All about collagen!

I honestly can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share all about collagen (in an organized way, at least!). If you’ve been following me a for a while, or know me IRL, then you know collagen is definitely one of the health-focused topics I talk about the MOST…and for plenty of good reasons!

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Collagen is not just a new hip buzzword everyone wants to talk about – it’s actually the most abundant protein in our bodies! It shows up in our muscles, skin, bones, joints, and even blood! It’s essential to many important functions within our bodies including skin elasticity, protecting joints, and organs, and keeping bones and muscles together.

Our bodies actually produce collagen on a regular basis, however the rate of this production naturally slows over time. That is why as we age, we tend to see things like sagging skin, achy joints and muscles, and wrinkles.

I first discovered collagen about a year ago. I was rolling off of my first elimination experience, and still driving toward new ways to use diet to help heal my body. Specifically, I came across collagen because I was doing a lot of research on how to help bring more health back into my hair!

The short of it: I used to have the most awesome curly hair. I mean honestly, it was incred. Then kind of out of nowhere (honestly), it just lost it’s life. This brought a lot of sadness over me, as I realized too late that I had completely taken my curly hair for granted. Now not only were my curls gone, but my hair was seriously thinning out, and I was worried it would only continue to get worse.

I had tried taking hair, skin, and nails pills…doing treatment masks, and switching up my products to heal my hair, but nothing seemed to work. I talked to specialists, and did a lot of research, and everything kept pointing me toward collagen. I liked the idea of it, admittedly, because after-all, collagen is a natural protein our bodies are already producing. I only needed to support that production.

However, the tricky (ok, and kind of annoying) think about collagen is that all of the research I was finding explained that it could take up to 3 months before any benefits of it would be noticeable. All the same, I decided to give it a try. I started using FurtherFood Collagen, and would mix 1-2 scoops into my coffee every morning. I did this consistently for a couple of months, and then inconsistently for a couple more after that. (This was during a time of a lot of chaos in my life, as I was transitioning from NYC to Ohio, and traveling a lot throughout the summer for weddings and other events). I was determined to really give it a chance, so I did my best to stick with it and eat it every day.

While I really had to be patient before noticing the major benefits to my hair health, a more immediate takeaway for me was how collagen impacted my metabolism and prevented me from snacking throughout the day. I would typically eat breakfast, then add a couple scoops to my coffee and not eat again until lunch. This was a complete shift in my daily routine, as I was used to waking up super early to workout, so I’d find myself super hungry throughout the entire morning, sometimes eating two or three times before lunch! Since collagen is packed with nutrients and protein, it actually helped to keep me full.

Finally, overtime I have been able to notice that my hair has not only grown in thicker and stronger, but it’s continued to grow in length – something even my seemingly healthy curly hair failed to do! I used to lose big clumps of hair in the shower (I know, gross…), but now this is something that literally NEVER happens anymore.

Here are the top benefits of collagen, and the main reasons you need to be incorporating this into your diet NOW:

  1. Repairs Joints/Eases Pain – whether you are highly athletic, or barely walk from the car to the office, and back again, joint pain can sneak up on any of us. Cartilage weakens over time, and can deteriorate with age. Collagen helps to reduce this and alleviate symptoms of arthritis.
  2. Digestive Health – Collagen can help support and strengthen the protective lining of the digestive tract, as it lives within the gut’s connective tissue. If you’ve ever struggled with Leaky Gut Syndrome, or IBS, Collagen is a great choice for helping to reduce inflammation and building up the tissues that line your gastrointestinal tract.
  3. Building Muscle/Burning Fat – Since collagen is a major component of muscle tissue, it can have a big impact on building up muscle mass and providing you fuel throughout a tough workout. Adding lean muscle mass to your frame can help convert essential nutrients to energy.
  4. Improve Health of Skin and Hair – As I mentioned, there are noticeable changes that happen to our bodies overtime due to the slowing of collagen production. By providing your system with this important (and otherwise depleting) protein, you can aid in the firmness and smoothness of your skin by helping your skin cells to be able to renew and repair normally, as well as keep your nails growing in stronger, and even reverse signs of hair loss.

