14 Natural Remedies For Joint Pain

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Joint pain can leave you stopped in your tracks. It seems that it is becoming more and more common, especially amongst adults. Typical intermittent aches and pains can plague all of us, but when joint pain begins to become chronic, it can feel like it is becoming a way of life. And, simultaneously taking away from the ease of your life. 

Joint pain is most often felt in areas such as knees, hips, low back, shoulders, ankles, and wrists. Inflammation is the main culprit but the root cause could come from overuse, injury, muscle strain, muscle weakness, autoimmune disease, and general systemic inflammation. Anti-inflammatory medications can help to ease the discomfort in the short term, but rarely addresses the root cause of that inflammation. Not to mention, in some cases, these medications can make you feel great in the short-term but actually worsen the root cause. 

There are many options to naturally decrease joint pain. If the joint pain onset is related to a deeper foundational root cause (i.e., weakened gut health, leaky gut, systemic stress, etc), then implementing some of these natural remedies could greatly decrease your joint pain and also heal your body on a deeper level. You don’t need to do all of these tips, but picking the ones that seem to work for you could greatly decrease your pain and discomfort (and bring more ease back into your life!). 

  1. Drink plenty of water (and stay hydrated). This tip is one of the most important and most foundational, yet one that gets overlooked all the time. Water lubricates and cushions the joints. Make sure that you are drinking half of your bodyweight (in lbs) in ounces of water daily, more if you consume dehydrating beverages (i.e., coffee, teas, and juices) and/or sweating often.
  2. Remove gluten, dairy, and sugar from your diet. Your body becomes more inflamed the more you eat foods that can increase inflammation. These are the main foods that cause inflammation and body flare ups. This includes not only joint pain, but also acne, rashes, and other inflammatory-related symptoms.
  3. Eat the right kind of fats. Fats are essential for overall body and hormone functioning, but the right kinds of fats are important. Remove inflammatory Omega-6 fats, such as vegetable oil, canola oil, and other seed oils. Add in more Omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats, such as wild-caught salmon and extra virgin olive oil. These are excellent for managing and decreasing inflammation. If you don’t do fatty fish, you could try consuming a fish oil supplement to help get these healthy benefits. 
  4. Get plenty of sun (with skin exposure) or take a Vitamin D/K2 supplement. Vitamin D is important for supporting healthy bones. It helps with calcium absorption and those with low levels of vitamin D are linked with higher levels of osteoarthritis. 
  5. Consume plenty of high-quality animal protein. Your body needs the full set of amino acids to keep your bones strong, support muscle recovery, and decrease inflammation/joint pain. Animal protein will give you the complete range of amino acids, B-vitamins, choline, magnesium, and iron that you need to support healthy tissue. The key word, however, is high- quality — grass-fed beef, pasteurize- raised poultry and eggs, and wild game such as venison. The muscle meat is not the only part that is nutritious for your joints…
  6. Consume a form of collagen. Along with the animal protein, consuming forms of collagen are super helpful in calming joint pain. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the your body and it helps to build joints and keep connective tissue strong. Consuming collagen, gelatin, or bone broth are ways of getting in natural glucosamine, which have been shown helpful in reducing joint pain. 
  7. Use high doses of curcumin. Turmeric has become popular specifically because of it’s active ingredient curcumin. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  8. Up your magnesium intake. Most people are deficient in magnesium, even if they are eating a nutrient-dense diet. Low levels of magnesium can cause muscle aches, joint pain, leg spasms, weakened bones, and unhealthy nerve function. If you are low in magnesium or suspect that you are, try taking a high-quality magnesium supplement. 
  9. Get active. Regular exercise is critical for healthy muscle and joint function. It helps to strengthen the muscles and joints and decrease your potential for injury. Exercise is also important for balancing hormones such as human growth hormone, cortisol, and other hormones that play a role in appetite and aging. Make sure that you lift heavy weights (appropriate for your body) and stretch regularly to loosen the pressure placed on your joints. 
  10. Eliminate nightshades foods. Nightshades include foods like peppers, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, goji berries, paprika, and ashwagandha. These foods can play a role in joint pain and muscle aches — inflammation — possibly due to the alkaloid content, or toxic compounds, that those plants can give off as a self-defense. 
  11. Try a glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM supplement. This combination has been shown to be helpful in nourishing the joints for some people. It can support the health of the cartilage. There are some people who notice worsening effects, so if you try it and your symptoms get worse or you don’t notice anything, stop taking it. 
  12. Try a high-quality CBD or hemp oil daily. CBD and hemp oil have very powerful anti-inflammatory effects and can be the “thing” that helps lessen the effect of chronic pain and inflammation. Make sure that when choosing one of these oils, that you find a company that is high-quality, tested for metals or toxins, and is sustainably resourced. 
  13. Use essential oils. Lavender, Frankincense, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Rosemary are just a few of the essential oils that have been linked to decreasing joint pain. Dilute 1-2 drops in a carrier oil (coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil, etc) and rub over the affected area to help decrease pain and discomfort. 
  14. Try the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol), if you are still have joint pain. If you are still having problems after doing the foundational steps, you may need to take a deeper dive. Eliminating foods such as coffee, eggs, grains, and nuts can help to calm your body’s inflammation and chronic pain. Doing this for a few months has given some people great relief and has helped them to discover exactly what foods are triggering their joint pain. 

