Gut Health Supplements and Life Update

Just when you thought I might never blog again, I am back! 

Sinus Infections and Adrenal Fatigue (Yawn)

The past few months have been tough. I ended up with adrenal fatigue, and then managed to get two sinus infections within the past month. What zithromycin wouldn't kill, levofloxacin plus a NeilMed sinus irrigation system has. (However, the neck and shoulder pain that I sometimes get with Levoquin are tough to take.) 

In the interest of getting my health back on track, I have made a few changes to my routine. Instead of doing a 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol, I am doing 12:12, which immediately helped my energy. I dropped back down to beginner/intermediate workouts, and not every day, and have actually gained some more muscle and lost more fat (who knew?).

I also found a new gynecologist, who is transitioning me to an FDA-approved oral HRT regimen that is still bio-identical. Instead of being on a dosing cycle of every 12 hours with the compounded cream I have been using, I will take the energy-producing estrogen and dhea in the morning and the sleep-promoting progesterone at night. Since my dose will be more regulated, I look forward to less sweating and more sleep!

In supplement news, I stopped taking fish oil after so many studies showing that it has no effect on cardiovascular health (plus I eat fish and good fats all the time), but have continued with probiotics and collagen for gut health and to keep the candida at bay after so many antibiotics!

And that brings me to the lates gut health supplements I have tried, both of which I received free in exchange for a review.

Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics

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How could I ignore an email with "The Princess and the Probiotic" as a subject line? As I know from working at an A-list private island resort, even royalty has gut issues with travel, so why would Meghan Markle be any different? 

What makes these probiotics different? They are fermented for three years with an organic prebiotic food blend. Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics are shelf-stable and effective. I took a capsule twice a day, and found them to work very well, keeping me regular and feeling great. The only issue is cost. To make a quality product like this is not easy or cheap. These will run you $43 per month on Amazon.

These work so well because they are a blend of prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics.

"The three-year fermentation process at seasonal temperatures encourages survival of the strongest bacteria and makes the blend (12 Probiotic Strains) shelf-stable without refrigeration. Unlike other products that claim billions of freeze-dried non-native bacteria is better, we understand that 'more' is not better. Dr. Ohhira’s formula takes probiotic support to a whole new level by providing the biogenic ingredients Postbiotics needed to support your exclusive probiotic ‘fingerprint’."

I also highly recommend their Kampuku Beauty Bar, which fits the hand perfectly, works on face and body, has no smell, and rinses clean.

Hello Beautiful Collagen & Multivitamin Powder

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I take collagen every day, whether hubby's awesome bone broths or a powder. Collagen helps our guts, as well as supporting our structural supports and skin. I am convinced that collagen helped me heal my crushed toe back in 2013! So, when I received an email asking if I would try Musely's Hello Beautiful collagen with multivitamin, I said yes.

They sent me one box of the unflavored and one of the wild berry flavor (20 packets each). The unflavored is great! It mixes easily into coffee, oatmeal, and my protein shake, and I love getting my vitamins and some electrolytes from the dried coconut water in the process. No smell, no residue, just clean collagen.

The mixed berry flavor is very lightly flavored. It mixes well in berry oatmeal and berry smoothies, and I even tried it in cold water, which worked well, much to my surprise.

I do prefer a more robust multivitamin, so this would not replace that for me. But if you have a hard time remembering to take a pill, but will carry and use a packet of powder, this will work for you! Prices range from $29 per box to under $20 in their subscription program.

Book Review - Your Fitness Career: The Business Guidebook For Trainer's Success by Lalo Fuentes

A couple of months ago I received an email from Hollywood A-List personal trainer, Lalo Fuentes. He had seen some reviews that I had written for various business and marketing books for personal trainers, and asked me to review his. Within a week I had a hardcover copy of his Your Fitness Career: The Business Guidebook For Trainer's Success.

Why Listen to Lalo Fuentes?

