The Two Week Wait

the two week wait with Naturopath Tess Doig, Fertile Ground Health Group

It’s important to explore your options for mind and body support during the two week wait, as this is the time between ovulation or transfer of an embryo during IVF,  to when you find out the outcome of your pregnancy test. It can be a time of great anguish, as you wait (for about 2 weeks) to find out if you are pregnant. 

Many women that have been on a fertility journey for a while often say they are living their life in 2 week increments. The 2 weeks leading up to their ovulation are filled with planning, and lots of sex in the days before ovulation, which then moves into stress and anxiety post ovulation, followed by a depressed few days when their period comes, to be repeated over and over. 

Seek Support

To help support you in this time, here are a few tips to help optimise your body in lowering stress, improving your mood and as well as optimising your body to hopefully lead to a positive pregnancy test. 

  • Reward yourself with a massage, a shopping trip or a delicious meal out with your partner (no wine though please). There is some evidence that supporting dopamine can help support implantation. Dopamine is produced when we feel a ‘reward’, so no better excuse to treat yourself than this. It doesn’t need to cost money either, it could be running a bath for yourself with some candles, chatting with an old friend on the phone or anything else that feels good. As well as supporting dopamine, it can also help as a point of distraction during the two week wait.
Sex for everyone
  • Commonly, when couples have been trying to conceive for a long time, sex can become a little mechanical and left for just the fertile window.  However, studies show that a woman being exposed to a male partner’s semen post ovulation or transfer can actually help implantation. When an embryo implants into a woman’s uterus, her body has to perform a miraculous feat of down-regulating her immune system to allow the foreign cells from the embryo to join into her body and allow her blood supply to continue to nourish and grow the embryo. In no other time does this happen, think of how many immunosuppressive drugs a person must take in an organ transplant. It is believed that a woman continuing to be exposed to a male partner’s cells through contact with semen, this supports that down-regulation of her immune system to support the embryo’s implantation. Sex can also be a wonderful way to boost dopamine, see above, as well as to strengthen the connection between a couple.
  • When going through the fertility journey, allowing sex to be for pleasure and not just baby making, can be a wonderful way to maintain your connection in any context you choose – be it to yourself, to your partner or otherwise. Sex can be supportive whether you’re conceiving naturally, through IVF or in a heterosexual or same-sex couple. For single women, self-pleasure can be just as beneficial. 
When is sex not recommended?

The only time I may consider sex may possibly not be safe during the two week wait, is if you have a significant vaginal infection such as Bacterial Vaginosis. Hopefully this has been looked into and treated prior to conception but if you are unsure, speak to your naturopath practitioner. 

Nutritional & Medicinal Support
  • Eat nitric oxide rich foods such as berries, beetroot, dark chocolate, pomegranate and leafy greens. Nitric oxide is a chemical in the body that helps to open blood vessels and promote blood flow. Increasing blood flow is important for implantation to help nourish the uterine wall and embryo. Some examples of how to include these foods could be a berry choc smoothie with cocoa and organic raspberries, or a roasted cauliflower and beetroot salad with a yogurt dressing and pomegranate sprinkled on top. The other benefit of these foods is they are often feel-good foods, boosting your mood. Another fantastic way to support blood flow can be getting acupuncture, and many studies support acupuncture for not only improving implantation but also relieving stress and anxiety.  
  • Take your progesterone or progesterone supportive herbal medicines. Progesterone is produced in a natural cycle post-ovulation from the corpus luteum, the temporary gland that is produced once an egg leaves the ovarian follicle. Progesterone supports implantation by down-regulating the immune system, lowering inflammation and maintaining the uterine wall for implantation. If during your preconception work up, your naturopath has found you have low progesterone, they may have implemented strategies through nutritional supplementation or herbal medicine to increase progesterone levels. If this is the case, please remember to take your medicines in this time as it is important to continue to work on your progesterone. During an IVF cycle, progesterone pessaries are very commonly prescribed, and please continue taking these as prescribed by your fertility team. There are other benefits too – low progesterone can increase anxiety and insomnia, so by supporting healthy levels of this hormone you can also support a happy mood. 
  • Take your probiotics: some strains of probiotics can support progesterone production which helps with implantation as well as supporting good bacteria that support implantation as well. Bifidobacterium strains, in particular, have some research they can increase progesterone, while the lactobacillus species are the beneficial species in the vaginal microbiome. As mentioned above, vaginal infections can possibly affect the implantation process, by increasing inflammation, and triggering the immune system, so support a healthy vaginal flora while helping to boost your progesterone levels. Speak to your naturopath about which probiotics are right for you, as different species have different roles in the body. 

