Re-evaluating Your Friendship with Food by Amy English

Written by Erica on . Posted in Wellness

I’m an emotional eater. My main trigger is stress, but sadness, fear, and worry have played a large role as well. I turned to food for comfort and support for a very long time. Thinking about it, my earliest memory of emotional binge eating was probably somewhere around the age or 10 or 11. I remember sneaking food like chips, brownies from the pan, or even ice cream directly from the container with a spoon. When I look back on this, I recognize that the food filled a void for whatever was missing at the time. Food became who I needed at the moment. I know this now. I can see it clearly. I am fully aware. That awareness has been key to my understanding, to healing, and to helping me put an end to the behavior. We can’t fix anything if we don’t know it’s broken.

Before I was aware of WHY I emotionally ate, I tried to stop this behavior by beating myself into submission. I would force myself to be on ridiculously restrictive diets, and torture my body with insane workouts…especially when I “messed up”. I allowed myself little joy when it came to food and movement. I never realized how that spilled over into everything else. The diets worked for a while, until they didn’t. Life would happen, and there I was, stuffing my stress or sadness. I hated myself because of this. I was not patient, kind, or understanding with myself. I said some very mean things to myself, about myself. I kept thinking something was wrong with me. I didn’t know how to stop the cycle. I couldn’t allow certain foods in the house. No snacks, no chocolate, and definitely no ice cream. At times when we had an abundance of these “treats” (any of the major holidays), I would make my husband hide them. Unfortunately, hiding wasn’t enough. If I had a bad day at work I would search for it, and I would find it. I felt out of control with food, like it had a hold on me, and I couldn’t stop. I knew it was there, and I had to have it…especially on a bad day. I felt helpless. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I didn’t know how to shake it.

And then, I decided to get BARE. If you follow me on social media, then you’ve probably heard me talk about the BARE program. BARE is a coaching program and weight loss method that focuses on how to stop dieting, and stop emotional eating. Using this method, I learned how to start loving my body now, at my current weight, and how to treat myself with love and kindness. BARE helps to strip away all the negativity and nonsense we’re taught about how we should look, what we should eat, how we should feel, and so on. BARE also helped me understand my relationship with food. Turns out I was using food as pleasure, as support, and as comfort. Food was the friend who didn’t judge, who didn’t talk back, who didn’t question, who didn’t neglect. Wow.

I started to take a closer look at my behavior. I started journaling. I became the watcher of my thoughts, and actions. I started to see a pattern. I could see that I was running to the pantry when something went awry. I noticed that I was reaching for food when I wasn’t hungry. I learned how to listen to my body, and to know when it was hungry. I started getting curious. I began to ask questions. Am I hungry? Why do I want this? What do I need right now? Does Hershey have the answer? I noticed all of the answers pointed to an emotion.

I’m still doing the work, but it’s amazing to see all the changes. I’m able to keep food in my house that was forbidden before. I don’t think about food like I used to. I don’t run to the kitchen when I’m feeling stressed, or sad. Instead, I journal, practice deep breathing, or meditate. I don’t binge nearly as much as I used to. I can’t say I haven’t slipped, I’m human after all. The difference is I don’t beat myself up when it happens. I pick myself up and move on. I have added other forms of pleasure into my life, things that bring me joy! Food no longer serves that purpose.

Amy English is a Certified BARE Coach who helps women learn to stop dieting, love their bodies, and step into the life they deserve.


Is Vitamin C for me? by Jennifer Jennings

Written by Erica on . Posted in Wellness

Throughout our lives, we have continuously heard volumes about the purported benefits of Vitamin C. Our elders would encourage us to put lemon in our tea when having a case of the sniffles. Orange and citrus boxes were commonplace around the Holidays to enhance our immunity during the winter months. Children would be encouraged to take their vitamin C tablets, primarily during cold and flu season. The question remains, what is the hype regarding Vitamin C?

Vitamin C in Humans and other Mammals

There are 4,000 other species of mammals that have the ability manufacture Vitamin C, and in substantial quantities. Unfortunately, to the dismay of the human species, we do not synthesize Vitamin C. This is due to a mutation in the GULO (gulonolactone oxidase) gene, which results in the inability to manufacture the protein. However, the red blood cells of the handful of Vitamin C-defective species are specially equipped to absorb the vitamin’s oxidized form, using the GULO enzyme.

