Monday, October 8, 2012

Friday, October 5, 2012

Avoiding My Afternoon Slump


With 4 young children, I can't afford to be exhausted and unable to concentrate.  However, I consistently deal with the afternoon slump.  My mind turns to a haze of jumbled thoughts and I can't seem to focus on any one in particular; and I feel like I could sleep for hours at a rip.

My best guess, according to the reading I've done for myself is that I have a blood sugar dip and possible adrenal issues, so I've begun a list of ways to combat the afternoon slump.

Exercise, especially in the morning.  It boosts blood flow and gets your system in gear for the rest of the day.  Also, exercising when you feel that slump starting can help push you past that slump.

Morning vitamins and protein help fuel the body for the day.  The healthier the fuel, the better your body functions.

Iron!  I'm almost always borderline anemic.  I have to remember to eat iron-rich foods, or drink nettle tea to keep me from being tired.

Small meals!  Eating a heavy, hard-to-digest lunch can slow the rest of your body down as it works to digest that rock in your stomach.  Eat small meals and supplement with:

Protein-rich snacks.  Forget the sugar-rush snacks of empty calories.  Grab a handful of almonds, or an apple with peanut butter or cheese instead.  It'll give your body something to use and fuel you up right.

And I reinterate, little to no sugar!  It makes your blood sugar rise, yes, but then it crashes even harder, plus it gives no nutrition for your body to use and fuel itself.

Stay hydrated.  A body fighting for water is going to wear you down...and probably bring on a headache, too.

Power nap.  If I need to, I take a quick power nap.  It does more for me an an hour or so snooze that I usually wake up just as groggy from.  Sometimes, just laying still for 5-10 minutes helps greatly, or even taking a moment to stretch my body and breathe deeply.

10 minutes of fresh air and daylight every day.  Being outside can help keep our internal clocks working properly.  Our bodies aren't designed to hide under artificial light day after day.

How do you avoid the afternoon slump?


Monday, September 24, 2012

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Coconut Cookies


Gluten-Free Almond Butter Coconut Cookies

1/4 cup organic unrefined sugar (I used Florida Crystals)
Approx. 1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 cup organic almond butter
1 egg
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup organic buckwheat flour
1/3 tsp aluminum free baking powder
1/3 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Enough coconut flour to make a good cookie dough...I think approx. 1/4 - 1/3 cup

Cream almond butter, butter and sugars together.  Blend in egg well.  Mix together with buckwheat flour, powder, soda and salt.  Stir in shredded coconut, then blend in coconut flour until you have a good cookie dough.  You should be able to form balls without the dough being too sticky or too dry.  Form into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 5-10 minutes.

Keep in mind that I'm guessing a little on the measurements because I don't always measure.  I kind of just eyeball it a lot.  I'm also guessing on baking time because I go by smell (my oven doesn't have a timer, or even an oven light or door window!) and my oven is small, so it tends to bake things a little more quickly than average sized ovens.

I'll try to post a picture in the near future.

I'm fairly ignorant on what is truly, I mean TRULY gluten-free, so if any of the ingredients aren't truly gluten-free, then please let me know.  If you need it casein or dairy-free, you could try substituting the butter for coconut oil, but I haven't tried it, so I don't know how they'd turn out.

PS....this recipe is copyrighted by me.  Do not copy without permission.  Feel free to pin it or link to it on facebook, but please don't steal it and submit it as your own recipe.  Thanks!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Inexpensive and Easy Ways to Get Your Nutrients


Ya gotta love it these days.  You wheel your shopping cart into the checkout lane, unload your carefully selected items, the bagger plops a few bags into your cart and you hand the cashier your child's college fund.

Perhaps it is your grocery budget.  Perhaps it is time constraints.  Perhaps you just don't like spending a good portion of your day in the kitchen.  How can you get your nutrients inexpensively and easily?

Herbal teas!
Soups and stews!  (Preferably homemade with bone broth...the store bought stuff is garbage)
Fruits and veggies in season
Oatmeal
Eggs
Yogurt

You could do quite well for a season on these simple, nutrient dense foods.

Monday, August 20, 2012

10 Ways to Prepare for Cold and Flu Season


Depending on where you live, the children are starting to return to school.  With that great exodus of summer comes the cold and flu season.  While the weather is nice, there are ways to prepare for the cold and flu season to help prevent you from catching those nasty bugs, or at least weaken the germs and strengthen your immune system:

1.  Clean up your diet!  Stop eating junk foods, processed foods, and "diet" foods!  All they do is make your body work harder against the onslaught of chemicals and empty calories leaving less energy to work on your immune system!

2.  Exercise, especially in the fresh air!  Exercise is a great immune booster.  Fresh air is cleansing.

3.  Vitamin C!  Yes, it works!  Eat Vitamin C-rich foods.  If you choose to take a supplement, choose wisely and seek organic if you can.

4.  Another great supplement is Nature's Plus Animal Parade Children's Immune Booster.  I use this for my children and I and it works!

5. Ederberry Syrup!  The immune booster of the Native Americas works for everyone!

6. Echinacea is another immune boosting herb.

7. Turmeric Milk!  I came across this article on Turmeric Milk!  I'm definitely adding it to my immune boosting list!

8.  Bulk Herb Store has an herbal mix that helps boost your immune system.  You can find it HERE.

9.  Get your sleep!  With the earlier setting of the sun, take a cue and go to bed!

10.  Chicken soup.  Good ol' chicken soup made with homemade stock is a great immune booster and system supporter.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Upping My Workout With Kids

It's going quite well with the BeachBody Challenge.  I am seeing changes.  I am down to a 29" waist already, but I only dropped 1 lb.  Go figure!  LOL!  What I love most is that I am getting stronger and I want to do more and see more results.  Yoga Booty Ballet isn't cutting it as an only workout for the day, but it isn't like I have a ton of time to devote to a major workout session with 4 young children and an entire household to run and homeschool to prepare for.  So here's what I've been brainstorming to get my rear in gear:

1. Devote my planned workout time to the DVD workout of choice.

2. Do 1 minute intervals throughout the day...how many push-ups can I do in a minute?   How many burpees?  Hold plank.  Squat thrust.  Plyos.  Lunges.  Crunches.  Roll-ups.  Sit ups.  How long can I hang from the chin-up bar, etc.

