October is a poignant month for me. You see, my mom passed away on October 15, 1995 from complications from metastatic breast cancer. I was 21 years old. She was only 48.
Way too young. Both of us. Me, too young to lose my mother. My mother, way too young to die.
And ironically October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, I like to call it BREAST HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH instead.
This is more than an abstract pink-ribbon month for me. It’s personal. For me, I’d rather focus on having a healthy and balanced body.
At the age of 21 I made a choice. I was not going to go down the road of my mother’s body. I was going to do what I could, on a daily basis, to take good care of myself. I realized I had two choices: I could choose FEAR or I could choose LOVE. I chose LOVE. Love for myself, my body, my breasts, my health, my future.
And so, decades before I would eventually become a holistic health coach and nutrition consultant, I started to pay attention to my health in a way most 21-year-olds don’t. For years I’ve been clearing out potential carcinogens like harmful beauty products and cleaning supplies, unnecessary plastics, toxic food, and even harmful stress and mindsets (and people). I wasn’t anywhere near perfect (and I’m still not) but I have been making a conscious effort to be mindful of what goes on my body, in body, near my body.
Let me take a moment to tell you a little about my mom because I don’t want her to be defined by how she died. My mom was a strong woman and taught my sister and me to be strong women, too. She put herself through college at UC Santa Barbara and taught high school her entire adult life (first home economics and then history when they began to phase out home ec classes). She loved to shop and had a great eye for color. She was a fantastic gift giver and would shower us with presents at Christmas, often with gifts she had been collecting for us all year. She was actually very “crafty” and made all sorts of decorations (many of which we still have). She loved going to Hawaii, visiting historical sites, and planning amazing trips for our family. She could be incredibly “thrifty” but also was incredibly generous. We didn’t always agree (what mother and daughter do?) but I never doubted that she loved us deeply. Or that she continues to watch over us.
This is a picture of my family at my sister’s graduation from high school, just four months before we’d lose our mother. (My sister asked me to crop it! LOL!)
FIVE steps you can take TODAY to support HEALTHY HAPPY BREASTS:
1. Eat a healthy diet: Did you know that increasing your fiber intake can help lower excess estrogen levels and decrease your risk of breast cancer? Best way to get that fiber is to eat at least 3-8 cups of organic, seasonal vegetables every day (along with 1-3 servings of fruit)! Think dark leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, bok choy and other colorful foods. And if you’re eating all those veggies, you probably will have less sugar cravings too because your blood sugar will be more stable. Avoiding processed sugar and other foods that spike your insulin levels is another helpful thing we can do for our breast health every day.
2. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise has numerous benefits: we feel good, it helps us manage our stress levels, we often do it with others so we get to connect, it can help decrease excess estrogen levels, and it lowers the risk of breast cancer. Find something fun to do! And do it often.
3. Be social: As humans, we need connection to our “tribe.” We are social creatures and it’s important to cultivate meaningful relationships with others as part of our health and wellness plan. Women especially need to connect with other women often.
4. Be mindful of the chemicals you bring into your home: How toxic are your cleaning supplies? How about the beauty products you put on your skin every day? What’s in that lotion? Or your shampoo? Check out the EWG’s Skin Deep Database to find out more.
5. Practice Self-Care and Self-Love Every Day: As Dr. Christiane Northrup, women’s health expert and OB/GYN, so beautifully states: “This is the most important factor in creating health because carving out time to care for and love yourself unconditionally feeds your cells the positive thoughts and emotions they need to reproduce in a healthy way.” I love this and in fact this exactly what I guide people through in the Whole Life Nourishment for Changemakers group program!
Each year I choose a different way to honor and celebrate my mother.
BCPP works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. They are a founding member and national coordinator of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition working to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.
This program is for YOU, the changemaker, the progressive leader, the one who needs to optimize your health and well-being so that you can show up as an agent of positive transformation for our world!
Be the amazing changemaker you were called to be without the burnout and fatigue, especially in these challenging times!
We need to practice radical self-care NOW more than ever.
