As many of you know, I was trained in Dr. Sara Gottfried’s Hormone Cure program to become a Hormone Cure Coach. I find that addressing people’s health challenges like fatigue, struggle with losing weight, stress, and cravings, it is helpful to include an assessment of their hormones gives me more tools to guide my clients back to a place of balance.
One hormonal challenge many women struggle with is PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome.
According to Dr. Sara Gottfried in The Hormone Cure, “PMS is related to a problem with progesterone, but frosting yourself in progesterone cream does not automatically fix the symptoms in all women. Our best science shows that PMS is the result of the poorly synchronized interplay among four entities: progesterone, allopregnanolone (a derivative of progesterone), and in the brain, the GABA and serotonin pathways. It’s a complicated neurohormonal mix that results in progesterone ‘resistance,’ which is why topping off your progesterone may not be the answer. Your body may respond better to a ‘cure’ that addresses upstream causes—including precursors, such as vitamin B6, that help you make serotonin, or perhaps an herb that alters progesterone sensitivity, such as chasteberry, as well as lifestyle techniques to calm your brain.” (page 50)
Not only can progesterone, GABA and serotonin affect PMS symptoms, but so can cortisol, the body’s stress response:
“When stress is high, cortisol rises and PMS worsens. When progesterone is low, PMS also worsens. In other words, there’s a dance between cortisol and progesterone in the development of PMS, and you want to address both adrenal function and your production of cortisol as well as your progesterone to minimize PMS.” (page 283)
When addressing something like PMS, it often can take a multi-prong approach: food, exercise, mindset and maybe even some complimentary treatments or supplements.
Let’s take a look at some of these suggestions here.
Exercise frequently: 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes
Remember when she would do her “favorite things show”? People would go crazy with excitement and sales for whatever she was sharing would sky-rocket. Well in this holiday season I wanted to share a few of my favorite things with you all.
When possible, what I’m sharing will be local to the San Francisco Bay Area (since that is where I live), organic, made by a small business, and/or environmentally or socially conscious. Some of these things might make good gifts or could be part of your self-care practice this month. Mostly these are things that I love and want to support by writing and sharing about them. And I think you’ll love them too!
I have chosen 21 of my favorite things which will also be posted on my Facebook page each day until December 21st, the date of the Winter Solstice where I live.
What are some of your favorite things?
1. Donate to a charity organization on #GivingTuesday (or any other day!): I’m going to start this list of “a few of my favorite things” with the act of giving. Many of us are blessed with abundance, and Giving Tuesday is a way to bring awareness in this busy holiday season to the importance of giving to charities, non-profits, and organizations or people we want to support. It can come in the form of a donation of time, talent or treasure. When we give and act generously, we not only support others but it also helps us appreciate what we have in our own lives even more. My husband and I regularly give to organizations we support and believe in, but this time of year is a great day to give a little more, if we can. Who do you like to support?
2. Essential oils:I love essential oils and use them every day. The brand I like to use is doTERRA but there are other great companies out there as well. If you are just starting with essential oils, lavender is a good place to start because it is very calming. Add a few drops to a bath or spray on yourself or your pillow before bed. Scents are a wonderful way to balance your mood as well–they can be calming, uplifting, grounding, or invigorating. If you like a pleasing scent in your home or office, quality essential oils are a much healthier option than artificial fragrances from other sprays, plug-ins, and candles that can actually contain endocrine disruptors. What are your favorite scents or essential oils and what do you use them for?
3. Oakland Floats: I love to float! Floatation tanks are described on the Oakland Floats website as, “lightless, almost soundproof tanks of warm saltwater. They remove external physical stimuli, creating a state of ‘sensory’ relaxation. Under these conditions your body has a chance to restore its natural powers of self regulation, while you simply lie back and relax.” If you’ve never floated in a sensory deprivation tank, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. For me, there is something amazing about having no noise, no light, no distraction, no sensory input for that hour. It’s a humbling experience. It’s also been shown to reduce cortisol rates (our stress response), help with pain, support quality sleep, open up creativity and so much more. If you want to read more about my experience floating, check out my story here. Where I love to float is Oakland Floats but if you live outside the Bay Area, there are floatation centers everywhere. Give it a try or give it as gift! Have you ever floated? What was your experience?