**Click here for easy access to recommended supplements above.

Joint pain and body inflammation does not need to stop you from enjoy all that life has to offer. There are plenty of natural approaches you can try to help give you relief. Not only will these help to give you relief, but they also help to support the body as a whole!

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How Exercise Can Cause You To Gain Weight

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Are you exercising too much?

Being in the health and wellness world for over 17 years, I have seen my fair share of exercise advice — push harder, do this new program, slow it down, lift heavier — the advice goes on and on.

Yet, proposing the question of how much is too much is rarely asked or even encouraged. It seems that the fitness industry often speaks to and caters those that are in need of that extra push. That extra encouragement. That little kick you might need to move your body and better your physical health.

But what about those fitness enthusiasts that are regularly pushing themselves? Or, those in love with high intensity competition? What about those who are already living stressful lives and want to incorporate the right kind of exercise?

They are a special breed when it comes to exercise, at least exercising the right way for the best results.

It is common knowledge that exercise is one of the healthiest forms of self-care that we can indulge in. Strength training helps to build muscle and cardiovascular exercise helps to keep your heart healthy. But, if you do too much of either of these, a normally healthy habit can begin to break the body down and, inversely, cause you to be weak and overly stressed. It doesn’t stop there…

If you live a lifestyle that is high in stress, this is going to compound and add to the extra stress placed on your body from regular intense exercise. It doesn’t matter if your stress is related to  work, family, mental health, or emotional turmoil — it all equates to extra stress in the body.

How do you know if the exercise you are doing is placing too much extra stress on your body? It is not always so easy to spot, but there are a few signs that do begin to present. When your body can no longer take the over-exercising, signs of overtraining typically creep in. Overtraining can signal the body to start burning muscle for fuel and store more fat, resulting in some weight gain.

Overtraining shows up as —

  • Persistent muscle soreness
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Increased incidence of injuries
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Loss of motivation
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Muscle loss
  • Increased weakness

Probably not what you are hoping for with your exercise plan!

How Over-Exercising Impacts The Body

Over-exercising places excessive stress on the body. With this onset, your hormone levels begin to change — especially testosterone and cortisol (yes, women have testosterone too!).

Testosterone is important to help build lean muscle, increase bone density, and keep your heart and blood healthy. Having healthy, balanced, levels of testosterone are super important for gaining the results you want in your workouts. When excessive stress is placed on the body, cortisol levels increase and steal from your testosterone, throwing off your healthy hormonal ratios.

With the body’s delicate hormonal balance upset, it begins to signal to the body to burn muscle instead of fat. As a result, you may notice that the lifting of your usual amount of weights, running your usual distances, and performing the same type of exercises may be much more difficult than easy.

If cortisol levels rise too high and stay elevated for too long, the adrenal glands may become imbalanced and cortisol levels drop below normal. This is when weight gain occurs.