Next group starts
This four-month online coaching program is specifically designed for changemakers to support you in optimizing your health and well-being—mind, body and spirit!
I know these are EXTREMELY challenging times and I know you are all feeling overwhelmed most days with burnout looming . . . but here’s the deal, even in the midst of such chaos, you can take small steps on a daily basis to better support your health and well-being so that you can show up for your mission, yourself, your team, your relationships, and our planet.
So how do you make this happen? By doing it together,with support, guidance, and accountability. It’s time to prioritize your health and well-being, knowing that you can’t give from an empty cup.
The WHOLE LIFE NOURISHMENT program will address your health and well-being from the following angles:
* Establish more clarity and confidence around your FOOD/NUTRITION choices and routines so that you can feel more energized, balanced, and nourished all day long and continue to support your immune system.
* Practice effective strategies to support better quality SLEEP/REST because sleep is essential to having vital health, more energy, less cravings, and more resilience in handling the big changes you are facing.
* Create the healthy SCHEDULE/HABITS/ROUTINES that allow you to move through your day with greater ease, energy, and focus. These times have highlighted the importance of routines more than ever!
* Prioritize more daily MOVEMENT into your routine so that you can be more present in your body, relieve stress, support immune health, and feel stronger.
* Cultivate ways to have moments of meaningful CONNECTION TO SELF in the form of self-care practices, self-love mindset, expressions of creativity, and opportunities for pleasure and joy, even in the midst of the unknown.
* Focus on your MINDSET and create more mindfulness practices and cultivate rest. This is key to being present each day, even when there is a lack of clarity in the larger world. This time in our history is asking us to slow down while also continuing to be focused and effective in our work, our relationships, and our communities.
* Continue to build meaningful CONNECTION TO OTHERS (your community, family, personal and professional relationships, social justice movements, our planet) from a place of authenticity, giving from the overflow, and healthy boundaries. This group is also an opportunity to make meaningful connections with people who get what you’re going through.
* Continue to develop and nurture your sense of PURPOSE/MISSION because I know you came into this world at this time to make the largest positive impact! If the last few months have taught us anything, it’s that we need to be healthy and strong to really show up for ourselves, our students, and our community. Let’s do this together!
Over the course of four months, you’ll receive:
Small-group coaching callstwice a month (likely on Sundays but TBD) (total of 8 90-minute calls) via Zoom to build community, support, accountability, and clear guidance to meet your health and wellness goals. We do better when we’re connected together and can support each other! Groups will be limited to 8-10 people so we can create meaningful connections and community.
Specific coaching and support on my signature WHOLE LIFE NOURISHMENT program where we’ll focus on all areas of your life–nutrition, sleep, movement, connection, etc.–to holistically support your wellness. Let’s do this in manageable, achievable, small steps!
Private Facebook group page to easily stay in contact with each other in between calls to ask questions, receive ongoing support, share wins, and stay connected.
Accountability partners to help you stay on track with peers who can celebrate your wins and understand your challenges.
Theconvenience of anonline group so that you can be in the safety of your home but we can be connected from anywhere in the country!
I am committed to making this group program affordable and accessible. For that reason, I am offering a sliding scale of three investment points depending on your current financial situation:
For FOUR months of Whole Life Nourishment support, your sliding scale options are $750, $900 or $1050
Payment plans available upon request. Venmo, PayPal, or a personalized invoice are also options–just contact me!
If you want to learn how to optimize your health and well-being so that you can continue to be an energized, healthy changemaker even in the midst of so much change, aggravation and uncertainty then . . .
