beauty products hormonal balance

Are Your Beauty Products Causing a Hormonal Imbalance?

Your bath, beauty, and cleaning products may be making you sick, depressed, and overweight!

Adapted from a guest post for Gold Mountain Beauty

By the time you leave your home in the morning, you may have been exposed to hundreds of chemicals. Think about the toothpastes, shaving creams, deodorants, soap and lotions, shampoos and conditioners, laundry detergent and fabric softeners, and makeup that you wouldn’t dare go without. Those products all contain chemicals that can lead to a hormonal imbalance.

Common Chemicals Found in Beauty Products

Skin is our largest organ. It absorbs a lot of what it comes in contact with—more than you might imagine. Then, it’s up to our liver to metabolize those chemicals. Unfortunately, a lot of those chemicals are not healthy. For example:

The David Suzuki Foundation reports that U.S. researchers found that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals.

Signs Your Hormones Are Out of Whack

Unfortunately, these chemicals are not widely known by consumers in general, but may be especially foreign to those experiencing hormonal imbalances. This is simply because we don’t tend to think of the contents of our bathroom cabinets as being part of the root cause of hormonal upset.

And when your hormones are out of whack, you may be plagued by symptoms such as brain fog, anxiety, depression, disturbed sleep, decreased libido, weight gain, especially around the belly, as well as undesirable changes in your hair, skin, and nails. Which is especially frustrating as these are the things we’re trying to beautify in the first place 🙁

What’s the solution?

Start by throwing all of your beauty products – and bath & cleaning products, in the garbage and then go au naturel.

Ok, so that’s not likely going to happen!

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exercising not losing weight

Exercising, But Not Losing Weight?

I recently wrote a post as to why the number on the bathroom scale wasn’t moving in the desired direction, despite your best efforts.

I wanted to further expand on those ideas in this post because it’s something many people, especially women – are often frustrated by at some point in their lives.

Like me. Right NOW.

Ok, so you’re exercising regularly. Maybe even daily. Maybe even “hard” by all accounts – but that pudge won’t budge?!

Here are all the reasons why you’re exercising and you’re still not losing weight, as adapted from Jennifer Cohen’s article on News.Health.com, plus my own personal and professional experiences.

You’re exercising, but you’re still eating what?!

“If you’re not shedding the pounds, or your sustainable weight dropping efforts have stalled — the first place you should look is in the kitchen.”

~ Krista Goncalves, Holistic Nutritionist

BTW, you’ll notice that I don’t often use the term “weight loss”…because I strongly dislike it! It implies that the weight shed from our bodies is only temporary as it can be found again (insert big frownie face). I prefer “effective or sustainable weight drop” to describe the process or journey of shedding unhealthy pounds from one’s body.

Phew, glad we got THAT out of the way!

The Wrong Foods

People are often so focused on burning off calories through exercise that they don’t consider what foods they’re actually putting in their bodies as FUEL.

It is my belief that your daily diet, or daily nutrition, should be 75-90% of the focus where body weight goals are concerned, especially when it comes to significant body composition changes, i.e. fat loss & muscle gain.

The particular foods you should be eating, and in what combination, depend on your body type, metabolic rate, as well as some other factors. But it’s always been my advice to stick to all natural, whole foods.

Consider eating most of your fruit & starchier carbohydrates, like sweet potatoes, brown rice, and whole grains on days when you do strength training or more intense exercise.

Then on your rest days, or when you’re doing light cardio &/or yoga, try to stick to just protein, some good fats, a bit of low-glycemic/low-fructose fruit, like apples, pears & berries, and gobs of veggies, while limiting all other starchy foods.

Also, try to greatly limit excess bread, sugar, and anything else that’s processed. Look for foods that have the fewest ingredients on the label—if you can’t pronounce it, it likely isn’t capable of fueling your body.

By the way, it’s not necessarily about what you’ve eaten in any given day, it’s what you’ve eaten over the course of the week that drives balance – think about it in a cumulative sense.

Too Much Food + Excess Energy Intake

If you’ve already cleaned up your diet by eating all of the “right foods”, and you’re still not shedding weight – it may be that you’re simply taking in too much. This often happens if you’re unknowingly “drinking your calories“.

