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  • Nutrition Goal Setting in 2020

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    The New Year always feels like a fresh start, and it’s a time of transition where it makes sense to reflect on the previous year and set goals for the coming year. New Year’s resolutions around health and fitness tend to get a bad rap, because people often have a hard time following through on these resolutions. One reason for this is that these resolutions tend to be too hard or are too vague.

    One thing that I think is really helpful is to be very specific about what we want to achieve. Sometimes we make very non-specific goals such as “lose weight,” or “eat healthier,” or  “be more organized.” (No judgment here, as I am definitely guilty of this.) It’s important to be specific with your goals, so you know when you have achieved them. The other big piece of this is breaking down the goal into the habits that you need to incorporate into your life in order to achieve those goals.  It’s our daily habits that really determine whether or not we meet the goals we set out to achieve. Follow these tips when thinking about goal setting in 2020:

    1) Be specific about the goal. Instead of “get healthier,” or “lose weight,” try “sleep for at least 8 hours 5 nights out of the week,” or “exercise for 30 minutes 5 days per week.” Being really specific helps you stay on track and know when you’re making progress towards your goal and when you need to tweak your habits to make progress.

    2) Break the goal down logistically. If your goal is to sleep 8 hours per night, then what do you need to do to make that happen? Maybe you need to be in bed by 10 pm, so that means you need to get help from a partner in making sure to get all of your obligations done earlier, so that you have some time to wind down and be ready to sleep at 10 pm. It also might mean prepping breakfast and lunch the night before, so that you don’t have to get up as early to do it.

    Weight loss is a common goal, so if that is your goal, it’s important to think about the habits that you need to cultivate to meet your goal. Some examples of habits you might choose to work on over the course of they year might be: fill half my plate with non-starchy vegetables at lunch and dinner. Eat protein with all my meals and snacks. Bring healthy snacks to work, so that I’m less tempted by office treats and so that I don’t arrive home overly hungry looking to raid the fridge. (We’ve all been there!) Eat mindfully – put away the phone, turn off the TV, and move away from your computer in order to truly experience my food. These habits are likely too much to work on all at once, but having a list of 1-2 habits to work on at a time will help you start to make progress toward your goal.

    3) Prepare, prepare, prepare. When changing your eating habits, it’s important to think back on what has worked well for you in the past and what hasn’t. This can help set you up for success by not repeating the same things that have tripped you up in the past.

    In addition, think about the challenges you’ve had in the past – social gatherings, eating out, family meals, travel? Spend some time thinking about your unique challenges, and map out a plan ahead of time. It’s really hard to navigate challenging situations when we haven’t prepared ahead of time. Things don’t always go according to plan, but you have a better chance of eating in a way that makes you feel good if you plan ahead.

    4) Don’t be afraid to change course. Be gentle with yourself in assessing what’s working and what’s not working. You may start out with specific habits you’re working on, and they may turn out to be too hard based on the current season of your life. That’s ok. Reassess, change or scale back the habits and keep going. It can be really tempting to fall into all-or-nothing thinking, in which if we have a rough day or week, we completely abandon the goal. Our progress is determined by what we do most of the time, not by what we do sometimes. The important part is to get back on track and keep going.

    Need some help navigating changes to your eating habits and lifestyle to support your fertility or pregnancy in 2020? Make a nutrition appointment today!  Get started and save with our monthly special today!

  • 90-Day Prep? Start Here!

    by Cathy McCauley, LMT

    Whether getting pregnant naturally or using some form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) like IVF, fertility clients come to Pulling Down the Moon because they want to increase their chances of fertility success. I often see clients have better success after a 90-day prep. 

    Because the cycle of an egg is about 90 days, it’s helpful for you to prepare and optimize the health of your ovaries, uterus and your whole body at least three months before trying to conceive. In that time, you can monitor your nutrition, increase your vitamin intake, become intentional about improving blood flow and lowering stress levels. All of this can help enhance fertility and create a healthy environment for a pregnancy.

    Want to create a 90-day prep plan for enhanced fertility? Start here!

    Nutrition

    Preconception nutrition research shows that what you eat can impact the health of your ovaries and eggs either negatively or positively. Yet trying to navigate all the information out there can be overwhelming. The ART Prep/Recovery Program is unique to Pulling Down the Moon and exactly what it says: A science-based nutrition program (with some teachings and techniques from Traditional Chinese Medicine and yoga added) especially created to help you prep for your upcoming treatments. 

    With this program, our nutritionists will help you set goals, regulate blood sugar levels, support the liver, assist in getting your gut and thyroid to function properly, discuss sensitivities, look at possible food eliminations, decrease inflammation and safely cleanse. Your nutritionist will also be an accountability partner and will provide support, encouragement, ideas, and recipes to help you meet your goals while simultaneously working to improve your egg quality.

    Vitamins and Supplements

    Pulling Down the Moon has been working with medical doctors for over more than a decade, as well as, keeping up with the latest research and literature in the emerging field of supplements. We can provide recommendations on specific supplements for your unique situation and also help you streamline an overwhelming supplement regimen to include the supplements with the most research behind them for fertility. From finding the right prenatal vitamin to taking a probiotic to getting on a supplement of CoQ10, we can help you make the right choices as you work on enhancing your fertility during your prep.

    Blood Flow and Stress Reduction

    Increasing blood flow and reducing stress go hand-in-hand when optimizing your body for conception. Acupuncture, yoga, and massage can all help you achieve healthier circulation and reduce stress.

    Studies show that embryos with the highest implantation potential are from follicles that have sufficient blood and oxygen. If you want optimum egg health, promoting oxygen-rich blood flow to the ovaries is essential. 

