Are you missing the miracle of your existence?

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Dr. Libby Weaver, where have you been all my life?

I have such a girl crush on this woman, she makes me wanna make out with the computer screen. If you watch this video I guarantee it will be the most empowering 18 minutes of your year. I know, I’m making huge claims on the blog today! Watch and then keep reading.

From here on out, this video is going to be required watching for every client who comes through my virtual doors. It is so relevant for women everywhere who are just trying to keep up.

Soooo….we’re not good enough, skinny enough, tall enough, pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough – not enough period. This is an unacknowledged crisis. Not only because this way of living is epidemic, but because we somehow think everyone else has it all figured out while we struggle to get through each day. Our society teaches us that vulnerability and asking for help is weak. It’s for people who can’t keep up. No one wants to see you complaining on Facebook right?

I am the first to admit that I have struggled with every one of those “enoughs”. The story that plays in my head began when I was younger. My dad died in a plane crash when I was 11 and my mom struggled mentally, emotionally and financially for years. My sister and I practically raised ourselves and we felt constant scrutiny and judgment in our small-island community. There was never enough money, there were no family vacations, I was never cool enough..blah blah blah – a great big pity party. But that shit stuck with me and it has been a beast to shake.

“If you don’t feel like you are enough, you will never feel like you have enough”

What do we do when we carry around a story like this? We over-give, over-provide, over-work and over-consume (food, clothes, boys). Yes?

This leaves us: exhausted, anxious, overwhelmed, depleted, stressed out, frazzled, frumpy, PMS-y, tired and wired, unhappy…{insert the next best adjective here}.

Which has created a full-blown crisis in modern women’s health! I am on the front lines and I see it every day. And it breaks my heart.

Dr. Libby describes it so well in her video so I will just summarize, because I’ve also talked about it here, here and here!

Our bodies function the way they functioned 32,000 years ago. Our 50 trillion cells still think we’re cavegirls. They don’t have any idea that we’ve gone and gotten all modern. When we’re running a marathon, they think we’re running for our lives, or running to find food. And when this happens over and over again, our bodies think we’re in constant danger. So cortisol and adrenaline go up, and our sex hormones go down. Our bodies think they are protecting us by preventing us from ovulating and getting pregnant. Unfortunately this creates a huge disconnect between our modern selves and our cavegirl selves.

We are literally under siege. Dr. Libby calls this Rushing Woman Syndrome.

Do you have Rushing Woman Syndrome?

Don’t even tell me you don’t, cuz I know you do! :-) Women say to me all the time, “Nicole, just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” They’ll change their diets, take the supplements and herbs and even cook more….but, slow down? Hell no, how could I possibly do that? I’ve got way too much to do!

In most cases, all we have to do is step off the roller coaster. It’s so easy yet we resist it like crazy because we’re too busy trying to check off the boxes on our perpetual to-do lists. It’s a relentless pursuit that will only continue to steer us away from our true purpose, our essence, our truth.

Let’s talk about purpose and happiness and how to start re-discovering both…

Start with this analogy: Put the oxygen mask on you first. You simply cannot be the human you want to be without addressing your own needs. What does a “well taken care of you” look like? Do you have any idea? It’s probably been quite some time since you saw that person. I encourage you to resurrect her.

The first way to do this is to please please practice saying no. Creating and maintaining healthy boundaries is THE biggest challenge for women today and leads to complete burnout in all areas of our lives. Start with my Yes & No list.

That’s all for this week - I’m not trying to add to your TO-DO list woman! :-)

Did you love the video as much as I did? Do you want to make out with Dr. Libby too? What’s your biggest take-away? Gah, I’ve got so many and I hope you’ll share yours.

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Gratitude - it's what's for dinner

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There’s nothing like sitting in the glass box at airport immigration, facing potential deportation and jail time, to make you appreciate the little things in life…

What an opening line right? While that didn’t exactly happen to me, it did happen to a person I was with last week and the experience completely flipped our world upside down.

