Health

Wellness Check-In ~ Winter Edition

Hey guys! Hope this message finds everyone doing well and staying warm over these past few months. Today was 60º and sunny, which I will totally take for February. Here is the latest message I sent to our teachers for this year’s Wellness initiative. I wanted to share here too because everyone needs a little checking in, right? 😉

How is everyone doing in the wellness department? Just wanted to remind everyone of the importance of taking care of ourselves, especially during the winter months when the days are shorter, the sun may not be shining as brightly and we are all missing our essential Vitamin D. Unless of course you’re a winter warrior that spends all of your free time on the slopes. If you are one of those peeps, good for you!

Did you knvitaminDow how important Vitamin D was to your happiness? I have secretly coined Vitamin D “the happy vitamin.” Most people know it as the “sunshine vitamin.” We naturally produce Vitamin D with exposure to the sun and from various food sources as well. Here in New England, the winter days are shorter and put a damper on our sun exposure. We typically make less Vitamin D in our bodies during these months. Now if you’re a Californian, that’s a totally different story. 😉 There are countless reasons why Vitamin D is essential to your wellbeing, but did you know that if nutrients in your body are out of balance, you may not be able to absorb the vitamin D that you are getting. This can cause a whole host of imbalances in your body. One that I notice the most is usually mood (so happy in summer ~ definitely different in the winter).

I’ve heard from a bunch of people about what kinds of movement they’ve been up to during these chilly months. Hats off to everyone training for something. Zero degree training runs? You are amazing!

Some things we have been up to these winter months:

  • skiing, snowboarding
  • marathon training
  • indoor cycling
  • yoga
  • rowing
  • HIIT training
  • walking on treadmill, walking outdoors and nature walks
  • family & friend gatherings
  • dancing
  • Go Noodle with your class

What have you been up to this winter? Are you finding balance between taking care of yourself and moving your body? I hope so! Comment below and let me know how you are doing on the wellness train.

Be well,

💚 Jenny

Goodbye February, Hello March

Hey everyone! I am really happy that March is here. This morning when I walked into yoga, I thought it’s going to be a good month. It has to be better than February. Around here in New England, it was a long month of cold weather and snow, not enough sunshine and some personal ups and downs.

What have I been up to? Full disclosure of my blogging struggles: I have so much to say, so much to post on the blog… I find myself often too hesitant to put it all out there, write my stories, shoot from the hip, as they say… The best blog posts are from the heart, but I’m slightly detailed oriented, and often get caught up in the small details, and the post sits in draft mode forever… I tend to over think things and then will go weeks without a post. With that said, I have been researching how to market, brand, and grow the blog. This is a goal of mine – to determine my goal so I can move forward with a clear purpose. Let me tell you, this is hard work!

HippocratesQuoteFebruary was a challenging month for me with my Hashimoto’s. I started editing a document I created last year that tells the story of my autoimmune journey and so many things came to the forefront. As I January came to an end and I finished my first Whole 30, I did a lot of reflecting, researching and questioning my symptoms. The month ended with an appointment to the endocrinologist, who is supportive of my journey trying to heal thought nutrition and lifestyle, but cannot support me in a coaching way the way I need. My blood test results are not ideal and my thyroid seems to be so far gone that I have to take medication forever possibly. It’s not ideal, and to be honest, last week at this time, I was not in a good place, but I have come to terms with the fact that medical doctors cannot support me in the way I need them to. I will continue on my healing journey and have plans for this month that will hopefully help me take some positive steps forward toward healing and feeling good again.

If you’re reading between the lines and don’t know my full story, I will eventually share it here. I promise! I have shared a pieces of my story on my About and Nutrition pages. In short, I feel like I am constantly working to figure out the why behind this wicked annoying disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. My thyroid is severely under active and because the thyroid is so important for so many systems in our bodies to work properly, when things are not working properly, one thing leads to another, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Sometimes it feels like I take one step forward, and two or three steps backward. It’s like a constant guessing game. Because of that, I am constantly reading and researching. Some days it’s positive and I have a lot of a-ha moments. Some days it’s just exhausting and frustrating. Like I said, a lot of ups and downs. So this month of March can only go up from here. Better weather, better moods, better driving, and our youngest son’s second birthday!

