Think integrative vs alternative health care solutions

No matter how you feel about veggies, you”re bound to eat more of them after hearing Kris Carr”s story. She started the Crazy Sexy wellness revolution after being diagnosed with inoperable Stage 4 cancer at age 31. She just turned 40… cancer is still there but she feels healthier than ever.



She”s an inspiration for extreme self care (slowing down, listening within, enjoying life) and taking your health and happiness into your own hands.

When asked by Forbes where we need to go with medicine in the U.S. she says,

“I had to educate myself not just about the disease, but about nutrition and lifestyle practices. What I don’t see today is adequate wellness education in medical schools. Many only offer a week of nutrition training in medical schools. Oftentimes it’s easier to teach, “Just take the drug.”

What does she hope people will take from hearing her story?

“Don’t get overwhelmed, get inspired. Don’t feel like you have to change everything right away, take responsibility for one thing and start there. Slow and steady definitely wins the race when it comes to building a regular self-care plan. Also, think of your plan more like a practice. It grows and changes overtime, just like you girls game for girls for download do.”

She also says,

“health and happiness are our birthrights but they don’t just happen. Learning to take care of yourself and teaching others to do the same is a revolutionary act.”

I know that the more I listen to my body, the better I feel, and the better my life has become. My experience and stories like Kris”s inspired me to become a holistic health and lifestyle counselor. I”m learning about all of the dietary theories, so I can help people make sense of confusing, contradictory info and find the food and lifestyle that works best for them.

Sometimes all that”s needed is having someone to talk to, someone to help create a roadmap that leads to your best, healthiest, most vibrant self.

Email me at  if you”d like a free one-hour consultation and visit my health counseling web site at for more about my approach. And, if you missed Kris”s appearance on Oprah”s Soul Series last week, catch it here.

2 healthy ingredients you won't find at the Farmer's Market

What I learned this week in Nutrition School...

that you won’t find two of the most life-nourishing ingredients in any grocery store or farmer’s market. Nope, you’re going to have go within for these – relationships and gratitude. Something shifts in you when you say thank you and genuinely appreciate others. It softens you, opening you up for more love, better quality relationships, which fill you up with contentment… almost as satisfying as chocolate.

So, in the spirit of relationships & gratitude, I’m thanking a few people on my mind.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and that you”ll send your own thank-you”s this weekend.

@MarniZarr, dreamdaymusings blogger, long-time friend, and soon to be shop-owner (stay tuned.)  Marni is a master of finding dreamy places & things to do – a bistro, a boutique, a blogger, a band… things I”d never find on my own. She even got my groove back with Zumba.  I’m just happy to be part of her dreamy world. Here’s her “double-duty” recap of our last visit.


 @JennBrouwer, interior designer, blogger, a “fairly” new friend (met her at Tobi Fairley”s Blog Camp this year). I love a good “I found my passion and followed it” story so I wrote this post for Design Everyday’s blog about her journey from nurse to interior designer. And don”t miss her blog. It”s filled with truly helpful tips on everything from home design, menu planning for a family, appreciating life and balancing it all.


Bev White, social media marketer and friend since high school. Bev left the corporate world to set up her own shop, marketing for business she”s truly passionate about. One, is Helping Hands for Single Moms, a non-profit helping single moms stay in school by removing the day-to-day obstacles that can get in the way of finishing. Things like auto & home repairs, medical care… they even get their hair done!  To top that off, she was going to a bridal shower the next day where the bride asked her guests to meet her at a women’s homeless shelter to play with the children there.  Turns out, most of the online casino canada women were married. Their husbands work nights and drop them off at the shelter so they are safe and off the streets.  How sweet, determined and admirable is that?


Lilly of @LillysTable, inspired seasonal meal planner and Food Day organizer.  Lilly has been coordinating Tucson’s Food Day event with Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance . Next Sunday, they’ll host a progressive dinner, one where everyone can walk or bike their way to three locations for appetizers, entree and dessert made with locally grown, culturally rich ingredients. I love Lilly”s blog and process for providing weekly menus. If I had children, I”d appreciate her insight on picky eaters. I”m sure these tips will come in handy for my future clients! Get to know her by joining her free 30 day challenge, starting November 1st.

