Tag Archives: adrenal stress

Just back from 10 days of balance…

Aloha!

2013 has found me traveling hither and yon: first to NYC for an annual functional medicine conference, then to  Sacramento to visit my husband Joe while he tackles a new career assignment, then on to Dallas for a gala and fun family wedding,  and most recently to the big Island of Hawaii( I can still hear the tropical birds’ symphony in my dreams and almost feel the warm breezes and the scent of plumaria in the air…ahhh, heavenly!).  Although I enjoyed ALL of my travels, my time in Hawaii with Joe and 2 of our closest friends truly was 10 days of relaxation, sunshine and attention to balanced living. Joe and I both vowed to leave work behind so that we could truly take in the aura of the island and adapt to the slowed down pace, savoring each moment of island living.

Due to the proximity to the equator, Hawaii has shorter daylight hours in the spring than we do in Oregon: sunrise at 6:15, sunset at 6:30 pm, so the rhythm of the day is quite different. People tend to get up with the sun(which definitely works for me!) and get a lot of living in during the daylight, but are often in bed tucked away snugly earlier than I am used to, often as early as 8:30 but certainly no later than 10:00 PM.  I found myself getting almost 8 hours of sleep almost every night, which is quite different for me, as I am used to getting by with 6-7 hours of sleep most nights at home. It was lovely to adopt this rhythm and my body felt so nourished by all of the rest. As always after some time away from our normal routines, I came home determined to pay more attention to my resting hours.

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We also were surrounded by fresh, flavorful and abundant tropical produce. I have never seen such large avocadoes and papayas: they were HUGE!! and so affordable: at the farmers’ markets ripe and yummy papayas sell for 5 for $2(sometimes even less), so we ate a ‘rainbow’ of fruits and veggies at every meal. I even tried some blue sweet potato chips with guacamole. freshly made at a market: Wow, is all I have to say about that combination!

Avocadoes and mangos aplenty: fresh fruits and veggies in abundance make' eating a rainbow' effortless

Avocadoes and mangos aplenty: fresh fruits and veggies in abundance make’ eating a rainbow’ effortless

My friend Susie and I went to an avocado festival last Saturday and learned that avocadoes  pack some pretty amazing nutritional punch. First of all, I thought there were 2 types of avocados( as that is all I have ever seen sold on the mainland): apparently there are about 40 different types, which was news to both of us. I have always loved to eat these green fruits(technically this is what they are, although often prepared like a vegetable. Due to the festival , we learned just how healthy these “alligator pears” really are. Originally believed to possess aphrodisiac qualities by the Aztec Indians, we now know that they actually provide a broad spectrum of health benefits:

1. Cancer prevention: avocadoes contain certain compounds which help to not only identify but destroy cancer cells while sparing healthy ones and contain high levels of oleic acid, which can help to prevent breast cancer.

2. Support eye health, as they contain extremely high levels of carotenoid lutein, which protects you from macular degeneration and cataracts

3. Help to lower cholesterol , as they are high in ‘beta-sitosterol’. One study demostrated a 17 % reduction in cholesterol levels after eating avocadoes daily for only one week!

4. High in folate, which protects against heart disease and strokes.

In addition, avocado oil is amazing for your skin and hair and in South Africa, avocados are mashed, mixed with honey and lime, to use as a face mask and for after-sn’ treatment. One avocado contains more potassium than a banana as well as  2.5 grams of protein;  all in all, one nutritiously packed ‘veggie fruit.

Enjoying the sunshine and the avocado festival on 'the big island'

Enjoying the sunshine and the avocado festival on ‘the big island’

Of course, now I am back in Oregon, the weather distinctly cooler…farmers markets still waiting to open(I guess that is not a problem in Hawaii, where the season seems to be perennial summer!). I have made a point of buying avocados, incorporating them into salads, shrimp tacos and guacamole.  I would love to hear some of YOUR favorite ways to use avocados, some of YOUR favorite recipes for including these wonderful veggie-fruits into your diet. Please share your recipes with all of us! I know that in South America, avocado ice cream is quite popular: I have yet to try it but it sounds yummy.

