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5 Ways to Detoxify Your Skin Care Routine and Get Gorgeous Skin Naturally!

Face it: we spend a lot of time on our appearance.

From making our hair look great, to wearing stylish clothes, to doing our makeup every morning, a lot of time and effort goes into making ourselves look great.

When you take all of those factors it’s easy to forget about what’s really underneath it all: our skin.

Why it’s important to get gorgeous skin?

It’s easy to forget that our skin is an organ, as vital to us as our kidneys or our heart. It is important to know that your skin is the first organ that fights against the intrusion of an infection such as elements or germs. Further, the skin protects the body against the effects of ultra-violet rays of the sun.

The outermost part of the skin, the epidermis, protects the second layer of our skin and is the part of the skin that contains some important structures such as hair follicles and sweat glands. The outer layer of the skin is actually what defines what we are, and if you cannot care for it properly you might start to  look so old that people might not recognize you.

It’s important to care for our skin because when we do we are protecting all of the above functions.

I’m sure you’re convinced now, what with the prospect of destroying one of your vital organs, or possibly giving yourself early wrinkles. So what should you do to avoid these horrible fates?

Always read the ingredients. 

Your objective should be to find a product made of few ingredients.

Make sure that you are avoided brands containing the following ingredients:

  • Propylene glycol.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate.
  • Paraben and Phthalates.
It has been indicated that these chemicals are able to cause skin cancer or other damages to the skin.

Make your own. 

The best way to avoid dealing with beauty products? Make them yourself.

This will help you avoid harmful ingredients as well as saving other costs.

You can purchase simple recipes and real ingredients and then prepare them in your own kitchen. Simple ingredients like lemon juice, orange, yogurt ,and other ingredients can be purchased from ordinary food stores at your location.

Re-think your need for chemicals! 

You need to have a second thought when it comes to beautifying your skin.

Make sure you have avoided chemicals as much as possible. For instance, getting a dry brush costing only $10 can be more effective than going for a $75 bottle of cellulite cream. Use your dry brush for 10-15 minutes per day so as to stimulate the blood circulation in the skin and tone it.

Replace the toxic stuff with natural stuff! 

The natural stuff is the way to go, it’s  more effective and has no side effects when compared to chemical products. Start replacing your chemical products with more natural and organic products and you won’t regret it. Start this process slowly and after a few months everything will have worked to plan and you won’t dream of going back to those harsh chemical-laden creams!

Remember to watch what you eat! 

Knowing the kind of food you eat is very important when it comes to your general body health. When your body is healthy, your skin is guaranteed to shine and maintain a young and youthful appearance.

The following is a list of key foods that you ought to include to your daily diet:

  • Kiwis: Eating kiwi will give you vitamin C, which is an essential ingredient in making your skin shiny.
  • Avocado: Avocado contains lots of vitamin A, E, and B, as well as biotin. This delicious fruit will help hydrate your skin as well as cleanse and detoxify your body.
  • Cucumbers: Cucumbers contain lots of silicon, which is good in fighting wrinkles and elasticity of the skin.
  • Eggs: Eggs contain high protein content, which is good in building strong and healthy hair. In addition, they contain vitamin E which hydrates and strengthens the skin.
  • Greens (I.e. spinach romaine, swiss chard, kale,and collards):  These are good sources of essential minerals and vitamins, most of which act as antioxidants and work great towards protecting the skin against the sun.
  • Tomatoes: They are rich in lycopene, which is an antioxidant that helps prevent oxidative damage to your skin.
  • Salmon: This fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This acid is good in creating a strong skin, one that can withstand effects from infection and the sun.
Are these tips really helpful?

When you decide that you are serious about knowing the best ways of managing your skin then these tips will be the best for you. When you maintain these kind of tips you will be assured that your skin is healthy, meaning that your natural beauty will be a guaranteed without the stress of chemicals. Let your natural beauty shine through!

**Edited for repurpose by Taylor Brown, Associate Editor of Goddess Connection’

Hot Yoga: Is It Really That Good For You?

How would you feel if they cranked up the heat in your gym to 117 degrees fahrenheit?

How would you feel if you had to pay more to go to a gym that boasted Sahara-like temps?

Chances are you’ve already done this. This is the basis behind hot yoga.

The practice of hot yoga has taken off in recent years. People swear by it, they become addicted. But what is hot yoga and is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

Hot yoga is a similar concept to traditional yoga. Matt rolled firmly under arm, you enter into a mirrored studio in overpriced lycra-blend attire with a number of other women and men, and begin a series of breathing and stretching exercises.

The difference? Hot yoga is practiced in a studio heated to a temperature range from about 90 to 117 degrees. The classes are typically 90 minutes in length, and consist of around 26 poses and a few breathing exercises depending on the form of yoga. Most hot yoga-doers practice the form of Bikram, or it’s less intense  spin-off Moksha.

So why do people choose to leave the comfort of an air-conditioned studio for the sweltering heat? People participate in hot yoga for a wide variety of reasons. Most believe that the heat gives you a better stretch, improving flexibility. Many believe that the sweat works to remove the toxins from your body, and improve the look of your skin. Some even believe it can treat anything and everything from asthma, to digestive disorders, to depression.

