What exactly is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder which affects 1 out of every 10 women in their childbearing years. Women with PCOS experience higher levels of insulin production and androgens (male hormones) than other women. It is because of these high levels of hormones that PCOS can cause a variety of symptoms including irregular or a lapse in menstrual cycles, difficulty becoming pregnant, weight gain, acne, increased risk of insulin resistant diabetes, excess hair growth on the face, stomach and back, and even heart disease.

PCOS & Fertility

PCOS affects fertility due to the hormonal imbalances and overproduction of both androgens and insulin. Androgens are male hormones that are produced naturally in all women, however, women with PCOS produce a higher level of these hormones which can prohibit the development and release of eggs from the ovaries during ovulation. Insulin is a hormone that controls the metabolism of sugar, starches, and other food, and converts them into energy for the body to either use or store. Insulin is elevated in women with PCOS which leads to insulin resistance. This resistance puts women with PCOS at a higher risk for developing diabetes. Insulin and androgens directly correlate with each other as studies show that excess insulin leads to an increased production of androgens. In addition to the effects on normal ovulation, high androgen levels can also lead to acne, excessive hair growth, and weight gain. Weight gain is extremely important to note here, so let’s just touch on this topic for a minute. Weight gain, especially for women with PCOS, occurs mainly in the abdominal area and is a direct effect from excessive insulin present in the body. This “visceral fat” leads to higher levels of LDL (damaging cholesterol) and lowers the levels of HDL (good cholesterol). Having insulin resistant diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or being overweight are all associated with heart disease. In fact, studies have shown that women with PCOS are twice as likely to experience a future cardiovascular event like a heart attack or a stroke.

 If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, taking action and gaining control of all your symptoms as early as possible can significantly reduce your risk of developing complications such as excessive weight gain leading to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. By treating your symptoms as a whole, you will also address other complications such as fertility and potential difficulties that can occur during pregnancy.

Ways you can take action today

First, please consult with a medical professional to receive a proper diagnosis and consult on a treatment plan that best fits you and your lifestyle. With that said, adopting a healthy lifestyle is vital and is the best single-handed thing you can start today to help gain control of your symptoms, and can improve the chance of pregnancy and a healthy baby. It’s not an old wives tale, it is true that diet and exercise drive the overall health of your body, internally and externally. A healthy, balanced diet (not a restrictive one) and incorporating an active lifestyle will help keep you in a healthy weight range. Cutting back or omitting alcohol altogether, not smoking, practicing stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, journaling etc., and making sure you are getting enough quality sleep will all improve your symptoms and your chances of conceiving.

For more information please visit your primary care physician and browse this site, for additional articles on engaging in an active lifestyle including balanced eating, stress reducing techniques, and exercise.

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The Portion Distortion Dilemma

Mastering Portion Control: Your Guide to Health and Satisfaction at The Table

In the perpetual quest for health and wellness, one crucial yet often overlooked element is the role portion control plays in our diet. Amid the mosaic of superfoods, diet trends, and organic produce, the simple act of eating just the right amount remains as pivotal today as it did for our ancestors. As we navigate our modern food landscape, it’s time to address the portion distortion dilemma — and I’m here to guide you through it.

The topic of portion control can be a divisive one, but my aim is not to dictate your plate size or prescribe a generic one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, I want to steer you towards personal exploration and the adoption of sustainable portion practices that align with your lifestyle and health goals. Let’s peel back the layers and uncover the whys and hows of portion control.

Serving Size: More Than Just Numbers on a Label

The foundation of portion control is understanding serving sizes. It’s common to dismiss these as trivial and fail to recognize their importance. Every food product on the shelf has a suggested serving size. These numbers aren’t arbitrary; they are informed by nutritional guidelines and your best interest.

I implore you to give these figures the attention they deserve. It’s not about rigidly adhering to them but about using them to gauge your food intake. Knowing a serving of cheese is typically the size of two dice can lead to more informed eating choices. Educate your eye by using measuring cups and a food scale, at least in the beginning. Over time, you’ll gain a sense of portioning that becomes second nature.

Bowl Full of Chips: A Recipe for Mindless Eating

Picture this: you’re at home, craving a snack. You grab a bag of chips and head to the couch, ready to unwind. Without thinking, you reach in for a handful — and another, and another. Before you know it, the bag is empty, and so is your sense of control. This is the epitome of portion distortion in action.

