Are you someone that forgets to take care of yourself? Is your life in constant "go-mode"? Are you suffering from a chronic illness or chronic stress? Most of us these days have busy, go-go lifestyles and we tend to save self care for very last on our "to-do" lists. I get it! Your busy and you don't think you have time to take care of yourself.
In fact, I used to be the same exact way, until that lifestyle caught up with me and then I slowly became sicker and sicker and about 4 years ago I was finally forced to resign from my job at the time. I had built my life around my work, my work schedule which included frequent travel, and the unreasonably high expectations I had set for myself in terms of life and career goals. I was at my computer very early every morning and sometimes late into the evening.
I was also very much a "people pleaser" and when I wasn't working, I would devote my energy to attending social events, hosting dinner parties, helping friends or family, and I even took on a second job. I was always running late or behind on everything I did because I ALWAYS over-committed myself. Sound familiar?!
BUT....I had a high tolerance for the pain and fatigue that I felt everyday and was driven to "power through" and "meet my life goals". I rarely had any downtime or quiet-time and if I did, I would sleep since my body was desperately screaming "REST WOMAN". I got sick easily and much more often than any of my friends in their early 30's.
Then about 6 years ago my lifetime of mild depression turned into severe depression, I suddenly had high anxiety about the smallest of things, and I noticed that my brain just wasn't able to focus and process things like it used to. I realized I couldn't do basic math in my head or remember my phone number any longer. I even got lost driving home from the grocery store one day in my own neighborhood!
I worked from home so in terms of flexibility, I had a lot, but it wasn't enough and my boss at the time urged me to take some time off for myself and figure out why I was sick and couldn't get well. At this point, I was in so much pain and so run down that could barley even walk around my house. My very stubborn self finally gave in and realized that my boss my indeed right - thank you Regi! I needed to take some time for MYSELF and figure out how to get well again!
About 6 months after I left work I was finally correctly diagnosed with the disease that had been plaguing me for the last 20 years - Late Stage Chronic Lyme Disease. I was also diagnosed with an "army" of other pathogens that had made their home in my body besides the Lyme. I was so sick I didn't leave my bed or couch most days and found it difficult to do basic things like take a shower. I was completely non-functional physically, mentally, and emotionally!
I often see this same commonality among those who are chronically ill, like my fellow Lyme Disease warriors. We are those who give the most to others and save no time or energy for ourselves. But if you don't slow down, self-access, re-prioritize, and make time for self-care, it won't be long before the constant stress continues to deplete your health and symptoms start to appear. Symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, pain, depression, and anxiety are all small "signs from our body" that something is out of balance or not working optimally. I IGNORED the signs and "powered through".
Don't be like me! Don't wait until you have a chronic, deadly illness to make time for self care in your life - trust me- not a fun way to go! These days my everyday life revolves around my self-care, it comes FIRST! I COME FIRST! Treatment for Lyme Disease the last 3 years has been very rigorous and the self-care portion is just as important, or MORE IMPORTANT, than the medications that I use to treat my illness. When I don't focus on self care, I find that treatment is more difficult, I don't make much progress, and my symptoms escalate quickly!
The truth is that our bodies need time to heal and rest EVERYDAY no matter if you are sick or not. And it's YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, not your doctor's, to make self-care a priority in your life. You are in charge of whether or not your body, mind, and spirit are in a "healing place" or a place or stress, pain, and fatigue!
So what do I mean by self-care? Focusing on self care means implementing small habits into your life EVERYDAY to give yourself the attention and care you need in order to lead a truly healthy and balanced life physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The self-care practices below are simple to implement into your life and don't require a lot of time or money. Start by picking 1-2 things on this list and make them a priority in your day, EVERYDAY. Block off self-care time on your schedule if you have to - seriously!! Repeating these practices everyday will slowly make them habits in your life and that's when change, wellness, and more balance and peace starts to happen friends!
Even though everyday is still an uphill battle for me and treatment is very difficult, I have a much more balanced, present, and healthy mind and spirit than I ever have. I've found my place in the world and have purpose, reason, and hope to continue to fight my illness with courage everyday and make my life my own! I did this by focusing on self care and you can to. Check out this week's What's That?! Wednesday post below...
10 Self-Care Practices that Promote Healing & Relaxation:
Because I center my energy around self care first and my passions second, I'm leading a much more fulfilling present life than I was before and I'm helping others do the same which brings me enormous joy and motivates me to continue to focus on my own healing as well!
