Paving Your OWN Way to Optimal Health - Is Functional Medicine the Future of Healthcare?

Left photo is now - gearing up for my 51st birthday, middle photo was from two years ago and the photo on the right is a photo my dear friend Laura Turbow took of me around my 50th birthday last year. I was around 20 pounds heavier in those previous photos although I have to say, I was hiding it well!

I haven't worn the pants in the newest photo above since my husband and I got married almost ten years ago. Funny thing is this blog post isn't about weight loss. Weight loss is just a happy bi-product of my ever-evolving and continuing journey to optimal health. I'm not only happy with the way I'm looking, but I'm feeling pretty great too and as I quickly approach my 51st birthday and listen to my husband's exclamations of how sexy I am. well - that's just the best!

My Health Journey with Chris Kresser and Functional Medicine

If you've been to any of The Healing Farm retreats or have read any of my early blog posts, you know that I worked with Functional Medicine practitioner Chris Kresser on the first leg of my healing journey. I agree with Chris that functional medicine could be (and should be) the future of healthcare (he has a new book coming out called "Unconventional Medicine"). This is why I'm hosting retreats based on the premise of healing from the inside out - finding what's at the core of your chronic health issues and addressing those problems in a quest for long-term healing and preventative care. It's also why I want to build the Healing Farm property. Except for some of the big stuff, like necessary surgeries (I had a ruptured appendix many years ago and would have died without surgery), cancer treatments, trauma and a whole host of other medical issues Western medicine can address, much of what Western medicine seems to do for chronic conditions and auto-immune disease is about putting a bandaid on the problem and not getting to the core issue.

If it weren't for the initial work I did with Chris, I would not be where I am today physically and emotionally or able to build The Healing Farm business as I'm currently doing. It's not that I went into his office with major issues, but it was a collection of long-term issues that seemed to be adding up and getting worse:

Add the words chronic to any of the conditions below and that's what I experienced:

  • Sinus headaches so severe they bordered on migraines
  • Massive indigestion that would sometimes keep my up all night wondering if I was having a heart attack
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Increased mood swings - especially during PMS
  • Low libido
  • Constipation
  • weight problems
  • When I added chronic back pain to the list and opted out of surgery for that, I went to see Chris

When I worked with Chris, we found a parasite and some definciencies and indicators of inflammation. He put me on some herbal remedies and vitamins and an elimination diet and within six weeks most of my symptoms were alleviated. I was so inspired by natural healing and functional medicine that it set me on my current journey today. I had the energy and brain power to start taking business classes and started coming up with the concept of The Healing Farm. I would NEVER be where I am today if it weren't for the work I did with Chris Kresser. I would have continued to go around thinking it was just my darned bad luck that my body was so finicky.

Life-long Health Changes Can Take a Long Time and There May Be Setbacks

Fast forward a few years and my weight was creeping up again, restless legs were coming back, I was popping stomach pills and sinus pills again and wondering what the heck I was doing wrong. I thought I was eating a low sugar, low carb diet and I was almost 100% dairy and gluten free. I thought maybe it was just my aging body, but as I passed 50, I realized something was wrong again. I was listening to Magdalena Wszekaki's Cooking for Balance program since I was doing a retreat on menopause and women's health and started suspecting I may have a candida overgrowth or SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth). At this point in my business start-up I'm short on funds for just about everything so couldn't go to see Chris, but started doing some of the protocols in Magdalena's program including going on a vitamin and herb regimen recommended by her functional health practitioner and started taking Mega Spore probiotic. I've lost almost 20 pounds (I lost ten pounds on Keto) and am feeling great again. Now, I have to admit, I've been on a NO CARB, NO SUGAR, NO ALCOHOL plan for over eight weeks and had done the keto-type regimen right before I started the program and was now comfortable with eating fats and definitely not craving sugar or alcohol. This made it easier.