I should probably give you a little background huh? The quick and dirty summary: It all began a number of years ago when I re-connected with someone from my past. I’d known H since I was 18 and while we had a little “thing” going back then, we never pursued it. Instead I went away to university and we ended up both marrying other people. In the 10 years after I left, we saw each other maybe four times and each time I felt this undeniable connection but knew there was nothing either of us could do about it. I later found out he felt this way too. And time continued on…until 2010 when I saw him again and knew that something had to be said! Somehow, intuitively I felt this man was my soulmate. The rest is a very rocky history that I will have to share with you one day over strong alcoholic beverages :-)

H+N Taj Mahal

Fast forward to last October. After two years of trying to make “us” work, (we were doing this insane long distance thing, he’s in Europe and I’m in New York), we decided to go our separate ways because the pressure of everything was just too much. The hardest decision of my life. We were broken up for 5 months and by the middle of March we were both still pretty miserable, and that’s when we decided that we simply can’t live without each another. So we gave it another shot. Forever this time. YAY!

Which brings me to last week Monday. We were meeting up for a week in Montreal – the N+H reunion! I am standing in the immigration line and my phone rings. I pick up and launch into my story about how the plane got totally delayed and I would be out soon.

And then I hear the worst words ever: “My name got flagged by immigration and I’ve been detained.”

Fuck.

So I go through immigration and join him in the glass box. What a perfect reunion after many months of not seeing each other! (FYI: If you ever get stuck in an immigration situation, make sure it’s in Canada. The Canadians are just so damn nice! LOL).

I know you’re probably wondering WTF is going on here right? Well, without going into tons of detail, we’ll just say that H can’t come back here because of some really ridiculous legislation that was created to prevent Americans from owning online gaming companies outside of the US. Hence the long-distance relationship.

He tells me what’s going down and says that the situation looks pretty dire. His lawyer is calling every hour to update him on who he’s talked to at the department of justice but he is worried this will end badly. He says we just have to sit tight while the Canadians do their own investigating. So we sit and wait and wait…and as more time goes on we begin to think the worst. As in, H is going to be stripped of all his rights, extradited back to the US, held in a detention center, face a trial and then jail time. H would not do well in jail, so panic starts to set in.

He says, “Babe, if we get out of here, all I want is ribs and beer.” And I say “You’re gonna have your ribs and beer.” I’m confident we’ll get out of this mess but I’m still kinda shitting myself.

Then the immigration officer who’s handling the case calls me to come have a chat with her. Uh oh. She asks me all sorts of questions and I tell her about what I do and how I help women fix their periods and get pregnant (secretly hoping this will help our cause!). I also casually mention that H is the most harmless criminal she’ll ever encounter. She laughs. I sit back down and tell him we’re so gonna get out of this because she loves me.

At 6pm, over six hours after arriving in Montreal, our lovely immigration officer calls us up. I feel like we’re BFF’s at this point. She apologizes for taking so long but she was waiting for the DOJ to send her a copy of H’s indictment.  She and her superiors have reviewed the whole case and she is going to let him go today. Wha what?? We both practically fell over with shock and relief. I think I even screamed a little. She went on to say that the Americans wouldn’t be too happy with their decision but H hadn’t broken any Canadian laws so as far as she was concerned he was a free man.

A free man who got to eat ribs and beer that night – with a side of gratitude. :-)

I don’t usually share super personal stories but I really think there are some great lessons in what we went through last week.  We are all living on borrowed time, all the time, and sometimes it just takes dodging a huge bullet to realize this.  It is so important that we find a way to harness that feeling and be grateful for everything we have - always.

I even got a quote for this post from the man himself:

“We have a new lease on life and the rent is free!  How cool is that!  We also have a new lease on love which has also been negotiated at $0.00 per month!  I woke up this morning alive and in love and felt soooo grateful!  Alive and in love!  The two most powerful forces in the universe sit by my bedside each morning and welcome me to a new day.  How can I not feel like the luckiest man alive?!!?”

Now we want to know what makes you feel like the luckiest person alive? 

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What I learned from Dr. Sara Gottfried

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Dr. Sara Gottfried is many things – a Harvard and MIT-educated OB/GYN, a NY Times best-selling author, an accomplished speaker, even a yoga teacher. More than anything though, she is a champion for women everywhere. Her work knows no boundaries.

