Sometime in early 2014, a friend requested support with menopausal vaginal symptoms. I did a Google search looking for a product to help soothe and lubricate her vulva and vagina. I found several that were sort of natural but nothing that met my standards of a product I would put in or on my body. I have a deep commitment to health... if I would not eat it, I will not use it for body care.Read More
I confess. I am an observer of people. I think it is part of the path I walk on this earth. I observe to try and find solutions for people as they struggle with life's challenges. In my previous blog post I spoke of Working With What We Already Have. On this note, I want to remind you that each and every one of us, has inside of ourselves, ALL that we need to heal; to reach every goal we have for our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. We just need to work with what we have, call up our strengths (and we have far more than we think or give ourselves credit for having), and put into action the steps we personally need to create a healthier lifestyle.
OK, so first... my floor, back to working with what I had and my promised update. Here are finished pictures of the floor. Not bad for 100+ year old floors that the pro floor guy told me my best option was to bag them and start over!
Shabby chic? Yes.
I am happy!
Working in health care (true health care and not just disease symptom management) for 30 years and most recently for 20+ years in personal health education, I have made discoveries. We often have amazing goals for ourselves. We know where we want to be with our health, our body weight, and our physical wellness (emotional & spiritual wellness as well). Our end goals are very clear to us and we do truly want to attain these goals. Most of us have pretty good ideas about what we need to do to get to our goals.
Here's where things get sticky: wanting the work that leads us to these goals of health, weight loss, healing, physical fitness, emotional and spiritual happiness, etc.
In order to be successful at reaching our goals, we have to want to do the work to get there. This means changing the way we eat, what we eat, and our lifestyle habits little by little, step by step (or making sweeping changes if that is how you best function) and sticking with our changes to reach our goals and beyond. Maintaining health means living these newly incorporated eating and lifestyle habits for life, changing them up a bit as the seasons of the years and our lives evolve and need something different. (An example would be slowing down to embrace aging gracefully: giving you body more recovery time between fitness routines and allowing for more sleep at night than when you were 20!)
The work comes in when we have to suffer a little to meet the challenge of change. I will give an example here in weight loss. In order to lose weight we have to change the way we eat, get rid of the garbage factory made food, and learn to eat less. With this comes the struggle to get through the feeling hungry challenges. If you are used to eating large meals, the challenge will be to leave the table feeling less than full and relaxing, breathing, and moving through this feeling knowing you will be ok, you will survive without feeling stuffed and full all of the time. Going hungry is the work of losing weight for some people. Wanting this work makes reaching the goal of weight loss easier and more acceptable for you to accept the challenges that lay before you.
This is true of many forms of lifestyle change to improve (yes, even heal) lifestyle diseases. To reach the goal of saying goodbye to diabetic, cholesterol, or hypertension medication and ill health symptoms, we must want the work that lies between the present dis - ease in the body and achieving the goal: major eating and lifestyle changes, living completely without sweeteners, and being OK with this and the impacting consequences of our changes.
My job as a natural health educator RN is to give you tools to support you through the WORK of making change and achieving goals. I have raved about the power of yoga to heal on numerous occasions. I am throwing it out to you again because that is just the kind of gal I am... repeat, repeat, repeat until someone actually listens to me! (I keep thinking this will someday work with my kids!)
The above three blog posts are inspiring posts on the benefits of yoga. I encourage you to explore what makes your mind, heart, and soul sing so that the path of the work comes more easily to and for you every day. Maybe for you it is meditation, prayer, martial arts, Qi gong, walks in the woods, etc. Find your personal soul medicine and practice it daily. Wanting the work will become second nature.
Much love, Paula
PS Upcoming Fall Online Class:
PPS Beloved Beet Recipe!
Substance part of the beet dish:
6 small to medium local & organic beets, gently steamed (save and drink the steam water)
2/3 can organic chickpeas
1 handful each of organic walnuts and pecans
1/2 handful organic pine nuts
2/3 to 3/4 cup full fat yogurt, from pasture raised cows / goats / sheep, etc.
2 tsp. local maple syrup
Fresh herbs of your liking: Basil, Oregano, Mint, Spearmint, Thyme, Tarragon, Chives , Garlic chives, Rosemary (I used all of these from my herb/weed garden out in front of my home)
Serve on a bed of local, organic, baby greens & sprinkle or slather with chunks of soft goat cheese
Ok, so the story, as we have been told, is that You Are What You Eat.
I truly love this statement as it says so much. If you stop and think consciously about this statement, you just might think hard and long about your food choices.
