BECOMING AN EARLY BIRD

Whether you work the morning shift or like watching the sun rise, everyone can benefit from waking up at 6am. These are just the benefits that I personally have noticed, and I’m sure you’ll notice them once you stop hitting the snooze button!

Eat Breakfast

Getting up earlier will push you to eat breakfast first, which is, as many grandmas would say, the most important meal of the day! Breakfast it vital to our daily food intake, and it will stop you from feeling hungry and eating snacks throughout the day. This will also go hand and hand with the next benefit.

Boosted Metabolism

There’s no doubt that waking up early gets your gears moving a lot sooner in the day.  This means that your metabolism will be kickstarted. The morning time is when your metabolism is at it’s peak and it starts weakening later on in the day, so wake up to receive this natural benefit!

Body Healing

Waking up earlier for a slow start also means that you won’t be jumping right out of bed with an aching body. I personally always had lower back pain before letting my body gently wake up with the rest of the world. Adding yoga or pilates to your morning routine also stretches your body so you won’t pull anything or have stiff muscles all day.

Plan the Day

Since you have this extra time, you can plan your day, or go over your plans from the night before. If you don’t do much planning, you can check and make sure you don’t have any appointments set up. *I began using an iOS app named “One List” (Not sure about the availability on Android), and it has helped me a ton during my previous semester of college. To rid of ads and unlock all the themes, it’s $4.99, but very worth it in my opinion! If you want to go paperless, this app is very simplistic and helpful in sorting tasks and their level of difficulty.

More Productive

If you spend time planning your day, you’re more than likely going to follow it which makes you more productive. Even if this doesn’t apply, you’re going to do something when you wake up, no matter how big or small the task may be!

Improves Sleep

Since you will be waking up at 6am, your body will start getting tired earlier. You may find that you become tired around 8pm rather than 12am, and that’s a great thing! It’s easier to wake up early if you go to sleep earlier, which makes you feel like you had the best sleep. Many of us only feel fully rested when we go to bed and sleep in late. However, you can get the same feeling and more!

Energized

The energy in your body will be at an all time high when you give yourself a little time! Forget spending $3 a day on energy drinks and pulling all nighters. They leave you tired, unhealthy, and drains energy faster than you can drink it. If you want to save money and gain time, this is for you!

Easy 8am Classes/Morning Shift

This only applies for those who are in college or work an early morning shift, but nonetheless helpful. If you wake up at 6am, you have two free hours to do what you like. Whether you kick back and enjoy a Netflix show or spend the few hours studying for a test for your 8am course, it makes these early tasks simple.

Better Mental Health

This is in no way inferring that all mental health issues will be eradicated. This just improves mental health and dealing with it. Better sleep and decreased stress are linked to a healthier mind. When you’re more productive and energized you feel great and that everyday is purposeful.

*not sponsored

Start swiping on Hey! VINA today to find a best girlfriend that will keep you accountable on your new goals!

VIVA LA VEGAN!

WHAT IS VEGANISM?

Vegan is defined as abstaining from all animal products in your daily diet. In other words, any bi-product of an animal such as milk, cheese or chicken. So I’m sorry vinas, no more half & half in your iced coffees or butter filled croissants from the local bakery.

BACKGROUND

Countless studies and documentaries have been produced to convey to the public why intaking certain foods and drinks on an everyday basis is unhealthy. For example, “What the Health” is a documentary on Netflix that addresses how the meat industry lies about how and where animals are raised. Not to mention either how the bi-product of the animal is altered. Thinking about how poorly chickens are raised is concerning and quite disturbing. Not all baby chicks are running freely in grass and consuming natural nourishment, but instead trapped in tight cages. Considering even a small amount of knowledge regarding the food industry and major food corporations can open eyes and mouths to what is really nourishing for our bodies.

WHY GO VEGAN?

Going vegan and reducing the amount of animal product intake can help with heart problems, tiredness, and overall health. Dairy is especially fattening and can cause stomach issues to some. For example, lactose intolerance is no longer uncommon and rather more apparent than ever. In addition, getting the proper nutrition you need from protein and healthy fats can come from many alternatives to meat and dairy. Below are some suggestions.

WHAT TO EAT

Here’s a very short list of items you can still enjoy while being vegan! Always remember to check labels and keep your eyes peeled for yummy treats in the grocery store, at local markets, or in the latest newsletter from your favorite place to shop!

FOOD

Tofu, tempeh, pasta, rice, beans, lettuce, chips, potatoes, fruit, veggies, nuts, dark chocolate, vegan cake and cookies

DRINKS

Milk (almond, coconut, nut, cashew, rice, soy), coffee (hallelujah!), juice, kombucha

OVERVIEW

Contrary to popular belief, going vegan is very affordable and easy. Fruits and vegetables are a comfortable price while tofu and tempeh are significantly cheaper than red steak or chicken drumsticks. There are always ways to spice things up and switch tastes around by adding, for example, different sauces to your tofu. Don’t get discouraged about running out of recipes or ideas. With plenty of resources online and convenient videos, making vegan dishes can be very fun, while also tasting yummy without maxing out your credit card.