Your body has an amazing capacity to adapt, which is what makes your body so resilient.  If you keep demanding too much from your body, without the necessary rest and recovery, it will start to compromise and compensate in an effort to keep functioning.  Your stubborn body fat —especially belly fat — is just one of the ways in which your body compensates when exposed to too many stressors.

What You Can Do

Here is where I want to emphasis the importance of looking at the stress in your everyday life. Not every day will be stress-free — every day shouldn’t be — but it is about the flow of how stress enters, exits, and dances around the moments in your day. When you step back and look at the big picture, this will help guide you in the right kind of and right amount of exercise for you and your lifestyle in this moment of your life.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), how much stress do I realistically have at work, at home, and in my personal life? List out the stressors if this helps you see the big picture more clearly.
  • How am I feeling right now (i.e., tired, sore, heavy, sad, stressed, light, happy, so-so)?
  • Would pushing harder make me feel better or worse? Would slowing down make me feel better or worse?
  • Can I give my body what it really needs?

You may be quite surprised to find out how much stress you unknowingly deal with on a daily basis. When you can honestly say how much “daily stress” you are experiencing, then you can step back and look at your exercise regimen. If your “daily stress” is high, then it might be counterintuitive to hop on the elliptical trainer for an hour. It is common that people who lead a more stressful lifestyle tend to gravitate towards longer cardio as a way to deal with stress — the inner push is already in their nature. Instead, try yoga or a stretching class to emphasis stress-relieving and add gentle movement that your body is craving.

If this sounds like you and you believe you are over-exercising, here are some places you could begin:

  1. Add in more energy balancing practices. Perform low to moderate amounts of exercise and save some time to do daily stress relieving practices, such as meditation, visualization, deep breathing, and journaling. You could even sign up for a Reiki session or other energy work to help you get realigned. This allows your adrenal gland hormones to begin balancing and it helps to stabilize your blood sugar, both important for properly functioning adrenals.
  2. Stop doing long cardio sessions. If you’re doing long cardio workouts, you’re only adding to the problem.  Long cardio eats away at your lean muscle mass which is essential for increasing your metabolism to burn more calories.  And it dramatically increases your appetite making you more susceptible to unnecessary snacking and over eating. Not to mention that it can create imbalance in your blood sugar, opening you up to more food cravings and inflammation in the body. Instead of long cardio, try doing short, high intensity workouts (i.e., HIIT programs).  These workouts are much more effective at promoting fat burning hormones that target your stubborn fat. It is important to mention that if you are already dealing with more severe over-training symptoms or adrenal issues, high intensity workouts may still be too aggressive for you at this time.
  3. Change the way you lift weights. Lift heavier weights at lower repetitions instead of lower weights for higher repetitions. Lifting heavier weights has been linked to increasing testosterone levels, therefore, helping to keep the hormone balance more, well, balanced. It will also help to increase lean muscle mass and increase your overall metabolism.
  4. Make sure that you are getting adequate rest. Recovery and rest are often more important than exercising.  If you’re feeling sluggish or drained of energy, do an active recovery such as an easy walk, hike, or a leisurely bike ride. If you’re really tired, take the day off! It’s during periods of rest that your body does most of the fat burning, so don’t short change yourself.  Proper rest and recovery means you’re enabling your body to burn more fat.
  5. Feed your body (the right way). The foods we eat can place large amounts of stress on the body. A diet full of sugar, processed carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats can place a significant amount of stress on the body and increase systemic inflammation in the body. Eat a well-balanced nutrition plan of whole foods that contain plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, high quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, and a few fruits. Plenty of vegetables and colorful fruits are also high in anti-oxidants (which helps to fight the negative effects of stress on the body)! Limit your alcohol and sugar because as the body become stressed, you crave both of these more!

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8 Tips To Stay Committed To Your Goals

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Setting the goals has never been the problem. It is easy to think about what we want and write it down on a piece of paper. 

The real challenge comes with staying committed to a goal. When life gets in the way or old thought patterns creep in, it is easy to fall off and let go of what you were once so excited about accomplishing.