At the same time that this statement says so much... it does not say enough. Hence my title:
You Are NOT What You Eat.
Let me explain myself.
1. You ARE what your body digests.
chew well: food must be masticated very well so your body can easily break it down (digest it) otherwise you will just be pooping out undigested chucks of food. Pity, seems like such a waste of good food!
strong stomach acid is required to break down food so you are able to use all of the nutrients in that real food you spend good money on. You want to encourage stomach acid not repress it with acid suppressing drugs.
good microbial colonization of your intestinal tract is needed for certain biological activities; microorganisms perform a host of useful functions such as fermenting unused energy substrates, training the immune system, preventing growth of harmful, pathogenic bacteria, regulating the development of the gut, producing vitamins for the host, such as biotin and vitamin K, and producing hormones to direct your body to store fats (and so many more good gut bug jobs). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gut_flora
Let's move on with this You Are NOT What You Eat concept...
2. You ARE what your body can absorb.
in order for nutrients to be absorbed, they have to be able to be digested. I will refer you back to #1 above.
your small intestine must be healthy in order to absorb the nutrients from the digested food. Processed, packaged, factory made foods (and all the synthetic ingredients in them) damage the villi and micro villi that line your small intestine. Damaged villi do not absorb nutrients well. Ask your body's cells how they feel about this lack of nutrients coming at them? What destroys these precious little villi and micro villi you ask?
- packaged food's synthetic ingredients
- sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup
- hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils
- GMO food crops
- gluten in people with celiac disease or gluten intolernaces
- poor chewing... see above.
3. You ARE What Your Heart Can Circulate Around Your Body and Deliver To Your Body Cells.
moving your body daily creates a strong heart, strong blood vessels, and strong muscles that all help to pump blood around your body. I could go on and on and write a whole book on the benefits of daily movement to your body's tissue strength and how this movement supports the movement of fluids, oxygen, and nutrients throughout your body. I will spare you the long story. Trust me, just get up and move. Dance and your body cells dance with you!
4. You ARE What Can Pass Across Your Body Cell Membranes.
The nutrients in your real food that you have chewed well, were digested well, and absorbed into your villi and micro villi are only useful IF they can pass across the cell membrane and actually nourish your body cells. Complicated, eh?
your cell membranes need healthy fat from real food to keep it strong and intact allowing nutrients into the cell and cellular waste products out of the cell.
also, a daily dose of healthy protein keeps the cell membranes happy.
avoid processed, packaged, factory made foods as they contain unhealthy fats (hydrogenated & partially hydrogenated oils, cheap vegetable oils high in omega 6 fatty acids), denatured proteins, and synthetic ingredients that confuse your body and interfere with this whole digestion - absorption - circulation - and transport across the cell membrane process (for more information head back up to #1).
You are SO much more than just what you eat. You ARE what you:
pass into your each and every tiny cell
Deeper Dive Homework: look at your food and your bodily processes in a different light. Feed your body whole foods. Support all your bodily processes so you, in turn, feed your body cells well.
First, let me define diet as simply the food one eats. Your diet is what you eat at a meal, over the course of a day, and more so over the course of your lifetime. Diets change with the seasons (especially if you eat local food) and with our moods.
Now I realize that most people quickly think "weight loss" when they hear the word diet. If I mean weight loss, I will specifically term this a weight loss diet. Many of us have tried different eating styles in the quest for better health, vibrant energy, balanced body weight, etc.: raw food, vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, carnivore (I am thinking a serious Dr. Atkin's diet here!), local, seasonal, gluten free, wheat free, juice fast, herbal tea fast, and on and on the quest goes to get it right. I am feeling a frisky need to share the things I have tried, how they worked, why I changed the "diet" yet again, and all the funny tales that accompany my food adventures. I have to laugh as it is all a learning journey, a trek through the food of my neighborhood and the world!
I offer up this information with humor and love. I think I am suffering from Cabin Fever and a serious desire to move into the Spring Fever mode!