Educate yourself, take time to see what foods are out there, and get to shopping! Mix up your life with adding a splash of coconut milk to your coffee while saving one precious cow at a time. Now that’s what I call a-moo-zing!

xo,

Mia Costa

To find your fellow vegan vinas, join the Vegetarian and Vegan Community on Hey! VINA. Swap recipes and plan some vegan dinner nights in or out with the girlies today!

HAPPY NATIONAL WOMEN’S HEALTH WEEK!

woman getting her pulse checked

The United States Women’s National Health Week is from May 12th through the 18th this year! Here are a few ways to keep your health in check so that you can continue being the most badass version of yourself:

GET YOUR WELL WOMAN CHECKUP ASAP!

If you haven’t already gone in for your annual checkup, now’s the time to get it scheduled! I don’t know about you, but I’m a borderline hypochondriac so I’ll do anything that’ll reassure me that I’m not nine-months pregnant or that I have a rare, incurable disease. A thorough well-woman checkup will include preventative screenings such as breast examinations and pap smears.

START MOVIN’ AND GROOVIN’

Woman's silhouette running against the sunrise

According to World Health Organization, one in four adults live a sedentary lifestyle. This leaves you susceptible to common diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer. The good news is that it’s never too late to adopt a more active lifestyle.

Just recently I started seeing a personal trainer and I’ve never felt so strong in my life. Now, I’m not saying you suddenly have to start doing SoulCycle every week or become a yoga guru, but even just incorporating brisk 15-minute walks into your routine could make all the difference.

ADOPT A HEALTHIER DIET

Did you know your gut can tell you more about your current health state than any other part of your body? Think about it; how often do you deal with bloat or constipation or fatigue? It can even affect your sleep and weight! Bad gut health is a result of consistent bad eating habits (along with a few other factors such as stress levels and hydration). That means the best way to get your gut in check is to have a well-balanced diet. Try to cut back on foods with a high sugar or trans fat content and replace them with more fibrous foods. Maybe even get tested for subtle food allergies you might have.

Be warned though. Your doctor might tell you that you’re allergic to garlic and you’ll question everything you know about yourself – not that I’m projecting or anything.

Long story short vinas, a better balanced diet = happy gut = happy you.

KEEP YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IN CHECK

A girl reading poetry with a cup of tea

According to Women’s Health, one in five women in the United States (I’m sure it’s similar in other parts of the world) have experienced a mental health condition. Thankfully it’s becoming more acceptable to be open and honest about mental health issues in the workplace, in schools, and even between loved ones.

I personally struggle with depression and anxiety. It’s been a long road getting to a place where I can manage it better, but I still have a long way to go.

So here’s your reminder to be kind to and patient with yourselves vinas. Treat yourself to some “me days” accompanied with some wine (or coffee or tea) and a good book (or your favorite T.V. show). Of course these should not be in placement of treatments provided by a licensed therapist if you choose to seek one.

BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY

Here’s my last one for you vinas, and it’s an important one. Be sure to practice safe behaviors such as quitting smoking (or not starting), not texting while driving (I ain’t a saint, I struggle with this one too), wearing your seat belts, and using protection.

I want to end on a high note and remind all of you vinas that the first step to loving yourself is taking care of yourself, so please keep these tips in mind year-round.

Even better download the Hey! VINA app today and share these tips with some new life-long friends.

Q&A WITH SOPHIA YEN, FOUNDER OF PANDIA HEALTH

As a thank you to Pandia Health for including VINA flyers in their boxes for the month of May, we have a lovely Q&A with their founder, Sophia Yen, MD from Sunnyvale, California.

What is Pandia Health and why did you decide to launch it?  

Pandia Health brings prescription birth control to women wherever they have internet and a mailbox. We are decreasing stress in women’s lives, increasing productivity, and increasing access to vital healthcare.

As a Clinical Associate Professor at Stanford Medical School, I was giving a talk to a bunch of doctors about “Why don’t women take their birth control?” The answer: they didn’t have time to go to the pharmacy or their prescription expired. My friend Perla Ni and I thought: “We can fix this. We’ll ship the medication to women and keep shipping it until they tell us to stop!” This is a great opportunity to disrupt the slow, monolithic pharmacy industry. We will make it a delightful, mobile, 20-something friendly experience. Then when we ran ads for “free birth control delivery,” 60% of those that responded didn’t have a prescription. I’m a doctor, I can write subscriptions and thus, Pandia Health was born – the End to End Solution for birth control, from prescription to delivery to your home.

