Category Archives: Women’s Work/Life Balance

As the song says, we can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan…but the balancing act between work and life can be a tremendous challenge. There’s no one-size-fits-all secret recipe, but Candace and Kyle share success stories and inspiration in this collection of posts.

Getting ready for Spring cleansing

We will be starting our ‘spring cleanse’ on Monday March 4th and as I mentioned in my last post, everyone has the option to either power through for 10 days straight or divide it up into 2 separate 5 day sections. I am going to do this March 4-8 and then again from March 18-22. So please pick the option that works best for you, as this is supposed to be something that works for YOUR life.

It always helps to have a plan before starting on something, even as seemingly simple as a ‘cleanse’. Otherwise even your best intentions(and strongest ‘wantpower’) can get derailed due to a sudden feeling of hunger and no idea of what you should eat. So let’s get started with a few basic concepts”.

1. As you are planning your dates for the cleanse, check your calendar for any important events/trips that might get in the way during that particular stretch of time. If your life is like mine,  it seems that there is always something that comes along to stretch your ability to stick to the plan. I have found that things like vacations, graduations, holidays and weddings are real deal busters for me which is why this time I have decided to separate mine into 2 parts. And the idea behind a cleanse like this is to help you feel empowered to make small but significant changes in your diet.

2. Jot down some of the reasons WHY you are doing this: for example, you want to cut down on caffeine as you feel too dependent on it to feel awake, or you would like to lose some belly fat and you know that sugar is a big culprit, or you just like the way that you feel when you have specific guidelines for eating, etc.  You can refer back to this list during your cleanse to help remind you why you started in the first place!

3. Make a shopping list and go the store at least 1-2 days before you start. Include things like hummus, whole grain breads/crackers, quinoa, brown rice, cheeses, nut butters, organic chicken, omega-rich fish, fresh fruits and veggies, free range antiobiotic-free eggs, olive oil, avocadoes, nuts, herbal teas(be sure to include some green tea for all of its benefits!), tofu, tempeh, coconut oil, dried fruit(eaten in small amounts), unsweetened carob(great for those times when you want something “sweet” but want to avoid sugar.

Some of my 'go-to' whole grains

Some of my ‘go-to’ whole grains

4. Plan to eat a ‘rainbow’ everyday. I am currently in NYC attending my third Integrative Medical Conference and this is one of the take-home messages from today’s series of lectures. Pick something red(red peppers, strawberries, cherries, red grapes, beets), something blue/purple(purple grapes, figs, purple potatoes, eggplants, blue or black berries), orange(tomatoes, oranges, carrots, squash), green(lettuce, kale, green beans, artichokes, broccoli) and yellow(peppers, lemons, squash) every day. This will insure that you get an adequate amount of phytonutrients everyday. Research has shown over and again that these nutrients are anti-inflammatory and will help to prevent the development of breast cancer, heart disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, dementia, arthritis and a multitude of other diseases.

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my favorite produce choices

I will be in touch when I return to Portland this Sunday. I am looking forward to having a bunch of you join in with me on Monday or whatever day works for you. Remember, for every 5 days that you complete the cleanse, your name will be entered into the contest at Pearl Women’s Center. Become a fan at facebook and /or comment on the blog so that we can keep track of your progress.

Off to a great start! See you soon.

Live from New York!! Wishing you health and balance.

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Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Last minute shopping and ‘to do list’

Okay everyone, tomorrow is the big day for those of you who are joining us on our second ‘consciousness cleanse’ so here are some tips and suggestions to make it more enjoyable, beneficial and to help you measure your own progress and results.

1. Load up on fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains: bread/crackers/pasta/brown rice/quinoa and whatever else that intrigues you. Here are a few examples of the things that I tend to eat, but trust me, there are endless choices of all of these!

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my 'go-to' whole grains

Some of my ‘go-to’ whole grains

2. Stock up on a variety of healthy protein choices: beans, hummus, yogurt(high protein, no sugar), nuts, eggs, cheeses, tofu, tempeh, meats(hormone and antibiotic free whenever possible), chicken(free range organic is preferable), nut butters(without sugar, of course). These are all loaded with amino acids which are essential for brain health and mood stabilization, as well as for sustained energy and maintenance of muscles and bodily tissues.

