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What Does Vitality Feel Like?

Image courtesy of Toréa Rodriguez

Image courtesy of Toréa Rodriguez

So many of us today forget what vitality feels like. Don't get me wrong, we all have good days and bad days, but it seems like the majority of us are going about life, tackling our tasks, and forging forward despite any nagging symptoms or aches and pains. Our bodies are incredibly adaptive, and before you know it, those symptoms, aches, pains and signs are common place. So much so that they feel like "normal" and so when people ask us how we are doing, we respond with  "good" or "not bad". But how often do you hear people respond with a resounding, "great!" or "outstanding"?

I got curious about this and did an informal social experiment and asked friends and family to describe what it felt like when they felt their best. The results of that are shown in the word cloud above. The larger the word, the more people expressed that emotion or feeling. Energy and energetic topped out the list, but happy and peaceful and grateful and love were all in there too!

So the real question is, how often do you feel this way? Im not talking about those days you're jacked on caffeine or are running around on a sugar high. For a lot of us, its only once in a while. For those of us in the throws of autoimmune disease, this is seldom and rare. When I was at my worst, I would have one of these days every 3-4 months! But then I started working towards healing with a functional medicine practitioner and making changes to my lifestyle. I tracked my progress in the number of days that felt like the above and they started happening more often. Now, I can honestly say that I have these days the majority of the time. I still have my low days, don't get me wrong, but I am no longer giving up on the idea of feeling good again. I transformed my vitality.

If you find you don't have days of vitality on a regular basis (remember, coffee doesn't count), I can assure you its possible. It takes a bit of investigation, probably some lifestyle tweaks and adjustments, but its attainable. Limitless energy, mental clarity, focus, strength... the list goes on. My recommendation is to start working with someone: a coach, a functional nutritionist (hint: go to my Free Consult page), a integrative physician to see if they can help you find out what it is that might be keeping you from the vitality you could have every day. Together, you too can TRANSFORM YOUR VITALITY!



Your Newest FDN Practitioner

CC image courtesy of Jason Low

CC image courtesy of Jason Low

Hello September - Whoa! August flew by so fast! One week we were enjoying the "dog days" of summer, and the next there's a unique fall crispness in the morning air. It didn't help that I was busier in August than I have been all summer. I kicked off the month by attending the Ancestral Health Symposium in Berkeley, CA. If you like science and you like hearing about the nitty gritty details of health, wellness and biochemistry, this is a great forum for that. They also have their lectures up on their YouTube channel.  A little bit of end-of-summer travel tossed in and my participation in August Break 2014 made the month fly by. 

FDN Graduation

The big news of August is that I am now a graduate of the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® program! Woot! The training was really great - intensive and hands-on. I enjoyed every minute of it, finals and all. :)

What this means is that, now, I have the ability to work with people one-on-one to help them discover what is happening inside their bodies, and coach them to make lifestyle changes in order to help them optimize their health. Im excited to start sharing all that I have learned in my training and in my own healing path.

You will start to see changes around my website over the coming weeks where I will detail out the services I can offer along with pricing information. If you can't wait for that, you can always sign up for a free consultation to see how I might be able to help you. If there is anyone you know who might be struggling with their health and wants some help, send them my way.

We'll be back to regular programming (blog posts) now that its September. So look forward to more articles and updates. 



One Sure-tell Sign You Have a Great Functional Medicine Practitioner

Sample lab results showing reference range and resultant values.

Sample lab results showing reference range and resultant values.

Those of us that are using functional medicine to get better, know that part of that process involves ordering lab work - sometimes a lot of it. For a functional medicine practitioner, it's critical to get an understanding of what is going on in various system functions, in addition to cross-referencing that with client symptoms. However, taking lab results at face value may not be so wise.

Lab reports usually come with an actual value of the molecule or substance being measured. Then the lab will show you a reference range and sometimes the lab will indicate if your value is within this reference range. Easy enough, right? Not so fast! You really want to make sure your functional practitioner knows if that is enough.