Oh, and back to whether avocados contain aphrodisiac qualities: apparently the jury is out on this, but one thing we DO know for sure: eating a whole foods based diet, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep and managing your stress clearly all contribute to hormone balance, and in turn , this does support healthy sexual functioning. So don’t forget to eat some guacamole on a regular basis and share some of your favorite recipes with all of us.

Bon appétit and Mahalo……

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

Re-woman Returns to Confess and Re-balance Her Hormone Resolutions for 2013

A scant year ago in this blog I declared my New Years aspirations to remake my post-menopausal self into a more serene, cleansed, and hormonally balanced version of me. I believe I gave myself the first 30 days of 2012 to become a new woman, a re-woman if you will. Hah! 352 plus days later I am here to report back on the past years’ effort to live up to my aspirations and practice what I preach, followed by an honest as I know how to be, no BS commentary on how I did last year with readjusted expectations for 2013.

2013  Inauguration day

Rewoman and great friend Pamela Bateman (left), founder of the Seventh Woman Foundation (www.theseventhwoman.org) for breast cancer prevention, reinaugurate their pledge to stay (warm) and  balanced at the reinauguration of our 44th President in D.C.!

1) Get into that bed one hour earlier every single night.

Ooops! Well maybe not a total flop …. if you’re a night owl like me you know that getting to bed before midnight is a major feat.  Rewoman confession: I did not live up to the every night part of the aspiration, but did manage to get in bed with a book around 11ish a couple nights of the week. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Lights out by midnight every other night of the week. The earlier bedtimes will lower my cortisol stress hormones to resting levels sooner rather than later, leading to that much coveted deeper sleep and satisfied appetite hormones, thus reducing overeating, cravings and the dreaded result – belly fat!

2) Rise one hour earlier to a cup of green tea instead of coffee.

Green tea is one of the best alternatives to coffee, get to know the different brands….Joy is introducing the Genmaicha powdered version and sharing a cuppa’ with a friend…what could be more healing or stress reducing?

Small triumph: My typical waking time before I made this resolution was 9ish…I now get up about 30 minutes earlier most days, without an alarm clock, now that is progress.  Rewoman confession: I did not convert to the green tea in the morning until just last month when following Kyle’s group cleanse. Good thing I did stop the coffee a week before I went on to do my annual ‘master cleanse’ a detox that can bring on killer headaches, but I never suffered a single one. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Aim for the full hour earlier each day in concert with at least 8 hours of sleep the night before. Studies at Stanford and U. of Chicago observe that “short sleepers,” (defined as 7 hours a night or less) have stress-related hormone imbalances linked to weight gain and higher body fat, a raging appetite, mood swings, memory lapse and low libido.

3) Spend at least 15 to 20 mns. morning and/or evening in stillness: no talking, no electronic stimuli, no nothing – just breathing. (This practice will help me to calm down, FOCUS, and eventually become the most serene woman I have ever met.) Thumbs up: I certainly feel more focused and balanced throughout the day when I spend that first 30 minutes stretching, breathing, sipping or gazing into the distance. Rewoman confession: Well I’m not going to claim I’m the most serene woman I know … but then I have to ask myself how many women I know who describe themselves as serene…perhaps it is the difference between feeling half-crazy and stressed-out when your hormones are out of balance, and the feeling of calm that descends once balance is restored. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Learn to meditate for once and for all, and study up on more deep breathing techniques. Make cultivating stillness my mantra for finding balance within. Also, read: QUIET: the Power of Introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.

gaing out

Gaze into the distance, quiet your mind and find balance in silence some part of every day.

4) Rev up my 40-minute walk to 1 hour a day – and walk faster. No lollygagging and no excuses, even if I have to walk in the rain and the dark.  (This will help to humidify my skin and oxygenate my brain and body so that I will live forever, or at least look and feel like I can!) Getting there! I am up to an hour every other day… and exercising on average 6 days a week; it’s become so normal now that I feel completely out of sorts if I miss a day….have so far invested in warm, absolutely waterproof (don’t settle for water resistant especially in wintry climes) pants, gloves, hat with flaps, and am so far so good, perfectly warm and dry. Not only that, by deciding to take all my exercise outdoors I’m saving 160 bucks a month in athletic club dues. Rewoman confession: I have not done strength training or weight bearing exercises consistently enough to build lean muscle, the key to reviving strength stamina and natural hormone supplies as we age. Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Join the Sierra Club to get in more hill walking and hikes that will boost my muscle and bone mass, metabolism, mood, memory and even libido. Always room for improvement there!

