Wellness

Remember God

We say it every year, but where has the time gone?? Here we are on the downward slope to 2019 and in a lot of ways it feels like 2018 only just got started.

2018 has been a big year for me I guess, which I did kind of expect going into it. I’m in a much different place, literally and figuratively, today than I was a year ago. The beginning of 2018 had me sending off applications to grad school in central Illinois and to child life internships across the Southeast. I prayerfully sent them off, assuming that God would send me off to one of those destinations in Fall 2018. But in the Spring, I realized that this path – even though I thought I had heard the directions from the Lord so clearly – was not going to be coming to fruition. I still felt a change stirring within me and I felt the pull to look for other jobs in other cities. So, in April/May the path aligned so smoothly for me to accept a new teaching position in Raleigh, NC. It all fell into place so well and I found myself spending the summer preparing for a move from Charlotte to Raleigh to live with my sister.

 

Remember God

Summer 2018 held a lot of expectations, I admit. I created this vision of what my new life in Raleigh was going to be like as I basked in the sweetness of feeling like I was so in tune with God’s calling for my future. And I think I was in tune, even though now that I am looking at the end of 2018 and life doesn’t look anything like I thought it was going to back when it started. In hindsight, I don’t think that I necessarily heard Him wrong but I think God, in His infinite wisdom, definitely nudges towards other things that are going to serve us better. Rather than send me to Illinois for grad school – where I know absolutely no one – He sent me to Raleigh to live with my sister, where I already knew a fair amount of people, and to a job where I already knew one of my co-workers from college. I know God provides protection to all, but it feels particularly true about my walk with Him.

I’ve realized in recent weeks, as I’ve come to acknowledge this feeling of being slightly “off-kilter” and something just feeling off, I’ve realized that at some point I mixed up the feeling of being expectant and having expectations. Somewhere along the way, I shifted from being expectant and hopeful of what God was going to do through this change and transition to creating my own expectations of what He would do.

Two very different things.

To me, the state of being expectant is to release control, leave room for vulnerability, and approach life with open hands that are ready to accept whatever comes. In contrast, having expectations means that there is a set outcome that we are envisioning, rather than embracing the mystery that comes with new experiences….

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Life Lately

Hello friends! I’ve got a sort of “stream of consciousness”-like update post for you all today.

It is officially summer vacation in my neck of the woods and something tells me that this is going to be a hectic summer! Between moving to a new city in late July/early August (see this post), opening an antique booth with my Mom in the NC foothills, and closing out a another school year – it’s already been a little crazy.

When I first committed to my new job and the move to Raleigh, one of the first things that I thought about was budgeting. My next thought was about wellness. Really, it was! Ever since my family and I first did Whole30 back in July 2017 and began following the Paleo lifestyle afterwards, there are certain ingredients, products, and recipes that we have kept in our lives. Although I have strayed from Paleo a lot lately, this way of eating and living is one that I truly believe in and feel strongly about. Whole30 and Paleo taught me how to start listening to my body and to pay attention to what I was putting into it. Which brings me to my next little story…

I recently had a wake-up call of sorts with my health and it forced me to open my eyes and see just how far I had strayed from the healthy lifestyle that I once had. I was never the perfect Paleo person, but I was pretty diligent for several months! But life happens, you tell yourself that a little treat here and there wouldn’t hurt, and before you know it…your clothes are back to feeling uncomfortable and you just feel off all around.

A couple weeks ago, I went in for a physical. Sadly, I can’t even remember the last physical that I had because it had been so long and I had fallen into the practice of only going to the doctor if I truly felt really sick. I had some blood work done but rather than having a completely fine bill of health, my results showed that my thyroid levels were abnormal. That certainly got my attention.

