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  • D.I. Why: Ear Seeds and Anxiety

    By Pulling Down the Moon co-founder Beth Heller

    We’ve said it a thousand times.  The fertility process is a marathon not a sprint and the tools in our DIY Essential Fertility Tool Kit are the “energy goo” that can keep you going strong and possibly even cross the finish line faster.  

    As one of those gals that took seven years and five pregnancies to have two kids, it was the little things that helped me turn the fertility waiting game into a constructive period of time.  Most of the little things that helped the most came from the practices of yoga and other traditional teachings where everyday life is treated as sacred and as an opportunity to make changes that can actually improve your health and fertility.  

    Managing anxiety is probably the one thing that makes the biggest difference in whether someone thrives or suffers on the road to parenthood.  Studies show that anxiety levels in women doing IVF are equal to that of a cancer diagnosis.  And I can 100% relate.  As an already anxious personality, my fertility challenges presented me with a choice.  I could struggle, alone and white-knuckled on the path to parenthood, or I could face anxiety head-on and learn how to manage it better.  (In fact, that’s how Pulling Down the Moon came into being as Co-Founder Tami Quinn and I created a space for women who were struggling like we were to manage the stress, anxiety and frustration of infertility!)

    This week, our Acupuncture Director Christine Davis is offering a Wellness Wednesday class on Natural Ways to Reduce Anxiety.  One of the tools she will be sharing from her Traditional Chinese Medicine expertise are Ear Seeds, literally small seeds that can be adhered to different acupressure points in the ear.  When massaged gently, the seeds stimulate the point, generating a specific therapeutic effect.  At Pulling Down the Moon we offer seed kits specifically geared to fertility, depression, stress, postpartum care, and anxiety.

    Ear seeds are great whether or not you are seeing an acupuncturist on a regular basis.  If you are in treatment, your practitioner may recommend you wear them between treatments to extend treatment benefits.  If you aren’t currently seeing an acupuncturist, seeds are another great tool to help you manage specific conditions – like anxiety.  

    For me, ear seeds are also another way to practice mindfulness and remember my intention of finding balance and healing. Choosing a event that happens multiple times in my daily life, like starting my car, getting a message notification on my phone or brushing my teeth, as a signal to stop, take a breath and stimulate the ear seed creates a kind of rhythm of mindfulness and healing that helps me feel positive and in greater control of who I am and how I respond to the world around me.

    Image from Earseeds.com as featured at shop.pullingdownthemoon.com under DIY Fertility Tools, Gifts with Meaning, Pregnancy & Postpartum

  • D.I. “WHY:” Abdominal Wrap

    By Beth Heller, Pulling Down the Moon Co-Founder

    People ask us all the time what things they can do at home to support their fertility.  In response, we’ve put together a collection of essential fertility tools that can help you obtain some of the benefits of holistic fertility treatments like massage and acupuncture in your own home.  

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Tool #1 is our Abdominal Wrap for Fertility 

    • What is it?  Our Abdominal Wrap includes a flannel cloth, organic castor oil and a proprietary blend of herbs traditionally used to support female fertility.  
    • How do you use it?  Simply saturate the flannel with castor oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of herbs and place on your lower abdomen oil side down.  Place a hot water bottle over top, cover with a towel and rest with your feet elevated for up to 30 minutes.  
    • Who should use it?  Good for everyone on the TTC path, especially recommended for thin lining issues and/or cycles with a short luteal phase.  
    • When should I use it?  We recommend wrapping from the first day of your menstrual cycle until ovulation.
    • Why abdominal wrapping?  

     

    Here are four key reasons why this traditional technique supports fertility:

    1. Blood Flow – When we apply heat to a body part (think sprained ankle) we promote blood flow to the region.  Blood is our body’s healing agent and helps to build a rich uterine lining and nourish developing egg follicles.  Our special herbal blend provides gentle added support and nourishment.
    2. Reduce Inflammation – Castor oil has a unique chemical makeup that allows it to be absorbed through the skin and function as an antioxidant helping to improve the uterine environment.  
    3. Warm the Belly – In Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a condition referred to as ‘cold uterus’, an imbalance of the yin and yang in the body leading to a colder core temperature. Without enough warmth (yang energy) in the uterus, the follicles may not fully ripen and body temperature won’t rise sufficiently after ovulation to support and nurture a growing embryo, if ovulation is able to occur at all. In this view,  if the uterus is cold due to lack of blood flow, old dead cells can accumulate, further blocking healthy blood flow, and a vicious cycle is born.
    4. Promote Relaxation – Taking 20-30 minutes a day to relax is a key part of supporting your fertility.  Use the time to practice breathing, or enjoy a guided meditation.  