I hope you've found this long (sorry) blog helpful:) What are your daily self-care practices? I'd love to hear your feedback!
In this week's What's That?! Wednesday post, we are excited to talk about one of our favorite "food as medicine" ingredients...Raw Apple Cider Vinegar! This food comes from apple juice has been fermented into hard apple cider, then fermented a second time to get the final product we lovingly call apple cider vinegar (ACV).
In order to receive all the medicinal benefits this food has to offer, we suggest you choose an apple cider vinegar that is organic, raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized - our go to brand is Bragg's Raw Apple Cider Vinegar and it is sold in most grocery stores, health food stores, and online.
While there are probably 30 or more uses for this amazing product, today I'm only sharing the ones that I've personally experienced myself.
5 Amazing Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar
There are many other published uses and benefits for ACV, but these are my personal favorites that I've discovered and use regularly. If you've never used this product before, you may want to consider all it has to offer. How else do you use apple cider vinegar? We'd love to hear your comments below!
~Billie & Jen
Did you know that adding a few simple, natural ingredients to your relaxing bath time can have a powerful affect on the way you feel? It's true, in fact your skin is the largest organ in your body and facilitates over 60% of all the body's cleansing activities. A cleansing detox bath can not only decrease stress and anxiety, but it can also assist to decrease joint pain and muscle aches, reduce swelling and inflammation, heal irritated skin, improve circulation, replenish electrolytes, and much more.
So in this week's edition of What's That?! Wednesday we will be sharing our knowledge and experience about the best ways to do a detox bath as well as what types of baths may be best for what aliments. I personally never used to be someone who took baths...loved the hot tub, not so much the bath tub. But when I started to understand how it could help me feel better and relieve some pain, I became a "bathing believer". Now I hop in a few times per week with my favorite guided mediation or some calm spa-like music and get my relax and detox on!
During the last several years as I've battled chronic Lyme disease, I've experimented with and researched all types of home detoxification remedies and found that baths are one of the most effective ways to detox and a good use of my time and energy.
Some Detox Bath Basics:
4 Natural Detox Bath Recipes:
1. Salt Baths
Very relaxing...this recipe is best for decreasing the swelling of joints or injuries, and reduce muscle spams and tension. It also helps to balance electrolytes and replenish magnesium to promote better circulation and heart health.
1/2 cup sea salt
1/4 cup natural baking soda*
1-4 cups Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) or 1/2 cup BATHERAPY Product**
8-10 drops of 100% pure peppermint or lavender oil (optional)
Add ingredients to hot bath water and use your hands to churn the water and help dissolve. Bathe for 30 minutes.
*You could also try 1 cup food grade hydrogen peroxide instead of baking soda in this recipe.
**This product has essential minerals like magnesium and adds Siberian Fur Essential Oil to help you overcome feelings of exhaustion after a bath.
2. Clay Baths:
Bentonite clay is a powerful detoxification ingredient and has become one of my favorite home remedies. This clay is great for overall detox and specifically unique in that it binds to heavy metals and helps to pull these toxins out of our body. It also makes a great skin mask...
Bonus Detoxifying Skin Mask Recipe: Mix 2 tablespoons water or raw apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup bentonite clay together until a thick mask in made, add more water or ACV if needed to thin consistency. Then apply evenly to a clean face, avoiding the eyes. Leave on for 8-10 minutes (no longer - it will turn your skin very red if you leave it on) and wash off with a hot wash cloth followed by a splash of cool water. Follow with moisturizer. Repeat up to once per week. TIP: Do not use a metal spoon or bowl to mix your mask. I like to use a small silicone spatula and glass bowl.
Clay Bath Recipe:
1/2 cup sea salt
1/2-1 cup bentonite clay (I use Aztec Secrets Indian Healing Clay - on amazon.com & some natural food stores)
1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
8-10 drops 100% pure lavender oil (optional)
Combine clay with apple cider vinegar and 1 cup hot water. Mix well to combine and do your best to smooth out clumps of clay. Start your bath, add sea salt when 1/2 full , then add the bentonite clay-vinegar mixture to the bath, give it a good stir and get in. For an extra detox effect, you can rub any remaining clay clumps evenly onto skin as you soak in the tub. Don't leave the clay directly on your dry skin for longer than 10-15 minutes or your skin will turn quite red. Just soak in the clay-infused tub and relax for 30 minutes or until water starts to cool.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar Baths:
Adding raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) to your bath can help to pull uric acid from your joints to reduce pain and swelling, which is one of the main contributors to chronic joint inflammation. Since ACV is a natural anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and anti-viral, this recipe can also help to relieve symptoms of chronic candida and/or yeast infections, fungal toenail infections, and general skin irritations.
