I’m so excited to have Nora DeBora from Naturally Nora joining me. She has have over six years of coaching experience in education and holistic nutrition, movement and mindfulness. She has created a holistic approach and practice around preconception planning and she is going to share that with us.
Dr. Aimee: I’m so excited to speak to you! Welcome.
Nora DeBora: Thank you for having me. I’m a preconception health coach, I’m a holistic nutritionist, and I’m a yoga teacher and personal trainer, so a few things under my belt there. Ultimately, I help women prepare their body for pregnancy and have a healthy baby after 30.
Personally, for me, I’ve always wanted to be a mom, but as I grew older and decided to switch careers in my late 20s, my background is actually in psychology and human resources, I knew that having a baby for me would actually happen later in life. As somebody who is so passionate about women’s health and women’s hormones and women’s reproductive system, I decided to take that on as my career and help women naturally preserve their fertility as much as they can, especially because we know now that women are having babies later in life either because of career advancements or changes, like myself, or they’re waiting to find a partner.
Dr. Aimee: Tell us about your website and what you do through the website.
Nora DeBora: My website is NaturallyNora.ca. I’ve mainly just got my blog, just giving women lots of information on different areas of health in the holistic realm. Like you had said, I work with mindset, I work with nutrition, I work with movement, those are three of my pillars. I provide lots of information on my blog for women to empower themselves and educate themselves so that I can help really give them the tools so that they know what to do on their own if they decide not to work with a practitioner.
Other than that, the program that I have to use to work with my clients is a 12-week holistic pregnancy prep program that is actually used as a platform online, that isn’t accessed through my website but can be given to clients when that time comes to working with them.
Dr. Aimee: Awesome. How do you get your clients into the right mindset for pregnancy?
Nora DeBora: We know that mindset is one of the biggest components for improving fertility, especially when you’re waiting a little bit longer in life to have babies and when you’re past those prime childbearing years of your 20s. Ideally, when preparing for pregnancy I coach my clients through what’s called a growth mindset.
As we know, when we are in our fight or flight stress mindset, this really has a detrimental effect on the physiology of our body. It releases cortisol, which is a stress hormone, that if it runs rampant long enough without being checked, this can really impact fertility. What I do is I start by working with my individual clients by working on what’s called your core health beliefs to really help them foster a mindset that allows for growth, expansion, healing, and trust in their own body.
I look at a woman’s body as a sacred temple. The body knows exactly what it needs to do. We just have to give it the tools and the environment to do that. I coach my clients through this growth mindset through different tools such as daily meditations, daily affirmations, a lot of breath work, which helps really calm the nervous system and calm the mind. Those are the three main components to really foster an environment to create a new life.
Dr. Aimee: You also have a lot of nutrition tips. What are some of the holistic nutrition strategies that you teach for a successful and healthy pregnancy?
Nora DeBora: Over the years I’ve put together a methodology which I call my four Rs to getting pregnant. Essentially how this works is there are four steps. They each start with an R so it just makes sense to call it your four Rs to getting pregnant. Each of those steps compound on one another. All of these Rs are related to nutrition. I’ll quickly run through them with you.
The first R is remove. Remove the inflammatory toxic foods that are not serving you and your gut health, which at the end of the day has an impact on your hormonal health.
The second R is then to replace. Replace what you have eliminated with nutrient dense fertility foods so that you can crowd out the toxins and nourish your body with the nutrients that your body needs to prepare for pregnancy and to have a healthy baby.
The third R is repair. As a holistic nutritionist, I’m kind of obsessed with gut health. At the end of the day, in my opinion, optimal health really does come from digestive health. I think a lot of the research is now showing that out there as well. As a holistic nutritionist we say you’re not only what you eat. We look at that as an incomplete statement. We say you’re what you eat, what you digest, what you assimilate, and also what you excrete, what you poop out, because if you’re not pooping then you’re just recirculating those toxins back in you. So, the third step is to repair the gut by using gut promoting nutrients through different supplements and different foods that help repair the gut.
The fourth R is rebalance. A woman’s body has different nutritional needs at different phases of the menstrual cycle. I help women repair their hormones by filling in those nutrient gaps within specific parts of their menstrual cycle so that they can not only optimize fertility, but also beat PMS and feel energized throughout their day and throughout their cycle.
Dr. Aimee: You’re not only a holistic nutrition expert, but you’re also a yoga instructor. Why is being fit important?
Nora DeBora: I look at the preconception phase as the foundation of everything. In order to have a healthy pregnancy, to have a healthy baby, and to be healthy after the baby, your body needs to be in tip top shape before.