With proper nutrition, humans are able to consume more than enough Vitamin C from our diet. It is also suggested that organisms without a functional GULO gene have a method of “recycling” the Vitamin C that they obtain from their diets using red blood cells. Of interest, a 2008 published study claimed to have successfully reinstated the ability to produce Vitamin C in mice. This human evolutionary flaw makes the focus on consuming Vitamin C so important for humans.

So what is all of the hype on Vitamin C? Why is it something that we should be concerned about and why should we consume this in oral supplement form- or better yet, though the intravenous route? Vitamin C has demonstrated anti-aging effects; this is why the cosmetic industry has included this ingredient in many skin care regimens and products. Topical therapy is useful, but also oral supplement use and intravenous administration have demonstrated their effectiveness. Anecdotally, many patients that receive Vitamin C intravenously for adjunctive cancer therapy have reported an improvement in their skin texture, tone, and reduction of overall inflammation.

Vitamin C is also plays a vital role in strengthening the immune system. The most bioavailable form is liposomal Vitamin C, which has the ability glide across the cell membrane, enhancing intracellular absorption. Vitamins C and D are staples in my integrative medicine practice to support immunity, and many of our patients are able to avert the typical seasonal cold and flu viruses. Diet and nutrition play an important role in absorbing vitamins and minerals, however most patients are unable to get a therapeutic dosage through diet alone. Additionally, many of us have a compromised microbiome in the gut, and may have a weakened ability to absorb critical vitamins and minerals. This is where the role of IV vitamin C can significantly improve one’s immunity, as it bypasses the stomach acid and the ‘first pass effect’ with the liver.

Intravenous Vitamin C administration has shown promising results for adjunctive cancer therapy. A systematic review by Fritz & Flower et. al. (2014) reveals that intravenous Vitamin C has an excellent safety profile and important anti-tumor activity. The authors also suggest that intravenous Vitamin C may improve quality of life, reduce inflammation and can modulate disease and chemotherapy symptoms, and they endorse that several cases of cancer remission have been reported.

In summary, Vitamin C has many benefits to overall health, including reduced inflammation, anti-aging, immune support, and cancer therapy. Vitamin C has many perks for a relatively inexpensive, easy to consume Vitamin. So the question remains- what are you waiting for? Start taking your Vitamin C today.



Written by Erica on . Posted in Wellness

Breaking into 2017, actress and Goop lifestyle blog founder, Gwyneth Paltrow declared 2017 the year of clean sleep. The message is starting to pop up everywhere, get more sleep! But why? The last 50 years have not only built up a world and environment that is not conducive to a good night’s sleep, but has encouraged us to rave about how little we can survive on. But the way our health has changed it is sounding the alarm that we got it all wrong. Sleep is arguably the body’s best healing mechanism. It not only serves the purpose of energy conservation and memory consolidation but proves to be our most restorative function to keep all of our biological processes running smoothly. When we do not sleep well, we feel it. It only takes one night of bad sleep to cause havoc on our everyday lives. We have less patience, we become impulsive with both personal choices and our nutrition. We skip the gym because we are too tired or we go and end up getting hurt as our bodies are not able to repair and recover as quickly. It touches everything we do and who we are when it comes to our health.

We know that fatigue is the most common symptom of almost every disease or a sign that we are not consuming the right diet, but getting to the source of our sleep challenges isn’t always easy. Our sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day-to-day lifestyle choices have an enormous impact on the quality of your nightly rest, but where do we look first when we are too tired to even think straight? We start at the bottom. We uncomplicate the complicated. Some of my best tips for getting to the source of a sleep issue come from a comprehensive assessment but listed below are the easiest places to start on your own, as an advocate for your individual health.

