Is the Grass Really Greener? A Post on Being Unsure.

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Being unsure. It’s a very common feeling, right? Unsure of what pants to put on, in the morning. Unsure of what to buy for dinner. Unsure of what to do this weekend.

Being unsure is so common, but what about larger aspects of the feeling? Unsure about career. Unsure about relationships. Unsure about the present… and/or the future.

So often, we find ourselves overstimulated with opportunities, we question whether or not the grass is actually greener, on the other side; we become unsure.

Remember when you were in high school, and you were SO excited to graduate?

Or when you were in college, SO ready to get out into the real world?

What about being in the real world, ready for your next career move?

New house? New car? Vacation? Partner? Heck, even something as simple as anticipating the weekend, we’ve gotten into a habit of always anticipating the next best thing.

I’ve created a short list to remember, when you find yourself fantasizing about what you don’t have.

When you’re unsure, remember:

  • Each person’s successes always look better on paper (or on social media).

  • Your passions. What makes you happy, builds you up, brings you joy? Just because that passion might not provide you with as much money, your joy equates for more than gold. *Seriously. We all can’t be engineers!

  • We all have moments of panic, devastation and extreme-depression. The sad truth is that these moments aren’t talked about as much as the bouts of joy, so we don’t think they’re normal.

  • Even if you did forge forward (to “greener grass”), how would you feel once there? Would it really be all that better?

  • Thoughts vs reality. Sometimes, we can get too tied up in our thoughts that we forget about the GOOD things we DO have.

  • Life is all about experiences. More often than not, those experiences will be uncomfortable; that’s to help you grow. Trust me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that if having things turn out the way you wanted them to is a measure of a successful life, then some would say I’m a failure. The important thing is not to be bitter over life’s disappointments. Learn to let go of the past. And recognize that every day won’t be sunny, and when you find yourself lost in the darkness and despair, remember it’s only in the black of night you see the stars. And those stars will lead you back home. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to stumble and fall, cause most of the time, the greatest rewards come from doing the things that scare you the most. Maybe you’ll get everything you wish for. Maybe you’ll get more than you ever could have imagined. Who knows where life will take you. The road is long and in the end, the journey is the destination.

— Coach Whitey Durham (One Tree Hill)

It’s easy to get caught up in what’s not happening and forget about what is. I’ve been guilty of that, lately. Sometimes, it’s important to focus on how you can water your own grass, before thinking about moving onto what might be greener.

xoxo,

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Your Libido And You (Figuring Out Why It Left, And How To Get It Back): PART TWO

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Last week, we started our discussion on libido and low sex-drive; taking a look at WHY it left us, in the first place. Today’s post is more-exciting; we’re going to talk about action to take, in order to get it back! And you know, that requires a little homework! *insert winky face

**Low libido affects many people (especially women), and in different scenarios: maybe your sex life is put on the back-burner, when life gets hectic and stressful. Maybe sex suddenly goes from a previously-enjoyed activity, to something you no longer look forward to, or even enjoy. Maybe you no longer feel like you have the time for sex, because of schedules, or kids.

REGARDLESS, low libido is something MANY people struggle with, at some point in their life, and unfortunately, instead of openly talking about the WHY, we’re pushed to feel as if this topic is too-taboo to discuss.

Remember learning about the My Q-Life “Essentials”?! True health is about so much more than what we eat and how we exercise; and sex is a fundamental piece of ourselves. When our sexuality goes unnourished, it can further impact our stress levels and result in an essential-deficiency, a primary foods deficiency.


A lackluster sex drive doesn’t have to be a forever problem! In fact, there are many ways mens and women can get their “sexy back”, feeling desirable, and wanting to be desired, again.

Below, I’ll discuss six ways to improve your low libido:

self-pleasure

I remember the first time I learned of what, exactly, masturbation was. It was on a three-way phone call, with two of my male best friends. We were around 12. lol

Unfortunately, in our society, masturbation is still treated as a taboo topic; something that you giggle about, with your friends, on the phone, when you’re a teenager.

However, it’s actually a vital aspect for re-energizing low libido because it increases the physical and emotional connection we have with ourselves. This can increase confidence, and allow us to feel more comfortable in our own body. When we take the time to learn what, exactly, our body needs to feel pleasure, it becomes easier to express our needs to a partner, and get those needs met.

Self-pleasure can also be a wonderful self-care practice, so don’t hesitate to experiment with different types and tools of self-pleasure, paying attention to what feels best for you.

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SLEEP. IT’S IMPORTANT.

You know the ever-popular, “Not now. I’m tired.”?! Yeah, relatable for literally everyone. Most everyone isn’t getting enough sleep, these days, however, rest is essential for maintaining libido. A chronically stressed, tired body will not want to participate in sexy behaviors. Period.

Our bedrooms should be a sanctuary for sleep and sex, only. Leave the bright lights, and electronics, out! Here are a few tips on creating your own bedroom sanctuary:

  • Beautiful, comfortable bedding (maybe eco-friendly, and organic like Coyuchi and Buffy)

  • Removing TVs, computers and anything else that emits light, even phones

  • An excellent mattress (preferably one made with natural materials)

  • Lights with a dimmer option

  • Diffusing essential oils, like lavender, for sleep and ylang ylang and neroli for their aphrodisiac properties

  • Candles because they’re magical and sexy and can totally set the mood. Just be careful!