Examples of easy, healthy protein sources

Examples of easy, healthy protein sources

3. Have an assortment of beverages that you can choose from: herbal teas(see my post from yesterday), juices, kombucha, sparkling water and cider and for those of you who will be weaning slowly off of caffeine, decaf coffee and black teas.  In lieu of ‘cocktail hour’, try drinking a ‘VIrgin Mary and reap the benefits of the vegetable juices while savoring the taste of your drink or try sparkling water with a slice of lemon or orange.

4. Be sure to get in some physical exercise each day. Walking is great plus whatever else you enjoy. Drink plenty of water as well throughout the day.

5. If you are already taking a multivitamin, continue to do so. Other things to take: drink some Yogi De Tox tea, 1-2 cups /day, if it is available to you. Take Ashwaganda and Milk thistle: good for adrenal and liver support. We will make more suggestions later on.

5. Take some baseline measurements of your physical self, as well as some of the indicators that measure how well you sleep, your mood, energy level etc.

Today, weigh yourself, measure your waist at the smallest point, again around the umbilicus, your hips and thighs at their widest point: write these down in a place that you can easily locate in 11 days.

Also write down the answers to these questions: what time do you go to bed, awaken, how many times do you awaken throughout the night, are you rested upon arising, is it hard to fall asleep? What is your energy level like throughout the day: when are your peaks and valleys, how is your energy affected by eating/work/exercise/stress? What are your elimination patterns like: easy, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gassy? What is your mood like throughout the day: anxious, depressed, irritable, happy, content, variable? Be sure to write all of this down as well!

On day 11, I will ask you to remeasure and re-answer those questions so that you can get a more objective assessment of how your body responds to cleaner, more conscious eating.

Okay, bon appetit to all.  We look forward to hearing your comments and we will keep you posted as well on our progress throughout the next 10 days.

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Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Seeking balance in the new year(again!)

Let me first wish you all a happy new year. I don’t know about all of you, but New Year’s Day is truly one of my favorite days of the ‘holiday season’. Although I love the festivities, the decorations, the gatherings of family and friends, playing Secret Santa at work, the yummy holiday treats and special beverages, the magic of the season, the reflection of why we celebrate these sacred and traditional holidays, watching classic Christmas movies, singing Christmas carols, giving and getting presents, catching up with old and new friends, and ringing in the new year(this year we made it til midnight!!), I love waking up on January 1st and reflecting back on the previous year and thinking forward to the year at hand.

This is a particularly clear and gorgeous day 1 of 2013 in Oregon: the sun is shining brightly, the air is crisp and cold and there is a peaceful sense of silence outside, as most of us have the day off from work, from school, from our daily routines and the pace has slowed permitting more time for reflection.  So often we get caught up in the ‘busy-ness’ of our lives and we don’t take the time to pause and plan for more balanced living.

A pausable moment: essential to maintain balance

A pausable moment: essential to maintain balance

What does it mean to have balance anyway? According to dictionary.reference.com , the type of balance I am referring to is defined as “mental steadiness or emotional stability, habit of calm behavior, judgement, etc”…also defined as “a state of equilibrium or equipoise”.  We at Menopausibilities often talk about hormone balance and how important it is to have one’s hormones tested, in order to take an objective look at our hormones within, so that we can work towards balancing these remarkable chemicals in our bodies. Achieving hormonal equilibrium helps us to feel balanced from the inside out and greatly improves the quality of our lives.

It's all about balance...

It’s all about balance…

But there are so many other aspects that we need to consider to keep us from falling back into imbalance or disequilibrium. It is important to take a critical look at the things we eat and drink every day, our exercise habits, the ways in which we balance our stress, supplements to consider to enhance our health, maintaining healthy relationships, our spiritual, emotional and intellectual well being…..it really does take a ‘village approach’ to achieve and maintain a balanced life.

Back in early October, I challenged our readers to join me on  a ‘consciousness cleanse’. Many of you did and we all reaped similar benefits from this 10 day mini-program: renewed energy, better sleep, clearer thinking, loss of belly fat and even a few pounds, and a renewed awareness of how important it is to be conscious of what we put into our mouths. I am inviting you all to join me again in January  as we support one another in making small but important changes towards achieving balance in our daily lives.  This is a perfect time of year to take this on: the festivities are over, many of us have overindulged and are making resolutions for the new year, and we have a renewed sense of optimism that we can succeed. 