What I needed to think about though was the fact that I had almost lost all the work I had done with Chris and I needed to really think about the reasons. When I really thought about it, I realized I was drinking a lot of white wine and completely ignoring the fact that white wine is hight in sugar. I was sneaking in sugary snacks and gluten here and there and had found my new favorite go to chips (all natural beet chips in coconut oil) were really high in carbs (which converts to sugar in your body and if I do have a candida overgrowth - candida feeds on sugar). I also had to look at the amount of snacking and portions I was eating. I'm an emotional eater. It's a vicious cycle when you're down because you're not feeling good and it makes you feel better to eat (or drink wine). Basically, I was fooling myself thinking I was doing such a great job and was really producing more an more inflammation in my body. I got myself back into that unhealthy state. The no carb, high(er) fat plan has been working for me. Once I hit my goals and feel like I'm at optimal health, I'm not planning on going without my dark chocolate or an occasional beet chip, gluten free pizza, of glass of (red) wine in the future, but once I reach my goal, I know now what my limits are and I'm pretty darned happy with a few tablespoons of coconut yogurt (no sugar added!) for a sweet snack after dinner and some yummy ginger tea in the afternoon in the meantime. 

Your Personal Paleo Code, or Whole 30 Code, or Ancestral Code, or Veggie Code, or Mediterranean Code...Find Out What Eating Plan is Best for YOU and YOUR Body.

"Your Personal Paleo Code" was the title of Chris Kresser's first book before it was changed to: "The Paleo Cure". What I liked about Chris' philosophy is that he stresses that's it's most important to find what works for you and YOUR body. Although he's more of an ancestral/paleo guy, he's not completely opposed to carbs and grains. He's all about finding what works best for your body through the elimination diet and getting to the bottom of other lurking issues through blood and stool testing and then finding the right path to true healing. My husband can eat just about anything and never gain weight. He feels great all the time and is rarely sick. His way of eating is more like a snake's. He can go for hours without thinking about eating and then eat a ton and feel fine. A dear friend feels best when she eats more of a mediterranean diet, another friend recently discovered she really likes fasting for 24 hours between meals and loves the way she feels, another friend is vegetarian but has celiac so balances her diet accordingly. She's incredibly healthy and active despite what some of us would see as deficient in some essential nutrients by not eating meat. The point is, it's all about you and your body and what makes you feel best.

But Functional Medicine is Expensive....

I was recently telling someone about The Healing Farm concept and she instantly said she's not a fan of functional medicine. I asked her why and she said it's because it's cost prohibitive to a lot of people. This is where perception needs to change both in our own minds and in our healthcare system. If I added up all of the costs of the MRI and cortizone shots for my back, the upper GI and Endoscopy for my GI issues, years of blood tests and all the medication I've taken since I was in my mid twenties, it would be WAY more than the treatment cost of working with Chris Kresser. What we pay in insurance and what some of us get in health benefits from work hides most of what Western medicine costs. If we were paying all those bills (which increasingly we ARE), it would shock us. I paid about $1,000.00 five years ago for my work with Chris and the benefits have been life-changing. If we can change our healthcare system to accept Functional medicine into the fold (I was recently told by a THF client that Sutter Health now has a functional medicine practitioner), then maybe we can TRULY change the way we heal ourselves and prevent chronic conditions. This is why the work Chris Kresser, other functional medicine practitioners, nutritionists and hopefully The Healing Farm does is so important. We need to change the future of healthcare so let's start now!

Guest Blog Post by The 3rd Act Retreat’s Yoga Instructor - Rachel Heron

Even yoga teachers and doula’s make big changes midlife. Read on to hear from Rachel Heron (our 3rd Act Retreat Yoga Instructor) about how yoga transformed her life and why yoga can help you in your life at the retreat!

From Rachel:

"One rainy afternoon in NYC, in late October of 1992, my life changed.  I walked into the Jivamukti Yoga Center on 2nd Avenue, full of doubt, heartache and discontent.  Various things were not going the way I planned or wanted, and I found myself feeling jaded, cynical and stuck in a rut.  A friend had recommended yoga to me months before and I finally decided to check it out for myself, not un-reluctantly, somewhat ready to be disappointed...again.

On that day I discovered a seed of grace, faith, and beauty that has remained ever-present for me in some form.  I found a way of communicating with myself that simultaneously touched a deep place of longing and also felt like a homecoming.  I found practice.

