Ep 119: Optimize Your Body with Nora DeBora
Fertility Forward Episode 119:
“Where are you in your menstrual cycle?” This is something that every woman should be aware of, whether you are trying to fall pregnant, optimize your training schedule, or simply get a better understanding of your body. Unfortunately, education in this sphere is difficult to access, but today’s guest is doing everything she can to change that. Nora DeBora is a preconception health coach, holistic nutritionist, and fertility awareness practitioner. She joins us on the show today to discuss the journey that led her from the corporate HR space to where she is today, how the fertility awareness method (FAM) works, and the importance of employing strategies for calming your nervous system on your fertility journey. She also does a live demonstration of a breathing technique that we should all be doing everyday!
Rena: Hi everyone. We are Rena and Dara and welcome to Fertility Forward. We are part of the wellness team at RMA of New York, a fertility clinic affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Our Fertility Forward podcast brings together advice from medical professionals, mental health specialists, wellness experts, and patients because knowledge is power and you are your own best advocate.
Nora: Hi guys. My name is Nora DeBora. Yes, it does rhyme. Fun name. People remember me that way. But I am a preconception health coach, a holistic nutritionist, and a fertility awareness practitioner. So what does that actually mean? At the end of the day, I just help couples optimize their body for pregnancy. So I help them optimize their fertility to help them get pregnant. Majority of my clients are in the 30 to 40 age range, so I love working with this group of people and, yeah, it's such a rewarding, fulfilling, I guess, job or role to be in, especially when my clients get success, get pregnant, and are able to start to create those dreams that they've wanted for a really long time.
Dara: I love the term fertility awareness practitioner, that's brilliant.
Nora: Yeah, so I, that was a, a more later certification that I did with Lisa Hendrickson-Jack. Are you familiar with Lisa? She has a very, also an incredible podcast called Fertility Friday. She has a book called The Fifth Vital Sign and she was my mentor and she taught me how to work with my clients in the way that I help women chart their cycles. So it's called the Fertility Awareness Method. You're using the Fertility Awareness Method by doing the basal body temperature, checking the cervical mucus, and essentially using your menstrual cycle as your fifth vital sign to understand how your body is responding to your environment, literally on a day-to-day basis by collecting this data every day. So, I just kind of turned it into fertility awareness and then now I'm the practitioner of that. So, that honestly took my practice to the next level and also took my own knowledge to the next level to really understand the body through the lens of the menstrual cycle because without the menstrual cycle, we're not ovulating. Without ovulation, we can't get pregnant. So that's kind of really what I like to hone in and focus my practice on is use a menstrual cycle as like the main focal point and then all the other pieces will come in around that.
Dara: Wow. The fifth vital sign.
Rena: So how did you, yeah, how did you get into that? Maybe can, I saw that on your website when I was prepping for this and wondering if you could tell us more about that. I'm sure a lot of listeners wanna know exactly what does that mean. You know, it sounds like it's, it's much more involved than sort of the, you know, drugstore, whatever Amazon ovulation tracker kits you can get. Yes. It's more than peeing on on a stick. Yeah. Tell us, tell us about that.
Nora: Yeah, so I'll tell you a little bit about the fertility awareness method. Pretty much what you're the main, there's three main fertile signs that you can track. The first one is your basal body temperature. So when you wake up in the morning, you have your thermometer by your bed, you cannot move, you have to be horizontal, you can't get up, go to the bathroom, come back and take your temp. It needs to be that like your resting temperature as soon as you wake up. Your temperature is if you plot your temperature on a graph throughout your whole cycle and you are a woman who does ovulate, then you will see a thermal shift in the luteal phase of your cycle. So when you start tracking your basal body temperature, you can actually learn a lot about your body. It's gonna, if your temps are not in the average range of what they should be in the follicular phase, in luteal phase, this could be an indication or a sign of a thyroid problem, food sensitivity issues, inflammation in the body. It can also help a woman really identify and pinpoint her ovulation day. It can also tell a woman if she is ovulating. Some women do get that luteinizing hormone surge prior to ovulation but aren't necessarily ovulating. We also use it to really make sure that we have a healthy luteal phase because a lot of women, I see this a lot, are low and deficient in progesterone. And so without going to get a blood serum test, you know, seven days after ovulation to see what that one day number is gonna tell you, you can actually see if you're low in progesterone by looking at your basal body temperature. So your BBT gives you quite a bit of information and that's one fertile sign or one parameter that we use. And another one is your cervical mucus. So teaching women to really identify their non-peak, their peak cervical mucus, what does that look like? What does it mean? How much of it are you seeing? Are you seeing it during the right time when you're supposed to see it? Maybe you're not seeing any at all. Maybe you're seeing a lot in the luteal phase. If that's the case, maybe you have some sort of cervical infection. There's a lot of different if ands or buts of how we can really kind of interpret and analyze the data. But cervical mucus is another big one that is like one of your biggest fertile signs for when you're kind of coming into that fertile window. And I'll speak for myself, but I'm sure I can speak for the two of you as well. Outside of being in the medical profession and just being in health and wellness, none of this was taught to us when we were younger. Nobody teaches this to you like when you're in school. And so women now coming into thirties and forties, they're like, my body does this every month. Nobody taught me about it. I never knew this existed. I never knew I can understand my, my fertility based on these kind of signs that my body's presenting to me every single day. So it really is quite an empowering tool and it's quite simple once you actually learn to identify what your fertile patterns look like and then track them from cycle to cycle. And it can really kind of give you a lot of insight into your reproductive health and to really kind of just understand, gives you more body literacy so you can really understand more about your overall health as well.