A quick refresher about the guidelines: I will be eliminating caffeine, white sugar, alcohol and ‘the whites’: white flour, sugar, pasta, potatoes and rice. I plan to start on Monday, January 7th and will end on the evening of Wednesday, January 16th. Please go back to the post that I wrote on October 14th for more specifics, as I know many people have strong reactions to the no-caffeine portion, but don’t worry: this can be done slowly to avoid those terrible caffeine withdrawal headaches.

In conjunction with this January cleanse, I have some additional goals during this 10 day period. I always find my house to feel extra-cluttered after the holidays, particularly with some of the new possessions that have magically appeared, coupled with the tendency to be more house-bound, due to the colder weather and shorter days(and I know that my ability to feel a sense of balance is greatly impacted if my home feels cluttered).  So I plan to tackle my closets and cupboards, perhaps even my garage if I get an extra burst of energy, so I will be ‘cleansing’ out my home environment as well: a winter cleaning if you will. Then I will take all of these superfluous items and bring them to the appropriate agencies so that others might benefit from their use.

One more thing that you should know. We will be posting daily updates on how we are feeling through the cleanse . You can follow us through our blog and by becoming a friend of the Pearl Women’s Center facebook page. They will be offering several small ‘prizes’ for those of you who complete the 10 day cleanse but you must be signed up in order to be eligible to win. And we would love to hear from you about how YOU are doing : you can do it both on the blog(you will need to sign up as a follower first) and/or on the facebook page. It will be fun to see how many of you join us this time and how making these 4 small changes impact your lives.

As we look back at our blog over the past 15 months,  we are excited to see that we have touched many of your lives with some of our blog posts. We received an update from wordpress(our blog server) and we have had 6,546 views since we first launched our blog. A big thank you to all of our readers! Wow!! We are looking forward to a renewed commitment to our blog and will be rolling out some new features in the upcoming weeks. I am also due to post my list of favorite books so watch for that as well.  We love touching your lives and as always, would love to hear from you if you have any particular topics you would like us to discuss.

Wishing you a safe, healthy, joyful and balanced new year.

Another way to find balance: laughing with a dear friend

Another way to find balance: laughing with a dear friend

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Filed under Essentials, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Day 5 of our ‘consciousness cleanse’: almost halfway there!

Checking in with all of you who have joined us on this 10 day mini-journey towards optimal eating and drinking: how is it going so far? I am sure it has had some challenges along the way, as breaking old habits can be really hard. I love to sit down with a lovely full-bodied glass of red wine after a long day at work so during these last few days, I learned to shift and focus instead on the incredible variety of teas I could brew up and savor.
For others, I have heard that cutting out sugar was the most difficult and required some pretty strong ‘won’t power’. Caffeine for some was the most challenging so perhaps not something to be eliminated this time…or maybe this is a time to simply cut down on the daily dose. Remember, this cleanse is for you and you need to make it work for your life and routine.
All in all, I have loved how I have felt each day: I have noticed that my sleep has been deep, restful and free of night sweats. Although I have been on BHRT for almost 12 years and usually symptom-free, after several glasses of wine in the evening, I often toss and turn and wake up throughout the night with mild night sweats(alcohol consumption is definitely linked to increased hot flashes and night sweats, so that is something you should be aware of). I have awakened each morning with an abundance of energy and mental clarity and I have found that I am not getting drowsy soon after lunch. You may remember that I am one of those ‘nuts’ who awaken at 4:30 weekdays so that I can get my workout in before heading off to work. Often a post- lunch siesta sounds very tempting. These past few days I have not felt the urge to crawl up into a little ball and catch a few zzzz’s after lunch so that has been a noticeable change for me.

I have also enjoyed the renewed focus on the foods I have been buying and preparing for my meals. On day one, I made a spicy and hearty pumpkin soup as well as a loaf of whole grain bread, served alongside a fresh green salad. I was inspired to make pumpkin soup in the spirit of Halloween and also because I know how many health benefits pumpkin has:  it is low in fat and calories , high in fiber(important to lower blood glucose and cholesterol, as well as important for smooth digestion), high in carotenes(anti-oxidants), which are crucial for our vision and our skin, plus it has critical nutrients such as vitamins C and E, and the minerals magnesium , potassium and iron. Often we add health-promoting spices to pumpkin recipes such as cinnamon , curry and cumin, which will further enhance pumpkin’s benefits.