In order to shed pounds your body needs to run an energy (calorie) deficit, meaning you need to burn more than you consume.

Exercising is obviously one way in which we can create a caloric deficit. But what is often more important is consuming less or restricting energy intake. This does not mean counting every calorie we consume!! There are other ways to gauge energy intake.

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sensory deprivation float

Floating Naked in the Dark – Float Therapy Review

Consider this: there are upwards of 70,000 thoughts going through your mind in any one day and the average person speaks at a rate of 110-150 words per minute.

  • What should I make for dinner? Should I go to the gym before dinner? Screw it, I’m skipping the gym and ordering pizza.
  • Why are my kids such circus animals – is it my fault? No, definitely their dad’s fault.
  • Did I respond to that email? Oh no, did I hit ‘Reply All’ to that email?! Crap, I’m gonna be fired!

Blah, blah, blah.

But what if you could turn off all of that internal and external “chatter”, even for an hour or so?

Get that hamster off the perpetual squeaky wheel and just listen to the gentle rhythm of your own breathing. Naked. In the dark.

Sounds like a fanciful, impossible task. But it is possible and within reach.

Float Therapy

I recently found myself doing just such a thing, while floating buck naked in a pitch dark tank full of salt water for 90 minutes on a Saturday morning.

I had been thinking about trying sensory deprivation or float therapy for quite some time. Then I finally got my salt together and decided to go for it.

So let me sink into my whole experience (inperience?) and give you my honest opinion on whether I think it’s worth its brine… all 1000 pounds of it.

But first, a bit of background on the origins of sensory deprivation.

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stress management

Stress Management & Self Care

What did a Nutritionist do to R-E-L-A-X this past long weekend?

Slept! Spent time with girlfriends. Enjoyed long walks and adult conversation by the water. Sipped good red wine. Star gazed.

Being a busy Mom of two young children while trying to work from home at the same time (‘trying’ being the operative word) can be difficult and downright stressful. There’s no doubt that stress affects each of us differently, or rather, we each handle it differently.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my journey back to better health — it’s to take extra measures to manage stress, because it truly is TOXIC. I’ve learned better coping mechanisms (red wine??) and how to unload some it all together.

Stress Management Tool Kit

A well-rounded Stress Management Tool Kit should include most, if not all of the following components:

  • Learn to recognize the signs of stress

    The Fusion Model says to “get familiar with what an emotional hijack looks and feels like. Learn to ‘tune in’ to the signs and symptoms of an adrenaline rush.”

  • Mindfulness

    This simply means living consciously in the present moment, instead of being derailed by worry, anger or fear. Mindfulness encourages you to notice thoughts and feelings without clutching at them or being dragged along with their, often harmful, effects. It is best practiced for a few minutes or longer, once, or better still, several times a day.

    Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is the formal name of a distinct program for stress management, the principles of which were introduced to Western medicine in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.

  • Breathing techniques

    Breathing techniques, such as Left Nostril Breathing. This works well when you’re experiencing an especially stressful situation, or when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get that hamster off that blasted squeaky wheel!

  • Walking or other forms of daily exercise, preferably in nature

  • Quality, restorative sleep

    If you do not have adequate quality sleep, nothing else will fall in line. Exercise habits (you’ll be too tired), mood (you’ll be cranky), nutrition (you’ll crave comfort food), work (you’ll lack concentration), patience with kids (you’ll have none), and talk about “not tonight honey…”

Stress is one of the main factors causing insomnia and other sleep disorders. When stressors are present, the body naturally heightens its response system, thus, leading to wakefulness.

Did you know that 42% of Americans report lying awake at night due to stress? ~ American Psychological Association Stress in America Report 2013

  • A personalized set of Self Care options, practiced daily

    Check out the list of 30 ideas below to get started right now!

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candida yeast overgrowth

Candida Yeast Overgrowth

Candida. Candidiasis. Yeast overgrowth. Fungal infection.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s NO FUN when you’ve got it!!

