Why This Just Got Real

It’s been quite some time since I last blogged. I think when I knew that I was going to be transitioning out of the workforce into being a stay-at-home Mom, I still felt some kind of need to “work,” to be significant in the eyes of others. So this blog was born. I had ambitious plans to blog frequently and learn how to make money off of it. As much as I love writing and knowing that others are benefiting from my writing, it just isn’t a practical “job” for me right now. That said, I will blog when I can. 🙂

The last several months have been tiring, joyous, frustrating, exciting, and worrisome all at once. In the midst of all of the house selling/buying chaos, I continued to focus on my health and repairing my adrenals and balancing my endocrine system. In March, I started seeing some light at the end of tunnel, and it was so wonderful to see my hard work paying off!….and then, I got pregnant. I was surprised, yet so excited! Never before had I experienced the hope you have for the little life growing inside of you, dreaming about the person they would become. But before I even got a positive pregnancy test, I lost the baby. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t feel the need to grieve much. I hadn’t been trying to get pregnant, I was only pregnant a couple of weeks, it still seemed pretty unreal, and I wasn’t in the place I had hoped to be with my health before having children. I was disappointed, but trusted that there would be no fertility issues the next time. After all, I know miscarriages are fairly common, especially the first time around.

The miscarriage really set me back with my adrenals, but it wasn’t long before I felt like I was back on track and moving forward again. Then, in May, I had another unexpected pregnancy end in miscarriage. Woah. This just got real. Now my healthy lifestyle wasn’t just about getting to a place where I “feel” better, it has become more about truly healing my body, balancing my systems, reversing infertility, and creating a place where the next baby can grow and thrive. I have a motivation I’ve never had before: the lives and wellbeing of my future children.
miscarriage

This last miscarriage brought more grieving than the first, more fear and worry for future pregnancies. But I keep holding onto two truths: 1) God created me, as a woman, to reproduce and bring forth fruit. The enemy may try to prevent this in any way he can, but truth is truth. I am clinging to the promises of the Lord and believing for my future children! 2) God created my body to heal itself, given the right nutrients. This is where my part comes in. Will I feed my body what it needs to restore? Or will I choose to eat Jack n the Box for breakfast because it is more convenient that particular morning? For years, I’ve had my feet in both worlds, spending money on supplements and organic foods and then finding myself the next day in the drive thru at In-n-Out Burger. But no more. My choices today decide my future tomorrow… and my children’s futures.

Sadly, I know that I am far from alone in having experienced multiple miscarriages or infertility issues. A huge resource for me has been www.natural-fertility-info.com. If you are going through similar griefs, I challenge you to learn as much as you can from this website and join me in their 21 Day Fertility Diet Challenge. The funny thing about the diet is that it is really how we ALL should be eating on a daily basis, not just those of us hoping to conceive and carry healthy babies in the near future.

The challenge is this. Add the following 5 items to your already healthy diet daily:

1) Start the morning by drinking a quart of water (add lemon, if you’d like) before eating anything for breakfast. Each day has gotten easier and easier, and I try to spread it out instead of drinking it all at once.
LemonWater

2) Consume one smoothie a day. I eat mine for breakfast and pack it full of delicious, healthy stuff. I get so stuffed from it!

3) Eat one BIG salad every day. Again, I load mine up with all kinds of goodies…veggies, sprouts, homemade dressing. I’ve never been much of a salad eater, but having this every day for lunch (or dinner) has been no big deal. Again, it leaves me so full afterwards! I guess when your lunch is so packed with nutrients, you don’t need as much to get full.
Salad

4) Eat a nice serving of a leafy green veggie everyday. This can be broccoli with your dinner, or it can be included in your salad or juice (see below). I don’t have to intentionally get this one checked off my list everyday because I use spinach as the base of my salads, and I include beet greens in my daily juice.

