In December of last year I was diagnosed on the low end of prediabetes. It was a wake up call for me that it was now or never on losing weight and getting control of my health. At 40 years old and 80 pounds overweight, I was eating your typical American diet of high carbohydrates and low fat, thinking that was a “healthy” diet. I knew that I should eat less sugar and had heard that eating less carbs was better for diabetes, but I wanted to know why. Why was it so “hard” for me to lose weight and why did I struggle with intense food cravings? So I started to research and dig deeper into the world of insulin and how it affects the body. Google soon gave me this information…
Insulin is secreted in response to a type of carbohydrate called glucose … Insulin tells muscle, organs and even fat cells to take up the glucose and use it for fuel. It also tells fat cells to store fat for later use. As long as insulin levels remain high, fat cells retain fat, and the other cells preferentially burn glucose (and not fat) for energy
Basically when you eat carbohydrates, they spike blood sugar (glucose). A high level of blood glucose, often due to excessive carbohydrate intake, causes insulin secretion. The insulin in turn then delivers the glucose in your body to cells which it uses for energy. This process is what becomes broken in diabetes as the insulin in your body either isn’t used properly or you are not producing enough. My prediabetic state meant my body wasn’t using this energy source well. I was constantly bloated, my feet hurt and I had nerve pain. And the weight? I just kept gaining.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
To lose excess body fat, according to this view, carbohydrates must be restricted and replaced, ideally with fat, which does not stimulate insulin secretion.
This research lead me to try the Keto Diet, which has helped me shed almost 30 pounds so far. I truly believe that fat does not make you fat. Carbohydrates (and processed food and inflammatory fats and lack of sleep and exercise) makes you fat. If your goal is to shed body fat and you struggle with carbs like I did, the recipe is quite simple – limit carbohydrate intake and make healthy fats your preferred source of energy.
Want to learn more? I highly recommend Mark Sisson’s book, The Keto Reset Diet. I also love listening to the podcast The Natural State, by Anthony Gustin. The more you know the more empowered you will be to improve your own health!
I’m sure a lot of people are not having the best time sleeping through the night right now. And a lot of them are probably turning to Melatonin supplementation for help. But should you? Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland and acts as a signaling molecule for a whole hell of a lot of things in your body, like when it’s time to fall asleep or not. Generally I’m not a big fan of messing with the body’s innate hormone production. Melatonin production is highly rhythmic, and thus can confuse the hell out of your body if you’re not precise and consistent with supplementation. Turned into a zombie because of DST last month? That feeling can be constant when you start messing with your own body’s production of melatonin.
If you are having trouble sleeping, you may get far better lasting results by optimizing your environment and habits instead. These include, but are not limited to:
No device use at least 1-2 hours before bed (the blue light suppresses melatonin production)
Eliminate all blue light after sunset (same as above, try using Hue lights at home and turn them red with the sunset)
Create a cool environment (I aim for 68F, with a fan)
Block out all city light from your bedroom
Wear an eyemask when you sleep
Journal for 15-20 minutes before shutting down at night to get stressful loops out of your head
Have a calm and relaxing shutdown routine that starts 45 min before bed
Supplement with 250-400mg of magnesium
Supplement with other botanicals (essential oils like Cedarwood, Lavender and Valerian are great to diffuse bedside as you drift off. Cedarwood is known to be a natural way top boost Melatonin production)
Use a weighted blanket
This doesn’t mean melatonin supplementation is worthless. If your schedule has recently been messed up or you have recently traveled across time zones, supplementation can play a role getting you back on track.
Bottom line: If you’re changing time zones, or otherwise trying to alter the timing of your circadian rhythm, use melatonin (3-5 mg). Otherwise, do the heavy lifting by modifying your sleep environment and routines.
My health and wellness journey started with losing my mom.
I lost her to a massive heart attack in July 2015 after years of health struggles including diabetes and stroke. She was only 63 years old.
I was at work when I got a phone call from my sister that mom was in the hospital. I called and was able to talk to her. She was very drugged but seemed optimistic that she would be OK. When we hung up I truly believed that she would be.