Rena: Yeah, this is fascinating and the more you talk, I mean this definitely is not, you know, both Dara and I have gone through fertility treatment ourselves, and this is certainly not, you know, what is done in sort of like a mainstream reproductive endocrinologist office. This is definitely like a, a supplement
Nora: A hundred percent. 100%. So a lot of my clients I work with are either working with a fertility clinic and if they are and they're on, they're taking hormones and all that, we won't do the cycle charting because it's not gonna be accurate if you are taking hormones, right? It's not your natural cycle. We use this in a natural, like just without any hormones, just kind of a natural everyday basis. What is your menstrual cycle telling you about your health? Allowing your body to go through its natural rhythms of its own hormones. So if you're doing ART, then we would kind of maybe use this when you're not taking hormones or if somebody's prepping for ART, then we would do this to really make sure that we're optimizing their body as best as we can by using this as data and then using nutrition supplements and lifestyle to kind of implement certain things to kind of fill in gaps that we might see in the cycle charting.
Rena: So is this sort of, this is like, I guess kind of off topic, but is this only used for people that are trying to conceive or could this also be used for women that are perimenopausal to understand where they're at in terms of their hormone levels and everything?
Nora: This can be used in a wide variety of ways. A lot of women actually use this as a form of birth control because they don't want to be on hormonal contraceptives. So women will learn how to identify their own fertile window using their BBT, their cervical mucus. There's another one that you do, I don't really do this much with my clients, but it's available, you can actually check your cervical position cause your cervical position changes depending on where you are in the month. When you are in your fertile window, your cervix drops and it's much more open. Outside of your fertile window your cervical is much higher and it's closed. And so I know it's really cool. Huh? So you can
Rena: See my face, I'm like, I didn’t know my own body. That is so wild.
Nora: Yeah. Yeah. So a lot of women use it for a form of birth control because really we can only get pregnant about, you know, five, six days of the month depending on how much cervical mucus you have. Just there's, there's a variety of things that it depends on. But generally speaking, five, six days of the month are the only days that you can get pregnant. A lot of women don't wanna be on birth control or hormonal contraceptives I should say. So they'll use this. So people will use it for a form of birth control. They'll use it to help them get pregnant. I guess both birth control and to get pregnant and then just to understand their health.
Rena: And, and all this testing though, is this done at home? Cause I can't imagine everyone's coming in like your office every day to do this.
Nora: No, it's all at home. You just have a thermometer, you have an app. I'm a nerd when it comes to data. I just like to plot everything. So I'll get my clients to like customize the app and so we can add different things in, like, what time you woke up in the morning, how many times you're seeing cervical mucus. If you took your supplements that day…like we could literally customize the app and put in any kind of data point collection that we want. But it's literally a basal body temperature in your mouth in the morning when you first wake up. You get your reading, you put it in the app. The BBT is gonna give you a really good chunk of data. And then it's you observing your cervical mucus understanding and then knowing how to track it in the app, which is very simple. There obviously is a little bit of a learning curve when you're learning something new, but once you pass that learning curve about one or two cycles, then it's just like, it just kind of becomes clockwork and you're just so in tune with your body's rhythm.
Dara: I'm very fascinated with you in that you started out, it appears more in the exercise space, the personal training space, and then you got into more of the, the gut holistic nutrition space and ultimately into the more fertility space. Was this more of a, a personal journey or was this something that you, you know, your clients that you were meeting with were kind of asking you questions and this kind of fell into your lap?
Nora: So more of the first, the former, the personal journey. Now as a woman in the, so actually my, my education goes back to like I did my undergrad in psych. I did my postgrad in HR and then I was in HR for about a decade. And then from there I was like, this corporate life is not for me.
Dara: Well you had psych. Psych's, great at least that's a great basis.