I first discovered Dr. Sara about two years ago through a client of mine. I subscribed to her mailing list and was immediately taken with her charming and witty blog posts. Plus her frequent interviews with kickass health gurus were a huge bonus. When she offered the Hormone Cure Training Program for wellness professionals I immediately signed up. I mean, I barely even thought about it because I knew this was the opportunity to take my business to the next level.

And so it was! The training with Dr. Sara and her panel of experts taught me more than I’d learned in my previous three years of training. While I knew a great deal about women’s hormonal health, I needed a deeper understanding of specific conditions related to whacky hormones. This program gave me the confidence and ability to not only identify hormonal imbalances, but to help women address them in a targeted way.

photo

 

<— Dr. Sara and I hanging out after she spoke at an event in NYC last year. No joke, I knew more about women’s hormones than most of the doctors in the room. Afterwards, she said “Nicole, I should have brought you on stage to answer their questions!” :-)

 

 

Dr. Sara’s approach is truly integrative – she blends eastern and western medicine effortlessly and only recommends practices and techniques that she has found to be effective. There is no pseudo-science happening here. This makes it easy for you to give sound recommendations to your own clients, especially if you are new to this field.

Since doing the training program, my business has grown exponentially. I have released numerous group programs in the last year and I currently have a 2-month waiting list for my private clients. Leaps and bounds from where I was 16 months ago! Yup, I decided to just own it!

Her next training begins soon and the registration window closes Saturday April 5th at midnight PST. If you have questions about Dr. Sara’s training program or want to know about my business, feel free to leave them in the comments section and I’ll respond to you as quickly as I can.

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Cholesterol is great for hormones!

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This post was inspired by one of my private clients. She works in pharmaceutical sales and mentioned on our last call that the leading heart organizations in the US recently changed their guidelines on cholesterol-lowering drugs. I was unaware of this latest development in the “fight” against high cholesterol so I decided to do a little digging.

Here’s what most people know about cholesterol…it goes something like this: “My doctor said my cholesterol is too high and I may need to go on drugs to lower it.”  If that hasn’t happened to you I’m sure you know someone who’s heard those words. Not surprising, as 36 million Americans are on cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) and the new guidelines would double that figure to roughly 70 million people. I think there is something awfully wrong with that picture. How could such a large swath of the population be so broken?

Hello I Have High Cholesterol

Did you know that 25 years ago, the normal cholesterol range was 150-310 mg/dl. Today, if your total cholesterol (LDL and HDL) is over 200mg/dl, you’re in the danger zone and will be told to go on a cholesterol-lowering drug. It seems every year, the drug companies keep trying to lower the recommended total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol numbers so they can get more patients. At some point, everybody would be advised to be on a statin, which of course is ridiculous.

I’ve never really worried about my cholesterol because it was always super low – think 105mg/dl TOTAL. Keep reading before you start hating me ;-). My doctor once said to me with absolute certainty, “You will never have a heart attack Nicole.” Ha! If it was only that simple doc.

What does cholesterol do?

This is how I like to describe the role of cholesterol – think of your arteries and veins as a series of roads and highways. Over time potholes and other damage (inflammation) happens because of a crappy diet of mostly refined carbs, refined sugar, alcohol etc. Your body then releases cholesterol (the roadwork crew) to start patching the holes. The more damage you do, the more cholesterol you’ll produce to address said damage. Can you see why cholesterol isn’t inherently bad, and why cholesterol-lowering drugs aren’t the solution? They’re really just treating the symptoms of an underlying condition that’s causing the body to produce more cholesterol. Remove the causes of inflammation and oxidation and you lower cholesterol.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Cholesterol is not bad for you. Eeeks, I said it!

FACT: Many alternative practitioners and followers of a more paleo-centered diet are well aware by now that dietary cholesterol does not significantly affect cholesterol levels in the blood or risk for heart disease, and that there is no longer any reason to avoid whole foods with naturally high levels of cholesterol.

