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  • 08/15/2017 8:09 PM | Les Cole, MD

    Vitamin D is important for a host of immune functions in your body. Vitamin D is critical to both the development and functions of your immune system. It is known that vitamin D is important in many immune functions that protect you from bacterial, viral and fungal infections. In addition vitamin D determines your natural killer (NK) cell numbers and function, which are the cells that attack viral infections and cancer cells. Vitamin D also modulates your helper T cells – reducing inflammatory processes and increasing anti-inflammatory processes.


    How does this information affect your risk for developing autoimmune disease? It has been known for a long time that certain infections are, and others may be, associated with autoimmune disease. If you have fewer infections, your risk is reduced. What about the effect of NK cells? Viral infections that set up housekeeping in various cells of your body – hepatitis C, HIV, Epstein-Barr virus & others – increase the risk of autoimmunity (and cancer). So, the better your NK cells work, the less your risk of autoimmune disease (not to mention cancer, which can also set off autoimmune disease). Lastly, with low vitamin D, your helper T cells are much more prone to initiate autoimmune processes and inflammation than if your blood levels and “Functional Levels” of vitamin D are in the high normal range for your body.

    Low vitamin D and genetic mutations in your vitamin D processing proteins are strongly linked to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and most Autoimmune Diseases. If you have MS or any of a host of autoimmune diseases including Rheumatoid Arthritis, SLE, Hashimoto’s, Psoriasis, Vitiligo, etc. Your “Functional levels” of vitamin D are most likely low. If your blood levels are low, then higher dosing of vitamin D is important. If your blood levels of vitamin D are high normal and you have a genetic mutation in one or more of your vitamin D processing proteins, then you are likely “Functionally Deficient” in vitamin D. This means that at the immune cells your vitamin D isn’t having an adequate effect and so your immune cells aren’t getting enough vitamin D to help them work properly.

    “What are vitamin D ‘processing proteins’ and how do they affect my risk?” Vitamin D has to be processed in order for it to have its beneficial effects. First, it is made in your body from cholesterol; 1 step requiring UV light occurring in your skin, then ultimately leading to vitamin D3 which is measured in your blood. This is not the active form. If there are any reasons for abnormalities to this point, then your blood levels of vitamin D will be low. From this point vitamin D has to be activated to function in all of your cells, including your immune cells.

    You have a protein that converts it to its active form. You have a protein that carries vitamin D in your blood and is itself influential on your immune system. You have a protein vitamin D receptor where the activated vitamin D initiates its effect in your immune cells. And you have a protein that deactivates vitamin D. Each of these can have mutations in them that can increase your risk for MS and autoimmunity even if you have high normal vitamin D blood levels. It does this by decreasing your “Functional vitamin D”. Many studies show connections between these mutations, MS and many autoimmune diseases.

    “What can be done about this?” If you have MS or any Autoimmune Disease, you can have certain testing done to see if your vitamin D levels are optimal in your blood. There are other tests that can determine the “Functional Level” of your vitamin D if you have vitamin D processing protein mutations. If either your blood or functional levels of vitamin D are low, high dose vitamin D treatment is important.

    If you want your vitamin D measured, want to know if you have a vitamin D processing protein mutation, or want help with your MS or autoimmune disease, St. Petersburg Health & Wellness can help.

    List of Autoimmune Conditions that are likely associated with low or low functional vitamin D levels: https://www.aarda.org/disease-list/

    List of conditions associated with low or low functional vitamin D:

    Autoimmune illness, Cancer, Chronic pain, Diabetes, Heart disease, Hyperparathyroidism, Hypertension, Mental illness, Multiple sclerosis, Muscle weakness and coordination, Obesity, Osteoarthritis


    Free Seminars:

    August 16, 6-7:30 p.m. – “Treating Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Disease with High Dose vitamin D”. Les Cole, MD

    At St. Petersburg Health & Wellness, we get to the underlying problems. Call us at 727-202-6807 to get better answers and…”Live Well”

    Les Cole, MD practices Functional, Anti-Aging, Integrative & Preventive Medicine and is certified by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Functional, Anti-aging and Regenerative Medicine and by the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. To learn more about Treating MS and Autoimmune Disease with High Dose vitamin D and other topics to improve your Health and Wellness, visit stpetehw.com, Like us on Facebook, or call St. Petersburg Health & Wellness for an appointment 727-202-6807.

  • 08/15/2017 4:01 PM | Barry Foster

    The Coach’s Corner by: Barry Foster, RCC, CRC, CPBA

    Hello, and welcome back to the Coach’s Corner where we will continue to explore tips, strategies, and practical advice to assist and guide you in growing personally, professionally, and building/improving your business/practice.

    As we discussed in my last Coach’s Corner I’ll be sharing with you the ABC’s of personal, professional, and business development, over the next few months.

    The ABC’s:

    “A” is for ATTITUDE: A positive attitude! A magnetic attitude! A MOJO-filled attitude!!

    “B” is for BELIEFS: An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists even if it hasn’t been

     seen or proven to exist - faith, trust, reliance, confidence

    “C” is for CULTURE: Your personal habits, routines, customs. A way of life.

    The last two characteristics covering the ABC’s of success are your “Standards” and “Values”.

    Let’s focus on them today.

    “Standards”, by definition are: an accepted or approved example of something against which we are judged or measured; A level of excellence or quality.

    Our standards can be the “rules” or “guidelines” with which we choose how to live and how we “assess” others according to our standards. If we have high, say moral standards, then we expect others to live up to or by our moral standards. When they do we may say something to them in praise and or acceptance. If they do not meet our moral standards we may choose not to associate with them.

    A positive attitude might be a standard we hold very high for ourselves. We want to surround ourselves with like-minded people or people with the same standards as we have.

    Our standards are very powerful motivators. They are the limits and/or qualities we desire to live by.

    For instance, the standard level of care and involvement I have for my coaching clients is very high. I hold myself to that standard which is a deeply engrained part of my professional life. Other coaches may choose to not get as involved with their clients. That’s ok for them. That’s a standard they hold true for themselves.

    Our standards can and or need to be flexible at times. We can improve or increase our standards when we learn a particular standard we have is too low or too high. Being too detailed oriented (obsessive) is a standard that might not align with our environment or growth needs. A lack of attention to detail, likewise, may not serve us.

    The last component we’ll discuss is our personal values. Our values are principles by which we live. Integrity, honesty, trust, commitment, and excellence are a few examples of personal values. They are the internal, fundamental motives we use to make decisions. Our values define how we relate to others and how we prioritize our lives. When acting as a filter, our values define how we relate to others.

    All of these are components of our “mindset”. As a reminder, they are the ABCs: attitudes, beliefs, culture, standards, and values that create a strong filter on how we see the world.

    Please come back for the next issue of the Holistic Journal where we will outline how we/you can create change, any change in your life, through a better understanding of your mindset.

    Until then, stay positive, confident, strong, and get your MOJO on …and then some!



