NYC Mom Helping Your Children Rock Their Financial Future: Rosanna Guardavaccaro | NYC Family Photography

 At BNI Confidence, we love it when our members work together! Check out this post from our photographer Andreea B. Ballen about our financial planner Rosanna Guardavaccaro!

As a New York City family photographer, nothing thrills me more than meeting and photographing moms who are not just amazing moms, but who are also fiercely passionate and knowledgeable in their field of work.

 As such, Rosanna Guardavaccaro, Financial Advisor and children’s book Author, is an absolute powerhouse of knowledge, passion and inspiration. Listening to her speak about the importance (and ease) of teaching our little ones about their financial future, and about saving for financial success, makes me wish she and books like her ‘Peter Saves for a Rainy Day‘ had been around when I was little.

Keep Reading Here…


Thanksgiving Tips for Success…From Our Health Coach

Family at the dinner table at the Thanksgiving day.Don’t throw away the weekend and lose your momentum.

The first thing that I find makes a huge difference on any holiday where food is the main event, is NOT to skip breakfast that morning!  Have a protein shake or protein pancake to make sure you’ve gotten some quality nutrition in before you head to Temptation Island aka, the dinner table. Skipping meals just makes you overeat at the next one, so don’t do it!

Plan what indulgences you want to have.  For me, I want to have dessert so I’m planning on having the No-Sugar Cheesecake I am making.  I’ll also definitely want some of the stuffing. Have a game plan going in as to what you are going to indulge in so you can say no to the items that are just filler, like bread and cheese.  I also won’t have any alcohol so that will help keeping my calories down.

Bring Pellegrino with lemon slices to have in your wine glass so you don’t feel left out.  For me, it’s not a big concern because I rarely drink, but for many skipping the wine feels like missing out on something.  I promise, if you have a glass with fizzy Pellegrino and lemon you won’t even miss the wine!

Make sure to really enjoy the meal.  Sit down, don’t eat distracted (by watching TV) and really savor every bite.  This adds to your satisfaction when you can actually taste each bite.  We’ve all eaten something quickly and while distracted that we didn’t even taste the flavors.  Focus, slow down, savor and enjoy!

This is really the most important tip…Don’t let one meal derail an entire 4 day weekend! On Friday plan on a workout or going on a brisk walk.  Start off the day with a healthy breakfast with your shake.  Stay busy! If you’re home laying on the couch you will snack aimlessly, so plan some fun activities with your family or put up your holiday decorations!

Brooklyn Health Coach - Marie Isner
Marie Ingrisano Isner, Health Coach

If you’d like to schedule a complimentary consultation with Marie, click here or visit her website

Stress Free Holiday Travel: Take a deep breath and follow these tips…From Our Time Management Coach


Mali Mayer
Mali Mayer, Time Management Coach

Travel can already be stressful and then add in the holidays with all those people traveling and it can get even more stressful. That’s right, next week is Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday season. Having taken a recent international vacation, I thought I would share some tips to help you keep your sanity.

  1. Every member of the family should have their own packing list. My list is divided into 5 categories—basics, warm weather, cold weather, toiletries and other items (i.e. books, jewelry, chargers, meds, etc.). I store mine on my computer and print it out as needed for my daughter and I.

Roll, don’t fold…..Many travel experts—including backpackers, who must stuff months’ worth of clothing into a pack the size of a box of wine—agree that rolling is superior to folding. Tightly rolled clothes take up less space than folded ones. Plus, they’re less prone to getting deep wrinkles from fold creases.” —USA Today

  1. Create an airplane kit for each family member. Mine has a travel pillow, eye mask, earplugs, witch hazel pads (individually wrapped) and “fast flats” (so I can take my shoes off on long flights).  The day of the flight I added my Ipod and earphones.
  1. If you are staying at hotel, create a hotel kit. My kit has a flashlight, LED nightlight (great if you have kid/kids like I do), disinfecting wipes, sewing kit, eyeglass repair kit, a small lock with key, pen and small pad/notebook. For international flights, I suggest adding an adapter for charging devices.