To counter this, mindfulness is your greatest ally. Portion out your snacks — even if it’s just for yourself. A bowl of nuts may look deceivingly small at first, but it may contain several servings. By portioning out your food mindfully, you not only manage your intake but savor your food more. Mindfulness brings back the joy of eating, one chip at a time.

Home Cooking: The Portion Crusader

Cooking and eating at home is the cornerstone of achieving portion prowess. The power lies in your hands — literally. By prepping your own meals, you control every ingredient, its quantity, and the overall nutritional profile. It’s an opportunity to make peace with portioning without feeling deprived.

When you cook, you understand what goes into your food, and thus, into your body. This control fosters healthier eating habits in ways no fad diet can. As a woman with a mission to ensure not only my well-being but that of my family, I can attest to the transformative influence of home-cooked meals on portion awareness. It’s a journey worth embarking on.

Dining Out: Balancing Indulgence and Moderation

Eating out is an experience of indulgence, and it should be relished as such. However, it’s all too easy to forget the principles of portion control when faced with a voluminous restaurant plate. The portion sizes at eateries often exceed what’s necessary for one meal, encouraging overeating.

My advice for dining out is to view your meal as an event. Choose quality over quantity. Savor each bite, and don’t be afraid to take leftovers home. Additionally, don’t shy away from asking for half-portions or forgoing the breadbasket. It’s about finding a balance that allows you to enjoy the moment without neglecting your long-term health.

Portion Control on the Go: Navigating Busy Lifestyles

In the rush of daily life, the concept of sitting down at the dinner table may seem like a luxury. When fast food becomes the default, it’s crucial to adapt your portion control tactics. Whether it’s a roadside stop or a work lunch, small adjustments can yield significant health dividends.

Opt for the smallest size or share a meal. Resist the urge to upsize your fries or order a side salad instead. It’s the accumulation of these mindful choices that keeps your portion control on track, even in the most time-strapped moments.

Conclusion: The Balanced Plate of Tomorrow

Portion control is not about restriction; it’s about redefining our relationship with food. It empowers us to eat what we love in a way that respects our bodies and our goals. As we progress, let’s embrace portion control as an extension of our autonomy over health. It’s a personal journey, and the adjustments you make today will shape the dinners — and lives — of tomorrow.

Take charge of your portions, and you’ll find that the balancing act of healthful eating and enjoyment is not as precarious as it seems. It is, indeed, possible to have your cake and eat it too — just maybe in a smaller slice. So portion up, and savor the journey to a healthier, more satisfying you.

First, try to pick a restaurant that focuses on local, fresh and organic vegetables and proteins. These restaurants usually offer a balanced meal more so than the places with smothered tater tots and drunken burritos on the menu (though they are delicious). Even so, choosing a healthier restaurant will still come with some challenges. The portions will always be larger than what is recommended. Hey, they gotta make their money, and let’s be honest, if I am going to pay $15 for a salad, it better be one I can have for lunch the next day as well. That brings me to my next point. While ordering food, from anywhere, ask the server to bring out a to go box with your steaming hot entree. Take a moment to admire the dish, take a picture and put it on the gram- then box up half of your portion. We tend to pick at food when it is in front of us even after we have eaten a five-course meal. By boxing up your food and putting it out of sight, your eyes are still fixed on what is in front of you- a healthy portion of a delicious meal. To cut back even more on extra calories, you can ask the server to have the chef prepare your meal with a lighter portion of sauce, light oil or butter. I know it’s hard, but if given the option try and opt for the fresh seasonal veggies as a side rather than the French fries, but if you must, and we all know it’s usually a must (no judgement here) then again pack up those bad boys leaving half of the portion on the plate. Don’t skip the dessert, SPLIT the dessert with a friend. You can also ask for salad dressing on the side, so you have more control of the portion you are putting on your salad. Most of the time, the salad dressing contains the most calories, rather than the salad itself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the ingredients or alter the way your food is cooked or prepared.  You will be surprised that when you are done mindfully eating your food, that when its gone, you aren’t absolutely starving for the second half. Plus, as much as you enjoyed it then, you get to enjoy it again the next day! Double blessing. To get a better picture on how portions have changed over time here is a visual from NIH.com (National Health Institute) depicting how portions have changed over the past 20 years.

Eating out is a fun way to take a break from the norm and socialize, however eating at home has many benefits on your waistline and your wallet. Try inviting friends over for a potluck, or to try out a new recipe! All in all, it is about being mindful of everything you put into your body. Remember, you are what you eat, and in this case, how much you eat.

