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Get Healthy Guide 2024
Weight Loss Series Part 3 of 3
My Journey

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I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I joined the ‘Clean Plate Club’ at the age of 6 and ate my way through grade school. When I started middle school, I was at least ten pounds overweight. My classmates teased me relentlessly, so I decided to begin my trek through ‘Weight Loss Wasteland’ at the age of 13. I tried everything from the ‘Baby Food Diet’ to simply not eating, but I could never keep the weight off. I was 150 pounds when I graduated from high school and added the ‘Freshman Fifteen’ within the first six months of college.


Medical school followed. The first two years were spent sitting, studying, and sometimes sleeping. I literally ate all the time, even when I wasn’t hungry. I ate when I was stressed, bored, mad, sleepy, depressed, and the list goes on. The Papa John’s pizza delivery boy became my best friend. By my third year, I tipped the scale at 185 pounds, and I felt like crap. I wore my scrubs or sweatpants all the time, and I avoided social gatherings because I felt ashamed and embarrassed. The last half of medical school, I was able to lose some weight because I was more physically active. Nonetheless, my weight continued to yo-yo between 145 and 160 pounds. When I graduated in 1996, I weighed 155 pounds.

I wish I could say my weight stabilized after medical school, but it didn’t. Between 1996 and 2018, my weight was as erratic as my life. I got on and off the ‘weight loss bandwagon’ too many times to count. I weighed as little as 120 pounds, as much as 225 pounds (when pregnant), and every weight in between.  I spent thousands of dollars on diets, exercise programs, and diet pills. I spent even more on new clothing to accommodate the ever-changing circumference of my waistline. I lost what little was left of my self-esteem and fed my failures and frustrations with more food. I was basically the epitome of Einstein’s definition of insanity…Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Here's a small sampling of my up's and down's.



155 lbs


145 lbs


128 lbs

In early 2018, the Universe stepped in to save me from myself. I experienced an unexpected health event which forced me some serious changes to preserve my health. It was then I decided to buy a one-way ticket OUT of Weight Loss Wasteland…and I never looked back.


My health transformation didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took about a year and a half. Since I’m a ‘type A’ person, forcing myself to make gradual lifestyle changes required a complete change in my mindset. But I was done being the poster child from Einstein’s definition of insanity.


Did I fall off the wagon’? Multiple times. I also made a bunch of mistakes along the way. But, this time, I didn’t use my short falls as a reason to give up. Instead, I used them as teaching tools to help me improve my long-term weight maintenance strategies.


Ultimately, my escape from ‘Weight Loss Wasteland’ required a multidimensional, tactical approach. I had to address every aspect of my health, lifestyle, and behaviors to reach my weight loss goal. Yes…dietary changes and regular exercise were essential to my success…but which diet and which exercise routine??


To answer those questions and keep the weight off for good, I also had to:


  1. Find and fix my ‘scale saboteurs’.

  2. Make serious (but gradual) lifestyle changes.

  3. Change my mindset around food, exercise, and body image.

  4. Incorporate nutritional supplements targeting my age-related needs and specific health issues.

Here's what I did and how I did it...

My ‘Scale Saboteurs’


I had a lot of underlying health factors that were not only making me feel like gum on the bottom of a shoe but also making it impossible for me to lose weight and keep it off.


Here were the TOP FIVE underlying issues I had and fixed:

1. Female hormone imbalances

When estrogen levels are too high and/or progesterone levels are too low, this creates a state of estrogen dominance. Estrogen is a very important hormone and is necessary for the proper functioning of everything in a woman’s body. But when estrogen levels are too high, or if there is not enough progesterone to balance estrogen, widespread physiologic imbalances occur. Symptoms of estrogen dominance include frequent periods, heavy periods, breast tenderness, irritability, and hair loss (just to name a few). Estrogen also plays a huge role in body weight through its direct effects on appetite, hunger, satiety, and its indirect actions on other hormones.

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Here’s what my first saliva test kit results showed. Even though my estrogen levels were in range, my progesterone levels were very low. This meant I was estrogen dominant. My testosterone levels were fine, but my stress hormone levels (DHEA and cortisol) were in the gutter (more on that later). 

Estrogen dominance is almost universal in women, especially after they turn thirty years old. That's because they’re exposed to estrogen all the time. Not only do our bodies make estrogen in tissues besides the ovaries, but we are also constantly exposed to environmental xenoestrogens (‘estrogen like chemicals’). Furthermore, as we age, we don't ovulate every month. When we do, we don't make very much progesterone. Without proper progesterone estrogen balance, losing weight and keeping it off is very difficult.

How I fixed my estrogen dominance:

  • I started using prescription bioidentical progesterone. Raising my progesterone estrogen ratio was a major piece of my weight management puzzle. It also got rid of my PMS symptoms, reduced my menstrual flow, and improved my sleep.

