Good nutrition and exercise are the ultimate anti-aging products! (Part-2–exercise)

We offer hear in the media that exercise is a beneficial to prevent aging, but do we know to what level this occurs and how much it can benefit a person?  The answer is a resounding, “ YES! We DO!”  Recent research has been released on not only how exercise prevents aging, but they have been able to monitor to what degree exercise can benefit the human body.  Further, scientists have found evidence on the best exercises we can do to get the most anti-aging “bang for our buck,” so lets take a look at what cutting edge science is finding out about exercise and aging, and take a look at what exercises we can do to help ourselves as we get older. 

It is well known that a great anti-aging benefit that comes from exercise is better cardiac health and stronger bones.  This is achieved through moderate exercise and continued weight bearing exercise.  It is so is well researched that doctors often tell the older patients to do light weight training and continue walking to keep up their health as they age, but their are more antiaging benefits to continued exercise that aren’t common knowledge.  Here’s what the latest research says. 

In a landmark discovery published in the journal,  “Preventative Medicine,” it was reported in July 2017 that research showed that exercise and physical activity decreased cellular aging by up to 9 years.  How do scientists measure a cell’s age? By their telomeres of course! ( What the heck is a telomere?). Let me explain... telomeres are on the ends of our chromosomes in every cell.  They protect our DNA in our cells. As we age and cells repeatedly divide, our telomeres shorten; DNA starts to fray, replicate weird, and cause cellular deterioration, increased aging, decreased healthy cell function, and poor DNA transcription.  Poor DNA transcription causes illnesses to manifest and aging to occur.  However, there’s great news.  In that anti-aging study, they found that regular physical activity and aerobic exercise accounted for longer telomeres, which means more protection for our DNA and our cells.  The length of the telomeres increased and were an average of 9 years younger.

In another “Earth Shattering” study, different types of exercises were assessed to see which ones helped cellular energy production by improving the mitochondria function in our cells. Mitochondria are the parts of cells that act as the “powerhouses” and assist in energy production in our body.  This biochemical process is needed to regulate cellular metabolism, sustain daily life and activity, as well as, support organ function.  What scientists found during their study was that high intensity interval training (HIIT)* not only improved heart and lung function, but it increased the amount of mitochondria in the cells helping the body to have more energy, run efficiently, and have greater cellular respiration and health.  Who couldn’t use a better metabolism and more energy as we age! 

Finally, as we age, our skin gets dry, flaky, and translucent.  Our hair turns gray, and sometimes we get very frail, but scientists are finding that this can be prevented.  

In another study published in 2014, mice were tested to see if increasing their exercise helped with anti-aging.  The scientists in this study used mice that had poor anti-aging genes and separated them into 2 groups.  One group was allowed to live a sedentary life style with no access to exercise (aka no running wheel), the other had as much access to their running wheel as they desired.  In the mice that had poor anti-aging genes that lived a sedentary lifestyle, their fur turned grey, some became very frail and demented, many lost their fur, and all had thinner skin.  Meanwhile, the mice that had access to their running wheel maintained healthy skin, healthy fur, healthy muscles, and a healthy heart.  

A similar test measuring the skin thickness in humans was done. In this study, their skin was biopsied and measured.  Those that lived a sedentary life style had thinner skin and a thicker flakier epidermis with more wrinkles, while the people that exercised had a thicker dermis, and better skin that was younger when it was looked at under the microscope.

As you can see, do to advances in science, scientists are finding that many of the keys to our anti-aging regiment are related to our internal cellular health, not only the creams we put on our skin.  We have seen that creams can help superficially, but the true long term anti-aging comes from diet and exercise.  It has been demonstrated repeatedly by scientific testing. So, if you want to age more gracefully, incorporate good nutrition and moderate exercise with strength training into your daily life and reap the rewards of more youth.


*HIIT is alternating moderate exercise with fast, quick bursts of vigorous exercise in short intervals. 


Berry, S., ‘Earth Shattering’ study reveals the best exercise for anti-ageing [sic].  The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 March 2017.

Reynolds, G., Younger skin through exercise. The NY Times. 16 April 2014.

Tucker, L., Physical activity and telomere length in U.S. men and women: An NHANES investigation. Preventative Medicine,  July, 2017. Pgs 145-151.




Good nutrition and exercise are the ultimate anti-aging products! (Part-1–Nutrition)


Remember that old adage, “You are what you eat!”  Through science and technology, we have realized that this is ABSOLUTELY TRUE!   Everything you eat gets broken down into tiny particles that become the building blocks for your hair, skin, fingernails, organs, etc.  If you are eating poorly, then you are giving your body poor nutrients with which to heal and rebuild your body with.   Processed foods high in sugars and bad fats, like hydrogenated oils, cause inflammation, which can lead to body aches, red, dry itchy skin, rosacea, eczema, dehydration, and a dull, flaky complexion.  These foods also do nothing for your energy, so you’ll feel older faster. Finally, foods with poor nutrient quality give your body nothing to help repair it to keep you looking young, vibrant, fresh, or youthful. Poor nutrition will cause you will look older sooner and feel the effects of aging more quickly too.  Aging may not be completely preventable, but we can certainly do it gracefully.

Some people believe that a good anti-aging skincare routine will help reduce the look of lines and wrinkles.  This is only partially true.  Consider the fact that skin has multiple layers starting with the hypodermis or subcutaneous tissue, the fatty tissue below the skin.; the next layer of the skin is the dermis, the vascularized part of the skin containing veins and capillaries, finally, we have the the epidermis, the part of the skin everyone sees.  Topical skincare products, like those in an anti-aging cream, only work on the epidermis of the skin.  That layer of skin is primarily composed of dead skin cells structured with collagen.  These cells flake off throughout the day.  

Most anti-aging creams do not make it much past the epidermis, so the treatment is only superficial and short term. The epidermis is constantly replenished by the dermis, which is the living tissue that receives vitamins and nutrients from the blood stream.  This is where the idea comes from that, “Good skin comes from within.”  If the dermis of the skin is constantly being fed healthy nutrients and vitamins to replenish itself, then the body will have to building blocks to create healthy cells and build things like collagen: collagen is what gives skin structure—wrinkles are partially caused by collagen breakdown.  A nourished, healthy dermis will lead strong collagen and a replenished healthy epidermis that will cause your skin to be radiant, dewy, and to have a beautiful glow.  Healthy blood carrying nutrients and good hydration give the skin its vibrant, youthful color.  Further, by the time the dermis layer reaches the epidermis of the skin, it will not look like the dry scales of a snake shedding by the time it gets there because the cells would have been in optimal shape.  The top layer of the skin is constantly replenished with dead skin cells from the dermal layer, so it makes sense that having a healthy interior leads to a healthy exterior.  So what kinds of nutrients do we need to age better? Let’s take a look at some of the top ones. 


