A Christmas Light

Happy December!

I love this time of year…it fills me with peace, joy and a sense of gratitude. I know many people dread the holidays and find it sad and lonely: drudgery. I recognize that it is a challenge for many and my heart goes out to them. I am blessed to have faith, to believe in the birth of Christ, and find myself reflecting on the enormity of being alive to witness the beauty of soft white lights while listening to old Christmas songs, making sure I focus on noticing (despite all the commercialism) that there are still gracious givers spreading joy and good deeds to those less fortunate.

Season of Wonder

As a child, Christmas was always full of wonder. I loved going to church Christmas Eve; listening to the bell choir and singing Silent Night in a candle-lit sanctuary. Even as a small child, I felt the reverence of the night and understood its meaning. Mom and Dad did a great job keeping Santa alive for me, despite my older sister insisting that he wasn’t real. After I’d climb into bed, Dad would go outside and make “hoof” marks in the snow so that when I woke up and threw open the curtains at 6:00 AM, I would know that Santa had come (we didn’t have a chimney so he was allowed to come through the front door while we slept). I would have to wait until 6:30, no matter what, to call Grandma and Grandpa to come over. I would practically burst with excitement waiting for them to throw on mismatched clothes and drive the mile and a half to our house. Mom, Dad and my sister would look at me like they wanted to strangle me for getting them up so early, but I didn’t really notice. I was in a bubble of pure joy.

My “Orphan” Christmases

As an adult, I have spent Christmas many different ways. I’ve been away at college, struggling to pay the bills let alone buy gifts, and at times not able to get home due to the weather. I spent nearly twelve years over a thousand miles away from family while I resided in Florida. My first year there, I hardly knew anyone and spent it with a few new friends. That became the norm – we called it our Orphan Christmas. So many people in Florida are away from family, so our orphan dinners grew into larger and larger events, usually outside in the sunshine. Though less than traditional, they were always full of laughter, games, and plenty of eggnog. In 2009, I spent it as a new Mrs. and had a Christmas full of firsts at a not-so-young age.

Sudden Death

In 2013, shortly after my husband Ken and I moved into our dream house, our “forever home” in Missouri, I spent the holiday season reflecting on his sudden death that July. That was the year the meaning of life really hit me – like a wrecking ball. I remember crying and thinking, ‘it’s all so final. He’s just GONE.’ I was heartbroken that he couldn’t see the beautiful decorations or walk with me through the streets of historical St. Charles in the light snow; that he wouldn’t witness the serenity and joy of the season. I remember an exaggerated feeling of being present in each moment, as if I were trying to absorb it for both of us. With every fiber of my being, I breathed in the fresh, cool air and played in the first snowfall with our dog, Barney. I listened and absorbed the words of songs and cried while watching a Charlie Brown Christmas (his favorite).

Renewed Hope

Then, a few weeks before Christmas, there was a distinct moment when peace washed over me, sitting by the fireplace, watching the sky turn from periwinkle to navy as night fell. I felt his spirit near me and my heart open with hope. Where there was once a big, black empty hole, there was now a blank blackboard with which to draw my future. I missed him but felt I could move forward with his blessing, and allow the grieving process to unfold along the way (still unfolding…it never truly ends, it evolves). It dawned on me that each and every moment of being alive is the biggest gift of all, and genuine gratitude for my blessed life filled my soul.

This year, I find myself overwhelmed with appreciation for the love of a wonderful man, Allan, who makes me laugh every day and feel cherished; for my improving health, for getting writing work just when I needed it most, and for living in a place that makes no sense to anybody but me – a fly-over state that is beautiful and full of genuine, caring people, and friends and family who share their love openly, wrapping me in a blanket of warmth.

Joy in the Midst

I know everyone has struggles that vary greatly, but despite the challenges of health or financial issues, the commercialism of the season and the stress, the money involved, the long-ago hurt, sadness or disappointment, there can be joy and peace at Christmas time. Look for it in the quiet of the midnight hour or first thing in the morning over coffee, and even if it’s fleeting, give thanks for being here and bearing witness. Studies show our thoughts control our actions, our moods, and our overall health.