Day one: Sunday dinner: yummy nutrient-full pumpkin soup and hearty organic whole grain bread plus green salad

The bread recipe came from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook. It was so simple that it inspired me to make bread, something I did all the time years ago. It took me less than 3 minutes to toss the ingredients together. Next I let the dough rise for 2 hours, added some cooked millet, formed the loaf, let it rise again and cooked it for 40 minutes. There is nothing like a the fragrance and taste of a freshly baked loaf of whole grain bread to complete the meal…and it cost less than a dollar to make. In addition,  I was confident that the ingredients were organic as well as rich in nutrients.

As I have shared with you before, women come to me with a litany of complaints, frustrations and symptoms that are related to hormonal imbalance.  After testing has been reviewed and I have created a comprehensive ‘personal balance plan’, I always remind them that lifestyle changes are also a critical component in achieving and maintaining hormonal and health balance. That is why taking the time to pay attention to how you nourish your body each day is so pivotal to your overall health. The effects are longlasting and far-reaching. As my friend Molly said to me, we are on the 90 year plan so we have to realize that what we put into our body today has an incredible effect on our longevity as well as the quality of our life.

Hormonal balance depends on the entire package: testing, treating with appropriate hormones and supplements, eating nutritiously, regular exercise, stress management, maintaining nourishing relationships, pursuing the things that you love, spiritual practice  and the support of your personal village. 

I am looking forward to your comments on how you are doing. Let me know if you would like me to share the recipes I used for pumpkin soup and whole grain bread and I will post them on the blog.

Congratulations for making it this far and for keeping me company. Thank you.

A moment of balance , halfway up Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coastal Range

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Essentials, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

“What if one small change could improve your WHOLE life”(tagline on cover of October issue, Whole Living)

October is here and with its  arrival comes that wonderful transition between the lazy days of summer and the arrival of cool crisp days, colorful fall leaves(depending of course on where you live!), digging through your ‘winter wardrobe’ and getting re-acquainted with life lived more indoors than out. It is also that time before the arrival of ‘the holidays’ and the onslaught of celebrations, busier schedules, over-indulgence of food and libations, often less sleep and feelings of being overwhelmed.

So this is a perfect time to hit the pause button(for those of you new to our blog, go back to my post from December 9, 2011: “Hitting the Pause Button”) and regroup.  Although summer markets offer wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables and the daylight hours seem endless and filled with activities,  I often feel as though I need a break from my food and beverage habits of the summer before the start of the holiday season: too many late night barbecues and perhaps an over-surplus of happy hour get-togethers(Portland is famous for its selection of happy hours, in case you don’t live here).

Barbecue with great friends, Manzanita, July 2012

Last fall I went on a ‘cleanse’ of my own design for 10 days and I felt so empowered and healthy that I decided to do it again this October. This is not your usual cleanse filled with special drinks and supplements, but rather a very simple one that eliminates specific food and beverage groups. It was designed to make me more conscious of the food and beverage choices that I was making and led me to a better awareness of what I was putting into my body.  I loved how I felt afterwards and its effects lingered long afterwards. Of  course, here it is a year later and I am badly in need of a tune-up.

During some of my recent conversations about this with family, friends and patients, people have expressed an interest in joining me on this 10 day cleanse and have asked me to share this on the blog.  So here goes: starting on Sunday, October 14th , I am going to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, sugar and ‘whites’ from my diet. I plan to do this for 10 days in a row so that Tuesday, October 23rd will be my final day. I chose these dates because they work for ME and my schedule.  If you would like to join me and those dates are not optimal for YOU, play around with the starting and stopping dates but start when you can: the more the merrier!!  I have several friends in my book group who are going to ‘take the challenge’ and we are excited to have the camaraderie and support of one another.

Kyle making better food choices

Ah,  you ask: how did I pick these 4 main groups to eliminate? Essentially all of them have an effect on the adrenal glands and liver, as well as your insulin levels.  As always, it is extremely important to support your adrenals as well as giving them a break from time to time as well!! In addition,  we need to strive for a more steady insulin balance in our daily lives.  The health benefits of maintaining a steady insulin/glucose balance are far-reaching: decreased risk of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia….the list goes on and on.