Why is your work through it meaningful to you, as well as important for all women?

Pandia Health makes women’s lives easier and helps women prevent unplanned pregnancies by providing the “one-stop shop” for birth control.

1. We free up time for women: On average, women spend 20-30 years of their lives on contraception. They spend valuable time and money traveling to the pharmacy to get prescription birth control every month and going to the doctor’s office once a year. They have #BetterThingsToDo than run to the pharmacy each month.

2. We save women money also. Some women live hours away from the nearest pharmacy or doctor’s office. They have to spend time and money to go there.

3. We provide Confidentiality. Local pharmacies in small towns do not offer the privacy needed for women to get their prescription birth control. “Slut shaming” when you get your birth control. Women don’t need that.

4. We decrease stress. Women worry about running out of medications. It is a source of great stress.

5. We provide Access. 60% of women who respond to an advertisement for free birth control delivery, don’t have a valid prescription (it expired or they didn’t have one to begin with). We provide access.

6. We are providing Education. We have a youtube channel with 130k+ views with NO advertising/promotion. People want/need the information we are sharing/providing.

7. We Advocate for our customers. We fight insurance companies to get women the medication they want/need.

What was the hardest part of getting it up and running? Any “failures” or doubts along the way and if so, what did you learn from them?

Getting funded. Seeing guys before me get funded with no mention of # of customers and then with 50 customers, then I come along with 150 customers and have to beg for funding. We are the ONLY Women-Founded/Led, practicing reproductive health doctor founded/led company in this space. Keep knocking on doors and eventually you will find your people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Get everything in writing and don’t let people bully you into a decision. You can always stop, consult people, consult lawyers.

Where do you want to take it in 5 years? 10 years?

Pandia Health is building The Brand Women Trust with Their Health. Pandia is the greek goddess of healing, light, full moon. I also came up with: Pan = every, día – day, we have you covered everyday. Set it and forget it. Let Pandia worry so you don’t have to.

We are starting with birth control, but we will grow as our patients grow from birth control to acne, to prenatal vitamins, breast pumps, to menopause and wrinkle cream.

How do you balance your work with Pandia Health with your other roles (teaching, Board membership, etc.)?

I’m at Stanford 1 half-day a week and the rest of the time I’m 24/7 Pandia Health. With Pandia Health, I’ve had to cut down on other involvement (fighting for healthy school lunch, participation in my daughters’ girl scouts, attending daughters’ school events) but that’s ok. My daughters and other young women get to see a woman CEO and my husband gets to step up as a parent.

Pandia is not the the first venture you have founded/co-founded. How did you develop such an entrepreneurial spirit?

It’s in my blood. My grandfather had his own company – selling men’s clothing. My parents have lived the silicon Valley/American dream – from rags to riches. My mom had me learn accounting since 4th grade and I did the family finances! Junior Achievement in high school taught me how to run a company from selling stock, serious accounting, leading a team, paying back stockholders dividends, etc. Also, Future Business Leaders of America gave me skills as well. And being Treasurer of: my high school class for 2 years, sorority x 4 years, MIT class x 4 yrs, Homeowner’s Association x 15+ yrs?  Being treasurer made me think about what to sell, how to price it, profit and labor.

What advice do you have for young women who want to launch their own initiative, big or small?

Do it. Build a tribe. Check out Springboard Enterprise, Women’s Startup Lab, StartX.

Do you have a mentor? Who do you look to for inspiration and support?

I have several advisors. There are so many great women entrepreneurs out there that inspire me! Currently, I am inspired by Sarah Lacy of ChairmanMom, Kara Goldin of Hint Water, Lisa Fetterman of Nomiku in addition to the usual Sara Blakely of Spanx, Rent The Runway Jennifer Hyman, Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix, Shan-Lyn Ma of Zola, Emilly Weiss of Glossier.

For support, I’m thankful to my investors Matthew Gould of Allectus Capital and Charles Hudson of Precursor Ventures and my tribes from: Springboard Enterprise, StartX, Women’s Startup Lab, female entrepreneur groups and feminist groups like the Feminist Majority Foundation, Center for Reproductive Rights, Ignite, and Emerge.

Any final words of wisdom to all the young women out their who are strategizing to reach their education, career, and wellness goals?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

You can do it!

If you are open to connecting with our readers, how can they reach you?

Twitter: @TeenMD or @pandiahealth

If you want to be a Pandia Health ambassador and help spread the word, email info at Pandiahealth.com

HOW THE FOUNDERS OF BLUME ARE MAKING PERIODS SAFER

Our vinas over at Blume are here to talk about the power of friendship in accomplishing goals, what it means to have a healthy and safe period, and why they started a company to empower women every day of the month.

Hi Taran and Bunny! Tell me about why you decided to create Blume and your journey to get here?

