10. Lipedema: The Diagnosis and the Treatments

Nichole Smokoff



Often misinterpreted as obesity, lipedema is a chronic and painful condition where fatty tissue excess builds up  in the legs, hips and sometimes arms. Eleven percent of the female population is suffering from lipedema—an estimated 17 million Americans— and it is almost unknown in the medical community; A 2004 Stanford study showed that most medical students spend less than thirty minutes studying the entire lymphatic system. (I know, it’s shocking.) It is unclear whether the lymphatic system is negatively affected by lipidema or vice versa, but, either way, the lymph nodes are getting strangled by the fat deposits and the greatest suggestion Nichole has is to MOVE YOUR BODY. In order to drain those lymph nodes (that are busy storing all of the icky stuff our body is desperate to expel), the body needs movement. If you think you may have lipedema and want more information, go here. 

Nichole Smokoff:

“You have to be smarter than the person in the room who has the higher education than you.”

Nichole stumbled upon a website that showed a photo of a woman with lipedema and couldn’t believe that other people looked just like her. At ten years old, Nichole realized that her body was starting to look different from her friends. It took another three decades to stumble upon that photo and get a diagnosis. She has since made it her mission to educate herself and take control where she can over this disease—and that includes educating the public.

You can contact Nichole directly at golden13ratio@gmail.com

You can find her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/UniversalRatio
 And on Instagram: FitFat Love

Resources in this Episode:

Listen to this Episode if you are Especially Interested In:

  • Lipedema
  • Disorders associated with being overweight
  • The role depression plays in lipedema and obesity
  • What it’s like to go to the doctor when you’re an overweight woman
  • How to love your body no matter what
  • How to navigate a lipedema diagnosis
  • How to self-advocate at the doctor
  • How to treat lipedema
  • Self-love in the face of lipedema
  • Water-only fasting
  • Nutrition and an anti-inflammatory diet
  • Liposuction
  • The lymphatic system
  • All of Nichole’s advice to people with lipedema

Happy listening!




9. How to Self- Advocate at the Doctor’s and Why it’s Crucial

Natasha Cecere, self-advocacy hero 


“You are allowed to be demanding and annoying about your health” 


Self- Advocacy:

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. Probably because it saved my life. I have always said that I am my own primary care-taker and everyone else is supplemental—including doctors. Someone I agree with once said, “the days of doctor knows best are OVER.”

For the first episode of 2018, I chose to bring on Natasha Cecere a knowledgeable and fierce self-advocate. It’s the resolution time of year, many of you are grabbing life by the balls—taking control where you’ve regrettably released the reins. As far as I’m concerned life= HEALTH. Take your health into your own hands, don’t simply surrender your most precious self to the “white coats in charge.”

In this episode, you’ll learn some easy self-advocacy tips and hopefully feel inspired to take control of your health.

Natasha Cecere:

After facing her own mortality due to a rare reaction to Hepatitis A, Natasha began educating herself on health and has since learned so much about her body and medicine that it is one of her great life passions. Her interest is especially strong in women’s health.

Natasha is an East-Coast transplant, living in Hollywood. She is an actor, storyteller, singer, and body and sex advocate. You can find her on Instagram @funnygal83


Listen to this Episode if you are Especially Interested IN:

  • What info to give your doctor and what it’s safe to withhold
  • Antibiotic misconceptions (and different tips for taking them)
  • Women’s health and how to make the most out of gyno. appointments
  • Mirena IUD complications and how to advocate for removal
  • Who is safe to use Mireana IUD and who shouldn’t
  • Why it’s worth it to look silly at the doctors office
  • Why you can’t care what others think
  • Listening to your body above all else
  • How to learn about your body
  • Quick and easy ways to advocate for yourself at doctor’s offices, in hospitals and at home.


Reminder: We are not doctors, and we highly suggest everyone see a doctor that they trust and respect. While we suggest you push for what you think is right for your own body, we also suggest getting multiple opinions from multiple doctors before making any rash decisions. 

Happy Listening!