3. Go for evening walks with the kiddos.  If it isn't storming or sweltering out, I can strap the baby to my body, and load the other three into the stroller and go for a walk with them.  It's a mile round trip from my house to the top of the hill and back again.  1 mile with nearly 100 lbs of kiddos is a good workout, especially since it is a slight grade uphill on the return with a fairly steep hill finish.  Plus, it relaxes and soothes kiddos who are getting fussy and tired from their day.

Any other ideas?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

PPPU Part 7

I joined the BeachBody 60 day fitness challenge under my coach:  http://beachbodycoach.com/esuite/home/sdelsavio

It started this Monday and for the next 60 days, I record my workouts, my 5 servings of fruits and veggies, my water intake, my lack of junk food and alcohol, and my Shakeology intake.  I can't do Shakeology because I'm one of the rare few who have problems with it.  Go figure.  So far, I've been doing great!  Earning all my points every day.  I really REALLY want to.  I want to stay dedicated.

It helps that I started my workouts before the challenge began, so I already had strength and stamina built up.  I've really been listening to my body this time and understanding more of what I need to do to really build lean muscle, burn fat, and stand tall.  Today, I discovered that 6 lbs isn't enough for bicept curls.  I had 6 lbs of weights in my hand and I kept curling and curling, but felt no burn.  I also realized recently that my spine is bent and compressed and my hip flexors out of alignment from the pregnancy.  This causes my belly to look poochy and gives me those "back boob" folds just above my waistline.  Since I started working on my core strength and correcting my posture, my belly isn't as poochy and the "back boobs" have pretty much disappeared.  They usually return late in the day when I'm tired and forget my posture.  I need to straighten my spine more to help get rid of the pooch just under my bust line.  Weird place for pooch, but it's like my abs got all mushed up funny.  I don't know.  But it is a post partum trouble spot.  I never did get rid of it after my 3rd baby's pregnancy.

I wasn't going to order anything from BeachBody since it wasn't necessary, though recommended, but I saw Yoga Booty Ballet and the complimentary price, so I ordered it.  It hasn't arrived yet, but I'm eager to see what it involves.  I haven't pushed myself to the max yet, so it is probably high time that I did.

A mistake I made was joining MyFitnessPal and logging in my calories.  It is only so individualized and only allowed me just over 1300 calories a day.  Well, I'm breast feeding, so I'd make the calorie goal and then allow myself a healthy snack to help cover breast feeding.  Well, even with the extra snack it wasn't enough.  Sure, I'd drop the weight quickly, but I also nearly passed out!  I had to take a nap and when I woke up, still exhausted and not feeling right, I ate a slice of sprouted grain bread with peanut butter and decided that so long as I eat healthfully and not pig out, I'm not going to try to count calories.  I've always been able to handle 2000 calories a day well and lose weight.

Results are showing and that makes me excited.  I'm eager to get rid of this post partum weight and flabby skin, so sometimes it gets frustrating when I sit down and still have that muffin top, or the size 4 jeans still can't quite get over my backside, or my kids giggle while they jiggle my belly or thighs, but it isn't necessarily about how much farther I have to go.  It's about seeing how far I've come already!  I'm healthy, I'm stronger, and it is only going to improve from here.


Monday, July 9, 2012

What's In Raw Milk


It makes sense to me that raw milk would be wonderfully nutritious  given that it is supposed to sustain and grow a 100 lb newborn calf, but I never knew what was in raw milk.  So, a little research and I was pleasantly surprised!  Raw milk is worlds better than pasteurized milk, which has most of its delicate nurtrients removed during pasteurization.

Here's a list of what's in raw milk:

    Water 87.3%

    Milk Fats 3.9%

    Non-fat Solids (Protein, Milk Sugar, Immune Factors, etc.) 8.8%
    A. Casein Proteins (~80% of Total Milk Protein-TMP)
    1. Alpha s1 [30.6%]
    2. Alpha s2 [8.0%]
    3. Beta [28.4%]
    4. Kappa [10.1%]
    B. Whey Proteins (~20% of TMP)
    1. Alpha lactalbumin [3.7%]
    2. Beta lactoglobulin [9.8%]
    3. Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) [1.2%]
    4. Immuoglobulins [2.1%]
    5. Proteose peptone [2.4%]

    Milk Sugar (Lactose) 4.6%

    Minerals 0.65%
    Calcium
    Phosphorus
    Magnesium
    Potassium
    Sodium
    Zinc
    Chlorine
    Iron
    Copper
    Sulfates
    Bicarbonates
    Trace Elements
    Mineral Content per quart (Typical range):

    Sodium__330-850mg
    Potassium__1040-1600mg
    Chloride__850-1040mg
    Calcium__1040-1225mg
    Magnesium__85-130mg
    Phosphorus__850-940mg
    Iron__280-570ug
    Zinc__1880-5660ug
    Copper__95-570ug
    Manganese__19-47ug
    Iodine __~245ug
    Fluoride__28-207ug
    Selenium__4.7-63ug
    Cobalt__0.47-1.23ug
    Chromium__7.5-12.3ug
    Molybdenum__17-113ug
    Nickel__0-47ug
    Silicon__700-6600ug
    Vanadium__trace-290ug
    Tin__38-470ug
    Arsenic__19-57ug

    Acids 0.18%
    Citric
    Formic
    Acetic
    Lactic
    Oxalic

    Fatty Acids:
    Butyric Acid 4 (# of Carbon atoms)
    Caproic Acid 6
    Caprylic Acid 8
    Capric Acid 10
    Lauric Acid 12
    Myristic Acid 14
    Palmitic Acid 16
    Stearic Acid 18
    Oleic Acid 18:1 (one double bond)
    CLA 18:2 (two double bonds)



    Vitamins/Enzymes 0.12%
    Vitamin Content per quart (Approximate):

    A__375ug
    C__19mg
    D__38IU
    E__940ug
    K__47ug
    B1__425ug
    B2__1650ug
    Niacin__850ug
    B6__470ug
    Pantothenic acid__3300ug
    Biotin__33ug
    Folic acid__52ug
    B12__4.25ug

    Amylase
    Catalase
    Lactase-(through bacterial synthesis)
    Lactoperoxidase
    Lipase
    Phosphatase

    It is said that many people who believe themselves to be lactose intolerant can actually consume raw milk without a problem because the digestive enzymes have not been compromised by pasteurization and thus makes the lactose digestible.

    People do well on raw milk fasts, cleanses, and even using raw milk as a meal substitute.

    My 3rd child drank a homemade infant formula out of raw milk after my milk supply dwindled and thrived on it!

    There is also a healthy amount of cholesterol in raw milk which helps keep the brain healthy.