I mentioned I used to primarily mix collagen into my morning coffee. Since I’ve actually recently gone coffee free, I now have to find different ways to consume my collagen on a daily basis. Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat it!

  1. Coffee/Tea/Water – since collagen is almost entirely tasteless, I started by mixing it into things I was drinking on a regular basis. It was undetectable in coffee for me, and I didn’t mind the very subtle taste it added to water. I usually mix it with lemon or other fruits if I add it to water. This helps distract from any lingering taste. Now, whether I make a latte at home, or even if I order a matcha or other hot drink from Starbucks or other cafe, I almost always add in a scoop of collagen. I literally carry a container of it in my purse LOL!
  2. Smoothies – adding the collagen powder to a smoothie or smoothie bowl is super easy, especially if you are using a blender. The only caveat of this technique is to be mindful of your overall protein intake in one meal. I actually don’t typically add collagen to smoothies because I usually make a protein powder based smoothie. However, if you are not using too much protein powder, feel free to add a couple scoops of collagen in!
  3. Baking – again, since it’s tasteless, you can really add it in anywhere where it can be dissolved easily. I will typically sneak it in anywhere I can – including oatmeal, cereals and even soups! If we are making any kind of baked good at home, collagen is definitely included in the recipe in order to easily increase protein intake alongside other nutrients!
  4. Bone Broth – OK, so this is different than the powder I would mix into coffee and other drinks/foods, but bone broth itself is an excellent source of collagen! A post I did about bone broth a little while ago includes all you need to know for an easy DIY recipe, as well as all of the amazing benefits of drinking/eating bone broth.

Finally, the most common question I get about collagen is “which brand should I buy?” As I mentioned, I started with FurtherFood, which I really liked. Currently however, I have been using Vital Proteins. I’ve tried a handful of different collagen brands, and the only reason Vital Proteins has won me over recently is because of the price point on Amazon Pantry. The cost savings I receive from my recurring order on Amazon Pantry, coupled with how often we consume collagen, this makes the most sense for my wallet!

Still, I’ll include a list below of different options I’ve tried and my takeaways from each:

  1. FurtherFood – $49.85/24oz. – Grass-fed, Pasture-raised, Non-GMO, Kosher, Gluten-free, Paleo, Keto
    • I used FurtherFood for about 3 months, and this was my first ever collagen brand. I liked it totally fine, I just didn’t like the price point. It was tasteless, mixed well in hot liquids, and mixed fine in cold liquids if I shook or stirred vigorously.
  2. Thrive Market – $24.99/20oz – BPA Free, Ethically Sourced, Grass-fed, Non-GMO, Pasture-raised, Gluten free, Paleo, Dairy free, Dye and color additive free, No added sugars, etc.
    • Thrive Market’s collagen was amazing! I only used it for a month but I was really impressed with the quality – it truly does dissolve well in hot and cold liquids, and is virtually tasteless. The price point is great, I ultimately just decided against opting for a Thrive membership.
  3. BulletProof – $39.95/16oz.
    • Bulletproof was something I tried in a much smaller quantity than the others. I purchased a couple of samples for a work travel trip. It was good – I honestly have no complaints, however I didn’t like that there was not a lot of information about the company’s values compared to the other brands. I.e. gluten free, non-GMO, non-BPA packaging, etc. In addition to the powder, I have also tried some of the Bulletproof collagen protein bars, and they are AWESOME! Not necessarily my top recommendation for someone who isn’t well accustomed to eating protein (there is a bit of a chalky taste/texture), but overall, I really enjoyed them and felt they did a great job of keeping me fueled and satisfied during work travel.
  4. Vital Proteins – $43/20oz  – Gluten free, Dairy free, No sugar added, Paleo friendly, Whole 30 approved, Kosher
    • I really like Vital Proteins, as I mentioned, because it works perfectly with my budget and ordering habits. I found it was majorly discounted through Amazon Pantry if I set up a subscribe and save order. VP mixes well, and is virtually odorless and tasteless in everything! If you are intrigued, VP also makes related collagen products including Beauty Collagen, Matcha Collagen and even a collagen creamer for your coffee! I personally have been so attached to the benefits of collagen on it’s own, I do not necessarily feel the need to get a specific type of collagen – the original works perfectly well with my routine – but I have heard great things about them!