To quote an excerpt from the book, The Healing Code, by Dr. Alexander Lloyd and Dr. Ben Johnson, “A 911 signal from your hypothalamus [in your brain] is what puts your cells into stress mode; it’s what shifts your blood flow away from your internal organs, your higher intellectual functioning, and your immune system.” The book further explains that if you stop sending negative signals to your brain, you use your body’s own positive energy frequencies to overcome the negative frequencies and stop the destruction. “Like turning on a light in a dark room. The light always overcomes the darkness.” Our own Energy.

The Power of “Thank You”

Concentrating on just one thing that we’re grateful for daily can change negative emotions on a cellular level, and the spiritual lift is immediate. Saying thank you out loud to the universe, God or your deity, brings a truth to it that will change your thought pattern. Once you try it, you’ll notice that you’ll say thank you for more than one thing…it becomes a list and WOW! Life gets put in perspective very quickly.

My wish is for you to find peace, even for a few moments each day, and come into the light of the Christmas season. Merry Christmas.

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright….

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The Intricate Web of Healing


After my alternative health doctor in Florida discovered that my sciatic pain was from a dental implant and I had it removed, I experienced instant relief. The nerve pain in my legs, hips and lower back subsided almost immediately. However, the road to total recovery was much longer than I had anticipated.

The dental implant came out in May 2012, and in July I fainted again from the relentless back spasms, ending up in the emergency room over and over. The nerve pain was nearly gone, but my body was still in “protect mode,” trying to shield the weakened surgery site. I had started living a more normal life, able to do light chores and take short walks with Barney, yet I still suffered from random spasms and fainting spells. I had to carry a small pillow with me (even to restaurants!) in order to sit with a fraction of comfort. My back muscles, tendons, and ligaments were simultaneously spasmodic and stretched like licorice ropes from eighteen months of minimal activity.

Stop the Cycle

Anyone who has had muscle spasms knows the first thing we do is try to stretch it out…bad idea! The muscle is contracting to protect what it perceives as a weak spot or an injury. The more you stretch or try to dig it out, the harder it “protects.” Best to lay low, use warm moist heat to loosen it, then administer short bouts of ice to decrease inflammation. When it’s not in spasm-mode, that’s when it’s okay to gently stretch or try to strengthen. Tens units are also a dream come true and have stopped the spasm cycle for me. I couldn’t live without one.

Part of my healing in 2012 included weekly Prolozone injections in my low back (a mixture of B vitamins, Prilocaine, and ozone). The combination lowers inflammation and speeds up healing ten-fold. I even had to have one in my pubic area (OUCH!) in order for the ligaments that held my pelvis together to tighten back up (same ligaments that stretch during childbirth). The loose ligaments supporting my hips were making it impossible for me to sit without knife-stabbing pain. I would watch TV draped over an ottoman! Luckily, the shot worked instantly and I soon moved on to the next phase: minor exercise.

Baby Steps

I began exercising with a DVD called Egoscue Pain Free Workout Series, http://www.egoscue.com/http://www.amazon.comFor those of you experiencing any kind of pain that’s inhibiting normal exercise, I highly recommend it. Not only does it make you feel stronger, it helps with mood too. I remember feeling like a wimp at first because it was so easy, but it was the only way for me to get stronger without overdoing it at the gym. It is my tendency to go full-speed ahead and want fast results. This program kept me from hurting myself and I was able to move up to intermediate within about six months. I know – slooooow!! But I had a few set-backs. I was so weak I felt like a newborn, therefore gradual was necessary.

All year, Ken had been waiting for me to get better so we could move to Virginia for his new promotion. Finally, in September, I felt I could manage the short flight. Just as we secured plane tickets to start house hunting, he got a call from a company in St. Louis with a job offer he couldn’t refuse. I was shocked and remember thinking, “St. Louis, really?” But, I am a big believer in things happening for a reason.