    Reference:  http://www.raw-milk-facts.com/what_is_in_raw_milk.html

Friday, June 22, 2012

PPPU - 6

Dedication has paid off.  A lack of appetite has, too.  I'm measuring in at the end of this week at 137.5 lbs!  I surpassed my goal!  My Wii says I'm losing weight too fast, but my Wii also doesn't know that these are post partum pounds and I'm breast feeding.  Also, weight can fall off fast in spurts and then stop until you jump start your metabolism again.  My Wii also set my goal weight to 119 lbs, which I think will be too skinny.  I've always weighed more than I looked.  I must have heavy guts or something.  :b

Next Saturday is my cousin's big picnic.  I'm going to wear a swimsuit and go swimming!  Usually, I'm too self concious about my figure, worried that someone might not find me attractive.  Well, the little negative voices in my head can shut the h-e-double hockey stick up.  I just had my 4th baby, I'm doing GREAT at getting my strength back and dropping the post partum pounds.  Who CARES if my belly is still loose and poochy.  My family doesn't!  Although, I think it would be awesome to be 135 lbs at the picnic, but more than just the number, I'd like to be a bit more toned and STRONGER!  Which reminds me, I haven't tried my push-up today!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

PPPU - 1 month post partum


The top photo is me just before I got pregnant.  I was 120 lbs after being sick from well contamination.  Hubby thinks me too skinny in that picture.  He likes me a little heavier.  I was bouncing between 128-130 lbs when I got pregnant.

The bottom picture is me at 1 month post partum, taken yesterday.  I'm 141 lbs with a 31" waist and 39" hips.  Hubby LOVES this Mae West curvier me.  I do, too!  If you get the right mindset it can be fun to embrace your changing body and have fun with it throughout your childbearing years.  There's something sexy about a slim waistline, but there's something sexy about womanly softness and curves, too.

My short term goal is to get to 140 lbs by the end of this week.  That'll put me at the 10 lb face-off where I have to work harder.  To get below 130 lbs, I really have to push it and that may not fare well for my milk supply, so I'll be happy to stick with 130 lbs, at least until after I'm done breast feeding.

Speaking of breast feeding, I was afraid that losing this weight so soon after giving birth would have a harmful affect on my supply.  So far so good!  It helps that I am eating a healthful, high-fat diet and being careful about carbs and sugars.  Eggs in cultured butter, raw milk, yogurt, sprouted grain breads, fruits, veggies, meats, coconut oil....it's all good!

Anyhow, today, I started regular workouts.  I did the 40 minute The Firm Cardio Party.  I realized two things:  1. I'm not as out of shape as I thought I was...I did the whole party and kept up!  2. I need a really good supportive sports bra to keep these lactating puppies still!  Owie!!  How you big busted girls do it, I don't know.  I'm used to my more diminutive size.

Before I publish this post, I wanted to just make one thing clear:  I'm certainly not advocating rushing the post partum weight loss and fitness thing like the celebrities do.  I was going to wait until 6 weeks post partum to start much of anything, but my recovery after this birth was so fast and I felt so good so soon that I really wanted to start and felt like I needed to start early.  Every pregnancy is different.  My first two, I needed stitches and that slowed me up.  My third, my ab muscles split during the pregnancy and afterwards I had a prolapse AND a hernia.  Even at 6 months post partum I couldn't do anything that required jumping or laying down ab workouts.  So, as always, consult your physician and listen to your body.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

PPPU-5

So, here I am nearly 4 weeks post partum!  I stepped on my Wii board and was down another lb. to 142 lbs, but my Wii says I'm overweight.  Yeah, I KNOW, I just had a baby!  The Wii wants me down to just below 120 lbs.  Hubby likes me around 130 lbs.  I like me around 125 lbs, so I'm not going to put my stock in numbers completely.  I did make a Wii Fit goal of losing 5 lbs within the next month.

Anyhow, I've been exercising more and feeling great because of it!  It not only boosts metabolism and energy, but it boosts my self-confidence~something I've been lacking in for a while.  I love feeling and getting stronger!  Yesterday, I could only do 3 half-push-ups in plank position.  Today, I did 5 in a row and was able to get closer to the ground!  Soon, I'll be able to do a REAL push-up and reach my goal!

I'm thankful that my appetite isn't as big as it was post partum.  I always have a HUGE appetite after having a baby, probably for the milk supply.  Now that things are regulating again in my body, I'm not as hungry.

I look forward to thinning down more and toning up.  It's rather annoying to not fit into almost all of my clothing, but it is only good to lose healthfully.

Oh, and I'm below 32" in my waistline now, too!  Yay!  I'd like to be back to my usual 27-28".  I'd be jumping for joy if I got back down to 26".  I haven't seen 26" since I got pregnant with my 2nd child!

Monday, June 11, 2012

PPPU-4

So, now I'm getting all post-modern and instead of Post Partum Push-Up Part whatever, I'm just going to do PPPU-whatever.  I don't have much to update on today, so I thought I'd explain why I'm calling it Post Partum Push-Up.  My short term goal is to be able to do push-ups.  As I said before, all the illnesses and bedrest I was on during my pregnancy really weakened me.  Push-ups are my goal....real push-ups.

When I get the push-up goal accomplished, I'm changing the name to Post Partum Pull-Up!  It is actually on my bucket list to be able to finally do a pull-up.  I've never been able to do one!

What's on your fitness bucket list?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Post Partum Push Up: Part 3

I finally weighed myself.  145 lbs.  I'm pleased.  That's my usual post partum weight at 6 weeks.  That means I have 15 lbs to lose to fit in most of my clothes.  Starting today, I hope to lose a pound a week.  I shouldn't lose any more than that and I shouldn't go below 130 lbs until I'm done breast feeding.  Otherwise, I lose my milk supply.

I'm not very strong and my abs are shot.  If I'm laying on the floor, I cannot sit up.  I have to roll to my side and use my arms and legs to get up.  But, I started some ab exercises with my kids (tummy rides on my legs and airplane rides on my feet up in the air.)  I'm also doing sun salutations.  Yesterday, I did 3 in a row.  Funny how I can hold plank pretty well, but I can't do a crunch or sit-up!  Today, I plan on doing 5 in a row.  It doesn't sound like much, but as I said, it is going to be a slow start.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Post Partum Push Up: Part 2


I had to slow down for my 2nd week post partum.  My energy dwindled and my baby boy has been up more some nights, but hey, if he needs to eat all night long, so be it!  He's gaining well!