1) WATER : Water is the life giving resource for ALL living things.  It is so important that when our scientists are looking at our galaxy (or any object in space), the first thing they do after they find something new is to look for water regardles of whether it’s a planet, a moon, or an asteroid rock!  Recently, our government spent billions of dollars to send a probe to Mars with one of the main objectives being that it search for sign of water because water means life!  If that isn’t enough to convince you water is important, then keep in mind the basics that humans are nearly 2/3 water.  We need water to keep our blood flowing freely, which in turn carries nutrients to every cell in our whole body.  Further, we need water for nearly every chemical reaction to occur in the body.  Drink your eight-8oz glasses of water per day. I can’t say it enough.  Drink more if you’re working out or it’s a hot day and you’re sweating. Clean, filtered water that is more alkaline is the best.  You can filter your own water,  buy an alkalizing water filter to achieve this, or drink bottled water (please recycle the plastic).  My favorite bottle waters are Essentia, Icelandic, and Fiji waters because they are more alkaline and support healthy pH in the body.

2) Cuciferous vegetables:  Cuciferous vegetables include things like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts.  They are vegetables that contain sulfur compounds that are necessary for healthy blood flow and proper DNA transcription and replication.  Healthy DNA replication is necessary to create healthy gene expression, which is a mandatory part of preventing severe health issues and of preventing cancer.  The older we get, the more times our DNA has been replicated in each new cell.  Proper nutrients can help to ensure that the body and DNA has all the necessary ingredients needed to recreate itself in each new cell.

3) Protein:  I’m not saying go overboard on animal protein, but protein (either from animals or vegetables) is necessary in every part of cell creation including collagen and elastin production, muscle healing, and supporting connective tissue.  Connective tissue is all throughout the body and helps your body and skin keep shape.  Strong connective tissue includes collagen and elastin and helps prevent injury, drooping, and skin sagging.

4) Good fats:  I could do a whole blog on this, but I’ll try to keep it simple here.  Good fats give your body essential fatty acids it needs to help with cellular creation and brain health.  These include: monounsaturated fats like olive oil and sesame oil, Oleic acids, from avocado oils, butter, and eggs, as well as, alpha-linoleic acids found in Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, chia seeds, and walnuts.  Good fats not only give the body satiation cues so it knows that it has eaten, but they also prevent inflammation and support a healthy heart and a healthy brain.  There’s nothing more anti-aging than having all of your “faculties” in order and a healthy heart.  Nutritional fact:  It is absolutely imperative to avoid trans fats.  These have been correlated with a number of health issues from obesity and high cholesterol to high blood pressure and heart disease.  Just say no to these nasty fats.

5)  Dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) and Green Tea:  Um yes! They are delicious and high in antioxidants.  Food high in antioxidants decrease aging from the inside out by bonding with free radicals and toxins in the body so they do minimal harm.  Oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body leads to blood that can be more acidic and cause inflammation.  This is a factor in autoimmune diseases and faster aging.  Other foods that have high amounts of antioxidants are blueberries, raspberries, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, and heirloom tomatoes...just to name a few of my favorites.  Eating these will help move the body toward becoming more alkaline, and decrease internal stresses that cause aging.

6) Foods high in vitamin A and beta-carotene:  Beta-carotene is the inactive form of Vitamin A.  Vitmin A is also known as retinol.  It is a great support for the skin, hair, vision, and neurological function.  It is responsible for keeping the skin firm and strong in the deep layers.   It helps with cellular structure and skin firmness by supporting cells in the dermal layer.  In addition, beta-carotene found in orange vegetables, like carrots and yellow and orange bell peppers, gives the skin a healthy golden undertone. Active Vitamin A can be found in eggs, grass fed beef, and grass fed dairy, while the inactive beta-carotene that gets turned into Vitamin A can be found in yellow/orange bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, and yams.

So here are my top 6 favorite nutrient tips for anti-aging.  I really could go on and on, but the key really is drink plenty of water, eat whole non-processed food, and get your vitamins and nutrients by eating a wide variety of natural foods.  Here’s to your health and your anti-aging protocol getting a bump through nutrition.  

If you’d like a skincare consultation or a nutritional consultation, please feel free to call and make an appointment to learn how I can help you in your anti-aging protocol and on your health journey. 


Boosting the Metabolism

Your metabolism is like a fire that needs to be fed wood to keep it burning efficiently!


Boosting the Metabolism

By: Shandalla Rigby, MSA, EAMP, Nutritional Therapist

As we head to the new year, many of us are making resolutions to lose weight and get healthier. Many of us will work our hardest to achieve these goals, but what if we could make it easier on ourselves by boosting our metabolism? When the metabolism runs higher, then we burn more calories. The goal is to optimize the burn off of calories and to maximize weight loss. This can be done in a variety of ways, but many people will lose the battle of weight loss before they start by cutting too many calories in hopes of creating a caloric deficit. This is good for initial weight loss, but it actually causes the metabolism to slow down, which is why many people end up hitting long term plateaus or gain back even more weight than they initially lost.

Obesity scientists are finding that weight loss is not as simple as calories in calories out. The human body is designed to protect itself from famine by slowing down the metabolism when there is a shortage of food. What is a diet and caloric restriction to the body? It is the absence or shortage of food calories. The body interprets this a famine. Your body doesn’t necessarily recognize the excess weight you need to burn off, but it most definitely recognizes the caloric shortage. Because of this, long term weight loss is easier to manage by eating the right foods in the right amount. Here are some of the top recommendations I give to my patients for boosting their metabolism.

1. Drink plenty of water. Most people know that replacing sugary drinks with water will help them lose weight just because you are decreasing calories from simple carbs, but what most people do not realize is that because our body is roughly 2/3 water, just drinking water speeds up the metabolism because it optimizes the body’s daily functions. Research shows that drinking water increases the resting metabolism for about an hour after you drink it. This means your body is burning more calories even when it is not doing work.

2. Consume foods high in fiber. Not only does fiber keep you fuller longer causing you to eat less calories, but it also adds fuel to the metabolism and removes toxins from the body by acting like a scrub brush cleaning the inside the large intestine. In addition, the body will spend a lot of time trying to digest fiber as it moves through the body. This in turn causes your body to burn more calories.

3. Eat more protein. This can be plant proteins like tofu or animal proteins like meat. Eating protein helps you feel more satiated, so you need less food to feel satisfied. Eating protein also causes a rise in the metabolism because it is harder to break down than carbohydrates. More calories are used for the breakdown, digestion, and absorption of protein to convert it into usable substances by the body.

4. Eat 3 small meals and 2-3 snacks per day. Like the fire in your fireplace has to be fed wood or else die out, your metabolism acts in a very similar way. By constantly feeding it complex carbs, proteins, and good fats, you are feeding your metabolic fire and keeping your metabolism running at the highest level. Research has shown that by decreasing calories and meals in severe ways (like in extreme diets) you actually cause your body to think it is starving. This actually causes the metabolism to drop and go into a type of hibernation mode storing all the calories you’re consuming to keep the vital organs functioning. To prevent this from happening, start your morning with a healthy, balanced breakfast. Then eat a small snack, followed a few hours later by lunch. Then enjoy another small snack, followed later by a small dinner. If there are 4 hours between dinner and bedtime or if you are including workouts on a daily basis, adding a 3 snack is recommended.