In my experience, many women choose hot yoga due to the believed weight loss benefits, advertising a burn of 1,000 calories per session. Whatever the reason for practice, it’s important to look at some of the top myths surrounding hot yoga, and what dangerous truths lay behind them.

  1. The heat is good for you. When we perform muscle contractions, we produce our own internal heat through the release of energy. When this internal heat increases, the body begins to sweat to try and cool down the temperature within. In this process, it’s not the sweat itself that cools the body down, but the evaporation of moisture off of the skin that works to cool. Because the external temperature in hot yoga studios is so high, the moisture fails to evaporate, giving you no actual way to cool down. As a result, you could end up feeling extremely weak, dizzy, and nauseous due to dehydration. This can lead to heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Because of this, the heat is not in fact good for you. During a session, instructors may tell you that these uncomfortable and worrisome symptoms are to be expected, that they show the process is working. Only you can know what the limitations of your body are, and if you feel these symptoms it is important to leave the room to a cooler area.

  1. Hot yoga helps you sweat out toxins. In truth, most of what you sweat out during hot yoga is water with other toxins naturally contained in sweat, such as salt and potassium. This does not mean hot yoga can help you sweat out the toxins of last nights cosmo, or the cigarette you snuck in after a stressful meeting. These types of toxins are eliminated in the kidneys, liver, and colon.

  1. Improved flexibility. It is important to note that there are two types of flexibility; muscular and ligamentous. The type of flexibility that most athletes strive for is the former. The type that hot yoga provides is the latter. Typically ligaments and tendons don’t show much flexibility, or need it for that matter due to their role as stabilizers. Because they don’t need much flexibility, they don’t get much blood flow. In a heated yoga studio all blood flow increases, increasing the flexibility in these joints. In hot yoga, flexibility is an illusion. Unfortunately, the more you continue to stretch your ligaments in this way, the higher risk you could be for injuring a ligament or stretching a joint to the point where it can no longer perform its supportive duties. Furthermore, the illusion of muscular flexibility can cause you to stretch too deep and pull a muscle.

  2. Hot yoga is a “cure all.” On the Bikram website, each pose in the art is outlined with a promise of what it’s specific purpose is, and what it can do for you. While the descriptions outline which muscles and joints are stimulated and improved upon, the site also promises other more obscure symptoms and disorders that can be remedied through practice. These include everything from obesity of the stomach, function of the central nervous system, sexual energies, balance of mood swings, depression and anxiety, constipation, digestive system diseases and issues, menstrual disorders, reproductive issues, diabetes, clearing of the arteries, and strengthening of the heart, lungs, kidneys, spleens, and many many more. While hot yoga truly seems like it could offer something for every ailment, doctors urge the contemplation of the risk involved. Doctors say hot yoga is especially risky for those with high or low blood pressure and heart conditions due to the high levels of heat. It is important to consider the fact that blood pressure and heart problems could be an underlying cause of many and most of these issues. While hot yoga may work to improve upon symptoms, it is important to remember that the heat may not be compatible with your health, and hot yoga should not be used as the sole method of treatment. Always ensure to consult your doctor before practicing hot yoga.

  3. Hot yoga provides a more intense cardio workout than regular aerobic exercise. This idea is thought to be true due to the belief that the practice speeds up your heart rate. In truth, studies have shown that the average heart rate in a heated yoga environment wasn’t that different from a normal thermal environment in which yoga is practiced. The heat from hot yoga and the sweating simply provides the illusion that you are working harder.

  4. Hot yoga is a mass calorie burner. Many forms of hot yoga claim to burn on average 1,000 calories in a single session. While this sounds amazing, most forms of hot yoga actually burn between 3 to 7 calories per minute on average, depending on the individual. This means that a session of hot yoga won’t make up for that McDonalds drive thru binge you made at lunchtime.

Despite these cold hard truths, hot yoga retains an undeniable die hard following. Maybe it’’s the improved levels of flexibility and energy participants report for days after class. Maybe it’s the glowing skin, or improvement after injury.

Yoga of any form can be a great way to continue physical activity for those who have faced injury in the past, or perhaps can no longer participate in joint-harsh activities like running due to the blows of time.

Should you decide to continue to join your weekly hot yoga session, or even try it out for the first time there are some things you should keep in mind.

  • If you feel weak, dizzy, or nauseous at all don’t be afraid to leave the studio to cool down. While many instructors will encourage you to stay in the room and fight through it, just remember that if you do not cool down it could lead to possible hospitalization.

  • Always remember to eat a meal 2-3 hours before class to give your body time to digest. Eat something small like a piece of fruit just prior to class to keep blood sugar levels up.

  • Always remember to bring lots of water into the studio to remain hydrated. Try adding a pinch of salt and lemon- natural electrolytes into your water bottle to maintain the levels that you sweat out.

  • Avoid caffeinated beverages that will dehydrate you on days that you practice.

