How to Reduce Stress Naturally?

How to Reduce Stress Naturally?

I hope you’re having a great week! I’ve got some fitness advice for you this morning when it comes to relieving stress.

If you’re like many people I talk to, you might take this advice as extra stress and added pressure … but NO WORRIES! I have your back, 100%!

One of the very best things you can do to cut stress is to add some aerobic/cardio exercise to your daily routine. It’s been proven in numerous clinical trials to be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety.

That’s because it works on a hormonal level in two different ways…

First, it lowers the level of stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline, which I’ve talked about a lot lately).

But it also helps your body produce more endorphins, which are your “feel good” hormones that help boost your mood, and also are natural painkillers.

That’s not even talking about all the other health benefits you can get from doing cardio, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of many chronic diseases.

The reason I said this news stresses some people out is that the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that most of us get 150 minutes of moderate cardio exercise a week.

But don’t let that number scare you.

That’s only 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. And that 30 minutes doesn’t have to be done all at once – you can rack it up in shorter bursts of activity over the course of the day.

I know for some people (especially those who have been inactive or are coming back from illness/injury), even 30 minutes over the course of a day can seem like a lot.

I’ve got a good rule of thumb you can follow so you don’t end up doing too much, too soon and end up feeling overwhelmed and overtired (and overstressed!).

What you want to do is just start doing some form of cardio exercise. Walking is a good bet, but so is biking, dancing, swimming or any other exercise you enjoy.

Depending on your experience and fitness level, you can start out with 5-10 minutes, and not worry too much about how hard you are working – although if you’re new to working out you definitely do NOT want to be pushing so hard you get winded to the point you can’t hold a conversation.

You can start out with just a few sessions of cardio a week, and then build up over time.

The 10% Rule

The 10% rule that has been used for decades to help people improve their cardio fitness.

Here’s how it works: if you’re working out for a total of 60 minutes a week (15 minutes, 4 times a week), you would add 10 percent to that (6 minutes), so you are spending a total of 66 minutes working out the next week. You can break that up however you want: you could do 3 x 15-minute sessions and 1 x 21-minute session, or whatever works for your schedule and how you feel.

Once you get to the point where you are able to go for 20-30 minutes at least 3 days a week without getting too tired, you can start adding little intensity boosts to your routine.

Basically, you just start walking/cycling a little faster for a set period of time and then slow back down so you can recover.

One of my favorite ways to add intensity bursts to my cardio is to load up a music playlist with some of my favorite “pump me up” songs, and every time the songs get to the chorus, that’s when I pick up my pace!

It makes it fun – and that’s always a hallmark of a good workout!

Depending on your history with exercise and current level of fitness, you might notice in a few weeks, you will notice you’re able to ramp up your time a little faster than you could the first week or so.

To your radiant health, with love


How to Have A Stress-Free Holiday Season

How to Have A Stress-Free Holiday Season

Happy November!!

It’s here. We’re officially heading into one of the busiest times of the year!

Before everything ramps up … let’s take some time to get prepared NOW.

A little bit of effort now will help you cruise through the holidays without the stress.

It all starts with taking care of YOU.

When life gets hectic, one of the first things to drop off our to-do lists is our self-care routine. Which is ironic, since taking a little time for yourself each day will help you do everything else better.

Here are some tips to stay ahead of the game:

1. Try to make a simple meal plan each week during the holidays, so you can avoid too many on-the-go meals. Holiday treats are notoriously high in salt, fat, and sugar, which will just leave you feeling bloated and awful.

But more importantly, eating sugary foods affects the good bacteria in your gut (that helps you fight off cold and flu viruses), which obviously can have a negative impact on your immune system. It also inflames the delicate gut lining. It will cause glucose (blood sugar) spikes followed by insulin spikes, which is pro-inflammatory.

What are some easy meals you can throw together at the last minute? My go-to’s are turkey burgers and veggies, scrambled or hard-boiled eggs (yes, even for dinner!) and sweet potato, pre-roasted veggies with some grilled chicken.

