Holiday Cheer Holiday Dread

Ok, so I did not make the Tuesday deadline! I feel like I have been stuffed into a magic bullet, and I am swirling so fast I cannot catch my breath. First, it was my sister’s 50th (overnight at Mohegan Sun Casino), then my husband’s work party (overnight in NYC), and then my surprise Bday (overnight Upstate New York), all in less than three weeks. Boom, the flu! Yea! In the middle of all of it, we (and my son) had the flu (despite getting the flu shot). I still feel like I am trying to regain my energy level, but thankfully I am better. I knew you ladies would be sympathetic because I am sure your world is just as insane!

Let’s talk about the “holidays.” Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Winter Solstice, the holidays come with an inherent amount of stress that can turn holiday cheer into holiday dread. The running, the expectations, the cost, the late nights, and lack of self-care are enough to make us lose our shit. How do we manage to get through the holidays, year after year, and never end up in the psych ward? 

Begin by taking a moment, a breath, and a cocktail. Girls, it is time to put pen to paper and get organized. 

Get out the calendar and schedule yourself YOU time. 

Take it from me, if you do not take time for yourself, you will wind down, like a dying battery, and you will not function. My body’s way of telling me to slow down is to get visual migraines. Visual migraines cause me to lose my vision, leaving me with rainbow-colored zigzags that slowly move across my field of vision. These migraines are downright freaky, and they leave me with a nasty headache. Your body will find a way to slow you down, too; please make sure you take time for yourself, especially during the holidays.

Ways

Purchase an actual calendar and post it somewhere you will see it. You need to know that there is light at the end of your chaos. Actually, seeing the time you carved out for yourself will provide you with solace, knowing that you will be able to recharge. Schedule yourself a bath, a massage, an hour to read a book, a nap, or a happy-hour with the girls. Schedule YOU time daily, even if it is only a 1/2 hour. Make sure it is an activity that allows you to disconnect and recharge your battery. Do NOT let anyone steal this time from you. Put your foot down, or you will not have a foot to put down. 

Schedule Everything

Schedule everything from breakfast, shopping, dinner, and bedtime. Did you know there is such a thing called decision burnout? Making too many decisions can cause burnout. Girls, it is not in your imagination that you are exhausted at the end of the day and feel like you got nothing done. According to an article in Thrive Global, when we’re overwhelmed by too many demands, our bodies seek to conserve energy, soon even easy decisions become difficult. [1]

Please limit the number of choices you have to make by scheduling them in advance. 

Same Bat Channel Same Bat Time

You said it sista!

Rotate three different breakfasts, three different outfits, and pre-make dinner and freeze it, or order out. Keeping things to a limit will decrease decision making and conserve your energy sources. Don’t worry that stupid Suzy just saw you in that outfit, F Suzy! This is about you and your survival of the holidays.

Mentally Prepare For Difficult Family Dynamics

I love my family, I really do, however, there is a bit of trepidation in my soul before I walk through the door and into the family gathering. Family is the only group of people in the world that could induce unbridled fury and depth-less love all at the same time. I don’t know about you ladies, but I do not believe my family knows that I am not a 17-year-old rebellious twat anymore, (I am now a 52 year-old-twat! Haaaaaaaaa). Seriously, I am a perpetual teenager in their eyes, and the fact that I raised a child and have had two husbands is a moot point. Being suspended in a time capsule is so strange. I hardly remember being that person, but they always bring up something crazy I did, or my giant hair (it was the 80’s). 

Ways

Pray Pray and Pray Some More

Before I walk into a beehive, I thank God for all the blessings in my life. I list all the things I am grateful for and focus on them one at a time. This exercise changes my perspective, and I can go into any situation with a grateful heart. Remember, there are many folks out there that have no family and nowhere to go. I believe having no one is much worse than having people who won’t let you grow up. 

Bake a Gift

Make homemade gifts for the family. There is something very healing about creating something for the people you love (and drive you nuts). While creating your gifts, put on your favorite music or movie, and create with love. There is power in intention, remember that. 

Make Like Duck

Let stupid comments roll off of you lie water off of a duck’s back. If the obnoxious relative refuses to grow up, let it be their problem. We are the ones that keep growing and will continue to grow despite attempts to keep us in suspension. View the comment with pity rather than fury, and walk away. Your peace is your gift to yourself.

Let it roll!

If the obnoxious relative refuses to grow up, let it be their problem…walk away.

Set a budget (and stick to it)!

I need to get gifts for 4000 people. OK, I am exaggerating, but there are a lot of people in my clan. Do not break the bank for the holidays. The recipients will probably not remember half the gifts you give.

Ways

Decide on a realistic budget. If you can afford $300 for everyone, then $300 it is. My hierarchy allocation of funds goes like this:

spouse, my children, elders, siblings (cousins), kids (nieces, nephews), friends of the family. The spouse gets one great thing and two little things. I like to create the illusion that I am showering him with holiday cheer. The same for my kid, one great, two little. I set their budget the highest; lets say $50 each. For the elders, I try to give them something practical, like a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. Siblings and cousins get the homemade stuff, like a jar of jam, cookies, or chocolate (since these are the folks who are most likely to bust your balls). The kids are age-dependent. I like buying for the little ones because they are easily pleased. The teens get Amazon gift cards (the only want money). For friends of the family, or unexpected folks, make extra cookies (or whatever your homemade gift ). Or you can go to the dollar store and purchase unisex hats and gloves. I do this and put them in a gift bag, just in case there is an unexpected guest.

Schedule Time With Your Chamily

Chamily – Chosen family. I did make that up but feel free to use it. My husband and I have an incredible group of friends whom we choose to spend our free time. We have gotten so close to our friends that they have become our preferred people. However, for some ungodly reason, we force ourselves to spend the celebratory times with DNA relations. This year was the first time I heard the term “Friendsgiving.” Make sure you spend some celebration time with you chamily. Host a BYOB dinner, pot luck, bring a dish, whatever keeps you on budget. Have a no-gift policy, and just laugh with your friends about your crazy relatives. Spending time with friends is centering and very important. Time with your friends always helps to help you to recharge from the rest of the nonsense. Schedule time with friends like you schedule everything else. 

Well, Ladies, I hope you have a beautiful, stress-free holiday. No matter who you spend it with, try to keep in mind that this is supposed to be fun. Remember that you are doing this to create wonderful memories (so when you’re an old lady you can look back and laugh).

Love DEE

Happy Holidays!

The Heart Of The Matter

“I’ve been tryin’ to get down /To the heart of the matter/ But my will gets weak/ And my thoughts seem to scatter/ But I think it’s about forgiveness/ Forgiveness/ Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.”

Don Henley

I started playing guitar when I was sixteen years old. The Heart of the Matter, by Don Henley, was the first song I ever learned. The lyrics struck a chord in my heart (no pun intended). Forgiveness, such an innocuous word, isn’t it? The word sounds so simple, graceful, and has a religious ring to it. However, in my opinion, forgiveness is one of the most challenging states to achieve when a person (or persons) breaks your heart, does you wrong, hurts you, or practically destroys you. However difficult it may be, it is a necessity. Let me make something very clear: forgiveness is not about the other person; it is about you and your well-being.