5. Drink green tea or oolong tea. I recommend 2 cups of tea: one at mid morning around when you would take your first break at work, then a second one in the mid afternoon around your second break after lunch. Pair with your snack to make it easier to remember. Not only has tea been shown to be high in antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body and prevent aging, but studies have shown that tea gives you a quick bump to your metabolism.

6. Get a good night sleep. I recommend a minimum of 7-1/2 to 8 hours. Sleep is as important as healthy food and clean water. While we sleep, our body repairs all the damage we did to our cells throughout the day. This means using calories to make all the things we need to repair our bodies. This includes creating everything from new blood cells to making our hormones and replenishing our neurotransmitters (like testosterone and serotonin). It also allows the body to clean up environmental toxins we were exposed to, which can make us sick. Also, getting enough sleep regulates metabolic hormones and decreases cortisol levels. When our metabolic hormones are out of balance, our hunger and satiety hormones don’t function correctly, which makes losing weight very difficult. Concurrently, high levels of cortisol have been shown to cause excess weight gain—especially in the middle stomach area. A good night’s sleep helps to regulate this.

7. Lift weights, stand up more, do body weight exercises, and build some muscle. Lifting weights, standing, and body weight exercises (like lunges and squats), not only help the body build lean muscle, but helps to prevent diseases like osteoporosis and diabetes. Further, lifting weights adds lean muscle to the body, which will burn more calories when you are at rest than fat does. Also, lifting weights means your body will need to repair the muscles you are training, which translates to more caloric burn. There is one additional caveat for men to building muscle; as you age, testosterone decreases. More muscle mass means that this will keep your testosterone at a more balanced level.

8. Mix up your workout routine. By adding new routines to your workout, you keep your body from adapting to the exercises you are doing. This prevents plateaus in weight loss and maximizes your workouts. You can do this by swapping a spin class for Pilates or by doing things like adding high intensity interval training (HIIT) to your cardio days. HIIT adds short bursts of quick physical activity like plyometrics or sprints to your regular cardio workout. The switch will force your body to adapt in a different way using different muscles to keep the metabolism higher in the after burn phase of your workout. Talk about maximizing your results.

Together all these things will help to boost your body’s weight loss by promoting an increase in metabolism. The key to optimizing your metabolism is increasing your resting metabolic rate. What this means is that you burn more calories at rest than you did prior to starting these activities. This will help your metabolism even when you are doing things like watching tv or surfing the internet. More calories burned means higher weight loss, but without the after effects of the weight gain later on that follows a crash diet. These changes are meant to be long term sustainable changes to any lifestyle and only represent a few of the things that can be added.

If you have any questions or would like more information on nutrition, boosting your metabolism, and optimizing your health, please feel free to visit my website and read my blog at or make an appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor, MD, or Nutritional Therapist.

Please do not start a new diet or exercise program until your primary care provider has determined that you are healthy enough to do so.

Further reading/Sources:

Brooks, Daniel. Good Decisions Most of the Time. Aviva Publishing,2014.

Cooper, Emily. Metabolic Storm: The science of the metabolism and why it is making you fat and possibly in fertile. 2nd ed. 2015

Rigby, Shandalla. “An Ounce of Prevention”. Personalized Wellness Blog: 2017.

West, Helen. “10 easy ways to boost your metabolism”. Healthline Newsletter: 2017.

Easy Food Elimination Diet to Ease Chronic Pain


There are 6 common food sensitivities that people are unaware of.  We may have them and not even be aware of them.  They can cause chronic low grade inflammation that leads to unexplained body aches, joint pain, arthritic symptoms, symptoms consistent with fibromyalgia, sinusitis, unexplained skin rashes, eczema, rosacea, irritable bowel syndrome, unexplained nausea, and many other chronic conditions. When you are unsure if you have food sensitivities, I recommend food allergy testing with an ND, but for some it is cost prohibitive because insurance doesn't cover the blood test.  So, here is an easy to do elimination diet that takes out the 6 most common food sensitivities.  These 6 foods are a good place to start.

These foods include: Dairy, Gluten (and Wheat Products), Soy, Corn, Peanuts, and Eggs.

This diet occurs in 2 phases.  The first phase is the elimination phase.  The second phase I will call the Reintroducing phase.



For 2 weeks, avoid all 6 of these foods completely. It is not uncommon to start to feel some general malaise around days 2-4 of the elimination as your body processes out any toxicity from these foods.  You're body is detoxing and trying to heal itself.  It may also be having some withdrawals from these foods. This can show up as extreme cravings, muscle pain, diarrhea, nausea, etc.  In the natural health world, we call this a "healing crisis."  Strive forward.  It will pass in a couple of days, and it will be worth it.

The key to this diet is to make sure that you avoid all package foods that include these ingredients.  Look for labels marked "gluten free", but also be aware there are other names for gluten out there.  Here is a link for some common sources of gluten:

Dairy elimination includes all dairy foods including cheese, ice cream, yogurt, etc.  However, it is important to eliminate food with casein (dairy protein) in it, as well as removing foods sweetened with lactose and popular protein shakes that include whey (another dairy based protein). For more information on dairy elimination, please see the following link:

Soy and corn are much more complicated to avoid.  These two foods are in nearly every processed food available in the American supermarket.  From things as simple as High Fructose Corn Syrup to the more complicated unknown ingredients of Fructose or Vinegar (most vinegars in ketchup and other condiments are made from corn), corn can be found in most things.  For a list of foods containing corn see this link:

For soy, it is not as complicated.  Many labels will warn you if an item contains soy, but not necessarily if it contains corn.  Tofu, edamame, and TVP (textured vegetable protein) are the primary protein in many vegetarian foods.  If you must eat processed foods here is more information on soy:

Finally, we need to eliminate eggs and peanuts.  Thankfully, many of our labels tell us if these ingredients are in the food.  When there is an allergen present, the label usually reads: "Contains: soy, nuts, eggs, dairy." I think corn is the only ingredient not on that list, so for us in the 21st century, label reading is more simplistic, but you'll need to be a label sleuth.  That means you are going to have to investigate every single label you see, or better yet, avoid food with a labels all together if you can during the elimination diet.  That will make it easier on you.



After 14 days, we enter the reintroduction phase of our elimination diet.  This is where we are going to introduce small amounts of these foods into your diet to see if you have a sensitivity.  On day 15 you're going to have a little bit of dairy at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  This can be cheese, yogurt, a cup of milk, etc.  Do not consume any dairy on day 16 and 17.  That's the waiting period to see how your body responds to the reintroduction of this food.  Make a note of anything you notice whether it is nausea, post-nasal drip, gas and bloating, coughing up phlegm, drainage, diarrhea, etc.  This is your clue that you have a dairy sensitivity.

On day 18 you're going to consume a little bit of gluten with all 3 meals.  This can be bread, baked goods, or anything containing wheat.  Wait day 19-20 and record any reaction that you notice.  Make a not of any of the above symptoms including gas and bloating, body aches, joint pain, etc.