In mid-December 2012, as we rode in the car for seventeen long hours on the way to St. Charles, Missouri, I reflected back on the progress I had made since being bed-ridden just a few months prior. I was exuberant about the chance to start over in a new place, to witness the seasons again, and make new friends. If you had asked me in February what my future would look like, I would’ve said “wheelchair.”

Though I was optimistic, I was still nervous about each hurdle before me. Would I be able to walk Barney while we lived in our little townhouse? What if it was slippery and I fell? I didn’t have a doctor in Missouri, so what if something happened and I couldn’t walk again? I had to set my fears aside, learn to trust that God would be with me on the journey, and embrace the gift of each day.

Turns out, having to walk Barney several times a day and go up and down the stairs in our rented townhouse strengthened me. I found a chiropractor that also practiced acupuncture and I relied on him heavily. By the time we moved into our house in March, I had returned to my favorite form of exercise and meditation – yoga. I was taking daily Barney-walks, and flew back to Florida a few times for IVs to keep my adrenal system healthy. I was really starting to feel relaxed about my health and then something changed.

The See-Saw

In May, my system began reacting to everything I was eating again. Fatigue kicked in and brought along my old buddy Fear, and I had to find resources around St. Louis. I suspected the move was to blame; once we were settled my body gave in to the stress of it all.

Thanks to a chance encounter (divine intervention) and a referral from the nutritionist at my gym, I made appointments with a few different holistic practitioners and found a new-to-me medical paradigm -– quantum mechanics in medicine. Energy work. What an immediate, life-altering difference it made, and still does to this very day. I can’t imagine my future without it.

I also found a place nearby to get those IVs I relied on so heavily, but I couldn’t get in for six months so the energy therapies had a chance to prove their effectiveness, and did they ever! By November, I was sustaining stable physical and emotional health. Turns out, the practitioners that I see have unique techniques that I wouldn’t have been blessed to find in Florida or anywhere else. An intricate web of divine intervention.

Quantum Medicine

I have always been open-minded about holistic healing, as traditional Western medicine has rarely worked well for me (though at times it has). I’ve discovered many valid forms of treatment, and just as Chinese medicine, herbs and “medicine women” have existed since the beginning of time, there is real science behind our energetic universe (thank you, Albert Einstein). For example, Stress. What is it? It’s negative energy. What does it do? Contributes to and causes major illness and cancer. Then there’s the healing power of Prayer/Meditation/Optimism…positive energy and faith, all proven to miraculously heal. Energy.

In future blogs, I will share some of my energy-healing experiences, backed by science and faith, and let you form your own opinions.

“We still do not know one-thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.” Albert Einstein

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Vitamin D3 and K2 — Essential for Health

Sunshine For Optimal Health

In other blogs, I’ve mentioned nutrients, supplements and vitamins that are critical to our well-being and I will touch on many of them in future posts, but right now let’s talk about a wonderful and necessary vitamin (that is actually a neuroregulatory hormone) that we are all deficient in –– vitamin D3.

I am sure you have heard the news about how we are desperately lacking this vitamin and in order to get enough, we need sunshine and fortified foods. But do you know how critical it is to your overall health? And did you know that even if you are taking vitamin D, if you aren’t taking it with vitamin K2, it’s not optimal and may even be harmful?

Unending Benefits

Vitamin D3 influences 3,000 of our 25,000 genes, according to research from Dr. Mercola and a 2008 genome study by Carl Zimmer. Vitamin D literally turns on and off genes that can make you well or harm you. Vitamin D3 can influence many issues, including but not limited to the following:

  • Cancer (notably skin, breast, prostate)
  • Hypertension
  • Inflammation
  • Heart Disease
  • Vein Issues
  • Autism
  • Diabetes 1&2
  • Cold & Flu
  • Autoimmune Deficiency & Diseases
  • Depression
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Asthma
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Eye, Teeth and Ear Health
  • Mental Illness

Best Friends with K-2

Vitamin D, along with being an immune system power-house and mood booster, assists our bodies with absorbing calcium. If it’s not taken in conjunction with vitamin K2 at least once a day, it is less effective and can actually cause calcium buildup and arterial plaque! Mounting evidence proves that they depend on each other to work. I found this out years ago and have struggled with the mystery of why most vitamin D supplements don’t have vitamin K2 in them.

