• Featuring a New Supplement: PlusOne Prenatal Vitamin

    By Robin Miller, RDN

    It can be a very overwhelming process when you are selecting a prenatal vitamin. Many questions probably come to mind such as, what should be I be looking for in a prenatal vitamin? Which nutrients should I focus on? Which one is right for me?  And so many more. 

    Here at Pulling Down the Moon, we are making that process seamless for you. We have already done the legwork and evaluated many supplements, including prenatal supplements. Our team of registered dietitians can help you to determine which supplements are right for you.  

    We are excited to feature a new, comprehensive prenatal supplement option we have available for sale in Chicago, Highland Park, and via our online shop for your convenience! 

    PlusOne Daily Prenatal packets contain vitamins and minerals to support women during preconception through nursing and postpartum. Here are some of the highlights of what these packets contain to support your fertility journey.

    • Prenatal Vitamin: Containing 1mg methylfolate to support fetal neurological health as well as antioxidants including vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, and ample B-vitamins to support women vulnerable to B-depleting conditions like birth control pill use and emotional stress. 

     

    • Cardiovascular and overall health support: Each packet contains high quality omega-3 fatty acids, specifically 1 g DHA to support fetal brain development and 670 mg EPA to support the body’s anti-inflammatory response, healthy cell membranes and mood. 

     

    • Fetal brain development support: Each packet contains 450 mg of Choline, which is an essential nutrient for brain development. Choline may also play a role in healthy genetic expression in early embryo development. 

     

     Be sure to check out our Cyber Monday promotion, 20% off on PlusOne Prenatal available for purchase via our online shop!  

     

  • Our Favorite Fertility-Friendly Holiday Recipes

     

     

     

     

    Healthier Hot Chocolate

    This hot chocolate is rich in antioxidants and very low in sugar compared to most hot chocolate mixes and those you can buy in coffee shops. 

    1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

    10 oz hot water

    ½ teaspoon vanilla

    1-2 teaspoona real maple syrup

    ¼ cup whole milk or non-dairy milk 

    sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

    Add cocoa powder to a mug. Add hot water, vanilla, maple syrup, and milk, and stir to mix. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy!

     

    Faux Latte

    When you’re avoiding caffeine, this still feels like a nice treat without the excess sugar.

    1 cup of milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk (I recommend cashew or flaxmilk for better flavor)

    ½ teaspoon vanilla

    1-2 teaspoons real maple syrup

    Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

     

    Heat milk until hot and use a handheld milk frother to froth the milk. Add vanilla, maple syrup, and cinnamon (if using). Stir to mix. Enjoy!

     

    Red Cabbage Slaw with Candied Pecans


    The gentle sweetness of the pecans nicely balances the flavor of the red cabbage. This is a great salad to make on Sunday and eat throughout the week. It’s also great for parties and potlucks.

    ¾ cup candied pecans (see recipe below)

    ½ medium head or 1 small head of red cabbage
    juice of 1 lemon
    ¼ cup olive oil

     

    Make the candied pecans first following the recipe below. While the pecans are cooling, cut the core out of the red cabbage and shred using the food processor shred attachment. You can also finely chop my hand. Finely chop the pecans, and add to the cabbage and stir until evenly distributed. Add lemon juice and olive oil, and stir until cabbage is coated with dressing. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

     

    Candied Pecans

    This delicious treat is great for adding to salads or eating on their own as a snack. They have just a light coating of coconut oil and maple syrup, making them a healthier option than most candied pecans.


    Makes ¾ cup candied pecans

    1 teaspoon coconut oil
    ¾ cup raw pecan halves
    ⅛ teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon maple syrup

     

    Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a small pot until melted. Add pecans and stir to coat pecans with coconut oil. Sprinkle salt onto pecans. Add maple syrup, and mix to coat pecans in maple syrup. Immediately remove from heat. (If you leave the pecans on the hot burner, they will likely burn.)

     

    Pumpkin Pie 

    Instead of the traditional white flour crust, this pumpkin pie has a delicious crust made from pecans, dates, and coconut oil. This drastically reduces the refined carbohydrate content. The filling is lightly sweetened with maple syrup, for a healthier spin on a holiday favorite. 

     

     

     

     

    Makes one 9-inch pie 

     

    Crust

    ⅓ cup pitted dates (about 8 deglet noor dates) 

    1½ cups pecans


    2 tablespoons coconut oil 

     

    Filling

    15 oz. can of pumpkin or about 1-3⁄4 cup cooked pumpkin 

    ½ cup canned coconut milk
 or whole milk

    ½ cup maple syrup


    ½ teaspoon salt


    1 teaspoon cinnamon


    ½ teaspoon ginger


    ¼ teaspoon nutmeg


    ⅛ teaspoon cloves


    2 large eggs 

     

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process dates, pecans, and coconut oil in the blender or food processor until mixture is well-blended and sticks to the side of the food processor – about 30-60 seconds. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and set aside. 

