How the Body Repairs While Sleeping

Sleep is essential to wellness. When we sleep, the body repairs itself, regenerates tissue, and maintains a healthy brain, so the more quality sleep we get, the better we feel.

The Science of Sleep and Body Recovery

We all need sleep for muscle recovery.Research has found that we experience an increase in cortisol (the stress hormone) and a decrease in growth hormone. A reduction in growth hormone can favor muscle loss, which doesn’t help muscle recovery following exercise, injuries, or muscle atrophy conditions.

Sleep is like a magic wand for pathways that we need for maintaining healthy brain cells.A study found that genes that express at higher levels during sleep are the ones that regulate maintenance of the brain. Cell proliferation typically doubles during sleep, and there is a positive correlation with time spent in REM sleep.

When we sleep, the brainprunes old connections. This pruning can help the brain make new connections, as this gives synapses time to rest and prepare to learn new things. Without pruning back at night, our minds can be overwhelmed by temporary synapses, rather than retaining only the most essential information.

How to Support Body Repairs With Healthy Sleep

Good sleep can support a healthy brain and body. Experts recommend at least seven hours of sleep each night for healthy adults, and those seven hours should be made up of quality sleep. Follow these tips to sleep better and feel better:

• Practice healthy sleep hygiene. A regular bedtime schedule and bedtime routine can make it easier to sleep well, giving our bodies a consistent expectation for sleep and reinforcing the sleep-wake cycle. Avoid heavy meals, nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol before bed.

• Add calming activities at bedtime. Stress and sleep are enemies, so when we calm down before bed, it’s easier to get to sleep. Practice yoga, take a warm bath, use aromatherapy, practice meditation, or journal before bed to go to sleep relaxed. Manage stress with organization, prioritization, and stress relief practices.

• Sleep in a healthy environment. Bedrooms should be conducive to sleep. We need a sleep environment that is dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable, with appropriate bedding. Mattress reviews may help you determine if you’re sleeping on the right kind of bed for your weight, temperature preferences, and sleeping position. Keep electronics out of the bedroom, and use blackout curtains, a fan, or white noise machine if needed.

• Stay active during the day. Daily physical activity can support better sleep, especially if it’s outside. However, be careful not to exercise intensely too close to bedtime, as exercise can be stimulating and make it difficult to fall asleep.

• Avoid excessive or late naps. Napping is good for catching up on sleep or finding more energy during the day. But naps after 3 p.m. can interfere with healthy sleep at night, and so can naps longer than 30 minutes.

Amy Highland is a sleep expert at She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.


Cupping Therapy

cupping, suction, muscle pain, fasciaCupping is a therapeutic treatment that has been around for thousands of years.  It is mostly commonly associated with acupuncturists and follows meridians lines to open energy channels and stimulate the body’s natural healing processes.  It is used to relieve pain, muscle tension , break up mucous in the lungs with bronchitis, release adhesions and fascia and is helpful in treating plantar fasciitis and tendonitis among other things.

suction fire cupping, sha rash, pain, muscle tensionSome clients are turned off from this beneficial treatment because of the associated “sha rash”.  A sha rash is red skin caused by the suction of the cups over the skin pulling stagnant blood out of the treated area so that fresh, oxygenated blood can flush the tissue out.  The rash is circular as it will be the shape of the cup used and usually goes away in about 5-7 days.

I have gotten wonderful results and feedback from clients that have been treated with cupping.  I recommend cupping to clients that regularly look for deep tissue, sports or therapeutic massage and are wanting an even more aggressive therapy as this is one of the best fascial treatments available.

For more information or to add this to your next treatment please call 407.286.1772

What is this Vi Peel?

This time of year we get tons of inquiries about the Vi Peel.  Clients see it everywhere, on Doctor Oz, magazines, YouTube etc.  So what exactly is this peel and what can it do for you?

