Solar Eclipse 2024

Solar eclipses are a watch worthy natural phenomena and this year we can view it across the United States with 90% or more clarity from many places. But what other meaning does a solar eclipse have? The sight of the moon passing in front of the sun, gradually obscuring its light can be viewed not only with awe but with insight. Here are some things to consider if you are an eclipse fan:

  1. If you are able to view the eclipse outside it’s an opportunity to connect with the natural world and feel the largeness of nature and the cosmos. When we are able to do this regularly it helps us to focus less on ourselves as individuals and any problems or challenges we are facing, even if only for a short time
  2. If you are able to watch the eclipse with a group of folks, sharing in the excitement and wonder of nature, helps us to connect with each other and feel that sense of bonding and community that is so important for physical and emotional health and well-being
  3. Lastly if you are interested in self-growth, eclipses are sometimes associated with new beginnings, personal renewal, and societal transformation

Regardless of your reasons to see the eclipse, I hope you enjoy the experience because you’ll have to wait another 20 years for this opportunity to come again.

Face What You Need to Change

This quote from James Baldwin really hit home for me. I have been having a few old health issues showing up recently. Whenever there is something challenging it is normal human behavior to try to ignore or hope it goes away. I did that for awhile, fully knowing that there was something deeper emotionally I had to look at. As a mind body practitioner, I truly believe that most physical problems also have a mind/emotional component. When we have a handle on the role the mind and emotions have on the body we can really go deeper into whatever is ailing us, and in many cases the problem will resolve.

I remembered a technique I learned in my Mindfulness Teacher Training class called dialoguing with a symptom or body part and decided to try it. The techniqe is simple. Take some breathes, relax completely and than connect to the part of you that needs support. Once you feel connected start dialoging asking questions such as “why are you there,” “what do you need to tell me,” “what do you need from me to feel better,” etc. After spending a few minutes practicing this technique I got a very strong story as to what the origin of the problem was and what I needed to do to feel better.

If you are struggling with an illness or a symptom of some sort and you have done the traditional medical approach and still not seeing any results, it may be time to look at something deeper. Healing is a complex process that usually needs time and multiple tools to help.

Feel free to contact me if you need help with this practice or any other mindfulness practices to get outside of your head and balance your body, mind and spirit.



What I learned from tropical storm Isaias

Storms are hard. There is the fear of not knowing how bad it will be or how to prepare adequately. There is also fear watching the storm with the trees blowing in the wind and seeing branches coming down and hoping nothing will damage your house or property. I have had several trees come down in different storms and damage my house and deck. And then there is the aftermath of the storm in terms of cleaning up the debris, getting all of the trees that are down cut up and off the property and finally getting any lost power, internet and cable back up.

During Isaias, I was home watching the storm and went downstairs to where I felt it safest when the eye of the storm hit about 2 PM. I heard branches come down and later found two down trees on the property where I am renting, one making a nice sized hole in the gravel driveway. We lost power, cable and internet. I was incredibly lucky to have a partial generator which kept my refrigerator going, some lights on as well as microwave and toaster oven. I made 3 nights of prepared foods the night before the storm as a precautionary step. We had extra batteries for 3 lanterns and enough propane for the generator. I felt ready. We were lucky to get our power restored in 2 days. It took over 2 weeks however, to get our internet and cable back.

Here is what I learned from the experience:

  1. Having no cable TV was an inconvenience as I like relaxing with Netflix at night, but I enjoyed playing cards, doing cross word puzzles, reading, doing yoga stretches and drawing in my mandala coloring book. I also just closed my eyes and did nothing for just a few minutes which I seldom do which was very relaxing and helped me to sleep better.
  2. For the first week I stayed positive and upbeat, grateful that I had my power restored, had water, etc. I was fine without internet and used the offices at my town to catch up on email and do zoom yoga and nutrition appointments. They were genuinely nice in giving me the space and I was sure it was only for a few days.
  3. By the beginning of the second week frustration set in. I called Optimum many times and got no where with support and service. First, they refused to send anyone out insisting it was because of electricity outages around, even though we had no electric problems. Later, they sent out several people who were the wrong people and could not fix outside problems. I was on hold waiting to speak to a support person for at least an hour every time and most were from another country and far away from the problem. I felt anger creeping in and a sense of hopelessness and loss of control.
  4. Finally, I surrendered to the situation and gave up worrying about it and was resigned that it would be fixed when it was the right time. It was helpful that a good friend offered a spare room in her house for me to do all of my appointments so although it was inconvenient to run over there so much, I had a plan that was working.
  5. It felt good to relax about it and I realized that there were many others in the same situation, so I had empathy for them instead of worrying about my own situation. I also learned that a lot of my fear -based behavior was from conditioning that I had to get all my work done and not let down any of my clients by canceling appointments.
  6. I came to realize that losing internet and cable was worth the sacrifice so that the town and state senator could escalate the problem and that hopefully if we get a similar storm or worse there will be a better solution.
  7. The bottom line is we are all so dependent on technology these days that if it goes down, we are in trouble. I am hoping the experience will help the cable and utility companies to have a better emergency plan and that our local officials will take them to task with fines or whatever would help to fix the problem.
  8. For me, the bottom line is to be prepared, let go of what I cannot control and remain calm and at peace regardless of the storm. I am hoping we have all built resiliency from this experience that well help us to navigate future storms and other emergencies, as well as the rest of the this Covid experience.

I would love to hear what you have learned from the storm if it effected you and from Covid. My heart goes out to everyone in Louisiana and Tesas that have it much worse with Hurricane Laura.


Best Nutrients for Optimal Skin Protection

Wanna nourish your skin from the inside out? Here are the nutrients I recommend and best dietary sources.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A can treat skin conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, wounds, burns, and sunburn. DIETARY SOURCES: liver, egg yolks.
Plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell Division, has anti-inflammatory effects, and protects against UV radiation.
DIETARY SOURCES: red meat such as beef and lamb, and seafood such as oysters, scallops, and other shellfish are the highest animal sources of zinc. Plant foods such as pumpkin seeds and other nuts can also be high in zinc as well, but are less bioavailable.
Vitamin C
Plays a crucial role in the regulation of the structural protein collagen, which is necessary for the extracellular stability of the skin.Vitamin C contributes to better skin appearance and less skin wrinkling. May also help prevent and treat ultraviolet (UV)-induced photo-damage by acting as an antioxidant.
DIETARY SOURCES: bell peppers, guava, dark leafy greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwi, citrus fruits, strawberries, and parsley are high in vitamin C.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Helps regulate the bodies inflammation levels where too much can cause skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and rosacea. Omega-3 fatty acids have been demonstrated to inhibit inflammation in the skin caused by UV radiation, and may even reduce the risk of skin cancer.
DIETARY SOURCES: Cold water fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, and black cod. Walnuts and flax seed.
Probiotics influence systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, glycemic control, which may have important implications in skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
DIETARY SOURCES: fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and kefir in your regular diet.
Vitamin E
Acts as an Important protective factor on the skin’s surface. Vitamin E is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, defending the skin against free radicals, prevents inflammatory damage from sun exposure, helping to reduce the aging and skin cancer risk from excessive UV radiation.
DIETARY SOURCES: soybean, canola, corn, and other vegetable oils. Spinach, turnip greens, chard, sunflower seeds, almonds, bell peppers, asparagus, collards, kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Olive oil contains a moderate amount of vitamin E as well.
Good news, these are similiar to my list for building a strong immunity!
So taking a good multi vitamin and mineral pack with enough A, C, E, and Zinc and a probiotic and fish oil will protect your skin and boost immunity too. For info on my favorite supplement pack, click here

Best and Worst Diets Around The World Article

Check out my recent article in conjunction with Medscape. Click here.

Weight Loss, High Cholesterol & Triglycerides, Osteoarthritis

Brian was a retired 60 year old who came to see me to lose weight and lower his cholesterol and triglycerides. He was on medication for high triglycerides and blood pressure.

To Continue Fertility Treatments or Adopt, That is the Question?