Finally, I”ve never met Lisa of With Style & Grace or Heidi of 101 Cookbooks but they”ve been spending a lot of time in my kitchen. Lisa introduced me to sweet potatoes with this. I”ve since tossed them in a Lilly-inspired salad, baked them in enchiladas  and combined them with tofu in Heidi’s delicious miso-curry sauce (I used the recipe she has in her latest book, Super Natural Everyday. It calls for 1 T red curry paste instead of harissa.

And thank you, Google & Wikipedia, I didn’t know what harissa was!

Take care,


Back to basics… in the bathtub

When I’m feeling off, as I was recently, I like talking with someone who’s in tune with being in tune with your body. So, I booked an off-the-mat appointment with my yoga teacher who is also an ayurvedic counselor.

Ayurveda is the ancient science of living… it goes hand in hand with yoga… specifically focused on getting your digestion and overall nature or way of being in balance.  What’s interesting is that the foundation of ayurveda is routine. And, I’ve been reading a lot about routine in my Nutrition (health counseling) School studies.

Our bodies crave balance and routine. The busier we are, the more downtime and structure we need…which sounds crazy and impossible…

But, the next time you’re feeling run-down, about to catch a cold, reaching for sugar or not sleeping, take that for what it is – your body telling you it’s trying its hardest to power-through everything you need it to do, it just needs a moment to catch it’s breath.

As I rambled to my teacher about feeling scattered and craving sugar, she gently suggested an oil massage and bath before bed every night.  hhhmmm…. I thought she might want to delve a little deeper into my diet. Try that, she said, and see how you feel.

I know it sounds simple… Mom’s been telling me that for years and she has no idea what ayurveda is.

For whatever reason, I was ready to hear the bath message this time. I tried it and felt better the next day. I’ve started shutting the computer down a little earlier to make time for my new evening ritual…  which of course makes me sleep better, which leaves me rested, with more energy, clarity and vitality for my day.

If a bath doesn’t work for you, try a hot towel scrub (I like this in the mornings before yoga.) Vigorously scrub your body from head to toe with a warm washcloth. Pay special attention to the tense areas like your neck, shoulders and joints. Massage them in a circular motion. This removes toxins, allows your skin to breathe, and more importantly, puts you in tune with where you feel tension.

These simple acts show your body you care and that you value it enough to do what it needs to feel better.

Walking, napping, sitting, writing, taking time to go grocery shopping are also routines and rituals that can bring us back into balance.

What works for you?

p.s.: photos are via Jennifer Brouwer Design ‘s article on “Bathroom Bliss” (beautiful ideas and practical tips!)

p.s.s.:  For more about the program  visit my web site at (it’s a work in progress… ). And, if you’d like to help me practice my coaching skills, I’d love to give you a free one-hour consultation where we talk about your health goals and what might be preventing you from being your best self. Just leave a note below with your email or send me one at

Becoming a health counselor… what I’m learning

I’m not waiting to share what I’m learning in health counselor school (@nutritionschool)  until I’m certified next June. I’m going to share a bit with you here each week…  Here are just a few of the insights that have resonated with me and some background on why I’ve chosen to get my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN):

  • With supermarkets the size of football fields with more than 45,000 items, we’ve lost our inner “knowing what to eat.”
  • The diet that makes one thrive, might be terrible for another. For real answers, we need to get our inner knowing back.
  • Health and happiness begin with slowing down to enjoy every moment of your life.
  • Healthiness isn’t about self-discipline or willpower. It’s about finding what feeds you, nourishes you and what makes your life extraordinary.
  • Happy relationships, fulfilling career, exercise routine, spiritual practice can be more important to your health than a healthy diet.
  • As people become healthier, they become empowered to pursue the life of their dreams – the life they came here to live.
  • We spend millions on medication and virtually nothing on prevention, education and holistic health.
  • Our society desperately needs people who can help others deeply nourish their health and inner beauty.

There are all kinds of dynamics at play making nutrition incredibly confusing (marketing, politics, supply, demand, etc).  IIN’s 12-month program gathers the best minds in health, medicine, mindset, cooking, food politics and more to help us understand over 100 dietary theories.

With all of this confusion, the need for guidance in figuring out what is right for you, especially someone who is not pushing a specific plan or agenda, is growing.