We noticed there’s a lack of information and resources available for girls today. We were inspired to do something, because the process of puberty is something everyone goes through and everyone deserves to know what changes to expect. Beyond that, girls are presented with products with unsafe ingredients, making this isolating time even worse. We wanted to create a tangible solution and offer young girls products they can feel confident using.

It started as ElleBox. How did the business change and why?

With Ellebox, we knew 2 things:

  1. We wanted to create a conversation about periods so that people with periods could take on the world and live life without shame, stigma or taboo.
  2. We want girls and women to have easy access to safe, transparent, sustainable products that are not a threat to your body or the environment.

Through growing Ellebox we learned that these things matter to our customers, too. We also learned through the feedback our audience gave us every month after receiving their boxes. Rather than focuses on the service we were building, we focused on our why and found the best way to solve these problems for our community. From there, we relaunched as Blume and introduced four foundational products that customers were lacking.

What’s it like running a business with your sister?

It’s awesome! We both think very differently and have complementary skill sets, so it allows to tackle different aspects of the business, which come together in an efficient way. We also have 1000% trust in one another, which inherently makes running the business easier!

You’ve talked about how it can be lonely running as a business. What are some “gritty” parts about running a business and the stuff that most people don’t see?

In the early days specifically, as a founder, you are the business, which means that you are literally part of every touchpoint of the business and so while you also get to work on the fun stuff, you also have to ensure you’re making time for the not so fun stuff, like following up with lost shipments or working long hours to fix a broken webpage.

What is your advice for women who have a business idea but not sure how to get it off the ground?

Just start!

Tell me about BLUME how it works?


We provide everything from organic pads and tampons, to natural deodorants, to all natural blemish treatments. Everything a girl would need to help manage her period mindfully. These products work well for women of all ages and are made to grow up with girls and stand by them for years to come. More importantly than our products, we’re validating an often ignored & shamed life experience to celebrate womanhood and everything that comes with it (including the bad and ugly!)

VINA is all about the power of friendship and the importance of having your tribe. Do you both rely on a circle of friends? Tell us about how friends have helped you on this journey.

We couldn’t agree with this more! We both have a super close tribe of friends that we rely on and appreciate SO much. Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey and we couldn’t imagine navigating both the highs & lows without a strong support system of friends around us.

Tell us about BLUME’s Acne Oil–Meltdown. What is the product and how does it work?

Meltdown is our all natural acne treatment made purely from essential oils! It’s anti bacterial and anti-inflammatory making it effective at tackling everything to hormonal/cystic acne to scarring. It’s great on all skin types and won’t leave your skin dry or oily—just crystal clear.

What makes it different from other products?

Meltdown isn’t made with any harsh chemicals, found in conventional acne treatments! No benzoyl peroxide or Salicylic acid is used, so you don’t need to worry about your skin flaking or peeling. It’s even safe to use underneath makeup!

Where can vinas buy it?

You can find all our products, including Meltdown, on www.meetblume.com!

What are your big dreams for this year?

We’re excited to continue building the brand that girls grow up with 🙂 There’s a lot of work to be done and we’re focusing on sex ed & self care this year.

On VINA, vinas use 5 emojis to define themselves. What 5 emojis represent you both?

Where can vinas buy it?

You can find all our products, including Meltdown, on www.meetblume.com! Feel free to use the code VINA10 for 10% off all Blume products!

Feeling inspired to support your fellow girls with a kick ass entrepreneurial gig? Find your next business partner vina on Hey! VINA today!

TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: THERAPY

Mental health is still a tricky subject, and there are many people who still think that going to therapy is somehow shameful or something to hide. No way! Therapy and counseling are amazing resources that can be used to your advantage.

Here are just a few things to know about therapy, if you’ve been on the fence about using its resources.

IT HELPS TO TALK IT OUT.

Talk therapy can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to discussing your mental health or anything that’s on your mind. Sometimes, we have clear ideas of how we’re feeling in our head, but when we articulate it into words, it turns out that there’s a completely different reason for why we’re in a funk.

YOUR THERAPIST PROVIDES AN OUTSIDE PERSPECTIVE.

Sometimes you need someone completely removed from your life and from the subject that’s bothering you to give you some help. Outside perspectives allow you to see things in a way that maybe you wouldn’t have before, and it can be super helpful if you’re spending too much time in your head or you’re in a close relationship with someone that’s causing you problems.

THERAPISTS WILL GIVE YOU WAYS TO COPE.

One of the main things that therapists do is provide coping mechanisms so you can enact healthy ways of dealing with mental health hiccups (or even just a bad day) when you’re not in your therapist’s office. If you can use these coping mechanisms to your advantage, you’ll hopefully be able to learn more about yourself and what works for you.

IT HELPS TO KNOW YOU’RE NOT ALONE.