1.Medical History- What are you currently diagnosed with? What medications are you taking? What are the side effects? What time of day are you taking them? What is the diet you are consuming when taking them? And in my opinion one of the most important- is the prescription you are taking the best for you and is what you are taking what the prescription was intended for? Especially when it comes to sleep challenges, physicians are quick to prescribe off-label and sometimes cause more harm than good. A quick recommendation they often make although over the counter is melatonin- marketed as safe and natural it is actually a hormone. We now know that it does not resolve the underlying issues regarding insomnia. Did you know it can also can interfere with diabetic medications and undermine the effectiveness of blood pressure prescriptions. There are ways we can produce it naturally and safely every day. First by being conscious of how much natural light we take in. Start the day by going to the window and soaking it in.

2.What supplements are you taking? The majority of the nutrients we get should come from REAL food, not supplements because they are not all created the same. This is an area the FDA has truly failed the healthcare industry. Despite the fact that traditional medicine doctors spend less than 23 hours on nutrition they are quick to recommend multi-vitamins. Although most do not consist of quality ingredients or contain the right combination of recommended daily amounts. Also falls in there the debate that not everyone absorbs minerals in the same way, which is why despite even getting tested, the majority of the population tends to suffer from a magnesium deficiency. Are you seeing a pattern? Health is about you – what works for you as an individual.

3.Diet- Believe it or not. Your eating habits should be to promote good sleep! Avoiding spicy foods and dairy for some before bed is recommended to avoid issues with re flux and digestion. While we sleep our bodies are at work, help it out. At the same time, we can incorporate foods to promote sleep! Bananas are a natural source of potassium and magnesium, Tart cherries as a natural source of melatonin and sweet potatoes or oatmeal as a late night snack if you can’t beat the late night munchies. Juicing is a great way to incorporate the necessary recommended dietary needs.

4.What type of sleeper are you? What position do you sleep in and do you have the right tools? People often overlook the importance of the right mattress, pillows, sheets, pajamas and temperature regulation. Which all play a huge part in how well we sleep through the night and if we wake up stiff or rested.

5.Evaluation of Environment- to include air quality, airborne mold, toxins, pet dander and dust. The tools we use can also play into this. Wake up sniffling? It could be the composition of the materials your mattress is made of. Make sure to dust often and incorporate plants into the bedroom. There are many factors beyond the generic- watch your caffeine intake, which just to clarify everyone has different sensitivities too. It also depends on the type of caffeine you are consuming. There is also the well-known recommendation to turn off your electronic devices. There are tools for that too, apps like f.lux to dim your screen and blue blocker glasses to cut through the blue light. You can still scroll through social media, emails and help your body produce the melatonin it needs naturally to get to a place where you are ready to fall asleep. Although in this day and age it isn’t just about the light, what you are reading or watching can affect stress levels and raise your blood pressure. It really is all connected.

Sleep is fairly new in that we are still studying the body and learning more every day the role it plays in our everyday functioning. If you are struggling with sleep take the time to speak with a sleep specialist. In terms of integrative medicine, sleep is right at the top. You have to understand yourself holistically to get to the bottom of why you are not sleeping well. It is too important to ignore the long term effects of sleep deprivation or the risks of a medical sleep disorder like sleep can have on your overall health and quality of life. Do not wait for your doctor to ask. Make the move, make the connection and start living happier, healthier days. Good Sleep = Good Health, make 2017 the year you make yours a priority.

Soda Kuczkowski is the owner of START WITH SLEEP an integrative education resource center and retail boutique that focuses on both behavioral and medical sleep challenges in Buffalo, NY. She is also the founder of the Start Your Journey Sleep Program ™, a guide for improving sleep quality naturally. She is committed to addressing sleep concerns and questions by providing sleep health education through a channel of various educational components including sleep consulting, coaching, workshops and health programs.


Open the Window by Jill O’Hara

Written by Erica on . Posted in Wellness

As we begin this New Year we look forward to many opportunities to bring more joy, goodness and new beginnings into our lives. It is time to hit the re-set button, blossom into what we desire, enrich or lives, and latch onto new habits that will bring us to a better place. All bright, sparkly things to ring in the New Year. And so it is…

In order to do this we have to let go of the past, release the hopes and dreams we longed for a year ago. Time to reboot and focus on what we wish to accomplish in this year. Whether it is better health, improved communications, peaceful relationships or whatever else is in your heart we can achieve it by setting that intention and most importantly taking action.

