Get Your body summer ready

It is that time of year, again!

It is time to shed your winter clothes and expose your skin, and body, to the world!

Are you ready?

It is time for our detox, or cleanse, which I do myself and encourage my clients to do three times a year – more if you need to recover and reset from a vacation.

I look at a cleanse as just that – a reset. A chance to push the button and get your body functioning optimally again.

There are so many chemicals in the world today that were not in our air, water and even food prior to World War II and the level of chemicals in our environment is increasing every day. Our liver should be helping us eliminate toxins from our environment but it can easily get overloaded and stressed and sometimes needs a little love.

If you think of our liver like an apartment. You can bag up the trash but, if you don’t actually take it out, eventually your apartment gets overrun with garbage. This also happens with the liver. If you do not take out the trash, i.e. have regular, and by regular I mean at least one bowel movement, daily,  the trash piles up and eventually starts pushing through into your neighbors’ apartments (other organs) and into the hallway. It ends up stored in our fat cells and we get fat and uncomfortable. We don’t sleep well as our body tries to stay caught up with all the trash it needs to recycle and it ends up trying to leave our body out of our skin, so we get acne or psoriasis.

Continue reading Get Your body summer ready

How Francesca became a member of our team

People often ask me how I found the amazing people that work out of Just Breathe. Well, I am blessed. I did not find them; they found me because people that belong here will find their way here.

A little over 2 years ago, I was in the process of opening the doors and, in preparation of that, I took a business class but, if you know me at all, I am not someone who is going to sit through hours of a college course to run a business.  Thanks to my friend, Judy, who owns Perfect Fit Pilates in Hopkinton, I discovered a business program for holistic entrepreneurs. I thought it would be the perfect fit for me and I was not wrong.

During the 6 month program, I was introduced to a very eclectic group of people who come from a world that I was unaware of. I met psychics, a Goddess, a Shaman, Energy Workers, and so many other interesting people. I was exposed to a whole world that I was unaware existed but which opened up my curiosity and, being me, I wanted to learn more.

I found myself invited to a Goddess Circle. I thought, “I’ll go once and see what it is all about.” It was a rainy, dark night in February. My phone was on 10% and I was lost in Grafton which, at the time, felt very desolate to me. I found the woman’s house and experienced my first, but not my last, Goddess Circle. There were several other women there including this quiet, young woman sitting across from me. She shared that she had been laid off from her job as an admin about a year prior and, while she had job interviews, she was still looking and felt like it was the Universe telling her that her true calling was Energy Work. As she explained that she was a graduate of the Rhys Thomas Institute and what that meant, she stopped talking into her lap and became this animated, beautiful person that I wanted to get to know better.

We ended up meeting and the rest, as they say, is history. We talked and laughed for over an hour in the space that is now Just Breathe. I felt then, and now I know, that I had met one of the most important people in my life. As our visit was ending, she quietly said to me, “Can I work here?” Um… yes, please!

Francesca was one of the first Energy Workers to come to work at Just Breathe. She is my right hand and keeps me on track. She feeds me ideas on how to make Just Breathe better and stronger. She started leading Guided Meditations in the salt room once a week over a year ago. Now we offer them 4 times a week: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at noon and Thursdays at 6:30 pm. She also leads various workshops here including the popular Dance Parties, Healer Shares, Enchanted Circles, and will be teaching workshops about the Tarot. If Francesca is in charge of something, it will turn into a celebration. That is her nature.

Francesca is also a gifted Intuitive Tarot Card Reader and provides Energy Work and Spiritual Guidance. There has been more than one client who has come in on the verge of a nervous breakdown and, after working with Francesca, has left here ready to take on the world.

If you are interested in working with Francesca, or any of our other talented Healers, please call Just Breathe at 508-366-8292 to set up your appointment or drop in to one of the meditations.

10 Ways to manage anxiety part II

As a Functional Medicine Health Coach, I help people make nutritional changes and also to make lifestyle changes in ways that will help them feel better physically and emotionally.

