Post 5-Day Cleanse

In light of learning about some food intolerances I have, I decided to do a 5-Day Cleanse to sort of jump start my system into accepting the new way of eating. It worked, sort of. I followed Young Living’s nutritional cleanse and posted all the directions in a Facebook group for other YL members to join in.

I began the cleanse on a Friday, and was excited to start. The day before, I went grocery shopping and prepped the allowed foods so everything was ready. I told my family I was doing this, and my husband was in full support.

Day 1: I felt pretty good. I was a little hungry mid-day, but drank a lot of water and it passed.

Day 2: I woke up with a headache. Usually for me, this means I will end the day with a migraine. I read that headaches can be a part of the detox process, though, so I used M-Grain essential oil on my temples and drank water. It eased up a little, but I was pretty miserable by evening. I decided to forgo the protein shake for dinner and had a salad with tuna, no dressing. I went to bed feeling as if I was getting sick.

Day 3: I started shaking. Thinking back, it may have been withdrawal symptoms as my body was being deprived of its morning tea. However, I was also dizzy, and as I have a slight heart defect that can cause dizziness and issues with blood pressure, I decided to end the cleanse.

Since then, I have not had any gluten, diary, or eggs. I am feeling fantastic overall, and have noticed some of my gut issues have subsided a bit. I will remain gluten-free for the rest of my life, as I know it is an ongoing issue. However, I want to attempt to add back in eggs and dairy after thirty days. Especially the eggs! I can handle no dairy, even though I love cheese. There are a lot of cheese alternative products that my friends say are pretty tasty. We got chickens because I love eggs for a protein source, and I think my heart will break a little if I discover I really can’t have them.

Have you done a cleanse before? What was your experience? I would love to hear from you!

Exploring Food Intolerances

My family and most of my friends know about my long journey towards health. I don’t usually talk about it in public, but I don’t know why not. There are probably a million people out there who have similar questions about their health, and my experiences may help them.

Before I get into it, though, a little disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional. The information I share is strictly my personal experience or information given to me about my own health from a medical professional. Please seek professional advice about your health condition.

In December, I decided I wanted to have a definitive answer regarding food that causes an immune response. In the past, I asked doctors to test me for food sensitivities, and they either refused or told me just to “eat healthier.” After years of frustration, I took matters into my own hands.

Last month, I ordered a food sensitivity test from Everlywell*. Note: This is not a food allergy test. A friend of mine used them and took the results to her doctor for review. She said it was helpful, and less expensive than testing through a local lab as ordered by her doctor. After some research on how Everlywell does things and reading reviews on other websites, I placed my order.

I won’t bore you with how to collect your sample for the test — that’s all on their website — so let’s jump to the results.

I had a mild to high immune response to 43 out of 204 tested foods. I expected gluten and cow’s milk to be in the top ten, and they were, but I was suprised to see chicken egg white and yolk to also be on that list. I mean, we got chickens because I love eggs for breakfast!

So what’s next? An elimination diet. It is recommended to remove at least five foods that cause the most immune response for 30 days, and then add them back in one at a time with a few days between each addition.

Just after Thanksgiving, I went completely gluten-free, but it can take up to six months for it to be fully removed from the system. I have also been drinking almond milk instead of cow’s milk, but I have still been eating cheese, yogurt, and butter.

Starting next week, I am going to completely eliminate all cow’s milk products and eggs for the next thirty days. Once I have determined what products cause the immune response, I will move to the next set of foods. I will share my journey with you, and hope that it helps you find your way to better health.


*By clicking this link, I may receive compensation for any orders placed.

Why You Should Prioritize Self-Care

We hear the phrase “self-care” a lot lately. There are hundreds of blogs and articles out there listing acts of self-care, but this is not one of them. Instead, let’s talk about why you should make self-care a priority. 