I could have included other food groups, such as dairy, gluten and animal proteins but these have so many health benefits and are not problematic for me. I choose to eat a diet that is primarily plant based in general and when I do eat animal protein, it is always raised organically. Feel free to include other groups to eliminate that will benefit you : modify and individualize this cleanse so that you get the most out of it.  Perhaps you will choose not to eliminate caffeine. I have heard many concerns about caffeine-withdrawal headaches, which are valid: you might try gradually decreasing the amount of caffeine you take in rather than going cold turkey.  You could try substituting herbal teas at times which might help you become ‘caffeine-free’ by the end of 10 days.

In terms of ‘sugar’, I plan to eliminate any item that contains simple sugar and focus on foods that contain natural sugars instead. I  like to use stevia or Truvia as a sweetener, as it comes from the stevia plant and has no impact on glucose levels. I suppose one could make an argument that honey and agave are naturally occuring sugars, which in fact they are. They do affect blood sugar levels but the rise is not as steep, so  I will leave that up to you whether you would like to eliminate them or perhaps include them in small doses.

And what do I mean when I say “the whites”? White rice, white flour, white potatoes, white pasta, white sugar…..sorry folks, although some of the foods that contain them are often comfort foods and childhood favorites, they are so devoid of nutritional value and are huge culprits in terms of raising glucose levels, they have to go for awhile. There is a great deal of evidence that an excessive level of sugar(glucose) is one of the primary causes of all types of diseases: dental disease, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases are some of the primary ones. So anything we can do to minimize the amount of sugar we consume will have a powerful impact on our health, as well as our hormone balance.

It always comes back to balance…and hormones...remember insulin is a hormone as well. And all of them work together to help you to feel your best. When one or several of your hormones are out of balance, whether this is caused by stress, diet, lifestyle, aging, genetics or environment, the rest of your hormones will strive to get back to balance but often the ‘new balance’ doesn’t feel that way at all.

A feeling of balance and beauty

So mark October 14th on your calendar and do the cleanse with me . I will include more details about what to include as well before I start so stay tuned. As always, we love to hear from you. Please be sure to comment on the blog as well as on Facebook as some of our readers may not be your ‘friend’ and don’t get to see what you are writing.

See you soon. I look forward to your company during these 10 days.

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Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Happy new year/happy autumn

September is my favorite month. I love the transition between summer and fall: from bright hot sunny days , lazy schedules, family vacations, experimenting with all foods on the grill(I  even mastered pizza on the grill this summer!) to cool, crisp sunny days, perfect sleeping weather, earlier sunsets, “back to school”  routines and a feeling of new beginnings.

I can’t help but think of September as the start of a new year of sorts. After all,  the start of the new school year has formed the rhythm of my life since 1958(I know, I am definitely dating myself!), for myself and then my children. And I am not alone in thinking of September as the beginning of the new year. Rosh Hashana, which is the Jewish New Year, falls during this month. Just 2 years ago I met my husband in Israel for several days  before heading off to Greece for 2 weeks of vacationing.  The air in Tel Aviv was electric with anticipation of Rosh Hashana and everywhere we went, we were greeted with ‘L’Shana tova’, which means ‘happy new year to you’.  I was elated to be a part of this tradition , as it resonated with me and my feelings about this  special month.

Driving through Tel Aviv, September 2010

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It makes sense that all that we have ‘planted’ in the spring’ reaches harvest in the  fall and allows us to think about the next things we will ‘sow’. I remember that in January, the ‘other new year’, I wrote a post on my aspirations for 2012, which included doing more yoga. Hmmm: how did I do with that one?  Well, to be honest, like all aspirations/resolutions, I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. I did start out with a bang, attending yoga at least once a week and I loved the way I felt after each class. But the class schedule didn’t work well with my own so I soon found that weeks turned into months and I just couldn’t seem to fit it in: sound familiar????

