Is Laughter the Best Medicine?

Is Laughter the Best Medicine?

Here at Balance for Life, a holistic health retreat in Florida, some of our team members have gotten creative with their face masks recently. When we connect online for a virtual meeting or a gathering around the virtual water cooler, they’ll show them off, which often makes us smile, if not laugh out loud. And that’s good for our health and our hearts. 

We look forward to welcoming you when it is safe to do so (we will get there!), but for now, we hope you remember that you don’t have to be on a retreat in Florida to do something that will have a positive impact on your health and wellness. Find something – or someone – that can make you laugh. Laughing may not be the very best medicine, but it sure is a great way to enhance your health and wellbeing. 

The Health Benefits of Laughing

“Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke,” the clever folks at the Mayo Clinic say. “Whether you’re guffawing at a sitcom on TV or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon, laughing does you good.”

In fact, there is a growing amount of research indicating that having a good laugh can be an important aspect of your wellness journey.

“A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body,” the experts at the Mayo Clinic explain. “Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long term.”

Laughter has the ability to give your immune system a boost, which is good to know in the age of the coronavirus. “Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses,” the Mayo Clinic explains. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter may also: 

  • Stimulate some of your organs, including your heart, lungs and muscles (so when someone says that laughing at something did their heart good, they aren’t kidding!)
  • Increase endorphins in your brain
  • Make you feel more relaxed
  • Enhance circulation and relax tense muscles
  • Relieve pain


We can’t welcome you to Florida for a wellness vacation right now, but we can share information with you that can help you stay healthy and happy during these difficult times.

Echinacea for Wellness

Echinacea for Wellness

Here at Balance for Life, a holistic health retreat in Florida, we are thinking of you and we look forward to welcoming you to one of our wellness retreats when it is safe to do so. We hope you are all staying safe, following the social distancing guidelines and frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. There are other things you can do to give your immune system a boost, including taking supplements like echinacea. 

Echinacea is a homegrown plant. While it now grown all over the world, it is native to North America – specifically, it seems, to the lands east of the Rocky Mountains. Native Americans were using the plant for medicinal purposes as far back as the 17th century. The Great Plains Indians used it to treat a variety of ailments. When swallowed, they believed it helped with pain, coughs, stomach cramps and snake bites. It was also used on the skin to help heal from wounds and burns. 

Health Benefits of Echinacea in the Modern Era

“At the beginning of the 20th century, Echinacea was the most frequently used plant preparation in the USA,” K Hostettmann says in a paper posted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which is part of the  National Institutes of Health

“The extracts exhibit immunostimulant properties and are mainly used in the prophylaxis and therapy of colds, flu and septic complaints,” the paper reports. Although there are over 400 publications concerning the plant and dozens of preparations of Echinacea in the market, the true identity of the active principles still remains open.”

Today, as the experts at WebMD tell us, “Echinacea is most commonly used for the common cold and other infections.”

You can find a wide range of products containing echinacea, ranging from herbal teas to supplements. But not all products that contain echinacea are created equal. “There are concerns about the quality of some echinacea products on the market,” WebMD says. “Echinacea products are frequently mislabeled, and some may not even contain echinacea, despite label claims. Don’t be fooled by the term ‘standardized.’ It doesn’t necessarily indicate accurate labeling.”

The medical experts behind our holistic health retreats in Florida have provided more information to help you heal and stay strong and healthy during this difficult time. We can’t wait to welcome you to a beachfront wellness retreat in Florida in the better times ahead.

A Fitness Retreat at Home

A Fitness Retreat at Home

Here at Balance Your Life Wellness Retreats, we always see the glass as half full. That means, while we are staying safe at home, we are exploring all the wonderful opportunities to learn and grow with free online offerings.  

We were happy to see how many free exercise programs are being offered. So, when you can’t enjoy and health and fitness retreat in Florida, we hope you will enjoy your own home fitness routine. 

Free Streaming Fitness Classes

The folks at Good Housekeeping did a wonderful job of putting together a list of Free Live-Stream Workout Classes to Take At Home

Here are some of the programs they highlighted:

  • Orangetheory offers popular endurance classes that focus on intervals and your heart rate. They are now uploading new at-home 30 minute workout routines daily. “You won’t need any special equipment, but the instructors do get creative and have you utilize objects you can find around the house like coffee jugs in lieu of weights,” Good Housekeeping reports. (High Intensity)


Skyting, which is billed as a community-driven yoga brand, has an offer for a free week of yoga. 