As a trained professional dancer, I understood the value of disciplined practice.  What felt so different to me about Yoga and meditation was the absence of a goal, culmination, or public presentation.  This created a significant shift in my perception, which at first was not altogether exciting.  It was hard to orient toward my inner witness, to practice without striving or reaching for something different or better or definitive.  It took a long time for me to realize, in an embodied way, that Hatha yoga (the physical practice) was a gateway toward meditation--the practice of sitting/witnessing/holding spacious awareness.

After 25 years, what I know about practice is this--it's about showing up as you are--joyful, expansive, faithful, inspired, clear, distracted, heartbroken, angry, confused, resigned, or apathetic.  It doesn't really matter because the practice is here as a way to engage with ALL OF IT.  We don't have to be better or more in shape or happier or even in the mood.  We DO have to show up to get the benefit.  We have to be somewhat willing to look a little deeper, to feel a little more, to be with our distraction and discomfort.  

I'm not saying this is easy.  It often isn't.  But it's what we've got.  We've got this body, this mind, this tender heart, and the capacity to take some action in relation to our suffering.  Cultivating a practice allows us to discover an abiding and steadfast ‘center’.  When we anchor into our practices we can notice the winds of change are always blowing--and in this recognition we may find some more space and ease and perspective amidst the ever-changing conditions.

When we anchor into our practices we can notice the winds of change are always blowing—and in this recognition we may find some more space and ease and perspective amidst the ever-changing conditions.
— Rachel Heron

Since that pivotal moment in 1992, I have followed a few different life paths, each one strong in its own right, each one essential for clarifying the next phase.  I have learned that life is deeply mysterious, non-linear, uncontrollable, and unpredictable.  I know what it feels like to make choices from fear and anxiety, and I also know what it feels like to make choices from a place of inner wisdom and guidance.  While we don't know what lies ahead, we can take responsibility for our actions and do our best to make holistic choices that support our deepest well-being.

As I was turning 40, I started getting hints that my next round of work in the world would be connecting with women at potent times of their lives.  This lead to a rich and rewarding bunch of years as a birth doula--truly a time of concentrated vitality and major life transition!  And in the midst of that work, I was continually asked by yoga students and bodywork/doula clients for something else as well--they were seeking guidance around how to be in their lives more fully, presently, healthfully--they were looking for ways to alleviate suffering.  It became clear to me that my next move was to formalize a counseling practice that could address these inquiries.  And it was just at the time when my doula energy started to wane (at age 45, staying up all night with a mama in labor is not ideal!) that the form of the counseling practice really started to blossom.

These last many years I have been refining a modality I call "Intuitive Somatic Counseling". I catalyze real, lasting change for women in transition who want to create the next phase of their life with more clarity, satisfaction, and nourishment.  The basis of this work combines compassionate listening, gentle bodywork, and strategic coaching in order to help you access your inner guidance.  In affirming your own intuitive wisdom, we co-create potent daily routines and rituals that will inspire and sustain the changes you want to make.

And this brings me back to practice... We learn to show up, to engage, and to be with what is.  We can make small incremental shifts and over time we notice something new arises.  There is sacredness in the mundane, as we bring presence and mindfulness to the myriad details of life.  In this modern age of abundant technology, stimulation, and options, it is my great pleasure to connect with women on a healing and awakening path: co-creating, exploring, and living in our vitality and radiance. "

3rd Act Guest Blog Post: Find Out More of What We'll Cover in the 3rd Act Retreat This Fall!

I’ve been a professional photographer for 25+ years and photographing weddings for 15 – it’s a demanding job! Everyone assumes it’s all joy, gorgeous venues, flowers, and food. And it is most of the time, but photographing a wedding is not only stressful emotionally (I can’t miss a beat or a moment!), but it’s also incredibly physically demanding. Standing and running around with pounds of equipment strapped to my body for an average of eight hours on top of the mental stress has taken its toll. Plus, hours in front of a computer in a dark room has never been very joyful for someone who loves light, air, and the outdoors.