I knew a little bit about thyroid issues but did a bit more research and realized that some of the things that I had just written off as normal for me or simply due to my work environment or eating habits were also signs and symptoms of abnormal thyroid levels. My PA wanted me to wait a week to come back in for a full thyroid panel so I made the decision that for the next week, I would eat completely Paleo. Now, it ended up not being 100%, but it was pretty dang close. When I went back in for a full thyroid panel, my results came back normal (with a more than 6 point drop).

Of course, I truly don’t know if a week of eating mostly clean foods is actually what caused the normal readings but I can’t help but think that it definitely played some role. While I am super grateful for those normal results, this whole thing is super convicting for me to get back on “the bandwagon” and keep Paleo a regular and central part of my lifestyle. In a society that paints the unrealistic and damaging picture that we have to constantly be on the move and that what is quick and convenient is not going to harm us, we ultimately have to be bold enough to stand up and say enough. Enough of mindlessly filling our bodies with junk and feeling like junk in return, enough of burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the fact that what we put into our bodies does have a direct impact on our health.

Rooted

It’s not something I’ve really posted much about here in this space, even though I have a whole post category dedicated to it – food + wellness. But this is a subject area that has taken up a lot of space in my mind and in my heart for nearly a year now.

Rooted

It was Memorial Day weekend last year when I finally thought to myself that I’d had enough. I’d had enough of my poor eating habits, my stress-induced snacking, and the way I felt as a whole. There was no one particular ailment or symptom, just a blanket sense of not feeling at home in myself, if that makes sense. That’s not to say that I am completely there now, but I am proud of the growth that has happened in the past year.

When I did my first Whole30 in July 2017, it was my hope that it would change my life and it did. Sure, there were physical changes on the outside from the 30 days and from the transition to Paleo immediately afterwards but Whole30 truly changed my entire mindset on food, nutrition, and what it means to truly be well.

I’ve read before that people who are Enneagram 9s (like myself) often feel most at home in nature but also have an intrinsic need to be rooted and settled, in harmony with the world. I definitely have seen this at play in my own life the more that I have studied the Enneagram and as I’ve found myself on this wellness journey for the past year.

The feeling that has been steadily cultivated within me is this deep desire to be connected to my body and truly know it well. We live in our bodies day in and day out but we don’t always know what our bodies are telling us or stop and think about what our daily choices could be doing to it. We don’t slow down enough to pay attention to how we actually feel. My post-Whole30 life has been characterized by a lot of label-reading, research, and intentional reflection on what I eat and how I can best practice self-care. Overall, I would say that I was especially diligent in the immediate days and weeks after July but around the beginning of this year, I began to get slack. Gluten, grains, and dairy suddenly were creeping their way back into my life more and more often but I kept trying to make excuses for it and tune out the ways that my body was trying to tell me that it wasn’t liking the things I was feeding it. Until I couldn’t tune it out anymore, that is.

At the beginning of April, I had two episodes of heartburn in the span of 4 days. If you are a frequent heartburn sufferer, I am SORRY. I can’t even imagine experiencing that discomfort more than what I did. And truthfully, I don’t know that my heartburn experiences were food-related (I had switched an allergy medication in this same time frame) but I’m sure it didn’t help things either. It might sound silly, but it was truly a wake up call for me. I needed to really get more diligent and intentional with my health again.

When I had the second episode of heartburn, I was away in Greenville, SC with my best friend (which didn’t help things) and the next day, we were walking through downtown. I was still feeling a little discomfort from the night before. We came across a wellness store (Pure on Main) and I instantly wanted to go in and see if I could find something that could help me. As I had laid awake with the heartburn, I had searched online for any and every remedy and I had come across many potential avenues. These two episodes were enough for me to know that I didn’t want to feel this way again. The common thing that came up multiple times in my research was aloe vera juice. After a helpful conversation with the employee at the wellness store, I left with a bottle of aloe vera juice and feeling like quite the hippie. But at this point in my wellness journey, natural remedies and supplements were/are so much more appealing to me than pills.