Aphrodisiac Foods

Aphrodisiac foods are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help decrease inflammation, improve vascular tone and balance hormones.

  • Almonds (and other tree nuts), like Brazil and pine nuts, contain zinc and selenium, which help to reduce inflammation and improve circulation, boosting sex drive and fertility. Plus, they help increase energy, which can help keep you going! *Winky face

  • Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, B vitamins and antioxidants. This mineral is essential to the production of sex hormones. Antioxidants and B vitamins help keep the body free from inflammation, and improve circulation.

  • Figs contain magnesium, as well. They have an amino acid that increases the production of nitric oxide, which is important for expanding blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the genitals, to help with arousal.

  • Oysters have always been known for increasing libido because they are rich in zinc, which is necessary for testosterone-production. They also contain two, rare, amino acids: D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate, which increase sex hormone production.

  • Pomegranates improve sex drive and mood, in men and women, by raising testosterone. They’re loaded with antioxidants that improve blood circulation, which contributes to keeping sex organs healthy, as well as lubrication. *Bonus: pomegranates can impact sperm quality, too!

**These foods are especially-wonderful to consume during the Ovulation-Phase, of our cycle. I’ll be discussing Cycle-Syncing more, in future posts.

Stress

Stress has a way of affecting everything, doesn’t it? And it’s no different with libido, as stress kills libido physically, emotionally and psychologically. Some natural ways to mitigate the effects of stress include:

  • mindfulness

  • masturbation

  • meditation

  • gentle yoga

  • journaling

  • earthing (standing in the grass with bare feet)

Aside from working on stress management practices, it’s important to take steps to combat stress, in your body, by working with a health coach, or healthcare provider, to balance hormones, decrease inflammation and improve your gut health. Finding balance in the body is the best defense against life’s stressors. Eliminating physical stress will help your physical desire, as well.

Self/Body-Love

Women, especially, will readily point out at least a few things they don’t like about their bodies, including their lady parts. These criticisms can really interfere with feeling sexy. There are quite a few ways women can treat their bodies like someone she loves:

  • Smooth body lotion on, sensually

  • Choose beautiful, flattering clothes you feel good in

  • Practice self-talk, in the mirror

  • Lay in bed and caress your body

  • Get a hand mirror (or look in the mirror) and become familiar with your lady parts

Practice Mindfulness During Foreplay

Does anyone remember the scene in the Sex & the City movie, when Miranda and Steve are having sex, and Miranda goes, “Let’s just get it over with!”?!

Too often, during sex (and intimacy), we’re thinking about unfinished work, which prevents the ability to really get into the mood, and 100% enjoy sex. Mindfulness, especially during foreplay, can really help women and men hone in on their pleasure, throughout the entire experience. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Instead of saying, “I’m not in the mood”, say, “Ask me again in 15 minutes”, and go into the bedroom. Then, take a few deep breaths, or do a quick meditation, and imagine how much fun you’ll have with your partner.

  • Self-awareness during foreplay and sex. Instead of thinking of all of the unfinished business, outside of the bedroom, think of all the unfinished business, inside. Be present to the fact that you’re there, in bed, kissing your partner.

  • If orgasm is an issue, don’t work toward achieving an orgasm. Focus on how great you felt the last time you had an amazing sexual experience, and challenge yourself to enjoy the feelings of pleasure and intimacy.

An important announcement: QUICKIES AREN’T GREAT, FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN TIME!

I know we’ve probably all experienced a situation where our partner (or maybe even ourselves) has suggested having a “quickie”. Yeah, yeah… maybe it SOUNDS hot, but let’s be honest: quickies, rarely (if ever) allow for women to get aroused. And this tends to become all about man, because they get off, and women are left feeling less than great. In any “quickie situation”, always make sure your partner’s needs are met, too!


Birth control

A popular comment I’ve gotten, a lot, recently, has to do with low libido while being on (or recently going off) hormonal birth control.

Remember: Oral contraceptives are very well known for lowering levels of natural sex hormones. They’re creating SYNTHETIC hormones. NOT REAL hormones. Birth control pills are the leading cause of estrogen dominance, in women, since they contain a synthetic form of estrogen that keeps the body from producing its own.

Birth control also increases sex hormone binding globulin, which binds to testosterone, making it inactive and unavailable for use.

What’s even more interesting? SHBG levels may not drop down to normal, after birth control is stopped. They can remain high for six months, and even longer, which results in a significant effect on women’s libido.

I recommend taking a look at my “Naturally Regulating Your Hormones” Ebook, and trying my Estrogen-Detox Green Smoothie, to rid your body of excess-estrogen, and find hormone-harmony more-quickly.


Maybe you found yourself blushing while reading this post. Maybe you think I’m off my rocker for even posting it. But if I’m being 100% honest, low libido is something that affects more people than we know; it’s affected me, and I bet it’s affected you. Instead of holing up, worrying about what someone else will think if we bring it up, TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR BODY! Being sexual is okay!