“Ensure that you get a quiet room. Two requests are absolutely vital and pretty widely known when selecting your hotel room: a room on an upper floor and away from the elevators. But some other tried-and-true tips from frequent hotel guests could doubly ensure a peaceful experience.” —

  1. In a carry on have a refillable water bottle and plenty of snacks. In the case of my recent trip, we couldn’t drink the water where we going, so we bought big bottles of water at the airport to stay hydrated on the flight.
  1. Always pack a scarf/pashmina—it can be used as a towel, blanket, picnic blanket, an extra layer of warmth, if tied in a certain way as a bag or backpack for holding stuff.

“Pack A Scarf…..I happen to use a shemagh, but sarongs also work great. This simple piece of cotton cloth is one of my most useful travel accessories with many different practical applications. It’s great for sun protection, a makeshift towel, carrying stuff around, an eye mask, and much more.” —

  1. For my recent vacation my mom gifted me a LL Bean 3-in-1 jacket (when she bought herself one) with a waterproof outer shell and a lightweight down liner. It was perfect for rainy days, cold days, windy days and days that were all three. Who needs a poncho anymore!

My daughter is 12 y.o, so it has been years since I traveled with baby or toddler. I reached out to my friend, Heather Cross, who is a travel agent and asked for some tips on traveling with young children.

Tips for Traveling With Young Children:

  1. Choose Flight Times Wisely – Make traveling with kids as easy as possible by taking into consideration their sleep schedules. With very small children, it can be wonderful to travel with them during nap time: hopefully a bottle or some nursing right as the flight is taking off (which also helps balance out the pressure in their ears) and they’ll sleep for a good portion of the flight. When budget considerations are at play, consider reducing the trip by a night to accommodate an ideal flight schedule that’s a bit more expensive – you’ll be happier traveling a shorter time with kids that are well rested.
  2. Pack Plenty of Snacks – Gone are the days of airlines giving out free meals in flight (plus, the food was never great anyway) – having a stash of favorite snacks (and even some treats) will keep the “hangry” at bay and offer a distraction when kids (& adults) get restless.
  3. Don’t Over plan – The surest way to ruin a vacation is to spend a lot of time fighting with your kids to keep on schedule. I recommend planning a single formal activity most days, but also think about incorporating some days off with nothing on the agenda.
  4. Babysitters and Kids Clubs Are Your Friend – Although family vacations are about spending time together, it’s also nice for kids to have time on their own and for parents to have the opportunity to escape. Even an hour once or twice a day at the kids’ club or with a babysitter will give everyone a chance to enjoy their time together even more.

Want 20 minutes with Mali for some time saving tips? To get started call (917-371-6506) or click today to schedule your FREE phone consultation.


The Healthy Ramen Experiment from Our Health Coach

healthy ramenI can’t remember how it started, but 2 years ago I started a love affair with restaurant ramen noodles.  There was a local ramen joint that I loved that had these big bowls of delicious broth, pork, and ramen noodles.  It just seemed like the perfect winter food to me!

About a year ago, I discovered Brown Rice Ramen Noodles at the store, and I figured I could make this dish at home!   There’s many different ways to make it – chicken, pork or vegetarain.  In this version, I used some proscuitto (I know, wrong cuisine) to add flavor because I had it on hand.  Feel free to omit it (to make it vegan), or add the protein of your choice.

Since my Facebook live video last week about making tomorrow’s breakfast got such a huge audience, I decided to a Facebook Live video with all the instructions for the ramen recipe.  It’s pretty rough around the edges, and you’ll get to see me in my actual kitchen making dinner and dealing with kids and my husband who interrupts, gets in the way, and tries to eat ketchup straight up! Ewe! It’s real life!

I didn’t prepare at all for the video, except to set up the tripod.  I find with these things it’s best if I just go for it and try not to obsess over the details, because then I run the risk of never getting started.  In the words of my wise Uncle Blaise, “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done.”

