Awareness & Labeling Emotions

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It is hot topic in biology that the bacteria in our gut has a huge impact on our mood, personality, emotions, and even thoughts. The bacteria living there, however, are not permanent. They change in quantity and type depending on our environment, what we ingest via breathe, food, and beverage.

Over the past few years I have begun to place a large amount of awareness towards how certain foods affect me. I know that if I eat certain things my gut flora will get out of balance and change my mood and therefore how I interact with those around me. All too often I have said something that I regret and realize that I ate something recently that probably made me that way.

I know it sounds like a bunch of science fiction, but it is the truth. The bacteria in our gut neurons-582054_640has a direct link to our brain and thus to our actions and reactions. This is why eating well is of the utmost importance.

So how do I deal with it? Personally, when I realize I have an intense emotion towards someone that may not be exactly justified I think, What did I eat in the last 24-48 hours? More often than not, I can identify the exact meal or food item that upset me. In efforts to bring humor to the irritation, sadness, or anger, I have started labeling my emotion as the food I ate that made me upset.

When I check in with myself and ask, How are you feeling? The answer becomes something like carrot cake, ice cream, pizza, or corn.

Saying I feel like carrot cake, for me, is a much more accurate description of how I am really feeling because I am really feeling the chemistry of that particular food interacting with my biology. What I have noticed from my personal experience is that when the food passes through me so does that emotion. The same is true on the other end. When I eat right for my body, I am balanced, clear, happy, and light. The emotion then changes to feeling like carrots, quinoa, smoothie, or kale.

So today’s post offers a suggestion in how we approach our meals and how we approach our emotions. When eating a meal, notice how you feel before eating it and how you feel after. Generally, you will feel better, worse or the same. Ideally, you want to feel better, so if you noticed that what you ate made you feel worse, shift your next meal choice and ask yourself what are you feeling and why. Often, I find, I can identify the feeling but not why. If that’s the case, observe the emotional for it will pass once the food has been digested. In this case you will know how you’re feeling because if very well may be that you just feel like carrot cake.

The Potential “Cure-All” Diet

rose-1082542_640I would like to introduce a diet that has changed my life and is beginning to change the lives of many others.

MY STORY

In October of 2015 I entered the hardest month of my life….I was experiencing gut/intestinal pain, severe acne, adrenal depletion, an overloaded liver, depression, warts, fatigue and an inability to sleep.

To sum it all up, everything hurt physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was distraught that my body was preventing me from showing up in the world the way that I truly wanted to. I didn’t want to eat, cook, be productive, blog, go out, go to school, any of it!

Two months went by like this until I went to see a local naturopathic doctor. It was suggested that I go on what is called an elimination diet for 3 weeks.

This diet was probably the most amazing thing I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. For three weeks I challenged myself to get completely off of:

Dairy   Gluten   Sugar  Soy   Nuts   Caffeine  Alcohol  Corn   Legumes     Nightshades   White Potatoes

So what does that leave me with? Basically milk substitutes like coconut or rice milk, fruits, gluten free grains, meat and vegetables. I’ll admit that it was tricky. I began by taking out the things that I was already impartial to and didn’t mind taking out such as caffeine, alcohol, white potatoes, nuts, corn, legumes, and gluten. For me, all of those things were easily substituted. A couple of days went by like this and then I began to take out nightshades. Then the hardest part came: Dairy and sugar. I am completed addicted to both of theses things so it was incredibly tricky to get off of them. I gave myself the space to have my cravings and just started by decreasing my intake. Another week or two went by like this until I was able to finally get off of both of them.

Five days went by with out eating any dairy for the first time in 4 years and  I could hardly believe what I saw:

  • my acne was gone (for the first time in 4 years)
  • my energy was back
  • my gut didn’t hurt
  • nausea, diarrhea, gas — gone!
  • depression subsided
  • warts disappeared

I had my life back and it felt so good to know that the power was in my hands and it was something as simple as a shift in diet. So here I am at the end of my 3 weeks and I have amazing skin, energy, and vitality to show for it.