“Michelle has a breadth of knowledge on holistic healing but what sets her apart is her care for her clients. She’s gotten me through a major health crisis and I wouldn’t be where I am today professionally or personally without her.” –AZ, activist and university professor
“Michelle is the most intuitive and attentive practitioner I’ve ever worked with and has given me very usable and helpful advice. I’ve already made great strides toward all of my health goals and look forward to continuing to work with her in the future.” –AO, grant writer
“I was struggling with food cravings, insomnia and anxiety. Michelle helped me improve my sleep and then we found easy-to-prepare balanced meals that I enjoyed. Once I started eating these meals, my emotional eating and cravings disappeared! My anxiety also disappeared and I lost 14 pounds since January 1st. I’m loving food, never hungry, and I feel normal! Best investment I’ve made!”–TLC community college instructor, activist, artist
“Michelle is outstanding. I am constantly learning new things about my nutrition every time I see her. It is rare to find someone who embodies everything from the technical understanding to the empathetic ear…and Michelle does just that. I look forward to our meetings and have enjoyed every step of this journey with her. Thank you Michelle for sharing your love of food and health with me!” –SN, dance teacher, BIPOC business owner, artist
“Michelle is knowledgeable, engaging, and on point. All of her recommendations are evidenced-based, simple to implement, and life-changing. She’s wonderful!” –JS, Executive director of a foundation committed to a thriving planet
Here are some of the benefits of joining today . . .
* More energy, better quality sleep, and practical ways to nourish yourself with food (even in the midst of such challenging times)!
*Greater ease in creating healthy habits that support your well-being on a daily basis. Small steps lead to great shifts!
*Practical tips and suggestions that you can apply immediately. Let’s stop waiting for “when” or “if” and take action today!
*Personalized guidance in how to make small changes that yield big results. Every body is different and I’m here to support you through a model that works for your unique body, lifestyle, and situation.
*Opportunities to set practical goals/action steps that you can actually achieve to keep you on track with your health and well-being (so you can keep being an amazing changemaker!).
*Ongoing accountability, encouragement, and connection so that you can really show up as your best. This is key! We can’t do it alone! We need connection and community more now than ever!
*The support and wisdom of your fellow group members who know exactly what you’re going through!
For those of you new to me, my name is Michelle Dwyer and I am a Holistic Health Coach and Certified Nutrition Consultant. I have a Master of Science degree in Health and Nutrition Education and I’m Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition.
I am also committed to various social justice issues and see myself as an agent of positive change. I am excited to serve my fellow changemakers in your health and well-being so that YOU can show up in all the ways our world needs you . . . whether that’s at a grassroots level or more global. For more information about my larger vision and the causes I support, please go to my blog post here.
Looking forward to connecting with you soon!
Michelle Dwyer, Transformation Coach, Holistic Health Coach and Certified Nutrition Consultant, MS in Health and Nutrition Education, Former Educator, Agent of Positive Change
As a board-certified practitioner in holistic nutrition and certified nutrition consultant with a Master of Science degree in Health and Nutrition Education, I am here to serve my clients in their whole health and well-being any way I can.
And I get asked all the time for recommendations . . . everything from recipes to supplements to restaurants to specific products. And by nature, I LOVE giving helpful suggestions! (I’m one of those people that strangers will walk up to and ask me for a recommendation!)
So this post is a long time coming! I’m here to share some of my FAVORITE things with you!
Full disclosure: For a few of these items, I do receive a very small amount of compensation if you use my link. I’ve marked these with an asterisk (*) so you know. Feel free to find these things on your own as well! 🙂 My intent is to put great things on your radar!
DoTerra is a fantastic collection of pure essential oils. Why do I choose DoTerra? High quality, beautiful blends that not only smell great but past my testing standards! Some of my favorites include Serenity for a lovely calming blend, Deep Blue to apply to tired and achy muscles and joints, Cheer roller for anytime pick-me-up, ClaryCalm roller for hormonal support during your period, and the whole OnGuard line for quality immune support and daily, safe cleaning! Want to know more? Let’s talk!
Dry Farm Wines curates only the highest quality natural wines from small, sustainable, organic /biodynamic, family farms that meet their strict standard of health and taste! Unlike today’s commercialized and processed wines–which are full of additives, sugar, pesticides and other harmful ingredients–Dry Farm wines are sugar-free, lower alcohol, lower sulfites, paleo and keto friendly, and free of industrial additives–this is real and delicious wine!
Sun Basket is meal-kit that delivers fresh, pre-measured ingredients with easy-to-follow, delicious recipes directly to your door in an insulated box. Great options from gluten-free, paleo, low-carb, vegetarian, and dairy-free to family-friendly or “speedy” meals. I’ve tried a few kits and this remains my favorite in terms of quality!