What have you been up to? Are you glad March is here too?

xoxo

green_heart Jenny

On being present…

be-presentI have been thinking about this A LOT lately. How can we stay fully present in a world full of distractions…

It’s the middle of January, I’m halfway through my first Whole30 + my second 21 DSD + modified AIP. Wow, that’s a lot. It’s all comes from a good place of self-love and healing, and I truly feel that I am on my way to more healing for sure, despite only feeling supported by a few people in my life… More on that later. (I am working on a reflection of this month’s experience – I promise!)

On Friday, this feeling of being overwhelmed really hit me while at school. There’s so much going on, all the time, for everyone. It seems like we do not ever get enough down time or “me time.” This has become my home life, work life, life in general. In my experience, and my circle, it feels like we are all running around like crazy people and like we can never get anything accomplished. I have had several conversations this month alone in which colleagues of mine, full-time teachers, full-time parents, feel this way. As the overwhelming feeling came over me, I tried my best to keep my emotions in check, and then I went to yoga on Sunday morning. Thank goodness for that.

The theme of class was how do we stay present in this world of distractions? While technology is great, and has contributed to so many advancements in the world, and is the reason for my career, I am a technology teacher after all… sometimes it is too much. How many of us have seen or participated in the following?

  • mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, maybe even while watching TV and not talking to their spouse/partner
  • checking the phone when out to dinner with friends or loved ones
  • using a device or keeping the TV on right up until bedtime

These things have become so commonplace in our world, that I am afraid we are losing touch with what’s important, what’s real: real people and real relationships. This scares me a lot. I am conscientious of this at all times. I have had the experience of taking a relationship for granted, that one day was there, and the next day was gone. So when I say, you never know when your last day is going to be, I actually know how that feels.

So… Trying to stay in the present moment, which ironically is always a mantra at yoga. It’s so easy to get lost in your thoughts, think about what’s next, what meal to prepare, which groceries to buy, what appointment or meeting is this week, etc., but our yoga practice forces us to be present on our mat and be there for ourselves, for our bodies for that given amount of time. It is so important. I am trying to take this feeling with me when I’m not on the mat. It is hard for sure, but will it be worth it? Oh yes, I can almost guarantee it. If I’m home with my kids, be home, be present, not randomly checking FB. If I have time at the end of the day to talk to my husband, then we should talk, be there, be present. And the list goes on and on…

Be well. Be present. As much as possible.

green_heart Jenny

Something Is Off Balance

I have been hesitating to write a post about my struggles with my hypothyroidism and the annoying symptoms that I experience, but a few friends encouraged me to write about what’s real, what’s actually going on in my life…

In the midst of the excitement about our CSA and the awesome-ness I pick up every week, I’m really struggling with a bunch of random symptoms. If you don’t already know, or haven’t read my About or Nutrition pages, I have hypothyroidism in the form of Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is a condition where my own immune system is attacking my thyroid gland, thus making it not function properly and dosing out a whole host of weird symptoms. I was diagnosed in 2007 and have been on medication ever since. My symptoms have always been present even though I take medication, and have included cold hands and feet, stalled metabolism, fatigue, moodiness, brain fog, just to name a few. The most recent symptom that really has me frustrated beyond belief is joint pain. I experience joint pain 1-2 times a week, sometimes every week. This has been going on for almost two years.

I attribute these symptoms to my weirdly acting thyroid because what else could it be? The symptoms have led me into a spiral of frustration because besides being in pain or being in a bad mood or feeling so crappy I don’t feel like myself, I feel like no one is helping me. The endocrinologist adjusts the medication up or down depending on my TSH level. That’s it, one number. There is little conversation and we never really get at what’s going on with me as a whole person. Just yesterday, after being told that I should increase the dose of medication because the most recent TSH level is at the top level of “normal,” that the symptoms I’m having “may not be the result of my thyroid.” Really, dude, not my thyroid? Then what the hell is it? It so infuriating it’s not even funny.

My out of balance thyroid levels were the motivation for my transition to paleo in January. From what I read and researched, making additional significant nutritional changes, because I was already gluten and dairy free, would help tame the annoying symptoms I was experiencing despite being on medication. I did feel pretty great for three months, my fatigue was gone and my energy skyrocketed, until the symptoms started creeping back. First, I noticed my metabolism stalled again. Then, the fatigue started creeping back in. And finally, the joint pain started back up in May. 