    In a medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients, and whisk until well-mixed. Pour into pecan-date crust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or pumpkin filling appears custard-like and crust is lightly browned. Allow to cool before serving. Store in the refrigerator. 

     

  • Tips to Feel your Best During the Holidays

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    This time of year onslaught of sweets seems to start with Halloween and doesn’t end until New Year’s resolutions. We like to talk a lot about adjusting your food environment to set you up for success by only keeping fruits and vegetables on the counter at home, for example. It also helps to keep tempting foods that you’d rather not eat out of your house. This tends to get more challenging as food treats abound around the holidays, and if it’s not at home, the treats are in full force at work or at holiday gatherings. By no means do I mean to imply we shouldn’t have any treats around the holidays. It’s really fun to have the treats that only come around once a year. Where we can run into trouble is when instead of having those treats on a few holidays, we end up eating these foods that make us feel sluggish and aren’t consistent with our long-term goals consistently over a 1-month or longer time period.

    Here are some tips to try to keep your eating around the holidays as healthy as possible:

    1. Stock your house with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Now is the time for delicious citrus and pomegranates and Brussels sprouts to name a few. Enjoy these healthy nutrient and antioxidant rich foods as part of daily eating, but they also work great incorporated into holiday meals.

     

    1. Try nuts in the shell, like walnuts. Nuts in the shell become more widely available in grocery stores. If you haven’t tried nuts in the shell, they often taste so much fresher than shelled nuts, such that they taste like a real treat! Plus it takes time to crack and remove the shell from nuts, which helps us eat more slowly and mindfully.

     

    1. Make dishes with butternut and acorn squash. These winter squashes are nutrient-rich and are lower in carbs than regular potatoes. There’s nothing wrong with having some regular potatoes. It’s just that white potatoes tend to dominate our plates along with other starchy dishes at holiday meals. Winter squashes are also rich in fiber, vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene.

     

    1. Eat mindfully. Work on eating slowly and checking in with your hunger and fullness cues before and while eating. Avoid distractions like your computer, cell phone, or TV, as we often eat more when we aren’t focused on the eating experience.

     

    1. Avoid eating sweets on an empty stomach. Save sweets for after meals or after a satisfying snack with protein. You’ll be less likely to overeat sweets that way, and your blood sugar will rise more slowly such that you can avoid being on a blood sugar roller coaster.

    6. Don’t skimp on sleep. It can be tempting to sleep less when we’re so busy, but less sleep often leads to overeating and more difficulty making healthy     choices.

    What to learn more? Book a nutrition consult today!  Get support and save this month on an Initial Nutrition Consultation, Initial Acupuncture Consultation, Fertility-Enhancing Massage, or Yoga for Fertility series with the $99 Wild Card!

  • Nooks and Crannies

    by Cassie Harrison RYT RYPT

    You May Not Control All the Events that Happen to You, but You Can Decide Not to Be Reduced By Them – Maya Angelo

    My miscarriage at 43 wasn’t just the loss of a baby, but the realization that my baby years might be behind me. Having suffered from infertility, it never felt like they were with me.  I spent almost all of my 30s and part of my 40s trying to have a baby. In the past, I would’ve trudged forward and tried again, but after this loss it occurred to me it might no longer be an option. Sure, all women at some point face the fact that their baby making time is over, all for different reasons. What felt different, at least for me from an infertility point of view, was this was just something else I didn’t have control over. It also occured to me that I identified with trying to have a baby. I’d spent over a decade thinking, planning, and working on my family.  My future suddenly looked more like a blank slate, rather than timelines. Up until this point, I’d avoided planning much of it, such as my next career move or even a big vacation, having thought there might be a baby to interrupt my plans. The idea that I could make future plans without interruption was exciting to me. Simultaneously, I was filled with regret. The dichotomy of my emotions was intoxicating.

    Similar to my infertility journey, I found it challenging to speak about my newest realization.  When I did manage to speak about it, either it felt like no one understood or it was Déjà vu all over again as I found myself greeted with insults disguised as well intended advice. Yes, I was sad I lost my baby just when I thought I beat the odds of getting pregnant again.  After that loss, it did feel like it was time to move on…but to what? On one side, I didn’t want to let go and on the other I celebrated my infertility journey being over!! Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t really me deciding, but somehow infertility was. That it again had the upper hand. The fact is, had I not struggled with it, I wouldn’t have been forced up against the pane (or do I mean pain) of my baby window by still trying to push out another baby at 43.