  • 08/15/2017 9:13 AM | Kelley Mulhern

    The Wellness Wall is a simple image to help explain the spectrum of health and wellness to patients. Simply imagine a horizontal traffic light with the red light on the left and the green light on the right.

    In the green (all the way to the right), you have those who are truly healthy.  Their bodies are functioning at an extremely high level. They exercise, eat well, and manage their stress every single day for peak performance.  Think of our Olympic and professional athletes as examples.

    On the opposite end – in the red – are people who are very sick. They're likely on multiple medications and may have had several surgeries. A person might be in the red temporarily, if they had pneumonia, for example, or they might be in this area permanently.

    In the middle yellow section is the “comfort zone,” also called “false wellness.”  This represents the person who says “I feel fine” because they equate their lack of symptoms with health. But let’s face it…we’ve all heard of people who were the “picture of health” until the moment they were diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. This is the scariest place to be, because the person doesn’t even know that problems are brewing. Therefore, they do nothing to address them, and their health continues to decline.

    Here’s the thing: We’re all represented on the Wellness Wall  Think of yourself as a little arrow, always moving to the left or to the right.  Every decision you make during the day moves you closer to the right or closer to the left, and some decisions have greater impact than others. 

    Here are a few questions to consider:

    • Where are you and your loved ones on the wellness wall?
    • Where will you be in ten years if you don’t change anything about your life?
    • What causes someone to go to the left on the wellness wall? To the right?
    • Where is “normal” on this wall?
    • What is “the norm” for our society?
    • Which is more likely to cause movement to the left: Lifestyle or genetics?
    • Which way will you be headed if you view health as an expense? As an investment?

    I love this concept and refer to it in my practice every day to help patients understand that they have more control over their health than they think. I use the wellness wall to give people hope that – no matter where they are in terms of their health, they can change their choices and improve the function of their bodies.

    Dr. Kelley Mulhern is a Chiropractic Physician, professional speaker, and published author. She and her husband own and operate Thrive! Chiropractic & Wellness in St. Pete. They provide comprehensive chiropractic care, class 4 deep tissue laser therapy, essential oils, natural weight loss, Acupuncture and more because your body is designed to THRIVE!  http://thrivechirofl.com

  • 08/14/2017 6:43 PM | June Drennon

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness month but instead of thinking about cancer why not think about how you can have healthy breasts? Many women think that the most they can do are cross their fingers and say a little prayer to keep from developing cancer. Actually, there is much more we can do. The World Health Organization says that 70% of cancers can be avoided but many scientists believe that it is more like 90%, with only 5-10% resulting from genetics.

    All of us have bacteria, viruses and cancer cells in our bodies. Why do they grow and develop in some people and not others? It is almost never just one thing but an accumulation of factors. An important factor is the terrain of the body. All disease grows in an acidic, congested environment.

    If we are living a stressful life without enough sleep, eating junk food that is full of pesticides, hormones, antibodies, and sugar we are creating the perfect place for these diseases to grow. If you add on the dangers of eating foods that have been genetically modified (GMO) and radiated until there is no nutritional value you are continuing to contribute to an unhealthy situation.

    When we eat acidic foods our Ph becomes out of balance. Add to that stress, which also acidifies the body and can contribute to shallow breathing and low oxygen in the body.  We also have to think about exposure to EMF’s and environmental toxins, to only mention a few. Wow! All that sounds like we don’t have a chance, but once again it’s the accumulation of factors.  Therefore we can make small changes every day that adds up.

    There are so many positive things we can do like eating organic, avoiding GMO’s, getting a good night’s sleep and detoxifying our bodies regularly, just to name a few.  Additionally, it’s good to know our risk factors. If your body was heading in the direction of developing breast cancer wouldn’t you want to know that before the tumor formed or would you rather find out after the fact? Conventional thought is to find it early but how about not getting it in the first place?

    Women are encouraged to get a mammogram so they can find their breast cancer as early as possible. But there is another screening tool that can see the risk factors so plans can be put into action to improve the health of the breast and reverse developing pathology. This is prevention, not just early detection.

    Thermography can tell you how healthy the breasts are instead of just screening for breast cancer. It also has the potential to truly detect breast cell anomalies long before mammography can detect cancer. This allows one to implement lifestyle changes that can improve the health of the breasts proactively instead of waiting for a cancer diagnosis later.

    There are many things that we can do to avoid breast cancer but knowing your risk factors should be at the top of the list. With proper risk assessment that includes different testing modalities, the patient is able to determine her risk factors and develop an action plan on how to improve the breast tissue or even reverse the existing developments. Or hopefully, see that you have a low risk of breast cancer so you have one less thing to worry about. Knowledge is power!

    June Carver Drennon is certified from the American College of Clinical Thermography as a Clinical Thermographer.

    Let’s share our knowledge and prevent this disease!

  • 05/19/2017 1:53 PM | Winston Kao

    Probiotics: Shocking Truth Revealed
    Most probiotics made with genetically modified ingredients

    It's true, I'm afraid. The probiotics most heavily advertised typically contain ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

    Even if the probiotics themselves are non-GMO (although many are), nearly all contain GMO-derived fillers such as corn-based maltodextrin.

    The problem with this is that certain GMOs are actually engineered to produce toxins such as pesticides in the plant cells. When you consume such GMO foods, you're ingesting pesticides as part of the food! Other GMOs are engineered to withstand high doses of powerful, super-toxic herbicides such as glyphosphate, allowing farmers to spray their crops heavily to kill the weeds that flourish in their poorly managed soils.

    Consuming GMO foods or their related toxins may lead to:

    • Chronic Inflammation
    • Allergies
    • Disruption of Intestinal Flora (upset probiotics!)
    • Infertility
    • Autoimmune Disorders
    • Insulin Disruption
    • Cancer, etc.

    Needless to say, GMOs can make you sick and eventually kill you (and any other creature that eats the GMOs). Anything derived from a GMO food is therefore suspect. Would you really want to consume probiotics with ingredients derived from GMOs?

    Winston Kao has been a researcher and innovator for nearly 30 years in the fields of health, nutrition, probiotics, water quality, agriculture, trace minerals and soil-based micro-organisms. He is an acknowledged expert in the field of agriculture as it relates to water, nutrition, and microbial enhancement.
 Winston’s discoveries address the root causes of common health issues including low energy, improper digestion, and poor metabolism. His innovations make brilliant use of Mother Nature’s Laws and have provided real solutions to thousands worldwide.
  • 05/18/2017 6:58 PM | Donna Zappin

    Since I’ve been involved in the “treatment” of addiction, I’ve asked and wondered if addiction is really a chronic disease, often compared to diabetes or cardiovascular disease. 

    The national and world health organizations will say this is the case and since they do most of the research, one would think they should know.  

    So, if this addiction thing is a disease, it’s not like any other. 

    The brain is unlike any other body part or organ.  

    We all want our heart to stay the same…strong, pumping and doing its thing at a normal rate, and aging slowly.  We want our kidneys, liver, pancreas and other organs to do the same. 