That’s just a few of the many online fitness programs you can access for free while you are staying home and staying safe. All of us here at Balance Your Life Wellness Retreats in Florida wish you all the very best.

When You Can’t Retreat to Florida, Enjoy a Vegetarian Diet at Home

When You Can’t Retreat to Florida, Enjoy a Vegetarian Diet at Home

If you were looking forward to your wellness vacation in Florida with us, we want you to know that we were looking forward to seeing you. And we will still be looking forward to welcoming you to a wellness retreat when it is safe once again to do so. 

For now, since you won’t be able to enjoy the delicious vegetarian weight loss plan we use at our Florida retreats, we thought we’d provide you with a vegetarian recipe you can enjoy at home. 

The Food Network offers a luscious vegetarian recipe for lasagna that uses Low-fat milk thickened with cornstarch instead of the traditional bechamel and ricotta filling and they say it still tastes incredibly creamy. “Fresh, sweet squash also lends a nice richness and part-skim mozzarella gives you that gooey cheese goodness,” they say. “Fresh baby spinach adds vitamins and minerals to this vegetarian main.” 

Squash and Spinach Lasagna

Level: Intermediate
Total: 1 hr 40 min
Prep: 15 min
Inactive: 10 min
Cook: 1 hr 15 min
Yield: 8 servings

Nutrition Info


  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 4 cups lowfat (1-percent) milk
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Two 5-ounce packages baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus more, for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella



  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Soak the lasagna noodles in warm water.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and browned, about 10 minutes. If the mixture becomes too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.
  3. Meanwhile, stir together 1/2 cup of the milk and the cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth. Heat the remaining 3 1/2 cups milk in a large saucepan until bubbling. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring, until the milk thickens to the consistency of a thin batter, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onion mixture, spinach, parsley and nutmeg, and cook until the spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
  4. Drain the noodles. Spread 1 cup of the spinach mixture over the bottom of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles over the spinach. Arrange half of the squash over the noodles, overlapping slightly, and sprinkle with one-third of the mozzarella. Spoon 1 cup spinach mixture over the cheese, and top with 3 noodles, the remaining squash and another third of the mozzarella. Top with 1 cup spinach mixture, followed by the last 3 noodles and the remaining 1 cup spinach mixture. Cover tightly with foil; reserve the remaining mozzarella.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top. Bake until bubbling and the squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.


Cook’s Note

For freezing and reheating, allow the lasagna to cool completely. Divide into 8 even portions and store in a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag or container. Transfer to a microwave-safe plate, loosely cover with plastic wrap and microwave until hot, 4 to 5 minutes.

At Balance for Life’s all-inclusive plant-based wellness retreats in Florida, vegetarian weight loss plans play an important role. We hope this recipe will help stay true to your wellness journey during this difficult time.

Balance For Life is Here for You to Help You Heal and Stay Strong and Healthy

Balance For Life is Here for You to Help You Heal and Stay Strong and Healthy

Both Balance for Life and the National Health Association are committed to helping you maneuver through the challenges that we face due to the coronavirus. We gathered valuable information from Drs. Stephan Esser, Michael Klaper, Joel Fuhrman and Balance for Life Health Director, Dr. Frank Sabatino.

Dr. Stephan Esser

#1. According to the data published from China, in less than 80% of those positive for the virus, there were minimal symptoms no more concerning than a mild cold. In a small group of individuals however, the symptoms were severe and catastrophic, leading to death.

#2. Those most at risk of death or severe illness had some interesting commonalities. On average they were over 60 years old and had higher rates of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and preexisting respiratory issues. Of interest, a recent editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine questioned the relationship of ACE inhibitors (a blood pressure medication) and possible increased susceptibility to COVID-19.  What we do know is that the very same diseases which are directly related to personal habits over decades appear to increase the severity of coronavirus. So, what should that make you do? No, not go out and buy more toilet paper. It should make you follow appropriate CDC-recommended precautions, and then go to the produce section at your nearest supermarket and load up on the fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans which reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease (and your risk of common respiratory infections). Then you should throw out all of your cigarettes, vapes, and marijuana joints, and you should begin a daily exercise routine to improve your lung capacity and improve your general health. In as little as three weeks 80% of people can be off blood pressure and blood sugar meds with normal numbers.