Have I sought help from anyone else you may ask? Why, yes, yes I have. I consulted with a homeopath in August of 2013, which was an initial consultation fee of 150.00. He prescribed a two different homeopathic remedies. I remember feeling better, less fatigue, less moodiness at first, but that quickly changed. My TSH level came back in November extremely high, which meant my thyroid was extremely low and underperforming. The doctor thought the homeopathic remedies were to blame, so I stopped taking those, and didn’t hear much from the homeopath after that. I recently consulted with a naturopath in May, just as the joint pain was starting back up again. I was assured that this was going to be a team effort and he would help me find balance and figure out what was going on. Ya, okay. 150.00 later plus 2 supplements for a total of 225.00, and never heard a word after the initial consultation…

So where do I go from here? I wholeheartedly believe in getting to the root of the problem, but it seems like no one else cares about that, and I’m left to figure it out by myself. Every free moment I have, I am reading and researching about the thyroid, hormones, and nutrition. I just read The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried, which shed some light and insight into what could be going on, but I never really know because I am not a doctor! I am considering another out-of-pocket consultation with a different practitioner. It seems like it would be so simple, you don’t feel good, you get help to figure out how to feel better. Well, my friends, let me tell you, it’s not always that easy.

I unfortunately don’t have a happy conclusion for this post. Apologies for the long-winded rant about my situation, but it’s so incredibly frustrating, and occupies so much of my mind at the moment, I thought I should share. Maybe just maybe someone will read or share my story and I’ll be on my way to feeling better. Time will tell…

Until next time.

<3 Jenny

Our 21DSD/Paleo/Primal Journey

I’ve been wanting to write about my experience with the 21-Day Sugar Detox (21DSD), but hesitating about it for so many reasons. One reason is that I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions and do things starting on January 1st. And, this is one thing I did start on January 1st.  A second reason is because I whole-heartedly believe that in order for things to change, it’s not just about changing one thing (like food), it’s a whole bunch of things that make up a lifestyle. The third reason is I do not believe it diets. If you want to really change, you have to look closely at the whole picture (food, stress, activity, sleep, etc.). Some people have asked me about my experience, though, and this seems like a great place to share about it. It has been incredibly rewarding in so many ways and I have many positive things to share. After all, I am an educator. I want to share my experiences so others are inspired to learn about real food and make better choices for their health.

What led us to the 21DSD?

I started listening to the podcast entitled Cut the Fat Podcast in November 2013. Several episodes referenced Mark Sisson and The Primal Blueprint, and eating primal/paleo for fat loss. My interest was piqued. I googled The Primal Blueprint and Mark Sisson immediately, which led me to Mark’s website Mark’s Daily Apple. I then downloaded and read the sample of Mark’s book The Primal Blueprint. Then during one of my nightly readings of Zite, I stumbled upon an article that referenced The 21-Day Sugar Detox. The article linked me to a set of questions from the introduction to the book, The 21-Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo about sugar, carbs, and the roles they play in your life. I was shocked (and kind of grossed out) when I read through and answered yes to most of them.

I ended up purchasing both The Primal Blueprint and The 21-Day Sugar Detox. I was reading both books during the last two weeks of December every night (every free moment I had to read, really). In all the reading I was doing, I kept thinking, “oh, that’s why I feel this way,” or “oh, that explains why that happens to me.” I was making so many connections to the discussions about health, digestion, and various symptoms I had experienced over the years. Simultaneously, I was thinking about my autoimmune condition of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and everything I was reading was connecting to that as well. Reading through these books was like having hundreds of “a-ha” moments, over and over.

On January 1st, we started our sugar detox/paleo/primal journey. My husband is doing it with me too, which has been awesome for meal prep and support. We completed the 21-Day Sugar Detox in January (we actually did the whole month beyond the 21 days) and have continued eating paleo/primal since. The first things I noticed when removing sugar were my energy and mood, they skyrocketed! Also, any fatigue that I had as a result of the hypothyroidism was gone.

