It's the beginning of the new year and a whole new decade. As I have reflected over the past year, and especially over the past decade, I have been astonished by all that has happened. I entered this last decade as a 20-year-old and started the new one as a 30-year-old. Talk about a huge shift in perspective, lifestyle, and priorities. So many things have happened and changed for the better, but I am determined to have an even better decade than the last. Generally I am one of those people who sets resolutions each year, but then forgets most of them before January even ends, and sometimes just a week or so in. When I look back through my lists of resolutions each year that I have in my journal, they tend to be mostly the same things. Obviously, if I'm repeating them year after year, I must not be doing a great job at following through with them. As Albert Einstein wisely said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” So this year I decided to do something different. Instead of resolutions, I decided I was going to choose an intention word.
An intention word is like a mantra or an affirmation that I am going to be keeping in the forefront of my thoughts and is going to guide my behavior. I am going to use this word as a compass to keep me on track with what I want out of the year. The word I have chosen is: INTEGRITY. One definition of integrity by Merriam-Webster dictionary is: "the quality or state of being complete or undivided". This is the definition of integrity that I am specifically thinking about when I think of integrity as my intention. What this means to me is being very intentional in all of my choices and only making choices that are in total alignment of who I am and what I desire at the deepest levels. This means consuming foods that are sustaining and replenishing to me in all aspects, not just ones that taste good but will make me feel bad or even just subpar. This means letting go of worries or fears of what others think in the decisions that I make, whether or not it affects them. This means letting go of beliefs and stories about myself that are no longer serving me. This means only making choices that feel 100% right in my heart, soul, body, and mind.
We are already a couple of weeks into January and normally the resolutions would already be starting to disappear from my mind and my actions. This year I am actually getting stronger every day in sticking to my intention of integrity. I am aligning with that intention on a deeper level every day. My habits and routines around it are also getting stronger. There is definitely something to this that is working for me.
I challenge you to forego the tradition of a list of New Year's resolutions and to instead think of a word to use as your compass for the year. Chances are you have already had a word pop into your mind. Don't overthink it too much, if it came to you, it did so for a reason. However, if you have no idea what word to choose, a good place to start looking is to look up a list of values and choose one from there. Integrity is actually the top value on my list of top 6 values (I couldn't settle at just 5, so I went with 6). I didn't plan this or even realize it for a few days after choosing it, but I don't think it is a coincidence. Our values should ultimately be guiding all of our choices in order for us to be in total alignment and get the greatest satisfaction from life, so choosing one of your values is an excellent place to start living with more intention. Once you've chosen your word, have some fun with it to keep it in the forefront of your mind. If you like to paint, paint it on a canvas or paint your representation of it. Or you could do some fun word art or decoupage or make/buy a bracelet with the word on it. Think of something that would be fun and meaningful to you to keep it on your mind. I would love to hear what your word of the year is and what it means to you- comment below or send me an email. Enjoy!
I am often asked why it's important to take a probiotic supplement and if just eating yogurt is enough. There are so many reasons why a QUALITY probiotic supplement is vital to good health (physical, mental, emotional) and optimal nervous system functioning. Many people don't realize that gut health is so much more than just the way the digestive system is functioning. The root of most illnesses stems from the gut. I can confidently say that a majority of the population today truly needs a quality probiotic supplement and that just a healthy diet is usually not enough. Was that true 50 years ago? Probably not. Our population today is faced with so many more environmental toxins and other harmful substances that were not an issue decades ago. I would love to say that ensuring good gut health is as simple as eating a healthy diet, but unfortunately that is often not enough. The soil that enriches our food is significantly limited in the minerals that it once had due to poor farming practices and an excess of chemicals that have seeped into our water and air supply. We are constantly bombarded with harmful substances that are depleting our good gut bacteria and causing us to get sick. Factory farming involves high use of antibiotics that is then excreted via urine into our soil and water supply. An overuse of prescription antibiotics severely depletes our guts of good bacteria in its attempt to kill the bad - they do not discriminate the difference. Eating a diet full of highly processed foods and limited use of raw organic foods prevents growth of good bacteria and feeds the bad bacteria that take over. Using toxic cosmetic and household products that seep into the skin usually end up in the gut because of poor gut lining and "leaky gut". There are so many things that are going against good gut health and causing poor gut health that a quality probiotic is essential to repairing the damage. The biggest thing that people don't realize and that I was shocked to learn is that gut health is essential to proper nervous system functioning because 90% of neurotransmitters are made in the gut. So if the environment is not healthy, neurotransmitters are limited and unhealthy. The nervous system rules all and affects literally every aspect of our lives. Unsure whether you may be having gut issues that you aren't aware of? Many of these issues people don't associate with gut health, but it is the cornerstone of health and good gut health eliminates these issues:
If any of these are affecting you or someone you love, it is highly likely that you or they would benefit from a quality probiotic supplement. An issue that we face today is that there is an abundance of probiotic supplements out there and many of them just don't cut it when it comes to the severe depletion many of us are facing. Most of them are not refrigerated and the bacteria are dead before you even put them in your mouth. Another problem is that most of them have only a few strains of bacteria and most people need a wider variety for adequate re-colonization. I have had gut issues my entire life. It wasn't until my early to mid-twenties that I realized there was something I could do about it. I spent tons of money on probiotics with little relief and it was because of the aforementioned issues. It wasn't until I started taking Flora 12+ by Energetix that I noticed a significant change. Initially I was hesitant because they are on the more expensive side, but when it comes to supplements, I have learned that you really have to pay for quality and that it is a cheap investment compared to paying for health issues. That is why this is the only probiotic supplement I recommend for anyone over the age of 1 and why it is the only one I sell in my clinic (besides one that is used for maintenance once the gut has been repaired and/or for boosting the immune system in times of need) and the only one my family takes. It is refrigerated. keeping the bugs alive. It has 12 different strains of good bacteria. It doesn't have any harmful preservatives or fillers that many others do. I have countless stories of individuals, especially children (mostly because parents are better at giving things to help their children than helping themselves) that have had immediate improvements in alleviating digestive issues (chronic constipation or chronic diarrhea), as well as behavioral, mental health, sensory, and other nervous system issues. Please contact me today if you have any questions about gut health, probiotics, or to obtain a bottle and begin healing your gut.