Doctors aren’t necessarily trained in “holistic health, wellness and happiness” and while psychologists can delve into your past, helping you understand why you do what you do, they might be just as confused about nutrition as you are.

That said, the medical community is encouraging the use of health counselors as a way to navigate the nonsense.  Check out this CNN interview with Dr. Oz where he says a new tier of health care –  health coaches – people who are trained to help us do the right thing, could play a substantial role in reducing our country’s health care costs.

The idea of working with a health coach is starting to spread with well-known bloggers announcing their quest for help from wellness, life, coaches, counselors  (just this week – Pamela Sim from Escape from Cubicle Nation and Kelley Moore from For the Love of Design.)

While there are all kinds of health coaches with various specialties and philosophies, the best one is the one that works for you. The premise of IIN’s program is that there isn’t one diet that’s right for everyone. The only one that knows what diet will work for you, is you… their health counselors can help you listen to your body, find the food and lifestyle that works for you and the time to take better care of yourself.

When you’re able to do that, your relationships, career, energy, (and your diet) fall into place.  That vibrant glow is certainly not going to happen just because you’re eating veggies, not eating meat, or only eating meat, or having no carbs or fat!  It goes deeper than that.

This holistic philosophy is why I chose to get my certification from IIN.  I know this approach works. Over the years, my yoga practice and teachers have taught me how to listen to my body, trust my intuition, and have faith in uncertainty. My diet has come along, mainly because the more sensitive I’ve become to my body, the more discomfort I find in things that aren’t working for me –

Starbucks and M&M’s do not make Denese her best self!

Even though I know that and do yoga, I still struggle with a consistently healthy diet. I don’t need to go on “a diet” though, I need to slow down and take time each week to plan my meals so that I have the foods that feel good to me readily available and easy to prepare. When I do that, I have more energy and I sleep better. And when I sleep better, I rock.

I’m looking forward to sharing tools that can help you become more grounded and confident so you can start living the life you’ve always wanted.

For more about the program  visit my web site at (it’s a work on progress… ). And, if you’d like to help me practice my coaching skills, I’d love to give you a free one-hour consultation where we talk about your health goals and what might be preventing you from being your best self. Just leave a note below with your email or send me one at

Take care and have a great weekend,



Should I stay or should I go?

photo via pinterest from

This question was on my mind last week.  After a year of traveling, living in limbo and immersing myself in new projects, I had made up my mind to slow down and stay put for awhile.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s all been good, but, even too much good-ness can leave you scattered, tired and craving stability.

As soon as I made up my mind, two emails appeared in my inbox (funny how this happens):

  • Fall conference announcement from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York, in September (my health counselor school, where all kinds of doctors and speakers would be presenting all kinds of topics I’m passionate about…)
  • Marie Forleo’s Rich, Happy & Hot event at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Center in New York in October. (I was more interested in seeing Donna Karan’s place and speakers like Kris Carr from Crazy Sexy Life and Russell Simmons, author of Super Rich, than the rich, happy & hot thing….)

Normally, I’d pick one, book the flight and go.  I might even find a way to squeeze in both. And I would love them. I’d come home inspired with lots of new friends and a notebook filled with ideas and to do lists.

But, after a few days of wallowing in wishy-washy-ness, I decided to honor my craving for slowing down and pass on both. I have really been feeling off. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t gotten back into the routine of making real food at home, or taking my walks or sitting for 20 minutes… all things that are essential for being my best self. These things ground me…and I don’t make good choices when I’m not grounded.

I haven’t gained weight, but I feel heavy.  I’m not sleeping well so I barely make it to my 6 am yoga class.  When I do get there (late), my practice is off, I’m so tight and can’t hold a balancing posture for the life of me.

The more I learn about how we make healthy choices (not just about food, but how we live our life) the more I realize the power of listening within –  and it is usually telling us to slow down in some way, shape or form.

Once the decision was made, I took a walk, booked a grounding ayurvedic treatment with my yoga teacher and started planning the meals I’ll make at home in the next few days.  I already feel better. (And IIN announced a March conference in Long Beach, CA… a much easier trip. Funny how this happens.)

What is your body craving right now? 