You can find more valuable resources on how to eat healthier with good tips for when you are eating out here: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/about-wecan/index.htm

No If’s, And’s or Gut(s) About It: Processed Food & Gut Health

Did You Know Those 5 Extra Pounds Might be Toxins

Can’t seem to lose those five extra pounds? You may restrict your calorie intake, even more, bump up the exercise intensity or duration. You may have even gone extreme and cut out carbs, sweets, and alcohol and still can’t shake off these last 5 lbs? Frustrating, to say the least.

Why could this possibly be happening?

The reason your disciplined diet and diligent cardio aren’t working is, well, because those few extra pounds may not be fat at all, they might be toxins. If your gut is burdened with extra pounds of toxic waste, you will have difficulty losing weight and keeping it off. Clean-eating and fitness are not the only things that go into the total weight-loss package.

Your gut and its health play one of the most essential roles in your body when it comes to losing weight.

That GUT feeling

Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, both good and bad. When you have the right balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, your digestion improves, inflammation reduces, decreased stress, sleep better, your moods improve, and your focus increases. Who knew that your gut could power all of those things?

Besides, when it comes to managing weight or weight loss, a healthy gut boosts your metabolism, controls and reduces cravings. Your gut is linked to EVERY part of your body, so you must take good care of it. This includes what goes through it.

A Processed Problem

Many people are led to believe that though canned peaches may be healthy and low calorie and low carb, they miss a very vital point, and that is the processing agent or agents in these foods. You may eat the hot dog without the bun, the low-fat corn chips, and drink that diet soda, even help yourself to a hearty bowl of healthy cereal in the morning. However, all of these foods have a common theme: They are processed foods.

The problem with processed foods and gut health is as good as those foods may taste, a low-calorie diet of processed foods is loaded with refined sugars, trans fats, artificial flavorings, and other harmful ingredients. Frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, snack packs,  sodas, and chips all contain substances made in labs. Consider food coloring, for example, Red dye #40 (listed in the ingredients) that are found in many foods has been linked to conditions such as autism. These foods are designed to be highly addictive and cost-effective. High fructose corn syrup is the most dominant example of a highly addictive, cheap, and toxic ingredient found in almost every shelf or frozen food, even bread. If you have ever tasted ketchup off the shelf and then tasted organic or homemade ketchup, you would probably make a squished face at the taste of natural ketchup without high fructose corn syrup. This is because HFCS is extremely sweet, there is nothing else produced naturally on this green earth that is as sweet as this processed ingredient. Because this ingredient is so cheap, it is prevalent in supermarket shelf foods, convenience stores, restaurants, and vending machines. Once you have a taste, it is very hard to put down.

Processed foods break down into compounds that the bad bacteria in your gut love to gobble, and if you feed them too much, they’ll grow to outnumber the good bacteria causing an imbalance in your gut health and gastrointestinal disruption. Consuming processed foods at any amount can cause bloating, discomforts such as gas and cramps, trouble losing weight, and insulin resistance. The long-term effects of processed food consumption can lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, remember your gut health significantly affects all other systems. On top of that, many food additives are known irritants of the digestive system that cause inflammation in the intestines and decrease nutrient absorption, so while you may be taking your vitamins and adding in a salad with your fried chicken, those nutrients are passing right through your gut, therefore, providing little to no benefits to your health. What a waste (literally)!
The key is to have readily available whole foods at your fingertips. Snacking on processed foods is usually the result of not planning meals ahead of time which leads to eating convenient fast or packaged foods, and eating out.

Clean out your cabinets and pantry and fill your fridge with these alternatives.  Instead of sugars and artificial sweeteners, cinnamon, or plain fruit. Replace fried foods that contain unhealthy hydrogenated oils with good, fatty foods avocados, nuts, and cook with healthy oils. Instead of chips, try pumpkin seeds, sprouted almonds, flax seeds, kombucha or dark chocolate. Instead of deli meats that are laden with antibiotics and hormones, purchase and cook lean, grass-fed meats.  Replace regular cheese with cashew cheese and milk with coconut milk. You should be able to readily and conveniently find all of these alternatives at your local health food store.   Plan your meals to be as raw, clean, and hearty as possible. The possibilities are endless and there are countless websites out there that offer amazing, easy, and inexpensive recipes and meal planning ideas.  Don’t settle for ugly, toxic,  processed foods. Settle for a happy, healthy life that you deserve, free of diet-induced diseases.  Achieve your weight-loss goals among many other life-changing benefits. Start today and wave goodbye processed foods.