In 1975 my mother (age 27) died of kidney cancer. She died because the doctor dropped an encased cancerous tumor back into her body while removing it. The tumor exploded, and the cancer cells spread everywhere. My mother was dead nine months after the doctor’s tragic mistake. I was 7, my little brother was 5, and my older brother was 9. This single event changed the entire trajectory of our lives. Our father, a drunk heroin addict with a penchant for beating us with a leather belt, loved disappearing for months at a time without a single word regarding his whereabouts. When he was around, he was violent and exposed us to child predators, who took full advantage of the situation — My young life’s foundation was riddled with cavernous cracks and traps that could have lead to a sad story of misfortune. Without getting into too much detail, I believe my faith in God saved my life. However, we can keep my preaching about faith for another post. I had to learn to forgive my father, my mother for dying, and the doctor for killing her by the time I was seven years old.

Forgiveness did not come easily or for a very long time

In the late ’90s, I was married to my ex and trying to get pregnant. No matter how hard we tried, I could not get pregnant; I was only 29 years old. Finally, I found out I was pregnant, only to lose the baby four months later. The lizard part of my brain was very in tune with my body, and I realized that holding on to so much pain could be the reason why I could not carry a baby. I decided to lock myself in a room for three days and force myself to relive all of the horrendous, painful, loss-filled experiences I thought I had survived. I cried so hard the first day I was locked away, that I threw-up. On the second day, I cried, but not as hard, and not as long. On the third day, I shed no tears at all; I still felt sadness, but the impact of my past had no power. I emerged lighter and honestly happier. I learned that my anger only covered up my grief. Forgiveness meant I could be free from offensive acts and from tragic mistakes that changed my life forever.

I tried to view the doctor’s medical error through the eyes of the doctor, who probably agonized over a simple, yet life-altering, slip of the hands.

My father was my giant caveat when it came to the journey to forgiveness. I never wanted him in my life; he was toxic and dangerous. But here’s the thing ladies, forgiveness never means you have to expose yourself to a vortex, it just means you can free yourself from their grip and move forward with your life.

I’m happy to say I did end up getting pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful (giant) baby boy names Matthew (he is now 18 and 6’3″).

Forgiveness is not easy, and it will not come without work, but it is cathartic and possible. We Ladies are always a work in progress, no matter how old we get.

The first step to forgiveness is to try to wrap your brain around the notion that the action, whatever it was, was not entirely about you. There is a possibility that the offending act had nothing to do with you at all. The abuse or event may have everything to do with someone’s demons. Please, do not take offense to this notion. I am not trying to minimize what happened to you. However, you must try to remove yourself for a second and see other sides of the prism. Remember, this is for your healing, no one else. Empathy is a powerful weapon in our survival tool kit.

Start With The Small Stuff

Ways

Learning forgiveness is like learning any other skill; practice makes perfect. Start by not saying anything negative about your offender when discussing them in conversation [1]. Try to keep to the topic and not veer off the road into a tirade of emotion. By allowing yourself to get upset every time your offender’s name is mentioned, you are giving your power away. Read that sentence again…..

Save yourself a surge of adrenaline and internal arguments by not allowing a reaction. Save the locked and loaded response for a mugging, and practice the art of silence. You will be amazed at how that name starts to decrease its impact on your emotions.

Try to remember a good time, a kind word, a kind act, or a time before the offending action. You are probably cursing me right now because that last thing you want is to smile when it comes to that person. Trust me; I was there with my father and my ex-husband. But, remember it is not about them; it is about you getting healthy.

Write it Down

There is power in the pen

Did you ever go for a long drive and start having fictitious arguments with people? Or maybe you lost a night’s sleep because you were so mad that your mind refused to power down? Welcome to my world, ladies! I have had way too many practice arguments (that never happened) that disrupted my life, my sleep, and my peace. If you are upset, write it down, and then write it down again. Stop the circle argument in your head and put pen to paper all of your feelings, and everything you need to vent [2]. There is power in writing down thoughts. In college, I read a book about organizational skills: the book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. Newport referred to writing thoughts down as closing loops. Closing the circle on the intrusive thoughts stops the cycle from continuing to do damage.

Ways

Write a Letter. Writing letters to people that have hurt you is a psychology technique used for healing. Writing a letter does not mean you have to send the letter. You can send the letter if you like, but remember this exercise is for you, not for the offender. Pour your soul into this letter, and when you can’t write anymore, burn the dam thing. Take your letter to Burning Man and cleanse yourself of your burden. If you have never heard of Burning Man you owe it to yourself to check it out, https://burningman.org/culture/philosophical-center/10-principles/

Put the letter you wrote into a box and store it so you can gauge how much you have grown in the future. I have saved many letters that I have written over the years. When I read those letters today, I am floored at the level of anger I felt. I am incredibly grateful that I am no longer holding on to that pain. I have a theory that holding on to that kind of pain causes illness, disease, and over-all malaise. If someone handed you a cup of gasoline, you would not drink it, right? By not changing your pattern of anger, you are drinking the gasoline. Please do not allow toxic emotions to ruin your life.

Be a Victim No More

Do you ever consider yourself a victim of someone else act? Well, guess what, at the time you were, but now you are not. Holding on to a victim’s identity only allows injustice to define who you are. Sit down and consider why you are maintaining that role. Why do you nurture something that is so incredibly harmful to your soul? There are many reasons why holding on to anger is so common. Anger is addicting, gives us energy, allows us to feel superior, and provides a platform to stand on while we stoke the flames of our pain. Maybe you do not want to lose your connection with that person, or you are afraid you will allow yourself to re-connect [3].

Accept What Has Happened

No one is being fooled by denying an offense happened. Own whatever happened, really happened, but do NOT let it define you. Every single human has had something happen to them that was painful. If we all define ourselves by our painful experiences, we would be a pathetic lot. Remember that forgiveness is for your well-being.

Flawed We All Are

I am a woman, but I have to admit that women can be tough when it comes to expecting near perfection (especially from our partners). Stop, please stop, we are all incredibly flawed and at times hurtful. We do not always mean to be hurtful or have unrealistic expectations, but sometimes we do. Do you know what that makes us all? Human.

Your offender is human, and since we all operate off of personal perspective and past experiences, you can bet your bottom dollar that the offense had little to do with you at all.

Maybe your offender is a sociopath, who knows, who cares?

All I know is that holding on to pain is lethal to only one person, you. Check out this article in Psychology Today regarding forgiveness. There are some excellent tools for managing the road to forgiveness in this article.

Talk to Your Besties

We turn to our friends for an alliance in troubled times. Try turning to your friends for a different set of eyes. Our friends love us, but they are not blind to our faults. If you trust a friend, a sister, or a loved one and want to some honest feedback, ask for it. Be prepared, however, to hear the truth and do not get mad if they disagree with you. Knowing more about ourselves only helps us to grow. Put your ego on a shelf for your betterment.

Real life Besties

Self Help It

If you do not have time to read, get Audible by Amazon. I do not have the time to sit and read a million books. Audible is an app that reads the books to you while you get to keep moving. I have it on my phone, and I listen while I am in the shower, driving, cooking, doing my make-up, working out at the gym, and any time I do not need to concentrate on something else. Audible is a game-changer for me. I was even able to find books I needed to read for my Master’s degree on Audible; it made life so much easier! Audible is $14.99/month, plus you get a free book per month. The money you spend on your personal growth is well worth it.