UNDERSTANDING THE DIET

The Elimination Diet is great for anyone with any kind of food sensitivity or GI disturbances as well as arthritis, ADD/ADHD, narcolepsy, migraines, issues with the kidneys, cardiovascular disease, allergies, asthma, and others. It’s best if the diet is adhered to for a minimum of 2 weeks. Big dogs like gluten and dairy should be eliminated for 28 days.

It should also be understood that these dietary changes are not permanent and that these foods can be reintroduced. It is recommended that you begin to introduce one of the eliminated food groups for one day and then notice your symptoms for the two following days. If you show no symptoms or reactions you can introduce another food group. This process can take up to 5-6 weeks.  At the end of the process you will know a great deal about your body and your allergies. I learned that I was allergic to dairy and nuts, I could tolerate gluten and sugar, and appear to have no symptoms concerning soy, beans, nightshades or caffeine.

Consult your physician or registered dietitian if you find that there is a certain food group you’d like to introduce, but have an allergic reaction to.

 

Here’s my advice for trying it yourself:

  • Give yourself space to do it at your own pace and don’t beat yourself up when you “relapse”
  • Understand that you WILL go through withdrawals and that they WILL pass and you WILL make it
  • Consult your doctor or physician if you have any questions or concerns
  • Find a community or a friend to support you in your process
  • Switch to organic foods
  • Get on a Probiotic, Multivitamin and/or a B Vitamin complex
  • Supplement with essential fatty acids (i.e. EPA or Fish) and CoQ10
  • Remove other toxins that your not digesting such as perfumes, chemical fragrances, artificially scented lotions, cremes, shampoos and conditioners.

Tips and Tricks for getting through the withdrawal symptoms:

  • Epsom salt and lavender essential oil bath
  • Charcoal (to bind toxins being produced in the body during detox)
  • Broccoli Sprouts
  • Getting body work at least once a week (ex: yoga, massage, chiropractor, acupuncture, etc.).
  • Don’t keep what you crave in the house and resist the urge to buy them when you shop.
  • When a craving appears, drink a large glass of water and wait 30 minutes. Often, the craving will go away.
  • Don’t let yourself get too hungry. When you get hungry you’ll want to eat what you crave, so try to keep an emergency snack or meal prepared.

Check out this link for more information about the Elimination Diet, what to eat, how to reintroduce, recipes, and for more general information:

https://wholelifenutrition.net/articles

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet

For literature on the Diet I suggest exploring:

https://wholelifenutrition.net/books

 

 

 

The Silver Lining in Darkness

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I have to apologize for being absent the past few weeks. It seems that life has taken a turn into a mode of crisis. Many people take winter in as a time reserved for deep reflection and introspection; a time of hibernation; to rejuvenate so we may plant new seeds in the spring. The parts of us that no longer serve us have reached into the earth causing us to draw inward.

As I have begun to dig deep into my roots during this winter season, I see that I have delved deep into the shadow self. The solstice seems to mark a time of completion. I look upon my year knowing I have spent many of my days wrestling with the shattered parts of me I would rather not address. Like a steady stream under the darkened sky, I reflect a water that is blackened, but I am not black. The sutras ask us to be like a diamond: reflecting the colors of that which is around us, without attaching or defining ourselves as that color because as soon as the color is taken away, we will find we remain a diamond; pure, clear, and brightly shining.

As the days get shorter, colder, and the sky begins to fill with snow, I find myself in a place of reflection for this past year. In honor of the solstice, I took the opportunity to set my intentions for what I would like to cultivate in the coming year, 2016. After writing all of my thoughts down on paper, I found what I need the most is forgiveness.