Lalo Fuentes has an interesting background related to business, as he decided to become a personal trainer while enrolled in business school. Halfway though, Fuentes realized that the world of numbers was not enticing. He didn't want to be stuck in an office, and saw a fitness career as a departure from that grind. Upon graduation, he moved to NYC and started in fitness.

Now, those of us who have been slogging it out in the fitness industry know well that so many trainers still end up grinding out way too many hours in the gym with clients. They work hard, not necessarily smart, and many end up burning out early and leaving the industry.

Fuentes avoided this by targeting a high net worth audience and selling to them. Plus, he was able to make good on all of his claims with very little drama, which led to a huge word-of-mouth following. Frankly, if your words are in the right mouths, that is really all you need!

Trainers who are successful in the fitness world and stay around have found a different path that allows us to open up multiple streams of income, scale our businesses, and charge enough to have a life outside of the gym or Pilates studio. In Your Fitness Career, Fuentes shares all of the information you need to make success happen.

Basic Business Skills for Trainers

I mentor Pilates teachers specifically in how to make more money by taking better care of their clients and themselves, which entails still having a personal life. Much of my mentorship work is in teaching basic business processes, good business behaviors, and marketing. Fuentes handles all of this in his book!

Money

If you struggle to figure out how much to charge per hour or per day, whether to give a free or discounted first session, and how to decide what to pay for advertising and leads, Fuentes addresses all of these early on in his book.

Not sure what cost per lead means? Cost per client? How about return on investment? Loss leads? Net income? You will understand all of these and more after reading this book.

Behavior

Most trainers need help in inter-personal skills. But Fuentes takes you even further. Not sure what to expect at a celebrity's home? What order to board or leave a private jet? How to behave with your clients outside of the gym? This book answers all of your questions, including ones you didn't even know you had!

Social Media

Not sure what to post, where to post, and how frequently? Have questions about buying followers (short answer is, "don't") as opposed to organic reach? Fuentes has answers.

Online Training

Have you considered training your long distance clients online? Have you thought about what to charge? How to automate payment and booking? Does your liability insurance even cover online training? Are there better programs? Again, the answers you need are here.

Marketing & Product Creation

We all know that how you present yourself to prospective clients is a huge issue. Do you want to come off as approachable or scary? Are you a screaming boot camp leader or a calming presence in your clients' otherwise crazy lives? And do you know what the physical signs are of each? Fuentes even delves into arm position in your headshot and what that signals to your prospects.

Self Care

To avoid burning out, we all must practice the self-care that we preach. For me that means both working out hard and relaxing. It means taking time when I need it to focus on my own needs, so that I am ready and able to focus on my clients. 

While not cheap, this valuable information in this guide justifies the price. Plus, an hour of consulting with Fuentes will cost a lot more than the time it will take to read this book and implement his recommendations. Highly recommended!

 

New Fitness Reviews - Dolph Lundgren's Fitness Autobiography & Theraband CLX Loops

Train Like An Action Hero - Be Fit Forever

Dolph Lundgren: Train Like an Action Hero - Be Fit Forever—his autobiographical training guide—is out in a brand new edition, featuring weekly training programs with photos of each exercise, menu planners, guides to equipment and gear, stories from his life, and fantastic photos from behind the scenes of Hollywood action movies.

I have always liked Dolph Lundgren, from his debut as Rocky's opponent, his dating Grace Slick, and his current projects as writer and director. He is an academic (always close to my heart), a Fulbright scholar with a Master's in Chemical Engineering, served in the military as an officer, and is an internationally renowned black belt karate champion. Now, at 60, Lundgren has revamped his book for his peers, the older generation.

"[Y]ou are the star of your own life. Play it well and enjoy the movie."

DOLPH’S SPECIAL TIPS:
1. Briefing: The reasons you need to get fit
2. Mission: Personal training and health philosophy
3. Weaponry: How to best combine strength exercises, cardiovascular, and flexibility training
4. Special Ops: Stick to your goals even while away traveling
5. Fuel and supplies: The best foods and supplements to build your body
6. Fit forever: Stay in shape for the rest of your life!

