2 Years and Still Pressing On

While on vacation we hit the 2 year mark of us changing the way we eat, the way we look at food, the way we grocery shop, and the way we pretty much do life. It’s been quite a crazy 2 years. We’ve learned so much about ourselves, about our weaknesses, and what foods are most difficult to give up (dairy and chocolate!). We’ve learned how cheating just isn’t worth it and sticking to a mostly paleo diet is simply what works best for our family. We feel healthiest and best when we eat meat, fruits and veggies and keep the other stuff (starches–potatoes, bread, grains of any kind–sweets, pop) to a minimum, or in my case not at all on the grains. I did a long post last year about all the changes we had made in our first year. You can look at that list here. We have continued with these changes and have added a few others.

One of the biggest things we’ve started doing is seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis. I wrote about that here. I know it’s helping to keep us healthy, and I’m looking forward to seeing how much healthier our winter will be. For Cora, who always gets sinus infections during the fall/winter, she’s been getting sinus massages the past few times we’ve gone. We see the effects (eyes and nose running) of the massage as it’s happening. This is helping to keep her sinuses clear, and the thought is this will prevent infections. She’s already had 1 sinus infection (before we started doing the massages), and I’m praying it’ll be the only one. 

I have been doing a lot more baking using almond meal, coconut flour and garbanzo bean flour. So far the things I’ve made have been good and are things David says he doesn’t mind eating! One thing I probably make the most often are biscuits. We all like them and though they’re made with almond meal and not wheat flour David says they remind him most of the biscuits his grandmother used to make. I have lots more recipes to try, but so far I’m having fun learning to bake differently and learning the different qualities of the different meals/flours. 

Something we have discovered is we are a family who is trying to become as natural and chemical-free as possible. This means I am cleaning exclusively with a tea tree oil/water mixture, baking soda and vinegar. I clean our fruits/veggies in vinegar and water and make our laundry detergent. We don’t burn scented candles or use air fresheners of any kind. This has helped our allergies and the biggest improvement is David’s asthma, which is pretty much non-existant now! I am beginning the long process of researching the things to avoid in hair care products and make up. Changing these things in our home is the next big thing I need to do. We’ve come so far in our attempts to live a healthier life, and this is one area that has seemed very overwhelming to me. However, I (we) believe it’s the next step. We have the food pretty much figured out, and the cleaning products. Now, we need to finish with our own personal care products. 

We are also going to be adding regular exercise to our routine. Now that I’m entering my 3rd year of the best health I’ve ever been in there is no excuse to NOT exercise! I hate to do it, but I know it needs to be done. 

What have we learned thus far? Change is hard. Change takes time. Change can often be a daily struggle. Change is good. There are a lot of benefits to change despite the difficulty in it. And, most change is absolutely worth it! What is 1 thing you can change in your daily life TODAY to put yourself on the road to better health? I encourage you to do it! If you make just 1 change a week, or month, you’ll be further ahead than the person not making any changes at all. 

Bone-crackin’ Good Time!

For years I scoffed at it. For years I trembled at the mention of it. For years I avoided it like the plague. And then I didn’t. And now, I’m a huge fan of it. What is “it?” Chiropractic medicine! I thought for a long time it was what weirdos did, didn’t think there was any benefit to it. I don’t know when I started turning my mind towards it all. Maybe when my dad started going and was getting great help for his back pain. Maybe when my hips were always is such pain (even not in pregnancy), and I figured the only relief I was going to get was having someone “crack my bones.” We then started seeing a holistic doctor almost 2 years ago, who is also a chiropractor. I got adjusted by him a few times and felt so much better. I saw a lot of help in my hips and knew that I had been ridiculous to allow myself to suffer in unnecessary pain for so many years.

Skip ahead to my last pregnancy, with Rebekah. My holistic doctor does not take insurance of any kind, and we could not afford for me to get adjusted as much as I needed it done. But, I was in a lot of pain and knew I needed some kind of help. At about the same time my grandmother moved here, and she has regularly seen a chiropractor since the 1950s. In an attempt to find a place for her we stumbled upon the office we currently go. Our chiropractor does a great job! In the office they incorporate massage therapy (which I took full advantage of during pregnancy!) and physical therapy. The whole staff is nice and it’s just fun to be there! Plus, you know you’re going to leave feeling great!

