Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pharmaca Personal Weight Challenge

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My local Pharmaca store
Weight challenge, huh? you might be thinking. Well, hear me out, this is different. Pharmaca is an integrative pharmacy...what does that mean? It means they are a traditional pharmacy (just like any other pharmacy) but that they offer holistic remedies alongside your typical prescriptions.

But they're also one of those "lifestyle" type places, with a store selling not just remedies but food, make-up, earth-friendly stuff, even greeting cards and the like. Here are some pics of my local store.

the beauty counter

Probiotics and Omega-3 oils


So the folks at Pharmaca contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in working with one of their nutritionists in their Personal Weight Challenge program, which they described as if I have "a little extra weight to lose or to start some healthy habits in 2014." Ok, not so much on the losing weight, but YES on the healthy habits. And it just so happens there's a Pharmaca just a few miles from my home.

They give you a reusable bag, a blender bottle and a Personal Weight Challenge journal as part of the program. Full disclosure: I was also given a gift card (which I used toward the purchase of the items listed below). Still, opinions are all my own. And for you, if you're interested, is a 20% off site-wide coupon for, BPWCBLOG14.

I set up my appointment with Janine, the herbalist at my local store. Admittedly I have not been a big herb/supplement person. I take a daily multivitamin and a B complex vitamin. Most days. But I've been struggling with unhealthy snacking/eating, low energy levels, getting enough sleep, stress, etc etc and I thought maybe Janine could help me out with at least some of these things.

On top of that, and I've been kind of mum on this so far, I'll soon be having that surgery that got re-scheduled back in December. I'm not quite ready to go into the details on that but I'll tell you, the recovery has me shaking in my boots a little bit. I thought maybe Janine could help navigate me through the preparation and recovery process.

So I set up an appointment and we met this morning. We chatted for a bit, going over my history of weight stuff, my current struggles with unhealthy snacking, sleep challenges, and the surgery. Then we took my weight vitals. She had a Taylor Body Analysis scale. I took my morning weight at home and was 143.8 and 29.5% body fat so I was curious to see what hers would say. Her Taylor scale had the option of setting me as being an athlete, "you look like an athletic type". We decided to go with that. Without delay, here are my stats:

Bone mass
Weight: 145.6
Body fat %: 22.2*
Water weight: 54.3
Muscle mass: 108.2
BMR: 2616
Bone mass: 5.5

So this is based on me being an athlete. *But when I took my measurements without the athlete setting my body fat was closer to the 30% range, which is what my home scale (which doesn't have this athlete option) tells me. I found this blogger who went crazy comparing Bod Pod body fat with home scale readings and what he basically found was, unless your body fat % is in the single digits, the normal reading is likely closer to accurate than the athlete reading.

In other words, I'm probably not 22.2% body fat but rather, closer to the 29.5% I got at home and on the Taylor "normal" setting. Bummer. But still healthy, which is most definitely NOT a bummer. The Pharmaca booklet they gave me says for women aged 40-59 a healthy range is 23-34% body fat (based on NIH/WHO BMI guidelines). Ok, enough with the numbers, let's move on to herbs and whatnot.

After our discussion Janine made several recommendations.

1. Start taking a probiotic...healthy gut flora, improved immune system, etc. 

Ultimate Flora

2. Add adrenal support which helps your thyroid do its best work, provides hormonal balance and can help with stress. That all sounds worth a try.

Vital Adapt

3. Sleep...most of my sleep issues are behavioral but we discussed taking something an hour before bedtime to help my body settle and to serve as a behavioral cue that it's time for bed. I set a reminder on my phone to take this around 9:30pm with the goal being to get in bed around 10:30, read for a bit and be sleeping by 11pm.
gaia Sound Sleep

4. Surgery. She recommended Arnica, a homeopathic, natural pain reliever that helps with muscle pain and stiffness, swelling, and bruising.

So, today I took my first round of probiotics and vital adapt along with my multivitamin and B vitamin. I'll take my Sound Sleep tonight and the Arnica before and after the surgery. And we set goals. I'll be meeting with Janine two more times and blogging about my progress over the next couple months. Here are the goals I'm working on with her.

1. Maintain my weight in the post-surgery recovery phase. Of course I'll gain some immediately after due to swelling, etc, but within a few weeks I should be back to normal. I won't be able to exercise for a while so I want my eating to be balanced and healthy to help maintain my weight.

2. After the surgery, improve healthy eating habits. Yes, I'd like to lose these 6-7 pounds I gained in the last six months but I'm not putting this goal in those terms. I'd rather focus on the unhealthy eating behaviors with the knowledge that doing so will mean my weight will take care of itself.

I'm hoping that with these supplements I'll be healthier overall and maybe even less stressed. Studies show a correlation between those who take vitamins and overall health. What they don't know is it that those who take vitamins are more health-conscious to begin with or is it that vitamins make you healthier? I'm inclined to believe the former but either way, there's a correlation, which means taking action to improve my health via supplements, herbs, etc, means I'm more likely to make healthier choices.

Thanks Janine!
And I like the support, accountability and increased knowledge that will come out of meeting with Janine. She was very supportive, encouraging and gentle. She was respectful of my goals (some people scoff at a "thin" person wanting to get in better shape) and I felt like she was recommending things she'd recommend to a close friend, ie not trying to sell me a bunch of stuff I don't need.

After the visit I went next door to Trader Joe's for some groceries. I was on a health high, really wanting to make better choices for myself and the kiddies. To that end I purchased a Fage and blueberries for a snack and ate it in the car on the way home.

I tell ya, I'm feeling good about this whole nutrition, integrative, herbal, supplements, challenge. It feels good to be talking with someone about my goals and have it be a whole approach, not just food and exercise but also the other stuff like stress, sleep, etc. Ok, that's it from me today. I'm off to exercise! I don't get to keep this body by sitting on my duff.


  1. That's an interesting approach! I love finding out about new vitamins or supplements...good luck :D

  2. My TJ's has a Pharmaca right next too it, too! Or maybe my Pharmaca has a TJ's next to it :-) I frequent them both often. I'm excited to see your process!


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