5) Have a fresh “green” veggie juice once a day. This has become my favorite treat of the day! I love juicing with beets, because not only are they super healthy, but they make my juice a bright red…it makes it seem more like a treat to me instead of a green juice, lol. But do what makes you happy! I’ve been juicing beets, beet greens, carrots, apples, celery, ginger root, and turmeric root. Delicious!
beet-juice-and-straw

I top these off at the end of the day with a healthy dinner cooked for the whole family to enjoy, and I am more intentional with including vegetables, knowing that others in the family (my husband, bless his heart) aren’t eating all of the nutrient-dense foods I’m getting earlier in the day. The best part about this 21 Day Challenge is that these 5 things are “in addition” to your diet. I can still sneak in some dark chocolate or stuff some pepperoni (uncured, of course!) in my mouth while preparing my daughter’s lunch and not feel guilty. The second best part, is that most of this is food that even my 4-year-old daughter will eat! I make an extra large smoothie at breakfast for her too, and I even got her eating salads and drinking beet juice (with carrot and apple) in the afternoons! Praise the Lord! Who doesn’t want their entire family eating healthy?

For all the info on the 21 Day Challenge, check out the pdf version at this link (I own no rights to this):
21 Day Fertility Diet Challenge

If any of you decide to do the challenge, let me know, and we can hold each other accountable. Like I said, I’ve never been more motivated, and I’m believing for a precious little addition to our family sooner than I know it.

(If you are struggling to overcome the emotions of infertility or miscarriage, I encourage you to find help and healing. There are amazing counselors that can help you through it. So often we go through this alone. At the very least, find a friend who will grieve with you and believe with you for a hopeful future. If that person might be me, please contact me via facebook. It would be an honor to walk through this with you.)

(Edit: I realize that for those who don’t personally know me, it may seem confusing that I talk about my daughter, first time pregnancy, hoping for children, etc. My daughter, Marley, is fully 100% my daughter 🙂 just not biologically!)

Why American Kids Don’t Eat Anything

Ok, so this title isn’t accurate, and it surely is an unfair generalization I am making. But hear me out. I’ve been reading Karen Le Billon’s French Kids Eat Everything. In summary, it is about how she and her husband moved to the French countryside with their two children and discovered that their children’s American-Canadian eating habits were not just “picky,” but more of a reflection of parenting and expectations. I haven’t gotten too far into the book since receiving it for Christmas, but prior to asking for it, I was able to read a lot of the excerpts at the Amazon site and already start putting into practice some of the ideas.

FrenchKids-Food-Rules-color-no-isbn

To give you a little background, let me tell you about my 4-year-old daughter, Marley. I guess you should know that she is my stepdaughter, and I am a newlywed. My husband, having been a hard-working single dad the first few years of Marley’s life, wasn’t so aware of nutrition. And, justifiably so, he resorted to giving Marley whatever she would happily eat. Unfortunately, most of the foods she would accept by the time I met her at age 2 ½ consisted of two food groups: grains and dairy. She would eat quesadillas, cheese pizza, grilled cheese, Easy Mac (only the microwavable kind, as she turned her nose up to every other mac n cheese)…you get the picture. Sure there were some other items on her approved list that were a bit healthier: Cheerios, hot dogs, scrambled eggs, and some fruits. And to my husband’s credit he really did make an effort to limit her juice and sugar intake.

With that said, Marley and my soon-to-be-husband moved to my home state when Marley was three, and thus began my quest to change Marley’s eating habits. For one, not only could I not bring myself to give her Easy Mac every night for dinner, but she was showing definite signs of food sensitivities, chronic constipation being the most noticeable. In addition, her Daddy is an undiagnosed Celiac, and with Marley’s craving for breads, we were pretty sure she had an allergy to some extent (which was later confirmed with testing).  Speaking of food allergy testing, this limited Marley’s diet even further than I would have on my own, but she is healthier for it in the end.

Changing Marley’s diet, and, therefore, getting her to eat more of a variety of foods, was nothing short of frustrating. Dinner time was the biggest battle, and often it felt like a lose-lose situation for both of us. Sure, she was slowly learning to like some new foods, and we were definitely adding to her list of approved ones, but I kept hoping for a breakthrough. I kept trying different tactics, none of which were working. Until I did one thing:

Family style = Big success!