CandaceRainGearWeb

Re-woman aspires to walking not 6 but 7 days a week, every day in the great outdoors AND stay completely warm and dry…the key is waterPROOF (as opposed to water resistant …it isn’t protective enough if you’re walking in all weather) gear: windbreaker, vest, overalls, gloves, and boots, a warm hoodie and your favorite hat with a brim (essential for rewomen who wear glasses! ) …45 minutes to an hour a day boosts natural hormone levels, mood and muscle!

5) Learn how to make Brussels sprouts taste good! (Adding way more cruciferous vegetables: kale, chard, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage) to my daily diet will help to metabolize excess and/or toxic, i.e. ‘xeno’ estrogens from my body, thus clearing my onward path to natural hormone balance.) Done! was this ever a success thanks especially to all the great recipes YOU readers sent (see Jan. 15, 2012 blog comments for recipes!) Rewoman confession: I have become addicted to Brussels Sprouts.  Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Learn how to make cauliflower mouthwatering…any recipes for this one ladies?

6) Tune out talking heads before bedtime. (This will stop the overstimulation of the 24/7 news cycles and rid my tired brain of useless chatter AND prevent me from becoming one of those people who develops ADHD in her 60s, heaven forbid!) FLOP: Pre-election addiction to the latest news from the campaign trail made me a liar on this aspiration HOWEVER I did find that after following the cleansing fast this past month (and of course after the election was finally over) I did not feel like watching the news much at all. Rewoman Confession: I still watch Washington Week in Review on Friday nights and Meet the Press on Sundays, but I follow it up with Downton Abbey, a real escape from the here and now… makes me wonder how women stuck in the British class system at the turn of the century dealt with their symptoms of menopause? Readjusted aspiration for 2013: No-TV-at-all-nights, at least twice a week. Continue to beat husband at scrabble. Learn Bananagrams. And Chess!

Mind/body balance: part of the equation for all of us

Tune out to practice  balance

7) Reject all foods that are genetically modified and/or any household or personal care products  that contain  pesticides, synthetic hormones, xenoestrogens, antibiotics, or empty calories. (This will significantly reduce my risk of getting indigestion, a fat belly, and a leaky gut, gluten-intolerance, insomnia and hormone imbalance, not to mention diseases of aging like breast cancer!) Challenge: This one is tough since we health care consumers cannot be sure what we are getting…witness the failure of Californians to pass a ballot for GMO modified foods to be labeled as such (in the face of enormous pressure from the likes of Monsanto…but that’s another blog).  At the very least we can inform ourselves to choose foods raised without (make sure the label reads that way) synthetic hormones, RBST, or antibiotics. If you do nothing else, do this! Rewoman Confession: I have on more than one occasion had my hair colored in salons that do not use plant-based dyes and products. In my defense there are not many hair colorists who do use completely non-toxic hair products. Nevertheless this cannot be an excuse. These are toxic chemicals that once slathered on my head, sink into my very tissues, putting me at risk for gawd knows what, hormone imbalance at the very least, and I let it happen! Why? because the color lasts longer. So who is gonna’ last longer if I get cancer after all these years of allowing toxic chemicals to seep into my brain, just because I am not ready to go gray!  Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Never again upon pain of bladder cancer risks, use harsh ‘endocrine disrupting’ (e.g. man-made toxins lethal to normal hormone operating systems) chemicals on my hair; seek out more hair salons that offer organic, ammonia-free, plant-based hair dyes (Google: Aveda and local colorists that use organic hair dyes, bleaches and styling products.)

8) Cancel at least one appointment a week and banish anything, anyone, and everything else in my life that is an unnecessary stressor. (This will enable me to become more authentic and the most stress-free person I could ever hope to meet!) Score: I averaged 2 cancelled appointments a week, have erased at least 3 high-maintenance soul-draining so-called ‘friends’ from my contact list, and changed jobs! Rewoman Confession: I’d been carrying a few dysfunctional relationships  against my better judgment for far too long.  Shedding them at long last feels good, a liberation! Readjusted aspiration for 2013: Choose friends who nourish one’s strengths vs. one’s weaknesses; do not allow what I do to become who I am; and for goodness sake, stop overbooking however well-intentioned!

