Healing Hormonal Imbalances and PCOS

healing hormonal imbalances

I’ve been a hormonal mess since I was 21 years old and never realized that hormones were causing so many unwanted symptoms in my body until I was diagnosed by a functional medicine doctor with PCOS. I had started gaining weight, while eating the healthy foods I had always eaten. I was having insomnia and headaches and irregular periods. Getting diagnosed with PCOS has made me realize how important it is to support your hormones every day because they drive so many of your body’s daily abilities that we often don’t realize until we start to feel awful side effects. I honestly thought PMS was the only side effect from imbalanced hormones, but once I started to heal my headaches and insomnia and exhaustion, I realized that hormones were contributing and causing many of these symptoms I was experiencing every day.

Here are a few ways I have healed my hormone imbalances and PCOS.

  • Eat Omega-3 Rich Foods: Wild Salmon, walnuts, ground flaxseeds are all great options for enjoying these anti-inflammatory healthy fats.
  • Watch Your Blood Sugar: I gained weight because my blood sugar was spiking, even though I wasn’t eating sugar! I learned to pair healthy fats with carbohydrates to stabilize my blood sugar throughout the day.
  • Eat Mini Meals: I started eating 6x a day- all mini meals that were comprised of a healthy fat, complex carbohydrate and protein so that I was satisfied all day long without having a blood sugar crash or multiple crashes throughout the day.
  • Eat Gluten-Free Whole Grains: I tossed my white rice, white rice flour, white potatoes and any other ‘white’ empty and nutrient-void foods that were spiking my blood sugar. I replaced them with gluten-free whole grains such as millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff along with whole grain gluten-free bread.
  • Eat Healthy Fats. I removed all the inflammatory fats from my lifestyle and replaced them with anti-inflammatory options such as extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flaxseeds and avocados.
  • Eat Organic. When you’re not eating organic, you’re ingesting pesticides, herbicides and growth hormones from your food-yuck! Those chemicals interact with your body and your body’s functions, which in turn affect your hormones, as well. Eating organic means you’re not dumping these chemicals into your body so you can start to heal and balance your hormones without digesting them on a daily basis.
  • Sleep at Least 8 hours a Night: It’s so important to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Your body needs rest and your hormones need to reboot each night while you sleep so you’re not exhausted the next day reaching for sugar or other foods for energy!
  • Mediate and Try Light Yoga: Meditation and mindfulness is great for calming down your body and relaxing. Try a light yoga class to relax you if meditation isn’t your cup of tea.
  • Move Each Day: Try light movement such as walking and stretching every day to get your body active and to keep you alert and energized.
  • Breathe from Your Belly, Not Your Chest: Activate your parasympathetic nervous system by breathing from your belly every day and not your chest. This will signal your body to get into rest and relax mode instead of being in alert mode, which is what happens when you breathe through your chest.
  • Remove Coffee: Coffee and caffeine can wreak havoc on your adrenals, which are closely tied to your hormones.

Read more of my detoxification stories shared here–and my new book EATING CLEAN: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight inflammation and Reset Your Body (on sale March 8th, 2016) will teach you how to get on a path to better health and wellness by eating whole natural foods and eliminating toxins from your diet.

Posted by on Feb 05, 2016 | 0 Comments

Pour It Out: The Coca-Cola Commercial You Will Never See


You will never see this Coca-Cola commercial on TV. But if Coca-Cola had to tell the truth, this is what it would look like.

Obesity is one of the nation’s biggest issues, and sodas have played an important role in it. Last year was tough on soda sales, which declined for the 10th straight year as consumers favor the healthier image of other drinks.

Consumers are waking up. According to the New York Times, the drop in soda consumption represents the single largest change in the American diet in the last decade. Over the last 20 years, sales of full-calorie soda in the United States have plummeted by more than 25 percent.

As we begin to see these products for what they are—liquid candy bars—it’s easier to understand their impact.

If we had ever seen videos like this, we would have learned about this a lot sooner. Please share it to help protect the health of your loved ones.

YouTube Preview Image

Posted by on Feb 04, 2016 | 0 Comments

Metabolism Boosting Smoothie Recipe

metabolism boosting smoothie

One of Frank’s core beliefs is that food is information. So feeding your body with the right foods can significantly impact both how you feel and your overall health in general.

One of the easiest starting points is a healthy breakfast, one that is loaded with good fats, protein and phytonutrients that will keep you feeling satisfied and energized all morning.

My favorite metabolism boosting smoothie recipe contains a couple of key ingredients known for their energy enhancing qualities.