I’ve been working on transitioning into a new career for the past 4-5 years and it’s been a challenge like no other in my life. Adding mid-life crisis, peri-menopause, aging parents, and the financial burden of my husband and I both exploring new careers at the same time? Well, that’s a whole different level of challenge!

I knew I had to be ready both mentally and physically for this transition into a new life and career and that’s how the seeds of The Healing Farm idea popped into my head. For 4-5 years, I’ve been working on healing my body from the inside out, plus building The Healing Farm | Retreat business into a new career to pursue work I am passionate about for the next 20 or so years of my work life. It’s also my retirement plan (I want to live on The Healing Farm property eventually!). The seeds I started planting a few years ago are finally starting to take root and now, I want to help others prepare for the longer lives we are now living – and look forward to healthy and happy lives.

A friend of mine introduced me to Patricia Cavanaugh, founder of “The 3rd Act” and after a two-time THF retreat participant suggested I create a retreat specifically for women who are experiencing this mid-life and pre/post retirement transition, I figured these two things dovetailed beautifully into a new retreat idea. Serendipity!

I am thrilled to welcome the Third Act to our retreat at Mayacamas Ranch, scheduled for October 29th through November 2nd (my 51st birthday!). Click here for more details about the retreat, but I had a chance to interview Patricia her colleague, Ellie Klevins – who will lead the workshop and here’s what they had to say about their workshop for our retreat:

So, what is the 3rd Act?

Our work guides people (typically age 50+) to develop intentional plans for creating happy and fulfilling lives – and take full advantage of our years ahead. Living longer than previous generations, is both a challenge and an opportunity.  We need to shed old paradigms of aging, find inspiring role models, and learn new skills so we can “begin again.” Our clients are people who are approaching typical retirement age – and know they don’t want a typical retirement!

What are the outcomes participants can expect?
Realizing you are not alone in facing down the aging process. We share many of the same fears and we avoid thinking about what’s uncomfortable for us. Together we uncover those fears and identify ways to take control now.  Denying and pushing away fear takes so much energy – we free up that energy and focus it on what you can do NOW to take control.  Like healthy eating! Exercise!  And having and inspiring plan for the rest of your life!
The principles of Positive Psychology are the foundation for 3rd Act life planning.

We ask and help you answer these fundamental questions:

  • What are your skills and strengths –– and how could you  use these strengths in creating your 3rd Act?

  • What do you want to leave behind – and what do you want to bring forward as you transition?

  • How can you find fulfillment in life’s everyday pleasures?

  • Where will you find new meaning and purpose ?

  • What choices do you have now that were not available to you before?

  • How can you build community, make new friends, deepen your relationships?

And to borrow a line from Mary Oliver, explore your answers to this question: “What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

I hope you can join us this fall for this comprehensive retreat. I know I have a lot to learn and am particularly looking forward to the finance portion given by our other speaker, Catie Fitzgerald (look for an upcoming guest post from Catie!). The work I’ve done in the past 4-5 years has begun to change my life in profound ways and my hope is that this retreat can help you to change the course of the rest of your life too. It’s a journey that’s challenging, but challenging like a good workout that you weren’t looking forward to. Once you get going, you get into the groove and feel so good and empowered when you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness! 

Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue - Program Developed by Chris Kresser's Nutritionists - I Guess I'm not REALLY Going Nuts. I'm just N.U.T.S!

I've written a bit about the stress I've been under running an established business, starting this new business (The Healing Farm!), going through a personal family crisis, taking business classes, holidays and on and on. It's really amazing how chronic stress takes its toll no matter how well you take care of yourself with your diet and exercise. I would say I've been going through extreme chronic stress for at least six months - something I will strive to teach people to avoid once The Healing Farm is established, but something that may be unavoidable while I transition my career and try to start this new business. 