9) Re-testing my hormones was also on the list for 2012: Check! Rewoman confession: found out through testing that I’d been over-supplementing a bit, so made the necessary adjustments – this  by the way is one of the most important benefits of testing your hormone levels at least once or twice a year, especially when using supplementation, its’ essential to get the dose right!

10) Last but not least, I aspired to redouble my efforts to educate more women and I just might get the chance as I’ve been invited to travel to China to give a talk on hormone balance this March. Evidently this is a topic of interest to women around the world! If YOU have a Re-balance plan you’d like to share, or for that matter, a great mouthwatering cauliflower recipe you can pass on PLEASE sign up to become a follower and comment right here on the blog!! We’re all ears!

Masking the menopause madness

Rewoman behind the scenes:  getting your hormones back in sync can’t be a rehearsal, its a balancing act we practice every day.

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Almost halfway there!!

Congrats to all of you who have made it this far on our cleanse. Hopefully you have noticed some positive changes and these are enough to keep you going! I have heard from quite a few of you and this is what you have told me so far:

“My pants are looser and I have lost belly fat.”  “I have lost 3 # already!” ” My skin looks amazing and my sleep has been wonderful.” 

” I miss sugar but I am craving it less and less.”   ” I miss my evening wine: I am getting a little grumpy but I am determined to hang in there because this is my second time and I remember how great I felt afterwards.”    ” This feels so empowering: I love it!”

I promised to share a few recipes to keep things fun and interesting(hopefully you have discovered some of your own: don’t forget to share!!)

In Whole Living magazine, Jan/Feb issue, they had an article, “Start Fresh” , which I just received yesterday. Great minds think alike, yes? They are launching  a 3 week cleanse which is quite a bit stricter than ours but full of terrific information and recipes. I tried one of the beverage ones last night and I loved it, so here goes:

“Golden Elixir” (great name): Boil up water, fill up your mug with hot water, add 1 Tblsp of fresh lemon juice, 1/8 tsp each of turmeric and ground ginger(you can always use fresh of course), a smidge of cayenne(or more if you like it spicy) and honey. I also added some truvia to make it a little sweeter. Drink a cup of this in the morning and at night. This is a powerful drink, loaded with anti-inflammatories and immune boosters, great for your liver and your adrenals. And I found it incredibly satisfying at the end of the day, when I often pour myself a glass of lovely red wine; this was a perfect substitute.

For lunches and dinners, try roasting up a bunch of vegetables in advance so that they are ready when your appetite strikes. Simply heat your oven up to 425 degrees. Cut up some veggies of your choosing(cauliflower, beets,broccoli, carrots, Brussel sprouts, turnips, parsnips, green/red/yellow peppers): toss them lightly in some olive oil and a dusting of salt( I use Kosher or a  gourmet type of salt like pink Himalayan), place in large roasting pan and cook for 35-40 minutes, tossing and turning them every 10-15 minutes . Cook until they turn a nice golden brown or to your liking. Serve alone or with quinoa(pronounced keen-wah), brown rice, whole grain pasta and a protein of your choice. Last night I had them with quinoa and a chicken skewer. I also love them cold for a snack(but I love vegetables). Try a bunch of different veggies: eggplant and onions are also tasty so experiment! You will probably find that this is your new favorite way to eat vegetables. I know my family did!

Remember to let us know how you are feeling, what you are trying and share those recipes and ideas. Your comments have been great and we are inspired by all of you and your commitment to your health and life balance.

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

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

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Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating

Christmas 2012 in Balance: The Essential Gift List

Xmas ME

Christmas is one of those GOOD stress times I like to think of as  the  spice of life!