4. Oaktown Spice Shop: Spices! I love to cook and spices make a huge difference in how your food turns out. Spices add not only delicious flavor, but also often have positive health benefits as well. One of my favorite places to get my dried spices is Oaktown Spice Shop. Their cinnamon is amazing and I just made their mole poblano last night over tempeh and grilled vegetables. Fantastic! Head over and check out all the wonderful spices they have! And if you don’t live in the area, you can order online. Some of my favorite spices that we use on a weekly basis are cinnamon, cajun, poultry seasoning, turmeric, and curry. And they really make a great gift! True story: about ten or fifteen years ago I asked for spices for Christmas and my stocking was filled with about 10 jars of spices! What are your favorite spices to cook with?
5. Broth: I love making broth, drinking broth and using broth in soups and stews. Here’s an easy recipe to make your own vegetable broth. Really warming and nourishing this time of year! Do you make your own broth?
6. Spiralizer: One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is my spiralizer! If you’ve never heard of a spiralizer, it basically makes “noodles” out of vegetables. You can spiralize lots of veggies like zucchini, sweet potatoes, potatoes, butternut squash, and beets. We do zucchini noodles often in our house. Easy, yummy, and nutritious and very satisfying for a noodle craving! This is the one I have.
7. Crio Bru: Thisroasted cocoa is my favorite way to start the day. It is so delicious and full of antioxidants. I add a little coconut milk to mine but you can drink it plain. It’s not sweet like hot chocolate, but has this wonderful, rich, chocolate-y, roasty flavor. You can read more here! And I’m a lucky woman because my husband usually makes it for the two of us, and since he gets up before me, it’s all ready to go when I get out of bed. And it’s so easy to make–just add hot water to a French press and you are ready to go!
8. Moving my body:I love moving my body, whether that means taking a walk, going for a hike, doing yoga or pilates, doing a few stretches, or lifting weights (which is good for your bones, ladies!). Read more on some of my favorite ways to move my body! What’s your favorite way to move your body? What are the benefits you notice?
9. Dancing at Hipline: To expand on the previous post, I want to share my FAVORITE way to move my body and that is dancing at Hipline, a dance studio in Oakland. For those of you who have never been, it can be hard to put into words the magic of this place, so I’ll let their mission statement do the talking: “Hipline exists to inspire and empower women through movement. We nurture community, health, and creativity through all aspects of our company.” I have been dancing at Hipline for over five years and I can honestly say that I ALWAYS look forward to going and I ALWAYS leave the class feeling better. It is an amazing community of women and I continue to meet so many inspiring people there. It’s a place to dance, to leave it all on the floor, to work out any frustrations or pent-up energy from the day, to be silly and fun and sexy just for yourself, and meet other beautiful souls doing the same. Want to give it try? I’d be happy to meet you there!
11. Homestead Apothecary is my favorite place to get loose herbs, tinctures, quality body care products, teas and other amazing plant products. If you have any interest in herbs, making your own tea or broth, self-care or just curiosity of what all those herbs actually do for your body, then seek out Nic at this lovely shop on Temescal Alley.
12. Coloring: I’m pretty happy to say I was a head of the current trend of adults coloring. I started doing it a while ago and quickly realized how relaxing and meditative it is for me. For me the key is letting go of perfectionism, of doing it “right” or concerning myself with the final product. I love the use of color and the focus it brings to my mind. This is my favorite coloring book author. Have you tried coloring?
13. Bitchin’ Sauce: This yummy sauce is a recently discovered favorite of mine. It’s so yummy but also happens to be vegan, gluten-free, and tastes great on anything. You can use it as a dip, spread or sauce. Plus it comes in a bunch of flavors like chipotle, pesto, and bombay but I think I might like the original the best. If you see it in the stores, give it a try!
14. Massage, acupuncture or reflexology: I strongly believe in investing in my health, and some excellent ways to support my body is to get body work done like massage, acupuncture and reflexology. I work closely with some amazing practitioners, so you would like a referral to an excellent person, please let me know and I’ll get you connected. I know a lot of places also offer gift certificates!
15. Kombucha:I know this fermented tea is not for everyone, but I think it is just delicious! I thought it was a little “weird” the first time I drank it (“Really, people are drinking vinegar?”) but I really appreciated the flavor more when I tried it again. Kombucha is not only tasty, but is also good for your digestion because it is full of probiotics (the “good” bacteria that make your digestion happy and in balance). You can try the different flavors out there; I just suggest getting one without too much added sugar. My favorite is GTs Multi-Green!