When Chris Kresser announced this webinar and program called "Paleo Rehab" that his two nutritionists created I felt like it couldn't have come at a better time. I signed up for the webinar immediately and then woke up yesterday morning feeling like I couldn't get myself out of bed. After completing a ten-week business plan class the night before, I needed to jump right back into room assignments and getting out final link payments for the Mayacamas Ranch retreat participants (plus I'm leaving for a week-long photo shoot out of the country tomorrow!). I was barely (and late) out of bed just settling in with coffee in hand for my morning routine of reading the news, answering light e-mails and my workout when my husband started ranting about something regarding the presidential campaign. As the "f" word started coming out of his mouth, I stopped him and said my psyche couldn't handle a rant at that particular moment. When he looked at me as if I lost my mind, I think I kind of did lose my mind. I broke down into hysterical crying.  This has happened a couple of times over the past few months so he kindly sat down with me and we talked about the amount of constant stress I have been under for the past seven months. He had some really great suggestions like "you need to start thinking about how much you're piling into your schedule" and the fact that I haven't been myself for months (among other things). When I finally calmed down, I opened my calendar and up popped the reminder about the stress webinar! Serendipity.

I decided to take it easy on myself and recognizing that my body and mind were near complete exhaustion, I read the news leisurely and decided I couldn't handle even my NYT Seven Minute workout. By the time I was done reading the news and answering e-mails, it was time for the webninar. I actually enjoyed two hours of much-needed cooking and cleaning time (something I haven't been able to do regularly for months - Brennan has been eating frozen pizzas multiple times per week for dinner for crying out loud) while I listened to Chris, Kelsey (both of whom will be speaking at the Mayacamas Ranch retreat) and Laura talk as if they were using me as their worst case scenario patient. if you went through the N.U.T.S acronym with me -  and here it is from Chris' site:

4 key factors that determine how we respond to stress

So what determines the intensity of our response to a particular stressor? Research has identified four key factors: (1)

  1. The novelty of the event
  2. The unpredictable nature of the event
  3. A perceived threat to our body or ego
  4. A sense of loss of control

Some researchers and clinicians use the acronym N.U.T.S. (novelty, unpredictability, threat, sense of no control) to refer to them. I think that’s perfect!

...I was experiencing all of the above only over multiple events and months. I was also interested to learn that as someone who is in peri-menopause, the symptoms of chronic stress and adrenal fatigue can be intensified and I'm more vulnerable. So I'm not really losing my mind then. I think I'm in some severe adrenal fatigue experiencing these symptoms:

  • Weight gain (I eat with stress and although I eat well, to make it worse, sometimes I can't keep my mitts off of tortilla chips! I get organic, but I'm guessing they are fried in industrial seed oil)
  • Chronic back pain is starting to creep back in
  • Extreme fatigue and although I'm still an overall happy person, depression seems to be creeping in
  • Brain fog - which didn't help with my ten-week course
  • Cold hands and feet (Brennan commented on "Jack Frost Nipping at My Nose" last night too)
  • Skin breakouts
  • Panic, agitation and anxiety
  • A sense of hopelessness and doubt
  • On and on the symptoms matched up with what Chris, Laura and Kelsey were discussing

After the webinar a strange thing happened. I decided that despite it not being a good time for us financially, I needed to tackle this chronic stress and fatigue immediately so it wouldn't cause long-term harm so I committed to going through the program (at my own pace). When I finally got into the office, I answered a phone call from one of the Mayacamas Ranch attendees who told me how inspired she was by what I was trying to do with The Healing Farm. As I've planned these retreats, but especially the Mayacamas Paleo Reset Retreat, I've heard from so many people around the country that this is something that is needed and wanted:

  •  A program that focusses on a paleo reset type diet in which one learns to reduce systemic inflammation, therefore reducing or even eliminating symptoms of chronic pain and illness
  • A program that is reasonably priced
  • and mostly a program that a features realistic non-intense exercise program (and after listening to Chris yesterday I was wishing I had a Tai Chi instructor coming)
  • In a beautiful place where one could go and unplug, rest, gently exercise and eat a meal plan that is non-toxic and inflammation-reducing 

This phone conversation completely validated what I've been trying to accomplish in the past year with The Healing Farm concept. I don't want to kill myself pursuing it, but if I can find the right people to build this dream with me, maybe I can make it a reality. A glimmer of hope set in again yesterday afternoon and I was again thinking of the impeccable timing of the webinar. I decided then that I still didn't have the energy to dig into final payment setup on The Healing Farm site, so went over our personal finances, sorted and filed piles of papers from my desk and then went back into my cozy home to spend the evening with my husband eating the nutritious food I cooked during the webinar, quiet time listening to music together and then a little "business time" on a Wednesday night (a little reference to "Flight of the Conchords"). 