Continue this regiment until you have reintroduced all the above allergens making sure to note any symptoms during the 2 day waiting period after consuming the foods you eliminated.

By the end of the elimination diet, you should have a pretty good idea about the foods you are sensitive to.  These are the foods you want to avoid from here on out.  They are a big cause of your discomfort and pain.

Food is medicine.  It can make you sick or it can heal you.  I hope that this information helps you start to get to the root of your illnesses instead of just treating the symptoms.  It has been my experience in the nearly 15 years that I have been working in the natural medicine field, that we can resolve a lot of our body's complaints through diet and exercise.  If you want more details about your food sensitivities or undiagnosed food allergies, please make an appointment with your N.D. or other natural health primary care provider.

Summer Cleanse: Part 1

Summer Cleanse: Part 1

This is a 3 part series on how to cleanse and detoxify your body.  Look for parts 2 and 3 coming soon.

Summer is upon us and many of us are putting on swimsuits and smaller clothing for the first time in months only to find that our last minute work outs and dieting did not work as effectively as we thought. With the incoming sun, we find that just like the plants, we've grown.  Some people call it their "winter coat", but I will take my denial 1-step farther and just swear that the sun made me grow just like it did the plants, so my summer clothes are a little tighter than I remember.  Being from the greater Seattle area where we've seen 6 months of straight rain, with a sudden onset of more frequent sun, it almost seems like a viable story, so as they say,  "That's my story and I'm sticking to it!"

Whether it's your "winter coat," the "freshman 15", or the fact that the sun made you grow like a weed, the fact remains there is still those extra pounds that are just lingering like a bad penny that can no longer be ignored, so what can we do to decrease those sizes a little more rapidly?

Time for a summer cleanse!

The great news is that since it is summer, it is the easiest and best time to drop size and do acleanse.  You may argue that there's vacations and barbecues to contend with, and while I agree that there's pitfalls, most food that is readily available is fresh, full of water, high in fiber, and great for flushing the system.  Heavier food like cream sauces, heavy pastas, sweet heavy cakes, etc are easily exchanged for olive oil based salads, fresh fruits, and grilled veggies.  SOOO what is the best way to loose those last 10 pounds this month?

 Well if you calculate healthy weight loss at 2 pounds per week, you can easily lose 8 pounds in 1 month. Add in a bit of exercise and walking during these beautiful summer nights, and losing another 2 pounds could easily be managed with enjoyment.  Yes, there will be some sacrifices that you have to make, but the rewards will be worth it.

  1. Time to give up dairy temporarily.  Cut most dairy including milk and cheese.  You can have 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1-1/2 Tbl of honey and 1/4-1/2 cup of fresh fruit.  This can be breakfast or dessert or an evening snack.  Plain Greek yogurt is higher in protein than it's sugary counter parts, and adding the honey and fresh fruit (I prefer berries of any sort), makes it feel more like a dessert or treat.  If you drink cream in your coffee, switch to coconut milk or coconut cream (the REAL stuff in the can, not the sugar laidened processed crap).  This will give you boost of good fat in the morning and jump start your metabolism; especially if you eat protein like a boiled egg or turkey bacon for breakfast.   
  2. Walk 20-30 min per day. If it's very hot where you're from, enjoy the cool evenings as the sunsets.  If you already have a workout routine, you can add this in addition to it to step up the weight loss.
  3. Meditate.  Yes, that's right, meditate.  Meditation has been shown to calm the mind and reduce the cortisone levels that increase with stress.  Cortisone is responsible for excess belly fat.  Meditating 10-20 min a day will decrease the overall cortisone levels in our body, which will allow the midsection to let go of some fat reserves.
  4. While I'm on decreasing cortisone levels, make sure to enjoy your vacation if you're taking one over the summer. Many people take a vacation and over-schedule themselves to see everything.  This can cause additional stress and fatigue from running around maintaining the hectic schedule you were supposed to leave behind.  This will not do.  Make sure you include down days to relax and recover, so you do not need a vacation after your vacation.

8 Ways To Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder

8 Ways To Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder

8 Ways To Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder
By: Shandalla L.Rigby, MSA, LMP

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

SAD is a form of mild depression that is generally thought to be due to the decrease in light as the season changes and the days get shorter.  It is also known as the "winter blues."  It is characterized by moodiness, irritability, sadness, discontent, and excess sleepiness.  Less commonly, there can be more severe symptoms such as: loss of interest, appetite changes, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

In a state like WA, where the daylight hours are very short during the winter months, it is not uncommon to see this disorder cropping up.  However, there are some very easy ways to prevent this disorder.

Get your Vitamin D checked.  Vitamin D is generated by our bodies using the sun.  It is natural for this vitamin to decrease during the shorter days of winter.  Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are very similar to SAD.  Your primary care physician can do a blood test to check your levels for you.

Take a B-Complex that includes Folate/Folic acid, Vitamin B-6, Riboflavin, and B-12.  B-Vitamins help your cells function at their optimum level.  They are co-enzymes that support your body's ATP by helping you convert your food into usable energy.  This can give you a mood boost and increase your overall energy levels.

Take a Fish Oil supplement.  Fish oil is full of good essential fatty acids that nourish the brain and decrease inflammation. Further, research has shown that taking 1000 mg of Fish Oil can be effective in combatting mild cases of depression. See your healthcare provider for a dose that is right for you, especially if you're on prescription blood thinners.

Get outside and get some natural light.  Whether it's just taking a walk, going snow shoeing, or going skiing, this will have a positive dual effect on the body.  You'll reap the antidepressant effects of a little exercise, and you'll get some natural light to help boost your Vitamin D reserves.

Exercise! I can't say this enough. So many health related issues can be handled by adding a minimal toamount of exercise.  Research has shown that brisk exercise (about 20-30 min per day) can relieve depression and its related symptoms by up to 70%.

Light therapy.  Buy a light therapy box and sit in front of it.  It mimics natural sunlight and is very versatile.  You can use it while you're reading, sitting at your desk working, or watching TV.  You can purchase one at a health retailer like Pharmaca or order it online.

Use Aromatherapy.  Diffusing aromatherapy in the air can help lift the spirits and ease depression symptoms.  The most common oils used are: orange oil, grapefruit oil, lavender oil, or eucalyptus oil.  You can use an essential oil diffuser or if you just want to keep it simple, grab a pan, put 3 cups of water in it, and add 10 drops of your chosen essential oil. Simmer on low, adding water as needed.

Enjoy your friendships.  Usually after the holidays and parties,  many of us do little socializing while winter is passing.  Recovering from the busy holiday season is a good idea, but don't hibernate for 3 months.  Make sure to schedule dinners and happy hours with friends and family, attend a class you'll enjoy, volunteer at a charity, start a book club, or go to the theater.  Anything that will help you enjoy yourself and shake off the blues.  Remember, if you're feeling lonely and have the winter blues, there's likely someone else who feels the same way.  Don't forget, you can enjoy friendships and fun in the winter too

If your symptoms seem unmanageable, please see your primary care physician for help.  There are many other ways that you can treat SAD that may work better than those I listed above.

