My personal experience & results of genetic testing

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Pure Encapsulations®  

I am excited to share this post with you! For this post, I have partnered with Pure Encapsulationsto share my experience with having the results of my 23andMe genetics test interpreted with their PureGenomics web application. I truly love Pure Encapsulations and have worked with them in the past (which you can read my post here; Gut Health & L-Glutamine). If you aren’t familiar with Pure Encapsulations, they make hypoallergenic dietary supplements that help support our bodies & mind. I consistently take their l-glutamine for my gut health; which was not only recommended by my nutritionist but my gastro doctor as well. After taking my genetic test and discussing my results in such detail with their nutritional genomics expert, Dr. Nathan Morris. I have decided to add a few more vitamins into my daily routine. After speaking with Dr. Morris over the phone and going over my test results, it was interesting to see what my body may need support for despite eating a pretty healthy diet and exercising regularly.

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I know most of you all are familiar with my gut health set backs (previously have suffered from SIBO, leaky gut, IBS, gastroparesis) as well as anxiety and constant migraines- because of this, I try my absolute hardest to eat certain foods that will help improve my gut health, calm down any inflammation and ones that will help contribute to a healthy strong mind. I could always tell that my body was lacking in certain things (whether feeling constantly tired, suffering from bloating, headaches, or having trouble sleeping) and sometimes we can’t always reap all the benefits from the foods we eat; there are always outside toxins, genetics, traveling, or other things that continuously play a role in weakening our immune systems or stressing out our bodies! 

Anyways, about 3 months ago, I took the 23andMe genetics test, so that I could get my raw genetic data and then upload it to the PureGenomics platform. To be honest, I had never heard too much information about nutritional genomics and genetic testing before, but was really excited to take it because my boyfriend just had and a few members of his family did as well. 

You can read exactly how the PureGenomics web application works here; but in a nutshell it is - “a website application that identifies common genetic variations known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) that are clinically relevant and nutritionally actionable.  This unique platform makes it easy to TEST, TRANSLATE and TARGET SNPs with the right nutritional support, empowering practitioners with precision and confidence in the pursuit of optimal health for every patient.” 

It sounds overwhelming, so let me break it down for you. SNPs, are simply genetic variations that explain the differences among all of us. PureGenomics looks at the raw genetic data you upload and shows practitioners which SNPs you have and which of those SNPs might have a decrease in function and may benefit from further lab testing and possibly some diet, lifestyle and nutritional support. This is all done by  uploading a simple data file to PureGenomics with the help of your healthcare practitioner. So easy, painless, and simple! 

The different vitamins that Dr. Morris recommended based on the results of my test.

The different vitamins that Dr. Morris recommended based on the results of my test.

I also discovered things about  how metabolize certain foods (such as coffee & alcohol), the different levels of serotonin my body produces and how that affects my mood, and how well I am likely or less likely able to focus. Deep down, I think most people can get a feel for how their body is; just by certain signals it sends us, but seeing it written out for me (and in graphs too!), helped me fully understand what my body needs, why it lacks certain vitamins (such as Vitamin D and Zinc), and I was able to draw connections. 

For example, from walking through my personal report in the PureGenomics application with Dr. Morris, I learned that I tend to have lower levels of vitamin D, I am more likely to be deficient in B12 & Zinc, and I am likely to have lower levels of serotonin. As a result, a lack of these things plays a major role in my ability to concentrate, my mood, and energy levels. Also, I tend to have high levels of histamine meaning that certain foods or wines may cause inflammation in my body or contribute to my migraines! Since I metabolize coffee and alcohol at a faster rate and I’m unlikely to flush it out optimally, it gets into my blood system quicker which may leave me jittery and have trouble sleeping. See the connections? Knowing which of these SNPs I have enables me to treat my body and mind more effectively by either cutting out the culprit or adding on a few vitamins; such as Vitamin D (to help with mood), B12, as well as a multivitamin. Some of my levels were on the lower scale and therefore it would be nearly impossible to improve through food and exercise only. A good multivitamin and a few others would be beneficial in order to help improve what my body is lacking. 