  • Remember, yoga is still exercise which means that you can still hurt yourself. Don’t be fooled by its seemingly gentle form, and never push yourself beyond what you believe is your personal max.


The Lies You’ve Been Told About Soy and Breast Cancer Recurrence

The usual response when you are finding your way around an unfamiliar or confusing topic is to consult experts on the topic.You desire feedback and some sort of validation or resolutions for your concerns. After all, your concerns are legitimate and often any action or inaction on your part has potentially serious consequences.

The problem is that there is a lot of conflicting and downright incorrect information available. Shifting through the cacophony of voices clamouring for your attention can be intimidating. For example, if you’re concerned with the linkage between soy and breast cancer, it’s highly likely you’ve already come across some of these issues.

You’ve probably heard the warnings:

“Soy may increase the risk of breast cancer!”

“Women with breast cancer shouldn’t use soy!”

The first warning was never true. Numerous clinical studies have shown that consumption of soy protein is associated with a lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Furthermore, the science behind the second warning has never been very strong. The concerns that soy might stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells was based primarily on cell culture experiments and one experiment in mice – even though a second experiment in mice came to the exact opposite conclusion.

What Do Human Clinical Studies Tell Us?

In fact, the definitive clinical studies have been performed, and it turns out for women who are breast cancer survivors, consumption of soy foods does not increase either the risk of breast cancer recurrence or of dying from breast cancer. The first of these studies was reported in the December 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers at Vanderbilt University and Shanghai Institute of Preventive Medicine (Shu et al, JAMA, 302: 2437-2443, 2009).

The results were clear cut. Breast cancer survivors with the highest soy intake had 25% less chance of breast cancer recurrence and 25% less chance of dying from breast cancer than the women with the lowest soy intake.

The effect was equally strong for women with estrogen receptor-positive and estrogen receptor- negative cancers, for early stage and late stage breast cancer and for pre- and post- menopausal women. In short this was a very robust study.

Other Clinical Studies

If that were the only published clinical study to test the soy-breast cancer hypothesis, I and other experts would be very cautious about making definitive statements. However, at least four more clinical studies have been published since then, both in Chinese and American populations. The studies have either shown no significant effect of soy on breast cancer recurrence or a protective effect. None of them have shown any detrimental effects of soy consumption by breast cancer survivors.

A meta-analysis of all 5 studies was published earlier this year (Chi et al, Asian Pac J Cancer Prev., 14: 2407-2412, 2013). This study combined the data from 11,206 breast cancer survivors in the US and China. Those with the highest soy consumption had a 23% decrease in recurrence and a 15% decrease in mortality from breast cancer.

The Bottom Line:

What does this mean for you if you are a breast cancer survivor?

  1. There are many reasons to include soy protein foods as part of a healthy diet. Soy foods are one of the highest quality vegetable protein sources and provide a great alternative to many of the high fat, high cholesterol animal proteins in the American diet.

  2. I personally feel that the published studies are clear cut enough that breast cancer survivors no longer need to fear soy protein as part of a healthy diet.

  3. The responsible websites agree with this assessment. For example,WebMD and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) both say that breast cancer survivors need no longer worry about eating moderate amounts of soy foods.

  4. The irresponsible websites (I won’t name names, but you know who they are) are still warning breast cancer survivors to avoid soy completely. As a scientist I really have problem with people who are unwilling to change their opinions in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.

  5. Finally, I want to emphasize that the published studies merely show that soy does not increase the risk of breast cancer and is safe to use for breast cancer survivors. None of those studies suggest that soy is an effective treatment for breast cancer. The protective effects of soy are modest at best. If you have breast cancer, consult with your physician about the best treatment options for you.

Final Thoughts:

When determining which foods to eat, make sure to consult credible scientific sources. Be aware of the fact that there is lots of misinformation out there, some of it with an agenda to deliberately mislead. Doing your research pays off when eating healthy because you will come across real experts doing real research that you can use to guide you as you do your best to lead a healthy life. Remember, your well-being is much too important and fragile to trust to rumor and hearsay. Informing yourself will prove invaluable as you strive to be the healthiest you can.

**Edited for repurpose by Alex Kvaskov, Content Development Intern at Women Who Run It.

Do You Know What Your Nutrition Labels Really Mean?

We’re always hearing people say “read the food labels,” but where should a person even start?

There are words that wouldn’t make sense to someone without a degree in science, daily percentages, measurements in milligrams, and a whole lot of information that if ignored could lead to a ballooning of your waistline.

As more and more food items become available in stores, understanding what’s written on the label is becoming more and more challenging. With the addition of media input it can make it near impossible to know what’s actually in the food you and your family are eating.

Don’t fret! I’m here to give you some pointers on reading labels so that you can make the best choices for your needs.

First, let’s start with some basics.

Nutrition Labels Rules state that prepackaged food has to have its ingredients listed and they are written in order of quantity with the greatest being first, and the least being last.