Like Joseph Pilates, Lundgren was a sick child, with croup, asthma, and allergies. He also was bullied, and part of his fitness journey was simply being able to breathe. His father was bipolar (like my mom) and abusive. Lundgren was sent to live with his grandparents in the country, and that is probably what saved his life.

Lundgren promotes a holistic approach that includes strength training, cardio, stretching, and relaxation. He suggests meditation, breath work, and even legs up the wall! The workouts are pretty basic - a back body day (pull), front body day (push), and arm/shoulder day, and then a full body circuit workout for when you don't have time to separate parts.

Most of the exercises are gym and equipment-based, so if you want bodyweight-only exercises, this is not the book for you. My biggest issue with his approach to fitness is the classic, No Pain, No Gain mentality. He even asks readers to compare their measurements to the classic body builder Steve Reeves!

All in all, Train Like An Action Hero is worth it for the photos, the basic information, and Dolph Lundgren's stories. And the information he gives is sound and useful.

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Theraband CLX Consecutive Loop Bands

I LOVE the new Theraband CLX Consecutive Loops! My Black loop is arranged around Dolph Lundgren's book in the above photo. These bands are so useful, and are the first resistance bands I have tried that I believe really could replace weights.

Yes, you heard me, the CLX bands can actually replace weights for FASTer Way To Fat Loss or even Dolph Lundgren's workouts!

They come in 6 levels, ranging from Beginner to Elite, and are created with unique reinforced loops that give the user greater control and freedom when using the bands. The resistance levels pretty much match the standard Therabands.

But it is the loops that make the difference! The 5' band has loops built into it every few inches, and each loop can fit a hand, foot, arm, or leg. You can work many things at once! If you have a door anchor, you can literally do any resistance cable exercise. Want a longer band? They sell a 25' roll!

I used my black one for a strength training session a few days ago, and was able to do resistance squats, lunges, chest and shoulders, and all arm work, And then I was able to lay down and use it for hip and glute work. The bands are strong and it just really works!

The best part is TheraBand’s free CLX Exercise App, which guides you through a ton of different exercises, showing exactly where to place your hands and feet. With the CLX being as small and light as any resistance band, now there’s no excuse for skipping a workout! You can carry a few for different exercises.

Why I Love My GRIPBELLs

GRIPBELLs are a dumbbell, kettlebell, and weighted bar all in one!

When the folks at GRIPBELLs contacted me to try their new product free to review, I really wasn't sure. I receive requests to review products all the time, and generally at this point I say NO. Why? Because I have little time, little storage space, and tend to be happiest with my old school kettlebells and dumbbells.

Then I showed them to hubby, who thought that they looked great, and could be a good addition to our home fitness gear. He has had shoulder surgery, and prefers to work both arms at once, but we have no space for traditional weighted bars.

About a week or two later, I received two - 8# and 12#. The GRIPBELL comes in five weights - 3#, 5#, 8#, 10#, and 12#. You can order them singly and in pairs, and the whole set or just the heavier ones singly or in pairs.

While the weights are lighter than, say, a standard pood kettlebell, note that the GRIPBELL allows some larger mobility movements do the the shape of the weight. Each GRIPBELL is the same size, similar to competition-style kettlebells.

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Why I Love the GRIPBELL

First, we live in a studio apartment, so storage is key. The GRIPBELLs store flat and stacked, or on their sides. And since one of these replaces a kettlebell and dumbbell, they take up much less room!

Second, I love being able to alter my grip placement based on either comfort or what muscles I am working. Hubby and I often use different grips for the same exercise, since he is wider with larger hands. 

Third, due to the width and shape of the GRIPBELL, it is easy to do larger, sweeping, full body movements comfortably. Great if you are a trainer working with athletes or dancers, and if you are an athlete or dancer! Here is a great video with some demonstrations:

As you can see, the GRIPBELL is an extremely useful and user-friendly tool.

GRIPBELL founder Mark Wood started his fitness journey with kettlebells, until he lost his grip on the metal handle (sweating does that) and ended up with a knee injury. This is when the GRIPBELL was born with no exposed metal, consistent sizing, and a good grip with multiple hand points.