The top picture is me 1 week post partum.  The bottom is nearly 2 weeks post partum.  I've kind of leveled off in the belly shrinkage and my appetite.  Breast feeding makes me HUNGRY all the time, so my goal for week 3 is to be more mindful of what I eat and make sure I don't over eat.  I need plenty of healthy fats and proteins, plus iron-rich foods.

I haven't been belly binding too much because of the heat and the binder kind of gets in the way sometimes.  The weather has fallen cooler, so I should probably strap it back on.  Exercise has basically been housework, though I've started posture exercises and managed to do 2 sun salutations today.  My abs are SHOT, especially my lower abs.  GONE!  I knew I'd have to start very slow since I was on modified bed rest for so long on top of being so ill throughout the pregnancy.  I've been sedentary for nearly 8 months straight!  It's going to take a lot of work with a slow beginning to get me back in shape!  One day at a time.

I was going to start my Wii Fit today, but the batteries died in my Wii board and I only had 3 AA's in the battery drawer.  I need 4.  It's probably a good thing.  I don't usually like to weigh myself until 6 weeks post partum.  I will measure myself then, too.  My simple goal is for my waistline to be at or below 32" by 6 weeks post partum.  My overall goal is to get my old waistline back, which usually hovers between 26 and 28".

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Post Partum Push-Up Part 1


Now that I am done having children, it is time to get into the best shape of my life!

Thankfully, I have always done well getting my figure and strength back after pregnancy, so my body isn't too far out of whack, but this time, I really want to go for it!  Health, strength, well-being....being able to chase after 4 young children!!!

So, here is my before report.  I haven't weighed myself yet or taken any measurements.  I don't usually do that until 6 weeks post partum (or when I feel recovered enough to resume a regular exercise routine).  The top picture is my final pregnancy picture.  My water had broken and I had just rolled out of bed.  The bottom picture is 24 hours after delivery.

What I am doing now:
1. Lots of breast feeding.
2. Wearing a belly band to push my guts back into place.
3. Resting.

What I plan to do next week:
1. Begin posture exercises to align my spine and hips after being curved and loosened from pregnancy and delivery.
2. Continue breast feeding.
3. Improve diet.

For local fitness coaching, check out:

Fitness2aT
Shannon Mormile DelSavio Team BeachBody Coach

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why Bother With Quinoa Pasta?


With the Spring and Summer seasons comes the taste for pasta salads.  That puts us health nuts in a bit of a position since pasta itself isn't exactly a health food.  It is also a barrier for those who are gluten-free.  So, I started looking at quinoa pasta as a substitute and was turned off.  Here's why:

1. The expense!  Quinoa pasta is expensive.
2. Quinoa pasta sometimes contains semolina.
3. Quinoa pasta is a processed food.
4. Quinoa pasta has not been soaked in whey or sprouted before use, which is something that should be done with quinoa.

So, as I stood there staring at the quinoa pasta on the shelf of the store, it dawned on me.  Why bother?  Why not just use quinoa?

So, that is what I have been doing.  I've used quinoa for the times I've craved a good pasta dish.  I also made tuna "macaroni" salad using quinoa and it was very good and very satisfying.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Skin Part 2: Beyond the Face

We stand nose to nose with our reflection in the mirror, examining our face.  Our face gets a lot of attention.  So much so that I've seen women with beautiful and obviously treated skin on their faces, but their neck, chest, and hands look their age or worse.

Our skin is our biggest organ.  It is our protection, even a filter of sorts.  We must care for it from head to toe.

Signs your skin is unhealthy and in need of attention include:

body acne
sun spots/liver spots
dryness and flaking
folliculitis
carbuncles (usually found on the buttocks ie: butt acne)
loss of elasticity, especially pre-menopausal
boils
cherry angiomas
warts

Do and Don'ts of body skin care:

1. Don't wash your body when it doesn't need washing.
2. Do wash your body when it does.
3. Don't use harsh commercial soaps.
4. Do use a gentle, homemade soap, commerical additive-free soap, or castile soap.
5. Don't use commerical body lotions.
6. Do use a gentle massage oil, such as sweet almond oil.
7. Do treat touble spots with herbal remedies, apple cider vinegar, or witch hazel.
8. Don't eat processed, sugar-laden foods.  Yes, foods can affect the state of your skin!
9. Do stay hydrated.
10. Don't wear binding clothing frequently.
11. Do spend some time each day in the buff, even if it is just sleeping in the buff.
12. Don't wear synthetic clothing, or highly chemically-treated clothing.  (If you can.  This would be a hard goal to achieve.)
13. Start buying organic clothing when and where you can.
14. Do get sun on your skin (without any sunblock).
15. Don't allow your skin to sunburn!
16. Don't smoke!
17. Do exercise and let yourself sweat it out!
18. Do keep your razor blade clean and disinfected.
19. Do get enough sleep.
20. Do treat yourself to healthful massages to get the blood flowing!  Make sure your massage therapist uses  natural oils for your skin and not commercial lubricant concoctions.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Researching the Benefits of Sunbathing

I haven't sun bathed in decades, literally! Of course, anyone who grew up in the 80's and 90's remembers all the warnings against sunbathing. All our sun-worshipping parents and grandparents were wrinkled and cancerous, after all. They blamed the sun, but it could have been their smoking, stress, and poor eating habits of post WWII (more processed, artificial, canned foods). Now, I'm not saying I'm right. I'm just mulling things over here.

I avoided the sun because I was told to. I had bad acne and was told the sun would make it worse. (Then how come my skin actually IMPROVES when I do get tanned while working in my garden?) Skin cancer was in my family. I'm freckly, so it must be avoided. But, something didn't quite click. Slathering chemical-laden sunscreen over every pore of my body didn't exactly sound healthy. And then there were the contradictions:

1. My acne would clear up and the scars would fade.
2. I always had a yellow undertone to my skin. It was just assumed it was my complexion. Everything considered, I've probably had liver damage for quite some time! Jaundice, anyone? Having improved my diet, exercise and sun exposure, my skin has more neutral undertones to it.
3. When my babies were born, I was told to stick them in the sunlight to heal their jaundice. Sunlight on newborns?! Of course, it healed them faster than anything.
4. After responsible sunbathing or sun exposure, I feel stronger, more alert, and more focused. Vitamin D is so necessary for all of this. During my "indoor" years, I was pale, thin but flabby, moody and unfocused.
5. I read THIS article not too long ago. And yes, I've tried sunning my belly to improve digestion and I feel it works.