These strategies can be really helpful in supporting your body to increase the chances of falling pregnant and lowering your stress and anxiety during the two week wait, but the real work comes in preparing your body BEFORE conception. Working with your naturopath for at least 4 months prior to conceiving, can increase your chances of pregnancy through natural conception or IVF by improving egg and sperm quality, supporting healthy nutrient levels, looking at microbiome issues and addressing hormone imbalances (just to name a few). There is a myriad of things we look at improving for people who are struggling to conceive. 

If you would like to find out more how I can help you, please book a free 10 minute consult and we can have a chat about your current fertility struggles and make a plan to move forward.

Yours in wellness

Tess Doig

Tess Doig is a highly skilled degree qualified naturopath with over 9 years of practice specialising in the areas of fertility, pregnancy, women’s health and mental health. She is skilled in complex infertility cases, helping support many women and couples through unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage, IVF, male factor infertility and more. 

Along with supporting singles and couples with fertility, she also has a passion for all areas of women’s health including hormone imbalance, gynaecological disorders, vaginal infections, autoimmune conditions and mental health.

Read more about Tess and make a booking to get started on your journey together.

How to tackle guilt during the silly season

Are you eagerly anticipating the start of the silly season (and holidays!), or dreading the craziness which inevitably emerges when you mix families/ food/ alcohol and the (second) weirdest year on record?! It feels like the perfect time to talk about how to tackle guilt during the silly season – and to be kinder to our bodies and minds.

For many, this time of year can feel challenging. ESPECIALLY if there is an already fraught relationship with food and eating… Instead of being a time of celebration, it becomes a time of consternation. Worrying about over-indulging, constant fear of gaining weight, imagining how your family will judge you for your body or appearance after a year (or two) apart, and guilt about the dessert… or the ham… or the pavlova you take a slice of every time you walk past the kitchen. Instead of being a time of relaxation and enjoyment, it can feel exhausting and stressful.

But it doesn’t have to.

As we temporarily step away from the routines and rituals which structure our daily lives, our mind can ring the alarm bells (often loudly!). These routines provide us with certainty and a sense of control, which means as we move into a more ‘fluid’ time of year, we lose trust in our capacity to honour our inherent needs and are instead filled with uncertainty about our ability to cope. We fear that, without the diet or meal plan or gym session, we will become chaotic eating machines. What follows is usually guilt and remorse for our apparent lack of willpower and self-control and a rollercoaster of emotions as we grapple with our constantly nagging inner critic.

So what can we do?

Firstly, BE KIND.

Our tendency is to berate ourselves for stepping outside the lines. A part of us is desperately afraid that if we ‘fall off the wagon’ it will mean we will never get back on again. We might find ourselves eating differently during the holidays, because it is a different time of year.  This in itself is JUST WHAT IT IS. It is what we MAKE THIS MEAN that ultimately creates dissonance. In other words, we eat a big slice of Christmas pudding.

The only truth here is that we ate a big slice of Christmas pudding. What we tell ourselves (ie what we make this mean!) is that we are hopeless/ have no willpower/ will get fat/ might as well eat everything all day long…/ fill in the blank… The truth is, you ate something. Full stop. It is what it is and instead of judging yourself for the choice you made, ask if you can accept this, with kindness, and move along. Fixating on every extra chocolate you eat will not change what happened, but it will create discomfort and anxiety.

Secondly, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

This one can feel a little challenging if you rely on a diet plan or eating regime to make decisions. Outsourcing our inherent body cues instead of paying attention to what we are feeling can mean we are very disconnected to what is going on inside. Taking a moment to breathe and notice your hunger, the sensations that are present and what it is you TRULY want can go a long way to nourishing yourself. And it’s not always food you are needing! In fact, oftentimes food is simply a convenient way to relieve stress, boredom or loneliness.

Being present with the sensations that arise in each moment and enquiring where they are in the body, as well as allowing them to move through us can mean instead of reacting by eating unconsciously, we are able to respond and meet our needs instead.

Thirdly, HONOUR YOURSELF + SET BOUNDARIES.

Find ways to support and connect to what nourishes you EVERY SINGLE DAY. Sometimes when we step outside of our day-to-day lives and get around family, we can get triggered. Creating a daily ritual or practice can be an incredibly powerful way to check in with yourself. And it doesn’t have to take a long time! Five minutes of conscious breathing, a quiet cup of tea on the grass, a morning shake or stretch or 10 minutes of meditation can bring us back into our sovereignty. Be honest with yourself and others about what you need so that instead of being at the mercy of the world around you, you can connect first to your intuition and be in service from there.