[DD1] 

There was also a section on weight management SNPs, which I thought was pretty fascinating. Due to genetics, I am the type of person who stays primarily the same weight regardless of diet and exercise. Activities like lifting help me build muscles and strength but yoga keeps me lean; my body can adapt to whatever exercise I take on as well as the foods that I eat. Dr. Morris explained that even if I were to eat a high fat diet, such as the Keto diet, I likely wouldn’t put on weight. However, someone who is the opposite of my genetic make up, that follows the Keto diet might have trouble losing weight and may even gain weight. I thought that was interesting for certain people who tend to follow different diet trends and may not realizing that they are simply eating incorrectly for their body because that diet doesn’t work well with their specific genetic makeup. My results also showed that I may have a reduced ability to convert omega-3 fatty acid precursors (like linolenic acid from flaxseed oil) to activeomega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), and therefore, a dietary supplement would be beneficial for me as fatty fish, nuts, seeds, or certain oils may not be enough to support what I need.* 

-Side note,later on this year PureGenomics will be adding add another piece to their web application that will provide exercise recommendations  based on how your genetics best respond to different types of exercises/workouts; such as HIIT or lower impact. Within the next year, they also are working on delivering SNPs that focuses on gut health - I am really excited for that one. 

We also discussed my inability to focus at times and which vitamin to take to help improve my concentration levels. The test recommended to “Consume a diet high in protein, fiber, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Emphasize lean meats, poultry, eggs and fish as protein sources, which are rich sources of amino acid precursors of dopamine and other neurotransmitters.” However, this may be a result of my body lacking certain nutrients due to my gut health, but by adding in a multivitamin or what was recommend by the doctor, I may be able to help improve my entire well-being. Everything is connected! 

 [DD1]Took this out because it describes the results on the 23andme platform - not PureGenomics. We don't share disease risk stats in PureGenomics. 

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The main genetic variation (SNPs) categories that PureGenomics covers  are: 

Methylation 
Vitamin & Mineral 
Detoxification 
Weight Management 
Cognitive Health & Memory 
Glucose Homeostasis 
Immune 

Complete a genetic test kit from 23andme.com or Ancestry.com. Then work with your healthcare practitioner to create a profile on the PureGenomics web application and set up an appointment with them to walk-through your in-depth,personalized report (the above categories!). The report will list the gene, SNP, genotype, what it means, diet & lifestyle recommendations, and which product you may want to add to your routine. It’s important to note that you can only get your PureGenomics report by working directly with a healthcare professional. Genetics can be complicated and you definitely want to work with someone who knows how to interpret the results and can make diet, lifestyle and supplement recommendations that would best fit your needs. 

See the photos below; they are snapshots of my personalized test results. 

Results from my personalized test. You can see the different categories on the top and then broken down further for each category.

Results from my personalized test. You can see the different categories on the top and then broken down further for each category.

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I personally think that this a great tool for not only patients but practitioners as well. Since all of the information is provided in detail, both in written form and graphs you are able to walk through the information in detail with any of your doctors who have a PureGenomics practitioner account. Then, you can work together to determine the next steps- additional vitamins, exercise routines, and the type of diet to eat that will work best to support both a healthy body and mind. 

I am extremely happy that I had the opportunity to do this, learn about my personalized results, and I am hopeful that adding in the recommended supplements will be beneficial for my overall wellbeing! 

23andMe® is the registered trademark of 23andMe, Inc. Pure Encapsulations is not affiliated with or endorsed by 23andMe®

"ANCESTRY.COM®" is a registered trademark, Pure Encapsulations is not affiliated with ANCESTRY.COM®.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Wrap up w/ The Financial Gym; goals & more!