    Our brain is very different.  The brain is supposed to change and it begins to change from the moment we are born.  It is in a constant state of learning, experiencing, changing and expanding.  This happens very quickly and if you watch a new baby…it happens radically.  All this brain changing is called Neuroplasticity, doing something over and over to learn…and we can unlearn.

    Alcohol and drugs change the brain in an “unnatural” way.   Substances change the amount of neurotransmitters, dopamine, and serotonin, that are released to produce the desired effect in the pleasure center of the brain.  

    After excessive use, abusive drugs seize the brain…and it stops producing the neurotransmitters and the “feel good” is no longer possible but the craving is there and the addiction has been created. Learned behaviors.

    How do we fix it, unlearn the addictive behavior and give the brain time to heal?

    Most treatment programs take the abusive substances away, add prescription drugs, and wait.  Wait for the person to withdraw, feel really terrible until their body is cleaned of the drugs from the bloodstream and the brain.  Now the brain and body are lacking nutrients, amino acids, minerals…the food necessary to heal the damage.  Full physical recovery can take months or even a year or more to truly heal. 

    But what if this risky process could be sped up? Restore the brain back to normal transmitter production and fortify all the cells of the body for more optimal health.  And what if this could happen in 10 days?

    The coenzyme  NAD, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide is an activated form of B3, present in every cell in the human body. 

    NAD mediates calcium levels, regulates gene expression and reacts with oxygen in the body. Because of these responses, NAD is a powerful energy producer. Long-term drug abuse alters the cellular makeup of the brain. When the recovering addict stops taking the drug, the brain needs to relearn how to function on its own. Part of this relearning includes rebuilding lost neurotransmitters and reforming lost connections.  Until these neural changes are complete and the brain is healed, the recovering addict continues to experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

    NAD increases the availability of cellular energy which means the brain can more quickly rebuild neurotransmitters and bring the brain back to a more balanced state; fixing the connections, reducing the cravings up to 85%.  

    If the addicted person is compliant and wants to transform their life, they are given tools to change their behavior, unlearn what the brain has learned while using drugs.

    The message here is twofold. 

    Real recovery involves reversing the brain chemistry with NAD, which brings about mental clarity and feeling of well being. Now the door is open for change in thoughts, feelings, and encouragement to move forward on the “fast track”. Quickly changing the biology to change the biography. 

    With the aid of NAD, the desire to do the counseling and positive behavioral therapies, and with family support, the addicted person has a far greater chance for a complete recovery. 

  • 05/15/2017 10:17 PM | Anonymous

    Most of us are familiar with the ritual of Spring cleaning. It’s a time when we open the windows, air out the house, clean out our belongings and discard stuff we no longer have use for. Why do we limit this to a once a year ritual for our homes? It’s often necessary to release the old to make room for the new. This holds true for many aspect of our lives not just for cleaning our homes but for our minds, bodies and emotions too. Is there a way we could practice Spring cleaning routinely in our personal lives? Think about it; what happens to old emotions that we hold on to, where do they go and how does this affect us?  

    We are constantly creating emotions throughout our day usually from the moment we wake up and even into our sleep. We can have countless different emotions throughout the day, most of which we release nearly as quickly as they came about. Emotions are very powerful and have a dramatic effect on our day, our lives and the world around us, but what happens to the emotions we hold onto? 

    Think about someone you know that has “good luck”.  This person usually has an optimistic outlook on life and when presented with a challenge or an unfortunate situation, it doesn’t seem to shake their enthusiasm and yet somehow things always seem to work out. On the other hand, you may also know someone with “bad luck”. This person always falls into misfortune even when it doesn’t appear to be of their own doing. What could be the cause for such drastic results in these people’s lives? There are many reasons but it has a lot to do with the emotions they hold. 

    For the person with "good luck" they may not hold onto their negative emotions but instead take with them the lessons their life situations have taught them. Not holding on to the negative emotions provides them the space for opportunity to come in. The person with "bad luck" may get caught up in their negative emotions and what the current situation brings, allowing those emotions to take up space in their minds and/or bodies, blocking the opportunity for a change in outcome and sometimes causing them to get stuck in a pattern of misfortune. This is not to say that people with good luck don’t hold onto any emotions, just that it is less likely for them to hold onto negative emotions.  

    Holding onto emotions is commonly referred to as “baggage” and it takes space in our minds and in our physical bodies. By the age of 25 years old most all of us have a degree of emotional baggage from our life experiences. Holding emotional baggage can have lasting and sometimes permanent effects on our minds and bodies by causing physical disease. Similar to how the placebo effect works on the body for positive results, negative emotions can harm us and weaken our bodies leading to disease. There has been proven correlation with emotions and where it shows up in the body if not resolved or released. For example, anger weakens the liver, grief weakens the lungs, worry weakens the stomach, and fear weakens the kidneys. On the flip side, laughter reduces stress, smiles spreads happiness, and love brings peace and happiness which strengthens your mind and body. 

    Now having a better understanding on how our emotions affect us, how do we release the negative emotions and hold onto positive and more fulfilling emotions? Releasing old and negative emotions is a personal practice. There are numerous healing practices out there that aid in holistic health, balance and wellness. Meditation is a great way to clear and unclutter the mind. Yoga can help not only clear the mind because it is a moving meditation, but it can also aid in releasing any stuck emotions in the physical body. Reiki is another healing technique but it is more focused on releasing emotions for the physical body. I would recommend exploring what fits your personal style and needs. Each of these practices also have their own benefits. Trying any of the methods mentioned above is going to have positive benefits and there are many more methods and practices out there!

    Creating space in our minds and bodies creates space in our lives. When we create space in our lives we invite new opportunities and experiences. Maintaining positive emotions encourages those opportunities to be positive and uplifting ones. Keep in mind I’ve used these generic and over simplified examples to make it easier to understand how our emotions shape our reality and affect our health and well-being. This is just the beginning.  I invite you to explore what it means for you to create space in your life and see what letting go can bring into your life. Happy Spring cleaning!

  • 05/15/2017 5:15 PM | Brendan Gaughran

    What is Candida?

    There are a number of common misconceptions about candida; they are actually part of a healthy natural intestinal flora. But when conditions are right (or wrong in this case), candida can transform into a very harmful destructive fungus. This can lead to leaky gut, depression, joint pain, mood swings, acne and a host of other symptoms. One must remember that candida release over 180 chemicals into the body and more than 75 in the fungal form are toxic. See Signs of Candida Overgrowth below.

    Even Dr. Oz admits that candida is an under-diagnosed problem that negatively affects millions in the US.

    How did I get this?

    Often the causes are rather simple and take place over time. Anything taken that disrupts the natural intestinal flora can be the first step in allowing candida to reproduce in unhealthy numbers. For instance, taking antibiotics either for an infection or through the animals we eat, will remove much of the intestinal bacteria clearing an area for the fungus to breed. Some patients aren't aware that even prescriptions such as birth control pills can promote overgrowth of candida.