When I’m in a seminar and the presenter asks us to list the things in our life in order of importance, self-care is always at the top of my list. Some people would argue that God or religion should be first, but on my list, that’s part of self-care. Other items on my list might change positions, however. Here is my current list:

1. Self-Care

Faith

Exercise

Good sleep

Boundaries

2. Family

There are a few more items that fall into some of these categories, but you get the general idea. Go ahead and make your priorities list. I’ll wait. 

Is self-care at or near the top of your list, too? If not, why not? How can you care for your family or be effective at work if you are feeling drained? 

“Put your own oxygen mask on first, before attempting to help those around you.”

The instructions airline passengers receive if there’s an emergency and oxygen masks drop clearly state to put your own mask on first. I know that as a mother, my first instinct in an emergency is to help my children. Every time I hear the flight attendant tell me to put my own mask on first, I wonder if I could really do it. Could I watch my child struggle for a few moments while I ensure my own survival? 

I’m grateful that I’ve never been tested in a life-and-death situation. But day-to-day events? You betcha. I put my survival above all else. My family can survive for an hour while I go to the gym. They can wait 15 minutes while I journal. They give me 3 minutes of peace while I use the bathroom. 

If you are not caring for yourself, you will not have the capacity to care for others. It is impossible to give time and energy to your family and obligations if you are depleted. Lack of energy can easily translate to depression, which makes it even more difficult to fulfill others’ needs. Exercise, a good sleep routine, and practicing faith can all boost both happiness and energy. It makes it easier to care for others. 

How do you develop a self-care routine? First, make a list of your stress-coping mechanisms. From that list, pick 3 things that you can do daily. These things should easily fit into your schedule and not involve doing anything for someone else. Next, add these items to your daily to-do list and block out time on your calendar. Finally, and this is the most important step, do them! Don’t allow other things to infringe upon this time. Talk to your partner and children and let them know that this time is important for you to be able to be a better spouse/partner/parent/employee, etc. 

If you have to get up earlier, stay up later, trade babysitting, or hire a sitter in order to have the time you need, plan for that. Will there be days that your self-care doesn’t happen? Absolutely. The goal here is to have this time more often than not. Then those few days a month that you don’t get your workout in or miss journaling won’t affect you as much. You will still be grounded, centered, and filled, ready to take on whatever arises. 

Fibromyalgia To Wholeness

This is an outline of my journey from living with incredible pain due to fibromyalgia to wholeness. There wasn’t just one thing that worked. I wish I could say I found the magic solution to fibromyalgia. And I’m not “cured,” not by any means. But I am healthier and happier than I have been in a long time. This is super long so I broke it down by topic. I hope it helps! And feel free to ask me any questions. 

The timeline is a little messed up. I didn’t just do one thing and then the next. I started with one thing, added another, and then a few more. 

PAIN

It started with the prescription medications making the pain less, but the memory and brain fog issues worse. It started to become dangerous for me to drive, and since my husband worked out of town, I was the sole caregiver for our 4 children. I began researching – and keeping lots of notes! – herbal remedies. This naturally let me to the world of essential oils. 

I started with a DIY muscle relief cream. The recipe has morphed over time, based on my knowledge and needs, but the base has always been the same. 

1/2 cup coconut oil and 10 drops each of PanAway, Lavender, and Peppermint. 

Other oils that I started adding to get better results are Lemongrass and Copaiba. 

The first night, I rubbed this all over my legs just before bed and when I got up the next morning, it didn’t hurt to walk. I was amazed! I also use this after a big day, such as going to the fair, when I know my nerves and muscles will hurt afterward. 

Once it didn’t hurt to get out of bed, I started to work on my sleep. 

SLEEP

Good, quality sleep is sooo important. I think it’s even more important when you have pain that results in difficulty sleeping. I used to not be able to fall asleep and would lay in bed for HOURS, watching the clock and listening to my husband snore. Then, when I finally fell asleep around 2 am, I would be awake again at 4 am. I would lay there until around 6 am when I needed to get up to get the kids ready for school. Then, by 8 or 9 am, I was napping. I would wake up around 10 or 11, do a couple of minor chores, then go back to sleep. The kids would get home from school, and I would be awake again until 2 am. Repeat, repeat. It was terrible. 