My Fav Self Helpers

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)by Don Miguel Ruiz. The author discusses the reasons for life-limiting beliefs that extract all happiness and create needless pain. This book is extremely unique. A friend of mine, who is a Purple Heart recipient from the Vietnam war, gave me a copy of this book. When he met me, I had not processed my wounds and was angry and unhappy. This book helped me gain perspective and release a lot of what kept me awake at night. I have since purchased this book approximately 20 times and have given it to many people I love. I also found it on Audible (Amazon) and in Kindle format. I reread it once a year.

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World, by Admiral William H McRaven, is written by a retired Navy Seal.

“Full of captivating personal anecdotes from inside the national security vault…McRaven’s lessons, like his commencement speech, extend far beyond his bed-making. He devotes the 10-chapter book to lessons about moving beyond failure, standing up to bullies, and giving others hope.”―Washington Post

I know what you are thinking, what does this have to do with forgiveness? Trust me; it has everything to do with taking control of your life.

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be, by Rachel Hollis.

Hollis is wise beyond her years and has excellent advice for ladies of all ages. She is the narrator for her Audible book and is extremely infectious. She did not get the best reviews on Amazon, but I liked this book.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, by Marc Mason

Mason has a unique approach on how to achieve happiness by learning to let go of bull. This book had me laughing out loud and pondering a suggestion at the same time.

I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons, by Kevin Hart

I threw this in here because everyone should laugh as hard as I did while listening to this book. Hart is brutally honest, and the way he narrates his book is engulfing. Kevin did not have it easy, ladies, and it is always comforting to know we are not alone.

Accountability for our happiness starts today. If we wait around for an apology, tears, begging, or a chest-pounding, we could be waiting a very long time. Own your life and your heart. Do not give your power away to anyone! Love yourself enough to do the work and learn the art of forgiveness.

Love DEE!

References

  1. https://www.positive.news/lifestyle/wellbeing/eight-steps-achieving-forgiveness/
  2. https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/30-ways-free-your-mind-immediately.html
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindful-anger/201409/how-do-you-forgive-even-when-it-feels-impossible-part-1

Why Are You So SAD?

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Do you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? AKA Winter blues? You are not alone, and there is help!

Every year in November, the clocks in New York get turned back an hour. I dread this time of year because I know what is coming next. The short days and long dark nights that start to wear on my outlook, my energy level, and my emotional state. Each year I discover I have less and less reserve to weather the lack of sunlight, despite my fighting like hell against it. My heart feels so heavy by January that all I want to do is sleep and eat (which makes me gain weight and sets me off on a vicious cycle).

I learned early on that I suffer from a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder or (SAD), and it is not fun, nor should it be ignored. SAD affects over 500,000 people a year, and (of course) ¾ of these people are women. There are other names for SAD, like Winter Blues or Cabin Fever. Despite the light-hearted connotation of these names, SAD is depression.

The depression I have experienced during the wintertime has gotten so bad that I experienced thoughts of suicide. I cannot express how hopeless SAD can make a person feel, especially coupled with the holidays. The last thing a person with depression wants to do is go to a friggin party.

Here is a list of SAD symptoms:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety over small issues
  • Thoughts of death, ending it all, suicide
  • Crying easily
  • Low sex drive
  • Little things set you off
  • Experience little or no joy
  • Cravings for Carbs (I have this all year long)
  • Sleeping unusually long without feeling rested
  • Social withdrawal
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Heavy heart blues
  • Going long periods without self-care (showering, brushing teeth, etc.)
  • Eating for comfort, not for hunger

Admittedly, I suffered from most of these symptoms, and I have to leave for work at 5:45am (which is cold, dark and brutal). If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, please see your doc ASAP. There is treatment, both conventional and alternative. No woman could possibly be healthy and functional if she is suffering from this debilitating disorder.

Your doctor should do a blood test to make sure you are vitamin D, and B 12 levels are within normal limits. A deficiency in D and B12 vitamins are linked to a lot of the symptoms on this list. Your doc should also check your thyroid function and have a chat with you regarding your whole self (physical, social, psychological, emotional). If you feel your doctor is not taking you seriously, please consider a doctor of osteopathic medicine or an integrative practitioner. These docs tend to treat the whole person and are less likely to dismiss your symptoms as a female age-related expectancy (that drives me banana’s). The symptoms on this list are not normal under any circumstance.

As a person who has suffered from SAD for my entire adult life, I am telling you there are changes you can make right now that can ease your symptoms.

Factors you can change right now to improve your symptoms of SAD:

Please remember I am not a doctor. All of the following recommendations are just recommendations. It is always a good idea to chat with your doc before trying something new.

Get your sleep on a schedule.

Sleep hygiene is essential to the creation of a solid foundation for your body to function correctly. Without a decent sleep schedule, you will always feel as if you are in a fog, sensitive, and unable to operate at peak performance. However, this is easier said than done when you suffer from SAD. Unfortunately, many of us who suffer from SAD also suffer from insomnia. I think there is a genetic component to insomnia, but I will save that for another post.

Ways:

Do not take naps over 20 minutes during the day. Taking naps over 20 minutes can interrupt your circadian rhythm (an internal process that tells your body when to sleep and wake). I know by 3pm, you feel like your legs and head are full of lead, but attempt meditating instead of napping. Try downloading the app Headspace. Headspace is a meditation app that not only teaches you how to meditate but also has audio to help you fall asleep. They offer courses on sleep and meditation and have all kinds of advice for a peaceful mind. I use it daily and nightly, and it can be used for free (I did purchase the upgraded version).

Click here to get started

Try going to sleep at the same time and getting up at the same time every night (yes, even the weekends). Full disclosure, I do not always do this, and I feel like crap on the days I fall out of sync. There are sleep hygiene apps you can download that track your sleep for you. Go the American Sleep Association website and check out the list of apps that are free to assist you on your quest for better sleep. https://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep-treatments/sleep-apps/ Do not consume stimulants after 4pm. I have a rule that I cannot have coffee after 4pm. I noticed that when I do have coffee or even caffeinated teas, I cannot for the life of me fall asleep. Some people are susceptible to the effects of stimulants, and they can really disrupt your sleep cycle. If you smoke, please quit, but if you do, try not smoking after 4pm. Nicotine is a stimulant and can also disrupt your sleep. I hate to say this girls, but chocolate is a stimulant as well.  Do not eat anything past 6pm. The act of digesting can actually disrupt your ability to fall into deep sleep cycles (restorative sleep). Eating late can also cause reflux and other gastric issues that can keep you up. Shut off the computer (and phone) an hour before you go to bed. Our computers, phones, and other electronic devices emit EMF’s (Electric and Magnetic Fields) that interrupt brain waves and can cause insomnia. EMF’s are hard to avoid in our culture; however, it is best to limit your exposure before trying to wind down for the night. Keep the temperature down in your bedroom, and make sure it is dark. Heat and light adversely affect your quality of sleep, and this simple tweak can improve your quality of life. I am not suggesting you freeze your partner out, but a comfortable 65-68 degrees would do you a world of good. If you cannot get rid of the light, try a sleep mask. Your brain will be so pleased if it doesn’t think it is day time all the time. Try Valerian Root, an herb that induces a sense of calm and really helps you stay asleep. Valerian root is the original Valium and Xanax. I take 2 Solaray Valerian Capsule 515mg about a ½ hour before bed.

This brand really works!

I tried taking Valerian Root as a tea, but it smells like feet. Please bear with the feet odor because it really works, I sleep like I am in a coma.