    The source of fuel for candida is sugar and complex carbohydrates. In the US, we consume 156 pounds of sugar annually. That's ten times the amounts we were ingesting just 100 years ago. This prime source of energy is fueling our candida growth problems.

    A weakened immune system, poor diet leading to poor nutrition, stress and hormone irregularities are also contributing factors. The medical community has recognized this as Candida Overgrowth Syndrome (COS).

    Leaky Gut Candida Connection

    For those suffering from leaky gut (where fissures or weakness in the gut allows particles to flow into the body) candida overgrowth is often the cause. This occurs when candida transitions to the fungal form and grow 'hyphae.' These long branches grow into and degrade the gut wall leading to leaky gut and in many cases the invading toxins overwhelm the body and causing health problems within the liver.

    Signs of Candida Overgrowth

    Because candida displaces the natural flora and negatively effects nutrition, it is the cause of many common disorders seen today. Surprising to some are all the neurological implications. Below we have named a few:

    • Digestive trouble - IBS, Constipation, Heartburn, Food sensitivities, ulcers, indigestion, food cravings
    • Swelling nasal passages - Sinusitis, secondary infection, Thrush
    • Female problems - Yeast infection, iron deficiency, reduces sex drive, Bladder infections, Infertility
    • Behavioral - Antisocial, Suicidal, Depression, anxiety, Irritability, Hyperactivity, Lack of impulse control
    • Mental - Brain fog, Dizziness, Poor memory, Headaches, adrenal fatigue
    • Immune problems - Too many to list
    • Skin & joint problems - Acne, rashes or hives, Joint pain

    Treatment: Starve & Kill

    The candida diet is a rather easy diet to outline, but can be difficult to follow. Believe it or not, candida has a direct line of communication through the vagus nerve to the brain. This accounts for much of the sugar and carb cravings we often get. Some consider this rather unnerving that some of our urges are being influenced by fungus.

    The first step in the candida diet is eliminating all sugar and carbs. The idea is to starve the candida and reduce its ability to reproduce.

    As was mentioned before, during the 'die off' candida will release over 75 toxins into the body. A person will often feel much worse before feeling better. This process is hazardous and really should be done along with a liver detox supplement.

    The best solution for ridding oneself of the harmful fungus is not a prescription. Nature provides the best solution for breaking up the cell wall and killing off candida.

    Here is a list of herbs that should be used: oregano, caprylic acid, aloe vera, anise, black walnut, wormwood, garlic, goldenseal

    Larch Arabinogalactan is often an overlooked ingredient, as it feeds the beneficial form of candida and they will outcompete the fungal form. These recommendations are from numerous physicians in the medical field.

    Many of these ingredients are found in premium candida supplement. For successful reduction of harmful candida, a variety of ingredients are necessary.

    It's also important that once someone is ridding one's body of candida, it's wise to take probiotics after the rebalancing has taken place. Remember, one of the main reasons why overgrowth occurs in the first place is because antibiotics left areas of the gut unoccupied, promoting the fungal form to flourish. Visit www.livermedic.com for more information.

  • 05/15/2017 3:56 PM | Barry Foster


    The Coach’s Corner by: Barry Foster, RCC, CRC, CPBA

    Hello, and welcome back to the Coach’s Corner where we will continue to explore tips, strategies, and practical advice to assist and guide you in growing personally, professionally, and building/improving your business/practice.

    As we discussed in my last Coach’s Corner I’ll be sharing with you the ABC’s of personal, professional, and business development, over the next few months.

    The ABC’s:

    “A” is for ATTITUDE: A positive attitude! A magnetic attitude! A MOJO-filled attitude!!

    “B” is for BELIEFS: An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists even if it hasn’t been

     seen or proven to exist - faith, trust, reliance, confidence

    “C” is for CULTURE: Your personal habits, routines, customs. A way of life.

    Today we’ll focus on “Culture”. As defined above, a culture is your personal habits and routines; your way of life.

    In corporate America the common definition for an organizations “culture” is how we treat each other, our customers, and stakeholders.

    A culture can become very steeped in norms, habits, processes, values, and a thought process that is difficult, at best, to change, modify and/or improve.

    A culture can be about age, youthfulness, maturity, service, innovation, technology, or tradition.

    Each of us has a culture we have formed for ourselves; a familiar and comfortable way of thinking and behaving. We know what to expect. No surprises, no demands, no responsibilities, simple, complex, whatever, it’s our life and this is how I decide to live it.

    So ask yourself: “How’s my personal culture working for me? How satisfied and fulfilled am I with my way of life? Where am I and where am I going? Who am I and who do I want to be? How is my personal culture, the way I do things, holding me back from being all I can be?

    Personal and/or professional growth requires us to evaluate these questions, and others, to prepare the change process to achieve the “next level” in our lives, become totally fulfilled and satisfied.

    In order to create a different outcome or result we have to change a behavior. To change a behavior we have to change our mindset; the filter we use to view the world.

    Here’s an example in my own life: on the evening of July 13, 2009 I finally had it with being more than 50 pounds overweight. I thought deeply about what I needed to change to begin the weight loss process.

    I set a goal: lose 50 pounds by March 31, 2010; 9 months! Then I figured out I had to shift my mindset to re-establish my personal way of living and how I treated myself, (my personal culture). I came to the conclusion – I did not have a “weight problem”. I had a “consumption problem”, (behavior) and the added weigh was the outcome/result from my behavior.

    Changing my thinking, (mindset) about what I consumed began the process of behavioral change.

    I cut out almost all carbs, kept the good carbs, cut out alcohol, sugars, processed foods, snacks, anything that wasn’t serving my new “lifestyle”. And yes I said “lifestyle”. This was not simply a diet.

    I had to look at when I ate. Why I ate AND how much I ate. I began eating much smaller portions of fruits and vegetables. I kept a journal of everything that I consumed including water, and supplements, what my weight was each week, and oh by the way, I added in 8 miles of power walking 6 days a week!!

    All the above was a drastic change in my personal culture, the way I lived, and how I treated myself.

    The complete story is in my book: “Overcoming Your Funk, Practical Advice and Strategies for Reigniting Your Spirit and Taking Charge of Your Life”.

    By the end of March 2010 I lost 72 pounds!! And was in the best condition I had been in since I was in the military (1973)!

    You can do exactly the same thing with anything you want to change in your life!! You first have to change your mindset, see the issue in a different perspective, set your goal, change a few things in your behavior, and you’ve accomplish the ABC’s of personal and/or professional development.

    Change is a choice!!

    In upcoming Holistic Journal issues I’ll be focusing on two more elements of behavioral change: your personal standards you have set for yourself, and your values.

    Until next month, stay positive, confident, strong, and get your MOJO on … and then some!


  • 02/17/2017 9:57 AM | Vanessa Sardi, MS, CHC

    Confessions from a Former Pharma Rep - The Interview

    Dustin: Vanessa, your story is amazing if I do say so myself. What was your childhood like? Were you raised on the Standard American Diet?