Then, I came across THIS informative article, which gave me more food for thought. Although there is a line where the author says to look at the sun to improve vision. I do believe he means facing the sunlight, not looking directly at the sun, which can blind you.

I'm going to continue my research. You can, too, if this interests you. Just google "benefits of sunbathing" and see what you come up with!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Skin Part 1: Topically


I'm not good at allowing myself to be vulnerable. I have thin skin and would rather hide my imperfections than publish them. I hate being perceived as ugly, but I've learned over the years that we all have imperfections and there is always someone prettier than you. I'm also trying to build up courage to share post partum "before" pictures as I work to get my health and pre-pregnancy body back.

I guess I should thank my skin problems of my youth. The severe acne I had helped point me in the direction of a healthier lifestyle and natural healing. Thankfully, the acne has eased greatly, but time and pregnancy have affected things, too.

Let's start with an analysis of the photo of my cheek and forehead above:

1. I'm sure you notice first off a lot of scarring. Chalk that up to severe acne left untreated and bad acne advice. "If you force it to pop, it'll heal faster!"

2. Secondly, when I'm pregnant, I get red dots on my face. Not sure what they are called. Stork bites?

3. Third, if you look diagonally upward from my (unbrushed!) eyebrow and my hairline, you'll see a black head. Genetically, I have large pores, so while pimples are pretty much a thing of the past, I still get blackheads.

4. My undereyes are slowly getting darker and fine lines are just beginning to appear. My skin is not as taut as it used to be. For the record, I'm 31.

5. I have pale skin.

As anyone can guess, I would love to even out my complexion and not feel compelled to use make-up so much.

So, this series will address my skin and how I'm planning on treating it:

Part 1: Topically
Part 2: beyond the face
Part 3: Internally, the Liver Connection

So much has been said of Bio-Oil. As I peered nose-to-nose with my reflection in the mirror, I decided to go ahead and buy it, but something told me to look it up. What does it contain? Here's the list straight from Bio-Oil's website:

Botanicals

Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract (Calendula Oil)
Lavandula Angustifolia Oil (Lavender Oil)
Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil (Rosemary Oil)
Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil (Chamomile Oil)

Vitamins

Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A)
Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E)

Oil base

Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum)
Triisononanoin
Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate
Isopropyl Myristate
Glycine Soja Oil
Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil
BHT
Bisabolol

Fragrance (Rose)

Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone
Amyl Cinnamal
Benzyl Salicylate
Citronellol
Coumarin
Eugenol
Farnesol
Geraniol
Hydroxycitronellal
Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde
Limonene
Linalool

Color (Orange)

D&C Red No.17 (CI 26100)


Um, I'm not a fan of some of the ingredients. Ok, most of them. Pretty much from "Vitamins" down. So, my wheels started turning and I thought, "Hey, why can't I make my own Bio Oil?" The first 4 oil ingredients are easy enough to get. For vitamin e, I can use sweet almond oil. For vitamin c, I can use rose hip oil. Both are excellent for the skin. If I want fragrance and a thinner formula, I can add rose water, which is also great for the skin.


Right now, I just wash with my homemade soap, use witch hazel as an astrigent, and sweet almond oil for a moisturizer. I'd like an herbal boost, though, which is why I'd like to make my own Bio-Oil.


How do you treat your skin?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ticks


The problem with enjoying the wildlife that roams through my backyard is the bugs they leave behind, mostly notably the TICK! Ticks are fairly routine here, so I thought I'd share how we deal with tick bites.

First of all, I highly HIGHLY recommend getting those tick crow bars. They are a fast, easy and painless way to get all of the tick out. NEVER leave the tick's head in your skin. You can get diseases even if just the mouth pieces are left behind.

1. Prepare a ziplock baggie by putting some rubbing alcohol in it.
2. Drop a bit of rubbing alcohol near the tick's mouth.
3. Follow the crow bar directions, removing the tick.
4. Put the tick in the ziplock baggie and keep on hand until you're sure the patient isn't developing any symptoms of Lyme or other infection.
5. Wash and disinfect the bite area and apply an herbal salve or neosporin.
6. Keep an eye on the bite area, looking for a "target," redness, swelling, or blackness.
7. Should patient develop any of those symptoms, take them and the tick to the doctor ASAP.

Personally, I don't worry about every tick I pull out of my family. So long as it is uninflammed or only partially inflammed, it has been on for less than 24 hours and unlikely to cause Lyme. However, I do keep an eye on the bite area. Regardless of whether or not the tick is inflammed, if you do choose to go to the doctor, they will most likely put you on antibiotics. If I did this for every tick bite my family got, we'd ruin our bodies with all those antibiotics and they wouldn't work when a real infection hit! So, it is up to you.

To prevent ticks:

1. Have your pets treated.
2. Use Tea Tree Oil around wrists, ankles, necklines, hairlines and waistbands before venturing out in a tick area.
3. Vacuum daily, floors and furniture.
4. Make tick checks a daily routine before showering.
5. Keep the dog's bedding area washed.
6. Invest in fowl. A couple of chickens in the back yard can effectively keep ticks at bay. Ticks are chicken M&M's!
7. Don't invite the deer in. As beautiful as they are to have them roaming through your yard, they're a main culprit for leaving the nasty bugs behind.
8. Tuck your pant legs into your socks.

I just removed a tick from my arm this morning, but may your season be a tick-free one.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Antibiotics during and after.

I just couldn't kick that sinus infection on my own. It got worse and spread to my upper lungs, so I took the plunge and decided to get antibiotics.

It worried me to take them because not only does it mess with my own gut flora, but it can mess with my baby's gut flora. Pregnant women who take antibiotics are more likely to have a colicky or reflux baby. I wanted to do what I could to prevent that, so I ate yogurt nearly every day and took probiotics.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. Also, antibiotics can make you crave carbs. Add that craving to a desire to just eat simply, and I was downing a lot of cold cereals. Not exactly healthy!

Hopefully, my wee one is ok, but I certainly wasn't. Irritable Bowel Syndrome hit, but I was able to put a stop to it by cutting out gluten, eating bone broth soups, eating more yogurt, taking more probiotics and taking herbal infusions (nettle, agrimony and licorice as well as chamomile-peppermint).

Nettles are strengthening to the system.
Agrimony is a mucus membrane and gut soother
Licorice soothes the gut, too.
Chamomile and peppermint calm intestinal spasms.