If you get a lot of calcium in your diet or you take a calcium supplement, without the balancing effects of vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K2, all the calcium will not be absorbed. This may lead to a build-up in your organs and joints and cause major heart issues. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, and K2 helps bind and deliver it into the bone, keeping it from being deposited in other areas. Vitamin D also decreases inflammation, wards off infection, and lowers cancer risk.

How Much?

How much vitamin D is necessary for optimal health? That depends on who you ask. The Institute of Medicine has recommended no more than 600 International Units (IUs) a day for infants to seventy-year-olds. Ask any alternative health practitioner or scientist who studies chronic illnesses and they will tell you vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic, and our intake should be much higher. All of my alternative health doctors, as well as more well-known doctors, have sanctioned 1000 IUs as being safe without doctor monitoring, though most people need many thousands more.

Where to Start

When checking your blood or saliva for vitamin D (25-hydroxy vitamin D), you want your number between 60-80 nanograms/ml, no higher than 100. The first time I had mine checked it was 18. I started taking supplements right away and my levels have stayed up around 50-60. Per each of my doctors’ recommendations, I take 10,000 sublingual IUs a day (with vitamin K2) and if I don’t, my number falls. There just isn’t a way to get enough without supplementing, and I lived in sunny Florida for fifteen years! I take morning walks without sunscreen (shhh – don’t tell my dermatologist) when the sun isn’t as intense, hoping to get a smidgen of D the way nature intended. Our skin absorbs and converts vitamin D quickly, providing a little mood and energy boost.

How to Get Vitamin D & K

Since most of us wear sunscreen and live where it is often cloudy, it is hard to get enough from the sun and there is not much vitamin D in food. In doing research, I have found the food source containing the highest IUs is fatty fish, like salmon, which has 400-450 IUs in a 3oz. piece. Not enough for the entire day, though it is good to get it naturally when possible. Vitamin K2 is found in cruciferous and leafy veggies, green tea, turnips, tomatoes, fermented foods and olive oil. You can take D by itself throughout the day or all at once, just make sure you get some K2 mixed in (75-100 mcg daily with food, per Dr. Uzzi Reiss).

One of the only sublingual vitamin D supplements with vitamin K2 that I have found is Michael’s D3 (amazon.com). There are a couple of other brands but they contain lactose, which is no good for me. To get started feeling better with vitamin D, it’s best to ask your doctor for the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test and check your vitamin K levels, then decide how to proceed from there. Also, check with your doc if you are on blood thinners when it comes to vitamin K2, as it can be associated with slight blood thinning, though it varies greatly from K1 in blood clotting capabilities.*

“Our complicated bodies fight the daily battle of striking a balance between producing what we need to stay alive and counter-acting our lack of knowing how to treat ourselves.” Kristin Deann

There is increasing evidence about K2 and how crucial it is to our bodies and brains; if you want greater detail go to mercola.com and search “articles” about vitamin D and K. There is also in-depth information at westonprice.org.
*There is a difference between K2 and K1. Vitamin K1 is involved with blood clotting, and most of us get enough in our diets from leafy greens and other sources. The K2 that goes hand-in-hand with D3 is from MK7, which is long-acting and has very little blood clotting significance. For more on the difference and importance of K1 and K2, visit westonprice.org.




Uzzi Reiss, MD, uzzireissmd.com


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Histamine or Immune Response?

So how do you know if you’re having an allergy or intolerance to something? There are two reactions and we’re all familiar with the obvious one where you itch and swell and sneeze and sometimes have an anaphylactic response. That’s an immediate histamine reaction (IgE antibodies) that can be controlled with antihistamines or a steroid injection.