By: Renee A. Simon, MS, CNS

I’ve worked with many Resolve clients over the years who ponder this question, and I had to answer it myself, twelve year sago. The following are some things for you to think about if you are evaluating this decision.

First is your age and health status. Are you in tip top physical shape? Have you done everything possible to improve your diet and overall hormonal health? As a certified clinical nutritionist I always recommend that you get your body in the best possible physical state to achieve and maintain a healthy pregnancy. This usually takes about 3-9 months and usually involves a diet re-haul, a moderate exercise program, clinical testing to find any undiagnosed nutritional imbalances that might prevent you from getting pregnant, and a stress management program.

If you’ve done this type of work and you have had no success either on you own or through multiple IVF’s then it may be time to move on. Think about how many rounds of fertility drugs you have used, and what the long term effect might be on your body. If you are uncomfortable with this thought then it may a signal to pursue adoption. Your emotional state is key to your outlook on life and has a great impact on your physical wellness. If you are uncomfortable with the recommended treatments or if you cannot deal with the roller coaster of hope leading to disappointment, then it may be time to consider adoption. Adoption may not be an easy road but if you stick with it the outcome will always end up positive.

If you think you might be ready to make the switch first evaluate your own feelings about adoption:

  • Are you satisfied that you can provide a healthy family life for a child?
  • How do you and your family feel about parenting a child who is not biologically related, and may look very different than you do? Even if you feel comfortable your family may be not. Be prepared to discuss this with your extended family in depth, before deciding on the kind of child that you feel comfortable with. That is not to say that if your extended family is uncomfortable you should change your plans. It just means that you should know what opposition may be thrown your way so that you can prepare when you bring your child home. Although many family members who express displeasure with your decision may come around when they get to know the child, you cannot rely on this. It will be important to ensure that your child is exposed as little as possible to negative family members.
  • How do you feel about bringing up a child where there may be a little genetic and medical history information available?
  • Will you be able to put any fears you may have aside about the phantom birth parents coming back to claim your child? (Highly unlikely).

My husband and I made the decision to adopt after I underwent 1 laparotomy removing a cyst the size of an orange from my right ovary and subsequent laparoscopies. I had endometriosis that kept growing back and with each surgery there was scar tissue that surrounded my organs and tissues no matter how clean the job was or who performed it. I was also on a variety of meditation that made me gain weight and grow facial hair. When a new medication was suggested to me that was only clinically tested for male prostate cancer, I decided my body had enough. We began to research adoption and six months later adopted a beautiful newborn girl from Texas.

Our prayers were answers and I knew we made the right decision for us. Rebecca is almost twelve now and while there have been some adoption issues that have come up over the years, she has learned that family is far more than who your birth parents are.

A while ago one of my patients told me she was getting older, her FSH was high and she was planning to pursue adoption. She was coming to see me so she could “get healthy and feel better about herself and if she got pregnant it would be icing on the cake.” She lost 30 lbs, got her FSH down, felt younger and better than she had in years and adopted a baby girl. As an older parent, she had the energy and stamina to take care of her daughter.

The message here is to be good to yourself, heal your own body and emotions and have faith that your desires for a child will be resolved, one way or another.

Renee A. Simon is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, writer and workshop leader. She is President of her own company, Total Wellness, which helps clients restore their body’s to natural balance using food, nutrients, movement, coaching, and breathes work. She works with each individual to address underlying physical and emotional causes that hinder wellness – not just the symptoms. She sees clients in Ridgefield, CT, South Salem and Mount Kisco, NY and can be reached at (914)763-9107. Her book Take Back Your Health will be out in the spring and will have a chapter on female hormone balance and infertility.

Natural Fertility Boosters for Women Over 35

By Renee A. Simon, MS, CNS

Many women today are waiting longer to conceive their first and second children. This is usually due to either establishing a career first or marrying late or just waiting because they are not ready. It is sometimes a surprise when a year or two goes by and there is no natural conception.

