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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Clean Eating

A friend of mine at church told me yesterday that she was amazed at how healthy I look and wanted to get my entire eating plan. I haven't been running in forever and I have to nap way more now that I have MS, but whatever. Most days I feel pretty good. I haven't weighed myself since early, I'm kind of curious how much weight I've lost. 

Here's what I'm not eating:

  • sugar
  • dairy
  • grain (wheat, rice, corn, oatmeal)
  • gum (or anything) with aspartame 

So, my diet is somewhere between the Whole30 (if you're not familiar with that, read this: and paleo (if you're not familiar with that, read this.

I think how I eat is closer to paleo because I do have the occasional bit of sweet, like honey and maple syrup. On the Whole30, you don't have any of that for 30 days. 

So, here are my go-to meals:

Breakfast: eggs and avocado or this great frittata done in a muffin tin recipe or this awesome muffin recipe or these awesome waffles. I throw in some almond butter if I'm feeling super hungry. 

Muffin recipe: I seriously make these nearly EVERY week. They taste phenomenal out of the oven with almond butter on them. 

Frittata recipe: These can be refrigerated for a week of meals—economy is the scale here, people. 

Waffle recipe: This is a Saturday morning treat for me, usually. I go to this website a lot for paleo recipes. She is a bit wacky...but, the recipes are wonderful.

Snacks: nuts, beet/ginger/greens/orange/apple/carrot juice/banana smoothies, more nuts, carrots, fruit, avocado

Lunch: leftovers from the day before, large green salad (mostly with this easy dressing), avocado and other random veggies.

Dinner: something paleo (I plan two weeks at a time...and I'm still fine tuning what I like and what my family will tolerate or like). 

Here are a few websites I found great recipes and the websites have useful info: (I believe this woman has MS) (AWESOME recipes here)

Also, I never cook or reheat my food in plastic containers. Storing them in plastic is fine.

I try to get organic meats, but my budget often doesn't allow for that all the time. Maybe once I am an empty nester or something I'll switch to all organic meat...or maybe I'll move to a farm in the country and raise my own. Wouldn't that be awesome? My city boy husband would be a great farmer.  

Exercise, you ask? I do lots of yoga (like 4x/week), walk and swim. Seriously...I'm not the same person I used to be with exercise. For me and exercise, less is more and my body is feeling stronger than's weird. 

Has clean eating helped you? Are you a fan of clean eating? 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Participate in Life

In the interest of managing my time better and making sure I'm more fully engaged with the people around me, I deleted the Facebook app from my iPhone.

Since I handle the social media at work, I can't completely avoid social media entirely. I see updates and tags and messages, etc. on Facebook but now I don't have easy access to them from my phone at all hours of the day.  I still have Instagram on my phone, but I am slowing down on it and trying to be a bit more judicious with the time I choose to spend on there. 

Maybe you've already seen this video...but, my sister posted this video to her Facebook page I saw today while at work. It speaks volumes about our society and our newest addictions. I also like it because it rhymes.  

Do you think our "looking down" at our devices keeps us from interacting? What steps are you taking to connect more in real life with the world around you?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

3 Tips to Boost Your Immune System

If you missed my webinar last night on the tips for boosting your immune system, here it is again.

This video is about 30 minutes long, so if you don't have time to watch it, here are is the outline of the top 3 tips:

Tip #1 Eat right and take good-quality supplements. What you consume creates an environment for health (or illness).

The food choices that make the biggest difference for me are eating lots of raw veggies and fruits, avoiding refined foods, avoiding sugar and drinking lots of water.

As promised in my last blog, here's my daily beet smoothie recipe:

  • ½-1 chopped, raw beet (Don’t like beets? Substitute one cup of carrots)
  • 1 Tbsp raw ginger
  • 1 whole apple (I like Pink Lady the best for this smoothie)
  • 1-2 frozen banana
  • 1 cup  or more of beet greens/kale/spinach
  • coconut milk or orange juice (creamier with coconut milk, sweeter with orange juice)
  • 1.5 cups ice

Blend like crazy until smooth.

Tip #2 Move your body, but don’t exhaust yourself!

Exercise is great and feels so wonderful. Since getting sick I have found the two best exercises to support my immune system have been yoga and walking...but, the main key I’ve found is to get my pulse up and breathe a lot, but don’t push myself to exhaustion.

In a New York Times blog, several studies with mice and flu bugs showed that mice who exercised to exhaustion were so depleted in their T-1 immune helper cells that they were more likely to get sick than the mice who either rested or exercised mildly.

Tip #3 Rest and manage stress.

