Lifestyle Medicine

Lifestyle Medicine. Say it slowly and think about what you’re saying. Lifestyle Medicine, something we all could use a little bit of. So, what is it exactly?

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine says, Lifestyle Medicine involves the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a predominately whole food, plant-based diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, alcohol moderation, and tobacco cessation, and other non-drug modalities to prevent, treat, and, oftentimes, reverse the lifestyle-related, chronic disease that’s all too prevalent.

Dean Ornish, a well-recognized lifestyle pioneer states that Lifestyle Medicine is made up of nutrition, physical activity, stress reduction, rest, and social support systems.

Sounds great to me! Well, almost. I support bio-individuality and believe that for some, a plant-based diet works wonders but for others, it may not. However, I love the idea of Lifestyle Medicine and think that it makes so much sense! As an FDN Practitioner and Certified Holistic Health Coach, I spend a great amount of time exploring Diet, Rest, Exercise, Stress Reduction, and Supplementation. This is the DRESS for Health Success Program®. Some of these categories roll into what we call primary food. This might not be what you expect. Primary food is not what you put on your plate, that is secondary food, it’s what is going on in your relationships, your career, your physical activity, and even your spirituality.  Do you have healthy relationships?  Or do you have energy vampires in your life? Are you getting regular physical activity? Or are you spending the majority of your time stationary? Do you have a fulfilling career? Or are you in a job that you hate? Do you have a spiritual practice? The secondary food is what you put on your plate. It’s secondary because if the primary food is lacking, it doesn’t matter how much organic kale or chia seeds you eat, you will still be missing something. This all sounds like good Lifestyle Medicine to me!

Lifestyle Medicine is not a new idea. Hippocrates, the father of medicine recognized the value of food as a medicine many centuries ago. He had a philosophy, Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.  Hippocrates was not the only one who thought this way.  Lifestyle recommendations have been recognized in ancient healing traditions for a very long time.

Abraham Maslow, who was best known for creating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943), believed that human beings have within them an inner nature that strives in a positive way to actualize their true potential. He described the inner nature as being delicate and subtle and easily overcome by habit. This relates to the saying, listen to your gut. We may not know all there is to know about health and wellness but if we listen carefully and quietly to our inner nature, our gut, we know what is best for us. So why are we not doing it? Do we not trust or even hear our inner voice? Do we not have the willpower?

This is where a Health Coach comes into play. A Health Coach will help you hear the subtle cues your inner nature is trying to share with you. A Health Coach will help you find a vision to work towards, create actions steps to move towards your vision, and help you find ways to hold yourself accountable. It’s ideal to start small and build on each action step to create something great. This idea was stated well by Vincent Van Gogh, Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.

Start small, listen for your inner voice and create something great! Try some of the ideas below.

  1. Nutrition: Eat real food and avoid processed food. A good rule of thumb is if there are more than 5 ingredients on the food label, give it a pass. This means, eat veggies, fruit, organic or grass-fed meat and milk, pasture-raised eggs. Choose healthy carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes. Use healthy fats like cooking with coconut oil, use olive oil and Bragg’s vinegar for salad dressing. Drink pure water, avoid GMO’s, refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.
  2. Rest:  Get to bed by 10pm and wake up by 6am. Limit screen time an hour before bed or wear blue light blocking glasses. The blue light from the tv, computer, and cell phone lowers the production of melatonin, your sleep hormone.
  3. Exercise: Try to get daily exercise but don’t overdo it. If you are being too hard on yourself exercise can act as another stress. Daily walks are wonderful, maybe some high-intensity interval training on some days with yin yoga on other days. If you like to workout at home try the MUTU System. The exercises start off gentle and then increase in intensity as your strength builds. It’s a 12-week program but you own it for life and hopefully, it will become a daily habit for you.
  4. Stress Reduction:  Add some breathing exercises into your daily schedule. Check out Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breath. While your mind is quiet, listen for your inner voice.  Try a yin/restorative yoga class or find one on YouTube. Treat yourself to an Epsom salt bath with a good book! Remove the energy vampires from your life.
  5. Social Support System:  Develop your web of support. On a blank piece of paper make a circle in the center and write your name in that circle. Now create lines that go out from your circle and add other circles. They might include your partner, your doctor, your health coach, a sibling, a house cleaner, etc.  Put the name of the person, how they support you and their phone number in the circle. Brainstorm, who else can be in your web of support?  Who are you missing?  Call on this support system as needed.
  6. Reduce your toxic load:  Look through your cleaning supplies at home, can you switch anything out for a more natural product? Check out the EWG’s guide to green cleaning products. What you put on your body is just as important as to what you put in it. Check out EWG’s Skin Deep guide. My daily skin care regimen includes products from Annmarie Skin Care.  Annmarie is all-natural, organic, wild-crafted and you can pronounce all the ingredients on each product!

