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Tampa Bay Holistic Wellness is a preventative health care practice offering corrective exercise, sports performance, massage therapy and nutrition services.


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Preface (Book Lionesses Need Lions)

Dawn Molina

            Reverse engineering deep patterns of personal dysfunction is sobering. At this point of my life I can categorize my life into three stages: my unconscious evolution, my humility through demolition and my conscious re-engineering. My humility through demolition was the most painful part of beginning to navigate what love means to me, because it became increasingly clear that I didn’t love myself. I loved many people with whom I shared my life, both past and present. I could ascertain what love “is” through these relationships, because I was able to give love freely. What I couldn’t define was my love for myself. I found myself becoming brutally capricious about people, places and things that didn’t return my love as vigorously.

            The deeper dive into my own self-reflection revealed an ambiguous personal value system that was the core to my personal instability. Although there were compartments of my life that were extremely successful as defined by societal terms I struggled to harness any real fulfillment in my personal life. Because of my unwavering ability to compartmentalize my fear was never apparent. Because of my unwavering ability to compartmentalize my level of control due to my honest ability to focus was unquestionable. Yet of my unwavering ability to compartmentalize, albeit concealing my loneliness, it was destroying my heart. I suffered from deep personal pain although I was surrounded by a horde of people that I loved so much. Why then?

            When my son was ten I sought his approval to leave my first husband. He shockingly expressed that we could make it alone, but due to my fear and lack of self-love I sought love outside of myself. Once again, I was desperately searching for an answer I didn’t know I had within me. One day when my son was sixteen while sitting in our kitchen nook he unsolicitedly affirmed, my reason for being the way I was. He told me “mother women have to be like you these days, because men aren’t men anymore.” This began the stage of my humility through demolition. I only partially believed what he said that day at the time and I believe it even less now that I have begun my conscious re-engineering stage. Instead I have developed some complex personal ideas about why I became the way I was totally apart from the men I chose to share my life with. The answers weren’t defined by them, they are mine-and-mine alone.

            During my humility through demolition stage I observed pro-feminist women, privately steeped in patriarchy, making conscious decisions to stand beside men that disgraced them publicly amongst friends. I connected with women from different cultures who shared their experiences of survival by means of manipulation to find freedom. To date I have worked closely with over three hundred women to help develop a sense of physical strength & wellness through preventive health care measures. I never struggled with any of these issues directly in my unconscious evolution stage. So why then?

            This is a story about a little girl who watched her mother suddenly die when she was seven years old. My father that was a USMA West Point Graduate who was a strict disciplinarian who couldn’t express his love. My father was a beautiful man with a brilliant mind and a depressed heart. When my mother passed away my father never recovered and it was never about the motherless child, but instead the wifeless husband. Although my father provided a financially stable and nourishing scholastic environment he suffered at being consciously present. He deliberately dissociated love and intimacy. During my humility through demolition stage I realized this was my why.

            The dissociation of intimacy and love is a travesty. Yet it macerates our society through the ever-growing need for ephemeral connection and superficial relationships. Love and intimacy require truth; the truth about ourselves and one another. To go from shallow to intimate relationships one must become familiar with truth where we deal with issues we don’t often care to deal with. Repressing truth about ourselves makes us laden with resentment and ultimately creates great personal pain. Our willingness to face rejection in the pursuit of our own truth is in of its self an act of unselfish love.

            My father indeed raised me to be the strongest woman I could possibly be. For this I will forever be grateful. My abilities, skills and capacity were developed directly under his influence. However, the contradiction of his values that he expressed after my mother passed away was by choosing to court women that were exactly the opposite of my mother: much younger, uneducated and codependent. During my unconscious evolution stage, I unknowingly developed a pattern of seeking out a specific kind of man: southern, impressionable and who had parents that remained married to their first spouse. Nonsensical and not deliberate, but a true pattern none the less.