Nora: Yes, exactly. I ended up like doing yoga teacher training at one point, which led me to holistic nutrition, which then led me to saying goodbye to the corporate world and then starting my nutrition practice where I focused on gut health because at holistic nutrition school, they were like, it was really about your gut is like the center of your universe of your body and if your gut is not healthy. So I became obsessed with gut health and I was like, everybody needs to learn how to optimize their gut. Whereas like now I'm like, everybody needs to learn how to understand their menstrual cycle. But to make the long story short, it was about my mid thirties where I've always desired to be a mom since I was a little girl. And growing up, well I guess coming into my twenties and thirties, that just didn't manifest for me. I want a partner and I'd like to do it with a partner. I was thinking about doing single mom by choice, then I just kind of let that go. But pretty much by my mid thirties I was like, okay, no partner in sight. What am I gonna do to optimize my own fertility naturally, just for my own personal knowledge because I was like, I was doing personal training at the time, had a nutrition practice focus in gut health and I was like, I'm a practitioner, I understand the body, I know nutrition like this is gonna be easy for me. But when I started diving into the whole fertility space, I was like, oh my gosh, there's so much information here that I didn't even know about the woman's menstrual cycle about the body and as a practitioner, I'm like, I already have so much knowledge and I'm overwhelmed and confused. I can only imagine what other people are going through. And that's when I started going down the rabbit hole of how many people were struggling with infertility, how many people were being pushed to the fertility clinics without giving them options about these are alternative ways that you could learn more about your body and optimize it before you even get to the fertility treatment. So that's when I just had this light bulb moment. I just decided to kind of switch gears a little bit. I'm still in health and wellness but did more of a, a fertility focus as opposed to just like a general gut health focus. And because also I'm a woman, I'm obsessed with hormones and just understanding them. I just was so excited every day to be able to, like, learn more about this, teach my friends, teach my family, mainly my friends too. When you know, everybody's always complaining about being tired and being cranky and moody about the first question outta my mouth is, where are you in your menstrual cycle? They would always roll her eyes at me and I'm like, guys, it's totally the answer to your question!
Dara: What I'm super fascinated about is, this is something that I didn't really know is there's certain times in the month where certain exercises may be more beneficial than others. You know, the idea of going hard and fast all the time isn't necessarily the best when it comes to, to your health. Especially for fertility.
Nora: Yeah, exactly. If we can also think about it like depending on what your exercise goals are, like we know that in the luteal phase, progesterone is higher, your metabolism is higher, so you might be able to burn a little bit more fat than maybe you would in the follicular phase. But your mood and your energy is a little bit more dampened than it would be in the follicular phase. So I have like a couple friends who are doing more like weightlifting competitions or power lifting competitions. They would always get their PR, their personal, their personal records, their personal bests right before ovulation cause they had the most amount of energy, the most motivation, those hormone surges that would give them their best score. So, so outside of that, yes a big part of the FAM - fertility awareness method – is to help women become body literate. Body literate just means understanding your body as a cycle. As women, we are cyclical beings operating on a weekly cyclical basis as opposed to men's hormones operate on a 24 hour basis. Our hormones for general sake cycles on a 28 day basis. So we're again, like we live in a society that doesn't honor that. That doesn't focus on that. We're taught to push, go hard, and do your best every single day. But certain days of our, our cycle like we need to rest, we need to retreat so that we can then cultivate that energy again in different times of the cycle. So it's something I struggle and challenge with myself as being my own business owner. I'm always like, push hard Nora, no it's time to relax, it's ok. You don’t have to.
Dara: Listen To your body! You know, plenty of us, we don't listen, we just go, we have lots to do today. Okay, let's do it. As opposed to, okay, do I need to take a step back? It's fascinating also that you mentioned that you talk a lot about nighttime rituals and the importance of nighttime rituals for, for health and fertility. Why is that so important for us?