Here’s an excerpt from an article written by Chris Kresser on why cholesterol levels are not affected by fat and cholesterol-rich foods:

“On any given day, we have between 1,100 and 1,700 milligrams of cholesterol in our body. 25% of that comes from our diet, and 75% is produced by the liver. Much of the cholesterol that’s found in food can’t be absorbed by our bodies, and most of the cholesterol in our gut was first synthesized in body cells and ended up in the gut via the liver and gall bladder. The body tightly regulates the amount of cholesterol in the blood by controlling internal production; when cholesterol intake in the diet goes down, the body makes more. When cholesterol intake in the diet goes up, the body makes less.”

“This explains why well-designed cholesterol feeding studies (where they feed volunteers 2-4 eggs a day and measure their cholesterol) show that dietary cholesterol has very little impact on blood cholesterol levels in about 75% of the population. The remaining 25% of the population are referred to as “hyper-responders”. In this group, dietary cholesterol does modestly increase both LDL (“bad cholesterol” and HDL (“good cholesterol”), but it does not affect the ratio of LDL to HDL or increase the risk of heart disease. [1]

This basically means that cholesterol in food won’t give you a heart attack. So you can ditch the egg-white omelettes and start eating egg yolks again. This is especially important because all 13 essential nutrients found in eggs are in their yolks!

2. Cholesterol is crucial for hormone production & function:

Cholesterol is where MANY hormones come from - it is converted by the body into the “mother hormone” Pregnenolone, which then converts into numerous hormones including DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, the estrogens, and cortisol. Cholesterol is also a precursor to vitamin D. Kind of a big deal. If we don’t have enough cholesterol and pregnenolone, it is safe to say that the cascade of steroid hormone production in our bodies would be compromised.

Cholesterol

My traditionally low levels of cholesterol might explain my tendency towards lower levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and vitamin D. This is purely anecdotal, but increasing my fat and cholesterol intake over the last three years has significantly improved my hormone levels and my overall health. Has this been your experience too?

3. Cholesterol-rich foods contain the B-vitamin choline.

Choline is essential for women during pregnancy, as low choline intake is significantly associated with a higher risk of neural tube defects in a newborn. Symptoms of choline deficiency include fatigue, insomnia, memory problems and even infertility [3]. The best dietary sources of choline are liver and egg yolks, which are often avoided by many Americans due to fear of dietary fat and cholesterol.

4. Cholesterol affects your brain health.

It plays an essential role in your brain, which contains about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your body. It is critical for the formation of synapses – the connections between your neurons, which allow you to think, learn new things, and create memories. In fact, there’s reason to believe that low-fat diets and/or cholesterol-lowering drugs may cause or contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Low cholesterol levels have also been linked to violent behavior [4], due to adverse changes in brain chemistry, particularly a reduction in serotonin activity.

Fascinating facts:

Your cholesterol level is influenced by the different phases of your menstrual cycle [5]. Yes ma’am, your cholesterol levels correspond to your estrogen levels and can change by as much as 19% depending on where you’re at in your cycle.

There is a syndrome called Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome or SLOS. This causes a person to not make enough cholesterol on their own. If a fetus has the genes responsible for this syndrome, it almost always results in spontaneous abortion – meaning that cholesterol is needed to maintain life itself.

The idea is to use your intuition when it comes to your own cholesterol levels. My levels have gone up 35 points in the last three years and I feel MUCH better now than I did then. I eat more butter, coconut oil/butter, grass-fed beef and avocados than ever! Although my doctor told me I’d never die of a heart attack with cholesterol levels at 110, I’m willing to take my chances :-)

What has been your experience with cholesterol? Did you lower it or raise it? If so, what did you do? 

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5 Things You Must Know About Hormonal Birth Control!

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I spent 5 years on the pill – 5 years that I can’t ever get back. During that time I swung from one major imbalance to another. Your story might sound a lot like mine: I was 17, cruising along doing my teenage thing and then suddenly my period started acting up. By the time I was 19 I was getting it every 3-4 months and my gynecologist decided the pill was my only hope of ever getting “back on track”! {insert eye roll}

At the time I was thrilled because I wanted to be like all the cool kids who were already on the pill. The pros – within months, my terrible period symptoms began to subside – I no longer had 7-day long periods that were super heavy, the vomit-inducing cramps were almost gone and the PMS and bloating were a thing of the past. I’d finally conquered my period problems…or so I thought! If only I’d known then what I know now!

birth control pill in handbag - healthcare and medicine

Here’s what I didn’t know – the pill was merely masking my underlying hormonal imbalance which was being caused by insulin dysregulation. How’d that happen? My meat and potatoes diet topped with lots of sweet treats. Frosted Flakes for dinner anyone?