A big misconception — one that I find might trip you up the most — is believing that it is all about inner motivation and willpower to get you through. Those might work for the short term and when the going is easy, but when life throws an obstacle or the sweetness of that goal isn’t so sweet, inner motivation and willpower lose their muscle strength. 

Creating real consistency and commitment goes much deeper — I mean to the depths of your soul deep. And if those uncharted territories are not ready (and willing) for the challenge, then you might just find yourself asking once again, “What went wrong.”

Or maybe you tell yourself that you are not strong enough, good enough, capable enough, worthy enough to have what you really want. The cycle begins…

Staying committed to what you say you are going to do way longer than the excitement lasts comes down to a simple concept that is the foundation of all the tips I have for you today. 

This simple concept is so simple indeed, yet it can be one of the most challenging concepts you step into — if you don’t know how to navigate it, that is.

Brain rewiring.

What is brain rewiring? The brain is made up of neural pathways that connect and bind to each other. As you begin to perform a behavior or a skill or are learning something new, those neural pathways begin to deepen. And as they deepen, they also connect to each other, creating a network of communication. This is how habits, ways of being, and belief systems are formed. Essentially, rewiring the brain is when the connections between neurons in your brain are changing. To create lasting change in anything that you do, a level of brain rewiring is necessary to occur. This could be something as simple as daily affirmations done the right way or changing the circle of friends that you spend most of your time with. Or, this could go much deeper into working through inner child trauma and shadow work. 

Staying committed to a new habit or goal requires brain rewiring and changing up the status quo. 

Regardless of where you need to start, the best thing to do is just start. Taking any step of action creates forward momentum, allowing you to begin believing in yourself and that you have the power to create change. And just the belief in yourself that you are creating is a powerful form of brain rewiring. 

You have all that power within you!