1 1/2 to 2 cups raw apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg's brand)
8-10 drops 100% pure organic lavender oil (optional, but recommended to overcome the strong vinegar smell)
Add apple cider vinegar and several drops essential oil to a full, hot bath, climb in, relax, and enjoy. Bathe for 30 minutes or until water starts to cool. Avoid showering for 6-8 hours afterwards, if possible.
4. Ginger Bath Recipe:
Can be especially helpful during a cold, flu or other illness to relieve congestion and ease muscle aches and pain.
Add 1 tablespoon ground ginger to your hot bath tub, climb in, breathe deeply and enjoy! Bathe for 30 minutes or until water starts to cool. I often combine the ginger bath with the salt bath...try it out.
Relax, detox, and heal, dear friends. Please share your detox bath questions, experiences, and recipes here if you are inspired to do so.
Also, for related information, check out our 4 Week Detox Diet Program. This program can help you re-set your metabolism and get your body into fat burning mode, get rid of excess weight, say goodbye to digestive distress like constipation, bloating and heart burn, and improve your energy! 28 days to change the way you feel...check it out here.
**We are licensed holistic health practitioners, but we are not physicians. Advice in this article is intended to be informational only and is based on our personal experience and education. We always recommend speaking with your physician, especially if you are being treated for a specific ailment, before beginning anything new.
In good health,
Billie & Jen
Oil pulling is based on an ancient Ayurvedic practice. It is said to help "pull" toxins, bacteria, and fungus out of the mouth while stimulating the body's lymphatic system and activating your metabolism. While some folks will argue that there are only oral health benefits, this practice can actually stimulate the entire body's detoxification process. So it is a great practice to implement if you are acutely sick or dealing with a chronic disease.
The practice involves placing a tablespoon of oil (Cold Pressed Sesame or Organic, Virgin Coconut Oil) into your mouth and swooshing it around for about 15 minutes. The lipids in the oil pull the bacteria and other harmful toxins from the teeth, tongue, mouth, and saliva. At the same time, the swishing, swooshing and suction movements activate the thymus gland, which is said to be the "motor of metabolism". This practice activates the lymphatic flow and thus increases detoxification and the elimination of metabolic acids.
Oil Pulling Health Benefits:
• Improved oral health - can help to prevent cavities and gum disease
• Helps to whiten teeth and keep your breath fresh
• Aids in the prevention of dryness of the lips, mouth and throat
• Improved skin health and can even aid in the reduction of eczema
• May reduce symptoms of bronchitis
• Helps stimulate normal liver and kidney function for detoxification of harmful metals and organisms
• Can help to reduce sinus congestion & allergy symptoms
• Reduced hangover after alcohol consumption
I've been oil pulling for about 3 months now as I go through treatment for Lyme disease and I can say that I've experienced each of these benefits firsthand, except the hangover one (I'm not drinking right now, so someone else will have to "test" this benefit for me!). I'm sure I have LOTS of willing participants reading this now, so post your experience when you try it out! So if you are convinced you need to try this out, here is how to do it...
How to Oil Pull:
1. Always oil pull first thing in the morning on empty stomach. If you don't, it may make you feel nauseous.
2. Brush your teeth with your regular tooth brush first thing like you normally would.
3. Place 1 tablespoon of organic, cold pressed sesame oil or organic, virgin coconut oil into your mouth and swish and swoosh for 15-20 minutes. It might sound like a a lot at first, but just set a timer on your phone or in your kitchen and go about your morning routine. I oil pull while I make coffee for the hubby and do morning 'chores' or while I scan my email or Facebook news feed - lord knows 15 minutes can go by quite fast this way.
4. Spit out oil and wash it down the drain. (NEVER SWALLOW - it will make you feel pretty nauseous because it is filled with the boitoxins you are trying to get rid of.) The output should be a whitish color, if it is yellow, then you have not done it for long enough and will need to increase your time the next time you practice it.