The other, more subtle allergy is an IgG immune response (food, nickel) where your body will release antibodies to an invader over the course of several days. These can show up as headaches, rashes, nausea, hyperactivity or anxiousness, swollen joints and fluid retention, intestinal disorders, and sometimes even seizures. They are hard to detect because they’re not obvious and require a lot of trial and error. I have found in doing research that these kind of sensitivities seem to be a clue to the early stages of an autoimmune deficiency.

I have done several food sensitivity tests, but in my experience, I can be intolerant to a food for a day or a month, stay away from it, and then be able to eat it again in moderation. And most results have shown that I am allergic to everything I am currently eating, like lettuce, because it’s in my blood serum. One test result said I’m not allergic to nuts. If I had believed the test and ate nuts, I could have died. So, I personally don’t trust the tests anymore. I listen to my body and use muscle testing as a guide (I’ll explain that later).

One of my experiences with food sensitivities that came out of nowhere and went away was with corn and turkey. The day of my husband Ken’s funeral, I had a light luncheon for all who attended, which included a sandwich platter and seven-layer dip with corn chips. I was able to choke down some turkey and a few corn chips. My immune system associated those two items with the severe anguish that my adrenal system was trying to handle and said to my body, “This is bad — we don’t want you here.” I could finally eat those two things again about six months later.

When my immune system is strong, I have a little more freedom with what I eat, but when I’m stressed or feeling low, I have to be careful.

As for jewelry, white gold can be made with palladium instead of nickel. It’s about the same price and keeps its shine better. Platinum and nickel-free sterling silver are also good choices.

To start a nickel-free kitchen, you will find a wide variety of nickel-free flatware online. Stainless will have a number stamped on it like 18/8. That means its 18% chromium, 8% nickel. Nickel-free is 18/0. It’s not as durable, but it’s a safer choice and it’s inexpensive so you can change it up every couple of years.

I find my ceramic pans at the TJ MAXX group of stores.  I haven’t found ceramic baking sheets yet so I always use parchment to line them. I won’t use Teflon or any pans (ceramic or otherwise) made in China due to possible lead and other additives. My ceramic pans are all made in Italy, Germany, or the Netherlands. You can also use aluminum or cast iron, but I try to eliminate any metal leaching into my food.

There are nickel testing kits on nickelfreelife.com, nickefree.com, or amazon.com that are easy to use. If an item contains nickel, the cotton swab turns pink. It’s as simple as that.

Once the dental implant process was over I was sure I could rebuild my system and get back to a normal life. Little did I know, the nickel allergy was just a pebble in a heap of gravel, and things would get much worse before they would get better.

Stay tuned…the Mysterious Link will shake your beliefs and maybe save a life.

“When you are young and healthy, it never occurs to you that in a single second your whole life could change.” Annette Funicello

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Another Layer of the Health Onion Revealed

Have you ever had unexplained pain? Or pain and exhaustion that seems to have an explanation but no remedy? There may be a simple (yet seemingly crazy) reason why. This is a three-part story due to the tangled knot of discovery and efforts to unravel my very own mystery. You may see yourself or someone you know in the following three stories.

As I marched through the process of feeling better, feeling worse, feeling better, worse (you get the idea) from 2006 through 2009, I figured it was my busy lifestyle that created the health roller coaster. Mid-year 2006, I was working as a commissioned sales rep in Florida and having a long-distance relationship, travelling every couple of weeks to Tennessee. After about six months, my boyfriend (eventually my husband, Ken) who lived in Knoxville decided to move to Florida to be with me, so we bought a house together and got ready to settle in when an amazing job opportunity for Ken presented itself — in Las Vegas.

Now we had to rent or buy a house in Vegas and fly hours to be together. I did most of the travelling and ended up working there and Florida, opening Vegas accounts for my company a week or two a month. Back and forth I went for a year until Ken’s dream opportunity fell through and everything seemed to fall apart. The list of disasters that followed are too lengthy to detail here, but suffice it to say the immense financial strain, the emotional stress and the physical toll came together like the perfect storm, and at the end of 2008, I crashed. I was sick with respiratory infections and strep for months and couldn’t seem to get back on track.