And with that, here’s the recipe for Healthy (& Quick) Ramen Noodles

Makes 8 servings, cook time 40 minutes


  • Lotus Foods Brown Rice Ramen, 4 patties
  • 10oz sliced mushrooms – I used a blend of shiitake, baby bellas and oyster mushrooms, but any variety will do
  • 1 head of bok choy, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • Sesame oil, 1 tsp plus some for garnish
  • 8 slices of proscuitto
  • 8 hard boiled eggs, for cooking method click here
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp Osem Consomme
  • 6-8 cups of water
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Scallions for garnish

Instructions:  In a large pot, over medium heat, add the olive oil and sesame oil and minced garlic.  Let the garlic become fragrant.  Chop the proscuitto and add it to the garlic and oil, lets the proscuitto become cripsy and brown – about 2 minutes.  Rinse and chop the boy chow and mushrooms.  Once the proscuitto is crispy, add the mushrooms and then the boy choy on top. Add soy sauce. Cook down for 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms have turned brown and softened.  Add the water, depending on the size of your pot you can use 6-8 cups.  Add the Osem, let it come to a boil.  Peel your hard boiled eggs.  Once the broth has come to a boil, add the ramen noodle patties and let simmer uncovered.  After 3 minutes, use a fork to untangle the ramen noodles.  Simmer another 1-2 minutes until noodles are done.

To plate, place one hard boiled egg on each serving cut in half lengthwise, scallions and sesame seeds.  Finish it off with a splash of sesame oil.

Family Plate Cover

You can contact our health coach Marie Ingrisano Isner on her website, for a complimentary consultation.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: an insider’s look at the credit card processing industry – From Our Credit Card Processor

While everyone is focused on credit card processing rates and fees, there are some additional considerations to be aware of when choosing a merchant services company.  I will cover the rates and fees later. I think these are the more important considerations, and are frequently overlooked.

  • Are you locked into a contract? If so, for how long, and what is the penalty for switching companies mid-contract?
    • Most companies require a 3-year agreement with a $250-$500 penalty.
    • If you see the term “liquidated damages,” RUN. These penalties can run into the tens of thousands.
  • Will they charge you for equipment and supplies?
    • Many companies, including my own, provide the equipment and thermal paper free of charge. If you decide to switch companies, just return our equipment.
  • If they suggest leasing a credit card terminal, RUN.
    • Credit card terminal leases are never a good deal. I’ve seen leases ranging from $20-$50 per month for 48 months. That is $960- $2400 for a terminal that would cost $150-$400. It also leaves you with a terminal that may no longer be compliant or may not even work in 2-3 years.
    • Sales reps make large up-front bonuses on leases, and they often stagger a 3-year merchant services agreement from company X and a 4-year terminal lease from company Y. That way, after 3 years you don’t switch providers because you still have another year on the lease.
  • What services do they provide?
    • Do they install equipment, train staff, and provide on-site service/replacement of non-working equipment?
    • Do they charge for on-site service calls?
    • Do you get a point of contact that knows you and your business, or do you call an 800 number?
    • If they provide phone support, is the support staff located in the US? Are they 24/7/365?
    • Do they provide information as to how to reduce your processing expenses, or information to help you reduce the risk of chargebacks?
    • Do they provide next day funding; if so, what is the cut off time?

If you like the answers to the questions above, then it’s time to talk rates.

Net Effective Rate:

The first things I look at when reviewing a business’s credit card statement are the total fees divided by the total sales. These numbers are generally reported on the first page. Some statements, though, reflect the sales from the current month and the fees from the previous month.

Example: Business X had $25,432 in sales and $787 in fees for August.

$787/$25432= 3.09% Net Effective Rate

Important factors to consider:

Is your business manually entering the majority of cards? Rates differ for most industries according to the method of card entry, known as card present (CP) and card not present (CNP).

If all or the majority of transactions are card present, ask yourself, “Why am I paying more than the highly advertised flat rate of 2.75% that Square offers?”

There are three pricing methods: Flat rate, Tiered, & Interchange Plus.

The flat rate method is great for businesses that accept credit cards infrequently, have average transaction amounts under $12, or total monthly credit card sales of less than $2500.

Flat rate pricing providers generally have no other fees; the full cost is baked into the flat rate.