I first veered from the diet I ate growing up after reading Diet for a New America by John Robbins when I was 26, maybe 27 years old. I then decided eating vegetarian was the life for me. This vegetarian eating quickly evolved into vegan eating; if I wasn't going to eat the actual animal because of the horrid way they are factory farm raised, I could not see me continuing to eat their products (milk, dairy products, and eggs) as being any different. This plant based diet of mine went on for 7 or so years. I had fun learning about all kinds of "new" veggies and beans that I had not been exposed to as a kid. You know, in walks the kale and collards and the broccoli not slathered in cheese sauce. Who Knew! Broccoli comes without cheese sauce? This diet is the how, when, what, where, and why of my learning to cook and eat seasonal veggies in amazing ways. Along this part of my diet trek I tried macrobiotic, Ayurvedic, and various other ethnic, plant based diets. What a fantastic way to learn spices, herbs, and food combinations that I was not exposed to in the meat, potato, and side salad and/or cooked veggie diet of my youth (Now trust me, I am not knocking my diet of childhood and young adulthood. Read on and you will see why.).
I was 33 when I experienced my first pregnancy. Along with pregnancy came dreams... dreams of Mom's roast beef dinners (yup, the meat and potato thing was back with me!), chicken and dumplings, venison stew, and various other omnivorous - carnivorous things my Mom whipped up in splendor. I wanted meat. My Dad, being the wise man he is said this: "Obviously your body is telling you something, get down here for dinner, your Mom is making you venison stew." So I did! The road from Hannawa Falls to Brasher Falls is not a long one when Mom's venison stew is at the journey's end! I continued to eat meat here and there throughout this pregnancy and mostly squelched my body's cry for protein with lots of free-range eggs and organic cheeses. Keep in mind; I ate a very healthy, whole food and plenty of protein foods vegetarian diet. No junk, no refined, no packaged vegetarian fake food products... just lots of veggies and beans and whole grains (pre-soaked and cooked in a thermos, I did it up right!). My only question from these vegan years: How did I survive without butter?
If I was going to eat a vegetarian only diet again; and believe me, I eat plenty of vegetarian and vegan meals, I would do some things differently to prevent weight gain (more about this later). I would eat my beans coupled with lots of yummy, raw nuts and seeds, skip the grains most of the time, pile on the veggies, and enjoy fruits in moderation.
Veggies, veggies, and more veggies.
Many ways to whip up veggies and enjoy without cook books or recipes: how to spice them, how to blend them with other foods, how to enjoy then in ways never before!
Balanced diet for me: I tend to be better satiated with a leaning towards protein and fat and I maintain my healthy weight this way.
Pregnancy, post pregnancy, and breast-feeding found me searching out local sources of grass fed meat / dairy and pasture raised eggs. I was an omnivore again! To my delight, the 15 to 20 pounds I had gained eating a mostly vegan diet literally melted off my body without any effort. I say mostly vegan diet as on occasion I would eat pizza with cheese: whole grain crust pizza loaded with yummy veggies and organic cheese!
Mom's cooking rocks!
See vegetarian lessons above.
Weight Loss: herbal tea and juice fasts
Over the years of vegetarian and vegan eating... let me tell you the fun and funny diets I tried to lose this gained weight. Yup, now I am venturing into the "weight loss" diet realm. Now keep in mind, this was all pre-motherhood and I had plenty of time to mess around in the kitchen and the health food store learning and trying new things, prepping food, and making fresh juices and herbal teas. Post-kids... I just have to have food ready to eat!
I was always mystified as to why I was gaining weight on a vegetarian diet. It made no sense to me; I was eating a healthy, whole food, and animal fat free diet. Why was I getting fat when I was leaving the animals to keep their own fat alive and intact on their body frames? In retrospect, it was all in the grains, too many grains for my body. This is where the knowledge that not one diet is healthy for every human on the planet comes into play. We must consider our physiological make up, where we live, the climate, etc.
In come the herbal tea and juice fasts. I figured I could wash that fat right out of my flesh, re-set the metabolism, clean things up a bit, and get a fresh start on life and eating. I would eat raw foods for a day, drink nothing but fresh juices and herbal teas for 3 to 7 days or so, another day of raw foods, and then back to my vegan diet. My weight loss on these fun food frolics away from solid food? Big fat zero. Never worked! But I did these juicy, herbal fasts over and over. Now I confess it was fun and easy. The food prep was minimal and the clean up a snap. No prepping, chopping, and cooking food. Just a simple zip the veggies down the juicer tube and voila'... my meal was ready! I loved carrot, celery, and beet juice. Yummy!
The best combinations of fruits and veggies in juice blends.
Juices are easy "to go" meals.
The body feels so good when it is emptied of food for a few days.
Beer Fast (or Beer & J.D. Fast):
Warning: While this form of liquid detox diet was fun in the moment (much fun), I have to warn you that its cellular enhancing properties are not recommended over the long haul of one's life. : ) And, for your information, the J. D. is not a juice related thing!