8. In Sickness and Health: How to Thrive Romantically

Me and Ian, March 2017

The Intimidating Combo of Romance and Illness:

Ian and I met immediately after my Lyme diagnosis, but it was another six or seven months before I got really sick. Suddenly all of the adventurous stuff we had bonded over was no longer accessible to me. I remember panicking with my rapid decline: How could I keep up a relationship with seemingly nothing to offer? Who would want me? Surely Ian would leave me soon enough. I didn’t have any of my old tricks to keep him around. But he didn’t leave. Beyond the obvious foundation of young love, there are reasons why we made it work. Work being the key word, unfortunately. It was hard, but it was worth it.

I get asked the question of “how to romance with extreme illness” a lot. So much so that when Eva Fisher and I started Wellness Companions, we were quick to add “Navigating Romance” to our service roster. Having both been in serious relationships within our (serious) illnesses, we knew the strategies that deeply served us and our partners. And, the good news is that many of our tactics were identical. While I always preach finding what works for you personally (and this area is no exception), I can say that I have found that some of the things mentioned in this episode have worked for multiple couples.

I’m quite passionate about the subject. I wrote about it over a year ago when I was getting faced with the judgmental question of how I could be OK with Ian doing an extended trip while I was in IVIG treatment. And I talk to friends and clients about it often. I decided to close out 2017 with this episode— with me and my partner, Ian Jewett, casually discussing what it was like for us to voyage through the worst and the surprising feelings that came up on the other side. I hope to leave you, as always, inspired and informed as the new year approaches and certainly new goals accompanying it. That being said, please share about your personal romantic experiences and your personal “tips” below if you’re so inclined. Also note that we were not able to cover close to everything in this episode and feel free to write with any questions.

Listen to this Episode if you are Especially Interested In:

  • Tips to thrive romantically from both me (the one sick) and Ian (the care-taker). It takes two!
  • Why illness did not derail our relationship
  • What a person from Lyme, Connecticut (yep, Ian is from there) thinks of Lyme disease
  • What happens when what you bond over initially is taken from you with illness
  • Bicilin intramuscular antibiotics
  • How to “be there” for someone when it’s all you feel you can do
  • How to take the pressure off of your relationship when you’re super sick
  • Why I’m grateful Ian didn’t make it his job to cure me
  • How to stay empowered
  • Different ways to make staying-in-bed-all-day fun!


Happy Listening and Happy Holidays!!!


7. How to Navigate a Cancer Diagnosis, with Elina Fuhrman

Elina Fuhrman, creator of Soupelina

“Cancer changed my life for the best…for sure”

-Elina Fuhrman

An Intro to Elina Fuhrman:

Elina was in the best shape of her life when she grabbed her breasts in a moment of comical whimsy and felt a suspicious lump. That instant her whole life changed course—ultimately for the better. After sinking into a deep depression and surrendering to her potential death, Elina “woke up” when a brave friend showed her some tough love (“Yeah, cancer,  so, what’re you gonna do about it?”)

Elina unfolded herself out of fetal position, wiped the tears from her eyes, and jumped into action. Navigating her cancer diagnosis with fierce strategy and self-trust, Elina slowly decided what treatments she would do and how: She was in charge of her healing path.

As she learned more and more about the treatment possibilities from around the globe, Elina was inspired to cook for health and incorporate all of these different modalities in the kitchen—specifically into her soups.

Soupelina (Soup+Elina!):

Today, a pioneer in food as medicine, Elina Fuhrman is the Founder + Chef of Soupelina, a mission-driven authentic wellness brand delivering one-of-a-kind plant-based delicious soups + broths that help people eat for their health, heal, prevent and overcome illness. Elina is also the author of Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse: Plant-Based Soups + Broths to Heal Your Body, Calm Your Mind, and Transform Your Health, a wonderful cookbook and healthy loving guide that you won’t be able to live without. Soupelina’s patented recipes are based on the science behind plants, herbs and spices, and their medicinal properties. Elina was formerly an international journalist for CNN, and her fresh approach to healthy eating has made her an inspiring voice on healthy eating and credible wellness expert.

I highly suggest you invest in the book—I’ve used the recipes for years and they ALWAYS delight me.

Listen to this Episode if you are Especially Interested In:

  • Practical ways to navigate a cancer diagnosis
  • Why it’s important to get multiple opinions
  • Why it’s important to do your own research 
  • The science behind cancer that we never talk about
  • The waves of emotion that come with a cancer diagnosis
  • Cancer prevention
  • Understanding stages and grades of cancer
  • Combining Ayurvedic, naturopathy and Chinese medicine
  • How to be excited about food on such a restricted diet.