All foods also have to display a “Nutrition Facts” table which has its own laws about what should be found on it. The table has a serving size found at the top. The rest of the information is displayed in a standard order; from top to bottom it is: Calories, Fat, Saturated, Trans, Cholesterol, Sodium, Carbohydrate, Fibre, Sugars, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron.

Calories and Serving Sizes Most people look at the number of calories first, which is totally fine as long as you’re also looking at the portion size. If the label tells you there’s 100 calories, but you eat three times the serving size, then your low calorie snack just took a giant hike that you might not have noticed.

Daily Value % Sometimes the information on the Nutrition Facts table that can be misleading is the Daily Value %. These values are based on a 2000 calorie diet, so if you’re not eating 2000 calories then these percentages aren’t right for you. This is especially true for your children.

The most important percentage to look out for is sodium. The sodium percentage is calculated based on a 2400 mg daily serving. This amount is actually more than should be consumed in a day. For adults the tolerable upper limit (which means the amount that should not be exceeded per day) is 2300 mg. However, the amount that we actually need per day is only 1500 mg. The best way to make sure you’re not going over is to ignore the Daily Value % and to just look at the mg amount found on the table.

Product Claims and Statements Another important tip to keep in mind is to be aware of product claims and statements. The word “nutritious”can be used on a food that contains at least a “source” of one nutrient permitted in the Nutrition Facts table. This can mean that the food isn’t actually as nutritious as you might think it is.

Another thing to be aware of is that even though a food item says ‘low fat’ doesn’t mean that it’s actually the best choice. Sometimes these low fat options have lots of added sugar or sodium to replace the flavour lost from removing the fat. It’s important to be aware of the potential for this. A great way to check is to look at the Nutrition Facts table, because it will tell you the amount of sugar and sodium found within the product.

Allergies and Intolerances Allergies and intolerances are becoming more and more of a concern as time passes. There are some fairly new laws pertaining to allergens. Some products may have a section that lists allergens by their most common name (for example “contains soy and nuts”). Allergens must be listed in either this section or in the ingredients list, but they don’t have to be in both. If allergens are something that you need to look out for, make sure you’re checking both places.

Educating yourself on what nutrition labels mean is an important part of your work to keep yourself healthy. By knowing what’s in your food you’ll always be able to ensure that you’re eating the right fuel for your body. Keep yourself informed and keep those pounds at bay!

There are specific laws that govern what is mandatory for labelling in each country. For more information, check out the website in your country.

**Edited for Repurpose by Taylor Brown, Associate Editor of Women Who Run It.

Modern Herbal Medicine: The New Answer to All Health Problems

Today’s society is obsessed with health.

We are constantly bombarded with new diets, fads and lifestyles that claim they will make us feel our very best. Whether it is sugar-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, organic, or raw, it is difficult to decipher what will actually keep us healthy.

But what if the answer is simple?

What if the key to good health is simply using natural remedies that work with our bodies, not against them?

According to Steven Horne, this is the true key to a healthy lifestyle.

The thing about Horne is that he not only teaches the ideals of herbal medicine and natural remedies, but he lives by them. As a child, Horne suffered many ailments that pharmaceuticals simply were not helping. Then at the age of 15 he realized that everything was put on earth for a reason and turned to natural remedies and he has been healthy ever since

In his new book, co-authored by Thomas Easley, titled Modern Herbal Medicine, Horne and Easley show you multiple paths you can take if you are feeling unwell before turning to pharmaceuticals. It is instinctual when we are not feeling our best to automatically jump to the idea of taking an antibiotic, but sometimes this is not the healthiest or most effective option, as these antibiotics treat the symptom, not the illness.

Modern Herbal Medicine also focuses on the idea of “differentiating the cause” of the problem. Essentially, it is important to know why you are feeling the way that you are so that you can treat the problem accordingly. People experience certain illnesses for specific reasons that span from geographical location, to bodily preferences, and it is important to target your problem from this perspective.

If you are worried that in order to use herbal medicines you are going to have to locate quail eggs, star fruit, or caviar, have no fear! These herbal remedies can all be found at your local health food store so you won’t have to go running around the city or breaking the bank to buy them.

Still not convinced about herbal medications? Here are some more reasons why it could work for you:

They Work Quickly According to Horne, herbal medications actually work at fighting the illness quicker than pharmaceuticals, which tend to focus on fighting the symptoms. This means that although you may experience your symptoms for a bit longer, your overall sickness will be relieved quicker.

Less Adverse Effects Have you ever heard a commercial for a prescription drug that sounds amazing, but then the list of possible side effects is not only incredibly long, but includes horrific outcomes such as heart attack or even death? Well, the chance of adverse affects is much smaller when it comes to herbal remedies because these are natural products that you may actually consume in your everyday life.

Don’t Listen to the Rumors Herbal medications can sometimes get a bad rap. Because some people believe they are ineffective, there is a lot of conflicting information out in the world and some people feel they are dangerous. What you have to keep in mind when it comes to herbal medications is the concept of synergy. Synergy means that just because something may contain an ingredient that is harmful on its own, when it is combined with other ingredients its toxicity is entirely reduced. So you should have no fear when approaching herbal remedies.

