Hormonal Harmony

3 Simple Ways to Stay Young

The old saying “you’re only as old as you feel” is not only scientifically backed, but recent research now reveals that the sentiment can actually help you live longer. Researchers first began to validate the health benefits having a “youthful” attitude several years ago in a study published the Journal of the American Medical Association. In the study, scientists found older people with positive views on aging were 44 percent more likely to recover fully after severe disability than those with negative views on aging. In more recent times, research has found that older people who felt three or more years younger than their actual (chronological) age had a lower death rate compared with those who felt their age or those who felt more than one year older than their actual age.

If you don’t naturally feel “peppy” or young, don’t worry. With just a little practice and some good habits you can begin to think and even feel younger. Start with these three simple steps:

Stay in the present. Thinking too much about the past and your youth, or about getting old in the future may only bring on feelings of depression. Try your best to bring your attention to the present moment.

Don’t give up on your passions. Sure, you may not be able to play basketball like you used to or water ski like you could when you were young, but that doesn’t mean those hobbies have to go out the window with age. It just means they likely have to be modified—you may still be able to shoot hoops, just not play intense games, and maybe you can’t ski anymore, but you can still enjoy the water by swimming.

Think outside of yourself. When you focus solely on yourself, your needs, pleasure or pain, you’re likely to experience more difficulty with the aging process. Focus on something larger than yourself, whether that’s connecting with people close to you or helping improve the lives of others.

Nutrition & Supplements

Gambling with Soy?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave (because you’ve taken the Paleo lifestyle literally) for the past 20 years, you’ve probably heard the latest on soy. It’s a “health” food that helps to protect women’s heart, bones, breast, plus reduces night sweats and hot flashes. Don’t believe the hype. Most of the research surrounding the benefits of soy for midlife women still warrants more investigation, as this research is in question now. What we know for sure is that all of the health benefits have been greatly exaggerated by the soy industry. So if it’s not good for us, just how deleterious is it? Here are a few key problems with soy:

  • Disrupts thyroid function. Soy contains goitrogens which impairs and depresses thyroid function, which makes it almost impossible to lose body fat.
  • Modern soy is overly processed. Most modern soy foods are highly processed. Typically, the more processed a food, the more it’s void of vital nutrients. Processed soy also contains “antinutrients”, like phytates, which block the absorption of minerals, particularly magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium.
  • It’s genetically engineered. Soy is one of the United States’ biggest cash crops. Why? Because large companies figured out how to genetically modify it to be resistant to poisonous herbicides. Farmers plant a ton of it and spray it down. Then it gets processed into animal feed or for human consumption. It is estimated that 90% of today’s soy crops are genetically modified.
  • Disrupts hormonal balance. The soy plant contains what’s known as phytoestrogens – which mimics estrogen, fooling our cells. For women, depending on how much you eat, soy can affect ovulation, cause weight gain and irritate the digestive tract. Although, phytoestrogens are being touted as beneficial for midlife women (by reducing night sweats, hot flashes), the evidence is not clear on whether soy is a positive or negative for women.

Now that you’ve heard some of the most well documented health concerns surrounding soy, it’s time for you to decided whether you can chance incorporating soy into your diet (or do more research for yourself). If you insist on soy, these are my top soy tips. On the occasion (please not daily), choose small amounts of organic, fermented soy (e.g. tempeh or miso). In addition, ask your OBGYN/functional medicine practitioner to order a full female hormone and thyroid panel (annually) for you.

Stay Smart, Strong and Sexy – XXX- Amber


The Effects Hormones Have on Mood

When I turned 38 years old (now 41), I began experiencing what experts believe to be the earliest sign of peri-menopause: hormone related mood swings and anxiety. Every month I would erupt and project snide jags toward my loving, patient, all enduring husband, who suffers the wrath of my peri-menopausal storms. Thankfully, he has a strong understanding of human biochemistry, physiology, and temporally insane women! Oh, and don’t worry about him, he recognizes and knows how to protect himself now from my wild emotional winds and monthly flash floods (no pun intended) of tears. Unfortunately, I still get caught off guard and end up experiencing unexplainable bouts of weeping, nervous tension, moderate personality changes, irrational thoughts, and even episodic depression. At this point, I know to turn to my “mood – cycle” calendar. There I see, exactly why I feel so distant from my true self. It may seem odd to write this down, but I track it so I do not have to be so surprised, or in the dark at what’s going on. It also allows me to be more gentle and self-forgiving. My mood swings typically go wild around day 18-21 of my cycle. This is when I’m in the heat of it. My estrogen levels are dropping, and I begin to brace for the hormone roller coaster ahead which includes: cravings, low energy, less patience and empathy towards others, and less motivation and interest in life. With all of these irrational thoughts and emotions happening at once, another thing that I do is ensure my self-care rituals are in play. Some of these are: balanced nutrition, supplemental support, exercise, daily walks, breathing and meditation, sleep, hydration, and stress management. Eventually the storm passes, I feel instant relief as my hormones reset, and my mood stabilizes for another several weeks.

If you are a female over 35, and regardless of whether you are in peri-menopause or full-blown menopause, you have likely experienced a similar pendulum of moderate-to-severe mood swings and related symptoms. One study reports that peri-menopausal women who have no history of prior mood disorders are twice as likely to experience mood disorder symptoms as women who are premenstrual (Cohen & Soares et al., 2006). Fortunately for us, there are effective ways to tactically balance our hormones to better manage our mood. But before we go any further into the ways we can rebalance our brain, let’s talk about hormonal mood swings and what causes them to get worse as we age.

What Peri-menopausal and Menopausal Mood Swings Feel Like: 

During our peri-menopausal transition, our levels of estrogen and progesterone (the ovarian sex hormones) decline with each menstrual cycle. However, neither of them decline in a smooth, orderly fashion. Instead, it’s a herky-jerky roller coaster ride. You can actually have dramatic hormone surges (e.g., very high levels of estrogen) followed by “crashes” which precipitate anxiety and feelings of panic. These unusually intense premenstrual (PMS) mood swings are a woman’s first indicator that peri-menopause is underway. If you have already reached menopause, think back to what your mood swings and emotions were like before, and how it’s changed overtime.