16. Tea: This one is one the most simple and wonderful pleasures in life! I drink tea just about every day. My usual favorites include many from Yogi Tea, Traditional Medicinals, Numi, Choice and Rishi. I love teas like Every Day Detox, Ginger, Roasted Dandelion, Egyptian Licorice, Chai Green, Throat Coat/Throat Comfort, Rooibos, Peppermint and so many others! What is your favorite cup of tea?
17. Travel: This one is so close to my heart that it’s hard to put into words, but travel–the literal act of moving in space–is such an important part of my life and such a pleasurable one. I included it here on a holiday favorite things list because many people travel this time of year to see family. My husband and I are one of those who will travel, albeit not very far, to visit family this holiday season. Travel and experiences together can also be a great “present” to give each other. My husband and I have traveled to some amazing places together. We got engaged in Scotland, went on our honeymoon to Puerto Rico, celebrated our fourth anniversary in Iceland, and have enjoyed many of our National Parks like Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Zion, and my favorite, the Grand Tetons.
18. Sunset Magazine: This might seem like an odd thing to include, but honestly I get such a feeling of joy when a new Sunset magazine arrives. It’s one of the only magazine subscriptions we still get and I always get a tip, idea or suggestion from each issue. For example, this summer we went camping for five days at the lovely Mary Smith Campground in the Trinity-Shasta area of Northern California and we learned about this quiet, bird-filled, awesome campground from Sunset magazine. Whether it’s travel tips, restaurant suggestions, recipes or just beautiful gardens to admire, I’m always excited to look through this beautiful magazine (and again, I think this can make a great gift!).
19. The book Feng Shui Your Mind: Four Easy Steps to Rapidly Transform Your Life by Jill Lebeau and Maureen Raytis: It cannot be said how much I love this book and how much it has changed my life. I was lucky enough to get a chance to read it and help edit it before it was published, and I was transformed just reading it. Now I have the honor and pleasure of taking the amazing principles of this book and applying them to the mind, body and spirit in a new project I am doing with one of the authors, Jill Lebeau. Jill and I have been meeting weekly for our “play dates” to create an amazing online program and e-course that we will be launching very soon. Stay tuned! But in the meantime, pick up this book now!
20. Oprah: I feel like I need to take a moment to pay homage to Oprah herself. Not only did she inspire this post, but she has inspired me in so many ways. From her support of literature and reading, to her focus on empowering girls and women around the world, to her Soul Sundays, meditation series and work with spiritual greats like Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra, Oprah has brought so much positivity to our world. She is the embodiment of abundance, grace and passion. To celebrate her, I’m going to share one of my favorite moments of the Oprah show. I love this video because for once a huge crowd did something really special for Oprah! This video still brings tears to my eyes!
21. My family, friends and clients and colleagues: Honestly, all of these things really are some of my favorite pleasures in life, but the most important things in life are not actually things at all. They are the beautiful people in my life. They are the ones that make life beautiful and sweet. So I wanted to end with sharing about some of my favorite people: my husband for his love and support, my dad for always being there for me, my sister for sharing my life with me, my nephews for the joy and laughter they bring to my world, my god-children for the opportunities to love like a parent without the responsibilities of being one, my dear friends whom I rely on for fun, clarity, memories and happiness, my colleagues who support also are committed to bringing health, vitality and peace to the world, and my clients for this opportunity to share my passion and who allow me to be witness to their transformation. I am grateful for you all!
Happy Holidays to you all! Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Three Kings, Boxing Day, the Winter Solstice, Yule, Christmas or any other holy day this year, I wish you the happiest of celebrations and a bright new year in 2016!
At this time of year, we hear a lot about gratitude. With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays almost upon us, it is a wonderful time of year to count our blessings and focus on all we have to be grateful for in our lives. But what about gratitude as a way of life?
Being in a state of gratitude all year long is good for our mind, body and soul. Expressing our gratitude not only improves our physical and psychological health, but it also deepens our relationships, helps us sleep better, motivates us to work harder, and supports our immune system. When we focus on gratitude, we are immediately in the present moment, which then reduces our stress, helps shift our perspective, and raises our energy.
One of my favorite resources on the importance of gratitude to our health and happiness is The Greater Good Science Center. In this article “Why Gratitude Is Good,” the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, Robert Emmons, explains the physical, social and psychological benefits of expressing the goodness in our world and how it “allows us to participate more in life. We notice the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasures you get from life. Instead of adapting to goodness, we celebrate goodness.”