The Vi Peel is a blend of minerals, TCA, Tretinoic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Phenol and Vitamin C.  It is such a stable compound that we can predict when you will start peeling, when you will finish peeling, even what part of your face will peel first.  For example, if you do the peel on a Thursday, Thursday and Friday your face will look sort of how it looks when you get sun-burnt, then Saturday and Sunday, you will peel.  Nine times out of ten, by Monday the peeling is done however, it will still take a few days for your skin to return to it’s normal pH and not feel dry.  I recommend that if you work a Monday-Friday job, you do the peel on a Thursday as in the above example, so that you will peel over the weekend.

The Vi Peel Improves:

  • Crows feet
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Hyper-pigmentation
  • Texture
  • Acne scarring
  • Dull skin
  • Acne
  • The appearance of large pores
  • Clogged pores

Day 1: Immediately after the peel            Day 2.  Slightly sun-burnt looking

peel3       peel4

Day 3:  Peeling begins around mouth       Day 4:  Peeling continues

peel5       peel6

Day 4 (again):  Holy face creme Batman!     Day 5:  Ready for a night out

vi peel progress         peel2

As you can see, your face will peel…A LOT.  Skin will come off in sheets.  Your face will be tender but the results you get will be well worth the down time.  You can apply as much face cream as you like (a take home kit will be given to you when you do the peel).  You can see I really loaded up on the cream in picture #5!  It does help mat down the skin as well as ease the dry/tight feeling.

Because this is a physician grade chemical peel, it is much more aggressive than peels you will receive at a day spa (although we do offer those as well).  This peel is about the equivalent of 6 light peels or microderms (1 Vi Peel=6 lighter peels).  It is more expensive but averages out to approximately the same amount of money that you would spend on those 6 lighter peels or microderms.  The benefit is faster and more dramatic results.

For more information please visit the Vitality Institutes frequently asked questions page, our website or feel free to call with any questions at 407-286-1772.

Watch a Demonstration of the Vi Peel Below

How Monthly Massages Can Benefit You

Massage in Frankfurt, Germany

Massage in Frankfurt, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People want to know….”what’s in it for me?”  A valid question.  Certainly reasonable.  Why should you come in every month (or week) and give me your hard earned money other than the facts that it’s my livelihood, I’m an awesome therapist and a great conversationalist??  Lets exam that….

Anxiety and Depression
Regular massage can decrease the cortisol (stress hormone) levels.  It also can increase the seratonin and dopamine levels.  When our bodies are low in seratonin and dopamine we are more apt to feel down, tired and depressed.

Massage increases the production of your body’s natural pain killers.  It relaxes the tissue, increases the flow of nutrients and remove waste from the muscle tissue, all helping decrease the pain associated with fibromyalgia.

Athletes and Body Builders
Athletes already know the benefits of massage.  There isn’t one professional team out there that doesn’t have a sports massage therapist working on them.  They recognize that it speeds in recovery, flushes out lactic acid, increases range of motion and keeps the muscles loose and pliable so much less susceptible to injury.  This is a must for the longevity of their careers.  Body builders also push their bodies to the max and are open to the same injuries that any other athlete is.  They know that regular massage not just keeps them on track with their goals but also allows their bodies to heal faster which means lift more quicker.  I’ve never met a body builder that wasn’t thrilled about that!

Boosts Immune System
Massage increases our white blood cells, the bodies natural defense system.

Studies have shown that 8 out of 10 people have chronic back or neck pain.  Massage helps relieve the tension, release the fascial constrictions and increase blood flow to the areas of concern allowing the body to heal.  With most of our jobs requiring some form of repetitive motion whether it is driving, using a computer, playing a sport or being on our feet all day inflammation tends to build up.  Trust me folks, there’s not much good that comes from constant inflammation.

Tension Headaches
With all that repetitive motion from our jobs causing tension many people suffer from regular headaches.  Manipulation of the muscles causes them to relax and allow fresh blood in to flush the area out.

Lower Blood Pressure
Because massage decreases stress hormone levels and aids the body in returning to homeostasis, regular massage combined with a proper diet and exercise routine can help you get completely off any blood pressure medication with it’s unwanted side effects.