Nora: Yeah, so nighttime, when you sleep, your body is essentially rejuvenating, resting, healing and repairing so that it could literally tackle the next day to do everything all over again. So if you're not sleeping properly, this could literally throw off your health and your hormones being one of the biggest impactors of that. So first before we dive into the nighttime ritual, I just wanna kind of introduce this concept of the body's nervous system. So we know we have a nervous system in the body. We have what's called the autonomic nervous system, which essentially regulates organ function in the body. It keeps our body in what's called like homeostasis or this equilibrium state and it helps our body adapt to change. Now within that autonomic nervous system, we have two branches. We have the parasympathetic nervous system and we have the sympathetic nervous system. Now the sympathetic nervous system dominates during like relaxation. So we've heard like rest and digest. This is the time where a body is able to absorb nutrients, have, like, waste disposal, improve our hormone function. And then outside of the parasympathetic nervous system we, on the flip side we have the sympathetic nervous system division which you might know as fight or flight. And the fight or flight system is responsible for, you know, managing your heart rate, bringing blood to your brain and your muscles to kind of get you ready for action really at the end of the day. Now the reason why I'm talking about this cause you're like, what does this have to do with nighttime and sleep? It's because those two divisions have to be in harmony and balance throughout the day and night in order for us to kind of function properly as humans. We have to remember that the reproductive system in the body is the first system that will shut down if our bodies are in too much of a stress state cause the body is all about making sure that it takes care of us. We need to survive. So if you're stressed too much, that reproductive system will be the first one that shuts down or turns off so that you can harness and turn your resources to just making sure that you as the host, as the human, stays alive. So by having a nighttime ritual, you are then allowing your body to move into this more parasympathetic nervous system division in the evening time, which again allows the body nutrient absorption, right? This all goes back to gut health. You could be eating the healthiest diet in the world, but if your body is not able to assimilate and absorb all of those nutrients, what's the point? Right? So we need to be able to absorb those nutrients. It will do that in a rest or digest state. Not when you're frantically eating lunch in front of the computer, shoveling in that food in your mouth because you're rushing off to that next meeting, right? Like, and then also calming of the mind lowers your cortisol level and then kind of brings your body back into equilibrium so that your hormones can, our hormones are very finicky and they really operate on this delicate balance. So we need to make sure that those hormones are kind of being nourished and cared for so that that delicate balance of hormones, that dance with each other can do so on an optimal level as opposed to this, like, frazzled level. So there's a little bit of a long around answer, but I just wanted to really make sure that I got the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system kind of laid out first.
Rena: No, I, I love that deeper dive into, into the why and I guess, do you have any great suggestions? You know, obviously you normally talk about with clients, you know, no screens, you don't eat ideally within three hours before sleeping, then cut off the screens, maybe do a meditation. Any other suggestions for how to establish a nighttime ritual?
Nora: Yeah, absolutely. So those are great ones. I mean, screen time I think could be the hardest for a lot of us, especially in the world and time that we live in right now. So just be gentle with yourself, but ideally about 60 minutes before bed, if that's if, if that's something that you're able to do. I will say something about the eating though. So eating about three hours before bed. Now that it's kind of different for everybody. I've experimented this with myself in the past, but for somebody who is extremely active myself has a high metabolism, I lift weights multiple times a week. I actually find that for myself, if I don't eat protein and fat rich snack within one hour of sleeping, I will actually wake up in the middle of the night with low blood sugar cause my low blood sugar will wake me up. So identifying what that might look like for you, I'm not a big person who says like no food at least three hours before bed. It could actually be beneficial for your body to have more of, but you have to be mindful of the type of snack. So I would say definitely more fat and protein focused as opposed to like a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. Like maybe it can be like avocado toast or like a couple protein energy balls or like turmeric.
Dara: A scoop of peanut butter.
Nora: A scoop of peanut butter. Exactly. You can even do like a turmeric latte with some coconut oil in it. That's really soothing for the nervous system in the evening time. You just wanna be sure you don't drink too much too close to bed cause then you're actually gonna wake up to peee.
Dara: That's the first thing I was thinking. I was like, liquids at night are tough for me.
Nora: Yes. Yeah. But one another big one, just kind of coming back from my yoga teacher background is breathing. A lot of us don't, A lot of us have shallow breaths and breathe shallowly throughout the day. And we can kind of also tie this back to the nervous system. And because most of us are living in sympathetic fight or flight mode all day with all of our responsibilities, all these things chiming off everywhere, we breathe shallowly up in our chest. And what I encourage a lot of my clients and community to do is to focus on breathing and bringing it deep down into your belly because there are chemicals inside your belly when you do deep belly breathing that will trigger and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, that rest and digest function. If you are really in a stressed state, you can even kind of ground yourself, like sit on the floor. Sit bones grounded, hands planted on the floor or feet touching the floor and do deep belly breathing. But I would love to share, like I have a little exercise, we don't have to do it, but I'll just explain it for like a nighttime, evening breathing exercise that really is, it's so simple but it's so effective. Can I share it?
Rena: Of course. We would love that.
Dara: We’ll do it!