I look at what’s called BMI, your body mass index, and ensuring that a woman’s body is traditionally within a healthy BMI based on where she is in her age at the time of wanting to conceive. Healthy weight before pregnancy is associated with optimal outcomes for pregnancy and for birth. By being well nourished and being active, your baby will likely grow to healthy gestational size and it will also be easier for you to carry that baby to term and to return to a pre-pregnancy weight after you have a baby.
Achieving a normal weight by being fit before you actually give birth can actually help reduce a lot of complications that many women may face by being not an ideal weight when they want to conceive. For instance, for a woman who is looking to get pregnant who might be obese, there are a lot of more associated complications with increased risk for hypertension, gestational diabetes, blood clots, and increased chance of cesarian sections. As well, underweight moms to be will also have more risk of anemia and maybe have a little bit more difficult conceiving because hormones are out of balance. There also might be a higher risk of miscarriage when they do in fact conceive.
Depending on where you are with regards to activity and being within a healthy weight range, it will come with its own detrimental health consequences, so it’s important to find that healthy weight and be active before you conceive.
Dr. Aimee: It is so important, but it’s so hard. What are some of your tips for achieving a healthy weight especially as it relates to the menstrual cycle?
Nora DeBora: I’m always talking about the menstrual cycle. I have to say that in my opinion once a woman becomes finally in tune and aware with her menstrual cycle and how her body is responding to this week by week, you’ve honestly hit the jackpot. When I work with my clients and I coach my clients with how to stay fit throughout a woman’s cycle, I really take them through this journey of a week-by-week approach.
In week one, when we get our period, this marks the first day of our cycle. What happens? Usually women are tired, they’re fatigued, they’re lethargic. Who wants to go do a HIIT class when you have a heavy period? Not many people. That’s your body telling you this is time to rest, nourish, and relax. During week one of the cycle I say to my clients be okay with doing a little bit more gentle restorative yoga flows, going for long brisk walks, maybe doing a light bike ride if you have that extra energy.
Then as you come into week two of your cycle, this is actually, I think, one of the best weeks for women in their menstrual cycle. Your estrogen now is starting to rise, this is the feel good hormone that gives you confidence, energy, a lot of drive and motivation, so this is the time for your body to do a little bit more strength training, a little bit more aerobic exercises like HIIT or going for a long run, and just getting that blood flowing and doing some strength training and body weight workout resistance training. That’s what happens in week two.
As we move into week three after we ovulate, after our ovaries have run this marathon, the estrogen then starts to drop. As estrogen drops and progesterone starts to rise, this can be a recipe for PMS or pre-PMS and PMS. During this time, women start to feel some aches and pains in their body. So for week three, depending on your specific cycle, I still recommend finding active workouts, such as HIIT, strength training, and maybe resistance training, but also coupling that and being gentle with the body again, maybe by doing a little bit more of a medium yoga flow or doing a pilates class, something that is still going to allow you to get those muscles going and get the blood flowing but not be so hard on the body.
Then in week four progesterone keeps rising and estrogen plummets, and this is a recipe for PMS. A lot of us sometimes feel like being a sloth on the couch this week. I have to say during the luteal phase, that second week of your cycle, your body is actually burning more fat, so if you can push yourself and get yourself to get outside, go for a little jog, hop on that bike, maybe even go for a swim, or do something fun with your friends to get that heart rate up, you’re doing your body a service and you’re helping actually release some of that water retention and water weight that our body naturally carries at that time of the cycle.
I really have this week-by-week month approach. Depending on where you are in the cycle, I find it really will dictate what exercise you should do.
Dr. Aimee: At the same time, knowing about your cycle in this detail can almost be like a fertility monitor. By understanding where they are in their cycle, they’ll know what foods to eat, what activities to do, and this can all promote fertility, from my standpoint. Don’t you think?
Nora DeBora: Absolutely. It really empowers the woman.
I don’t know about you, but from personal experience, when I go through the different phases of my cycle, I sometimes feel like a different woman week by week. Some weeks I feel super confident and energized, and I’m on top of the world and my brain is firing with creativity. Some weeks I’m feeling low and I’m feeling exhausted, I’m feeling tired, I’m feeling achy, and I’m thinking, “What’s wrong with me?” There’s nothing wrong with me, it’s just the natural rhythm of a woman’s body.
I think once women can really tap into that, it really is like a magical special thing for a woman to be able to harness their power there. I find that you’re able to tap into your own power and give yourself the break when you need it and then just go crazy when you’re ready to just give everything your all.
