Just a short year ago I felt like I was 70. My memory was fading, my balance was off, and my energy levels were at an all time low. I would come home from a day at work and not have one bit of energy to play with my kids. Instead of running around after them I’d sit on the couch and stare at them. Even moving to sit on the floor next to them was hard. It was truly heartbreaking. I mean, I’m only 38! Instead of giving in though I implemented diet and lifestyle changes and not only put both of my autoimmune diseases (Celiac and Hashimoto’s) into remission but now I also have more energy than I did in my 20s!
I am a full-time working mom of 2 young boys (3 and 6 at the time I write this) and am constantly doing things due to my Type A personality. This is both a good and bad thing – good because I get a heck of a lot done, but bad because I often spread myself thin. Too thin. And that is one reason I’ve run into my health issues.
One of my main passions in life is anything to do with the creative – crafting, sewing, coloring, photography, recipe creation, etc. I’ve learned in the last few years that if I don’t honor this side of me, I start to build up immense stress. Creative activities act like an outlet for that stress and ground me.
I also know that if I don’t spend good, quality time with my family that I start to feel resentful towards my job and any other outside forces that take me from them. I know my job isn’t going anywhere soon, but I am really doing my best to find activities that really optimize the precious time I have with my husband and children. I know I’m not alone in this – more and more families are becoming dual-income families so we need to figure out ways to not only make the “other” activities such as housework, meal planning, cooking, cleaning, etc as efficient and quick as possible, but we also want to maximize the fun we do have.
I write this blog to help others like me. If you are a tired, busy mom and desire to:
- feel better, less exhausted all the time and want to make it through the entire day with amazing energy and vigor
- spend more quality time with your kids and want some ideas of what to do
- spend some important de-stressing “me” time working on fun craft projects and other creative pursuits
- learn ways to efficiently use your time so that you have more time for fun with family and more “me” time
- feel empowered to take care of yourself and your family and know that you are helping them to be the healthiest they can be
then you’ve come to the right place. I aim to cover as many different topics as I can to help and inspire you (and if you have a particular burning desire for me to share something, please let me know!) Above all I just want to help you. And who knows, someday I might figure out how glitter washi tape is the cure to all disease! (I sure wish it was)
- I mainly follow a Paleo diet template, which means eating nutrient-dense whole, real foods like vegetables, pastured meats and eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, and fat.
- I am Celiac (an autoimmune disease where my body is basically allergic to gluten) so I am strictly gluten-free.
- I make most of our food from scratch, which isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. After 4 years we’ve learned many time saving tactics.
- I have another blog called Thriving On Paleo, where I share Paleo recipes and lifestyle advice/experiences
- Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where my body, as a result of ingesting gluten, starts attacking my own body tissue. In the “classic” sense of Celiac this is typically tissue of the small intestine. But in my case it’s not only the small intestine but also the Cerebellum part of my brain. So yes, when I eat gluten, my body eats my brain. It’s actually quite scary when you think about it! I started suffering from a number of mild neurological issues last year, from starting to lose my balance to having the inability to recall recent events, but luckily these haven’t seemed to get any worse with my complete stopping of ingesting gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley, and here in the US it seems to be in so many things. I’d say 80% of processed food has gluten in it in some form or another, typically added as a way of increasing our appetites so we buy and eat more! Once one is diagnosed with Celiac disease it is super important to stop eating ANY gluten, not even a crumb, as the body will continue to attack itself for 3-4 MONTHS after removing gluten from the diet. So not worth it for that bagel.
- Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease where my body attacks my thyroid. My body basically has become confused and instead of trying to fight pathogens and other bad things, it thinks my thyroid tissue is bad. I was originally diagnosed with “hypothyroidism” 10 years ago, put on Levothyroxin (Synthroid), and told that’s all that could be done, but my symptoms never quite went away. I learned last year that what I had was actually an autoimmune condition and that I could reverse it through dietary and lifestyle changes. I officially put the disease into remission this past summer!! This doesn’t mean I’m “cured” though – if I start eating gluten or let stress get the best of me or any number of other bad lifestyle choices it will come back (there seems to be a close link between Hashimoto’s and gluten sensitivity/allergy) . And I will be on thyroid hormone replacements for the rest of my life since the 10 years of my body attacking my thyroid tissue permanently destroyed a lot of it. But to me that’s a small price to pay to hopefully not have it get any worse!