I have helped many couples in this age group over the years to maximize their fertility chances while in many cases working closely with their medical specialist. If a couples’ chances go down due to a combination of normal aging and environmental factors, then I feel it is my job to help boost the odds by making recommendations to get the body in the best possible physical shape it can to conceive and support a pregnancy. Because stress plays such an important role in our overall health status, then it is crucial to include mind/body recommendations to relax the mind, body and spirit while improving the diet and nutrient status. I usually recommend relaxation techniques to my patients such as exercise, yoga, journal writing, meditation, or visualizations to complement the physical component of the program.

The most important dietary guidelines for everyone who is trying to lead a healthier life style is to follow as natural a diet as possible full of whole grains, fresh organic fruits and vegetables and quality low fat protein such as poultry with out the skin, fish (not swordfish and tuna due to high mercury content and other toxins), nuts, eggs, seeds, legumes and beans, and low-fat hormone free dairy products. Processed and fried foods and hydrogenated oils should be minimally used as well as caffeine, refined flour and sugar and alcohol. If this sounds difficult, remember to begin gradually, and it is OK to have some of these foods occasionally as long as the bulk of the diet is healthy.

It is also very important to drink at least six to eight class of water a day. This is important to keep the body hydrated, which will provide more energy, smoother skin and help to clear the toxins out of the system.

In terms of food supplements, many people need help because it is hard to eat healthy, balanced meals full of nutrients all of the time. One of the most important supplements for fertility enhancement is a good natural multi-vitamin/mineral complex to use as the base. Many prescription pre-natal vitamins are synthetic and do not absorb as well as natural vitamins. In addition, many of them have more iron and folic acid, but lack the minerals necessary for absorption of iron and calcium.

In addition to the multi-vitamin, I usually recommend a B-complex vitamin instead of just taking folic acid because B12 is one of the nutrients that can help protect against miscarriage and the whole B family works synergistically to provide more energy and help control stress. Vitamin E is also an important supplement because it keeps glands that make the hormones healthy and acts as a powerful antioxidant to protect the body against toxins. In addition, vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system, and zinc, which keeps the liver functioning properly, is important for healthy hormone production.

There are three particular medical problems related to women over 35, and especially over 40, that I frequently work with in my practice. They are high FSH, which is usually associated with egg quality problems, luteal phase defect and a greater than normal risk for miscarriage.

I will start with high FSH because many infertility clinics use this as a benchmark to determine if a couple should even try fertility treatments on their own or go straight to donor egg. I have consistently seen over the years FSH levels drop to coincide with a women’s improved nutritional status and overall better health and well-being. That the FSH level drops is just one indicator that everything is working better. One of the tests that I often recommend when taking on a new patient is a hair analysis for mineral and toxic metal status. Many times the results suggest low adrenal and thyroid function, overall lack of minerals, some which are very important for hormone function, and high copper (often due to years of birth control bills or IUD), aluminum, or mercury. When these problems are addressed nutritionally, there is often improvement in overall health and many times a drop in the FSH. Healthier diet and exercise programs as well as practicing stress management techniques are particularly important here.

The second problem, luteul phase defect, usually means altered hormonal secretions leading to a shortened second half of the menstrual cycle or possibly no ovulation or low progesterone. I often recommend a salivary female hormone profile be done in addition to the blood work traditionally done by the doctor. The saliva test uses 11 samples over 28 days to track the entire menstrual cycle. If luteul phase defect appears to be the problem, the herb Vitex may be helpful. Vitex helps the body naturally produce more progesterone . Some natural progesterone cream given on day 12 until menstruation can also be helpful if indicated. There are other herbs that have mild estrogenetic properties that may help if there is low estrogen.

Lastly, is the devastating possibility of miscarriage, which tends to be more prevalent in certain couples. From a nutritional perspective there has been some clinical data on lack of B12 being a possible cause of miscarriage as well as not enough vitamin C and E to help with free radical damage that might increase the odds of miscarriage. According to an article in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, one woman suffered 7 miscarriages before doctors discovered that she was deficient in vitamin B12. The woman went on to have 3 children after the problem was corrected. Women who follow a vegan diet are more prone to B12 deficiency.