I was still getting Vitamin C IVs, and doing all the right things for my body and my spirit, but it wasn’t enough. I slogged through 2009, planned our small wedding on the beach, and ended up having to quit my job (doctor’s orders) due to stress and exhaustion. I ended up with strep throat again on our honeymoon in November, and never felt completely well even after it was gone.

The cascade continued into December when I had an old dental filling replaced. It should have been an easy procedure, but it didn’t go as planned (very inexperienced dentist) and I ended up with my first root canal in March 2010. Infection took hold and I had an apicoectomy in July. I was also on Amoxicillin the entire time (seven months), which was counter-intuitive to everything I knew, but felt I had no choice. We went on a vacation in late August and while we were in northern Michigan, the throbbing in my face was so awful I ended up having the tooth yanked. A $4100 molar in the garbage…ouch!

That same summer, I had also begun suffering with a bum hip. The vice-like tightness and stabbing, shooting pain in my groin and thigh worsened until I could barely walk — I was running on pure frustration. I had recently turned forty and thought, “Well, isn’t this wonderful? I can hardly wait to see what fifty is like.” I was not in a good place emotionally, however, I did start feeling better after the infected molar was pulled, and within a couple of months my hip pain receded enough that I could get back to yoga and light exercise. Finally some relief.

In January 2011 as I began the somewhat violent process of a dental implant to replace the missing molar, my groin pain waxed-and-waned and I started having allergic reactions to God-knows-what. I was covered in hives and my lips, tongue, throat and cheeks were raw, swollen and blistered all the time. It was especially bad in the morning; my lips would crack and bleed from the swelling. I looked like Goldie Hawn in First Wives Club. If it didn’t hurt so much it might have been funny, but I was miserable and scared. What if whatever I was allergic to caused me to stop breathing while I slept? I eliminated everything I was eating in stages trying to figure it out. This went on throughout the summer as I went to numerous allergists and specialists trying to figure out the mystery. Nobody had any answers.

I was still limping (again, no exercise) with a swollen face and hives. I was thin, tired, gaunt and afraid of everything. I didn’t want to go anywhere for fear I’d pass out (as I had started to do). I was racking up thousands of dollars of debt on holistic and regular treatments and tests. Depression and fear were my constant companions, though I had to pretend otherwise.

Just as I gave in to feeling totally lost and out of ideas, along came one of my angels, my dermatologist’s PA, Sandra, who had been doing my mole checks for years and knew me very well. I told her what was going on and she asked, “Didn’t you have your wedding ring reset because of the nickel in the white gold?” I looked at her strangely, and replied, “Yes, why?”

“There’s nickel in silverware and cooking utensils and pans and a lot of food,” she explained. She suggested I eat with plastic and use ceramic pans and knives and research foods containing nickel. For the next couple of days, I ate with plastic and the reactions subsided. The only spot that was red and raw was a stripe on my tongue below the temporary abutment (screw) that was for my soon-to-be permanent crown. It was the abutment! I called the periodontist and found out I could get the permanent titanium abutment and crown right away.

At last, I had a gorgeous new molar and massive relief knowing I could control my allergy to nickel. I bought nickel-free silverware, ceramic pans, knives, made sure my mixer, toaster and other items were nickel-free, though I had to continue to eat with plastic for many, many months when we went out to restaurants — so embarrassing! I always felt compelled to explain myself to the server, “I’m allergic to nickel,” I would sheepishly say. I ordered things that were grilled (to avoid pans) and food that I could eat with chop sticks. It took several months for my raw mouth to calm down, but eventually it did.

There are six hundred million people allergic to nickel and many more who don’t know they are. It’s in everything, all around us — cell phones, purses, jewelry, zippers, coins, most metal kitchen items, belt buckles, some dental metals, tattoo ink and surprisingly it’s in medical needles. It’s in most food, but higher concentrations are in canned and fermented foods, like sauerkraut, beer and wine. It’s also higher in food that grows in the ground like peanuts and potatoes. And sadly, it’s high in coffee, tea and chocolate.