Dr. Aimee: Exactly. It is empowering. I think sometimes people don’t learn these powers, literally, until they are ready to have a baby. I feel like this should be an education that women are getting in their early 20s, so that when they’re ready to prepare for pregnancy they truly are prepared and these kinds of things aren’t a surprise that there are reasons they feel different during different phases of their cycle.
Nora DeBora: I believe there’s a term for that, I think it’s called “body literacy.” It’s so empowering for women in their 20s, and even I would have loved to have learned this when I was in my teens in high school. We’re moving forward. I do see that there is definitely progressive change there. That’s part of the reason why I love doing what I’m doing, because I love to help empower women about their bodies and really take control of their health, optimizing fertility through their menstrual cycle.
Dr. Aimee: You’re not only doing that by talking to them about nutrition and fitness, but looking at their environmental exposures is also important to you as well, as it is to me. Can you talk a little bit more about how toxins and what’s in your environment can affect your fertility?
Nora DeBora: One of my biggest concerns for my clients who are trying to get pregnant, and a toxin in the environment that I very much bring to the forefront with them, is something called xenoestrogen. Xenoestrogen is a synthetic or manmade form or estrogen that has run rampant in our environment and society today. Xenoestrogen actually mimics our natural estrogen and can therefore influence our delicate hormone balance that we have in our bodies.
Xenoestrogens are found everywhere. They can be found in hormonal contraceptive pills. They’re found in conventionally raised animal and dairy products. They’re in nonorganic fruits and vegetables from the pesticide residue. They’re in scented personal care products, makeup, household products, canned food, plastic wraps. I don’t mean to be scaring you with this list, but they really are everywhere. They’re in nonstick cookware. They’re in processed soy foods. Xenoestrogens are absolutely everywhere.
There are actually quite a few things you can do to minimize your exposure. No matter what we’re going to be exposed to them, but if we can minimize the exposure, even just by 10, 15, or 20%, you’re doing a service to your body. Would you like me to share some tips on how to minimize exposure?
Dr. Aimee: I would love for you to share tips on how to minimize toxins.
Nora DeBora: The first one I would say is to buy organic pasture raised meat and dairy products as much as you can. You do not want those extra added hormones being pumped into the meat and dairy products that you are eating.
I would also highly recommend when you can to buy organic produce, as best you can. I understand this can get quite pricey, so if you can’t buy everything organic, then I highly recommend sticking to the concept of the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen. If you just Google dirty dozen and clean fifteen, it’s going to show you the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables that you should no matter what buy organic and then there’s fifteen that you could get away with buying conventional.
I would also highly recommend choosing BPA-free plastic products and canned goods as much as you can.
Last but not least, going back to digestive health, is to drink lots of water and have regular healthy bowel movements, because we have to get those xenoestrogens moving through the body and excreted through healthy bowel movements.
Dr. Aimee: Awesome. How can people work with you?
Nora DeBora: I have a 12-week holistic pregnancy prep program where I take my clients through week by week. I pace it in a way that allows my clients to digest (no pun intended) the information week by week so that it’s not too overwhelming. As you can see here, there’s a lot of information with regards to nutrition, with movement, with environment, with mindset, it really is a holistic approach and a holistic program.
This holistic program gives you an opportunity to work with me for 12 weeks, so three months. It’s ideal that I start working with clients about three months prior to the date of actual conception, because we really need to take those three months to prime the body to prepare for pregnancy. I know you know this, Aimee, that it takes three months for those primordial eggs to really develop into that mature egg, so anything and everything you do three months prior to conceiving is going to affect the health of your baby.
I have this 12-week holistic pregnancy prep program that I put my clients through, and I run through all of those different facets of your life and we take a deep dive into your personalized health and create a plan that works specifically for you to optimize your health and your fertility.
Dr. Aimee: Do they connect with you through your website or how do they contact you?
Nora DeBora: You can find me through my website at NaturallyNora.ca. You can find me on Instagram @Naturally_Nora. If you’re looking to get started today, I have a guide for you available online called Eat for Your Menstrual Cycle on how to nourish your body each week throughout your cycle, and you can find that at www.NaturallyNora.ca/eat.
Dr. Aimee: Thank you, Nora. I really appreciate all the tips that you gave us today. The work that you do is so important. We will all continue to follow you on Instagram. Thank you for all of the inspiring quotes and the great information that you’re providing us.
Nora DeBora: Thank you so much, Aimee, for having me. I love your podcast and I love what you’re doing. I think it’s so amazing that we can collaborate and continue to spread the word.
Dr. Aimee: Awesome. Thanks, Nora. Have a great day.