I first discovered Alisa Vitti, HHC, AADP (Holistic Counselor, American Association on Drugless Practitioners) from her amazing Ted Talk “Loving Your Lady Parts as a Path to Success, Power, & Global Change.” I was having a particularly “hormonal” night, and her honesty and kindness brought me to tears and brought back my spirit. My writer’s block ended, and that night I wrote the post Is PMS Real or Imagined? The Short Guide to the Monthly Crash. Her work does what great people do: it inspires us, energizes us, and makes us feel understood enough to open up.
Alisa founded Laughing Sage Wellness Center, now Flo Living, 9 years ago, after being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which she was able to heal herself through diet and lifestyle changes. She has received degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Today, she focuses on reproductive and hormonal health and creating real intimacy in relationships (MsMorphosis fans – does she sound like my soulmate, or what?).
Her New York practice focuses on comprehensive holistic women’s healthcare, and she hasn’t stopped there: with Floliving.com, Alisa expands her reach to women all over the world. She offers virtual support to women on her website, twitter (where’s she one of the most inspiring and interactive tweeters I know), and on Facebook. She uses the internet to sell her hormonal sync system to an international audience of grateful women, and is always traveling to spread her message to new audiences.
Alisa is a phenomenal example of how anyone can take their unique passions and expertise, and make it a 1000x more powerful by putting it online.
Jen: One thing that fascinates me is the range of mediums you use, and places that you go, to spread your message.
How have these different venues helped you to spread the word and build your business? Where else have you been able to speak and help spread your message?
Alisa: “Have ovaries, will travel” is my motto!
For me, part of my commitment to changing the way women think about and consume health care, is to go and speak to women where they are in this moment. I totally trust that whenever I speak, it truly is the perfect time for me and a new group of women to connect. I’ve been honored to speak at corporations, colleges, online health summits, and women’s entrepreneurial conferences. I find it so wonderful to know that women in very different work/life circumstances all desire to have their hormonal health handled, as I like to say, so that they can get on with the business of creating an extraordinary life, and NOT one at the expense of their bodies. I’m also very much looking forward to teaching the weekend of June 8-10th 2012 at the venerable Omega Institute – would love to see you there!
Jen: In the years since you first opened your Manhattan practice, do you think there’s been an increasing level of public awareness regarding women’s cycles and the effect both their hormones and lifestyles have in every aspect of their day-to-day lives? If so, how do you think the internet and enhanced communication and the streamlined sharing of information has impacted this?
Alisa: Absolutely! I remember when I first started having this conversation a decade ago, mostly the response was confusion. The listening has changed dramatically for this issue, and I think it has to do with a number of factors, the most important one being how women have shifted in to the driver seat in many varied ways in this country. As such, it’s only natural that we’d want a certain caliber of support for this universal issue for women.
Jen: One of my big goals with the Blogging Fearlessly interview series is to inspire other young women (and men!) to use the internet in ways they never thought about before.
How has the internet enabled you to help and connect with women? Do you think there is still “room” on the internet for other women interested in documenting their own journeys with health and wellness?
Alisa: When my PCOS was finally confirmed, I turned to the web to find further information on the condition. I remember having a strong reaction which was, I need to keep myself clear of this negative messaging until I’m well. You see, all that was available was information on the worst case scenario, probable negative outcome.
I wanted to make sure no woman had to feel like she was the only one, to feel as if there was no hope for a better healthier outcome. As a result, my mission has always been to connect with each woman we work with and to have her connect to all the women we have worked with for a decade – so she knows not only is she not the only one, but that there is SO much hope for healing.
The internet has been instrumental in breaking through all geographic and economic issues that normally prove to be obstacles in various ways for women. As someone who believes in the value of feminine energy – more is more! There is always room to add your voice to the collective consciousness that has been shifting their thinking from victim mode when it comes to their health and bodies to a voice of hope and transformation.