    Vanessa: My childhood was amazing and yet plagued with trauma at the same time. I had two of the best, most loving parents in the world, and still do. I never once doubted their love for me. However, I had an extremely abusive grandmother growing up who completely distorted the meaning of love.

    Both of my parents were entrepreneurs so my grandmother babysat me all the time. From the time I was born until 15 years of age, I endured physical, mental and emotional abuse, which would soon have a negative impact on my life going forward, and drastically change the relationship I had with food. In high school, I met a different side of me, the anorexic.

    I was raised on the Standard American Diet (SAD). My mom wasn’t able to breast feed me because she developed cysts in each breast which were blocking the milk ducts. This was very painful for my mom and the doctor gave her shots to dry up all her milk. (I can’t help but wonder if those cysts were a result of her predominately animal-based diet.)

    Mom tried five different baby formulas and said every one of them caused projectile vomiting. I was unable to digest any of them. Knowing what I know now about dairy, this all makes a ton of sense to me. My tiny body knew right away that stuff didn’t belong in my digestive tract! Mom ended up putting me on one part condensed milk with 5 parts water. My favorite thing to drink, however, was apple juice.

    Growing up, two of my most favorite things to eat were cheese (any kind) and chocolate! I suffered with severe constipation and painful earaches my entire childhood. Looking back now, I only ever got constipated after consumption of chocolate and cheese. My parents thought I was allergic to those two things. It wasn’t that I was allergic to cheese and chocolate, my body couldn’t handle the dairy. Today, we know for a fact that dairy is directly linked to constipation and ear infections in children.

    Dustin: Tell us about your career aspirations as a young college student. What type of program did you attend, and what degrees did you graduate with?

    Vanessa: I lost my beloved grandfather (my mom’s dad) when I was in the eighth grade. He died of heart disease just after he turned 60. He needed a heart transplant, and could have been put on the list. But Papa kept saying, “This is the heart God gave me when I was born, and this is the heart I am going to die with.” This devastated my mother and I. I was very close to my Papa. He was the most genuine, loving, caring man I knew. He tried so hard to take up for me when my grandmother would abuse me, but his heart was weak. I remember being terrified he’d have another heart attack just from that.

    The moment I lost my Papa to heart disease, I vowed to spend the rest of my life helping other people with heart disease. I’ve kept that vow to this very day.

    I started out as pre-med in college because I wanted to go to medical school for cardiology. I was so fascinated with the human body and its performance, I also got a degree in Sports Medicine and Exercise Physiology. In graduate school, I did several internships in cardiac rehab and fell in love with it. I got to help people, every day, feel better and enjoy life a little bit more. I got to interact with patients and build beautiful relationships. So I received a Master’s degree in Cardiovascular Physiology and was offered a position as Chief Cardiovascular Physiologist and Program Director at a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center in New Orleans (Chalmette specifically). I was so excited about this position, I put medical school on hold and accepted the job. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life.

    Dustin: I see you were a former NFL cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints. What was that experience like, and how did it impact your life?

    Vanessa: I was a “Saintsation” (Saints NFL Cheerleader) for six years. Those were some of the best times of my life. I became a cheerleader shortly after accepting the position as Chief Cardiopulmonary Physiologist in New Orleans. One of my favorite things about being a cheerleader in the NFL was sharing the experience with my patients. They got the biggest kick out of telling people their ‘cardiac therapist’ (as they lovingly called me) was an NFL Cheerleader. And what made them smile made me smile. John, one of my heart patients, used to carry around a wallet-sized picture of me in my Saints uniform and tell everyone I was his girlfriend. Those people were my heart!

    During my time dancing in the NFL, I switched careers. Medicare changed reimbursement policies around cardiopulmonary rehab and the doctors that owned the clinic where I was working were forced to shut it down because they were losing money. This absolutely broke my heart because I couldn’t imagine a day without my patients, and soon, I was going to have to.

    I always say there is no such thing as coincidences in this world. It was during lunch one day in March 2004 that I was told the doctors were closing the clinic. Later that same day, at 4:30 pm, I received a phone call from the District Manager of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world requesting a phone interview. Apparently a position opened up in New Orleans, and a friend of mine who was already working in pharma recommended me for the job. Long story short, after four interviews and a trip to Dallas to meet the Regional Vice President, I was offered the job.

    I was determined to keep my two jobs, Saintsations and Pharma rep, completely separate. I didn’t want the two to mix. I never told any of the doctors I called on I was an NFL Cheerleader. I was so afraid of how they would perceive me...would they see me as a credible source of information, would they still treat me professionally? All these questions ran through my mind, and I decided to keep quiet about it.

    That didn’t last for very long because many doctors attend Saints games in the Superdome. And the news spread like wildfire because at the time, I was the only Saints Cheerleader who was also a pharmaceutical rep. Doctors who never talked to me before all of a sudden came running down the hallway towards the sample closet where I’d be stocking their shelves with drugs. I went from being just another pharma rep to local celebrity status over night. You may be thinking this was advantageous to my business, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. While it got me into most any office, getting the doctors to discuss medicine during football season was not an easy feat! Furthermore, I had to work that much harder to be viewed as a reputable source of information for my products. My number one priority when I got the position in pharmaceutical sales was to be seen as someone who provided value to all my customers; not just a pretty face. I did establish credibility and rapport, but it took a good year of going above and beyond to do so.

    As rewarding and fun as it was being a Saintsation, it was also extremely stressful. Every year I had to audition all over again. And...once you make the team, the stress doesn’t end there! We had to audition for every game, praying we didn’t get cut. The year I was Line Captain, I was the one responsible for making cuts every game. Had I known that I would have to cut my friends from games, I would have never taken that position. But all in all, they were some of the best years of my life!

    Dustin: You suffered from anorexia and bulimia before adopting a plant-based diet. How has your perception of food changed from that point in your life to now?

    Vanessa: From 1990 – 2006, I suffered predominately with anorexia and exercise bulimia with bouts of binging and purging. I had the worst relationship with food. Food was the enemy! And if I succumbed to food, I either had to get rid of it, or do another hour of cardio at the gym.

    I was an absolute SLAVE to calorie counting. I remember I used to have this notebook that was nothing but the addition and subtraction of calories on a daily basis. I would constantly add my intake of calories and subtract what I burned in the gym, on paper, at least a hundred times a day. And when I wasn’t writing it down, I was thinking about it in my head. I didn’t allow myself to go to bed unless I was in the negative. Once the final calorie count was made, I couldn’t eat anything. If I did, I had to go back to the gym to burn it off, or run up and down the outside stairwell if the gym was closed so people wouldn’t think I was crazy. It was sheer torture. With this disease also came perfectionism. Only A’s were acceptable. Getting a B on a test or exam was no different than failing in my mind. Somehow I managed to constantly add and subtract calories in my head, while studying enough to be a straight A student. I drove myself crazy. I was also on the dance team in college, so there was pressure to maintain a certain weight to stay on the team.

