We can do better

It seems to me that we are inundated with information these days  about all of the harmful substances in our lives. From the food that we eat, to the products that we use, it seems we can’t avoid this toxic overload. GMO foods, food dyes, pesticides, and chemicals are having a profound effect on our health and the health of our children. I am here to say that WE CAN DO BETTER. We can do better as a nation to regulate what is allowed to be put into our food, our vaccines, our water, our bodies. Our government allows many of these toxic substances when other, less progressive, countries ban them. As mothers, we can do better. We can choose whole, organic food to feed our families. We can take a stand towards GMO labeling. We can boycott products that are not Non-GMO-verified. We, as consumers, can do better. We can demand change with our wallets. We can start treating our bodies with the respect that they deserve. We can shift what companies sell by what we buy.

I believe that we are in the midst of a health crisis. We can not expect companies to look after our best interests. We can’t rely on the government to protect our children from diabetes, cancer, or autism. We, as consumers, as human beings, as mothers have to take a stand and take responsibility. I believe that we can do better. It starts today. It starts with you.

What I eat

Recently I had a request to write about prenatal nutrition. I have been thinking about this for the last few weeks now and how I can go about writing it. Unfortunately, there’s very little solid information about prenatal nutrition or about nutrition overall. I have read about a dozen books on food and it’s amazing how much of it is conflicting. I’m currently reading a book called Nourishing Traditions and I just commented to my husband how it’s so interesting that different books often quote the same studies or the same group of people but make different observations. Often this just leaves us all more confused.

Since I’m not a dietician and by no means do I eat perfectly, I’m going to basically tell you what and how I eat. If you don’t care, I certainly don’t blame you but I realize I’m actually quite curious how other people eat so maybe this will be interesting after all.

Concerning prenatal nutrition, I would say that it doesn’t differ all that much from my normal diet except that I try harder when I’m pregnant. Considering food cravings and/or adversions though, I’m not sure I eat that much differently except that I cut out the following (based on my doctor’s recommendations): deli meat, raw fish, raw meat, unpasturisted cheese, ect.

Generally speaking, I try to buy all of my fruits, veggies and meats organic. I’m less concerned though with fruits with a thick peel like pineapple, bananas, oranges, etc. I’m very mindful of how much diary, meat, and gluten I eat. Instead of regular milk, we all (including Brooks) drink almond milk. (For Brooks, I add coconut milk and UltraCare for Kids for nutrients missing in almond milk. I found this recipe in the book Cure Your Child with Food). I do eat cheese and greek yogurt but I’m mindful of how much cheese I eat in a day. Basically the same goes for meat. I’m not against eating it but I try to buy good quality, grass-fed meats and I probably eat them 3-4 times per week. It wasn’t until recently that I started to pay attention to the wheat/gluten in my diet. A year or so ago, my friend recommended that I read Wheat Belly which I really enjoyed but never finished because I honestly wasn’t ready for that big of a change. More recently, my acupuncturist suggested I try to limit it in my diet and because I’ve found some really great recipes (Against All Grain.com) and product replacements, I’ve been doing better with it. Overall though, I’d say I practice the 80/20 rule (or maybe somewhat better). I eat really well most of the time- generally during the week at home, and eat whatever I want (with in reason) on the weekends or when we are traveling. I don’t believe that perfection is the goal but I do know that I feel better when I eat real, clean food as opposed to junk. With the exception of Subway (which I’ve been boycotting since the Food Babe informed us of the toxins in the bread) , I haven’t eaten fast food in years and Brooks has never had it. I try to stay away from sodas but I will have one occasionally (even though I think they are terrible for me). I love sweets and have something sweet daily. Usually the craving is satisfied by dark chocolate covered almonds which we almost always have on hand. I also stock almond milk chocolate pudding and plenty of fruit. I buy ice cream probably twice a month and I buy it in small containers because I absolultely love it and I have no self control over a container of Ben & Jerry’s. I can literally eat a pint at one sitting so I know I can’t keep it in the house.

Since I’m a creature of habit, I eat a lot of the same foods. This is a basic breakdown:

Breakfast:

We start every morning with a smoothie that has carrots, greens (usually kale or spinach), whatever fruit we have on hand, coconut water, ice, and usually spirulina, flaxseeds, chia seeds, or macca.