Mood swings associated with hormonal changes can range from feelings of rage to intense moodiness, anxiety, nervousness, despair, panic attacks, burst of anger, loss of self-confidence, vulnerability, irritability, and my go to – crying for no reason. Research even suggests that the risk of depression doubles when women enter peri-menopause; and if you have suffered from PMS or postpartum depression, you may be even more prone to symptoms often associated with depression (Chohen & Soares et al., 2006).

Do any of these menopausal mood swing symptoms sound familiar to you? If you’re struggling with any of these symptoms, you are almost certainly struggling with brain chemical and hormonal imbalances. These types of mood fluctuations are incredibly common for women during peri-menopause and beyond. The good news is that being aware of these symptoms can help you develop a supportive action plan and a well-rounded perspective on mood swings.

The Effects Hormones Have on Your Mood:

Hormones are chemical messengers which regulate, stimulate, and control almost every biological function in the body. They carry instructions to the cells, telling them how to behave, and thus directly impacting your metabolism, immune function, and brain chemistry. Hormones are made by tissue structures, called glands. These glands, include the thyroid, pituitary, adrenal, ovaries and testes, and they release their various hormones as needed.

Hormonesspecifically estrogen and progesterone) also act as necessary co-factors in synthesizing and in balancing your neurotransmitters (i.e., chemical messengers that the brain uses to communicate along neurons and neural pathways)(Foster et al., 2013). Your levels (and balance) of hormones strongly influence neurotransmitter function. Both estrogen and progesterone are required to work together to balance your mood at the synapses (i.e., the gaps beyond neural connections that contain receptor sites on the neurons) in the brain. The major chemical players in the brain for women include serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and GABA. All of these neurotransmitters have roles in maintaining your focus, motivation, sleep, and sense well-being. When neurotransmitters get out of balance (as is the case with hormonal fluctuations) the body can not maintain proper levels of these key pleasure enhancers in the your brain. Also, neurotransmitter imbalances can trigger or exacerbate hormonal imbalances (Soares, 2004; 2010). In response to fluctuating levels, you may experience moderate to severe symptoms, such as drops in cognitive function, mood, sleep quality, libido, and energy.


Estrogen and Your Mood

Estrogen is your “feminizing” hormone. It is the sex hormone that gives you shapely, female characteristics. For instance, when levels are highest (as when you are young) you tend not to struggle with increasing fat gain, but may have a healthy amount of body curve around the hips and thighs. When estrogen levels decline in midlife, you begin to lose that hourglass shape, and gain excess weight around your abdomen.

Estrogen also helps maintain and stimulates many of your brain mood sites (at the synapses of the neurons), leading to the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin (your natural Prozac) as well as dopamine (your natural pleasure enhancer), GABA (your natural chill-pill), and endorphins (your natural painkillers).

When estrogen levels drop too low during PMS and the peri-menopause transition, we may experience drastic reductions our supply of serotonin in the brain (Kugaya et al., 2003; Soares, 2010). These low serotonin levels are the primary cause of panic attacks, depression and insomnia for women (Steiner et al., 2003; Kugaya et al., 2003).

Just as low estrogen can cause hormonal havoc and crazy mood swings, levels that are too high (a.k.a., estrogen dominance) do as well. Estrogen dominance is typically experienced by women entering or during peri-menopause, which occurs between the ages of 35-50. I like to call this the peri-menopausal-estrogen roller coaster. This is when our body is making twice the amount of estrogen as it did in our 20’s, but with lower levels of progesterone (which is also on the decline with each cycle) being produced. Our ovaries are basically trying to whip themselves into action in order to do the job they are supposed to do during our fertile years, until they finally quit trying. This high estrogen-to-progesterone imbalance causes a ton of grief for peri- and menopausal women.

Progesterone and Your Mood

Progesterone is your key reproductive hormone. It is vital in maintaining healthy breast tissue, bones, and brain. What is most interesting about progesterone and the brain is that it has been suggested that concentrations are 20 times higher in the brain vs. blood. This means that if progesterone production is insufficient, then you will likely experience more psychological imbalances and disruptive symptoms. Typically, female levels of progesterone decline around age 40, at the beginning of peri-menopause. Interestingly, however, at the same time that progesterone is in decline, the most current research is showing that estrogen swings wildly out of control (Steiner, et al., 2003). Both estrogen and progesterone have to be present in appropriate apposing ratios. Estrogen is excitatory in the brain, whereas the effect of progesterone is calming. You do not want this delicate balance disrupted and certainly not for long. You want enough progesterone on board to balance out the effects of estrogen. If estrogen is dominant, and progesterone is insufficient, then you will begin to experience the symptoms of low progesterone. Which goes something like this: anxiety, depression, PMS, PMS headaches, trouble sleeping, bone loss, fiber cystic breasts, and several other conditions.

Adequate amounts of progesterone is needed to increase your brain’s levels of GABA and the sensitivity of the GABA receptors in the brain (Barth, et al., 2015). GABA is a neurotransmitter with a similar effect as Valium, allowing you to feel calm. If progesterone levels do not rise high enough, you might feel restless, sleepless and tense. Low levels of both GABA and progesterone have also been linked to influencing a variety of anxiety disorders in females (Barth, et al., 2015). Progesterone not only works on GABA receptors, but it also works on dopamine receptors in the brain.

Dopamine is the pleasurable reward neurotransmitter. It is involved in movement, sleep, learning, and attention. If progesterone is low, your dopamine levels also will be low (Barth, et al., 2015). What is fascinating about this is that dopamine is needed for healthy frontal lobe function. The frontal lobe accounts for the largest portion of the brain’s volume, approximately 35-40% (Hofman, 2014). Humans have the largest frontal lobe of any mammal on the planet (Hofman, 2014). It allows us to be a dominant species, if you will. It controls the executive and personality parts of the brain. If you want to have a healthy quality of life, then you will want this region of your brain functioning optimally. Symptoms of poor frontal lobe function includes: anxiety, depression, aggression, poor impulse control and ability to plan, in addition to the lack of motivation.

In summary, balanced levels of progesterone allows you to feel a sense of calm with sharpened attention. It helps with insomnia and encourages feelings of peace. As you have learned here, an imbalance of either of estrogen or progesterone can greatly effect your sense of peace during this transformational time.