Start supplementing with Vitamin D3 and K2

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine” vitamin. Vitamin D3 is the most absorbed type of D (there are two, D2 and D3). When your body is exposed to the ultraviolet light in sunlight, your body converts the light into Vitamin D3. Vitamin D is essential for bone health, brain health, immunity, absorption of calcium, and low levels have been linked to depression. There have been studies that indicate a large percentage of people with depression have a vitamin D deficiency. Integrated practitioners swear by this vitamin and recommend dosages higher than the FDA suggests. However, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and does get stored in the fatty tissue. Those of us who live up north (I live on Long Island, New York) get very little sunshine from November – April. Here is an example, it’s 40 degrees, gray, dreary, and going to rain (again). This is a typical day on Long Island in the winter, and it gets very tiring. I am sitting at my desk with a plant light on my face. When I am done, I am heading to the gym to go to the tanning booth. The sun plays a much more significant role in our bodies and psyche than just a vitamin D conversion. Almost all living things require sunshine to survive.

Ways

It is challenging to get vitamin D from sunlight up north during the fall and winter months. Supplementing does help to improve vitamin D levels, and some people get relief from SAD. I take 5000 IU’s of vitamin D3 daily, and my vitamin D levels are still borderline low. Before you start supplementing, contact your doctor and have your levels checked. Foods that contain vitamin D are fatty fish, like salmon (no more than twice a week), cod liver oil, eggs, liver, cheese, fortified milk, and SUNSHINE.

Vitamin K2 works alongside vitamin D for better absorption of calcium into the bones. Vitamin K2 is not as popular as it should be, it is an incredible nutrient. Did you know taking K2 along with vitamin D3 (add some vitamin A) could increase the health of your teeth? In fact, there is proof that it does improve the health of teeth and has been known to cure cavities! Also, if you are supplementing with D3, you do run the risk of calcium deposits forming in the vessels and joints, vitamin K2 helps prevent this from happening. I take 100 mcg of vitamin K2 with my D3, along with 500 IU of vitamin A every night before bed. Foods that contain vitamin K2 are egg yolks, dark green leafy veggies, grass-fed beef (only grass-fed animals convert K into K2), fermented soy, and dark chicken meat.

If you can afford a quick vacation, take it!

Not everyone could afford to pack up and go someplace sunny in January or February. The fights are expensive, and hotels price gouge. Everyone up north is desperate for some sunshine, and the prices reflect the demand. Every year my husband and I go to Scottsdale, AZ, in the winter. Scottsdale isn’t exactly cheap, but it is affordable. The weather is beautiful, usually in the 60-70s during the day and 40’s at night. The temperature is not hot, but the sun is guaranteed to shine. Arizona has 299 full sun days per year, New York has 99 (seriously, it is no wonder why we have SAD). If you can get away for a few days, here is a list of the warm places that are not too pricey….

Ways

 This list was found on https://www.tripstodiscover.com/18-amazing-and-affordable-winter-vacation-destinations/2/

  • The Florida Keys
  • Puerto Rico (did you know you didn’t need a passport?)
  • Panama
  • Las Vegas (even if you don’t gamble there is so much to do)
  • Bahamas
  • Montego Bay Jamaica
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (I’ve been here many times, and it is fantastic)

Get a lightbox

Click here Lightbox

I just bought my son a lightbox because he is exactly like me when it comes to being sensitive to a lack of sunlight. A lightbox is a full spectrum light that emulates sunshine. You put it on while you are watching TV, working on an article (like me), or working out. Try to place it, so your eyes see the light, and you expose yourself for at least 20 minutes a day. These lights are trendy in Alaska, where there are towns that have 67 days of darkness (I would die).

Ways

You can pick a lightbox up on Amazon pretty cheap!

Since we are talking about light, I would like to mention (again) that light from your computer, smartphone, and some e-readers are not suitable for a brain that suffers from depression. Invest in a pair of blue blocker glasses and use them when you are working on the computer or surfing on your phone. The blue light that is emitted from our electronic devices can actually stop our bodies from making melatonin, which interrupts our sleep, therefore makes the depression even worse. Our eyes do so much more than just see! Our eyes signal essential chemicals to be release in our brains. I knew computers and lousy lighting could be unhealthy, but it was not until I read Head Strong, by Dave Asprey, did I learn the depth of impact light has on our bodies. Here is a link to the book if you want to check it out.

This book is insanely informative!

Talk to a professional

The act of expressing how you feel encourages your brain to release feel-good chemicals. Did you ever notice how much better you feel after you confide in someone about something your struggling with? Try to find a therapist that does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a type of talk therapy that has been proven to help folks with SAD.

Ways

Ask your primary care physician for a referral of a therapist that does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Try to find a depression support group, online or in person. Tell you besties what is going on with you. Believe me, they picked up that you were feeling a little off, but did not want to say anything. Women are incredibly perceptive when it comes to a change in someone’s energy. There are online psychologists now that you can Facetime. If you don’t have the time to get to a therapist, why not bring them to you? I believe a face to face interaction is more effective because physical interaction releases endorphins (feel-good hormones). However, any talk is a good talk, no matter how you achieve it.

Herbs and supplements

Before there was big pharma, there were medicine men/women. SAD is not a modern experience, it has been plaguing folks for eons.

If you are concerned about the side effects of some of the medications, you can try supplements that are known to improve depression symptoms.

Ways

Excellent results for people with depression

There are several herbs you can try for your SAD. One prevalent herb is St. John’s Wort. St. John’s Wort is a plant that grows wild and is prescribed in Europe to treat depression. Some people experience relief with St. John’s Wort, unfortunately, I was not one of them. I took it for a while, and I did not have any relief. However, this does not mean it will not work for you. Please consult with your doc before trying this if you are on other medications. SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine) is a natural compound found in the body that is involved with many actions, such as activation or breakdown of lipids and hormones. SAMe is prescribed in Europe for the treatment of depression, as well as 100 other ailments. SAMe can interact with antidepressants and other medications, so ask your doc before you try it. Omega 3 fatty acids are extremely important for brain health. A deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids could trigger symptoms of depression. I recommend Krill Oil because it has the lowest amount of contaminants and is most effective. 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is an amino acid that is a precursor to the production of Serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter). Again, in Europe, 5-HTP prescribed for the treatment of depression. Vitamin B6 has been known to improve symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder. NAC (N-acetylcysteine) is the new kid on the block. Your body needs NAC to make the most potent antioxidant, glutathione. NAC also keeps a neurotransmitter, glutamate in check. When glutathione and glutamate are out of balance, a person can experience depression, OCD, and bipolar disorder. NAC improves the balance of these important compounds and alleviates symptoms of depression. There have been some excellent studies that back NAC’s effectiveness. It is a good idea to take this even if you are not suffering from SAD.

Medication is an option

We can breathe a sigh of relief that the days of stigmatizing medicines for depression is finally over. I know more people on Zoloft than I do people who take Advil. If you tried all of the methods above and have not experienced any relief for your SAD, then perhaps you should consider medication. Don’t think about medicine as a bad thing, sometimes it is a game-changer. Your quality of life is everything, and that should be your primary concern. Talk to your doctor and tell him/her what is really going on, maybe they can direct you to a medication that targets what you are experiencing.

Some of the more popular medications for treating SAD are:

  • Zoloft
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Paxil
  • Celexa
  • Wellbutrin

Please keep in mind that these medications take time to work. There are no magic bullets, just tools to help you through this tough time. Do not combine these medications with the supplements before speaking to your doc.