The holiday rush is upon us and I like everyone else I know find myself in a constant rush to fit in the shopping, the parties, and the round of Christmas craft fairs, concerts, and happy hours with friends. Actually I’m having far too much fun this season, but on top of work and chores, aging parents, aging dogs (who have lately forgotten they’re house trained), aging knees, and an empty nest (which is about to fill back up to overflowing just as we were getting used to it)….well it takes it’s toll. But far from complaining, oh no, ho, ho, I am simply stating a fact: Christmas time can be a stressful time!! Mostly GOOD stress, one hopes, but stress none-the-less.

So my challenge this season is to stay cool in the midst of all the holiday chatter and cheer, to keep Jingle Bell Rock from getting stuck inside my head, and to find gifts for my favorite people that  rather than cluttering their closets may help to unclutter their lives. In mulling this over, I keep arriving back at one of  Menopausibilities’ essential truths: It’s about BALANCE.  That’s it.  That’s all that stands between me and overeating, overworking, overspending, and overdoing the Yuletide. So with mantra in mind I hereby resolve that the only gifts I will give a moments consideration to this Christmas are those that speak to me of balance. Gifts meant to calm, soothe, enlighten, and rebalance the health, hormones, and lives of those I love best in all the world. Mature woman holding gift, portrait

Thus follows my very own Speak to Me of Balance Christmas Gift List for 2012. Hopefully my growing hodgepodge of favorites will speak to YOU of balance or help spark your own ideas:

MASSAGE: A gift certificate for a one hour massage, or even a 15 minute chair massage 2x a week studies tell us, can calm the sympathetic nervous system and lower stress levels significantly.

FLOAT: this is the act of suspending oneself voluntarily in a tank filled with warm water and Epsom salts for about 90 minutes in a darkened room! Hmmm… the idea being to block all sensory input so that sans the constant pressure of analyzing the world around you, your body lowers its levels of stress hormones while the neurotransmitters of happiness rise and the mind comes out to play. Fans of FLOAT say the 90 minutes go by fast when you’re in a state of “otherworldly relaxing.” (www.floathq.com for Portlanders – floatation.com for everyone else!)

Man examining his physique in the mirror

Dave and the after-effects of a “hot” yoga session: more strength and stamina, less spare tire!

YOGA: the essentials of stretching and deep breathing release tension, lower stress hormones, and among other things boost lung function.  More oxygen translates to relaxed muscles with fewer aches and pains, better mood and memory. The Bikram version performed in 100+degrees is a form of ‘hot’ yoga that has its’ followers, my own husband among them!

Gift certificate to Aveda Hair Salons  among the very few I have found that use natural plant-based hair dyes and products. Its about time….we need to give ourselves a break from the toxins in most chemical hair dyes that turn into bad estrogens and throw hormones out of whack.

Grayce Root Revive – this is a real lifesaver between colorings: a fragrance-free, naturally pigmented hair powder that can be brushed in as a temporary touch up for gray grow out. And I can tell you, it does the trick. Not only that, by reducing my visits to the hair stylist I’m reducing my exposure to the bad chemicals in hair dyes. www.graycerootrevive.com

Arbonne’s Instant Lift Gel (my secret weapon for looking the best I can for my age) and any of the RE9 line of anti-aging, plant-based, toxin-free, cosmetic and skin care products from this visionary Swiss company. www.arbonne.com to find a consultant in your town.

A year’s membership to the Sierra Club is available right now for 15 bucks at www.sierraclub.org. Check out their awesome range of outings: day hikes, peak scrambles, bicycling, cross-country skiing, bird-watching, conservation-walks, or forays into the remaining natural areas of our major cities. What better way to stop living in your head and start living in your body!!

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

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

By the way, walking may be the single best and easiest exercise you can do to get healthy, or even healthier in 2013. In a recent Wake Forest Medical Center study, women who walked one to two miles 3 times a week shrank abdominal fat cells by a whopping 18 percent in four months. By the way, researchers did not find the same effects  in those who dieted but did not walk.

Woman  jogging

Walking or belly fat? Its a no-brainer.

Walking gear: warm hat with ear flaps and a must-have brim (for those of us who wear glasses), waterproof pants and anorak so there is no excuse not to exercise in the great outdoors no matter the weather. A growing disconnect with the natural environment has been linked in a host of studies to obesity and related “diseases of indoor living”.

Pedometer – taking 5000 steps or fewer daily is considered sedentary. Track your steps wearing a pedometer and work your way up to 10,000 steps, which is considered active.