2. Don’t compromise on your exercise time. Keep your immune system happy and get in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like a brisk walk) most days of the week.

One study found that women who walked for a half-hour every day for a year had 50% fewer colds than those who didn’t. That’s because regular walking appears to lead to having more infection-fighting white blood cells.

Not only that, but exercise can help you fight stress. When you work out, your body releases more feel-good, mood-boosting hormones.

3. Make a list (or two!). If you have a hectic holiday schedule, start planning NOW so you can do as much ahead of time as possible. Running around at the last minute trying to get everything done is the absolute worst!

Put together a checklist of everything you have to do, and then do it (even better, delegate it!).

4. Relax. Make time for family and friends and enjoying old traditions or making new ones.

Let go of expectations of how you think things “should” go and enjoy them as they are! It’s often the things that happen out of the ordinary that we look back on with a smile.

If you’re going to be alone or working over the holidays, make time to mark the occasion! Watch a movie, eat a special meal, or treat yourself to a spa session.


Homemade Chai Tea


8 cups Water
5 servings Cinnamon Stick
2 tbsp Cardamon Seeds
2 tbsp Whole Cloves
1 1/2 tsp Black Peppercorns
2 tbsp Ginger (peeled and thinly sliced)


Combine ingredients together in a large pot and simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes and then strain. Serve. Add milk and honey (optional). Enjoy

Keep an eye on your inbox, because I’ve got great recipe ideas and stress-free holiday tips coming your way over the next few weeks.

I’ve also got something special coming up…

To your radiant health, with love

Dr. Ilona

PS! If you would like to receive more information on how to create healthier holidays join our Facebook group, the amazing sisterhood.

How Stressed Are You?

How Stressed Are You?

We know stress is aging us at a faster pace. We also know that chronic stress is one of the root causes of modern diseases. Managing stress is as important as diet. Even if you have a perfect diet, stress can damage your health. We also know that we can’t avoid stressful situations. We can choose how to react to those situations.

Let’s have some conversation about stress.

How do you feel? Do you find it a struggle to get through the day feeling sane?  Stress is a key factor for all health issues, and it may be driving you crazy. And to say that you should work on stress management seems like an easy answer, but there isn’t anything easy about it. People who suffer from issues due to chronic stress can present with many symptoms. The problem we face is whether we are suffering from overactive adrenals and high cortisol or underactive adrenals and low cortisol.

A salivary or urine hormone test could determine this, but you may not want to incur that expense. Use this checklist to help you determine whether you’re dealing with overactive or underactive adrenals. You can have one or the other or be somewhere in between. This means that some days you’re pumping too much cortisol, making you feel anxious and irritated. And some days you may be suffering from low cortisol, leaving you feeling sluggish and blue.

Strategies need to be able to support overall adrenal health. Underactive adrenals will take time to correct– two months to a year – depending on the person, the condition of the adrenals, and the nature of the diet and lifestyle. Overactive adrenals can respond more quickly with proper diet, supplement and lifestyle suggestions.

Strategies for Underactive Adrenals and Low Cortisol

  • Check for digestive issues and support good digestive function.
  • Supplement with B vitamins.
  • Try an adrenal adaptogen or adaptogen formula.
  • Try foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium as these can be helpful.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time and get at least 7–8 hours of sleep.
  • Rest when your body signals you to do so.
  • Try adrenal glandulars (which can be helpful) or reishi, schizandra, licorice (contraindicated for those with high blood pressure), or maca.
  • Get counselling for emotional issues as this can be helpful.

Strategies for Overactive Adrenals and High Cortisol

  • Practice deep breathing exercises throughout the day.
  • Supplement with B vitamins and vitamin C.
  • Consume foods rich in vitamin E and potassium foods.
  • Try magnesium to counter feelings of agitation, especially before bedtime.
  • Try adrenal adaptogens – relora, rhodiola, ginseng, schizandra, holy basil, or ashwagandha.
  • Focus on getting a better-quality sleep.
  • Try any of these supplements to help you relax at night – GABA, 5HTP, valerian, hops, or passionflower. Raw honey with cinnamon is also helpful.