Original Article Published in The Points Living. Feb 2017. edited: 2/8/2017

This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any disorder.

Easy No-Bake Protein Cookie Balls

Easy No-Bake Protein Cookie Balls

These protein cookies are take less than 20 min to make and will placate your sweet tooth without derailing your healthy New Years goals.  They give you a good dose of energy from the complex carbs in the rolled oats; you get a substantial dose of fiber from the oats, chia seeds, and flax seeds; you'll gain extra protein from the protein powder and nut butters; and finally, you will add good fats to your diet with the nut butters and shredded coconut.  These ingredients combine well to boost long term energy without any added sugar.  They are a nutritious way to pack some extra nutrients into your body throughout the day. I eat them before my workout or for a quick breakfast.  I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.

No-Bake Protein Cookie Balls

2 cups of Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
2 cups of no sugar added organic peanut butter or other nut butter of your choice (do NOT drain off the excess oil)
2/3 cup Organic Raw Honey
1 oz scoop of no sugar added chocolate protein powder
1 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
1Tablespoon of chia  seeds
1 teaspoon of ground flax seed
Sesame seeds (optional)*

Pour all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.  I find it easiest to combine the ingredients by hand instead of spatula because of how dense this cookie is. I also prefer to spray my hands with coconut oil to prevent the ingredients from sticking.  Once well combined, roll dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  Continue to coat hands with oil as needed.  Refrigerate for 1 hour, serve chilled.

*For added variation, I will roll half my cookies in loose sesame seeds.  This adds a delicious, unique flavor.

Easy Flavorful Chicken Salad

Easy Flavorful Chicken Salad

Flavorful Chicken Salad

1 cup Whole Greek Yogurt

12 oz can of Cooked chicken

1/4 cup Sweet and Hot Jalapeños, minced

1 Stalk Organic Celery, minced

1/2 teaspoon Onion powder

1/2 Ground Mustard seed

1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder

Juice of 1 Lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Pinenuts, Walnuts, OR Slivered Almonds for Garnish

Mix all ingredients (except Nuts) together in a medium bowl.  Stirring until mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir.  Garnish with one of the above nuts.  Serve in Organic Lettuce leaves* or with sliced veges.  I usually eat my chicken salad with Organic Celery, Rainbow Baby carrots, and Sliced red/orange/yellow pepper.

*If serving in lettuce leaves, add a few slices of avocado for an added boost to the good fats.


New Year Cleanse

New Year Cleanse

The new year is upon us and with that I am doing a New Year cleanse.  I start by weighing myself to see what I am working with.  I will just say, it's more than I need to way for my height, but I'm ok with that because I have lost 11 pounds over the last 6 months by making healthy nutrition choices and getting rid of many major stressors in my life. 

I'm hoping to continue that loss and jump start my metabolism by doing a Cleanse that involves getting rid of all process foods, sugar, alcohol, dairy, and simple carbs.  This is my goal for 1 month.  

Today is the first day.

The reason I find it important to do a cleanse a few times a year is to clean out my body of every toxin I put into it.  I know the liver does a very good job of doing this, but this is my way of assisting it. I am giving my body all the nutrition it needs in an easily digestible way, so that it can utilize all the nutrients in a fully functional, maximized way.  In addition, I am taking herbs that assist in the cleansing process... speak to your healthcare provider before starting any new herbs or changing your diet.

So this is what my cleanse looks like.

When I woke up, I started by drinking 8 oz of water and taking my cleansing herbs.

Then I had a cup of coffee sweetened with 1 Tablespoon of honey and a Tablespoon of whole coconut cream; the unprocessed stuff out of the can.  I chose to keep my coffee.  There are many health benefits, including it helping with elimination and having antioxidants. I cleaned it up to include a healthy fat and a healthy sweetener that boosts the immune system.  In addition, I also decided that keeping my coffee would keep me from feeling like everything enjoyable in my life was ending for 1 month, lol.

For breakfast I made a whole juice that included 4 cups of mixed organic greens, 3 organic carrots (each a different color), 2 stalks of organic celery, 1/2 an organic lemon, and 1organic apple.  It was delicious.  

My goal is to boost my nutrient load and give my body the antioxidants it needs to assist the liver in the clean up all the excess toxins from the previous year.  

Next,  I had 12 oz of water with a capful of raw, organic, apple cider vinegar added to it.  This alkalizes the body and provided good bacteria for the intestines.  FYI: You can taste the vinegar.  I don't mind the flavor, but it can take a bit to get used to.

In addition: 

For lunch, I had a chicken and ginger bone broth soup (see previous post on bone broth).

For a snack, I'm going to have 1 cup blueberries and raspberries,  a 1/4 cup of nuts, and a cup of green tea.

For dinner, I am making lemon pepper chicken, asparagus and mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, garlic, shallots, and lemon, and steamed kale.  The key to a filling dinner when removing simple starches is to use multiple fibrous vegetables. 

My final snack will be homemade protein balls. I will post the recipe in an upcoming blog.

I hope this inspires you as you move forward into a healthy new year.

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Roasted Winter Root Vegetables

1 bulb of Celeriac (celery root)

1 yellow onion

2 beets-any color

2 turnips

4 parsnips

4-6 multicolored carrots

3 Tablespoons of good quality olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 shallot minced

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary; roughly chopped

1 Tablespoon of Italian Seasoning

1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt or sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Clean, rinse, peel, and chop all vegetables into large chunks and place in a large bowl.

Ladle olive oil over the top of the vegetables and toss until all vegetables are coated.

Add garlic, rosemary, shallot, Italian seasoning, and salt. 

Toss vegetables again until spices are roughly, evenly distributed.

Place in a roaster or covered pan and put in preheated oven.

Cook for 30 min checking to make sure root vegetables are fork tender.  If they are still hard, cook at additional 10 min increments until desired tenderness is reached.

Bone Broth Soup Recipe

Bone Broth Soup Recipe

Immune Boosting Bone Broth:

Bone broth has multiple health benefits.  It's perfect for the season change, for boosting the immune system, healing the gut, and giving us prolonged energy as we enter the fall and the children head back to school.  In Chinese Medicine, it is used to increase energy, assist with joint pain, aids in treating iron deficiency anemia, and decreases pain and inflammation. It is also used to fight aging and increase collagen production.  It's time consuming to make, but well worth it.

Below,  I've included my personal recipe for beef bone broth.  Feel free to try it and play with it.  You can use any combination of vegetables or bones that you choose. I recommend using grass fed free range bones and organic vegetables to get the most benefits from the broth you make.  I drink 1-2 cups everyday for the best results.  It's something I love to have in the mid-morning after my coffee.

