Friday, May 27, 2016

Rules to Live By

This past year I have been working on getting my 500 hour Registered Yoga Teacher certification. Yoga has always been my lifeline; a set of tools to alleviate physical, mental and emotional stress. My first yoga class was in my living room at the age of 14 taught by my older sister’s friend Mike Williams who had just returned from study in India. I was quite taken and impressed by this and by Mike too! I had been in the emergency room with pain and back spasms that took my breath away due to scoliosis and a hiatal hernia. From a young age it was difficult to get out of bed in the morning due to my sore, stiff neck and back. Over the years I have periodically practiced various forms of yoga. In my 40’s after several years off the mat, I returned and did a yoga challenge. I grew 1 ½ inches in height, lost my “over 40” flabby arms and love handles, and with some dietary changes lost 35 pounds.

Yoga is so much more than the asana (the physical practice.) Yoga is an ancient set of tools; a map to navigate healthy living. It also encompasses breath work, ethical guidelines, and a road map for focus, concentration, meditation and ultimately peace, freedom and bliss.

The Yamas and Niyamas are the first set of guidelines or stepping stones on the 8 fold path of the yoga sutras (the basic text for classical yoga).

Today I want to share the first Yama, Ahimsa which translates to “nonviolence.” Yoga is meant to be experienced, resulting in self-discovery and growth. Nonviolence must begin with the self before it can be extended to our relationships and the environment. Like the Hippocratic Oath, the message is to “Do no harm.” 

My goal is to practice and model nonviolence by first becoming conscious of the automatic negative beliefs (Ants) and self-limiting beliefs (SLB) that keep us stuck; which is a form of self-violence.

Here are a few strategies to practice personal nonviolence:
  1. Recognize and then reframe Ants and SLB’s. Open your heart and mind to new possibilities.
  2. Recognize that fear creates violence and discover the difference in fear that is healthy and protective versus fear that is incapacitating and keeps you from living life to its fullest.
  3. Practice cultivating courage and compassion. Courage to look directly at our fear and to take loving action; and compassion and forgiveness for shortcomings. Delete the need to beat yourself up!
  4. Create space in your life for contemplation; prioritize time for self.
  5.   Create balance to overcome feelings of powerlessness. Learn to say no; say yes to self-care.
  6. Recognize that there are many paths to healing that lead to many choices. Lovingly choose what you eat, think and actions taken.
  7.  Love yourself as you would have others love you.
  8. Fill your vessel first so that you can give your best to others.
  9.  Give yourself the same love, time and attention that you give others.
  10. Most of all, love all of yourself, the good, the bad and the ugly. Recognize that “what we resist, persists” and creates harmful thoughts of guilt and shame. This serves no purpose and is a form of “self-mutilation.” Forgive all of your imperfections and mistakes.

The bottom line is, we can choose to react out of fear or respond out of love. If you want more peace, you have to create inner peace.

So take an honest personal assessment. Are you a worrier? Do you spend most of your time trying to “fix” others?  What if you consider accepting that we are all perfectly imperfect? Consider trials and shortcomings as vital lessons to be learned on the journey of life.

Instead of trying to fix yourself or others, consider practicing compassion, trust and acceptance that you are unique and magnificent just as you are. Practice these strategies and see how much patience, compassion and peace you can cultivate in yourself. Share what you discover.

I write these out as a reminder to self. If you’ve read my book, Savvy Secrets, you know that the more I tried to “fix” my daughter, the bigger the wedge grew between us. As a mother, it is easy to over-function and attempt to do for our children what they need to do for themselves. This robs them from developing their own strength and realizing the benefit of self-discovery.