There are frequently biological reasons that anxiety and depression occur which may be addressed through supplementation and dietary reasons. We had addressed those last week in my weekly blog, “10 Ways to Manage Anxiety – Part I.” But as my mentor likes to say, “Address the mind and the body will follow.”

This week, we are going to give you 5 tips to help address these issues through lifestyle choices.

  1. Being persistently unhappy or suffering from a lack of fulfillment are almost always a cause of these issues. Take a look at the “Wheel of Life” exercise. This exercise breaks your life into 8 components including career, relationships, fun, health, money, personal growth, and physical environment. Take the time to rate each of these areas from 1 – 10, 10 being the absolute best it can be. Doing this exercise allows you to zone in on the areas of your life that need improvement and give you a guide on what to focus on. Things will shift in your life and I recommend that my clients take a look at this at least every 3 months.
  2. Gratitude journaling offers us relief from negative thinking. Every night, write in your journal three items that you are grateful for. Not a writer? That’s okay. Keep a jar and strips of paper next to your bed. Just jot down a word or two that will remind you of what you are grateful for. It might be something simple like, “the sunrise” or more complicated such as, “my son cleaned his room today.” (Okay – that would NEVER happen in my house!) Put the slips of paper in the jar. On days that you are struggling to find something positive, read back in your journal or pull slips of paper out of your gratitude jar.
  3. Your co-workers may be great but are they REALLY your friends? Are they people that you would tell your deepest, darkest secrets too and know that they have your back? Maybe they are. Or maybe you need to create bonds outside of the workplace.  Join a bookclub, a meet-up group with people who have similar interests to you, or volunteer. Connect with someone that you can truly build a meaningful relationship with.
  4. Get at least 15 minutes of light exercise daily. Doing heavy exercise like going for a run or lifting heavy weights may put your body into a “fight or flight” response which most of us live in chronically anyway. Your body does not recognize the difference between running for pleasure or running away from a wild animal. This is not the time to stress out your body further but do get some movement in every day. Go for a walk – especially in the morning and outside to get some sunlight. Maybe do some yoga or light stretching or practice qi gong. In the process, you might just meet that person that you will develop a meaningful relationship with. 😊
  5. Practice some self-care every day. This might be journaling, exercise, some kind of ritual that you connect with, meditation, or something completely different. Taking a break from the world and doing something every day for YOU can ease anxiety and depression. Many of us don’t take the time out of our busy days to celebrate who we are and that is one of the leading causes of anxiety and depression.

Note that some of these things do overlap which makes it easier to incorporate them into our busy lives. Yoga for self-care and yoga for exercise help you check off two things on this list but still let you approach dealing with the anxiety and depression from a holistic viewpoint.

NOTE: If you are suicidal, please call the Suicide Helpline at 1-800-suicide!

Missy Cohen, MPH, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner has been working in Functional Medicine over the past decade.

10 ways to manage anxiety part I

Welcome to March, that funky month that suggests that winter is over but we haven’t quite come out of the cold and into spring. March is that month when you don’t know if it is going to snow or if you should throw on your shorts and go for a hike. It is also that month where many suffer the worst from anxiety, depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

How we manage these things differs from person to person. Many choose to continue their hibernation. Some sleep the month away. And still others turn to medications to ease their problems.

Medications do not address the root cause of the problem and frequently make the problem worse. In the case of SSRI’s such as Prozac or Zoloft, to just name a couple, taking these medication cause serotonin, the “feel good” hormone, to stop being produced in as short as 3 weeks. Just a few of the side effects are changes in brain function, anxiety (wait! Isn’t that WHY we are taking it?), nervousness, trouble sleeping, and diarrhea or constipation. Withdrawing from an SSRI is extremely difficult and should not be undertaken without a physician’s guidance.

To quote Dr. Mark Hyman, “Despite what we have been programmed to believe, depression (and anxiety) are not a Prozac deficiency.”