            The devastating disharmony with these men was their likewise dissociation with love and intimacy even though they came from a different establishment. Although their parents were still married they were no longer in love, never shared real intimacy and due to this only remained together due to financial constraints, children or shame. Because these men were raised in this environment they thought nothing of their dissociation with love and intimacy. They too were broken and could not help me find what I needed or wanted. They were great men, but neither could fully engage in real sensual connection beyond the honeymoon phase when lust is often mistaken for intimacy. My deeper desire to establish real intimacy in pursuit of a resolute married life was admonished due to their own renunciation of personal truth (whatever it was for them) and I was often left feeling indecent.

            Now as I am working through my conscious re-engineering stage I have established real personal values that define my true character and have greatly impacted every aspect of my life. These ideals guide my behavior and I am now positive when I say no to things that are vehemently opposed to my established personal values. Love and intimacy in all my personal relationships are the core principals in my value system. I know for myself personally that being of loving impact on other’s lives is my truth. I’ve reorganized my entire professional life to follow this structure and I have chosen the same for my personal life. This isn’t an easy process, I face rejection every day and there are many unknowns when navigating love. I do know that relationships don’t always fail because men aren’t men anymore, because women are always victims of sexism and gender inequality or anywhere in between in same gender relationships. There is a larger disconnect and it’s often rooted in our inability to define our own truth first.




Position Over Submission

Dawn Molina

Dawn & Kayla

For my entire adult life, I have valued the Jiu-Jitsu philosophy: position over submission. It makes total sense right; why would anyone choose to faultily jump the gun and do something prematurely? Knowing our position during every step of the process helps to lessen probability of disaster, right? It seems like a no brainer. I believed in this philosophy for many years with unwavering rigidity.

However, as I get older I realize that this philosophy applies less and less. Although this philosophy may be important when dealing with spatial awareness, I find it less important when dealing with everyday life. Is painstakingly planning every move a quality endeavor? Is knowing where we stand every step of the way as critical as those of us with obsessive compulsive disorder would like to believe? At this point of my life I have determined for myself personally this causes more stress than I care to live with. By no means am I asserting that there is a lack of importance in assessing and planning “life” things. It’s simply become my experience that life is more unpredictable than this philosophy can encircle. Flexibility over constant positioning has come to serve me in better ways.

Flexibility tends to alleviate stress both physical and mental. It can provide stability even if we don’t know where we are in the moment. Flexibility influences the ability to ebb & flow depending on topical presenting factors. Incessantly positioning ourselves for better outcomes can impose impractical measures of outcome that can leave us feeling unaccomplished, angry and sad when things don’t go as we’ve planned. Positioning, simply put, can be downright stressful.

"Stress is not a state of mind. It’s measurable, dangerous and humans can't seem to find their off-switch." These words of warning come from renowned author and award-winning neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky in the documentary Stress: Portrait of a Killer. Sapolsky explains how we are more vulnerable to stress if the following factors are true:

§  If we feel like we have no control

§  If we are not getting any predictive information

§  If we feel we have no way out

§  If we interpret things as getting worse

§  If we have no "shoulder to cry on" (e.g., lack of social affiliation or support)

The first four bullets outlined above can be tightly linked to poor positioning and lack of flexibility. Flexibility impacts adaptation; adaptation reduces stress. So why is flexibility so hard for humans to achieve: both physically and mentally? The answer is easy; no one wants to be submitted. Hasn’t this come full circle? We tend to over position to avoid submission. We over think in an attempt to control outcomes. Being prepared and disciplined can be practiced apart from over positioning. There is no doubt that we can achieve a better position through preparedness and discipline. Be that as it may choosing to be flexible, even if it means submitting for a better position, in the long term can reduce our stress. So why choose to be stressed? The answer to this is not as easy.

Science has established that stress kills us. The research is all around us. We are the most medicated, obese and depressed America to date. There is no promise for a better outcome; tomorrow may never come. Stress is the number one silent killer being linked to many psychosomatic, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, reproductive, endocrine and sexual disorders. I mean who wouldn’t be depressed? If we could just learn to flexible. Flexible with ourselves and flexible with others.