Happy listening!



6. Low Immunity and How Essential Oils Help

Targa Sahyoun

The “Low” Immune System:

There are many different versions of the low immune system story, none to be confused with autoimmune diseases (this is a completely separate topic). Today’s particular story started while my guest was in utero. Before Targa Sahyoun came out of the womb, she received three full blood transfusions. (I know, right!?) Her mother had a blood disorder where her blood produced antibodies that were set to attack her fetus’ red blood cells. With the blood transfusions, Targa survived, but was born three months premature, at just two pounds, Targa spent the first three months of her life in the incubator and was resuscitated seven times. (I know, right!?) She is a walking miracle, surviving with far less damage than initially expected—just the ol’ low immunity. Targa battled varying degrees of illness all of her life—the worst bouts occurred at eight years old and 31 years old in the form of mono and meningitis. She was consistently treated with loads of antibiotics furthering her gut issues and therefore taxing her immune system even further. Through trial and error, finding the right treatments and a ton of discipline with her personal self-care regiment, today Targa feels better and stronger than she ever has.

Essential Oils:

Essential oils are a widely used treatment today for ailments across the spectrum. They are the highly concentrated form of the natural oils in plants and extracted using a process called distillation. You can ingest them, sniff them, diffuse them, or rub them right on your skin (after you dilute them, that is). The most important thing is that you purchase therapeutic grade oil. Especially if you are ingesting them, you want a high quality oil, prepared and preserved correctly. Below, in the resources, you will find links to two highly trusted brands, and here is a simple guide to use.

Targa Sahyoun:

Targa oversees music video production at a record label here in Los Angeles. Outside of her busy career, she is passionate about her wellbeing, travel, friendships and, of course, essential oils. If you have any questions for her, you can contact her directly here.

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Listen to this Episode if you are Especially Interested In:

  • Essential oils and how to use them
  • Self-care regiments
  • Why Targa feels the best she ever has at 34 years old
  • Healing your gut
  • Low immunity
  • Healing joint pain
  • Saying no and refining your group of friends
  • Having a balanced life with your demanding career
  • How to advocate for yourself in the doctor’s office
  • Emotional stress adding to illness


Happy listening!


5. How to use Energy Healing to Get Well

Emily Wallace

Energy Healing

Have you wondered just what energy healing is? All of this “woo-woo” stuff gaining traction in 2017? (Especially here in Los Angeles.) Learn about shamanism, reiki, and other weird but magical things in this episode from two unlikely women.

Emily Wallace

“Once I committed to my emotional, mental, spiritual health that’s when I started to thrive” -Emily Wallace

Emily is a NYC based Intuitive Energy Healing Practitioner and Shamanic Reiki Master Teacher. After many years of battling chronic Lyme disease—visiting the hospital, bound to bed, not working, cared for at home by her parents—Emily found her way to 75% through antibiotics and various herbs and supplements. Desperate to do more than merely survive, Emily found energy healing. She was an unlikely client, poking fun at the whole thing. But, to her surprise, it worked. After surrendering to this modality she truly healed and stopped hearing from her symptoms. Today, Emily is thriving at 100% and, after getting certified at the Omega Institute, she has turned her good fortune into a passion for helping others using her own energy work. She is the founder of www.lightheartedhealingnyc.com

To book appointments with Emily, please see above link or visit her on social media @lightheartedhealingnyc

Listen to this episode if you are especially interested in:

  • Lyme disease
  • Herxing
  • How healing the emotional, physical, and spiritual helps us heal the physical
  • Holistic healing—using Western and Eastern modalities
  • What Shaminism is
  • What Reiki is
  • What Energy Healing is
  • Why it’s important to track your symptoms
  • How to love your Lyme away
  • Awesome self-care tricks
  • Love languages
  • More on how I quit coffee

Resources mentioned in episode:

Happy listening!