Here are some of their published rates:

Square: 2.75% for card present transactions, and 3.5% + 15¢ for card not present transactions (Visa/MC/Disc/Amex)

Stripe: 2.90% + 30¢ for card not present transactions (Visa/MC/Disc/Amex)

Paypal: 2.70% for card present transactions and 3.5% + 15¢ for card not present transactions (Visa/MC/Disc/Amex)

The tiered pricing method was commonly used prior to 2010, when the Durbin amendment reduced the fees for regulated debit cards to .05% and 22 cents per transaction.  Tiered pricing is the least transparent and the most deceptive; they commonly advertise teaser rates to get their foot in the door. If you read the fine print, the teaser rate only applies to “Qualified” transactions and they determine which transactions are “Qualified.” You will likely see something like this:

  • Qualified Rate: 1.22% Plus 10¢ per transaction
  • Mid-Qualified/Partially Qualified Rate: 2.15% Plus 10¢ per transaction
  • Non-Qualified Rate: 3.25% Plus 10¢ per transaction

As you can see, even the Qualified rate is a lot higher than the regulated debit card rate of .05% and 22 cents per transaction, and those are the transactions they will classify as “Qualified.”

Here is an example from a highly reputable big box store, which advertises these rates to its business members:

  • On Site & In-Store: 1.22%2 Plus 12¢ per transaction
  • Online: 1.99%2 Plus 25¢ per transaction
  • On-the-Go: 1.22%2 Plus 12¢ per transaction

“2 Visa/MasterCard/Discover service is sponsored through Elavon. Rates listed are for qualified transactions. A monthly minimum charge applies when total transaction fees and per-item charges are less than $20 per month. A $25 Application Fee and $4.95 Monthly Statement Fee apply for Non-Executive Members. Rates and fees may change without notice. Rate and acceptance are subject to underwriting. Call Elavon at 844-204-5982 for all terms and conditions.”

Finally, interchange plus is generally the most transparent and least expensive pricing method. Interchange is the wholesale rate set by the card-issuing bank; this is where the majority of the credit card transaction fee goes.  Interchange rates vary by card type, industry, and method of card entry (CP or CNP).

The lowest interchange rate is for Regulated Debit Cards at .05%, plus 22¢ per transaction, set by the Durbin Amendment in 2010.  The highest interchange rates tend to be for commercial cards, in the low 3.00% range, plus 10¢ per transaction. Most credit transactions fall into the 1.50% – 2.50% range (even American Express), depending on the rewards/benefits the cards offer their clients.

There are additional fees which are charged by the card brand; these are known as dues and assessments (Visa/MC/Disc/Amex).

None of these fees are negotiable for anyone other than the largest of merchants (Walmart/Target/Costco/Amazon).

Interchange plus providers, like myself, pass along their wholesale costs (interchange, dues, and assessments) along with a small mark-up, usually notated on the statement as “Disc,” and a per item fee, and a monthly service or statement fee.  These fees should be clearly marked on any agreement; cross out any blanks so the rep doesn’t add any fees after you’ve signed.

Consider the following example:

Previously mentioned Business X had $25,432 in sales and 500 transactions, with an average transaction amount of $50.86.  Business X has only card present transactions.


Card Type # Trans Total Sales Processing Rates Fees
Regulated Debit 170 $8477.33 0.05% & 22 Cents per trans $4.24 +$ 37.40 =  $41.64
Visa/MC/Disc 250 $12715.00 Avg. 1.95%  & 10 Cents per trans $247.94+$25.00 = $274.94
Amex 80 $4329.67 Avg. 2.25%  & 10 Cents per trans $97.42+$8.00 = $105.42
Providers Markup 500 $25432.00 .30% & 5 Cents per trans, $10/Mo $76.30+$25.00 +$10 = $111.30
Dues & Assessments 500 $25432.00 0.13% and $0.0195 per trans $33.06 + $9.75= $42.81
Total 500 $25432.00 = $576.11/$25432 = 2.27% $576.11


The provider mark-up is negotiable, as are the following additional fees that some providers charge. These fees could be monthly, quarterly, annually so look at multiple statements to see if you are paying any of them: Batch fee, PCI compliance fee, PCI non-compliance fee, Monthly/Statement fee and many others.