Yes, I am still allergic to nickel, though symptom free. Back then it became so severe because it was in my mouth and my immune system was at rock-bottom. My body wasn’t able to handle the long-term load of physical pain, months of antibiotics and the emotional distress, which led to my adrenal glands working in “fight or flight” mode constantly, weakening them so they could no longer do their job.

So how do you determine if you’re having an allergic reaction to something and if it’s a dangerous reaction, a sensitivity, or a full-blown immune reaction? Read on to learn more.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Gandhi

This blog is in no way a diagnosis tool or medical recommendation. Do not use it to make your own diagnosis without consulting an alternative/holistic or eastern medicine practitioner.
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Breathe Deep

Throughout the process of WAITING…waiting to get into the doctor, waiting for test results, waiting to feel better, and waiting to learn about and sift through the massive industry of vitamin supplementation, there are a few basic ways to start feeling better right away.

Let’s say you’re nearly bed-ridden with fatigue (or you actually are) and don’t have a shred of energy to get on an exercise bike or take a walk (been there), the simplest way to boost your energy and mood is through breathing. Yep. Breathing. Something we do involuntarily and couldn’t survive without, yet most of us go through our entire day holding our breath and taking in short snippets of air. You just took a deep breath, didn’t you? But — was it an OPTIMAL deep breath?

Did your belly region expand from your pelvis to your neck and did you blow it out just as slowly? Probably not. Try it. Count to five while you breathe in through your nose (“Nasal breathing, as opposed to mouth breathing,  increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes ” Swift, Campbell, McKown  1988 Oronasal obstruction, lung volumes, and arterial oxygenation. Lancet 1, 73-75)  and five to breathe out. Feel a bit light headed? That means you need to do this a few times. 

If you’re in your car, in your kitchen, in the shower or if you can just sit still for a couple of minutes, do this exercise. You might find you have a clenched hand that opens or your shoulders that are always up by your ears lower.

When I was bed ridden with back spasms and nerve pain a few years ago, I couldn’t walk, let alone exercise. I had many years of yoga under my belt so I knew the power of breath. At times it would release the spasms and warm or cool my tense, pain-filled body. If you breathe out through your nose like you’re fogging a mirror, that will keep the warmth in your body. If you exhale through your mouth it may cool you and release extra CO2, but there’s little evidence to determine whether exhaling is better through the nose or mouth. 

Try to do this a few times a day, and if you do it at bedtime, you might find you doze off before you’re done with a few. As you become more in-tune with your breathing, you can up the count and you may feel it in your extremities as serenity spreads throughout your body. 

Once you’re comfortable with breathing, and if you’re able, hang your head upside down to get a fresh supply of blood to your brain, face, sinuses, and of course, breathe. Yes, blood courses through your head no matter what, but it’s quite a feeling when a rush of it enters your cranium. Again, you’ll probably feel dizzy, so best to start by doing it laying on a bed or sofa with your head hanging off. Come up slowly and be still for a moment. If you can do it a few times in a row, you’ll start to feel less dizzy and truly refreshed. If you’re nose is stuffy or your ears are congested usually they’ll open up, even if it’s just for a few hours. Think of it as a power-wash for your head. As fresh blood rushes to the area, old blood is pushed out by fresh cells and oxygen.  

Once you’ve gotten used to this, again, if you’re able, try bending over at the waist and just stay there for a count of 20-30, breathe and come up very slowly, head coming up last. Repeat two more times. It’s okay to rest your hands on your thighs or shins or use the edge of a table for support. We all have pretty tight hamstrings so the added bonus to this move is that they may stretch out a little. If you’re able, let your arms hang loose and shake them out or cross them and let them hang. The main goal is to get the blood moving, refresh your mind and get your  “glow” on. And remember — keep breathing deeply in the process. 

This all seems simplistic but I promise you, it works to beef up your long-lost friend ENERGY and find your missing cousin CIRCULATION.  


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