This is often a time of grieving and that is not a bad thing. Grieving allows us the ability to review, re-live and then to let go. Say goodbye, thank you for the lessons learned, the love shared and be grateful for the experience that have shaped us. The mourning of lost dreams, loves and opportunities that have vanished is a part of the re birthing process. It is the bridge to the opening of a window to the unseen, as yet unspoken hopes of our futures.

As I begin this New Year for the second time my greatest desire is to find that I can follow my path, listen to the inner guidance that is always available to all of us. My actual New Year was brought in under duress, grieving for loved ones who have crossed over and with little joy. So I have chosen to give it another shot and declared that today was my New Year. Though my new beginning came later than the traditional one I trust,and that is an important word that this year will be the best ever. We always have the opportunity to start over, every day, or even every minute if need be. As I have found my way back to more joy and a more optimistic frame of mind I am reminded that “ it is not the events in our lives that are important, but rather our thoughts about those events that truly matter”.Always trust that what you go through in life is for a good reason. Believe that as our experience strengthen us, and help us to know ourselves better.

My wish for you is that you have the happiest, healthiest and most brilliant New Year of your life. Believe in your self, your dreams, your goals and trust and have faith that the Universe has your back.



Navigating Big Change By Linda Bucher

Written by Erica on . Posted in Wellness

If you’ve ever been through a big, life-altering change, you know how hard it is. Changes of this magnitude cause a sizable shift in some aspect of your identity. Finding your way through an identity shift is frightening and difficult, but big change has a very predictable cycle. Once you understand its progression and discover how to navigate it, you won’t find yourself nearly so paralyzed the next time you encounter a significant life transition.

Often, big life changes are completely outside of your control. Sometimes they blind-side you; like the day I became a young widow without warning. Other times you know they’re coming; like my friend who was informed her company would be closing in 6 months.

Some life-altering changes happen because of opportunities you choose to take – like entering into marriage, getting divorced, or taking that dream job. Then there is the kind of change that comes from within – a personal, inner, transition that begs to be born.

A few years ago, I experienced an enormous internal stirring. I had landed what seemed like a dream job as a Project Manager in a small, privately held corporation. When I accepted the job, I was so enthralled with the salary and benefits that I muted out the nagging inner voice that pleaded for purpose.

When that voice started yelling in the form of chronic neck and back pain, I thought perhaps I needed a new, ergonomically designed office chair. When it started punching its way out, sabotaging my office punctuality and removing all spring from my step, I finally took notice.

I found myself faced with a critical decision. I could requisition a new chair, establish a close relationship with my chiropractor and set my alarm earlier, or I could listen to that persistent inner voice and explore the shift that was taking place within me.

I chose to explore what was awakening inside me and what I found led me to yet another critical decision point. Should I stay in my current life with its excellent pay, stock options and 401K Plan? As a single mom of three, it would surely be the responsible thing to do, guaranteed to increase my financial wealth, erode my health, and leave me cranky and irritable – a victim of my own choosing. Or, should I take the totally illogical, but exhilarating route: trust my instincts, quit my job and go back to school to pursue a brand new career at age 45?

Whichever way I chose, I’d be facing a life-altering change because I was no longer who I had been.

From here to there and the cycle of change

First Stop: Nowhere

When big change hits, you feel completely untethered, unsure of exactly who you are or which way to go. During this liminal period, you’re forced to let go of your old identity and you spend a lot of time mourning your old life. You know you are no longer who you were and to acknowledge this feels unsettling. The aspects of my job were dreadfully unfulfilling and I felt like an imposter sitting in my office. My identity was in limbo and I felt lost.

The good news is that even in the midst of being ungrounded, you’ll find yourself on a threshold; a place in which you have the freedom to choose your new identity. Cross this threshold with the mindset of an explorer because when you’re nobody nowhere, you can become anybody anywhere. And it’s perfectly normal to have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. There’s only one thing that can keep you nowhere indefinitely: believing the thoughts that impair movement. These are the thoughts that start with, “I’ll never again have…” or “I should have…” or “If only he had…” or “I’ll probably feel like this forever.” While you can grieve the loss of your old identity, any thought that predicts the future or regrets the past AND makes you feel bad, cannot be grieved because thoughts of this nature are merely illusion. Inspect these thoughts for the fear, loneliness, anger, or guilt they mask and question their validity. Let go of what was to make room for what’s next. Only then will you find yourself headed for the next part of your journey: clarity.