Family style = Big success!

I began serving our dinners family style. You heard it right. That’s all I did.

It was easy for Marley to understand that what was on the table was what’s for dinner that night. She knew she wasn’t getting “her food,” as she likes to call it. I repeat: What was on the table is what’s for dinner. And the novelty of even calling it “Family Style” was something that delighted her. The first several weeks of this, I let her choose whatever she wanted to eat from the table. Sometimes that meant she only ate some pineapple, other times it meant she would pick the chicken out of the casserole and only eat the chicken, some times it meant she didn’t eat anything at all. The point was, she knew nothing else was coming, and she was in control of what she ate and didn’t eat (so she thought). This revolutionized our dinner time! Dinner became a joyous time again, and that was my number one goal, even more than getting Marley to eat what the rest of the family was eating.

We started there, but now that dinner time is something Marley looks forward to instead of dreads, I have slowly started expanding her palate again. She gets to first choose what she wants (and she is surprising me every night by what she is willing to try on her own), and then I will add to it a couple of bites of whatever she didn’t pick. And it’s been miraculous. The whining has [nearly] stopped. She is eating faster. And we still have smiles on our faces when dinner is over. The other night she ate the broccoli on her plate with no prompting. I was confused at first wondering how it disappeared off her plate!

There is one more change I attribute to this success. I’ve been using an online meal plan that has all of us trying new foods. Every night we have vegetables on the table that I have never even bought from the grocery store before. At first, Marley just saw more variety on the table and that Mommy and Daddy gobbled it up. Now, she is trying these new foods herself and learning that they are good! The best is when Daddy, who insists he is not a picky eater (ha!), has to pretend to like the meal, all while Marley is chowing down! (Insert “success” fist pump here.)

Most of all, I can relax, knowing that my family is being fed nutritious food.

This is just our meal time journey. I don’t know if what worked for my child will work for yours. But many of us have fallen into bad eating habits with our kids, and most of us wish we could get healthier foods down them. If you have some tips that have worked for your family, please share for your fellow readers below!

Herbed Chicken Thighs, Cauliflower Kale Salad, and Blackberries

Braised Chicken Thighs, Cauliflower Kale Salad, and Blackberries

Tangy Pork Tenderloin, Fennel Potatoes, Maple Butternut Squash

Tangy Pork Tenderloin, Fennel Potatoes, Maple Butternut Squash

Why Your Workout May Be Harming You

I am a dancer. It’s in my blood. “Once a dancer, always a dancer,” is what I always say. The problem with being a dancer, as any athlete can attest to, is that you constantly push your body to do more. You continuously stretch for greater flexibility and higher elevations. You condition and strengthen for better control and stamina. In other words, your body is in a constant state of tearing and rebuilding each time you workout. This remains true no matter what your exercise of choice is.

For those who are healthy and whose systems are balanced, moderate, regular exercise is a benefit. But for those of us with hormone imbalances and autoimmune issues, adrenal fatigue included, moderate exercise is harmful. Why is this?

In addition to the rebuilding of muscles that puts stress on the body, the adrenal glands release spurts of cortisol during and immediately following a moderate to intense workout. This is a normal adrenal reaction in healthy and unhealthy persons alike. However, with regular workouts, your adrenal glands are having to work overtime. Chronically high levels of cortisol can lead to adrenal fatigue and other health problems, such as insomnia, chronic fatigue, weight gain, depression, and more. If we are already struggling with these issues, our symptoms are only compounded, and we end up running our adrenal glands into the ground.

Even moderate exercise is harmful to those of us with hormone imbalances and autoimmune issues.

I used to work in a chiropractor office that offered a variety of therapies and health education classes. Many of our patients were chronically ill, and many of those who were chronically ill were avid gym members, working out for hours a day. The gym was their life. They looked so fit on the outside, but they were experiencing some pretty severe symptoms on the inside that not only caused them to struggle through their workouts, but to struggle through their daily lives. We had the hardest time convincing them that they were pushing their bodies too far, that their symptoms were not going to improve, no matter how healthy they ate, no matter how many times a week they came in to see us, if they didn’t stop their intense workouts. These were some of our most stubborn patients. Their adrenals had crashed, and many other systems in their bodies were on the verge. The best thing they could have done to heal was to stop going to the gym.