Functional medicine helps you find the root cause of why you are depressed and anxious. Here are 5 tips to help you manage and reverse your state:

  1. Food sensitivities, which are different from food allergies, are frequently contributing to your anxiety. Gluten is an especially common culprit, as are dairy and soy. Partially digested wheat particles have been found in the urine of severely depressed patients. Eliminate all gluten from your diet for 2 weeks, reintroduce it, and journal any differences that you may feel. Gluten hides in products like soy sauce, salad dressings, and places that you would not expect to find it, so be sure to read labels.
  2. Insufficient sleep will always make us feel grouchy and anxious, especially if it has been a long-term problem. A good way to try to improve sleep is to treat yourself as you would a small child. Start your bedtime routine at least 30 minutes before bed. Take a warm bath, turn the lights down, play calming music, and read something light. Do not watch t.v., use an e-reader, or check or email. There is time for that later. Be kind to yourself. (There are more tips for a good night’s sleep here.)
  3. Increase your vitamin D. The best way to boost vitamin D is through direct sunlight. Unfortunately for those of us who live in New England, the sun is not strong enough here from October to April. Vitamin D can be acquired naturally through food such as cod liver oil which, thankfully, comes in a pill now, fatty fishes, egg yolks, and organ meats.
  4. High sugar diets also contribute to anxiety and depression. Sugar causes inflammatory events in our bodies which affect our brains.
  5. A diet low in protein, especially animal protein. The amino acids that create serotonin and other neurotransmitters come from protein and, unfortunately, our bodies do not have a pantry that it can go to if the amino acids start running low. We need to provide our body with the proper fuel to create those amino acids daily along with specific vitamins and minerals including iron, folate, and vitamin B6.

These are just a few things to explore when looking for the root cause of anxiety or depression.

As we come out of the winter, this is the perfect time to explore if your diet or lack of sleep may be contributing to how you are feeling.

It is also important to note that anyone who is experiencing these feelings needs to prioritize pleasure. We tend to take time off and do things fun in the summer. Treat yourself to something you enjoy in the winter too, and not just once in a while but daily. This is a key to good mental health.

NOTE: If you are suicidal, please call the Suicide Helpline at 1-800-suicide!

Missy Cohen, MPH, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner has been working in Functional Medicine over the past decade.

Four ways to boost your immune system

This has been a tough winter for many. Here are 4 simple tips to help prevent you and your family from getting sick or, if it is too late, to lessen the duration of the cold or flu and decrease the potency of the symptoms.

  1. Consume a healthy diet. As a health coach, I hear all the time, “I eat well.” That means different things to different people. If you frequently eat at restaurants or even buy prepared foods at the grocery store, you are not controlling the quality of what you are consuming.  However, even eating roasted vegetables from the grocery store is better than not eating any vegetables at all. Frozen vegetables are another good choice. The point is, do eat a diet that is rich in anti-oxidants which are found in fruits and vegetables. Garlic and ginger have been shown to support the immune system, so include plenty of those as well.
  2. Get exercise but do not beat your body up. A brisk walk, light movement such as yoga or tai chi, gentle stretching are all great ways to get exercise without putting your body into a stress situation which actually lowers the immune system.
  3. Prioritize sleep. So many people joke about how little sleep they get but this is no joking matter! Treat yourself like you would a small child. Start your bedtime routine 30 minutes to an hour before bed. Take a bath. Turn down the lights. Read something fun. Stay away from t.v., the phone, and e-readers. These affect hormones in our brains that make it difficult to sleep.
  4. Wash your hands using simple soap and water. This is so simple and so overlooked. Be sure to use a natural moisturizer to prevent your hands from cracking. Our skin is our number one barrier to protect ourselves from the outside world. Take care of it.
  5. Bonus: Taking advantage of salt therapy can also help prevent or recover from illness:
  6. Dry salt therapy thins the mucus secretions which allows unwanted bacteria to be expelled.
  7. Halotherapy, aka, dry salt therapy cleans and detoxifies the lungs. When I first started learning about halotherapy, my mentor told me to think of it as a toothbrush for your lungs. By cleaning and detoxifying the lungs, the respiratory system works more efficiently which allows us to increase our oxygen uptake which, in turn, gives us more energy.
  8. Sitting in a salt room or salt cave lowers stress levels as does meditation and yoga, which can also be done in the salt room. Chronic stress wears down and weakens the immune system so relieve some of that stress by taking a break and relaxing.

