Category Archives: General

My Wellness Story and Why Baby Steps Matter

I consider it a compliment that friends, family and clients ask me a ton of wellness questions.  Have you heard about Oregano Oil?  Do you take CoQ10?  What kind of protein do you put in your smoothies?

I am by no means an expert on wellness.  I read and research a lot of different sources, try a lot of things and choose what works best for me.  And you can do the same.  There is no one silver bullet for great health.  It’s about progress.  And a funny thing happens along the way.  It changes you.

Today, I’m going to share more about my wellness journey so you can see what I mean.  This is me at a high school yearbook camp with my friend, Mindee (I’m on the left).

Sumner 91 567

 

 

 

 

 

While I may look like a normal, healthy teenager on the outside, I was drinking 2-3 Diet Cokes every day, addicted to sugar (I can see that now, looking back) and eating a typical American diet (plenty of meat and carbs, not very many vegetables).  But at that age, I was motivated for school, college and life so it didn’t seem to affect me.  Fast forward to my mid-twenties.  I had a stressful corporate job, and had now moved on to way too much coffee and a diet of convenient processed foods with an occasional salad.  This can only last so long, my friends, until your body screams for help.

The screams I heard came in the form of recurring headaches, digestive stress and fatigue.  Looking for pain relief and more energy started me down the path that I’m still on today… just enjoying a way better view!

So.  Here’s my point:  baby steps matter.

When I look back, there wasn’t one pivotal action that POOF! made me see the light and I instantly became more healthy.  It was a series of small actions that added up over time.  While stressed in my corporate job, I decided to take a yoga class with my mom.  That was 1996.  This small action rekindled my passion for movement and teaching which later led to my quitting my job and starting my own yoga business in 2004.

SAMSUNGThe list goes on and on.  I made the switch to a naturopath who opened my eyes to many holistic treatment options and the wonder of healing with whole foods.  I bought a juicer and a high-speed blender.  I quit drinking soda and coffee and I feel more energetic and more alert!  I tried gluten-free for 3 weeks and never went back because I felt so much better.

I began to crave more of the healthy stuff and less of the junk.  In fact, when I had moments of weakness and went back to indulge in some decadent food from my past life, it didn’t have the same effect on me.  It didn’t satisfy.

The same is true today.  My husband and I eat a mostly plant-based diet.  Every once in a while, the idea of something else tempts me.  Sometimes I stay on course and sometimes I give in.  But I’ll warn you, when I give in, that once tasty thing doesn’t satisfy anymore. Eventually…giving in is just silly.  I already enjoy the best foods — whole, real, awesome food.

DSCN1184All of this to say….be encouraged!  Don’t look at the whole giant challenge of getting healthy…instead, take one step.  Choose one thing that you can do today that’s not so difficult.  And tomorrow, do it again.  And the next day.  It does add up and you will build momentum.  You can do this.  Here are just a few examples of baby steps…I know you probably have your own list too.

  • Move for 20 minutes — go for a walk, put in a fitness dvd or just dance around your house!
  • Shop the perimeter of your grocery store
  • Eat at least 2 meatless meals a week.  Gradually increase that number.
  • Confide in a friend about your health & wellness goals – it always helps to have a buddy!
  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Drink more water.
  • Drink less soda.
  • Get outside more (weather permitting)
  • Just get started. Take that first step….

 

 

6 Tips for A Successful Chelation Therapy, Detox or Cleanse

This week, I finished my 10th round of the heavy metal chelation therapy that I started this past spring.  I’m planning to re-test next week and see if I need to do more but in this space where I’m celebrating making it through and hopeful about what’s next, I wanted to jot down some insights.   To re-cap, last spring I tested high for lead and mercury and then embarked on my heavy metal chelation journey.

Briefly, I’ll go over a couple of definitions.  Chelation Therapy is the administration of chelation agents to remove heavy metals from the body. Chelation therapy has a long history of use in clinical toxicology. Poison centers around the world are using this form of metal detoxification.  A “round” for my protocol was 5 days of taking the chelation drug DMSA and then 9 days of taking supplements to build my body back up.  Unfortunately, when the chelation medicine pulls out metals such as lead and mercury, they are also pulling out good things that we need like calcium and magnesium.  So you need to adjust after each treatment and replenish. So, a round = 14 days.  10 rounds = 5+ months.  Doctors tailor the protocol to meet your needs and I would definitely recommend doing chelation therapy under the supervision of a qualified doctor.

While I do not have my re-test results yet, I do think I’ve learned a few things that have helped me and my family get through this process and I wanted to share with you.  I think you may find these insights helpful whether you’re going through chelation or some other sort of detox or cleansing regimen.

