What is an Elimination Diet, and can it help my RA?

What is an Elimination Diet, and can it help my RA?
There are so many definitions of an elimination diet, so let me tell you how I define it.  An elimination diet is a list of foods that are taken out for a short period of time, usually about 2-3 months, and slowly reintroduced to see how your body acts or reacts towards a particular food.

As someone with rheumatoid arthritis, I've experienced firsthand the effects that certain food has on my joint pain and swelling, as well as brain fog, quality of sleep and moods, and energy levels. Food is fuel and eating foods that work with your body instead of against it is especially important if you're looking to live a thriving life.

One of the best elimination diets I've seen recently is from Dr. Will Cole, and are customized to your unique style - Core4 and Elimin8. As their names suggest, the first is a shorter and less restrictive plan that is perfect for those new to elimination diets while the latter is for those who are looking for deeper healing.  

How can an elimination diet help your RA symptoms? By giving your body a rest from certain foods, and then very carefully adding them back in one at a time, you can discover what (if any) foods aggravate your symptoms. 

***Please tread very carefully if you have an eating disorder or a history of restrictive eating. Elimination diets are only meant to be short term and done for the sole purpose of determining what role (if any) certain foods have on your RA symptoms. ***

What benefits will you see on an elimination diet? Here's what people with RA have reported:
  1.  Better and longer sleep. No more waking up due to pain or having less pain
  2.  Longer lasting energy. Instead of spikes and crashes, you'll feel more balanced and energetic
  3.  More focus and less brain fog. Hallelujah to not wondering why I walked into a room or where my keys are
  4.  Decrease inflammation and joint pain. I mean isn't this why we're doing this?
  5.  Less anxiety and depressed moods. This is another huge benefit - who doesn't want to feel better?
  6.  Reduces digestive symptoms such as indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, and constipation/diarrhea.
  7.  Lessen skin rashes and chicken (aka keratosis pilaris). Just remember never to pick at these or you'll get scars.
I'm sure there are more, but those are ones I remember off the top of my head.  By now, you might be ready to start an elimination diet and I'm excited for you to find out if this helps you. However, if this is your first go at an elimination diet, please don't do it alone.  It can quickly become overwhelming, and you'll give up before you really get started.

Please reach out to me if this is your first time so I can provide you with resources that will help you be successful. No one wants to put a ton of effort into a thing only to fall short of your goal!  If this isn't your first time, don't be discouraged if you're doing this again. Our bodies change often as we get older, and you're not alone I promise!

If you decide an elimination diet is right for you, head to this post on my Instagram feed and check in with me so I can cheer you on. 

What to Ask to Gather your Healthcare Dream Team

What to Ask to Gather your Healthcare Dream Team
Let me start this by backing up a little bit. To know what questions you want to ask a potential member of your Healthcare Dream Team, you have to know what qualities you want.

So before you read this, take a few moments and list out what you want. Don't hold back here. Instead, fully express what you want (and need). Doing so will help direct you to the questions that you need to ask. 

That's it - blog post done, right? No, not at all! This is just our starting point. Once you have your list, now we can start figuring out what questions to ask.

If you're not sure what to ask, here are 3 of mine to get you started. 

1. What role do you think lifestyle changes play in lowering inflammation and pain?
2. How often do you research treatments for RA, both natural and pharmaceutical?
3. Are you willing to order tests that insurance doesn't cover?

Your healthcare team is going to look different from mine and so will your list of questions. The only other piece of advice I have is don't shy away from what you really want. Be willing to travel or spend a little more for your team if possible. 

The biggest thing I want you to remember is they work for you. Not the insurance companies, their practice, or themselves - YOU. Keeping that in mind, with some grace mixed in of course, will help you find your Dream Team.

Which Essential Oils Blend Worked Best to Fend Off a Panic Attack

Which Essential Oils Blend Worked Best to Fend Off a Panic Attack

Y'all I almost had a panic attack earlier this week! I can't remember the last time this happened, but it was SCARY.

Thankfully, I have an arsenal of tools at my disposal: essential oils, living on a lake and near a forest, breathwork, and speaking scripture when I'm panicky.  The question I often get asked is this, "Which essential oils should I use when I feel this way?" 

I have two blends that are both known for balancing the emotions: Peace & Calming from Young Living and Parasympathetic from Vibrant Blue.  I grabbed them both when I started feeling this coming on and here's what I noticed.

I used the Parasympathetic blend first and waited several minutes to observe what happened to how I felt. After enough time went by (probably 10 minutes or so), my symptoms weren't subsiding. I grabbed my Peace & Calming next and within a couple of minutes, the panicky feelings left me and I was able to get back to what I was doing.

Is this a distinctly scientific experiment? No, it's just my observation. I do believe it's telling that Peace & Calming worked far more quickly than the Parasympathetic blend. It could totally work differently for you, but I've seen this little experiment work nearly the same when put up against many other brands.  

If you're interested in learning more, reach out to me, and let's chat. I'm really good at only sharing with you what actually works with no fluff and real results. I've spent far too much time and money to waste yours. Hope you have a great weekend!

How One Word Changed My Life

How One Word Changed My Life
In the summer of 2014, I was at a health and wellness conference. I noticed the keynote speakers were two guys I'd never heard of - they called themselves The Oola Guys.  I considered walking out and doing something else, but I felt strongly that I needed to hear what they were about to say.