Shandalla's Bone Broth Recipe:

  • 2 lbs of grass fed beef bones-roasted at 425 degrees for 1-1/2 hrs 
  • 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar-divided
  • water
  • 2 whole yellow onions-chopped 
  • 1 leek-sliced
  • 2 small carrots-sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery-sliced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic-minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons of salt
  • 2 tsp mixed whole peppercorns
  • 1 bunch of parsley-chopped
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp oregano


Roast beef bones in oven, uncovered, for 1-1/2 to 2 hrs.

Place in a large stock pot with 1 Tbl of apple cider vinegar. Fill stock pot with enough warm water to cover bones; let soak for 20 min.  After soaking the bones, bring bones to a boil on medium high, skimming off foam every 20-30 min. Boil for 2 hrs.  Transfer bones and water to a crock pot, add remaining vinegar and all remaining ingredients to the pot.  Cook stock in crock pot on low for 24-48 hrs, adding water as needed to keep the bones covered and submerged. Skim off fat (beef oil) every few hours through out cooking process.***  When you are done simmering the broth, strain out all the liquid and compost or throw away the solids.  The liquid is your bone broth. You can freeze the broth or store it in the fridge and use it as desired. 

***You can dispose of the fat or collect in a jar to use the fat to cook with later; make sure to store the fat in the fridge for future use.  It will solidify like butter when cold, which is normal.  For more information on good fats, keep an eye out for my upcoming blog on the topic.

Strawberry Tomato Salad

Strawberry Tomato Salad

Strawberry Tomato Salad

3 cups organic Baby Arugula-prewashed, prepacked is the perfect size

8 oz. Organic Sweet Cherry or Mixed Grape Tomatoes-halved lengthwise

8 oz. Organic Strawberries- thickly sliced

Half an English Cucumber-cubed

Half a Red Onion-diced

¼ cup Fresh Cilantro-chopped

¼ cup of Fresh Dill-chopped

Feta Crumbles to Garnish: optional


½ cup white balsamic vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1 tsp honey

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss all the fresh ingredients together except feta cheese. Keep cool (not cold) until ready to serve. In a separate bowl or salad dressing container, mix together all dressing ingredients until smooth. Set aside, remixing as needed. When ready to serve, sprinkle feta cheese on top of salad.  Serve salad with dressing on the side, using as desired for additional flavor.

This recipe will be in The Points Living Magazine June, 2016

Combating Seasonal Allergies

Combating Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal Allergies Got You? Try These Remedies!

By: Shandalla L.R. Seirawan, MSA, Bastyr University, Premed N.D.

It’s that time of year again in Western Washington.  Yes, it is spring; making our fair city even more beautiful with all its blooms and flowers and yes, unfortunately, allergy season.  Spring shows up with all its glory and for some, it can bring with it sneezing, watery eyes, uncontrollable runny nose, and a puffy face.  All of this sending even the bravest of us inside to avoid the pollen and to avoid being caught in public looking like a watery mess.  To help you out, I did some research and brought together the other practitioners in my office. Together, we can offer you some advice to offset this time of misery because we want you to make the most of our wonderful upcoming spring days.

Get a chiropractic adjustment: Getting regular chiropractic adjustments during this time can help to make the body perform optimally and increase the immune system, this way you are less susceptible to the onset of allergies.  In addition, gentle adjustments can open up the Eustachian tubes of the ears and release the sinuses to help decrease the misery that comes with the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Consume locally sourced raw honey throughout the year: Local honey is a great way to build up immunity over time.  The key is getting locally sourced raw honey that is created with local pollen.  Because honey contains a small amount of pollen, a you consume the honey throughout the year, the body will build up immunity to that allergen.

Reishi Mushroom tea/tincture:  Reishi mushrooms are a woody mushroom used widely throughout the world, but is well known to reverse signs of aging.  In addition, research has shown that it increases the immune system and decreases histamine and inflammatory response.

Nettle tea:  Yes, the Stinging Nettle variety.  Once dried, it loses its ability to sting, but gains the ability to decrease inflammation in the body and decreases histamine response.  Histamine is what is responsible for all the symptoms that come with seasonal allergies.  The best bang for your buck will come from wild harvested dried organic nettle leaf.  You can order whole leaf nettle from a local Seattle store online at

just steep in boiling water to make an herbal tea, or go to Whole Foods and pick up some Nettle Leaf Tea by Traditional Medicinals.

Quercetin:  This has also been shown in preliminary studies to lessen inflammation and reduce histamine production while acting as a bronchodilator.  You can get quercetin from foods like red onion, grapes, apples, parsley, sage, green tea, and citrus.  Better yet, make a salad with some of these ingredients and poof, you have a healthy delicious allergy reducing side dish.  Or make a wonderful citrus green tea by boiling 2 quarts of water with 4 green tea bags; making sure to steep tea bags for only 3-5 minutes to prevent bitterness, remove and discard.  Once the green tea has cooled some, wash and slice a whole orange, peel included, place in the tea.  Let it rest for 1 hour to infuse the tea. Sweeten with local honey to taste and serve cool.  Now you have a great allergy busting drink. If you’d rather, you can also obtain a quercetin supplement from a Naturopathic Doctor.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC): NAC is a derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine.  It is well known for its antioxidant benefits.  It increases energy and is a precursor to glutathione, one of the body's natural healing chemicals and disease fighters.  NAC boosts the immune system and thins mucus is a natural allergy remedy.

As you can see there are many ways to treat and prevent allergies.  Talk with primary care physician or Naturopathic Doctor to determine the treatment that is the most appropriate for you. 


Beat the Midwinter Slump Naturally

Beat the Midwinter Slump Naturally

So it's that time of year, February, the time of year where you may be longing for spring, but it seems so far off.  The days are growing, but we haven't reached the equinox, so it's still dark more often than it is light. Maybe some of the birds are starting to show up again, or if you're in the south, they may be leaving again. Either way spring is just not here yet, and you are tired.  It's still cold, you still do not want to get out of bed bright and early to greet the day, you just want to finish your winter hibernation in peace. Well maybe this is you, maybe it is not, but it is DEFINITELY ME.  February is a drag.  So what can you do to give yourself a boost and beat the fatigue?  Well if your healthy and do not have a chronic illness causing the exhaustion, read on.  Here's some ideas for you, some will be redundant, others will be new to you.

First off, get to bed at a reasonable time, In Chinese Medicine, my specialty, it is recommended that one be in bed before midnight because according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM),  the most restorative sleep occurs between midnight and 3am.  In addition, practice good sleep hygiene.  Turn off all the lights, make sure you are not working or on your phone while you are in bed.  It is important that your brain gets conditioned to sleep when you are in your bed.

Second, aim for 7-8 hrs of sleep.  If you suffer from insomnia, see a professional.  There are several researched natural remedies to increase sleep.  From acupuncture, to herbalism, to magnesium supplementation, these things have been found to help increase length of sleep time.

Don't miss your work out.  Shoot for three times a week with a minimum workout time of 30 min.   Whether it is running or walking or going to the gym, any physical activity is going to help you rest easier because your body will burn the extra calories and sugar you may have consumed throughout the day, plus your body will NEED the rest to restore itself.  Even running stairs at work counts. (That's what I do sometimes on my break when I know I'm not going to make it to the gym).