Still not convinced? Then take a look at what the Harvard Medical School has to say in “In Praise of Gratitude.”
As I ponder this holiday season, I know I have so much to be grateful for each and every day. I am grateful for each breath I take, for this life that I get to live, for the opportunities I’ve been granted like an education, an amazing career, to choose the person I want to marry and spend my life with. I am so blessed to live in beautiful Oakland, California where I can walk to stores, restaurants, cafes and my office. I have such gratitude for my body, for my ability to walk, to dance, to swim, to chase after my nephews, to hug the ones I love. I feel so blessed to have such an amazing husband who supports me, my wonderful father who is always there for me, my strong sister who somehow gets my weird sense of humor, and my adorable nephews who bring me such joy. I thank God/thegoddess/theUniverse every day for my wonderful friends who have been with me to not only share the joys but move through the challenges with as much grace as I can muster. I feel blessed by each every client I work with that they have trusted their health and well-being my guidance and I learn so much from them as well about grace, acceptance, openness, and heart. I choose to be grateful for this life, each and every day.
I was inspired to write this post based on a recent article that claimed salads had no nutritional value and should be avoided. I won’t bother sharing the article, from a major daily publication, but I will say that if you are talking about iceberg lettuce drowned in highly processed dressings full of unhealthy fats, sugar and additives, then yes I would agree. However, maybe it is because I’m from California or maybe it’s because I think of salad SO differently, but I think a hearty salad is not only very nutritious but delicious as well! The key: choose quality ingredients and go for variety!
Here’s my easy “Build a Hearty Salad” formula:
Choose a protein
Choose some vegetables
Choose some greens
Add some healthy fats
Optional: add some beans
Optional: add some whole grains, starchy vegetables or fruit
Protein: 3 oz (size of a deck of cards)
fish or shellfish
hard boiled egg
beans or lentils*
Vegetables: Pick 2 or more (1+ cup total)
red bell pepper
Greens: 1-2 cups
fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, dill or basil
Healthy fats: 1-2 T.
Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds
Beans & legumes: ½ cup (optional)
beans: garbanzo, black, pinto, kidney, white or cannellini
Whole Grains, Starchy Vegetables or Fruit: 1/3- 1/2 cup (optional)
sweet potato or yams
winter squash like roasted butternut or delicata
berries like strawberries or blueberries
citrus like orange or grapefruit
*some foods could count in either category: for example, cheese could be a protein or a fat and beans/lentils could be the protein in the salad or added for more fiber!
A few other tips and suggestions for building your hearty salads:
Choose organic whenever possible! See my previous post on Buying Organic for more information.
Go for variety and start with ingredients you love. The beauty of this list is to mix and match with the nutritious foods you already enjoy eating. Be creative!
Raw vegetables hard for you to digest? No problem. Lightly steam vegetables and then cool and store them for salads later. Or use leftover roasted vegetables from a previous meal. In fact, the entire “salad” can be thrown into a pan on medium heat and eaten as stir-fry if your body doesn’t do well on raw or it’s winter and your body wants warm food.
Don’t skip the fat! You need healthy fats to help you absorb those wonderful fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, and K.
Don’t have time to make a salad every day? Consider my favorite thing: Salad in a Jar (lots of great ideas on this post too!)
Most pre-made dressings are full of sugar, processed oils, and additives. There are a few better options out there, but in general I suggest making your own dressings. (See below for a few ideas and suggestions.) If you are out or don’t have a lot of time, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and a little black pepper will always be delicious!
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Optional extras: spoonful of mustard, minced shallots, minced garlic, minced fresh herbs, teaspoon dried herbs, small spoonful of honey or maple syrup
“Creamy” Greek Dressing
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon or stone-ground mustard
2-3 tablespoons of tahini or hummus (to taste)
1-2 tablespoons of lemon or apple cider vinegar
sea salt and pepper to taste
optional: fresh or dried dill
water to thin, if necessary
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon of orange zest
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
EITHER 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari, reduced-sodium soy sauce, or Bragg’s amino acids OR 1 ½ tablespoons of white miso
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon or stone-ground mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Optional: dash of honey or maple syrup
What is your favorite thing to put into a salad? Do you have a go-to combination that works for you or do you like to mix it up?