Carpe Diem,



Lisa is an author, inspirational speaker, and coach with a mission to inspire and empower others to feel their best at any age. Her book, Savvy Secrets: Eat, Think & Thrive outlines seven steps that are fun and transforming. 
Lisa is part of the New Self Health Movement, the International Health Coach Association and the Wellness Inspired Network. When she is not coaching, speaking or writing, you can find her practicing yoga and joyfully sharing Carpe Diem Dance at every opportunity.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Energy and Empowerment II plus Radical Remission Resources

This week in our nutrition support group, we congratulated each other's continual improvement in health and well-being. This included our thriving patient diagnosed with pancreatic cancer from last week, and another beautiful woman who just returned from vacation in Greece, glowing with a healthy tan and feeling great. We always talk about the importance of vitamin D as being “the conductor of the genetic orchestra” and of course the best way to get it is from the sun (without sunscreen). She noticed how healthy she felt by slowing down, relaxing, and enjoying very clean healthy vegetables and the Mediterranean diet.

This led us to a discussion on Radical Remissions. Kelly Turner, PhD, Harvard graduate and trained researcher has studied and interviewed over 6,000 cancer patients who have had radical remissions, against all odds. As she says, “If you want to win the war on cancer, shouldn’t we study those who have already won?”  Makes sense to me, which is why I urge everyone to come to our weekly group, buy her book, and consider taking her new online course Radical Remission: Applying the 9 Healing Factors into Your Own Life. Click HERE for more info

Dr. Turner outlines the 9 healing factors that are common to all radical remissions, and of course radical change in diet is the number one. Someone asked about a vegan diet versus a paleo diet and we discussed the common components. Both eliminate processed sugars, flours and gluten, fuel for cancer cells, are inflammatory to the gastrointestinal tract and can increase intestinal permeability. Processed foods are also high in chemicals, preservatives, GMO’s and trans-fats creating inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage.This “nutrient dead, non-food” not only stresses the immune system but creates an environment where cancer cells can thrive.

We then had a healthy discussion on the recent NY Times article on GMO’s, here is an excerpt (I added the italics):

The new report was written by a committee of 20, almost all of them from academia. There was no one from crop biotechnology companies like Monsanto or DuPont on the committee, though some members have developed genetically engineered crops and might have been consultants to the companies.
The committee concentrated its review on the genetically engineered crops that account for the vast bulk of such plants grown in the United States. These are corn and cotton containing bacterial genes that make the crops resistant to certain insects; and soybeans, corn and cotton that are resistant to herbicides, particularly glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup.
So we must ask, “Is it the fact that the seed has been modified with a bacterial organism that creates the problem, or is the toxic insecticides and herbicide Roundup that is sprayed on all these Roundup resistant crops that is a problem, or is it both?” We discussed how modifying a food with bacteria could cause the immune system to see the food as a foreign body and begin an immune systems reaction. European studies have shown GMO’s cause inflammation in the GI tract as well as intestinal permeability in animals, which is one reason they have been banned for several decades in Europe. One of our patients shared that he had gastric reflux and GI problems for 25 years and after he cut out gluten and GMO’s four years ago he has not had any problem since. Look at the data and you decide what is best for you. I always advocate “Question everything and let your body be the judge.” Another radical remission strategy is to trust your intuition. There is an interesting documentary called GMO OMG that is entertaining food for thought and informative. A young father takes his family across the US, to Europe and then the International Seed Bank in Norway exploring the safety of GMO's.

Everyone at our luncheon enjoyed an organic non-GMO lunch of lentil bean soup with kale and sweet potatoes, a cabbage and apple slaw, and chia pudding with coconut milk, dates and vanilla. The apples have quercetin, a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory that also  inhibits the growth of cancer cells ( ). The pectin in apples also help bind toxins in the bowel for elimination to further reduce toxicity and inflammation. There is wisdom in the adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” 

Cabbage is also healing to the gut and includes sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS), the active ingredient in Thorne’s Crucera that helps to upregulate detoxification and offers protection from free radical damage. Studies have shown this is an important ingredient in chemo-prevention of cancer stem cells and is uniquely powerful as it affects cancer at the stem cell level.

You can make choices three times a day to provide chemotherapy on your plate. With every bite, you get to determine if your food is life affirming and gives you more energy, or if it will stress the immune system and provide the environment for dis-ease. Now that’s empowering!