Most days start with scrambled or fried eggs cooked in grass-fed butter or oatmeal with flaxseed oil, maple syrup, and sometimes walnuts & banana. Many days these are accompanied by organic chicken sausage. Days I don’t have eggs or oatmeal, I’ll have gluten free blueberry waffles with Brooks or very rarely cereal.

I also have coffee with soy creamer (I adore my coffee and have tried to kick the habit several times but I love it too much)

Lunch:

Often lunch is leftovers from dinner but other days it’s a veggie sandwich or PB&J on gluten free bread, a veggie burger, soup (leftover or sometimes canned), a salad, or occasionally eggs. Many days Brooks and I have a combination of whatever is the in fridge. For example, I’ll serve saurkraught (which Brooks loves), hummus with pita and/or carrot sticks, sweet potato with butter, and cheese. I’ve found that Brooks eats better when he has a lot of options and as long as I load his plate up with healthy foods, I don’t care which parts he eats or doesn’t eat that day. Brooks and I almost always eat the same thing. I know he pays attention to what I’m eating.

Snacks:

Yogurt, fruit, hummus, hard boiled eggs, gluten free homemade muffins (from Against All Grain), kombucha

Dinner:

Although it takes up some time I almost always plan my dinners out for the week. You can find many of our dinner options if you follow me on Pinterest. Here’s what our menu looks like this week:

Sunday: Chris made homemade sauce and meat balls (from grass fed beef), salad

Monday: Kale & broccoli quinoa with sweet potato and (fermented) sauerkraut (confession, we had gelato & Ben & Jerry’s FroYo for dessert after Brooks was in bed)

Tuesday: Homemade veggie pizza on gluten free crust. (Called Greek Goddess Pizza)

Wednesday: Vegan Lentil Soup

Thursday: Annie Chun’s Curried Shrimp (gluten free noodles)

I rarely cook on the weekends and if I do it’s a game time decision. You may notice that I have mentioned sauerkraut a few times. I buy brands that are naturally fermented. Brooks loves them and I’m a big believer in eating fermented foods. We all regularly consume GT’S Kombucha for the same reason.

As for supplements, I take a prenatal vitamin (prescribed by my OB), probiotics (Metagenics), fish oil (Green Pasture) , chewable vitamin C, and vitamin D (5,000 IU in the winter) daily. I also regularly consume flaxseeds, spirulina, chia seeds, and/or macca in our smoothies.

Overall, I’d say that I focus on eating real foods, getting veggies in each meal, and trying to eat foods that will make me feel better. I feel that whatever is good for me is good for my growing baby (with a few exceptions). Life is of course about balance. If you go on vacation with me or hang out with me on the weekends, please don’t judge. We can’t eat perfect all the time. 🙂

 

Is sugar making you sick?

Luckily I can count on one hand the number of times Brooks has been really sick- I’m talking more than a cold here. The first time was when he was just under 6 months old. It was right after Christmas of 2012 and he ended up with a virus that gave him high fevers. The second was right around Easter. He was around 8 months old and we were living in Miami at the time. He got croup which turned into ear infections. The last time was just over the last few weeks- right around Christmas. Again, his cold turned into croup which then turned into bilateral ear infections. When I think back to all of these times, there is definitely a trend- it’s always around a holiday. I couldn’t believe he got sick right after his first Christmas. He was solely breastfed. Even in Miami when he got sick, he was still being breastfed. Unlike other holidays, we weren’t even traveling during that time. Interestingly though, the first time he got ear infections, I developed a sinus infection at the same time. This last time, I too developed a cold that then turned into an ear infection. I had been thinking about this and I came up with a theory: excess sugar was making us sick. Easter was the most obvious for me to figure out. I’m obsessed with Cadbury Eggs. Thank God they are only available for a short time. I stock up during the Easter season but instead of saving them, I’ll eat multiple per day. I’ve justified this for years. I eat healthy most of the time. I don’t have a weight problem. But that was before I realized that they have been wrecking havoc on my immune system (and Brooks’s through my milk). Like I just said, Christmas has been the other times we’ve been sick. This year, I made Christmas cookies that we were enjoying daily. Then we went home for the holidays and none of us were eating well. Brooks was allowed to eat way more crap foods- many of them cookies- then he normally does. I totally let my guard down and scarfed down a ridiculous amount of junk. What do you get when you add up a weakened immune system, holiday stress, and germ filled airplanes? Well in our case, you get ear infections.