It Works With Your Body Unlike regular pharmaceuticals, which use an artificial means to achieve a proper balance in your body, herbal medications work with your body. This means that your body will find this equilibrium in a natural manner that is better for your overall health.

They Can Help with Mental Illness as Well If you think that herbal medications can only improve your physical health, then think again. These natural remedies have proven to be effective in helping mental illnesses such as depression, but of course you have to “differentiate the cause” first!

It’s Natural Duh! This may seem obvious, but a lot of times we put things in our body without even knowing what they are. I mean, does anyone actually know what gluten is? But if you are using herbal medications you are going to know exactly what you are putting in your body and there is a lot of comfort in that.

Use the Strong Stuff If Necessary If you decide to turn to herbal medication but the illness continues to persist, then it is totally okay to turn to pharmaceuticals. The herbal medicine movement is not against pharmaceuticals, it is against using them when there are more effective options. But sometimes a strong antibiotic is necessary and that is okay too.

So next time you aren’t feeling your best remember to differentiate the cause and discover some natural ways you can heal yourself.

Herbal medicine is not some hokey fad like the cabbage soup diet, it is a legitimate, researched way of healing and it could change the way you feel.

EmpowHER Yourself: An Exclusive Interview with Michelle King Robson

If you found out that something was wrong with you, you’d want to fix it immediately, wouldn’t you?

Of course you would.

That’s what Michelle King Robson did, but unfortunately, a quick fix isn’t always the answer.

At 42 Michelle was sick and told that she needed a complete hysterectomy. Desperate to feel better and listening to her doctor’s orders, she of course, got the hysterectomy.

Unfortunately the “solution” was only the beginning of Michelle’s problems.

After her hysterectomy Michelle’s health tanked. She became a shell of who she used to be and with no end in sight, she even contemplated taking her own life. She didn’t stop searching, she just began searching in different places until she found her answers. She found her solution in weaning herself off of her medications and taking Estrogel and Magnesium.

Once she got better, she got mad and vowed to never let this happen to another person. So she started EmpowHER, a women’s health website dedicated to bringing women the best information in health to help improve their well-being and their lives.

EmpowHER brings amazing information to women every single day. “We wantEmpowHER to give relevant and meaningful information around women’s health, gender specific to women,” shared Michelle.

Not only that but it connects readers with real doctors who will answer questions within 24 hours. “That’s a huge opportunity for women to get to where they need to go instead of them heading down a rabbit hole, which happens all the time on the web because there’s so much information being thrown at you,” said Michelle. Whether the information is on her own site or somewhere else on the internet, Michelle wants to guide readers to the best information they can find in order to offer them their best shot at a healthy life.

Most important of all is the community that EmpowHER creates, which Michelle didn’t have when she was fighting for her health. “I was searching for someone like me because women are silent sufferers, we don’t like to talk about it so this gives them the ability to be anonymous if they want, to private message each other if they want, and share their name if they want, privately or publicly, but it’s up to them how they connect,” she said. This turned out to be the most celebrated part of EmpowHER. “This is the one area that I can honestly say no one’s ever said to me ‘Why did you create this company?’ This is the one area where women say ‘Thank you for creating this for us.’ I didn’t do it for me, I did it for women,” said Michelle.

Michelle may share the best health advice she can find online, but she also has some personal tips that she has shared exclusively with Women Who Run It.

1. Schedule Everything “Everything needs to be scheduled, especially in my life. You have to make things a priority,” said Michelle.

When you’re a busy woman you can’t sit around and hope that you can find the time to prepare a meal or fit in that workout. Your health is what makes it possible for you to do everything that you do, so schedule some time to nourish yourself and your body, and it won’t let you down.

2. Put Yourself First “You need to advocate for yourself first, for your own health and wellness, or else you can’t take care of anybody else,” Michelle said.

Women are natural caretakers, but they can’t fulfill this role when they are sick in bed. By putting yourself first you’ll be able to do all of those things for others that you love to do. It’s not selfish, it’s just common sense.

3. Know Your Numbers Do you know your cholesterol number? Your estrogen number? Your thyroid number?

If you don’t know a baseline number for these how will you be able to tell if something is wrong?

If things were ever to go South you should know your baseline numbers so that you can immediately figure out what’s wrong. As Michelle found out, not knowing what’s wrong is worse than finding out the truth.

4. Know Your Body Parts It’s important to know exactly what each piece of your body does for you. Michelle didn’t understand what having a hysterectomy would mean before she got one and it quickly became clear to her how important her uterus was to her body.

“You have to understand what you’re doing and how it’s going to effect the rest of the body because there’s a reason why every body part is there… especially for women, they don’t know their bodies and they don’t really pay attention to all the reproductive parts,” Michelle shared.

5. Find Your Motivation “My biggest motivator to be healthy each day is to set an example for all the women who either are on EmpowHER, or will be coming to EmpowHER, or who I may run into, whether it’s on an airplane, a train, a bus,or if I’m speaking somewhere, so I need to live the brand. I am the brand and I want people to look at me as an example of ‘Hey look, you too can get past this, you too can get well, and you too can live a happy, healthy life,’” Michelle said.