Should I stop exercising altogether while my body heals? Yes and no. I would give a strong caution if exercising to you means lifting weights, running, or doing cardio. A good rule of thumb is, if you feel energized after a workout only to crash later, if you have trouble sleeping that night, or if you are fatigued the following day or are in pain, then you are doing more than your body can handle. While admitting that your body is in a fragile state may be hard, especially for those of us who used to take pride in our intense workouts and had a “no pain, no gain” philosophy, you need to remember that your workout is harming you, and you aren’t getting ahead. You are only falling behind. Health should be our goal, not keeping up with the person next to us in dance class or on the treadmill.

One of my favorite old dance pics

One of my favorite old dance pics 😉

There is a good chance that your old workout needs to be thrown out the window, for the time being. That is my situation. I know myself too well to know that if I go take a dance class right now, I will push myself too hard. So I need to find other ways to exercise with a different goal in mind: Healing. For me, this means gentle training, that doesn’t seem like “training” at all. Light stretching, yoga, rebounding, swimming, and nature walks are ideal for getting the body moving while focusing on rebuilding the adrenals. The key is keeping your stress level down and not overdoing it. A nature walk doesn’t mean an hour-long hike. Yoga doesn’t mean taking a “hot yoga” class each day. I would even go as far to say that if you are looking at the activity as “exercise,” then you are probably doing too much. Think of these as movement activities, geared towards getting your body out of an idle state into motion. Ten minutes once or twice a day doing any one of these things is going to be more healing for your body than any “exercise” will. Of course, as you heal, gradually increase your workouts, and listen to your body for how far to take it. I know that I can’t wait to get back to dance class!

20 Flu-Fighters to Have On-Hand this Season

I went from being the girl who was always sick to the girl that never got sick by improving my immune function and my health in general. It was awesome. Unfortunately, my immune system has been taking a hit in recent years, and I’m back to being the girl who is ALWAYS sick. Ugh. I’m working on this! Thankfully, I have a powerful arsenal at my disposal. It has been taking up what little counter space I have in my kitchen these past few weeks with either myself or someone else in our family having been sick at any given time. But no counter space is a small price to pay for feeling better and shortening the amount of time and severity of symptoms from the flu.

I hope your family has been healthier than ours has this past month. But if you do find yourself getting a tickle in your throat, or worse, here are 20 things you should have on-hand to combat that flu! (These are just the products I use. Feel free to discover your own products and brands. Affiliate links below, thanks!)

1. Flu Plus
This homeopathic tablet is my “go-to” the moment I feel a little something coming on. I keep a bottle in my purse at all times, and I never travel without it. It is that amazing. Often, if I catch it soon enough, I will beat the bug before it has a chance to take hold. The best part, the tablets are a bit sweet, and they dissolve quickly under the tongue for maximum absorption. I take 1 tablet every 15 minutes for the first hour, and then one hourly until my symptoms are gone.

2. Raw Garlic, Onions, Peppers
These powerful germ-fighters will be your best friend when you are sick. They just won’t be your spouse’s. I have eaten so much raw garlic today that my husband has asked me to not speak in his direction even though he is a few feet away from me. But, hey, I’m feeling better, so I don’t care if I alienate the world for a few days. Because these can be so potent, they can be a bit hard for your taste buds to tolerate. I cut my raw garlic cloves in small slices and eat it with salsa and corn chips. (I typically am not a promoter of corn products, but this is my exception!) If you are feeling extra brave, try making this “Plague Tonic” from Granny Good Food.

Raw garlic is a natural remedy for fighting the flu.

Raw garlic is a natural remedy for fighting the flu.

