I broke up with my gallbladder.

Yesterday, a friend and I were talking about it and he put it a really good way: It’s like when you’re short-staffed at work. You still do the same job that you had to do anyway, but it’s a little harder and you can tell something is missing.

That pretty much sums it up.  After the follow-up with my surgeon, I was still having problems.  Incidentally, my GP had gotten all the reports from the hospital about my surgery and her office called to see if I wanted a follow-up with her.  I did.  I like my surgeon a lot.  This is the second surgery I’ve been through with him and I trust him to do a good job and take care of things.  He will answer any questions I have and address any concerns, but he is very straight-forward and a little short when he talks. I needed a little bit more than that.

When I went to see my GP on the 31st (about 3 weeks after the surgery), I was still having pain at the main incision sites (one on my upper stomach, one below my bellybutton). I was also still feeling lightheaded and I had a very scary experience where I no longer felt able to talk right.  It happened at work one morning and I felt like I was slurring my speech, unable to get my tongue to do what I needed it to do to make words happen. I was also concerned about my digestion and stomach problems.  My surgeon had told me everything was normal under the circumstances and my GP said about the same thing.

What they don’t seem to tell you when you undergo anesthesia (or at least what they didn’t tell me), is that your cells suck that stuff up and hold onto it.  Your cells then decide to randomly release some of that medicine.  She said it happens for most people in the afternoon and they get really tired.  For me, it seems to happen about 10 in the morning or so and that’s also when the speech problems happen.  Like clockwork, every time I’ve had the problem, it has been the same time of day. This is normal for about two months after surgery.  It also helped explain not being able to stop myself from sleeping 11-12 hours at a time.  I am doing that less, but I can tell you that I’m still tired  A LOT. Normal post-surgery, but a pain nevertheless.  The lightheaded feeling is probably also connected to the anesthesia, so hopefully that goes away within the month also.

As far as pain from the incision sites: 1 year.  The doctor said it can take up to a year for that to go away.  Really?!?  No one told me that either! She took a look at my scars and said that I was having some hypertrophic scarring.  Luckily, I am not developing keloids, but in order to help the scarring stay more minimal, she recommended applying something like Bio-Oil to them with as much massaging as I could handle.  I have already been able to tell a difference.  The worst scar is below my bellybutton and it has the most raised scar tissue.  I’m not sure if it’s shrinking exactly, but it looks like it’s healing better. (A side note: I had a dream that the Bio-Oil worked so well that it started to make my bellybutton disappear. Not reality, thankfully.)

My stomach problems have been the worst part, really.  Here is also where we get into TMI territory, so consider yourself warned and feel free to skip this paragraph. After I eat, I almost always feel stomach pain of some sort. It’s not constantly awful and sometimes it’s just a minor annoyance, but it is a marked difference. I also have noticed an increase in gas.  I have discovered that eating spaghetti with tomato sauce is a giant NO. The acid is just too much and I end up laying on the couch wishing I hated pasta.  I also think that I can’t drink a lot of alcohol anymore.  I had a couple of glasses of wine one night and everything seemed fine. At a friend’s wedding, I consumed about 3 rum and cokes over a several hour period.  The next day, I almost shit myself.  I can’t trace any food I ate that night to that sort of reaction again, so I can only assume it was the alcohol. I haven’t drank since.  Everything in general seems to move through my system a little faster now than it used to and I have had to become more comfortable with public bathrooms than I ever expected.  Overall, I seem to be able to eat most things without much problem, which is a relief.  The doctor did suggest that I start on a probiotic in order to get myself a little more regulated and a little less uncomfortable.  We’ll see how that goes as I haven’t noticed a difference yet.

All in all, things are generally manageable.  I will be really happy if the probiotic helps my stomach and I will be especially happy if I can get these tired feelings under control as well.  I am still cautious about some foods, which I think is probably a good thing anyway.

I was talking the other day about how there are some things you can never undo.  Taking out your gallbladder is one of those things. I don’t regret doing it, especially since it apparently needed to happen, but I wish I had been better educated about exactly what I was getting into afterwards.  Nothing is unmanageable by any stretch and things can always be worse, but I didn’t sit down and think “Well, you could always have more stomach problems after” or “Be prepared to want to sleep for half the day.”  I think I probably should have planned to take some more time off of work or at least plan for an extra day off here or there so that I didn’t/don’t feel so drained all the time.  Whenever I get bummed about how something feels, I try to remind myself that it’s only been ___ amount of time. It’s only been a month.  I’m allowed to still feel tired or have stomach trouble or whatever it is after losing an organ only a month ago. Figuring out what things work (smaller meals, teas for digestion, etc) and what things don’t (alcohol, etc) is part of this process.  I have to give myself time to do that also.