And finally, HAVE FUN!!

It’s been a year for all of us, so don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself! Laugh, connect, dance, eat, be merry. Life is short and we are here to experience it all. It’s ok to be who you are, your messy, beautiful imperfect self.

Lots of love, Jane x

Jane Holland Fertile Ground Health GroupWritten by Jane Holland, respected holistic Nutritionist at The Melbourne Apothecary, renowned international retreat facilitator, adored Deep Sleep Yin Yoga teacher.

Jane is running a free webinar on 11th January 2022 which will be available as a recording after the event. Register here to get free access Reprogram your relationship with food, eating & your body

Book in with Jane to understand and reshape your food story, build a healthy relationship with your food and body, and create behaviours in your life that support your healthiest self. (Jane is currently offering free 10 minute Nutrition consults to help you take action – when booking navigate to heading Nutrition > Free 10 min consult > Jane Holland)

Create A Fertile Life Book Launch

We are incredibly grateful for everyone who was involved in making our book launch such a special night. Our book baby has been birthed into the world!

Our attendees enjoyed platters of yummy treats on the night, as well as a show bag full of goodies to try at home and listened to talks by fertility specialist Dr.Lynn Burmeister, building biologist Nicole Biljsma, and of course our book authors Gina Fox, Charmaine Dennis, Tina Jenkins, Rhiannon Hardingham and Milly Dabrowski.

Some people were asking about whether you can still join our private community Facebook group for Create A Fertile Life, as well as sign up for the FREE miniseries we created to celebrate the launch of the book. The answer is YES YES you may join both the facebook group as well as sign up for the miniseries.  You can also purchase your copy of the book here Create a Fertile Life.

P.S. If you are a practitioner and want to join us on 2nd October for our practitioner only launch event, please sign up here. We know as soon as we announce the special guests for this one, spots will be snapped up in a flash. Make sure you are also signed up to our practitioner list for future collaborative events and opportunities too.

Thank you to all of our beautiful friends who took photos xx.

 

Create solid foundations for your fertility

By Gina Fox, FGHG Naturopath and co-author of Create a Fertile Life.

 

Preconception health really does set the foundation for creating healthy eggs and sperm to conceive, and to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. 

So what is involved in a preconception and fertility plan with a naturopath?

Ideally for at least 3-4 months before you begin trying to conceive, you will both pay close attention to your diet and lifestyle, your environment and any chronic health issues that need to be addressed.  Extensive testing for nutritional levels, infections and other contributing factors are all undertaken.  Your family history is explored and your personal medical and health history is extensively mined for clues as to anything that may compromise your fertility.  Everything from digestive issues to nutrient deficiency, hormone imbalance to urinary tract infections can be really important contributors to fertility, many of which are highly treatable or responsive to natural medicine support.

This process is comprehensive, enlightening, empowering and most importantly, takes you on a journey of continuous improvement that at the very least leaves you feeling healthy, energised and vital, but more importantly may help you achieve a healthy baby.

Preconception planning directs us away from unquestioning or despairing acceptance of genetic destiny or environmental randomness. Investing in yourself at this time of your life goes a very long way. There is surely no other time of life in which such major changes occur and where our action is potentially most powerful.

Both the sperm and egg take around 3 months to develop / mature and in this time they are both vulnerable to damage; creating interruptions to normal healthy development and even chromosomal abnormalities.  The embryo and developing baby are significantly influenced by their environment, and their genetic development is profoundly altered by influences from outside.  So we focus on reducing risk factors, optimising the environment in which they develop and hopefully creating the most positive outcome possible: a sweet, healthy baby.

What is the ‘perfect embryo’?

Both the egg and the sperm contain 23 individual chromosomes, which combine at the moment of conception to create the 23 pairs of chromosomes required to make a human. At the very moment conception occurs your child’s genetic stamp, the strongest predictor of their future health, learning abilities and susceptibilities, is created. And the thing that dictates these outcomes are those individual 23 chromosomes in the sperm and the egg.  And the good bit is that you can influence the genetic make-up of your child by improving your own health during the months prior to conception.

Your fertility is a barometer of your general health. As well as an increased chance of conceiving a healthy baby. This approach promises a host of other benefits.  All treatment approaches have their side effects and ours is no different.  Reported effects of regular visits here have included: improved aging (anti-aging), increased energy, healing or improvement of chronic health issues, stress reduction, weight loss, sleep enhancement, reduced disease risk, especially for some of the most common lifestyle diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease … and so much more! The investment you make in your health now will have consequences well into advanced age.