  • I check my saliva hormone levels every 6 months. Since so many things affect hormone balance, it's very important to check levels regularly. Make sure to work only with a healthcare practitioner with extensive knowledge and experience in hormone imbalances.

  • I added AdrenaFem (one capsule daily). AdrenaFem contains adaptogenic herbs and vitamins which help to naturally balance estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels. It also contains Ashwaganda for thyroid hormone support. My energy levels are better, and I find it also curbs my appetite.

(Stay tuned for future posts on estrogen dominance and other things to do to prevent and treat it.)

2. Chronic Stress & Stress Response System (SRS) Dysfunction

I guarantee you every person on the planet, including you, has this problem. I know this for two reasons:

  1. Our bodies were never designed to deal with chronic stress.

  2. Our SRS can't tell the difference between types of stress. Anything that causes chronic stress, whether physical, emotional, psychological, or environmental, will cause our stress response system to malfunction.


The results of my Adrenal Stress Kit made it pretty clear my SRS had taken some major hits. Normally, cortisol levels should be highest in the morning and come down as the day goes on. The levels should be lowest at night during sleep. My cortisol release pattern was completely opposite (the green line is normal, the black dots are me). My DHEA levels were also low. The combination of low DHEA and an abnormal cortisol release pattern were proof that my chronic stressors had resulted in some major SRS dysfunction

There are A LOT of chronic stressors that cause SRS dysfunction. The long list includes psychological stress, chronic sleep deprivation, intestinal dysbiosis, female hormone imbalances, and poor diet. Not only do these factors individually cause weight gain, but they also indirectly cause weight gain by creating SRS dysfunction.

SRS dysfunction causes weight gain by increasing inflammation, increasing the number and size of fat cells, and creating insulin resistance. 






Many healthcare practitioners try to convince their patients that nutritional supplements and/or prescription medications are the way to fix SRS dysfunction. This is absolutely NOT true! While one or both of these treatment options can be helpful, the only way to correct stress response system dysfunction is to identify and treat the underlying cause(s)


Here are some of the ways I improved my SRS dysfunction:

  • I convinced myself I wasn't Wonder Woman. I could no longer be all things to all people at the expense of my own health. I made changes to my work and home life that not only reduced my stress levels but also allowed me more free time to do the other things I needed to do to get and stay healthy.

  • fixed my gut (gut health has a huge impact on stress response system function). More details below.

  • I started exercising regularly and incorporated yoga which has been shown specifically to help SRS function.

  • I made sleep a priority. I made sure to get at least seven hours of sleep, I set regular sleep and wake times, and I did my best to avoid the use of electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime. Chronic sleep deprivation will guarantee SRS dysfunction.

  • I quit eating late at night (refer to my last post on how eating at the wrong time causes SRS dysfunction). Now, my last meal is at 6:00 pm.

  • I cleaned up my diet. Refined and processed foods which are high in artificial chemicals, preservatives, sugar, and fat are very damaging to SRS.

  • I added AdrenaFem to my supplement regimen. As I mentioned above, this supplement contains vitamins and adaptogenic herbs which help support SRS function. The fact that also helps to naturally balance female sex hormone levels is an added bonus, and I only have to take one supplement to address both issues.


3. Intestinal dysbiosis

Gut health has a huge impact on everything, including SRS function and weight (see above). The only way to see what’s living in your intestines is for you to do a poop test. This must be done through specialty labs because conventional labs only check for serious intestinal infections, not gut microbiome composition.


I didn’t include a picture of my test results because it’s a bit complicated and long. Suffice to say, my gut microbiome was a mess. I didn't have high enough levels of good bacteria (i.e. lactobacillus) and I had intestinal Candida yeast overgrowth (see below). There were also bacteria living in my gut that shouldn’t have been there at all.


Since your gut microbiome plays a major role in regulating body weight, hunger, and appetite, you could be missing a huge piece of your weight loss puzzle if you don't check for it. Intestinal dysbiosis must be treated using a multidimensional approach which includes dietary changes (depending on what’s living in your intestines), herbal supplements, probiotics, and sometimes prescription antibiotics. 


How I fixed my intestinal dysbiosis:

  • I made dietary changes based on my test results. Did you know you can change your gut microbiome within two weeks of changing how you eat? My results required me to eliminate foods that were high in a type of sugar known as fructooligosaccharides. This even included certain fruits and vegetables (supposed to be healthy, right?)

  • I added a daily comprehensive probiotic containing the strains of bacteria essential for a healthy gut microbiome.

  • For one month, I took an herbal antibiotic (link to Xymogen Berbemycin) containing ingredients specifically targeting the foreign bacteria living in my gut.