I have learned since switching to this office that not all chiropractors are the same. Not that my holistic dr. was rough or bad, but since going somewhere different I see that in comparison he is. Or, it could just be slightly different techniques used at this current office are better for me. I’ve also learned it’s OK to say, “gently!” (can you name that movie?), and it’s OK if you feel the dr. is giving too much pressure. In either case we, as a family are going to be getting adjusted regularly. (oh, and on a side note, this office takes insurance…) We have already been taking Rebekah and seeing great improvement in  her neck. She’s more readily putting her head to the left and not just the right. I have been doing more and more research and finding more and more evidence that getting children adjusted regularly is very beneficial for their health. I have several friends who take their kids and their kids are very rarely sick. With Ben’s propensity for respiratory stuff including ear infections, as well as both he and Cora dealing with some stomach issues it just makes sense to take them. The dr. is seeing them 2x a week for right now to get the bones and muscles in the right places, and then they’ll be seen 1-2 times a month to keep things where they should be. We are so excited to see how this improves their (and our) health. Do I think this is the end all? No, but we do believe it will only help.

In speaking with our current chiropractor it’s amazing how normal childhood activities–from birth to climbing a tree–causes trauma to the spine and neck. And all of this affects ones’ health. The body is designed and has the ability to heal itself (yes, we have an amazing Creator!!!). Keeping your spine aligned aides in this process. For more information do a little research of chiropractic medicine and its benefits. You just might find yourself in an office having a bone-crackin’ good time!

Update

I wanted to write an update regarding Rebekah. Yesterday my post was concerning her tummy troubles and all that’s going on there. I tend to write my blogs several days in advance and in this case things have changed some. She is still having some issues, however, she is improving. I was told by a friend that it takes 2 weeks for the milk protein to get out of one’s system. It would have been nice for the GI to tell me this at our appointment last week. I would have been more understanding as to why Rebekah wasn’t seeming to improve. In any case, since learning this it’s been easier and definitely helpful. She IS improving and we’re thankful for that! I don’t think she’s totally better yet, but she is certainly better. We continue to give her Prevacid and Gripe water. She is definitely eating better/more regularly now and sleeping better too. She’s also way more content, and the kids are enjoying playing with her on the floor while she smiles and coos at them! I’ll be interested to see how she progresses this week. It’ll be 2 weeks next Monday evening that she’s been dairy-free. We’re praying this is the answer.

We’re also continuing the chiropractor appointments. They are really helping too! The chiropractor is fully aware of her tummy issues and so spends extra time on the vertebrae that are connected to her tummy. The more times we go (yesterday being the 3rd) the more he’s able to do. He’s also working on her neck muscles. She favors the right side, and so he’s trying to retrain the muscles so she’ll move in both directions–we don’t want her to have a flat head, or crooked neck! It’s helping her and she’s starting to move her head more to the left.

Thank you for your prayers! We greatly appreciate them! God is faithful and is giving us strength. There are days when I wonder how we’re going to make it and then before I know it, all 3 kids are in bed, and I’m sitting in quiet. I’m thankful for His strength, grace and HEALING!

So Simple!

My sister had her 4th baby in early April, our nephew Micah. She had a home birth, delivered him in the water, and it was just a beautiful thing! I was so privileged to be a part of it. Before my nephew was born my sister told me she was going to be getting her placenta encapsulated. WHAT??? I was quite taken back, but I wanted to know more and so heard her out. Turns out placenta encapsulation has been done for a long time. It comes from ancient Chinese practices. Why on earth would my sister do this? Well, studies and history has shown that ingesting the placenta after birth has many benefits. The woman is given back her hormones and nutrients that are custom to her body. This helps with postpartum depression, baby blues, aides in milk production, and I’m sure there are so many other benefits as well. The pills can also be taken during menopause and are shown to help with mood swings and hormonal changes during that time as well.

So, how is this all done? Well, the placenta is dehydrated, ground up and put into capsules. You take a pill a day for a few weeks, keep the leftovers in the freezer and pull them out to take during menopause. I’m sure there are different “prescriptions” for this, and I’m not entirely sure what my sister’s was. Mine has been to take 1-2 capsules 3 times a day for 2 weeks and then as needed, such as during a stressful time, or during menopause.