In conclusion, I recommend seeking a reputable local service provider with verifiable references that utilizes the Interchange Plus pricing method.

This is a general overview of merchant services and the associated fees. I am always happy to answer specific questions regarding your own statement, or provide you with a detailed analysis that you are welcome to use to negotiate a better rate.

About the Author: Joe Sacks is a merchant solutions adviser with Automated Merchant Services and Electronic Payments, serving businesses and non-profits in NYC, Long Island and Westchester.  Joe does everything from sales to service and training, including mobile payments, terminals, point of sale systems, virtual terminals, e-commerce gateways and other software integrations. Joe has been in the payments and point of sale industry for three years, prior to which he ran wholesale businesses in the fashion eyewear industry for 18 years.  Joe can be reached at


4 Tips for GREAT Halloween Portraits from Our Photographer

As a children’s photographer in NYC and on Long Island NY, I find Halloween time to be the best time to photograph the magic that surrounds our children, and that they embody all year round – but that comes out to shine during this time.

This year, got Ghouls? Pirates and Princesses? Mermaids and Madhatters? Go capture some GREAT portraits. Here’s how.

 Tip 1: Make sure you start photographing them in their costumes early, even before Halloween. The more sure they are in their costumes and FEELING their character, the more it will ensure that you capture a few GREAT shots of fierce WonderWoman, magically shy Unicorn Girl, frighteningly ghoulish Freddy Fazbear, or whomever they have chosen this year to be.

 Go ahead, call them by their character name! Goad them to snarl, sneer, Jedi sword fight, curtsy – BE and ACT the part. Your encouragement will go a long way in allowing them to feel comfortable and free – and allow you to take some great shots both you and they will want to remember.

 Because by next year, they will certainly want to be something or someone completely different. Yet if your kids are like mine, know that they will still want to remember what they were the years past. And you will have the prints to remind them, and you!

Tip 2: Take advantage of Fall Harvest and Halloween-centric events around your town. Many of them will surely have wonderful, even spectacular set-ups for your child to play in – and for you to use as a wonderful backdrop that you cannot replicate at home. has a wonderful list of event listings in your area for every day of the week, and Time Out New York Kidsdoes too.

But, you don’t need to be part of a large ‘to do’ to find inspiration! Surely there is that house in your neighborhood everyone drives to to see their ghoulishly lavish Halloween display – and so should you. Or that set up of pumpkins, scarecrows, scary webs by your local market? Go ahead and take advantage!

 Tip 3: Whether you are looking to capture a detail of your child’s costume, of scenery, but especially of your child’s expression, make sure to isolate your subject from the crowd or from distracting elements. Then, get close! And don’t be afraid to get closer still or to zoom in, making sure your camera is in portrait mode if automatic camera. Why not also go ahead and explore your macro settings?

Tip 4: Chances are, you will be doing lots of your photo capturing in low light situations.

Make sure to bump up your camera’s ISO to at least 800 and bump up your shutter speed too, or put in on Night Portrait mode if available on an automatic camera. And do make sure to use a tripod if it does get too dark so you can capture images that are more sharp.

I personally never use flash, but if you do because your subject is too dark it’s more flattering to use fill flash then full flash mode when you are capturing your subject up close.

Lastly, if possible, move your child to where there is more available light, or simply angle their body towards it as you are photographing them. However, do also acknowledge that the darkness can set the mood for your portraits: embrace it!

Click here to contact Andreea B. Ballen Photography if instead of being behind the camera you would like to have fun with your little ones and would like a professional photographer to capture your images for you, and turn them into prints and albums that you can look back to for generations to come.

Fall Visitor’s Day Coming Up!

Connect with Confidence: Fall 2017 BNI Visitor’s Day Brooklyn Heights

Thu, November 16, 2017, 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM EST


BNI is a business and professional organization whose primary purpose is to exchange lucrative business referrals. It is the largest networking organization and currently has over 6,000 chapters with 170,000 members in the United States and 50 other countries. In 2014, members nationwide have exchanged 6.6 million referrals, resulting in $8.6 billion dollars worth of closed business for its members. Our chapter, BNI Confidence passes an average of $1,000,000 of closed business annually.