Just talking to someone and having them provide legitimacy for whatever is bothering you can be a huge weight off your chest. Therapists or counselors will validate the fact that, yes, you’re going through something…and they’ll help you think of ways to combat those feelings.

YOU’LL HAVE TO WORK AT IT, TOO.

Your therapist isn’t there to solve your problems; they are there to help you find ways to work through your problems so when they inevitably rear their head again, you’ll be prepared. It will take work on your part to enact healthy coping mechanisms and practice getting to know what works for you.

Here at Hey! VINA, we’re strong advocates of doing whatever you need to do to ensure that you are your best self.

SEX ED: WE ANSWER THE TMI QUESTIONS YOU WANT ANSWERS TO

It’s fun to share your Pinot Noir over your last Tinder hookup. You can give all the gritty details of the scent of his skin and how you woke up to apple cinnamon pancakes the next day. You and your vina can share some pretty intimate details, but there are some things that are less than “share-worthy.” It’s okay — we’ve been there. I’m here to be the big-sister-vina and answer some of those awkward questions. Let’s get started:

IS CYBER SEX REALLY CHEATING?

Right now, the world is at a peak of its technology advancements, which makes it no surprise that this is a question that is up for debate. You have to really ask yourself what YOU consider cheating. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer, it all falls upon your own values. Some people may consider a kiss on the cheek that they weren’t aware of as cheating, and others may only consider full intercourse as cheating.

Determine where you draw the line, and where your partner is standing near it. If your partner simply made a new friend from a Facebook group, that can be cool or not. If your partner simply made a new friend from a Facebook group, and started messaging them and sending them nude pics, that may still be okay with you — or not.

If at any point you begin to feel uncomfortable or question if your partner would be okay with what you’re doing, then the answer is that it’s probably wrong.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO TRY ANAL SEX?

Anal sex is something that you and your partner need to be fully in agreement with. It can be a pleasurable experience for both of you if it is done correctly. I will tell you that the biggest reason people do not have anal sex is because of the fear of what might come out, so shower up! When the mood is right and time is not an issue, foreplay will make the task much easier.

The best way to introduce anything to the anal area is with a lubed up single finger. Begin touching the area and inserting a finger then gradually increasing it to two. Add more lubricant whenever necessary. When the time is right, you or your partner will be able to fully engage in anal sex. Do not resist or clench up, because this will cause pain. Remain relaxed and just be in the moment.

IS SEX DURING MY PERIOD BAD?

While sex during your period is not necessarily bad, it can be messy. Provided that your SO is comfortable with the mess factor, period sex is no different than regular sex! Lay some old towels down on the bed, make sure to double or triple up on towels. Foreplay is usually best above the waist to avoid direct hand contact with the blood which may decrease the arousal factor. Entering the vagina will be no different than non-period sex, however, you will notice that the area is more lubricated. Some women experience a slight pause in their period flow for a few hours later due to the contractions of the uterus during sex, and this is totally normal. Bottom line: period sex is like regular sex, it just also involves blood. If your partner is not squeamish, then you two should be able to have a blast.

Although sex is not a taboo subject for many, there are still some questions that are uncomfortable to ask. Having a vina on Hey! VINA you can trust is always a good place to start. Who knows? Maybe your vina has the same question as you! It’s worth mentioning that, when in doubt, ask your doctor — they have seen and heard a lot! And no matter what you do, safe sex is the best sex!

HORMONE BALANCE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Candace Burch is a hormone health educator and founder of Your Hormone Balance, an at-home hormone testing + consulting practice that helps people of all ages detect and correct hormone imbalances that negatively impact health and longevity.

Her mission as a wellness advocate is to educate, inspire and guide women toward safe, natural approaches to hormone balance and breast cancer prevention. In an exclusive interview with VINAZINE, she answers all your questions on how hormones shift as we age, checking in with yourself, and what it means to balance our your hormones.  Read on below!

NOTE: Vinazine readers will receive $100 off any test kit / consultation package from Your Hormone Balance using code “VINAZINE.”

Q: Thanks for talking to VINAZINE! From the perspective of someone who doesn’t know much about hormone imbalance, how do hormones shift over age? What are issues that women should be on the lookout for during certain decades/phases of life?
A: Pre-Menopause – The PMS Years. During their 20s and 30s, women should experience fairly regular cycles, with balanced estrogen and progesterone production. But increasingly, younger females prone to High Intensity (HIIT) exercise, heightened or prolonged stress, crash dieting and continuous contraceptive use are not ovulating regularly. These anovulatory (lack of ovulation) cycles are associated with hallmark symptoms of hormonal imbalance, including severe PMS and are also common in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Peri-MenopauseThe Rollercoaster Years. In the years approaching menopause, 40-something women begin to experience erratic cycles, as ovaries start to sputter and estrogen and progesterone levels start to fluctuate dramatically dozens of times a day. A whole new world of symptoms, from hot flashes and mood swings to insomnia and low libido, take women on a hormonal rollercoaster ride. Now is the time that the search for symptom relief begins in earnest!