To help support healthy choices, as part of the Integrative Wellness Program at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, I am happy to announce that we will be bringing in a vending machine that will be filled with fresh cold pressed organic, non GMO juices and salads from tasty 6. Below is a picture of our juice tasting with Vincent Renner; decadently delicious! 

Last but not least, if you are too ill to shop and cook, here is a link where you can order freshly prepared gluten and dairy free meals delivered directly to your door. CLICK HERE for more information.

There are many ways to "Let Food be thy Medicine" that are simply delicious, energizing and empowering!

Carpe Diem!


Friday, May 13, 2016

Energy and Empowerment: How to achieve optimal weight and wellness

This week’s topic for our nutrition support luncheon was Energy and Empowerment; How to achieve optimal weight and wellness.

We started with great news from one of our patients! A patient with pancreatic cancer who decided to work with Victoria Wood and has attended almost every Wednesday nutrition group, changing her diet, working on self-care and taking lots of the Thorne Research supplements and her CA 19-9 (a cancer marker) dropped from 607.9 to 232.6 in 3 months! She also did the Spectracell micronutrient testing when she starting working with our team one year ago and again this past month. All of her deficiencies improved so much that she only had one low normal level! Her vitamin D is at optimal level of 65 ng/ml. Her cardiologist last week told her to keep doing what she is doing that he doesn’t need to see her for another year and her eyesight is improving! Proof that when you replenish nutrient insufficiencies and you address toxicity and inflammation, the body naturally begins to heal itself. Most importantly, is that the patient reported that she has good quality of life and that motivates her to continue to participate and make vital change.  She has the support of her daughter and husband who also attend our luncheon which is a powerful plus.

Another of our patients attending our nutrition support luncheon requested we discuss resting metabolism and mindful eating for this week’s group.  He read two articles in The New York Times and was hungry for a perspective based on wellness…how profound and wise! This gentlemen, by coming to our weekly luncheons has gone from 283 pounds to 243 without dieting or deprivation. He is now hovering between  245-250, and after reading the NYT articles is worried about moving in the “wrong direction.”

These two articles are great examples of the difference in disease management and wellness and why our current thinking regarding disease management is not very helpful for anyone with chronic conditions. The more we focus on what’s wrong with the body in the attempt to “fix it”, the more shame and stress we get in the process, interfering with the body’s natural ability to heal from within. 

The more we focus on what we really want, the more likely we are to achieve natural balance with ease.  Yes, you heard me, with ease. Robert lost the first 40 pounds with ease. Now he’s worried about not being able to lose even more or worse yet to regain the lost pounds back.

First, I’d like to comment on a few key points from the first article titled, “Never Diet Again” an opinion by Sandra Aamodt, and lessons learned from neuroscience. Here’s why diets don’t work:

#1 Stress holds on to fat. All kinds of stress, mental emotional as well a food sensitivities, gut dysbiosis, and all the hidden causes of inflammation that we discuss in our nutrition groups. This is why weight loss is the natural consequence to healing the body.

#2. Weight Anxiety. The fear of gaining weight leads to binge eating leading to weight gain. Yes, the body follows the mind; what we focus on is what we get. The article gave several examples in both teenage girls and rodents (who have common eating patterns!). Girls who diet in adolescence are three times more likely to become overweight in the next four years. Girls who dieted frequently were twelve times more likely than non-dieters to binge. “binge eating is a common mammalian response to starvation.” You are literally telling your body that you are starving and to save up fat cells for your own survival later on.

#3 Food Deprivation leads to changes in dopamine and neurotransmitters. Remember from our group classes that 90% of our neurotransmitters are produced in the gut. You need a healthy gut for a healthy mind, mood and body.  These changes linger long after the diet.

#4 Diets rely on rules rather than your own internal clues. Marketing mania further supports the false belief that we need to depend on external clues to “fix us,” Powerlessness does not lead to empowered.