So instead of telling yourself that your days of being “in the mood” are past you, try some of these best practices, and/or reach out! Sexuality is just another “Essential” that we owe our bodies and ourselves to value.

xoxo,

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Your Libido and You (Figuring Out Why it Left, and How to Get it Back): Part One

Today, I’m wanting to discuss a topic that many people keep to themselves - an extremely-distressing topic, to both men and women: libido, and low sex drive. For today’s post, I’m discussing the reasons we experience low libido; it’s firstly important to realize what got us to the point, so we can determine what plan of action to take.

Low libido affects many people (especially women), and in different scenarios: maybe your sex life is put on the back-burner, when life gets hectic and stressful. Maybe sex suddenly goes from a previously-enjoyed activity, to something you no longer look forward to, or even enjoy. Maybe you no longer feel like you have the time for sex, because of schedules, or kids.

REGARDLESS, low libido is something MANY people struggle with, at some point in their life, and unfortunately, instead of openly talking about the WHY, we’re pushed to feel as if this topic is too-taboo to discuss.

Remember learning about the My Q-Life “Essentials”?! True health is about so much more than what we eat and how we exercise; and sex is a fundamental piece of ourselves. When our sexuality goes unnourished, it can further impact our stress levels and result in an essential-deficiency, a primary foods deficiency.


Low Libido

Low sex drive, or lack of desire for sex is much more complicated than just “being tired”. I think it’s easy, at first, for exhaustion to be the excuse, but usually, low sex drive is much more complex than that.

Symptoms of low libido can include:

  • inability to get, or stay sexually-aroused

  • lack of sexual thoughts or fantasies

  • lack of desire to have sex, including masturbation

  • distress due to lack of sexual thoughts, or desires

  • relationship strain, with a partner, due to lack of sexual thoughts, or desires

Sex Hormones

First, let’s talk sex hormones and their effect on libido.

Testosterone

Testosterone is necessary for a normal sex drive, in both men and women. Testosterone increases libido; it enlarges the clitoris, in women, and typically, women with low-testosterone report decreased sex drive.

Too little testosterone can cause low libido, but too much can also cause low libido, as well as difficulty having an orgasm. Balance, right?! It’s a difficult concept! High testosterone has been associated with aggressiveness and anger, which can interfere with sexual pleasure, and cause problems outside of the bedroom, as well. I once read that high testosterone levels can create a tendency to prefer masturbation over intercourse.

Estrogen

Estrogen doesn’t directly impact sexual desire, but it assists in helping keep things lubricated and elastic. Did you know that without estrogen, clitoral stimulation has almost zero effect? However, too much estrogen can block testosterone production, so balance here is essential, as well!

*Estrogen dominance is a leading cause of low sex drive, and this is something I’ve been overcoming, over the past few months. More on this to come!

Progesterone

Progesterone is the calming, feel-good sex hormone. It promotes relaxation and happiness. The amount of progesterone you have in your body determines the balance of the other hormones, so healthy levels of progesterone are important for a variety of reasons, in men and women.

Too little can impact sleep, mindfulness, mood and sexual desire.

“Feel-good” Hormone

Oxytocin

Oxytocin is released in men and women, during sex and orgasm. It’s been shown to help decrease cortisol levels, and contributes to a sense of overall well-being. Feeling stressed out?! Have an orgasm! Seriously!

*It’s been shown that women with low oxytocin levels are more likely to have postpartum depression, so it’s important for new mamas to find a way to find time for regular pleasure and intimacy!


So, what exactly causes low libido? Below, I’m discussing eight different reasons for low libido.

stress

I know you all can relate: Often, when we’re feeling stressed (or like we don’t have time), sex is one of the first things to go. Typically, this is because sex is so emotional, for women, especially. Aside from sex moving lower on the priority-list, chronic stress can continue to exacerbate the issue because the more stress we put on ourselves, the more our body overproduces cortisol, which interferes with the sex hormones.

feeling self-conscious

Poor body image can make sex feel difficult - creating feelings of discomfort and shame, instead of pleasure. Regardless of the specific reasoning, feeling self-conscious during sex can take a person out of the moment, and create a barrier that prevents them from being able to relax and enjoy. .

In addition to body image issues, excess weight can actually have real effects on a person’s libido. Higher body fat can cause increased estrogen, which can decrease testosterone-production. Remember, estrogen dominance and low testosterone, both, can cause low sex drive.

How are you feeling about your body? Remember, as a holistic health coach, I specialize in helping people feel amazing in their bodies, physically and mentally. Reach out if you want to work together.

inflammation

Inflammation can cause the body to overproduce cortisol, which again affects the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This can result in low libido.

When our system is inflamed, it causes our bodies to put more emphasis on healing instead of reproduction - they’re always looking out for us!

Inflammation can also cause leaky gut, and this can have toxic effects on our brains, causing fatigue, brain fog and decreased sex drive. Sex hormones have a protective effect on our nervous system, so when we’re feeling stressed, the nervous system is vulnerable. It’s all related!

Fat… Yeah, it’s essential

I want you to remember what I’m about to say… It’s important to have enough body fat and dietary fat to feel sexy, and keep your juices flowing! Did you hear that?! HAVING FAT IS GOOD!

