CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

WHAT IS CFS?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest and can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition.

The causes of CFS aren’t fully understood yet. Some theories include viral infection, stress, a weakened immune system, hormonal imbalances or a combination of factors. It is also speculated that some people may have a genetic predisposition to develop CFS.

At one point CFS was a controversial diagnosis but is now accepted as a medical condition. However, because no single cause has been identified, and because many other conditions produce similar symptoms, CFS can be difficult to diagnose. There are no tests for CFS. A doctor generally rules out other causes for  fatigue when determining a diagnosis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that CFS may be the end stage of multiple different conditions, rather than one specific condition. (Source 1)

INFLAMMATION

Inflammation has been found to be the underlying cause to almost all disease from rheumatoid arthritis to cancer, heart disease to diabetes, asthma, and even Alzheimer’s. (Source 2)

One study suggests that the concentration of cytokines in the bloodstream is relevant to the acuteness of CFS symptoms. Variations in 17 cytokines were found to be connected with the severity of CFS, suggesting that the condition is essentially an inflammatory disease. (Source 3) 

WHAT CAN I DO?

Speaking from personal experience, CFS can be debilitating! I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Hashimoto’s and CFS at about the same time. I am positive that one has a relationship with all of the others. 

While, of course, the swollen painful joints, the weight gain, the cold body temperature, and the fatigue were all equally concerning, it was the fatigue that created the biggest challenge in my life. 

I typically work 10 hour shifts and I am on my feet for the entire time. I would struggle to get to my lunch break. I knew I needed to nourish my body, so I would eat my pre-planned nutritious meal in 10 minutes and then take the opportunity to close my eyes. I would typically be woken up by the sound of my alarm, unrefreshed, and would then drag myself back into work to finish my shift. 

I was very aware of the fear that had started to seep into my life; fear of not knowing how much longer I could continue working if my symptoms progressed, fear of how I would continue to mow my lawn, clean my home and many other daily things that I used to take for granted.

I was determined to find a way into remission. I had already been working with a naturopath and an integrative medicine physician before my diagnosis’. That, combined with my own research into nutrition, began to truly shed a bright light on my path to healing and my journey to get my life back.

I initially wanted to achieve all of my healing through a holistic approach. I made progress and found ways to mitigate the fatigue, but in the end I allowed conventional treatment for the RA into my life. I was scared! I weighed the fears I shared above with the fears of all the potential side effects of the medications. It was a tearful and difficult decision, and in the end the medications, for me, proved to be  helpful. 

A Plant Based Anti-Inflammatory Diet, Vitamin, Mineral and Amino Acid Supplements and strategically incorporating gentle exercise into my routine helped me to achieve remission quickly, while I was on the medications. And, I believe it was these lifestyle changes that enabled me to remain in remission once I removed the medications from my body.

Every person is different and has their own life journey to navigate. It is advised and necessary to work closely with your trusted health care professional and also to give your body the best healing environment possible.

DIET

With inflammation as a root cause of almost every disease, including CFS, a well planned nutritious Plant Based Diet can only be beneficial. 

I had a very good understanding of the Auto-Immune Paleo Diet (AIP) (for RA & Hashimoto’s), the Mediteranian Diet (for inflammation), and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (for SIBO – small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). This was difficult and confusing at times because many things allowed on one diet was prohibited on another. But I was determined to heal.

Then I was led to the Health Mastery Institute (HMI). I was introduced to this program by an acquaintance I had met through a mutual friend. We got together once, back in 2015, and just talked about each of our respective Nutrition Certifications. I had recently received mine from IIN – Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I wasn’t ready or willing, at the time, to do a 2nd certification. However, I was very curious and was and still am so grateful for the serendipitous meeting that day. 

I purchased a program from the creator of the HMI nutrition school (Liana Shanti). The program was called “66 Day Health Mastery Program.” I was excited about the program back then and I believe I went through 4 of the 9 modules, but I was not fully committed at the time.

This program came back to my awareness 4 years later and I reached out to my acquaintance once again. She kindly agreed to meet me and we had a wonderful conversation about not only the “66 Day Health Mastery Program” but about the “HMI Nutrition Certification Program” and so many other life topics. I now consider this acquaintance a dear friend and a guardian angel of sorts. 

Both programs changed my life profoundly. We find our way to programs like these when we are ready. I had the “66 Day Program” before my RA diagnosis but I never fully embraced it until I felt I “truly needed it.” My life is unfolding exactly the way it is supposed to and the lessons I have learned along the way have been life changing..