8 Tips To Help You Rewire Your Brain

  1. Start (or end) your day with visualizations. The first 20 minutes after waking up and those moments right before you fall asleep are some of the most powerful times to create change. At these two points, your brain is in a Theta brain wave state, the time that is best to connect into your subconscious and really crack into those deeply stored (and often forgotten) beliefs and stories that you have been gathering over the years. These are part of what creates who we are and how we behave. They are also part of what can hold us back and create a disconnect to staying committed to what we say we want to do. For example, if you really want to stay committed to a workout program, but you have the deep belief that taking time for yourself is selfish or it takes time away from your family, then you may struggle with staying committed to that hour of workout time that you promised you were going to do to help you in your healthy goals. Start with 5-10 minutes of quiet time, away from any distractions, and begin visualizing what you want, how you want to look doing it, how you want to feel while doing it, how you want to feel afterwards, and that you are capable of being successful at it. Do this everyday until you start seeing some shifts in your commitment level and your inner motivation.
  2. Positive affirmations spoken daily. When you give yourself  the gift of support and become your inner cheerleader, something incredible starts to happen — you begin to believe and act in ways that align to what you are telling yourself. The key with affirmations actually working is that they have to be statements that excite you, spoken with excitement and belief that it is possible, and spoken regularly. Create an affirmation statement that really pumps you up and is exciting. For example:  “Abundance and love come to me so easily and effortlessly. It is so awesome that I am working out 3 days a week and living in a strong, healthy body. I am confident, vibrant, and full of abundance. Can you believe how easily the weight just melts off of me? I am strong and powerful and full of energy. I can do anything I put my heart and mind into!” Say your affirmation statement out loud at least 10x a day. You can even record it and play it back to yourself throughout your day so that you constantly are hearing your words of empowerment.
  3. Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Surrounding yourself with other like-minded folks gives you an energy boost. When your energy is elevated, so is your motivation and inner confidence. Creating that support team is critical for brain rewiring. Sometimes the most positive and supportive people are not the closest people in our vicinity. We can not pick the family that we are born into and we can not control all the negativity that may surround you at work, but you can seek out positive reinforcement. Google search or check out your local newspaper for activities or groups that may share the same interests as you and/or are looking to create change in their own lives. When you have that support from like-minded people, you are going to be more likely to stay committed to your own goals.
  4. Journal goals and track progress. Writing down your goals solidifies them into your reality. Getting them out of your head and onto paper makes them real and workable. But, it doesn’t stop here. Tracking your goals is an important part of the  process. Like driving to a far away destination, you can not get there without a road map and without tracking where you are along that road map. Start by writing one or two goals (i.e., ” I want to lose 20 lbs) and then brainstorming on how to do that and what your timeline looks like. As you progress, regularly track your progress and see what is working and what is not. It is a great way to keep you visually motivated and remind how awesome you are doing. It is also a way to visualize what you want to see happen and how you can make that happen. 
  5. Limit time around those that bring you down.  Those that bring you down can literally suck the energy out of you. They can create an energy shift within yourself that decreases motivation. Even worse, they can continually feed you thoughts that keep you stuck in old, unproductive patterns and habits. This deepens the neural pathways and brain rewiring that you are trying to change. This could be your family, friends, coworkers, or people where you hang out. It could even be your spouse. It may not always be feasible to completely sever ties, but you still can take action. Limit your time as much as possible and, when that seems impossible, arm yourself with other tactics that preserve your energy and new thought patterns to get you through the interaction.
  6. Break down goals into small daily obtainable action steps. When creating habit change, it can feel daunting and overwhelming. Especially the deeper brain rewiring work it is that you have to do. Overwhelm causes stress, irrational thinking, and thoughts that you are not capable of reaching your goal. To rewire your brain, small action steps can set you up for success and belief in yourself. If you have a goal to lose 20 lbs in 3 months, start by breaking that down into monthly goals (i.e., 7 lbs or so per month), then into weekly goals (i.e., 4-5 days of exercise), then into daily goals (i.e., eat 2 extra servings of vegetables each day). 
  7. Create a vision board. Humans are visual creators. Vision boards are enhancing that visual need to help you focus on exactly what you are working to obtain. You can do a life vision board and put on stimulating and colorful pictures of what you would like to achieve in this life and/or you can do a specific vision board for a certain area of your life. For example, if you are looking to feel more energy and vitality, your vision board could revolve around your nutrition plans, exercise programs you want to try, how you want to look, what kind of clothing you want to buy, how your feel inside, and what your spirituality looks like – all the little things that will fulfill what having “more energy and vitality” means to you. Where does the brain rewiring come in to effect? Everyday, take a few moments to look at your vision board and picture yourself doing or being that person — What does it look like? What does it feel like? What would it mean for you? — Get excited about it coming. Day by day, you are rewiring and becoming exactly that person!
  8. Learn self-love and acceptance of yourself.  This is really what it all comes down to. When you do not believe in yourself and accept who you truly are – the unique and empowered you – it becomes almost impossible to make healthy, permanent change. Looking outside of yourself for validation and acceptance will never truly allow yourself long-term commitment to your goals. Start by focusing on what is inside you. What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? What are your fears and what is holding you back? How do you support yourself and how do you self-sabotage? What blocks your flow and your energy? All of these are keys to working through so you can get to know, accept, and trust yourself and your intuition. This is where the deeper work comes in — the shadow work, the inner child healing, the trauma repair. To get started, you could journal on inner child work, talk to trusted friends for support and advice, go to a counselor, meditate, learn how to be mindful and grounded, or search out knowledge to help you grow and learn as a person. The process is really your creation and you can go how fast or slow you feel that you need. 

Rewiring your brain is the foundation of any goal commitment. Especially the more challenging ones! Start the process. You can choose one or many from the list above or you can use this as inspiration to explore other avenues that resonate and excite you. Just remember — you have all the power lying within you!

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7 Tips To Decrease Sugar Cravings

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Food cravings can mean the death of many of your nutrition goals. Even the most dedicated can find themselves slipping and giving into the gnarling voice of their cravings.

Sugar and salt seem to be the most craved, with sugar in particular, being so addictive that willpower and intellect alone have little to do with pushing it away. You can only willpower your way through a sugar craving so many times until you eventually give in and throw all caution to the wind.