Gluten products have bothered me nearly this entire pregnancy, but now it's gotten to the point where I HAVE to quit gluten. This is hard for me, but I look forward to yet another learning experience. Exploring all those gluten-free recipes out there sounds good, too!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Different Kind of Green for St. Patrick's Day


Happy St. Patrick's Day, the day where everyone is Irish, anyone can wear green, and everything is dyed green.

But this St. Patty's Day, let me urge you to put down the green-tinted beer and any other food unnaturally dyed green and exchange it for something really "green."

Eat naturally green foods.
You can't get more Irish in America than Guiness, so drink it as is, rather than tinted green.
Make traditional Irish foods rather than American junk food dyed green.

So, why should we avoid all that green dye:

  • Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue)

    An unpublished study suggested the possibility that Blue 1 caused kidney tumors in mice. What it's in: Baked goods, beverages, desert powders, candies, cereal, drugs, and other products.

  • Blue #2 (Indigo Carmine)

    Causes a statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly brain gliomas, in male rats. What it's in: Colored beverages, candies, pet food, & other food and drugs.

  • Green #3 (Fast Green)

    Caused significant increases in bladder and testes tumors in male rats. What it's in: Drugs, personal care products, cosmetic products except in eye area, candies, beverages, ice cream, sorbet; ingested drugs, lipsticks, and externally applied cosmetics.

  • Yellow #5 (Tartrazine)

    Yellow 5 causes sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. What it's in: Pet foods, numerous bakery goods, beverages, dessert powders, candies, cereals, gelatin desserts, and many other foods, as well as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

  • Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow)

    Caused adrenal tumors in animals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions. What it's in: Color bakery goods, cereals, beverages, dessert powders, candies, gelatin deserts, sausage, cosmetics and drugs.

    For the entire article, and dangers of Red dyes, please click HERE.

    And one more article for you....click HERE.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Unplug That Microwave!

Who doesn't have a microwave? They're in college dorms, kitchens, offices and bachelor pads all over the United States! We can't seem to live without them. We've lost the skill of reheating food in a conventional oven or stove top. We yell at them to hurry up as the seconds tick down. Really, we should be throwing them out the window!

It is pretty much common knowledge now that bottles of formula or breast milk should not be 'nuked. It even says so on formula cans. The general consensus is that it unevenly warms the fluid and can cause burns to baby. However, there's the added researched concern that "Heating the bottle in a microwave can cause slight changes in the milk. In infant formulas, there may be a loss of some vitamins. In expressed breast milk, some protective properties may be destroyed." <Young Families, the Minnesota Extension Service of the University of Minnesota, 1989 radio announcement.>

If that happens to baby formula heated for mere seconds, what does it do to food overall?

In 1991, Norma Levitt was killed during a blood transfusion when the nurse warmed her blood in the microwave oven! The microwaves altered the blood and caused her body to be unable to accept it and use it! (Reference 1 and 2)

Hans Hertel and Bernard Blanc worked together to study the dangers of microwaves. In a controlled study, they found that those who consumed microwaved food had
Significant changes were discovered in the blood of the volunteers who consumed foods cooked in the microwave oven. These changes included a decrease in all hemoglobin values and cholesterol values, especially the HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) values and ratio." (Reference 1 and 2) It also harmed the immune system by decreased white blood cells!

In short, microwaving denatures food. Microwaves work by heating food through friction in the cellular structure of the food....from the inside out rather than conventionally from the outside in. (Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon). This causes deformation within the molecular structures of the food, thus altering fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc etc etc. Some are rendered useless while others are altered and unable to be full assimilated or used within our bodies. Microwaving also breaks down the cells making them more susceptable to dangerous micro-organisms. (Reference 1)

The website: Global Healing Center features a very in-depth article on the dangers of microwave cooking. In it, they list these 10 reasons to toss out your microwave.

Ten Reasons to Throw out your Microwave Oven

From the conclusions of the Swiss, Russian and German scientific clinical studies, we can no longer ignore the microwave oven sitting in our kitchens. Based on this research, we will conclude this article with the following:

  1. Continually eating food processed from a microwave oven causes long term - permanent - brain damage by "shorting out" electrical impulses in the brain [de-polarizing or de-magnetizing the brain tissue].
  2. The human body cannot metabolize [break down] the unknown by-products created in microwaved food.
  3. Male and female hormone production is shut down and/or altered by continually eating microwaved foods.
  4. The effects of microwaved food by-products are residual [long term, permanent] within the human body.
  5. Minerals, vitamins, and nutrients of all microwaved food is reduced or altered so that the human body gets little or no benefit, or the human body absorbs altered compounds that cannot be broken down.
  6. The minerals in vegetables are altered into cancerous free radicals when cooked in microwave ovens.
  7. Microwaved foods cause stomach and intestinal cancerous growths [tumors]. This may explain the rapidly increased rate of colon cancer in America.
  8. The prolonged eating of microwaved foods causes cancerous cells to increase in human blood.
  9. Continual ingestion of microwaved food causes immune system deficiencies through lymph gland and blood serum alterations.
  10. Eating microwaved food causes loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability, and a decrease of intelligence.
Ok, so I admit, some of the research presented seems out-dated and some of the history seems more like propoganda to try to add fuel to the fire with emotion-based "facts," but we need to look at the research, the studies, the trials and tests.

Again, microwaves denature food and that denaturing process can cause any number of harmful effects on our bodies. Add that to the processed, chemical garbage present in most microwavable meals and you have double the trouble. And should you choose to use a microwave in a pinch, avoid using any and all plastics within at all costs, even "microwave safe" plastics. (Reference 3)







Monday, March 12, 2012

The Diverse Community of Healthy Living


Those who strive for a healthier life and lifestyle are as diverse as any other entity. It's a beautiful thing to see all these various focuses come together to make the world a better, healthier place. There's plenty of overlap, but when someone makes something their focus, and if we listen, we can learn a lot and gain much.

Some are dedicated to fitness and the benefits of exercise: Fitness2aT Shannon DelSavio Beachbody Coach CrossFit Jaguar

Some are dedicated to reducing waste and over consumption: Zero Waste Home Tiny House Blog Life Without Plastic

Some are dedicated to nutrition and natural healing: The Healthy Home Economist Bulk Herb Store Food Renegade

Some are dedicated to sustainable farming and farming rights: Polyface Farm Raw Milk Oasis Camel Dairy

Some are dedicated to child care and nutrition: Food For Kids' Health

What is your passion? Do you have a blog or website you'd like to share? If so, please leave a comment!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Raw Camel Milk for Autism and More?!