Dance classes – Speaking of making it to 10,000 steps a day, I wonder how many you can accumulate in a dance class? My daughter Jess just told me that she and her boyfriend recently signed up for lessons after realizing how out of step they were on the dance floor at a friends wedding  …from the waltz to the rumba they are now learning to move in synchrony. Just like hormones in balance!  www.arthurmurray.com

Soul balancing:  Beading, needlepoint, glass making, painting or cooking classes. Whatever speaks to you of creativity! This I know for sure: you can’t worry or distract yourself with internal chatter while stringing beads one at a time. And what better gifts than those made by hand for the particular person in mind.

Last but not least, let’s not forget the balancing presence of all presents: Red wine, Green tea and Dark chocolate – all in moderation but loaded with adaptogenic herbs, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties that keep hormones in balance and our immune systems humming along.

An example of a delicious rich organic dark chocolate

A square or two of organic dark chocolate speaks to me of balance! Not to mention that it raises serotonin, the pleasure hormone!

So did I get everything? What about tickets to the theater, an upcoming concert, or art exhibit for a friend who needs the gift of time. If money is no object a week away at a spa where nothing but fresh, organic, hormone-free foods go into your body, and nothing but peace and quiet into your mind. And on that thought I shall wind down my own thoughts ….still on a roll but not in a rush.

African American couple leaving concert hall

The gift of time to enjoy the best life has to offer, especially at Christmas!

Next post I’ll share our Menopausibilities best picks for books to help balance body, mind and spirit just in time for Christmas. In the meantime please LIKE us or comment on the blog to share any great ideas you come up with for gifting balance to the people you love best in all the world.

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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

Top 10 Hormone Rebalancing Tips: YOU could be walking around with a hormone imbalance and Not Even Know It! Oprah said that but what did she mean? Hormone imbalance defined.

Return to Balance

No one likes being out of balance, especially when the hot flashes, foggy thinking, and mood swings of menopause leave us feeling like a pale reflection of our former selves. During this hormonally challenged time its important to realize that the extent to which we suffer from troublesome symptoms has much do with the extent to which our lives – and our hormones – are out of balance.

Picture if you will synchronized swimmers all pointing their toes in perfect petal formation at the exact same moment. Suddenly, one of the swimmers takes off in a different direction, let’s call her progesterone, another dives to the bottom of the pool (call her testosterone), a few more decide to make waves (call them cortisols) while the last but not least of swimmers (call her estrogen) takes over the whole routine. All that beautiful synchrony, gone.

Image

Key hormone players achieve balance through synchrony

And so it goes with us. When our hormones are out of sync, we are out of sync – physically, mentally, emotionally. And because hormones are so mutually dependant (a deficiency of one creates a surplus of another), there are countless opportunities for imbalance. As Oprah put it at the opening of her show on women and hormones, “You could be walking around with a hormone imbalance and not even know it!” Knowing the signs and symptoms of a hidden hormone imbalance is your first big clue, testing and exploring your options is next  …. But before we go any further, let me explain what a hormonal imbalance is…. It’s what happens when one or more of the key hormone players (see Kyle’s most recent blog): estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and/or Cortisol, fall out of proportion to each other, (or like our synchronized swimmers above, swim off in different directions) that we are left with excesses of one hormone and deficiencies of another, a working definition of hormone imbalance. These unwelcome but inevitable shifts in hormonal milieu can be handled but until we learn how, they can seriously disrupt our  moods, memory, mojo, and zest for living. It can happen to the best of us …I would describe myself during my early experience of imbalance as feeling addled, exhausted and unloving…in a word or two: basket case.  Here now are some of the more common (preventable – seize on that word ladies) doozies:

Estrogen Dominance (flabby, crabby and fed-up) – this mother of all hormone imbalances results from high estrogen levels relative to low progesterone as a result of erratic ovulation, normal aging, hysterectomy (particularly if estrogen therapy is prescribed post-surgery in the absence of its balancing partner, progesterone), and exposure to environmental chemicals known as “xenoestrogens” (see my Feb 1st post: the Cruciferous Connection). Too much estrogen triggers multiple symptoms like weight gain, mood swings, heavy periods/no periods, lost libido, lost pzazz, lost YOU…. It typically begins at Perimenopause (early to mid-40s) when hormones wax and wane, and ends with Menopause (early 50s) when cycles cease and the ovaries stop making hormones for good. Younger women who don’t ovulate regularly (note that lack of ovulation = lack of progesterone) can also be estrogen dominant, plagued by PMS, monthly migraines, tender breasts, water retention and painful periods. So when it comes to hormone imbalance, too much estrogen is just as much an issue as too little. Having said that….