I wish I could say I woke up feeling like a million bucks this morning, but I managed to get myself out of bed at a reasonable time, managed to do my workout and get to work at my regular hour and before tackling The Healing Farm Mayacamas Ranch booking stuff, I'm going to walk out onto the avenue in the warm sunshine to run some errands before leaving town tomorrow. I think it's going to take a while until I can get myself back to the "normal" Julie, but the smartest thing I think I can do for myself right now since the stress won't stop until end of April is sign up for the "Overcoming Fatigue" program and get some much needed guidance and support for my road to recovery. Here is the link in case you want to check it out:

 

Thank you to Laura and Kelsey (and Chris) for doing this important work!

 

 

 

Mayacamas Ranch Paleo Reset and Yoga Retreat - Schedule Announced!

I've been working for a few months trying to figure out what I would consider a perfect blend of relaxation, exercise and education for the Mayacamas Ranch Paleo Reset Reset Retreat coming up April 17th and think I'm getting pretty close so decided I would post the tentative schedule on the site.

Two comments I received in the evaluation forms from The Stemple Creek - Wellness and Yoga on the Ranch Retreat were:

"There was plenty of space and time to enjoy the place" 

and "Relaxed pace!"

These were two comments that really struck me because part of what I'm trying to achieve with these retreats - and eventually at The Healing Farm property is not only a sense that you are getting practical wellness solutions through educational talks and exercise programs, but that it's all at a nice pace and not too overwhelming. With our jam-packed lives and schedules and vacations that are too stuffed with activity because we only get one or two a year, I think a well-paced retreat with plenty of down-time should be appreciated and enjoyed. Seriously. If I can and if it's warm enough the week of the retreat, I want to tie two inner tubes to a tree in the pond for people just to float and look at the sky. Doesn't that sound heavenly? It's something Brennan and I try to do once a year and it's incredibly relaxing.

So, not only do I think the Mayacamas Ranch speaker and practitioner line-up is getting to be pretty stellar with the following all participating:

  • Keynote: Chris Kresser
  • Two nutritional lectures by Chris' nutritionist Kelsey Marksteiner (plus private consultations available)
  • Cooking Demo and Lecture by Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites/Practical Paleo
  • Free healthy back workshop by Faye Alexandrakis of The Gokhale Method
  • Beginner progressive yoga class every day with Patti Cocciolo of the Goodness blog 
  • Intermediate and advanced yoga class every day with Erin Cookston - instructor at Yogaworks
  • Private Yoga sessions also available by appointment

But also, there's plenty of relaxation time built-in too. So, grab a book (or four), a sunhat, your walking shoes and your bathing suit and get ready for a well-paced and relaxing retreat experience!  

Faye Alexandrakis of The Gokhale Method Joins The Mayacamas Ranch Reset Retreat to Offer a Free Healthy Back Workshop!

Before I became a patient of Chris Kresser's and about three years into my chronic back pain - after trying many, many things to heal my back short of surgery - a good friend who is an acupuncturist told me about Esther Gohale and the Gokhale Method for helping to relieve back pain.  She let me know that free workshops are offered throughout the country and that one was coming up in Berkeley. I wasn't able to attend so my friend was sweet enough to buy me Esther's book "8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back"

I love that Esther has devoted her life to helping people with chronic back pain and admire the fact that although she offers paid extensive workshops and private consultations, she is so passionate about sharing her ideas that she also offers the free workshops and the book. She's reaching out to as many people as she can to get her message of healing out. This is what The Healing Farm and The Healing Farm | Retreats aims to do. To bring practical and affordable wellness solutions to the attention of many!