Green Tea Matcha Powder: This powder naturally contains caffeine, providing a slow release of  good clean energy–plus it’s loaded with potent antioxidants and has a mood enhancing effect.

MCT Oil: This oil improves metabolism, boosts immunity and provides quick source of energy.

Metabolism Boosting Smoothie Recipe

Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth, creamy, and delicious.

Enjoy first thing in the morning to kickstart your day, or as an energizing snack.

Posted by on Feb 02, 2016 | 0 Comments

How the Side Effects of Medications Can Make You Feel Old

Side Effects

Leo came to see me because he felt that his current array of doctors—an internist, a cardiologist, a rheumatologist, and a psychiatrist—just weren’t making him well. A lawyer in his mid-50s, Leo had gone for a routine physical and was found to have high cholesterol and mildly elevated blood pressure, two conditions that had led to a veritable cascade of medications.

“My internist put me on Lipitor to lower my cholesterol and hydrochlorothiazide to lower my blood pressure. He sent me to a cardiologist, who wasn’t really happy with the results, so he switched me from hydrochlorothiazide to Inderal.

“Then my muscles started aching even with minimal exercise, so my internist sent me to a rheumatologist, and she put me on Celebrex. That worked for a while, but eventually it seemed to wear off. I had already been having trouble sleeping, and now the pain kept me up at night, so I went back to my internist for some help, and he gave me Ambien.

“Meanwhile, I was trying to lose weight, but none of my diets were working. I couldn’t lose a pound, even though I had given up all my favorite foods. In fact, I was always hungry, and in the past year I’ve gained at least twenty pounds. I’m tired all the time. And between you and me, my sex life is pretty much over.

“The whole thing has gotten me so discouraged that my doctor sent me to a psychiatrist. He put me on Prozac, which might have helped a little. But most of the time, I feel pretty lousy.”

Leo looked at me, trying to seem cheerful, but I could see how disheartened he really was. “Doctor,” he said finally, “I’m only fifty-five! Isn’t that supposed to be the prime of life? Some days, it seems like my life might as well be over.”

Sadly, Leo’s situation is all too common. Many patients who first come to me in their 50s or beyond are on two or more medications, as are an increasing number of younger people. Often, as in Leo’s case, the negative effects of the first medication lead to the prescription of a second drug . . . whose effects incite the need for a third drug . . . causing the prescription of a fourth drug. On and on it goes, with everyone gaining weight, feeling old, and getting more and more discouraged.

Even if you’re only taking one medication, it might be making you feel old and fat. Many common prescription medications create weight gain, brain fog, memory problems, fatigue, joint pain, sleep problems, and other symptoms that we incorrectly associate with the inevitable process of aging, rather than with a very reversible loss of function.

Why Do Doctors Overmedicate?

As a physician, I see it every day—patients like Leo are overmedicated, often with disastrous results. Some problems develop slowly and gradually, such as the Prozac, Lipitor, or many other drugs that led to Leo’s weight gain. Other issues are more dramatic, such as when statins create muscle pains or brain fog—occasionally to such a degree that patients are wrongly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. (more…)

Posted by on Feb 01, 2016 | 2 Comments

3 Clean Recipes from Amie Valpone’s New Book
Eating Clean

Eating Clean

It’s time to think not just outside the box, but out of the bag and the can as well. With my book EATING CLEAN: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight inflammation and Reset Your Body (on sale March 8th, 2016) you will learn how to get on a path to better health and wellness by eating whole natural foods and eliminating toxins from your diet. I’m not into labels. This isn’t about being a vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian. If you want to come up with a name for what this is, knock yourself out, but the most important thing is to eat foods that make your body feel good.

As a healthy woman in my mid-twenties, my life turned upside down when I found myself nearly bedridden, suffering from a range of ailments, and utterly without a conclusive diagnosis. And then, with a complete and total detox, I healed myself. In my first book, EATING CLEAN, I share my incredible success in ridding my body of illness and reclaiming my life.

Here Are 3 of My Favorite Recipes From the Book


Sunrise Nori Wraps with Spicy Tahini Drizzle (Serves 4)

If you like California rolls, you’ll love these nori wraps (though personally, I think they’re so much better!).The tahini dressing is truly addictive—you’re going to want to dress everything in it—and the cabbage provides a nice crunch. If possible, use a food processor to slice the cabbage so you can get it super thin. Also, make sure the vegetable strips are all the same width and length so that they don’t hang over the edges of the nori sheets; this will make rolling up the wraps easier. Use leftover tahini drizzle as a dressing for salads or as a dip for crudités. (more…)

Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 | 2 Comments

Why Sleep Deficit is Real and Serious

Sleep Deficit
Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.