The First Step to Rebalance Your Mood and Hormones: 

The number one thing you can do to reduce mood swings during peri-menopause and menopause is to reduce stress. I cannot “stress” this enough! You cannot be symptom free until you begin this critical self-care practice. Here is the reason why. During peri-menopause and menopause your adrenal glands have several critical roles:

  1. They (as they do when you are younger) handle stress by producing and releasing cortisol (“the stress hormone”), and;
  2. In midlife, they gradually become the major source of the sex hormones (e.g., estrogen, progesterone DHEA, and testosterone) circulating throughout the body in women (Herrera, 2015).

If your adrenal glands are on high alert (not able to rest) and pumping out tons of cortisol, they wont be able to produce adequate levels of these other mood-balancing hormones. This creates a serious hormonal imbalance and leads to all types of uncomfortable symptoms. Another common problem is when cortisol is chronically high and effects an area of the brain called the limbic system, which makes us act more self-involved, survival-based, and less connected to the needs of others (Gold and Chrousos, 2002). You will experience less calm and sleep, and frankly, some of us become a bit jerky too when driven by cortisol.

The bottom line is that unmanaged stress is a huge issue for women, and it is closely related to our mood and hormonal problems. Please pay attention to your stress levels and learn to manage it daily. When you do this you give your adrenal glands a chance to rest and rejuvenate and produce more progesterone for you. This becomes more and more important the further into peri-menopause you go because the ovaries are no longer the primary producers of sex hormones.

Here are some suggestions to reduce and manage stress levels. Try forming a mediation or breathing practice. Work on quieting the mind and breathing deeply, slowly, especially during the exhale. Breathing in through the nose and into the chest and ribcage. Fill and expand them both upwardly and horizontally; completely saturating them with fresh oxygen. Also, step away from chaos and drama. Get it out of your life-space as much as possible! 

Some Other Things To Improve Your Mood – Hormone Balance…

  • Change your diet. Eat a variety (and a lot) of quality, organic plant foods daily. Focus on mostly colorful and seasonal, low-starch vegetables, both cooked and raw if your digestive system can handle the fiber. Be sure to eat healthy fats and lean proteins at least 2x a day. Healthy fats include organic, cold-pressed olive oils, coconut oils, and other nut oils. I like adding a tablespoon of high quality coconut oil into my protein shake in the mornings. It keeps my brain satiated for hours and provides me with healthy fats (i.e., medium chain fatty acids) which my nervous system needs to survive. Incorporate lean (and some fattier meats-only if hormone and antibiotic free, and fed a grass or natural diet, not a grain/corn fed diet) animal proteins, such as bison, chicken or fish/shellfish, to help support your brain’s neurotransmitter production and hormone synthesis. Always choose the highest quality meats, eggs, and dairy (as long as you do not have an egg or dairy protein intolerance issue) you can afford. It is worth the money to buy better food, even though you pay more now, it will save you money on your health later. Eat no more than 3 average sized meals throughout the day (around every 4 hours), especially when you are less active. This stabilizes blood sugars between meals and helps with brain fueling and function.

-Make sleep an important part of each day. Good sleep hygiene is super             important to regulating your mood and hormones during the “change in life”.             Sleeping is analogous to washing your brain with shampoo each night.  Adequate sleep restores the brain by flushing out toxins that build up during waking hours (Kuhn, et al., 2016). Aim for 7-8 hours a night in a cool, completely dark room. This means no sleep-disturbing blue light alarm clocks, electronics or TV’s on while in bed. Make your bedroom a place for sleep and sex only.

– Exercise regularly. Exercise is an perfect way to change your body, and BRAIN. When you engage in moderate-to-intense exercise you release endorphins which triggers a positive response in the brain, that makes you feel better.

Don’t go it alone. Sometimes we need to seek out others to help us get through the tough times. Bonding with other women (or anyone for that matter) with whom you are close to and care for can help increase calming-hormones like progesterone and oxytocin (a.k.a., “our love hormone”). To increase oxytocin, hug and bond with good friends or your partner more. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it positively influences your mood.

When to Seek Help

If you are experiencing severe mood swings and getting little relief from a nutrition and lifestyle balancing program, or you have trouble coping with life and are chronically stressed, not sleeping, and/or experience depression for more than 2 weeks, then you may want to seek out a professional to help get you through this time. You will want to find a functional medicine practitioner in your area. A good functional practitioner can help you determine whether you are experiencing cognition problems from insufficient production of neurotransmitters, or if your cognitive problems are a result of your neurotransmitters not working as well as they should because of insufficient hormone levels or imbalances. They can conduct non-invasive tests in order to determine baseline neurotransmitter and hormone levels. These tests allow them to develop a treatment plan to correct the imbalance which is disrupting your body’s hormone regulation. Why a functional medicine practitioner? In my experience, most traditionally trained medical doctors are not willing to take the time (or simply don’t have the time) with you to investigate the cause, nor are they able to chase the “cause” pathways. It is really the job of a functional medicine practitioner to look at all factors in determining where you are deficient, where the problem is originating, and how balance can be restored. An alternative treatment used by many functional practitioners is natural, bio-identical hormone therapy. For some women, a combination of natural hormone therapy, herbal supplements, and specific amino acids may be necessary to ease emotions by boosting neurotransmitters that help regulate moods.


The best solution to address the causes of the uncomfortable peri-menopausal mood swings should always begin with a holistic approach that considers these factors: diet, lifestyle changes, nutritional supplement needs, a basic level of detoxification, balancing the body’s minerals, and reducing stress. In most cases, the most dangerous and disturbing mood-related peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms are remedied with a natural, balancing approach.

For information and help on how to balancing hormones in peri-/menopause, and living younger longer: visit:

  1. Hofman, M., Evolution of the human brain: when bigger is better. Front Neuroanat. 2014; 8:15.
  1. Kuhn, M., Wolf, E. et. al., Sleep recalibrates homeostatic and associative synaptic plasticity in the human cortex. Nature Communications (7)2016. Article no. 12455.
  1. Soares C.N., Perimenopause-related mood disturbance: an update on risk factors and novel treatment strategies available. American Psychiatric Publishing; 2004; 51-61.

4. Steiner M., Dunn E., Born L., Hormones and mood: from menarche to menopause and    beyond. J Affect Disord. 2003; 74(1):67-83.

  5. Kugaya A., Epperson C.N., et al., Increase in prefrontal cortex serotonin 2A receptors     following estrogen treatment in postmenopausal women. Am J Psychiatry. 2003;     160(8)1522-4.

  6. Cohen L.S., Soares C.N., Risk for new onset of depression during the menopausal    transition: The Harvard study of moods and cycles. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006; 63:385–  90.