     

     

    Ready to give it a try?  The Abdominal Wrap for Fertility can be purchased for $34 or as part of Pulling Down the Moon’s comprehensive DIY Essential Fertility Kit.  

  • 4 Ways Oriental Medicine Can Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

    By Stephanie Marynus LAc

    Oriental Medicine (OM) is one of the oldest medicines in use today. The main goal is to restore and maintain balance in the body. This is why it is effective with fertility. OM aligns the body to give it the power to create an environment that is inviting for an embryo to fertilize, implant and develop.

    Studies have shown that OM can help improve fertility and reproductive health in several ways. It can balance the endocrine system to regulate the hormones that stimulate ovulation in women with amenorrhea (no periods) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). OM regulates blood flow to manage endometriosis pain and thicken uterine linings that are too thin for conception. Treatments regulate menstrual cycles for women whose cycles are too long or short and give relief to premenstrual symptoms. Mental and physical stress are known to negatively affect fertility. OM can reduce stress and its associated symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, insomnia, and so on.

    How are these improvements accomplished with OM?

    1. Acupuncture

    It is advisable to begin acupuncture with a licensed practitioner three months before attempting to get pregnant. We can use these three months to ensure your hormones are functioning properly and find when you’re ovulating so you can accurately time intercourse. In my practice, I see women once weekly until she gets a positive pregnancy test and continue once per week for the first trimester to reduce the risk of miscarriage. Acupuncture can support trying to conceive naturally, women going through IUI cycles, and during IVF cycles.  And the amazing thing is you don’t have to wait for a certain time in your cycle to get started and it is great for men’s health as well!

    1. Herbal Therapy

    Herbal formulas are a specific combination of plant and mineral compounds. When combined the formula produces similar effects as acupuncture. This is something an OM practitioner would prescribe for you to do at home. It comes in the form of a pill or a tea. In doing this, the herbs will enhance the effects of the acupuncture so you respond quicker. 

    1. Warm Your Belly

    The lower abdomen stores the energy battery or “fire” in OM. Some cases of infertility can be from “cold” in the uterus. Gently warming your abdomen during the time after your period until ovulation could help. In my office we use “moxibustion” to accomplish this. It is made from Mugwort whose properties allow it to penetrate deeper and move blood more effectively in the lower abdomen as opposed to conventional heat methods such as a heating pad. You can also try Fertility Enhancing Massage as an add-on to your acupuncture treatment!

    1. OM Diet

    Certain foods help nourish the body during the different phases of your menstrual cycle.

    Foods that nourish from menstruation until ovulation include fruits like raspberries, pineapples and grapes; vegetables like asparagus and beans; adequate proteins, especially fish; and organ meats such as kidneys, brains and hearts. Also, avoid spicy, pungent foods. 

    Foods that nourish after ovulation until the start of menstruation include warming foods like ginger, ginger tea, beans; grains, and vegetables like mustard greens, winter squash, cabbage and kale. Avoid cold foods and drinks like ice water or ice cream. Talk to your acupuncturist about this during your consultation.  You may also benefit from further exploring nutritional and supplementation supports with a registered dietitian on the team as well.

    Stephanie Marynus supports patients at our Chicago office on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7:30am-3:30pm and virtually via TeleTCM on Thursdays from 7:30am-12:15pm. She would love to support your journey!  Learn more by calling our center at: 312-321-0004 Monday through Saturday!