I decided to do a little research to see if my theory had any backing. I first talked to my acupunturist, who said that “colds feed off of sugar”. When I told her the story of the Cadbury Eggs she told me that the same thing happened when she was nursing her daughter. Her treat of choice was suckers. She went through a phase and sure enough, her daughter got sick.

Certainly interesting but I needed facts…so I went to Google. According to an article in the USA Today (2009), Dr Sears, a well know pediatrician, says “A big dose of sugar can immediately suppress your immune system and make you more vulnerable to colds, flu and other infections.”

Multiple articles that I read site a study done in 1973 which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. You are welcome to read the abstract (by clicking on the journal). It’s quite scientific and uses large words but to summarize, the study found that the ability to engulf (kill) the bacteria immediately after simple carbs (glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, or orange juice) was significantly decreased and the effects lasted up to 5 hours after consumption. Although some sites discredit this study, it’s exactly the information that I was looking for to confirm my theory.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any more recent studies; however, this study alone is enough for me. Perhaps Brooks and I are both sugar sensitive. I know plenty of people who eat way more sugar and crap than we do and they don’t appear to get sick. Maybe, we are more sensitive because we normally consume so little sugar (with the exception of fruit). Honestly I don’t know. What I do know is that all of those Christmas cookies were not worth having a sick child and being sick myself.

I know that I can’t totally eliminate added sugar in my diet. I love ice cream, chocolate, cookies…What I do know is that I really need to watch how much Brooks and I consume. Moving forward, I will be much more mindful…especially around the holidays.

 

Hello my name is Melanie…and I’m a coffee addict. Today is my first day of sobriety. Well, to be fair I do make myself give up coffee at least once per year for a few days. Why? Mostly because I can’t control myself. I love coffee, the smell, the taste, the ritual. If I could just have one cup in the morning and leave it alone then I probably wouldn’t feel the need to “detox” myself of it but I’m not that kind of coffee drinker. Last Friday I drank so many cups that I felt nauseous. I considered giving it up then but I thought I could control myself. That lasted a whooping three days. Yesterday after my morning cup of joe, I stopped at a coffee shop just a few hours later to have a mocha. The result? nauseous again (and no, I’m not pregnant). Last week I drank a ton of coffee because I had major PMS and was so tired all day that I could hardly stand it. While it does give me a nice kick in the butt, it also takes me on a rollercoaster. I’ve been tired but having difficulty sleeping, my hormones have been out of control making me less than pleasant to be around. Enough is enough. So yesterday, I literally removed the coffee maker from the kitchen. It is currently taking residence in the closet. My plan is to give it up for 3 weeks (which is the amount of time it takes to form a new habit). I’m sure I’ll drink it after that (I always do) but my hope is that I can limit myself to a reasonable amount that doesn’t make me feel sick or crazy.

Truth is, I’ve been feeling the need to detox so this is just step one. Ever check out your tongue? Remember your doctor looking at it at your last appointment? Acupuncturists do the same thing. That’s because your tongue can give a lot of information about how healthy your body is. My tongue has a bit too much white coating on it which tells me my body is a bit too toxic. This may seem over board to you. You’re probably thinking that I eat really healthy. Well, generally I do eat healthy, but I’ve fallen off the wagon lately. Sure, I eat a lot of vegetables but recently I’ve been eating cheese with every meal, meat on more days than not, large amounts of ice-cream at night, and too much white flour in bread and other treats. Bottom line is that I’ve been feeling like hell so it’s time for me to clean up my act.

The other day I was making dinner and I noticed the “Bragg Healthy Lifestyle” on my Bragg’s olive oil. I went to their website and was delighted to find a heap of information. Patricia Bragg goes into extensive detail about what we should not eat. This list is a bit scary, but here it is:

  • Refined sugar and all refined sugar products such as jams, jellies, preserves, ice cream, sherbets, Jell-O, cake, candy, cookies, chewing gum, soft drinks, pies, pastries, tapioca puddings, sugared fruit juices, fruits canned in sugar syrup.
  • Catsup and mustard made with salt or sugar, Worcestershire sauce, pickles, green salted olives. White distilled & filtered vinegars.
  • Salted foods such as corn & potato chips, salted nuts, pretzels, salted crackers.
  • White rice and pearled barley.
  • All refined, sugared, dry cereals such as corn flakes and others.
  • Deep fried and greasy foods.
  • Saturated fats and hydrogenated oils are enemies and premature killers of your heart.
  • Food which contains cottonseed oil. When a product is labeled vegetable oil, find out what kind before you use it.
  • Oleo and margarines, saturated fats and hydrogenated oils.
  • Peanut butter that contains salt and all hydrogenated oils used for hardening.
  • Coffee, decaffeinated coffee and black and China teas. (100% herbal teas are O.K.)
  • Fresh pork and pork products.
  • Smoked fish of any kind.
  • Smoked meats, ham, bacon, sausage.
  • Luncheon meats such as hot dogs and salami, bologna, corned beef, pastrami and meats containing the dangerous preservatives sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite.
  • Dried fruits processed with dangerous sulphur dioxide (a preservative).
  • Chicken & turkey injected with stilbestrol or fed chicken feed that contains drugs.
  • Canned soups (read labels to look for sugar, fillers, starch, white flour and preservatives).
  • Food that contains benzoate of soda, or cream of tartar (a preservative).
  • Bleached and unbleached white flour products such as white bread, wheat and rye bread that uses a mixed wheat-white flour, dumplings, biscuits, buns, gravy, noodles, spaghetti, pizza pie, ravioli, sago, pies, pastries, cakes, cookies, prepared and commercial puddings, and ready-mix, refined bakery goods. If you use wheat, it should read whole wheat; then you know it contains no white flour. Substitute whole grain flours in all bakery goods.
  • Leftover cooked veggies & premixed old wilted salads.
  • No self-drugging: no aspirin, buffered aspirin, antihistamines, laxatives, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, pain killers, strong cathartics or antacids. Correct your problems by living a healthy lifestyle so you won’t need any of the above. The above listed all have side effects. It’s best to live a healthy lifestyle.

Chances are if you thought you were eating pretty well and then you read this list, you are rethinking that. Now, I’m not trying to be perfect here. The goal for me isn’t to live to be 100 and never enjoy ice-cream, wine, or other favorites. The thing that I took from this list though is that I can do a lot better on a day-to-day basis. I first considered doing a full on three-week cleanse. I’ve done one before in which you essentially give up everything (caffeine, alcohol, sugar, gluten, animal by-products, seafood) but when I look at my calendar I realize that I’m going to have a really tough time with that. Instead, I’ve come up with a more manageable approach. Here goes:

– This week I give up coffee

– Next week I do the 3 day detox that I did back in June (which I’ll probably do for 4-5 days). Basically for this “week” I won’t eat: animal by-products, gluten, added sugar, alcohol, and of course the coffee

– After the 3 day food detox, I’m considering doing a 3 day juice cleanse. I have attempted these in the past though and I’ve never made it past a day and a half so we’ll see. (I’ll keep you posted)

– Moving forward, I will limit my meat consumption to 2 x’s/week. Chris is already a weekday vegetarian meaning he only eats meat on the weekends so I could just join him.

– I will limit my dairy intake (with the exception of yogurt) to one meal/day

Okay so that’s the plan. I will update my Facebook page to let you know how I’m feeling. Wish me luck.

Vaccine cheat sheet

I realize that I’m not making many friends by posting about vaccines. Honestly though, I don’t care. I’m not here to try to make friends. I’m here to try to get the facts for myself and to share information that I feel is valuable. You can take what you want and disregard the rest. If you think I’m crazy, well you are not the first one. I’m not losing sleep over that. What I am losing sleep over; however, is the health of my child. Talking about vaccines is so taboo it makes me crazy. I’m not trying to fight with anyone but I also don’t understand why we can’t have open and honest conversations about vaccines. Chris and I tried to have a conversation with a pediatrician at one of Brooks’s early appointments and I thought I was going to cry. She was down-right mean and clearly was not open to having a conversation. Luckily we found a pediatrician who doesn’t necessarily agree with our views but is at least flexible enough to work with us and allow us to discuss our concerns.

I believe that as educated adults we have an obligation to educate ourselves about what is going into our child’s body. What we do with that information is a very individual choice. I’m not anti-vaccine. I’m pro-information. I believe in weighing the risks and benefits and making educated choices. What is right for our family may not be right for yours. I’m certainly not trying to push my views on anyone. I’m a fact finder who likes to share.