Mark Rowe from "Dirty Jobs" at America's First Camel Dairy
Oasis Camel Dairy

Hmmm.....if I were to have a camel dairy, I'd name is Drom-e-Dairy! Haha! Get it? Never mind.

All joking aside, twice this week I've come across information online about how beneficial raw camel milk is to people, especially for treating those with Autism. Oasis Camel Dairy lists the benefits on their website. Here are other online links touting the benefits of camel milk:



Camel Milk USA (Promotion for camel milk sales in USA) Includes articles on benefits of camel milk for diabetics and children with food allergies!


Unfortunately, camel milk, especially raw camel milk (pasteurization may ruin the benefits of the milk) is unavailable in the USA unless you raise and train your own camels. I look forward to the day when we will be able to have these nutritional options available to us. They can dump aspartame and MSG in hundreds of "food" products for us to consume, but we cannot get God-created, natural foods so easily. It's sad, especially when people, especially children, could benefit so greatly from them.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Killer Cosmetics

Baby steps. Baby steps. That's what I keep telling myself, because this is one issue I'm having a hard time with. I am having a hard time ditching my cosmetics, particularly my make-up and nail polish. I've already done away with commerical soaps, shampoos and shaving creams. I use my homemade soap. I've done away with commerical creams, lotions and moisturizers, too. I use coconut oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil or rose hip oil. But, I'm not there yet when it comes to make-up.

In the 18th century, vanity prevailed as men and women powdered their faced with a lead-based powder to achieve the pale-faced look of the era. We shake our heads at their vanity, but are we really so far behind?

On the tail of my post, "Are Your Cosmetics Keeping You From Losing Weight" I offer more information, including an article on the lead content of popular make-up brands, especially L'Oreal Lipstick!

I'm also linking up to Campaign for Safe Cosmetics which has a searchable database to find out about your favorite cosmetics and how good or bad they really are.

A simple google search can help you find sources for organic cosmetics, including hair dyes, nail polish, and make-up.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Saving AG. Is it up to us ladies?





During World War Two, so many British men were taken or volunteered into service that there were few men left to run the great agriculture of the Kingdom. Women stepped into many roles during that time, including the service of Land Girls (as seen in the photo above).

Is it time for the Land Girls to put on the muck boots and step forward again?

I think so.

Agriculture doesn't pay. Did it ever? I'm not sure. But in today's day and age, it really doesn't pay. There are far too many subsidies for GMO's and other questionable AG practices and higher costs for organic farmers. However, I'm sure we can all agree that quality, sustainable farming is VERY important and must be preserved. So, where do we ladies come in?

Farming used to generally be a male occupation. The strappy little wife would contribute more than given credit for and give birth to plenty of little farm hands. Today, though, according to the USDA census, female farm ownership is up 30% from 2002-2007! My own husband and I hope to add to this statistic in the near future.

In order to continue farming and make it work, farming seems to have become a second income for families. At least in our future case, hubby will continue with his career while I take on the ownership and management of our small farm. It'll be my career, our second income. Another scenario to help make farms work is the man owns and runs the farm while the wife carries a second income in the outside work force. Still, I can't help but be interested in the rise in female farmers and applaud the men who support her endeavors.

Magazines and books are catering to this new growth. Resources abound with a simple google search. Even equipment manufacturers are creating tools and machinery more suitable to the strength, nature, design and interest of women.

As an aside, women farmers are taking the world by storm all over the globe! There are funds and charities and ministries to help these women who often face family care alone due to the lack of male support, or the loss of male support in more traditional cultures. Check this out!




Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Compromise? I don't think so!

Ok, I'll be honest and up front here. I do compromise some on my food choices. Homemade cookies and commercial cold cereals are weaknesses. Currently, my kids and husband eat Bimbo bread, although I'd love for them to eat my homemade bread. My bread baking skills aren't up to snuff, yet. My kiddos get juice once in a blue moon. Daddy likes to treat them to donut holes and Grandpa likes to give them several skittles when they visit. But these are mostly TREATS, not regularly consumed.

We are all entitled to a little food compromise, I think. I have no problem with people choosing to eat garbage foods, so long as they aren't doing so ignorantly, or worse yet, under deception (like margarine is so NOT a health food!)

However, I will not, cannot cave to convenience foods for long term just because it's easier on my current condition. I caved during my bad morning sickness weeks. My kids lived easy processed foods. I felt horrible giving them the garbage, but I literally could not even walk into my kitchen without heaving. Hubby was working 5 hours away at the time, so he couldn't help.

Now, I face "limited mobility" for my pregnancy due to some complications. It isn't strict bedrest, thank God, but I can't do a lot of things I normally used to. One of the first bits of well-meaning advice I got was, "bulk up on pasta and easy to make foods." I very unthankfully did that snotty 1990's teenage gesture of sticking my finger in my mouth and pretending to gag.

That is something I can't do anymore. I simply can't. We were all so sickly after my morning sickness bout from eating that junky food! Besides, it doesn't even TASTE good to me anymore. Sure, we eat a little pasta, but not every day of the week! Microwave it?! No way! Casseroles, canned products, frozen meals....if I have to stay in bed all day and let my toilet grow a new species so I am able to cook decent meals, then I will.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Helping Your Fellow Man

Oftentimes, in the spirit of wanting to help, I've noticed that people, including myself, are quick to give advice, to admonish, to suggest, etc, but slow to act. It's easy to tell someone to stop buying factory meats and conventional produce and go local organic instead, but to them it may be a daunting step, not to mention an expense they may not be prepared to take on.

I'm an advocate of small steps towards the greater good when it comes to healthy eating, but sometimes even those small steps need a crutch, a helping hand, an usher in the right direction. Perhaps you know those who are completely lost in the world of processed foods. Perhaps you know those who WANT to eat better, but their income levels prevent it, even with cutting back every expense possible. Whatever the reason or excuse, advice is good, but action is better.

How do you help your fellow man eat better?

You could:

1. Offer to go shopping with them or take them to the farmer's market.
2. Share your bounty, whether or CSA bounty, farm find, or your own garden's harvest.
3. Cook them healthful meals on occasion.
4. If they are willing, respectfully go through their pantry and grocery budget and help them get the most nutritional bang for their buck.

What would you do if you were faced with a sudden crash in income but still wanted to maintain your better eating choices? Let's face it, organic can be expensive at times when placed against conventional choices.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Are Your Cosmetics Keeping You From Losing Weight?