Whatever support you can give to your body to support healing and homeostasis is priceless. Cutting out processed food, inflammatory oils, processed sugar, gluten and sometimes cutting out grains completely for a period of time can be amazingly beneficial.

I highly recommend the “66 Day Health Mastery Program.” It provides so much more than just a wonderful guide to healthy eating.

SUPPLEMENTS

There are studies that suggest a number of nutritional deficiencies may have relevance to the development and severity of CFS. These include deficiencies of:

B Vitamins

Vitamin C

Magnesium

Sodium

Zinc

L-Tryptophan

L-Carnitine

Coenzyme Q10

Essential fatty acids 

A deficiency of these nutrients in CFS patients appears to be primarily due to the illness process rather than to an inadequate diet. Improving gut health may be helpful with overall absorption of nutrients.

It is likely that even marginal deficiencies not only contribute to the clinical presentation of CFS, but are also detrimental to the healing processes. 

Identifying these deficiencies and resolving them could be a key initial step in treating CFS.

The rare incidence of serious adverse reactions to the supplements mentioned above, the difficulty in ruling out marginal deficiencies, and because some of the therapeutic benefits of nutritional supplements appear to be due to pharmacologic effects, it is reasonable to consider supplementing with the nutrients along with a Chelated Mineral Supplement, at least for a trial period. (Source 4)

I found supplements to be incredibly helpful in relieving my fatigue symptoms even before deciding to take the prescription medication for RA.

In addition to the above nutrients I also added 5-HTP, Vitamin D and methylated Vitamin B12 (in addition to the Vitamin B Complex), and I chose to take L-Tyrosine over the L-Tryptophan for many reasons, mainly because L-Tyrosine helps with depression and the increase in dopamine levels afforded me the energy to push through my day.

EXERCISE

Exercise is an important component to a healthy lifestyle. When CFS exists, exercise can seem an almost impossible task.

Even moderate exercise and cause post exertional malaise (PEM). PEM is the worsening of symptoms after even minor exertion – physical, mental or emotional. Even light and sound can create a sensory overload and can cause PEM. 

Regulating your activity can prove to be essential. This is referred to as activity management or pacing. The goal is to learn and achieve a balance between rest and activity and to avoid PEM flare ups.

It is important to find your own personal limits for physical, mental and emotional activity. Some doctors refer to staying within these limits as staying within the “energy envelope.” A great way to find your energy envelope is to keep an activity and symptom diary. Understanding your own personal limits and finding your balance between activity and rest can be a helpful coping skill. 

For some people with CFS just everyday activities like work, showering and interacting with other people may be the energy limit for the day. Another person may be able to add in walking or gentle yoga.

It is important not to push yourself too far on a good day. This may lead to a worsening of symptoms and may set you back farther on your healing journey. (Source 5)

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

Whether you have a CFS diagnosis amongst several other health conditions or you have suspicions that you may be coping with CFS on a regular basis, be kind to yourself.

Think of yourself as your own sweet child or as your best friend in the world. Love yourself, nurture yourself, support yourself, empower yourself and give yourself the encouragement to initiate helpful, healthful changes on your healing journey.

GET Happy – GET Healthy – GET Whole

Have a Beautiful Day!

Gina Lynn

DISCLAIMER 

Any statements expressed in these recommendations are for informational purposes and self-help only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with your health care provider before embarking on any cleansing, detoxing, or juicing program, or before beginning any new diet or nutritional program. Always consult with your personal health care physician regarding taking any supplements, as only your health care provider can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should never undertake a cleanse, a fast, a detox or a parasite cleanse of any kind. Also, those on medication should always have their medical doctor’s approval before making any dietary changes.

***As an Amazon Associate I earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases from the links above.

You are under no obligation to purchase from these links. I have provided them for your convenience***


IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME: FIND YOUR BALANCE

IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS)

IBS affects between 3% and 20% of Americans. (Source 1)

IBS is typically diagnosed based on symptoms and by ruling out other conditions. The exact causes of IBS are unknown. Some suggested causes include increased intestinal inflammation, digestive motility, intestinal bacterial overgrowth, food sensitivities, carbohydrate malabsorption and infections. (Source 2)

IBS can present with many different symptoms: abdominal pain/cramping, diarrhea, constipation (or back and forth between the two), gas/bloating, food intolerances, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, anxiety or depression.

Many people have heard of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Perhaps you have been diagnosed with IBS by your doctor, or know someone who suffers from it or maybe you suspect you may have IBS because you have many of the above mentioned symptoms.

