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Realistic Goals for Lasting Change

“ I have a New Years Resolution! (again) “ I am finally going to get off sugar” “ I am going to lose 20 pounds over the next few months” “ I am going to get up earlier to exercise every single day”

As exciting and promising this sounds to me and to all of you, the reality of making changes that are lasting can be very challenging. Many of us have the desire to make a change, or two or three, but in the end, we go back to our same routines and patterns. When this happens, we tend to see this as another failure and then beat ourselves up over and over. What a recipe for disaster for your body, mind and spirit. So why are health patterns so difficult to change? Is it purely willpower or lack thereof? Are we truly “creatures of habit”? Could there be other factors getting in your own way? What if I told you it was your microbiome making those decisions for you? Or that your genetics are limiting you by affecting your dopamine and serotonin levels which are causing you to have more cravings for bad foods?

I believe it is possible to make lasting changes for your mind, body, and spirit! I would like to offer some insight and suggestions that can help you set realistic goals for lasting change, as well as give you a few nutraceutical recommendations to help you in the process.

According to the American Psychological Association, there are ways that have been studied to help you make positive lifestyle changes and maybe even have fun in the process. Make a plan that will stick. Your plan is a map that will guide you on this journey of change. When making your plan, be specific. Want to exercise more? Detail the time of day when you can take walks and how long you’ll walk. Write everything down and ask yourself if you’re confident that these activities and goals are realistic for you. If not, start with smaller steps. Post your plan where you’ll most often see it as a reminder. Change one behavior at a time. I can hear you saying “This new year I am finally going to get off coffee, sugar, gluten, dairy, drink 13 glasses of water per day, wake up at 5:30 every morning to do yoga, meditate and exercise and then when I come home from work I will make four meals for my family since the kids won’t eat the healthy diet I am eating and of course lose 20 lbs. in the process” Sound familiar? Sounding reasonable? No, or at least not all at once! In fact, if you try doing all of this you may find yourself feeling worse because being overly stressed will cause high cortisol which will actually cause weight gain weight, affect your sleep and make you feel bad about yourself in the process. Yuck! Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time, so replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Maybe you can change all twelve things this year but just not in the first month. One of my favorite sayings are “You can have it all, just not all at once” Start small. Please identify realistic short-term and long-term goals, break down your goals into small, manageable steps that are specifically defined and can be measured. Is your long-term goal to lose 20 pounds within the next few months? A good weekly goal would be to lose one pound a week. If you would like to eat healthier, consider as a goal for the week or two by replacing dessert with a healthier option, like fruit or nuts. Involve a buddy. Whether it be a friend, co-worker, or family member, someone else on your journey will keep you motivated and accountable. Once you pick your “accountability buddy” talk about what you are doing and ask them for not only support but to hold you accountable. You may have daily check ins or show them your progress on a flow sheet. If you cannot think of that “one person” then consider joining a support group. Making the changes that you want takes time and commitment, but you can do it. Just remember that no one is perfect. You will have occasional lapses. Be kind to yourself. If you “fall off the wagon” simply get back on as each day is a new opportunity for change.

Needing an idea as to where to start?

How about water? If you are dehydrated your body cannot function optimally, especially since adults are made up of 50-60% water. So start changing this one thing, drink more water. Once you have this down for a month, you will feel better and be more motivated to move onto the next goal. Maybe the next goal is getting off sugar. Sounds easy, right? Not! Sugar is highly addictive and probably one of the most challenging items to remove from our diet (I say items because sugar has no nutritional value and would be one of the most important things to remove) The average American eats 100-170 lbs. of sugar per year. And that is just the average! Our ancestors in the 1800s only consumed 4-6 lbs. per year. No wonder our clothes are bigger and obesity is an epidemic. Not only does sugar make us fat and cause inflammation, it also suppresses your immune system, has anyone recently gotten a cold? Hmm… Studies have shown that consuming 75 to 100 grams of simple sugars (about 20 teaspoons of sugar-the amount found in two-and-a-half average 12 ounce cans of soda) can suppress the body’s immune responses considerably. Sugars are known to create a 40 to 50% percent drop in the ability of white blood cells that kill bacteria and germs within the body. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours. By consuming 150 to 170 pounds of simple sugars each year, a person may have up to 80,000 hours of immune suppression! Most people know that when they are eating refined sugars like Sucrose and High Fructose Corn Syrup they are bad for them, such as candy, ice cream, baked goods, soft drinks/sodas, (or Pop as we use to say in Iowa) but there are other “hidden” sources of sugar that one may not even consider.

  • barbecue sauces

  • breads

  • canned-fruits and veggies

  • cereals

  • crackers

  • frozen dinners

  • hot dogs

  • ketchup

  • marinades

  • peanut butter

  • pickles

  • soup

So please look at labels for added sugar, corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, molasses or evaporated cane juice. And don’t forget about the “healthy” foods that have sugar too, such as; Granola bars, yogurt, salad dressings, coffee drinks, energy drink and more. When looking to replace that sugary feeling and flavor, consider alternatives; fruit, stevia, maple syrup. Fruit is a better choice because of the fiber as it causes a slower sugar release into your body and fiber can fuel your microbiome (it is still better to opt for lower glycemic fruits). Other ways to sweeten up is with Stevia and Maple syrup. I personally like Lilly’s chocolate with Stevia for a nice treat. Now you may be saying “I really do want to get off the sugar but I crave it terribly so!” These cravings may not be as simple as willpower so let’s see what else might help you become more successful.