She died around midnight that same day. I remember getting the phone call from one of the nurses saying they were trying to resuscitate her. It didn’t work. Immediately my heart started racing, and I had a panic attack. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was only 36 years old and had just lost my remaining parent. I sat there in my bedroom in shock, and grief, and pure anguish. The kind that waves over and over you again as though its a brand new feeling. I hated that I was living states away and couldn’t be there to say goodbye. I hated that she was gone. As I sat there on the floor of my bedroom I let it all pour out of me. The realization that my life was forever changed slowly becoming more real.
The thing is I hated that my own health was putting me on the same path as hers. At the time I was very overweight, with a 1 year old son and stressed and overworked. Exhausted all the time and constantly battling some cold or bug my son was bringing home from daycare. I knew I had to do something. The next few months I slowly started making changes, the biggest one replacing toxic products in my home with natural ones. My son and I finally stopped getting sick all the time and I was finally sleeping again. But it would be years before I successfully started to lose the weight.
In January this year I started the Keto diet. I have lost 27 pounds so far. I still have a ways to go but it is amazing how much better I feel. I am working out again too, building muscles and feeling the strongest I have in years.
This journey I am on will be lifelong. But it is happening! And I am dealing with my trauma along the way. Never give up hope guys. Whoever is out there if you need someone to talk to I am here. Please reach out. And start your own journey. Own your story. Change your future. Just start.
This drink makes a great afternoon pick me up treat! Ningxia Red mixed with Sparkling Water. See video below on I how I mix it up.
Ningxia Red is a powerful antioxidant drink that contains whole Ningxia wolfberry puree—a super blend of blueberry, aronia, cherry, pomegranate, and plum juices, natural stevia extract, grape seed extract, pure vanilla extract, and orange, yuzu, lemon, and tangerine essential oils.
Ningxia Red supports immune function, liver function, eye heath and is reported to increase energy. High in antioxidants known to protect against free radicals, it is rich in ellagic acid, polyphenols, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals. In addition, it has 18 amino acids, 21 trace minerals, beta-carotene, and vitamins B1, B2, B6 and E.
Truly an excellent whole-food source of nutrients!
BEST WAY TO ORDER
If you are not a Young Living Member yet, you can sign up and purchase a Ningxia Red Starter Kit for only $135. Click here to purchase.
When the Coronavirus Quarantine first starting happening in March Brian and I quickly realized we needed to order some sort of exercise equipment for the house since our gym was closed. I didn’t want to regress in the weight loss I had worked so hard far. We both like to spin so decided a bike would be a good fit for us. But which one? So many choices and huge price differences between them. We knew we wanted a bike with magnetic resistance but our budget was $800, not $2000. So Peloton was out of the question. A few quick searches after that lead us to the Schwinn IC4.
It checked all the boxes for us with magnetic resistance, LCD display console, dual pedals and Bluetooth connectivity. So we pulled the plug and bought it. So far we are loving it! The magnetic resistance is so smooth and we can get the cadence to connect on our peloton app so we can see it right there on the screen while working out. It truly has the feel of a more expensive bike. It comes with 3 pounds weights and I actually like where they are stored in the front of you rather than the back of the bike. Less awkward when reaching for them in the middle of your ride.
Which by the way, I highly recommend the Peloton app. Love the instructors, the sheer number of on-demand workouts and the quality of music it offers. I personally don’t mind having to use my own tablet, and the Schwinn’s built in media holder has worked great for me.
If you are in the market for a spin bike and want some of the features of the more expensive bikes without the price tag I definitely recommend the Schwinn IC4. And the weight loss? I am 26 pounds down and this bike has definitely helped with that!
In January I decided it was now or never with losing weight. I was tired of being tired. I hated that my feet hurt constantly. The prediabetic diagnosis scared me. I was and am determined to change the course of my health.
But how? I always believed what I learned growing up. That fat was bad, that you need to eat “good” carbs and low fat. That all you have to do is count calories. And lord I tried! I have tried so many diets over the years. So the fact that the keto diet is working for me after so many others have failed still is amazing me.
In January I read the book The Keto Reset Diet by Mark Sisson. I started listening to popular keto podcasts and started unlearning everything I had ever been taught to eat! Seriously eye opening.
Like I never knew that the body doesn’t need carbs. Your body can actually produce its own glucose by a process called gluconeogenesis. And that your body can run on two types of fuel. Carbohydrates or Fat. I decided that for 40 years I was not doing too well as a carbo so why not try fat?