Last but not least, exercise

I know I always mention exercise in every blog, but there is a reason for my harping. Exercise is essential for our overall well-being.

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

Ways

Take a 15 walk around the block, throw yourself on the floor, and do a sit-up, get tension bands, and work your arms. Start to exercise slow and work your way up at your own pace. Don’t start out with 10,000 steps a day. 10,000 steps is really an ambiguous number that was a starting point for an experiment. Just move your body and do it daily.

Hopefully, some of the suggestions in this blog are helpful to you. Be very kind to yourself during this low energy period, the sun will come out again someday. Treat yourself to a massage or get your roots done. Talk to someone, anyone, and make sure you practice self-love. Remember, you are so worth the effort!

References and excellent websites to visit for this topic

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9293-seasonal-depression

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10306.php#symptoms

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-hygiene

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d2-vs-d3#section6

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a695033.html

https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/mental-health/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/

Thyroid Dysfunction Junction

Imagine one Saturday morning you get up; you yawn, you stretch and take a deep breath. You look out of the window; the sun is shining, you think to yourself, “wow what a beautiful day!” You stand up and look down at your pillow, and suddenly, your heart sinks to the bottom of your chest. Unbelievably your eyes focus to see that your pillow is covered with your hair. In horror, you reach back and run your fingers through your mane and come out with a fist full of locks. You run to the mirror and see that you don’t look any different, your hairline is intact, so you jump into the shower. When you finish your shower, you notice that the drain is clogged with hair! Wtf is going on?

This scenario happened to my friend Jenn (well, not exactly, I added the drama for interesting reading). Jenn’s mom (God rest her soul) began to lose her hair in her 40’s. In the “olden” days, women did not discuss or get treated for ailments that were related to getting older. Jenn’s mom, like almost all women in those days, had no choice but to accept the loss of her beautiful self-identifying hair.

Photo by BARBARA RIBEIRO on Pexels.com

When you think about yourself and the way you look, what features come to mind first? Personally, I think about my height (I am 5’ 10,” and no one lets me forget it for a second), my face, and of course, my hair. A women’s self-actualization is sometimes dependent on their hair, a symbol of youth, beauty, and femininity. Look at the amount of money and time we spend on our hair! According to an article in dailymail.com, women in the US spend approximately $55,000 on their hair during their lifetime. I have definitely spent more, and my life is not nearly over. 

For a woman the loss of her hair is devastating. One of the primary symptoms of a thyroid disorders is hair loss.

According to the American Thyroid Association, 1 out of 8 women will experience thyroid dysfunction in their lifetime. I’m sorry, but that is not OK! Thyroid dysfunction can be devastating to a women’s entire life. It is not about the vanity of hair loss or weight gain; it is about the loss of quality of life.

Thyroid Gland

Let’s get familiar with the thyroid, so we understand why the normal function is essential. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits around the trachea (the breathing tube), right by the voice box, in the front of the neck. When your doctor feels the front of your neck during an exam, this is what he/she is feeling. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolic rate as well as heart function, digestive function, muscle control, brain development, mood, and bone maintenance (1). The thyroid is part of our endocrine system. Here is a great website that explains the thyroids function in more detail https://www.yourhormones.info/glands/thyroid-gland/

The list of functions the thyroid is responsible for is extensive. The last thing we women need is for this gland to go rogue. Unfortunately, this is happening to so many women over the age of 40 that I feel it has reached epidemic proportions.

Women are much more prone to thyroid dysfunction because of our other hormonal levels being out of whack. I hate to sound like a broken record, but estrogen dominance can cause thyroid issues, but I digress.

Thyroid dysfunction symptoms:

  • Hair loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Infertility issues
  • Miscarriages
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Did I say fatigue? I need to say it again.
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Feeling hot all the time
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Hoarseness when you speak (a sign of cancer, please do not ignore)
  • Decreased/Increased heart rate
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Low sex drive
  • Heavy menstrual cycles (if you still get your period)
  • Very symptomatic menopause
  • Insomnia
  • Dry skin
  • Low blood pressure (dizziness upon standing)
  • High blood pressure

I know that other ailments can cause a lot of these symptoms; however, if you experience more than two or three symptoms on this list, wouldn’t it make sense to get checked? Even if your values fall within normal limits, they may be just low enough for you to be experiencing symptoms.

Here is a basic list of thyroid hormone values the doctor is looking for with a simple blood test:

  • Thyroxine (T4)– the major hormone secreted by the thyroid. The amount of T4 produced by the thyroid gland is controlled by another hormone, which is made in the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain), called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). (2)
  • TSH – this hormone is secreted in amounts dependent upon the amount of T4.
  • Triiodothyronine – (T3) – T4 is converted into T3 in the liver when it lets go of one of it’s iodine molecules.
  • Here is a great article that goes more into depth regarding thyroid hormones https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-function-tests/

These are three essential and universal values that are evaluated when looking at thyroid hormone levels. All of these hormones are dependent on each other and help to regulate vital functions such as:

  • Heart rate
  • Respiration
  • Weight
  • Hair growth
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Body temperature
  • Menstrual cycles
  • Menopause
  • Strength
  • The list goes on….

Now we can understand why it is crucial that the thyroid is functioning properly for our well-being.

If your thyroid levels are really out of whack, your doctor may put you on thyroid medication. Synthroid is one of the more popular medications for hypothyroidism (hypo means slow). Anti-thyroid drugs like Tapazole are used to treat hyperthyroidism (hyper means overactive). When it comes down to it, the medications are aiming to regulate the hormone production of the thyroid. These medications do come with a grocery list of side effects, but sometimes a woman may not have a choice but to take a drug like Synthroid. However, there are natural remedies you can try before going on thyroid medication (or after).

Factors you can change right now to improve your thyroid function:

Please keep in mind I am not a doctor. All of the following recommendations are just recommendations. It is always a good idea to chat with your doc before trying something new.

Increase your selenium intake

My friend Jenn was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune means that the body mistakenly attacks healthy organs thinking that they are an enemy. Hashimoto’s attacks the thyroid, which decreases hormone production and creates hypothyroidism. Selenium is a trace mineral that plays a role in thyroid hormone metabolism (3). Hashimoto’s creates an environment that decreased levels of selenium; therefore, interrupts hormone production. I supplement with selenium every day because several years ago, my hair was coming out by the handful. Here is a link to the selenium I take https://www.swansonvitamins.com/now-foods-selenium-200-mcg-180-vcaps As with all trace minerals, please only take as directed. Too much selenium can cause other issues.

Ways:

Brazilian Nuts

You can try supplementing selenium, as I do. I hate taking pills, so I open the capsules and put the selenium into my fiber shakes. Eat Brazilian nuts! One handful can supply all the selenium you would need for a whole day. They are so yummy and contain the highest amount of selenium (as well as other minerals and vitamins). Yellow-fin tuna is a great source as well (6 oz supplies 183 micro milligrams, almost as much as the supplement). Only eat tuna once a week, tuna has a high mercury content which is toxic to our bodies. Oysters are a great source of selenium and zinc (and other essential minerals). You can get smoked oysters in a can and throw them into your salad. Pork chops, lean beef and chicken all contain selenium. Please try to find the highest quality grass-fed meat you can afford and always look for meats raised without antibiotics.

Said NO thyroid patient ever!