5. Rinse and gargle your mouth out well with warm salt water a few times.
6. Brush your teeth with a water-baking soda mixture (1/4 cup water and 1 heaping tablespoon baking soda) as a final rinse and clean. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND using a separate, disposable tooth brush for this 'after oil pulling brush' routine. This will help to ensure your nicer electronic toothbrush stays oil free. I throw my disposable one out after about a month, or you can pop it in the dishwasher with your silverware.
7. Repeat oil pulling steps daily or at least 3 times per week for maximum benefits.
The first few times I did this, I was AMAZED at how clean my mouth felt - it was sort of like the first time I used an electric toothbrush - a whole other level of clean!! If you are someone who is struggling with a chronic illness and need detoxification assistance, I recommend doing this every day. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post.
Recently I heard someone say that when we choose to not address our “truths” - the things that we need to improve upon to be the best version of ourselves - that the universe will present our “truths” or lessons to us again in a new way later in life. For those of us who are extra stubborn and continue to avoid and hide from our truths, life has a way of saying, “…ok, well, you didn’t really learn that lesson, so how about we present the same lesson in a new way (louder, harder, longer, etc)...”. My point is that we can only put our lives on autopilot and avoid looking INWARD for so long until it catches up with us in some way shape or form.
For me, it came in the form of a life threatening, chronic illness – a very long and hard lesson since softer nudges from the universe apparently had not worked on me. Yep, I was one of those people that stuffed her truths in tiny boxes, and then placed those boxes under lock and key and hid them away. When they would try to pop out, I would put a little band aid on them and then stuff them back away. I recognized the things that needed to change within me on some level and vowed they would. I made small changes (band aides really) but unfortunately it is not enough to just recognize our truths, we have to take action to change.
Right now I’m in my fourth month of treatment for Late Stage Chronic Lyme Disease. For those of you who have battled a serious and/or chronic illness or have a loved one who has, you know that it tends to put life into perspective really fast. So while Lyme has taken the last few years of my life from me, it has also changed my life forever for the better in so many ways. It has forced me to SLOW DOWN, take a serious look at my own “truths”, and to really embrace the idea that wellness and true joy in life come from within. I've learned that real change and progress within ourselves comes from the hard stuff. I’m no psychologist, but based on my journey thus far, here is how I’m currently defining “the hard stuff”:
1. Remembering that small changes have drastic affects
Most of us need a lesson in patience, am I right? We are a society driven by immediate gratification. But when it comes to wellness (physical, emotional, & spiritual), it’s really the small changes that have the most drastic effects on our lives. We may not see big results immediately but the affects made from small changes accumulate over time instead of in the moment. When we change something dramatically overnight, these tend to be changes that do not last. This is because a real change was not made. When we make a change to our environment and fit ourselves into that change, we haven’t actually changed ourselves. Diets are an excellent example of this – there are so many diets that offer you fast, quick fixes, "...lose weight and feel great!..." But really, maintaining a healthy weight comes from making small changes one at a time in our diet and lifestyle as well understanding our relationship with food and how it may need to change.
2. Being ok with being in the “uncomfortable zone”
Real change, real personal growth comes from within – it comes from being really honest with yourself, putting yourself out there, asking for help when you need it, and doing the things that make you the most uncomfortable. You have to look your own truths in the eye and stay in the uncomfortable zone –the place where you do the things that you fear the most. Then you stay in the uncomfortable zone until it doesn't feel uncomfortable anymore but rather empowering.
3. Trusting in the process of life
This is the toughest one for me, but apparently I can’t plan every moment of my life! In fact when you try to do this, you will miss the REAL life experiences. For me, a very type A personality, this is insanely difficult but “life” is teaching me this lesson each day right now as I go through treatment– patience and trust:) While planning and follow through are essential keys to successful people, those that are most successful and lead the most fulfilling lives have also mastered being ok with the unknown and trusting themselves, their community, and in the process of life.