I can’t believe that my follow up post is already here and the first one that I had written was in August! You can read my first blog post here. I don’t know where the time has gone, but it seems just yesterday that I was sitting down and meeting my Financial Trainer, Joy from the Financial Gym to help better prepare me for my future, help me set goals, balance and manage my finances, and just make everything related to finances seem and feel less intimidating. It is actually coming at the perfect time, this post, as we end 2017 and begin a new year just in a matter of weeks. It allows me to reflect on the last year since leaving my full time job in April and starting my own business, seeing how far I have come and what I hope to see in the next year and the years to come. 

Just a quick re-cap, if you are unfamiliar, for the last few months (since August) I have been fortunate enough to work with amazing women from the The Financial Gym and was paired with one of their financial trainers, Joy, to work with one on one who offered me different tools, resources, and her full support to make sure I was always staying on track once she went over my full financial profile. All of our calls were through Skype and lasted anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours! My financial trainer acted as a mentor and accountability partner, holding me accountable along the way to help me accomplish the goals that I had set forth for myself. We dove deep into my finances, liabilities, my budget, spending habits, retirement plans, personal goals for the future; and everything else in between related to finances. You can read all about my first few meetings here and more about The Financial Gym in general, as well as the entire process!

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Some of my biggest take away since working with Joy have been:

1.     Becoming more mindful of my spending habits

2.     Establishing concrete goals in terms of financing, budgeting, & saving in real time as well as for the future

3.     Becoming more confident in my finances and taking charge! 

4.     Feeling less intimidated about finances in general & having more knowledge of how things work

 

I will admit that my own father is a CPA as well as a financial advisor so previously and to this day, I receive much of my financial advice from him. I am fortunate enough to have someone in my family whom I can trust to handle my money, help me with budgeting, and everything in between. However, working with Joy has allowed me to take more of an initiative with my money and become more involved. Previously, I would just assume and know that everything was being taken care of such as my taxes, money set aside for retirement, and it was simple to be able to speak to my dad about how to handle my money or what I needed to earn each month in order to pay for certain things, save, budget, or just plan for the future; but it was little more hands off on my end. 

With Joy, I was able to set more concrete goals, understand how everything works, take action, become more confident in my own work, and realize certain habits that I was making in terms of spending. She was able to draw conclusions as to how I was spending my money & ways in which I could save, hold me accountable along the way, and check in with me whenever I saw fit which in turn made me more aware of my habits. Joy, also would lay everything out for me through the use of spreadsheets, allowing everything to sink in once again in a very clear, simple way. It was beneficial for me to have someone I didn’t know personally, watching over my habits because it actually made me more aware of what I was doing. Every time I would use my credit card, hit a new goal, missed a goal, or put aside money, I felt proud or felt that I could do better next time. It was almost as if I didn’t want to disappoint Joy and the hard work that she was putting in and I wanted to keep up on my end as well! Our relationship was 50/50 and I needed to also put in the work and the effort just as she was for me! Therefore, it was refreshing working with her and not someone personally as I mentioned before. I held myself more accountable for my actions. 

 

Some of the goals that I established while working with Joy: 

1.     Set aside money to re-do my blog. 

1.     I want to be able to save enough money in order to work with someone on re-designing my blog. I hope that by Jan 1 I have established this goal. I want to be able to have someone in place by the new year and then begin to initiate the goal once the year starts. 

2.     Cut back on spending in certain areas:

1.     Grocery bills

1.     Notice my spending habits, how can I save, how am I wasting food/product, what ways am I overspending each week 

2.     Misc. spending: Little things that tend to add up that you are unaware of such as: eating out, uber, coffee, where you are buying certain household products or items that you could either buy in bulk or cheaper at different places in order to save money. 