While not cheap at approximately $50 per single GRIPBELL, they are so useful and well made that they are worth every penny. Go and pre-order your GRIPBELLs today!

Why Imbue Botanicals CBD Products Are the Best

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Imbue Botanicals CBD Products Are Game Changing

Imbue Botanicals CBD products are super effective, plus you can trust their cannabis sourcing and extraction methods. They use organically grown plants, flowers only, and a long, slow extraction using food-grade ethanol, water, and low heat. Hubby and I can tell the difference in taste and efficacy, and so will you.

Hemp and hemp products are legal in all 50 states, and the research on CBD (one of the many cannabanoid compounds found in hemp and cannabis) shows positive effects in many areas, including sleep, pain, depression, seizures, and inflammation. The increase in market demand means many companies are looking for the least expensive ways to source and process CBD. This can include purchase of extracts and isolates from China and Romania, using only less expensive stems and seeds for extraction, and using cheaper extraction methods involving industrial-grade chemical solvents.

Not Imbue.

Extraction Process

The global Cannabis Oil community has long been in debate over the use of solvents in the preparation of Cannabis Oil. Rather than enter into that debate, Imbue chose to stick with what they know - that Food Grade Organic Ethanol Extraction done under strict laboratory conditions produces the safest and most potent whole-molecule oil.

It also should be no secret that the quality of the oil that comes out is dictated by the quality of the materials that go in. Imbue produces Flower-only Full Extract Cannabis Oils (FECO), Tinctures, and other products using just 100% Organic Food Grade Ethanol, Low heat, and Water.

According to Imbue founder, Dan Ianotte,

There are many ways of preparing and producing Cannabis Oil, however we believe keeping the medicine as close to its source is vital. We believe in slow, low-temperature, gentle preparations that leave the medicine and its full terpene profile intact. Further we do not artificially manipulate or believe in mass produced compounding. We believe in handmade, high grade, lab tested, Full Extract Cannabis Oil and have seen the results for ourselves. Lab tested Full Extract Cannabis Oil or FECO is what we know as the whole molecule essential oil that is the most curative. We believe in: gentle temperatures, slow processing, diagnosis specific protocols, solvent free natural preparations...

And hubby and I can tell the difference!

Known Supply Chain and Corporate Responsibility

Imbue believes in corporate responsibility. This means that they follow the product from seed to extraction, using only pesticide-free, food-grade, organically grown, non-GMO hemp grown in Colorado. This “Earth First” approach means they never use pesticides our harmful chemicals in growing or processing our products. Even their packaging materials are fully recyclable.

Imbue Botanicals also donates to animal rescues and provides discount programs for veterans and disabled customers. Basically, you can feel good about using Imbue Botanicals CBD products on many levels.

Effectiveness

Of course, I also care about effectiveness, and Imbue delivers in spades. We primarily use the 25mg CBD capsules, the Elevated tincture, and the Embody topical salve. The capsules and tincture help hubby with depression, and help us both with chronic pain and insomnia. The salve helps with muscle aches, eczema, and psoriasis.

Imbue also makes pet products and has launched a face cream, which I am super excited to try!

We have tried other brands, including Charlotte's Web and Receptra, but I continue to purchase Imbue Botanicals CBD products because I trust them and they work without fail.

Imbue Botanicals Testimonial - Depression

As someone who has dealt with depression off and on for 10+ years, has tried several anti-depressants and anxiety medications… I have never experienced results as life changing as the ones I have experienced from Imbue. Although I do have some hard days here and there, they are nothing close to the extreme depressive episodes I experienced before. Imbue 25mg capsules really help to elevate my mood and keep me in a more positive state. Thank you for creating this wonderful product!!

Have you tried Imbue Botanicals CBD? You should!

Why I Take Probiotics

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I take quality probiotics every day, and since I started my health has been better, I sleep better, and my digestion and elimination are much more regular. There are several quality brands of probiotic supplements on the market. Probiogen and Hyperbiotics are two of my favorites.