There are many reasons of why sugar can feel like it has a stranglehold on you — stress, nutrient deficiencies, imbalanced blood sugar, food memories, poor relationship with food, not enough sleep, and not being mindful of what you are eating. This is only naming a few of the reasons.

There is a belly-mind connection and it is much stronger than your willpower in the long run. 

And because of this belly-mind connection, it is super important to address a layer of reasons of why you may be struggling with your cravings. Some of those layers may feel very challenging to move through, while other may feel a bit easier and more direct. 

When starting a successful habit change, you want to focus on those low hanging fruit layers — those easy to grasp and where you can see quick results. Not only does it help to get the ball rolling, but it is also super motivating to see quick results.

Changing your relationship with food and the memories associated with your cravings can prove to be a little bit more challenging and typically demand deeper mental and emotional work. You can start here, but it might be easier to make some simple nutritional changes. This will help to decrease the physical and nutritional issues that may not be associated directly with your relationship with food.

Here are 7 easy tips that can begin to ward off cravings and balance your blood sugar:

  1. Drink more water. Let’s start with a simple one. The more dehydrated you are, the more difficult it is for the body to metabolize glycogen (stored glucose) for energy, so our bodies crave sugar to provide us with a quick source of energy when we actually just need to drink a little more water. 
  2. Add in cinnamon. This spice helps your body control the amount of sugar in your blood, evening out the highs and lows that lead to cravings. One study found those who took 3g of cinnamon a day maintained lower blood sugar levels after a glucose-tolerance test than those who did not take the cinnamon. And, your sugar cravings can drop immediately after consuming something with cinnamon!
  3. Eat your bitter foods. Research has found that consuming bitter foods shuts down the receptors in your brain that drive you to desire and consume more sugar. Bitter foods and plants can help slow the absorption of sugar and regulate blood sugar levels. You can eat foods such as dandelion, citrus peel, artichoke leaf, licorice root, and even burdock root. Or, you can make it super simple and use a tincture of bitters either before or after your meals (this helps with digestion too!). My favorite bitter tincture is by Urban Moonshine.
  4. Try spinach extract. Spinach extract, also known as Appethyl, is actually a weight loss supplement. It contains thylakoids, which consist mostly of proteins, antioxidants, and chlorophyll. Spinach extract has been shown to delay fat absorption (but not total inhibit it) and increase the activity of the hormones that reduce appetite and hunger. 
  5. Say no to the small bites. Feel a craving coming on? Don’t eat the small bites here and the small bites there. Those first few bites are inevitably the most tasty and your brain is going to be triggered by indulging in just a few bites. Not to mention, this creates a mindset of deprivation and can actually make you crave harder and jeopardize your relationship with food.
  6. Avoid getting too hungry. Make sure to eat regularly and not allow yourself to get too hungry. Fasting is all the rage and everyone seems to be either doing it or wondering if they should do it. Fasting can be super beneficial to help with cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells (autophagy) but when you fast for too long, it can create a great imbalance in your blood sugar, causing hunger and cravings. If you are choosing to fast regularly, keep your time frames on the shorter side, aiming between 12-16 hours. If you are a woman, keep those time frames in the 12-14 hour range. 
  7. Make it hard to get. This is technically a behavior change, but it falls right in line with nutritional behavior changes. One of the first line of defenses when making a habit change is to make what you want hard to get. That could be by placing it out of sight and out of mind, placing it in the highest cupboard of the kitchen (needing a step stool every time you want to get it), or even not buying it at all and only being able to get it by going to the grocery store. When you create a challenge or obstacle and it is not so easy, this delays the food to mouth time AND it also gives you more time to think about the choice that you are making. Sometimes simply creating space and time can be enough to allow you to decide that the craving is just not worth it!

Getting rid of cravings can be super complex and has many layers attached to it. Often, you have to dig and uncover those layers to get to the root cause of what is causing your cravings in the first place. This is where a coach and support system can help guide you on your journey. Are you ready to finally uncover your layers? Click here to learn more about my signature “Break Your Plateau” health coaching program!

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