Menopause/Post MenopauseThe End of Periods. As the ovaries take their final bow, ovulation ends and menopause begins. Falling levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone trigger unexpected symptoms that can surprise women. With less hormone to go around, their role in protecting the health of the breasts, bones, skin, brain and heart is greatly diminished. And with fewer hormones to go around, their natural aphrodisiac properties and role in protecting our sexual health dwindle significantly, and it falls to the adrenal glands to pick up the slack in hormone production. Now is the time when learning to balance hormones naturally and, providing your hardworking adrenals with extra care and feeding becomes all important to your best, healthiest, sexy self.

Q: How can you check in with yourself in terms of hormone balancing other than getting them tested—is there something that we can do more frequently?
A: The best way to check in with your hormonal health is to be alert to the signs and symptoms of a hidden imbalance … Don’t assume that missing work or school because of miserable monthly periods is normal. Or that PMS’ing to the point of insanity is your cross to bear. Don’t assume that sore, tender breasts (‘fear of hugging’), belly fat that won’t budge, foggy brain, and pushing through the day because you’re so tired but unable to sleep at night because you’re so wired, is normal. Don’t assume that you can’t lose weight no matter what you do, and that your libido has gone permanently AWOL.  

Don’t allow persistent anxiety, bad moods, stress and/or depression to rule your life.  In short, don’t become your symptoms …become aware of them and take action to rebalance naturally (you can take my hormone imbalance quiz to help here).

 

Candace Burch

Candace Burch, MA. Hormone Health Educator. Courtesy of Your Hormone Balance.

Q: When balancing hormones, what are realistic expectations to have for things like energy levels, mood, and weight loss? 
A: By taking the right steps to rebalance the mother of all imbalances—estrogen dominance—that shows up in a majority of test reports I see (I recommend testing in saliva), women can start to make headway on weight control – first to stop gaining weight and then to start losing  (at last!) Or if, for example, there are adrenal imbalances—lets say, a picture of erratic cortisol levels (high and/or low) are revealed through testing—you should expect your best efforts, using herbs, vitamins, bioidentical hormones (as needed) and specific stress-busting techniques, to pay off in renewed energy that lasts throughout the day, helping you take stress in stride AND better sleep for sure!

Q: Once you start implementing ways to balance hormones, is there any way to tell that your hormones are actually getting balanced besides retesting? Can your body feel a difference? Feel better?

A: Yes! The first big clue that your hormones are actually getting balanced is the RELIEF from symptoms you may have been struggling with for weeks, months, even years.  Once you start to live in a way that leads to hormone balance vs. hormone collapse, you can count on feeling better in mind, body, and spirit. What I hear most often from clients who have started to implement and stick with the changes we suggest to rebalance hormone levels naturally, is that their periods are less painful and miserable, or that their PMS is not turning them into a monster every month. They tell me that their anxiety is lessening, that sleep comes more easily, or that their libido’s finally back; Some have even said “I feel like a different person,” or, best of all, that after years on birth control and absent periods, they have finally been able to get pregnant!

Once you are living life in balance, your hormones fall into line along with your periods (normal vs. heavy and painful); your energy (ready to rock vs. ready to crash); your moods (upbeat vs. upset); your skin (smooth vs. broken out); your sleep (solid vs. sketchy), your libido (alive and kickin’ vs. AWOL); your weight (under control); your state of mind (focused vs. foggy).

In short, when your hormones are in balance, YOU are in balance—feeling and looking your best no matter what your age.

Q: Can you describe the roles of the following hormones in women? Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone.
A: Estrogen. Estrogen has been labeled “the angel of life,” because it makes cells grow, developing the uterus, breasts, pregnancy and the egg within the ovary – and “the angel of death,” because estrogen in excess (estrogen dominance) can become toxic to the body. As they say, too much of a good thing can be dangerous, and too much estrogen can over-stimulate cells to multiply out of control, a known recipe for breast cancer. Knowing and confirming the symptoms of estrogen dominance through hormone testing is a smart move, since an imbalance that goes undetected for too long is not a risk worth taking.

Progesterone. Progesterone is primarily made in the ovaries and produced only upon ovulation. When for a variety of reasons we don’t ovulate, our bodies can’t produce enough progesterone to keep estrogen levels in check, setting us up for estrogen dominance. In a nutshell, progesterone deficiency = estrogen dominance leading to weight gain, water retention, PMS, mood swings, endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts and heightened risk of breast cancer.