    No doubt, stress influences your body in many ways and your fertility is not spared. High levels of stress can create an abundance of hormones, which in turn, can disrupt ovulation. By reducing your stress levels, you can have a positive affect on your fertility and your overall well-being. 

     

    Here are some approaches:

    Acupuncture

    In very simple terms, acupuncture is believed to clear blockages in the body in order to allow energy, greater health, and the feeling of emotional well-being to flow freely within the body. And more and more, acupuncture is becoming a widely accepted and sought after natural treatment for restoring fertility.  

    Some research shows acupuncture may improve ovarian functioning, balance the endocrine system and hormones, increase circulation to the uterus and improve egg quality. 

    Additionally, the treatments are balancing, relaxing and offer clients an opportunity to unplug and feel grounded. Many clients fall asleep during their sessions.

    Pulling Down the Moon acupuncturists are well-trained in working specifically with fertility clients. They are knowledgeable in treating your whole body and can provide you up-to-date information on fertility health and wellness.

     

    Yoga

    Pulling Down the Moon’s Yoga for Fertility (YFF) offers you another way to prep for enhanced fertility.

    At each class, you will learn a series of yoga postures designed to improve fertility by increasing blood flow into the pelvis, releasing stress and anxiety and balancing life energy flow in the body. 

    In addition to this physical practice we explore concepts from yoga philosophy that frame the fertility journey in a way that reveals our personal strengths, reinforces the joy of everyday life and empowers us to create the family we are meant to have. Through this class you will also join the wonderful, positive healing community of Pulling Down the Moon and enjoy the energy of all the amazing women who have shared their journey with us.

     

    Massage

    The last treatment service we offer is dear to my heart. I’ve been a massage therapist at Pulling Down the Moon for several years and have seen women experience much success after receiving massage as part of a fertility prep plan.

    What we offer is unique. Our FEM Protocol™ is a five-part series using massage and related techniques to enhance the health and functioning of the pelvic and abdominal organs, and to promote the client’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being.The five parts of the protocol focus on cleansing and detoxification, enhancing reproductive circulation, oxygenating the pelvic organs, and combating stress. Benefits may include:

    • promoting egg quality by improving the follicular environment and increasing its supply of oxygen-rich blood
    • lowering hormone disruption through stress management and clearing lymphatic congestion (a common storehouse for excess hormones and toxins)
    • supporting uterine lining and alignment through melting abdominal scar tissue, clearing circulatory pathways, and releasing structural tension patterns
    • encouraging relaxation and an overall sense of well-being during your fertility journey

    We offer a massage treatment schedule to keep you on track during your 90-day prep. And once you’ve actively started trying to conceive, whether naturally or through ART, we encourage you to continue to receive the FEM Protocol. It is safe any time in a cycle and we are trained in helping you determine what will be the best treatment for you no matter where you are on your fertility journey. 

    Get started with a 90 day prep and save with one of our New Year, New You Passports to Wellness!  Have questions about how Pulling Down the Moon’s unique services can support your journey?  Call us at: 312-321-0004 for us personalized support today!

     

  • Choline: An Update on a Vital Fertility and Pregnancy Nutrient

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Choline is little talked about essential nutrient for fertility and pregnancy. It is not technically considered a vitamin, as our bodies can synthesize choline though not enough to meet our daily needs.  Choline is a major component of all cell membranes and is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in muscle control and memory. Choline is also converted to betaine, which prevents homocysteine levels from becoming elevated. Elevated homocysteine has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and miscarriage. Choline deficiency may also play a role in the development of fatty liver, as choline is necessary to transport fat from the liver to other tissues in the body.

    Choline also has important functions during pregnancy. Choline is essential for baby’s brain development and for DNA methylation, meaning that choline deficiency can have epigenetic effects on the developing baby. There is also evidence that adequate choline intake helps prevent neural tube defects like spinal bifida, which most people associate only with folate/folic acid intake. 

    Several studies have compared intakes of 480 mg choline daily to 930 mg choline daily at varying times during pregnancy and found a variety of outcomes. For example, supplementation with 930 mg choline compared to 480 mg throughout the 3rd trimester resulted in faster information processing in 4-13 month old infants. In a similar study, children whose mothers took in 930 mg choline daily performed better with a color location memory task compared to children whose mothers who had only taken in 480 mg choline daily. Another study reported reduced attention and behavior problems and social withdrawal in children at 40 months of age in the group of mothers supplemented with 900 mg choline from the 2nd trimester through delivery in addition to baby being supplemented with 100 mg choline daily through 3 months of age compared to controls.

    The daily requirement for choline for non-pregnant women of childbearing age is 425 mg. This goes up 450 mg during pregnancy and further increases to 550 mg during breastfeeding. Less than 10% of pregnant women are meeting their daily requirement for choline, underscoring the importance of focusing on this nutrient.

    The impact of choline during pregnancy is an emerging area of research, and currently it seems that 450 mg choline at a minimum is needed to support a healthy pregnancy, but up 900-930 mg is safe and may have long-term benefits to the baby. Animal products are better sources of choline than plant foods–with liver and egg yolks being the best sources–followed by meat and fish and cruciferous vegetables.

    Because so few women are meeting even basic daily choline needs during pregnancy, taking a prenatal vitamin that contains choline is a good idea, especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan. Pulling Down the Moon carries two prenatal vitamins, both of which contain choline. TheraNatal OvaVite contains 100 mg choline, and PlusOne contains 450 mg choline. Do you have more questions about optimal choline intake prior to and during a pregnancy? Book a nutrition appointment today!