Natural Antidepressant Combinations I Recommend

Despite the fact that I was trained in the traditional ways of medicine, I prefer to utilize natural supplements and foods to treat conditions, only turning to prescription medications as a last resort for my patients. I have a particular aversion to prescribing antidepressant medications, and honestly believe that such meds only serve as a bandage for the root cause, which almost invariably is a combination of hormonal imbalance and malnutrition.

When a patient comes to me complaining of symptoms of depression, I always recommend the following three supplements as part of the patient’s daily regimen:

Vitamin D
Folate 800 mcg

Once my patients are on this daily regimen for a few weeks, I have them visit for a follow-up to see if their symptoms have improved. If the improvement is marginal, I add SAMe and 5-HTP to the regimen, both of which are great for treating pain issues. As the patient treatment progresses, I order hormonal assays, checking the thyroid, adrenal glands, DHEA, IGF-1, testosterone, progesterone, and estradiol. If anything is off balance (and in most cases, something is), I will treat the imbalance directly with organ support compounds and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

In addition to natural supplements, I also recommend that patients consume whole foods, and avoid processed foods at all costs. I encourage them to find balance in their daily lives, and often demonstrate breathing exercises or discuss meditation with them. I also remind them to stop and enjoy what they have in their lives, to be grateful for what they have instead of dwelling on what they lack.

Rather than turn to SSRI’s, please consider the natural approach first if you are dealing with depression!

If you are in the Los Angeles area, and you would like to schedule an exam, please call Urban Med at (213) 406-8055 to make an appointment.


Mapping Out 2018 Goals

Now that Christmas has passed, it’s time for me to sit down and review my goals list for 2017, as well as compile a new goals list for 2018. I have been writing out yearly goals for over 20 years, and firmly believe that this habit has been instrumental in helping me to attain some of my biggest aspirations.

These aren’t New Year’s resolutions, they’re intentions, dreams, carrots which I hang in front of me and keep in my line of sight throughout the year. They encompass business strategies, personal goals, career development, finances, home environment, love relationships, friends, family, and health.

If you aren’t already in the habit of writing out goals for the year, I encourage you to do so. When you define what it is you want in your life, you manifest powerful energy which helps to bring those wishes to fruition. Make sure to write your goals in a notebook or binder, rather than typing them on a computer or smart phone. The mechanical act of putting pen to paper triggers areas of the brain responsible for creativity and thinking, and forces us to slow down and digest what it is we are writing.

At then end of the year, you can scan your list to see what you accomplished and what might need to be modified and put on the next list. In a typical year, I check off about 80% of my goals.

Don’t be afraid to dream big and use your imagination! The sky’s the limit!

My Favorite Burgers

You might think that a fitness professional like me isn’t into foods like burgers. I definitely don’t indulge in burgers on a frequent basis, but a well made beef burger is one of my favorite meals on the planet.

Here are my favorite burgers:

Icon Meals Kobe Bacon Burger –

Icon Meals Kobe Bacon Burger

This burger features a large patty of flavorful Kobe beef, bacon strips, and a fried egg. It is served with thick cut sweet potato fries. I add sliced jalapenos to this burger for an absolutely heavenly burger-chomping experience. The Kobe Bacon Burger isn’t always available on the Icon Meals Signature Menu, but when it is, I ALWAYS order a few. These are AMAZING!

Make sure to use my discount code DRNAITO for 10% off!

The Counter

The Counter Burger

I love building a burger at The Counter. Usually, I will choose a 1/3 pound beef patty, then add a brioche bun, brie cheese, horseradish aoli, japalenos, mixed greens and guacamole. These are a bit pricey, since they are considered gourmet burgers, but they are so worth it! Delicious!


In-n-Out Burger and Fries

You can’t go wrong with an In-N-Out Double Double Burger! This is the ONLY fast food burger I will ever eat, and if I want to keep my carbs down, I will order it protein style (i.e., wrapped in lettuce).

How I Stay In Shape These Days

Image shot by Tim Sevard in October of this year.

Since many people have been asking me about how I have been keeping in shape these days, I decided to devote a blog post to the subject. Though I am retired from competing, and am no longer bodybuilding stage-ready, I model frequently, and I also hold myself to very high standards when it comes to body conditioning. The most important factor in staying lean year round is FOOD, so I make sure to eat clean about 95% of the time. I consume about 100 to 120 grams of protein daily, all from whole foods rather than protein powders, and I drink plenty of water throughout the day. I limit my consumption of sugar and avoid processed foods.

Supplements are also an important part of my daily life. Most of the supplements I take have been in my daily regimen for many years, and I rarely miss a day’s dose. They are what I rely on to keep my body healthy at the cellular level. My goal is to maintain my health without ingesting prescription medications. In fact, the only prescription substance in my regimen is bioidentical progesterone cream.

I continue to challenge my body with frequent exercise, and still rely mostly on weight training for the bulk of my exercise. However, I incorporated aerial classes into my regular routine a couple of years ago for an extra challenge. At one point, I had been taking aerial classes 3 to 4 days per week, but my body was screaming out in agony. After a visit with my orthopedist, we discovered that I had arthritis in both elbows and my neck, and numerous issues in my shoulders, so I decided to back off from the intense aerial schedule I was following. These days, I only take a lyra class once every couple of weeks.