It Just Feels Soooo Good!
Am I wrong?  More and more people are joining the movement.  What is this “movement” I speak of?  Vegan, vegetarian, organic, exercise, health, wellness….the healthy living movement!  People have seen the effects of the prescription drugs, they are trusting their doctors and pharmacists less and turning back to nature, looking for prevention not cures.  Yes a muscle relaxer may help, it certainly will never feel as good as a massage 😉

We offer a monthly membership so that you can take advantage of all these health benefits on a regular basis.  We recommend that when you start you membership that you make your next appointment before you leave.  This will ensure that you have blocked that time for yourself.  If you don’t think you’re important enough to take the time for yourself how can anyone else?  If you don’t respect the body that has been drug through the mud probably more than once since you took your first step, then how can you ever expect anyone else to?  To take advantage of our membership you simply sign up and put a credit card on file.  The card will be charged $55 on the 1st of each month giving you a $20 savings!  The $55 will go towards any treatment you desire (prices below).  The 50 minute massage is $55 so if you came in once a month it would be covered from your monthly dues.  If you come every week, the first treatment is covered and each treatment you receive after will be eligible for the same member rate.  Your dues will roll over if you cannot come in as long as your membership is in good standing.  Treatment costs that exceed the the monthly dues price can just be paid at your visit.  Click here for more information!

BODY CARE PRICE LIST**Gratuity Not Included
SKIN CARE PRICE LIST**Gratuity Not Included
VI PEEL $250

Cancellations with less than 24 hours notice will be charged $25 unless we are able to fill that time slot.  All no shows (clients that have an appointment and do not show up or call) will be charged the full amount of the service

Eat This Root

Herbs  (147)

Herbs (147) (Photo credit: azmichelle)

2000 B.C. – Here, eat this root.
1000 A.D. – That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
1850 A.D. – That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
1940 A.D. – That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
1985 A.D. – That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
2000 A.D. – That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.
We have 4 and 5 year old girls are getting yeast infections from the amount of anti-biotic they are given.  Children are put on ADHD medication when their brain and bodies are still developing.  People are given blood pressure medication instead of being taught how to naturally lower their blood pressure.  BUT….we are making our way.  The good news is, it is easier now than ever before to educate people on the negative effects chemicals and synthetic drugs have on us now.

When we started genetically modifying foods, it was marketed as the wave of the future….a scientific break through, crowds cheered, farmers were happy, businesses made money.  What was not marketed was the simple idea that growing corn with a built in insecticide may actually be harmful to ingest.  It seems rational enough, don’t eat insecticide, one would think.  Yet many of us do, we either aren’t aware of what is going on or we naively have so much faith in the FDA that we wouldn’t even conceive the things they do could possibly be true.  Cyanide and formaldehyde in our mayonnaise?  No way……  But the harsh truth is they have their mark of approval on it.  All while items that do not have the FDA mark of approval are looked down upon as not effective.  We are told that ingesting small amounts is not harmful.  The problem is these “small amounts” are not so small anymore, it’s in almost all the food we eat EVERY SINGLE DAY!  No wonder our cancer rates have skyrocketed!

Here’s my thought….there is no easy way out.  You can not take a pill, lose weight and be healthy.  Taking a pill to suppress your appetite may make you stop eating as much, but it is truly not how much you eat as it is what you eat.  Ten salads a day never hurt anyone, ten donuts a day on the other hand….

I had a client tell me her success story about all the weight she had lost, everywhere “except in the middle” as she put it.  She said it’s been there for 18 years, she exercises all the time and her doctor told her it wasn’t going away, that she would have to get liposuction.  This frustrates me to no end.  Doctors, people that the general public have put their faith and trust in the knowledge and expertise they carry, telling patients they WILL NOT lose the weight and that lipo is the ONLY option.  Somebody please go shake some sense into that “doctor”.

The Supreme Court recently passed a law stating pharmaceutical companies are no longer held liable for any LISTED or even NON-LISTED side effects their drugs may cause.  In 2004 Karen Barlett took a generic anti-inflammatory drug that caused a severe flesh eating side-effect.  Karen was initially awarded $21 million and the pharmaceutical company to include the side-effect on the drug.  Nine years later, the verdict and award was overturned by the Supreme Court.  A huge victory for pharmaceutical companies and the FDA.