When our bodies fear starvation, which can happen when we experience significant body fat loss, a diet too-low in fat (or even over-exercising) results in a body that’s not in the mood for sex. Instead, it’s holding onto energy to keep it alive. That makes sense, right? Again, our bod is trying to look after us! Sex hormone production decreases once body fat levels are below about 15%, in women.

Have you ever struggled with losing your period, from over-exercise, or weight-loss? This is because there isn’t enough body fat to produce adequate amounts of sex hormones.

birth control pills

Oral contraceptives are very well known for lowering levels of natural sex hormones. Remember, they’re creating SYNTHETIC hormones. NOT REAL hormones. Birth control pills are the leading cause of estrogen dominance, in women, since they contain a synthetic form of estrogen that keeps the body from producing its own.

Birth control also increases sex hormone binding globulin, which binds to testosterone, making it inactive and unavailable for use.

What’s even more interesting? SHBG levels may not drop down to normal, after birth control is stopped. They can remain high for six months, and even longer, which results in a significant effect on women’s libido.

Medications

There are quite a few medications that lower libido and decrease the ability to achieve orgasm. These can include: antidepressants, marijuana, anti-seizure drugs, opioids, blood pressure meds and anti-anxiety medications.

My job is never to tell you what you should or should not be on; that’s up to you and your doctor. However, it’s important to know your body and what might be affecting it.

Medical conditions

There are certain medical conditions that prevent individuals from enjoying sex:

  • Depression can lower libido. When a person is simply not-interested in anything, that includes sexual activity. And like mentioned earlier, if anti-depressants are started, that can further inhibit sex drive and ability to achieve orgasm.

  • PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is associated with high levels of testosterone. For some women, this can be good (like mentioned earlier)! However, many other women with PCOS report difficulty achieving arousal and orgasm. PCOS can cause weight-gain, acne, irregular periods and increased body hair, which can affect sex drive, as well. *I work with women to naturally-aid PCOS.

  • Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease where inflammation levels are elevated. This interferes with production of sex hormones (like mentioned earlier). In addition, T3 is needed by the ovaries, to keep them functioning, and having low levels of T3 (like in Hypothyroidism), affect production of sex hormones.

  • Diabetes can affect nerves of the vulva, decreasing sensation and diminishing the ability to lubricate and have an orgasm. It can affect erections and ejaculation in men. As well, high blood sugar levels can also cause brain fog, fatigue and decreased testosterone.

  • Vascular disease happens when there’s inflammation and decreased circulation in the blood vessels, and greatly diminishes libido. Inflammation and narrowing of the small vessels has a great effect on clitoral response and vaginal lubrication, and erections in men. It’s said that erectile dysfunction is often an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease!

Low estrogen

As women approach menopause, sex hormones naturally-decline, which can also cause a decrease in sexual desire. Just like having too much estrogen can affect sex drive, having too little can, too. Low estrogen is associated with decreased clitoral sensitivity, vaginal dryness, less blood flow to the vagina and difficulty achieving orgasm. Other than menopause, low estrogen can be caused by premature ovarian failure, chemotherapy, ovarian surgery, chronic kidney disease and being underweight.


How are you feeling? Maybe coming to some ideas on what’s causing your less-than excited outlook on sex? Good!

Next week, I’ll be posting ways to naturally boost your sex drive. So use this week to really take awareness: how often do you feel aroused? How’s your body feeling? Your stress levels?

Please reach out if you have any questions before-hand! Remember, this is the stuff I specialize in! I’m here to help!

xoxo,

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Estrogen-Detox Green Smoothie

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For those of you who have been tuning into my life, over the last year, you know that I’ve dealt with painful periods and acne. Believe me when I say: I’ve. Tried. Everything. I realize acne is caused by an unhealthy gut, but I thought my gut was healthy! Not until recently, was I made aware of the ever-present facts: my thyroid needed help, my gut was off and my hormones were imbalanced (I was high in estrogen, especially).

Estrogen-Dominance

Estrogen-dominance happens when there is too much estrogen, in relation to progesterone, mainly in your luteal phase (the phase before your period and after ovulation). It is the most common hormonal imbalance in women.

Have you ever felt really lousy in the days/weeks leading up to your period? Chances are, it’s because of estrogen excess, which is the number one cause of numerous PMS symptoms. Since it fluctuates the entire month, it’s not considered “bad”, by any means. Estrogen is essential for healthy ovulation and menstruation, but finding balance can be tricky! Estrogen doesn’t directly impact sexual desire, but it assists in helping keep things lubricated and elastic. Did you know that without estrogen, clitoral stimulation has almost zero effect? Having too much estrogen can block testosterone production.

In your follicular phase (the phase after your period), it’s normal to have more estrogen than progesterone. Our follicles are maturing and the ovaries are producing estrogen to help prepare our uterine lining (for the potential to become fertilized). The tricky time comes after ovulation, when progesterone should be higher than estrogen.