BALANCE: MIND, BODY, SPIRIT

Let me begin by stressing that we all need balance in our lives. This may seem like a strange place to start when IBS appears to be solely a physical ailment. However, our bodies, like everything in our lives, need to be in balance. We are holistic beings and it is not possible to compartmentalize without causing an imbalance.

We need to consider our BODY, our MIND and our SPIRIT. Focusing on only one of these will cause issues in one or both of the others. Imbalances may lead to many different issues and result in disease.

A balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit is key – healthy nutrition, adequate movement, mental stimulation, having a grasp on your financial situation, healthy relationships with self and with others, deep breathing, yoga, meditation and self care – like a bath or a massage or some alone time to read a book and sip a cup of tea. These things all contribute to creating balance in our lives. 

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

Physical ailments, like IBS, are typically addressed allopathically in our current medical paradigm. Rarely does a person go to their medical doctor and find themselves discussing self care, finances or even exercise or nutrition as it relates to the present diagnosis.

The allopathic method tends to focus on symptoms, potential causes of these symptoms and suppressing symptoms with medication. For example, if you go to your doctor with the primary complaints of gas, bloating and acid reflux, you will typically be asked questions about diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, specific food triggers, current and past infections, medications/supplements you are taking, and family history, Of course, any good doctor will tell you (what you may already suspect) to cut out the alcohol and smoking and any foods that cause these symptoms. He may even recommend that you add a probiotic, especially if you are currently taking an antibiotic or have a long history of antibiotic use. These are all great recommendations by themselves. However, a person typically doesn’t want to go to the doctor only to be told to quit smoking, quit drinking and quit eating foods that trigger our symptoms. We have come to expect the “magic pill” that fixes all of our problems.

ACID REDUCERS

You will often be given a prescription for an acid reducer, either an H2 Blocker like Pepcid (famotidine) or a proton pump inhibitor like Prilosec (omeprazole) or maybe even simply get a recommendation to take Tums (calcium carbonate) after meals to neutralize the stomach acid. 

These treatments may help in the short term, but they are suppressing symptoms and not treating the underlying issue, unless perhaps your issue is truly an overproduction of stomach acid. Often there is not an excess of stomach acid present, on the converse, there is often a lack of stomach acid that is leading to the bloating, gas and reflux because the stomach is not efficient at digesting the food with the low level of digestive acid and enzymes. This may lead to a slower gastric transit time and putrification of the food in the stomach, leading to the excessive gas and bloating and the feeling of acid reflux.

Adding any medication is always a determination of benefit to risk ratio. If the potential benefit is greater than the potential risk then it is a reasonable treatment to try. No medication is without potential risk and these risks should be considered.

In the example of being prescribed a proton pump inhibitor like Prilosec (omeprazole), this medication has few, if any short term side effects, making it a perfect medication to prescribe, initially, to suppress symptoms. However, this medication suppresses stomach acid production which can lead to decreased assimilation of vital nutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, amino acids, etc)  from food because of the low stomach acid and enzymes. This can cause a degree of malnutrition and a multitude of other issues. If the body feels it is not getting adequate calcium, for example, it will begin to steal calcium from the bones, potentially leading to osteoporosis. This medication can also prevent the microbiota from functioning properly. Since ⅔ of our immune system resides in our gut, this can lead to decreased immunity, putting every system of the body at risk. As you can see, one medication has the potential to start a whole cascade of damaging effects.

Looking at the “Big Picture” and the “Why” is exceedingly helpful. Physicians are highly trained medical professionals and they are, at times, truly life savers. However, we are the guardians and protectors of our own bodies. If we don’t take a proactive role in accepting responsibility for our own health and wellbeing this can lead to many health issues.

L-GLUTAMINE

One supplement that has potential for healing the intestinal lining and helping to improve overall GI health is L-GLUTAMINE. There are no studies to date showing the specific benefit of L-Glutamine for IBS but improvement has been experienced by many and there are very few risks to taking this amino acid. Side effects may happen if you’re allergic to L-glutamine, or if you’ve taken too much. Some effects include nausea, vomiting, joint pain, or hives. If any of these occur the supplement should be decreased or discontinued.

The recommended dose to start is 5 grams of L-Glutamine Powder mixed in 2 ounces of water (or beverage of choice) and taken in the morning and at bedtime on an empty stomach. Some physicians will increase this to 4-6 doses per day but this should be done under your physician’s supervision. This amino acid has the ability to improve intestinal permeability and this, in turn, protects against unwanted toxins entering the digestive system.