According to an article in New Scientist, a hereditary lack of an enzyme called G6PD may cause millions of miscarriages a year. But consuming antioxidant nutrients may offset the harmful effects of this genetic problem. By taking the basic nutrients that were mentioned earlier, the chances of miscarriage can be lessened.

In closing, I hope that this article has given you some insight and knowledge about some of the things that are in your power to control to help with this seemingly uncontrollable process. I recommend that you don’t self-prescribe the supplements and tests mentioned but instead work with your medical doctor and a qualified clinical nutritionist to design a diet and nutritional program for you to tip the conception odds in your favor.

Renee A. Simon is a certified Clinical Nutritionist and wellness educator. She is a long time member and supporter of Resolve and frequently speaks at their educational meetings. She has helped numerous Resolve members put programs together to help them conceive over the years. Ms. Simon practices in Ridgefield, CT and South Salem, NY. She can be reached at (914) 763-9107 or [email protected] to set up a phone consultation or office visit.

Natural Approaches to Infertility & Other Problems

By: Renee A. Simon, M.S. Clinical Nutritionist
Are there natural approaches that may boost your chances of fertility? For many couples the answer is an resounding yes.

My interest in this topic began with my own infertility several years ago. My husband and I tried to conceive without success. We went to several fertility specialists who were convinced the problem was my severe endometriosis. After trying various medications that caused severe side effects and undergoing one laparotomy and three laparoscopies, we decided to give up and pursue adoption. We adopted a new born girl from Texas within six months, and were so happy that we forgot about our fertility issues. That is, until, my next routine gynecological check-up.

I had recently moved from New Jersey to Westchester, New York, and was seeing a new gynecologist. A vaginal ultrasound was part of my check-ups so the new doctor could see the extent of my endometriosis. When he told me there was none, I was shocked. How could this be? Only one year before, a specialist wanted me to go on lupron and have one more laparotomy.
The only change that I could possibly think of was my recent focus on nutrition. I was studying nutrition and had followed a strict diet and supplement regiment for the previous year to solve another problem; what I experienced was overall better health in every aspect of my body, including my hormonal balance and fertility.

To verify my hunch, I began to study the effects of diet and supplements on hormones and fertility. I also consulted a friend who is a holistic health practitioner, specializing in infertility and other female problems. She confirmed that over the last twenty years she has helped many couples conceive with dietary changes and the addition of nutritional supplements where needed. In my own practice, I had helped many women with PMS, migraines and other hormonal issues and now felt encouraged that I could offer hope to many of the couples who suffered through years of infertility.

To better explain how natural approaches may help, let’s take a look at a case of endometriosis. In endometriosis some of the cells that normally line the inside of the uterus attach to the ovaries, cervix, bowel and bladder. Like many other cells, they are particularly sensitive to estrogen, which stimulates tissue growth. So to prevent and manage endometriosis, it is important to lower a woman’s estrogen levels.

Natural approaches include dietary changes and supplements. The key nutrients in the estrogen breakdown process are the B-complex vitamins. Vitamin E helps counter the estrogen; EPA, a fish oil, decreases inflammation and painful periods associated with endometriosis. Vitamin C with bioflavonoids helps build a healthy immune system and build strong, healthy blood cells.

In addition, soy foods or soy protein powder should be consumed on a daily basis. Soy acts as a phytoestrogen, which can prevent a woman’s own estrogen from attaching to cells outside of the uterus. Soy products may also decrease the risk of breast cancer, reduce hot flashes, and lower cholesterol. Foods that may increase inflammation and decrease the body’s overall immunity are anything processed: sugar, alcohol, dairy products, caffeine, wheat, corn, and peanuts.

In addition to diet there are many other factors that effect fertility that might be overlooked by traditional doctors. Some of the most important factors that may go undiagnosed are thyroid problems that don’t show up in the blood, low serum ferritin (iron stores vs. circulating iron), mineral imbalances, toxic metal overload, bowel problems which can cause malabsorption of nutrients and imbalances in hormone levels that go undetected in a single blood sample.

At our office, we now use hair analysis for detecting mineral imbalances and toxic metal overload, stool tests for finding bowel pathogens that might affect overall nutritional status, and saliva tests for following levels of the female hormones progesterone, testosterone and estradiol over 28 days using 11 saliva samples.