Anyway, I’ve been looking for information on vaccines since before Brooks was born. Recently, I came across a book that was really helpful to me. Dr. Laura Feder is a doctor practicing in L.A. She is an M.D. who also practices holistic medicine. I found her through the Holistic Moms Network. The book is called “The Parents’ Concise Guide to Childhood Vaccinations”. A few weeks ago after reading part of the book, I laid in bed and cried to Chris because I was so stressed out about the vaccination issue. He’s amazing so he told me that he would read the book too and together we would make the right decisions. Since he is crazy busy with work, I just spent the last hour or so making a cliff note version for him to skim. I think it’s valuable enough to share so here you have it. Basically what you’ll find is a breakdown of each illness, complications of the disease, information about the vaccine, and possible complications associated with the vaccine. Please keep in mind that everything listed below is directly from Dr. Feder’s book. I did not input any of my opinions. I highly recommend downloading this book since I’m only sharing a portion of it.

Hep B: 

– Not a common childhood disease, not contagious

– Complications of disease include liver damage, liver cancer, liver failure

– Mothers can pass to babies during childbirth

– Vaccine used to be “recommended for newborns who mothers tested positive for hepatitis B”; now given at birth, 1-2 months, 6-18 months

– Vaccine contains mercury and is linked to multiple sclerosis., Guillain-Barré syndrome, diabetes, arthritis

– “The FDA licensed the current hepatitis B vaccine despite a lack of adequate long-term follow-up studies; they primarily used data that studied children for only 4-5 days following the vaccine.”

Rotavirus

– Causes acute diarrhea

– 3 doses recommended at 2, 4, and 6 months

– Vaccine linked to bronchiolitis, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, fever, UTI, severe bowel obstruction

DTap

– 3 in 1: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping-cough

– 5 recommended doses: 2, 3, 6, 15-18 months, 4-6 yrs

Diphtheria: bacterial infection, contagious, can cause damage to heart, kidney, neuritis, temporary paralysis of limbs and muscles

– 5-10% fatality, common in poor underdeveloped areas. Treatable if caught early

– Vaccine risks: swelling, redness, fever, systemic complications (less common)

– Rare. Early treatment results in full recovery

Tetanus

– Bacteria, causes difficulty swallowing, painful spasms, tightening in the jaw, symptoms last 3-4 weeks, full recovery can take several months, complications can cause pneumonia, fractures, brain damage

– More common in developing countries and adults

– Vaccine made of tetanus toxoid which is “a deadly poison”

– There are questions about the effectiveness 60% of people who contract have been vaccinated

– Risks of vaccine: same as diphtheria as well as Guillain-Barré  syndrome and arthritis

– Parents can give TIG following an injury instead of tetanus

Pertussis- Whooping Cough

– Bacterial infection, contagious

– Coughing can last 1-6 weeks, can lead to pneumonia, ear infections, dehydration, convulsions, and in rare cases brain damage and death

– Greatest risk in babies younger than 6 months

– Risks of vaccine: original vaccine caused severe complications including mental retardation. It ha been reformulated but still can cause encephalitis and death

Hib

– Bacterial infection, normally lives dormant in the mouth and nose of most people and causes mild ear, nose, and throat infections. On rare occasions it becomes more invasive leading to meningitis.

– Contagious, the longer the baby is breastfed the less risk for meningitis; protection can possibly last 5-10 years after weaning

– Complications of Hib: pneumonia, arthritis, infections around the heart, hearing loss, seizures, brain damage, learning disabilities

– Vaccine: 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months; risks include: fever, irritability, prolonged crying, diarrhea, convulsions, shock, collapse, meningitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome

– Considered more important vaccine by many parents

Pneumococcal

– Bacterium similar to Hib that can cause severe ear/sinus infections, pneumonia, meningitis, blood infections

– 8% mortality, causes 100 deaths/year

– Prevnar vaccine: 2, 3, 6 months, 4th booster shot at 12-15 months, contains only 7 strains out of 90 pneumococcus

– National Vaccine Info Center questions its effectiveness

– Risks of vaccine: swelling, fever, irritability, loss of appetite, seizures, gastritis, asthma, death