Getting Clarity

You’ll know you’re leaving Nowhere when you find your feet closer to the ground and the answer to the question, “Who am I?” You may not know what your perfect career is, or the identity of your soul mate, but you’ll know who you are. And you’ll experience a sense of excitement and possibility. Without intentional action, you find yourself doing things you’ve never done before; changing your style, redecorating a space, connecting with new kinds of people. I started wearing my hair spiked up and bypassed the power suits in my closet for funky, artistic fashion. You begin to dream of possibilities for your new identity. Be gentle on yourself: don’t dash your dreams, let them flow and let them develop. Be audacious in your dreaming because during this phase, there are no rules.

At some point, one of your musings will begin to take shape as a real possibility. Then your brain will begin working on a plan because you’ll go from wanting that possibility to intending to have it. When you intend to do something, you tip the odds in your favor of doing it. When I decided to do some self-exploration, I landed at where I found the phrase “Become a Coach,” And the decision to take action was made.

Trial and Error

With careful planning, you’ll set out to achieve your goal. As trial and error goes, you’ll try and fail and then try again and fail again. You’ll be tempted to believe the negative, deceitful thoughts that accompany failure and give up on your goal. Quitting will get you nowhere. Instead, keep reworking the plan and give it another shot. There’s great information in each failure because you’ll learn which way not to go. You’ll try and learn and try again and learn again. Once I came across a huge flat funnel in the mall. You could launch a marble and watch it go round and round for 5 minutes until, finally, it dropped through the center. The trial and error phase is like that; it may seem like you’re going in circles, continually ending up right back where you started, but all the while, you’re actually honing in on your goal.

The trial and error period is always a lot harder than you ever think it will be. As I build my life coaching practice, my momentum alternately grows and stalls with each idea that misses the mark. Nobody registered for my first webinar. I spent a considerable sum of money on a business-building product I never used. I thought my practice would tightly connect coaching with interior design. Time after time, back to the drawing board I went. When it comes to big life transitions, trial and error is terrifying, exhilarating and exhausting. You’ll need to constantly replenish your energy through plenty of rest and play.

The New Normal

One day you’ll realize you’re living in a new normal where things are going smoothly without much effort. The part of your life that was once new and scary now feels natural. You’ve conquered the obstacles of single parenting; you easily navigate your responsibilities at work; your romantic relationship is easy and relaxed. Each of these things weren’t so effortless at their inception. When they were new, you probably felt lost. As you began to get clarity, you set out to accomplish them. Through trial and error, you learned and learned some more. As the journey continues, you find yourself knowing what to do, making minor adjustments along the way. Now you can ease up, focus on what’s working, and spend time in the present, better for the journey.

Big change is inevitable; its progression, predictable. Whether in the form of shock, opportunity or inner calling, big change holds the power to shift your identity in remarkable ways.


Your Health: Pay Now or Pay Later By Dennis Lesniak

Written by Erica on . Posted in Wellness

Nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management. These are four main factors affecting our health day in and day out.

Losing weight is like an iceberg. When you see an iceberg, you only see 10 percent. The rest is hidden below the surface. When people discuss losing weight or getting healthier, there is this idea that it is simply calories in versus calories out. To me, that is the same as saying that if you put gas in the car then it will run. That works for a new or a well-maintained car, but what about a car that has been abused –no regular maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations, appropriate fluid levels, proper driving, etc. What if this car needs a new battery? It needs new spark plugs, or an alternator or brakes. Will this car run if you just put gas in it? Nope. This is the same for many people. Most people do not function at the same level as a new car. They have parts that do not work, they have majorly messed up hormone levels, they have extremely poor gut health, and their stress levels have been elevated and unchecked for years.

Often times, people experiencing these symptoms have bounced around from diet to diet while losing and gaining weight for years. They may eat well under a thousand calories every single day. They feel lost and have no idea what to do. While a nutrition plan varies person to person, there are two major hurdles everyone can clear (if they want to) to help them get on a positive track. These are both equally important and they all are intertwined: time and money.
Let’s talk money. Point blank: Can you afford to be sick? I’m not talking about the flu. I’m talking about long-term diseases, like diabetes or heart failure. Could you afford that? If you think that won’t happen to you, you’re wrong.