Sweet Potato Brownies Vitamin "A" Not One Nutrient!

Dawn Molina

The term "vitamin A" makes it sound like there is one particular nutrient called "vitamin A," but that is not true. Vitamin A is a broad group of related nutrients. Each of these nutrients provides us with health benefits, but these benefits may be quite different and they may be provided in different ways. This particular recipe is rich in the plant form of Vitamin A (carotenoid), in the form of beta-carotene! Carotenoid forms of Vitamin A provide us with unique health benefits. Most carotenoid forms of vitamin A function as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Scientists now know that the T and B cells of the immune system cannot be correctly synthesized without vitamin A, nor can immune responses be effectively activated without participation of vitamin A. Many researchers believe that vitamin A may play an important role in our immune & inflammatory "braking" system that assists our cells from becoming over-reactive. Since some aspects of food allergy can be related to our immune system's over-reaction to food proteins, optimal intake of vitamin A may turn out to be important for lowering risk of certain types of food allergy!

This healthy brownie recipe swaps avocado puree for butter, unsweetened applesauce for sugar, pureed prunes for syrup and pureed sweet potato for half of the necessary flour.

Brownie Ingredients: (Wet) 8oz. Cooked Sweet Potato, 4oz. Avocado, 4oz. Unsweetened Apple Sauce, 4oz. Pitted Dates, 2 Nest Fresh Large Eggs, 1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract, (Dry) 1/2 Cup Gluten Free Flour, 1 Tsp. Baking Soda, 1 Tsp. Himalayan Salt, 2oz. Organic Cacao Powder, 1/4 Cup Walnuts.

Icing Ingredients: 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder, 2oz. Almond Hazelnut Butter, 1oz. Organic Cacao Powder, 1/2 Cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt, 1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil.

Recipe Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease a 9" x 9" baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving enough extra to extend over the sides.

  • Combine the avocado, sweet potato, unsweetened applesauce, pitted dates, vanilla extract and eggs into a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the gluten-free flour, cacao powder, salt and baking soda and mix well with a whisk, until completely blended.

  • Add the dry ingredients the food processor and resume processing until well combined, about 30 seconds. Pulse in walnuts and transfer the batter to your prepared pan. Spread evenly and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out almost clean.

  • Set brownies on a wire rack to cool for 15-20 minutes.

  • While the brownies are cooling, prepare the icing by adding all the ingredients to the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth and creamy.

  • Pour over warm brownies and spread evenly with a spatula.

  • Leave the brownies on the wire rack until they reach room temperature then transfer to the fridge until completely cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Enzymes, pH Balance Levels and Why What We Eat Matters

Dawn Molina

Every part of the human body is built of proteins; enzymes included. Enzyme proteins catalyze all processes in our body. When enzymes don't catalyze properly our body can resort to extreme measures in order to carry out and support natural bodily function. Enzymes are the workhorses of the body. When you eat, enzymes break down the food into tiny particles which can be converted into energy in the body. The process starts in the mouth, where an enzyme called amylase attacks all incoming food particles. Enzymes continue to break down the food all the way to the stomach and intestines.

Enzymes are affected by changes in our pH balance levels. The most favorable pH value, the point where the enzyme is most active, is known as the optimum pH. Extremely high or low pH values generally result in complete loss of activity for most enzymes. pH is also a factor in the stability of enzymes. As with activity, for each enzyme there is also a region of pH optimal stability. The optimum pH value will vary greatly from one enzyme to another. Whenever a substance needs to be transformed into another substance, the body uses its enzymes. Enzymes can cut biological materials into smaller pieces and paste them together again. Enzymes thus break down or build up all life-essential substances within our body.