We are often asked by patients what the odds are of their falling pregnant, or, what our success rate is. It is a fair question but not a straight-forward one to answer. Unlike a running race, the fertility journey for most people is not a straight run to the finish line. But very much like a race, those who do well are usually the ones who have put in the hard yards: done the training, eaten well, taken care of themselves, made adjustments along the way, done as their team of experts has advised and consequently showed good endurance.

At Fertile Ground our focus is on optimising, creating the best you, making the most of what you’ve got.  Are you ready to start?

We hope you enjoyed this peek into our new book, Create a Fertile Life which is packed with practical information – It’s an A-Z of pre-conception health so you can create the ideal foundation for your healthy baby.  

Written by Gina Fox, Naturopath, Fertile Ground Health Group and co-author of Create a Fertile Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is Ashley Gordon, Acupuncturist?

We talk to Ashley Gordon, Acupuncturist at FGHG and discover what makes him such a fabulous, dedicated practitioner and why he has chosen to focus on reproductive health, fertility and pregnancy acupuncture.

What initially ignited your interest in studying to become a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner and acupuncturist?

Before my time as a TCM practitioner, I was a middle school Biology and Maths teacher. This was good, but I knew there was something… I was on the prowl for job satisfaction. Whilst having a treatment from my acupuncturist, she said “you seem to know a lot about it, ever thought of studying it?”… baffled at the timing of that statement, my answer was “not until now…” and the rest was history!!

How does an Eastern philosophy differ from a western philosophy in terms of fertility and reproductive support?

In my understanding, as different as they can be, they are both just as crucial as the other. Simplistically and generally, Western philosophy seems to go by numbers… if they fit, then they are good. This may not always take into consideration factors such as stress, emotions, sleep and their related symptoms in the body… this is where Eastern philosophy comes in quite strongly. Together, they can make as awesome team, but each have their own ability to stand independently. Fertility and reproductive support can be so easily affected by so many different lifestyle choices. It make sense to sort these out ASAP!

What unique challenges and rewards come from working with your patients in an independent, non-Western healthcare care setting ?

The rewards are many. In fertility and reproductive support specifically, the answer is simply sharing in the joy of people succeeding in their goal of having a baby. In general, assisting people in working towards better health and maximising all that their body and life has to offer. The body knows, we just need to point it in the right direction sometimes…

Chinese Medicine is such a broad discipline with so many different tools, could you offer some insight into how Chinese Medicine works best for you as a practitioner and which areas you particularly love treating?

Without a doubt, my passion lies in treating pregnancy with acupuncture. My fascination and intrigue with the human body is epitomised by pregnancy. Watching the body, grow, adapt and mould whilst still supporting the day-to-day life of a human, blows me away. My other favourite is pre-conception care – assisting this miracle to happen is such a joy!

 

Ash-Gordon-colourAshley Gordon, FGHG Acupuncturist

Ashley is an experienced acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist who is passionate about utilising the innate healing qualities of the body in achieving the desired outcomes. Be that in fertility, pregnancy or general health.

Ashley has a strong focus on preconception care, pregnancy and birth preparation and is motivated by the journeys and emotional and physical changes that these experiences bring. It is his privilege to a be a part of such a personal and life-changing journey.

Meet the special in your IVF Specialist – Dr. Manuela Toledo

Our practitioners at Fertile Ground Health Group communicate regularly with many medical specialists for the shared care of patients and to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved. This collaborative approach has enabled us to get to know some fabulous specialists and we thought you might like to meet the “special” in your Specialist too!

Often these doctors work tirelessly and are fiercely committed to their practice. The subject of our first interview in this series, Dr. Manuela Toledo from Melbourne IVF is no exception!  Read on as Manuela let’s us in on her views about her work and area of speciality.

Meet the special in your Specialist – Dr. Manuela Toledo, Melbourne IVF.
What is your best advice for someone trying to conceive?
Optimize your lifestyle choices at least 3 months prior to conception. Of course this means no smoking and minimal alcohol and caffeine. Exercise moderately for 30mins 2-3 times a week and eat a diet rich in folic acid and antioxidants i.e. fresh organic fruit and vegetables. In addition a multivitamin with folic acid and good hydration.

Oh, did I say no smoking?

What do you love about your work as a fertility specialist?

There are so many aspects to being a fertility specialist and it merges psychology, medicine and surgery. I enjoy the multidisciplinary approach to fertility management and have a special interest in second opinions and patients with complex fertility problems. Never a dull moment!

Why did you choose fertility for your specialist profession from all of the medical options available to you?