3.     Credit cards:

1.     Increase my credit card limit 

2.     Take advantage of more opportunities that are available: example: points / rewards 

4.     Set aside a percentage of money each month or every time I am paid

5.     Goals set for work

1.     Increase the number of events I host for 2018

2.     Blog re-design (mentioned above) 

3.     Establish longer term contract with companies that I work with 

4.     Increase my rate 

5.     Teach more yoga classes 

6.     Become better at handling administrative tasks

1.     Example: I can always reach/hit long term/big goals, but often struggle at meeting smaller deadlines that take up less time because I am looking at the bigger picture. 

1.     One way to overcome this; I’ve decided to set aside 1-2 hours one day every 2 weeks in order to take care of things such as: paying bills, checking in on missed invoices, follow up emails, organizing my calendar, etc.

 

These are just a few of the goals that we had established while working together over the last few months. It has been an extremely positive experience and eye opening especially in my spending habits and little areas that I can save money, which will help in the long run. It might seem like not much now, but a little bit here and there adds up in the long run! Working for myself it is increasingly important that I am aware of this because there is less stability versus have a stable / steady income. However, after spending time with Joy I feel more confident in the direction that my finances are moving and even my work. Just in the last few months I have been able to increase my projects with the companies that I work with, my income, and have completely adjusted my spending habits. It isn’t always perfect, but I am 100% more mindful. 

In terms of the goals that I have set and if I have reached them or the current status; I believe that they are a work in progress. Every day, week, month should be a goal to cut back on spending money and looking for ways to save, but you also have to adjust at certain times due to holidays, financial expenses (bills), and even times spent with friends! I am however, happy to say that I have cut back on spending in areas such as my grocery bills, uber expenses, and even coffee by walking more, making coffee at home, and organizing a grocery list before going to the store so I am better prepared! I have also been able to increase my pay with companies that I work with and establish longer term contracts as well as teach yoga at a second location. For events, last year (2017) I hosted around 5 but this year I wanted to increase that number and so far, I have scheduled 2 with another one in the works. I am still in the process of working on finding the right person to help me re-design my blog as that will be a big financial expense for me and a big decision that I will need to make! It is something that I want to spend time on making sure I do right since it is a huge part of my brand. For the last two weeks, I am proud to say that I have been more organized with smaller tasks and bigger projects at hand. I have been able to focus on one thing at a time and then set aside certain hours to check emails, pay bills, and take care of any miscellaneous tasks. I’ve noticed that I have been able to complete projects before deadlines, stress less, and take on more. I am happy with where I am right now with the goals that I have set and know that I have to work towards a few more, but feel satisfied with the work that I have completed thus far and continue to do!

I believe that it is extremely important to take charge of your finances now in order to better prepare yourself for your future and it shouldn’t be something that feels intimidating. Even if you do not have a 5 year plan or have set long term goals in place, you can still have a sense of how everything works: budgeting, understanding your assets, liabilities, retirement options, credit card options, how much money you are spending for health insurance, rent and how much you are bringing in each month. By working with Joy closely I was able to grasp these terms and then that allowed me to establish better goals for my future; where I see myself with my own career, how much I want to be making, what I need to do in order to save for a family or even purchase a home or a new car, even if a few of these things aren’t in my immediate future. 

My next meeting with Joy will take place after the new year in January and hopefully I will have a few of the set goals above met! I feel that if I wasn’t speaking with Joy or having her watch over my finances, many of these goals wouldn’t have been met or I wouldn’t be as mindful about my spending habits. This isn’t because I lack motivation, it is quite the opposite, it is just that I get caught up in my day to day routine or only look at the month ahead. I often forget to set time aside to take care of things that I personally want to do in order to build my brand because of the day to day tasks or projects that I am working on. With Joy, I was able to establish a few long term goals, set deadlines, and be held accountable for my actions, instead of brushing them off or being afraid to achieve them. Speaking with her also made me excited for the new and the direction that my brand will be going. I have things in mind that I want to take care of and I am excited to implement them! 

Hopefully after reading this and my first post, you too will feel less intimated about taking initiative with your finances and actually feel more confident about handling everything! The women at The Financial Gym certainly make it easier and extremely comfortable to talk to them openly and they have been a great resource! 