- I used to be an Ironman triathlete (that crazy event where you swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and then run a full 26.2 mile marathon at the end), but that took a huge toll on my hormones and health so now I choose to do smaller things
- I walk at least 20 minutes a day at a pretty brisk pace
- I do 20 inclined (ok, mainly standing up) pushups against my sink counter every morning
- I do a 1 minute plank every morning
- Sometimes I do yoga, go for a short jog (under 3 miles), use my rowing machine, do a 20 minute 4 lb kettle bell dance workout, do a Barre workout video, use my Nordic Track skiing machine, sprint a few times, or ride my bike.
- Mainly I just strive to move every day in some form or another but I think the days of me “training” for an event are over
- My main ways of staying healthy right now are eating a diet free of crap, getting at LEAST 8 hours of good, solid sleep every night, getting some sort of movement in every day (see What Do You Do For Exercise above), taking time each and every day to relax or meditate, using essential oils in place of pharmaceuticals and to help me relax and sleep well, and probably most important of all, listening to my body.
- When I was growing up my mom was really big into crafting. She’d drag us around to every craft store imaginable and we’d do projects galore. And while she was terrible at actually finishing anything she started, she dabbled in pretty much everything from painting to pottery to crochet to sewing to paper crafting. I think I get some of my crafting ADD from her, but I do honestly try to finish what I’ve started, even if it’s years later. But it was through this exposure to so many forms of creativity that I fell deeply and utterly in love with crafting. Some, like sewing and paper crafting, more than others, but I can often be found with some sort of project in hand.
- I love hanging out with my kids. We always try to find something to do on the weekends that is a departure from our Costco or Target runs, like raspberry picking, going to a museum, going snowshoeing, or going camping.
- I love learning. Like LOOOVE learning. I’ve spent a good part of my adulthood learning how to cook, do photography, blog, start a business, write an iOS app, use essential oils for health and wellness, and find out as much as I can about health topics. Sometimes I actually put my learning to use! (other times it just gets crammed in with all the useless knowledge in my head).
- I craft (see above, Why Do You Like Crafting So Much?)
- I read. Mostly fiction books – if you have any suggestions by all means let me know.
- I also read US Weekly. Another fiction publication as far as I can tell, but one that I am intensely addicted to.
- I sometimes watch tv, but it’s pretty rare. I’ll watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Downton Abbey, and I’m almost ashamed to admit, Vanderpump Rules (it’s like a car wreck that you just have to look at). And with my husband I’ll watch Modern Family, Top Chef, still working our way through Mad Men, and we are currently loving the Chef’s Table series on Netflix. But we mainly only watch tv once a week.
- I color. Adult coloring books are so much fun and so relaxing!!
- I organize/plan. This is my Type A personality issue. I simply just love organizing and planning stuff. Can’t help it.
- Start slow. Overhauling your entire diet and lifestyle overnight is a great thought but one that most people can’t stick to long term. Healthy habits need to be just that, a habit. So I recommend picking one or two things you want to change and implement those for a week, then once they start to feel normal, add more. Then everything will just be second-nature to you.
- Remove processed foods. I don’t think everyone has to go on a Paleo diet or that it’s necessarily the right diet for everyone. But I do think processed foods are the devil. Yes, I still eat them from time to time but they are not the bulk of my diet. They are specially formulated to make you want to eat more and to overstimulate your tastebuds. Plus they are just plain bad for you.
- Get moving. See “What do you do for Exercise?” above for some ideas of what I do.
- Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. If you have a hard time falling asleep, try to stay away from electronic devices 30 minutes before bed or wear blue blocking glasses that will help keep your body from thinking you are staring at the sun right before bed (yes, it does affect your hormones that cause sleep).
- Are you stressed? Take at least 5-10 minutes a day and just sit. You don’t have to meditate per say, but don’t flip through Facebook or talk to anyone. You can listen to music though. Just try to be present and pay attention to things like how your clothes feel on your skin or the way the air coming into your body feels, etc. This will help settle your cortisol levels down (the stress hormone) and make you feel more relaxed and able to meet the next challenge. Bonus points if you can do this multiple times a day.
- Take charge of your own health. Do research on symptoms you have so that when you go to your doctor you can have a two-sided discussion instead of them just prescribing something to you. (If your doc refuses to have a two-sided discussion, get a new doc. Times have changed and informed patient-centered medicine is the new standard). Learn how plant-based essential oils can help replace some of the synthetic pharmaceuticals with nasty side effects that you use. And how they can help support your immune system and overall health. Find alternative practitioners too – acupuncture is amazing for stress relief, allergies, migraines, and womanly issues (heavy, long periods, irregular periods, fertility, cramping, and menopause) for example.