PROBIOTICS

Probiotics can be very helpful in restoring balance to the microbiota in your digestive system. (Source 3) The microbiota is made up of beneficial and pathogenic microorganisms. The beneficial organisms play a critical role in your health, but if they are damaged and not thriving, this gives the pathogenic organisms a chance to overgrow causing an imbalance in the microbiota. (Source 4)

Probiotics are strains of live bacteria or yeast found in food and supplements. They provide health benefits, are safe to take and are similar to the helpful microorganisms in your gut microbiota. (Source 5)

Some common probiotic food include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods. Some people with IBS cannot tolerate fermented foods, dairy or foods high in FODMAPs. This is where adding a probiotic supplement can prove to be very beneficial.

DIGESTIVE ENZYMES

Digestive enzymes support healthy digestion, optimize the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and protein, and promote optimal nutrient absorption. For these reasons,  digestive enzymes might help alleviate common IBS symptoms.

Right now, there isn’t enough evidence to support the use of digestive enzyme supplements in treating IBS. Small studies have shown some promise, but more research is needed. There is potential benefit and very little risk to trying digestive enzymes. They may help to alleviate some or all of your IBS symptoms.

The basic digestive enzymes include:

  • amylase — breaks apart complex sugars into smaller molecules like maltose
  • lipase — breaks down complex fats into smaller fatty acids and glycerol
  • protease — breaks down protein, so it can be made into amino acids

Rainbow Light Digestive Enzymes

IBS AFFECTS WOMEN MORE THAN MEN

Research has determined that IBS dis-proportionately affects women more than men. (Source 6) 

This may be related to women being natural nurturers. Not that men can not be nurturers, but women can be more focused on taking care of those around them, children, family, friends, neighbors, etc. Taking care of others and neglecting our own self care can lead to an imbalance in the 3rd Chakra (Solar Plexus). Making self care a priority BEFORE you take care of others, finding your purpose and fully realizing your passionate self are a few ways of rebuilding your self esteem and rebalancing your 3rd Chakra. This rebalancing can be helped with tapping, yoga, meditation, deep breathing and essential oils to name a few. By rebalancing your body, mind and spirit and putting yourself first, you are better equipped to care for others. It is a win-win situation for everyone. 

ESSENTIAL OILS

ESSENTIAL OILS (EOs) like peppermint oil in a product called IBGard, are sometimes recommended for internal use to help acid reflux. You can safely take some EOs internally, however, In this case, topical application will have the biggest impact on healing your energetic body (Chakra System). 

EO’s should be diluted with a carrier oil like almond oil or coconut oil and then applied to the abdomen to get the most powerful results. This will be more effective than diffusing or ingesting the EOs.

These are a few EOs that can help to balance your 3rd Chakra

  1. Ylang Ylang 
    1. For Cooling & Clearing Anger/Frustration
    2. Joyful & Peaceful
    3. Promotes confidence, self esteem, self acceptance
  2. Juniper
    1. Helps with frustration and annoyance
    2. Strengthens will power
    3. Helps overcome fear of failure, helps you to branch out
    4. Restores self confidence & self worth
  3. Roman Chamomile
    1. Helps with excessive ego, ego based drive, paralyzes us into inaction
    2. Cultivates patience and self nurturing
    3. Enables you to own your limitations without self criticism
  4. Fennel
    1. Great oil for digestive system
    2. Reduces tendency to over think and over analyze
    3. Activates mind energy centers
    4. Calming
    5. Promotes Self Love & Self Acceptance

YOU ARE WHAT YOU ABSORB & ASSIMILATE

You are what you eat, but more specifically you are what you absorb and assimilate. Things that impede this absorption and assimilation, and lead to GI issues like IBS, are: 

  • Stress
  • Digestive Stressors
  • Lack of mastication because of Dental Issues.
  • Lack of Intrinsic Factor (a substance secreted by the stomach which enables the body to absorb vitamin B12)
  • Parasites, JUICE FAST GUIDE & PARASITE CLEANSE
  • Candida, HEAL CANDIDA NOW
  • Anything that is stressing your body can lead to an imbalance which can result in disease.

SYMPATHETIC & PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM

Psychological Stress is widely accepted as an important factor contributing to IBS (Source 7)

The central nervous system (CNS), the brain and the nerves that control your body, operates on internal controls that seem to run on autopilot. The CNS is divided into two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Some classify it as having a third part, the enteric nervous system, which controls most of the activity of the gastrointestinal system.

