Tips to Take Charge of Your Health During the Era of Covid

As an advocate for whole body healing, I really hoped this virus situation would open up new discussions on how to take care of our personal health.

Have I missed something?

We are NOT a healthy country. This should be opening our eyes, but it’s not.

The U.S. spends the most on health care compared to other developed countries BUT has lower life expectancy, highest infant mortality, highest suicide rates, and highest rates of chronic disease.

We’re masking the real issue. Yes, pun intended.

The actions I take for my health actually don’t impact your health. YOU have to advocate for yourself. And you are not powerless. There is so much hope!

Here are some of my favorite tips for taking personal responsibility for your health. I hope these are as helpful for you as they have been for me. Continue reading “Tips to Take Charge of Your Health During the Era of Covid”

Thanks to PTSD, I’ll Never Be a Hero

Thanks to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, I’ll never be a hero.

I want to. I’d like to think that I’m a person of action, and that if I witness a dangerous event I’ll jump right into rescue mode. I’m a nice woman, and I like helping.

But I can’t. Trauma keeps me from moving. Trauma keeps me frozen in place, dissociating myself from reality, stuck to the floor in cement boots.

I taught English for 11 years, so looking back, I’m glad the topic of “disaster response time” wasn’t a job interview question. I wouldn’t have passed to the next level of interviews, that’s for sure.

I remember once when I worked at a middle school, a substitute teacher passed out in a classroom down the hall from me. I heard students running down the hallway, calling for the nurse. I peeked my head out the door, knowing I needed to check and see what was going on, knowing I needed to respond. But everything started moving in slow motion. I heard cries, I heard the words “CPR,” I saw others in action. But I was frozen. I couldn’t move.

I was chained to the past.

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I was 9 years old again, listening to the cries of my mother and grandmother as they try to revive my dying grandfather. I hear my grandma shout “No Freeman!” I watch him falling out of the car to the sidewalk and onto my front lawn. I watch them get out an epi pen, perform CPR, yelling for help.

I watch his eyes roll back.

Continue reading “Thanks to PTSD, I’ll Never Be a Hero”

Ketosis for Mental Health with Dr. Lori Shemek

Dr. Lori Shemek is an award-winning, bestselling author of How to Fight FATflammation, The Ketogenic Key, Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting, and Fire-Up Your Fat Burn. She is a leading health and weight loss expert who has been featured in countless publications and TV shows. She is also known as “The Inflammation Terminator.”

In this episode, Dr. Shemek shares about her new book, The Ketogenic Key. She shares what the keto diet is, how ketosis benefits our mental health, benefits of intermittent fasting, how inflammation is a threat to our health and well-being, and practical ways to implement changes to your lifestyle.img_9384

Podcast is available on the show page or wherever you get your podcasts!

Key topics addressed:

  • The importance of the ketogenic diet and how it isn’t a fad
  • The deal with carbs and sugar
  • Creating metabolic flexibility
  • The difference between low carb and keto
  • Intermittent fasting, autophagy, and mitochondrial biogenesis
  • The raw broccoli test for hunger
  • Who should not practice intermittent fasting
  • Why women NEED protein as we age
  • The benefits of healthy fat
  • Types of inflammation and the effects
  • How to do keto in real life
  • What kind of alcohol is okay for keto

Her book, The Ketogenic Key, is a perfect guidebook for all things related to ketosis, and is a great way to learn how to enhance your brain and body health in an easy to understand way. It is available wherever you purchase books!

Chipotle Honey Greens Bowl

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a little “staycation” at a fancy boutique hotel in town. While we were lounging by the pool, living the good life, we enjoyed the most amazing greens bowl. It was a perfect light summer treat. We’re typically not “I’ll have a salad” people, especially not on vacation, but this one was a refreshing complement to a warm summer day in the sun. I decided as soon as I got home, I would come up with a “copycat” recipe.

I don’t know about you, but I have a difficult time with raw kale and broccoli. They’re just not my favorite. Well let me tell you, with this recipe, you just may reconcile your relationship with them. Because the broccoli is chopped thinly and the kale is massaged in order to wilt and break down the bitterness, these two go perfectly together. Then you have the sweet and spicy mix of the dressing and it really is a solid summer lunch staple – or it’s a great side for a grilled chicken or steak dinner!