So I settled in my chair and waited for their speech. Halfway into their intro video, I was hooked. Who WERE these guys and what in the world is Oola?

They began by sharing their stories - at one time they both had it all - loving marriages, financial independence, doing work they loved, having fun, and growing loving families and lasting friendships. Then through a series of unfortunate choices, one of them, a man named Dave who called himself the OolaSeeker, lost everything.

He was broke, living in a hotel in a seedy part of town, his marriage failing. Keeping it from the kids by tucking them into bed at night.  He knew he'd hit rock bottom when he was awoken by a police raid in the hotel room next to him.

He called his best friend and mentor, Troy aka the OolaGuru, the next day. He also promised God that if this process of Oola worked, he would spread its message all over the world. Well, it worked and that was why they were there.

They began talking about the process and principles of Oola and how they helped them achieve success in 7 key areas of life: Faith, Family, Field, Finance, Fitness, Friends, and Fun. At the time, many of those areas were unbalanced for me.

When they mentioned an upcoming intensive called Oolapalooza was THE process that Troy took Dave through to get his life back on track, I knew I needed to go. But how? I didn't have the money. So, I prayed. I prayed that if I was meant to go, He would provide a way. Soon after, the OolaGuys mentioned a scholarship opportunity. 

I applied immediately and shared why I felt I needed to be at Oolapalooza, but not expecting to win. I just knew that thousands of others were more worthy than me and if I didn't get a spot, I'd try again next year.  I forgot I'd applied when I opened my email one morning and saw an email from Oola saying I was awarded one of the scholarships!

I got the email while I was at work and it was all I could do not to jump up and down and scream. I was going to Vegas, baby! I took the time off and set off to find balance in my very unbalanced life.

The minute I walked into the room on my first day I knew I was where I belonged. Not only because it had a super cool, chill vibe but because I ended up sitting with the other girl who was awarded a scholarship! I learned so much and processed through so much the first day, I didn't think I had much more in me. But I quickly realized that I'd just gotten started.

By the end of Oolapalooza, I had a rock solid plan to get my life back. I was so excited to get home and share everything I learned. I'm pretty sure I talked my husband's ears off the entire way home because I talked the entire 45 minutes about what I'd experienced.  It didn't matter to me because I had a plan to take me from where I was to where I wanted to be.

Within a few months of attending Oolapalooza, I was working on my marriage, having more fun, and a good financial plan to save for the future and pay down debt. And THAT is how one word, Oola, changed my life.  It can change yours too - I'd love to tell you more about it! 

THC versus CBD for Chronic Pain

THC versus CBD for Chronic Pain
THC? CBD? A little bit of both? Which one works best? 

Continuing the theme of providing clarity to confusing options where there is a TON of information out on the interwebs, I want to chat today about a few things:

1. Which option is better
2. How each may offer pain relief
3. Reasons CBD may not work for you

Which option is better? Unfortunately, there's no definitive answer for everyone. Many doctors and natural healers believe that a combination of the two may provide the best relief for pain. As I often say, talk to your health care team about the legal options available to you and ask for their recommendations. Personally, when I've done one or the other, it didn't seem to move the needle on my pain very much.

How might CBD offer pain relief? Scientists are mixed on the effects of CBD on pain. They believe there is early evidence that CBD has an effect on serotonin levels in the body which ultimately can help ease pain. There is some data that shows the CBD is better at reducing inflammation in the body, which gets to the root cause of chronic pain. More research in this area is needed as the CBD industry is widely varied in results and quality. 

How might THC offer pain relief? THC works with different cannabinoid receptors than CBD, one is the nerve cells and the other immune cells. When it activates the nerve cell receptor, it reduces the sensation of pain. The euphoria from the 'high' enhances this effect but doesn't get at the root cause of the pain the way CBD can.

I've tried CBD and it's not working for me. There are literally thousands of brands of CBD on the market now because it's become a buzzword in the health and wellness community.  

A couple of reasons the CBD you have isn't working are: 

(a) it's not really CBD. Many products contain just a hint of CBD and the rest with unnecessary fillers. So what can you do? Look for brands who independently test their CBD and offer those test results on their website. Shop brands you trust so you know exactly what you're getting.
(b) your body may need a different strain. No 2 cannabis plants are the same, and many CBDs are a combination of strains. Ask CBD suppliers for test results that show the terpene and cannabinoid profiles.
(c) you may need a different type of CBD. There are 3 main types: Full Spectrum, Isolate, and Broad Spectrum. 
(i)Full spectrum contains compounds from the entire plant and while it's the most recommended, you'll want to be careful that they are from organic soil as full spectrum pulls the good stuff as well as the bad stuff from the soil. 
(ii) Broad spectrum is similar to full spectrum but has the THC removed. This can be a good option for those who live in states where THC is restricted/illegal.
(iii) Isolate is considered the least effective but more research is coming out that it is better tolerated and absorbed by the body for those with leaky gut and chronic inflammation. You'll see this one labeled as, "Pure CBD" and contains 99% CBD.

I know this was a long post, but I want you to be able to make an informed choice when it comes to your natural pain relief options. I have a brand I use and I'm happy to share it if you'd like. I can only talk about what I've used and allow you to decide if that's what works for you.

 
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