Sleep is often the first casualty of our busy lives. We cut out an hour here and there in our quest to fit more into the day, working on the assumption that sleep is unproductive.

“I might be wiped out tomorrow,” we think, “but if I stay up a little later, I can accomplish more.”

To pass sleep off as an extended stretch of downtime is to dangerously mischaracterize it. Far from being at total rest during sleep, our bodies are intensely busy: While our waking minds go on autopilot, some of our bodies’ most sophisticated mechanisms rev up to do the hard work of repairing and maintaining nearly every aspect of our physiology and psychology.

For this reason, sleep is vital for sustaining peak mental performance, stabilizing mood, bolstering immunity, coping with stress, repairing cells, rebalancing our biochemistry, and maintaining a healthy metabolism.

Hundreds of biological processes occur while we snooze — all of which allow us to be more productive, alert, and healthy during waking hours.

“Sleep is a biological imperative,” says Mark Mahowald, MD, neurologist and Stanford University adjunct professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “It is not negotiable. Any degree of sleepiness will impair performance and mood.”

Apparently, many Americans have not yet taken this wisdom to heart. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, nearly a third of adults complain that daytime sleepiness interferes with their lives.

So, those of you stumbling along among your fatigued ranks, know that skimping on sleep will not get you ahead — not now, not ever.

In fact, getting too little sleep can undermine your productivity and effectiveness, starting from the moment you begin running a deficit. And it can set you up for serious health consequences down the road.

Want to know more about sleep’s critical role in your health and happiness? Make the following pages your bedtime reading, and by tomorrow you’ll be putting sleep at the top of your to-do list. (more…)

Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 | 1 Comments

Hey Man…You Need Yoga!


In the female dominated world of yoga, I’m actually seeing more men attending my yoga classes. Although the classes I teach are more of a power yoga style, they’re still coming week after week and I love it. It shows me that the old association of yoga being touchy feely, only for women and for hippies is finally making its breakthrough. Men are understanding the importance of adding yoga and stretch to their fitness routine and those who are consistent are seeing results.

With my experience in teaching yoga and performing personalized stretch sessions, it’s evident that yoga and stretch are great for the body and can increase potential in very specific activities. Here are some examples!

Mike Loves Yoga & Stretch
My good friend and trainer, Mike plays football and in order for him to be faster and more agile on the field, he needs to move in different planes of motion at max speed. If his hip flexors and rotators are tight, his ability of moving quickly and easily is limited to a very specific range. He can lack power in agility or move too quickly when tight which can cause an injury. Mike stretches with me once a week in addition to taking yoga classes.  Great job, Mike!

Manuel Loves Yoga & Stretch
My man loves his overhead squats! This CrossFit exercise requires specific muscle mechanics in order to execute safely and properly. So much mobility, flexibility, and stability is required in the shoulders, hips, hamstrings, glutes and adductors. Without a full range of motion or flexibility in those muscles, this exercise becomes increasingly difficult and unsafe to perform. Manuel spends at least 15 minutes after his workout to stretch, takes my power yoga class, and will grudgingly take a class with me. Yay Manuel!

Jonathan Loves Yoga & Stretch
Jonathan owns a finance company and barks orders all day long to over 100+ employees. He is consistently in demand and pulled in every direction. The stress and tension he feels every day is unbearable at times and the only way he can wake up the next morning to handle the pressure all over again is to create space in his body and mind. But that doesn’t come without challenge. In our stretch sessions, he is forced to succumb to specific yoga poses, stretches, and breathing that help release physical and mental tension. Without this, he would not perform at the peak level his work demands of him. Way to go, Jon!

There you are…solid proof that yoga does a man’s body good.

Here are 4 poses/stretches that all men can benefit from. So whether you perform agility sprints, deep squat, or run a successful company, these are the go-to stretches that will change your life! (more…)

Posted by on Jan 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

10 Ways To Beat The Winter Blues

Winter Blues

There are those who embrace winter and those who have to brace themselves for it. Not only does the profusion of cold and snow tend to drag spirits down, but the lack of daylight really does a number on mood, often sending it to a dark place. Be it a slight case of the blues or full-on SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), the symptoms tend to leave people feeling fairly lousy, with some combination of exhaustion (despite oversleeping), carb cravings, feeling withdrawn, moody or blue. The good news is that many of us can fight back without a pharmaceutical assist. Here are a few ideas on how to keep the blues at bay and take on winter – and win:

1. Energize With Real Sunlight

A daily dose of morning light will help re-set your body-clock and boost mood, so make an effort to seek out a few minutes of sunshine every day in winter. To get your dose:

  • Take a coffee break outside in the sunshine, even if a coat and boots are required.
  • Take 10 minutes to walk to the deli to buy your lunch or take a 10-minute walk around the office park.
  • Park yourself in a sunlit corner or conference room – even better if you can open the window – and face the sun for a few minutes while catching up on calls or paperwork.
  • Work at home? Then put on your coat, grab a deck chair and enjoy a quick lunchtime sunbathing session.