The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems usually work in tandem. 

The parasympathetic system is known as the “rest and digest” system. It controls body functions like urination, defecation, digestion, tear production, and saliva production.

The sympathetic nervous system is your “fight or flight” side. Stress and anxiety activate this system and they set off a chain reaction of hormone release that increases how fast your heart beats, pumps more blood to your muscles, and slows or even stops your digestive processes.

Stress and anxiety sometimes trigger overactivity of your gut. This causes the diarrhea and stomach churning that those with IBS know well. In others, the brain signals are underactive, and their gut may slow down, resulting in constipation, gas, and abdominal discomfort. (Source 8)

VAGUS NERVE

You can improve IBS symptoms by activating and toning the Vagus Nerve.

The big culprits that cause poor vagal nerve function are stress, fatigue, overwhelm and anxiety.  Activating your vagus nerve has been shown to reduce anxiety and activate the “rest and digest” of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Ways to activate, tone and improve vagal nerve function:

EAT MINDFULLY

  • It’s not just WHAT you eat that helps improve digestion but HOW you eat plays a role in vagal nerve health.
  • Chew food until it’s liquified before swallowing.  (20 chews)
  • Eat meals mindfully and slowly, without rushing.
  • Take a Deep Breath, before beginning to eat and between bites

BREATHE

  • Slow, deep breathing will activate the vagus nerve and stimulate the relaxation response otherwise known as the “rest and digest” 
  • Digestion can only happen in the parasympathetic state
  • Slow down and take 6 breaths per minute. (Breathe in for a count of 4, Hold it for a count of 8, Release it for a count of 8 and Repeat)

INVIGORATE WITH COLD

  • Take a cold shower, splash your face with cold water or invigorate your body with cold water at the end of your shower. 
  • The exposure to colder temperatures improves your stress response and helps reduce anxiety.

MAKE SOME NOISE

  • Singing, humming, chanting, and gargling will stimulate the vagus nerve by activating the muscles at the back of the throat and vocal cords connected to the nerve.

MEDITATE & PRACTICE YOGA

  • Meditation reduces stress and anxiety and stimulates the vagus nerve.
  • Yoga helps to reduce stress and improve mood.  

GET MOVING

  • Low to medium impact exercise stimulates the digestive system and therefore the vagus nerve.  It also helps move waste through the body and helps reduce stress. 

ENJOY MASSAGE OR ACUPUNCTURE

  • Certain acupuncture points have been known to improve vagal function, especially points in the ear.
  • Massaging specific parts of the body, especially feet or carotid sinus (right side of the neck) can help lower heart rate and blood pressure, which can improve vagal function.

INFLAMMATION

Systemic inflammation in the body is typically the underlying issue in all disease and IBS is no exception.

Many things contribute to overall inflammation in the body. Diet is a contributing factor and should be considered when trying to decrease inflammation.

An anti-inflammatory, plant based diet focusing on whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, healthy fats and anti inflammatory herbs and spices can be extremely helpful in decreasing inflammation. Organic choices are always best:

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Dark red grapes
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Scallions
  • Leeks
  • Broccoli
  • Beans of all types
  • Lentils
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Green tea
  • Avocado & Oil 
  • Coconut & Oil
  • Olives
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Pine nuts
  • Almonds
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Dark chocolate

The anti inflammatory diet is a great place to start but sometimes, with IBS, even these healthy organic foods can act as triggers for symptoms.

ELIMINATION DIET: LOW FODMAP 

Low FODMAP Diet

  • FODMAP: Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides And Polyols
  • Eliminates Fermentable Carbs that irritate the gut lining
    • Oligosaccharides
      • Wheat, Rye, Legumes, Various Fruits/Vegetables (garlic & onions)
    • Disaccharides
      • Milk, Yogurt, Soft Cheese
      • Lactose
    • Monosaccharides
      • Various Fruits (figs & mangos), 
      • Sweeteners (honey & agave) 
      • Fructose
    • Polyols
      • Various Fruits & Vegetables (blackberries, lychee)
      • Low Calorie Sweeteners (especially in sugar free gum/mints)
      • Mannitol & Sorbitol

Most FODMAPS are PreBiotics, which are a necessary food for microflora in gut

FODMAP Diet Stages

  • Stage 1: RESTRICTION (3-8 Weeks)
    • Avoid all high FODMAP foods
    • Progress to stage 2 once symptoms are under control
  • Stage 2: REINTRODUCTION (Systematically)
    • Test food one at a time for 3 days each
    • Identify which foods you are able to tolerate
    • Identify how much of these foods you can tolerate
  • Stage 3: PERSONALIZATION
    • Modified FODMAP Diet
    • Very important to reintroduce foods
    • Increases diet variety, flexibility & long term compliance
    • Improves Gut Health & Quality of Life

As you can see, following a FODMAP Elimination Diet may be a daunting task for some, but with the right mindset and motivation it is doable and can be life changing.