So much good-ness

Ever have so much good-ness going on that you can’t quite absorb it? I’ve been so overwhelmingly, every minute booked type of busy lately that I’m having a hard time staying present for each thing.  I realize that each “good thing” has happened through relationships that have evolved, over time.

I’m especially thankful for my online relationships. The process of blogging and participating in social media has helped me uncover my voice and given me the confidence to follow my heart. I’m trying to slow down and appreciate change. I don’t want to miss a single moment.

I thought I’d take today to fill you in… here are a few things going on…

Design Everyday. I’ve been hard at work blogging for Design Everyday, a blog affiliated with LightHome, an Australian green home design magazine that launched earlier this month. I’m having so much fun interviewing Aussie designers, reviewing thoughtfully designed products and encouraging people to design for the way you live, with things you love. I even squeezed in a trip down under to do some digging myself. This opportunity came my way via Amanda Falconer, the publisher of LightHome and founder of the Sydney Small Business Centre. We go way back, having worked together at James Hardie, giving Australian architects tours across America.

Site re-design. I’m a big fan of Reese Spykerman (she’s the creative genius behind Chris Guillebeau’s Art of Non-Conformity site).  When she ran a site review special in June, I jumped on it.  Reese’s process gently suggested the look of my site didn’t reflect my voice. She gave me a lot to think about, which prepared me to bring in designer, Kaiko Kassab of Izumi Studios to work her magic. We’re not quite done yet, but I think it’s evolving nicely.

Back to school. While I love marketing, I’ve learned that I really love encouraging people to be their best self. I’m about three weeks into a year-long program to become a certified health and lifestyle counselor through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It’s the only school that approaches “nutrition” holistically, with food just one small part of a happy, healthy life. I can’t wait to really dig in and learn more ways of helping people live their best life.

Guest posting. On top of all of this designer, Tobi Fairley asked me to guest post for her “All-American” series this weekend!  How much good-ness can a girl take??? I’ll be sure to share it. Tom Brady is involved.

Mom’s birthday. As if that wasn’t enough –  today is my Mom’s birthday!  We’re celebrating her 65th, Princess-style. I want her to feel as special as she’s made her children feel every day of our lives. She doesn’t have near enough Princess moments. To ensure she can have one whenever she wants, I gave her a Helen Ficalora crown charm. I think she liked it 🙂  Love it, love Helen and especially love my Mom.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

A crown for the Princess (Helen Ficalora style)

Alaska bound. And, I’m taking my first cruise tomorrow… to Alaska! I’ve packed every variation of Ugg, knitting and reading material you can imagine. We’ll see what I actually end up doing. More than anything, I’m looking forward to enjoying the beautiful scenery and being chilly!  It’s 110 in Tucson. Alaska is going to feel sooooo good.

I’m looking forward to sharing a lot more goodness with you, goodness that comes, thanks to you. Thank you for stopping by.

Jackie Vecchio on “The power of practice”

I’m starting the week by sharing some thoughtful content from one of my favorite bloggers. В The hardest part of blogging (especially when you”re also running a business) is figuring out what story you”re going to tell, how to tell it in your own unique voice and hopefully in a way that semi-relates back to your business.

Sometimes we just don”t realize the potential our own life experience has to touch the lives of readers (or, potential clients). Here”s one that inspired me to dig a little deeper… I hope it encourages you to do the same.

Jackie VecchioI found Jackie Vecchio”s article about The Power of Practice as a guest post on Kris Carr”s В Jackie recently left the cubicle to launch her own health coach business where she helps others uncover what”s stopping them from living their best life.

“By embracing the idea of practice, your life transforms. Nothing can be taken tooВ seriously because you’re just practicing! В You allow yourself to grow organicallyВ because you move out of your own way.”
Jackie is clearly “practicing” what she”s preaching. I”m sure she”s faced all kinds of obstacles to start her own business. Her idea of letting go of the idea that “practice makes perfect” makes turning over a new leaf or writing from the heart a little less overwhelming.
For more on Jackie”s story of how she turned a lifetime love/hate relationship with food into a passion for integrated nutrition and coaching, visit her web site at, and follow her on Twitter @jackievecchio1.
In your life, what could benefit from more light-hearted practice?


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