What’s your motivation?

6. Advocate for Yourself Michelle said that if she had advocated for herself that she may never have had to go through such an ordeal. “I didn’t advocate for myself. I didn’t quite care. If they said ‘We want to cut your arm off’ I would have said ‘Okay’ if it would have made me feel better. So, I didn’t advocate for myself and I didn’t push back on doctors because they’d think that I was bitchy or a know-it-all.”

You’re the only one who knows how you feel and what is best for you, be your best and biggest advocate. Ask questions. Push back. Be considered bitchy or a know-it-all. Do everything you have to do to make sure that you’re receiving everything you need.

7. Listen to Your Gut “We were born with this intuition as women and we tend to ignore it and we can’t ignore it because it’s usually right. If there’s something wrong, if you don’t feel well, then there’s something wrong and you need to figure out what it is. If you have to go to ten different doctors until you get to the right answer then so be it. But you can’t let things go. At any age, at any stage, you should feel fabulous,” Michelle explained.

There’s no reason for you to feel anything but amazing, no matter what age you are. Remember that and you’ll be sure to always advocate for yourself, you health, and your body.

Michelle’s perseverance led her on the road to better health and on the path to creating EmpowHER. Not only did she save her own life, but she’s moved on to saving others’ as well. She’s a woman who runs her life, her health, and an amazing company that brings health and wellness to millions of women daily. Today’s your day to “EmpowHER” yourself too!

Beat the Bloat! The Worst Foods for the Abdomen

Picture this: you’re at the beach this summer, preparing to soak up the sun.

You find the perfect spot, set yourself up, take your sundress off and immediately notice that something is wrong. You look down at your stomach and realize that you look about four months pregnant.

There goes your perfect tan. You throw your sundress back on and wallow under an umbrella for the rest of the day.

No one likes to be bloated.

Not only does it feel uncomfortable, but it also makes us look heavier than we actually are. In fact, some women can bloat so severely that they could pass for being pregnant!

Your health is important, and a part of staying healthy is maintaining a good weight, and trying hard to minimize fat around the abdomen. Fat in this area is a relatively good indicator of high risk for heart disease and coronary conditions, so keeping your abdomen looking trim is one of the best ways to help keep you fit and well.

What Causes Bloating?

Abdominal bloating can be caused by a number of reasons – mostly as a result of our own dietary habits. A common cause of bloating is dehydration. It may seem strange that a lack of water can cause bloating, but, when the body is being starved of fluid, it holds onto whatever water it can. This leads to water retention, which can cause us to look bigger than we actually are, particularly in the stomach area.

Water retention is relatively common – it can happen during menstruation, illness, or even after a workout, and can cause the scales to register a weight 3 or 4 lbs heavier – perhaps even more – than usual. It’s not that you have gained 3 or 4 lbs of fat, it’s just ‘bloat’. Fortunately, by keeping an eye on our diets, we can reduce the likelihood of bloating, and help keep our abdomen tight and toned.

Food & Drinks to Avoid

While we wholeheartedly recommend ‘everything in moderation’, if you’re looking to maintain a flat stomach it is important to limit the amount of bloat-inducing food and drink you consume on a regular basis. Here are some of the worst culprits for encouraging water retention:


Think caffeine is the worst offender for causing bloating? Think again! While caffeine can reduce water by 1.7 ml per mg of caffeine consumed, alcohol well surpasses this, creating a 10 ml fluid reduction per gram of alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic which encourages urination, which is why you need to use the bathroom more when you’ve had a few beers. Once the body realizes it’s running low on water, it clings onto what’s left, causing bloating.

The main problem with alcohol is that many adults underestimate how much they consume, so they think that their bloating couldn’t possibly be caused by drinking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women limit themselves to no more than one alcoholic drink per day, and men no more than two. If you’re drinking too much, it could be a reason for your water retention.

Salty Products

Salt is another diuretic which works in a similar way to alcohol. It encourages urination, which is why you feel very thirsty after eating a Chinese meal, for example – your body is crying out for water. Eating large amounts of salty foods is practically guaranteed to cause bloating. Try to limit salty foods such as bacon, popcorn, pre-packaged sauces and condiments, and cured meats. Not only will you find yourself less prone to bloating, but cutting salt out of your diet is good for your heart, too.

High Fat

We all know that large amounts of fat are bad for us, but could that also be the cause of abdominal bloating? Very possibly. It is much harder for the body to digest fatty foods than foods high in protein or carbohydrates, so it takes longer for the body to break down a fatty meal. While this is good in the sense that you’ll feel fuller for longer, it also means that the food will stick around in your stomach for a while, filling you out and making you feel heavy and sluggish. To maintain a flat stomach, it’s better to stick to foods that can easily be digested and moved along to the intestines, rather than being left to hangout in your belly.