FOOD SENSITIVITY TESTING: IgG

Food Sensitivity Testing could help guide people with IBS towards a diet that could reduce or eliminate symptoms. These tests can be pricey but are a helpful guide if the anti inflammatory diet and/or the FODMAP Diet is not providing a reduction in or complete elimination of IBS symptoms

ACTION STEPS

12 ACTION STEPS TO TAKE WITH OR WITHOUT AN IBS DIAGNOSIS

  1. Quit Smoking
  2. Eliminate or Decrease Alcohol
  3. Eliminate Trigger Foods
  4. Decrease Coffee/Caffeine as it relates to symptoms
  5. Add Stress Management
  6. Add Self Care
  7. Add Vagus Nerve Stimulation
  8. Add L-Glutamine
  9. Add Probiotics
  10. Add Digestive Enzymes
  11. Add Essential Oils
  12. Consider Food Sensitivity Testing

GET Happy – GET Healthy – GET Whole

Have a Beautiful Day!

Gina Lynn

DISCLAIMER 

Any statements expressed in these recommendations are for informational purposes and self-help only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with your health care provider before embarking on any cleansing, detoxing, or juicing program, or before beginning any new diet or nutritional program. Always consult with your personal health care physician regarding taking any supplements, as only your health care provider can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should never undertake a cleanse, a fast, a detox or a parasite cleanse of any kind. Also, those on medication should always have their medical doctor’s approval before making any dietary changes.

***As an Amazon Associate I earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases from the links above.

You are under no obligation to purchase from these links. I have provided them for your convenience***


WINTER MOTIVATION

WINTER IS UPON US

Winter is upon us! In the Midwest that means cold temperatures and lots of snow. I personally love the change of seasons in the Midwest, even winter. The air is clean and crisp, the snow covered trees are beautiful and there are so many fun things to do outside that you can’t do in any other season. 

HIBERNATION

Winter can also seem like a season of hibernation. Lounging on the couch under cozy blankets, reading books or just being lazy. This downtime can be just as rejuvenating as the outdoor activities. The key is to find the balance.

FINDING MOTIVATION

For me, excuses seem to be more prevalent in February than in any other month. The excitement and fun of the holiday season is past. The new year motivation may have dwindled a bit (or a lot). Staying nestled under the covers for just 10 more minutes becomes more of a daily habit than an occasional Saturday thing. I struggle to find ways to break free of this February hibernation.

BACK TO BASICS & FOCUS ON THE “WHY”

I recently went back to basics, to the first program I purchased from Health Mastery Institute (HMI), the 66 Day Health Mastery Program. I continue to be amazed by how much information packed into this program. Not only does it give you a detailed program to follow for a healthy diet, it also gives you all of the reasons and science behind the program. The beautiful bonus is that the program also gives you exercises to help with motivation and helps you focus on “why” you are working towards changing your lifestyle. I think this is the key to implementing a program into a lifestyle.

SKIP THE “ALL OR NOTHING” MENTALITY

One of my biggest challenges with taking on a lifestyle change is an “All or Nothing” type of thinking. For example, “I ate a slice of pizza when I came home from work because I was starving, now all my hard work is ruined” or “I haven’t worked out all week and now I feel more tired and sluggish, I’m too lazy to make any real changes.”  With this type of thinking and self talk you simply set yourself up for failure. 

THINK IN “SHADES OF GRAY”

A simple and profound concept that I learned from the 66 Day Health Mastery Program is to think in “Shades of Gray”. I am not 100% perfect even on a great day and this is ok. Shades of Gray means that I accept that I am not perfect and that I can gauge my day, and all of the elements within my day, on a scale of 0% to 100%. For example: “I worked a 10 hour shift, I ate healthy balanced food that I planned ahead of time, I went on a 15 minute walk and I had popcorn when I got home from work because I was “craving” something salty and crunchy.” If I focus on my choice of eating popcorn so close to bed and only getting a short walk in for exercise, I feel like I sabotaged the entire day. If I look at my entire day on a scale of 0% – 100%, I can give myself a 100% for work, 60% for exercise, and 80% for diet. 