What makes BNI unique is that it allows only one person per profession to join a chapter. Thus, once you’ve joined, none of your competitors can participate in the chapter.

Our team currently consists of the following professionals:

Acupuncturist, Estate Planning Attorney, Business Banker, Business Broker, Chiropractor, CPA, Credit Card Processing, Educational Test Preparation, Financial Advisor, Health Coach, Insurance Property & Casualty, Life Coach, Life Insurance Agent, Mortgage Broker, Photographer, Real Estate Agent (Residential), Real Estate Attorney, Time Management Coach, and World Book Sales Representative.

All other professions are welcome to attend.


What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?

The closest train stop is the A/C at High Street. There is a parking garage next to the venue where you can get validated parking when you are parked less than 2 hours.

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Email Marie Isner at

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?


What is the refund policy?

We do not refund tickets, but, we will transfer them to another meeting if you contact the organizer within one week. Email for transfers.

Ten Naturopathic Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle – from our Naturopath

Ten Naturopathic Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

Ten Naturopathic Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

1. Positive thinking.  Start the day with positive thoughts or by forging a smile as soon as you open your eyes. Our thoughts affect our emotions by releasing both stress producing neurotransmitters like cortisol and adrenaline and positive ones like dopamine and serotonin.

2. Contrast showering. Shower with one minute of water as hot as you can handle followed by 30 seconds of water as cold as you can handle. Repeat this three times. It’s the difference in temperature that has the therapeutic benefit. Contrast showers increase circulation, help remove toxins, stimulate lymphatic circulation which improves your immune system, and wakes you up!

3. The Body Rub. Doing the Body Rub only takes five minutes either before or after your shower, but separate from it; nevertheless, its impact on health is huge.  Using an unbleached or a white organic cotton/linen/flax washcloth dipped in hot water, rub your skin gently, always working towards the heart, except at the upper outer quadrant of the breast, from where we work towards the underarms. Continue from your fingertips up to your heart area, and from your toes up towards the heart again.  Give extra attention to the collarbones, underarms, heart, soles, back of the knees, and the inguinal canal (at the bikini line) where there are concentrated lymph channels. The benefit of this practice is its ability to remove dead skin, to allow for better gas exchange, to increase venous return to the heart which helps varicose veins, to increase lymph circulation, to stimulate the immune system, and most importantly, to release toxins through pores.

4. Good Food.  Start your day with a glass of room temperature water with the juice of half a lemon. Lemon, a great source of Vitamin C, is a natural antimicrobial, so it cleans and disinfects the inside of your body. Additionally, it stimulates the production of bile, which is an important part of detoxification.

Eat breakfast every morning. If time is limited, try a protein smoothie, nuts and seeds, or organic protein bars. Try to keep healthy snacks in your briefcase, bag or purse, glove compartment, or desk drawer, so when things get hectic you can still eat well. Eating frequently, but intelligently, stimulates your metabolism.

There is no perfect diet and you need to discover what works best for you. Remember, you are what you eat. Everything you ingest is broken down to make up the cells of your body. Food can be your best medicine or your greatest poison: you decide. Diet is also about cultural expectations, financial constraints, emotional well-being, and social activities, so refining it is a gradual and life-long experiment. Consider seeking help from your Naturopathic Doctor to find the eating plan that works best for you.

5. Move.  Sedentary lifestyles often begin at work, so try to get up every hour throughout the day, even if it’s only for 30 seconds, as this will help prevent blood and lymph from stagnating. If possible, try walking, stretching, jogging on the spot, yoga, or Tai Chi. While you’re at it, try deep breathing through the nose. Make one of those movement breaks intense enough to bring on a good sweat for at least 15 minutes. This doesn’t need to be “exercise.”  Chasing toddlers, moving furniture, cleaning windows… it all counts.

