Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Not So Safe Safety Bubble

If you have allergies, try as you might to forget them in your day to day, you can't. I think if you have been living an allergy-free lifestyle for a number of years, it becomes part of your every day life. In our little gluten free, lactose free home and bubble, cross contamination is not much of a thought. Also if you are lucky to have a partner who is super supportive and hyper-aware of your allergies, then you forget that the rest of the world has gluten and lactose everywhere, and in everything.

I had family visit over the summer and I was reminded of how gluten and lactose free my bubble really is. We had bought some beautiful locally made artisan bread, which I ate when I was eating gluten. But simple things like using a common cutting board to cut the bread, using the common butter and knife for cutting, and then to not properly cleaning everything off. Even wiping off the knife with the common dish towel and putting it away. Ack! Simple things, really, not even a big deal, unless you have a celiac disease. They meant no harm, and probably weren't even aware, but what was evident to me, is that they don't live in an gluten free home. And man, was it obvious, just how gluten free my home is! And for the record, A, is not gluten free, and there is gluten in my house. He just has gone through my struggle with me, watched me suffer and is so keenly aware of cross contamination, that sometimes I take for granted how conscious he is. <3 <3 (He wins a gold star for sure!)

Even with my dogs, both of whom, have allergies, it too, has become part of our bubble of safety. It is just a part of life. Narrowing down dog allergies is a tricky, long process. (Read my collection of posts about that process here.) There is sooo much that goes into dog kibble. So much bad stuff and fillers, that it has taken quite some time to figure out both of their allergies. Addi, our golden boxer (half boxer, half golden retriever) is allergic to gluten and chicken meal. Oliver, our French bulldog, is allergic to pretty much everything (it's a Frenchie thing): gluten, dairy, eggs, cheese, beef, chicken, duck, any red meat really, on top of his environmental allergies to everything and skin issues, his list is epic!

So what does he eat you might be wondering....after much time, trial and tribulation we landed on Orijen food. It is a very clean (and very expensive) kibble. And the only flavor he can eat is the Six Fish. Another thing that we learned along the way, is often there are multiple kinds of protein in dog food, which can cause allergy flare ups, finding a single protein food is very, very hard. The ratio of protein to carbs to fats, is also a very important factor. Most standard dog foods have too high a percentage of carbs in them. He also takes a daily plant sterol and probiotics. He gets no handouts and only the occasional treat. I know you're thinking, poor guy! But honestly he is a much happier and healthier dog now, than when we got him 2 years ago. If you look at the post from January 18, 2015, you can see just how red and swollen he was when we got him. And now...look at how handsome and healthy and not red he is! Cutie! <3

Our household is a very allergy conscious home, and the doggies and I are grateful. And yet we are reminded how sensitive that daily balance is. We maintain the balance without effort, but when we travelled for Thanksgiving, the balance was knocked off. Our poor little Oli, had a pretty nasty reaction to a combination of things. To no fault of my mom, who watched after them. It was just evident that Addi, Oli and I live on a delicate tight rope of allergies, that doesn't take much to fall off, even when you are actively trying. Even a simple trip to the gas pump, where they offer your dogs treats, has to be an announcement of your allergies. Dog mom panic, "Don't burst the safety bubble!"

That is what is so frustrating, is when you are actively trying and yet you have an allergy attack. If you live with allergies you probably have a similar allergy-free bubble, where your house is safe, your immediate friends and family know and are as accommodating as possible, and you have your favorite restaurants because they are cautious and can accommodate your allergies. You learn to relax a little. To breathe. And trust that your allergy-free bubble is safe. And then you get symptoms! :'(

Right now, I am having respiratory problems. I can't catch my breath, I am wheezing, and my breath is shallow. It's even effecting my sleep. Not fun. There is no glaringly obvious reason for my respiratory problems, which is my first sign of contamination, except the other night. We went out to one of our favorite restaurants, which has long been on the safe list, and yet the other night it wasn't. Something that we have ordered many times before came with breadcrumbs on this time!! Whaaa? Never before, and now all of a sudden?! Annd they skimped on the bacon! Whatthe*$5*grumble grumble! I didn't pay much attention either. I am used to them being safe. I was talking with the bartender and watching the game, until A pointed it out (again <3 him!), he leans over and asks if those are breadcrumbs, and on close inspection they were. Well shit!

So even when you think you are safe, you are not. Lesson learned, always, Always ask questions when you are eating out. And never assume that because it is a restaurant on your safe list, and you've gotten the dish before, that it will stay that way. Things change, restaurants change, heck for all I know if was a new chef! I just get a sad mopey face and am reminded that again my safety bubble is not as safe as I believe.

For people with allergies the holidays are particularly hard. There is so many social events and opportunities for cross contamination. From Thanksgiving on, try as you might, the likelihood of some cross contamination is likely. Unless you are a hermit and don't socialize, or maybe, you are lucky, and have friends and family that are allergy-aware. I am surprised by my current allergy breathing symptoms, but at the same time I guess I shouldn't be. The time of year and a more unusual diet, for me at least, with some likely cross contamination, boom, symptoms. It sucks, because you want to just enjoy the festiveness of the season and eat all the yummies (that you think are safe) around you. You can't. And it is really unfortunate timing too. Christmas festivities are within a few days and really I need to go on a strict cleanse to get rid of whatever is backed up in my body causing my respiratory problems. Bah humbug! 

As much as I want to ignore my symptoms, not being able to breathe is really, really scary. And if I think about it, I am also having digestive issues and not so good poops. So obviously it is all connected. The signs are there, my body is telling me, and now I have to help it out. Part of the process of discovering, managing and living with food allergies is learning your body's symptoms. They are there, however subtle, your body always has a way of saying, "hey that's not working for me," you just have to learn the signs. And once you do, and you figure out your trigger, the symptoms become more obvious, even in the slightest onset.

Good luck throughout your remaining holiday festiveness. I hope you are able to navigate and stay symptom free. And I know, because you are like me, you are hyper-vigilant about cross contamination, but be wary of your vigilance slipping. I think we all want to relax and trust and believe what we know to be, will stay the same, but unfortunately it doesn't. If you have lived allergen free for a long time, and you do have contamination, the likelihood of horrendous symptoms will be less, but still be on the lookout for the more mild symptoms. They are there. Always be on the lookout for daggers that are going to poke your safe, allergy-free bubble.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Let's Get Personal

Let's get personal...personaal (totally intended in the tune of Let's Get Physical by none other than ONJ (that's Olivia Newton-John, BTdubs)). 

For some this may be TMI. And I don't care. I'm going to talk about periods, menstrual cycles, because I have to. Bye all y'all dudes, now is the time to bail. I know "lady stuff" makes you squeamish. For those that stick around and keep reading, you get a gold star sticker, especially if you share this with a lady in your life.

Periods are part of every woman's life. They are normal, they are natural and there is a noticeable difference between a good period and a bad period. Ladies, you know what I am talking about. Some months are awful; cramp-y, cranky, throat-punchy, where every one sucks, you get that massive red zit on your chin that hurts like a motha', you can't eat enough chocolate, wine and potato chips to make the pain stop or make you like anyone, and to top it all off you bleed through everything, on everything, when you are sleeping (hello, more crankiness), when you are out in public and there is abso-fucking-lutely nothing you can do about it, you just hope you have a sweatshirt in your car to tie around your waist. One of Those months...I get it! I've been there! Shit, we (being the proverbial ladies "we") have ALL been there! Some months are certainly better than others.

I have to say as a woman who has spent most of her life on the side of miserable during my period; insane cramps that had me doubled over in pain crying, bloody messiness that is uncontrollable, and the sore rawness that comes with that much clean-up, PMS like no body's business, diarrhea, changing your sheets in the middle of the night, you name it, I've suffered it. To now, being on the other side of miserable periods, let me say, there is hope! Diet and lifestyle changes have made a night and day difference in my life when in comes to my period. Seriously! It seems so simple and unbelievable, but seriously, remove the foods your body doesn't like, give it more whole veggies, fruits and gluten free grains, let me tell you, my periods are totally different than they were for the last 15 years. I remember not going to school, not being able to formulate sentences between sobs of agony and writhing in pain, to regular trips to the toilet for constant diarrhea. I cannot even count the number of times I bled through while sleeping and out in public. I just figured my period was "normal". It was not! At least it doesn't have to be! 

Tuning into your body and listening to it's needs, and making considerable lifestyle changes can make for a much happier period, ie you.

My period is no longer an epic geyser of torrential pain and hormones, it is manageable now. Actually, dare I say, pleasant. What used to be a heavy flow for 5 days straight with epic cramping. I now, have a few cramps on my first day and typically again on my 3rd (which makes no sense to me), but after the first 2 days of a regular flow it lessens considerably the last 2 or 3, to where a panty liner will suffice. This is a huge difference from where I started at 10. Perhaps it is because I am of "childbearing age", but I am not so sure that is only factor. 

As you well know, if you've been following me for some time, I went gluten free, lactose free, and reduced meat, little-to-no processed foods and sugar almost 6 years ago. In that time, every aspect of my life has changed, from my weight, to my seasonal and environmental allergies, to my skin and hair, to my quality of sleep, to my quality of poop and periods, to the clarity of mind, and even a career shift! Phew! It. Is. Amazing. What. Can. Change. If. You. Listen. To. Your. Body.

So the whole reason for this post is something new I am trying and I am so excited to share: for the first time ever, seriously ever, I was excited for my period to start (no, it wasn't the excited, oh shit, I may be pregnant, excitement/fear), it was legit excitement. Why, you may ask, with a side tilt of your head....I bought a Diva Cup! 

For those of you who don't know what a Diva Cup is, it is a menstrual cup that takes place of the standard tampon or pad. It is an eco-friendly, reusable, silicone cup that gets inserted into the vagina to collect the blood during menses. Grossed out yet? I know, I know, just keep reading...

I heard about a Diva Cup from @yoga_girl, Rachel Brathen, whom I love and admire and have been following for a couple years on Instagram. She inspires me in life, love, spirit and in yoga. And during a Facebook Live session she and her friend/business partner Olivia, talked about Diva and Moon Cups. The name had floated through my brain a few times prior, but never stuck. This time it did. So I did some research and was intrigued. 

Sure, I was excited at the prospect of not having to purchase tampons and pads again, and being eco-friendly, but honestly what progressed my interest more, was for the last 6 months to a year, I've been having a problem with tampons. No matter where I am in my cycle, no matter what day, I can always feel the tampon. It was uncomfortable and noticeable. It made me ache and cramp, even smaller ones. They just hurt. It was almost like it felt full all the time, but when I took it out, it never was. As soon as I took the tampon out I would be fine. Cramps, achy-ness, gone. So for the last few months I have been dealing with pads, uggh. Pads suck! I've always slept in pads and used them on light days, but to use them for your entire period is awful. They rub, they make noise, I inevitably bleed over the edges, no matter how many damn wings and "no leak" edges those suckers have, leave it to my body, I leak over those no-leak edges. 

Now I'm gonna get technical-personal, but I guarantee there must be other women like me, women with bodacious backsides. I'm talking about being bootylicious. Let's get real, butts are awesome, and some junk in the trunk is awesomer, but let me clue in into something, as a women with some junk, pads. do. not. work!! If you have a larger derriere that is tight, and you wear a pad, blood comes out between your butt cheeks. There I said it, it's out there. I can't be alone here?? Right? Try as I (I'm hoping we) might in a pad, I walk, I sleep, it goes out your butt and gets everywhere. E.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e! And it is a fucking pain in the ass, ha (couldn't not with the bad pun). Soo, if you are like me and you can't wear tampons because they hurt and pads, well, pads are just useless, unless they wrap around from my belly button to my lower back, I needed an alternative.

I've been seeing those period panties lately, but dude, I don't trust those. Just how, how can there not be leakage? And isn't that more diaper-ish than a pad?? I dunno. So, I bought a Diva Cup. And I've been excited for my period since then. 

Today is day 1, one of my heavy days. I've had it in all day. And it is AWESOME!! Best period ever! I can't even feel it. It doesn't even feel like I am even on my period, or that anything is in there. No cramps, no aches, nada, zilch! I am so excited I am doing a happy dance. I look forward to tomorrow, day 2, my heaviest day, and I'm going to workout too! Today I felt like writing and drinking wine, instead of working out. I had to share with y'all my exciting news! I did walk the dogs, and no leakage, anywhere, all day. I wore a panty liner, just in case. But nothing! I've checked the cup a few more times than I probably needed to (I wasn't sure when it would be "full"), and it was no where near close to full. So now I am leaving it in longer. There was concern about insertion being difficult and leakage. No problem for me. I think you have to be well acquainted with your vagina to even consider using a Diva Cup, because, yes you will have to touch your vagina and even put your fingers inside to adjust and rotate to secure it in place. So if you are not that kind of woman, first let me ask why? And then, I will suggest, maybe work up to a Diva Cup. Go familiarize yourself with your vagina first. I went with Model 1. I am 30 and I've never had a child, but Model 2 just didn't seem right for me. I know I have a narrower vagina, so I was worried that Model 2 may be too big. Again, you gotta know your vagina before you can even purchase a Diva Cup. And really, as woman, shouldn't you be well acquainted with your vagina? I digress. 

I am also really excited to sleep in my Diva Cup! They say you can leave it in for up to 12 hours. At first, that seemed wrong, too long. I would never, ever leave a tampon in that long, but it is not the same. The Diva Cup, sits much lower in the vagina opening and it isn't "absorbing" anything, hence no toxic shock syndrome of a tampon left in too long. Sleeping in a pad as a side sleeper with a tight ass, is a nightmare, literally! I get up all the time in the middle of the night during my period. I have to check it and even sleep with my hands wedged in between my legs to make sure the super, sized nighttime pad plus two liners behind it, don't move, it is awful! And even then, I regularly bleed through. I may for once be able to sleep the whole night through on the first night of my period. Mind blown!

I am beyond excited for my experience and not too ashamed to share it with you all. We need, no, we must talk about this stuff! There is no shame. We are women and we SHOULD have happy periods. Until day 2, wish me good, leak free, stress free sleep tonight. I'll post more tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Recognizing Presence

I recently had a wonderful conversation with one of the teen girls I work with as part of a mentoring program:

We paired up to interview each other, asking fun questions like, "What is your favorite cereal?" and "What show do you like to binge watch?" to more intimate questions like, "What is your advice to live by?" We were paired together because of the odd number of students. 

What came of the fun questions was a great conversation about life–all aspects of it, parents, siblings, respect, honesty, chores, sexuality, body image, being introverts, all in all an amazingly beautiful, honest conversation. I like real conversations. The stuff that makes you you. Not the BS adult chit chat, gossip-y conversation that normally ensues. I fucking hate small talk! Talk to me about your passions, what you are doing, your family, your dogs, pretty much anything other than, "Oh how are you? Good. You?" Ughhh! Makes me want to scream. This is why I love teens, they just talk. Sure it is hard at first to get them to open up, but once you do (the secret is food and ask lots of questions) the flood gates open and you learn more than you would ever think possible. I love, love teens for this reason. The pretense, the BS, the showmanship of one-upping each other, nada, we are just two people connecting talking about everything under the sun.

One of the questions on the interview was, "What famous person do you like?" I said Ashley Graham. For those of you who don't know who Ashley Graham is (have you been living under a rock, JK) she is a "plus size" (seriously sarcastic air quotes here, because what is deemed plus size in the fashion industry really is anything over a US size 4, when the average American woman is a 14-16!!). She has graced the cover of Sport Illustrated, Glamour, Elle, and so many other major media publications, which is her job, she's a beautiful model, but what I love her for is her activism. Her body positivity and debunking the fashion industry myth that only skinny is pretty. She is real–cellulite, stretch-marks and all. She's a size 16 and she prances around in lingerie and bikinis in shoots and on the beach. She is graceful and beautiful, yet goofy and humble. She is relatable and I think so many of us are looking for relate-ability in media now.

The girl I was speaking to, didn't know who Ashley Graham is, so I hope she looks into her and finds inspiration like I do (or at least a source that is relevant to her), but she said something amazingly profound about how we feel about ourselves based on the people we surround ourselves with. This is true! If you surround yourself with people who love themselves (not in an egocentric way), but truly love self and accept their self as they are, being around them, innately makes you feel more comfortable in your skin.

Being a teen is incredibly challenging for that very reason, you are not sure of yourself. As are none of your peers. Most of teen years are spent comparing, adjusting, judging yourself to those around you, who are just as unsure of them selves! (Are adults really any different??)

That's why I think role models, regardless of that buzzy term, let's say people in media, must show the diversity of who we are. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and colors. Stretch-marks, cellulite, rolls and all. Celebrities are unattainable and often not relatable, yet so many of us look to them for a sense of self-worth or something to compare to or judge against, but really what anyone really needs is someone to relate to. To see a bit of themselves in that person.

"If you are drawn to [someone], it is because there is already enough presence in you to recognize presence in another." Eckart Tolle

There is a level of acceptance and comfort in your own skin that comes with time, and also with stopping the rampant comparison of each other. I spent so much of my youth wishing I was shorter, had smaller boobs and butt and thighs, that my stomach was flatter and, and...but at some point you have to realize this is your body and it does amazing things for you each and every day. 

We take our bodies for granted, continually hating on the parts, not nourishing it properly, talking badly about it, sucking it in and wrapping it up, and yet it is still there each morning, pumping blood to your heart, allowing you to breathe and get out of bed. You can either spend the rest of your life self loathing and hating that body or love the pieces that make up the whole. I am by no means saying it is any easy, overnight process. It takes time. Self-love. Self acceptance. Self reflection. Movement. Proper nourishment and some meditation. And even then, some days are better than others, but we have to take them in stride. We are all our own worst critics. It is a life lesson for all of us to really be in our bodies. To accept it as it is, or change it if you really want, but in real, loving, healthy and supportive ways.

We see beauty in others and compare ourselves, often in the negative, rather than seeing the beautiful parts that are also in us. Tolle has it right, there is something in someone else that draws us to them, and you have a bit of that something in yourself. If you can see it in someone else, work to try to see it in yourself.

Monday, October 10, 2016

How to Control Your Seasonal Allergies Symptoms with Diet

I have a love/hate relationship with fall in Maine.

Yes, it is beautiful, the leaves, the cool air, the lacking of tourists and bugs, but with fall comes allergies for me. In fact researchers think nasal allergies affect about 50 million people in the United States. And allergies are increasing. They affect as many as 30% of adults and 40% of children. www.aafa.org/page/allergy-facts

I've always had allergies, it is only until I moved to Maine that they became a major problem in my life. Spring and fall have been dreaded seasons for me since I moved here and until the last few years were debilitating months.

I remember one fall being so sleep deprived because of my allergies and congestion that I couldn't sleep and when I would finally fall asleep I would wake in a panic unable to breathe lying down. All I could do was sleep sitting up with a fan directly on my face. The combination of fear of suffocating in my sleep, the exhaustion and overall stress still horrifies me to this day, as in, I never, ever want to go back to a time like that.

I know so many people who suffer with seasonal allergies and the symptoms are getting worse, not better. I used to be a statistic until I made radical lifestyle changes. Sure I can pop an OTC antihistamine or use my rescue inhaler, but that doesn't feel right for me, in fact, both are last resorts. I haven't had an active rescue inhaler prescription for the last 3+ years and I take Allegra only in a dire situation.

I have changed my approach with my seasonal allergies, as something my body is telling me, but also as a time for me to reset, which actually feels natural and in sync with the changing of the seasons. With these changes, I have been able to have mild to no seasonal allergy symptoms for the last 2 years with seasonal changes in my diet alone. 

I noticed a considerable difference in my seasonal allergy symptoms when I identified my gluten and lactose intolerances and removed those foods from my diet 6 years ago, but now I can mitigate further seasonal aggravations by eliminating nightshades and alcohol as well.

Nightshades contain alkaloids which can aggravate or even mimic seasonal allergy symptoms. Nightshades include potatoes, peppers (all kinds except black pepper), eggplants, tomatoes, tobacco and some more esoteric things like goji berries and some version of blueberries or huckleberries. Unfortunately, fall is also harvest season in our garden and almost everything coming out of the garden is a nightshade. Nightshades allergies are a problem for some even when seasonal allergies aren't being triggered and can look and feel similar to seasonal allergies, year-round. Nightshades cause inflammation and joint pain, specifically lower back pain (dead ringer for me there). The research available on nightshade allergies is abundant when you search Google, so I will let you do your own research, however, this time of year cutting out nightshades for me is a night and day difference when it comes to my allergy symptoms, so perhaps you might consider doing the same.

If I stick to a strict vegan-paleo diet, aka Pegan, coined by Dr. Mark Hyman, with no nightshades or alcohol, that is heavy on veggies, gf whole grains, beans and some animal protein and fruit, I have considerably less allergy symptoms, and I can't recall the last time I took an OTC antihistamine.

Seasonal allergy sufferers are on the rise, unfortunately, and beyond the environmental allergens around us, especially in a heavily wooded place like Maine, there are allergy inducing, inflammation triggering foods we eat every day. If we limit our intake of those foods, especially when the environmental ones are high, you have the power to control your own symptoms. It is actually a really cool revelation to have come to this point where I can see directly the foods I eat, the time of year and how by controlling what I eat in the fall and spring actually allows me the ability to not dread the standard seasonal allergy seasons. I can see fall for all it's colors and beauty instead of dreading it for all the pollen and sneezing it used to make me suffer through.

There is great power in knowing your body well enough and knowing that nourishing it with foods that support and sustain health, rather than aggravate and inflame, is amazing. It is amazing to know that if I wake up in the morning and have a congestion and a sneezing fit, all I have to do is look at what I ate the day before to realize what the culprit was.

The ability to recognize your sensitivities and triggers does not happen over night, nor are you able to associate your seasonal allergy symptoms as being triggers by potatoes or gluten or dairy, without first knowing what it feels like to not have those foods in your system, causing potential inflammation. 

The journey is challenging, but you don't have do it alone. I find the power of food and the way it makes us feel, in particular to allergies, seasonal and food related, is fascinating. It is a journey everyone should be willing to explore because knowing you have the ability to make yourself feel better just by the food choices you make in a day is powerful. You aren't relying on a pill to temporarily brain-fog-alright the symptoms away. You can learn that by simply removing a trigger for a short period of time can alleviate a multitude of symptoms that you would otherwise have to sniffle, snort, and wheeze and generally feel like crap through.

To learn more about how to control your seasonal allergy symptoms with diet, contact me at alixhealthcoach@gmail.com or visit eatbelivewell.com.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Health Russian Roulette

I have been playing Russian Roulette with my health and diet lately. Ignoring all the past-month warning signs has led to the explosive (literally :o) misery of the last 2 days. Ugghh... :(

I have been thoroughly enjoying my foodie filled summer of sunny days, long nights, plenty of BBQs and social gatherings. With these indulgences I have been lax in my typically regimented eating. I am normally gluten free and lactose free always. Minimal meat and dairy. Lots of veggies and whole gf grains. But lately, yeah...not so much. Eat it all has been my MO, cross my fingers, and hope for the best, so far it hasn't caught up with me...

Especially given the bounty of our glorious garden this year, one would think I would I would be eating veggies all-day-erry-day, which I am, BUT I am eating mostly nightshades–peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and potatoes–all of which we are harvesting aplenty right now. While I love these veggies, hence why they populate most of our garden real estate; did you know, nightshades aggravate seasonal allergies? Who knew, right?! Ever notice that your allergies are awful in the fall, ever notice how many garden fresh tomatoes you are consuming at that time, weird correlation. Nightshades cause an inflammatory response in the body and when your body is already on high inflammation alert because of the environmental allergens, the double whammy is a double sniffly-uck-fest for all those seasonal allergy sufferers. 

So while we have been subsisting on nightshades for the last month–hello fresh pasta sauce, caprese, eggplant parmesan, all of which of course must include an abundance of cheese (another food I must avoid). I have been extra "allergy-y" lately and ignoring the signs. I wake up sneezing, having sneezing fits regularly, extra drippy nose, taking my seasonal allergy meds daily, regularly feeling achy in my hips (huge red flag: In fact, scientific research suggests that up to 90% of individuals who suffer from any form of pain or discomfort in the body are sensitive to nightshades–which can trigger an inflammatory response.) I have even had this weird rash around the corners of my mouth (which in Chinese medicine is a sign of a stomach/intestinal infection/discomfort) and yet, keeping on eating my tomatoes and eggplants and cheese, and...

A cheese stuffed pepper and tomato dinner Friday night, led to horrendous gas, lower back and hip aches, and ultimately explosive, diarrhea that has lasted for 2 days now. Gross, ew, don't talk about that stuff, I know, but seriously, we have to talk about it. I have been blatantly ignoring what my body has been subtly telling me for over a month, and now here is my payment, shitting water and stomach cramping for 2 days. I am even telling myself, "I told you so!" 

Isn't it so funny how we play Russian Roulette with our health and the way we eat? We all know what makes us feel better and what is good for us–lots of water, a diet of mostly veggies, limited meat, dairy and processed foods, exercise daily, good restful sleep, yada, yada, yada–we get it! We all know what we "should" be doing and yet we don't do it. Or we do, but on a short term basis. We'll "be good" for a month, 3 months, 6, whatever the timeline is, yet most of us (there are the few that have iron-clad will power and discipline–aliens?) will test our limits, "fall off the wagon", challenge if dairy really gives me gas that clears the room as I writhe in pain, that " 'one piece of fresh whole wheat bread and butter won't kill you' "– but in fact it will. We all know our body's limits and yet we continually test them. Why is that?

We all know when, what, how and why our body is mad or explosively diarrheating all over the place because you ate too much cheese, and yet we still eat the cheese. It is funny how we do that! I know personally I get SO sick of being aware, of having to worry about bringing my own snacks, literally everywhere I go, of having to say, "Oh that looks delicious but I can't", of being the "gluten free girl" the "lactose free girl", the "what crazy thing don't you eat now, girl". I just want to eat and enjoy and live, goddamnit! I don't want to have to worry about my butt exploding or my stomach retching from the inside, or zits appearing as a warning sign that my insides are not happy! Why does my body hate all the foods I love so much?!? 

I know, I know, pity party for one. My rant is over. It has to be, as does my episode of "falling off the wagon". For the last month, that little voice in my head has been very vocal–"Oh, you know, you should really be eating better." "Umm, hello, you can't eat that!" "You'll be sorry if you keep eating like that." "You know, fall is coming–which means, heinous allergy season, you better clean up your act girlie!" What!? You don't have a guilt-tripping-nagging voice in your head all day tell you what you know is better for you?

So, fine. I am waving the white flag, since the bright neon red flags have been evident for over the last month. I surrender. I must be good or else...dun..dun..dunnnahhh! The last two days of misery are enough of a "sign" to shape up. As I write I am drinking a glorious (although horrible tasting) green juice, from all fresh veggies from our garden (and no nightshades). Side note: I have this theory that the worse it tastes, the more your body needs it. Ever notice how some green juices taste awful, while others are delish, and how even the exact same yucky one will taste fine the next time you make it? I think the same thing about wheatgrass shots, if it tastes awful and you gag at the smell of if, do it, drink it up and maybe do it again. While green juice is the last thing I want right now, I really want potato chips and wine, but given that I haven't eaten for two days, I am thinking green juice is the right nutrient boost my insides need, yes, it might give me more diarrhea, but at this point, what's a little more ammo for the explosives.

My moral of this shitting water story for you, (please learn from my lessons), our body's give us signs, small at first, then very obvious. Some of us ignore the signs, unknowingly perhaps, or intentionally. We, you, me, we all, know what our body's need. Each of us is unique in our needs, and only you can know and identify those needs. We must know those needs and also our limitations so that when the signs are there we know how to right the path. To be our own arbiters of health. To know how far you can push yourself (regardless if we should or not). 

It is a choice to choose health, and also to ignore health. If you know the difference and learn to trust that your body is your guide; so long as you learn your signs, we are all be able to achieve our optimal health.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Movement with Intent

I am not initially sure what drew me to to my yoga mat. It certainly wasn't my childhood experiences with yoga. Yoga sucked when I was a kid. All the loud breathing and ohm-ing and laying on the floor for no reason. I wanted to run around outside.

For years my athletic ability has been hard, fast and competitive. Push harder, be stronger, test the limits of my body, stamina and endurance.

I think I even may have been drawn to yoga as an adult because of the fancy poses. I really, really wanted to master a headstand, handstand and crow pose. All of which I can do, but I've realized that's not it. I also started to turn to yoga for my nagging sciatica and psoas troubles. Regular practice has made the nag non-existent, well that, and a new bed! Seriously, totally digressing here, I thought I was just working out too hard, sitting too long or holding my pigeon pose for too long. Nope! It was my bed. A recent trip to CO shed some light on the potential that my bed might be the issue. I had little to no pain while traveling and sleeping in foreign beds, yet as soon as I got home, bam, sciatica and psoas nag back in full force. We all underestimate the value of a quality bed and in turn quality sleep. If you wake up stiff or with aches and pains, consider a new bed. Seriously! So simple, but literally transformative. For months I was thinking my issues were getting worse. Each morning I was so stiff and achy.  'I must be getting old.' Nope, got a new bed; all aches and pains gone. It just occurred to me this morning that I haven't paid any notice to my sciatica in weeks! When it used to be a daily constant nag. Craziness I tell you.

OK, digressing aside, something has changed with my approach to movement. Sure there will be days where I want to do a sweaty spin session or go for a run, but lately, I would rather be more in touch with what my body is telling me than how hard my mind wants to push. 

My yoga practice lately has been more meditative and spiritual than fancy and bendy. I am more interested in poses that restore me and center me, than standing on my head. My new alter is bring a new spiritual awareness that I have never felt so strongly. 

Something has shifted and I can't even really put words to properly describe the shift. But the take-away I hope to share, is listening to your body. So many of us need to push harder, be stronger, sweat more, but there is something about connecting with your body, soul and spirit in your movement. Sure you can sweat. But do what feels good, not what you "should" be doing, not another rep to finish the round or holding chaturanga until you collapse.

There is something to be said about movement with intent, with love, and I think that is the true practice, move your body because you love it, not because you want to punish it, or yourself. Sit still and listen to your breathing because you want a deeper connection with loving yourself.

Sometimes the harder we push the more resistance we get, maybe stop pushing so hard. Maybe surrender. I know, it's hard and surrender is scary, but so is learning to love self. Surrendering to yourself and then "shoulds" and the self-competition is healing. Don't worry if your definition of "exercise" is the same as anyone else's. And also allow it to change. As a person who has spent years pushing my body as hard as possible until it ached, I think there might be something to listening, embracing, loving, accepting and moving my body and mind to connect more to my heart. Move with the intent to love self. And listen to your body, it will tell you the movement you need.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

We All Have Shit Days

This morning I woke up cranky. Like binge-watch crappy reality TV, stay in my PJs til 3 pm, eating a bowl of popcorn the size of my head, and drinking before noon cranky. I didn't want to see anyone, do anything–even the dogs were annoying me! That is saying something!

So I angry cleaned, but that didn't even work. Cleaning was making me crankier, whaa?! Angry cleaning often makes my mood better, or at least the clean house does.

So I just surrendered. I accepted my cranky bitchiness, plopped down on the couch and watched embarrassingly bad reality TV. It was deeply satisfying. After some leftover heated up scalloped potatoes, scrambled eggs and too many cups of coffee, I still wanted to throat punch everyone that crossed my path (no I did not actually throat punch anyone, I stayed home for this reason); I mustered up some energy to get the few things I needed to do today, done. I reluctantly peeled myself off the couch, half-assedly put on yoga pants, like somehow that is an acceptable equivalent to PJ pants (trust, I contemplated wearing PJs in public today. NO I did not, don't judge) and ventured out, hoping to holy hell I saw no one and didn't have to talk to anybody. Don't even get me started on the irritation level when I got to the place and had to wait 30 minutes because they were closed for lunch, "Seriously, who needs to eat lunch?!" (See the irrational anger of the day!)

I finally got home which took longer than expected, I barely dressed enough to be seen in public and 30+ minutes was passed the point of safely not running into someone I know.

Of course the dogs are pleading for their daily walk, "Fuckiing dogs! God why did I get dogs?? DoggsAH!! I don't like doggsah, whhhatt do you waaant from meeeee??!" (It's bad people!)

But I took them on a walk to the post office, which is not a regular walk for us. It is relatively short and on a really busy road with no sidewalk, but they seemed to enjoy it, and shockingly so did I.

Now that I had my "must dos" done, it is time for the PJs to go back on, the wine to come out, the buttery, salty goodness to coat my finger tips and epic bitch battles of all that is reality TV to commence...but wait...that is not exactly how it played out.

I came home. Doggies panting and happy. I didn't get the buttery salt kernels going, instead I made an Asian coleslaw with napa cabbage, red cabbage, sliced, raw poblano pepper, fermented cabbage, ginger, carrots, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, garbanzo beans in a white miso, honey, garlic, rice vinegar, Braggs liquid aminos, and sesame oil dressing. It was delicious and crunchy and salty and nutritious (clearly not an important goal of mine today). And surprisingly I am less eager to drink wine, shame watch TV and shove popped corn in my mouth.

The takeaway as to why I am sharing with you my irrational ire that has perpetuated throughout this crappy day...acknowledge, accept and even embrace where you are emotionally. Don't try to ignore it. Say out loud, "I am feeling fill in the blank (crabby, bitchy, cranky, moody, emotional, throat punchy, hangry) and I love and accept myself." It is okay to have a shit day, a shit mood, hell, a shit period in life, it happens to everyone. Rather than unleash the self hate and loathing; acknowledge, love and accept that you are human, that you have emotions, hormones or a deeply twisted relationship with popcorn and just allow yourself to be that. It too shall pass. Or maybe it occurs to you that you are PMSing hard core and that explains all the craziness! Seriously don't mess with a bitch PMSing, get her whatever she wants and slowing back out of the room. Even saying out loud, especially to your significant other, "I am PMSing hard right now," is SO valuable! To you and your significant other AND your relationship. They don't take it personally. They understand your need to eat everything in sight and will be more likely to do a junk food run for you. Win, win. And no petty fights.

Don't be ashamed of your emotions, head space, or general meh-ness. Accepting it, allowing it space to be, then pass and even kindly reminding those around you that you aren't always a heinous bitch, will allow them to give you space, and still love you once it's passed. Oh, and a little bit of exercise really, really, like really, helps with a shitty mood. Yes, I know, it is the last thing you want to do, but even 5-10 minutes, seriously, just walk, you'll be amazed! Seriously, I am somewhat amazed that I don't have butter running down my chin right now.

Lastly, my whatever meh-ness today reminded me of a simple interaction while standing in line at a cash register yesterday. The woman in front of me had two fussy kids, a cart full of baby necessities, and a bunch of cards and coupons in her hands. The kids were flailing and fussing. The mom scanned each item with her phone before placing it on the conveyer belt (coupons?) and then ended up paying with 5 different cards. Every few seconds telling her kids to be quiet, or sit still and wait. I stood watching the whole thing, thinking well poo I picked the wrong line, thinking 1 person would be faster then the other line of 3, ha ha. Rather than switch lines, rather than judge, I stood there and observed. The mom got more and more irritated. The kids couldn't do anything right. The kids were getting louder and louder and the cashier was judging SO hard, that by the time I got to the register she made a noise, an eye roll and a geez-head nod, like "get a load of that." I didn't engage immediately as I think she was hoping, you know, get on the judge-y train. Instead I said, "She looks like she is having a rough day." The cashier looked surprised and then went, "Awww." Like how sweet, I guess. I didn't think much more of the interaction, other than we ALL need to be less judgmental of each other (me included!). If we interact with everyone with compassion and love, then judgment doesn't have a place.

So I sincerely hope that in all my bitchy, throat punching thoughts, ire-filled morning while running my few errands, no one was judging me and not understanding I really would rather have been on my couch in all my PJ-princess, bitchy glory. We all have those days. For all you know that is the day the lady in front of you in line with the screaming kids is having.

Remember compassion for self and others. This has been my lesson over the last two days.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Love = Change

There are so many different ways to define, look and be healthy. We are all different and thus health looks, feels, moves, acts, IS different for all of us.

There are standard health guidelines: eat real, whole foods regularly, move daily, be happy, have meaningful relationships in your life, have a spiritual connection to your needs/soul/God/higher power, do something that fulfills you – be it your passion-filled career, or a job that facilitates your passions outside of work. Lastly, drink water, the occasional glass of wine and remember to slow down, breathe and get consistently "good" (whatever is right for you) sleep. Oh and an orgasm from time to time never hurt anyone (well maybe, but, you know what I mean), a healthy sex life is important too.

That's it! That is living a "healthy life". We all fulfill those guidelines differently and each guideline carries more weight than others, and we all prioritize accordingly. Nowhere do you see maintain ideal weight, have chiseled abs, defined biceps and triceps, flowing long, perfectly highlighted hair, fake but real looking long-ish nails, a perfect relationship, a perfect job – seriously forget, no better yet, REMOVE THE WORD PERFECT FROM YOUR LIFE! Seriously! The word alone is setting you, me, everyone up for failure and disappointment. Perfect is bullshit and there is nothing such as "perfect"!

If we remove perfect we focus on being easier on ourselves. We all need to be easier on ourselves! I am by no means preaching, this is just as much a reminder for me, as it might be for you. I think everyone struggles with this. We are all our own worst critic. We pick ourselves apart, we are constantly striving for perfection (there's that evil word again), we are never enough, doing enough, trying hard enough, and then we compare to others and that ups the ante even more, we need, want, must be something that what we aren't right now. It's gotta stop.

We must all accept ourselves as we are RIGHT NOW! We can't continually live for the "if, then's"....if I lose 50 pounds, then someone will love me. If I work extra long hours, then I will get the raise I deserve. If...then, if...then...if we all continually live from if to then, then we will never really be living our lives now. Right now.

There are so many amazing body positivity campaigns, models, progressive movements in media right now, which is AHMAAZING! It is about time we show diversity in media – size, color, sex, gender – the more we see that we are all different, unique, beautiful, and embrace different definitions of beauty and success, we might all learn to be a little easier on ourselves. To learn to love ourselves more. And I'm not talking about ego here, I am talking about genuine, heart-felt, compassionate, non-judgmental, forgiving love towards self.

Change comes from love – externally and internally – I am thinking this might be an amazing mantra for our world right now. Without getting political and global, addressing the overwhelming amount of hatred and anger and horror and sadness in the world, imagine if we approached ourselves with love and compassion, we could only approach others with a similar love.

There is a preponderance of professing self-love in media (or maybe it is just what I am aware of) which is awesome and completely necessary, but I worry about this possible trap: the need to publicly declare self-love because it is the hot thing to do. Any positive self-talk makes a difference in your perception of yourself (side note: please, please, please for yourself and everyone, stop the self depreciating, breaking-yourself-apart-talk. You might think it is funny or somehow will allow you to save face in front of someone, but the more you do it, the more you absorb it, mentally, emotionally, physically and the more you believe it. If you are your own worst critic and you are constantly cutting yourself down, then you know what, you actually believe it.) With that being said, don't lie to yourself either; if you are not feeling positive about yourself and you are hating on you, you are much better off saying nothing – out loud or mentally – then the funny, self deprecating comment. If publicly decreeing your self-love, or your no thigh gap, your bulbous-y toes, your small boobs or your dad-bod then by all means, do it, sing it loud and proud, show it off and be you! But don't do it, don't lie to yourself because you think you "should".

If change comes from love, no amount of self-hatred, self-depreciation, or faking it, saying "I'm loud and I'm proud," but still cutting yourself down inside your head or in front of the mirror naked, will facilitate real, lasting change. 

Accept, love, embrace, acknowledge yourself as you are right. this. very minute. Say it, say it now, out loud, "I love and accept myself, as I am right this very moment." Don't add a "but" or a "..." to the end of that or an "if, then," say it over and over and over, and if you know anything about Emotional Freedom Technique (see my post) tap while you profess your self-love. Do it now. Do it daily. Do it whenever you feel the self deprecating comment lurking.

If you want to change – your body, your mind space, your job, your life, your relationship, your dread of exercise – those changes will come from a place of love, a place of full acceptance, as is.

As we can see, not much changes inside us, within our immediate circles and in the bigger world from hate. No change comes from hate, self-deprecation, or cutting yourself or anyone down.

If we all learn to work on loving self more, perhaps, perhaps will learn to love others; and then real change is possible.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cheat Days

Everyone loves a cheat day! It's the day of the weak that the fat kid inside all of us gets to come out and gorge with the excuse, "Oh, it's okay, It's my cheat day!" as you shove another doughnut in your already full mouth.

It's a day to go hog-wild, eat and drink what you want, of all you have been deprived of all week long. 

While I am all for indulgence, I think cheat days are dumb. Yeah, I said it! What!?

I know plenty of diets and people who live for their cheat day. I get it, one day to let loose (well kinda) and eat that which you have been avoiding the remainder of the week. But really all you get is 1 day! One day!? Does no else see this as a major design flaw to massive overconsumption?

If it works for you, great, keep at it, everyone is different. But if you are enticed by a cheat day diet plan, I say don't go there. I think it is ridiculous to restrict a whole week's diet and then indulge on one day. Most people I know who are unsuccessful with cheat day diets are those who eat everything and anything in sight on their cheat day. While I can't say I'm surprised, if you are have wicked cravings all week long and then you get one day, you are gonna eat the whole bag of chips, the whole tub of ice cream, the entire bottle of wine and then some.

Cheat day diets are not addressing the core problem that any fad diet has, which is restrict, restrict until goal weight then gorge, and likely gain more weight than before. Your relationship with food and your weight can't be that up and down; or that indulgent and then super restrictive. 

What you eat and the diet you choose to follow should be centered around balance. We should aim for balance in all aspects of our lives, especially around food. 

If we only get this one life, are you really going to be satisfied on your death bed because you ate salad every day and were your goal weight your entire life, probably not. That's not what's going to matter at that point. What will matter are the memories with your loved ones around a Thanksgiving dinner table, or enjoying cake as you watched your 1 year grandchild rub frosting in their hair, or the night you got pissant drunk on your girls night out. So what if you were never your goal weight (don't even get me started on scales!!) So what if you are perpetually 5-10 pounds around your "goal weight". At the end of it all, what will matter is if you were happy, if you loved and felt loved, were fulfilled on a soul level and were balanced!

It is actually FAR worse to swing from super "good" to super "bad". To go from a strict vegan diet to I-eat-everything-in-sight cookie monster diet throughout your life. You screw up your metabolism, your cells get all confused and if anything, your body freaks out and holds onto more fat because it is so unsure the next time it is going to get a proper meal. Your immune system, heart, brain and metabolism are all compromised when you eat on a constant pendulum of restrict-gorge.

So rather than aim for a goal weight or to fit into a tight dress for a special event, think long term, think about balance throughout the rest of your life, not just the next few months.

If you are having a craving look at it. Observe it. Question it. But without judgement! That is the hard part for most of us. Think of your craving as if you were an unbiased, third party observer. Ask yourself why you think you might be having a craving for chocolate–you need intimacy in your life? Carbs–you've been sleep deprived for 2 months? Caffeine–maybe a regular workout routine is in order? Alcohol–lets consider your stress levels. Cravings are not bad, they are a clue! Often that clue points to something in your life that is missing in love, relationships, career, movement, or spirituality.

Again balance is key; in your personal needs in life and your food needs. If you can identify a craving as associated with a key aspect in your life, that is huge! To make that connection mentally and emotionally is groundbreaking for many. And if you know fulfilling that craving in a small way will help because at that moment you can physically fulfill that need, then I say, indulge (in moderation).

But that leads me to my last point, it's not about deprivation. Have a glass of wine with dinner out with friends. Enjoy a piece of birthday cake. Eat a bowl of chips. But balance it out. Have balanced meals more often than not. Eat real, whole foods and lots and lots of veggies. Drink green juice. Exercise daily. Find love in your life. Build relationships that are meaningful. Try to like your job more days than you don't, and if you can't, get a new one. Find a way to connect with yourself, nature and your "god" on a regular basis. All these are crucial to leading a balanced life where cheat days shouldn't be the day you look forward to each week.

Live this life, now. Do what you need to find balance and joy, even if that means having a piece of chocolate from time to time (just make sure it is the best damn chocolate you can afford, seriously, quality makes a huge, huge difference!).

Monday, May 2, 2016

To Supplement or To Not Supplement

Dietary supplements are debated. Do? Don't do? Necessary? Not necessary?

I think everyone is different and everyone has unique needs. Rather than base your dietary supplement decisions on articles or blog posts, experiment for yourself. Curious about adding a supplement to your daily regimen, then try it out for a few weeks. Most natural vitamins and supplements will only do good, however, if you are on some prescription medications check with your doctor first before experimenting with dietary supplements, there are some supplements that don't mix well with medications.

I am a firm believer in dietary supplements. I take a handful of supplements daily. Even though I eat a very veggie heavy, balanced diet, of almost all organic produce, I feel supplements make a significant impact in my overall wellbeing and general feeling of good health. I also load up when I am feeling run down or a possible cold coming on, often kicking it in the butt before I become a gooey mess.

The argument is that if you are eating well and enough of a balanced diet then you should not need to supplement with dietary vitamins, minerals and supplements. I disagree. Food is just not as nutrient rich as it once was. With such a large population to feed and depleting the natural resources of the soil, unfortunately veggies don't have the same vitamin and mineral profile they once did. Again this is where buying organic and/or growing your own veggies is greatly beneficial; more nutrients. Even if you are an avid juicer like myself, still, you are probably not reaching your daily needs for most essential vitamins and minerals. (Check out https://www.reviews.com/juicer/ for a helpful juicer review.)

Yes, foods nowadays are fortified with vitamins and minerals. However, if it is fortified, it means a few things: 1) it is likely highly processed 2) it likely is coming out of a container of some kind 3) the naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, etc. were probably stripped out during the preservation process 4) foods consumed as close to as how they come from the earth don't need to be fortified. Fortification sounds like a good thing, but it's not. Your vitamins and minerals occurring in your foods shouldn't require a label, just a glorious color–green, yellow, orange, purple, red–eat your colors = lots of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, supplemental goodness.

So with that understanding of doing your best to eat really nutrient dense, colorful veggies and fruits, with a few superfoods sprinkled in, you will be well on your way to getting more goodness than most.

I have read many articles and books on this topic, because it is of interest to me, and like I mentioned above, I am always willing to try a new supplement and see how it affects me. Here is a list of supplements everyone should be taking daily. While it is still debated, there is increasing evidence that everyone needs, and is severely deficient in this areas, so if nothing else, try adding this supplements to your diet for a month and see how they make you feel. It's a good rule of thumb to add one supplement/vitamin at a time. This will give you a clear representation of if the supplement is working for you or not.

10-20billion CFU probiotic (preferably the refrigerated kind)

  • Probiotics and gut health are a hot topic right now, as it should be. The living microbiome we all have in our guts are our immune system hub. If they are not happy you are not happy. The slew of angry microbiome symptoms is long and wide. If you have ANY digestive issues, and even if you don't, add probiotics to your daily life. If you have brain fog, lethargy, general meg-ness, add probiotics to your life. They will make a noticeable difference. Promise! You can get probiotics from fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut and kimchee, but why not do both and take a high CFU capsule everyday too. Your mind, gut and butt will thank you.
Vitamin D3
  • Almost everyone, seriously everyone, is Vitamin D deficient. Even the recommended USDA 1,000-2,000 IUD/day is probably too low for most, especially in the winter, especially if you live a colder, darker climate. Vitamin D deficiencies can manifest in depression, lethargy, anxiety, the list keeps going. I would say start with the upper recommended dose of 2,000 IUD/day and experiment from there. I have read some even suggest upwards of 10,000 (!) IUD/day. Do what works for you, but make sure you have a VitD supplement in your daily life regardless of where you live, also make sure it is gel capsule, which is better absorbed.
A daily multi-vitamin 
  • You want something that is well rounded and has a high percentage of your daily recommended intake for vitamins and minerals. I personally like the Solaray brand for many of my supplement needs.
Omega 3s
  • Again a huge laking here for most people of these healthy fats. Good fats make your hair shiny, skin clearer, helps lubricate everything from joints to, brain synapses to bowel movements. Most diets are skewed in ratio of Omega 6s to Omega 3s. Omega 3s are the good fats and are naturally occurring in cold water fish, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and so much more. Either take a supplement and, better yet, take a supplement and add these awesome superfoods to your daily diet too (I love to throw all my O3s in my mornings smoothie)
Dietary Fiber
  • It is recommended that we need 25g-38g (women vs men) of fiber everyday. You know what, most of us aren't getting that with the things we eat. So double up here. Eat lots of veggies, fruits, gluten free whole grains that all have naturally occurring fiber AND take a supplemental dietary fiber. Your bowel movements will never be the same.
  • Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. It is a spice commonly used in Indian cuisine. It gives curries that bright yellow-orange color. Turmeric is nature's ibuprofen. I have noticed a huge different in my general inflammation and body achy-ness, especially after a strenuous workout by adding turmeric to my daily supplement list.

If nothing else, add these bad boys into your daily regimen and notice the difference in how you feel.

Another tip, which may sound odd, but I swear...Listen. To. Your. Body. I only take supplements when I resonate with them. I know, I know, that sounds wonky, but it is true. I will hold the supplement in my hand before I take it. And I tune into my body. If I have a general icky feeling or no feeling at all, I won't take the supplement. I take this as my body's way of telling me I don't need it. Sometimes if you take the same supplements everyday you can hit a point where you have sufficient levels, it's okay to back off. Listen to your body. Hold your supplement in your hand, tune in and your body will let you know if you need it or not. You don't have to be super rigid about your daily supplement and vitamin intake, trust your intuition, don't be afraid to experiment with your body and see what is working for you and what isn't.

That leads into one last point, when adding new supplements, vitamins and minerals into your life, first do your research, figure out why you want to take something, what are the benefits, what are the side effects, could you be getting that from food? But know, sometimes you will get digestive upset when adding a new supplement to your life. This is normal and should clear up pretty quickly. With added fiber you may get gassy. Some supplements may give you the runs. Others may make you feel woozy when not taken with food. Don't exceed the recommended dosage on the container and it is always a good rule to take your supplements with food (expect probiotics, take those on an empty stomach, like first thing in the morning, to let them work their full magic). If your digestive upset doesn't clear up in a few days, stop taking the supplement. This is where introducing new supplements one at a time will help you easily identify the culprit of the upset. I tried taking a resveratrol supplement for a while and I would immediately get diarrhea. I have allergic reactions to drinking red wine, I thought, I will get the benefits from the capsule, nope, the diarrhea was immediate. So I stopped taking them. You can try to find a different brand, or maybe if you tune in, your body will tell you, "Nah, I don't really need that." So listen.

Here are the other supplements I use in my daily life, in case you are curious. If you are curious as to why I take these, you can contact me alixhealthcoach@gmail.com or visit eatbelivewell.com for more info:

Magnesium Glycenate - an essential mineral many are deficient in
Quercetin - nature's antihistamine, great for allergy sufferers
Vitamin D - a must if you live in the Northeast
Turmeric - anti-inflammatory
Probiotics - happy gut

Superfoods. Sprinkle them on your salad. Add them to a smoothie. They are awesome! You need these in your life:
Chia seeds
Flax seeds
Hemp seeds
Flax oil
Liquid minerals
Bee pollen
Freeze dried organic greens or JuicePlus
Potato starch - natural resistant starch

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Stop Should-ing Yourself

My mind lives in a constant state of "shoulds". You should be like this, you should have that, you shouldn't want that, you should because...shoulda, woulda, coulda. Fuck shoulds! I say!

If you are like me your are swayed by societal expectations, standards, judgments, whathaveyou of what we "should" all want, need, be, aspire to, define success by, the list goes on and on and on! Ack! How are we expected to get out of bed in the morning with all these shoulds?

Shoulds are a judgment. They are a comparison that somehow where you are right now is not enough. That. Is. Not. OK! You should not should yourself or others. Especially ourselves! Again if you are anything like me you are hardest on yourself more than anyone ever could be ever; and when someone says something, or constructively criticizes you, you snap, because you have spent so much time putting yourself down and should-ing yourself long before the loving person said something simple like, "You know, you should..." cue tears.

I just had a radical thought... I SHOULD not be anywhere then where I am right this very moment! Mind blown?! Radical thought, right?! 

Being caught in shoulds means it is impossible for you(me) to be present. You are always comparing to the past or expecting something in the future. A shit load of shoulds. Be now. Live now. Accept you as you are RIGHT NOW, without any shoulds, comparisons, judgments, or expectations. You are exactly how you should be right now and love that self entirely!

We do not change out of disgust or hatred towards self. We change out of loving-kindness for ourselves. We change out of loving our self enough to want something different, something positive, perhaps, dare I say better (but there are hidden shoulds and comparison in better) so, change comes when we love yourselves enough to be open to growth.

Practicing loving-kindness towards ourselves is SO much hard than loving-kindness towards others. It is also so much easier to forgive others' faults, missteps, shoulds, yet somehow we can't extend the same empathy towards self.

To that I say stop should-ing yourself!! (Another glorious anthem I learned at this past weekends' NVC seminar). 

So my current should directed at myself is I should be healthier, thinner, more fit. Hell I'm a Health Coach right, I gotta look the part. Well yes, I need all those things from a place of good health, but I am no means unhealthy. I am just carrying more weight than I like to. So I've been beating myself up, "You should..", " You should...", and then I said, excuse me, but if I were talking to ANYONE else, a client, a friend, a loved one, I would never should them! I would never tell them to be anywhere else than where they are right now, and yet I can't extend the same courtesy to myself, WTF?!? Right! How cruel can we be to ourselves?! 

The past 2 years have been very emotional and straining, and to pow, expect Cameron Diaz' body in a mere 3 months of starting to heal and take care of myself, after 2 years of building frustrations, sadness, stress on top of stress, etc., that's a big f-ing should, madness I tell you. Madness! So I just honored myself and my beautiful body for it's strength and courage to embark on a journey that is scary–self-employment in a burgeoning, some may call a woo-woo field, but I believe in it and I believe that this is my true passion and calling. So what, if I am a work in progress while I am helping my clients who are also a work in progress? It does not mean that I don't have the education, knowledge and ability to support my clients. I can and will be a Health Coach even if my health is something I work on daily.

I think health is like yoga, both should be thought of as forms of practice. You never achieve perfect health. You never achieve perfect yoga nirvana bendiness. Both are practices of surrender, loving-kindness towards your body and breath, and what they both do for you now, at this moment in your life and on your mat. Health and yoga are not end goals, they are daily reminders to practice loving-kindness, maitri (my new favorite word), towards self, to nourish your body with clean, good whole foods, and yoga is practice with your current amazing body, building strength, groundedness, and an ability to move and breathe in gratitude and acceptance of you, as you are NOW.

Stop should-ing yourself and I will too. 

We are beautiful right as we are this very moment–writing blog posts in pj's, glasses, no makeup or bra, loving myself because this is the one body I get. I am taking care of myself, addressing past pent up emotions, eating well, moving daily and growing and nourishing from the inside out, because for the first time in my life I feel like the path in front of me, although foreign, is bright and encouraging and extremely exciting to be on.

I should not be anywhere but where I am right now.