WE LEARN MORE FROM OUR STRUGGLES THAN FROM OUR TRIUMPHS

In my opinion, we can learn more from our struggles than from our triumphs. I can learn from this day by looking more closely at how much I ate throughout the day and perhaps add something more to the food I bring to work or pre-plan to have something to eat when I get home from work. I can look at my 10 hour shift and my 15 minute walk and be happy that I got a little movement in. This can show me that I only have so many hours in the day and 15 minutes is not bad for that day. Even on a day where you have little motivation and you stress eat, but you pay bills and fold laundry and do dishes. This is still a productive day, just not one that feels great. So it is a 50% day and you get to have a different day tomorrow.

CHANGE “I SHOULD” TO “I GET TO”

This brings me to another pearl of wisdom from the 66 Day Health Mastery Program. Stop using “Should/Shouldn’t Statements.” I should exercise. I should do yoga. I should meditate. I shouldn’t eat donuts. Even though these statements are true, they make you feel rebellious, don’t they? Feeling rebellious makes you want to do the opposite. Simply rephrasing these statements can have an amazingly positive effect. I am able to exercise. I get to do yoga. I choose to meditate. I have the choice to eat that donut. You can still choose not to exercise on a particular day and that is ok, after all, it is your choice. Just because you choose not to exercise on a particular day does not negate the 10 other days that you were able to and choose to exercise.

DITCH THE DOUBLE STANDARD

Love yourself at least as much as you love your children, or your spouse or your parents or your best friend. Think about how you would respond to one of them if they choose not to exercise for a day or any other scenario you can think of. Then respond to yourself in the same manner.

LEARN FROM TODAY & MAKE DIFFERENT CHOICES TOMORROW

Winter is a season that can be challenging to find motivation. You can choose to do anything you want to do. Experiment with these little changes, how you approach your choices and how you evaluate them at the end of the day. Even a 15 minute walk, or completing household chores or eating popcorn and  watching a movie after a long day gets you better than 0%. Learn from today and make different choices tomorrow.


DO IT FOR YOU!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Here we are, embarking on another new year full of opportunities for adventure.

ADVENTURE

Adventure, like life, is different for everyone. One person’s adventure could be to finish high school and move on to a new adventure in college. Another person’s adventure could be to run a marathon. Another person’s adventure could be to start a new business. Yet another person’s adventure could be to make it through chemotherapy and into remission. Each of these adventures has a “big” goal in the end but in order to be truly successful you have to meet “little” goals along the way. You can’t finish high school if you don’t focus on mastering each individual class along the way. In addition to mastering these classes you have to meet the goal of discerning what it is you want to do in college and now meet the goals or prerequisites the college has to enter a specific program. There is also the requirement of money to go to college; maybe a job will help you meet this requirement, looking into loans or scholarships, then meeting the requirements for these things. My point here is that each “big” goal can be broken down into steps to achieve “little” goals along the way.

UNIQUE & THE SAME

Every person is different with unique goals in life. One thing remains true across all of these different adventures and goals. In order to succeed you have to put yourself first! You have to be your own number one priority. Some people feel that putting yourself first is in some way selfish. That was something I had to “unlearn.”  Being of service to others is beautiful and can be as rewarding for you as it is for the person you are helping. BUT, if you don’t make your own self your number one priority, then you won’t have enough left TO be of service to others.

PUT YOU FIRST

This concept is so simple, yet is easily pushed aside when life gets busy. Whether pushed aside for children, a spouse or significant other, parents/family, work, friends, etc, you can’t truly be of service to anyone else unless you care for yourself first.

Having children is a prime example of when this often happens. Whether you are taking care of a new little baby, a toddler, an adolescent or a teenager, they all need love, nurturing, guidance and support. These acts in and of themselves are necessary and bring joy to you and to the child. However, if you lose sight of keeping yourself as a priority, this becomes a daunting chore at times. 

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

We are at the beginning of a new year and this is when many new year resolutions are made. I personally think this concept is beautiful; a time to examine your life and discern what needs and wants take priority in your life. The problem for many is that these resolutions are sometimes made without a realistic plan and without kindness and caring at the core. This may lead to “failed” resolutions and a sense of failure overall. 

