Here is the full transcript of nutritional biochemist Dr Libby Weaver’s TEDx Talk: The Pace of Modern Life Versus Our Cavewoman Biochemistry at TEDxQueenstown conference. To learn more about the speaker, read the bio here.
Right click to download the MP3 audio:
Dr Libby Weaver – Nutritional biochemist
Thank you so much.
There is a crisis facing women’s health and it affects everyone around us: our partners, our fathers, our brothers, our children and it is critical that we get to the heart of the matter and resolve the why behind it.
Not that long ago, in the evolution of humanity, women were given the opportunity to do what has traditionally been their father’s jobs but they’ve maintained what were traditionally their mothers’ responsibilities. And so what has unfolded for far too many women is a frantic double shift of work day and night, and this never ends. They so desperately need rest but when we live in this frantic pace, living on adrenaline, trying to be all things to all people, it can have dire physical, mental and emotional consequences.
And it breaks my heart, because these women walk through the doors of my office and they say to me that they scream at their children and they hate themselves afterwards. But they feel like they have no control over it. They tell me that if they don’t do it, it won’t get done. They tell me that they’re exhausted that they’re tired but wired that they can’t cope that they wish there were more hours in the day, that they can’t remember anything, and that they have absolutely no bandwidth left. But we won’t let you see any of that, because we keep our smiles firmly in place.
So why do we do it? We do it, because we care so much for the people in our lives. It comes from such a beautiful place. It comes, because we have beautiful hearts. But even deeper than that, it comes because we made up a story a really long time ago that we aren’t enough the way we are, that we aren’t good enough, tall enough, slim enough, pretty enough, brainy enough, on-time enough, that we’re just not enough the way that we are. And so we spend our lives trying to please everyone in our realm, trying to make sure that they love us and appreciate us so that we never ever have to feel rejected or ostracized.
But it’s not just the physical health consequences that concern me for women. It’s that they live their life so out of touch with those beautiful hearts, and in the cloud of false belief that they aren’t enough. Too many women have lost their sense of place in this world but a return to that sense of place is right at hand, a return to true presence, to true connection, to one another, to our land, a sense of real gratitude, a place where there’s calm, a place where there’s no anxiety, a place where there are no migraines and where there’s no PMT, so that we scream at the people we love the most in the world and regret it afterwards. That time is at hand. It is time for the dawning of a new era for women it has to be and that new era is going to begin right now.
Cavewoman up there on the left: she represents historical woman. And juggling woman on the right: she represents modern woman. Now these two girls, they’re made of the same stuff. They’re both made up of about 50 trillion cells. Now 50 trillion is a number that can go over our head with its enormity. So I’ll use time to paint the picture of just how big that is.
One trillion seconds ago was 32,000 years ago. But we have 50 trillion cells inside our body. And the only way they work: they all want to talk to each other and they need nutrients to be able to communicate. And the only place we get our nutrients from is from our food. And I’m deeply concerned that when we live life at such a frantic pace, we can compromise the way we nourish ourselves and not get enough nutrients for these basic biochemical processes inside of us.
I went to university for 14 years and whenever I say that out loud, I know it makes me sound really thick. But I loved it, I loved learning, I still do. And while I was doing my PhD in biochemistry, I had all of the biochemical pathways of the body mapped out on the biggest pieces of paper I could find, plastered all over my bedroom walls. I was like a Nutty Professor, but it was the only way I was ever going to learn it.
And when you see the body mapped out like that you get such a deep appreciation for the critical role that nutrients play in our body, because they convert substance X into substance Y, might be zinc that’s needed for that. And if you don’t have enough zinc, substance X will accumulate and you might not then have enough substance Y and that might impact your happiness, or your stress hormone production or your ability to sleep or your ability to burn body fat.
But you don’t just get a deep appreciation for the vital role nutrients play. When I saw the body mapped out like that and that’s what I want everyone to see is you see the absolute miracle that we are. Miraculous — if you knew who you truly are, you would be in awe of yourself.
So let’s make that happen right now. So when cavewoman ran, she ran to escape from danger or maybe to pursue her next meal. But juggling woman: she runs with her conscious mind knowing that it’s in the pursuit of fitness but her subconscious mind, the part of her body that she can’t instruct with her own thoughts, the part of her body that she can’t communicate with, it’s the part of your body that governs how quickly your heart beats, how quickly your hair grows, how quickly your fingernails grow. If you cut yourself, you don’t have to stand there and have a conversation for the next three days with that cut saying hurry up and heal. Your body has the resources to send what it needs to that particular point to heal it. And every time I say that out loud it blows my head off my shoulders. That’s miraculous but that’s our subconscious.
But juggling woman — when she runs, she has cavewoman technology, so she is asking her body to create a different meaning for the first time ever in the entirety of human evolution that she’s okay, that she’s running for fitness. Her conscious mind knows it but her subconscious mind creates the meaning that it’s always created.
So science suggests that we’ve been on the planet for about 150,000 years and you can see the blue line over here represents 2000 years ago, so roughly how long we’ve had a calendar. You can see that that’s a blip compared to the other 150,000 years that we’ve been on the planet. The red line right beside time zero represents the last century. So it’s a minuscule fraction of time that we’ve been on the planet, and that’s expanded out here across the bottom so that you can visually see the enormous change that’s happened just in the last century alone, let alone in the last decade.
So in 1914, what was life like for women then? Around World War II, even the postage stamp had started to change what women were about telling us that we could do it as women entered the workforce.
In the 1960s, it wasn’t just that the fashions were changing and our skirts were getting shorter. The media announced the whole world that there was now a birth control pill available to all.
Through the 80s, we showed that we could match it with men in every arena with a woman being the global head of power.
And then in 2014, here’s juggling woman working day and night at this frantic pace asking her body to make a different decision, to make a different meaning from the entirety of human history. And to cope — to get the energy, to do what she wants to do in a day, too many women warm up with caffeine and cool down with alcohol. We forget that our body can do that on its own and when we regularly over-consume those substances, you actually take the edge off your energy, you take the edge off your vitality and you take the edge off your greatness. And you can miss the absolute miracle of your existence and how magnificent it all is.