6. Castor Oil Packs.  While reading, napping, or watching TV, use castor oil packs to detoxify.  Obtain a nine by nine inch piece of flannel, soak the flannel in castor oil, and apply it over the liver area, which is the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. Cover the flannel with a plastic bag and place a hot water bottle on top of that. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours. This procedure promotes detoxification, which increases energy, balances hormones, and improves digestion.

7. Health Journal. Every day, briefly write down entries under the following headings:

Diet.  Be aware of the food and drinks you choose each day by keeping a diet diary.   Tracking can help you objectively observe the effect your food choices have on you.

Symptoms.  Headache, fatigue, constipation, etc.

Emotions.  Irritable, weepy, happy, etc.

Dreams.   Writing down your dreams improves your memory and gives you insight into your subconscious mind. You may want to write them down first thing in the morning when they are still fresh in your mind.
Weather.   You may find your symptoms improve or get worse when it rains or that you feel better in the sun. This is significant information and can give insight into your condition.

Keeping a health journal teaches you to become more aware of yourself and helps you identify patterns and changes in your well being. Realize that the more information you have about your health, the more accurate a diagnosis you will get, so bring this health journal to your medical appointments. Keep one for your children until they are old enough to do so themselves.

8. Prepare your bedroom for sleep.  Good sleep is as important to your health as what you eat.  Discard the clutter around your bed—if necessary, hide it.  Use your bed only for sleeping and intimacy—no screens (tablets, smart phones, T.V. etc) in bed.  If you use your bedroom as an office or for studying, separate that part of the room from the sleeping area. Use dividers, sheets, or open shelves to separate the space.

Sleep in complete darkness. Studies have shown that women who sleep in completely dark rooms have better hormone balance. Darkness increases the release of melatonin to promote better sleep and more alert wake cycles. This means no artificial light through the window (only moonlight is OK), no night lights, and no alarm clock shining into your eyes.

9. Alternate nostril breathing.  Once in bed, try this to help you sleep.  Hold the right nostril closed and take a deep breath lasting four seconds through the left nostril; hold for seven seconds, or as long as you can without straining; through the right nostril, exhale for eight seconds. Take in a breath through the right nostril for a count of four, hold it for seven seconds, and release it through the left for eight seconds. Repeat 10 times.

This will encourage nasal breathing, which is important for respiratory health. Through this breathing exercise, you can increase the secretion of melatonin, which protects against cancer, reduces anxiety, promotes hormone balance, and regulates the day and night cycle.

10. End your day with gratitude!  Take time to find one thing in your day to be thankful for. This is a great time to congratulate yourself on incorporating these new techniques into your routine.
With Love, 

Dr. Selassie

How to Stay Slim This Summer – by our Health Coach

Fit Woman measuring tape pointing


Travelling this Summer?  How to Keep that Swimsuit Body You’ve Been Working On!

By Marie Ingrisano Isner

With Independence Day behind us, it’s now time for many of us to head out of town for family vacation.  If you spent the winter working hard in the gym and in the kitchen, I know you don’t want to give back any of that progress to summer travel!  Plus, I know in summer the urge to just dive into a bowl of cold ice cream is huge simply because we are looking to cool off.  Here’s 5 easy tips to keep you on track as your travel far and wide this summer.