#5 Diets are fear driven. We diet because we are worried about heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or just plain not being good enough, young enough, attractive enough, etc. This leads us back to #1 Stress holds onto fat….

I love how Sandra ends her article. She says, “I finally gave up dieting six years ago and I’m much happier. I redirected the energy I used to spend on dieting to establishing daily habits of exercise and meditation. I also enjoy food more while worrying about it less, now that it no longer comes with a side order of shame.”

So what’s the Savvy Secret? Now for the Remedy!
      First, we must love and accept all of us, exactly where we are. Ask, not, “What’s wrong with me, but what’s right with me…what is my loving body trying to tell me?”  The answer may not be what you think.  Newer studies are linking toxicity to obesity, diabetes, cancer and chronic dis-ease. Here’s a graph that points out the direct correlation to chemical use in the U.S. with the rapid rises in diabetes.

Could toxicity be the precursor to diabetes and obesity instead of merely the standard American diet laden with hyper palatable food? Understand the body’s loving way of storing toxins in fat is to protect you. Forget the guilt and shame, it serves no purpose and keeps you on the hamster wheel!

This leads to #2; the need to minimize toxicity in our food and water supply as well as the need to boost the body and support the liver’s detoxification pathways. How?
a.       First, address intestinal permeability (IP), (otherwise toxins just recirculate!), Enlist the 5 R’s of functional medicine we discuss in our group. Remove inflammatory food, Replace processed food with whole nutrient dense food, Restore probiotics, Repair the Gut and Rest and digest and rebalance.
b.      Address nutrient insufficiencies (like vitamin D and zinc which can lead to IP.
c.       Supplement to support the liver. 
d.      Consider a detoxification program to eliminate inflammatory foods, kick the sugar and carb cravings and eliminate toxins. Try the Kick-Start program and the new Tasty 6 juices.

The most important of the 5 R’s is to “rest and digest or rest and repair.” 

Lower Stress! Think HALT Don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired or Thirsty.

Recognize that you cannot meet any of your health goals if you are in fight or
flight mode. It is physiologically impossible to lose weight or to heal and repair
when you are stuck in sympathetic nervous system (SNS) overdrive.  Here's a
picture from my book on what happens when we are always in sympathetic
nervous system overdrive:

When you are chronically in "fight or flight" you become susceptible to eye problems, flu's, viruses and asthma, hypertension, constipation, varicose veins, anemia, anxiety, depression, insomnia and so much more. You secrete less stomach acid which is essential for nutrient absorption, creation of the stress b and k vitamins and  the feel good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. This is why a practice in rest and relaxation, self-love and self-care is so essential!

The second article, That Lost Weight? The Body Finds It  gave the depressing news that nearly all of TV’s Biggest Loser’s gained back lost weight and gives great examples of what NOT to do, and again why dieting and deprivation are ineffective and create more stress, dis-ease and weight gain in the long term. The most intelligent take away is, “We need to explore other approaches.” And Dr Ludwig said, “simply cutting calories was not the answer.” Dr. Rosenbaum summarizes, “The difficulty in keeping weight off reflects biology, not a pathological lack of willpower affecting two-thirds of the U.S.A.” 

There is a great common myth that if you just eat less and exercise more you can meet your weight goals…WRONG!

The truth is counting calories is old school outdated knowledge, stressful, and ineffective. Simply put, a calorie does not equal a calorie. A calorie from a green juice is no way similar to the calories in a soda drink. The calories from a can of soda have so many other effects on the body (consider not only lack of nutrients, but the sugar, the BPA and heavy metal from the can and the negative effect on the pancreas and the adrenals, which affect the hormones, which affect the thyroid….) The body has interconnected intelligence; each body part is functionally related to each other and health begins in the gut.

As we discuss weekly, food is information to the body and can lead to healing the body or causing more dis-ease.

Before we ate lunch, we practiced this deep belly breathing. Inhale to the count of 4, hold for the count of 5 and exhale to the count of 7. We then did some yoga dance to, “Don't Worry, Be Happy”, stimulating the lymphatic system and shaking out the arms and legs and hips. Everyone was smiling and laughing; definitely the best way to decrease stress! It was so much fun we had to do it again to end our lunch.