In today’s world, we tend to do things too hard. Taking time outs, breathing and generally listening to your body and giving it what it needs when you feel overwhelmed or overloaded. I've learned about that through experience.

To purchase doTerra oils, you can purchase them here — that site is also a great source for more information and a good health blog about essential oils.

If you have any questions about healthy living, feel free to post here.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Immune Boosters - Whether You Have MS or Not

I'm pretty open about my recent diagnosis of MS. Most people with whom I've talked express their sorrow for me and those who know me wonder why this happened in the first place. My own mother and I discussed this at great length when the diagnosis was made. I felt like my body had betrayed me. For years I had given it healthy foods, plenty of sleep, reduced stress and kept it fit by exercising six days a week.

However, when I now see how quickly I'm getting a handle on things in comparison to some with MS who take years (I'm not kidding) to get their disease under control, I realize my body is more of an ally than a foe in this. I have created an environment for health and therefore, my body is responding by giving me a quicker recovery. I'm not going to say that I'll never have another exacerbation or lesion or problem from MS, but I will say that I'm better able to cope with and heal from the problems that arise because I've fostered a healthy environment for my cells.

When I think about all the people who get MS and suddenly have to make drastic life changes, I'm grateful. I already eat clean and take excellent care of my body. I take it one day at a time and am constantly praising God for blessing me with such a good life, lots of positive support people and loads of great information and tools to help me continually improve my health.

I've now had my second infusion of Tysabri (disease modifying therapy drug) and I'm feeling pretty good. One thing this drug is supposed to do is slow down the destruction of my myelin in my brain. Lesions are given time to heal and no new lesions develop…is what they tell me. Wanna know why? My immune system is suppressed.


Part of making myself as healthy as possible now, so I can combat the MS includes adding more nourishing foods to my already super clean way of life. I haven't had any processed flour or sugar in nearly five years. Now I'm eating almost entirely paleo (no/low grains and absolutely no wheat).   So, here are some of the things I'm doing to help my immune system fight off bugs.
  • drink 12 to 16 ounces of water first thing in the morning
  • daily detox with lemon and peppermint essential oils from doTerra in my water bottle
  • beet detox smoothie every day (Dr. Wahls, who is known for her natural healing methods in reversing her own MS gave me this idea). The recipe I like best are shared in this 30-minute webinar . I've been tweaking the recipe for a while and I'm excited to share it! If you want the recipe, I share it in this post and video.
  • take fish oil, vitamin D and a B-complex mix along with vitamin C and several other vitamins I'll detail in another blog
  • go for a walk every day
  • do yoga 5x a week (or more)
  • practice daily, conscious positive thought
  • breathe
  • go to bed when I'm tired—no matter what!
So, what kinds of immune boosters have you found to work? For more tips and an in-depth talk on how to boost your immune system, check out this post and video

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Invisible Suffering

A month ago, I was struggling with balance and leg weakness. Most people didn't notice, except for when I attempted to wear high heels to church. Wobbles-ville. I felt like I was stumbling around with a leaden left leg.

Often, the symptoms of MS aren't noticeable. If you're wondering what some of these invisible symptoms might be, or what's really going on inside someone with MS, watch this.

In my church, one of my favorite hymns states, "in the quiet heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can't see." That verse is ever present in my mind when I now look at others who may appear to be well put together. We all have a sad story to tell. Most of us don't show it on our face or even in our body. But, I can assure you, it's there. The beauty of what I've learned is that there is so much to be happy for in life and when you stop to cheer someone else along the way, you also benefit.

Take a look at those around you. Treat them with kindness and consideration whether you believe they have it all together or not.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reasons for Lesions

Recently I met with my neurologist to go over the results of my second MRI. This MRI was my super pricey celebration of 2014. The scan checked my cervical (neck) and thoracic (my thorax...if I were a bug) spinal cord for any MS lesions.

What's a lesion, you ask? Hmmm...well, the best way I can describe it is the protective coating over your nerve fiber that sends a signal, much like the plastic protective coating over electrical cords. Have you ever noticed that if the plastic on electrical cords wears out to expose the wires, it shorts out and doesn't work as well? That's what's happening to the nerves for people with MS. It's more damaging than that 80's movie with Steve Guttenberg (whatever happened to that guy?), though.

I have had weird vision problems, numbness and tingling in nearly my whole body (different areas at different times), sleeplessness, headaches, general fatigue, muscle weakness on one side of my body, balance problems, clumsiness and memory lapses.

I wonder now if I the adrenal fatigue I experienced back in 2009 and 2010 was actually the early stages of MS…or maybe a warning to me to slow down. Because I didn't get an MRI at that point, I may I never know.