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*Please note – the dressing is a lot, more than you’ll need for the salad ingredients. That way you can double or triple your salad amount for a crowd, or use throughout the week as a dressing or meat marinade.

Ingredients:

Continue reading “Chipotle Honey Greens Bowl”

An Integrative Approach to Mental Health – Interview with Dr. Noshene Ranjbar

The field of psychiatry is changing as new discoveries about the brain are made. There are many pioneers using evidence-based medicine to seek out different treatments beyond traditional methods and prescription medication. While meds are definitely helpful for some and are one helpful tool in the toolbox, according to Dr. Ranjbar, “we are asking them to do what they were not made to do.”

img_9005Dr. Noshene Ranjbar is Harvard trained and board certified in General Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Integrative Medicine. She serves as medical director of the Integrative Psychiatry Clinic at Banner – University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson.

In this episode we discuss the changes in mental health approaches in the last 20 years, how integrative psychiatry is different, nervous system dysfunction, common underlying issues that impact mental wellness, as well as Dr Ranjbar’s work with refugee and American Indian communities.

Click here to listen on the show page or here on iTunes. Continue reading “An Integrative Approach to Mental Health – Interview with Dr. Noshene Ranjbar”

How Food is Mood – Interview with Ali Miller, RD

Ali Miller is a registered dietitian, integrative functional medicine practitioner, and author of Naturally Nourished, The Anti-Anxiety Diet, and The Anti-Anxiety Diet Cookbook.

In this episode we discuss the concept of food as mood, how neurotransmitters play a role in gut health, and how your stress response affects your overall health – from mental wellness to reproductive function to immune health.

She explains the 6 approaches she takes to restoring our bodies to their rightful state, how to biohack our bodies and create metabolic flexibility – and simple tools to reducing panic and anxiety during times of stress.

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Key topics covered in this episode:

  • Blood sugar regulation is key to balancing mood.
  • The imbalance of our stress response in the HPA axis and how “the body has to feel safe to do well.”
  • Reduce inflammation, reset the microbiome, repair the gut lining, restore micronutrients, rebound the adrenal glands, and rebalance neurotransmitters.
  • What excessive screen time does for our dopamine.
  • How 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut and why probiotics can be nature’s Prozac.
  • Breath is the most powerful way to harness the HPA axis and how to use mantras.
  • How she uses a strategic ketogenic approach with her clients and the reasons it has been beneficial for so many of them.

To download and listen to the full episode, click here. For the link to iTunes, click here.

To learn more about Ali and her work, head to http://www.alimillerrd.com or check out her podcast at http://www.naturallynourishedrd.com.

 

 

Re-Focus 2020: Summer Edition

Are you ready to gain a renewed perspective of health and body image?

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Re-FOCUS 2020 is back! In January, author Heather Creekmore and I launched our very first group in order to help women all over the world gain a fresh look at setting new year’s health goals. That group was so wildly successful, we decided to run it again in March, and NOW we are offering an exclusive summer edition!

Here’s what some former participants had to say:

With this group, you get an encouraging scripture verse each day, along with two posts related to the day’s theme. Heather tackles the spiritual/mindset aspect, and I take on the perspective of food and living a sustainable healthy lifestyle without fad dieting!

Both of us care so much about living a life of purpose and wholeness despite what lies we are led to believe about our bodies, so this group is packed with truth and encouragement, no matter where you are in your health journey.

If you are ready to dive in to true health, and you aren’t sure if you’re ready for my private coaching sessions, this is a great starting point!

This group will take place on Facebook in a private group from June 8-21. You have up until a month after the group launches to catch up on all the posts.

The price for this group is only $28! If you sign up by June 1st, the price drops to $22! This includes two packed weeks of content, interaction with me and Heather throughout the week, a live Q and A call, and access to the group for a month after joining. Sure, there are plenty of online coaching groups – but you won’t find many with TWO facilitators who will be interacting with you on the daily!

As a thank you for joining, you’ll receive for free my “Family Favorites” recipe booklet and Heather’s “Mountain Top Experience: Personal Body Image Retreat” (which normally retails for $5.99).

To sign up, click the link here for our participant questionnaire and payment link.