  • Be prepared! It’s just like that Boy Scouts saying!  If you’re prepared for your trip things will go a lot smoother, and you’re likely to save money.  If you’re planning a car trip, invest in a cooler bag to keep drinks and snacks cool.  Make sure to pack plenty of water so that everyone stays hydrated in the heat.  The more hydrated you are, the less you’ll want something cold (like ice cream) to cool off. Easy snacks you can pack in the cooler include: trail mix, sliced veggies, apples, peaches (which are in season now and delicious), and hard boiled eggs.  Fill up your cooler and you’ll need to eat less at the rest stop (saving money) and be able to snack and drive (getting to your destination quicker!).
  • Set Some Rules. Sure, there’s going to be those 1 or 2 meals that you’ve got to have while out of town.  I had a client last year tell me the clam chowder was to die for in Cape Cod, and she planned on indulging in it twice on her journey.  That’s fine!  Know what you’re special meals are going to be and plan for that.  If you know the clam chowder is worth having twice simply have a smaller lunch that day or get in a workout.  It’s all about finding balance and not depriving yourself from the things you love.  Enjoy those local delicacies because it enriches your trip and because you’ve planned for it.
  • Get Active! – If getting to the gym isn’t in the cards while you’re away consider adding in some activities that get you up and moving. Take a walk, go biking, or play hide and go seek with the kids.  Any activity that gets you off the couch or beach chair will help you feel better once it’s time to sit down and eat that third slice of key lime pie.  If you can get to the gym, do it!  Bring sneakers and go for a new class.  You can try out a local yoga class and call it a “tourist activity”! Last but not least, cue up any number of the DIY workouts on you tube and do it in your hotel room or host’s basement.  Even 10 minutes a day will be worth it.  Remember working out not only burns calories, but it also de-stresses you and raises your endorphin levels so you can be as happy as possible on your vacation and get the most out of it.
  • Leave a little something on the plate. I learned this trick on my trip to Israel back in 2008.  By never clearing your plate and always leaving something behind I managed to only gain 4/10 of a pound in 2 weeks.  Sometimes with new or special foods it’s hard to know when you’re full.  Realize that many times the serving is way more than any one person needs, so it’s okay for you to leave something on the plate.  Either take a doggie bag, or just leave it be.  It’s either going to be waste or on your waist!  You decide.  I also believe that leaving something behind makes us cognizant of just how much less we need to feel satisfied in general, so it’s a nice spiritual practice as well.
  • Make your own ice cold treats. Here’s an easy way to make ice cream from scratch- take a frozen ripe banana and some chocolate chips and pulse it in your food processor. In seconds you’ll have a frozen treat that’s homemade, natural, and still delicious!  If you’re staying at someone’s home or a time share where you have a kitchen you can make your own ice cold treats to keep from spending too much time at the sweet shoppe.  Plus, kids love to help make these kinds of recipes, so it can be a fun family activity too.  If you’re ready for something more advanced, consider buying a Popsicle mold and making your own pops.  The easiest way to start is with orange juice, water and a few sliced strawberries.  Freeze those and the kids will be delighted with the taste and so will you!


Enjoy your summer travels!

Thyroid Recovery – From Our Naturopathic Doctor

Thyroid Holding Throat

Meet Helen, my patient.

Two years ago, Helen (out of respect for her privacy, my patient’s real name has been changed to Helen) was a 38-year-old female who had been trying to conceive for over three years.  About three years prior to us meeting, she had gained 30 pounds in three months without increasing her food intake.  She dieted, but felt exhausted and frustrated most days.

Helen started doing research on the internet and read about people who had trouble with infertility, weight gain, and fatigue.  Oh, how she could relate!  She wanted guidance and expertise.  She called up her primary care physician and set up an appointment.

She told him the exciting news, that she thought she’d figured out what was wrong with her.  And she was there to get his feedback, some acknowledgement, and perhaps a cure.  The doctor told her that she was depressed because she was unable to conceive, that he thought she was looking for thyroid medication to lose weight, and that she should try and go on a diet instead.  He never drew her blood to have it checked, he sent her out of the office, and she felt ashamed and devastated.

Then, Helen came to see me.  She told me the story and I was horrified!  She then had her blood work done (through  another medical doctor) which confirmed that she did indeed  have thyroid disorder.  She was put on medication and continued to work with me. We looked at how she was eating, sleeping, exercising, pooping, and worked on all of those habits.  I also gave her nutritional and botanical support in the form supplements.  She was pregnant within four months of starting this new regime.

Helen is now enjoying her son. She is no longer depressed; she was worried she would be after giving birth, but we gave her lots of nutritional support to prevent that from happening.  She is happy and has energy, and the baby weight has been coming off.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon experience for patients with underactive thyroid.  I have had patients who were given anti-depressants, offered IVF, told to lose weight (with absolutely no instruction on how to do so), were given a statin drug to lower cholesterol, and given Rogaine to regrow their hair– where the underlying cause of their distress was thyroid disorder.  If you are feeling distressed and frustrated, trust that there is another way!

Dr. Patricia Pimentel Selassie, New Flower Medicine