All too often, we start out with the best on intentions, soon to discover that life sometimes gets in the way. But I was determined to do something different in terms of physical fitness in 2012 so I shifted gears. I turned to tennis and race walking. I started taking tennis classes at my local community tennis center and met a wonderful group of women who also wanted to finally learn how to play, so that’s been an unexpected fun activity for me both socially and as a great form of exercise. Believe me, I have a long way to go before I can call myself a “tennis player” but the physical and mental challenges are definitely paying off.   Studies on exercise have shown the multiple benefits gained from being physical active: not only improved muscle strength, improved balance and agility, which are important in preventing falls as we age, but better cognitive functioning as well and a deterrent to the development of dementia.

I also took several clinics on racewalking as part of our walking team’s preparation for the Hood/Portland to Coast Relay. I set some personal goals for myself(walk a 12 minute pace or less for 5 plus miles) and used a terrific mobile phone app called ENDOMONDO(available as a free download) which helped me to track my progress. Like so many of us baby boomers, at first I resisted some of the newer technology, feeling a bit overwhelmed while trying to keep up.  Luckily I have some tech-savvy friends who prodded me along(thanks Deb and Anne for mentoring me and for being so patient with me) and now I am comfortable using some of these apps and devices to help me reach some of my goals.

So as September ushers in this new year of sorts, think of how you can challenge yourself to be more active physically. One of our instructors at the gym, Willee(who is an accomplished swimmer/runner and Ironman triathelete herself) always reminds us each fall to set a goal that we can reach by late spring/early summer: perhaps a 10K, 1/2 marathon, join a tennis league, learn a new sport/dance/exercise routine…so that as the days get darker and shorter, we have something to work towards and look forward to in order to stave off the doldrums that often settle in as winter arrives.

As always, we invite you to share your thoughts/personal goals/suggestions for your life. And oh, I almost forgot! Our walking team finished the relay almost 2 hours ahead of our estimated time, as well as finishing in the top 40% of all of the walking teams. Our team included some women who had never really walked long distances before so this is a real example of how we can set a goal, join a group and motivate one another towards achieving a higher level of fitness. Keep us posted…lots more to come about maintaining wellness in the weeks to come. Happy new year, L’Shana tova.

Walking my first leg: almost done, hot tired feet but happy!!

Our WTF(we ARE totally fabulous!) team happy in Seaside

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Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

On the eve of Hood/Portland to Coast Relay

Hi everyone:

I have long wanted to take part in the “Mother of All Relays”, known as the Hood to Coast Relay for runners and Portland to Coast Relay for walkers. This is a truly amazing event with teams from 33 countries and all 50 states. Runners start up on Mt. Hood at around 5000 feet and walkers start in downtown Portland. Everyone ends up on the beautiful Oregon coast in a town named Seaside(appropriately) where this is huge party to celebrate this fun and challenging endeavor. Since this is a relay, each team has 2 vehicles and there are ‘legs’ and ‘exchanges’ along the way so that in the end runners each have 3 ‘legs’ that they must complete and walkers have 2 ‘legs’ apiece. Some of these are  in the middle of the day, others are in the dark of night in the middle of the Coastal Range, a set of mountains that divide up the western side of Oregon.

Last October I organized a group of friends, 12 of us in all, to enter the relay as a walking team.  During one of our first meetings, we came up with the name of our team: WTF*(we are all about the asterisk!!). Some ‘other’ meanings for WTF are where’s the finish? where’s the fun? where’s the food? women talking fast, we’re totally fabulous(and humble, LOL)….you get the idea! Thus, the asterisk.  The name is really about being creative and fun and energetic, which pretty much describes this group of women.

So here we are on the eve of ‘The Mother of All Relays’ and we are all pretty pumped up! If you would like to follow our progress, here is a link you can use(we are sooo connected these days):

http://apath.me/QsB14d

Doing this relay with a group of wonderful women is just another example of a way to stay fit  while having fun, creating longlasting memories and living a fuller, more balanced life.  This kind of energy is contagious and I encourage each of you to find something similar that resonates with you and challenges you to reach new levels of fitness and balance. As always, we encourage you to share YOUR ideas and experiences with us.

Wish us luck!!! See you in Seaside….

A bunch of us WTFers(and friends and family) completed the Bridge to Brew as part of our training this year

 

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Jane Fonda: TED talk on “The Third Act”

Greetings from the road(again!)