Increase your Iodine intake

Ways:

Lugol’s Iodine

Did you know that a high percentage of women with hypothyroidism simply have an iodine deficiency? The thyroid requires iodine to produce proper amounts of essential hormones. Sea veggies are the best source of iodine, like seaweed salad, kelp, and nori. Not everyone enjoys eating seaweed (I love it) but you can also get iodine from raw milk, Cape Cod cranberries (because they grow close to the ocean), eggs, potato’s, and ladies you can get iodine from chocolate (the darker the better). However, if nothing on this list really rocks your boat you can try a supplement. I take kelp tablets with my selenium. This is the brand I use https://www.swansonvitamins.com/swanson-premium-kelp-iodine-source-225-mcg-500-tabs?otherSize=SW1745 You can also supplement with Lugol’s Iodine https://www.swansonvitamins.com/j-crow-company-lugols-iodine-2-2-fl-oz-liquid#product-details. I put a couple of drops into a glass of water. The taste is metallic, but not too offensive.

Cut down on the sugar

Sugar and refined flours (white bread, pasta, pizza crust) create inflammation in our body’s which interrupts the production of T4, a critical thyroid hormone. I am not suggesting that you never have ice cream or a slice of pie, but it has to be a once in a while, a treat. Soda too, please do not drink soda, diet or not, it is incredibly toxic to your beautiful body. If you love soda, make your own! Try mixing seltzer with a splash of unsweetened cherry juice and a sprinkle of stevia. I do this all the time and my son and husband love it. You can also experiment with natural extracts like vanilla, and almond.

Ways:

Ezekeil Bread

Try whole grain pastas, Ezekeil bread ( a power packed sprouted grain bread), and make your own chocolate (it is SO EASY) with this 4 ingredient recipe (link to recipe). Don’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners (like Splenda) because they come with a plethora of other issues that cause inflammation. Instead of artificial sweeteners, try natural ones like Stevia and Monk Fruit. The best tasting stevia I have found is Trader Joe’s. Costco now carries Monk Fruit as a sweetener alternative. Monk Fruit is one of the word’s sweetest fruits, and a little goes a long way. The brand Costco carries, Lakanto, contains Erythritol (a very safe sugar alcohol that does not raise blood sugar) combined with monk fruit. The Lakanto Monk Fruit is AMAZING, and I have completely replaced all sugar in my baking with it. I even made chocolate with it! If you would like to try the Monk Fruit without the Erythritol, try this brand https://www.netrition.com/lc_foods_luo_han_guo.html.

Who let the Bee’s out, who who who?!

Click on Pic

B vitamins are essential for all body functions; however, B1 (Thiamine) takes a big hit when there is thyroid dysfunction. Thiamine plays a major role in the function of the heart, metabolism, nerve impulses and so much more. Try to get the full range of B vitamins into your diet daily. I supplement with a multi B that I purchase on Amazon. Click on the picture to check out the B vitamins I take daily. I advise that you take B vitamins with food. Personally, I am very sensitive to B vitamins and get nauseous if I take them on an empty stomach. 

Ways:

You can supplement with multi B or just Thiamine, but you can also get your B’s by eating beef, eggs (the yolk), pork, peas, legumes, and nuts. Make sure your sources of meat do not contain antibiotics or growth hormones. If you can afford it, buy grass-fed beef and pork.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Probiotics and Fermented Foods Can Help

According to the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism there is a link between bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine and hypothyroidism. Our gut truly is the captain of our ship. The more I study about women’s health, the more I learn this to be true. Gut health is essential for our well-being.

I am not a huge fan of probiotic pills because there’s a possibility that the bacteria your gut needs is not the one you are taking. There is a company called Viome https://www.viome.com/ that will test your poop and give you a break down of what your gut really needs. The test price came down significantly since I first heard about them three years ago. The price of the test now is about $149. However, if you don’t want to send a sample of your poop through the mail, you can always add certain foods to your diet that will assist in equalizing your gut bacteria.

Ways:

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Try eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, raw cheeses, and yogurt. Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics. Prebiotics (Pre means before) are essential as well. Prebiotics are a fiber or starch that our stomach does not digest but nourishes the probiotic bacteria. Sources of prebiotics are psyllium husk, resistant starches, white beans, lentils, rice/pasta (that is cooked, then cooled), and Benefiber. Prebiotics and probiotics work together to balance the natural flora in our gut. When our bacteria are in balance, all of our biologic systems work more harmoniously.

Try Going Gluten-Free for 30 Days

The gluten free trend went a little over board, but that’s what trends tend to do. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley that acts like an elastic glue, giving dough it’s shape. Some folks have an allergy to the gluten protein and can suffer extreme reactions to it. In a condition called Celiac disease, the gluten protein triggers an autoimmune response causing the body to attack the small intestine. Celiac disease can be dangerous if a strict diet is not followed. However, most of us are not sensitive to gluten but there has been a small connection between hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease and a gluten sensitivity. If you have any thyroid dysfunction try a gluten-free diet for 30 days. If you do not feel any better in 30 days than come off of it. You can also get tested for gluten sensitivity by your doc.

Ways:

You can try eliminating gluten from your diet by avoiding foods that are processed, wheat, baked, or white (white bread, English muffins, pizza crust, saltines). Luckily, the gluten-free trend is still in full swing, and you can purchase gluten-free everything from your local supermarket. As a biohacker, I tried going gluten-free for 30 days (it didn’t do anything for my tummy issues), and it was pretty simple. You can replace all of your “white” food with gluten-free versions. BUT (and it is a huge but) most gluten-free baked products contain rice flour. Rice and rice flour contain arsenic, a chemical that can interrupt cellular function. In large amounts, it is used to kill rats. Arsenic is naturally occurring in the soil, and the rice soaks it up as it grows. Having said that, limit your intake of processed foods and eat more nuts, veggies, fruits, beans, legumes, and grass-fed meats. Look for products made with almond flour or other flours that do not contain gluten. Oh, and only consume oats that say gluten-free on the label.

Herbs That Support Thyroid Function

I love herbs and herbalism. I have taken many courses on herbalism and essential oil use, and I incorporate them into my daily health care. Most of the pharmaceuticals we consume come from natural sources. By the time big pharma is done putting all the chemicals in the natural elements are gone. Here is a list of herbs that can support the thyroid and adrenal glands. Try Ashwagandha, an ancient and all-around fantastic herb that was used to treat glandular disorders. Gotu Kola, Siberian ginseng, and licorice root are herbs that support the endocrine system (which includes the thyroid). Here is a very detailed list of dosing and in-depth information about Herbal Treatments for Hypothyroidism.

Ditch the fluoride

Fluoride is everywhere, it is in our drinking water, our toothpaste, and pediatric vitamins. Fluoride is known for protecting teeth from cavities, but studies have shown that it’s protection is negligible for adult teeth. Then why is it in our drinking water, you ask? Like day light savings, I have no idea why our country does a lot of things. Fluoridating public drinking water began in the the 1940’s and has been questioned ever since. What has been proven is that fluoride is very toxic to the thyroid and has been linked to ADHD, cancer, and thyroid dysfunction. Fluoride can also cause a condition that can cosmetically destroys teeth, called fluorosis. My advice, get the fluoride out of your life.