    Stephanie is a licensed Acupuncturist and board certified Chinese Herbalist. Driven by the energetics of natural healing, she graduated with a Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from National University of Health Sciences. As a practitioner, her focus is with fertility, gynecological conditions, and psycho-emotional concerns. Stephanie takes into account the mind, body, and spirit to address her patient as a whole and refine their concern to the underlying cause. She creates personalized treatments that include a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, manual therapy, and lifestyle modifications. In addition to her primary job functions, Stephanie has been recognized by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) for her extraordinary commitment to providing preventative, complementary, and alternative medical care. When not with her patients you can find Stephanie shooting imaginary Spiderman webs with her two nephews, cheering for the Cubs, or onto her next neighborhood exercise adventure.

  • How Stage IV Endometriosis forced me to find my voice

    My first period came in January 1998. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in eighth grade and I remember saying the cruelest thing I have EVER said to my Mom. I cursed her for making me be born a girl. I still to this day feel awful for those words having left my mouth, as my Mom is the most amazing mother in the world. 

    In high school and college, I would pass out from the debilitating pain and friends, roommates, and loved ones many times would find me in the fetal position just trying to breathe through the pain. What I learned from an early age from classmates, girlfriends, and women in my life is that we as women experience painful periods and it’s just part of being a woman. We (women) all experience this excruciating pain. 

    I went on for the next 20 years thinking it was completely normal to feel stabbing pain for 2-4 days every 28 days. I learned quickly that heating pads and Ibuprofen were my best friend. I always felt that this pain was not normal, but nobody outside of my Mom truly understood and believed me. It was in college where I first learned about Endometriosis and thought, hey I think this is what this pain is all about. 

    From 2007-2018, I saw nine doctors. Most of the doctors I saw, all said similar things, “We’re women, we’re used to dealing with pain. Every woman has painful periods.” Unfortunately, there were only two doctors who truly listened and believed me when I said I think I have Endometriosis. I felt defeated and crazy. I thought all these doctors are telling me this is normal that I feel like I am being stabbed in my uterus each month. I must be making this pain up. I was just surviving month-to-month and most definitely not thriving. As women we have an incredible gift of intuition, so trust that, trust that you know your body better than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to speak up!

    My husband and I began our fertility journey 6 years ago. We tried naturally for 1½ years with no success. After 4 failed IUIs, 4 failed IVF transfers, and 3 miscarriages, I asked my doctor for more answers. She suggested two things: first was to do the Yoga for Fertility program with Beth Heller at Pulling Down the Moon. This was the first time I had been shown how to tune in and listen to my body in a supportive female community. I had never been so seen and loved within the fertility community. I have friends for life from that Yoga for Fertility program.

    Second, my doctor suggested I see an Endometriosis specialist. I had excision surgery in November 2018. My surgery should have taken a max of 1-2 hours, instead I woke up 6 hours later to hearing news from my husband. My husband said “I have good and bad news, which would you like to hear first?” I said, “I want the good news first”. He said, “you were right, you have stage IV Endometriosis and bad news it was so extensive they removed your left fallopian tube.” Even though this news was the worst case scenario with Endometriosis, it was a blessing in disguise. 

    Hearing I was right and in fact did have Endometriosis, was the best news I had received in 20 years. I had finally felt heard, seen, and my opinions were valued. This new information changed everything for me and my fertility doctors. My doctors could now move forward with adjusting my fertility medications and procedure process based on my Endometriosis diagnosis. 

    I know many would be angry having a body that made you feel debilitating pain every 28 days. However, I am incredibly grateful for my Endometriosis journey because it has forced me to find my voice and learn how to advocate for myself and my body. I have also been able to share this information with my nutritionist who can better assist me. It takes practice and time in silence to tune in with our bodies and listen to what it needs and craves. Remember, you are the ONLY one who knows your body inside and out and no one else will advocate as fiercely for you or your body the way that YOU can.

    About the author: Kasia has been a part of the PDTM community since March 2016. She has been trying to conceive for 6+ years, has had 5 failed IUIs, 7 failed IVF transfers, experienced 4 miscarriages, and has Stage IV Endometriosis. She is in the midst of her last and final IVF retrieval and transfer AND beginning her adoption and possible surrogacy journey. She is thriving as a Fertility Coach by empowering, supporting, and inspiring women on their fertility journeys. You can find her blog and contact information over at www.CoachingwithKasia.com

    Learn how Pulling Down the Moon can provide community and support on your journey!  Check our calendar for events today!