I was convinced (as was my husband) that I needed to do the same as my sister when we saw just how wonderfully she was doing after giving birth to my nephew. Postpartum depression is something both of us have really struggled with. Let me tell you, I saw my sister a week after she gave birth, and I had never seen her looking, acting and feeling so good that soon after giving birth. She was doing so well (and so much different) that even my husband noticed! We were convinced this was something I needed to do as well. I found a lady online who does encapsulation in my area and set everything up with her.

I have not felt this good after giving birth ever. I have so much energy, I feel like my moods/hormones/emotions are more even and not fluctuating all over the place, and I feel absolutely no depression whatsoever. David has noticed such a difference, and we do not regret getting this done at all.

Yes, it sounds weird, even gross to have ones’ placenta encapsulated. However, after reading about it, and seeing with my own eyes the benefits of doing so, I’m so glad I did. Yeah, it’s gross to think about sometimes, but honestly I can’t believe I didn’t know about this before. I would have certainly taken advantage. It’s a small price to pay for sanity! I feel great, my sister feels great, and I will be encouraging pregnant women to have this done. It’s a very natural way to help yourself feel so much better after giving birth and it’s as simple as swallowing a pill!

See? Not so scary! Just look like big vitamins!

See? Not so scary! Just look like big vitamins!

A Year of Change

Today marks a year of change for me, especially, but for us as a family. A year ago today I went to my holistic doctor for the first time, and my life was changed. I filled out the symptom sheet that day and had 395 mostly daily symptoms I was dealing with. After 6 months on the program I was down to 95, and I have a feeling I’d have even less if I took the test today. There have been many ups and many downs. I’ve had to kick myself back onto the program a time of two, I’ve fallen to temptation, and I’ve cried tears of frustration. However, it has all been worth it. I wouldn’t change this year for anything. For the first time in my life I know how to listen to my body. I am on a diet that is totally doable and is beneficial and is working for me and us as a family. When we started the program I was very overwhelmed by all the changes I knew we needed to make immediately, but also over time. I thought it would be helpful for me, and for you, to see all the things we do/use/eat differently now. This is our list so far. There are still things we are changing, and maybe next year I’ll write an update!

Our changes:

1. We only use butter, coconut oil and olive oil in the kitchen.

2. I eat NO wheat, corn, soy, oatmeal, and very little other grains. And my husband and kids have significantly reduced their grain intake.

3. We eat only organic eggs (Cora and I react to commercial eggs).

4. I make our own laundry detergent–money saver and works great!

5. We use only flouride-free toothpaste–I think my teeth feel cleaner too!

6. We have eliminated high fructose corn syrup in our diets completely.

7. We have greatly reduced our intake of dairy, this has helped the kids, David and myself tremendously, especially our sinuses!

8. We have been using sugar or honey only for sweeteners, and I hope to eliminate sugar as much as possible this next year.

9. We’re eating raw honey and WOW! So much more flavor!

10. We got rid of our Dish TV. Mainly to save money, but it was also to get us outside more and be more active rather than just sitting in front of the TV.

11. We have become more active as a family!

12. We eat primarily meat, fruits and veggies. We eat very little/no processed foods and I have had to become more creative in how we cook/bake things in the kitchen.

13. We bought shares in a CSA (community supported agriculture) this past summer/fall.

14. I make our own almond butter rather than us eating peanut butter.

15. I make our own hummus. Much cheaper than store-bought and I can control what goes into it!

16. David and I have both lost about 25 lbs. each and are both 2 sizes smaller now then we were a year ago!

17. We have been told numerous times how much healthier we look! We FEEL healthier too!

18. Aluminum free deodorant. We can’t even tell the difference. No, it’s not anti-persperant and we aren’t any sweatier than when we did use anti-persperant.

19. Tea Tree Oil–I use only tea tree oil for all of my cleaning. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic. Though my children would get belly aches if they drank it, it won’t kill them. I put about 1 tsp in a spray bottle, add water and us it to clean everything. I put about a Tbsp in a bucket of water to clean my floors. The scent is not strong, which we like, and I know it’s cleaning.