3. Alka Seltzer Gold
Studies show that our immune system’s ability to fight off infection is related to our pH levels. A body that is too acidic, which is all too common, is prone to colds and flus. Sodium bicarbonate, the main active ingredient in Alka Seltzer, helps balance our acidic-alkaline levels. But make sure you buy Alka Seltzer Gold (not “Cold”), as opposed to regular Alka Seltzer or their other products, as it doesn’t have aspirin or other ingredients added. I have only been able to find this product at CVS drug stores or online. Baking soda is a great supplement!

4. Eucalyptus Oil
We use this in our house to help clear sinuses and also in place of Vapo-Rub, which has toxic petrochemicals in it. Use a carrier oil, such as coconut, if placing it directly on your skin. I’ve been using coconut/eucalyptus oil directly on my sinuses the past 24 hours, and when my daughter was sick last week we rubbed it on her chest to help her breathe more easily at night.

5. Thieves’ Oil
This is a blend of essential oils that has a really interesting background! I will let you go look up its history and where the name derives from, but I will tell you that this stuff is great at killing germs and keeping your household healthy! You can use it in a diffuser in your home, add it to hand soap, or put it directly on your skin. Rubbing it directly on the soles of the feet is a great way to receive its benefits, as well. We use doTERRA’s version of it: On Guard.

6. Sinus Rinse
Congestion and sinus pain can be the worst! Try to regularly clear your sinuses to prevent further infections from developing and to simply remedy your misery. A great way to do this is by using a sinus rinse. I prefer this one because it is so easy.

7. Sinusin Spray
This is another homeopathic remedy I swear by. It is a nasal spray, but per my homeopath’s recommendation, we spray it into our throat instead of our nose. It fights viruses on contact, and we seem to have better results spraying it in the throat.

8. Colloidal Silver
If you are not familiar with colloidal silver, become familiar with it! This natural anti-viral, antibiotic, all-around germ killer has got to be the best kept secret around. Like Flu Plus, colloidal silver is my #1 “go-to” at the first sign of a virus. (It can also be used topically to kill bacteria/fungus.) It’s powerful stuff!

9. Vitamins C, D3, A
If there is only one thing on this entire list that you take into consideration, let it be this! These 3 vitamins can battle any flu out there. Please do your own research, but here is the protocol I follow when I’m sick. I take 50,000 iu of Vitamin D3 and Vitamin A divided on day one, and then I cut back to 25,000 iu of Vitamin A a day until I’m much better. Vitamin D3 I continue taking at 50,000 iu until all symptoms are gone. (Note, these high dosages are not for children.) In addition, I do a Vitamin C “flush.” Take 2,000 mg every 30 minutes until you have diarrhea. Yes, you read that right. You cannot overdose on Vitamin C. Your body knows when it’s had enough, and you will spend a few minutes on the toilet, but it’s not as bad as it sounds! The next day I take 70% of the total from the previous day’s flush divided throughout the day, followed by 70% of that amount the next day, etc.

10. Good Ol’ H2O
Drink tons of water! I usually fail at this, but I notice a huge difference when I actually pay attention to my water intake when I’m sick. When all else fails, flush it out!

Here are 10 more flu-fighters to have on-hand this season:

11. Apple Cider Vinegar
12. Oil of Oregano (capsules)
13. Xylitol Nasal Spray
14. Activated Charcoal (for stomach issues)
15. Burt’s Bees Cough Drops (the most effective ones I’ve found)
16. Pulsatilla (homeopathic remedy for congestion)
17. B & T Cough Syrup
18. Echinacea
19. Elderberry Extract
20. Olive Leaf Extract

Many of these 20 items can be used daily to improve general immune function and then increased during times of illness. I’m not the expert on uses/dosages, but I can tell you how I have used these products, if you have further questions.

Above all, diet is everything! Eat nutrient-rich foods, avoid inflammatory ones, and lay off the junk. I know, I know, that is easier said than done, especially around the holidays!

Here is to a happy, healthy winter!

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Do you have any other natural remedies you use to fight the flu?