High Fiber

Fiber is so good for us – it help keeps things moving and reasonable amounts of fiber can actually help reduce bloating by keeping the digestive system working well. It is recommended that adults eat around 25 grams of fiber each day. Of course, a little more or a little less isn’t going to make too much of a difference, but in consuming much more than this amount, you could be causing your abdomen to bloat.

Foods that are high in fiber are those such as beans, legumes, and whole wheat – all products that cause gas! As you’ll probably know, when you’re suffering with gas you tend to get a very large, rock hard belly that’s crampy and painful. Eating fiber is important, but don’t go overboard!

Foods for a Flat Belly

If you’re striving for a flat belly, it’s best to limit the amount of the above foods you consume as part of your everyday diet.

So the question is – what *can* you eat?

Be sure to include lots of lean protein (which is digested quickly and easily), healthy oils such as olive oil and those found in nuts and avocados (which provide healthy amounts of ‘good’ fats), and probiotic yogurts which contain good bacteria that cleanse the digestive system, helping to speed up the process.

Maintaining a toned abdomen is simple once you know how!

This year, instead of hiding your midsection under a sundress, sarong, or one-piece, you can flash your abs with pride! And you don’t need to spend hours doing crunches to make it happen. By changing your diet in these small ways you can finally get rid of that pesky stomach bloat and finally be able to wear that itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini that you’ve hear so much about.

The Problem With the Pill

There is nothing less sexy than a pregnancy scare.

Who wants to be getting steamy in the bedroom, while at the same time praying that the condom doesn’t break?

The answer is no one.

That is why the pill has been so revolutionary for women.

The pill has been around longer than most of the people who are now using it, and this convenient little dose of hormones has allowed women to take their rights back. We’re able to have sex for fun, not just for reproduction. The pill allows us to regulate our cycles, stop painful or heavy menstruation, and cures acne. We can choose when and if we have children and all thanks to a tiny little pill that we only need to pop once a day for 23 days out of the month.

Sounds pretty convenient right?

Well the truth is that while the pill has been able to do so much for us, it may actually be taking from us too.

Ross Pelton, a Pharmacist, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, author and lecturer, has found that the birth control pill is responsible for sucking out some very essential nutrients from us.

Unfortunately, these side effects aren’t explained to us by our doctors when they prescribe the pill to us and, even worse, it’s unclear how long it takes them to resurrect themselves once you go off the pill.

What are some of these side effects?

1. Lower sex drive All women who take oral contraceptives will have lower levels of testosterone, and testosterone regulates our sex drive. This leads to a reduction in libido, difficulty becoming aroused, less lubrication (which causes painful sex) , and difficulty or inability to achieve orgasm. Talk about an uh-oh face.

2. Higher susceptibility to yeast infections The estrogen in the pill changes your acid base balance to become more alkaline. A more alkaline environment leads to more yeast because it is a more favourable environment for growth.

3. Higher likelihood of infertility Being robbed of these key nutrients for such a long period of time can make it harder for you to be able to reproduce at all. You need a healthy body to be able to grow a whole baby inside you don’t you? Well the pill can rob you of that ability.

4. Loss of immune protection By losing some of these important pieces of the immunity puzzle, you’re increasing your risk for STDs, HPV and anemia.

These aren’t even all of the symptoms!

Ross Pelton has identified 15 different health consequences of oral contraceptive in his new book The Pill Problem: How to Protect Your Health from the Side Effects of Oral Contraceptives.

Now here’s some good news: this data is not found in all of the forms of birth control. That means that you have other options such as:

1. The patch   This flesh-coloured patch looks exactly like a nicotine patch and is applied to your hip or buttox. The patch is kept on for three periods of seven days and then kept off for a week (much like the cycle of the pill). Used perfectly, less than one in 100 women get pregnant. This is a great method because it only has to be applied once a week and therefore is easier to execute perfectly.

2. The ring This soft, flexible ring is placed in the vagina for a three week period and then taken out for a week. It has the same success rate as the patch and takes even less work because you only have to remember it once a month.

3. The needle The shot contains the hormone progestin and is given by your doctor every three months, which means even less worrying than the other forms of birth control. Used perfectly, less than one in 100 women become pregnant.

3. An Intra-Uterine Device The IUD is a T-shaped device that is either made of copper or releases the hormone progestin. It is inserted by a healthcare provider into your uterus and afterwards can provide up to 5 years of birth control if it releases progestin, or up to 12 years if made of copper, without any action on your part.

There are tons of options out there for you, both with their own pros and cons, so educate yourself before you make any decisions.

If you feel more comfortable with the pill, Ross has found ways to alleviate the side effects with different supplements, which he outlines in his book.

There is nothing sexy about sacrificing your health for the convenience of a pill. There are so many options out there for us and so much information available that there is no reason that we have to spend one more day blindly taking pills.

When you are healthy, protected, and happy, that’s a true turn on.

Workout for Your Body Type

Have you ever tried losing weight and just couldn’t?

What about gaining weight?

Or gaining muscle?

At some point, we have to come to the realization that our bodies, for better or for worse, are meant to be a certain shape, or weight.