Nutritionally designed meals you’ll crave, delivered to your door! Each week their chefs create a delicious new menu packed with the highest quality ingredients. Choose from plant-based or add meat. All of Thistle’s meals are gluten and dairy-free and they use organic produce whenever possible. I’ve had 30+meals from them over the last few years (all paid for by me) and I’ve enjoyed every salad and dinner I’ve received! So many veggies and delicious sauces!
Methodology’s motto is “food as medicine.” Great options of whole-food, paleo-friendly, nourishing meals designed with your wellness and tastebuds in mind. Free of gluten, refined sugar, canola oil, vegetable oil, corn, legumes, chemicals, preservatives, or processed ingredients. Plus, foods comes in reusable glass jars!!
Roasted, ground, and brewed just like coffee, Crio Bru has the amazing flavor and aroma of pure dark chocolate (without the sugar!). Plus all the benefits of cacao–a superfood prized by ancient cultures for its energizing and restorative properties. Crio Bru also has theobromine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in cacao that can be longer lasting, milder, and more pleasant than caffeine. How I start my morning every day!
Beautycounter is a line of SAFE and CLEAN skincare, bath/body, and makeup beauty products that are free from harmful chemicals that wreak havoc on our bodies. There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today & many don’t have any safety data! Why would I put that on my body??!!I love Beautycounter because it is a company that I can trust is using only the safest ingredients, is against animal testing, AND works and feels GREAT! Message me for ideas of where to start!
In the midst of so much uncertainty and daily changes to our reality, I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to share with you that might be helpful. I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt almost bombarded the last few weeks with so much information, ideas, tips, resources, and suggestions. Some I have felt truly helpful and grounding. I wanted to share a few of my personal commitments and take-aways that I am doing my best each day to truly PRACTICE . . . with grace, kindness, and compassion. Perhaps you might find them helpful, too.
The Simple Practices (or scroll below for more details):
Eat to NOURISH your body
Honor your need for sleep and rest
Move your body every day
Be in nature
Express gratitude and appreciation
Affirm the importance of creativity, play, humor, and love
Welcome opportunities for empathy, compassion, kindness, radical acceptance, and receiving/giving support
Create healthy boundaries through discernment
The Practices in More Detail:
Eat to NOURISH your body: Foods that support your immune system include colorful, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein, and healthy fats. Adding spices and fresh herbs can also be beneficial (think onion, garlic, fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley, and spices like turmeric). Fermented foods like raw apple cider vinegar, raw fermented vegetables, and kimchi may also be beneficial–a happy belly supports a strong immune system. Be mindful of sugar and processed foods as these can deplete your immune strength. If you are feeling “phlegmy” I also suggest taking dairy out for a while since it is quite mucous-producing. Most importantly, if you do find yourself stress-eating, be kind to yourself and reach out for support.
Stay hydrated: This one may seem obvious but I added it to my personal list when I noticed early last week that I was not drinking enough water. I think I got thrown off my routine. So now I’m making a conscious effort to drink plenty of water and herbal tea throughout the day. A cup of nourishing broth works too! I try to use a colorful cup for my water so that it catches my eye and I’m reminded to drink. Adding a little lemon or lime to water can also make it more enticing to drink (plus a little vitamin C!). Herbal teas like ginger, licorice, and mint would be beneficial too.
Honor your need for sleep and rest: You might be finding that as we adjust to our new routines and ways of working that you have more energy fluctuations. Be gentle with yourself in this time and rest when you need to rest. It’s okay to need a break. I also encourage you to keep to your regular sleep times as sleep and rest are also an important part of supporting our immune system. If you can sleep in a little now that you don’t have to commute, do so! But still go to bed at your regular hour to keep consistency there.
Move your body every day: There are absolutely no shoulds on exactly how to move your body every day. Have a dance party, join a streaming fitness class, create your own home workout, walk your neighborhood, go up and down the stairs in your home, do some stretches. Just move!! Many of us are sitting way more than we usually would, so you might need to be more conscious about body your body daily. Beyond my daily walks and fitness routine, I have also found it helpful to take mini-breaks through the day to stretch, grab a cup of tea, sit in a different location or sit in a different way (like on the floor instead of at my desk).