    Photograph by Anna Stidham

    Kasia S. McGuire

    Fertility Coach

    www.CoachingwithKasia.com

    Instagram: @KasiaSMcGuire

    Mobile: (773) 844-2117

    Email: CoachingwithKasia@gmail.com

  • Boost Your Immune System with Acupuncture

    By Christina Livas L.Ac.

    Most of us do not think about our immune system until we get sick even though a weak immune system is a major component of most chronic diseases.  A weak immune system can result in disorders such as frequent/lingering colds, allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and many more.  How we feel every day is essentially an indicator of how our immune system is working. Acupuncture is a safe and natural way to stimulate, strengthen, and balance the immune system. Studies have shown that regular acupuncture treatments can increase the number of T cells the body produces. This is important because T cells destroy harmful bacteria and viruses in the body. The increased cellular response provided through acupuncture lasts for several days after the treatment. Over time this strengthens the immune system similarly to how lifting weights regularly will strengthen muscles. 

    While being proactive and strengthening your immune system to prevent your body from getting sick is important, it is also important to seek natural and safe ways to treat illness as well. Most over the counter and prescription medications we are given are used to suppress the immune system. While this method is useful for limiting symptoms and managing pain, it is one of the reasons people become dependent on the medication. Acupuncture is an effective alternative to those medications. Acupuncture regulates the immune function as well as treats the underlying causes of the disease. Acupuncture helps with reducing symptoms, speeding up healing, decreasing excess phlegm, and decreasing inflammation which results in a decrease in the amount of time you spend sick. It is important that we work on building our immune system up so our bodies are capable of fighting off anything nature throws at us.

    As many of you are at home right now, try these acupressure points to boost your immunity remotely! Studies have shown that a great acupuncture point for your immune system to use at home is Zu San Li (St36). You can apply acupressure to this point daily to help boost your immune system and the overall health of the body. This point is located 4 finger widths down from the bottom of your knee cap, along the outer boundary of your shin bone (see image below). For those of you having a lot of sinus issues, my absolute favorite point is He Gu (Li4). You can apply acupressure to this point to relieve any issues with the head and face including: congestion, head colds, allergies, headaches, fever, sinusitis, chronic pain, and many more. This point is located on the back of the hand between the thumb and index finger (see image below). 

    Want to learn more?  Schedule a virtual consult with your practitioner to discuss acupressure points for self-care, discuss if herbs may be a good fit for you at this time, and just chat with your trusted advisor to reduce stress while maintaining fertility wellness until we can treat you in person!  Call us at: 312-321-0004 to schedule or email: michelle@pullingdownthemoon.com today!

    Pictures are from “A Manual of Acupuncture” by Peter Deadman

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    References:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4540978/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24106314

     

     

  • Simple Ways to Boost Your Immunity Now!

    By Robin Miller, RDN

    Between influenza, the novel COVID-19, and other illnesses going around this time of year, it is a great time to incorporate some immune-boosting strategies into our daily lives. There are plenty of things we can do every day to enhance our immunity. Check out my recommendations below.

    -Eat your fruits and vegetables; at least 5/day, but the more you can consume the better! Choose a variety of different fruits and vegetable to incorporate into your daily diet, this will provide a more diverse microbiome, which is important to enhancing gut health and immunity! Try incorporating a spinach in your morning smoothie, antioxidant rich berries in your yogurt or an vitamin C rich orange as a part of your afternoon snack. 

    -Get plenty of sleep; aim for 7 to 9 hours a night. 

    -Keep your gut in check, eating a variety of high-fiber foods, including whole-grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, root vegetables and fermented foods like sauerkraut and full-fat yogurt.  Be sure to incorporate a high-quality probiotic into your daily supplement regimen to support optimal gut and immune health! 

    -Incorporate daily movement; try to get your 10,000 steps in through walking or other forms of low-impact exercise such as swimming or yoga

    -Review your supplement regimen! There are many vitamins and minerals that are known to support immunity, such as vitamin C and D, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium. Working with a Registered Dietitian is the best approach to ensure you are meeting your needs from a supplement standpoint. 