Nora: Yeah. Ok. We can totally do it. I do it on my master classes all the time. I, I love it. Yeah, we can do it for a few minutes. Whoever's listening, just if you're driving please like, don't do this while you're driving cause you have to close your eyes. Pause it, pause it and play it later. Come back or pull over. But lemme, I'll explain it first and then we'll just, we'll do it and I'll just take like two minutes. But essentially what we're gonna do is a belly and chest breathing exercise. So we're actually gonna breathe three deep breaths. I'll kind of coach you through it, but we'll do three deep breaths deep into the belly and then we do three deep breaths up into the chest. And the last two is we breathe both together. So it's called a diaphragmic breath. So it'll be like inhale 1, 2, 3, we'll pause, exhale, 3, 2, 1, pause. We'll do that three times to the belly, three times to the chest, and then three times both. What I find just working with clients one-on-one, like in-person, is a lot of people have trouble getting that belly breath. Some people don't even know how to expand their belly. They're not sure how to push that breath down there. So this is a good way to kind of just see if this is just observe. How are you breathing as a human? So do you guys wanna try it?
Dara: For sure.
Nora: Okay. So wherever you are, let's just sit with our sit bones grounded if you're probably all on chairs right now. But let's place our feet on the floor and sit up nice and tall so that you have a long spine. Okay? We want that kind of energy channel to be nice and free flowing. So your shoulders, let's, let's kind of pull the shoulders up and back. Draw the shoulders down so that your chest is broadened, your collarbones are broadened. And let's all just close our eyes for a moment. Let your palms rest on your thighs and just take a few moments observing your natural rhythm of breath. So noticing where are you just naturally breathing now. Are you noticing your chest or is it your belly? Don't change or, or control it. Just observe. Okay. And then from here I want you to take your right palm and you're gonna place your right palm on your belly. You're gonna take your left palm and you're just gonna place the left palm on your chest. So you have these two touch points. And together we'll take a full diaphragmic breath. So let's just inhale through the nose, breathe in, fill the lungs with air, get as full as you can. And now just relax the jaw. Exhale, let it go through the mouth. And then we're gonna start with our belly breath. So we're gonna breathe in and out through the nose. So on the inhale we'll breathe into the right hand, nice and slow for 1, 2, 3. Hold the belly breath at the top. And then exhale belly to spine. 3, 2, 1. Again, inhale to the right hand only. Nice and slow. 1, 2, 3, pause at the top. Exhale belly to spine. 3, 2, 1. Last belly breath. Inhale to the right hand. 1, 2, 3, pause. Exhale, belly to spine. 3, 2, 1. This time as we inhale, we're gonna isolate the breath to the chest. So inhale to the left hand only. 1, 2, 3. Pause. Exhale. 3, 2, 1 Again. Chest breath. Inhale 1. See if you can expand the breath to the side ribs 2. Keep inhaling to the chest 3. Pause. Exhale. 3, 2, 1. We've got one more. Chest breath. Inhale for 1. Push the breath to the side ribs 2. See if you can fill the breath to the upper back for 3. Pause. Exhale. 3, 2, 1. We'll finish the last two breaths for full diaphragmic breaths. Inhale to both hands. 1, 2, 3. Pause. Exhale. Belly in for 3. Chest in 2. Squeeze the air out 1. Last time. Full diaphragmic breath 1. Inhale 2, get as full as you can. 3. We'll pause at the top. Exhale, let it go. 3, 2, 1. Let's take a cleansing breath. So just inhale. Relax the jaw, open the mouth, let it go. Nice. And you can just release the hands. Gently open the eyes.
Rena: Oh my gosh, Nora.
Dara: Actually, really I'm so impressed And it's, it's fascinating because it's interesting how I naturally, or I do notice the chest breath is quite easy. The combination quite easy. But just using just the belly breath, that was a little challenging for me so I could understand how other people aren't necessarily used to that.
Nora: Everybody's different. But I've had a couple one-on-one like yoga clients where we would have to work on this for like weeks cause they just could not get their breath into their belly. So if you also think about it and you look at a baby, if when a baby is breathing their breath is right in their belly. And so it's something we can learn from that too. Right? So what I recommend this belly and chest breathing exercise is typically I would do it like at the beginning, at the end of a yoga class to kind of set the tone and then kind of like let their bodies absorb the work once we're done. But honestly I use this all the time throughout my day. Guys, it's free, it's in your back pocket. You can use it whenever you want. Go hide in the bathroom, do it in your car. I don't know, you can find it. Carve out a time and it's space for it. But I will say since we are looping back here to the nighttime ritual is this is a great exercise or tool to do right before you fall asleep. You know, especially also if you wake up in the middle of the night, you're tossing and turning and you can't sleep, go back to this belly and chest breathing exercise because it helps you get out of your head. Bring your focus and attention into your body. Right? We're up here, we're in our heads all the time. as opposed to being in our body. And our body is so wise, it's so, so wise. It's got so much to teach us and the connection to allow us to get to the body is the breath. So if we can use the, just the breathing exercise as a tool to start tuning a little bit more into our body every day. You know, over time as you do this you'll learn so much more about yourself, about your body, how you adapt and respond to stress. It's like meditation, it's kind of a form of a meditation anyways.