Practice mindfulness: Again, there are a myriad of ways to do this including meditation, yoga, taking a hot bath, reading a comforting spiritual book, taking 5 deep breaths throughout the day, using essential oils for aromatherapy, coloring, knitting/crocheting, walking, gardening. New to meditation and want to give it a try, Deepka Chopra and Oprah are offering for free their 21-Day Meditation Series “Finding hope in uncertain times.”
Be in nature: If you feel comfortable doing so, get out into nature every day. Find nature in small places like your neighborhood (the flowers are glorious here in Oakland right now!), your backyard, your patio. Plant and grow something, if you can. Garden. Get your hands in dirt. Watch the sun rise or set. Look at the stars. Connecting with nature on a daily basis is one of the most important things we can do right now.
Express gratitude and appreciation: My husband and I have made it a daily practice to share each day: one “win” from the day, one challenge, one gratitude, and one appreciation to the other person. It’s become a lovely ritual, one I hope to continue. Gratitude is key right now. Even on the most challenging days, we can find something to be grateful for. Some days it might be something big like, “I’m so grateful for the health of my body” and other days it might be simple like, “I’m grateful for running hot and cold water.” Even in the midst of great unknowns, we can practice expressing our gratitude. Appreciation is slightly different in that it is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. If you’re co-housing and co-working suddenly with a lot of people, a little appreciation can go a long way: “I appreciate that you gave me space to do my video meeting today” or “I appreciate how you cleaned up our morning dishes today.” If you live alone this appreciation might extend to a friend, family member or neighbor: “I appreciate you checking in on me.”
Affirm the importance of creativity and humor and love: Even in the midst of great challenge and difficulty, there are opportunities for laughter, joy, and pleasure. Take these moments and cherish them. I truly believe this time is calling on us to get creative. This may look like actually creating some piece of art like music, painting, knitting, writing, cooking, etc. Or it can be about having a creative mindset and getting innovative with solutions. And humor is also so important right now. Not only does it feel good to laugh but it can also boost our immune system! Lastly, and most importantly, these times are calling on us to CHOOSE LOVE. This might be love for our families and loved ones but also radical self-love. Love is the antidote to fear.
Welcome opportunities for empathy, compassion, kindness, radical acceptance, and receiving/giving support: I know I’m not alone in appreciating the myriad of stories out there of someone expressing kindness to strangers in these difficult times. I believe that what we give our attention to expands, so I am choosing to focus on places where I can be compassionate to myself and others. We are all handling this major event in different ways and I know I handle it differently depending on the day, the hour, the minute. That is all ok. Radical acceptance is about fully being with what is happening right now. It doesn’t mean you have to like it, but you stop resisting or denying it or wishing for a different outcome. Letting go of expectations or the sense that we can control things can be challenging, but it is good work to practice right now. Lastly, if you are in a place to give support right now, please do so: donate to a favorite non-profit, buy gift certificates to your local businesses who are closed right now, call a friend or neighbor to check on them. And if you need support right now, practice receiving kindness and generosity.
Create healthy boundaries through discernment: Right now we are all being asked to create a physical boundary for the well-being of our society, but remember to also create healthy boundaries mentally, psychically, and spiritually. This might mean being careful about how much news you watch (or when you watch it), being mindful about time spent on social media, choosing thoughtfully what shows you are watching, or even being more conscious of your own thoughts and where you place your attention and intention. Discernment is about consciously deciding what you bring into your world . . . whether that’s food, people, information, or your own thoughts. I find this to be very empowering.
Like all of you, I’m taking my life day by day right now. What this time of sheltering at home amidst a global pandemic seems to be highlighting for me are my daily practices of self-care so that I can show up for the world feeling as healthy, strong, energetic, clear, and grounded as possible. I hope you have found some of these to be helpful, too.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below: What daily practices are working for you and your household?