Jen: You tweet and talk a lot about loving our bodies. First of all, let me say that I love all of your messages of self-love and self-care. I talk a lot about body image and self-esteem on MsMorphosis, and because of that have attracted a lot of readers that have also struggled with body image, food, and weight. How do you stay balanced, proud, and confident in your wonderful womanly figure? What would you suggest to women struggling with their body image today?
Alisa: I just love this question and thank you for the body love. I will TOTALLY let you in on my secret for body love. I remember vividly what it was like to be in a 200lb body. I felt trapped, ashamed, victimized, angry and alone. There was this darkness in a way because I had NO relationship with my body. It was as if I wished my body away. Since there was too much baggage with my body and me, I turned to my mind – and chose to focus on learning about the body as a gentle way of building that relationship, fostering trust, and creating a bridge that would allow me to create a new relationship with my body that would also help me heal hormonally. The light that poured in was amazing. The more I learned, the more I fell in love with my body, imperfections and all, because in nature, in science – there are no perfect structures. In fact, the entire expansion of life is built on subtle genetic variance!!
It was totally liberating to see my body as part of the master plan, part of the great science experiment of all living things, because now I could embrace the perspective that there was nothing “wrong” with me or my body, simply that it required special care and feeding.
We don’t question that we’d feed a flower differently than a tigress So for me, like so many other hormonally sensitive women, I could stop using my energy on beating myself up for something that wasn’t bad or wrong in the first place, and could instead channel my energy into feeding my amazing body what she needed to feel her best.
I feel so much gratitude and compassion for this beautiful amazingly complex vessel I get to inhabit – my body has given me every opportunity, has been my greatest teacher, my constant companion, and my guide on my soul’s journey. If you are struggling with your body, I don’t blame you! With all the emphasis put on the external packaging, we lose sight of the greatest beauty which is the biochemistry of how you operate – it is totally breathtaking to learn about and I invite you all to come learn with us at FLOliving.com. The external packaging is supposed to have a huge degree of variety – it’s how nature intended it, so it is only the story we are telling ourselves about it that is the real issue. What would happen if your story was, “your body is a perfect variation on a master plan” or that “your body is bringing valuable information to humanity by being so distinct”?
I can imagine much more booty shakin’ happening everywhere and I think you would feel proud and peaceful
Jen: On a purely selfish, physical note, what are the best foods that you have found for PMDD or PMS?
Alisa: I actually like looking at both conditions in a similar fashion. Meaning there are usually serious nutrient deficiencies that are making the work of the luteal phase of the cycle difficult. Women can manifest symptoms in a variety of ways, which is the only way the body has to tell you she needs some support. There are 2 categories in either case – the anxiety/irritability category and the fatigue/depression category.
Regardless of which category you find yourself in, some of the nutrient needs are the same so it’s very important to use foods to help you improve not only the symptoms, but also the underlying causes.
SO for everyone with PMS/PMDD:
1 – BUCKWHEAT and BROWN RICE – provides your body with B vitamins, and building blocks for the trifecta of mood stabilizing neurochemicals: dopamine, serotonin, and norepineprhine.
2 – KALE and Bok Choy – magnesium and calcium to help with the work of the luteal phase and reduce water retention without straining the adrenals with diuretics and contains Indole -3 Carbinol which helps the body process estrogen more effectively through the liver.
3 – “Say no to Soy” – with PMS/PMDD – the ratio of estrogen and progesterone is off – with estrogen being too abundant – don’t exacerbate the issue with this phytoestrogenic food.
4 – ‘B’ savvy: B5 and B6 for the anxiety/irritability group and both B6 and B12 for the depression/fatigue group
5 – Go with the FLO: during the luteal phase – this is the time to dive in to personal projects/self care projects/domestic/creative projects – reduce your social commitments this week and give yourself the time to be with yourself – it’s the multitasking that’s frying your adrenals in the first place and making your symptoms so much worse than they need to be.
Remember always, that you can’t simply take the supplements and continue living in a way that is out of sync with your body. You’ve got to get in to “Hormonal Sync“.