The society of healthy eating is growing by leaps and bounds as people realize how dangerous chemicals in foods are. Many realize that such chemicals can keep you from losing weight.

For me, in light of reading certain testimonials about sick individuals who increased their healing by eliminating external chemicals as well got me thinking. Could external chemicals keep us from losing weight, too? Why is it that men tend to drop weight more quickly than women? Yes, it has to do with them being men, but why does the gender gap seem so wide? Wider than it was before? Could it be because women like to lather and slather themselves more often than men? Could it be because we cover nearly every pore of our bodies with some sort of commercial spray, lotion, make-up, or ointment while men are content to suds up, rinse off, smear the deodorant and go?

Apparently, my thoughts have merit:




It's not just the phthalates and parabens, but it could also be the BPA in the plastic bottles.

Judging by these articles, if you have any sort of hormonal imbalance, even if you can keep the weight off you should avoid cosmetics. I'm getting rid of my Dove shampoo (the smell gives me a headache anyway). I'm going to be more careful about the kind of make-up I buy, too. Giving up make-up is hard on many women. I already cut back on how often I wear make-up. Being a stay-at-home mom gives me liberty to go days naked-faced, but I like to cake-up on the couple of days I actually venture beyond my deeded boundary. I've also developed a love for lipstick, which I discovered is LOADED with parabens. Yuck!

As a side note, there apparently is an episode of "Dirtiest Jobs" where Mark goes to a pig farm outside of Las Vegas. The farmer feeds his pigs a swill made from discarded food from the Vegas strip. The food is poured into a vat to make the swill and the fat from all the food is removed and sold to cosmetic companies. Makes my stomach churn just thinking about it!

Now, I'm not going to leave you hanging with wet hair and nothing to put in it. This blog will feature posts about better-for-you cosmetics and natural and organic options, like I did in the Coconut Oil post below.

For me, I'm sticking with my homemade soap for washing my hair and body and for shaving. I'm sticking with my homemade deodorant, which I LOVE and works better than any commercial deodorant I've tried. My toner is either witch hazel or rose water. My moisturizer is either sweet almond oil, rose hip oil or Bulk Herb Store's Eden Salve. Make-up, I'm going to be moving to organic mineral make-up and search for better options for lipstick and nail polish. Watch out for perfume, too if you are a daily user of it.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Must Watch Video

Click on the photo above to watch this must-see video
(The link is working now....I just tried it myself and it works.)

Why do so many children have food allergies these days?
What's up with genetically modified crops?
Why is organic food so expensive?

Robyn answers these questions and more.
Watch and share...this must go viral!

Berkey Water Filters

For several years now I've wanted a Berkey Water Filter. My idea is to collect rain water and run it through the Berkey for drinking and cooking. You see, we have a lot of iron in our water. So, it either comes out of the tap orange (heavy iron isn't good for the Berkey), or we use the water softener. Softened water isn't good for the Berkey, either.

Berkey Water Filters claim to be able to clean water from just about any source, like a pond, spring, lake, old well, river or stream. That would make a Berkey a good thing to have in power outages, too!

Do any of my readers have a Berkey? Please tell us about it!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Health Nut Journey


I encourage baby steps. It can be daunting for someone to completely change their lifestyle overnight. Baby steps are good! I didn't become a health nut (food snob?) overnight! I'm still learning! I'm still growing! I'm still *gasp* compromising.

The old ways always drew me near even as a child. My dad cultivated a love of history and old things in me. He would talk of his days on the farm in Ohio with no electricity or indoor plumbing. He would take me to local historical sites. He would let me tag along as he ventured to old homesteads (with permission) to metal detect. He had me work in the garden and help with the chickens and goats that we hand. All this and more set the wheels in my mind turning towards traditional foods and herbal healing.

Despite all that, I grew up on a traditional American large family diet heavy on processed carbs and koolaid and low on much of anything else, but we (my brothers and sister and I) were all skinny kids, so we didn't think much of it.

Puberty hit with a vengeance. I joined the ranks of my older brothers nose to nose in the mirror examining our terrible acne. Around that time, my father took us to The Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, NY where I fell in LOVE with the farmstead, herb garden and apothecary shop. My dad purchased a book on herbs that I devoured. It was overwhelming for me, and I tried a couple of acne remedies with no avail. Still, I wondered at how the whole herbal thing worked.

As the pressure of high school and later a job at a fashion store grew, I became more aware of my health by way of making sure I fit in a tiny sizes. This expanded my dietary journey into the late 90's world of fat-free. It didn't matter if you ate crap, just so long as it was fat free. To this day, I remember watching Richard Simmons holding the microphone in the face of a morbidly obese woman of color who repeated his mantra of, "Calories don't make you fat. Fat makes you fat." It wasn't until 10 years later that I realized just how wrong that is!

So, I battled with my self-image and the continued unhealthy eating and lack of fats and vitamins and minerals wreaked havoc on me farther still. My skin was heavily scarred by acne that would not quit. My menstrual cycle was long, heavy and extremely painful. I could lose or gain weight, but no matter what my body always looked unfit. I couldn't advance in any fitness or sport because my body lacked the proper fuels it needed. I suffered depression and fatigue. By college, I was sleeping up to 18 hours a day. I couldn't concentrate on much.

This continued into my early married years. I hated feeling so tired, unfocused and depressed. I searched for answers, but not many came. Taking chemical birth control didn't help, either. I gained weight, my lack on concentration increased, and I suffered from leg pains. Yet, somehow, I thought I had it all figured out and put hubby on my low-fat, fat-free diet. I cringe at what we ate those first few years of marriage. It harmed both of us. We were both tired, irritable, unhealthy, and fed up.

Then, through a blog, I discovered "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon, and it made sense to me! I read some of it to hubby and he said, "That's what I've been trying to tell you all these years!" It was after the birth of our oldest son. I had hit a weight loss plateau that would not budge. It was a leap of faith to give up the only "healthy" lifestyle I knew of fat-free and jump right into full fat traditional foods, but I did. Within a short period of time, I went from my pre-baby weight of 130 lbs to my fittest ever 123 lbs. I was strong, lean, muscular, but more importantly, HEALTHY!

Growth continued from that springboard to where I am now. I still have a long way to go and a few other bumps in the road to overcome, including my daughter's extreme picky eating habits and irritable bowels. The road also included making my own homemade infant formula when my breast milk dried up before my 3rd baby was a year old.

It is all baby steps. Education. Practice. Commitment.