Interested in Health Coaching or FDN?  Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® and the DRESS for Health Success® Program are proven methods that have helped thousands of people! To learn more, schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation.

*Some of the above links are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of my links and purchase an item, I will receive a small affiliate commission at no cost to you. Please keep in mind that I only recommend products or services that I personally use and that I believe will add value to your life.

Tips to Prepare for Menopause Long Before it Begins

To have a smooth transition through menopause it is important to balance your adrenals before the transition begins.  Menopause is a natural transition that occurs when your ovaries stop producing eggs.  There is a time frame for this process, the late forties or early fifties, but where you fall is individualized.  During this time, your body begins to produce less estrogen and progesterone.  You may experience hot flashes, brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, and dryness.  Your periods may become irregular or stop altogether.  Once you have been period free for one year you are considered post-menopause.  Up until this point, it was primarily the ovaries job to make the hormones. Once you go through menopause and your ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone it becomes the job of the adrenals.  The more dysfunctional your adrenals are when you hit menopause the more difficult the transition can be.

The entire endocrine system works together to control hormone levels.  This includes the ovaries, testes, adrenals, thyroid, pituitary, and hypothalamus.  If any of these glands are out of balance, even slightly, it can wreak havoc on the other glands.  These glands produce and secrete hormones, chemical messengers which travel in the bloodstream and act on various body tissues to enable them to function correctly.  As a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner, I like to use the Spokes Chart to explain the importance of looking at an individual as a whole while seeking the root cause rather than just treating symptoms.  On the chart, you can see the arrows pointing to and from the center circle called the HPA Axis (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis) Dysfunction.  If there is HPA Axis dysfunction or what we like to call Metabolic Chaos™, it can affect other functions like Musculoskeletal Health, Detox Capacity, Fat and Protein Metabolism and in turn, dysfunctions on the outer spokes lead back to more Metabolic Chaos™.  These systems directly influence one another and that is why it is best to evaluate the functions of all the systems. Often times when the reproductive hormones are out of balance, they are usually not alone.  Hormonal imbalances can stem from other issues with the gut, adrenals, thyroid, liver, diet, and lifestyle.  Sometimes when you work on the why upstream (HIDDEN stressors) the downstream symptoms (hot flashes, fatigue) will improve without direct support.  Don’t get me wrong, if there is a way to make you feel better quickly, we’ll do it but we’ll also be digging deeper to try and find out why the symptoms are happening in the first place.  Putting a bandaid on the problem only fixes it temporarily.