We find the tests to be convenient, non-invasive, stress free, and more accurate then single blood samples for detecting certain problems. The saliva tests reveal critical information about hormones. Unlike blood samples, salivary samples represent the free(unbound), bioavailable fraction of the hormone. It would be impossible to test the daily fluctuations in hormone levels through blood throughout the 28 day cycle, but with saliva it is easy and convenient.

Patients with prolonged, unexplained infertility can experience a high frequency of luteal phase defects, including pre-ovulatory progesterone peaks, interruption of progesterone secretion during the luteal phase, and high progesterone levels at the beginning of menstruation.

Because the endocrine system relies on good nutrition for proper function, maldigestion and malabsorption of nutrients can interfere with normal hormonal function and greatly effect a women’s reproductive health. If a patient exhibits any indication of digestive problems, a comprehensive digestive stool analysis and related tests of gastrointestinal function are useful for identifying other factors that may be contributing to hormonal imbalances.

Lastly, the hair analysis is important for assessing mineral status. A small difference in a mineral ratio can mean a big difference in health. We have found the hair analysis particularly useful in finding and treating undiagnosed thyroid problems, zinc deficiencies and copper imbalances — all which can have a major impact on hormones and fertility. A client can have normal or borderline levels of thyroid hormone in her blood and still have a weak thyroid gland. A hair analysis — particularly the calcium to potassium ratio, can give an accurate measure of the function of the thyroid. A zinc deficiency can show up in the hair analysis which can have an effect on male and female fertility. High copper levels can accumulate as a result of zinc deficiency which can cause elevated estrogen levels, hypothyroidism, iron storage disease and ovarian dysfunction.

During the last few years I have helped many couples achieve pregnancy. Many have combined my suggested natural approaches with their traditional medical treatments with great success. The following are some examples.

One couple had normal every day issues, such as frequent fatigue, muscles aches, and colds every winter. The wive also had a lot of work related stress and was subject to frequent migraine headaches. After making dietary changes and adding key fertility nutritional supplements, they reported feeling much better within one month. During the second month the migraines were dramatically reduced, and eventually went away. Within one year, they achieved pregnancy combined with in vitro fertilization.

Another couple complained of a male factor fertility problem. These are the easiest to work with provided there are no blockages or surgery required. Within several weeks the wife called, excited, stating that her husband’s sperm count had quadrupled. They achieved pregnancy shortly thereafter.

The wife of a third couple came to see me, admitting that she had a terrible diet and needed to make some major changes. After doing a nutritional analysis it was evident that she was not getting the vitamins and minerals that her body needed to function on a daily basis, much less support a pregnancy. She also had some problems with endometriosis and a high stress life style. Within a couple of months of dietary changes and adding certain nutritional supplements where needed they became pregnant. Prior to seeing me, they had tried in vitro fertilization twice. The third time, it worked and they are the proud parents of beautiful, healthy triplets.

Finally, I had worked with one woman for several months before and during her fertility treatments. She said that the nutritional supplements helped her with her energy and coping during this difficult time. She achieved pregnancy, but within several months began bleeding. She was bed-ridden with a high-risk pregnancy for the remaining long months until delivery. She stayed on a special nutrition program throughout her pregnancy and was carefully monitored by her doctor. She delivered a healthy baby girl and has since had two others.

Are there natural approaches that may boost your chances of fertility? While there are never any guarantees that making changes to your diet or adding supplements will result in pregnancy, most people feel substantially better, and report more energy with an overall feeling of well being. One teacher, who has followed a recommended nutrition program and has not yet gotten pregnant said, “For the first year I could remember, I was not sick during the school year, and didn’t come home exhausted to take a nap.”

This alone could make a key life style difference for many who are undergoing a very stressful period in their lives.

Renee A. Simon, M. S., CNS is a Clinical Nutritionist with private practices in New York and Connecticut. She does in person meetings and phone consultations throughout the country. For more information, or to set up an appointment, you can contact her at (914) 763-9107.