I started off training as a resident in general and plastic surgery but felt myself drawn to the fascinating science of reproductive medicine. I would have also liked to be an embryologist (a scientist who works in the IVF laboratory) but enjoy patient contact too much.

What part of your work sometimes brings you to tears? 

I don’t cry easily (except maybe watching a sad movie on a long haul plane flight when I am jet lagged) but it is very emotional when a successful patient comes back with her newborn and extended family who are all very grateful. It makes one realise that the impact of infertility is far reaching.

What are the biggest challenges about being a fertility specialist that your patients don’t see?

Unfortunately Victoria is the most heavily regulated jurisdiction in the world with regard to fertility treatment and there is a lot of paperwork that goes on in the background. Victoria is the only state in Australia (and the world) that requires police checks prior to fertility treatment and I resent that my patients are forced to have these discriminatory checks when the naturally fertile population doesn’t.

According to the bureau of statistics, the average person has 10 jobs in their lifetime. What did you do before becoming a fertility specialist? Do you ever see yourself doing anything different?

I have worked in medicine and fertility for so long now that I cannot see myself doing anything else. Reproductive medicine is a very fast moving field and staying up to date is imperative. I have however also served on the Board of Melbourne IVF which has helped me understand how running the very complex management side of an IVF unit works. My main work is at Melbourne IVF but I also intermittently work as a consultant at TasIVF in Hobart and Launceston which I really enjoy. So in a way I feel that I do have several different jobs.

Do you recommend your patients see an acupuncturist or naturopath while they are doing fertility treatment? Why?

Many of my patients are already seeing a naturopath and/or acupuncturist and have already optimised their lifestyle. This is often very beneficial for their fertility treatment and they seem to cope much better both physically and psychologically, so from my point of view I am very supportive of a multidisciplinary approach.

What is your all-time best success story that you can share?

There are so many success stories but I always remember those that have had unsuccessful and sometimes quite complex treatments in Europe, the UK and USA often even with donor eggs and then finally come home to be successful here with their own egg in a natural IVF cycle – that is very special for me and confirms that sometimes less is more.

How can people contact you if they would like more information?

You can call my office directly on 03 9415 1815

 

For more information about Dr. Manuela Toledo or to enquire go to the Melbourne IVF website

Dr Manuela Toledo, MBBS. FRANZCOG, MMed. CREI qualified (Certification in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility) with a holistic approach and a special interest in complex infertility.

Manuela Toledo graduated in medicine from The University of Melbourne and started specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology in 1997.

Manuela trained at both The Mercy Hospital for Women and The Women’s Hospital in Melbourne and became a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 2004. During this time Manuela also completed a Masters of Reproduction and Genetics at the University of Sydney.

Manuela spent three years as the Melbourne IVF Fellow completing specialist training in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, obtaining the CREI specialisation in 2008. She joined Melbourne IVF as a consultant in 2006 and served as a member of the Melbourne IVF Board from 2006-2013. Manuela holds a VMO position at The Women’s Hospital.

Manuela is interested in all aspects of infertility and has a special interest in providing second opinions for complex infertility, fertility preservation and complementary medicines.

 

 

Zucchini and Chilli Pepita Salad

Zucchini Salad with Josephine Cabrall from Fertile Ground Health Group

Zucchini and chilli pepita salad is a simple dish that I love for shoulder seasons where we are still having some nice days but the weather is getting colder. It’s still got a lot of freshness about it but the grilled zucchini is easier to digest than raw salad and the chilli pepitas give it some warmth. The lemon, dill and feta really get your tastebuds going.

This dish is super yummy as a BBQ side salad with just about every type of protein – fish, tofu, tempeh, chicken, red meat, falafel, chickpea or lentil burgers. If I have some leftover I often have it for breakfast on a slice of dense wholegrain bread with a poached egg on top.

Zucchinis are very high in fibre, which feeds beneficial gut bacteria and helps you to feel full and satisfied, as well as aiding healthy bowel movements. They are also very low in carbohydrate. All of these things are great for hormone balancing, general health and are compatible with a PCOS diet, if that is what you are aiming for. Being dark green in colour, they are a natural source of antioxidants and folate, making them great for fertility and pregnancy.

Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) add a good source of zinc – helpful for skin, hair, immunity, fertility and so much more.

Ingredients
  • 4 large zucchinis, sliced lengthwise
  • A large handful of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • A pinch (or more as desired) of cayenne pepper (chilli powder)
  • Half a bunch of fresh dill, leaves picked
  • 30-40g of goat’s chevre or goat’s feta
  • Half a lemon, juiced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Method

Brush zucchini slices with olive oil and cook them on a grill plate until soft and browned, flipping halfway. You could also roast them in a 200 degree oven on trays (don’t overcrowd the trays or they’ll go soggy before they brown).