If you are wondering: "What? Paula on a beer diet?" Yes, in my 30 plus years of studying and living holistic health and healing... I have not been perfect. There, I confessed my food and beer style sins.
So, the beer fast, It goes like this:
Grab a mug,
Grab your sister (or any tight friend will do),
Bring a tent and sleeping bag,
Head for a weekend party that consists of kegs of beer,
No, no! Food is not required in the packing plan. I told you this was a beer fast! (The JD part, Jack Daniels, is optional based upon your strength of constitution.)
One can survive several days on beer.
The colon is completely cleansed out after a weekend of beer fasting.
This type of fasting works more efficiently and pleasantly at younger ages.
My "taste" in beer has grown up a bit.
I miss my sisterly fun!
Eating macrobiotic is recommended to heal the body of cancer and many other health concerns. Obviously I needed to look into this healing diet! (I was probably 28, maybe 29.) I read up on it, attended a couple of classes, and joined a weekly dinner group. Both the classes and dinner were through a group in Syracuse, NY called Wellspring.
The foods I was introduced to were amazing: pickled stuff, fermented this and that, sea weeds (on a more palatable note, sea vegetables), spices I had never heard of, many rice varieties, and on and on.
This was the start of my "local" food mentality. Pure macrobiotic, when you get to the heart of the teachings, is truly about eating the local foods, what is available locally and seasonally close to your home.
This made so much more sense than me, a basically French decent person, eating foods local to the country of Japan. Seemed silly transporting Japanese foods to my plate in Northern NY State.
Ayurvedic healing is a system where your specific healing and eating plan is based upon your constitution, your body type. What you eat is based upon the needs of your body: hot, dry, cold, wet, etc. and the 6 tastes in food to balance your specific body's needs, appetite, satiation, and taste buds. I am giving a very over simplified definition of this healing lifestyle.
As per one practitioner: The most important principle in the Ayurvedic Diet is that your food is fresh (without pesticides, additives, and other chemicals), seasonal, and as often as possible local. Fresh doesn't, however, mean raw. The best Ayruvedic meals are freshly cooked, whole meals.
Are you seeing a pattern in my learning through diet, dieting (not weight loss but simply eating plan) through learning?
Again, it is the local and seasonal thing coming at me. All these ethnic cuisines I played around with just drove home the point that our food needs to be as fresh as possible which means local and seasonal food... not food shipped in from hundreds and thousands of miles away!
Well, except for beer, of course (It is that beer thing again. But no more all weekend beer fasts for me. I am not certain a 50 year old body can handle that lifestyle!).
I do buy wheat free beer (so I avoid the biggest issue around gluten, modern wheat), organic, and brewed in Europe. I figure European beer has a better chance of being free of GMOs and other unhealthy stuff.
Why I chose to go gluten free:
psoriasis on elbows, knees, shins, and eyelids,
wheat that has been horribly altered from the original heritage grains people ate from time beginning that contains *Super-Gluten now, and Ta-Da...
My psoriasis, digestive woes, and joint pains disappear when I leave wheat alone.
I have learned so many other wonderful grains exist and can be used to make anything wheat was used to make. The consistency and end product is quite different from the regular wheat stuff we are used to. (2019 update: 99.75% of the time I am totally grain free and feel better. Seriously, Thai food without steamed rice noodles would be criminal!)
Gluten Free beer is nasty. I assume that European brewed, Belgian style ales are made with non-GMO barley and hops. The gluten in barley is a totally different thing than the gluten in modern wheat.
Belgian style ale is yummy. Have I mentioned this before?
I am certain I could tell many more tales, if I thought on it long and hard enough, about all the fun food diets I have tried, the foods and spices, and the cooking methods. Life is a journey; food is a journey... just make sure to have some good quality beer and butter (from grass-fed cows) along for the trek!
SHARE: Tell us your healing diet stories in the comments below.
*Super-Gluten: I use this term as a blanket word for wheat that has had the percentage of gluten in it changed horribly and in the cross breeding of wheat to arrive at modern wheat, we have created gluten proteins that have never existed before in heritage wheat.
Snake Oil, urbandictionary.com, comes from the 19th-century American practice of selling cure-all elixirs in traveling medicine shows. Snake oil salesmen would falsely claim that the potions would cure any ailment.
Snake oil, wikipedia.com, is an expression that originally referred to unproven medicine.