– No long-term studies (approved in 2000)

– Many parents consider this a low priority vaccine due to the lack of long-term studies and question of effectiveness

Polio

– Caused by virus spread by contact with stool

– 95% of polio cases go unnoticed, most common in 3-5 year olds, only 1% of cases become paralytic when virus attacks brain and spinal cord (approximately 8 cases/year)

– IPV vaccine changed in 2000 due to its links with paralytic polio

– 2, 4, 6-18 months, 4-6 yrs, child has 99% immunity after 3 doses

– Risks of immunity: swelling, pain, redness, fever, fussiness, fatigue, vomiting, Guillain-Barré  syndrome, possible cancer connection

MMR

– 3 in 1 at 1 year and again 4-6 years

– Strongly linked to autism and developmental disorder

– In London, Dr thinks measles causes inflammatory bowel diseases

Measles

– Was very common, very contagious, most children recover fully, occasionally can cause secondary infections including diarrhea, ear infections, croup, or possibly deafness, blindness, pneumonia, encephalitis

– Mortality rate 1 in 1,000

– Vaccine: live virus, risks include: colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, swelling, fever, dizziness, headache, convulsing, Guillain-Barré syndrome, autism

– “Nearly every American child born before 1957 had measles…most recovered without serious consequences”

Mumps

– Mild viral infection used to be very common

– 20% of cases have no symptoms, complications are rare, death rate of 2 out of 10,000 cases

– Risks of mumps vaccine: meningitis, diabetes

– Not a high priority vaccine for many parents

Rubella

– Mild viral infection, aka: “3 day measles”, was very common, contagious, more severe in adults

– Complications are rare but include diabetes, arthritis

– Risks of vaccine: arthritis, Guillain-Barré  syndrome, thrombocytopenia (blood-clotting issue)

– Complications can occur during pregnancy so maybe consider for girls

Varicella chickenpox

– Mild disease was very common

– Complications include: bacterial skin infections, encephalitis, septicemia, osteomyelitis

– Less than 1% of children who get chickenpox suffer rare complications

– Vaccine: live virus; 12-15 months again 4-6 years old, risks include: pain, redness, swelling, fever, Guillain-Barré syndrome, shingles, shock, encephalitis, blood disorder, rare death

Hep A

– Can be spread through diaper changes, travelers eating infected food, Hep A lasts around 2 months. Symptoms: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dark urine, jaundice

– Up to 70% kids have no symptoms

– Death rare, mortality .6%, most deaths in adults over 49 years old

– Other than prolonged symptoms, no long-term complications

– Hep A more common in areas of poor hygiene

– Vaccine approved in 1996, 2 doses 12-18 months and again 6-12 months after first vaccine or for travelers within 14 days after exposure

– Risks of vaccine: headache, fatigue, joint pain, diarrhea

– “More common priority vaccine given in first year”

So there you have it. Thank you to Dr. Laura Feder. For information on homeopathic medicine please visit her website at: http://www.drfeder.com/.

What’s in your products?

 

About a month ago I was getting a mani/pedi in the comfort of my own home.  The nail technician was telling me that all of her products are non-toxic. We started talking about toxins and she started listing all sorts of long and potentially dangerous ingredients in everything from mascara to nail polish. To be honest, the only time I’ve ever really thought about what’s in my products was when I was pregnant. Otherwise, it’s never been much of a concern. This is probably pretty normal but considering how concerned I am with toxins in our food and vaccines, I started to think that maybe I should give more weight to what I put on my body everyday. She told me about the website Safe Cosmetics where I learned that “more than 1 in 5 personal care products contain chemicals linked to cancer, (and) 80 percent contain ingredients that commonly contain hazardous impurities”. She also introduced me to The Environmental Working Group’s website: Skin Deep where you can search more than 64,000 products. I used this website to start looking up some of the products that I use daily. The first one I looked up is my favorite face wash: Murad Essential C Cleanser. It came up with a score of 6 which is the high-end of “moderate toxicity”. It also provided the following information:

Below this, the site lists each ingredient in the face wash and rates each ingredients’ toxicity. The first ingredient listed is:  Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate) which sounds harmless enough (Vitamin A is good for us so this sounds good for me too). Turns out this ingredient scores an 8 (10 being the worst) and comes with the following warning:

Biochemical or cellular level changes, Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Use restrictions

Unfortunately my second favorite product, Kiehl’s Line Reducing Concentrate didn’t produce any results. Surprisingly my deodorant (I thought these were the worst offenders), Mitchum came with a low score of 1.