Why Take Probiotics?

The bacteria in our guts plays a role in most of our important body functions. We now know that the micro-organisms in our guts have a direct relationship on our digestive health, our immune systems, brain and nervous system, urinary tract health, allergies, and levels obesity. That's a lot!

Our levels of bacteria are affected by pollution, stress, poor diet, and antibiotics. Since I live in NYC, have a reasonable amount of stress, and have only recently lost over 40#, my gut flora are a concern.

Choosing a Probiotic

The most important qualities in a good probiotic are that it contains useful strains of bacteria, and that they are alive in sufficient quantity when they hit your gut. Your supplement can contain billions of bacteria, but if they are all dead or not of a useful form, the supplement is useless.

Your supplement should not require refrigeration. If the bacteria cannot survive heat, how exactly will they survive your digestive tract? You want live spores in your digestive tract. Really!

Probiogen

Probiogen is formulated by microbiologist Kiren Krishnan, who specializes in nutrition research. He chose the most needed and effective bacteria, DNA-verified the strains, and made sure they could stay alive.

probioticsThey make several formulas, including allergy, stress and mood, and weight balance. I have tried just about every formula, and my body has responded well. The herbs that support the probiotics are well chosen, and the supplements do help.

For the weight balance supplement, Krishan did his own hunger study with healthy college kids, testing their ghrelin levels after a fasted state and also after a 2000 calorie fast food breakfast.  The out-of-whack Western ghrelin response was nearly identical. But after 30 days on the probiotic strain included in the Probiogen Weight Management formula, their ghrelin levels dropped after the calorie-laden meal, as did their insulin responses.

Easy to take and no refrigeration needed. Dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian, non-GMO.

Hyperbiotics

probioticsHyperbiotics was founded by Jamie Morea, who developed the line after she took a life-changing trip from Guatemala to Thailand and contracted Entamoeba histolytica, a rare intestinal parasite most common in developing countries.

She pulled together a team of microbiologists and started creating a probiotic supplement that works. Hyperbiotics also gives back with carbon-offset programs and the Change for Women Collective.

Again, easy to take, no refrigeration needed, and these you can buy at Target!

My Favorite Natural Skin Care

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Here you go - My favorite Natural Skin & Body Care

Yes, these are the products I actually use!

People tell me that I have great skin, and I know that a lot of that is genetics. As a teen I had very few breakouts, and in my 50s I have very few lines and wrinkles. Here are the skin care products I use every day.

1. Oil Cleanser

I use oil to cleanse my skin, and like to keep it as simple as possible. I use Simple Hydrating Cleansing Oil, which is grapeseed oil.

2. Serums

In the morning I use Source Vital Liposome Serum, which a blend of oils, and in the evening I use the moisture-boosting Vichy Mineral 89.

3. Oils

I am super-picky about the skin care oils I use, and BR Naturals out of Canada produces the cleanest oils I have used. They sent me some free products, and I love all of them! In the morning I use Black Cumin Seed Oil for its healing properties, and at night I use Papaya Seed Oil to help exfoliate and heal. I just use 3 drops.

Also, I eat a lot of unsaturated oils, and BR Naturals does a perfectly sweet and mild Avocado Oil, a mellow and nutty Sesame Oil, and a flavorless Safflower Oil. I have used the avocado oil as a dip (a little salt and pepper, Eataly bread), and have used all three in various salad dressings. The sesame oil is delicate, so works well in recipes where traditional asian sesame oil is too much.

4. Moisturizer & SPF

For day, I use Garnier's Clearly Brighter lotion with SPF, and at night I use CBD For Life Pure Face Cream.

5. Eye Cream

For eyes I need a de-puffing treatment, and the two best that I have found are Source Vital Cucumber Eye Cream and CBD for Life Eye Serum.

For body care, we use a large number of brands, including the above-mentioned BR Naturals (great soaps and lotion bars), Seaweed Bath Company (soap, body wash, and lotion), and Serenity Acres Farm (soap, body cream).

There you go!