  • #1 Detoxifying is HARD WORK and needs nearly your FULL ATTENTION:  I’m not sure how anybody goes through an intense detox like chelation while working full-time or while trying to go about life as usual.  I feel very blessed to be able to focus on the chelation process and work just part-time.  While you may have good, energetic days especially during the supplementation process, you will likely need a nap every day.  At least I have.
  • #2 Detoxifying is HARD WORK:  No, that’s not a misprint.  It deserves repeating.  Try to really listen to your body during the chelation or detox process and give in to what your body needs which will most likely and most often be rest.  Quiet that inner critic that bases  your worth on how many boxes got checked off your list and instead focus on the big important task:  taking care of yourself.  There’s no guilt in that.
  • #3 Go the extra mile or two:  Chelation therapy is expensive in terms of dollars, time and toll on your body and family.  With that said, you want to stack your deck for success by doing everything that your doctor recommends.  My doctor recommended colon therapy (colonics) after each round and a magnesium and b-vitamin injection also after each round.  I believe these two things cost roughly an extra $80 each round.  Again, it’s not cheap — but I’m banking on the hope that I don’t have to do much more of this.  Now back to the ick factor.  Google colon therapy and you’ll get the idea of what’s involved.  But it makes sense; you want to rid your body of both the toxic medicine and the toxins moving about your system.  I will say that yes, it’s uncomfortable, but the benefits to your digestive health far outweigh the ick factor.  More on this in a future post.  The injections are painful but the energy boost you enjoy afterwards eclipses the pain.
  • #4 Be choosy and  mindful about what you eat:  A couple of things happen when you’re going through chelation.  You’re exhausted on the days that you’re chelating and playing catch-up on the days that you’re not.  But somewhere in the process, if you haven’t already done this, you begin to change WHAT YOU PUT INTO YOUR BODY.  I was already eating fairly healthy, but during this process, we moved even more in the direction of a clean, whole foods and mostly plant-based diet.  I’m not saying that that’s a must — but the more you directly feel the impact of what you eat and how you feel…those subtle changes will happen.  It gets back to the point that you’re doing all of this work to feel better and enjoy better health, you might as well ride that momentum train forward…why not?  You’ll only feel better.
  • #5 Adjust your expectation for activity & exercise:  I did a lot of gentle yoga, hanging on my inversion table and short spurts of cardio and strength training exercises in my living room.  Only now that I’m wrapping up round 10, am I visiting the gym more frequently.  Remember, your body is going through the equivalent of a 80 hour work week on the inside, trying to rid itself of the toxins stored over years.  Give yourself a break, already.
  • #6  Keep a journal:  I know it may sound cliche, but write down how you’re feeling throughout the process.  Whenever your body goes through a detoxification, it’s not just the physical stuff that’s being cleansed.  You’ll notice emotions, old hurts, regrets, disappointments come up throughout this process.  Write them out and think through why you’re feeling this and how you can move through that emotion and not get stuck there.  In yoga class, I encourage students to acknowledge the emotions that come up – positive and negative ones – and release them.  Lastly, journal on the good days too.  Document how you had tons of energy today and enjoyed a long chat with a friend or a neighborhood walk with the dog.  Write down those small victories so that you can re-read them when it’s a rougher day.

 

 

Learn more about GMO Labeling – Even if You Don’t Live in California

What are we really eating?

Do we really know what we’re eating?  This past week, a massive lightbulb was turned on for me regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  I knew these foods existed but I thought I was doing a decent job of avoiding them by buying organic and avoiding big brand processed food.  It turns out natural and even organic don’t always mean you’re safe from GMOs.   And with no labeling requirements, the companies that use GMOs want to keep us in the dark about what we’re really eating.  Now that I’m researching and learning more, I’m very concerned and want to share with all of you.

California has the unique opportunity to be the first state in the union to require that genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) be properly identified and labeled on most food items.  What California decides will affect ALL of us — so if you know of anyone living and voting in California, please forward this information to them and urge them to support Proposition 37.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m sharing with you trusted sources so that you can learn more.  Natural News is a wonderful resource for alternative health remedies, GMOs, and so much more.  I’ve been receiving their newsletters for years.

Natural News Article with other great resources

Infographic that shows you which companies are fighting Prop 37 (GMO labelling) and which are supporting it

More on Prop 37: www.carighttoknow.org

Get involved in your community.  I’m sure groups like this one are popping up as more people stand up to be heard.  Here, in Phoenix: GMOFreePhoenix

With so many dire causes and the upcoming elections…who has time for another cause?  Since this is truly about our food supply and ultimately our health and well-being…I strongly urge you to make the time…. educate yourself on the issue and let your voice be heard.

 


 

Getting back on track: Recovering from Thanksgiving

Yes, it happens.  You were doing great with the green smoothies and 3 trips to the gym, no sugar and then…Thanksgiving.  Leftovers and pie and too much football watching and you’re out of your zone.  Don’t be discouraged!  You can get right back on track in no time and you might just surprise yourself that you didn’t lose too much momentum from the turkey day festivities.

You might be tempted to believe that lie in your head that says: Why even try with Christmas right around the corner? My friend, this is exactly why the next 25 days can be healthy ones so that you can indulge in some of your favorite holiday treats without the internal guilt trip. Do the work now, and enjoy the yummy later.