I have also been attending kundalini yoga classes on average of one day per week, and I love the unique physical, mental, and spiritual challenges which they present. Though kundalini yoga is a highly meditative form of yoga, the movements (called kriyas) are INTENSE, and I must often take breaks during these movements. I highly recommend this form of yoga for anyone who wants an intensely spiritual experience.

As for weight training, I train an average of six days per week when I am in town. I have adjusted my weight training to support aerial arts movements like straddle mounts, single knee hangs, pullovers and splits, and work my posterior chain (back, glutes, hams) more vigorously than my anterior chain. I usually follow a split consisting of three leg days and three upper body days which are further split (eg, back/arms, delts, chest/abs). I have also been changing the exercises, rep ranges, and lifting styles on a weekly basis to keep myself challenged. It’s definitely worked, because I am getting delayed onset muscle soreness from almost every workout.

My Years As An Arachnophobe

I spent the bulk of my childhood as an arachnophobe, all because of two incidents which occurred when I was rather young. The second incident was even more jarring than the first, and scarred me for many years.

The first incident occurred when I was six years old while I was at summer camp. All the kids had gone swimming in an effort to beat the triple digit heat, and were in the locker rooms getting dressed after a fun afternoon in the pool. I was standing at one locker, almost completely dressed, and just needed to put on my socks and shoes, so they were sitting on top of a bench. Suddenly, one of the girls shrieked, which triggered a domino effect, causing several other girls to follow suit. These girls jumped on top of nearby benches, looking down at one spot on the floor. I simply stood where I was, puzzled by their reaction.

Our teacher came in and asked one of the girls what all the noise was about.

“There’s a spider on the floor!”

The teacher looked at the floor, then said, “Oh yeah, that’s a black widow. We’d better kill that one!” Whereupon she grabbed one of my sneakers and deftly smashed the spider to a mushy black pulp.

I was so horrified that I refused to wear my shoes. When my mom picked me up, she asked me why I wasn’t wearing my shoes. “The teacher squashed a black widow spider with my shoe!” I was so adamant about my refusal to wear those sneakers that I wouldn’t even wear them after my mom had scoured the soles of the shoes, removing any remaining spider residue from them.

The second incident occurred less than a year later. I was staying at my best friend Tammy’s house in Sun Valley, an area which is known to have rattlesnakes and tarantulas. Tammy’s family had a habit of catching tarantulas and giving them to their poolman, who would defang them and sell them to pet stores.

One afternoon, we decided to go to the movies, and returned to the house shortly before dark. I was sitting in the rear passenger’s seat, Tammy’s brother Chad in the middle, Tammy on the left, her sister Wendy in the front passenger’s seat, and her mother in the driver’s seat. Tammy’s mother pulled into the garage and closed the garage door, and we began filing out of the vehicle.

As soon as Wendy set foot on the garage floor, she exclaimed, “Nobody move! Tarantula in the corner!” Sure enough, there was a large tarantula in the far right corner of the garage, about six feet in front of me. Wendy carefully tiptoed past me to the wall to pick up a small, empty aquarium to place over the tarantula, thus trapping him. Her movement must have startled the tarantula, because it sprung up about two and a half feet in the air and forward, landing about eight inches from my feet.

Wendy said, “Don’t move!”, which was almost unnecessary because I was paralyzed with fear. By this time, she had grabbed the aquarium, and quickly placed it over the tarantula, who sprang up and hit the base of the aquarium and fell back to the garage floor, trapped in its glass dungeon.

That second incident really solidified my arachnophobia. I spent the next 28 years so afraid of spiders that, although I would never shriek or lose my cool, I would simply leave a room if I saw a spider in it. My mother became accustomed to me leaving a room and saying, “Mom, please kill the spider there!”. Once I was an adult living on my own, I would ask my boyfriend to rid the room of any spider who dared to chase me out of there.

What cured me was a touch of desensitization therapy which took place at, of all places, the Los Angeles County Fair in 2001. My then-husband Pete and I encountered an exotic pet petting zoo at the fair, and two tarantulas were featured in the zoo. Pete was well aware of my arachnophobia, as he had been ridding the house of spiders for me for a few years. I never liked his method, which consisted of capturing the spider and letting it go outside, because in my arachnophobic mind, he was just releasing a pissed off spider who would find its way back into the house and terrorize me once again.

It was Pete’s idea for me to hold a tarantula so that I would benefit from desensitization. I honestly think that his psychiatry rotation (he was a medical student then) had influenced him to make the suggestion, but it made a lot of sense to me, so I begrudgingly agreed to hold a tarantula.

I remember the handler placing this hairy, scary creature into the palm of my hand. I have very small hands, so the tarantula’s legs extended along my fingers and my wrist. It rested there for about 15 seconds, kind of hovering, and I could barely breathe at first, then I calmed down when I realized the spider wouldn’t do anything to me. Then it decided to crawl along my forearm, and that is when I told the handler to get the f*$@ing thing off of me!

Guess what though? It worked. Since that day, I have not been freaked out by a spider’s presence. More recently, I saw two black widow spiders, and quickly stomped on them with, you guessed it, a shoe-clad foot.

Decreasing My Blog Posting To Once A Week

After evaluating my engagement on my blog site over the past year, as well as the amount of work which goes into scheduling blog posts, I have decided to pull down my blog post frequency to one day per week. I simply don’t have the time to put up frequent blog posts, especially when engagement keeps dropping.

In an effort to accommodate reader interest, I encourage you to make suggestions on post topics so that I will have a better sense of what people want to see here.

Thanks to all of you who have been following my blog. I truly appreciate it!