Posts Written By Nisha Bhatt

How Baby Diapers Will Change How We Study the Brain

There was a sudden pounding in my chest, blood rushing to my head, and sense that life suddenly seemed unreal. I did not know what was happening, but somehow, instantaneously, panic had consumed me. I was eight years old, sitting in my third grade classroom, listening along as my favorite teacher was reading us a story.

I interrupted her mid-sentence, which was uncharacteristic of the shy girl I was at that age, and yelled out, “I have to use the bathroom!” I will never forget the startled look on her face as she granted me permission. I rushed out of the classroom, took a sip from the water fountain, and washed my hands, doing anything that could make me feel normal again. I regained composure and returned to my seat within minutes, utterly frightened and bewildered with what had just happened to me, and embarrassed to have drawn attention to myself.

I associated this experience with medical causality, and kept telling my eight-year-old self I was suffering from a gastric related disease or perhaps there was a tumor growing in my brain. Instead of accurately describing what had happened, which was a


I told my parents I had had a bad stomach ache that day. I could not articulate the foreign, sharp stab of fear I felt in my belly. For years thereafter, I suffered infrequent, random panic attacks and was still unable to articulate what I was struggling with, instead describing these episodes in terms of somatic (bodily) symptoms rather than psychological ones. Thanks to researchers, doctors and psychologists, we have made a dent in discovering neural mechanisms that are responsible for our physiological sensations or behaviors.

What I initially thought to be a somatic medical condition was what I eventually learned to be a product of my brain’s over-excited flight-or-fight activation response. But why did this happen to me?

Doctors still do not quite have a perfect answer. There is yet much to be learned about pathways in the brain and how they affect our mind and body. The brain is made up of nanoscopic particles called biomolecules, and these molecules make up the cells of the brain, called neurons. These neurons communicate with one another via electrical currents that create synapses, and when these synapses misfire, disease can transpire. MRI scans and microscopes can only allow us to see either large regions of the brain affected, or the microscopic level of neural activity. Because there are billions of neurons and subsequent connections, there is great difficulty in pinpointing specific patterns of molecular activity that cause brain disorders due to the sheer magnitude of neurons and infinitesimal nature of the brain.

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Yoga Teacher Umit Sedgi on the Ego

When we think about who we are individually, what do we identify ourselves with? Maybe it is our name, culture, religion, or personality. What about our ego? Do we ever think about our ego as an entity separate from our essence?

Yoga teacher Umit Sedgi believes the ego can, and should, be separated for a better understanding of who we are. Umit Sedgi believes that humans identify themselves with their egos; the entity in our being that constantly emphasizes itself and demands things. He became interested in the practice of yoga in an effort to understand himself and his ego more closely. “It is constantly giving you demands, asking you to fulfill its desires.” He discussed how the five senses used by the ego within our brains satisfies its cravings.

“We are constantly in search of stimulating our five senses to enjoy our surroundings. Eating unnatural foods for their towering taste, going to shows to satisfy our eyes, and different sounds to entertain our ears… we use our senses to enjoy as much as we can in this limited time in our lives. But when you start paying attention to the idea that this is not all that there is, you start to see that there is much more beyond the five senses.”

Umit Sedgi’s story of becoming a full-time yoga teacher started off by what he believes to be karma. It was, as he described, something that  he felt was meant to happen.

In 2012, the stress of working at an electronics company started to become overwhelming for Umit, when the dynamics with the people he worked with became unhealthy. His older sister suggested he try yoga.“In the beginning, I was practicing every other day, and within a week, it became as frequent as every day. Teachings on self-discipline and spirituality was what I had been looking for. I thought it would be my path to the light so I decided to become a yoga teacher,” he said.

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Nikita Kapur: Nutritionist with a Holistic Approach


Nikita Kapur, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), uses her credentials to “help fix the problem, and not just put on a band aid” for her diverse clients.

She is an RDN and manager at the nutrition clinic, Compass Nutrition, based out of NYC, which focuses on the holistic component of functional nutrition. The Compass Nutrition team ensures to treat their clients as a whole person, taking into account their cultural backgrounds to meet their needs. Nutritionist Nikita Kapur says the secret to their success is that “we see our patients as a whole person and our job is not to preach or convince you to do something, our job is to educate and empower you.” Implementing elements of behavioral psychology for those seeking healthy eating habits has shown to be successful in treating their patients.

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Noelle McKenzie: A Top-Tier Personal Trainer


If you’re not a fan of using machines for working out, Noelle McKenzie may be the personal trainer for you. This fitness trainer uses unconventional methods for her devoted clients. She reminds us that “you can do an entire body workout with just your body.”

Noelle McKenzie’s career of fitness training happened by accident. Starting off as a model, she would not have predicted being a personal trainer to become her primary career. She has been on the cover of Runner’s World magazine, on Reebok, on the cover of romance novels and even on billboards in Times Square. She has also been featured in a couple of short films. She began working sporadically as a personal trainer part-time to work with her modeling and acting schedule, and within the first year of working in New York City, she built herself from the ground up as a top-tier personal trainer.