Get your vitamin D levels checked.  Many people suffer from 

Vitamin D deficiency

 and do not even realize it.  This is because we spend so much time inside nowadays.  We're in the our offices working 8-12 hrs a day or in school or enjoying our air conditioned homes or avoiding the cold out doors.  We're just not outside like we used to be.  In addition, not everyone can synthesize vitamin D from the sun. People who are vitamin D deficient can suffer from depression, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and several other issues,

Get your vitamin B-12 checked.  We do not make vitamin B-12 ourselves and because our food system is largely comprised of processed foods, may people are not getting enough B-12 and are suffering from

Vitamin B-12 deficiency

.  People may also lack the enzyme to obtain B-12 from their food.

Check your cortisol levels and adrenals to make sure you're not suffering from adrenal fatigue or bombarded by excessive levels of cortisol in the blood.  This is even more important if you suffer from insomnia.  It could be that your body is releasing cortisol and adrenal hormones at the wrong time, which might be the cause of keeping you awake at night.

Finally, there are some very nice herbs that support the adrenals and give a natural boost over time.  Speak to your Naturopathic Doctor or other alternative primary care provider to learn more about the following herbs. 

Reishi Mushroom- used extensively in China for increased stamina, longevity, and increased immune function.

Rhodiola- also known as the Arctic herb, it has been used widely in the Scandinavian nations like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden to combat fatigue, restore energy, and decrease anxiety.

Eleuthro- this used to be known as Siberian Ginseng, but was not part of the ginseng family, so it was renamed.  This herb was used in Siberia, Russia where the days are very dark in the winter and used by the Russian military to improve focus, decrease activity in the adrenal cortex, and to support endurance.  This is one of my favorite adaptogens.

Triphala- This is a medicinal food blend used in India as part of Ayurvedic medicine.  It is composed of 3 plants Amla, Bibitaki, and Haritaki.  This blend is great over the long term and is used to increase longevity, decrease sexual dysfunction, build the body's natural immunity, and detoxify.

Before starting any new diet or exercise programs or starting any new herbs, please consult with a qualified practitioner because not all of these suggestions are right for everyone.  In addition, certain herbs can interact with prescription medicines, so please consult a physician if you have any chronic illnesses or are taking any prescription drugs  BEFORE you start any new herbal treatments.

For more information on combating fatigue, please check out these sources.  

K.P. Khalsa offers many natural health webinars at the following link.  Some of this information is from a series of classes I took with him as continuing education.

Roasted Beet Hummus

Roasted Beet Hummus

This recipe is inspired by my trip to Denmark.  This last summer, I went to Copenhagen to visit my sister.  On one particularly slightly hot day in August, I found myself craving fresh clean food and a healthy smoothie.  My sister took me to one of her favorite cafes, Botaniq.  There, I had a wonderful salad that I will reveal later in another recipe :), a Lavender infused smoothie, and a humus that was made with beets and sprouted chickpeas that was divine.

Today was a very nice temperate sunny day in Seattle; very rare for this time of year because we're usually slightly chilly, grey, and rainy for roughly 6 mos. out of the year.  Anyway, while I was enjoying the resonable winter temperatures and the sun, I found myself reminiscing about my summer and longing for the colors of spring that are still a few months off. I was craving the beautiful hues of flowers, the freshness of spring blossoms, and longing for some invigorating color in my life, then I remembered this dish.  It's a beautiful pinkish red color with an earthy, slightly sweet flavor.  Even better, it's healthy, high in protein, and made with a wonderful, often underused winter root vegetable that is full of vitamins A, B, C, minerals, and phytonutrients.  The beet pairs well with the chickpeas, which are sprouted to increase enzymes and protein.  Together, they create a harmony of flavor and color that is reminiscent of three seasons combined.  This dish is perfect to boost your mood, bring back memories of summer, and still support your New Year's resolutions during these midwinter grey days.  If I ever achieve my dream retirement and am able to open my cafe, this will definitely be a dish I serve.  Now for the recipe.

For starters, you need to

sprout your chickpeas.

  This is done by repeatedly rinsing and soaking your chickpeas until they start to grow slightly and tails appear.  This can take roughly 48 hrs, but it's worth the wait for the added nutritional benefits you get.  If you want instant gratification, just use canned organic chickpeas that are thoroughly rinsed.

Recipe  Ingredients:

  • 2 large roasted organic beets, divided
  • 2 cups soaked, sprouted organic chickpeas, cooked (You'll start with a 1/2 cup of dried chickpeas if you followed the link above, but the final measurement may very slightly depending on how much your chickpeas grew when you soaked them).
  • zest of 1-1/2 large lemons (preferably organic to prevent pesticide residue)
  • juice of 1-1/2 large lemons, seeds removed
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c tahini
  • 1/4 c + 1 TBS olive oil, divided
  • salt to taste
  • 1 TBS finely chopped organic cilantro, garnish


Rinse and scrub beets to remove dirt.  Cut off greens removing only the very top part of the beet**.  Cut beets in half, place beets in a pan, drizzle with 1 TBS olive oil and roast beets at 375 degrees until tender (about 30-45 min). Place cooked beets in a bowl in the refrigerator until they cool to room temperature. Peel beets once cooled.  This should be fairly easy after they are cooked.  Set aside 1/2 a peeled beet to chop and use as a garnish.

At the same time you are cooking the beets, cook sprouted chickpeas by placing them in a large sauce pan filled with about 3-4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover pan with lid, reduce heat to medium and cook until tender (about 45 min). Add water as necessary to keep chickpeas covered. Once tender, drain chickpeas, rinse and place in a bowl in the fridge to cool to room temperature.

When beets and chickpeas have cooled, place all ingredients, except remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, cilantro, and 1/2 beet in a food processor. Pulse the processor making sure to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.  Process until all ingredients are combined, drizzling in olive oil as you puree. If it's too dry, feel free to add a little extra oil until smooth.  Once pureed, scrape your roasted beet hummus into a dish; sprinkle on your cilantro garnish and top with the remaining chopped beet. Serve with fresh sliced cucumbers and/or other veges, whole grain seeded thinly sliced baguette, pita bread, or whatever your heart desires.  In Copenhagen, they served this dish alone as a salad, but I prefer to use veges as my humus carrier for the added fiber, vitamins, and nutrients.


**Beet greens are edible. You can use your beet greens in fresh juices, smoothies, soups, or salads.

Energizing Quinoa Salad

Energizing Quinoa Salad

Get your New Years resolutions off to a great start with this recipe for an Energizing Quinoa Salad.

1-1/2 c cooked rainbow quinoa
1/4 of English cucumber chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/3 c of cilantro minced
1 ripe avocado, cubed
3-4 pieces of Dino kale stemmed and cut into slivers
2 TBD sesame oil
Juice 1/2 a large lemon
Kosher salt to taste
1 Tbs sesame seeds to garnish

Mix all ingredients together.  Toss and serve cool.