Supporting your immune system is the key to being healthy. If you are struggling with any of these things, a Functional Medicine Health Coach can help you get on the path to optimal health.

Adults and kids can recover naturally

Salt therapy is not just for adults. Children may benefit from it too.

With all the colds, flu, and various other ailments that are being passed around, salt therapy is the perfect holistic solution for recovering from an illness or staying healthy. It is great for people of all ages.

Halotherapy, or dry salt therapy, involves grinding pure pharmaceutical salt up to the size of red blood cells and dispersing it into the air. You should not see the salt since it is finely ground. Some people may taste it but some do not.

The particle size allows the salt to be breathed deep into the lungs where the true magic occurs. The salt is antimicrobial so whether you are sick because of a virus, bacteria, or even mold or fungus, the salt will counter any of that and support your immune system to get rid of the offending agent.

And the beauty of this therapy is all you have to do is to sit back, relax, and chill out. Many people choose to meditate, read, journal, or even sleep during their session.

Many of us have experienced the healing power of salt when we were sick and told to gargle with salt water or have rinsed our sinus cavities with saline infused water from a Neti pot. (Not a fun experience.) Sitting in a salt room is more effective than these treatments without the mess or the discomfort.

Just Breathe accepts children 3 months and up. Please, give us a call to schedule a Family Session if you have anyone if you are bringing anyone under the age of 16.

problems with modern medicine

After working behind the scenes at a few prominent Boston hospitals for the past 30 years, I had an eye-opening experience these past few months as our “sick” care health system has hit way too close to home for comfort.

My son has been sick since November when he was home for Thanksgiving. At that time, he spent a couple of days being sick to his stomach, self-diagnosed it as a virus, and went back to his regularly scheduled life.

He came home again in December and spent several days in bed. At that point, he vomited so much that we took him to the emergency room. They ran some testing on him, gave him some anti-nausea medication, and told him it was most likely a virus and that he should ride it out.

Along comes the beginning of January. My son is now back at school in Chicago where he is in his last semester of college. Once again, he starts vomiting and goes to an urgent care center. The physician there tells him that he should not be throwing up so frequently and tells him that he really needs to find a primary care physician. My son does so and, at his appointment, she tells him that he most likely has an ulcer. She does more testing which, in her mind, confirms this diagnosis, gives him a medication to suppress his stomach acid so that it can heal, and sends him on his way.

This past week, his girlfriend calls me and tells me that she is bringing him to the emergency room at a prominent hospital in Chicago. He had been vomiting again and was in pain. After sitting in the emergency room for seven hours, the medical team decided to admit him to the hospital and this is where it gets very interesting.

At this point, I fly out to Chicago to be with my kid while he is in the hospital. By the time I got there, they had gotten his vomiting under control with another anti-nausea drug and he was hooked up to a saline drip “just in case.” They are not letting him eat anything to “let his intestines rest.” Then the surgical team came in to say that he was NOT a candidate for surgery. I asked, “Were you ever?” and he said not to his knowledge. Hmm… interesting, but I am glad that surgery is not necessary.

Then we meet with a gastro-enterologist, i.e. a gut doctor. They tell him that a test that was run while he was in the e.r. suggests that he has Inflammatory Bowel Diseease (IBD) or maybe IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I am still not sure what the difference is or if it matters. They then proceed to tell him that he may have a blockage in his small intestine related to “inflammation.” Then they say that he cannot eat anything because they want his gut to rest and then proceed to tell him that he will be in the hospital until at least Monday because his gut needs to heal before they are comfortable doing a colonoscopy which, by the way, we don’t do on the weekends so we are going to hold you here until then. (This is Thursday!)

By Friday morning, my son is no longer vomiting, has managed to have a bowel movement which was a requirement to being released, and had been promoted to a clear liquid diet. In addition, the medical team kept trying to give him anti-coagulant shots which is important if someone is bed-ridden and not moving around but my son was NOT bed-ridden and was losing his mind and feeling like a hostage.