As we all delve into our shadow self, the need to judge, the deflect, and project our problems elsewhere arises. I encourage you to find what needs healing in your life during this time and take an action step to heal it. If you need to forgive someone, do it. If you need to let go of something/someone, do it. If you need to stand up for yourself, to hold your ground, do it. Whatever medicine of the spirit you find yourself looking for, don’t withhold it from yourself any longer.

Know that there is a silver lining in the darkness. What you are searching for in the new year can be created.

Mistakes: A Step In The Right Direction

It is a misconception to think any one of any stature is ever free from the capability of making mistakes. Mistakes can arise from even the most sincere intention or the smallest lapse in judgement. The importance of mistakes is that they give you feedback and new direction.

Growing up, I was a girl who strived for perfection and deeply criticized myself, my worth, and my merits if I did not meet the impossibly high standard I had set for myself. Interestingly enough, I did not have parents who pressured me to act this way nor was anything else in my surroundings urging me to do this to myself. It came from with in. This unfathomable fear of being wrong. I would say today I can at least pat myself on the back for not being a perfectionist, but I still do strive to answer the question, “What is the most right?”.

I remember this summer, I briefly took a job as a barista at my favorite coffee house. I really had no business being there, however. I knew nothing of coffee, nor did I even drink it myself. On one of my first days, I kept making a series of mistakes that lead to lots of spilling and clean up. I was so embarrassed, but relieved when I apologized to one of my co-workers who replied, “That’s okay. Mistakes are where life happens.”

Even recently, when I moved in with my partner — a move I may not have truly been ready for in my heart, but quickly learned to adapt to — he said to me a quote of similar nature: “Mistakes are unavoidable so you might as well have fun and enjoy the ride.”

Naturally, the part of my brain that has in some way or another programmed itself to strive for perfection was being overrided by the notion that a mistake could possibly been a good thing.

Mistakes are bound to happen. They hurt ourselves and they can hurt others, but they are ultimately how we learn, where we grow, and are what makes our journey unique. I recently lost a job I cared about deeply for a careless mistake, a mistake compatible to that which you make on a math test and think to yourself, “Really? I can’t believe I forgot to do that!”. It’s with a heavy heart that I step away from there, deeply regretting my actions. But I’d like to think that nothing happens without reason. Even mistakes. Yes, even mistakes are divinely orchestrated and can lead you to exactly where you need to be.

This post isn’t to say that you should purposefully make mistakes, but, perhaps, when you do make them, give yourself some room to breathe. Give yourself permission to mess up because that’s where life happens. When you find yourself in the midst of self-ridicule try to change to tone to one of self-compassion and have a little faith. Even though, you may feel deeply sorry for your actions, trust that all is as is because the universe is as is. And, ultimately that it will be okay. Have trust in your actions and faith in your merits. ❤

Pose of the Week: Hanumanasana

Lord Hanuman Pose

HANUMANASANA

Benefits of the Pose:

  • Stretches groin, hips, & thighs
  • Opens Heart
  • Strengthens & improves functionality of abdominal muscles
  • Increases flexibility of hips when practiced frequently

Asana Breakdown:

This pose requires great flexibility and strength and definitely requires a bit of a warm up before getting into it. Personally, I keep this posture till one of my final poses, to ensure that I don’t hurt myself and can get the most benefit out of the asana. For preparation, I like to start off in Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Hanuman/Half Splits). To begin, start in Downward Facing Dog. Inhale one leg into three legged-dog, exhale step it in between your legs and bring your back leg down to the floor. Begin to straighten the front leg, allowing your foot to come off the floor, resting on your ankle. Begin to melt your heart closer to your knee and breathe here. This is the traditional prep pose for Hanumanasana.

Once you feel comfortable here, you can begin to ease your front leg forward and extend your back leg on the ground behind you. Straightening both and coming into full Hanumanasana. Here, you want to square your hips as much as possible. So let’s say your left leg is forward, take your attention to the right hip and begin to draw it closer to the front and allow for an external rotation in the the back leg. Lengthen the spine and allow the collar bones to lift and spread.