Remember: Reproductive health (and fertility and libido, etc) is about so much more than just making babies. It affects your overall wellness (mind and body). Our bodies NEED estrogen to create healthy follicles, which we need in order to ovulate, which is how the corpus luteum is formed, which is the only way our bodies can make progesterone, which is the only way we can ensure that two week after ovulation, we’ll have a REAL period. Whew! Each part is SO connected and reliant on the other!

Estrogen is an essential component of our hormone health. It makes our skin plump and gives it a glow. It slows the aging process and builds bone and muscle. It helps raise libido (and assists in clitoral-stimulation, like mentioned earlier) and boosts serotonin. However, we don’t want too much of it. Long-term estrogen excess (over years and decades) can increase our risk of breast cancer, fibroids and lack of ovulation, which can lead to PCOS and infertility.

Symptoms of estrogen-dominance

Typically, any PMS symptoms are due to excess estrogen, however, having too much estrogen can cause many other not-so-great symptoms. Symptoms of Estrogen-Dominance include:

  • Headaches/Migraines

  • Bloating and water retention

  • Weight gain in hips, butt and thighs (estrogen stimulates fat cells to store more fat)

  • Fibroids

  • Endometriosis

  • Ovarian cysts

  • Acne

  • Oily skin and hair

  • Breast tenderness and pain, fibrocystic breasts

  • Mood swings

  • Hair loss

  • Heavy periods

  • Irregular periods

  • Painful cramping

Why Estrogen-Dominance Happens

Unfortunately, in today’s society, we’re exposed so many chemicals, on a daily basis. Chemicals in our household cleaning products, personal care products, our food and even the air we breathe. It’s a scary thought, and no one person can prevent complete chemical-exposure, however, it’s important to be aware because these chemicals can make it very difficult for your hormones to be happy and healthy, functioning properly. Estrogen-Dominance happens from:

  • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (personal care and household cleaning products)

  • Environmental Toxin Exposure (pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in animal products)

  • Stress (emotional, physical, mental, work-related, etc.)

  • Poor diet (inflammatory, processed foods, refined sugar)

  • Excessive plastic usage (water bottles, packaged foods, BPA-laden cans, cooking in teflon pans)

How to Treat Estrogen-Dominance

Luckily enough, there are opportunities to treat estrogen excess:

  • Detox and love on your liver, especially with fiber-rich foods (shoot for 25 grams), as well as liver-supporting nutrients (sulfur-rich foods, vitamin C and cruciferous veggies)

  • Nourish and treat your microbiome (eliminate inflammatory, processed foods and foods you’re sensitive to, buy organic produce as often as you can, eat sauerkraut, kimchi and other probiotic-rich foods, as well as consume a high-quality probiotic supplement, and digestive enzyme

  • Remove endocrine-disrupting chemicals from your products (cleaning and beauty) and switch to products that are actually natural (“natural” on a label doesn’t necessarily mean it’s natural). Use the “Think Dirty” app, or the EWG Skin Deep database to check products.

  • Stress less, seriously. Find different outlets to manage stress and reduce cortisol (exercise, meditation, mindfulness, gratitude, relaxation, sleep, etc).

  • Speaking of… 7-8 hour of high-quality sleep, a night!

  • Drink my Estrogen-Detox Green Smoothie (recipe below)!


Estrogen-Detox Green Smoothie

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Ingredients

  • 1 small head romaine

  • 2 cups spinach

  • 1 cucumber (peeled)

  • handful cilantro

  • 4 stalks celery

  • 2 TBSP lemon juice

  • 2 TBSP flaxseed

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 tsp fresh ginger

  • 1/2 cup fruit of choice (my favorite is mango or apple)

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until fully-processed. Since this is a lot, usually I add in a few ingredients at a time, blend, and make room for the rest. Usually, this makes 32 oz, which can be used for multiple days. Just store, tightly, with lid, in fridge, for up to five days.


xoxo,

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Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

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I get a lot of questions about collagen, its benefits and why I take it. It’s true: collagen has become very popular, in the last couple of years, and for good reason!

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, and plays a big part in all of our connective tissues. It promotes healthier hair, skin and nails, supports bone and joint health, provides healing for our intestinal wall, improves quality of sleep and supports a healthy inflammatory response.

After bone and muscle growth peak (around age 20), collagen-production begins to decrease. It is because of this constant decrease that supplementation is important!

Skin

Over 70% of our skin is made up of collagen, and without it (and as it continues to decrease), our skin loses elasticity and firmness, and begins to create sagging skin and fine lines. Amino acids in collagen (like glycine) can assist in hydration and elasticity improvements, reducing wrinkles and dehydration.

Vital Proteins Recommendation: Beauty Collagen. VP’s Beauty Collagen’s come in different flavors (Strawberry Lemon is my fave), and contain even more essential beautifying essentials, like hyaluronic acid (which adds more hydration to the skin), as well as probiotics.

Joints & Bones

Collagen helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage, which protects your joints. Since our collagen-production decreases, as we age, we’re more at risk of developing degenerative joint and bone disorders, such as osteoarthritis. Taking collagen, regularly, can help improve osteoarthritis symptoms, as well as bone & joint pain, in general.