I created a good sleep routine, started diffusing Lavender, and using Sleep Essence. 6 months later, I started falling asleep at 11 pm and staying asleep until 4 am. Now? I go to bed around 9:30-10 pm and sleep until 6 am – unless the dog wakes me up to go outside or my grandbabies are here and they wake up. I get a solid 8 hours of sleep on the regular now. 

GUT

Next, I worked on my gut. I kept hearing that whole health is in the gut. I had all kinds of stomach/gut issues. Constipation, diarrhea (sometimes in the same day!), noises, heartburn, cramps… and the doctor just wanted to medicate me. I learned before, though, that sometimes the side effects are worse than the issue. 

I looked up the top culprits for gut issues and, no surprise, came up with gluten, sugar, and caffeine. There were others, but these were the ones I focused on. 

I started by doing a 10-day sugar cleanse. Some people were super serious and didn’t eat anything that had sugar in it, including fruits. I just did no processed or added sugars. For this challenge, I started drinking Ningxia Red – an antioxidant nutrient drink. It helped with the withdrawal symptoms. After the challenge, I found I have more energy and less brain fog. 

Then I started phasing out gluten. This one is hard for me because my entire family is a “meat and pasta” club. However, when I do eat gluten, I end up extremely tired within 20 minutes. I have a migraine within an hour, and all kinds of gut issues for 3 days afterward. I have not been tested for Celiac. Gluten-free products are super expensive, which was another hurdle for me. I use corn tortillas, make zucchini noodles, and chaffles, and eat a lot of real foods now. 

Caffeine…oh my dearest coffee pot. We must break up! Well, sort of. I still have coffee, and black tea, but for a while, I didn’t. I did another 10-day detox for caffeine, but by accident. I was working out every morning (more on that later) and my heart rate wasn’t dropping. The trainer told me not to drink coffee in the mornings before class. So I listened. But by the time class was over, my body didn’t feel like it needed caffeine. Now I have tea on non-workout days and coffee once a week on the weekends. 

I recently posted in my Facebook Group some more healthy eating tips and other valuable points.

I also take AllerZyme, EssentialZyme, and use DiGize essential oil. Ningxia Red helped me with gut things, too. 

EXERCISE

By this time, we were living in a small, single level home with only 2 steps instead of 3 flights. This one was probably the hardest of all to get going. When I first got sick, we lived on the third floor of an apartment building and there was no elevator. If I went grocery shopping, I would come home and have to crawl up the stairs. Literally, on my hands and knees. My dad made me a cane that helped when I had to be out for more than a few days. Yes, a 30-year-old woman walked with a cane! 

Everything I read said that exercise was important to combat fibromyalgia. But how can I when it exhausts me and makes me hurt? 

I started REALLY slow. As in, I would walk from the front door to the end of the driveway and back. Then the next week I would walk to the end of the street. Then I would walk to the end of the block. Eventually, I was able to take my dog on walks all over our little town and we walked about 3 miles every night. 

I also re-started yoga. I loved it before I got sick, and knew the focus on being present in the moment would be helpful to my journey to health. The stretching, balancing, and breathing exercises both strengthened and relaxed my muscles. 

I used a LOT of my homemade cream recipe, but now I will reach for pre-made things like Cool Azul Sports Gel, Cool Azul Pain Cream, Ortho Ease Massage Oil, Deep Relief roll-on, and CBD Muscle Rub. I basically reach for whatever is handy or what I think would work the best in the moment. 

STRESS

Stress can exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms. I had to learn how to set clear boundaries and expectations of myself and my family. I had to learn how to say no when people asked me for help – which is really hard because I love helping others! I can’t say I’m totally stress-free (is anyone?), but I can say I manage it better. I use StressAway, Calm roll-on, time-blocking, meditation, and exercise to keep the anxiety monster at bay. I also get regular massages and chiropractic adjustments. 

Where am I now? 