I could go on but I don’t think anyone is that interested in knowing each and every product that I use. I can’t even tell you how many different products that I put on my body each day. I do know that there are a lot. Although I haven’t yet given up my favorite face wash or thrown away any of my existing products, I have tried to replace the products that I run out of with better options. So far I have traded in my old body wash, shaving cream, and body lotion for more natural choices. I’ve done a bit of research for all-natural anti-aging products and I do plan on switching out some of these products as well. I can’t say that 100% of my products are going to be all-natural but I know that I am going to make an effort.

Acupuncture for wrinkles

acupuncture 3

I love talking to strangers. I feel like new people always have something to teach me and I get excited when I uncover these hidden secrets. This was exactly the case when I struck up a conversation with a nice girl (I use that word loosely, she was an adult but woman sounds too old to me) at a 4th of July party. She told me that she’s a chiropractor and she also practices acupuncture. I’ve had both and I’m a big fan. What I was surprised by was when she starting talking about doing acupuncture for wrinkles. She explained that she occasionally needles her own forehead to boost collagen and therefore, prevent (in her case) or treat wrinkles. She went on to tell me that it takes 6-10 treatments to notice a difference but that it does work. I felt like I just won the information jackpot! Some of my friends have started getting botox and although I’m not against it I would like to find a more natural way. I’m particularly interested in getting rid of the frown line that is forming between my eyebrows. A natural solution to this problem…sign me up! Since the girl I met practices in the suburbs, I went online and googled “acupuncture for wrinkles chicago” and found Angie at Acubalance Chicago. My first session was about 10 days ago and I had my second session yesterday. Angie takes a holistic approach so although I’m there for facial acupunture, she also needles other parts of my body for overall wellness. Both times I went in feeling fatigued and left feeling much more refreshed.

acupuncture 2 acupuncture 1

Angie starts with the needling and then does facial massage followed by a herbal mask. The session is about 45 minutes long and I fell asleep both times for at least a few minutes. Although I can’t see a difference yet I’m really hopeful that after 6-8 more sessions I will.

While I was in the waiting room, I picked up a few brochures on acupuncture. Studies have shown that acupuncture is helpful to reduce chronic pain as well as boost fertility. The way I see it is that I have nothing to lose but the wrinkles and if that doesn’t happen maybe it will help me in other ways.

I’ll check back in after I’ve had 6-8 sessions with before and after pictures. Fingers crossed!

Pushing through

In less than a week I will attempt a 100 mile charity bike ride with my bestie, Brooke. The event is called Pelotonia and it’s in Columbus, Ohio and 100% of the proceeds go to cancer research. (If you would like to donate, you can by clicking here.) In preparation for the event, I did two spinning classes this past Saturday at Fly Wheel. The first one was an hour and the second one was the standard 45 minutes. The instructor in the first class was getting us through a difficult hill and she told us to just breathe through it. It occurred to me that of all of the difficult things I’ve done in my life, that’s how I’ve gotten through them all. Of course I’m not talking about the really tough stuff in life-like sickness or the death of a loved one,  I’m talking about my triathlon, natural child-birth, and my marathon. In each case, I practiced controlling my thoughts and my breathing. The physical body is an amazing thing. It will do things that seem humanly impossible. It’s our brains that generally stop us short. Often we feel defeated even before we start.

No matter if I’m running, swimming, or biking the beginning always sucks for me. The first mile or two of a run I can’t breathe and I feel like stopping. The first 5-10 miles on the bike I feel the same way. After those first few miles, I get my breathing regulated and I lose myself in my activity. Most of the time I actually start to enjoy myself.

I know the end of this ride is going to be brutal. I’ve only done about half the distance thus far and it’s been tough. The thing is that it’s supposed to be. When I feel like I can’t go any further, I will think of my mother’s battle against breast cancer. Watching her go through the emotional heartbreak of being diagnosed and then the physical wear of chemo, radiation, and a mastectomy was certainly worse than one day of physical pain. My Mom was one of the lucky ones. She’s a survivor. My Grandpa unfortunately lost his fight. He did; however, have a long and happy life and for that I am grateful. We all know someone who has been affected by cancer. Often, it’s a life cut way too short.