7. Gordon J.L., Girdler S.S., et. al., Ovarian hormone fluctuation, neurosteroids, and HPA    axis dysregulation in perimenopausal depression: a novel heuristic model. Am J      Psychiatry. 2015;172(3):227-36. Review.

8. Barth, C., Villringer, A., Sacher, J., Sex hormones affect neurotransmitters and shape the adult female brain during hormonal transition periods.Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2015; 9:37.

9. Soares, C.N., Can depression be a menopause-associated risk? BMC Med. 2010; 8:79.

10. Gold P.W., Chrousos G.P., Organization of the stress system and its dysregulation in melancholic and atypical depression: high vs low CRH/NE states.Mol Psychiatry. 2002; 7:254–275.

11. Herrera, A.Y., Mather M., Actions and interactions of estradiol and glucocorticoids in cognition and the brain: Implications for aging women. Neurosci Biobehav. Rev. 2015; 55: 36–52.


Why Diet’s Don’t Work … Especially After 40!

Pervasive conventional one-size-fits-all diets have tempted us women at least once in our lifetimes. You know the drill: calorie-restricted weight-loss approaches that make us feel like ATM machines that dispense with our unique, exquisitely intricate systems. These types of quick-fixes inevitably delude us, leading us to believe in the calories-in-calories-out weight loss method. Unfortunately, this grossly over-simplified model has appealed to and persuaded millions of us to try and buy into it. All too often, these diets have failed, and served no other purpose than to waste our precious time and money, and in the long-term, wreak havoc on our metabolisms. Poor eating habits also significantly contribute to the decline in restorative sleep, physical and emotional health, and our relationship with food.

The most devastating aspect of conventional diet stories and studies is that, in truth, two-thirds of dieters soon regain more weight than they ever lose (Blum, et al), and the more weight they initially lose, the greater their rebound weight (Braverman, et al). Any other model with such low success rates would be discounted immediately. As a result, we are disadvantaged, heavier, and more emotionally defeated. Unfortunately, the same women who fail time and again to lose weight also attempt an identical diet later on down the line, and become entangled in the “yo-yo effect” (Dulloo, et al).

Asking ourselves a couple of important questions will provide clarity:

(1)Why is it so much harder to lose weight after age 40 than when we are younger?

(2) How might “yo-yo dieting” affect our ability to lose fat now?

In considering these questions, we must keep in mind that years of weight-cycling can result in a host’s negative effects (Mehta, et al), just a few of which are listed below.

Chronic dieting — specifically where severe caloric restriction is required — depletes “feel-good” chemicals in the brain called “neurotransmitters.” 

How does this occur? Restriction diets cause multiple forms of physiological stress. In the brain, acute stress “burns up” our natural chemicals that act as sedatives, stimulants and pain relievers (i.e., endorphins). When we experience chronic stress (as often occurs during our peri/menopausal years, when multiple aspects of our lives and bodies are changing), our production and storage of these “feel-good” chemicals wane with the bodies correspondingly high demand for them. As a result, they down-regulate and make it seemingly impossible to achieve a state of calmness and equilibrium. Furthermore, when stress is high and we fail to manage it with restorative practices, myriad other potentially appetite-related issues can surface (e.g., cravings, binge eating), adrenal dysfunction and thyroid disease.

Caloric restriction impacts hormones

Women who chronically diet often avoid certain food groups, such as essential fats, in an effort to keep calories low; but essential fats from real food sources are vital to a healthy body, mind, and hormonal balance. For example, fats cover every cell in our bodies and brains. Note that fats allow us to feel satiated and full. When we do not eat enough essential fat sources, we are more likely to seek out sweets and starches, overeat, graze, and feel irritable, to name just a few related symptoms.

The brain is the fattest organ in the body, at 60% of its total makeup. Our brain on a very low-fat diet equates with mental instability and lack of concentration. Our nerves require fat to build their protective sheath that facilitates the transmission of signals between the brain and body. Diets that contain adequate amounts of fats keep the bowels lubricated and regular. Offsetting a common perimenopausal/menopausal complaint: constipation.

Fats are essential to the absorption and utilization of vitamins and minerals from our foods and from the sun.

In relation to peri/menopause, restricting certain foods, such as fats (and proteins that contain healthy essential fats) can cause nutrient deficiencies (e.g., zinc and vitamin B6). Together, they serve as precursors to our progesterone hormone production, which must be carefully watched and balanced, particularly during perimenopause.

Perimenopause often signals a decline in progesterone, rather than estrogen, in the system.

During perimenopause, women are more estrogen dominant. When we are deficient in progesterone and high in estrogen, our ability to lose fat dramatically decreases — especially when it comes to eliminating that muffin top. If our levels are too low, our bodies burn fifteen to twenty thousand fewer relative calories a year, and we experience increases of water retention, hence the bloated look and feelings.

Progesterone reductions also increase depression, anxiety, insomnia and the risk for osteoporosis (i.e., bone loss).

Conversely, if our progesterone levels are balanced in relation to estrogen, it will trigger the brain’s hypothalamus to increase core body temperature, thereby elevating our resting metabolic rate. This means that we will use more calories, even when we are less active!

Such are the weight-gain factors that women endure when entering or in perimenopause, beginning as early as age thirty eight and lasting one to ten years.

Restricting Calories Slows Metabolism

When we chronically restrict calories, we push our bodies into a more catabolic state, thereby breaking down our precious fat-burning, lean muscle mass. This can be devastating to our resting metabolic rates —and fertility prospects —because maintaining muscle as we age (i.e., from thirty-five on) becomes more difficult due to the natural loss of lean muscle tissue due to aging, known as sarcopenia. For example, a woman with a higher ratio of lean muscle to fat, as compared with those of similar weight and height with a lower lean-muscle-to-fat ratio, will burn more calories from fat throughout the day, regardless of activity levels or habits.

Ideally, a decade before perimenopause, clients should maintain as much muscle mass as possible by eating enough protein and through regular moderate exercise, so as to maintain a slimmer, healthier body through the change-of-life period.