Testosterone and DHEA (androgens). Testosterone and its precursor, DHEA, generally decrease in women at menopause and may be particularly low after surgical removal of the ovaries. This is when symptoms of “androgen deficiency” start to become apparent. Along with the most noticeable effect of low libido, testosterone and DHEA deficiency can also lead to depression as well as decreases in bone density, lean muscle, stamina, strength and metabolism.

Q: Why is it so important for our hormones to be in balance?
A: The right balance of hormones is vital to a woman’s health. But during peri-menopause, when ovarian production starts to become erratic (generally around the age of 45 but becoming more common in young women living in the 21st century fast lane), hormones start to fluctuate dramatically from high to low and back again, a seesaw effect, where a deficiency of one hormone triggers an excess of another, resulting in roller coaster symptoms.

During menopause, ovarian production wanes further and further until it ceases altogether, leading to a decline in estrogen of 40-60%, while progesterone production can plummet to nearly zero.  This is when lower levels of estrogen cause vaginal secretions to dry up, making intercourse more uncomfortable, even painful…while at the same time, the loss of ovarian progesterone puts women in the estrogen dominant category, gaining weight that is harder to lose (thus impacting body image and desire for sex) and at greater risk for ovarian, uterine and breast cancers. 

Q: What are some of the hallmark hormone imbalances that impact sexual health, desire and frequency?
A: Estrogen Dominance. An excess of estrogen relative to inadequate progesterone levels). Results in: Mood swings (a common cause of not being in the mood for sex), migraines (makes sex out of the question), fat gain in hips and thighs (poor body image affects desire for sex), with knock-on low thyroid symptoms (low libido, feeling cold all the time, sluggish metabolism), caused by excess estrogen acting as a roadblock for conversion of T4 (mostly inactive) to T3 (active thyroid levels)

Low Estrogen / Fluctuations of Estrogen and Progesterone. Hot flashes, night sweats (a big distractor from comfortable sex) palpitations, vaginal dryness and atrophy leading to lack of desire for fear of discomfort and painful intercourse.

Low Progesterone. See estrogen dominance above.

Low Testosterone / DHEA. Causes low libido, decreases in bone and lean muscle mass, metabolic rate, energy, strength, and stamina, which affects sexual drive/desire, and even one’s enthusiasm and zest for living.

Cortisol High (Stressed Adrenals). Insomnia and anxiety negatively impact sexual desire and performance; not to mention the belly fat resulting from elevated cortisol levels that causes women to feel overly self-conscious and embarrassed of their bodies which does nothing to enhance one’s desire to undress and have sex!

Cortisol Low (Adrenal Fatigue). Chronic fatigue, low energy and drive puts the brakes on drive, both competitive and sexual.

Q: My friend had an early menopause in her late 30’s, why does that happen?
A: Acute and/or prolonged stress, for example, can negatively impact ovarian function and can precipitate premature menopause or a prolonged peri-menopause in vulnerable women as early as their mid to late 30s (note: Average age of peri-menopause used to be around 45 years). Menopause can also be surgically induced through oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries catapults women of any age into menopause overnight), and can also be triggered by hysterectomy, radiation, or chemotherapy.

Q: Do you recommend hormone replacement?
A: This is a qualified “Yes” IF we are talking about *BIOIDENTICAL hormone replacement (made from plants) and “Yes” IF hormone test results identify imbalances necessitating hormone therapy – especially in women who have undergone a complete hysterectomy!

Hormone replacement therapy, as we knew it in my mother’s day (unnatural, synthetic and derived from pregnant mares urine), has been shown to be hazardous to our health. An estimated two million women in menopause (or post-hysterectomy) have been seeking more natural *bioidentical treatment solutions after a landmark study (Women’s Health Initiative 2002) found greater risks of heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer among HRT users.

Today, hormone replacement is no longer one-size-fits-all, but must be tailored to individual need (after testing hormone levels and using test results as a basis for recommended therapy or prescriptions).

*Women should insist on bioidentical hormones, those manufactured from plant-based substances (vs. synthetic HRT). These natural hormone versions are identical in structure and function to the body’s own hormones, with fewer side effects or known chronic disease risks compared to synthetic HRT.

Q: Are there natural ways to address changes that happen from a decline in the hormones?
A: There are a number of specific herbs, vitamins and natural bioidentical hormones, that can replenish and rebalance hormone levels naturally. But hormones alone, natural or not, can’t turn around a high-octane lifestyle filled with non-stop stress, compulsive work and workouts, processed foods, toxins (chemicals in the foods, cleaners and personal care products we use) lack of healthy exercise, sleep and work-life balance. Balancing hormones to get your mojo back takes a whole mind-body commitment … it’s not just about sex, but about looking after yourself, with extra tender loving care (TLC ☺).

Note: through my practice, Your Hormone Balance, I offer at-home hormone testing and consulting packages to help individuals get to the root of the symptoms they are experiencing and onto an all-natural plan for hormone rebalancing. (Readers can use code VINAZINE for $100 off any package).