So I was thrilled when the Bay Area's local Gokhale Method Practitioner, Faye Alexandrakis agreed to give a free evening workshop at the Mayacamas Ranch Paleo Reset Retreat! I have her set to be our evening "entertainment" on Monday night (see the full week's schedule here). If you have chronic back issues, the combination of listening to Chris Kresser speak, launching your paleo reset AND attending the Gokhale Method Healthy Back Workshop will be a pretty great bang for your buck at this retreat. Between all of the above, I went from being in chronic back pain 80-100% of the time to 0-15% of the time. Seriously, it's a life-changer!

THF - Cultivating Practical Wellness! 

Inspiration From a True Renaissance Woman - Leslie McGuirk

 From the blog of Leslie McGuirk

From the blog of Leslie McGuirk

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite places in the world is Rancho La Puerta in Tecate Mexico. I'm fortunate enough to go there about once a year to photograph for their marketing materials. A couple of years ago, one of their visiting speakers was Leslie McGuirk. Serendipity! I am so inspired by this woman and all of her talents!

When Leslie was at the ranch, my sister-in-law happened to be with me and was excited to see a talk by an astrologer on the speaker schedule. I was skeptical, but have always loved reading my horoscope once in a while and curiosity was peaked! We went to see her speak and I ended up going to the rest of her lectures that week and then ended up getting a private consultation to get my chart read! No matter what you believe, life will always be a true mystery and this was such a fascinating process! 

Leslie and I have kept in touch and when I announced the Mayacamas Ranch retreat with Chris Kresser, Leslie contacted me and was so excited about attending because she has followed Chris Kresser for a long time. I was exited to talk to Leslie about the possibility of speaking at the retreat, but alas, due to a family emergency she can't attend. She forwarded her latest websites so I could check out what she's been up to lately and as always, I was inspired by her. 

Not only is Leslie a world-famous astrologer, but she's also a well-known children's book illustrator and author! As I poured through her fascinating work online, I was particularly struck by both the blog post above which was in relation to a lecture she recently did at Rancho La Puerta, but also her Quirkyville cast of characters. I told her it reminded me of a long-ago experience when I was working at a tiny ad agency in San Francisco.  Our VERY quirky Creative Director exclaimed one day that our small cast of 11 at the agency were equivalent to "The Land of Misfit Toys". My dear friend who was on the account side, was a little insulted by this comment, but I laughed and said I was proud to be compared to the "misfit toys". I remembered that scene so well from "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", the classic Christmas show I watched as a kid. I remember thinking  way back then that I loved the quirkiness of the land of misfit toys and wouldn't mind being a part of it! So when I saw Leslie's Quirkyville characters, I decided I wanted that to be my next gift for my friend's kids.

It's ok to be different! Embrace it and don't be afraid to be quirky. It may just lead you to that place "where the magic happens"!

THF - Cultivating Practical Wellness!

A Day (or Three) in the Life of the Paleo Reset/Yoga Retreat at Mayacamas Ranch!

I thought it might be fun to post a day or two in the life of the Mayacamas Ranch Paleo Reset/Yoga Retreat which will feature the first week of Chris Kresser's recommended Paleo Reset featured in his book The Paleo Cure

I was fortunate enough to work with Chris directly to work through some pretty major long-term chronic conditions like migraine-like  sinus headaches, chronic back pain, chronic indigestion, fluctuating weight (still haven't quite resolved that one), restless legs, chronic fatigue, low libido, etc. What I attribute to my long-term success is not just my direct work with Chris, but a big part was the paleo-reset. I learned that I have slight allergies to gluten and dairy and have to be careful with my alcohol intake. If I go overboard on any of these things, my conditions start creeping back. 

Let me tell you the reset is not easy, but you CAN get through it (it's a month of your life for lifelong changes in your health and well-being), but  as I went through it I started dreaming of being in a lovely place, exercising every day with people who were also going through the reset AND having someone else do all the cooking! That's when I hatched the plan of the first week of the paleo reset as a retreat and am incredibly happy that Chris agreed to do a keynote at the beginning of the week along with Q&A and booking signing. Then we will have one of Chris' nutritionists, Kelsey Marksteiner with us all week to cheer us on along with two lectures and private consultations by appointment AND a special appearance by Diane Sanfilippo, popular paleo blogger of "Balanced Bites" and author of The New York Times best-selling book "Practical Paleo". What a line-up!