Is Work Life Balance a Myth

Is Creating a Work Life Balance a Myth?

Work-Life Balance has been a buzz word for such a long time, and has, in recent years, been receiving criticism as unrealistic and truly mythical. That makes us wonder, is that so?

When we think of balance we automatically think of a perfect 50/50 split, however, what in life is a perfect 50/50 split (unless you have an extremely good lawyer)? Nothing really. So why would we put the one thing that is, for the most part, completely out of our control into a category of having or needing perfect, textbook definition, balance? What a trivial pursuit that is and quite frankly, unattainable. Logically speaking, we are not able to commit 12 hours to the office, whether home or away,  and 12 hours to home, family, friends, me-time, relationships, chores, grocery shopping, exercising, leisure time, so on and so forth.

So what is the true definition of Work Life Balance and can we achieve it once defined?

Work-Life Balance indicates that there is something that we need to “escape” from. For most, it is the work, or office life that needs escaping and for some, it may be actual “life” that needs escaping. So, is it that we are really balancing or are we just simply trying to harmonize work and life? I believe in creating a work-life harmony which is a much more attainable goal. Trying to find the perfect balance between the white walls of the office and the hustle and bustle of personal life, actually causes us to stress more. Fact is that life is ever changing and evolving. This is completely out of our control.  Example, you can be diligently working your 9-5 and the daycare calls because your toddler is regurgitating his apple cinnamon oatmeal from this morning and suddenly work life automatically shifts to family life. Vice-Versa, you could be sitting down enjoying a cup of tea and at precisely 8:30pm your phone emails start going crazy due to a huge offer that fell through and you need to stop the ship from sinking before Monday’s 8am staff meeting. The point here is that there is never going to be a true textbook balance and the more you try to create the perfect 50/50, the more you are going to stress yourself out, because frankly, life just doesn’t work that way. By creating harmony and creating space to embrace the ebb and flow of life, you are creating your balance for your life.

How does one just let the pendulum swing and enjoy the ride?

Let’s take work, for starters. I know many of us have been handed a large project that has felt like it has taken over or has  “controlled our lives”. Our response to that? We feel pain.

And in response to pain? We try to make it go away or escape from it. Trying to meticulously maneuver our way through a thorn bush is just silly because pain is inevitable, but not all pain is bad. Pain can signal growth (ahem, ever heard of the term growing pains?). If you are going to be uncomfortable, then you had better make sure it’s for a darn good reason. Now, going back to the large project that seems to be controlling our life and seeping into our Netflix and chill time. Ask yourself, what are you experiencing from this? What valuable takeaways will result from you nailing this large project successfully? What opportunities for growth will this project bring? Turning your mindset around will instantly create determination and motivation, it also dulls the pain and all of the sudden, it doesn’t seem to have such a grip on you, because you are now in control, not work. Plus, it’s not forever. Your life, just like mine, is full of seasons. Some seasons are busy, some are not, some are more dedicated to family and relationships, some are laser focused on work, but like all seasons, they come and go and come back again. Defining what your overall priorities are in life, will give you the clarity you need in order to keep them straight. Work-Life bends and twists, and there will be times when your relationship has to take precedence over your work, where you may have to step away from the office to be a supportive family member or friend, and there will also be times where your need to put your business first.  Learning to honor your priorities and accepting the coming and going of seasons will bring joy and harmony into your life, which will, in return, grant you the truest balance.


Let’s talk a little about cellulite.

(Summer topic)

Almost everyone has it, and it can often times be difficult to get rid of. I’m here to help you eliminate your cellulite and keep it off!

To help combat cellulite, one must first understand what it is and where it comes from. Cellulite is a very common, harmless skin condition that causes lumpy, dimpled flesh on the thighs, hips, buttocks, and abdomen. It predominantly occurs in women. Cellulite is normal and contrary to belief, has nothing to do with your size, weight, or whether or not you have excess fat. Little is known about what causes cellulite, however, it involves the fibrous connective cords that secure the skin to the underlying muscle, with the fat lying between. As fat cells accumulate, they push up against the skin, while the long, tough cords pull down. This is what creates an uneven surface or dimpling.

Cellulite can occur in all ages and sizes, but usually makes its first appearance after puberty and can become more visible with aging skin as it loses its elasticity. Women with cellulite all share something in common as studies have shown that having cellulite can be an indicator of a weak lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is designed to clear out toxins, bacteria and fat, and drains out tissue waste elements. If the lymphatic system is not functioning at full steam, these things can become trapped underneath the surface of the skin causing the “orange peel” look. Cellulite can also become more visible in those who are less active, therefore having weak muscle tone. As you exercise, you build muscle and lose fat. As your muscle mass increases, your skin starts to tighten and tone, therefore causing the appearance of cellulite to diminish.