“I was with the gym for two and a half years, but I got tired of the monotony of being in the same place all of the time. I felt boxed in. I wanted to try fitness training on my own and took a leap of faith. Four of my clients at the time followed me, and within two to three years, I began fitness training full time.”

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Joel Elfman: NYC Hypnotist Inspires Resiliency

new york city

We enter trance-like states more often than we’d believe. Falling asleep, waking up, conversing with others and scrolling through our phones are all forms of trance, according to NYC hypnotist Joel Elfman.

When coming across the word “hypnotism” one is likely to imagine a cloaked sorcerous figure swaying a swinging clock in front of their eyes, chanting, “You are in deep sleep,” as movies and entertainment have conditioned us to envision. Modern hypnotism is not quite as mystifying, but it can indeed be life changing. Hypnotist Joel Elfman uses his hypnotism skills to incite positive change in people’s lives. He can help modify habits and beliefs, and create confidence and relaxation for many people. The therapeutic technique of hypnotism has the power to “find or tune into people’s passions and purpose,” says Elfman.

Twenty years ago, Elfman wanted to make some changes in his life.

He had no idea how he was going to do it, until he had stumbled upon a newspaper in New York City advertising classes for hypnosis. Interested in science fiction and the power of the mind, this class changed Elfman’s life and prompted him to start a hypnotherapy career of his own. He had spent 100 hours of training through Neuro Linguistic Programming, a forty-year old method combining communication, personal development and psychotherapy. “What we are doing is based in science,” he told me.

“Basic rules of neuroscience show how the brain operates. When two or more sets of neurons (brain cells) fire together, they wire together. So a major requirement is intensity or repetition.”

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Personal Stylist Tavia Sharp: Men’s Fashion Mastermind

tavia sharp personal stylist in nyc

“He went from getting barely any dates to a few dates a week. His transformation was so dramatic,” says Tavia Sharp about her client, Shir Aviv.

Tavia Sharp shows people how to achieve their own transformation. Tavia is a Men’s Fashion Expert and personal stylist, and her company, Styled Sharp, is geared towards helping men gain confidence personally and professionally, through wardrobe changes and coaching.

“There are so many personal stylists for women, but not as many for men. Girl friends, guy friends and boyfriends used to always keep asking me for male clothing advice. A lot of guys really need help with this. That’s where I saw the need for men’s personalized consulting.”

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Not All Personal Trainers Are Qualified

qualified personal trainers

In this health and fitness-crazed era that we live in, we often hear about people seeking out personal trainers. While television and the media have painted a certain picture, every personal trainer is unique and comes equipped with their own approach and personality. They can be either male or female, and not all of them will push you to the point of exhaustion. While some may have this approach, not everyone does. Personal trainers have many skills, and the successful ones seek out education and certification.

Personal trainers are people who are passionate about fitness and have a desire to help others reach their health and fitness goals.

Some of the common traits personal trainers share are:

  • Knowledge of human anatomy and exercise
  • Ability to design individual and group exercise programs
  • Conduct fitness programs in a safe and effective way
  • Motivate others to improve their health and fitness holistically

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Why You Should Hire a Nutritionist

nutritionist oranges

If you’ve been thinking of hiring a nutritionist, here is a dire reality: One in three adults in the United States is obese. One third of Americans are overweight. High blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and a plethora of other diseases are on a devastating rise due to this epidemic. My father, a primary care physician, suffered a stroke this past year at the young age of 49 due to high blood pressure. What makes you think you won’t too? Maybe it is a product of lifestyle, genetics, processed foods, or all of the above; regardless, there is an eating problem in this country.

An important step you could take, to avoid falling into the shockingly large statistic, is by taking the help of a nutritionist or dietitian.

Even if you are not overweight, seeking out a nutritionist can help you reach your goals of being and staying healthy.

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Terry Payne Finds His Calling as a Massage Therapist

terry payne

Terry Payne saw himself as a healer and decided to pursue an art that society may have forgotten to be an art: Massage Therapy.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Terry Payne and was intrigued by his bohemian essence and calming demeanor. His roots originate from central California, but it was in Los Angeles where he found a passion for helping others. He found himself surrounded with groups of people, who he described were “modeling the kind of lifestyle that I wanted.” He always considered himself an artist and found his calling as a healer.

“It was my experience in LA that really helped me understand what my strengths were, gifts were, and what my passion was.”

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Kidney Failure Won’t Stop This Acupuncturist

BEN FLEISHER, acupuncturist

Ben Fleisher’s kidneys are severely failing.

Yet, when looking at him, he looks pretty healthy. Diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy around a decade ago, Fleisher had been tracking the numbers on his kidneys every 3 months, but around two years ago, “the numbers started getting worse. I did everything I could to get it to stop, but they just kept going south,” he told me. It was a pleasure interviewing Ben, and to my surprise, he was speaking to me over the phone from a dialysis center. This skilled Acupuncturist and Zero Balancer has spent his life pursuing health and wellness and how it can help both him and others. Despite being on a high priority list for a kidney transplant, no one could ever tell. Perhaps his countenance of wellness has something to do with his lifestyle of treating his body, mind and spirit.

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