    -Reduce your overall stress; we know that chronic stress can wreak havoc on our bodies, particularly our hormones and inflammatory response. Try incorporating things like: acupuncture, yoga, less screen-time, and meditation to help combat stress. 

    To learn more about immune-boosting foods and supplements that are right for you, schedule a virtual nutrition consult today (available by phone or video conference) and work with one of our Registered Dietitians!  Our online shop is also available for your convenience for all your supplement needs while sheltering at home!

     

  • Fish Oil Supplementation to Improve Male Fertility

    By Robin Miller RDN

    Studies suggest that infertility affects approximately 15% of all couples, and although conventional wisdom suggests that infertility is a female issue, the reality is approximately 40% to 50% of fertility issues are due to male factors.  Much research suggests that a healthy diet rich in certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, other vitamins, specifically, vitamin D and folate, and low in saturated fat and trans–fat is associated with good semen quality. Fish, shellfish, other seafood, poultry, cereals, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, and skim milk have been found to be positively associated with several semen parameters as well. Fish and fish liver oil in particular also contain other essential nutrients, that have been associated with better semen quality. With that said, there is now new research and data focused on the intake of fish oil supplements and testicular function as measured by semen quality and reproductive hormone levels. 


    After examining data from nearly 1,700 young men, researchers determined that fish oil supplementation was associated with a higher sperm count and improved levels of hormones, specifically lower FSH and LH levels; higher free testosterone to LH ratio that contribute to male fertility, according to the report published in JAMA Network Open. 

    However, the amount of fish oil the men in the study took was wide-ranging, so there is no specific quantity that can be suggested from this study. Furthermore, because it’s an observational study, we can’t assume a causal or contributing relationship between fish oil supplements and positive outcomes; a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study is the preferred method of research to support a positive correlation. 

    In the meantime, most everyone can benefit from more fish in our diets! Incorporate wild, organic, preferably low-mercury fish, such as wild salmon, shrimp, tilapia and whitefish to name a few, into your diet 1-2 a week. Try swapping out a deli meat sandwich with a tuna sandwich or a steak for a piece of wild salmon during the week and you will be naturally getting in some healthy fish oil along with tons of other nutrients, like vitamin D, iron, zinc and magnesium that support fertility. If fish is not your jam, try supplementing a high-quality fish oil supplement to achieve optimal benefits. 

    To learn more about ways to increase fish in your diet as well as find a fish oil supplement right for you, schedule a nutrition consult  today  and work with one of our Registered Dietitians!

    Reference: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2758861

     

  • Setting Goals vs. Resolutions

    By Robin Miller, RDN

    The beginning of a New Year is often synonymous for many with starting fresh, creating new goals and resolutions. In talking with family members, friends and clients it seems there is a common theme around goals and resolutions revolving around health and fitness whether it be healthy eating, cooking more and eating out less, exercising, and the list goes on.  Is it just me or does it seem that January and February are always the busiest time of year in gyms and fitness centers, as well as, well the produce aisle, where did all the kale go?! However, come the middle of February to beginning of March the gym rush seems to die down and the produce section seems much more bountiful. Why is this and how can we maintain those healthy habits year-round?

    Personally, I’ve never been one to make a year-long resolution or goal, the thought of promising to do something for an entire year is just daunting. I don’t want to promise myself “I won’t eat sweets for a year,” I am surely setting myself up for failure and overlooking the happy medium in achieving healthy habits. This is where weekly and/or monthly goal setting comes into play.

    Creating weekly or monthly goals can be much less daunting and actually seem doable. I encourage clients to have a few overall goals, but then create small goals every week or month to ultimately make progress towards hitting those goals. The small goals may change depending on what is going on in your life on a weekly or monthly basis, by making these modifications you are still able to make forward progress towards the ultimate goal(s). 

    For example, you may have a goal around cooking more and eating out less. A weekly goal one week may be to cook four meals and then the following week this may change to cooking two meals vs. four because of work commitments, etc. Allowing for these modifications to goals not only sets you up for greater success, but also helps to create a long-term habit. 