Estrogen deficiency (hot, sweaty, weepy) – low levels of estrogen can trigger that hot flash in the middle of an important meeting, or night sweats in the middle of the night, as well as other bedevilments like vaginal dryness, thinning skin, brittle nails, bones, heart palpitations, fragile emotions, muddled mind….

Imbalances of Testosterone/DHEA and Cortisol (no longer lean, just mean) are a bad combination that deplete energy, metabolism, mental clarity, stamina, and the strength of our bones, muscles, and libido. When for instance, the stress hormone cortisol goes up or stays up, testosterone goes down along with our enthusiasm, drive, and zest for living.

Adrenal Imbalances (tired, wired, and bummed-out): Lows and/or highs of cortisol resulting from unresolved stress, junk food, lack of sleep and exercise, can cause rapid aging and belly fat bigtime – not to mention allergies, insomnia, and chronic fatigue.  This under-recognized imbalance generally makes an appearance in mid-life when the adrenal glands have to pick up the slack in hormone production. The once and future energizer bunny no longer hops but plops, her sunny mood submerged under a black cloud. This is the time when the flack hits the fan if we don’t take better care of ourselves; tired, overworked adrenals eventually burnout and so do we…

Fluctuating hormones at perimenopause when hormone production becomes erratic are usually behind the hair-raising symptoms known to everywoman as the “emotional roller coaster.” That’s when all hell breaks loose and we’ll do anything for relief!

Fortunately we have a lot more control over these ups and downs than we might think. Consider these Top 10 Tips  to empower yourself and return to balance:

1.   Determine your symptoms of hormone imbalance http://www.hormonesynergy.com/women.asp  or http://www.theseventhwoman.org

2.   Test your hormones to detect hidden imbalances http://www.canaryclub.org or http://www.zrtlab.com

3.   If you have an imbalance and need to supplement insist on bioidentical hormones – they are better and safer!

4.   Learn how and when to use natural progesterone, the “great balancer.” http://www.theseventhwoman.org

5.   Support adrenal health with optimal C and B-complex, D3, and herbal tonics such as Dong Quai, Astragalus, Maca, Rhodiola, etc.

6.   Avoid xenoestrogens – eat “hormone free” foods, go GREEN with home, garden, bodycare; microwave in ceramic/glass; reject synthetic hormone replacement (HRT) and any products with unpronounceable ingredients, exercise in the open air whenever possible.

7.    Counteract stress by releasing tension: stretching, deep breathing, yoga, pilates, zumba, walking. Strength train to boost hormones naturally.

8.   Take your vitamin Zzzs – power nap!

9.   Make more ME time

10.  Act the way you want to feel! ( The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, order at http://menopausibilities.com/womens-health-shop.html)

How do YOU rebalance? Have you got a top 10, or 5, or a Numero UNO all-time best tip you can share? We’d love to pass it on!

Rebalancing amongst the Rhododendrens

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Filed under Candace Burch, Hormone Imbalance, Women's Health & Happiness

First Person: My Search for My (Happy) Self, part 1

Hi there! Blogmother Anne here, to post the first installment from a woman who has just started her own path looking for balance. You can follow her story as it unfolds by using the drop-down menu at right, where you’ll find each installment under the First Person Category.

About a month ago, I found myself in front of my bathroom mirror wondering who the heck that was staring back at me…without getting into the raw details, I’m a 50-ish woman navigating a path through divorce and financial

Who is this person? It just doesn't seem to be the real me...

devastation for the past 3½ years, no more or less challenging than many that life is known to dish out on occassion. I keep thinking I’m coming out on the other side…but darn it, something always seems to scuttle it and I feel as if I’m back at square one. Suffice to say I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and thoroughly incapable of pulling my tattered hopes out of the cellar for another day. 