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the world and the leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 375,000 Americans a year. Twenty-nine million people (9.3 percent) have diabetes; 1.7 million people aged 20 years or older were newly diagnosed with diabetes in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Below is a list of the leading causes of death in the U.S. from the CDC:

• Heart disease: 614,348

• Cancer: 591,699

• Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 147,101

• Accidents (unintentional injuries): 136,053

• Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 133,103

• Alzheimer’s disease: 93,541

• Diabetes: 76,488

• Influenza and pneumonia: 55,227

• Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,146

• Intentional self-harm (suicide): 42,773

As you can see, the likelihood of you dying from a lifestyle pathology, meaning a disease process that we develop through our lifestyle choices, is high. At some point in time you will have to pay for your health choices. There are really two ways about this: Pay as you go or pay up front. By paying up front, you decrease the likelihood of having to shell out thousands of dollars when you are diagnosed with a deadly disease. Pay a little more for regular self-care and maintenance of your body by eating healthier, exercising regularly, and investing in quality sleep and stress management. By paying as you go, you increase the chance of a large bill at some point in time that many of us aren’t prepared to financially handle. The choice is truly yours. Your healthcare is not free. You will be paying for it one way or another.

The second hurdle is time, and this is where things start to get fun. We’ve all heard this whether from a friend’s lips or our own: “I don’t have enough time!” Let’s take a step back and really look at this. You are reading this because you want to enhance your health. You do not need more time, you to become more efficient.

We can become more efficient if we have better mental acuity and clarity. Think about when you have that first cup of coffee in the morning. It feels like you are starting to fire all cylinders, right? What if you could make that exact same thing happen without coffee or a stimulant? You can – and all by making better food choices. When we clean up our diet, we experience less inflammation in our bodies. With less inflammation, our bodies heal, allowing them to focus on other areas. Healthier eating will allow our bodies to have less trouble falling asleep at night. Better sleep will allow for more restorative sleep. As little about sleep as we know, we do know that it is necessary. We can’t live without it.

Alcohol has direct negative effects on your ability to sleep. Prescription drugs designed to enhance sleep have direct negative effects on healthy sleep, too. You’re not really sleeping; you’re just unconscious. The better your sleep is the better your brain will function. Going to sleep before midnight is crucial for people who operate on a traditional work/life schedule (i.e. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

Every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two to three after midnight. Our bodies are not made to stay awake all night or for extended periods late at night. We are meant to shut down. Many of our daily habits affect this process. The blue light that comes from computers and TVs completely disrupts our sleep process. We often use these devices right up until we lay down and it interferes with our circadian rhythm, resulting in a lack of healthy sleep.

This lack of healthy sleep will disrupt the process of tissue repair, neurotransmitter synthesis, and the ability to wake up feeling refreshed and energized. This will throw hormones out of balance and decrease the effectiveness of neurotransmitter firing. This will lead to the body trying to compensate by craving high-sugar, high-salt and high-fat foods, decrease the desire to move, and decrease cognitive function. This will also decrease your body’s ability to deal with and process stress.

When it comes to the exercise you do, the quality and intensity will trump the quantity and the duration. I have seen many people do more for themselves in five minutes than most people do in an hour in a typical commercial gym.

Stress is just plain stressful. It is the Goldilocks of life. It needs to be just right. Too much pushes us to burn out, but not enough affects our motivation. Somewhere in the middle of all that, we find this perfect oasis where we run smoothly and feel we can handle everything. It is like how Bradley Cooper’s character felt when he took that magic pill in the movie Limitless. You have no idea what you are capable of when you take care of your body. It is the most powerful computer we have ever known.

By taking the time to make better food choices, sleeping better and exercising, you will become more efficient. You will quickly see all the ways you function better and, in turn, spend less time on daily tasks. You will feel less fatigued, decrease the likelihood of sick days and wake up more energetic and ready to attack the day. You will be better equipped to handle stress. You can’t put a price on that!