Tag Archives: balance

MUST READS for Gifting Balance this Christmas

As promised, and in time for Christmas giving I have put together my all-time “must-reads”  that not only speak to me of balance but help me find and sustain it in the midst of the slings and arrows of daily living….many of my best picks for mind, body and soul balancing guidance  can be easily-peasily ordered online from our Menopausibilities Women’s Health Shop. Okay here’s my list of essential, can’t stay in balance without fantabulous reads.

HORMONE BALANCING:
The Wisdom of Menopause, Christianne Northrup, M.D.

Hormone Balance Made Simple, John R. Lee, M.D. (any of the books by John R. Lee including: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About MenopauseWhat Your Doctor May Not Tell You About PreMenopauseWhat Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer: How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life  (w/ David Zava PhD.)

The Cortisol Connection, Shawn Talbott

 Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Dr. Jim Wilson, N.D.

The Mood Cure, Julia Ross

The books that speak of balance are essential to finding it in your body, mind and soul.

The books that speak of balance are essential to finding it in your body, mind and soul.


MIND and SOUL Balancing
:

The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin

Gift From the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindberg

Sex and the Seasoned Woman, Gail Sheehy

Women, Food and God, Geneen Roth

Magnificent Mind at Any Age, Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail, Cheryl Strayed

The Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama

Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra, M.D.


Body Balancing:

True Food
, Andrew Weil, M.D.

Fight Fat After 40, Pamela Peeke, M.D.

Super Nutrition for Menopause, Anne Marie Gittleman

The Thyroid Diet, Mary J. Shomon

French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano

Stay tuned, next post for Kyle’s TOP Books of Balance for the NEW YEAR!! May your days be merry, bright, and above all in balance!!

Christmas coming on - not hot flashes!

Give the gift of Balance this Christmas! Happy Holidays! Candace, Rye and Dave

 

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Filed under Candace Burch, Women's Health & Happiness

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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Reflections on the ‘cleanse’ and more reasons to stay away from most sugars

Well, I made it through the past 10 days and amazingly, this was not as difficult as I had anticipated. Honestly I was a little nervous before I started, as I had re-developed the mid-morning and sometimes early afternoon coffee habit over the past 6 months….and I was worried that I would be falling asleep mid-sentence! I also love to savor a glass(or 2) of full-bodied red wine in the evening, as a way to separate the busy-ness of my work day from the relaxation that I like to enjoy when work is over. And all too often  I found myself sneaking in a few potato or corn chips or occasional bites of chocolate, without paying too much attention to how all of these things added up over the day. The bottomline was that I found myself reaching for the cup of coffee or the quick snack to rebuild my energy when it dipped so going without seemed a bit daunting.

So here it is 10 days later and this is what I noticed during that time:

1. I slept better than I had in years. BHRT(bio-identical hormones) have clearly improved my ability to sleep(no night sweats, more REM sleep, ease of falling and staying asleep) but by developing some of my previously mentioned habits, I was often tossing and turning in the middle of the night, unable to find that rest again. Not so these past 10 days: my sleep was deep and wonderful and I woke each morning feeling refreshed.  And for those of you who have sleep issues, you know how priceless a good night’s sleep is!

2. My head was clearer, memory sharper and I found it easier to do tasks that I might usually keep avoiding.

3. My energy level was terrific. I found that could swim and walk faster and my workouts gave me more energy back.

4. I lost almost an inch around my waist(that darned belly fat…even though I am relatively lean, I still struggle with that…and that is not the good kind of fat to have: it is directly correlated with a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer; Belly fat begone!), shed about 3 pounds  and my clothes fit better. And I felt full and satisfied after eating and I didn’t crave sugar or caffeine….astounding.

5. I had fun trying new recipes and teas…and I didn’t mind the 5 evenings when I was around family and friends who were having wine , beer and cocktails…it was actually very pleasant, not an issue at all.

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

So now I am on day 11 and actually have decided to continue for a few days longer. A few of my friends asked me last evening if I picked 10 days for any particular reason. My reasoning for that is I don’t think a week is long enough , 2 weeks sounds too long to many people, and  you can make it work so that you are only on it for one weekend. I also think you get to see more results if you make it the full 10 days. Again, this is just something I made up for myself to help me make a few small changes and gain a feeling of empowerment.  But I have heard quite a bit of positive feedback from the women who joined me(there are also 3 men…I would love to hear how they did as well!). Everyone noted better sleep, better energy, less sugar cravings and a feeling of control.  Wow, so small changes really had a big impact.  That is pretty powerful.

Kyle and Candace at our local farmers’ market: so many wonderful food choices, grown locally

I guess there are no coincidences after all. When I came home from work and started to read today’s Living section in our local paper, the Oregonian, I of course noticed the article skewering sugar and its relatives by Dr. Oz and Rozen.  Many points were made in this article. Here are just a few of the highlights: sugar alters essential proteins in the body, particularly if you already have insulin resistance; too much fructose(we are not talking about whole fruits here: more like High Fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, brown and white sugar, honey, agave and turbinado sugars) causes your liver to turn the excess fructose into fat: this in turn can lead to fatty liver and/or cirrhosis; drinking large quantities(30 oz of fructose-containing substances)/day can drive up your blood pressure; high levels of fructose are directly related to the development of diabetes.  Recommendations include: cut down on those sugars in general(try to limit consumption to 20 g or 3 Tblsp/day); eat fruit for dessert and use stevia as a substitute, in moderation of course.