It’s Summer…hot, sticky weather conditions and our bodies are such perfectly moist breeding grounds for all kinds of “critters”. I’ve had a number of friends complaining of this particular condition lately, or at least trying to figure out if they’ve got it!

So what does a vacationing Nutritionist do when she’s drank a number of frosty (yeasty, gluten-y) beers, and eaten buckets of tortilla chips (grains!) while sitting around in a wet bathing suit down by the lake for several weeks?

Ok, that’s my way of saying, minus the nose-crinkling details, that I’ve had a problem with yeast overgrowth, multiple times in the past 25 years. In fact, we’ve all likely had it in some form or another, and some of us may not have even realized we had it!

Of course you’re probably already thinking of that thick, white discharge, reminiscent of cottage cheese, that makes your va-jay-jay itchy & cranky. But that’s not necessarily always one of the symptoms when this critter is in a state of overgrowth – and it’s not just exclusive to women’s southern parts either!

It’s much more complex and tricky than that, so let me do my best to scratch it all out for you.

What is a Candida-Yeast Overgrowth? (more accurately named Candidiasis)

First off, a small amount of Candida yeast in the mouth, digestive tract and vagina is normal. It’s just part of our body’s natural flora. However, when this organism decides it’s party time, and blooms out of control (due to a variety of reasons) – it can wreak havoc on your whole system!

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC),

Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeasts that belong to the genus Candida. There are over 20 species of Candida yeasts that can cause infection in humans, the most common of which is Candida albicans.

Candida yeasts normally live on the skin and mucous membranes, as a result causing infection; however, overgrowth of these organisms can cause symptoms to develop.
Symptoms of candidiasis vary depending on the area of the body that is infected.

Thrush

Candidiasis that develops in your mouth or throat is called thrush or oropharyngeal candidiasis. It can also travel down the esophagus. Breastfeeding babies are prone to thrush as are mother’s nipples. Ouchy!

Babies are also prone to yeast in the diaper area, but it’s not the same as the typical diaper rash on their bums.

Diaper rash caused by yeast is differentiated as one that appears red, raised, and patchy with sharp borders, mostly over the genitalia but with satellite spots sprinkled around the diaper area.

I remember with both of my kids, it was an especially red nasty rash that wouldn’t go away with regular diaper cream but. It cleared up beautifully when I used good ‘ol vag cream – Canestan, Monistat or generic brands. Now I just always keep on hand 🙂

Yeast Infections

Speaking of… Candidiasis in and around the lady bits is commonly referred to as a yeast infection.

Gals, this is the one that you’re most familiar with due to the intense itching, redness and sometimes a lovely aromatic discharge emanating from your hoo-ha like your own personal brewery. These are the hallmarks of this type of fungal infection. If you’ve never experienced one, I hope you never have to!

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healthy bbq tips

Healthy BBQ Tips – What’s on your ‘cue?

This post is a re-heated version of my Castanet column: When Life Gives You Lemons article on Healthy BBQ Tips.

Why do we love Summer so much? Is it the hot lazy days, the brighter skies, the time we spend outdoors running, cycling, playing tennis or engaging in our favorite watersports?

Or, could it be the food and drinks? YES, it is most certainly the FOOD and the DRINKS!

With the hot weather, we may all be wanting to take a stab at true summer eating and that, my friends, means serial barbecuing!

But keep this in mind – underestimating the number of calories we consume at our summer & weekend functions, is the main reason why we may start to see the number on the scale creep upwards.

Did you notice any weight fluctuations last summer? I know I did!! (could have been the many pitchers of margaritas though…)

I want to help you get the most bang for your nutrition buck this Summer while still enjoying it to the fullest.

Here are some healthy BBQ tips:

1) Bring a Dish and make it Light

When you’re invited to your next backyard bbq, offer to bring either part of the main dish or a side, rather than dessert or alcohol. Whatever you bring, make sure you create something you like and be sure it’s healthy. Think color, think veggies! This way, you can load up on at least one healthy option and take smaller amounts of the not-so-healthy choices that will likely be there. Pasta salad goes great with burgers and dogs, but just one cup of a typical pasta salad recipe (or worst, store-bought, gasp!) can equal more than 500 calories!