 

The Mental Health Impact of COVID-19 – Interview with Psychiatrist Dr. Amelia Villagomez

I’m so thrilled to share that we have surpassed the ONE MILLION download mark on the Sparking Wholeness podcast! So what better way to celebrate than with an episode featuring an integrative psychiatrist who discusses the mental health impact of COVID-19!?

Dr. Amelia Villagomez is an integrative psychiatrist at Progressive Psychiatry in Fort Worth, Texas. She attended medical school at Texas A&M, completed her training in General Psychiatry at Yale, and did a fellowship in Child/Adolescent Psychiatry at Harvard. To further her education in holistic healing methods, she completed a fellowship for integrative medicine at The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and is certified in mind-body techniques. In this interview, Dr. Villagomez addresses the top mental health concerns during this pandemic and its aftermath.

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Download the episode here or subscribe on iTunes here.

Topics addressed:

  • How children and adolescents may actually be seeing a decrease in mental health concerns during this time, which poses the question: is an international pandemic less stressful than going to school?
  • How the pandemic is forcing us to rethink current paradigms.
  • Managing uncertainties and expectations.
  • The increase in insomnia, its causes, and what to do about it.
  • How the abundance of information may be negatively impacting us, stages of disaster, and potential trauma resulting with the current season.
  • The importance of mindfulness and staying in the current moment with self compassion and self awareness.
  • Nutritional support for mental health and why your brain needs 7-9 different fruits and veggies a day.
  • Why the gut-brain connection is something we should all be talking about.
  • Why the concept of PLAY is so important for mental wellness and holistic health.

Continue reading “The Mental Health Impact of COVID-19 – Interview with Psychiatrist Dr. Amelia Villagomez”

Easy and Delicious Bacon Bruschetta Chicken

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Who’s sick of cooking the same old, same old and is ready for something new and EASY? You can’t tell, but I’m raising my hand. I am currently in training for a new whole food nutritional program I will be launching soon, so I’ve been playing with some recipes, changing things up, and throwing together new things to incorporate (as usual) as many colorful veggies as I can in one meal.

The original version of this recipe I received courtesy of my friend Megan, from a detox program I ran a few years ago. It’s versatile, because it works for people who have issues with gluten or dairy, and it’s so easy and fast – who doesn’t love that?

Even my picky three-year-old loves this recipe! He likes it with jasmine rice, which is a pantry staple in our house!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought (dairy or nut free? Use basil paste or fresh basil)
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a Dutch oven, season chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Layer chicken, seasoning, garlic, basil pesto, tomato, and bacon.
  4. Place lid on top and cook in oven for 1-1 1/2 hours until chicken is cooked through.
  5. Serve with rice, pasta, or my favorite – cauliflower rice!

*For crock pot option, follow directions above and cook 4-6 hours.

That’s IT. Now, if you are like me, it will need more seasonings than the recommended amount above. So play with it; add what you like. And as always – let me know what you think!

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Freedom from the Mental Illness Shame Cycle

When I was 21, I made a suicide pact with myself. I felt the weight of the world on a consistent basis, as I struggled with depression, mania, and the chaos of jumping from one failed medication to the next. My mind was not my friend, and I didn’t feel safe in my body. At the young age of 21, I was fatigued from fighting the swirling thoughts and the heavy waves. I was burdened by being the only one who suffers from such a debilitating disorder.

I didn’t want to be on this exhausting earth any longer than necessary.

I decided that by my 41st birthday, I would end it all.

Today I turn 39. I have been in a stable place mentally for over a decade. The giant roller coaster I used to ride with my moods is now just a soft swell, a gentle up and down of a kiddie coaster.

I have no intention of ending my life. Not now. Not ever.

img_7600My life is a gift. My illness is a gift. For so long I lived in shame about my diagnosis. I didn’t want to share about it, and I didn’t want to look “abnormal.” I knew I carried a stigma. Today I am learning that thanks to my moods, I get to see the world from a different lens. Colors are richer and brighter to me. The air is fresher. Sounds are more soothing and meaningful. Everything is vibrant and alive. And even when they are not, and I experience a drop in my mood, I see the dark side and feel more deeply than others… meaning I can empathize with others’ pain in a way I wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

I know now that my pain has a purpose. My pain showed me who I can be in spite of a broken brain.

Continue reading “Freedom from the Mental Illness Shame Cycle”