There really is no avoiding the news about sugar and its effects on our health.  So this cleanse for me came at a particularly powerful time, right before Halloween(yikes: just think how much candy we have all consumed as a result of that holiday!!) , Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah. I am motivated to find recipes that will rely minimally on added sugars and I will share them with you. Please do the same for us and all of our readers.  As always, wishing you joy and balance.

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Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

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

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

We will miss you Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron died this week at 71. She wrote and directed many of my(and probably yours) favorite movies within the last 25 years: such classics as “When Harry Met Sally”(who can forget the scene in the cafe????), “Sleepless in Seattle”(top 5 movies for my daughter Julia and me…we cry every time they meet on the top of the Empire State building!!), and Julie and Julia, amongst others. She captured the dialogue between women and men with such humor and nuance, she made us laugh, she made us cry. Her voice, her wit will be greatly missed.
I listened to a wonderful interview yesterday with her recorded on the NPR program, Fresh Air, from 2006. I have posted the link here and I would like to share 2 of my favorite lines from this interview, which I believe sum up her wit and how she captures the essence of growing into mature adults:
“I take so many pills in the morning, it is a miracle that I have room for breakfast.”
When asked what her next 20 years might be like, she replied(and I paraphrase): “I think about today..and today I have been to a bakery. We live in a time when we have the best bread in the history of the world. I am going to eat that bread::”
Thank you Nora for all that you gave to us . We will miss you.

A laugh a minute, on screen and in life: an interview with Nora Ephron

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Live discussion on hormone balance, testing and treatment options

Last year I did a televised interview at our local radio station, KINK.fm. The moderator asked me questions about hormone imbalance, hormone testing and possible treatments. I have had quite a few patients comment on how helpful it was to hear this interview so I would like to share it with all of you. Just click on the link and then scroll down to my photo and hit the play button I hope you enjoy it and would love to answer any questions you might have. Let me know what you think!

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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

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

2012 Re-velations and Re-solutions of the Re-Woman!

If January is the time for taking stock, new beginnings, and all that, then it’s well ‘nigh time for me to follow suit…. as much as I hate to admit it, I have not exactly been the poster child for a woman in balance these past couple months….ever since Christmas (or was it more like Halloween…)  I’ve been on a roll, celebrating life as it were, which all too often boils down to eating and drinking too much, staying up too late, and generally overdoing it. Sound familiar? Well I hope it does… I mean I can’t possibly be the only menopausal woman out here hanging on to Christmas and all the dear, sweet, hallelujah I’m still here celebrations  that mark the stages of our lives.

Masquerade Ball New Years Eve 2011, the Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon ... behind the mask ...a Re-woman in waiting!

Still… I knew the party was over the other day when I woke up with a nasty head cold and a bad case of middle age. Instead of being “out there” living it up and having a ball (although the Masquerade ball I attended on New Years Eve has to become a tradition),  I need to be “in here” where head, heart, and balanced hormones reside.

Yes! AND at the same time I need to be more like Elizabeth Gilbert  in Eat, Pray, Love, when she went to the ashram to cultivate stillness, learn to listen, and stop talking so darn much… In this first 30 days of the new year I need to become the quietest woman in the room for a change; the most cleansed, serene, and balanced woman I know.  I need to re-view, re-do, re-new. I need to Re-woman!

And just so’s you know I mean every word, here is my RE-Balance aspiration (see Kyle’s last blog on aspirations vs. resolutions) list for 2012 – I’ll let you know how I’m doing….:-)

Get into that bed one hour earlier every single night. (The extra sleep will help to balance my stress hormones which in turn will help to reduce cravings, belly fat, and the tension I sometimes hang on to for dear life!)

Rise one hour earlier to a cup of green tea vs. coffee (This will help to reduce the havoc wreaked upon my adrenals by caffeine and allow the magic green antioxidants to boost my immunities and in turn my longevity!)

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.)

Walking faster, than slower at intervals builds strength and balance

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 humidfy my skin and oxygenate my brain and body so that I will live forever, or at least look and feel like I can!)

Learn how to make Brussells sprouts taste good! Got any recipes ladies?? (Adding way more cruciferous vegetables (kale, chard, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage) to my daily diet will help to metabolize excess and/or toxic, ie. ‘xeno’ estrogens from my body, thus clearing my onward path to natural hormone balance.)

Tune out all talking heads before bedtime. (This will stop the overstimulation of the 24/7 news cycle 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!)

Reject all foods that are genetically modified or filled with pesticides, synthetic hormones, xenoestrogens, antibiotics, or empty calories. (This will significantly reduce my risk of getting indigestion, a fat belly, a leaky gut, gluten-intolerance, insomnia and hormone imbalance, not to mention diseases of aging like breast cancer!)

Cancel one appointment a week and banish anything, anyone, and everything else in my life that is an unneccesary stressor. (This will enable me to become more authentic and the most stress-free person I could ever hope to meet!)

I could go on, and no doubt I will be adding more to my list like RE-testing my hormones this year, and Re-doubling my efforts to spread the word about the virtues of natural progesterone and bioidentical hormones, but enough already…lofty goals yes, out of my mind? No, on the contrary, back in it. This is the Re-Woman talking!

If YOU have a Re-balance plan you’d like to share, or for that matter, a great Re-cipe for Brussells sprouts, PLEASE do!!

Essential ingredient: Finding, being and staying in balance is a work in progress.

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Filed under Bioidentical Hormones, Candace Burch