Calorie-restriction Disrupts Thyroid Function

You may be surprised to learn, that T3 levels (T3 is the thyroid hormone responsible for raising metabolism), begins to drop within hours of calorie deprivation and continues to fall until we consume enough calories. This persistent “sense of starvation” can cause a permanent thyroid problem. As we enter our mid 30’s and 40’s, decreased T3 triggers what I call a “menopausal thyroid slump.” For most women, more than one factor causes the condition (e.g., genetics, unmanaged psychological stress, nutrient deficiencies from low-calorie dieting, eating disorders, poor gut health, and soy products). Although the most common cause is genetics, calorie-restricted and nutrient-deficient diets are also primary causes.

Early on during restricted dieting, the thyroid slows down to help the body hold on to nutritional resources until the famine ends; but chronic dieting further depresses the thyroid, which then creates an unending decline in multiple metabolic functions. The result of this permanent decrease/slowing of calorie utilization creates adrenal disturbance (i.e. stress regulation gland) and the familiar post-diet rebound weight gain. Until the thyroid begins to function properly again, energy, weight and general health cannot be optimal.

Be vigilant with your body and take action. If you believe you have a thyroid- related issue, you may have to request a full thyroid panel from your medical practitioner. At minimum, test the following: TSH, Free T4 and T3, Reverse T3, Thyroid Antibody Test, Vitamin D levels, and Ferritin levels (if you are experiencing hair loss).

Improving your health after years of yo-yo dieting may seem daunting, and in fact, it will not be a breeze; but in the long-term, when you repair your body and metabolism with a balanced, sustainable approach, you will begin to lose unwanted weight, without being attached to the strings of yo-yo dieting.

Stay Strong, Be Well! xoxo – Amber


Kenneth Blum, PhD, et al., “Clinical Evidence for the Effectiveness of PhenCal in Maintaining Weight Loss in an Open Label, Controlled, 2 year Study”, Current Therapeutic Research 58, no 10 (Oct. 1997): 745-63.

Eric Braverman, MD, et al., The Healing Nutrients Within (Laguna Beach, Ca: Basic Health Publications, 2003): 240.

Dulloo, et al., Pathways from dieting to weight regain, to obesity and to the metabolic syndrome: an overview, Obesity Reviews 16, S1 (2015): 1-6

Chris Kresser MS, LAc, Thyroid Disorders E Book.

Mehta, et al., Impact of Weight Cycling on Risk of Morbidity and Mortality. Obesity Reviews 15, no 11 (2004): 870-881

Nutrition & Supplements

Good Sleep …A Step Closer to Perfect Hormonal Health!

Insomnia has reached epidemic proportions. It’s estimated to be the #1 health-related problem in America. More than 1/3 of Americans have trouble sleeping every night, and 51% of adults say they have problems sleeping at least a few nights each week. 43% of respondents report that daytime sleepiness interferes with their normal daytime activities.

These problems are getting worse, not better. The number of adults aged 20 to 44 using sleeping pills doubled from 2000 to 2004, and the number of kids ages 1-19 who take prescription sleep remedies jumped 85% during the same period. Prescriptions for sleeping pills topped 56 million in 2008 – up 54% from 2004 – with over $5 billion in sales in 2010.

Obviously we all know we need sleep to feel and look good, think clear, eat well, etc. So why don’t we do it? Or better yet, why doesn’t our body let us rest deeply? Let’s look deeper into this sleep subject. Starting with why sleep is important?

Long-term health depends on the regeneration that occurs during deep sleep. Growth hormone, or the “anti-aging” hormone, is secreted during sleep, which stimulates tissue regeneration, liver cleansing, muscle building, break down of fat stores and normalization of blood sugar. During sleep free radicals are scavenged in the brain, minimizing its aging. Many health problems are aggravated by inadequate sleep. Sleep gives us renewed vitality, a more positive outlook on life and energy with which we can become our full potential.

Here are some of the main symptoms of inadequate sleep:

You could experience drowsiness, fatigue, decreased concentration, impaired memory, reduced stress tolerance, mood changes, irritability, muscle tension, increased aging, changes in your body’s PH balance to more acidic, which increases health problems such as infections.

A basic but good protocol to improving the quality of your sleep would something like this:

1. Maintain consistent sleep and wake times. Do not push yourself to stay up past the initial signs of sleepiness. This can create epinephrine production, causing more difficulty getting to sleep later. It is good to have a “getting ready for bed” routine to relax and prepare your body for sleep. Avoid taking naps if you have trouble sleeping at night.

2. Reserve the bed for sleep and sex only. Do not read, watch TV, eat, or worry in bed. Solve daily dilemmas outside of the bedroom. If you find that you’ve been lying awake in bed for 15-20 minutes, get out of bed. Do something mundane until you feel sleepy, and then go back to bed. Repeat this as often as needed.

3. Your sleeping environment should be quiet, cool and comfortable. The room should be clutter-free. Reduce the amount of ambient light as much as possible. Electronic devices such as clocks, stereos, TVs and computers generate electromagnetic fields that can disturb sleep for some people. Experiment with moving these into another room or using EMF shields. Feng Shui, the Chinese art of placement, can be valuable in creating an optimal sleeping environment.

4. Exercise regularly. Exercising during the day or early evening decreases the time it takes to get to sleep and increases the amount of deep sleep obtained. Most people do better avoiding exercise late in the evening.

5. Exposure to sunlight early in the morning and late in the afternoon or evening encourages a strong circadian rhythm. The hormone melatonin, which helps create a sleep state in the body, is suppressed in light and secreted in darkness.

6. If you have problems with waking during the early hours of the morning, have a small protein snack just before bed to ensure consistent blood sugar levels throughout the night. Consistently get exposure to sunlight as late in the day as possible.

7. Improving overall health will improve the quality of your sleep. Work towards improving or eliminating health problems. Treatment modalities such as massage, acupuncture or cranial sacral will help to relax the body. Effective stressmanagement is essential.

Things to relax the body to prepare for sleep:

• Warm baths, adding Epsom salts (4cups per bath) and/or lavender oil enhance the benefit.
• Meditating for 5-30 minutes
• Progressive muscle relaxation (the process of contracting and then relaxing each
area of the body in succession) is extremely helpful.
• Any other means of inducing the “relaxation response”. Including meditation,
breathing practices, orgasm and relaxation visualization can be a wonderful part of a nightly ritual to enhance sleep given their ability to increase the relaxation response.
• Special acoustic recordings that increase specific brain wave patterns for relaxation and sleep are available and helpful.
• Botanicals treatments and aromatherapy using herbs and their essential oils (examples include chamomile, valerian, vervain (verbena), hops, lavender, passionflower, avena (oat straw), lemon balm and scutellaria (skull cap). Consult your physician for dosages and recommendations. Two of my favorite over the counter teas are Bedtime Tea by Yogi brands (2-4 bags in 8-12oz water) and Honey Chamomile by Tulsi brands (1-2 bags in 8-12oz water)
• Magnesium glycinate at 300mg 30 minutes before bed, can be very relaxing.