Now, before you think you’re reading about one big pity party, you also need to know that I have a dedicated cadre of incredibly generous and level-headed friends, a gem of a daughter, a loving and supportive family, and I’m so far from the utter physical devastation of a tornado or a hurricane that in the big picture I have relatively little to complain about. But nonetheless, there I stood, realizing that I was once again way too uninterested and defeated to face this particular day or any other in the foreseeable future… and so I made the decision to get a prescription for anti-depressants.

Several of my friends have gotten through some pretty tough times with the help of these modern medical wonders…and I didn’t see why I couldn’t too. So within two days, I was filling a prescription and fervently hoping that the six weeks of adjusting to half doses – with side effects including headaches, sleeplessness, and more — wouldn’t sink me any deeper than I already was. I read all the drug precautions and disclaimers and indicators, then got up the next morning determined that, with just a swig of my morning coffee to wash it down, I would begin a pharmaceutical journey to my very own confident and happy future.

And I didn’t have intense side effects: mild headaches in parts of my head where I never had them before, a vaguely upset stomach, another sleepless hour or so to subtract from the usual short night. But I did have one other side effect, apparently from reading the three pages of information provided by the pharmacist: a nagging sense that this

These pages of cautions, precautions, disclaimers and relevant facts for a popular anti-depressant spooked me, and led me to start thinking seriously about bioidentical hormone therapies with Candace's & Kyle's help.

was not the right thing for me, that I was taking chemicals rather than therapy, that I was giving up control. My doctor had told me that on the rating scale they used my depression was mild – yet the popularly prescribed anti-depressant was only shown to be as effective as a placebo for mild depression. After about three days I began to worry about my brain chemistry, and the length of time I would have to be on them to see results and then beyond that to wean myself off them (it’s not recommended to stop in the fall due to the possible compounding effect of seasonal affective disorder).  I was actually resigning myself to a year of taking pills that alter my brain chemistry, all the while gambling that I would be one of the perhaps 50% that would benefit.

My ritual of a healing morning coffee was replaced with a sense that I had surrendered, and thinking that there must be a better option in something less chemical and pharmaceutical, something that would let me still be in charge.   

Enter Kyle and Candace. I’ve known Kyle for years, and through her I now count myself among Candace’s friends, too. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know they truly believe in the power of balanced hormones. I had also been reading the wealth of information about healthy hormones on The Seventh Woman Foundation website, an excellent resource.  I decided that I wanted to try this out…I wasn’t locked into long treatment cycles, and could be in more control of my own health with the ability to make adjustments that suited me.

The saliva test kit...four vials to fill with spit at four different times of day, a rated checklist of symptoms, and a prepaid UPS envelope to send it all back to the lab for testing.

So less than seven days into the half-dose beginnings of what was looking like at least year of anti-depressants, I put an end to them and took a saliva test. Spitting diligently into four vials at various times of the day will measure a variety of hormone levels, and I filled out a form from the test kit detailing everything from my emotions to my physical health. I packed the vials and questionnaire into the preaddressed envelope, popped it into a UPS drop box, and told myself to be calm and patient for a week of waiting for the results to arrive, and then a few more days to have the results interpreted by Kyle & Candace. Without even seeing the results they both recommended finding an adrenal supplement from the natural grocery health aisle, to get my cortisol (the hormone you blow through during stress) back on the map…and from the very first day of taking it I’m sleeping much better. They tell me it’s the magnesium; and while that’s interesting, the big news for me is: I’m sleeping!

And as for the saliva test, the next move belongs to Kyle and Candace. In the next week I’ll meet with them separately and write again to let you know what they found…and what they each think is the way to approach this. It should be interesting! As united as they are about hormone balance, I’m expecting their backgrounds, careers and experience will give me at least two paths to choose from.  Far from presenting a quandary, I am really happy that I will have the option to choose what I think will work best, or change the course if something doesn’t work for me…a “Personal Balance Plan”, a chance to stay in control of some aspect of my seemingly out-of-control life.  –MTA

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Filed under First Person, Women's Health & Happiness