The question has now become, why does he need to wait in the hospital for two more days to get a colonoscopy. MY question becomes, “does he really need a colonoscopy at all.”

When I pose this question to my son’s girlfriend, she says, “Well, they won’t treat him without a diagnosis.” And, this, my friends, is where I have officially lost all faith!

In three short months, my son has had 5 different diagnosis – virus, ulcer, IBD/ IBS, ulcerative colitis, and small intestinal obstruction caused by inflammation.

Not once did a doctor talk to my son about his typical college diet but when they took him off all food, the inflammation decreased significantly enough that he felt well.  When I suggested to the physician that maybe he should remove gluten from his diet, the doctor assured me there was no research to back my theory. (There is actually quite a bit of research on this.) They feel the need to do a potentially dangerous procedure because they NEED a diagnosis to know how to “treat” whatever his issue is. This translates to what pharmaceutical to give him.  And don’t get me started about the nurse that kept telling him that he is “very sick” and needs to stay in the hospital. I am just grateful that he never believed her because I am a firm believer that your beliefs turn into your reality.

Functional medicine would take a look at my son’s symptoms and find out WHY he is having these issues. A diagnosis is nothing more than a group of symptoms that can fit into a neat little box, sometimes. Also, while I may agree with suppressing his stomach acid short-term, they did nothing to help heal his gut lining. Without some support there, he could potentially have a “weak” stomach the rest of his life.

I don’t want people to think I am ungrateful for the hospital or what they did to help my son with his pain. Certainly, I have been on the supporting end of some traumatic events including saving the life of a motorcycle driver who was in a horrific accident and had lacerated his liver which resulted in being transfused with over 50 units of blood. (We have about 8 to 10 units of blood in our body at any one time.)

If you are unfortunate enough to have a traumatic or immediate event, please, go to the hospital. However, if you have on-going issues, look toward a Functional Medicine Practitioner to help you. We will have better success at educating you on diet and lifestyle changes that won’t put you in remission but will actually heal you.

Missy Cohen, MPH, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner has been working in Functional Medicine over the past decade.

Are You feeling blue this winter?

If the winter weather has you feeling down and even downright depressed, you may suffer from SAD, also known as, Seasonal Affective Disorder.

SAD is a type of depression. Symptoms of it include oversleeping or having problems with sleep, losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed, low energy, difficulty concentrating, and other signs of depression. What makes SAD different from depression is that it usually occurs from late fall through the winter and the depression is not felt during the summer months.

It is believed that the darker time of year leads to less sun exposure which causes disruptions in the circadian rhythms that tells us when it is time to be asleep and time to be awake. Exposure to sunlight also helps us create serotonin which is a “feel good” hormone.  Serotonin is also a hormone that  converts to melatonin which is necessary to help us sleep at night. Of course, no one feels well when they are tired and having disrupted sleep often contribute to the problem.

Anti-depressants may be prescribed to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder but anti-depressants come with a price. Many anti-depressants work by recycling the serotonin which results in the body making less serotonin because it thinks that levels are sufficient. This leads to more sleep issues, weight gain, and a lack of enjoyment in life or, as more than one of my clients has described it, “feeling flat.”

Many people prefer to go with a more natural approach to dealing with SAD. Some suggestions are:

  • Going for a walk in the morning to absorb as much natural light as possible.
  • Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Many people crave carbohydrates and sweets during this time of year but those foods drain energy and make the situation worse.
  • Exercise for at least 15 minutes every day. This could be gentle stretching when you first get out of bed followed by that walk that was mentioned earlier. Any time you move your body, your mood will improve. It could be something as simple as parking in the back of the parking lot and walking further to run your errands.
  • If you regularly participate in activities, continue to do so. Connecting to others makes us feel happier and more confident.
  • Make use of light therapy. A full-spectrum light is a light that is about 20 times brighter than room lighting and, when you are exposed to it for 15 to 30 minutes a day, it can help with the symptoms of SAD.
  • Limiting the amount of time spent on technology. Computers, e-readers, cell phones, televisions and other forms of electronics emit positive ions that contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.  Authentic Himalayan salt lamps reduce the effects of positive ions because they are naturally dehydrated sea water and, like the ocean, emit negative ions. I encourage my clients to have salt lamps at their work stations as well as rooms that they frequent in their homes.