Sleep Interference:

• Although alcohol may make you fall asleep, the sleep obtained after drinking is fragmented and light. Avoid alcohol to enhance the quality of your sleep.
• The stimulating effects of caffeine may last up to 10 or more hours in some people. Avoid it in the afternoon if getting to sleep is a problem. Caffeine is present in coffee, green tea, black tea, chocolate and some medications (pain relievers, decongestants, thermogenic weight loss products, energy supplements, etc.)
• The stimulating effects of nicotine (first- or second-hand smoke) can last several
• Sleeping pills, aside from being highly addictive and full of side effects, decrease
the amount of time spent in deep sleep and only increase light sleep.
• B-vitamin supplements can increase energy that keeps some people awake, if
taken before bed. Take B-vitamins earlier in the day.
• Low blood sugar at night can increase the likelihood of stress hormone
production. Experiment with starchy carbohydrate timing at the last meal.
• To aid falling asleep a good rule of thumb is to eat closer to bed and eat more
slowly digesting carbohydrates at night (e.g. high fiber veggies/fruit) and add
fat to these meals (e.g. almond butter)
• To aid staying asleep eat closer to bed and make sure you eat more protein at your
last meal.
• If you wake in the middle of the night, a small snack or carbohydrate and fat can
aid returning to sleep (i.e. spoonful of nut butter and half a apple).

Finally, what I recommend to all of my patients with sleep issues – and what I use myself – is a breathing and gentle movement exercises during the day which help us relax and promote a good night’s sleep. The premise behind this, is that the most important factor in getting a good night’s sleep is managing stress during the day.

Most of us run around like chickens with their heads cut off all day, and then wonder why we can’t fall right asleep as soon as our head hits the pillow. If our nervous system has been in overdrive for 16 hours, it’s unrealistic to assume that it can switch into low gear in a matter of minutes simply because we want it to. Of course this is why sleeping pills are growing in popularity each year.

This technique and the tips above have helped me and my patients find ways to get the most of our time in bed. Sleep well my friends!

xoxo – Amber 😉

1. Clinical practice of Dr. Jade Teta, Keoni Teta and Jillian Sarno Teta.
2. Dement MD PhD, William. The Promise of Sleep. 1999. Dell Publishing. New
York, NY.
3. Jacobs PhD, Gregg. Say Goodnight to Insomnia. 1998. Henry Holt and Company.
New York, NY.
4. Ross DC, Herbert, Brenner Lac, Keri and Goldberg, Burton. Sleep Disorders., Tiburon

Hormonal Harmony

3 Things I Struggle With…

As someone who spends their week training clients, creating sustainable nutrition programs, and writing numerous blog posts each week, I sure do dish out my fair share of advice.

In fact, it’s probably easy to think that I’ve got it all figured out, right? (<—- ha!)

In all reality, I DON’T have it all figured out.  I do pretty well for myself in most areas of my life, but there are still areas where I struggle, and I think it’s important to share our struggles with others.

Maybe that’s why I have gotten such amazing feedback over the last 3 months as I’ve written about a lot of my issues and struggles?  Because it’s nice to see the “human” side of people.

In keeping with that theme, today I am writing about 3 things I struggle with, and what I am doing to fix them (or not fix them).

1. Sleep

Getting proper sleep has been a struggle for me for as long as I can remember. I can recall tossing and turning in my bed for hours as a young child because I couldn’t fall asleep. Then I would wake up the next morning and be miserable because I was so exhausted.

Unfortunately, this cycle hasn’t changed much, except since I don’t have a parent to force me to go to bed, I just stay up later working, watching TV or reading until I am tired enough to go to sleep. It probably didn’t help that I worked as a waitress at a late night bistro for 7 years through undergrad and would often go to bed at 3 am. Ugh.

What I Am Doing About This:

– Holding myself accountable – Recently I asked a friend to be my Accountability Partner/Life Coach.  At the time I asked her, I was routinely going to bed around 12 am. She gave me a bedtime, yes, a bedtime of 11 pm, and a wake-up call of 7:30 am every day. (I get up most mornings between 7:30 and 8, but since my schedule has some flexibility, some mornings I would sleep until 8:30 or 9 if I had been up late working the night before).

In fact, I have to text her when I wake up, and if I don’t, she will drive to my house. She also routinely asks me what time I went to bed, to ensure that I stay accountable.

– Trying to relax – I try to spend the last 30-60 minutes before bed reading, taking a bath, avoiding the cell phone, and just relaxing. This calms me down, and allows my brain to chill out a bit as well.

2. Saying NO to projects

Over the last 2 years, my plate has (luckily!) become very full with my personal blog, 2 businesses growing and many others projects and tasks. One of the best parts about being busy, is that you get a lot of cool opportunities. One of the worst? They can be impossible to say no to.

Taking on too many projects prevents you from being able to focus appropriate time and energy on any one project, and prevents you from doing things really well.

What I Am Doing About This:

– Finding a coach – I’ll be talking about this more in the future, but having a Life Coach, that really knows and understands me, was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. He has helped me get really organized and helped me prioritize my projects and tasks so that I can get more done in less time.

But even better, he has helped me recognize what projects will lead directly to my goals, and turn down or discard projects that won’t. He has also helped me learn that it’s OK to say, “No.”

– Therapy – So I didn’t start therapy to deal directly with this issue, but believe it or not, it’s helped. (Side note: I’ve been in therapy for 3 years now and I love it. I think every single person should go at least once a month.) What therapy has helped with is my tendency to be a people pleaser and not want people to be upset with me.

Whenever I struggle with saying, “no” to a project, I remember this quote (paraphrased):

Say ‘no’ more often so that your ‘yes’ has more power and meaning.

3. Artificially Flavored Gum

Yes, you read that correctly. Artificially Flavored Gum (yes, I chew this stuff…and it may one day be the death of me).