    My perception of food today couldn’t be more polar opposite than it was when I was sick. I have an amazing relationship with food. I know it is nourishment for my body, mind and soul. My body is strong and healthy today thanks to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. I know of no better medicine than that of whole, plant- based foods. I don’t even look at calories today because I trust my body to let me know when it’s hungry and when it’s full. Furthermore, I tell my clients not to even worry about calories. I don’t want them to stress over something that really has zero scientific meaning. Our body’s needs change on a minute to minute basis. And ultimately, your body gets the final say-so as to how many calories it needs at any given moment in time. To say we can possibly know what that number is, on a minute to minute basis, is absolutely ludicrous. How fortunate are we, that we don’t even have to worry about counting calories, especially when consuming the “right” calories!

    Now that I’m fueling my body with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, I’m operating a much more efficient machine. I’m learning to trust my body’s cues. I never thought in a million years I’d be able to do that. To understand hunger and fullness after starving myself for so many years is truly a blessing. Hunger was the enemy, and I would do anything I could to repress it. Today, I embrace it, without fear. And that, to me, is nothing short of a miracle.

    Something else interesting happened when I switched to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. What many people might not realize is, even if you’ve been in recovery for anorexia for ten years, you never fully stop having “anorexic thoughts”, or “fat thoughts.” For example, “Do you really want to eat that pizza Vanessa? You’re looking a little chunky today.” Or, “I can’t believe you ate that piece of pie. Good luck getting into your jeans tomorrow.” The thoughts do become less and less frequent, and the volume does get lower and lower, but they never fully go away. You just learn how to not identify with them anymore. We are not our thoughts, we are not our mind. We’re so much more, we are energy.

    After switching to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle, I noticed I stopped hearing the eating disorder thoughts! I’m not sure exactly when it happened, I just remember one day realizing it had been a while since I heard her (the anorexic). There really are no words to describe how peaceful it’s been not having to deal with those thoughts anymore! I won’t say they’re 100% gone, but pretty darn close. While I’m extremely science oriented, I really can’t explain this from a scientific standpoint. All I know is I’m truly grateful I discovered whole food, plant-based living!

    Dustin: You worked as a drug rep for 9 years. Did you believe that pills were once the only answer to everyone’s medical problems?

    Vanessa: As a drug rep, I whole-heartedly believed pills were the answer to medical problems. I had absolutely no idea just how important nutrition was and how big of a role it played in disease. The connection between diet and disease is a powerful one! I now realize that food is our best medicine, and that we can literally eat our way into or out of disease. I realize that the answer isn’t more pills, it’s less pills. I realize now that I was a part of the healthcare problem, not the solution. And that was unacceptable to me.

    I sold medication for just about every disease state you can think of, I was in the industry so long. I spent a lot of time in internal medicine, urology, cardiology and endocrinology. I sold meds for conditions like high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, type 2 diabetes, benign prostatic hyperplasia (just a fancy name for enlarged prostate), erectile dysfunction, impetigo (a bacterial skin infection common in kids), overactive bladder, genital herpes, an antibiotic for adults and pediatrics, and the list goes on. Most of these conditions can be fixed by consuming a whole food plant-based diet rather than pills that ALWAYS come with side effects. (I hesitate to use the word “side effect” because it really isn’t a side effect of the medication....it IS THE EFFECT OF THE MEDICATION.)

    Did the meds work?? Well, they did lower surrogate markers like HbA1C, PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen), blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. (A surrogate marker is an event or a laboratory value that researchers hope can serve as a reliable substitute for an actual disease. Blood cholesterol levels are surrogates, or substitutes, for heart disease.) But the question you always have to ask is, does this lowering of my numbers equate to better health outcomes? Is lowering my cholesterol going to reduce my heart attack rate directly? In other words, will this statin not only reduce my cholesterol, but will that lead to a reduction in fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular events? That’s the entire purpose of taking meds. It’s not to have pretty lab work, unless that pretty lab work means you’ve also improved your health outcomes and reduced your risk of having a major event. We must be mindful how easy it is to exaggerate their [surrogate markers] conclusions beyond the data. For more information on the deception of surrogate markers, please click the following link:


    I’ve seen people with beautiful blood work drop dead of a heart attack! Why? Because an improvement in surrogate markers (cholesterol, blood pressure, etc...) via drugs does not equate to improved outcomes. Drugs artificially lower numbers, but most do little to reduce your risk of having a heart attack, or dying from a heart attack. One of the many problems today is the FDA approves drugs simply on surrogate markers, not whether or not they actually lead to better health outcomes. That’s a major flaw in the system!

    Let me give you a concrete example, here is an excerpt from the FDA approved PI (Package Insert) for Lipitor (a cholesterol lowering medication):

    LIPITOR significantly reduced the rate of coronary events [either fatal coronary heart disease (46 events in the placebo group vs. 40 events in the LIPITOR group) or non-fatal MI (108 events in the placebo group vs. 60 events in the LIPITOR group)] with a relative risk reduction of 36% [(based on incidences of 1.9% for LIPITOR vs. 3.0% for placebo), p=0.0005 (see Figure 1)]. The risk reduction was consistent regardless of age, smoking status, obesity, or presence of renal dysfunction. The effect of LIPITOR was seen regardless of baseline LDL levels. Due to the small number of events, results for women were inconclusive.


    • The first sentence states that Lipitor significantly reduced the rate of FATAL coronary heart disease... 46 people in the placebo group died and 40 people in the lipitor group died. A better number but truly how significant?
    • It goes on to say...with a relative risk reduction of 36%. Relative risk reduction? Does this mean anything to you? No! You want to know the absolute risk reduction, that number means something! To get this number, you simply take 3.0% – 1.9% = 1.1%

    The absolute risk reduction for having a coronary event based on the data above is 1.1%! That’s it! So, this multibillion dollar medication causes severe liver damage and the side effects listed below, all for a 1.1% risk reduction of dying from a coronary event (and this isn’t even a comprehensive list of side effects): unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness, confusion, memory problems, fever, unusual tiredness, and dark colored urine, swelling, weight gain, urinating less than usual or not at all; increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, blurred vision, weight loss; nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); mild muscle pain diarrhea; or mild nausea.

    Pharmaceutical companies will often report findings in relative terms if the absolute findings were less than significant. It makes it look like the drug is performing better than it really is.

    Let’s use the example above...there was a 1.9% incidence rate in the lipitor group and a 3.0% incidence rate in the placebo group. 3.0% – 1.9% = 1.1%. How many doctors would prescribe a medication with so many side effects to only get a 1.1% risk reduction for a fatal cardiovascular event? Furthermore, would Lipitor have been the biggest blockbuster drug in the history of pharmaceuticals based on this data? I think not!!

    Pharma manipulates the data and reports their findings in relative terms. How do they get this number? Simple:

    • 3.0% – 1.9% = 1.1%, 1.1% 3.0% = 0.36 ...move the decimal to the right two times, and bam! You get a relative risk reduction of 36%! Looks a lot better than an absolute risk reduction of only 1.1% doesn’t it?!