Helpful details to know about me pre-21DSD:

  • I was already gluten and dairy-free so making the jump to no grains wasn’t so terrible. I was sneaking gluten in here and there, and looking back, my digestion was suffering because of the “here and there”. Brian was not gluten-free, but has found the change to be manageable (probably because his lovely wife does all the planning and meal prep for the entire week 😉
  • The sugar I consumed pre-21DSD was from fruit and 85% cacao dark chocolate and some ice cream here and there. I was not eating added sugars or processed/packaged foods on a regular basis. However, I constantly had cravings for sweet things and would eat fruit and dried fruit (preferably mangoes! the sweetest thing out there!) whenever I had a craving. During the 21DSD, there are different levels for where you are on your journey. I stuck to the plan completely which minimized my sugar cravings to almost none. After the 30 days, I added 1-2 servings of fruit back into my days. When I do have fruit, I choose green-tipped bananas, blueberries, blackberries or raspberries.

Other observations/revelations we’ve made on our journey so far:

  • Midway through the 21 days, around day 10, was really hard. I really wanted sugar… really, really bad! I stuck with it though, stayed true to the program, and the cravings really did dissipate. I still crave fruit, but my cravings aren’t really for sweet things, just for nourishment. I added back dark chocolate a few times a week, but for me, once I have it I want it more and more. I make sure if I have it to have a few squares of 85% cacao dark chocolate.
  • My energy levels are astounding. I used to feel very fatigued in the later afternoon, and that has vanished. I feel like I have energy to enjoy the evening with my family.
  • The mysterious joint pain I was experiencing all over my body, that no doctor could ever shed any light on, is gone. It never occurred to me that joint pain, which was a symptom of hypothyroidism, could be reduced or removed by changing my food intake, which in turn has created balance in other aspects of my life.
  • I am sleeping better. If I wake up in the middle of the night it’s because of one of my children is crying or calling for me (or my husband is snoring), not because I’m restless or stressed.
  • When you focus on real food, and make the transition to Paleo/Primal, you consume more fat. Pre-21DSD, this would have been concerning to me because we have been told for years that too much fat and too many calories is bad.  Well, through more reading and research, I have learned that is the farthest thing from the truth. Fat doesn’t make you fat, processed crap and sugar make you fat. Protein and fat help you stay fuller and nourished longer. I have avocados and coconut oil daily and don’t really worry about calories or fat.
  • People are pretty skeptical/judgmental about the Paleo/Primal lifestyle. The number one thing people don’t know is that it is not a diet, it’s a way of living. And… we don’t sit around consuming a boatload of meat. I think the reason for this misunderstanding is because they don’t know much about it, or what they do know about it, is inaccurate. It’s been interesting to have to defend yourself like you’re some kind of weirdo about making choices that make you feel good. (More on that in my next post.)
  • I have learned to focus on nourishment, feeling good and healing from the inside. These revelations led me to also read Practical Paleo, as well as my current read, Eat the Yolks by Liz Wolfe.

The bottom line is I am confident in my choices about health and nutrition for myself and my family, and I know deep down, that’s what matters most. In conclusion, when you focus on real food, sourced from grass-fed animals when possible, organic and/or local vegetables and fruit, you start to change your outlook on the food you eat for nourishment. It’s not about “being good because you ate well or bad because you had a treat” and “having so much willpower to choose certain foods over others”, it’s about feeling good inside when you make choices that work for your body and your health and not anyone else’s expectations or opinions about what is right or what is healthy. As I continue on this journey, I am sure I will have more to write and report. Stay tuned and be well.

xoxo

Gluten Free Can Be Unhealthy?

Why Going Gluten Free Can Be Unhealthy

This is a fantastic article worth reading whether you are gluten-free or not.  A big misconception about going gluten-free is that it leads to weight loss.  As with anything you eliminate, you may experience weight loss, but that is definitely not a reason to eliminate something.   Gluten-free has gotten a bad rap in the diet world…  Instead of just eliminating gluten, people are replacing traditional packaged products containing gluten (which are usually highly processed to begin with) with more processed food that often contain ingredients that no one can pronounce (just like the original).

I have been gluten-free for four years now, and people often ask about it. What do you eat? Why can’t you eat gluten? Etc. If I consume gluten in any form, I almost instantly get bloated and have GI issues, so I stay away from it to the best of my ability.  If you have to stay away from gluten because it makes you feel gross, try to focus on whole foods instead of packaged/processed foods, which is what this article suggests.