This can make the pose uncomfortable. The best way to ease int this pose from grace here is to use your hands as leverage and pull your groin a few inches off the ground. Drawing the thighs in closer together, you will begin to get deeper into the pose as well as your hips. Practice here, until you can comfortably remain in the traditional expression with integrity. From here, you can start to play. Options including, bending the back leg and grabbing the foot, reaching arms up over head or leaning forward over the front leg.

Yoga for PMS

Here’s one for the ladies! ❤ We’ve all been there. They are so so painful! here is a sequence to help relieve some of your period pains.

For more information on things you can do to get rid of/relieve menses pains, recipes, and more follow the link here

Pose of the Week: Triangle

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Triangle Pose

TRIKONASANA

Benefits:

  • Relieves stress & anxiety
  • Aids to back tension and pain
  • Strengthens thighs, ankles & knees
  • Stretches abdominal muscles that assist better digestion.
  • Good for sciatica, osteoporosis, & flat feet

Asana Break Down:

Begin in Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), straighten front leg and extend forward, hinging your torso over your front thigh. Allow your front hand to find a block, shin or the floor. If your hands are placed on the floor, make sure your hand is firmly placed palm touching the ground or remain on your fingertips without compromising your thumb. Some people even like to allow their hand to free float by their shin or ankle, using their core muscles to maintain the integrity of this asana. Allow your other hand to reach towards the sky.

Next, we want to align the body by twisting deeper in the pose. To do this, imagine someone was pressing into your hand that is in the air and encouraging you to twist your lower ribcage forward. Head should align with the line of the spinal chord. Draw shoulder blades closer to one another and check your torso’s alignment over your front leg. Often, people will puff their chest forward and either collapse their ribcage or put their body dramatically off balance. Make sure the center of your torso aligns with the center of your front leg. Allow there to be a mirco-bend in the front leg so that you don’t hyper extend. Back hip muscle should descend down towards the ground. Allow the back body to lengthen. Take your gaze towards the sky.  ❤

How to Move Forward: An Open Letter to Finding Comfort in Discomfort

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They say that the two of the most stressful things a person can endure are moving and the loss of someone close to you. On September 7th of this year my grandmother, a women whom I loved dearly and will miss eternally passed away. The grief still unfolds new for me everyday, unveiling a new layer of knowing the absence of her presence. Each day it becomes more clear that I can’t pick up the phone to call her, that I will never hear her Brooklyn accent, eat her roast beef, ride with her in the back of her cherry red car, or share my life with her. She was the most amazing listener and the dearest of grandmothers. When she passed, our cousin who lived near her said, “I want you to know that even though you live so far away, she breathed you everyday.” I remember hearing that and thinking to myself, “Wow. What a sacred thing to breathe someone.” To breathe someone, to know that no matter the distance, no matter the situation you are loved by one another. You are held by one another in a way that is as permanent and as impermanent as the breath.

In the coming weeks, I signed a lease with my boyfriend, Josh. We ended up in a beautiful little apartment right off Main St. I knew that it was because of her that we got the place. I just had a feeling: The odds of a college student with no credit and a mother as a second reference with a post-grad swamped with debt made us unlikely candidates. Yet here we are.

The idea of moving in together was not a new one, nor did it come into play silently without any debate. Very early in our relationship I decided moving in with Josh was something I wanted. For eight months I continued to nudge and ask for this move. Finally, Josh said yes. He saw part of him wanted to pursue our relationship in this way and that he needed to get away from his current living situation.

I have never lived with a partner before. Needless to say, everything feels entirely new and not entirely how I thought it would be. Everyday since we’ve moved in I have felt heavy in my heart, feeling as if I broke something that didn’t need to be fixed. I have yearned and yearned for my old room, my old house, and my old roommates, simply for the fact that they were familiar. Last night, my partner looked at me and said, “When are you going to arrive? I feel like I have been living here a week and my roommate hasn’t showed up.”