4. Food sensitivities & Leaky Gut

Most healthcare practitioners never consider testing food sensitivities in patients that are having trouble losing weight. This is a big mistake! Food sensitivities are extremely common and a major reason for stagnating weight loss.


Food sensitivities are not the same thing as true food allergies. Food allergies can cause sometimes life-threatening symptoms which usually occur soon after the food is consumed. The symptoms from food sensitivities are delayed and more subtle. You might eat a food today, and not experience symptoms for one to ten days or even longer. The symptoms include fatigue, fluid retention, joint pain, various gastrointestinal symptoms, mood changes, and weight gain. Without testing, it's almost impossible to pinpoint which foods are causing problems since the symptoms are delayed.















Here are the results of my food sensitivity test kit. The report is long, so it's tough to show the full version here. The bottom line is that I had delayed food sensitivity reactions to all the foods whose lines extend into the yellow and red sections of the chart. The more problematic the food, the more my immune system would react. Numerous food reactions also meant I had issues with 'leaky gut'.


How I fixed my food sensitivities & Leaky Gut:

  • I eliminated offending foods for the recommended duration (1 to 6 months depending on how bad the reaction was).

  • I completed my eight-day detox. I eliminated the foods to which I was sensitive and other potentially problematic foods. I drank the medical shake which contains ingredients that help reduce inflammation, repair leaky gut, and support liver detoxification.

  • I added a daily comprehensive probiotic (link to Probiomax Daily 100 BCFU) containing the strains of bacteria essential for a healthy gut microbiome.

  • Since we often become sensitive to the foods we eat most frequently, I make sure not to eat any food every day.

  • I check the status of my food sensitivities at regular intervals.



5. Candida Overgrowth

Candida yeast is a normal resident of our intestinal tract. But if it overgrows or enters the bloodstream through a ‘leaky gut’, it can create a whole host of annoying symptoms including sugar cravings, increased hunger, and weight gain (more on this in upcoming posts).


What causes Candida overgrowth? The short list includes prescription drugs (like antibiotics), food sensitivities, leaky gut, intestinal dysbiosis, chronic stress, a weakened immune system, and insulin resistance (i.e. diabetes).


The stool test kit I used showed I had intestinal Candida overgrowth. The food sensitivities testing kit confirmed I also had a Candida immune response in my bloodstream (see the bottom of the second page above). 


Here’s how I fixed my Candida infection:

  • I followed my Candida diet (which includes elimination of alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and sugar).

  • I eliminated all the foods to which I was sensitive according to my test results (see above).

  • I took a pharmaceutical grade anti-Candida supplement for two months. Because Candida has a long life-cycle, it takes at least two and sometimes up to six months to clear.

  • I monitored my symptoms and retested to make sure the treatment was successful.

Strategies I Use for Long Term

Weight Loss Success


I'm not going to lie...Losing weight wasn't easy. But keeping it off (at first) was even harder. Finding and fixing my 'scale saboteurs' helped. However, without also making gradual changes to my behaviors, eating patterns, and mindset, I would've NEVER maintained my thirty-pound weight loss.

These are the things I've done for the past five years that have helped me keep my weight off:


1. I regularly check my hormones, gut health, vitamin levels, etc. and add/adjust accordingly.


2. I do my eight-day detox every 6 months. Inflammation and toxic overload (from foods, drinks, prescription drugs, etc.) can cause not only disease but also weight gain. Doing the right detox helps reduce inflammation, improve intestinal health, support liver detoxification, and eliminate toxins. My detox is safe, easy to follow, and doesn’t require fasting. I can eat as much as I want of the allowed foods in addition to drinking the shake mix.


3. I monitor what I eat. Not only does journaling itself help with weight loss, it allows me to track correlations between what I eat and how I feel. It’s also a great way to keep track of my macronutrient ratios to make sure I’m getting enough protein.

4. I do something physical every day. I love being physically active, but I tend to get bored doing the same thing every day. So, I mix it up. Some days, I’ll go the gym to pump some weights and hop on the treadmill. Other days, I will do power yoga or Pilates (great for balance and muscle). When it's nice outside, I work in my garden for a few hours, or I walk two to three miles. I also enjoy kayaking and bicycling. I’ll discuss exercise more in the next part of my Get Healthy Guide 2024. For now, the two major take home points for you are to be consistent (it’s harder to start back if you quit) and do something you enjoy (otherwise you’re less likely to do it). I commit to doing something for at least 30 minutes per day. When I have more time, I’ll push it to one hour or even longer. 

5. I take pharmaceutical grade nutritional supplements. I’m in my mid 50’s, so I take targeted nutritional supplements to help me stay metabolically, physically, and mentally fit. This is my current daily supplement routine:

  • When I wake up:

    • Vitamin D3: My blood work showed my levels were low. 

    • Quercetin: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immune support

    • Alpha Lipoic Acid: Antioxidant that also keeps glucose levels stable, supports bone & brain health, and keeps weight stable.