Toast the pepitas in a fry pan with a splash of olive oil, pinch of salt and the cayenne pepper until just starting to go light brown, then remove from heat to cool on a plate.

Assemble the salad by tossing the zucchini with the dill, lemon and olive oil, crumbling the feta on top and sprinkling over the pepitas.

Want more? Download your free PCOS & diet guide, filled with delicious and healthy recipes specifically for people with PCOS – Written by Naturopath Josephine Cabrall.

Weight loss and PCOS

PCOS and weight loss with Josephine Cabrall from Fertile Ground Health Group

Weight loss improves just about every aspect of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Whilst it is often more difficult to lose weight when you have PCOS, even modest weight reductions can have a significant impact on PCOS symptoms plus reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

How do I know if I need to lose weight?

Being overweight, especially around the waist, causes insulin resistance (even if you don’t have PCOS) because fat cells release substances that mess with insulin sensitivity. This means that being overweight increases insulin levels even more, worsening PCOS signs and symptoms. In short, being overweight is bad news for PCOS.

Body mass index (BMI) is a good guide to determine if you are in the overweight range or the healthy weight range. You can calculate your BMI using a simple online calculator and plugging in your height and weight (there are many available).

How to get started on weight loss

It’s not so simple to just lose weight and if you have PCOS with insulin resistance, this can be even more difficult because insulin is a hormone that promotes fat storage. Both diet and exercise matter when it comes to weight loss but if you need to make changes in both areas, start with diet and once that is a routine for you work on your exercise routine – changing everything overnight is hard and you don’t want to set yourself up to fail.

When it comes to diet, head over here and get your copy of my free PCOS & Diet eBook. It outlines the dietary changes that have the most impact on weight loss for people with PCOS. If you check out the eBook but still need more help or have questions, you might need to work with a naturopath to work out the best diet for you as an individual.

What’s the best type of exercise for weight loss and PCOS?

There are two types of exercise that have been shown to be effective for PCOS and weight loss:

  1. Resistance training

Resistance training means moving your body against a resistance. The resistance can be your own body weight (e.g. push ups, planking or yoga) or equipment such as bands or weights. You can do resistance training at home if you’ve already got some experience with how to do it safely. If not, get help from a professional PT to ensure you adopt the correct posture and alignment, avoiding injury.

If you can’t afford a personal trainer, join a gym and ask the staff for assistance in getting your posture and alignment right on their equipment. If the gym is not your thing, join a strength yoga class such as Iyengar, Ashtanga or Vinyasa.

Resistance training is designed to build muscle mass. Increasing muscle mass has a positive effect on insulin resistance and boosts metabolism, meaning your resting metabolic rate is faster; you burn fat while at rest.

Research has shown resistance training can reduce androgens, waist circumference, body fat percentage and fasting blood glucose: all good things for PCOS. However, the best results come with doing a combination of resistance and aerobic exercise.

  1. Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is also known as ‘cardio’ exercise and refers to any exercise that gets your heart and lungs to work faster. You breathe harder, your heart pumps faster and you work up a sweat. There are many ways to do this and lots of them are actually fun! Dancing, swimming, sex, aqua aerobics, team sports, cycling, HIIT, circuit training and jogging are just a few of them.

Beyond improving insulin resistance, aerobic exercise has many benefits. Aerobic exercise improves circulation, increases energy levels, increases endurance, reduces risk of heart disease and diabetes, reduces body fat, maintains a healthy weight, improves mood and improves sleep.

How much exercise do I need to do?

Based on the research you should do 1hr of resistance training three times weekly but you should start slowly and build up to this. On alternate days you should do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. Have one day off per week to give your body a rest.

More is not better

If you push yourself beyond the above guidelines you run the risk of pushing your stress hormones too high, which inhibits weight loss and increases insulin.

My top 4 tips for success
  1. Get friends and family in on it

Making a time to exercise with friends or family increases your motivation and makes exercise more enjoyable. It makes you accountable for showing up. Likewise, a healthy diet, such as outlined in my PCOS & Diet eBook, is something that can be done as a family or with friends. It is a health choice that is beneficial for everyone, not just those with PCOS (if you have children they can eat the same as you, just let them eat freely of healthy carbohydrates rather than limiting their intake).

  1. Any type of exercise is better than no exercise

If all you can do today is just go for a walk then it’s better than nothing – you are still having a beneficial impact on your hormones when you exercise, even if weight loss is not achieved.