Cravings can be due to many factors but it often comes down to neurotransmitters, such as low serotonin, and dopamine levels. These imbalances can literally make the cravings so intense that it is beyond your control. If you can work to correct the brain imbalances and the reward cascade than you will not only help with cravings but also feel better in the process.

5 -Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that your body naturally produces. Your body needs 5 HTP to produce serotonin, a chemical messenger that sends signals between your nerve cells. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, weight gain and other health problems. Our microbes in the gut help produce serotonin and in fact 90%of Serotonin is made in your gut, so what they say is true, a healthy gut is truly a healthy mind! However, we can also have other reasons for abnormal serotonin; poor receptor function, genetics causing rapid excretion of serotonin, hormonal imbalances, poor diet, low levels of Vitamin D, B6 and Omega 3 fatty acids that are needed to produce serotonin.

Taking 5-HTP as a supplement can support your serotonin and therefore support your cravings and your mood. (do not take in conjunction with any serotonin medications such as SSRIs) Typical doses are 100mg 2-3x/day (AppeCurb)

Dopamine is another important neurotransmitter in the brain that can be linked to cravings. Dopamine plays a role in the pleasure and reward pathway of the brain, as well as in memory and motor control. When dopamine levels are not sufficient, one can have not only food cravings but also depression, addiction issues, mood swings and attention issues. Taking Tyrosine which is an amino acid can support dopamine Typical doses are 100-300mg/kg of body weight

You can also consider Macuna Pruriens or L Dopa 20% Typical dosing 100mg am and 100mg mid day as Bedtime can be too energizing.

Additional ideas for dopamine and serotonin support using supplementation Green Tea Teacrine Evodia fruit Resistant Starch

Green tea

Green tea as a polyphenol is an appetite suppressant, an antioxidant, a detoxifying agent, improves function of the intestinal bacterial flora and it increases thermogenesis (fat burning). The antioxidants (catechins in particular) are believed to inhibit the movement of glucose into fat cells which slows the rise of blood sugar and prevents high insulin levels, and subsequent fat storage. A stable blood sugar leads to a more stable appetite, and fewer cravings. Typical doses 600mg daily Theacrine- ‘Teacrine’ increases and activates dopamine which helps with mood and pleasure while also increasing focus, concentration and wakefulness. Theacrine reduces inflammatory markers such as cytokines, TNF-a, IL-6, IL-1B and IFN-y. It increases the production of the enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase and reduces the activity of xanthine oxidase, an enzyme that creates reactive oxygen species, therefore it is also an anti-oxidant. Theacrine (1,3,7,9-tetramethyluric acid) is a purine alkaloid found in cupuacu fruit (Theobroma grandiflorum) and the kucha plant. The cupuacu plant is related to cocoa and grows in the Amazon. The kucha plant is related to the tea plant and grows only in the wild woods of Yunnan (China), above 1,000 meters of altitude. It has been used to make Chinese kucha tea. Kucha also contains caffeine and theobromine, and it seems that the plant produces theacrine from caffeine. The chemical structure of theacrine is similar to caffeine, and scientific evidence suggests that it activates similar signaling pathways however it doesn’t have the same negative side effects caffeine can cause. Typical Doses are 50-300mg per day

(I don’t currently carry this product but here is one site where you can find this product)

Evodia fruit – Evodia helps with thermogenesis, similar to capsaicin’s which increase heat to burn more fat in the body, it increased the number of serotonin transporters in the brain, and it prevents upregulation of COX-2 therefore helping with inflammation. Evodiamine is a naturally occurring bioactive alkaloid from a plant called Evodia rutaecarpa. It has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a weight loss aid, where it goes by the name Wu-Chu-Yu. It’s also been used to treat various digestive problems including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, and poor appetite. Evodiamine was also used by Chinese healers as a warming agent or “hot herb”, which speaks to its thermogenic properties. (can combine with Theacrine)

Resistant starch Reduces appetite and increasing satiation, which can lead to weight loss and easier weight maintenance. It also stabilizes blood glucose levels and increases insulin sensitivity (reducing insulin resistance) as well as significantly improving the microbiome (FYI Resistant starch is a must if you are on high fat diet to maintain the gut microbiome) If your microbiome is not optimal you will not synthesize enough dopamine which will cause more cravings. Typical doses- 20 grams 2x per day Organic Green Banana flour Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch

*Medication support- Contrave (this would require an appointment for a prescription)

Life is full and abundant but you are in control of manifesting exactly how you want it to look. Whether you need additional tools to support your changes or simply make a clear and reasonable plan, I know that you are capable of making these lasting changes for your mind, body and spirit. May you bring forth your best self in this exciting New Year!

Carrie Ballas


Discounts offered for the month of January 20% off supplements listed below as referenced in the letter above

5 HTP AppeCurb Green Tea TravaCor IV Special this month 20 % off IV Regenerate because amino acids are critical for neurotransmitters like Serotonin and Dopamine

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