I’m sure there are other changes, but I can’t think of them right now! I’ll edit this as they come to me! It has been a year of change. When I started this program Ben was 4 months old, and I was a depressed woman who had no hope to ever live a normal life. And now? Ben is 16 months old, and I’m no longer a woman with no hope of having a healthy, normal life. I give the glory to God. I’m so thankful he put my holistic doctor in my path, and that he sent me to a doctor who is very knowledgeable and passionate about what he does. I’m very thankful for my doctor, who took the time to listen to this crazy woman and didn’t just write me off. I’m thankful for his persistence at keeping me on the program. I know I wasn’t always an easy patient.

If you need to make changes in your life, whatever they are, DO IT! MAKE THEM! You will not regret it! You’ll have low times, but you’ll have a lot of high times too. It’s worth it. YOU are worth the changes that need to be made, and your family is worth it too! Don’t let another day go by without making the changes you know you need to make in your life!

Depression is Ugly

Depression is ugly. It’s hideous, it sucks the life out of you, and it’s horrible. It skews your reality, makes you think things that aren’t right and makes you ugly. When I am most depressed I do not go into myself and hide like a turtle in its shell. No, I become a horrible, ugly beast. I say horrible things, I shout, I yell, and I become totally unreasonable. Thankfully, not many have witnessed this ugliness in me. Unfortunately, those who have are those I love the most and who love me the greatest.

I look back on my life as a preteen and teenager and the pure hatred that would spew from my mouth. How my parents didn’t lock me up or send me away to military school, or something, is a true testament of their love for me. I know that as a preteen/teen I was depressed but didn’t have the words for it at the time. I know on some level I was dealing with the fact that I had been sexually abused but didn’t know how to admit that to myself, let alone seek help concerning it. We all thought I was so angry because we had left Africa, home, everything familiar. I’m sure that played a part, but I truly believe the heart of the depression was the sexual abuse.

As I entered college that depression was still there but now I was starting to think and wonder about what was causing this. I was a psychology minor and took many classes, and in most of those classes talking about different forms of abuse was almost always there. It’s then that I was able to start to see and say to myself that I had been sexually abused. And, because I could process it such I was finally able to admit it to my parents after I graduated.

My depression has reared it’s ugly head from time to time still. I often wonder if this will be a lifelong journey, a lifelong thorn? I try so hard not to be ugly in my depression, but I often fail. I do know that since changing to a holistic lifestyle and changing my eating habits my depression has lessened and is rarely around–for this I am SO thankful!

When the ugliness of depression shows itself to you, I encourage you to face it and take it to the Lord. He alone can make anything beautiful.

Depression hurts…

I won’t say that I’m totally out of my depressive state, although I am a lot further out of it than I ever have been. A lot of that is due to our life circumstances being easier to manage right now and also my new way of eating. I had no idea that eating wheat (especially) was having such an affect on my moods (I have since seen if I accidentally ingest wheat I become my old self.). As I look back to where I was, and see where I am today, I see so clearly just how much depression hurts. It doesn’t just hurt you, the depressed one, but it hurts those you love.

I used to be the person who sent multitudes of letters, cards and emails on a weekly basis. I did this simply to be an encouragement to my friends and family. I wanted them to know I was praying for them, loving them and thinking about them. I loved doing this. At some point I stopped. At some point I succumbed to my depression and became very inward focused. I stopped going out of my way to be an encouragement to those I loved. I have seen that especially since our time in MI I have let many of my friendships go to the wayside. This hurts me, and I’m sure it has hurt those friends. I am slowly starting to rebuild these friendships. I’m slowly starting to get back to writing people and doing other things to let them know I love them and I care.

Depression is a dark and horrible place to be and lest you be fooled it is real. It also hurts. It’s hard to be so deep in depression that you really have no idea that you’re hurting those around you. I believe most people are good-hearted, good-willed people and not intentionally trying to hurt those around them. However, depression is a disease that robs you of your most common senses. This is no excuse, but hopefully it’s an explanation.

I encourage you on your good days, when the depression isn’t drowning you under the suffocating water, to reach out to those you love. Let them know you love them. Let them know they’re important to you. Try to see beyond the hurt you’re feeling and ease the pain of someone else. Yes, it’s hard and some days impossible, but when it is possible give it a try. I promise you it’ll help keep you above that water a little longer.