I still have hard days, when it hurts to move, my husband can’t hug me, and I just want to sleep. But those days are less than they used to be. Winter is the hardest, with the cold and dark, but I can cope with it now instead of staying in bed all day. 

I work out 4-5 days a week doing kickboxing, weight training, and yoga. I also will go for walks or jogs, work in the garden, and play with my kids and grandkids. I can clean house and go grocery shopping in the same day! I write, edit, and run my business. I still have to write everything down, but now it’s just because I’m so busy and not because my mind can’t hold any information. I walked 12 miles in one day while in London. I feel stronger than I ever remember being. 

True health and wholeness is not using or doing just one thing. It’s about looking at the big picture and all the pieces, sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. What worked for me might not work for you. The products mentioned above are the ones I use most often, but there are lots of others that I use to support my body and mind. I’m happy to chat with you and work with you to discover your whole health self!

Essential Oil Usage

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DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional of any kind. I cannot prescribe, diagnose, or treat diseases. All the information contained in this article is from my own research and experiences. 

Earlier we talked about how to choose a good brand of essential oils. Now, let’s talk about essential oil use and safety. Knowing how to safely use essential oils is extremely important. First, what is an essential oil?

MedicineNet defines essential oils as: “An oil derived from a natural substance, usually either for its healing properties or as a perfume. Some pharmaceuticals, and many over-the-counter or ‘holistic’ remedies, are based on or contain essential oils. For example, products containing camphor or eucalyptus essential oils can help relieve congestive coughs, and many essential oils are used in the practice of aromatherapy.”

The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that an essential oil is: “The scented liquid taken from certain plants using steam or pressure. Essential oils contain the natural chemicals that give the plant its “essence” (specific odor and flavor). Essential oils are used in perfumes, food flavorings, medicine, and aromatherapy.”

Notice both definitions indicate that essential oils are used in medicine. You wouldn’t take a cough syrup or prescription without knowing the proper dosage, and the same should apply to essential oils. When starting out with essential oils it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the information available. I’m going to break it down for you as simply as I can.

There are three ways to use essential oils: aromatically, topically, and internally.

Aromatic use is probably the most common and is usually done by placing the essential oil in a diffuser which then expels the scent into the air. You can also place a drop of essential oil in your palms or on a cloth and then inhale the scent. In general, this is considered to be the safest way to use essential oils. Some things to consider before aromatic use are pet safety (remember, some types of pets are more sensitive to some essential oils than others), child safety (extremely young children should not be exposed to some essential oils), and the desired result of use. Sometimes I diffuse because I want the house to smell good, other times I use it to boost my mood on gloomy rainy days.

Topical use is placing the essential oils on the skin and it includes massage therapy. When using essential oils in this way, it is very important that you follow label directions for dilution requirement. Some oils are considered “hot,” and can be irritating or even harmful if applied without being diluted first. It’s easy to dilute an essential oil. If the label indicates to dilute one drop of essential oil with one drop of carrier oil, simply put one drop of your choice of carrier oil in the palm of your hand, add the drop of essential oil and apply as needed. What are carrier oils? It is any vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, and many more. Most likely you have a carrier oil in your kitchen. Something else to remember when using essential oils topically is that some are considered photosensitive and should not be applied prior to going out in the sun or tanning. Mild to serious burns might result.

Internal use is controversial because of the use of synthetic ingredients in some brands of essential oils. As we talked about before, many people think all essential oils are the same but they are not. The result is the improper use of essential oils. Only oils specifically labeled for internal use should be taken internally. Always follow the label’s directions. When using a dietary essential oil, you can drop it in your water (but not if the container or straw is plastic), put it in a vegetable capsule and take it, or use it in cooking to flavor your food. I just made my children blueberry lemon pancakes this morning using Young Living’s Lemon Vitality Essential Oil. If you are not sure if the essential oil can be taken internally, don’t use it that way. The label will clearly state if it is for topical and aromatic use only, or internal.