It is such a great start! If you want to try it out, they have been so generous to offer a 50% discount code by just simply saying “balance with b” off your first month of service if you get started in September! You can also sign up for a free 15 min consult call here to learn more about the service and get all your questions asked and answered before making a decision to use them or not.

Yoga for Winter Months (Heathline Article)

Yoga for Winter! 

I wrote an article for Healthline, that discusses all things health and well-being and shared several ways as to how yoga can help you stay fit, motivated, and keep you calm during the winter months! I also shared 7 different poses that can help with any stress, anxiety or just give you some energy that you might be looking for during the winter! Essentially a way to have a start a home practice or turn your apartment into a mini studio when it becomes challenging to get to a studio during the winter months! Click the link above! 

theSkimm, Healthcare, and YOU!

For the month of June, I’ve partnered with theSkimm, for their No Excuses Healthcare Campaign. Ok, two things; first if you aren’t familiar with theSkimm, it is a media company that is changing the way female millennials receive news and information, that was just so happened to be started by two females! You are 100% missing out if you are catching up on the latest news every single morning with them. It has a no BS, super funny, but factual way of delivering the news to you; all before you even wake up. It’s just waiting in your inbox ready for you to open the moment you roll over in your bed and grab your phone in the morning. 

Second, you are probably wondering, what their No Excuses Healthcare campaign is all about. A quick summary: They are engaging their audience on key issues driving the national conversation and challenging US to make ‘No Excuses’ when it comes to being informed. During their last No Excuses campaign, they activated over 1.5 million of their followers across social media to take action. For their campaign around the 2016 Election, they registered over 110,000 people to vote. And for their recent No Excuses immigration campaign, they rallied over 500,000 people to take the citizenship test. They’ve been making huge differences to say the least in getting people involved, spreading the news, having people become more aware, more informed, no matter what political or social stance they take! It doesn’t matter! The goal is just to become informed and to simply care about what is happening in the world. You can read about their No Excuses Health campaign, by clicking here

"Why is this a big deal?

Because theSkimm’s mission is to make it easier to live a smarter life. And this time, we’re getting personal. Part of living a smarter life is taking charge of your own health. That doesn’t just mean going to the doctor. It means understanding what health coverage you have, what you want now, what you would want for your children, and how that matches policies being discussed. And we don’t just want to give you the info you need to understand and join the conversation, we want to give you the tools you need to take action."  Link

So why is this important to me? For starters, you all know that health is a big deal to me, a really big deal. Mental health and digestive health is my life and I openly discuss it with you all whether it be on my blog, Instagram, or throughout my stories from time to time. If you’ve been on this health rollercoaster ride with me, you remember that in February of this year (2017) I decided to leave my full time job and unbegntost to me, my health insurance was terminated before the end of the month from my previous place of employment. I had talked about this happening to me and the situation on my stories the moment that it happened, sharing my feelings, thoughts, frustrations, and was taken back at the amount of responses that I had received from you all that had experienced similar situations or had/have issues when it comes to health care coverage. I was under the assumption and was told that I had health care coverage until the end of the month, yet when I had gone to the pharmacy to retrieve my medication, I was unable to due to the lack of insurance and the prices it was going to cost me. I suddenly had no health insurance and the medication was now costing OVER 1,000 dollars for only a 30 day supply. Unfortunately, this medication is something that I need to take currently every single day as it is preventative care for my migraines. I’ve tried to not take it before, but have continuously ended up in the emergency room with severe migraines that are so debilitating that it takes almost 2 weeks to recover. Secondly, money does not grow on trees and I had NO way of paying for this. 

Naturally, I cried and was at a loss as to what to do. Working for yourself and figuring out health plan is the best one is confusing. (Side note, there are a variety of plans out there: HMOs, PPOs, EPOs, POS, HSHPs and so forth…any sound familiar or just confusing you even more?!). Honestly, would you know what to do? Which plan to pick, truly know which one would be the best for you now, fit your needs, your budget, in the future, for emergencies, medications, doctors and anything that might come your way? 