Who knew that insulin was causing my ovaries to ovulate less. Or that the pill was chipping away at the hormones I did have, leaving my body so depleted that when I came off at 24 I wouldn’t get back my period for many months. In addition, my digestion was ruined (they thought I had Crohn’s), my hair was thinning, I developed melasma on my face, I was constantly sick and run down, I had awful joint pain and my sex drive was at an all-time low (which was a good thing because I was plagued with chronic yeast and urinary tract infections anyway!).

Here’s the straight truth – on the pill no woman’s body is capable of functioning at its optimal level. The body has a delicate system of balance and each woman’s system is different, but the pill is a one-size-fits-all jam. Modern medicine’s biggest flaw if you ask me.

I’ve compiled FIVE must-knows about hormonal birth control – whether you’re on it, considering it or have just come off it, here’s what you should know:

1. The pill royally messes with your digestive function. No joke, 95% of women who come to me with whacked out hormones also have some form of digestive disorder and almost all of them have taken oral contraceptives at some stage. A 2012 study linked BC pills with a higher risk for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. It appears that synthetic hormones change the permeability of the gut lining and synthetic estrogen does a number on the “good” bacteria in our guts. [1]

Symptoms ranging from migraines to infertility, endometriosis, psoriasis, chronic yeast infections, PMS, depression, fibromyalgia, digestive disorders and many other seemingly unrelated health problems have been attributed to gut bacterial imbalances. If you’re on the pill please include fermented foods in your diet and/or take a good quality probiotic.

2. B vitamins and minerals too? The pill messes with your gut’s ability to adequately absorb B vitamins, especially folate and vitamin B12. It also inhibits the absorption of zinc and magnesium. [2] If you’ve ever read anything about fertility and hormonal health, you know that these vitamins and minerals are crucial for us. Hint: Zinc deficiency literally equals infertility for some women. You can read my take on B vitamins here. I recommend a good Vitamin B Complex and a quality mineral supplement while taking oral contraceptives.

3. You might be attracted to the wrong partner. Whoa what! It turns out that the BC pill alters how we choose our mates.[3] Humans tend to choose partners based on their differences rather than their similarities, but women on the pill choose partners based on their sameness.[4] One study even suggested that when “a woman chooses her partner while she is on the pill and then comes off it to have a child, her hormone-driven preferences change, and she may find she is married to the wrong kind of man.” I wouldn’t believe this if I hadn’t seen it happen with a client!

4. Feeling kinda dry “down there”. When a woman is on the pill, her body will cease to send signals to her cervical crypts (producers of fertile cervical fluid). Extended use of the pill literally shrivels these crypts up because they are not being used if a woman is not ovulating. This atrophy can be hard to reverse for many women and some find it difficult to get pregnant because of the lack of fertile cervical fluid. The only way to address this issue is to get off of hormonal birth control.

5. You’d rather be gardening than having sex. The pill isn’t called birth control for nothin’! Not only does it stop ovulation, it literally stops your sex drive in it’s tracks too. Basically the liver makes a protein called Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin. SHBG binds to testosterone and makes it inactive. The pill increases SHBG production which lowers the amount of free testosterone. Bad news for your libido. [5] A woman not on the pill typically has a SHBG level of 20-30, but a woman on the pill can have a SHBG level of 200-300 and even up to 500! Again, the only way out of this is to ditch your birth control.

The sad part of all this is that modern medicine has convinced most women that they are not in charge of their fertility, that it is impossible for them to pinpoint when they can or cannot be pregnant, and that the only way to prevent a pregnancy is to take hormones every day. This is a blatant lie, as there are many ways a woman can learn to listen to her body’s signs, and avoid unwanted pregnancies. It’s just a matter of doing a little upfront work.