The medication my neurologist has recommended I try is supposed to shrink lesions and stop them from progressively getting worse…but, they may always be there. I am learning to live with the idea that my body is incredibly resilient and it can heal itself. The first round of therapy happened on Valentine's Day...and it left me completely wasted for days. My walking is pretty wobbly, too.

Getting my first Tysabri treatment on Valentine's Day

I keep up hope that I will find a new normal and eventually return to many of the things I love like running. In the meantime, I thank God for every day I'm alive.

Monday, February 24, 2014

To my senior in high school...

Dear Sophia,

It's 5am and I just woke up with tears in my eyes. I was dreaming about you. We were in the kitchen and we were arguing about something—I don't remember what, but I was pretty angry and so were you. I guess we decided to settle it by wrestling…for some reason. (Remember our wrestling matches we use to do a few years ago? Lots of laughs and fun…especially when I pinned you! Ha! I am pretty sure I wouldn't be the winner if we were to wrestle now though. You're clearly much stronger than me.)

So, in the dream we went to another part of the house to wrestle. I turned away from you for a second while we were preparing to get started and when I turned around, I found four-year-old Sophia smiling up at me. Your hair was in pigtails and your perfect little dimples framed that sweet little face. I thought, "she's trying to trick me by her adorable cuteness so she'll win this wrestling match!" But, then, I didn't care. All I wanted to do was hug and hold you, tell you how much I love you and tell you I will always love you. 

In my dream we played, ran around, tickled and laughed. We completely lost ourselves in having a good time together. We hugged a lot. That was the best part.

I woke up realizing that I needed to let the four-year-old Sophia know that she is one of the most special people in my life. 

When you called me at work the other day, crying that you'd had that scary dream about losing the use of your legs, arms and eyesight I should have been more comforting. I should have held you and hugged you and wrapped you up in the arms of my love. I'm still learning how to do that more.

Another part of what that dream taught me is that even though you've grown up and changed—you no longer spend very much, if any, time with our family, just being with us—you are still the same sweet, lovable girl with the curly hair, olive skin and dimples that charmed my heart when you were little. 

I wish sometimes that I could have that little girl back to love, cuddle, hug, tickle, tell secrets to, kiss and adore. But, I know that now she has to come to me on her own terms…like when she has a bad dream. 

I love you Sophia, 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Permission to Cross Things Off Your List

A blog devoted to over-achiever parents:

A trendy new Christmas tradition for parents with young children has popped up. It involves purchasing a doll and book called The Elf on the Shelf. Apparently, this all-seeing-elf doll keeps an eye on kids during the daylight hours and flies home every evening to Santa Claus to report how each child is behaving. Someone came up with yet another way for parents to bribe kids (or scare them, perhaps?) into behaving like perfect little angels so come Christmas morning they will score more loot from St. Nick.

Creative parents even orchestrate scenes filled with intrigue, humor or mystery involving  their family elf. At recess on the days before winter break kids will talk about what their individual Christmas spies did that morning. It is the new thing. Conversation starters like, "How do you think my elf got into the fridge," or "What did your elf bring you," or "Is your elf a boy or a girl?" are heard in elementary schools all over our city.

A mom friend at work recently asked me if I participate in the Elf on the Shelf tradition at my house. She wasn't pressuring me, just gauging how committed I am to keeping up on the trends. After I told her I can barely keep up with my Tooth Fairy duties, she confessed how many times she has woken up in a state of panic that her kids would wake to an elf that had not moved. She lived in fear that neither she nor her husband had moved the cherubic goody two shoes the night before…and wished, out loud, that she had never caved in to getting one.

No one should ever be in a panic over moving a doll or anything else that isn't truly an emergency. In fact, I copied a quote on a Post-It™ years ago to which I refer to when things get hectic, or when my nine-year-old asks why we don't have an Elf on the Shelf.

"Reduce life down to what's precious and the necessary. In a world of complexity, the best weapon is simplicity."

Learning to reduce is a challenge. Asking yourself what is precious and what is necessary frequently presents a tough choice. However, those tough choices become easier with time. I rarely choose an outside activity on a weeknight after a day at the office when I can instead spend time with my family. Spending time with family always takes precedence.

At the end of your life, are you really going to feel bad if you didn't try every recipe you pinned on Pinterest? Are you going to wish you had handmade more neighbor gifts for every holiday? Will you pine over all the stuff you never had?

As the New Year kicks off, think of the most important things, not just things to add to your "stuff to do" checklist. Whether eliminating things like the Elf on the Shelf, or not participating in every activity to which you're invited (whether you want to go or not), start thinking about what's precious and what's necessary and wield your sword of simplicity proudly.

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