Anyone who knows me well knows that it’s an ultimate vice and obsession. I know that it’s not good for me, and yet I cannot seem to shake the habit. On a “good” day, I’ll have none or one peice. On a “bad” day, I might have 3-4. I have been working to reduce this further and further….so I have improved.

Thankfully, I don’t chew it while training clients, so I never spend a full day doing a jaw workout. Which is also not very attractive, kinda gross, and in my opinion, gives a client the impression that you don’t care as much.

And just to be clear, I chew Spry (a naturally sweetened gum). And I always drink water with my gum to neutralize the chemicals and preserve my teeth (which my dentist told me look awesome, so luckily, no worries there).

All I can say, is that I am a sucker (or chomper) for that long lasting chew that you can only get from the artificially flavored stuff. Occasionally, I’ll hit the hard stuff.

Once, I’ve even received gum as a birthday present before. Yup. It’s that bad. I gave it up for 42 days last year, and when that 42 days was up, my taste buds rejoiced.

Everyone teases me because I am such a stickler about what I put in my body. I eat as much organic, local food as possible, and I do my best to avoid chemical cleaners and beauty products at all costs. But that sweet-neurotoxic-flavored gift from God?


What I Am Doing About This:

– To be completely honest, not much. I absolutely love the stuff.  No one can be absolutely perfect all the time (I’m not even close). And if they are, well… I don’t really want to hang with them because that’s just annoying.

– OK, so I guess it’s not entirely true that I’m doing “nothing” about it. Because I consume that junk, I am extremely diligent about almost everything else I put in or on my body. If I am going to minimize the amount of chemicals and crap I am willing to expose my body to, then I have to be diligent. It’s all a tradeoff, right?

What about you? What do you struggle with? What are you doing to change it, if anything?

Love to hear from you. xxx, Amber

Nutrition & Supplements

Red Meat, Butter and Vino, and Staying Lean?

Hope you all are having a fabulous week 🙂
I write a lot about implementing balance with our eating, and many of you resonate with that. But I think for some, there exists a small crumpet of doubt when we hear words like “moderation”, “reduction” and “treats.” We don’t like these words.

They are kiiiiiiind of not hardcore enough. They are a little wimpy. And they don’t really get results, do they? You might now be thinkin…what?? “I can eat my cheese, drink some wine and stay lean, seriously??”

Hee hee. Well, I get that. And I have poo-poo’ed the idea of moderation for a long time. I thought it was for Grandma and for those who had no willpower or who weren’t tough enough to hack the hard stuff. And agreeably, that’s actually not untrue … except for the fact that willpower and discipline eventually give out, and when they do, most of us end up binge eating like crazy. Im sooo guilty of this…
So in a way, throwing ourselves a few nutritional bones (…chocolate bones for me) ahead of time might actually make us more compliant in the long run, which (surprise!) DOES lead to overall sustainable leanness. Go figure! 🙂

In a previous blog, I talked about what I call Controlled Cheating -my strategies to keep indulgences sane. I break down tactics I use to feel less deprived overall and because of that, am less likely to binge, especially around my period (sorry guys, I had to bring this up). I sincerely believe strategic nutritional concessions can actually boost long-term compliance.

HOWEVER … this is where Skeptical Sally comes in. It’s all fine and well to indulge in small cheats here and there, but does that really get results???

I took the shot below (unfiltered) this week, the morning after dining out on the following meal: bison burgers, avocado slices, asparagus cooked in butter and 2 glasses of wine. No bread, no dessert, no extra starch. But yes, red meat, butter and vino. Is it competition-clean? No. But will it make me feel satisfied and satiated to the point that I don’t need anything else? Absolutely.


Everyone will be different, obviously. And it has taken me close to SIX YEARS to begin to master the moderate approach. But honestly, I do think less about what I am going to eat. I try to eat to feel satisfied and limit stressing about it. I don’t want to get anxious if I don’t have my Tupperwares and ‘safe’ foods with me. I TRUST that I can make the best choice possible wherever I end up, even if, yes, it is veggies dowsed in butter 🙂

I’d love to hear where you’re at with this stuff. Are you still caught up in the “all-or-nothing” crash dieting approach, where you are EITHER on a strict diet OR you are eating everything in sight?

I’m not judging … I did that for years. But mastering moderation takes a leap of faith, a willingness to try a new way and then struggle your way through it. It’s rewarding and liberating and awesome. But it starts with YOU letting go of the illusion of control you think you have over your eating. Deprive-then-binge is not a fun way to live. It’s obsessive and controlling and a nutritional prison (not to mention an emotional one).
So what do you say? Gonna take steps toward the middle? Hit the comment button and send me a sentence or two on your own process!
Stay Strong – Amber

Nutrition & Supplements

For the Love of My GUT

One of my favorite things to do is to experiment with my own health…in a positive, healthy way for the last 8 years. I would and never do recommend anything to clients or friends and family, unless I’ve research and tried on myself a certain health claim or product, ie. my N=1 experiments. We all hear about natural, organic, supplements that claim to make us super strong, smart, healthier, resistant to diseases or sexy, but do they work? Well that is up to us trying them out for ourselves. So, Im writing today about my latest personal health experiment. Today, Im talking about my love for my gut and how it has grown to become an “obsession” for me to maintain a healthy one with a real food diet (consisting of meats, real, unadulterated fats, colorful veggies and small amounts of fruit) and adding beneficial yeast and bacteria (ie probiotics) in the form of an ancient tea called Kombucha (a tea made with yeast and bacteria and some type of flavoring in the form of fruit, herbs, spices). My obsession with a healthy gut began years ago when I was researching on how our gut integrity and health play a major role in so many different aspect of our immunity, overall mental and physical health, wellbeing, and happiness. As of today, this has now become a full-on health and small business pursuit. So…about 4 month ago, while experiencing severe bouts of morning nausea (no my friends….Im not announcing that Im prego), I had a good friend recommend that I try G.T.’s Kombucha, Gingeraid flavor. From the first sip, I was addicted. If you don’t know what Kombucha is, this brief explanation is for you.
Kombucha is a ancient Chinese tea concoction made from a symbiotic, culture of live bacteria and yeast (ie. SCOBY-probiotics) which promotes healthy guts, skin, immune system, helps with hangovers, energy (stocked with B vitamins) and helps us digest food a bit better….and one thing is for sure, it’s becoming all the rage among the health-seeking crowd.