I made this bold statement, the blog post title, with a big chuckle and a twinkle in my eye. Snake oil is such a fun pairing of words! My making the statement that Yoga is snake oil is only in fun as Yoga IS now being recognized for the amazing healing modality; the healing tool that it is. India has been aware of and using Yoga as a healing tool for somewhere between five and ten thousand years. Yoga has a long history of healing body, mind, and spirit!
I started my yoga practice over 20 years ago. I was not looking for healing; I was looking for change. I had been lifting weights and running for too many years. I was bored of the same old, same old. I wanted something new, something challenging to mind and body. Little did I know I would be challenging my spirit as well!
Yoga builds strength in body, mind, and soul. Yoga is a great way to keep the body physically toned, flexible, and fit. While all of this physical transformation is going on, seeds for deep inner transformation are being planted. The very act of deep breathing through and with your body movements creates a gentle binding of body, mind, and spirit. This creation of the whole is the healing transformation.
My first Yoga pose book. I borrowed it from the Potsdam Library, 17 years ago. This is my library copy; an Amazon purchase of some library's throw away book.
Another book I have used for years to share healing Yoga poses series with clients is:
This book has healing Yoga sequences for every ill health issue you can imagine. There is a lot of prop use. I do the poses as close to the pictures as possible.
A new Yoga book I picked up in the last year has become another favorite of mine:
Tera's pose series are simple and easy to incorporate into a busy life.
Yoga is a valuable tool to place (and actively use every day) in your holistic toolbox for healing body, mind, and soul.
I will give you 6 simple reasons that yoga IS what you have been looking for, a tool to take you to the next level on your personal path of healing.
- Your body will respond physically to the beauty of yoga. Your muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments will become longer, stronger, and physically fit. Stick with yoga; you will see the results in your mirror!
- You will intuitively move towards healthier choices in your life. Around food, this is a healing event! Your food choices will become healthier, whole foods. Your body will respond by balancing your weight into a healthy space for you.
- Your mind will become calm. The breath awareness, on the mat yoga poses, will follow you off the mat. A calm, centered, grounded life is the benefit. Bonus: you will sleep better and move through your day in bliss!
- Your body will be in the flow of life. Your Chi life force energy flows, unimpeded, when you regularly practice yoga. This healing energy, flowing freely through your body, helps to heal ill health symptoms. Your body heals!
- Better circulation of blood (not just Chi life force!). This means heightened nourishment of your body’s cells and more efficient removal of cellular waste. Every organ will function better as your cells glow with vibrant health. Results: higher level of thoughts, your intelligence will shine, intuition flows, creativity sparks, and your spirit soars.
- Yoga is Movement Magic! In a world where much sitting happens, Yoga is a gift of movement, flexibility, and balance.
Truly, I could go on and on about the benefits of yoga. My purpose here is to quickly entice you to engage in a daily yoga practice; even 10 to 15 minutes a day. With a regular yoga practice, the benefits become obvious and you will yearn for more.
Yoga IS an answer to your mind, body, and soul’s healing prayers! Your personal healing snake oil!
We are all healers. Healing energy is a natural part of every one of us. Cut your finger; it heals without intervention. Healing is biologically innate in living beings.
Some people are deeply in tune with this healing energy and can act to support others on their healing journey.
When I say healing begins at home, this statement is something I mean from two perspectives. The perspective show cased above; that the body is a healing organism. Healing just happens in your body, your physical home. Also, healing begins in your home; the structure, building, your physical body dwells in. The space where your habits were born and continue to be nurtured in.
We are 100% capable of organizing our lives to create healing. The choices we make in our lives: what we eat and how we interact in the world all start at home. We learned our lifestyle habits from watching, interacting with, and repeating the lifestyle habits we observed family members engaging in . We can alter our lifestyle habits depending on the healing capacity of the way we live our daily lives. Is this habit best for my wellness?
Most people, when asked and given time to contemplate the question, can tell you exactly why they have the disease symptoms they have. Some people can get to the heart of the matter faster and more efficiently than others; they can tell you the emotional, spiritual, and the physical reasons they are wrestling with ill health and disease.
Bringing this question to people's awareness is the beginning of healing. When we can shine the light on why the disease symptoms are present in our physical health, we can start to address the underlying issues and set the healing energy back into action.
Find a quiet spot. Sit. Ground yourself. Breathe deeply, focusing on the breath for several minutes. Ask yourself: "why do I have these ill-health symptoms." Continue to breathe deeply for several more minutes. Allow the answer to arise; maybe right now, maybe tomorrow or next week.
My 2015 healing wish for you: Discovery of personal blocks to healing and putting healing action to work in your life.