Dara: And it's free. We have it. It's free. Exactly. We all have it within us. And I don't know about you Rena, I feel so much more at ease.
Rena: Oh yeah, that was fantastic.
Nora: Yeah. Even I do, I'm like, wait, I make, make sure I have like brain power to like speak now. I'm like so relaxed.
Rena: That was fantastic. Yeah. I think, and it's something of course I would tell clients to do, you know, I'm always like, oh put in your calendar, you know, time to breathe. And then of course you know myself, I don't, we get caught up in the day. But I think especially, I don't know about you ladies, but I notice a lot of times as I often mistake something I've been working on for myself is mistaking hunger for fatigue. A lot of times I find that I mistake hunger for fatigue. And so I'm really trying to mindfully, if I'm feeling in this state of like ravenous and I know like I really shouldn't be hungry cause I've eaten a balanced diet that day to stop and try and breathe through that instead of automatically reaching for food to soothe that. So I think this breathing exercise is fantastic for that to really calm you down and then really identify, okay, is this real hunger or am I thirsty? Am I tired? Okay, let me address those before I eat something when I'm, that's not even what's going on in my body.
Nora: And that's a, a great way that I like to think about that is because is the difference between reacting and responding because we are in like reactionary mode a lot of the time, right? A lot of the day, a lot of the time. So using the breath to kind of pause well then Exactly. Exactly like you said, Rena, it helps you respond in a more productive, healthily way that is going to serve you as opposed to react. Right? Like you said, just react instead of going to get food or something. No wait. What is actually going on here with the body? So the breath gives you that permission to pause and then reevaluate.
Dara: I find it fascinating. I see the act oftentimes the opposite for me is when I'm really tired. I think it's great to also have that pause and that breath because I think a reaction for myself and I know for a lot of other people is, okay, I'm gonna go for coffee cause I'm tired. And sometimes that pause and that breath, maybe I'm dehydrated, but maybe it is that afternoon slump period where actual food can help me rejuvenate and get a little bit of an energy boost. So I think it can work in both ways. It's fascinating, Rena, how that's maybe your tendency. And I find my tendency is the opposite. It's really, you know, I think it's great to be in tune and it starts by, by pausing and really getting in tune with your body and what's going on and where you're at at that moment.
Nora: Exactly. As opposed to kind of being on this kind of like autopilot, reactionary. Like just, okay, let's get to the next thing. Let's get to the next thing. Let's get to the next thing. Dara, I'm kind of the same as you because again, we were talking about this before we actually started the podcast of like, we all had to have a little snack before this because our blood sugars were a little bit low. But that was the same as me. For me. I'll get tired and, and then I'll be like, oh I need a nap. And then I'm like, hold on a minute. And if I just have like an apple with some nut butter, it's amazing. It's almost like having a coffee and it's like woo.
Dara: Yes. It's basically like the coffee without the long-term consequences at nighttime.
Nora: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.
Dara: Not, not to dis coffee because I, I do love my cup in the morning.
Nora: Yes. But my I'd love to share again, especially since we're talking about fertility and optimizing your health for fertility. If coffee is going to be drank, drank and drank, whatever, however you say it, then I
Nora: Consumed. Thank you. See the breathing, I'm like super relaxed now. Then I would say always make sure that you're drinking coffee after the breakfast on a full stomach as opposed to drinking the coffee
Dara: I’m so happy you’re saying that.
Nora: So important guys, it's so important. Always make sure you have food in your belly before you actually drink a stimulant. Because that is going to spike your cortisol, which is gonna push your insulin down and let's just say caffeine. Because caffeine can be consumed in a variety of different ways. Not just coffee is an appetite suppressant. So if you drink caffeine and you're not having adequate breakfast, you're gonna be like, well I'm really not that hungry. But it's like, mm, are you not hungry? Or the caffeine has stumped your hunger. So this is now going to start getting into this whole spiral of blood sugar ups and downs throughout the day, not properly fueling yourself, which is gonna impact your hormones. And it's just going, it's just going to have a long-term negative consequence. So if you're gonna consume coffee, then consume it, but just be strategic about it.
Rena: I love that you pointed that out. And I think too, it's really important. I think a lot of times people think, oh, I'm not hungry, I don't have to eat great. But I always say, you wanna think of your nutrition in the block of a week. And I guess this is more sort of for athletes and athletic performance, people that are really thinking about endurance performance and, and what they're putting in. But it's really important to think of it in a week time. So, sure, you may not be hungry today, but if you under fuel, you're not gonna be able to perform tomorrow and then you're going to be starving. So it is really
Dara: That's a good point.