We ended lunch with a mindful eating experience with chocolate and strawberries. We took our time to smell, taste, feel and chew the food to stimulate digestion and to get the peak enjoyment from eating. Food should be nourishing and decadently delicious. So many studies support happiness as a path to healing. We ended sharing what makes us happy and what each of us could do to increase happiness and decrease stress. Some examples were breathing, movement to music, walking, smelling flowers, cooking and for me it’s time with my Grandson. Now doesn’t it make you happy to see that beautiful baby smile!

Carpe Diem!

Lisa is an author, inspirational speaker, retired RN, certified health coach, and yoga teacher.

Her book, Savvy Secrets: Eat, Think & Thrive: Seven Steps to Optimal Health is a self health book to enable healing from within. Her goal is to inspire wellness and to help others look and feel their best at any age.

Lisa is part of the New Self Health Movement, the International Health Coach Association and the Wellness Inspired Network. She is the mother of four adult children, a Grandmother, and believes that optimal health should not be a secret! When she is not coaching, speaking and writing, you can find her practicing yoga and joyfully sharing Carpe Diem Dance at every opportunity.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Savvy Secret for Peace and Joy on Mothers Day

We all know the saying, “A happy Mother makes a happy family” or “A happy wife makes a happy marriage.” 
It’s so true! It takes a happy, healthy person to have a happy healthy relationship.
Today I want to give thanks to Mothers.

How do we find more peace and joy amidst life's chaos?
Close your eyes and put you hand over your heart and remember the first time you fell in love, if you are a mother, with your child or your baby. For some it was instantaneous after birth, for others it may take a while, but the love a Mother feels for a child is simply indescribable.  I recently felt that same love when my grandson was born. It catches you off guard, this total infatuated love, which again, is indescribable. 

I never knew that my heart would swell with such pride!

I often share in my yoga classes that a heart in love is physiologically different than a heart that is fearful, angry or in pain.  It sends out different chemicals throughout the body.  The reality is, with free will, we have the choice at every moment to choose to love or to choose fear and worry. 

It is easy to forget this when you become a mother. It is easy to become overwhelmed with all the roles and responsibilities we take on, wife, mother, friend, employee or employer.  The more roles we take on, the more challenging it becomes to remember the choice we have to prioritize self-love and self-care. 
The most loving thing we can do for others is to love ourselves. For when we are balanced and full of love, that love spills over and there are no boundaries.
Someone recently asked me, “Who do you love more, your children or your grandson.” I laughed and said, “That’s like what my daughter used to always ask me if I loved her or her siblings more.”  Before my Grandson was born, my daughter shared her fear she would not love her child as much as she loves her puppy. The minute he was born, she laughed and said, “OK I get it!”

Today let’s celebrate this boundless, undeniably contagious, unconditional love, called Motherhood. Let’s remember not only the mother that brought us into this world but all of “the village” that is needed to raise us. Let’s celebrate all of the feminine creative energy that sustains us!

Click Here
 experience this peace and joy for yourself!

Thank you, Mom for giving me life, two beautiful sisters, and unconditional love until I was able to love myself.  Thank you for loving me even when I didn’t love myself. Thank you for always being there, if not physically in spirit. Thank you my dear sisters, aunts, my health coach and all of my female friends for your love, guidance and support to me and my family. Love is indeed, the most powerful tool we have to heal from within.

Carpe Diem with Love & Gratitude!



Lisa is an author, inspirational speaker, and coach with a mission to inspire and empower others to feel their best at any age. Her book, Savvy Secrets: Eat, Think & Thrive outlines seven steps that are fun and transforming. 
Lisa is part of the New Self Health Movement, the International Health Coach Association and the Wellness Inspired Network. When she is not coaching, speaking or writing, you can find her practicing yoga and joyfully sharing Carpe Diem Dance at every opportunity.