The Spokes Chart

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Let’s get to know the adrenal glands.  The adrenal glands are two small endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys.  The adrenal glands produce a small number of sex hormones up until post-menopause and then they are the main source of production.  The adrenals also produce aldosterone (regulates salt balance, blood volume, and blood pressure), cortisol (released in response to stress and low blood sugar), DHEA (balances the effects of cortisol), epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (very similar to epinephrine).  You may have heard of the saying fight or flight response. It is a physiological reaction that occurs when the body is under stress.  If you are being chased by a bear, your adrenals will release cortisol and adrenalin so you can fight or run!  The body returns to normal, rest and digest, once the stressful event dissipates.  Unfortunately, in today’s world, many people are being chased by hypothetical bears much too often.  They are experiencing stress at work or home, financial stress, even over-exercising can be stressful.  Food sensitivities are another stress on the body along with excessive alcohol, harsh household cleaners, toxic skin care products (check out my favorite nontoxic skincare – Annmarie Skin Care), and pesticides on our food.  Stress can be anything physical or emotional.  It can come from internal or external sources and can be real or perceived.  How many times do we stress about things that haven’t even happened yet and may never happen?  Elevated cortisol can suppress the immune system, slow wound healing, reduce calcium absorption, increased abdominal fat, elevated blood pressure…the list goes on.  Cortisol has a lot of good components too.  It is a great anti-inflammatory, helps regulate blood sugar, aids in digestion, assists in the metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrates and it helps regulate blood pressure.  We just don’t want it elevated chronically which eventually will make cortisol crash causing low cortisol.  Low cortisol can lead to fatigue, pain, and inflammation, allergies, muscle weakness, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, brain fog, anxiety, low libido…this list goes on too!  It’s like the porridge in Goldilocks and the Three Bears – we don’t want our cortisol to be too high or too low, we want it just right!  When just right, cortisol follows a diurnal rhythm with its peak production in the morning while slowly declining throughout the day to the lowest point at bedtime when it’s opposing sleep hormone melatonin kicks in.  When stress is chronic we lose the ability to adapt and our adrenals suffer.  When its time for our adrenals to step up to the plate and do their important work, they are not up for the job and we suffer!

Steps to balance your hormones while also supporting your adrenals:

  1. Don’t guess, test!  Test your hormones, test for food sensitivities or do an elimination diet, check for GI pathogens and Leaky Gut.
  2. Diet:  Remove food sensitivities, sugar, and processed foods.  Eat organic if you can or use EWG’s Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen list. Focus on real, whole foods and stay hydrated.
  3. Rest:  Are you getting enough sleep? Try to shoot for a 10pm bedtime and wake up at 6am.  Keep your sleep space dark.  Implement a laptop (electronic) curfew at least one hour before bed.  If that is not possible to buy Blue Light Blocking glasses, Amazon has many to choose from.  The blue light from electronic devices inhibits melatonin (your sleep hormone) production.
  4. Exercise:  Exercise is a vital part of a healthy life.  Depending on your test results, you may need to cut back from a more vigorous exercise routine or, you may need to step it up a bit.  The general idea is to get moving every day.  This could be cranking up the music and having a dance party (yes, all on your own is okay and fun), walking during your lunch break or heading to the local yoga studio for a Yin yoga class, my personal favorite!  Make a list of creative ways you can move each day and then do it.
  5. Stress Reduction:  Not all stress is bad.  The good stress is called eustress.  Eustress is the kind of stress that gets you going, makes things happen, helps you move forward, grow and develop.  Then we have distress which can be destructive leading to malfunction.  There are external stressors like traffic jams, financial worries or work stress. There are also internal stressors like HIDDEN stress (Hormone, Immune, Digestion, Detoxification, Energy Production, Nervous Systems).  Some people believe that stress is just something we have to live with and can’t be improved. FDN practitioners know this is not true.  I am here to help you discover your hidden internal stressors and also brainstorm ideas to help with external stressors like meditation and breathing techniques, walks, Epsom salt baths and yoga classes.
  6. Supplements:  After testing, we will find out what supplements are needed to fill your nutritional voids.  You may be low in Vitamin D or magnesium.  You might need a probiotic or aloe vera to repair the gut or an adaptogenic herb to promote hormone balance.  As with all aspects of health, there is no one size fits all approach to supplementation.  With careful analysis of your labs and intake forms, we’ll be able to come up with a plan specific to your needs.