Trust me when I say you can avoid the pill altogether if you want. I know this is a scary prospect for many women but I personally think choosing the wrong husband is more terrifying! I highly recommend a natural birth control method called the Fertility Awareness Method. This involves observing your cervical fluid and other fertility signs and taking your basal body temperature each morning. Using FAM has seriously changed my relationship with my body and has given me an immense amount of data to work with. If you want to know more, get your hands on the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, the definitive guide to natural contraception. Also check out my post on Period-tracking apps for how to get tracking.

Sources:

1. Doheny K. Birth Control Pills, HRT Tied to Digestive Ills: Researchers found apparent connections between estrogen treatments and Crohn’s Disease, colitis. HealthDay. May 2012; Accessed May 2012. http://health.usnews.com/health-news…digestive-ills

2. Walsh N. Estrogen a Culprit in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Positive relationship discovered between hormone replacement therapy, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. MedPage Today. Medical Review Jasmer R. MD. May 2012; Accessed May 2012. http://www.everydayhealth.com/womens…l-disease.aspx

3. Kluger, Jeffrey. Why We Love. January 16, 2008. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1704355-1,00.html.

4. Wedekind, C. et al. (1995). “MHC-dependent preferences in humans”. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 260: 245–49.

  1. *Furlow, Bryant., F. (1996). “The Smell of Love.” Psychology Today Mar/Apr.
  2. Scent of a Man - New Scientist Feb 10, 2001
  3. Elder, Rob. (2001). “The Science of Attraction,” Journal of Hybrid Vigor, Emory University, Issue 1.

Additional articles:

  • http://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/09/science/studies-explore-love-and-the-sweaty-t-shirt.html
  • http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/magazine/does-a-more-equal-marriage-mean-less-sex.html?_r=1

5. (2006, January 5). Oral Contraceptive Pill May Prevent More Than Pregnancy: Could Cause Long-term Problems With Testosterone. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060104232338.htm

Additional articles, books and websites:

  • http://www.sweeteningthepill.com/resources.php – MASSIVE RESOURCE LIST!
  • http://www.natkringoudis.com.au/2014/01/the-pill-is-it-for-you-2/
  • http://ellegriffin.com/if-not-the-pill-then-what/
  • http://www.dailylife.com.au/health-and-fitness/dl-wellbeing/when-birth-control-pills-become-dangerous-20131029-2wd9q.html
  • Pope, Alexandra and Bennet, Jane, The Pill: Are You Sure It’s For You? Allen and Unwin, 2009
  • http://integrativepelvichealthinstitute.com/bad-news-about-birth-control-pills/
  • http://www.saragottfriedmd.com/whats-in-your-birth-control-the-pros-and-cons-of-hormonal-and-non-hormonal-methods/

What’s your pill story? Have you noticed any other side effects from being on hormonal birth control? What did you do?

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What do you want to learn or know?

Your biggest question:

ANSWERED!

When someone signs up for my mailing list I send out an email asking a couple of questions because I want to know what my tribe really needs. Here is what I ask: 1. What aspect(s) of your health are you most concerned about? 2. What do you want to learn or know? 3. How […]

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Stephanie!
Do You flirt with life??

Your Secret Practice to A

Most fabulous life!

This is a guest post by the outspoken Stephanie Jiroch on the practices you can implement now to have a most fabulous life! Enjoy! As a lifestyle design expert, manifesting coach and sexpert I’m known for helping women make their dreams a reality in a variety of ways. Whether it’s through travel, finding a man they want […]

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Camp Gyno to the rescue!

The red badge of courage?

I think this Camp Gyno might be my future daughter! LOL As you know, I really enjoy talking to women about their periods, especially when we can add a little sass and humor to the mix. This ad, created by www.HelloFlo.com, is awesome in so many ways, one of which is that it finally moves the […]

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What’s Your Period Story?

Do you know what day of the month it is? More importantly, do you know what day of your menstrual cycle you’re on? If you’re like many women, you are probably pretty mystified by your period and cycle in general, so you’re not alone if you don’t know. I used to be that girl. At […]

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60 Minutes to a Better Period!

Do you dread “that time of the month? Are your periods super heavy and totally all over the place? Or…no period at all? Are you embarrassed by what seems like your never-ending emotional roller coaster? Are your cramps so bad that you have to take time out of your life every single month? Have your […]

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