Ways

Stop using fluoridated toothpaste today. I love Burt’s Bee’s Purely White Fluoride-Free toothpaste. It has a short ingredient list, and it makes my teeth feel really clean. I follow up by brushing with activated charcoal. I use one charcoal capsules and put it into a small dish with a drop of coconut oil, dip the toothbrush in and brush. I keep this in the medicine cabinet. Try this combination for an incredibly clean mouth; no fluoride needed! Try a FLUORIDE removal filtering system. I found a hopeful one on the Safe Health Home website called Santevia. I am ordering the countertop filtered water system. I do not have it yet, so I cannot give a review. However, I will review it when I have it for a month or so. Do not drink bottled water that says that fluoride is added on the label. Try not to consume water straight from the tap.

click here

Do a little research and seek out support groups to cope with the symptoms of your dysfunctional thyroid. The way you feel is NOT in your head, and you must take care of your body, heart, and spirit. We are not segmented and cannot separate our organs from each other, body from our soul, or emotions from our well-being. You are worth the work it takes to get better, feel better, and live your best life. 

References

  1. https://www.yourhormones.info/glands/thyroid-gland/
  2. https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-function
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482260/

Estrogen Gone Wild!

About two years ago, when I was 49, I took a trip to Scottsdale, AZ, with my husband and another couple. We ate like the world was ending and drank enough alcohol to stock a full bar, but we had so much fun. During our trip, I made sure I got a ton of exercise to combat the over indulgences because, in the past, it has always balanced it’s self out. Usually, during our vacations, I may gain 3 maybe 4 pounds, and I would lose it when I got home and back into my routine. However, on this ill-fated trip, I gained 8 stinking pounds, 8! Those 8 pounds stayed with me for two years and became the bane of my existence. No matter what I did, I could not budge the scale.

Muffin top!

Not only were my jeans too tight, but I was sluggish and felt as if I were living in a fog. As a self-proclaimed biohacker and human Guinea pig, I tried all sorts of methods to lose weight. For the first 4 months, I did the ubiquitous caloric restriction, low carb, and limited my intake of anything pleasurable, diet. Even though I was pretty strict (minimal cheating) and I lost a pound or two, I always gained it back. Sometimes I was horrified to see that I gained even more weight, what the what?! Was I doing everything so wrong that I could not lose weight and seemed to always gain more? I felt terrible, I couldn’t sleep, had no energy, and my sex drive waxed and waned. As if all of the symptoms were not enough, I had no desire to do anything, including the things I loved, like karaoke with my friends. I went to my doctor, and do you know what she said? She looked me in the eye and said these words’ “lose 8 pounds.” Needless to say, I wanted to poke her eyes out.

My desire to discover alternative treatments for my health has been one of those topics that ignites passion and excitement in my soul. As a Registered Respiratory Therapist, I have worked in conventional hospitals for over 24 years. I swear there is a revolving door in the lobby because I would see the same patients over and over with the same issues. We would treat the symptoms, get the patients functioning just enough, and discharge them, only to see them come back a week later. Conventional medicine has excellent attributes. However, it is only one half of the wellness equation. The medical community is trained to compartmentalize or bodies, our symptoms, and our complaints (I know because I teach medical students). My experience in conventional medicine is the reason why I sort out non-conventional, holistic treatment for bodies that are out of balance. Unfortunately, I could swear that doctors forgot they are dealing with the miraculous human body that has a built in ability to cure itself, with the right tools. Our bodies require an all system approach, which includes nutrition, psychological, emotional, and physical support. Some doctors do take the whole-person approach, they are called osteopath’s, or integrative and functional medicine practitioners. Personally, I believe whole body integrative doctors are the only practitioners we ladies should utilize for our best health. Integrative doctors treat your whole body, not just your parts (as if they are not all connected).

Photo by Connor Slade on Pexels.com

The 8 pounds, holding on to my body like a baby koala, forced me to start thinking outside the box. I stop focusing on what I was putting into my mouth and start thinking about the imbalance that was turning me into a doughy version of my former self.

When I encounter a problem I do research, not the stop at a Google search kind, or Wikipedia kind, but the consult professionals, read a hundred books and then use myself as a guinea pig kind. Ladies, what I discovered worked for me, and I bet many of you suffer the same imbalance that I experienced.

Let’s keep in mind that I am not a doctor, nor should you consider this medical advice. I am merely relaying what I discovered through trial and error that really worked to help me lose weight, clear up brain fog, improve libido, pump up my energy level, and increased my desire to live and live well.

The problem was Estrogen Dominance, and yes, girls, it is a very real thing.

Most of us think of estrogen as the female hormone, the soft and sweet hormone that makes ladies so angelic. The truth is that both men and women have estrogen, as well as testosterone and progesterone. The balance of these hormones is essential for all the well-running operations of the body, especially maintaining a healthy weight and energy level. When estrogen becomes dominant, it begins to offset the balance and wreak havoc on everything from the way you feel physically to your mood. Why and how does estrogen get so out of balance? One of the major contributors is our age ( I hate to admit that).

As we approach menopause or go through menopause (even after) our estrogen levels can surge, contrary to what we are told.

Estrogen

The medical community deduced that as a woman ages there is a steady decline of estrogen, but it’s not true for all women. Some women (like myself) experience an overabundance of estrogen, and it is a very disruptive event.

Most estrogen is produced in the ovaries and visceral fat (tummy fat that is stored around the organs). Progesterone is mainly produced in the outside of the mature egg as it goes on its journey to the uterus. As our egg production decreases, so do progesterone levels, allowing estrogen to increase. Not only do our estrogen levels increase, but the fat we gain (because of the imbalance) is creating estrogen as well. It takes a while before a woman starts to experience the side effects of estrogen dominance, but symptoms can mean it’s really getting out of control. Here is a list of some symptoms of estrogen dominance:

  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Weight gain (especially around tummy and thighs)
  • PMS like irritability
  • Decrease sexual desire
  • Decreased drive to do things you love
  • Insomnia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Water retention
  • Fibroids
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Breast pain
  • Polycystic ovaries
  • Hair loss
  • Bloating

If you feel there is something wrong, don’t ignore it. There is no reason to accept a decreased quality of life because we can no longer reproduce.

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

The mainstream medical community poo poo’s diminished quality of life in women 40 and over. This is why you need to take your health and happiness into your own hands. If you believe you are experiencing estrogen dominance, go to your doctor and ask for a hormone panel. If your doctor refuses, get a new doctor! Look for an integrated practitioner in your area or a wellness center. There is no reason for you to struggle anymore.

Factors you can change right now to improve your health:

Increase your fiber intake

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The gut is where it all goes down ( no pun intended). Increasing your fiber intake will help your body excrete excess estrogen.

Ways:

Add Benefiber (or the Costco brand Optifiber) to your coffee every morning. Aim for eating two salads a day, add nuts and seeds. Make almond bread and psyllium husk (an excellent source of fiber) muffins (link), and eat two a day. Beans, almonds, chia seeds (make chia seed chocolate pudding YUM! link coming), and organic oats are an excellent source of fiber. Try to make sure you have fiber in every meal. This is a fantastic start to healing your estrogen imbalance.

Decrease your sugar intake

Sugar wreaks havoc on all of your vital organs and taxes your liver. Sugar produces lactic acid, which feeds and attracts bacteria. In an imbalance, such as estrogen dominance, eating sugar is like pouring gas onto an out of control fire. It is not a healthy mix for someone with estrogen dominance. Besides, the liver metabolizes excess estrogen, and adding too much sugar to your diet will decrease its’ function.