***For an extra protein boost or to make this an easy stand alone lunch ,  you can serve this with 4-6 Oz of grilled chicken breast.***

Happy eating!

Are you setting Smart New Years Resolutions?

Are you setting Smart New Years Resolutions?

Happy New YEAR! How are your New Year’s resolutions coming?  Do you need a little help to get you more focused or to help you get on the bandwagon? I love New Year's with its virginal new beginnings and the idea of out with the old, in with the new.  New Years is a great time to clean up everything emotionally, mentally, physically, and to let go of the past.  It's a great time to start fresh. My niece does not understand what the big deal about the new year was, but I guess at 12, you're not celebrating too many new beginnings or enjoying that you survived another year of the challenges of life.  For me, I actually start planning for the new year right around Thanksgiving and begin implementing small changes in my life in an effort to do damage control at the onset of the holidays. In this way, I can optimize my holiday experiences. In November I added 1 extra day of working out to prevent the weight gain that the holidays tend to bring with all it's sugary sweets. I created an action plan to avoid completely blowing all the health successes that I achieved through out the year, then I use the momentum of the New Year to refine my goals and set new ones, to reflect on what I learned the past year, and to physically write down my goals and place them somewhere that I can see them everyday (like my bathroom mirror).  This keeps me motivated and focused daily on what I'm trying to do.  Sometimes I fail and drop the ball, or I lose momentum as the year continues on, just like everyone else, but the point for me is to try and improve at every opportunity possible because even if I do not achieve the full goal I originally set, my small changes and small achievements tend to stick around, so that the next time when I try to reach the same goal, I am one step closer. That being said, there are ways to set goals to help improve your chances of finally reaching what you set out to do.  Writing them down is a big step.  This can give you a chance to see the goals on paper and help you to clarify what you're trying to do.  Setting an action plan for achieving those goals helps you plan step-by-step the path that you're going to use to get to your success. There are other steps used by medical practitioners, 


, and CEOs to help them to actualize their goals.  I have included the steps for setting S.M.A.R.T. goals to help you improve your odds, so without further ado, here's some information to follow as you set your New Year's resolutions.

S=Specific: What exactly are you trying to achieve?  I will use the example of weight loss because that is my goal this year.   My specific goal this year is to lose some of the extra weight I gained while I was in grad school.

M=Measurable:  How much do I actually want to lose?  For me, it’s 15 pounds. Goals should be measurable so that you know you’re heading in the right direction, and you know when you have achieved your goal.

A=Action-oriented:  What steps am I going to take to reach this goal?  Am I consulting with a nutritionist to get a grasp on how to eat better?  Am I going to run or go to the gym?  What action am I going to take?  For me, I feel like I have enough nutrition information to eat well, so I’m going to go to the gym 3 times a week and consult with a personal trainer to make sure I am maximizing my workouts.  Later, if I’m not reaching my goals, I will reconsider a nutritionist.

R=Realistic:  Are my goals realistic?  Seriously, this is something I see every day at the clinic I work at.  Not all goals are realistic. For example, if you make $50,000 a year as your annual salary, you’re not likely going to set a goal to save $100,000 with in the next year, so be realistic.  For weight loss, the question is, do I really have 15 pounds that I can lose?  For me, the answer is a resounding YES!  I am over weight, but that may not be true for everyone, so be realistic and seek outside help from professionals if you’re not sure if your goal is realistic.  If it’s saving money, see a financial planner; if it’s weight loss, see a doctor, you get the point.

T=Time bound: When do you want to have this goal accomplished?  There needs to be a time limit so that you know there’s a deadline for what you’re trying to do.  This also holds you accountable to yourself, and gives you a chance to check in with yourself and make sure you are on track for your deadline. 

So there it is.  My S.M.A.R.T. goal for 2016 is to lose 15 pounds in 6 months by cutting refined sugars and working out at the gym.  In addition, I can do other things to help myself achieve this goal, like tell some friends, so they can check in with me.  I can break this down into smaller bite size goals or write it down and post it on my mirror and refrigerator to remind me what I am working towards when I want to mindlessly munch food.  I can also cut myself some slack if I slip and eat a chocolate chip cookie, and remember, anything worth doing is going to be challenging.  The key is not to give up.  Remember if you slip, it’s not the end of the world because tomorrow you get a fresh start.

I hope this helps to assist you in reaching all of your goals this year.  Whether you are just starting, getting back on track, or continuing what you have already began, this can be another tool to help you along the way.  For more goal oriented information or health information, check out  more of my blog

. You can also find me on Facebook at Noor Holistic Health.  

Remember, before starting any new weight loss programs or changing your diet, please consult with a physician.


*** In an effort to avoid plagiarizing myself, it should be noted that much of the information contained here has been submitted for publication in The Points Living, Feb. 2016, magazine. 

No more old fashioned oatmel: NEW Super-food Oatmeal recipe

No more old fashioned oatmel: NEW Super-food Oatmeal recipe

I never really liked oatmeal until I was in my 30s.  It was bland, sticky, and no matter how hard I try, I could not find a good flavor using old recipes.  The instant stuff was delicious, but it was processed and full of sugar.  I had tried it with raisins and cinnamon like my mother taught me, and while it kept me satiated, it was no my favorite breakfast.  My how things have changed!  Maybe it was all the nutrition knowledge I gained in grad school, or maybe it was the need to eat a healthy breakfast even when I was on the go, or maybe I just decided to experiment until I found a great recipe, but no matter the reason why, oatmeal is now one of my favorite quick breakfasts.  I love the fiber in it, and the versatility.  Instead of seeing it as a sticky, bland, boring breakfast, NOW I use the dish as a carrier for as many super foods as I can fit in it, and yes, it is delicious.  Here's one of my tried and true recipes.

1/2 c dried old fashioned rolled oats

1 Tablespoon of coconut oil

1-1/2 Tablespoons dried goji berries*

1/4 cup of walnuts**

1 teaspoon of chia seed, flax seed, or hemp seed***

1-1/2 Tablespoons of honey****

3/4 cup boiling water

This is the convenient breakfast that can be prepared the night before.  Simply put all ingredients EXCEPT the water in a bowl.  You can carry this with you anywhere and add water when you are ready to eat.  Most work places have a hot boiling water tap attached to the water cooler or a hot bun water filter. If not, you can "brew" water in a coffee maker by sending it through the coffee machine without the coffee grounds.  This will also get the water hot enough.  Add the water to the oatmeal,  stirring thoroughly to mix in the coconut oil as it melts while you stir in the hot water.  Cover and let steep for 3-5 minutes until majority of the water is absorbed.  Eat hot.

* You can get these from most high quality grocery stores, but I also like dried unsweetened cranberries or raisins

** You can use any nut you wish to add protein.  I found that whole pistachios are not as good as other nuts.

*** Feel free to try  1 Tablespoon of this blend in place of the above.  This can be purchased at Whole foods or online.

**** Feel free to substitute maple syrup in place of honey, or you can use Stevia leaf to taste for less calories, or skip sweetener altogether.