    • EGCG: Helps me maintain my weight and prevent my uterine fibroids from growing

    • AdrenaFemA stress support formula that helps to naturally balance female sex and stress hormones. It also keeps my appetite in check and gives me energy.​

  • One hour later:

  • Mid-day

    • Resveretrol: Antioxidant, cancer prevention, cellular anti-aging

    • CoQ10: Antioxidant which help supports the skin, brain, and lungs. It also lowers blood pressure and protects against chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes. 

    • Multivitamin packets: Contains multivitamins, calcium, omega 3, and oraxinol which is an antioxidant

  • After my afternoon work-out:

    • Collagen powderSupports healthy skin, bone, and cartilage while also providing me with som additional protein.

    • TestoPlex PlusI've had several saliva test done since the one I showed you earlier. Since entering perimenopause two years ago, my testosterone levels have dropped. I added this supplement to help naturally raise my testosterone levels, and it's working great!

  • With dinner:

  • At bedtime:

    • Probiotics: To maintain overall health, support immune system function, maintain a healthy body weight, and keep my gut microbiome in check.

    • Optimag magnesium: This helps me with bowel regularity and sleep.

Some healthcare professionals believe that supplements just turn into ‘expensive urine’. I completely disagree! I can personally attest to how much my nutritional supplement regimen helps me. I notice a huge difference if I don’t take them. I can't remember the last time I was sick, I have better energy and more stamina, and it's easier for me to maintain my weight.

6. I drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. No explanation needed here, especially if you read part 2 of this series.

7. I don’t eat gluten. I’m fairly certain nobody on the planet loves bread more than I do…so for me to avoid it is truly a miracle. This is where mindset kicks in. I have no self-control when it comes to bread, so I just don’t buy it. It’s also easier for me to avoid bread when I also remember how bad I feel when I eat it.

8. I don’t eat sugar. I used to love sugar as much as I love bread...but not anymore. With much time and introspection, I realized my sugar cravings were being fueled by stress, lack of sleep, and eating sugar. My test results also showed stress response system dysfunction, estrogen dominance, food sensitivities, and Candida yeast overgrowth…all of which can also cause sugar cravings. Without addressing and correcting those issues, it would’ve been very difficult for me to give up one of the most addicting substances on the planet.

9. I limit alcohol intake to weekends only. I’m not gonna lie…this one’s tough for me because I love a glass of wine with dinner. But it’s amazing what a difference cutting back on alcohol has had on my weight. I also sleep better which gives me more energy to consistently exercise.

10. I don’t eat foods that make me feel bad. Because of my food sensitivities and intestinal dysbiosis, there are certain foods I just can’t eat. Every time I try, I pay. Whether it’s bloating, heartburn, hair loss (yes…these issues can cause hair loss), fluid retention, joint pain, brain fog, trouble sleeping, and immediate weight gain, no food is worth it. From my perspective, nothing tastes as good as feeling good feels!

11. I don't eat after 6:00 pm. Part 2 of these series discussed this in detail.

12. I don't set myself up for failure. I rarely attend a family or social gathering that offers healthy foods. I also have certain food restrictions which make it more difficult for me to eat foods I don’t prepare myself. That's why when I attend any social or family gathering, I always eat in advance or take my own food.  If I don't prepare and show up hungry, I flunk it every time! I also keep healthy snacks with me all the time. If I don't prepare and get hungry, I'm not only more likely to overeat later, but I will also be tempted to eat unhealthier (because they're more convenient).

13. I don’t weigh myself. The only time I ever pull out my scale is to follow short term changes in my body weight which may be coming from food sensitivities. This helps me gauge what I can and can’t eat after I do my detox. Otherwise, I don’t use a scale. The number doesn’t matter to me as much as how I feel, how I look, and if my clothes fit. Also, your body weight says nothing about your body composition which is way more important. 

14. I prioritize sleep. This has been challenging, especially as I’ve been perimenopausal for the past two years. Identifying and correcting my hormone imbalances was a key piece in getting my insomnia under control. Regular exercise, setting a regular sleep wake schedule, cutting back on alcohol, and limiting my use of electronics at night also really helped. I’m not always perfect but continue to strive for at least seven hours of sleep per night.

15. I don't compare myself to others. Even though we're all women, our personalities, lives, and physiologies are very different. It's insane to compare my life, behaviors, and/or my body weight to anyone else...even if she's my age. Each of us is very unique...which is why the 'one size fits all' conventional medical mentally is such a disaster. Your journey is yours, and only you can change the course if you're going in the wrong direction. This is true with everything but especially when it comes to your weight. Look deeper, get help from a qualified integrative or functional medicine doctor, and implement gradual, realistic changes. Most importantly, be patient with yourselfIf I could do it, so can you!

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