Tag Archives: friendship

5 days gluten-free, 16 to go

I cannot believe it is already March 6th and I am officially gluten-free, at least for now. So far, it has been way easier than I had imagined, which is great because I often feel a pang of guilt when I recommend trying this style of eating to some of my patients. I always suggest deleting gluten from the diet of patients with Hashimoto’s(an autoimmune version of hypothyroidism) , insulin resistance and diabetes, arthritis, IBS(Irritable Bowel Syndrome), diverticulitis, fatigue, weight issues and even mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Those who have followed this advice often report a significant reduction in their symptoms, so much so that they are happy to stay off gluten indefinitely.

For breakfast, I have had either gluten-free toast with peanut butter and homemade jam, rice cakes with hummus,  Greek yoghurt with fruit and nuts, eggs with lots of sautéed veggies  or quinoa with cheese. I have not felt deprived at all.

Lunch is usually a salad loaded up with veggies, a source of protein or two and some nuts thrown in for crunch(I am definitely drawn to crunchy, salty and spicy foods over others). Snacks include sliced up apples or pears, a handful of grapes or a small portion of nuts(10 almonds/walnuts, or 40 pistachios is just the right amount).

Dinner has consisted of roasted veggies and goat cheese, tomato sauce over steamed broccoli with parmesan cheese(here is where my Italian roots come out: I just love a hearty tomato sauce and have found it to be quite wonderful served over veggies instead of pasta: another way to lower sugar and gluten consumption), chicken + yams + a salad, seafood and quinoa and veggies: really the possibilities are endless. I went to one of our favorite Italian restaurants last weekend and chose the polenta with sausage: YUM! I avoided the warm crusty Italian bread with olive oil: ouch…but I survived and happily so. I honestly believe this is a good change for me as I am one of those who often fills up on bread if it is there.

I have noticed that 1. I feel great: lots of energy. 2. I am not as hungry between meals( I am quite the grazer usually) 3. My clothes around the waistline feel a little looser.  So these are subtle changes but it has only been 5 days. I will keep you posted throughout the next 2+ weeks.

Bon appétit, sans gluten.

Another fun birthday celebration(they just keep coming, thankfully): this time gluten-free for me

Another fun birthday celebration, Melinda’s(they just keep coming for all of us, thankfully): this time gluten-free for me

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

This year is ‘the year’ that I am going to….

Happy 2014 to all of our wonderful readers and followers. Candace and I have been blogging together for 2 years and this is the year that we are hoping to take a synopsis of our book, with several chapters written  up in the format we think will be the most readable and visually lovely, to a perspective publisher and see what happens. We realize that there are scores of books written on the top of hormone balance but we think we have a unique perspective and style that is not only accessible, but that resonates with our readers. We have punted around many ideas(you have no idea how many!!) from publishing an e-book, to self-publishing, to throwing in the towel(gasp) ….But we keep coming back to the idea of a real, hold in your hand, prop on your shelf, cuddle up in your bed, kind of book as that is what WE like and what most of our friends/family members/patients/colleagues/acquaintance turn to for the kind of content we are offering. So we would like to hear from YOU: what do you like about our blog, what have been some of your favorite topics, what haven’t we covered that you want to know more about?? Of course we value your honesty as that will help us write a better book so please give us your ‘from the heart’ feedback. We will keep you posted as to our progress, but that is MP’s overriding goal for this year.

Oh no, we admitted our goal OUT LOUD…now that should motivate us(one technique towards reaching one's goals….)

Oh no, we admitted our goal OUT LOUD…now that should motivate us(one technique towards reaching one’s goals….)

What have YOU been saying that you hope to do, to change, to re-invent, to re-consider, to move towards or perhaps away from, in this coming year?  Every newspaper and magazine that I have opened this past week had something about weight loss, exercising more, eating cleaner, etc but one thing I did notice that was different this year was the wording of the articles. Almost every one alluded to the concept that our goals should be towards making sustainable changes, not radical ones. To do that , it helps to make small changes, ones that you can stick to (like our 10 day ‘consciousness cleanses’, something anyone can do and benefit from): not saying , “I will NEVER eat potato chips and sour cream again after work(one of my personal favorite guilty pleasures…)” because that is just never going to happen. It is so much more realistic to write down what you hope to accomplish and then identify the obstacles, your strengths, a timeline and then formulate a plan. We will keep coming back to this topic in the upcoming weeks and months but I just want to leave you with a few simple thoughts as you think about the year ahead.

1. It DOES matter what you eat. This is probably the single most important thing that you do each day in terms of supporting or hurting your body. You can exercise until the cows come home, but if you are eating a diet high in processed foods, sugary beverages, calorie dense/nutrient poor foods(most of these come in a box/can/or a wrapper, by the way), you will gain weight in all the wrong places and you will not achieve optimal fitness….or fit into those favorite pair of jeans.

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

2.Follow the wise words of Michael Pollan: “Eat food(WHOLE food), not too much, mostly plants”. Do this and you will see results, sustainable ones.