    One has to ask themselves, is it really worth it? Do the risks outweigh the benefits?
    Disclaimer – in no way, shape or form am I suggesting you stop taking any of your medications. Always talk to your doctor first before discontinuing any medication or adjusting the dose of your medication.

    The point of me showing you this is to make you aware of some of big pharma’s tactics, and to demonstrate how pharmaceutical companies brainwash reps into thinking the drugs are really helping people. Our glossy sales aids only reflect the relative risk reduction because it looks a lot better. I believed what they said. I do remember questioning them one time about this. They did a really good job convincing me the absolute terms didn’t matter. I’m grateful to know better now.

    Dustin: What was it like to work for such a powerful industry? How did your feelings about this change over time?

    Vanessa: I’ll never forget the day I was hired after enduring three very stressful interviews at home. Then, I was flown to Dallas to interview with the Regional Vice President of Sales (RVP). It was pretty intimidating. So you have an understanding of how the company was structured, in the United States, every division (HIV, Vaccines, Cardiovascular/Metabolic/Urology, Respiratory, etc...) of the organization was divided into Regions. Each region comprised anywhere from three to five, or even six states. Within each state in the regions were “districts” (multiple districts existed in every major city for every division of the company). Each district had a “district manager” who reported to the Regional Vice President (RVP).

    The RVP in Dallas loved me and my passion for helping people, and I was chosen for the position. Very shortly thereafter, I was told to wait at home for the delivery of my new car! What?? A brand new, free car AND a gas card so I never had to pay for gas again! I was blown away! A couple days later, I received a huge delivery from UPS (I was still processing the free car!) This delivery was a brand new, free computer and printer for my home office, as well as a branded computer bag to carry my laptop and sales material. Holy moly...I’m making more money than I’ve ever made before, plus a free car, free gas, free computer and free printer!

    Then...another delivery came. It was a free mobile phone. The company took ownership of my cell phone number and began paying my phone bills every month! As if this wasn’t enough, I received free health insurance, money every month to put towards things like a gym membership, new tennis shoes, etc...and, any prescription medication I would ever be prescribed during my time as a pharmaceutical rep was FREE! It didn’t matter what the dose was, or how many pills were in the bottle, it was free! I was given a corporate credit card (I’d never owned a credit card before) and, I was told I was expected to spend the the entire budget each quarter or I wouldn’t get any more next quarter. This was a strange concept to me. I was able to sell just as much product as the other reps, if not more, while spending less company money, yet this was frowned upon.

    A few days later, if you guessed that I received another package in the mail, gold star for you! I’m now on a first name basis with the UPS guy! This time the delivery was a huge box, a little bit bigger than what a printer would come in. I felt bad for the UPS guy, I lived on the third floor of an apartment complex! He definitely got his workouts just on my deliveries! When I opened the box, it was full of text books, binders, and cassette tapes (yes, I’m telling my age now!). There was a syllabus included which provided me with the daily expectations of the material I had to get through. Now, I am a school nerd. I LOVE school, and I was a straight A student in Grad school, however the amount of material that I had to read and study on any given day was hardly possible. I woke up at 6 am every day, began my studies, had my mom or friends bring lunch and dinner to me because I couldn’t spare the time to go pick it up for myself. I studied till 2 am, went to bed, and started the process all over again the next day. This went on for four weeks. At the end of each week, I was flown to Dallas where I was tested on all the material I had studied the previous week. You couldn’t score any lower than an 85 on any test or you were fired on the spot...don’t pass go, don’t collect $200. Terminated. As you can probably imagine, this was very nerve-racking! This went on for four weeks and four trips to Dallas. Somewhere in the middle of these four weeks, I had a mental and emotional breakdown on the floor of my living room buried in books and covered in my notes. I realized that I had to pick and choose the material I thought would be most relevant and included on the test because it simply wasn’t possible to get through all the material in a given day. So that’s what I did. I prayed the entire way to Dallas that I picked the right information to commit to memory.

    I made it past the four weeks of “home-study”! I know what you’re thinking...I must be so relieved now that it was over. Not so much. When I returned to New Orleans from my last trip to Dallas, there was a letter in my mailbox from the company telling me I literally had two days to pack a bag with enough clothes for four weeks, because I was heading to Philadelphia for “in-house” training. Two days to pack?? Away from home for four weeks?? Holy moly, this train ride was just getting started! Thankfully, I was still riding the high from making 100’s on all my tests during home-study. That gave me just enough energy to prepare for the next phase.

    Two days later, I was on a plane headed to Philly for the next four weeks of my life. I was told we weren’t allowed to go home, and truth be told, there was NO WAY I could’ve gone home and still passed all my exams. I literally studied every spare moment I had, after class, in between classes, in the bathroom (sorry, too much information probably) and on weekends. I had no life. My life was pharma. The same rules that applied to home-study regarding grades also applied to in-house training. If you made anything less than an 85 on an exam, you were fired on the spot. Only this time, you were escorted out of the headquarters building by security. I remember some mornings, on my walk to the elevator, I’d look down in the cold lobby (as I did every morning) and see four or five of my classmates standing on the pristine, white marble floor, next to all their luggage waiting to be escorted out by security. I felt really sad for my classmates. Now they were out of a job after surviving four weeks of home-study and however long in Philly all because they made an 83 on their exam.

    After a lot of blood, sweat and tears (okay, maybe not so much the blood part), I graduated from in-house training. In my brain were scripts I memorized verbatim, about the products I was selling. These were the selling messages the company expected you to deliver to doctors, exactly how they wrote it in the scripture. There were also scripts I memorized to overcome any objection a doctor could possibly throw at me as to why he wouldn’t prescribe my product for his patients. I had glossy sales aids to show doctors and they triggered my memory of the scripts imprinted on my brain.

    I was told, and I don’t know how accurate this number is, but it sounds about right...by the time they finished training just one rep, they had already spent $300,000 (this was back in 2004)! So, needless to say and at least in my mind, I was onto something BIG! I was about to make a HUGE difference in the world and do something really important. Why else would they be spending so much money on me, plus the free car, free gas, free phone, free healthcare, and the list goes on. I, Vanessa, was one of the chosen ones...after eight weeks of studying, 4 in home study and 4 at headquarters, and a ton of stress, I got to go out and change lives for the better. People were going to live longer, more vibrant lives because of the work I did every day. At least that’s what was drilled into my brain over those eight weeks of training. I came to believe it! And because I care about people and want nothing more than to help people, I was good at what I did. REALLY good!

    We would have Regional Meetings once or twice a year. They usually lasted for three days, and we spent those days sharpening our selling skills and product knowledge. On the last day, the entire region would gather in one large room, and they’d bring four or five people onto the stage. Each person was purportedly taking one of the drugs we promoted. They each took turns giving testimonies that were profound, touching and nothing short of inspiring. One had more energy to play with her grandchildren, a father was able to walk his daughter down the aisle, another one was able to attend their kid’s baseball games without having to worry about running to the bathroom every 5 minutes, and so on and so on. By the time they were done,

    I was amped up to get back home and sell as much of my product as possible because I wanted EVERYONE to feel just like the people on the stage felt!! To this day, I wonder if they were real patients, or just people paid by pharma to pull at our heart-strings. I suppose I’ll never know.