Here are a few tips to getting back in the saddle:

  • Freeze the extra pie — I HAD to do this… hopefully it will taste just as good in a few weeks… but I needed to limit my access to all of the PIE.  If that’s your weakness, freeze it.
  • Make something new with the extra turkey…if you’re still eating turkey, maybe make it into a hearty stew with veggies and low-sodium broth.
  • For the next 2 weeks, buy your usual healthy fare at the store. Resist the peppermint bark and gingerbread houses… they will be there in a couple of weeks and you can buy your treats then.  In your kitchen, create a “temptation-free zone”.  You are safe to roam about in there.
  • If you don’t already, try at least one or two meals a week without meat.  There are so many great websites out there that offer meatless monday dishes…try something new and healthy and give your digestive tract a break. If your family would rebel without meat on the dinner table, check out my friend and yoga client Beth Bader’s Cleaner Plate Club for healthy recipes for the whole family.
  • Gather the troops and MOVE!  Whether it’s the dog or a neighbor or the entire family, get your peeps together and get moving.  I feel very fortunate that I live in the desert this time of year because I can still exercise outside.  If you can’t due to icy or chilly temps, put on some dance music and do your workout inside.  Here’s my “old faithful” cardio routine when I’m not up for a jog or dvd (be careful or modify if you have injuries or weaknesses). For each exercise, count to 20 or 25 before moving to the next one:
  • Walking in place with high knees (2 minutes)
  • Gentle jog in place
  • Jog – High knees
  • Jog – Feet kicking towards glutes
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Alternating Lunges (slow down to get the form right)
  • Flowing Chair and hold Chair for 6 breaths
  • Standing Cat/Cow stretch…
  • Dance around – free style!!
  • REPEAT list 2 more times…

Things to do to Strengthen Your Teeth

So, I’m slightly embarrassed to report that I’m recovering from a recent dentist visit.  I had 5 – yes, 5 fillings done yesterday and have vowed NEVER AGAIN.  As a self-proclaimed wellness junkie, this is very humbling and painful at the moment.

Here’s a little history — as a child I had great teeth – no cavities until I was 24 and then just two due to poor flossing.  Since then, I’ve become a daily flosser and I eat generally healthy.  So what happened?  Well, as you might suspect, I’m always researching wellness topics – what should we stop or start eating, what evil toxin is lurking in our daily routines, etc.  A few years ago I was reading a ton on fluoride.  There is much controversy about whether we need fluoride at all, and there are towns across America that argue over fluoride in their water supply.  I am not an expert on fluoride – I’ve included a few sources below for your own research.  All I know is that I drastically reduced my fluoride intake over a couple of  years (no fluoride in toothpaste, no fluoride treatments at the dentist and mostly filtered or bottled water) and now have 5 fillings to show for it.   Learning a lesson of moderation and balance… perhaps.

While still recovering from my daunting dental experience (that’s another story altogether), I decided to research what I could do every day to build stronger teeth and avoid the drill in the future.   Here’s what I found:

We should eat…

Yogurt, Cheese and Milk – these are good sources of calcium which helps to rebuild the enamel of your teeth and strengthen them.

Fruits rich in Vitamin C – oranges, limes, kiwis are powerful oral bacteria killers.

Spinach, lettuce and broccoli contain minerals that help protect your teeth from wine, soda and coffee stains.  (I’m not giving up the wine and coffee just yet – more spinach for me!)

Raw foods like carrots, cucumber, celery, radish and apples help to clean the teeth, massage the gums and neutralize acidity.

Generally… more fruits, veggies and dairy and less animal protein, sugars and starches.

We should drink…

Green tea contains catechins that kill bacteria in the mouth.

And milk as listed above…

Other resources on fluoride:

http://www.fluoridealert.org/

Using Fluoride Topically

WebMD article about Fluoride

Other resources on foods to strengthen teeth:

Foods to strengthen tooth enamel

Dr. Ben Kim’s perspective on healthy teeth

Migraine Madness

So…week 2 of my wellness junkie project got a bit waylaid by my worst experience with a migraine. Unfortunately the day before I unknowingly experienced at least 6 common migraine triggers: pet dander from dog show, chinese food, red wine, dark chocolate, high mold day, high pollen day and stress…so after 1 ER visit, 6 different drugs (including a steroid which meant crazy wellness junkie & no sleep), 4 days in a bedroom cave (sweet husband put aluminum foil on our windows – sure the neighbors were excited about that!) and a week of cancelled yoga classes, I’ve emerged – still a little foggy but for the most part, recovered.

There are many alternative therapies that are said to help relieve/prevent migraines: chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture…unfortunately, I couldn’t get in to my beloved acupuncturist in my time of need…but I have an appointment Friday…will report on that next week…

Hello world!

I’ve been calling myself a wellness junkie for awhile.  Even my yoga clients and husband are chiming in on the nickname when I come home with a new green juice to drink or a brochure from the latest hydrotherapy place….I figure it may be better than other junkie categories.  While it can be hard on the budget – I love learning about new health & wellness therapies, experiencing new things and finding a few nuggets in the process that actually work and are beneficial.

I thought if I committed to blog about each new wellness product, discipline or service I tried, it would keep me focused and provide a bit more structure to my aimless search for all things healthy & wise.

So that’s the plan…one wellness fix each week – for all of you wellness junkies that share my passion for health & vitality.