Our body's pH is greatly affected by what we eat. This is because food consists of it's own biological materials that our body must breakdown, absorb and assimilate. If a food's pH is too high or too low it can greatly affect our body's reaction to absorption. Often our pH levels are so high and in a state of acidosis, that enzymatic digestion must be replaced with a more acidic digestive process. In the short term this may result in acid reflux, inflammation, ulcers, flatulence and more. In the long term, if left uncorrected, high pH levels can result in a number of gastrointestinal disorders and chronic illnesses.

So why is this? Myself and many other food science professionals believe that this is relative to food combining. Food combining confuses Americans. This is because eating any one food, on its own without an accompaniment, in its original state: NEVER HAPPENS. Again, food consists of it's own biological materials that our body must breakdown. If the biological material in the foods we eat are not meant to be combined, our internal chemical reaction will be negative.

Proper food combinations helps digestion and allows the body the ability to break down food more easily. This helps our body to better absorb the nutrients, to properly energize our body and to keep our body free of chronic illness. Improper food combinations continually produce indigestion and poor micro-nutrient absorption, which can internalize as auto-immune deficiency or externalize as an allergic reaction. This is a rampant issue in western culture. Yet instead of addressing our food quality and intake we remain ill or take medication to suppress the results of our poor nutritional choices.

Taking Control of Your Health

Dawn Molina

Blog 3 Taking Control of Your Health.jpg

We all have the ability to take control of our lives. Be that as it may, there’s a time limit. In our younger years we are saved a countless number of times by our resilience. Yet as we get older the better, safer, healthier choices become life changing ones. I hear daily either from friends, family, or business associates that making the choice to live a healthier lifestyle is “too difficult”. For many making the choice to live a healthier lifestyle would be life changing, but because it’s too difficult they won’t make the choice. This sadly reminds me of my Uncle Jeff who passed away a few years back. We have all had a loved one that suffered from obesity or chronic illness, but because they were unwilling to live a healthier life eventually passed on.

Uncle Jeff was a loveable man. Amicable, yet set in his ways, one knew what to expect of him. Jeff had lived in Tampa, FL since he left Michigan in the early 1980’s. He liked steak and potatoes on his dinner plate, tailgating before Tampa Bay Buccaneers games, and enjoyed a few beers after work each night.

When Jeff was diagnosed with cancer he had time. The illness, in my opinion, was not  progressive in the beginning. Nevertheless, Jeff believed that medicine alone might save him. He and I had numerous conversations about life changes: less beer, a more colorful palette of food, less meat & potatoes, less work, more happiness, and more love. He was open to more happiness and more love. A matter of fact he was convinced that his happiness relied heavily on his ability to choose freely what he ate; regardless of whether the food got him to where he was health wise or not. Almost a year after Jeff was diagnosed with caner he passed on.

During the final year of his life he worked just as hard as the previous year, if not harder. He believed that the more “useful” he was, the less “ill” he appeared. This was absolutely tragic for many of us to watch, because he unquestionably became weaker day-after-day. He never ate a green vegetable before he was diagnosed with cancer and he never did after. He wouldn’t put anything green in his mouth; regardless of whether it was blended, juiced, or in a vegetarian pill form. We occasionally talked about the changes my ex-husband made to his nutrition that undoubtedly changed his life. But it didn’t matter. The immediate gratification and the pure convenience of being unhealthy appealed to him and nothing else did. It appealed to his family as well. At the time they were unwilling to make the necessary changes to assist in the savior of their loved one’s life. It was a tragedy that I witnessed first hand.

I speak with people daily about their food choices. People trying to loose weight for different reasons. Most people say the same thing, “I can’t eat that, because I don’t like it”. It’s startling to me that someone could want so desperately to change their life, but would still be unwilling to make food choices to benefit their health. I can educated a person about the countless health benefits of eating healthy, yet due to the difficulty to make the right food choices day-in-and-day-out, many simply abandon the effort in a short period of time.

The choice must begin with you.

- Dawn Molina

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