After I got over the initial vinegar-like smell, and the fact that I’d never tasted a tea or any other drink just like it, I began to experience subtle levels of benefits, almost immediately. My nausea went away, and within a 24 hours I had a successful poop, along with a few spurts of stinky gas. Totally, normal when you introduce a ton of health gut bugs into your GI track in order to restore it. 😉 Sorry, but I’m just being totally honest. Another thing I’ll be honest about is the fact that I just couldn’t drink one bottle and never return. I ended up buying another GT’s a couple days later….as the first bottle lasted me 2 days.

This gets me into the cost issue with drinking this wonder tea. If you don’t know anything about raw probiotic drink cost, let me tell you, they are expensive. It can cost as much as $5 per bottle. They average around $4 in organic speciality markets in NE Ohio. Not a whole pay check, but definitely a luxury item if drank daily. So, this year, my friend Debbie Nespeca and I began our very own Kombuchery (Kombucha Brewery). It all began by us wanting to have our own stash in the refrigerator at a lot less costs, with similar great flavors, but a more potent, non-pasteurized raw version. After sharing our drink with friends, and hearing great feedback, we decided to help afford them and everyone else the opportunity to enjoy and experience Kombucha. Below is a photo of one of our many beautiful SCOBYs.

One of our many beautiful SCOBYs we use to brew our home Kombucha Tea
One of our many beautiful SCOBYs we use to brew our home Kombucha Tea

We plan to release and supply an affordable, great tasting, raw probiotic tea, name brand called, Kombucha “For Life” with our local Youngstown, OH markets and restaurants starting in June 2014. We strongly believe in local commerce and see this whole venture as the best way to reduce our carbon footprint. So us girls are going to work.

We may have started with one SCOBY and a gallon of tea a week, but now after a few months in, and before we knew it, we are producing 4 at a time in Debbie’s kitchen.

About the flavor this gallon into single bottles with organic apples, grapefruit, lemon and ginger.
About to flavor this gallon into single bottles with organic apples, grapefruit, lemon and ginger.

Next up….another room full of tea and SCOBYs. 🙂 Check back here to get ordering and purchasing information in late Spring 2014. Can’t wait to share our love for our guts with each and every one of you.

In good gut health,

xo, Amber

Hormonal Harmony

“Be Bold, and Love Your Body!”

I want to share with you an exercise I’ve recently been doing every morning that helps me love my body and connect to her more deeply.

-When you wake up, stand in front of the mirror in your underwear, or birthday suite.

-Put your hands on your body in some way – I usually rub my belly, stretch my arms overhead and touch my hands together, or sway my hips a little.

-Instead of picking yourself apart (which may be your natural inclination), just observe your body like a work of art, look for the details and intricacies.

Since I’ve been doing this everyday for quite a while, I notice things like how the shape and feel of my belly changes with my cycle and the tone of my skin changes with the seasons. I’ll notice a new freckle or how my muscles are changing shape or taking form.

Get to know your real self.

Once you get comfortable doing this practice, you can take it a step further by finding something new to admire on your body everyday. Even if it’s a small space like your collarbone, the space just above your belly button, your ankle.

All of it matters.

All of it is yours.

All of it is home.

Never ask permission to express your soul’s desire.

Exploding with love and gratitude,

😉 Xoxo, Amber

Nutrition & Supplements

Steps to Prevent Thanksgiving Food Comas

Well, it’s Thanksgiving in the states tomorrow, and if you’re like me, you’re already pseudo-stressing about how you’ll manage “the big meal” Thursday.

You give yourself a mental pep talk: “I will only eat turkey and vegetables.” You repeat the mantra: “I don’t need dessert to feel satisfied.” You reinforce your goals: “I don’t want to be a whale on January 1st.”

I get it. Me too! And good for you! But if only managing reality was not as easy as what we imagine in our heads.

SO. For you, I’ve put together a list of the actual steps I use for navigating any big meal. These are guidelines that I use for all holiday events and parties, and hopefully they can help you enjoy yourself, while also not adding inches to your waistline:

1) I do drink alcohol, but keep a 2-drink-max rule. I also only let myself drink red wine, Nor-Cal Margaritas (tequila/soda/salted rim and fresh lime) or vodka/soda with lime please.

2) I don’t eat starch or sugar. Period. This is a hard & fast rule for me. I don’t eat “real” desserts; instead I make and BRING my own healthy, low-carb version (i.e. “dessert defense”). I don’t eat bread, potatoes, cranberry sauce (unless it is real cranberries reduced down with fresh oranges, balsamic vinegar and stevia), rolls, crackers, etc. Besides, I’d rather drink alcohol than eat starch–and this, too, is a good rule of thumb. If you’re doing booze, you’ll need to curtail the starch.

The last time I was in a Thanksgiving food coma, I felt and looked something like this…


3) I let myself eat as much fat, protein and fibrous veggies as I want. This includes butter and sauces on veggies, cheesy broccoli, cheese plates, (if I want to risk having a bit of intestinal discomfort from the lactose), fatty dark meat, etc. I don’t stress too much about fat (even saturated) because these foods make me feel more satisfied so I don’t need as much and I don’t reach for the sugary stuff (also I don’t feel deprived because I get to eat fat). If I want seconds, I usually add more protein to my plate.

4) I drink water like it’s my job, and I always drink AT LEAST 1 liter after the meal, before bed. With lots of extra sodium and alcohol, I always want to prevent water retention as much as possible. And one way is to drink more water. The fastest way to start SHEDDING water is to drink more of it. Sure, I might get up a few times to pee during the night, but that’s preferable, because it’s proof I am not retaining water.

5) I do an intense weight-training workout the day of the meal. I usually do a leg workout, or if not, I’ll do a full-body workout. The idea is to get as many muscles involved as possible and lift heavy to the point of failure. It is also to use the extra cals at the meal to push muscle building, not fat storage. Muscles are primed for growth in the hours immediately post-workout so I lift heavy & hard to ready them up.

My goal is to feel satisfied, but not blow it.

See what you think. Perhaps, try one or two of them, adjusting as needed. And remember, food will always be there, so the urgency of needing to try everything at this very meal loses its impact. My mantra: “I will not gobble til I wobble, but enjoy fellowship with family and friends.” 🙂

No stress! Do your best! You are always one meal away from being back in fat burning mode, so maintain perspective and don’t let your Thanksgiving meal turn into a weekend-long binge fest.

You’re amazing, never think otherwise.

Stay Strong, Amber