It’s another case of nature versus nurture.

When we are born, we are predisposed to a particular eye color, skin tone and hair texture. We also inherit our body type from our biological parents.

But how much of our shape are we destined to grow old with and how much do we have the ability to transform?

There are three basic body types. Most people are a mixture of the three, while only five percent of the population are purely one type. Since weight is so strongly related to your body type, body composition (the ratio of fat to fat-free mass) is a much better indication of ideal body weight than is the total weight obtained from stepping on a scale.

Genetic factors strongly dominate adult height, limb and trunk lengths, skeletal and sexual maturation and body type. On the other hand, other physical characteristics related to physical performance, such as body weight, skinfold thickness and body circumference can be modified considerably by environmental influences, though these influences interact with and are limited by genetic factors.

The 3 Body Types

Mesomorphs Mesomorphs have muscular bodies, with broad shoulders, thick chests and narrow waists (think Jessica Biel and Sarah Jessica Parker). They tend to be more proportioned. Mesomorphs can have normal or low body fat, even though they may be overweight according to standard height and weight charts.

They have an advantage over taller, less muscular people in weightlifting movements.

Mesomorphs have greater strength potential. To minimize injuries, the total volume of repetitions, the number of training sessions and the frequency of high intensity workouts should be less than for other body types. They may also need more recovery time.

The Workout Plan The mesomorphic program should focus on a combination of strengthening, cardio, and stretching. Total body strengthening exercises should be performed 2–3 times weekly on alternating days, using a resistance that causes them to fatigue in 8–12 repetitions.

Cardio can be done 3+ days of the week for 30-60 minutes in their target heart rate zone. Any activities the person enjoys can be engaged in.

Stretching should be done after each exercise session. The focus of the program is to manage body composition and enhance their predisposed strength advantage.

Ectomorphs Ectomorphic people are thin, lean and tall, with low amounts of fat-free mass, and they can be underweight according to the weight charts (examples include Kate Moss and Gisele Bunchen). Typically they are extremely low in body fat and make the best endurance athletes. These body types do best in sprints, the long jump and the vertical jump. They have later skeletal and sexual maturation than the other two body types.

The Workout Plan Ectomorphs with long torsos should work on stabilization exercises during total body workouts and sports movements. Working the abdominal and lower back should be a focus of their exercise program. Pilates and yoga would be advantageous to them. Overhead work like shoulder presses will be important to help gain control over their long torsos. Front squatting is also very helpful to work on balance and strength.

It’s more difficult for ectomorphs to lift weights, because they have such long limbs and have to push and pull resistance farther than the other body types — therefore, they work harder. An ectomorph wouldn’t be very competitive as a powerlifter. They have to use lighter weights, because they are moving throughout a greater range of motion.

Ectomorphs make great basketball and volleyball players. They typically have longer feet, which help with cutting and changing direction on the court. Ectomorphs typically have weak wrists and ankles, so they should also work on strengthening them with resistance training. Many people will wrap their wrists and ankles for added support.

Ectomorphs should perform strength training on alternating days weekly, choosing a resistance that causes them to fatigue in 6–10 repetitions. Cardio can be done 3+ times weekly for 20-60 minutes per session. Flexibility training should be engaged in after each exercise session. The focus of the program is to increase strength, gain muscle and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Individuals should strive to do impact cardio activities like running and perform strength training using free weights in a standing position.

Endomorphs Endomorphs are rounder, heavier, bigger, and softer than most people (think of curvy ladies like Kate Winslet and Jennifer Hudson). These people are typically overweight, with large amounts of fat free mass (muscle) and fat mass. Endomorphs have long arms, long legs and short torsos.

The Workout Plan Endomorphs should keep impact activities like jumping and running to a minimum, as the extra body weight causes additional stress on the joints and can potentially cause injuries to the feet, ankles, knees, hips and back. They should start out slowly, working up to 20 minutes of activity in their target heart rate range. Then, over several sessions, they should gradually increase the time, followed by increasing intensity.

Endomorphs should focus on strength training 2–3 times weekly, choosing a resistance that causes them to fatigue in 10–15 repetitions. They can do cardio most days of the week for 30–60 minutes in their target heart rate zone. Activities should be low and non-impact to start.

Stretching should be performed after each exercise session. The focus of the exercise program is reducing body fat, improving health and decreasing risk of disease.

The bottom line is to choose exercises you love and do them often, but if you can tweak your program to work with your body type, there is a better chance of decreasing your risk of injury and seeing the results you desire and deserve.

You may not be just one body type, you’re probably a combination of a couple. At the same time, you don’t need to necessary be muscular to be a mesomorph, or overweight to be considered an endomorph. There may be three categories of body types but there certainly aren’t three body types in the world. Find out which body type you may classify yourself under and use these tips to help you find workouts that are great for your body and will cause it the least amount of stress.

Take your body type and accept it, nourish it and make it the best version it can be!

**Edited for repurpose by Taylor Brown, the Associate Editor of Goddess Connections’ publicationWomen Who Run It.