This Saturday I will do my best to complete 100 miles. I hope that I can dig deep when things get tough. I know I will be thinking of people I know who have battled cancer. I would like to think that the money donated will go towards finding a cure. God willing in Brooks’s life cancer will be a thing of the past.

Thanks for your support.

Kid tested, mother approved

Goodie balls

I should start by saying that these little treats are by no means only for kiddos. I first had one of these delicious little treats in Byron Bay, Australia at a smoothie shop. They called them “goodie balls” and had a variety of flavors. I instantly loved them so when I got home I did a google search and found a few recipes. They are sometimes called “power balls” or “energy balls”. Anyway, I followed a recipe I found online and then I started experimenting. They are basically no-bake, healthy cookies. You can play around with them and use other dried fruits, nuts, or seeds. We had friends in town this past weekend and they were a big hit (with adults). Brooks loves them too. Keep in mind that both recipes have both peanut butter and honey so they aren’t appropriate for babies under one or for kids with food allergies. Anyway, here are recipes for two different kinds of goodie balls:

Basic goodie ball:

1/2 cup each: flaxseed meal, raw almonds or other raw nuts, raisins or dates

3/4 cup rolled oats

Put all of this in the food processor and process until smooth. Put in a bowl and add 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup honey. Mix well and roll into small balls

My favorite goodie ball:

Put 3/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup cranberries, 1/4 cup chocolate chips, 1/4 cup flaxseeds, 1/8 cup chia seeds in a food processor and process until smooth. Put in a bowl and add 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup honey, and 1/8 cup agave nectar. Mix well and roll into balls.

They are super easy and will keep at room temperature for about a week (if you don’t eat them all by then). Enjoy!

Smoothies

My family and I are on a smoothie kick. It’s contagious in the best sort of way. My brother and his wife have been on the kick for months now. Chris and I go in phases but we’ve been making almost daily smoothies for the last six weeks or so and we don’t show any signs of slowing down. My parents recently started making them which then inspired my aunt to jump on the band wagon. The best part is how healthy they are. We all start with a green- usually spinach or kale, whatever fruit you have on hand, ice, and a liquid like coconut water, almond milk, or regular water. Sometimes we get particularly creative and add carrots, beets, yogurt, ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, or protein. The options are endless. Recently I bought an Omega 3 mix from William Sonoma that I’ve yet to try but I’m kind of excited about. Brooks gets super excited when we start the blender (he loves loud noises) and he loves to share my smoothie with me (I never include protein powder in his). I feel good about the fact that he’s getting so many vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients and I feel good that I am too. Starting your day off with kale or spinach is certainly a good thing.

According to Men’s Fitness:

  • Kale is the best green in terms of antioxidants on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) chart—scoring 1,770 units while spinach clocks in at less than 1,500, says Frechman.
  • It’s also a good source of vitamin Avitamin Ccalcium and cancer-fighting phytonutrients, plus it’s high in carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been proven to prevent macular degeneration.
  • Kale has tons of fiber —one cup of this vegetable packs 90 mg into only 36 calories—while also helping to regulate enzymes that assist in detoxing your liver.

Also, of interest, I found multiple sites, including Dr. Mercola who say that Vitamin K (kale is high in vitamin K) may help prevent or even treat Alzheimer’s disease.

There are dozens of smoothie recipe books out there and while I find them quite interesting you really don’t need one. Fruit smoothies are great but I encourage you to add kale, spinach, or another green. It may change the color of your smoothie but as long as you add something sweet (fruit) you can hardly (if at all) taste the greens. Honestly the possibilities are endless. If you are thinking that you need to run out and buy a Vitamix, slow down for one minute. While I love my Vitamix, my parents have a traditional blender and it works wonders. I would say get started with your blender and if you find that you are really getting into making smoothies then go buy a Vitamix. Speaking of, they are about half the price at Costco.

To get you started, here is a good beginner recipe from the Vitamix recipe book:
Ruby Emerald smoothie

And for those of you already on the bandwagon, here is a more adventurous recipe (has broccoli in it!)

All green smoothie

Cheers! I hope you are enjoying your smoothie as much as I am enjoying mine.