Right now every day I have to just trust in life and be in the moment – whatever that moment is – uncomfortable, fearful, happy, joyful, humorous, sad, anxious, or scared. This proves to be difficult for me still sometimes, but I’m staying in the “uncomfortable zone” until it gets easier and easier. In order to do this, I've learned that you have to treat yourself with the same level of love, kindness, respect, and patience as you would the person you love most in this world. And when you do this, you will bust through the uncomfortable zone and the universe will bring you acceptance, love, and joy even in the toughest of circumstances.
p.s. – If this blog post resonated with you at all or if you just liked reading about my wellness journey, give me some love with a comment, like, share, pin, or tweet. I’d like to continue to share some of my wellness experiences as I go through treatment and kick Lyme disease to the curb!:)
Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods for the body! While they are acidic by themselves, the acids contained in lemons are weak and therefore easily metabolized. This allows the mineral content of lemons to help alkalize the blood, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy digestion!
Beginning your day with a warm lemon water can have many positive health benefits - this is a practice that I've had for almost three years now and I cannot tell how much it helps me. So much in fact, that I rarely miss a day!
So...in this week's What's That?! Wednesday post, we review the health benefits of drinking a daily lemon as well as how to make it...
Top 5 Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water Daily
1) Kickstarts the Digestion Process & Detoxifies Your Body. Lemon juice helps to loosen toxins from your digestive track and flush out unwanted materials/waste from the body. Inside the gut, it acts similar to saliva and the hydrochloric acid of digestive juices and encourages the liver to produce bile which is an acid that is required for digestion. It will help to improve and/or alleviate symptoms like heartburn, belching and bloating. The citric acid in lemons helps stimulate enzyme function, which assists the liver and aids in detoxification.
2) Helps to Ease Joint & Muscle Pain. Lemon water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning will help to draw uric acid from your joints that builds up as you sleep at night. Uric acid contributes significantly to joint pain and inflammation so it's best to try to draw it out first thing as you wake.
3) Boosts & Supports Your Immune System. Lemons are high in vitamin C, which is great for fighting colds and combating life’s daily stresses. In fact, Vitamin C is the first thing to plummet in the body when you are stressed – so getting your daily Vitamin C is very important! The acids contained in lemons are weak and easily metabolized in the body, allowing the mineral content of lemons to help alkalize (or make less acidic) the blood. Disease states only occur when the body pH is acidic – daily lemon water helps to remove overall acidity in the body, which helps to decrease inflammation in the body. What kinds of things can happen when you have inflammation? The list is long – painful or swollen joints, excess weight in your middle section, getting sick more easily, getting injured more easily, hay fever, arthritis, cancer...take your pick.
4) Aids in Weight Loss. Mounting research indicates that diets that are more alkaline in nature can lead to quicker and more sustainable weight loss. One of the reasons is that when your body in alkaline state, it is more efficient at incorporating the foods you provide it – it can extract the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs and then quickly eliminates waste. This prevents toxins from being deposited in your fat cells where they help feed the vicious cycle of cravings for salts, fats, and sugars. A diet rich in alkaline foods, like lemon water, helps to regulate your metabolism and reduce cravings!
5) Promotes Healthy Skin. Lemon water can help to decrease blemishes, even out skin tone and discoloration, and even fight wrinkles. It’s detoxifying effects help to sweep away blemishes from the inside out. The vitamin C and antioxidants contained in the lemon help fight the free radicals that lead to wrinkles.
Recommendations for Making Warm Lemon Water Part of Your Routine:
**You can also use 100% pure lemon essential oil - essential oils are VERY potent - so start with only 2-3 drops in your warm water.
Questions about the benefits of lemons or other alkalizing foods? Interested in learning more about incorporating more alkalizing foods into your diet but need some more guidance? Click the link below to check out our Metabolic Recovery Program - where one of our practitioners will guide you through how to eat clean foods that will balance hormones, reduce inflammation, and boost your metabolism so that you can lose weight for good!
Our clients also love our Detox Diet hat incorporates a daily lemon water - many of our clients have lost up to 9 pounds in the first week and up to 19 pounds by the end of the program. These eating plans help to re-set your metabolism, clear toxins, regulate digestion, lose weight, and boost energy. Click here to get more details and read more Detox Diet testimonials.
~Billie & Jennifer
Billie Shellist, FDN-P
I practice functional nutrition, an approach that allows me to look at your entire health history and help you find the "root causes" of your chronic health complaints.
This cuts out the trial and error process and helps you get real symptom relief and resolution!
Food is medicine and knowledge is power -I hope you enjoy my anti-inflammatory recipes which are gluten, dairy, and soy free as well as very low grain and sugar.
If you'd like to heal from the root cause(s) of your chronic symptoms, try starting with a complimentary 15-minute consultation. Click here to request your free session.