As always, do your research, ask someone knowledgeable, and follow the label directions. Consult your medical professional before using, especially if you have underlying health issues. Some essential oils can react with prescription medications.

Choosing Essential Oil Brands

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Please note: I am not a doctor or veterinarian and cannot give medical advice. The information contained in this article is from my personal knowledge and research. I have been using Young Living Essential Oils for four years, including around and on my children and pets, without any ill effects. I have done hours upon hours of research before using them, and I still study their uses and effects.

Lately, there have been a lot of posts on social media about the dangers of essential oils to pets. People read these, share them without another thought, and essential oils are blamed for illness and death in pets. This causes frustration on many levels because those same posts don’t always state what brand of essential oils were used. Some brands include synthetic fragrances and are not truly pure plant matter. The FDA does not regulate essential oils and states the following:

“There is no regulatory definition for “essential oils,” although people commonly use the term to refer to certain oils extracted from plants. The law treats Ingredients from plants the same as those from any other source.”

For example, “essential oils” are commonly used in so-called “aromatherapy” products. If an “aromatherapy” product is intended to treat or prevent disease, or to affect the structure or function of the body, it’s a drug. To learn more, see “Aromatherapy.”

Similarly, a “massage oil intended to lubricate the skin is a cosmetic. But if claims are made that a massage oil relieves aches or relaxes muscles, apart from the action of the massage itself, it’s a drug, or possibly both a cosmetic and a drug,” 

Wait, what?

“The law treats Ingredients from plants the same as those from any other source.”

This means that an essential oil containing only steam distilled Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) and a lab-created synthetic fragrance of lavender can both be labeled as pure essential oils.

This is why knowing where your products come from is so important. Essential oils — the real plant matter ones, not the lab-created ones — have been shown to help support overall feelings of wellness in all kinds of animals, from humans to dogs, from cats to guinea pigs, and even birds. But there are a lot of cheap, fake oils out there and people are not educated on the lack of regulation of essential oils, how they are made, or their proper use. They buy a diffuser, set it up, and start making their homes smell good without a thought to what is actually in that little bottle. How, then, do we know that it’s the Eucalyptus globulus and not eucalyptus fragrance that is causing our dear pets to have medical emergencies? We don’t, and yet essential oils, in general, are being blamed.

If you’re interested in learning how to live above the wellness line with essential oils, it is highly suggested that you seek out a reputable company and not purchase essential oils from the local grocery store. Do some research and ask some of the following questions:

1) How long has the company been in business?

2) Does the company own their farms or have partner farms?

3) Does the company control everything from planting to bottling?

4) Are the essential oils steam distilled and is the oil going into the bottle from the first distillation?

5) Are the oils tested both by the company’s quality control and by third parties?

6) How many tests are done? There are currently 20 possible tests that can be done to check an essential oil’s quality and constitution. (We will talk about these in a future article.)

7) Are they synthetic-free?

8) Are they organic?

9) Are any labeled as a dietary supplement?

Next, do your research. Lots and lots of research. Please don’t take your neighbor’s cousin’s sister’s word for how to use essential oils. Definitely ask your friends and family questions, but then follow up their answers with studying. Find out which oils might irritate the skin if used improperly. Learn about carrier oils, photosensitivity, and possible prescription drug interactions. Study the use of each oil, including what they can be used for, how to use them, and general safety information. When you start to use essential oils, start slow! Don’t set up your diffuser and add 15 drops of lemon. Instead, use 2 drops and monitor how you (and your pets) feel.

Yes, you can diffuse (real) essential oils around your pets. Place the diffuser in a main living area and make sure your pet is able to go to another room if they don’t like the smell. Never apply essential oils topically to your pet without consulting a veterinarian, and never apply undiluted essential oils. Start with ones that do not have phenols or salicylate in them. Oils that contain phenols or salicylate include, but are not limited to: Wintergreen, Basil, Oregano, and Tea Tree. Many people pick up essential oils because they smell good, and then use them similarly to candles or wax melts, but they can be so much more with the right quality and information. They can also be harmful if you are not armed with knowledge.