One study took 73 athletes, who consumed 10 grams of collagen, daily, for 24 weeks. They experienced a significant decrease in joint pain, while walking, and at rest, compared to a group that did not take it (source).

Since collagen helps to lower inflammation, this can help support join pain, as well.

Vital Proteins Recommendation: Bone Collagen supplements, which contain supplements that help boost healthy bones. Also Cartilage Collagen, which contains Type II Collagen Peptides and Glycosaminoglycans, including naturally occurring Chondroitin Sulfate.

Muscles

Collagen is also essential for keeping your muscles strong and functioning properly.

Studies suggest that collagen supplements help boost muscle mass in people with sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that happens with age (source).

In one study, 27 frail men took 15 grams of collagen while participating in an exercise program daily for 12 weeks. Compared to men who exercised but did not take collagen, they gained significantly more muscle mass and strength (source).

Vital Proteins Recommendation: Collagen Peptides is the VP “tried and true” supplement, and it’s wonderful!

Gut

The gut is populated by billions of bacteria, which are essential for nutrient transfer. When foods pass through our digestive tract, molecules that form nutrients transfer into our bloodstreams, through the barrier of the gut lining. The barrier is designed to allow healthy nutrients to pass through, but often, sensitivities, like gluten or dairy, can cause larger gaps, which allow more than just nutrients to get out… and back in. “Leaky gut” causes a myriad of health issues, which is due to the body attacking those intruders, which leads to digestive problems, fatigue, sluggishness and skin issues.

Because collagen is a primarily component of the cells that line the gut, it’s a fantastic ingredient for supporting the digestive system.

Glycine and glutamine, another amino acid in collagen, are beneficial for promoting digestion and even supporting a healthy gut barrier.

Vital Proteins Recommendation: Beef Gelatin, which only dissolves in hot liquid, works like a gel, helping to heal the digestive tract. A wonderful way to focus on gut-healing.

What you can do

Aside from supplementing with collagen, there are a few things you can do to help slow down the collagen breakdown: Limiting as many damaging environment factors, like cigarette smoke and consuming alcohol) can help prevent further loss of collagen already present in your body.

Consuming proper nutrients, in your diet, such as Vitamin C, which is required for collagen-production. Consuming lots of nutrient-dense foods will be beneficial!

Daily usage

I’ve been using Vital Proteins products, for the past two years, daily. I love Vital Proteins because it’s free of any additional fillers or additives, and provides convenience (dissolving easily). I like to add it into smoothies, hot beverages, baked goods, etc. Collagen works best when blended with your liquid of choice, leaving it frothy with lighter consistency.

Supplement Facts for Collagen Peptides.

Supplement Facts for Collagen Peptides.

My routine

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I start each morning with a warm cup of lemon water, with an added scoop of gelatin. Gelatin is the only VP product that doesn’t dissolve in cold water, or baked goods; it’s essential to dissolve in warm/hot water.

Then, as the day progresses, I usually add in one more scoop of another VP product - usually the Collagen Peptides into my Chocolate Avocado Pudding, Dairy Free Lattes or Smoothies.

VP just came out with their new Collagen Waters, which is like a healthy Gatorade - perfect for after a sweaty workout class!

Whenever I’m baking, I always make sure to add in a scoop (or two) of peptides, as well!

*** The gelatin and collagen peptides are completely tasteless and odorless, which is SO amazing for adding it into anything and everything!

Collagen Sources

VP Collagen Peptides are sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine hides from Brazil. They also have a Marine Collagen (vegetarian-friendly), which is sourced from wild-caught, non-GMO Red Snapper off the coast of Hawaii. Collagen is not vegan! Their Spirulina and Beauty Boost supplements are, however, vegan!


I really do recommend supplementing your diet with collagen, in order to make up for the regression of collagen in the body. It’s a wonderful source of easily-digested protein, that’s very convenient (because it literally has no flavor)!

xoxo,

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Natural Teeth-Whitening

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I’ve gotten a ton of questions, recently, about what I do to keep my teeth so white. And today, I wanted to share a post on the more-natural approaches I’ve been keeping up with, in order to keep my pearly whites white!

Back then…

Four years ago, I had begun to notice how lack-luster my teeth were. I was drinking a lot of coffee, tea and wine and up until recently, had just been brushing twice a day with a run-of-the-mill Crest or Colgate brand of toothpaste. I always enjoyed going to the dentist, because my teeth were in “excellent condition” - never had a cavity (and knock on wood, I never will)! But they weren’t white. This was around the time I was starting to take control over my health, and had just started eating more REAL food.

My dentist, at the time (Cody Olson at Northpark Family Dentistry), recommended a newer whitening method he had recently heard of, and figured I could be the guinea pig. Why not!? Kor Whitening, which was a refrigerated, peroxide gel that helped achieve “optimum whitening results” by providing a fully potent, chemically-influenced product. Typical whitening gels don’t do much because they are rapidly-contaminated by saliva; only active for 25-35 minutes. According to Kor’s website, “All peroxide gels work by forming hydrogen peroxide as their end product. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down to water, oxygen, and numerous radicals and byproducts known as “bleaching factors” that lighten teeth. Optimum whitening results are achieved only when these whitening gels are: fully potent; chemically influenced to produce a high percentage of free radicals (instead of simply oxygen and water); and are allowed extended time for these factors to diffuse thoroughly into the microstructure of teeth.”