Visit Hey! VINA to discuss your experiences with other women who may be going through hormone imbalances like yourself to discuss best practices, methods, and have a support system.

QUICK, HEALTHY MEALS FOR THE ON-THE-GO VINA

With careers, friends, family, and school, we vinas are beyond busy! It’s hard to find time to even eat. Fast food is well, fast. This affordable alternative to a nutritious meal is many times unhealthy and a wallet drainer if eaten too often. Instead, try these delicious meal combos that are good for you and your wallet both and are even Instagram-worthy!

BREAKFAST

As a chocolate advocate, I recommend trying a chocolate quinoa breakfast bowl. Quinoa is known for its multitude of health benefits. It’s also one of the only plant foods with all 9 essential amino acids. This meal is filling with a protein-rich base—and tossing in bananas and berries gives you a tasty serving of fruit.

LUNCH

Dijon chicken and veggies are easy to make and customize with different seasonings for different tastes. The versatility allows freedom to please every taste palette. I like to complement this dish with asparagus and potatoes for a nutritious and filling meal.

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DINNER

A staple of my childhood instantly became one of my favorite meals as I grew up. Red rice and beans with veggies and a hint of lime is just asking for a fiesta in your mouth. This simple dish can even be spiced up with a hint of cilantro.

DESSERT

Perhaps the most important meal of the day—try mini ice cream sandwiches. Putting frozen yogurt with chocolate bits or almond grinds in between two vanilla wafer cookies is my go-to for a cute and simple healthy dessert.

Tried these delicious finds? Tag @vinazine so we can see your yummy creations!

Join our Foodies or Vegans & Vegetarians community on the Hey! VINA app to connect with other vinas who want to try out the local eating scene!

NUTRITION TIPS FOR GLOWING SKIN

Everyone wants a glowing complexion without the hassle of using expensive beauty products or tons of makeup. Having healthy, glowing skin naturally is a sign of good health and vitality. As a licensed esthetician and certified nutritionist, I am often asked how I have such amazing skin. I love sharing my secrets because beauty is so much more than skin deep. Check out my awesome nutrition tips to get your glow on!

TAKE YOUR VITAMINS

It goes without saying that taking your daily vitamins is a must for a well-rounded and healthy lifestyle. A multivitamin is always a good choice, however, women may find that a prenatal vitamin will include higher doses of the vitamins needed for beautiful skin. These are a few essentials I recommend.

Vitamin E is a long time favorite of mine because of its antioxidant benefits. Vitamin E assists vitamin A in reducing the effects of sun damage to the skin. Grab a handful of nuts to get a healthy shot of vitamin E throughout the day.

Biotin has become the go-to for all the hair, skin, and nail products in recent years—for a good reason. Biotin is part of the B-Complex family of vitamins. This group of vitamins works together to metabolize carbs and fats in the body. When you metabolize your food and process it efficiently, biotin will reach out to the skin surface and help keep it hydrated and supple. Biotin can be found in some nuts, cruciferous veggies, eggs, and some dairy products.

I used to take a fish oil supplement as a way to keep my cardiovascular system running smoothly. But there is another upside to fish oil—it’s high in its omegas! Omega 3, 6, and 9 are wonderful for keeping your body running smoothly on the inside, but they beautify the skin on the outside. Fatty fish can aid in keeping skin supple and hydrated and acts as a natural moisturizer. Plus fish like salmon and mackerel are also higher in vitamin E!

LIMIT SUGAR

A good way to limit sugar is by knowing which sugar you need to limit. I often tell clients there are two types of sugars that they need to know about, simple and complex. Simple sugars are foods that contain processed sugar and are generally commercially prepared. Complex sugars are found in the form of carbohydrates. While avoiding carbs is good for your diet, that isn’t specifically the sugar I tell people to avoid. It’s the candy bars, chocolate, cake, cookies, and soda that are detrimental to the body and skin. These simple sugars rob the body of nutrients that can be found in much better resources.

YOUR BODY IS A GARDEN

When you want to grow beautiful flowers, you feed your soil with plenty of water and sunlight. Same goes for your skin. The key to a glowing complexion is hydration. My #1 rule for glowing skin is water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Your body is mostly water and through perspiration and bathroom runs, we lose water, so it’s only right to replenish it. When we are dehydrated, we tend to have drier, duller skin. Drinking enough water will not only hydrate your body from the inside out, but it will also flush your body of toxins. Start by drinking half an ounce for every pound you weigh.

Beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything to achieve a healthy, youthful glow. A well-balanced diet with adequate hydration can do wonders. Glowing skin starts on the inside and radiates out, so make sure you eat to shine!

Get connected with your vinas on the Hey! VINA app to keep yourself accountable on your way to a glowing you!