    If you haven’t had success in achieving your year-long, New Year’s resolution, perhaps the idea of weekly or monthly goals will resonate with you.  I challenge you to start by picking three, doable goals for the week! Try a yoga class, schedule a massage for yourself, go to a free informational event to support your journey!  If your goals revolve around nutrition, schedule a nutrition consult  today and work with one of our Registered Dietitian to develop an individualized plan to help you achieve your fertility, prenatal, postpartum, condition-specific, and/or health goals! 

     

  • Ride the Roller Coaster

    by Alece Demaray, RYT 500 + CPYT

    New Year’s goal setting is tough when your goal (BABY!) is not in your control.  No matter the timeline you allot yourself or how hard you work to make it happen, it may or may not come to fruition.  As a goal driven woman, that is heartbreaking to accept.  

    I like to work toward things and celebrate when I achieve them.  When trying to conceive, I started to do everything that was in my control…see a reputable Reproductive Endocrinologist, adjust lifestyle factors, modify my diet, take proper supplements and get weekly acupuncture.  I adopted a mood of empowerment, to make my healthiest self to prepare for conception. I am still upkeeping the changes…and I am still trying to conceive.  

    I am currently on clomid in prep for IUI #3.  As I started a new cycle, it struck me that my emotions have developed a unique cycle of their own:

    Cycle Day 1-3:  Depressed because I am not pregnant

    Cycle Day 3- 7 :  Swallowing down clomid with a dose of forced optimism.  Emotions run wild. 

    Cycle Day 8-14:  Anxious anticipation to see how I responded to the meds and when the IUI will be scheduled

    Cycle Day 14- 24:  A mix of hope and positive thinking swells the majority of the two week wait

    Cycle Day 24-28:  The last few days of the two week wait brew anxiety and negative thinking, as if I already received a negative pregnancy test result

    Cycle Day 28 – Upset and mad at the negative result of the pregnancy test.  

    Repeat Cycle.

    The yoyo of emotions is real and it is tiring.  I want to be hopeful and believe it is possible, but being pulled to the other end of the spectrum becomes more painful, feeling like a positive pregnancy test is the impossible dream.  I began to think…How can I learn to ride this fertility roller coaster better? Sure, there are some unexpected twists and turns, highs and lows, but can I learn to EXPECT those challenges and manage my energy BETTER around them?

    My new goal is to strive for balance regardless of the cycle phase.  Remain present for all that is coming up for me emotionally and physically, but not allowing it to throw me.  I will root down and rest into the truth that I WILL BE OKAY, regardless of the outcome. It is a PRACTICE and everyday an opportunity to try the ride again, inviting more ease.

    Here are some suggestions and inquiries to support you in remaining cool, calm and collected, regardless of what cycle day it is for you and your emotions:

    1. Schedule some space directly after your appointments.  Use this time to journal and process what things in your life ARE going right.  Gratitude journaling can help to reframe your perspective and shift your mood in a positive direction for the rest of your day.
    2. Take 3 deep, calming breaths before opening the message from your doctor.
    3. Remain aware and nonjudgmental of your emotions as they fluctuate with medication.  Be kind to yourself and thank close ones around you for understanding 🙂
    4. At the beginning of your two week wait, remain active with safe exercise (yoga!) to keep your mind at ease.
    5. Prior to your pregnancy test, affirm to yourself (at least) 3 times that you will be okay, regardless of the outcome.  You are loved, regardless of the outcome. You are worthy, regardless of the outcome. Try an Unwind the Mind Massage to get through the wait!
    6. Post pregnancy test, allow yourself to process:  do you need to cry, scream, call someone or celebrate?  Allow yourself adequate time to digest the information as opposed to rushing off to the rest of your day, without dealing with your feelings.
    7. Give yourself permission to begin again (mentally) at the start of your new cycle.  Reignite the flame of possibility and reaffirm to yourself that YOU ARE CAPABLE AND WHOLE.

     

    If you would like to practice riding the roller coaster together, join me for Yoga For Fertility at Pulling Down The Moon, on Wednesdays evenings.   In addition to managing emotions and digesting experiences, YFF will increase blood flow to optimize your fertility. To find more balance on this path, call Pulling Down the Moon to get started in March at: 312.321.0004.  I hope to see you on the mat!

  • 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!