3. Spend a few minutes each day being grateful for the wonders of your body. Focus more on how your body feels and how it does whatever you ask it to do day after day, a miracle in and of itself.  Take care of your body: feed it whole foods, clean water, take it out for a walk, a jog, a hike, expose it to natural vitamin D and the elements like the wind, the rain, the snow. Take note of how alive you feel when you have spent some time outside or just being active. Your body will thank you by continuing to do what you ask of it and by sticking around for awhile.

Hiking with my wonderful black lab Riley: sitting at the top of the world and feeling like it

Hiking with my wonderful black lab Riley: sitting at the top of the world and feeling like it

4. Take time to sleep, to rest and to restore yourself. You need this more than you know(see Candace’s last post).

5. Make time for play, for love, for friendship, for prayer and meditation, for doing the things you love to do, for visiting someone who needs you to be there. Life often goes by in a blur so paying attention each day to the moments that matter and making time for the things that matter to you is crucial for living a life that has meaning.

Our conversation will continue. We look forward to writing to you and hearing from you in the upcoming year. Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts with us. We so appreciate all of you.

Take time to see and smell the flowers and other small wonders

Take time to see and smell the flowers and other small wonders

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Exercise is NOT a dirty word(Just ask my Portland to Coast team!)

I love my work. I get to spend time with thousands of women every year in my role as a health care provider and as a result, I meet some amazing individuals. My office is in ‘the Pearl’ in NW Portland, which is an area similar to Soho in NYC:  shops, restaurants, bookstores(Powells Books is the largest bookstore in the U.S.and is a mere 3 blocks from my office), businesses and high density living quarters.  It is a vibrant neighborhood filled with pedestrians, cyclists, dogs on leashes, people hustling back and forth: for work, to shop, or to meet a friend over coffee or happy hour.

Our beautiful city of Portland: this is one vibrant town

Our beautiful city of Portland: this is one vibrant town

I hear many stories everyday and some common threads that emerge are all too often frustration with weight(too much, especially that dreaded ‘muffin top’), stress and feeling tired/overwhelmed. In my role as a provider, I try to elicit details of a person’s diet, stress management techniques and exercise routine. Most importantly, I have learned NOT to make assumptions: many people still don’t know how to eat ‘cleanly’ or how to incorporate exercise into daily living. Not surprisingly, women who eat well and exercise regularly tend to look and feel better/younger and handle life’s stressors with more grace.

So often I hear “I don’t have time to exercise” “I get bored” “I have bad knees” ” I just hate how I look: I can’t imagine putting on a bathing suit/workout clothes”. But then again, these are often the same women who are at their wit’s end with weight and fatigue issues.

The solution is obvious: Exercise! but the path back can be difficult for many.  But I love this kind of challenge: helping people find what works for them to get them back to feeling good, balanced, energized, alive…So many people hear the word ‘exercise’ and they want to run, but not outside, but to the couch. It can be a bit daunting for someone who has never been very active or for others who have adopted a sedentary lifestyle.

But it doesn’t have to be insurmountable. Start small. Set some goals. Let me give you some REALISTIC suggestions:

~Get a fitness app for your smart phone: there are some great ones out there. One that I use all the time is ‘endomondo’: this is a sports tracker with a GPS that makes fitness fun, helping you to measure your progress over time: I used it to train for Portland to Coast and it helped me to walk my fastest mile ever! Some others are ‘adidas-mi coach’, ‘couch to 5 k'(one of my co-workers is using that one: helping her to walk/jog and get moving!), ‘nike-fit’ …the choice is endless. Pick something that works for your lifestyle: they really make exercise fun!

~Find a group or a friend and start working towards a goal together. Last year I formed our PTC team and some of the women had NEVER participated in any kind of formal exercise or events. Guess what? they loved it and came back this year stronger and fitter than ever.

The morning after PTC with 3 of my amazing teammates: feeling strong, healthy and proud

The morning after PTC with 3 of my amazing teammates: feeling strong, healthy and proud

~Try something new or revisit something you loved as a child. Take a dance class, try stand up paddling, yoga, pilates, barre work, sea kayaking: there are no limits to the opportunities out there.

Trust me: exercise is the one thing that if you do it with any sort of regularity and dedication, it will give back to you in many ways: You will feel stronger, calmer, more flexible, confident, fit, leaner, and happy. And your memory will improve, as well as your cardiovascular health and hormonal balance.

So what’s stopping you? As always, we would love to hear what you are doing as part of your personal balance plan.

Happy trails…..

Cruising to the end of my second leg of 7.78 miles: what a gorgeous route and fun time we had

Cruising to the end of my second leg of 7.78 miles: what a gorgeous route and fun time we had

Oh and P.S.: last year was our first year as a walking team and we came in at around the top 40% , which we felt pretty good about. THIS year we finished in the top 28% overall…not bad for a bunch of women walking and having a fantastic time while doing it!

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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

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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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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