4.How Trauma Affects us and How to Heal

Jessica Graham
Photo by: http://shayanasgharnia.com


Most of us have it. From childhood trauma to sexual trauma, these experiences get locked in our bodies and affect our immune systems and inflammation responses. The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences)  study was performed at Kaiser over a four-year period in the 90’s. The study concluded that childhood trauma resulted in serious medical consequences. Our bodies react to stress as children: Hormones are secreted, neurotransmitters are activated, inflammatory proteins flood the blood stream. This can lead to long-lasting physical changes —early adversity alters the chemicals of DNA in the brain. Personally, I have a score of 7/10,  the higher the score, the worse the outcome. In their findings, with an ACE score over 7, your risk of heart disease is 360 % higher than patients with a 0 score. If you have a 4 or higher, you are twice as likely to smoke, be an alcoholic, and have sex before you’re 15. You’re two times as likely to get heart disease and four times as likely to have chronic bronchitis. Nadine Burke MD looks at childhood trauma as a medical issue. Her view is that these issues are not for sociologists and economists but that they need to be addressed on a molecular level, and not simply with an anti-depressant which can further harm the body.

My guest, Jessica Graham, is passionate about healing trauma. With a 10/10 Ace score, she has dedicated many years of her life to rewiring her brain through meditation. On stable ground, Jessica expanded her mindfulness practice to her sex life deepening her healing and therefore her overall wellness. She is an inspiration, a force, and a reminder that deep healing is possible.

Jessica Graham:

Jessica is a spiritual teacher, sex and intimacy guide, filmmaker, and author of the new book, “Good Sex: Getting Off without Checking Out.”

To work with Jessica and find out more about what she does, please visit:  Www.yourwildawakening.com

To purchase her book (I highly suggest this book for anyone interested in healing old trauma and having a healthy sex life):

Resources mentioned in episode:

  • find out what your ACE score is and more about the study: https://acestoohigh.com
  • A two-week free code from Jessica for Simple Habit meditation app: https://www.simplehabit.com/redeem/meditatewithjessica
  • Article on childhood trauma: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/03/21/the-poverty-clinic

Listen to this episode if you are especially interested in:

  • How your trauma could have affected your health
  • How to start meditating even if you’re in pain
  • How to bring mindfulness into the bedroom
  • How to deepen your sexuality and self-love





3. Lyme Disease: How to Self-Care with a Demanding Job

Halley Feiffer


Lyme disease:


Halley Feiffer ignored her symptoms until they were drastically affecting her lifestyle. It was backstage in the middle of a performance, when she realized that she couldn’t rely on booking effortless jobs and she needed to go to the doctor. Through treating Lyme and strategically monitoring her self-care, today Halley manages a jam-packed schedule and demanding atmospheres. Find out how in this episode!

More about Halley:

Halley Feiffer is a bi-coastal actress and writer. Currently she is writing on “Kidding,” the upcoming Showtime series starring Jim Carrey. Halley was diagnosed with Lyme disease three years ago in New York City.

Listen to this episode if you are especially interested in:

  • How to keep working with your symptoms!
  • How to self-care with a demanding job
  • How to manage stress
  • Dr. Richard Horowitz
  • Antibiotics vs. holistic treatment
  • Lyme diet options

Happy listening!

Budd Chiari: How to Live Well with this Rare Liver Disease

Nick Smoke

Budd Chiari:

Nick Smoke’s life was overwhelmingly altered the day he found out he had a rare and life-threatening liver disease called Budd Chiari. At 24 years old, he was a working actor with a flourishing career and no reason to be seriously worried about his health —he didn’t drink or smoke, he took good care of himself, and had already come through a lot in life; It seemed like he could finally relax. The next couple years of his life tested him physically, emotionally, and mentally and, today, he sits on the other side: Back to work, in love, and excited for what comes next. Of course what happened in between is a story not to be missed—find out how Nick got better, and how he lives today so he can remain as symptom-free as possible.

More about Nick:

Nick Smoke is a working actor in Los Angeles. You can find him on instagram @mrnickys, on Twitter @nickysmoke and you can follow his Tumblr blog, Too Young to be Here. If you are a person dealing with Budd Chiari, you can direct message Nick on any of these platforms.

 Listen to this episode if you are especially interested in:

  • Veganism and how it helped Nick
  • California doctors specializing in this field
  • Transplant listing and surgeries
  • How to be a friend/ family member to someone in the throes of illness
  • Depression and how to move through it.

Give a listen and comment below or on any of your podcast platforms!