I am currently traveling with family along the east coast which has been a blast, filled with daytime activities(tour of Boston, playing tennis, long walks through New England towns) and late night talks. Last night I had the fortune to see ‘the Boss’, none other than Bruce Springsteen himself, excite and entertain the crowd of multi-generational music fans …backed by the ‘Green Monster’ at Fenway Park. We danced and sang and laughed….hard to believe I started listening to him in my early 20’s and here I am on the eve of turning 60. Wow, is all I can say about that.

Fortunately I am blessed with a healthy body and plenty of energy to face MY third act. Much of that I attribute to paying attention to what I eat, staying physically active, keeping my hormones balanced( I have been on BHRT for 12 years myself, which has been an essential factor in the quality of my life), a strong network of family and friends, as well as doing work that I am passionate about. However, like many women(and men!) who are in the ‘midlife’, I am starting to think about how I will live and contribute during the next phase or phases of my life.  Several months ago, a friend of mine shared this video on TED with me by Jane Fonda and I am moved to share it with all of you. It is a powerful reflection on what all of us are facing as we think about the road ahead.

How many of us grew up watching Jane in her infamous striped leg warmers, encouraging us to ‘feel the burn’? Now she is encouraging us to dip deep and think about what we want this next phase of our lives to look like: not to just go through the motions, but to realize we have a lot of valuable things to contribute and to experience. In this talk, she challenges each of us to live energetically and consciously. I hope you find as much inspiration as I did in listening to her.

Please share your thoughts with us in our comment section as we love to hear from you.

Wishing you balance in your life.

Kyle

 

 

 

 

Jane Fonda takes us through her views on the next and potentially wonderful phase of life

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by | August 15, 2012 · 12:41 pm

How the WHI turned things on its head and we have come a long way baby!! Happy 2012

It is hard to believe that 10 years ago this July, the first reports from the WHI(Women’s Health Initiative) first hit the press and caused a major upheaval in our country in terms of how we viewed hormone treatment for women.  Headlines appeared in all of the major newspapers, soundbites aired on TV and radio shows, all echoing the same information:  based on this study(despite conflicting evidence from dozens of studies prior to this one), it was felt that hormone replacement therapy was no longer something that should routinely be prescribed to postmenopausal women due to the increased risks of breast cancer and cardiovascular complications.

The release of this information was a veritable nightmare for clinicians like myself who have worked with women for years trying to find the safest and most effective treatment options to deal with the challenges of perimenopause and beyond. Suddenly everything we had trusted was brought into question and the reaction was loud, contentious and confusing. We were advised by our various medical organizations(such as NAMS:North American Menopause Society; ACOG: American College of OB/Gyn, AMA: American Medical Society, and so on) to get women off of HRT(hormone replacement therapy) and advise them of their risks.

I have been a Nurse Practitioner since 1988 and I can honestly say, this was a pivotal moment in my evolution as a clinician. I felt as though I was between a rock and a hard place. How do I honor the “wisdom of the powers that be” yet take excellent care of the women who trusted me to provide them with accurate, up-to-date health information and help them find relief for their innumerable symptoms of hormonal imbalance? This was not an easy task but in many ways, I am thankful for the stir caused by this study as it forced many clinicians like myself to take a hard look at the information coming to us from these large scale, big Pharma-financed studies. It was time for a seismic shift for me, that’s for sure.

I have always been more holistic in my approach towards health care than what I learned in my allopathic undergraduate and graduate programs.  I had long developed a mistrust from some of the “studies” and abstracts given to me by pharmaceutical reps and this new turn of events just confirmed for me the need for ME to sort through the information myself, to resist believing the latest “headline du jour”. And I was in a perfect position to change my approach to taking care of women approaching menopause.

Thankfully one of my patients at the time told me about a special that had aired on public television highlighting “Bio-identical Hormones”, something I had heard of but honestly, didn’t know much about. I sought out a local compounding pharmacist, Alison Johnston and asked her to teach me. Not only did she mentor me and turn me on to a whole new world of compounding, but she sponsored me to go to a conference put on by PCCA(Professional Compounding Corporation of America). This is where I learned about the value of saliva testing, met the wonderful folks of ZRT lab and from that point on , I knew I had found what I was looking for: a safe, non-invasive, accurate, comprehensive way to test actual hormone levels.