So now each night before bed I mix 4oz of Lily of the Desert’s aloe vera juice with a little bit of apple juice. Sure, I haven’t experienced heartburn again but I’ve also noticed that I just feel better since adding this to my daily routine. Not only is aloe vera juice great for heartburn/acid reflux but it has a whole host of other benefits like digestion support, anti-inflammatory properties, and support for heart health too.

So, all of that to say (since this has turned into a sort of “stream of consciousness”-type of post) – this is where I am at the moment with reference to health and wellness. I’ve come a long way from this time a year ago, but I am definitely trying to be intentional and mindful so that I don’t revert all the way back to old habits. There are a lot of things in life that we can’t control, but when it’s something like our health and the way that we feel each day – there are definitely things that we can do to influence that. And for me, what that looks like at the current moment is aloe vera and looking at getting back in the habit of going to yoga!

It’s my hope to start sharing some more posts on the topic of wellness and healthy living in the future, especially with my renewed interest and passion for it!

What Matters Most | Whole30 Recap

Whole30 Recap

Here I am, sitting at my computer on Day 30, sipping my cup of Whole30-compliant coffee.

To be here, having completed my first Whole30 feels like a gift, you guys. And I know that probably sounds way too sappy and I get it. I mean I’m just one person out of the millions, probably, who have already done a first, second, and maybe third Whole30. But for me, I am just grateful to be here, in this moment.

I had an inkling when I first decided to do Whole30 back around Memorial Day that my life was going to change. That was probably because I bought/read every book on the subject and everywhere in them was talk about food freedom and how this was going to change my life. It was never really a secret to me that the root of my food issues and my biggest roadblock with living well and eating healthy was me. I knew that stress eating was a real issue in my life (teaching is stressful, you guys) and even though I knew ways to counteract that and knew that I needed to get more active, I just simply didn’t do it. I made excuses that my schedule was too busy and that I just simply wasn’t strong enough.

Dear Whole30, thank you for shutting me up about that last part.

My parents and I decided to do Whole30 together for several reasons. For starters, I live at home and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do Whole30 on my own without huge amounts of temptation. For my Dad, it was a chance to see how a Whole30 way of eating could affect his high blood pressure and kidney function (he has chronic kidney disease due to a rare autoimmune disease). My mom was a little reluctant (and shell-shocked at every turn when I told her all the things we wouldn’t be able to have), but jumped in with us too. She also has high blood pressure and she actually ended up experiencing the most profound changes.

So how did we do?

For my Dad, he lost over ten pounds and has had lowered blood pressure of the past month. This past week, though, his doctor told him that his potassium numbers were a little high so we have now had to shift him to a low-potassium renal diet. My “pet peeve” with this is that there aren’t that many low-potassium recipes that are also Whole30/Paleo approved but we are trying to find a balance between getting his potassium back in check while also following what we now know and believe about nutrition (So many gluten/grain ingredients…*shudder*).

Like I said above, my mom probably had the most substantial changes of the three of us. Her blood pressure has been significantly lower, guys. Like, down to only taking one medication instead of two. Around the second week, she was experiencing very low blood pressure and her doctor began tweaking her medicines a bit. The fact that she has been able to completely stop taking one of her medications is pretty amazing to me! At first, my mom wasn’t sure how much of Whole30 we would carry over into “post-Whole30 life” but now that she has seen these changes, I think she is open to transitioning to a Paleo diet with me.

As for me, my biggest transformation has been my mindset and my outlook on wellness and nutrition as a whole. Like I shared in my halfway recap, I began doing yoga this month and joined a gym about halfway through. In fact, sometimes I found myself forgetting that Whole30 was wrapping up because I truly went into this not as a 30 day thing, but as a springboard for a total lifelong change. I knew that I wanted to try and follow a Paleo diet after Whole30 and that sentiment still holds true. With all that I have learned about food and nutrition through the Whole30 books and in Practical Paleo, how could I go back to the way things were?

I truly feel excited and hopeful for what the future holds! July was a great month!

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