Having no health insurance flooded my mind with thoughts: What if I had a family? What if this was an emergency situation, how would I pay for it? What if I had a child and the child needed this medication ASAP? I couldn’t imagine how stressful this would be. Luckily, I can get by without taking the medication for a few days as I know what I need to do to take care of myself, but after a few days, I need to take the medication, as my system will begin to develop migraines, anxiety and it will soon spiral out of control. 

It ended up taking over 3 months to figure out a health insurance plan that would work best for my situation. The first two weeks of figuring out a plan were extremely stressful. It felt as if I was being passed along from one person to the next and because I take medication and see my doctors a good amount, I needed coverage fast. Therefore, for the first month, I had to go on a plan in which I had to pay a ridiculous amount for the first month. I would say that it was as high as most people’s monthly rent. However, there was no time to figure things out, wait a few weeks, plan ahead, or give it much thought because I needed medication and I needed coverage fast and this was the only thing that I could do. After that month had past, I was able to switch plans, a plan that is much better, the price is much lower and it works for me now and for the future. Even just typing this is giving me flashbacks and headaches! 

I often wonder I had just been more informed from the start, could this situation have been avoided. Would there been a way to have worked with my previous place of employment, my doctors, or anyone else to have figured out what I would have needed to have done in order to make this transition much smoother. If not, then it is up to me to be completely informed about what is available to me. I share this with you, not to cause stress, anxiety, or to freak you out, but because there are real issues that we must face every single day that we often forget about. There are things such as health care, that you need to be informed about; it affects me on a daily basis and my future greatly and while it may not affect you now, it will in the future; if there is an emergency, if you have a child, visit the hospital, anything! Being prepared now, being informed, and educated, only allows you to take care of yourself better today, tomorrow and the future to come. It is especially important, for us, women because we need to be in control of what happens to our bodies and should be the ones making the decisions when it comes to matters such as our reproductive system. We should have a say in how we want to run our bodies, the medications that we want to take, and the plans that fit our needs the best. This link, is a great read by theSkimm, that talks about statistics, facts, and other information regarding women, healthcare, and our systems today. Its quick and to the point, mainly focusing on reproductive care, trust me! 

I wanted to bring awareness to this idea, the importance of healthcare, the importance of being informed, educated and aware of your options, in hopes that you to do the same to others. Even if you are perfectly healthy now, it doesn't mean that it will not affect you later in life.Little did I know that leaving my full time job with benefits and working for myself, would I end up in the predicament that I was in for a few months. It was stressful, expensive, and left me feeling extremely frustrated and only wanted to learn more information about how our system works as well as make sure people are aware as to how important this is. Living in our world today, we should make it a goal to stay current with the issues that we are challenged with daily so we can either, make positive changes, be informed for the sake of it, and most importantly spread awareness. 

These kind of topics can make your head SPIN, I get it! theSkimm can help you understand everything and break it down for you! They’re Skimm’ing everything you need to know, by going here!

Meet: Jeannette of @shutthekaleup

Before we get started, a lot has been happening in my own personal life & I am excited to share just a few of the projects that I have been working on. [I am going to make this short as possible to not take away from Jeannette- more shares to come!} For starters, just as one's personality and life progress, it only seems natural that my blog would reflect this transition as well. Food/recipes of course, will still be of main focus, but so will yoga/wellness/and anything else that life throws at me. To kick things off with this new theme I have decided to do an interview series and what a better way to kick it off with J! [which we will get to the reason as to why I choose her first.] Each month, I want to shine the spotlight on someone that we all love in the community or someone that we might not know too much about. Someone that continues to inspire not only me but others as well each day. Readers would get to see a snapshot of their daily lives plus I think you will enjoy reading each one because I am approaching it with a lighthearted and fun touch.

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