Crushed by my self guilt and the notion that I am letting him down, I recalled a conversation I had with my mentor earlier that evening. With loving eyes and little detail of my situation she said, “Expectations take you out of the present. You cannot find happiness where expectations lie. Furthermore, you’ve signed a year-long commitment with this person so you need to give it your 100%. By the time your lease is up you will know what you need to do.”

All of this leads up to writing this post this morning. I flashed back to the moment another yoga mentor of mine told me in the most arduous of poses, “This is life, right? It’s so painful and uncomfortable, but it’s all about how you approach it.”

So yes, happenings like death and moving may be some of the most stressful things one can endure, amongst many others. However it is not our circumstances that define our quality of life, but the way we choose to navigate them that counts. I noticed, the most painful things require a great deal of adaptability, for it is great change, I believe, that haunts us most in this life. Still, each day is a choice to stay in Duhka (suffering) or find Dharana (contentment). Finding contentment is a continual practice, one that takes conscious and undivided effort. It begins with showing up in the midst of discomfort and knowing that is shall pass. Knowing that change will change again and it’s all about how you approach it, so you may as well enjoy the ride.

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Dedicated to Shirley Klein Harwood

Quit the Midol: Alternatives to Menses Pain

truth about midol

This one is for the ladies. After having one of the most painful first days of my life, I felt inspired to write this post. When I was younger, I used to take Midol for period pains. It was the only thing that helped, but I couldn’t help feeling like I was doing my body harm for the price of taking away discomfort. Even just the few seconds it was in my mouth, it tasted like I was swallowing poison. I figured anything that tastes like that can’t be good for you. So I started doing a little research….

Basically, Midol is a version of Ibuprofen. Depending on what type of Midol you are using, you may be putting your body at risk, mainly the liver and kidneys. For example,”Midol Maximum Strength Menstrual may harm your liver,” Midol Complete research says, “Severe liver damage may occur if you take this product with other drugs containing acetaminophen or if you consume 3 or more alcoholic drinks every day while using this product”(Midol Maximum, Midol Complete). Even regular Ibuprofen “and other NSAIDs inhibit prostaglandins, and that can cause a problem [in the kidneys] because prostaglandins dilate blood vessels leading to the kidneys. Inhibiting prostaglandins may lead to kidney ischemia (dead tissue from decreased blood flow) and thus acute kidney injury”(Orrange).

So here are some alternative ways to make peace with the pains:

smoothiePeriod Smoothie:

2 bananas

1/2 cup strawberries

1-2 tbsp Cacao powder

1/2 cup of spinach

1 coconut water

Optional:

2 tsp Chia Seeds

1 tbsp flax seed oil

Bananas contain B6 and potassium, both of which can help ease bloating and water retention, while adding strawberries “helps to reduce a heavy menstrual flow, stress and irritability, and prevent anemia by increasing iron absorption” due to its vitamin C components (Orenstein, Merriment). Fresh fruits in general are good for fatigue and irritability during menstruation because of their natural fibers which are introduced slowly to the body and then converted into more energy (Merriment). Spinach is the go-to for menstrual cramps since it’s chock full of Folic Acid, Vitamin E, B6, and Magnesium (12). Coconut water is a great flavor in any smoothie, plus it’ll help to keep you hydrated. Surprisingly, coconut water is more hydrating that regular water because its chemical structure is similar to our blood. I also like to add in a little bit of chia seeds and flax seed oil to get some good oil, Omega-3, and antioxidants in the body. Chia seeds are full of protein, Vitamin B1, B3, E, zinc, copper, iron, flavinols (such as quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol), phenolic acids (such as caffeic acid), and lignin. Plus, Chia seeds have an antioxidant rating higher than “blackberries, mango, noni fruit, grapes, pineapple, or carambola” (Why). Allow your food to be your medicine, I promise it will serve you longer in this life than anything else.