And here I am. 25 pounds lighter and still going. You know what frustrates me though? That I had to do all this research to “unlearn” all the nutritional guidance I had ever been given. When my doctor told me I was prediabetic in the fall all she told me was to “eat less” and maybe try to eat less carbs. That’s it. No clear guidance. No maybe you should try to be a fat burner instead of a carb burner. No you have to overhaul your relationship with food. Just a “let’s just see what happens” attitude. Ugh.
I guess I just wish the medical community would research nutrition more. It is obvious with the current obesity epidemic in this country that we don’t have it right. And it is not just junk foods fault. Let’s start with the fact that the government subsidizes farming to help with the food supply. That’s great right? Sure. All those wheat, corn and soy plants make people grow. And grow we have. In all the wrong places!
I am not saying everyone should be keto. There is no one size fits all diet. I personally think nutrition probably has more to do with your genetics and current health than anything else. And for me, as a person with family diabetic and obesity history, getting rid of the sugar and carbs is the answer.
I used to think there was something wrong me. Why was dieting so “hard?” I seriously struggled with near constant hunger. I “had” to eat every few hours else I would feel like I would pass out. I was always looking for that next snack or meal. With keto I finally have control over my appetite. I get hungry yes but it doesn’t have that frantic yo yo feel to it. It probably is what “normal” is and I just never had it.
It has been quite the journey these past few months as you can see. I encourage you to research the diet for yourself if interested. Now more than ever our health needs to be protected. Feed your immune system don’t suppress it!
There’s a trend that’s been building for a few years now, one that looks as though it’s here to stay. It is called Rewilding – the trend of wellness, of natural living, of caring for and connecting back to nature. Read on to learn more about how to Rewild.
Switch to natural products to improve your health. You would be surprised at how many so called “pure” and “natural” items in your home are filled with components that are literally toxic to humans, and it’s totally legal! Being well-informed when purchasing home and personal care products is so critical to your long-term wellbeing.
Kickstart the habit of mindful living. Don’t just live on auto-pilot or worse still, stuck in the trap of “it’s just what I’ve always done.” Become aware of your consumption, your routines, your impact on the world around you and make changes – not just your eating habits, but your whole lifestyle – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’s incredibly empowering to know that the life you live was CHOSEN by you, not just something you consumed. Rewild yourself, your way.
For me, this is the most important thing. I need to get out into the wilderness as often as I’m able. Reconnecting with the power and beauty of nature is by far one of the best ways to improve your mood, your health and your overall quality of life. If you don’t already, find ways to escape to nature as often as you can. Spend a day at the beach, head to a local creek or waterfall, go for a hike, or even just lay in the grass in your back yard if that is all you have. Feel it, breathe it all in and stay connected. You won’t regret it!
Prevent illness, don’t just sit around and wait for it. Start by incorporating daily practices and natural products that support your wellness. My absolute must-haves on any given day are sunshine, exercise and essential oils. Once I started to incorporate these things into my everyday routine, I noticed a massive shift in my physical and mental wellbeing. I feel better than I have in years!
I am naturally a quiet person. I remember as a kid the teacher going to my mom “she is bright but prefers to eat and play by herself.” And I did. It wasn’t till middle school and hormones that I realized there was a gender called boys, and that social norms dictated I hang with girls and talk. It was a hard stage for me. Thank god you only have to live through high school once. College hit and I found my balance of socialization and internal solitude. I learned how to balance both.
But with today’s digital age we are so afraid of the quiet. We fill every waking moment with noise or light. We stay more connected then ever with those around us through social media. We like to tell everyone we are “too busy” because we put our kids in after school activities and sports that in turn invade our weekends. We are plugged in more than ever to the news and pinterest has made our cooking endeavors into an Olympic sport. And what is all this gaining us? We are all more tired than ever!
Why are we so afraid of the quiet? When I drive I normally don’t turn on the radio. No audiobooks or podcasts either. I love the few minutes of stillness (other than your daily traffic) that my car provides me. I use the time to think and process my day or just let my mind wander. I find my creativity increases the more time I am able to spend in these quiet solitudes.
Back in 1999 which happened to be a year after my dad died, I had the opportunity to travel to South America and visit Machu Picchu in Peru. It was magical. In the quiet of those majestic mountains my soul was able to truly rest and heal. To just be. A great vacation can do that. Soothe your soul and body and rejuvenate your spirit. How do we bring this ability home?