  1. Set realistic goals

If you can’t stick to a strict regime as outlined in the exercise section above, just do what you can. Any sort of increase in physical activity is better than none.

Set a goal of something you can do that is easily achievable. Once you can stick to that for 3 weeks, set a higher goal. For example, if you currently walk for 10 minutes per day, increase this to 15 minutes. Or get a pedometer and increase your daily steps by 2000 each week.

  1. Prioritise it

One of the excuses you might give yourself is that you simply don’t have time exercise and prepare food. This is when you need to sit down and make a list of all of the things that take up time in your life and prioritise which ones are going to make you the happiest. Chances are that being healthy is going to be near the top of your list.

Other things might have to take a back seat in preference of your health.
You might find that some things can be combined. For example, seeing friends and exercising could be rolled into one on some days. Preparing food and family time are other things that could be done together. How you shape your life is up to you but one thing is for sure: if you don’t prioritise time for weight loss, it won’t happen.

Need more help?

Losing weight can be really tough, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Some great choices are personal trainer or exercise physiologist, naturopath, nutritionist, osteopath, acupuncturist and psychologist or counsellor. All of these professionals can help you tailor a plan that is most effective for you as an individual and help keep you accountable and motivated along the way.

Josephine is currently offering free 10 minute consults to everyone. These sessions give both practitioner and patient the chance to see if the therapeutic relationship is a great fit, as well as to get you started on the path to feeling better, whether that be prescriptions on the day, referral for testing, or simple extras that you can incorporate to support yourself even more. 

Book in with Josephine to get started > bookings > Naturopathy > Free 10 min consult

What’s driving your food story?

Food Relationship with Jane Holland at The Melbourne Apothecary

January. The month that should be renamed ‘Try-a-new-diet-ary’. 31 days of shiny good intentions, dosed with ramped-up ‘health’ marketing schemes, and laced with a sprinkle of post-holiday guilt… One 2019 UK study * estimated 26 million people start a weight-loss diet on the turn of the New Year, but 87% (or almost 9 out of 10) will break these new eating ‘habits’ by January 12th… Sound familiar?!

The truth is, even when we KNOW it is nonsensical to change our way of eating at 12.01am on January 1st, so many people still attempt to do so! Driven by marketing campaigns, societal ideals, or the compelling conviction of a colleague who lost ‘10kg last year on keto!’, we are addicted to the idea that controlling or manipulating our eating patterns will somehow alter our bodies, and therefore our lives.

Food lifestyle changes – yes or no?

Unfortunately, these diet trends are often cleverly marketed as ‘lifestyle changes’ when really, they are just another set of rules and restrictions that prevent us from understanding our individual body’s cues and getting radically honest about the real drivers of our behaviours that determine how, when, why and WHAT we eat.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that we simply throw away all guidelines without the support of a qualified practitioner, nor ignore research and data about what foods and nutrients support specific conditions. Nor am I suggesting that it is a bad idea to reflect on what we are consuming and make choices that are nourishing and support vitality! What I am suggesting however, is that understanding the RELATIONAL aspect of eating, including our own relationship to food, our bodies, and the systems in which they are created, is the foundation upon which real and lasting change can occur. And it is often overlooked when we are making decisions about our health.

Action VS Thought Patterns

We tend to think that if we change the ACTION, we will experience the results. And while this may be true if we desire a short-term shift and have the willpower to follow the ‘rules’, it does not focus on WHY that behaviour occurs in the first place, nor give us freedom and spaciousness to make different choices in the future. Our ‘food story’ is often intricately bound up in childhood memories, cultural narratives, and familial patterns. Our body carries the impact of these stories and it is not until we are willing to explore, enquire and untangle them, can our body respond and find its way back to its most natural state of being.

Untangle your food shame

My focus as a holistic nutritionist is to support you in understanding your WHY, and to create tools that allow you to untangle and explore the stories that keep you bound in cycles of body shame, diet confusion and the mistrust of your own intuition. As a degree qualified health practitioner, I draw on current scientific research and work with you to achieve what it is you desire to FEEL, allowing you to create a safe, nourishing, and spacious connection to food, eating and your body.

Now THAT feels like a New Year’s Resolution that lasts…

 

Written by Jane Holland, respected holistic Nutritionist at The Melbourne Apothecary, renowned international retreat facilitator, adored Deep Sleep Yin Yoga teacher.

 

Book in with Jane to understand and reshape your food story, create a healthy relationship with your food and body, and create eating habits that feel right for you.

 

* source: https://inews.co.uk/category/news/health

Identify your Unique Fertility Needs

Sage King Unique Fertility Needs Fertile Ground Health Group

What’s your Fertility Plan and do you know how to identify your unique fertility needs?