What are other ways to help decrease the look of cellulite you ask? Try these other easy, do it yourself lifestyle tips.

  1. In with the old, out with the new. Kick your canola oil out to the curb and replace it with unrefined coconut oil! That’s right, Coconut oil breaks down the fat cells that help make up cellulite. You can throw a tablespoon of coconut oil into your smoothie, replace coconut oil in your favorite baked sweets and for a little R & R? Pour one tablespoon of coconut oil in with your favorite bath product, soak and relax. Coconut oil is one of the greatest things you can consume to eliminate the buildup of fat cells in your body. With just this one simple change, you’re on your way to saying goodbye to cellulite.
  2. Christmas year ‘round. Head to your local health food store and pick up some fresh cranberries! Make your own cranberry juice or purchase organic unsweetened cranberry juice. Consuming 8-12 ounces of cranberries per day will help improve the connective tissues which, in turn, keeps your lymphatic system working at its best. In order to help prevent cellulite, you need to have a strong and functioning lymphatic system to rid your body of the unwanted waste. Just remember, only 8-12 ounces of cranberries per day and make sure you keep up with your water intake. Two liters of water per day is crucial to staying hydrated and flushing your body of toxins.
  3. Go ahead and break a little sweat! Being and staying active will not only help reduce the appearance of cellulite but will also increase the health of your lymphatic system. Jogging, walking, weightlifting, yoga, and high-intensity workout can aid in the natural process of ridding your body of cellulite. Find what works for you and your schedule and make it a daily habit. Don’t be afraid to switch it up either! Trying new things keeps you motivated and excited to stay active.

You don’t need to be a bodybuilder with negative five percent body fat or have special genes to be free of cellulite.  All you need is a little exercise, some nutritional motivation, and the commitment to yourself.  There are many other ways to help reduce the appearance of cellulite or get rid of it altogether, the key here is to find what works for you and the lifestyle you want to have. Slow and steady, with commitment and discipline, you will find that the reduction of cellulite is only one of the many benefits that can come along with leading a healthy lifestyle.

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Foods to Balance Blood Sugar

Balanced blood sugar levels are crucial to a healthy and prosperous life. Stable blood sugar levels prevent the disruption of your body’s functions and help your overall health. Here are a few foods to add to your diet to help balance your blood sugar: 

Greens, you can never eat too many greens. For the best blood sugar benefits, go for nutrient-dense, low-carb greens like spinach, kale, mustard greens, beets greens, Swiss chard, or broccoli. These greens are also very rich in protein and calcium, which help your body in multiple areas. You roast, sauté, steam, greens contribute to a dramatic improvement in patients who are constantly battling with their blood sugar.  

Low fructose fruits for blood sugar-specific management, choose fruits that are low fructose, such as cantaloupe, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, and blackberries. You can snack on them throughout the day, or toss them in your salad, smoothies, or acai bowls. Here is a list for an idea of the glycemic index of some foods.

Protein, this macronutrient is essential for slowing down glucose absorption in your body, which helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Add foods to your diet that are packed with protein. There are plenty of animal and non-animal choices to choose form. Make your diet enjoyable. Remember everything in moderation; however, too much protein actually can become sugar in your blood, creating a condition called gluconeogenesis; the amount of protein needed depends on your lifestyle.  

Herbs and Spices are natural supplements for balancing your blood sugar levels. They not only add flavor to your dishes, but they may also help your hormones lower your blood sugar. Some spices, like turmeric, contain anti-inflammatory properties, which help in balancing out your sugar. 

Low-calorie drinks: cut out sugary, high-calorie drinks from your diet. Add drinks like cinnamon tea, lemon water, and cucumber juice in your daily routine. 

Whole-grain foods that are also rich in protein, like millet and quinoa, provide and store energy without causing spikes in your blood sugar levels. 

Beans are a good source of protein, low carb, and rich in fiber, all critical factors in balancing your blood sugar. Hummus, lentils, and garbanzo beans are good examples and great dietary choices. Remember to soak them the night before to promote easier digestion. 

Nuts like almonds and walnuts contain healthy amounts of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and are a low carb snack idea. 

Try balancing your blood sugar the natural way by changing the way you eat. You’ll be amazed at the difference!