    Pharma had it down to a fine science. They spent a lot of money researching the best system in which to convince us we were doing the right thing by people. Most reps today truly, whole-heartedly believe that they are changing lives by what they do every day, for the better. In my mind, and in the minds of many other reps, we were only there to do good by people via delivering samples and being a valuable resource of information for doctors. So the next time you see a rep in your doctor’s office, be angry at the industry rather than their pawns because most of those pawns have been completely brainwashed.

    The thought of food as medicine never once crossed my mind until I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives. We live in a pill society where taking pills has become the norm, whether that be pharmaceuticals, supplements or nutraceuticals. It was certainly the norm in my mind. I used to see patients in waiting rooms at doctors offices with shoe boxes loaded with medication. I cringe at that thought today because it’s a shoe box of poison, slowly killing them, mentally, physically and emotionally.

    I became very angry at the entire industry once I woke up from my unconscious state, because I realized how many lies were told to me by pharma, and thus how many lies I ended up telling my costumers. (Of course, I didn’t know they were lies at the time.) People were not getting better or reversing their disease from all the pills they were taking. In fact, in many instances, they were getting worse. We know today that medical error is the number three killer, just behind heart disease and cancer! Medical error comprises drug to drug interactions, drugs not dosed correctly, hospital acquired infections and procedures that did not go as planned. But the bulk of that is drug related. We live in a disease-care system, not a healthcare system. If drugs were meant to reverse disease, I wouldn’t have been making big bonus checks every quarter. My bonus checks were based on prescription refills. As long as people were refilling their prescriptions, I was making money.

    Today, my number one goal is to help people reverse their disease via whole food, plant-based nutrition and discontinue their meds, many of which I convinced doctors to put them on in the first place!

    Dustin: After watching Forks Over Knives you vowed to not only change your own life by adopting a plant-based diet, but also to help others do the same. How do you do this today?

    Vanessa: I just recently rented my own space located in Thrive! Chiropractic & Wellness 6705-B 38th Ave North, St. Petersburg, FL where I can see clients and teach health and wellness classes. I also have clients all over the U.S. that I see virtually.

    I don’t sell supplements, nutraceuticals, or any kind of pills for that matter. I believe people’s paychecks are much better spent in the produce section of the supermarket or at their local Farmer’s Market. There are a lot of gimmicks out there and if you ask me, the supplement industry is behaving no differently than the pharmaceutical industry, only they are far less regulated. They can claim their product will give you wings to fly because they’re not monitored by the FDA. I can understand the desire for a magic pill to fix all our ailments. Who wouldn’t want that? But there is no such thing. The magic pill is a whole food, plant-based lifestyle.

    I’m a certified Health and Nutrition Coach, so what I offer my clients is much more than just nutritional counseling. Here’s what Nutriception®, my health coaching business, is all about:

    • It’s the difference between falling off the wagon and FINALLY getting the results you want!
    • It’s the difference between feeling alone and feeling SUPPORTED. Part cheerleader, part tough love coach.
    • A master of HABIT CHANGE and a student of life.
    • Hold your hand through healing WITHOUT making you feel small. Help you find what’s right for your unique body.
    • Help you FEED the opportunities and STARVE the problems.
    • Slow you down to the speed of life.
    • The difference between I WANT to do it & I DID it!
    • Someone who STRETCHES you to achieve goals you never dreamed were possible. The best GIFT you could ever give your mind, body & soul.
    • Solve your problems by loosening their grip.
    • Willing to say to you what MOST people won’t.
    • Cause you to see LIFE through fresh eyes.
    • Supports you to have the body you want & the HEALTHY LIFESTYLE that supports it. 
    • Makes it easy to FOLOW-THROUGH with what you already know you should be doing. 
    • Helps you BUILD healthy HABITS that align with how you want to feel every day.
    • Revolutionary LEADER who grows and procreates WELL-BEING.

    Dustin: What kind of additional training or certifications do you have in nutrition and/or health coaching?

    Vanessa: After spending 20 years in the medical industry, 12 of those years in medical sales, I left corporate America to pursue a career in Health and Nutrition Coaching. I attended every Plant-based conference I knew about. I had the opportunity to meet some of my personal heroes...T. Colin Campbell, PhD, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Pam Popper, Dr. Michael Gregor, Dr. Neal Barnard, and many more. I became obsessed with learning all I could learn from these people. I read all of their books, and I researched constantly. The more I learned, the more I realized I just couldn’t get enough.

    I enrolled in Dr. Pam Popper’s course titled Food over Medicine. After I graduated from her program, I enrolled in eCornell and T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies to get my certificate in Plant-based Nutrition. I’m currently in cooking school hosted by Forks Over Knives and Rouxbe Cube. I’m a Certified Health Coach by the Health Coach Institute, and this year I will complete my Holistic MBA Program with Health Coach Institute.

    I’ll always take as many courses as time permits because I want to be the best of the best for my clients, and I absolutely love learning!

    Dustin: If you could make one sweeping change to this world to make it a better place, what would it be? 

    Vanessa: That’s a loaded question! Where do I even begin!

    I’d change the face of healthcare so that it would truly be HEALTHcare, not disease-care. Doctors would be focused on treating the underlying causes of disease rather than the symptoms of disease. Food would be our medicine, not pills.

    I’d do away with the lobbyists from the meat industry, the dairy industry, the food industry, and the pharmaceutical industry in government who are largely impacting the way this country is run, and it has nothing to do with the health of the public. I’d create a resource-based world rather than complete reliance on the monetary system. Money = debt. Henry Ford once said, “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

    We have everything we need given to us from our amazing planet. WE are the master minds of technology, not the government. The government needs US, we don’t need them! We don’t need a monetary system in a resource based world where there is abundance for all. I’m a big believer in Jacque Fresco’s Venus Project. Will I ever live to see that materialize? Probably not. But I’ll never stop praying for that type of world.

    For more information on The Venus Project, click the link below...

    I’d end the suffering and abuse of all animals so that they can experience freedom and peace again. I don’t believe anything was put on this earth “for” us. I don’t believe we have the right to exhaust our planet’s finite resources nor do we have the right to use animals any way we choose. We, humans, are not entitled to anything. We just got lucky enough to be born on such an amazing planet, which is being destroyed every day by our own doing.

    I’d replenish our rain forests and redirect the 1.67 billion tons of grain used to raise cattle to feed the hungry so that there would not be another hungry mouth on the planet.

    I’d educate the world about the power of whole food, plant-based living so that Westernized diseases would be a thing of the past.

    Dustin: Thank you so much Vanessa for sharing your story and being such an amazing inspiration to everyone out there. Your love for humanity and this world shines bright for all to see. Don’t ever stop being the person you are. This movement toward healthier living through a plant-based lifestyle needs your passion and expertise in the worst way. 

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