Welcome to this free 6-part article series designed to help you determine your fertility plan and understand the steps you can take to optimise your fertility outcomes. 

Over these 6 weeks we are going to discuss all potential options for those of you who are:

  • single, 
  • in same-sex relationships, 
  • are gender non-conforming, 
  • or are in a heterosexual relationship.

In these articles I will address information around:

  • trying to conceive, 
  • options if you have been struggling to conceive, 
  • considerations for those of you thinking about IVF, 
  • considerations for those of you currently undergoing IVF treatment,
  • how beneficial naturopathy can be in optimising your fertility outcomes.

Opportunity to Ask Me Questions – LIVE

After each article release, you have the option to submit any questions you may have by 7pm Monday evening to the Create A Fertile Life Facebook group. If you’ve not yet joined that private group you are welcome to go there and request to join.

If you wish to submit your questions anonymously, you can private message the Fertile Ground Health Group Facebook page and admin will forward them to me. 

Each Tuesday, I will be answering your questions live in this Create a Fertile Life Facebook group at 7pm AEDT, so we can all learn from each other.

Your Fertility Plan

Now, some of you may know exactly what your plan is, others may not have thought about it so concisely yet. Whatever stage you are at, I want you to provide you with the tools to determine what your fertility plan can look like and how you can optimise your outcomes with Naturopathy. Grab a pen and a piece of paper, or type in to a document on your phone/computer so that you can create the skeleton of the items that relate to YOUR individual journey and we will build on this each week over the next 6 weeks. 

I am excited to embark on this journey with you. Let’s get started!

Part One: Identify Your Unique Fertility Needs

In the same way that we are all our own unique individuals, no two fertility journeys nor pregnancies are the same.  It is important for you to identify what your family plan looks like, taking into consideration your age, who your fertility plan involves – who is providing the egg (you or your partner?), who is providing the sperm (you or your partner? Sperm donor – known? Clinic recruited?), who will be carrying the pregnancy and in which timeframe you wish to try to conceive. 

Age & egg quality

For individual’s trying to conceive, age is something that is spoken about regularly. I see frustration in many of my patients when age is spoken about and I understand that frustration because, well, you know the impacts of age on fertility. While age is something we cannot change, thorough preconception care can positively influence your egg quality and reduce the impacts of biological age as much as is possible. 

Statistics show a decline in fertility from 35 years of age, with a further decrease after 40-42 years of age. (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Gynecologic Practice, 2014; Fertility Society of Australia, 2018) Individuals assigned female at birth are born with all their eggs and research now shows that egg quality can be positively influenced in the 100 days before ovulation. (Fertility Society of Australia, 2018)

If you’re 34 years old or younger, you’re fortunate enough to have at least 12 months to undertake a thorough preconception screening and treatment protocol. 

If you’re 35 years or older, your time to conceive considerations are a little different. If you’re wanting to try to conceive within the next 3, 6, 9, 12 months, it is essential you undergo a thorough preconception screening for your individualised preconception care as soon as possible to maximise your time to influence your biology in a positive way. The more time, the better! In some cases, the best opportunity to conceive involves using donor eggs, however this is something that is determined on a case by case scenario and takes many factors into account.

Timeframe of starting your fertility journey

Have you considered the time in which you want to start trying to conceive? Considerations include your age, sourcing a sperm donor and individualised preconception recommendations. It is good to start with an estimated time frame. The time required to optimise your health for conception will become clearer once you’ve undertaken a thorough preconception screening. 

The minimum recommendation for your optimal preconception screening is 3 months. However, some of my patients have more time-sensitive scenarios where we will tailor their treatment protocols to support where they’re at in their fertility journey, whilst closely monitoring their pathology and working alongside their fertility specialist.

Questions you might want to consider
  • What does your timeframe of trying to conceive look like? 
  • Do you have an age in mind of when you want to start your fertility journey or have children? 
  • Given the information you know now, has this changed or become clearer? 
  • Will you need support in trying to improve your cellular health and egg quality due to your biological age? 

Maybe you’ve already started your fertility journey and unfortunately are yet to achieve conception. No matter what your circumstances, preconception screening and care is the best way to optimise your…

Want to keep reading? Sign up to get instant free access to Sage’s preconception article series and find out about the intricacies of your menstrual cycle, sperm donor considerations, intercourse, conception, egg quality, egg carrying considerations, assisted reproductive technology, home insemination, the answers to your questions and more.

Written by Fertile Ground fertility Naturopath, Sage King.