I have a client that suffers daily from chronic tendonitis all because he took Cipro several years ago.  He spends most of the year in Germany and has spent much time and money on various treatment over there and here to reverse the effects to no avail.

What’s the bottom line?  EDUCATE YOURSELF!  And remember you can not keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different response.  I get excited when people get fed up, that is the point you reach when you are no longer willing to settle but have all the willingness in the world to do whatever necessary to make a change.  Lets get fed up!

This is an awesome video from a mom on Ted Talks that a client sent me.  She really breaks down all the information on food, cancer statistics etc. providing must have knowledge.  Please take a moment and watch

An Aromatic Journey


Lavender (Photo credit: //Rutger)

The term “aromatherapy” is relatively new, considering how long plants have been used medicinally. The use of plants fortherapeutic purposes dates back thousands and thousands of years. Still today, approximately one out of every four prescription drugs are botanically derived. For example, Glycyrrhizin, which comes from the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant (also known as the licorice plant), is used to treat Addison’s Disease, and of course the Erythroxylum coca plant makes Cocaine which is used as a local anesthetic.
Somehow over the years, with various marketing strategies and the perfume industry rising, aromatherapy has suffered. The average person believes it be merely the addition of a scent to the cream, oil or bath salt that they are using. Depending on where you receive your aromatherapy blend from, it may be just that, merely a scent. Only pure, therapeutic grade essential oils have healing properties that induce a medicinal response, which is why it is very important to trust your aromatherapy supplier. Many companies will dilute the oil or synthetically reproduce the naturally occurring chemicals found in the oils in order to stretch their supply and of course increase their income from sold products.
The term aromatherapy means “the art and science of using essential oils for health, healing and well being”. Certain plants can be distilled in order to extract the essential oil from them. The essential oil is the blood life, or the immune system of the plant. So when we apply essential oils to our body, or soak in a bath infused with oils, or even simply inhale the oils, we are soaking in their immune system which in turn evokes various healing benefits.
The benefits of aromatherapy are widespread. The three active ingredients in Vicks VapoRub are Camphor, Eucalytpus and Menthol, all of which are essential oils used primarily as a cough suppressant and analgesic. Lavender is best known for its stress relief properties; however it is used for pain relief among other things. Chamomile is also known mostly for stress relief, but is one of the best oils to use as an anti-inflammatory. Pink Grapefruit is refreshing and great for cellulite. The floral oils such as Rose and Jasmine work well for depression issues. Essential oils assist with many other conditions such as sunburn, wrinkles, acne and even insect repellant. Please visit our website at for more detailed information on various essential oils and their properties.

Benefits of Monthly Microdermabrasion


What do we want?  Results!  When do we want them?  Yesterday!

Chemical Exfoliations

Chemical Exfoliations (Photo credit: FoundryParkInn)

These are the common answers my clients give when I perform a consultation.  With dips in the economy I’ve seen a lot less “pampering” treatments such as facials and relaxation massage and much more therapeutic/result driven treatments such as deep tissue massages, microdermabrasion and chemical peels.

Clients main concerns seem to be the same, pain management and reversal of damaged skin.  While it is important to know that your skin did not get the current sun damage, acne scarring or fine lines and wrinkles overnight, they will also not disappear overnight.  A series of treatments is necessary as well as follow up care with monthly maintenance and the proper at home skin care regiment.

What is Microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion is a deep exfoliation treatment performed manually by a machine.  It feels similar to sandpaper or a cats tongue (no, you will not get the same results by smearing tuna fish over your face and having your cat lick it off….don’t try this at home).