Here is a free, easy to read ebook about the devastating impact sugar has on our bodies. Click on the book for a free PDF download.

I would like to thank the folks at Lakanto for giving me permission to post their eBook on Fity Fity Fifty

Ways:

Lakanto Monk Fruit

Don’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners (like Splenda) because they come with a plethora of other issues that cause inflammation. Instead of artificial sweeteners, try natural ones like Stevia and Monk Fruit. The best tasting stevia I have found is Trader Joe’s. Costco now carries Monk Fruit as a sweetener alternative. Monk Fruit is one of the word’s sweetest fruits, and a little goes a long way. The brand Costco carries, Lakanto, contains Erythritol (a very safe sugar alcohol that does not raise blood sugar) combined with monk fruit. The Lakanto Monk Fruit is AMAZING, and I have completely replaced all sugar in my baking with it. I even made chocolate with it! If you would like to try the Monk Fruit without the Erythritol, try this brand https://www.netrition.com/lc_foods_luo_han_guo.html.

Get the toxin’s out and eat as clean as possible

Ways:

Did you ever hear of the dirty dozen? Not the movie, the produce! The dirty dozen is a list of produce that should not be eaten from conventional sources (they contain the most pesticides). Spend the extra money and get the organic version of the produce listed on the dirty dozen list. Here is a link to the list of the dirty dozen (and clean 15) https://www.greenmatters.com/p/dirty-dozen-clean-15

Clean your produce with my homemade produce spray. Fill a spray bottle: 1/4 vodka, 1/4 vinegar, 1/4 peroxide, 1/4 water, and a few drops of lemon oil. Let the produce sit after spraying for two minutes and scrub the fruits and veggies if you can. You can use this spray to clean pretty much everything around your house, and it is non-toxic.

Drink fresh water (not straight from the tap)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ways:

Personally, I am not going to open a hundred bottles of water a day. I drink a ton of water, and drinking bottled water is not feasible. I also do not have a bottle delivery service in my budge. I use the Brita, a decent filtering system. The Brita isn’t perfect, but it is better than straight from the tap water.

Do not heat food up in plastic food containers (they can release chemicals that increase estrogen). Remove the food from the plastic container and place on glass before you microwave.

Try not to use products with parabens (a preservative in cosmetics, toothpaste, hair care products that can mimic estrogen production)

Ways:

Look at the label! Looking at the label is one of the simplest ways to eliminate many harmful ingredients from your world. Look for words that have METHYL, BUTYL, PROPYL, or BENZYL in them. Check out this link for more information https://www.peacefulmountain.com/2015/12/understanding-parabens/

Don’t eat fast food (yes I said it, preservatives, unhealthy oils, way too much sodium and low-quality products. It really is less expensive to cook at home).

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Sometimes you have no choice and have to grab something quick.

Ways:

My go-to for fast food? The supermarket! So many supermarkets have pre-made food bars, such as soups, salads and hot food. I always go straight for the sushi bar. Sushi rolls are not all raw fish. There are plenty of veggie options that come with chopsticks and wasabi. Most deli sections have pre-made sandwiches or quick meals (like meatballs and spaghetti). The price of fast food is just about the same for heather options in the supermarket.

Avoid Soy

Soy products like soy sauce, soy milk and, miso increase estrogen levels. Did you know that women with estrogen sensitive breast cancer are told to stay far away from soy? If conventional medicine is recognizing the estrogen soy connection, then anyone with estrogen dominance should stay far away.

Shake that body

Ways:

Take a 15 walk around the block, throw yourself on the floor, and do a sit-up, get tension bands, and work your arms. Start to exercise slow and work your way up at your own pace. Don’t start out with 10,000 steps a day. 10,000 steps is really an ambiguous number that was a starting point for an experiment. Just move your body and do it daily. Here is a link to the tension bands I use https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MBYC3YY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Love yourself more

Do something beautiful for you, today, right now ( self-love is healing for all aliments)

Ways:

Self-love does not mean you have to spend money. All too often we think a new pair of shoes or a new wardrobe is going to make us happy, and it does, for a little while. For me, words have power. I put lotion on my face and tell my skin how beautiful it looks. This may sound crazy or too “hippie” ish, but there is scientific proof that our molecules react to intent and our words are intent. Check out Dr. Masaru Emoto’s water experiment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moz82i89JAw This will blow your doors off.

Carve out time just for you, take a bath, paint, create and spend time with your friends. When you show love and compassion for yourself, you will find it easier to show love and compassion for others.

Make sleep a priority

Photo by SHAHBAZ AKRAM on Pexels.com

Chronic fatigue causes weight gain, which increases estrogen levels. It really is a vicious cycle, estrogen dominance causes insomnia, and insomnia causes weight gain which increases estrogen.

Ways:

Try to go to sleep at the same time every night. This may seem impossible, but there has to be an effort made to keep to a schedule. Do not eat after 6pm and stay away from alcohol for a little bit. (I do not want to start a riot). Both food an alcohol disrupt sleep patterns. Try not eating after 6pm and laying off the wine for one week and see how you feel. Ask your doctor for a temporary fix, like Lunesta (a sleeping pill). I don’t always believe a pill is the way to go when it comes to sleep, but if it is bad enough you do what you have to do. Check this article out for sleep hygine ideas https://www.dailywellness.com/2017/06/05/youre-sleeping-poorly-mean-estrogen-off/

Try Progesterone cream

I highly recommend you use progesterone cream while being supervised by a doctor or nurse practitioner. However, I have no patience’s when it comes to feeling crappy so I tried it and it is fabulous. Progesterone can help balance out estrogen and can be easily purchased online without a prescription. This is the one I use: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EB0AQA4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Remember, progesterone is a hormone and should be used very sparingly and carefully. I used too much the first day I received it and I felt like I wanted to beat somebody up!

Please follow the directions on the label or use however your doctor prescribed.

Herbs and supplements

Ways:

There are many herbal remedies that help combat hormonal imbalances. My kitchen is like a apothecary, I have so many herbs! For estrogen dominance try Milk Thistle ( a powerful liver cleanser, tea and capsule form), Maca (a type of ginseng the can improve sleep and libido, liquid or capsules), Magnesium (an essential mineral that place a role in many biological processes, capsules), and omega 3 fatty acids (an essential oil for brain function, can assist with better sleep, memory, and well-being. Wild fish, krill or purified fish oil capsules are safest. Don’t forget to eat your cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), they contain a compound that brings estrogen levels down. Check out this website for more information: https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2018/12/06/how-to-reverse-estrogen-dominance-naturally-detox-food-supplements/

Do your research

There is so much information on the web about estrogen dominance and how to treat it. Do some of your own research, read articles, get a few book. The more information you have the better you will understand what you need to do.

I cannot stress the importance of cleaning up your body by consuming clean food, drinking clean water, and taking meticulous care of your well-being.

As a woman, I refused to accept feeling like crap and getting fat as a part of getting older. I don’t mind getting older, but I do mind feeling and looking older. Today I feel better than I have in over 10 years. My skin is pink, bright, and supple. My mind is sharp, and my reaction time is excellent ( I know this because my husband is always throwing things at me). I am happy now, and I really feel good. Take control of your life and your bodies, Ladies! Living your best life might require some changes, but you are so worth it.

If you have any topics, comments, or suggestions, please leave me a message in the comments. I love to hear from all of you.

DEE #fityfityfifty