I soon began my “whitening routine”, which consisted of me going to the dentist twice a week (for a couple of months), for a ‘professional round’ of tray bleaching, and then I would bleach, with the tray, at home, each night. I began to notice results very quickly, however, my teeth began to become SEVELY-SENSITIVE! At one point, I remember feeling like my gums were going to burn off, when I was doing one of the last in-office rounds. Beauty is pain, right?! haha kidding.

Lo and behold, the product worked, though! Almost instantly, I was feeling more confident every time I smiled. I left with a few extra syringes of refrigerated product for my trays, and I’d use that occasionally.

Before teeth-whitening.

Before teeth-whitening.

After teeth-whitening.

After teeth-whitening.

A More Natural approach

Photo taken two weeks ago - three years since using Kor.

Photo taken two weeks ago - three years since using Kor.

As the years continued, I was able to keep up with the white teeth, pretty well. However, a lot of that I contribute to my more-natural lifestyle. Unlike back in the day, I’m now very hesitant to put harmful chemicals anywhere near my body, and prefer to find the “safer route”. I no longer use run-of-the-mill products like Crest or Colgate - continuing to find products that are free of chemicals like fluoride, which can actually affect the liver and thyroid.

More natural approaches have been more reasonable, as well as safer for me (mind and body).

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which reduces inflammation and kills bacteria. According to a traditional Indian Folk remedy called “Oil Pulling”, individuals swish around oil, in their mouths, as a way to remove bacteria, which can cause your teeth to look yellow. You can oil pull with many other oils, but coconut is popular because of its taste, as well as other health-benefits.

I’ve tried oil-pulling, and do notice a difference when I do, however (for me), it’s difficult to keep up with. To get the most benefit, you’re supposed to swish around for 15-25 minutes, and then spit out into a trash can (because the oil hardening can clog pipes). Instead of oil-pulling, I’ve found a few other ways to utilize coconut oil.

I learned from Rachael’s Good Eats that mixing coconut oil, with turmeric (yep, you heard that right… GOLDEN TURMERIC THAT STAINS EVERYTHING IT COMES IN CONTACT WITH) helps whiten teeth, and I’ve found this to be true, as well. Every so often, I’ll take a small bowl, pre-mixed with coconut oil and turmeric, and brush all over my teeth (with a cruddy toothbrush meant only for this). I let the mixture sit on my teeth for 5ish minutes, and then brush out with my toothpaste. Ironically, turmeric stains everything but teeth; it helps whiten those.

Since coconut oil is so good for the mouth (and body), I’ve started eating a tablespoon of it, daily. Sometimes, by itself, sometimes, with a warm drink.

Apple cider vinegar

ACV has been used for centuries, as a natural cleaning product, and disinfectant.

Acetic acid, which is the main active ingredient in apple cider vinegar, effectively kills bacteria. The antibacterial property of vinegar is what makes it useful for cleaning your mouth and whitening your teeth (SourceSourceSource).

One study performed on cow teeth found that apple cider vinegar does have a bleaching effect on teeth. However, they also found that vinegar may soften the teeth (Source).

I used to consume ACV, daily, as soon as I woke up. I stopped a few months ago, and haven’t noticed any difference, so have kept it out of my routine, for now. However, when I would drink, I would mix a tablespoon of it with water, and then drink with a straw (to not erode enamel).

I don’t recommend using ACV daily, for teeth-whitening.

REAL food

Fruits and veggies can help rub plaque away, while you chew, and the malic acid, found in strawberries, can help remove discoloration. I’ve heard of celebs who mixing strawberry with baking soda, and then “buffing” away stains, however, I have yet to try this. Pineapple contains bromelain, which has been shown to remove tooth stains, as well.

I always like to think of tooth health similar to health of the rest of our body: filling it up with good, REAL food, is going to benefit more than filling it up with processed stuff. Limiting consumption of coffee, wine and soda will help too, and thinking about using a straw when consuming.

Sugar intake is another place to check out, when looking to naturally-whiten your teeth. A diet high in sugar supports growth of Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which causes plaque and gingivitis (Source).

When you do consume a sugary food, brush your teeth soon after you eat.

Some tooth discoloration is caused by enamel eroding away and exposing the dentin underneath, which is yellow in color. Therefore, anything you do to strengthen the enamel of your teeth will help keep your teeth pearly white.

Calcium-rich foods, such as milk, cheese and broccoli, may help protect your teeth from enamel erosion.

products

This is probably the most-sought after topic: what products are best to use?! Instead of typing up a long list of ingredients to avoid, I’m going to share this helpful article, along with this point: what you’re using to brush your teeth with is just as important as what you decide to fill your body up with, and put on your body. Make sure it’s not filled with harmful chemicals!

Currently, I use Himalaya toothpaste and love it! The taste is minty, and I’m always left with a very-clean feeling, after brushing. Lumineux is also a new brand of natural, teeth-whitening strips, which I haven’t used, yet, but see for sale at my local co-op. They’re sold on Thrive Market, if you’re interested (get 25% off your first order).