Gluten-Free Pantry Suggestions

Nine Staples for a Gluten-Free Pantry @mindbodygreen

As many of you know, I’ve been gluten-free for four years now.   I was recently tested for celiac disease per my request and the test was negative, but am still definitely gluten intolerant.  Over the past few months, I have been struggling with hypothyroidism, joint paint, and vitamin D and iron deficiencies, so I’ve been reading about the possible connection between these issues and gluten intolerance.   This article has some great suggestions for what to keep in a gluten-free pantry.  Believe it or not, I always have seven of the nine suggestions in my pantry!  There is no masa harina in my house because I am intolerant to corn too, and I have never bought nori, but I love sushi.  Maybe I should try it…

 

Canning Like Crazy

The tomato plants from our garden are on fire at the moment.  Every other day, Brian and Brendan come in from the garden in the evening with at least 3 mixing bowls full of Roma tomatoes.  This is only a small example.

roma tomatoes

Here they are blanched, which is a process of simply dropping them in boiling water for about 2 minutes to loosen the skins so the skins can be easily removed.

blanched roma tomatoes

I’ve already canned 6 quart-sized jars (32 oz.) and 4 pint-sized (16 oz.) of whole peeled tomatoes.  About 14 tomatoes fit in one quart-sized jar.  That’s a lot of tomatoes I’ll have ready for chili or sauce or whatever I need this fall and winter.

pint-sized whole tomatoes

My latest canning experiment was making homemade salsa.  I’ve been reading recipes around the web for canning salsa and my cousin sent me a recipe last summer so I kind of knew what to do.  This recipe has clear steps and procedures.  I pretty much followed it completely, except I changed the amount and types of peppers I used.

Saturday, I started preparing the tomatoes for salsa making. Instead of blanching them, I broiled them to remove the skins.  I halved and cored them, and took out the seeds.  Then I spread them face down out on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and broiled them until the skins were blackened to make removing the skins easy.  After the skins were removed and the tomatoes cooled, I chopped them and added them to the stock pot.  I repeated this broiling procedure with the poblanos, jalepeños, garlic and onions.  Everything was chopped once cooled and added to the stockpot.

Waterbath canning itself takes about 45 minutes so I waited until the next day to finish.  The liquid ingredients were added and then everything was brought to a gentle boil for 10-15 minutes.  I filled the jars and prepared them for canning.  Seven pint-sized jars and 4 half-pint jars…  Do you think we have enough salsa?  Anyone want any?
Canned salsa

 

The entire time, Brian is saying, “are you taking pictures for your blog post?” I will definitely take more pictures of each step next time.  There are already bowls of tomatoes waiting to be picked in our garden.  Oh my… Any requests for anything, friends?

It’s All About the Core

2619849_1264140_b

http://society6.com/product/Apple-Core-Workout_Print

Everything in yoga involves the core.  Everything.  It is so important to engage the core from the very beginning of your practice to the end (and throughout your day, really).  I love it when my teachers say, “Okay, grab your block, put it between your legs, and let’s do some sun salutations, you’ll really feel the core working now.”  They are so right.  This sensation is what you should be feeling all the time by engaging your core constantly, with every move and every pose.

Last week in class, my teacher (who also used this adorable picture) had just gotten back from a week-long retreat on Maui.  She said in a typical day, she’d do about 500 boat poses (navasana).  OMG, 500?!  Banging out 100 in a 75-minute class shouldn’t be a big deal then, right?  Absolutely right.  We started with 40, then 40 more, then 20, no big deal really.

Everything that challenges you throughout your day, week, anytime, you need to take one pose, one step, one section, one minute, one hour, etc., at a time.  You will only get stronger if you challenge yourself.  If you keep on doing the same thing every day, every workout, every meal, you will stay the same.  I did this for a while… It’s easy to get in that habit and forget to change things up. However, every workout and every practice that I do now is different and ever-changing.  My body is constantly surprised by this approach and will continue to get stronger and stronger as a result.

How do you make sure to change things up and keep challenging yourself?

Image Credit: http://society6.com/product/Apple-Core-Workout_Print