IMG_2646In addition to the smoothie, treat yourself lady!

Get your butt into a bath, and scent it with essential oils like lavender and tea tree — or whatever your favorite scent is — even add bubbles and candles if you’d like! You may be surprised to find that this is the quickest relief to any of your pains and it’ll take away the physical stress on the body in no time. Set yourself up with a tall glass of water (of which you should continue to refill through out the day to keep your body hydrated and feeling good) and Chamomile or Peppermint tea. Chamomile can “relieve muscle spasms and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps” (Orenstein). In general, this will help reduce anxiety and stress that can and often does occur during menstruation. Peppermint tea is also good because it can help relax constricted muscles, especially the ones located on the uterus’ wall (Goodwin).

When you’re not in the bath, set yourself up with a hot water bottle to place on your stomach. These bottles are a lifesaver and deeply help to reduce pain, especially in the night when it can be hard to fall asleep.

Additionally, a lot of women crave dark meat on their period, however, this is not the best time to consume it. Really, what your body is craving is the vitamins and minerals that can be found in the smoothie above. The reason you want to avoid dark meats is because they can contribute to your hormones, therefore increasing your moodiness and pains. An alternative is to cook yourself up a nice salmon meal (follow link to find recipe) as it is full of omega-3, B6, and vitamin D (Orenstein). All of these components will will help to relieve breast pain, irritability, and fatigue.

IMG_2473 salmon salad

And if that’s not enough, and you find yourself tempted to reach for that bottle of Midol, here’s something different you can take. I am fortunate enough to work for a Master herbalist in my home town. She makes a variety of herbal formulas for just about everything. However, for the pain I just can’t beat, I take her Mense-Soothe. Works like a charm! (She also carries a formula for PMS). And good news: We ship! Just go to www.dancingwillowherbs.com and you can order a bottle of your own to see for yourself.

Mense soothe

So here’s a list of things to try next time your cycle comes around! Mainly, just go slow, take care of, and be kind to yourself! You work so hard the other 28 days, give yourself the space to be unruly, angry, tired, and crampy. Hopefully these help! As always, feel free to leave a comment bellow! Let me know what you think and if you thought this was helpful ❤

Oh, ONE MORE THING! Speaking of periods…If you haven’t, you should watch this video of a poem written by an amazing women… it’s titled The Period Poem. It’ll change your view of periods forever. Blessings to Dominque Christina for writing and inspiring all women: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vu2BsePvoI

Much Love ❤

Sources:

“Midol Maximum Strength Menstrual: Indications, Side Effects, Warnings – Drugs.com.” Midol Maximum Strength Menstrual: Indications, Side Effects, Warnings – Drugs.com. Drugs.com, 31 Aug. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.

“Midol Complete – (Acetaminophen) Side Effects, Dosage, Uses, Interaction – PDRHealth.” Pdrhealth. PDRHealth, 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.

Orrange, Dr. Sharron. “Is Ibuprofen/Advil Bad for My Liver and Kidneys?” GoodRx. GoodRx, 30 July 2013. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.

Orenstein, Ben. “8 Foods That Help Fight PMS.” EverydayHealth.com. Ed. Niya Jones. Everyday Health, 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.

Merriment, Mary. “Food Remedies That Reduce Symptoms of PMS.” HubPages. HubPages, 4 Nov. 2012. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.

“12 Best Foods for Fighting Menstrual Cramps.” Heal With Foods. Heal With Foods, 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.

“Why Chia Seeds Are Good for You (and the Healthiest Way to Eat Them).” Heal With Foods. Heal With Foods, 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.

Goodwin, Lindsey. “Peppermint Tea Health Benefits and Side Effects.” About Food. About Food, 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2015.

Image from: http://diannemalone.com/blog/?p=1950