Rena: Yeah. I've learned that a lot just as an athlete and, and sort of studying that nutrition that you really wanna look at it like that. But even if you're not doing athletic endeavors, just, I think especially women, you know, it's, oh great, you know, I can, I can not eat, I can feel a little thinner. Well it always comes back to bite you because your body's gonna wanna compensate. So to really figure out what works for you in terms of a fuel plan and get on a meal and snack plan. I like to, to really think about eating and windows of time. So like breakfast should be consumed between eight and 10. Lunch, 12 to two. Dinner five to seven or six to eight or whatever sort of works for you. And just make sure you're eating in those windows. And you may not be hungry, but really you should never come to a meal starving. And if you're doing that, then that does mean you know, your blood sugar is optimized, your, your glucose is stable and then you're gonna feel mentally better throughout the day. You're not gonna have this rollercoaster, these ups and downs, these crashes and just feel more solid and then you won't be so ravenous that you're, you know, you can have a bite of a cookie and feel satisfied instead of 10 cookies because you're so hungry that you're just sort of putting anything into your body
Dara: And also your cycles, your cycles can also, I think, you know, a lot of people who say like, I'm not really hungry for breakfast, are often they have those cycles of, of late night eating and eating a lot late at night and so they wake up not hungry.
Rena: And that’s something to reset.
Dara: It takes time Yeah. To kind of relearn.
Nora: And if you're doing cycle charting, like if you're doing that fertility awareness method and cycle charting, you can actually, it's, it's so incredible how your chart can actually show you the difference on how like more of like that healthy, I guess, nutrition, eating time and what you're eating, all of that, like this will actually be reflected on your chart as well. So it's fascinating again, when, when you use the the fertility awareness method, how much more body literate you become and then are able to really, instead of just saying, oh, I remember we all have amnesia, like nobody remembers everything. And if we do remember, we're probably not remembering exactly as the way it actually was. So when you're cycle charting, you're kind of collecting that data and we can go back and look and see the trends and how things change based on how you change your, your lifestyle including your nutrition.
Rena: Totally. Well this has been so fascinating. I learned so much from you and I got sort of a, a free guided meditation and feel so relaxed.
Nora: Yes, my pleasure. My pleasure. So, so if we go back to the nighttime ritual, I would say no screen time, 30 minutes before bed. This is what I kind of ideally like to suggest is doing some sort of breath work before you actually fall asleep. And then one more thing that we didn't talk about but that I've been getting into myself lately, and I don't know if you guys do this, but it's like epsom salt baths. Do you guys do that?
Dara: I did that the other night. It was great!
Rena: And I add Magnesium. Great.
Nora: Yes, it's so good. So if you can build that into that 60 minutes and if you don't wanna get into the whole bath, you could just do a foot soak, an Epsom salt foot soak.
Dara: That's what I do. It's great.
Nora: Yeah. So you don't wanna, you're like, Ugh, the bath is annoying. Gotta get fill the bath water. Which actually I thought took a lot longer than it did because it really only takes, well depending on how big your bath is, but yeah, like within five minutes your bath is filled up, put in like two cups of epsom salts and you will just sit in there for 10 minutes, your sleep, you'll have like the next level sleep and you'll then be in so much more of a kind of chilled. So magnesium is really good for bringing that body into the parasympathetic mode. So if you do that first, then kind of set you up for that breathing exercise, any sort of guided meditation maybe that you're doing before bed so that by the time you actually fall asleep you can fall asleep really well and then actually have those healthy sleep cycles throughout the night.
Rena: I love that. Yeah. Do a bath, read a book, do a meditation, don't take your phone. I love that practice.
Dara: So Nora, how can our listeners get in touch with you? Book your services?
Nora: Yeah, so you can find me. I live, live, I don't live on Instagram but that's where mainly my social media is. I don't have to talk. Yeah, no I don't. That's too much for my nervous system is to be on social media all the time. So yes, I'm meant like no TikTok, I'm not really anywhere else other than Instagram @naturally_nora. And then also I have a free guide which teaches you how to eat for your menstrual cycle if you're interested in that. Comes with a couple recipes, also a recipe for each week. You can find that at naturallynora.ca/eat and you can just download that. otherwise naturallynora.ca www at the beginning is my website. And on there you can find, I have a fertility cleanse. I do mainly one-on-one coaching, minimum five months with my clients. I really am so into, I have a very intimate relationship with most of my clients cause it takes quite a bit of one-on-one work to make sure that we really see the transformation that they're looking for. But yeah, that's where you can find me.
Dara: And I had a feeling I heard a couple of words, fellow Canadian, I'm like.ca I had a feeling you were Canadian. Are you based in Canada?
Nora: Yeah.I'm in Toronto. Where are you?