I am a bulldozer, or as my husband has lovingly said, a snowplow, due to my Minnesota roots. I spent the first 25ish years pushing through life without regard to what my "machine", my body, needed, and without listening to the signals it was giving me. It would give me signals that my belt was burning up (I needed to take more time to rest and recuperate) but I would push on. It would start making funny sounds but I would throw some WD-40 on it (or ibuprofen, Tylenol, caffeine, alcohol, anti-depressants, etc) to quiet the squeak rather than open the hood and try to determine the cause. My check engine light would come on but I would just put a sticky note over the top of it so the signal would stop flashing in my face and distract me from pushing on. You get the drift. Rather than taking the time to be still and problem-solve through why my machine was not running smoothly and was throwing me all of these signals, I would ignore or find a quick fix to keep on running without stopping for maintenance. Eventually my machine just stopped and would go no further despite all of my tried-and-true tricks to get me back on the road quickly. The fatigue wouldn't go away with more caffeine. The pain wouldn't go away with ibuprofen, Tylenol, or even muscle relaxants. My depression continued to weigh me down with little relief from anti-depressants. I finally realized that my machine was down for repairs indefinitely. I received a more formal diagnosis of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (autoimmune hypothyroidism) but didn't know what caused it, or rather was scared to find out. I had no idea how to fix it besides taking the prescribed thyroid medication that only dulled my symptoms and didn't get me back on track like I expected. I sought out experts to give me the answers with little luck. I searched the internet for the magical cures. I used my strong intellect and book smarts to "fix myself" but the deeper I dug, the more I realized that there was no quick fix or magical answer that was going to get my machine back on the road quickly. And I realized that my machine would probably never allow me to function at the same intensity as it did before without shutting me down.
Within the first year or so, I realized that all of the years of pushing past the signals or giving them a quick fix was what put me out of order. Running at that speed and intensity was not sustainable for life. I managed to do it for 25ish years, but if I wanted to be healthy and not feel like crap for the next 70ish years, I would have to make some major changes. I would have to learn to relax, which is something people had been telling me to do my entire life with significant frustration on my end because I had zero idea how to do that without self-medicating, usually with alcohol. The biggest problem of all was that I was proud of how hard I could push myself and all that I could accomplish without basic self-cares like rest. I lived on a few hours of sleep each night (and not quality sleep either), using caffeine at all hours of the day to give me the energy boosts I needed to sustain productivity. I was eating foods that my body didn't agree with even though they were generally healthy. I popped ibuprofen and Tylenol like they were candy with absolutely no awareness or recognition that they may be harmful for me to use at all, let alone with the frequency I was taking them. And I spent my weekends and sometimes weeknights with a beer or glass of wine (usually multiple) to get the only form of relaxation I knew how.
I viewed resting and slowing down as a weakness or vulnerability, which were way too hard on my ego to tolerate. This belief was what had to change completely in order for me to recover and get back to working order. I started sleeping 9-10 hours per night vs my usual 5 or 6, not out of self-awareness but out of complete need in order to make it through a day. I started napping when I could even though I despised naps and thought they were a total waste of time. I started to look into natural remedies such as essential oils, supplements, and nutrition to help alleviate my symptoms. They became a religion to me because they were going to "fix my thyroid". All of these things helped me to function better and slowly to stop feel like I was dying a slow death, but they didn't give me total relief. That may sound dramatic (and many will say that I am), but going at that pace compared to the intensely fast one I was going at before my crash truly felt like I was dying both physically and especially mentally with my ego. It was mentally and emotionally very painful to slow down, but physically I had no other choice.
When I started to dig into spirituality deeper and became present and aware of the messages my body was giving me, that was when I started to have the most drastic improvements. I was in a 200 hour yoga teacher training that was transformative for my mind, body, and soul. I realized that my mind and maladaptive belief systems were what caused my nervous system to become so fried that it started shutting things down. This is where I had to do the most work. 5 years later, I am still working on it and still trying to repair my body and fix those belief systems to help me heal and to be more in touch with God. I have learned that this will be a life-long lesson and that the deeper I get into the lesson, the more sensitive I will become and more quickly my body will give me a signal that I can't ignore. Thankfully I have come a really long way and am healthier than I've ever been.
Can you relate to my story? Maybe your diagnosis is not Hashimoto's but another chronic/serious health condition such as diabetes, overweight/obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, Crohn's, Celiac's, IBS or other digestive issues, MS, Lupus, fertility issues, arthritis, chronic pain syndrome, or cancer. These all stem from stress and lifestyle choices, regardless of genetics. Our genetics do not determine what diseases we get for the most part. Epigenetics has found that our lifestyle determines whether or not those switches are flipped to turn those genes on and when. Are you ready to make those changes to prevent those switches from flipping? Or if they already have flipped, are you ready to make changes to help you manage or even eliminate those diseases from your life? Things can always get worse, but they can always get better. I encourage you to start finding ways to promote your health rather than compromise it. If you need a guide to help you along the way, I would love to work with you as your health coach to guide you onto the path that you need to heal and live your best life possible.