LOVE, KINDNESS, RESPECT

We should treat ourselves with at least as much love, kindness and respect as we show other people in our lives. We tend to get frustrated with ourselves for so many things in life: weight loss, exercise, an injury that occurs from overtraining, or a business prospect that doesn’t play out the way we had hoped. Imagine these things happened to your best friend, spouse or child. If they came to you with their frustration you would most likely listen and offer support, guidance and encouragement. We can, and should, allow ourselves the same love and care.

Consider making a commitment to YOU this year with kindness and compassion at the forefront of any goals you may want to achieve. Take time for self care! 

BODY

Change your perspective on exercise & movement. It is a great feeling when you get that endorphin release from a great workout, but not everyday has to be a strenuous workout to be great or to achieve your goal. Consider making a “little” goal to move your body EVERY DAY! This may be a walk around the block or another day with the sun shining on your face, you feel motivated to walk farther. Or one day it is a walk with a friend and you feel like you could walk forever, just enjoying their company. From there you can always make your plan for incorporating yoga or weight training or running or any other type of exercise that you enjoy. This creates a habit over time for you to simply move your body EVERY DAY! Carving out that time, whether it ends up being 10 minutes or 2 hours, creates a space in your day dedicated to you and your body. Meeting these “little” goals makes it possible for you to achieve the “bigger” goal of weight loss or a race of some sort.

MIND

Another great daily goal is setting aside time to create or to learn. This, again, can be just 10-15 minutes every day to read or doodle or write or paint or even to clean up a flower bed in your yard. You are worth that 10-15 minutes everyday and often once you get started, you will find that you want to “gift” yourself even more time. This habit can be helpful to achieve your larger goals of finishing a book, or writing a book, completing a course or finishing any type of project you can imagine.

SPIRIT

The third area that is vital for overall well being is giving yourself time for spiritual self care. Exercise seems to be one of the most popular goals for setting this time of year, but nurturing your spirit is equally as important. Give yourself time to meditate, pray, journal, write morning pages or anything else that allows you to go inside yourself. You are definitely worth claiming that 10-15 minutes each day for you to just be with you. You will be amazed at how meeting these “little” goals will positively impact your entire life and your overall wellbeing.

NURTURING WITH NUTRIENTS – PERSPECTIVE WITH KINDNESS

Of course nurturing your body with life giving nutrients is so important to provide you with energy to devote to the care of you. Making huge dietary changes can be rewarding and exciting, but sometimes adding a simple change each week, or every 2 weeks,  can be more sustainable. 

This is a great area to change your perspective on what you are putting in your body. Commit to focusing on putting only healthy nutritious food into your body. If you are tempted to put something in your body that you know is not healthy, examine the “why.” Is this food bringing you comfort? Is there another way you can comfort yourself without using that particular food? If you do decide to eat the comfort food anyway, acknowledge that you are not consuming it for its nutritious value but for comfort or for escape. Allow yourself to feel the comfort it provides and write it down in a journal. This can be very helpful in uncovering other ways you can nurture and comfort yourself. These eating habits could have been instilled from childhood or maybe something you incorporated knowingly or unknowingly later in life. You can look back at these journal entries every week or every month and see if you notice a pattern; it may allow you to take a deeper look at how you can self soothe and love yourself in other ways; going for a quick walk, calling a friend, sitting or lying in meditation, letting yourself feel the emotion that is coming up and cry or laugh or let it out in some way, rather than soothing the feeling with food. This can be a learning experience rather than a reason to be frustrated and upset with yourself.

For example, week one you decide to cut out gluten and focus on all of the other delicious food you are able to enjoy. Week 2 you cut out dairy and explore recipes that are new and exciting and teach you new ways to prepare food for yourself and your family. Week 3 you make a commitment to cut out sugar, and so on. When done with love and compassion at the core, this can be a wonderful way to instill lifelong changes to your diet without focusing on the deprivation. Maybe there is a time that you find yourself wanting a particular food, maybe it is to have some french fries when you are out for dinner with a friend. You could choose to order a salad or sauteed vegetables instead, knowing this is a healthier choice, or you could choose to order the fries on occasion, knowing they are not nourishing your body. Notice if they make you truly happy and if they cause any immediate or delayed effects on your body. If they make you happy, then enjoy them knowing they are bringing you happiness and comfort in the moment. They are not nurturing your body but perhaps they are nurturing your spirit. Let go of any guilt. If the guilt persists, explore why this is the case. Next time you have that choice you may just choose differently.

CHOOSE YOU

Choose you! Make yourself your number one priority this year; nurture your body, mind and spirit and enjoy everything life has to offer you.

Happy New Year!!!