Dara: I am a Torontonian but we're based in New York.
Nora: Oh, fun.
Dara: I knew you're outs and about.
Nora: Yes, Oh nice. So hold on. Are you guys from New York or you're
Dara: We live in New York.
Rena: Neither of us are New York natives but we're New York based.
Nora: And Rena, are you from Toronto as well?
Rena: I'm not. I'm from North Carolina.
Nora: Okay. Okay. So cool.
Rena: So happy that you connected with us. It was so great to learn from you and listen and connect with you and share your valuable insights with our listeners. I mean I'm, I'm fascinated so, so grateful that we had you on and connected with another woman who got into this because of your own true passion. I think that's so wonderful.
Nora: It is. It's awesome. I love it. It's like the most fulfilling, I don't even wanna say job, it's not a job. It's like my, it's just, you guys know, you know it's just, just what I do.
Dara: And before we wrap up, how we end our sessions is to talk about gratitude. So Nora, what are you grateful for at this very moment?
Nora: What am I grateful for? I am grateful for just being so comfortable and content in my own skin as I approach 40, I'm gonna be 40 in November and I just keep getting more competent and self assured and like trust myself more every day. And that is, I'm grateful for that because you know, I think that takes a long time to get to.
Rena: Wow. I love that. I know our listeners can't see you, but you are beautiful.
Dara: Gorgeous glowing skin.
Nora: I did just get a new webcam. I did just get a new webcam. So…And what are you guys grateful for? Do you get to share?
Dara: Of course. Okay. I was thinking before we connected I was like, okay, what am I gonna say today? And it's so funny, the first thing that popped to my mind was exactly what we spoke about today. I'm grateful for my breath, which is mine and mine alone. I can control it and it's free. And then the other thing I was thinking about and funny enough as a fellow Canadian and a fellow Torontonian, I'm very grateful for the Toronto Maple Leafs cause they're doing really great thus far in the playoffs and hockey playoffs. Sorry guys, for anyone who's not a fan of hockey, but lots to be grateful with our team. Rena?
Rena: Yes. These are two gratitude I've never heard you share and I feel that could be a riddle. What can you control and is free? Answer, your breath.
Nora: That's like, what's the taxes thing? What's, what's the line that everyone's like taxes? What is that? What's never, isn't there like a line you guys what I'm talking about? Okay. I'll have to,
Rena: I probably ignored it on purpose
Nora: It's like what comes around, it's like what never goes away or what comes around every year or something. I can't remember. What is it? The answer is like taxes but or what can't you never avoid taxes? I don't know. Anyways,
Dara: That's a good one actually. Rena?
Rena: I'll say, I'll say health for sure. I think we were talking there and I before Nora again, we were just talking and I'm really grateful to finally be taking care of some doctor's appointments I really need to do and just health. I mean I really think health is wealth and you know, without that it's very hard to take care of other people. So just super grateful for health and my breath and the Toronto Maple Leafs. And so all of the above
Nora: And this podcast, I'm grateful that I got to be on this podcast and that you guys have this as a channel for people to learn and empower themselves and educate themselves.
Rena: And I will, I definitely, the first thing I noticed from your email was your name and I said, wow, Nora Devora. That is that, is that real? That is a great, I love that.
Nora: It is. It's my stepdad's last name, so it's coincidence. Like my mom married my stepdad when I was one, so it was just coincidence. And so I've, that's always been my name, name now.
Rena: I feel like that is very cosmic.
Nora: Well my aunt's name is Laura Devora, so she married a Devora, so it was like Laura Devora with the niece named Nora, Nora Devora with Na named Laura and we're Jewish so we read the Torah and we do the horah. Ha ha ha
Dara: I love it. Wow. This so good.
Rena: So great. I love this so much. We definitely wanna have you back on. This was, this is a great way to spend my Monday afternoon.
Nora: Know what guys, honestly, if you want, I I would be, I would love to come back on, but I would love to do an episode on the fertility awareness method and talk about the different parameters of a healthy menstrual cycle.
Rena: Yeah, for sure.
Nora: We'll talk about the length, the luteal phase, like fertile window. I, I'll have it all kind of broken out in an organized way. I would love that.
Rena: Yeah, so this was, this was great and I think, yeah, so our listeners get excited. We are going to have Nora back on for a part two, talk about that. We are super psyched and I'm so grateful for your time and insight and, and really excited to have you back.
Nora: Thanks ladies. Thanks for having me.
Dara: Thank you so much for listening today. And always remember: practice gratitude, give a little love to someone else and yourself, and remember you are not alone. Find us on Instagram @fertility_forward and if you're looking for more support, visit us at www.rmany.com and tune in next week for more fertility.