Interested in Health Coaching or FDN?  Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® and the DRESS for Health Success® Program are proven methods that have helped thousands of people! To learn more, schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation.

*Some of the above links are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of my links and purchase an item, I will receive a small affiliate commission at no cost to you.  Please keep in mind that I only recommend products or services that I personally use and that I believe will add value to your life.

Curious about FDN and Holistic Health Coaching?

What is Functional Diagnostic Nutrition®?

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® (FDN) is a type of detective work that identifies the underlying causes and conditions that cause disease instead of treating symptoms. Using functional lab work, I recognize patterns of imbalance in the body and identify healing opportunities.  I work with each client in a health building process using the powerful, proven, protocols of the D.R.E.S.S. for Health Success® program. This natural, holistic approach yields the highest level of positive results for my clients. As the founder of FDN says, “We don’t medicate, we educate! We don’t guess, we test!”

What is Holistic Health Coaching? 

Holistic Health Coaching is the bridge between knowing what to do and actually doing it.  We will take everything into account (mind, body, spirit, lifestyle…) rather than just treating your symptoms.  According to The International Coaching Federation, 98% of coaching clients report that working with a coach was a positive decision and worth the expense!  I am here to help you help yourself!  This happens by providing an ongoing partnership and unlocking your potential to live a healthy, vibrant and purposeful life!  We will work towards clarifying your optimal health vision and explore steps to make that vision a reality by enhancing personal accountability and taking action to achieve and sustain your goals.   I am trained to listen, observe, and customize my approach to your individual needs.  Which brings me to the importance of bio-individuality.

We are all unique!  Recognizing and honoring our uniqueness is the key to health and happiness.  Have you heard the saying, One man’s food is another man’s poison?  Well, it’s true!  I understand that there is no one perfect way to eat or live for everyone.  Each individual has very specific needs for his or her own health according to age, gender, size, and lifestyle.  Even blood type influences bio-individuality!  Let’s find out what works best for you by looking into the root cause.

Root Cause Resolution
Working to heal the root cause rather than chasing symptoms is the type of work that we will be doing.  This allows you to think about what might be happening “upstream” that’s causing “downstream” signs, symptoms and even diagnoses.  We may not ever find the actual root cause but on our journey, but we’ll find many healing opportunities.  I love this quote from Andrea Nakayama, “Instead of thinking that we need to get right to those roots, stop and imagine that healthy roots cannot thrive, survive (or heal) in harmful soil.  The more we tend to the soil, the more those roots might just regenerate and even be cured all on their own.”

Tell me about yourself!  In order to see if we are a good match, please schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation before signing up for a program.  I want to make sure I am the best person to support you on your journey.


Healthy Gut – don’t waste your money on supplements!

“All Disease Begins in the Gut”  ~ Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine
What’s the point of taking supplements if your body is not absorbing them properly?  Poor absorption, which leads to nutrient deficiency, can occur from intestinal hyperpermeability.  You may be more familiar with the term Leaky Gut. This describes the process of materials passing from inside the gastrointestinal tract through the cells lining the gut wall and into the rest of the body without being broken down properly first.  Some culprits that contribute to Leaky Gut are stress (physical/emotional), toxins, antibiotics, processed food, infections, parasites, blood sugar issues, food sensitivities, GMO’s, and unbalanced gut flora.  Did you know that almost 70% of our immune system is housed in our gut?  If our gut is not functioning well, issues like chronic inflammation, auto-immunity, food intolerances, and nutrient deficiencies can arise.  This is why I think it’s so important to focus on the gut first when beginning a healing program because, like I said, what’s the point of taking supplements if your body is not absorbing them?  What a waste of money!

Interested in Health Coaching or FDN?  Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® and the DRESS for Health Success® Program are proven methods that have helped thousands of people! To learn more, schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation.