Smoothies and the sensitive soul

photo 1I am facing the reality that I am a very sensitive soul. I said it today as I had my visit with my natropathic doctor. I sometimes feel like I was born in the wrong time. Like as in I was born to late. When I was able to stay home with my kids, homeschool and cook things from scratch, I felt grounded and happy despite a lot of choas going on around me. I felt strong in my life.  When that got turned upside down a couple of years ago I have felt lost. Like I am out in a storm holding on to a twig. Well I am starting to feel strong again but it’s been a journey with a lot of help and helpers along the way.

I can’t say my primary care doctor was much help beyond the fact he was the first one (and believe me I was doctor hopping) to get some blood work done. I had a friend tell me I was wishing for something to be wrong and that nothing was. Well her jaw dropped when I met up with her and told her I was prediabetic.  She asked for my numbers as if my doctor even got it wrong and then said “yeah…you are…wow”.  I admit to anyone who knows me it was a shock. I am not overweight or have any other thing that would have pointed that out.

I took six weeks between my primary care visits to health coach myself. Something I am shamefully admitting I was not doing. I was not doing any self-care. I would try but then would drop it to take care of others.  Now when my grandson went into the hospital something shifted. As I sat listening to my helpers/healers in my life tell me I need to take care of me I actually heard them and started to say no to things and started to try to take care of myself. One small step at a time.  What I was able to jump into was my food. I cleaned that up pretty quick.

My body is sensitive to changes and there have been a lot in the last few years. These changes have taken a toll on my health as I let go of things I use to do that were soothing for someone like myself.  I know I need extra care. I wish I could be like a weed in my garden and just bloom not matter what is going on around me but that is not really who I am. I’ve been  good at putting up a front that I am, but the truth is I am not. It was the self-care I practiced that got me through times that were tough.  I am more like a delicate flower that needs the right conditions to bloom. For a while I thought this was a fault, as if something was wrong with me. I am starting to see there is nothing wrong with being this way. It’s just who I am and embracing  it is ok. Saying “no” is ok. Taking more time to rest is ok. Trying to add in more creative time in my day is ok. Not working out like a crazy woman at the gym is ok. Needing warm scents as summer fades away and fall kicks in is fine. Ordering tea at a coffee shop is totally ok. These are the things I need to  soothe my soul.

All these things that somehow I thought were odd about myself are actually what I need. My body has been screaming for me to listen and I kept going on like I was super woman and I kept pushing myself when I needed to just rest. I ignored some pretty big red flags.

One part of my body that has always flared up as a result of stress and not taking time out for me is my liver. You tell this to your primary doctor and you get a weird look. My liver is getting an extra dose of work as I let my self-care go, got overly stressed and well its that time in my life when my hormones are wonky and it’s the liver that deals with that. You add that and my diet of not so great foods ( heavy on the carbs)  that I was using to “self medicate”  and you get a cocktail called prediabetes. So maybe my primary care doc wasn’t half wrong when he said stress was the issue. What I wasn’t getting is while  I can’t remove the stress from life without moving to the moon, the change that needed to happen was, I needed to  change how I a react to that stress and make sure to take extra care of myself when things get extra rough. I am learning how to do this each day.

I did some changing, returned to my doctor six weeks later and had changed my sugar numbers and reversed my prediabetes. Now he just looked at me and said it was stress and we will see where I am next year. Asked if I had any other issue to talk about and then shook my hand and said see you next year for your annual.  Yeah, ok thanks!

For months  before this, I woke up with extreme nausea. It was so bad at times I needed to lay still in bed and I wasn’t able to eat for hours. Not good when you have blood sugar issues. I tried a bunch of things but nothing worked. When you have to go to work and you need to eat a little protein it makes life hard. I can admit to crying in front of the fridge a few mornings and thinking I was going to waste away. Some mornings I just wished it would happen already and I could get the misery over with. Not a pretty site and it so wasn’t me. I am not like this. A huge red flag.

My juicer is still covered in dust and I miss using it like crazy. I don’t have the time in the wee hours of the morning to juice and clean up. I know it would be a great way to get nutrients in. So instead I turned to my good old blender and started making smoothies. At first I wanted to reach for protein powders. I had tried that last fall but felt sort of weird on them. The sugar levels are insane too. I had sold a product last year that was better but really all of those shakes and smoothies in a can are not worth it if you really look at the ingredients. Get back to eating whole foods is what I knew I needed.

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Yes you can do a protein shake out of whole foods in a matter of minutes and be full for hours. It’s easy.

First, select your base, in other words the liquid you’re going to use. I use unsweetened almond milk because I am get extra protein and  while I went dairy free for two years and can now tolerate dairy I don’t want to push it. You can use coconut milk or even coconut water if you’re looking for a dairy alternative. Keifer is a great idea because you get the benefit of protein and probiotics. Just watch the flavored ones and the sugar in them.

Second, choose your protein. Unsweetened greek yogurt, chia seeds, hemp seeds, nut butters, nuts or seeds are all great ideas. I love avocados in my smoothies.  You can also add vegetables like spinach for protein. Have fun with this.

Lastly, pick some flavors to sweeten if you like. You could stop with the above or you could add some frozen or fresh fruit. pomegranate seeds are a favorite of mine at the moment. Some mornings I like pumpkin in my smoothie and a little cinnamon. Did you know cinnamon is good for those with predietes or even diabetes? I just like warming flavors as the seasons change. I also love mango, cherries and bananas.  Some mornings I enjoy unsweetened carob chips as a special treat in my smoothies.

This liquid breakfast helps me and I have found I look forward to this more than I use to look forward to my morning cup of coffee.

So it’s time to accept more self care and self love. Time to drop the idea of keeping up with “them”.  Who ever they are they can run at top speed. I’ll stop when I get the chance and slowly sip my tea.  How are you going to add more self care into your life? Is your body calling out to you?

Blessings,

Shelly

 

Dandelions & Boobs

imageOctober is breast cancer awareness month. I’ve had family who had breast cancer, friends and coworkers.  I personally wish we could find a cure and end all cancers.

Back in 2011 I had my first mammogram scare. My midwife at the time suggested I start getting mammograms early because of family history.  In 2011, during what I expected nothing on my exam,  they found a lump in my right breast. I had been having pain there but really hadn’t thought much of it.  I’ve shared the nightmare I went though with my midwife and the diagnostic center. I am happy that I now use a nicer diagnostic center and have a new doctor.

This year I went for my yearly mamo and ultrasound. I now get them together since it’s easier and I have dense breast tissue. I assumed, nothing would be different.  A few weeks passed and my mammogram paper work came back saying I needed an ultrasound. I laughed as I had it done the same day as the mamo and they knew that.  I wrote it off in my mind that the ultrasound paperwork would be in the mail in the next day or two telling me I was clear and would see them next year. It never came. I finally called my doctor’s office and was told they were just about to call me. It seems something different was going on in my breasts and I needed to have more testing done.  This all ended up leading me to the Smilow Cancer Center at Yale. Which , I confess scared me.

I am grateful for the way they doing things. First they uploaded my images and had their diagnostic tech look them over. This step saved me from having unneccessary testing my doctor thought I should have. I got a phone call that the testing planned didn’t need to be done. I was relieved, and exhaled on the phone. Then I was told I needed to come in and see one of the surgeons.  The anxiety came flooding back.

I have to say the Breast Center at the Smilow center is beautiful. The whole cancer center is beautiful. I had become familiar with the healing garden that was just across from the children’s hospital when my grandson was at Yale.  The staff at the breast center was even more amazing.  The only thing upsetting was the fact that they gave me a hospital bracelet when I checked in. I guess in my mind I assumed it was just a doctor visit. No need to have a hospital bracelet. This somehow made it all to real. My anxiety came back again. Breath in….breath out.

The surgeon I saw was extremely nice and was willing to explain everything after he found out I wasn’t even sure what was going on and why I was there.  It seems my doctor and the diagnostic center  were worried about some cysts. All of which the surgeon explained were simply the result in hormone changes in my body that are normal. What he was concerned about was the lump that was found in 2011. It’s not a cyst. My mind then began focusing on the Black Cohosh study that was posted on the wall behind him. I kept thinking I should have stayed on it longer darn it.  My brain began thinking of a bunch of other things I should have done. I was “should-ing” all over myself.

He went on to say that he isn’t into doing anything invasive and so since he had all my records and images since 2011 he felt that there was nothing we should do. The lump had not changed at all in the years it had been there.  He explained why he would not remove it and why he would not biopsy it. He assured me it is not cancer but we would continue to watch it. If it changes we will discuss what to do then. For now there is nothing to do. Here’s where the big exhale came in.

I left feeling happy and confident. The only problem now is how to get this sucker to stop hurting. The pain I get now and then is what I imagine it would be like to have a steak knife put into my breast and then have it twisted. I am told this pain is the result of the breast tissue swelling due to hormones. Lovely.

I’ve read things of what to do for healthy breasts. I’m very fond of Susan Weed’s teachings.  So when my naturopath suggested dandelion oil to use for a breast massage I said , yep, that is what Susan Weed suggests.

Thing is there is not one health food store or herbal store around me that sells dandelion oil.  I thought ok, I’ll make my own. Reading up on it it’s the flowers that are best but you can use the root or leaves. I call around again. Nobody seems to have dried dandelion flowers. I had no luck. It’s fall so going out to my lawn isn’t going to do it either. So I bought some dandelion root tea to sip and a bag of dandelion leaves and some almond oil and made my way home.

Making your own oil is really simple. I’ve made a few over the years and they always turn out really nice. Once you have your oil you can add a little beesewax and you have a salve.

What you need is a glass jar with a good lid. What ever herb you are going to make oil from. Fresh is best but I found sometimes dried is better as there is less water in the plant. Each plant is different so experiment with it. Then you will need an oil. You can use almond or olive oil.  Play with that as well Just don’t use coconut oil as it tends to go solid in cool temps and never use canola or vegetable oil. Neither are healthy to eat so don’t use on your skin.

I am not giving amounts because the size of the jar and how much you want to make is the thing to play with.  Make sure your jar is clean, then pack it full of the herb your making oil with.  Don’t be afraid to really pack it full. Pour your oil in and with a chopstick or something like it,  push around to make sure to get any air bubbles out. This helps to use all of the herbs and prevent mold.  Fill with more oil if need. Your jar should be filled totally with oil and herbs. No air bubbles. Put the lid on and it put it in on a shelf away from direct heat or sunlight. I write on the lid the date I made the oil. Six weeks later,  strain off the herbs and collect the oil in another clean jar and you are all set to use  for massage. You can add your favorite essential oils to give it a nice scent.

I am eagerly awaiting for my dandelion leaf oil to be ready. In the mean time the pain in my breast acted up and I went online and found a little shop on Etsy and bought some dandelion flower oil from a woman in NC who does all organic oils. I am pretty excited to get that oil and I was told it has shipped. I’ll use that till my oil is ready.

It really is that easy.  Dandelion oil is not only good for breast tissue  and helping with the cysts and lumps some of us ladies get , it is also good for sore muscles, achy joints and I read some folks  find relief with gout.   A massage with dandelion oil is said to help release stored emotions and ease the body when stressed.

Ready to make your own oil?  What kind are you making?

 

Until next time!

Shelly

Health care & Spaghetti Squash for supper

Some people say Labor day weekend is the end of summer. Others think when the massive amounts of pumpkin flavored products start hitting the shelves it’s officially fall.  For me it’s when it’s whenever it feels cool enough to cook with the oven again and I am baking up squash.

This week I’ve cooked my fair share of spaghetti squash at work. it was fun to get folks to try it and share how it’s a great alternative to pasta.  One gentleman told me he was tired of the gluten free craze. After talking to him a few mins I found out that like me, he is prediabetic. His doctor , much like mine , gave him no support at all on what to eat. Just said watch your sugar and see you at your next appointment.  We talked a bit and I explained what I was doing and how I am a health coach and I have some blood test coming up and I will see how much I have reversed this by doing some lifestyle changes.  After a brief talk about carbs , my friend walked away with spaghetti squash and hand written instructions from me on how to cook it. He said he let me know how he did. I am looking forward to it.

It drives me crazy that when you  look at the health care system they are happy to shell out several thousands for someone to have say gastro-bypass then allow them to work with a health coach or a nutritionist to loose weight and prevent disease.  I am finding I am not alone in the fact I was just told I am prediabetic, they are not sure why and well good luck and watch your sugar.  A friend recently told me she got this same treatment.

I’ve cut my carb intake. I wont say I’ve gone no carb as that is not going to happen in my life and I am not so sure it’s a good idea to be honest. For me.  It might be for others.  Have I eaten foods that are not so great?  YES! I am not ashamed it. However one night I ran out and got some ice cream I normally would not  a long with some cookies and boy did I pay for it the next day. But the key is I didn’t get all angry at myself and say oh well and fall out of my wagon and burn it and dance around it with the tub of ice cream (sound like a fun plan though).  I just took the following day to eat extra clean and clear the junk out. Then got back to my way of eating.

So before I share my spaghetti squash supper with you, know this, if you fell of your diet, are feeling horrible about it and are beating yourself up while you woof down some chips , know your not alone and you can do this.  It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok to fail. If we never did we would never learn. That’s the key, learn from it. If you’re having troubles ask for help. Keep asking till someone helps you.  It might take a few people but support is out there. I promise you it is.

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Spaghetti Squash with Sausage & Peppers.

1 large spaghetti squash ( see tips on cutting below)


olive oil

2 bell peppers, diced

onion, diced

2 bulbs of garlic, minced

1 lb of Italian chicken sausage

your favorite tomato sauce (no sugar in it)

basil

oregano

pepper to taste

 

Cut your spaghetti squash in half and take the seeds out. Place in a baking dish with water and cover with foil. Bake at 425 for 30 mins. check to see if you can start to get the meat to pull away from the shell with a fork. If you can’t, leave it in there for a bit longer. If it’s ready place ont he counter for a few mins to cool.

Meanwhile, in a skillet heat the olive oil, add the onion and cook for two mins, then add the peppers and cook untill every thing is almost soft. Add your sausage and cook untill the sausage is browned. Poor in your sauce, stir and taste. Then season to your liking with spices, salt and pepper.

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Using a fork, scrap the meat out of the shell of the squash. It should come out like strands. Add the squash to your sauce and mix. Serve with fresh parm and enjoy!

 

Cutting spaghetti squash can be scary if you’re not use to doing it. First always use a sharp knife.  It sounds wrong but you can do more damage to yourself from a cut with a dull knife than a sharp one.  Then, what I do is cut the top off the squash. This gives me a flat surface to make the length wise cut.

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Next , run your blade down the center of the squash.  Use a spoon to scrape out seeds.

 

Well that it’s for this time. I’ve got kombucha to check on need to make a little self care list as I fell off the wagon of doing that. I can feel the difference. I’ll let you know how my  follow up visit with my doctor went in my next post. I am hopeful I am turning this prediabets things around. Oh and I need to share what happened when I went to the cancer center.  That can wait, right now, I need a cup of tea.

Warmly,

Shelly