Why Most of Us Are Too High in Estrogen

Male or female, there is a good chance that your estrogen hormones are much higher than they should be, and it could be affecting your health. For men, excess estrogen can lead to low libido, growing of breasts—or “man boobs,”—infertility issues, and more. For women, the symptoms can also include low libido and infertility, along with a host of other symptoms: weight gain, migraines, PMS, heavy bleeding with clots, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and miscarriages. It can even lead to breast cancer. You see, when our hormones are off, it affects a lot!

I was one of the “lucky” girls who started menstruating at age 9. This is more common in bigger or overweight girls; however, I was the tiniest in my class. When I developed other health problems a few years later, my periods became unbearable. At age 15, I was put on birth control pills just to lessen my severe symptoms each month. While this was less common 15 years ago, it is far too common now. Did you know that age 9 is now the average age for a young girl to start puberty? Something isn’t right.

Where is this spike in estrogen coming from? Sadly, our developed world is full of “mock” estrogens. Let’s take a quick look at a couple of these.

Xenoestrogens are found in certain chemicals and have been known to mimic estrogen in our bodies when we are exposed to them. They are found in pesticides, laundry detergents, plastic food storage, BPA plastic products, and more. I grew up in a house that was less than a mile from cotton fields. Knowing now how pesticides mimic estrogen, it makes perfect sense that I started puberty early.

Pesticides contain xenoestrogens, which are known to mimic estrogen in our bodies and can lead to early puberty.

Pesticides contain xenoestrogens, which are known to mimic estrogen in our bodies and can lead to early puberty.

The types of xenoestrogen I want to focus on, however, are phytoestrogens. These are natural “estrogens” found in specific foods. If you are one of those who still think that soy is a super food, please consider further. Soy is very high in phytoestrogens. As with most whole foods, soy is not unhealthy in moderation. But in our current day of processed foods, soy is in everything! Add to that the more recent craze of soy milk replacing real milk, and it is apparent that some people are eating and drinking themselves into an estrogen frenzy!

Flax seed meal contains more phytoestrogens than any other food.

Flax seed meal contains more phytoestrogens than any other food.

While I have been avoiding soy for many years now, I did just recently learn about other foods that are high in phytoestrogens, and one in particular caught me by surprise: Flax Seed. Also considered a “super food,” flax is high in Omega 3’s, and studies show that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of flax seed can benefit us in a lot of ways. About a year ago, I started adding flax meal to smoothies, baked goods, salads, eggs, just about anything I could sprinkle it on top of. Come to find out, flax contains more phytoestrogens (aka lignans) than soy! This was a huge realization for me. Looking back over the past year or so, I see that my PMS symptoms, menstrual cramps and clotting have worsened. This can be associated with many things, but it definitely has me questioning the connection to my flax seed intake.

Lignans (one type of phytoestrogen) are 75x higher in flax than any other food! It promotes this right on the label as a health benefit.  :(

Lignans (one type of phytoestrogen) are 75x higher in flax than any other food! It promotes this right on the label as a health benefit. 😦

I have put a quick halt on eating flax. Do I think it is unhealthy in moderation? No, I don’t. It does indeed have health benefits. But while I am working to overcome Adrenal Fatigue, I need to do everything I can to lower my estrogen, as the two are commonly linked. Also, as a woman hoping to get pregnant in the future, you can bet that I’m not taking my chances with flax or soy.

Next time I clean out our fridge, it will be a happy goodbye to that bag of flax and a welcomed hello to better health!

 

Update: I happened to be watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory this evening, and here is the opening scene. It made me laugh at the coincidence!

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Resources:
Early Onset of Puberty: http://www.lucinebiotech.com/early-onset-of-puberty/
High Estrogen and Breast Cancer: http://envirocancer.cornell.edu/factsheet/General/fs10.estrogen.cfm
Flax Oil and Premature Births: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-10/uom-pwc102708.php
Estrogen Dominance and Adrenal Fatigue: http://www.drrind.com/therapies/estrogen-dominance#connection
High Estrogen in Men: http://www.newhealthguide.org/High-Estrogen-In-Men.html
Estrogen Dominance Overview: http://www.drhoffman.com/page.cfm/183