My next challenge was to learn to interpret these levels and then how to prescribe BHRT in PHYSIOLOGIC doses to help alleviate symptoms of hormone imbalance and provide the many benefits of hormone treatment(see our previous blog posts on this). I had no local providers to ask….I was completely on my own and sometimes it was a scary place. But I knew there was no turning back. I had the support of my local pharmacists and the providers and staff at ZRT lab. I continued to go to any conference I could find on the topic, I read countless books and articles and soon I was treating hundreds, then thousands of women.  Not just treating them but helping them regain balance, hope and quality of life. I will soon be sharing some of their testimonials with you all in future blogposts.

So that’s the story of how I became so passionate about saliva testing and BHRT. I see thousands of women every year and I get such joy out of partnering with my patients. So many of them are like some of the people who have commented on our blog: at their wit’s end. Help is just around the corner ladies. Stay tuned and we will continue to provide you with the information and optimism that you need to get on your own road back to balance.

Oh, and by the way, patience really is a virtue. After 10 years of arguing back and forth about whether hormones are safe for women, just this week a statement was issued by NAMS and supported by 15 major medical organizations that now states that hormone replacement therapy should be offered to women.  AMEN!!! Remember, we support the use of BHRT… but this is such a sweet victory for women and those who care for them. Here is the link to the article:

NAMS statement

One last thing in closing. Today is Candace’s birthday so wishing my dear friend and colleague a wonderful celebration of life and a toast to many decades of happiness and balanced living to come!

With love,

Kyle

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Hormone Imbalance, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Hormones 101

What is a hormone exactly? 

How do I know if I have a hormone imbalance?

And if I do, what can I do about it anyway?

These are common questions that Candace and I hear as we work with women everyday.  Sometimes we forget how many of us don’t know the basics about our own bodies so don’t feel embarrassed if you are among those who don’t. I rely on my car mechanic to sort through the ins and outs of my vehicle when IT is out of balance. But I always feel a little sheepish because I don’t even know the right questions to ask. In many ways, I think women feel the same way about their bodies when they begin to show signs of imbalance. So here is a brief overview to answer these questions and help you understand when it is time to do something about how you feel.
A hormone is a chemical that is produced in a gland(such as the ovary or the thyroid) which is released and has far-reaching effects on other parts of the body. These hormones have many functions, including regulating metabolism, fertility, fluid balance, mood, blood sugar regulation, to name a few. Hormones act on organs, tissues and cells throughout the body and are essential for optimal functioning.
Hormones work best when they work together and are balanced with one another.

Think of a symphony which consists of various musical instrument sections  coordinated in such a way  that each section comes in at just the right moment, volume and tempo to complement the other sections. When the conductor and the musicians work well together, the music is melodic and lovely. When they don’t, it is difficult  to hear the music at all(it sounds more like a bunch of noise!).
There are days when all of us wake up and we just feel ‘in balance’ and have energy to spare. Then there are those days that we know our balance is definitely off; everything seems off-kilter. This brings me to some of the symptoms of hormone imbalance. We have mentioned a few in previous blogposts but here are some you may(or may not ) be aware of: hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, belly fat, irritability , depressed mood, anxiety, foggy thinking, feeling cold, hair loss, hair in new places, weak or peeling nails, insomnia, low libido, menstrual changes, dry skin, vaginal dryness, inability to concentrate, fatigue, memory changes…… I could go on but I think you get the picture.

If any of these sound familiar,  there is a good chance that something has caused your hormones to be out of balance.  Common causes include pregnancy, stressful life events, over scheduled and busy lives(sound like anyone you know???), lack of exercise, poor diet, toxins in our environment, toxic relationships, job stresses, and the simple act of moving into ‘midlife’ .We all have so many demands on us and often don’t have enough time in the day to get it all done, leaving us feeling depleted and ‘not like ourselves’.

Hmmm…got you thinking hopefully, so now what? Stay tuned and we will be posting a ‘checklist of symptoms of hormone imbalance’ in the near future so that you can do an inventory of your individual symptoms.  Once you have those identified, the next step will be to get your hormone levels tested.  Let us know if you would like to   get this done as we are working on putting together an offer for our readers and would like to get an idea of how many people are interested.  Just list your first name and first letter of your last name in the comments section.

As always, give us YOUR suggestions for future blogposts and feel free to ask us questions….there is no such thing as a silly question!

Wishing you balance

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Filed under Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance