Those Sneaky Slippery Slopes

I know I am a sugar addict. I love sugar. It’s great! If I’m down…I have some sugar and feel happier. For a little while…

4 years ago, after my heart attack, my Handsome Hubby and I made some pretty dramatic changes in our standard diet. We cut out all processed food and started eating Paleo. I baked with only maple syrup, coconut sugar, or raw honey. We had the occasional high quality dark chocolate.

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Fast forward to the birth of our third son in May of last year. I’m 37 at the time, having a harder time losing the weight, don’t have much time for the gym, my friends have gotten into being fitness coaches and share some protein shakes with me. I was skeptical. It wasn’t “real” food. It was advertised as being real but really it wasn’t. It was still a powder and just bits and pieces of real substances processed to make a palatable drink. But I tried it and was hooked. It was sooo sweet and delicious. So I took the bait and went forward. I ignored my questions such as is it non-GMO, is it organic, what about the agave in it?

My morning green smoothies went out the door and I switched to my protein shake. But the weight stayed and my sugar cravings increased. It was strange to me. Everyone else in my fitness group saw their sugar intake decreasing and I felt like I was having more than I had in the years past or at least craving more. I really was having a tough time. My chest pains had returned that I had experienced when very stressed, run down, or eating wrong.

Then my Handsome Hubby and I watched That Sugar Film. This documentary follows a previous healthy, whole food diet eating man’s journey into consuming 40 grams of sugar per day (the Standard Australian and American for that matter diet). I looked up the American Heart Association’s recommendations for added sugar intake for women and men. It’s 6 teaspoons (24 grams) per day for women and 8 teaspoons (32 grams) for men.

So the protein shake I was drinking had 18 grams of sugar. If I divide that by 4 to figure out teaspoons…it’s 4.5 teaspoons of added sugar. Sure it was agave but that is still added sugar. So that meant I only had 1.5 teaspoons of added sugar allowed in the day to take care of my heart. No wonder I was having a sore chest again! That 1.5 could be a bit of raw honey in my tea, or a touch of my half sweetened almond milk splashed into my chai. Bam…sugar limit met.

Let me back up…sugar causes inflammation. Inflammation can lead to heart disease. Inflammation irritates your arteries, drains your body of Vitamin C as it tries to deal with all the crazy free radicals in your body, Vitamin C is key in keeping your arteries and veins strong without lesions/tears and as a result…your body…to protect itself…produces cholesterol to cover any lesions.

So we cut it out. My husband and I went back to square one. It’s harder this time but I’m doing it. Before, the stent placement was new, painful, and it helped I had a massive bruise extending from my groin to my knee for a “leak” where the stent entrance site was. I was more afraid.

We are one week into the change. My body is detoxing. I’m having my kale smoothies and one to two local free range eggs every morning. My skin is breaking out as I detox from it all. I no longer touch the chocolate chips in the cupboard or my sons’ candy on the fridge. You see…for me…I had already cut most of my sugar out.

So when I added the shake in…my body jumped on it. Sure I had a nice high from the shake and looked forward to it every morning. Added sugar is like cocaine. Studies have shown that it’s just as addictive or worse than cocaine. Veggie smoothies are not cocaine but they do cleanse your body and you still can look forward to them.

So I had to reassess and am thankful for a husband who reassesses with me. We are back to hardcore. I even left the complimentary candy at the table when I paid a restaurant bill this week.

Our Superheroes aren’t too pleased about it but they are surviving and hopefully my heart will beat on for many years to come. As a side note… my veggie intake is back to what it once was and the moods and peace in our house have been restored as a direct result of the sneaky sugar exiting our house. If you haven’t gone hardcore…you should try it. It’s tough but it’s worth it…especially when I have these guys to live for.

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What Does Our “Healthy” Look Like?

I have had many ask what we eat. People have a concept of “healthy” but due to the media, misinformation, marketing, etcetera…we can often be WAY off base. So here is my breakdown of what “healthy” looks like in our home. This is our heart healing, gut healing, emotion leveling, immune system boosting way of life.

1) The less sugar (natural or processed) the better.

I rarely bake anymore or buy chocolate…even dark chocolate. We have fruit. I use a little juice and frozen fruit to mix my boys vitamins in using our blender. Sugar of any form plays with your body. It’s amazing how sweet mandarin oranges are when you’re not dipping into the addictive homemade chocolate chip cookies. Sugars also feed the bad bacteria in your gut which impacts everything from immune health, digestive health, to moods. Sugar also increases inflammation which leads to a host of other health problems from cholesterol to muscle and joint aches.

2). The less starches the better.

This goes along with the sugars. Starches convert to sugar. The more starches…the more inflammation. Choose starches with a low glycemic index. If you’re eating starchy a lot you will crave more, gain more weight, and have other health issues. Our starches are carrots, fruit, the occasional red potato, occasional beans with a low carb to fiber ratio, and sweet potatoes, occasional steel cut or whole oats for breakfast.

3). Pack in the veggies. Self explanatory…eat your vitamins. In our case we also have a veggie smoothie every morning. Veggies are builders…they strengthen you.

4). Choose organic or antibiotic free/hormone free meat if money permits.

5). Reduce dairy and choose from grass fed sources if possible. This gives you more of the healthy fats needed for brain functioning and even immune health. Dairy is often a catalyst for inflammation so we have limited but not fully eliminated it. We use grass fed butter, cheese etc.

6). Get your cod liver oil for vitamin D. We take this and have not gotten the flu. New studies show most people are deficient in vitamin D since we no longer work long hours outdoors. It helps in the prevention of the flu, cancer, heart disease, etc.

7). Give essential oils a chance. These have also helped our immune health tremendously. I do distribute them but this post isn’t for selling…just to inform.

8). Exercise regularly. Did you know regular exercise cleanses the toxins from your liver? Boosts moods? Improves immune health? Lowers resting heart rate? It’s a no brainer. My boys and I played baseball in the house today with stuffed animals and a soft bat. They were moving…giggling…active!

9). Get sleep! Enough said.

I’m sure I’ve left things out but these are the basics…you need to start somewhere. Baby steps to health…one step at a time. We are a mostly unprocessed family and as a result…we are happier and healthier than in the past. Our processed food is the whole oats and the cheese. That’s it and that has made all the difference. We are preservative free, hormone free, mostly sugar free family.

Thankful

I realize to some my life may seem charmed and to others it may seem cursed. Charmed in the sense that there is much stability, love, and blessings both material and in the form of friends and family. Cursed in the sense that I am a survivor of a very abusive relationship, a heart attack survivor, and have lost three dear close family members in one year…my dad, my brother, and my niece. I could choose to look at life as charmed or cursed or something in between…an adventure with ups and downs.

I choose 1 Thessalonians 5:18…”In every thing give thanks for this is the will of God.” To me…this doesn’t mean God is saying “suck it up buttercup cause this is as good as it gets”. Rather, He is trying to show us to look for the good. Choose life, choose living, choose picking yourself up and helping others when it seems hard to get out of bed to brush your teeth in the morning. Pray for Him to help you to see the joy when it feels like all is gone.

My current health journey…I am 3 years post-heart attack and stent placement. I eat a mostly whole food diet and exercise more than not. Currently that means 4 to 5 days a week about an hour per time. I am 24 weeks pregnant and am trying to push past the fear and anxiety I have since my niece died at full term 3 months ago. Instead I am trying to rest in God and trust that God has a plan for this little guy kicking in my belly no matter how long or short his life is.

I am following OB, high risk OB, and Cardiologist orders strictly. I wept when my cardiologist said he has no worries and I can stay off some medications after the birth so I can nurse. I feel like I have been given so much and also lost so much but blessed be the name of my Abba Father who cares about a minute detail like my desire to nurse our third boy. He care that I weep when I hear the lyrics to a Newsboys song

Something Beautiful …

I wanna start it over
I wanna start again
I want a new beginning
One without an end
I feel it inside
Calling out to me

It’s a voice that whispers my name
It’s a kiss without any shame
Something beautiful
Like a song that stirs in my head
Singing love will take us where
Something’s beautiful

I’ve heard it in the silence
Seen it on a face
I’ve felt it in a long hour
Like a sweet embrace
I know this is true
It’s calling out to me

It’s a voice that whispers my name
It’s a kiss without any shame
Something beautiful
Like a song that stirs in my head
Singing love will take us where
Something’s beautiful

It’s the child on her wedding day
It’s the daddy that gives her away
Something beautiful
When we laugh so hard we cry
It’s the love between you and I
Something beautiful

Reminding me of my Dad giving me away in our simple state park wedding with our closest friends and family there and how I won’t see him again until Heaven.

I know this is rambling on but my point is this…be thankful. Embrace life and fight for all it’s worth to see the good, to contribute to the positive in your little circle. Be there for your mom, dad, siblings, husband, children, friends. Really, really be there and love on them and thank God that you have another day to love on them. For the alternative is so bleak and depressing and holds us back from really living.

Take care,
Dee

A Letter to My Younger Self

A Letter to My Younger Self…repost from July 19, 2013

Sometimes, I wish I could write a letter to my younger self and help myself navigate the pitfalls that I stumbled upon. Life hasn’t always been easy but God has always been good. So this is what I would write if I could send myself a letter back in time. Attending graduation open houses and weddings has caused me to be a bit more reflective than normal.

Dear Me,

I want you to know that you’re important. You will meet people in life that try to use you verbally, physically, sexually, and emotionally. Don’t let them in. It’s ok to stand up for what you believe in and be respectful at the same time. If someone makes you feel “less than” or ashamed for being who you are then don’t take in their yuck. That’s not your “stuff”. It’s their “stuff” You are worth so much more.

Remember to take time for yourself. You know that Bible that grows dusty sometimes that you can’t seem to remember verses from? Read it. The words God put there will write themselves on your heart and you’ll suddenly remember them when you’re at the bottom of the bottom. Your devotional? Use it. Exercise? Do it!

You know how you turn to food sometimes for comfort and then end up feeling worse afterwards. Stop the cycle. You’ll think more clearly and be more able to take care of yourself. Your weight will stop going up and down. Your body and mind will feel better.

Don’t focus on making everyone else happy. Listen to God’s quiet voice and He’ll direct your path to a happier place than you can imagine. I wish I could stop you from struggling like I did with pleasing everyone and losing myself in the process. I want you to know that trying to please everyone else…it just stresses you out and usually…they either aren’t looking for you to please them or they’ll never be happy anyway. You are a precious beautiful child of God. That’s what matters and He’s happy because He made you.

Change the way you talk to yourself. Don’t feed yourself negative messages! You’re hurting yourself. It takes some reprogramming but it’s worth it. When you are positive with yourself and confident in who are, you’ll attract healthy friendships. When you aren’t, you attract others who have low self-esteems.

When you’re dating… make time for yourself. When you’re in college and grad school…make time for yourself. When you get married…make time for yourself. When you have kids…make time for yourself, even if it’s just an hour or two away grocery shopping per week. You need it. If you don’t do it who will?

When the going gets tough (and it will), always, always, always remember to trust and turn to God. He will get you through. I’m here, stented heart, formerly abused woman (past relationship), out of depression survivor and all. He can and will make beauty from ashes. The more I’ve trusted and followed Him the less ashes I’ve had to walk through or the more the ashes look beautiful to me.

Love,
Me

5 Steps to Avoiding Colds and Flus

Our powerhouse go to aids for cold and flu season

Our powerhouse go to aids for cold and flu season

So we have been on a wellness journey for the past 6 years. My sons were both prone to ear infections as infants and strep throat as kids. I went the standard route of antibiotics and don’t regret that, however, I wish I had known a bit more about preventing these infections before they happened.

Our bodies are amazing! When given the right nutrients, they can fight off a lot of things! Our guts, that wonderful bacteria in our tummies is the first line of defense. I have come to believe through visits with our pediatrician, research, and holistic doctors that by feeding our bodies well and healing our guts we can heal some food intolerances and help to diminish the severity or avoid altogether colds and flus.

Good stuff in and you’re strong…bad stuff in and your bad bacteria cheers and down you go.

So here are the top things we do in our household.

1) Eat an unprocessed whole food diet. If it isn’t the way it comes off of plants…if it had to go through massive changes in a machine or through chemicals…don’t eat it. This includes eating unprocessed sugars only (coconut sugar, maple syrup, and raw honey). So essentially, lots of veggies, fruit, meat, nuts, granola (homemade), quinoa, amaranth, occasional brown or wild rice. We follow the 80/20 rule for this.

The less sugar and starches…the less the bad bacteria has to feed off of. So the good can flourish. Think natural, grass fed and organic when money permits.

2) Supplement with whole food vitamins. We use the Standard Process brand. Daily my boys use a low dose of Congaplex to keep strep throat away. This fills a deficiency and helps to specifically prevent strep throat. We also use their Cyruta Plus to help prevent nose bleeds in my youngest. I blend them up in juice and they drink their vitamins with no aversion.

3) Use therapeutic grade pure essential oils to boost the immune system and fight off the yuckies. My youngest was exposed to the stomach flu this week. He has complained of a tummy ache and looked gray a couple times this weekend but we have been using Young Living Thieves oil on his feet and diffused in the air while we have snuggle reading time. I also rubbed their DiGize oil and Peppermint on his belly and his tummy ache has gone away.

4) Use high quality diverse strains of Probiotics. Your stomach needs this. When my little guy felt yucky I also gave him one probiotic per day to help him fight things off. We also drink kombucha instead of pop and my kids love the fizziness while I love the probiotics in it. You could look to kefir (there are dairy and non-dairy forms) that can help boost your good gut bacteria levels.

5)Get your Vitamin D! This is huge! We are an indoor society now…we don’t get all the vitamin D that we need. My sister survived Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and her oncologist said the majority of people are deficient and should be getting 2000 IU of D per day! Get in the sunshine as much as possible and take a natural formed supplement. We take Cod Liver Oil or krill Oil. My boys get a teaspoon per day that is lemon flavored and a piece of chocolate for their effort.

We can’t avoid everything but I do know that my boys have only thrown up twice in their lives. The enterovirus and Ebola freak me out and other parents as well. I know that the healthier we eat the healthier we are. When I slack off and let them have the suckers and candy or pop…they get sick. It’s just not worth it.

Throwback Thursday: Strep Throat Smoothies

So in an attempt to slowly switch my content over you will see some old posts showing up on Thursdays. Here is one I like in the spirit of health and wellness. Enjoy!

We love smoothies here! We also love the way we sneak essential vegetables and even vitamins into the smoothies our kids drink. The key…have some strong tasting fruit or lemon juice in there with a little raw honey and you’re good to go.

Our boys are prone to strep throat. They had it 5 or 6 times last year. This school year they had it in September and then I heard about a naturopath that had some vitamin/mineral supplements that could help. I was skeptical. I do the natural and medical path for our family. I read up, research, try, and sometimes we’re successful…sometimes we’re not.

So we started taking Standard Process supplements and when my boys are taking “Congaplex” they don’t get strep. When they stop for awhile or refuse to drink the smoothies I make with it in them… Sure enough they get strep throat. The only problem is it’s a strong tasting supplement. So here’s a sample smoothie that I make which hides the flavor. I also sneak other Standard Process supplements in for nose bleeds (Cyruta Plus), severe runny noses (Antronex) as needed. I test on myself first and the stuff works! I do all of this under the guidance of the naturopath who recommends the correct dosage for their weight and age.

Strep Throat Smoothie

3 capsules of congaplex
3-4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup apple juice
4 frozen strawberries
4 chunks frozen mango
4 chunks frozen pineapple
2 Tbsp raw honey
water to the 2 cup line of blender

Blend to a smooth consistency and drink away! Enjoy!

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