    Where does this leave me? I’m not certain yet, my loss was only 5 weeks ago. There is a new lightness underneath my thoughts when I see my future no longer being held by the chains of infertility that for so long infiltrated my life. To help me through this change, I’ve used breath work (Try this Yoga Breathing Video to get you started!) and a very simple yoga practice. I dream of attending (not just teaching) a full yoga class, but recent life has been hectic and I’ve not prioritized time to do this. Which lead me to my Nook and Cranny practice.  I’m literally fitting it into the nooks and crannies of my life. If there’s a 5 minute slot between tasks, you’ll find me in a forward fold or downward dog. My Nook and Cranny practice has done wonders and I highly recommend it. Just as with starting anything new, start small. That’s the great thing about Yoga, it can be done anywhere for any amount of time and you will benefit from it. I’ve practiced while the kitchen sink filled with water. Heck, I’ve done it in the driver’s seat waiting in the carpool line (my car was off and I was 10 minutes early!). Hello to neck circles and Sama-vritti (balanced) breath. My Nook and Cranny practice relaxed my tensions, cleared my thoughts, and opened my mind. Take time to find your nooks and crannies wherever you are on your journey (Try Yoga Poses You Can Use Now! to get started) as I know it will make a difference!

    If you struggle to do this on your own, let us help you with our upcoming Holiday Survival Online Yoga starting just after Thanksgiving that will get you through the stressful holiday season or plan for a series in the new year! Save during the holiday week with the Holiday Survival Online Yoga Series (12/8-1/12) available for only $50 on Cyber Monday (save $100) or get the $99 Wild Card this month towards a full in-center series in January (save $111)! Call us to learn more at: 312-321-0004 today!

    Cassie Harrison RYT RYPT

  • My Journey to The Moon

    Hello beautiful readers!  My name is Christie Frisch and I’m delighted to introduce myself, having recently joined the team at Pulling Down the Moon, River North.  As a postpartum doula and licensed massage therapist specializing in fertility, prenatal and postpartum care, I am a passionate advocate for women and the women-identifying, especially when it comes to supporting new, expecting and trying-to-conceive mamas in experiencing each unique journey into parenthood to its fullest.  I feel incredibly fortunate to get to do what I love every day.

    My own entry into motherhood was a crucial turning point for me in so many ways, inspiring me eventually to redirect my professional focus into holistic wellness.  In those richly transformative early weeks following my daughter’s birth I recall feeling that no one around me seemed to “get it,” despite my having numerous family and friends nearby.  An internet search led me to a new moms group, where the universal complexity of our experiences impressed upon me deeply.  What other dimension of the human condition could offer the potential for such beauty, and also such rawness?  I was fascinated.  And I wanted to help support women in tapping into as much of the beauty as possible, despite the natural stress and challenge each journey brings.

    I’ve lovingly refined my signature treatment, energy balancing massage, which I tailor to each client’s needs over the expansive course of the childbearing journey.  From fertility enhancement all the way through the “fourth trimester” I seek to lift up and understand each client’s evolving needs, listening actively throughout consultation and each treatment as I integrate sound, reiki energy work, aromatherapy and guided meditation to create the ultimate massage experience (I like to think of it as a “massage plus”). My approach is inclusive and empowering, and we are all about incorporating time-honored healing arts from around the world to enhance our clients’ experience at each juncture.

    2019 has been an exciting year for me for a host of reasons, not least of which has been joining the fabulous community of wellness professionals at the Moon.  It is with much gratitude that I am now offering the five-part Fertility Enhancing Massage protocol to Pulling Down the Moon clients on Tuesdays and every other Friday at the River North location.  I received extensive training in the FEM protocol under Meredith Nathan, which I found to be both complementary and enriching to the modalities I’ve previously employed.

    It’s already been abundantly rewarding to work with Meredith and the massage therapy team at the Moon, where I’ve found so much like-mindedness among us.  My approach has always been grounded in the view that at its best, massage therapy has the potential to activate and enhance the body’s self-healing ability, producing real results that can positively impact our clients’ lives.  I view my work as nothing short of guiding my clients toward realizing this potential for themselves.  There’s no greater privilege than working with others who share such belief in the value of our work and I greatly look forward to the chapter here ahead.  I look forward to taking care of you when you schedule your massage therapy appointment!  Take time for your this season and let us support your journey at each stage!  Book Now

  • Guest Blog Feature: My Journey

    We have been honored to be part of this amazing journey with Christina. Today, she opens her heart to you and shares how she owned her personal journey with support at The Moon to get through.💗

    “After a many years of trying to conceive, I decided to see a reproductive endocrinologist. We went through several rounds of clomid and IUI without any success. My doctor told us that we most likely would not be able to have children naturally, so she suggested IVF. I was lost at this point, because they couldn’t find anything wrong with me or my husband, Andrew. We were told that we had a really high rate of success of conceiving with IVF. So, we went through our first round of IVF thinking our struggle was finally over. After the egg retrieval, we received a phone call that all of my eggs were immature, but they were able to mature some in the lab and fertilize them. In that cycle, we ended up with 3 embryos, 2 of which survived to transfer. After the dreaded two week wait, we went in for a blood test, but the pregnancy test was negative. My reproductive endocrinologist told me that she wasn’t confident that another cycle would yield different results and that I could have something rare called ‘oocyte maturational arrest.’ I was crushed, but took a few months to think about the next steps. During this time, we tried naturally and still nothing.

    We decided to see another reproductive endocrinologist. After our second egg retrieval with a different stimulation protocol we received the phone call that again all of my eggs were immature and this time, none were able to be matured in the lab. We got zero embryos from that cycle. My doctor told me that if I did have oocyte maturational arrest, there really wasn’t anything that could fix the outcome and if I was going to try again, I should try at CCRM in Colorado.

    I am an ICU nurse and was at work when I received this news. I panicked and just wanted to literally run away, but obviously I couldn’t. I had what I would consider a nervous breakdown right in the middle of the break room. To be honest with you, I felt like a piece of me had died. I had never felt such pain in my life. This is where Pulling Down the Moon came into the picture.

    At my first Acupuncture appointment, I tried to keep it together because I felt like a crazy person. In my mind, I kept telling myself things like ‘you shouldn’t be this upset. It’s not like you were diagnosed with something life threatening’ or ‘you’ve only been through two cycles, so don’t complain.’ Well, I couldn’t keep it together. I ugly cried as soon as Dr. Shimmel sat down and introduced herself. And this is the moment the transformation began.

    Dr. Shimmel, and all the staff at Pulling Down the Moon, nurtured me during a time that I was my most vulnerable. For the first time in years, I felt like I had an outlet. They actually understood my pain. Through the holistic approach, I learned to better to take care of myself both mentally and physically. I don’t know how to explain it other than bringing a plant back to life little by little. Every week after Acupuncture sessions, I had one more tool to help me cope with the trauma of infertility.

    And by the time I was ready for another ivf cycle, my mind and body felt so rock solid that ‘no matter the outcome I was going to be okay. No matter what I was going to be a mommy’ (one of the mantras she helped me develop). Also, can we talk about my (fertility-enhancing) massage sessions with Chrissy? Chrissy’s energy is SO powerful. During your massages with her, you feel a warmth and embrace that nurtures the pain away.

    After 6 months of preparation at Pulling Down the Moon, we booked a flight to Colorado for our one day workup. We did an egg retrieval with CCRM several months later, and in this cycle, ONE MATURE egg out of 18 eggs retrieved, fertilized, and made it to a blastocyst. This one mature egg—out of 55 eggs retrieved over 3 cycles, gave us a glimmer of hope, but we were aware that our chances to conceive were very low. That little embryo that took will be born this January and we could not be more thrilled to meet him.

    1 in 8 couples are struggling with infertility. While this is not a life threatening diagnosis, it is a hard and long battle that no one needs to fight alone. For those struggling, I am here for you. I will continue to fight for you. Your pain is my pain.” -Christina @cfeli6891

    Learn how we can help you on YOUR journey at: https://www.pullingdownthemoon.com/our-center/ and call us to get started at: 312-321-0004!

    (📸: Jamie Colette @colettepark on IG at: https://www.colettepark.com/)

  • Unwinding Your Mind Using Art 

    by Chrissy Langford LMT

    “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe 

    “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton

    Drawing and painting has been a form of therapy for me since I was a child. It was a way to escape, a way to calm my mind and spirit and a way to express myself when I couldn’t find the words to do so. I could spend hours just lost in a creative zone. 

    After every Unwind the Mind session, I tell my clients to make sure they are practicing their favorite relaxation techniques at home to ease stress and anxiety post massage during the 2 week wait. The two week wait can be a time where anxiety levels are high and emotions are heightened. It’s important to take time for self-care and relaxation. 

    Creative art therapy can help one reduce stress, improve self-esteem, explore emotions hard to explain with words, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression and cope with a difficult or traumatic life event. It is known to calm the nervous system. It can create a quiet and meditative state of mind. 

    I like to use art as a form of meditation. After a long day and usually right before bed, I will take a moment to do some deep breathing exercises and then get to doodling. I put on some music and light candles and incense to set a vibe. Sometimes I just sit in silence and really check in from within. I try not to think about what I am drawing/painting and I just let my mind/pencil/paintbrush just flow. The art I produce in these moments is for no one but myself to see so there is no fear of judgement. I use colors that fit my mood in the moment. Blues and greens can be calming and healing. Reds can stimulate energy and passion. Yellows and oranges are bright and radiate warmth.  I love drawing eyes and lips, leaves and flowers, different patterns and random shapes. At the end, I often am left feeling lighter and free of whatever was hanging over me that day. 

    Again, you don’t have to be an artist to use art as a way to unwind. Try picking up an adult coloring book, doing a collage, origami, beadwork, knitting, embroidery, vision boards and even dance. All are great ways to just let go and quiet the mind. You can also keep an art journal using collage and doodles as a form of self-expression when words are not easy to come by. 

    Join us for a FREE experiential event in Chicago to unwind and learn more about the benefits of Fertility Enhancing Massage for your journey! Save your spot today for Creative Expression to Unwind the Mind on Thursday, November 14th at 7pm here!

    Chrissy Langford LMT

    Here are some great articles and blog posts about using art as a form of meditation and to reduce stress:

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/study-says-making-art-reduces-stress_n_576183ece4b09c926cfdccac

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832?journalCode=uart20#.V2GKm-YrI6g

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/arts-and-health/201606/art-making-and-stress-reduction

    https://mindfulartstudio.com/meditate-through-art/

    https://www.health.harvard.edu/mental-health/the-healing-power-of-art

    If you would like to find a professional art therapist or dig deeper into what art therapy is:

    https://arttherapy.org/ 

    10 Minute Mindfulness Drawing Meditation Tutorial you can easily do at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kcAFq7C_CA

  • Essential Oils to Soothe the Spirit

    Essential oils wonderfully enhance the spa-like experience during your acupuncture treatment. At Pulling Down the Moon we offer this additional option to our acupuncture patients. Different essential oils can be used to treat different ailments. One amazing oil is Bergamot, and I love to use it in the office on my patients. It is helpful in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to regulate the qi flow, which means it keeps the energy flowing in our bodies and minds smoothly and evenly. It is a great mood balancer for that reason. So, if your anxiety is high and you cannot seem to ground yourself using Bergamot oil will help to calm you down. If you are feeling low and depressed, it also has the ability to bring you up and help lift your spirit when you are down. It works wonders for your emotional state during the holidays and is especially useful during this season!
    Another oil I use to help alleviate mental tension and has a nice Christmas time scent is Peppermint essential oil. Dabbing a small drop of these oils behind the ears or at certain stress points on the body can help achieve its therapeutic effect. If a patient prefer not to wear the oil, they can take a few deep inhalations of it instead. At Pulling Down the Moon we also use specific essential oils for each phase of the menstrual cycle when trying to conceive, whether naturally or throughout a medicated fertility treatment cycle. The first phase oil is called Activate The Blood & Qi, it is meant to be used during the period. It helps detox the body by riding toxins through the shedding of the uterine lining. The second phase oil is called Nourish the Sea of Blood, it is meant to be used after the period has ended to leading up to ovulation. It helps with building the lining back up and with enhancing the quality of the developing egg/s. The third phase oil is called Lift Spirit and is meant to be used at ovulation time. It helps ensure ovulation occur. The fourth phase oil is Nourish Yin & Blood, it is used after ovulation has occurred up until the period begins (it is one of our oils used during pregnancy). This oil helps strengthen the quality of the luteal phase of the cycle, bettering the chances of implantation of an embryo where conception is the goal. The oils are safe and indicated during trying to conceive and during pregnancy when used in the correct manner as done by our experienced acupuncturists.* Another way of reaping the benefits of the oils without having to wear them is using them in an essential oil diffuser if you are concerned at all about placing them directly on the body. Of course, if our acupuncture patient requests no use of oil we respect that. Any oil used during your treatment can help boost the healing you get from the acupuncture itself.
    For further information or any questions please feel free to email me at anna@pullingdownthemoon.com and to schedule an appointment for Acupuncture or any or our holistic health services, please call our office 312-321-0004. To purchase any of our fabulous oils please visit our offices in Chicago or Highland Park and/or our online store, including the Fertility Wellness Sampler(including Activate, both Nourish oils, Lift Spirit).