Think of your body as being thirsty for sunshine and try to give it ‘sips’ throughout the day to help boost mood and energy till about mid-April, the unofficial end of winter blues season.

2. Supplement with a Little of the Fake Stuff, Too

Full spectrum light bulbs are just about as close as you can get to sunshine without stepping outside – they’re a simple, DIY way to help lift flagging spirits and energy. While they won’t replace the real thing, think of the bulbs as a bit of supplemental sunshine to help fill the gap when natural light is hard to find. Among the blues-fighting side effects you may experience: less eye strain, reduced brain fog, boosted mood and immunity – so hit the lights!

  • At home, try adding full spectrum light bulbs in areas of the house where you spend most of your winter time.
  • At the office, you can also add a full spectrum bulb to your desk lamp, to sneak in a bit more faux sun.
  • Try a daily dose from sunbox or SAD light therapy lamp – but use them early in the day to avoid disrupting sleep at night.
  • If you find it tough to get out of bed in the morning, try a dawn simulator to ease the transition.

3. Amp Up Energy With a Power Pose

Feeling a little blah? Try doing the Reclining Open Chest Pose  for a few minutes a day. It’s a restorative yoga pose that’s a helpful tool to help combat the seasonal energy drain. In the pose, the back and upper body is supported and the chest is open – a much-needed opportunity to stretch out and relax, all of which can help you feel more energized and emotionally buoyant. (more…)

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

2016 Resolution #6: Meditate More

By Be Well Health Coach Jackie Damboragian

When I work with clients, they often think that the most important things to focus on when cultivating greater health are diet and exercise. While these are incredibly important for optimal health,  stress reduction is just as important and often falls to the wayside. Meditation is one of the best tools out there to promote a relaxation response in the body and soothe your parasympathetic nervous system. Here are my top tips for developing a regular meditation practice.

Commit to a Length of Time and Stick With It For At Least 30 Days

When developing a new habit, it often helps to start with baby steps. Meditation is most powerful when practiced regularly. Can you commit to 5 minutes every morning? Pick a time and stick to it every day, ideally the same time of day, for 30 days. After the 30 days you can gradually increase the duration, building up to at least 10 minutes a day.

Create a Sacred Space

Dedicate a space in your home that is clear of clutter and is comfortable place to sit, which can help you focus and feel comfortable while meditating. You don’t have to sit indian style on the floor if that isn’t comfortable for you, you can also sit in a chair or lay on the floor. Your sacred space can have a candle, books that are special to you and anything else that you consider sacred and peaceful.

Make It Fun

Your meditation practice can be different every day – you can try guided meditation, take a class or simply sit and breathe. For clients and patients in the office, our go to app recommendation is Headspace – it’s a really helpful app for beginners and those who prefer guided meditation. I also like to do the meditations on yogaglo.com - which is great for those that prefer to visually watch the teacher while also being guided.

Lose Your Idea of What Meditation Is “Supposed” to Look or Feel Like

Meditation doesn’t have to look a certain way. Some days your mind may be more busy than others; don’t strive for perfection; the act of coming back to the practice is what’s important. When done regularly, you will find that your focus and ability to sit in silence will improve and you’ll feel more comfortable simply being.

Focus On Your Breath

If all else falls, simply taking the time to focus on your breath is very powerful. You can focus on the breath moving in through your nostrils down to your belly and back out. Or try the 4-7-8 breath, a simple technique with incredibly calming benefits.

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

What Cosmetics Companies Won’t Tell You About The Heavy Metals

Exposure to heavy metals in cosmetics is an important piece of the environmental health puzzle. For the most part, cosmetics companies are not intentionally using heavy metals as ingredients in their products. However, heavy metals are frequently found in makeup because they contaminate the colorants that companies use. Whether those colorants are natural ingredients that come from the earth (where heavy metals are present at random and may attach to the intentionally mined ingredients), or whether they are synthetic, heavy metal contamination seems to be common in a wide range of makeup products.

Here, learn more about heavy metals through our educational infographic:

Posted by on Jan 21, 2016 | 0 Comments