– To save calories and amp up the nutrition of the dish, use whole-grain pasta (or corn-free/gluten-free pasta if it fits the crowd) and a light homemade vinaigrette or at least a nice all-natural Italian-style bottled dressing.

– When you make coleslaw or potato salad, cut the mayo by at least half and sub in Greek yogurt, e.g. ½ real mayo & ½ greek yogurt. (See Skinny Red Skinned Tater Salad recipe below)

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weight-loss-resistance

9 Overlooked Causes of Weight Loss Resistance

What if your health and weight loss struggles really aren’t your fault?

What if by doing a few things differently, you could jump-start your weight loss today?

Weight loss resistance is the term I use to describe the common syndrome I see in people with metabolic damage who fail to lose weight while following a healthy diet or exercise program. These people may suffer from a host of troublesome symptoms including low thyroid, food intolerances, low sex drive, GI symptoms, and fatigue.

Rather than prescribing stricter diets and even more exercise, as a naturopathic doctor I recommend taking a deeper look. There could be any amount of metabolic, hormonal, or physiologic imbalances causing your body to hold onto weight and reverse metabolic damage. I’ve discovered several culprits, many that are overlooked by other doctors, which create weight loss resistance. If you’ve been working hard to lose weight but aren’t seeing the results you deserve, consider that one of these could be stalling your fat loss efforts.

Hidden Food Allergies

Hidden food allergies are the leading cause of weight loss resistance.

The most common offending foods I see are: gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, and sugar – and we all know how sugar can affect our bodies – even when consumed in a seemingly innocent fruit smoothie.

These foods can cause irritation and inflammation that keeps our immune system constantly fired up and makes us feel puffy and bloated. Once the immune system is thrown off, that sets the stage for metabolic damage, which can make weight loss impossible.

Low Thyroid

When thyroid hormone levels are low, our metabolism slows down and weight loss stops. Our thyroid can be negatively impacted by many factors including high cortisol, selenium, iron, or zinc deficiency, toxins, and food allergies.

If you suspect a thyroid problem, make sure to get your TSH, free T3 and T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies tested, to make sure they are in optimal range. The most common thyroid condition I see in my office is Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, which is the autoimmune form of low thyroid.

Hormone Resistance

The top three hormonal causes of weight loss resistance are:

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smoothies-weight-gain

Smoothies & Weight Gain

Is there really a correlation between smoothies & weight gain?

The short answer is YES there is! And the long answer is NO, not really.

Let me smooth it all out for you, give you the blended findings and get to the bottom of the glass. Wah, wah. (I know, I’m rolling my own eyes right now.)

The main reasons why smoothies might be causing you to gain weight:

(or at least not allowing you to release weight as you were hoping)

  • Too much sugar (fructose specifically) + too many dense “superfood” ingredients = CALORIE BOMB and UNSTABLE BLOOD SUGARS.
  • Cold, raw foods + we don’t chew our smoothies (but we should) = TOO LITTLE METABOLIC/DIGESTIVE “FIRE”/IMPROPER DIGESTION
  • Potential for DECREASED SATIETY (= LESS SATISFIED) from blended whole foods, as compared to eating the same foods solid.

Yikes! This isn’t mixing up a pretty picture about smoothies so far. But don’t fret fellow Smoothistas, I won’t totally poop on your purée throughout this whole post! Just be sure to read to the end 😉

By the way, our discussion here is about homemade smoothies – not the commercially-prepared varieties because as most of you know, they’re typically comprised of a high proportion of sugary juices/fruit concentrates, frozen yogurt and other cheap fillers.

I should know! I owned a smoothie bar in a local women’s gym, and health-conscious gym-goers would actually avoid buying smoothies from me because of their previous experiences with commercially-made blended drinks. It was hard for them to trust the fact that I was a knowledgeable Nutritionist with their best interests at heart, and would only have prepared the healthiest possible post-workout recovery snack for them. Even my infamous Wonder Woman Smoothie! But I digress.

The “YES, THEY CAN CAUSE WEIGHT GAIN” Part

The most notable flaw of a typical fruit-based smoothie is…SUGAR!

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