Do you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? How do you manage it?

Missy Cohen, MPH, Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach is the owner of Just Breathe, a salt room in Westborough, MA and helps people with chronic health conditions through lifestyle changes.  Just Breathe offers light therapy, as well as salt room sessions where people can experience the effect of negative ions emitted from a beautiful Himalayan salt wall. Ask about a SAD package.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), (2017, Oct.25). Mayoclinic.org. Retrieved 24 January 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

C.J. Harmer, M. Charles, S. McTavish, E. Favaron, and P.J. Cowen. (2012 August) . Negative ion treatment increases positive emotional processing in seasonal affective disorder. Psychological Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychological-medicine/article/negative-ion-treatment-increases-positive-emotional-processing-in-seasonal-affective-disorder/FCC3A306893A2E4449AF24E3FDAFA529

Thai Massage now at Just breathe

One of the best parts of owning a wellness center is learning about all sorts of alternative therapies and having an opportunity to try them out so that I can share the experience with my community.

Marline is one of the newest practitioners and will be working at Just Breathe on Saturdays offering a wonderful blend of Swedish, Deep Tissue, Myofascial Release, and Thai Massage. Not knowing what Thai Massage is, I asked and was told it was “lazy man’s yoga.” Being curious, I signed up for a session.

Thai Massage is done on a mat on the floor. You are fully clothed so it is perfect for those who do not like to get undressed  or covered in oils. Marline started by rubbing and stretching my feet and, as I told her, anytime anyone wants to rub my feet, it is a good day.

She then pressed on my legs and proceeded to move my body into positions that I am familiar with from my yoga classes. She put me in a tree pose and stretched and opened my hips. Later in the massage, I was laying on my stomach and she gently pulled me into a very delicious back bend. It was far enough that I could feel my body stretch but never did she do anything that caused me discomfort or pain.

Something that surprised me was that she didn’t use just her hands but incorporated various parts of her body in stretching and manipulating my body including her elbows, knees, and even her feet. I felt relaxed and mellow after the massage but I think Marline got a good workout in.

Thai massage is great for reducing muscle soreness, increasing the range of motion and flexibility, improving circulation and lymphatic flow, improving posture, and reducing emotional stress and tension.

Marline is a Licensed Massage Therapist and a graduate of the Bancroft School of Massage in Worcester. She is also the mother to two young boys and recognizes how difficult it is for mother’s to find time for self-care. It is her vision to support and encourage women to not only make time for self-care but also to help them pay close attention to what their bodies are telling them which is why Marline is a perfect fit at Just Breathe.

Marline will also be offering Thai Reflexology in the Salt Room with Francesca at special events coming up soon including a special date night with or without your Honey on February 16th at 4 pm.

You may book an appointment with Marline by calling Just Breathe at 508-366-8292. Follow it up with a relaxing session in the Salt Room. You won’t be sorry!

A Tip to Survive the Holidays

Does getting invited to a holiday party put you into a cold sweat after all the hard work you have done to lose weight?

It doesn’t have to be that way!

The big focus of any party or gathering is getting to spend time with friends or families but there is no reason why you can’t enjoy the food. Take the time to scan the offerings and decide what you truly want to enjoy. Maybe it’s Grandma’s apple pie or a piece of your friend’s fudge. Whatever it may be, remember the “Three Bite Rule.”

Why 3 bites?

The first bite is going to be as enjoyable as you think it is going to be.

The second bite is still wonderful but not as wonderful as the first bite.

By the third bite, you have enjoyed the food as much as you are going to.

It is time to set it aside and hit the dance floor or visit with a friend.

Don’t be afraid of this time of year! Get out and enjoy yourself and please share with the community how you enjoy the holidays.

And if you do find yourself struggling with a sugar addiction this Holiday Season be sure to join our “Beat the Sugar Blues” challenge starting on January 16th. This is a 3 week program designed to get sugar out of your diet and start eating healthy again.