Honestly, aside from my toothpaste (and daily floss-picking), I don’t do much else to keep my teeth white. I really believe that in taking good care of my body in other ways, my teeth follow-suit.

Have you tried any other natural remedies? Let me know, or let me know when you try one of these!

xoxo,

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A Woman in a Man's, Corporate World...

Teetering between personal and professional-life.

Teetering between personal and professional-life.

Ladies, I know we all can relate to situations where our partner says something that makes us angry, depressed, confused and sad (and maybe all at the same time). It’s true, nobody’s perfect and these comments usually don’t come from places of hurt, but regardless, they can get under our skin. Today’s post is dedicated to one of those situations I experienced, last night, and the reminder (that I had) of the constant struggle women deal with, personally and professionally.


Ironically, last night (on our way home from the movie), I told Ryan I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about, today. Once we got home, we were talking about the wedding I officiated, recently, and the pilates classes I had just taught. He told me he was proud of me (which was really nice to hear). But following that comment, he rambled off something about how it would just take time for me to become “established” in my career, and that if I wanted to go back to working a corporate job (and making as much money as he did), I’d be able to do it; it’d just take a lot of more work.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore my boyfriend. He’s my best friend, and loves me, with his entire heart; I know this.

What hurt were the comments, in themselves. “If you want to make as much money as me”. “If you wanted to go back to working a REAL, corporate job.” “You’ve got the education to do it.” “You’re good at anything you do… you’ve just got to become more-established.” For a woman, this is painful to hear! But unfortunately, it’s something we hear far, too often (and usually, from our own minds, as well).

Women work hard!

We do work hard, don’t we?! But the unfortunate thing is, often, it goes unnoticed. We’re expected to pick up the pieces (and the laundry, the dishes, the chaos), while usually juggling a full-time job, and maybe a side-gig (that brings us more joy than the full-time job does). But to so many, when that full-time job doesn’t bring in as much dough, or has as much status, it’s NOT as glamorous, not as respected, not as “good”.

Women Want to Be Independent

This is something I’ve been struggling with, internally, for a long time. I’m capable of doing things on my own; I’m capable of making my own decisions. However, for the majority of my life (up until very recently), I’m not capable of balancing it all, financially. And for any man who might be reading this, THIS IS A HARD PILL TO SWALLOW, for your woman! Sure, the idea of staying at home, while you provide for everything, is great! But usually, that’s just because we, as woman, are freaking exhausted and daydream about the idea of rest, almost always. The truth is, we WISH to be independent, on our own. We WISH to be able to balance it all, while making enough dough; unfortunately, this usually isn’t the case. So, we try to offset things by working more, trying more “hats” on, and often, biting off more than we can chew.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

I’ll be the first to say it: our country is made up, primarily, of money, work and success-driven individuals, and in turn, it’s screwed up our mentality, entirely. Instead of measuring success, or happiness by joy, or gratitude, or love, we measure it by the promotions we get at work, the new house we’ve purchased, or the new job we’ve secured. We’ve become zombies. For women, this is another struggle. If we decide to work to climb the corporate ladder, we almost-always have to give something up, in order to do so. If we decide to stay at home, with the kids, or take a more non-traditional route, we’re not living out our full-potential; frankly, we’re screwed either way.

For me, just because I work from home, doesn’t mean I’m not a part of the “corporate-culture”. I constantly feel the pressure of “moving up”, in the company; never wanting to become stagnant, for fear of how it will look to my company leadership. Another internal-struggle.

Women Compare

I know, I know. I loathe even writing the words. But in truth, WOMEN COMPARE THEMSELVES TO LITERALLY EVERYONE! The high school and college classmates, the friends who are years older, and in completely different careers, the spouses, or significant others, who, again, are older and in completely-different careers… even the exercise instructors, or the small business owners we really know nothing about… we compare ourselves to everyone. Because truthfully, we always want to better ourselves; we always want to find that perfect “balance” of joy and career, even though it might be unattainable, and non-existent.

Women Don’t Quit

You ever wonder why you see so many women doing so many things?! It’s because unlike most men, we continue to have that drive to be more, do more and enjoy more. Sometimes it’s because we really are looking to become more involved, but honestly, I think a big part of that has to do with never really feeling like we contribute enough. Internally, it’s as if we tell ourselves the more we do, the more-appreciated we’ll become.


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Do I have suggestions for ways to overcome this constant, internal-struggle? Honestly, no. I feel it, often, and even more so when I’m reminded of my non-traditional, different career path. More than anything, I’m writing this, today, to remind you (reading this) that you are enough. I see you. I appreciate you. Your wealth doesn’t equal your worth, even though we live in a society that makes it appear like that.

Never lose sight of what brings you joy, but don’t burn yourself out, from all ends, attempting to do enough, and prove something.

A lot of society (even those men you adore) won’t always understand your career-choices; that doesn’t mean they’re wrong, or not enough. Unfortunately, as long as we continue to live in a society that promotes overwork, being bigger and better, we’ll always feel that pull from both sides.

You do you, and do what you love, and give only as much as you can.

xoxo,

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