I say embrace your quiet! You can meditate yes, or start yoga. But it doesn’t even have to be all that in the beginning. Just be. Sit and turn off the noise around you and try and live in the moment. There is so much strength and wisdom to be gained in the quiet. You see, stillness allows your brain to process all that “noise” that blankets us during the day. Your body and mind in turn will clear and your joy will increase!
Now that I am a parent I am learning how different my childhood was. Not in the geographical sense or socioeconomic sense. I grew up in south jersey in a typical middle class neighborhood. I mean in the presence sense. From a young age I remember coming home from school and just being alone. Alone to make my own snack, alone to play and then engage in homework. And it wasn’t because a parent wasn’t home. Almost always mom or dad would be there. But dad worked from home or was busy avoiding mom. And mom, well, she was closed off. Literally. She would hole herself in her room for days at a time and would only come out to make us some dinner or tell us to go to bed. Now as an adult I know it was due most likely to her mental illness issues but as a kid it was my normal. This behavior would roll into the weekends. I have a sister and I remember us just going to play in the basement with our toys for the entire weekend, left to entertain ourselves and later on, feed ourselves.
Weeks would go by where this behavior would go on. And then all of a sudden mom would resurface – full of life and energy and interest. My sister and I would lap up this attention like puppies. But then all of a sudden she would retreat, back to her room and the silence would envelope the house once again.
Mom never got a proper diagnosis. Over the years I theorized everything from Bi-Polar to Borderline Personality Disorder. She died two years ago so I will never know. And in the end it doesn’t matter. She was the only mom I had and knew. It was my reality.
But now? As a parent I see how crazy this behavior was and how different I am trying to be with my son. To not repeat the past. To make it different for him. I worry I will become her. And I know that is crazy. But this is me being honest. My fear to repeat the past haunts me at nights.
I remember one time mom opened up to us and admitted she moved when we were little to be closer to her parents because she realized she couldn’t do it. Be what we needed as a mom. And she was right. Our “Omi” became our mother. When my grandmother died I cried like I had lost my mother. The grief was so intense. It was not that way when my mom died.
For those of you out there that have had similar experiences know you are not alone. For SO long I thought what I went through was mine alone. But now that I am older I have met so many others that have experienced absent parents. Mental illness is the silent struggle in many families. So many people had no clue what was really going on behind our house walls. We looked like your average middle class family. We even had the dog and picket fence. But inside was silence punctuated with either violent outbursts or overzealous love. But those stories are for another day.
Repeat this affirmation daily – No One is you and that is your power. I am my own person, and I am blazing my own path.
Lately I have found myself in the why vortex. You know, where you question all the “wrongs” in your life. We all do it at some time or another. And I know from grieving the deaths of both of my parents that in order to move on you have to graduate from that vortex. Because in the end you either choose to be happy and celebrate what you do have or you will forever be stuck in that pit of “why.” I came across this quote yesterday and it hit me hard. I needed the reminder that I can choose joy. That joy is always an option.
See a few weeks ago I got to visit some friends from college in the city I moved to when I graduated – Philadelphia. It has been 8 years since I had last been there. It was so much fun seeing friends and eating delicious food (seriously Philly is a foodie heaven – I could spend DAYS eating my way through Reading Terminal Market. I literally ate the biggest Pastrami Sandwich ever for breakfast and it was divine). But what I didn’t anticipate was the flood of memories and emotions from my childhood. I grew up in South Jersey. We used to come to Philadelphia for this or that and honestly I think just being in such close geographical proximity to my childhood home opened in me a jar of emotions that I try to keep buried. Regret that my parents are dead. Pain that I missed my grandmothers funeral due to life circumstances. Mad that life was not turning out how I wanted. Painful memories I had buried for so long were fighting to come to the surface. I stood on the lid and tried to hammer it back in but it wasn’t working too well. And then I came home to a child sick with the stomach flu. Talk about cortisol levels spiking! I started to feel myself sinking into that pit of depression I fight so hard to stay out of.
So these past two weeks I have been consciously choosing joy. Getting back into a rhythm of life that brings me happiness. My essential oils help immensely of course. Read here how they have helped my anxiety and depression the last two years. In the end though it is mindset. I am choosing to celebrate my life with all its dents and scratches. We are all works in progress.
So choose joy today people. There is always something to celebrate.