Adding in some wonderful gentle exercise every day (or more rigorous if you choose) and some really great relaxation and pool time, it will be an ideal setting to kick off your reset and life-long changes. Just be sure to get your wine tasting in the Friday and Saturday before the retreat begins and stay tuned for a bit of direction on how to prepare your body for the reset!

Here is a sample of what our days will look like:

Sunday, April 17

4:00 - 6:00        Check in

6:00 - 7:00         Dinner

7:00 - 8:30         Keynote and Q&A with Chris Kresser

8:30 - 9:00         Book signing

Monday, April 18

6:30  -  7:00      Coffee and light snack available

7:00-  7:45        Morning mini-hike

7:30   - 9:00      Breakfast buffet

9:00   - 9:50      Beginner’s progressive yoga

10:00 - 11:30      Intermediate/advanced yoga

12:00 - 12:30      Swim clinic

12:00 - 1:30        Lunch buffet

1:00   - 2:30        Nutrition lecture and Q&A

2:30   -   6:00     Pool time or optional hiking field trip to local state park

6:00   -   8:30     Dinner

8:00   -   9:00     Evening campfire

Treatment appointments and nutrition consultation available by appointment

Tuesday April 18th

6:30  -  7:00      Coffee and light snack available

7:00-  7:45        Morning mini-hike

7:30   - 9:00      Breakfast buffet

9:00   - 9:50      Beginner’s progressive yoga

10:00 - 11:30      Intermediate/advanced yoga

12:00 - 1:30       Lunch buffet

1:00   - 2:30      Cooking Demo and talk with Diane Sanfilippo author of "Practical Paleo"           

2:30   -   6:00    Pool time or optional field trip to local organic garden and farm

6:00   -   8:30    Dinner

8:00   -   9:00    Campfire

Treatment appointments and nutrition consultation available by appointment

 

Alicia Thomsen Joins the THF Menopause Retreat as our All-Level Yoga Teacher

Alicia Thomsen

Happy to announce that Alicia Thomsen, certified yoga instructor and chiropractor has joined The Healing Farm's Women's Health retreat! Alicia is a Marin resident and yoga instructor at Yogaworks and will be a terrific addition to our retreat.

From her bio:

"Dr. Alicia Thomsen combines over 17 years of experience as both a Chiropractor and Yoga teacher bringing a unique combination of skill, sensitivity and creativity to her work. Her practice specializes in natural solutions to reduce pain and inflammation by combining the principles of Chiropractic, Advanced Muscle Reconditioning (AMR) and Nutrition."

Alicia was excited to accept the challenge of coming up with a class that focusses on women in the 45-60 year-old range faced with the challenges of keeping up with healthy exercise during a major body transition. I can't wait to take her class and hope you will be there too!

Jessica Prentice of Three Stone Hearth - Cooking Demo at the Women's Health Retreat!

I couldn't be more thrilled to have signed on Jessica Prentice, author of "Full Moon Feast" and co-founder of Three Stone Hearth in Berkeley to do a cooking demo and talk at our Women's Health retreat! Jessica will join Marnie Reasor, CCH of Resplendent Healing and The Healing Farm | Retreats at our one-day "A Natural Approach to Menopause" retreat which will be held February 27th at the gorgeous and unique Headlands Center for the Arts.

Given the amazing business that Jessica co-founded focussing on providing ready-made bone broths and nourishing meals to the dedicated far and wide and her devotion to whole foods cooking evident in her passionate book, I for one, will be more than interested in hearing Jessica talk about bone broth as an important addition to our daily diet! Also how, if at all, drinking bone broth and making nourishing soups with it can help our body's transition through menopause. She will then go on to demonstrate making a nourishing soup with Three Stone Hearth chicken broth. Plus there will be a bonus surprise in your goodie bag at the end of the day!

Don't miss this unique day of talks, cooking demo, meals, yoga and a bit of fresh air in the Marin Headlands (weather permitting). Sign up today for what will be a really special retreat!

The Healing Farm - Cultivating Practical Wellness