So how do you know that your functional medicine practitioner knows how to interpret the labs?  One of the first things they should do is educate you on reference range and what it really means. Each laboratory establishes their own reference range. It's the range of values they get from all the people they test and they determine what is normal for that population. However, keep in mind, the people who often get tested are people who are not feeling well and already showing disfunction in their body! Further, since each lab has their own reference range, you may get lab work done at two different places and have two different reference ranges! Makes it not so valuable as a reference, right?

What your practitioner should then explain is that each value has an optimal range. Optimal range refers to the values that healthy, vibrant, full-of-energy people have. I don't know about you, but *that* is what I want. Most practitioners have been able to identify what this is from their own years in practice, and a lot of this information is now made available through functional medicine training (like the FDN course I am taking). This optimal range does vary on the individual somewhat and may be above, below or equal to the statistical medians reported in the reference range.

So lets take an example. In the image above, there is TSH (the first lab result). TSH is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone and this is something that many doctors test to get an idea of Thyroid function. (TSH alone is not the whole thyroid picture, and that is a whole different story - you can learn all about that in the Thyroid Sessions) The reference range here is 0.45-4.5 mU/L. However, most functional practitioners now know that the optimum range for most people - those that feel great - is between 0.5 and 3.0. And for me, I know that I feel best when my TSH reads just under 2.0 like it does in the image above.

So, to summarize, if you have a functional practitioner who accepts lab results at face value and doesn't immediately educate you on what optimal ranges are, it's time to find a new doc. If all this is old hat to you - then keep calm, and carry on!

Would love to hear from you what impact this information (whether from me or from your own health advisor) had on you when you learned it! Share in the comments.



Back to School ... in April?

UCSC Science & Engineering Library. Image CC of Toréa Rodriguez

UCSC Science & Engineering Library. Image CC of Toréa Rodriguez

I know its the middle of spring, and normally Back-To-School season is in the Fall. However, I decided to go back to school. Yep its official, this 42 year-old is a student again.  Bring on the lectures, quizzes, mid-terms, practicals and finals. Part of me has been yearning to go back to school for a while. So here I am! 

Instead of a PhD or Masters, I have decided to get several certifications in the field of Functional Medicine. Where I live, I can begin to practice with certifications and later work towards being licenced if I choose to take it further.

I discovered the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) certification, and after researching, everything about it was perfect. The FDN certification feeds right into my sciency geeky side - bonus! The course is a self-paced online certification, that once complete, allows me to work with clients to help them heal and gain better health.  And since I have become quite the health nerd these days, why not turn it around and share all this knowledge with you and my clients?

What is FDN?

Functional Diagnostic Nutrition is an emerging field and body of work that bridges the gap between clinical nutrition and functional medicine. FDN is an approach that seeks to identify and correct the underlying causes and conditions that lead to common (and sometimes not-so-common) health complaints. With FDN, the goal is not to diagnose or treat any disease, but instead identify the root cause of physiological imbalances in the body that result in dysfunction.

Common Health Complaints/Symptoms addressed by FDN:

  • Fatigue

  • Weight gain and weight loss

  • Allergies, acne, and rosacea

  • Blood sugar problems

  • Digestive Discomfort

  • Depression and anxiety

  • Emotional fragility

  • Headaches, migraines and fogginess

  • Indigestion and bloating

  • Inflammation and joint pain

  • Insomnia/ sleep issue and wakefulness

  • Low sex drive / poor libido

  • PMS, skin, and hair problems

  • Menstruation irregularities

The FDN approach is designed to assess underlying metabolic functions and discover the root cause of your health problems (symptoms). This natural approach leads to long-term resolution of symptoms, not just temporary relief.


In addition to the FDN certification, I am also enrolled in a Micronutrient Certification course - which means I'll also be experienced in core micronutrients (read: vitamins, minerals, etc).  CMS combined with FDN will be a great foundation for my helping others in the future.

I love new adventures, and while most people envision adventure as scaling huge peaks or jumping out of aircraft (with a parachute, mind you), even learning new subject matter can be an adventure. I have always felt that the day I stop learning is the day I stop living. So, once again, here's to new adventures!

What are you learning these days? Leave a comment below and share with us what learning you are doing.