Develop a lifestyle to combat stress. This can include counseling, developing time management skills, reframing, or just doing activities you enjoy.

Foods That Help Balance the Adrenals

Supplements are helpful, but foods can also help balance cortisol. The following can easily be added to smoothies, soups, baked dishes, or salad dressings.

  • Reishi mushrooms – dried or powder
  • Maca root – powder
  • Schizandra berries – powder or dried berries
  • Goji Berries – powder or dried berries
  • Holy Basil – powder or grow your own in an herb box
  • Ashwagandha – powder

Supporting the Gut for Adrenal Health

Studies have found that both prebiotics and probiotics help support the adrenals and help manage cortisol levels. GOS, a prebiotic found dairy products, is helpful for stabilizing moods and lowering cortisol. Probiotics, found in supplements and fermented foods, help lower cortisol and anxiety.


  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice
  • 1–2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1–2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1/2–1 tsp ashwagandha powder
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup frozen raspberries

To your radiant health, with love

Inspired by one of my business coaches I am offering free coaching sessions for 5 people. If you think you could benefit from it here is the link to schedule it.

The Thanks-Giving Diet

The Thanks-Giving Diet

As we enter the autumn season and the holidays approach, those of us who are conscious of our waist lines realize the delicious dangers that await, and may even start to plan our New Year’s resolution to shed the holiday pounds.  However, for many people, the weight we gain on our minds rather than our mid-sections is of much greater concern.  Family stress, financial difficulty, and seasonal depression can make this time of the year especially difficult.

One possible way to combat this “emotional obesity” is to go on a mental diet and feed yourself with positive thoughts and emotions.  A very powerful emotion is that of gratitude.  While it may sound naive or idealistic to be “thankful for what you have,” being thankful and appreciative of the good, satisfying things in your life can improve your overall health.  Your focus shifts from problems and shortcomings, thereby relieving stress.  It is a well established medical fact that increased negative stress can lead to mental, emotional, and physical difficulties or illness, so any reduction in such stress can be beneficial.

Here are a few tips to cultivate that “attitude of gratitude” in your daily life:

Adjust unreasonable expectations.  A good deal of stress comes from people and circumstances not fulfilling our expectations.  While it is good to have standards, having unreasonable or impossible standards only will set you up for disappointment.  By setting reasonable goals, you will have plenty of opportunities to be thankful.

Choose to be thankful.  Whether we like it or not, gratitude is a choice.  There is an old axiom which states that while we cannot control our circumstances, we can control our response to circumstances.  When faced with a difficulty, we can choose to sink ourselves into bitterness and frustration, our we can choose to shift our focus to the positive aspects of the situation or other areas of our lives.  Decide today to no longer let circumstances dictate how you react.

Appreciate the little things.  Too often we take for granted those daily blessings.  Whether it is a nice home, delicious meal, steady employment, or loving family, it is easy to forget to appreciate such things.  We encounter these things every day, and so every day we have one or more chances to be thankful.  Try to build up a habit of showing gratitude for ALL that you have, not just the big stuff.

Slay the green-eyed monster.  It is tough to be thankful for what we have when all we can think about is what others have.  Envy and jealousy for the personal or material success of others impairs our vision to the point where we cannot see all the good around us.  Too much time is spent worrying about what we think we should have or what we believe we deserve, when we can instead be grateful for what we actually do have.

The power of gratitude lies in its ability to free you from oppressive thoughts and actions.  When you are grateful for what you have or receive, your focus shifts and you are immediately free of disappointment, envy, and frustration.  You will obtain a sense of fulfillment because you have something that gives your life value and meaning.  Such positive feelings not only generate a wonderful outlook, they also cause a reduction in stress that can lead to better overall health and well-being.  By loading up on a daily thanks-giving meal, you can be healthier in body and mind!

Challenge Step

Start a gratitude journal!  Every day for the next 30 days, write down three things that you are thankful or grateful for.  Try to write three different ones every day.  Then, at the end of the 30 days, review your journal so you can fully appreciate all that you have in life!

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