There are two different microderm machines, the crystal and the diamond tip.  The crystal microdermabrasion machine has actual aluminum oxide crystals come out of a wand to exfoliate your skin whereas the diamond tip microdermabrasion machine has various levels of course tips that can be exchanged on the wand achieving the same results as the crystal but with less irritation.  I prefer the diamond tip as it doesn’t leave a mess of crystal residue.  It also can be customized more efficiently for lighter treatments on clients with more sensitive or reactive skin or more aggressive treatments on clients that can tolerate courser tips.  You can treat the eye area without risk of getting crystal particles in the eye as well.  Many technicians that use a crystal machine will skip the eye area completely; since the eyes are an area of concern for many clients it is important to make sure that area will be addressed.  In addition the diamond tip machine is much more comfortable for the client while accomplishing the same results.

The Nitty Gritty, Benefits of Microdermabrasion

With its ability to smooths rough skin, reduce pore-size, diminish fine lines and wrinkles, acne scarring and hyper-pigmentation, microdermabrasion is one the easiest and most effective anti-aging treatments available that offer little to no down time.  Typically a series of 6-12 treatments will be needed with it taking at least 3 treatments to begin to notice a change in the skin.  When doing a series it is imperative to staying within a 7-10 day range as going much further than that will hinder your progress.  I recommend that clients do not begin a treatment series until they can commit to the time-frame needed for the series.

How it Works

Cells causing hyperpigmentation rise to the stratum corneum and settle.  During a treatment the first layer of skin is gently exfoliated.  This accelerates the cellular turnover thereby pushing fresh even toned skin to the surface while continuing to remove the damaged layer weekly with your first initial series.  Some hyperpigmentation is deeper than others and will require more treatments.  The acceleration of the skin cells causes little irritation and is preferred by many over chemical peels that can offer faster results but have more down time and irritation associated with them.  You can even have a microdermabrasion on your lunch break and no one would know!  Increasing your cellular turnover by removing the top layer of your skin provides a gentle resurfacing to smooth away acne scarring/pitting and fine lines and wrinkles.

Why Monthly?

After going through a series, or if you don’t need a series and just want to maintain your skin, it is vital to stay on a monthly maintenance plan with your treatments.  As we age our cellular turnover slows down, skin can build up making wrinkles appear deeper or even clogging pores that never use to get clogged.  Our complexion may start to look dull or the texture rough.  Making sure your skin receives a healthy dose of microdermabrasion monthly is sure to keep all these issue at bay.

Professional vs. At Home

Be wary of microdermabrasion machines selling for around $100 promising at home results equivalent to professional treatments.  These machines work more like a scrub and tend to be overused by clients that are not properly trained in skin care or machine usage causing skin irritation.   You will without a doubt get more bang for your buck and see better results by paying a professionally trained specialist.  We have the training necessary to do the most aggressive treatment possible on your skin without causing excessive irritation.  Over the years I have seen many clients come in to reserve damage they caused to their own skin by improper use of machines or even products being left on the skin too long with the idea that “if a little is good, more and longer is better”.


As stated, microdermabrasion removes the outer layer of skin, which makes you more susceptible to sun damage.  You do not want to do something beneficial for your skin and then follow the appropriate aftercare thereby making your skin worse.  The specialists that performs your microdermabrasion should apply sunscreen to your skin before you leave.  Be sure to apply an SPF 30 or higher (higher is fine but not necessary) at least once a day, more if you will be outside.  I strongly advise clients to stay out of the sun for 5-7 days before and after their treatment especially if hyper-pigmentation is their primary concern.  Use gentle products on your skin for about 5-7 days as well.  This means no glycolic/salicylic acids or retinal.  Don’t scrub your face with anything, not a wash cloth, Clarisonic etc.

I have found that “some” people (not you of course) don’t listen to contraindications unless you tell them why 🙂  I have placed the reasoning behind the contraindications in parenthesis for such people….

  • If you have had botox or a filler within 72 hours (this can move the injectibles)
  • If you have used Retin-A within 48-72 hours (can cause scratching on your face or other irritation)
  • If you have been in the sun or will be in the sun 5-7 days before or after the treatment (can cause sun damage)
  • If you are prone to keloid scarring
  • Pregnancy (risk of hyper-pigmentation)
  • Viral or bacterial infections (can make the problem worse)