If you are off from work or school, this is the time to improve the general health of your body today and take control of the risk factors you can. If you get diagnosed with coronavirus, you want to be like the tens of thousands of people around the world who have already had the viral infection and cleared it with little to no issues. How healthy you really are today partially predicts your outcomes tomorrow.

Consider simple supplementation with products shown to enhance white blood cell function and decrease the risk of other respiratory viruses (ie: vitamin C, echinacea, zinc, selenium, probiotics, etc.).

#3. Get 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Moderate intensity exercise has been shown to improve your immune function and reduce the risk of common respiratory infections.

#4. Manage your stress and avoid spending hours of time on the internet where people struggling with diagnosable anxiety are waiting to send you into a tailspin of despair and sorrow. Maximize your health, avoid unnecessary exposures, remember what you can do and prepare to be healthy. Tens of thousands of people around the world have had coronavirus and had minimal symptoms and are now healthy. That is no reason to be foolish or ignore public health recommendations. It is, however, a reason to be intelligent, act rationally and both reduce your exposure and enhance your immune function and stay positive.

Dr. Esser also recommends seeking medical advice if a person experiences significant difficulty with breathing or has persistent fever, chills, muscle aches, poor appetite, or inability to maintain fluids over more than one or two days. Individuals should try to call their primary care physician or do online telemedicine evaluation rather than seeking care in an emergency department. If symptoms are rapidly worsening or if, as mentioned, breathing becomes notably difficult, then emergency evaluation is appropriate.  

If you have mild symptoms, Dr. Esser is recommending a water fast or starting a green juice only program every three hours with 64 ounces of water as well and track your symptoms. Many people will have upper respiratory illnesses in the next several months, and most often it will merely be common upper respiratory issues, including common colds, allergies, and relative detoxification. Not all colds, fevers or coughs are a scary thing. Increase your immunity with excellent food, fresh green juices, fasting, sleep, and adequate hydration.


Dr. Michael Klaper

Dr. Michael Klaper has created a helpful YouTube video on COVID-19.


Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Dr. Joel Fuhrman has also created a short video about the coronavirus.  Within the attached link is an infographic you can download with five ways to protect yourself from the coronavirus.


Dr. Frank Sabatino

Jayney Goddard interviews nutrition expert Dr. Frank Sabatino about how we can protect ourselves during the coronavirus panic. They discuss ways to keep us safe, both mentally and physically, during these uncertain times


Start Your Own Health Routine with Mindful Eating

Start Your Own Health Routine with Mindful Eating

While it can be helpful if you are trying to lose weight, the practice of mindful eating isn’t just for those who are interested in a weight loss retreat. In the age of constant distraction and motion, when so many of us barely have time to even dream of a Florida retreat, mindful eating can benefit all of us.

“Mindful eating is about developing awareness of your experiences, physical cues, and feelings about food,” the folks at Healthline say. 

You don’t need to head out on a wellness retreat to start eating mindfully. Among other things, Healthline says the practice of mindful eating involves the following:

  • eating slowly and without distraction
  • taking time to appreciate your food
  • engaging your senses by noticing colors, smells, sounds, textures, and flavors
  • listening to physical hunger cues and eating only until you’re full


“Eating has become a mindless act, often done quickly. This can be problematic, since it takes your brain up to 20 minutes to realize you’re full,” Healthline’s Mindful Eating 101 — A Beginner’s Guide explains. “If you eat too fast, the fullness signal may not arrive until you have already eaten too much.”

With mindful eating, the act of eating becomes more intentional. Instead of allowing yourself to be distracted by your cell phone or computer, you focus your attention on really tasting your food, appreciating the color of your vegetables and fruits and experiencing the way the food you are eating makes your body feel.   

“By eating mindfully, you restore your attention and slow down, making eating an intentional act instead of an automatic one. What’s more, by increasing your recognition of physical hunger and fullness cues, you are able to distinguish between emotional and true, physical hunger. You also increase your awareness of triggers that make you want to eat, even though you’re not necessarily hungry. By knowing your triggers, you can create a space between them and your response, giving you the time and freedom to choose how to react.”

Just imagine what is possible if you combine the practice of mindful eating with the benefits you’ll gain at an all-inclusive wellness retreat – including a vegetarian weight loss plan – in Florida with Balance for Life Retreats!

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