I hope all of this information is helpful! This post (and no post I’ve ever shared about collagen) is in any way sponsored by any of the aforementioned companies or brands. Still – if I could persuade you to make any kind of adjustment to your daily diet, it would likely be to add collagen! I believe in it so much – and hope you’ll give it a try to see if the benefits are impactful for you.

xo

T

Let’s Talk Lattes

Since going OFF coffee at the start of this year, I’ve pretty much been all about my alternative morning elixirs. At first, I stuck to just my hot water + lemon. I love hot water and lemon first thing in the morning, and I still drink it from time to time. However, just I pretty much only drink water throughout the day…so I was getting kind of bored of it.

Enter my morning latte creations. I realized I was missing out on an opportunity to kick start my day with a ton of healthy nutrients. Each of the recipes I’ll share are packed with benefits which can help to naturally heal your body.

I’ll share more about WHY I decided to cut out coffee a little later. As I was making this transition though, I will say one of the things I was most worried about was how the absence of coffee would affect my morning ritual. I have always loved waking up, pouring a hot cup of joe, and then starting my day slowly either reading, or just being still, maybe on my balcony or the stoop of my apartment when I lived in Brooklyn.

Not to mention, the caffeine! I usually liked to down my coffee and work through this slow morning aspect before hitting the gym. Sometimes I’d even take a second cup of coffee to the gym with me! I remember going to bed most nights, feeling my body yearning for what would give it life again the following morning. I was so incredibly addicted to caffeine.

BUT…after a long series of mindful observations, and as I’ve grown more intuitive to understanding my body and how it reacts to certain foods and substances, coffee had to go.

And guess what?

I’ve never felt better! I have more energy than I did drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day, and this energy lasts throughout the whole day, without any horrible crashes or weird side effects (again, I’ll elaborate more on quitting coffee in another post!).

Below I’ll share the few morning cocktail go-to’s which have helped me to feel even better about hopping off of the coffee train. Let m know if you decided to try any of these, and how you like them!

First up…

Matcha Latte

If you’ve followed along on my Instagram at all, you know I loveeee my morning matcha. Matcha does include caffeine, but it’s a fraction compared to the amount in coffee.

When I feel like I need a little extra boost, I go for matcha instead of coffee, now. It is much more sustained than coffee, so I don’t get jittery, or feel a crash later in the day.

Matcha also has so many health benefits compared to coffee. It helps to boost metabolism and burn calories naturally. It’s packed with antioxidants, including EGCg, which can’t be found anywhere else! Matcha detoxifies your system effectively and naturally, and is rich in fiber, chlorophyll, and all kinds of vitamins.

My Recipe:

1/2 cup hot water (not boiling)

1/2 cup nut milk ( I pretty much always use almond milk, but you can use any kind of milk you’d like!)

1 scoop collagen (I have been loving Vital Proteins lately)

1 tsp matcha powder (I am not partial to any specific matcha I’ve used, but I am using Nativas currently, and really like it!)

1 tbsp melted coconut butter (I like Maranantha)

1/8 tsp or a dash of cinnamon

+ optional small amount of honey or maple syrup to sweeten

Blend everything together, & enjoy!

Dandelion Tea

I posted a picture of my dandelion tea a while back on my Instagram. This has been a new recipe I’ve been experimenting with, primarily because dandelion tea itself has so many health benefits, especially for us women during our ovulation phase. I wanted to work dandelion into my diet somehow, and was pleased to discover it actually works perfectly as a coffee replacement!

Beyond that it legitimately tastes like coffee in a way, some of it’s health benefits include liver detox, muscle recovery, blood circulation, and aid in digestion. In fact, this tea has become the go-to remedy for digestion in our house, anytime we might be feeling like something we ate didn’t sit right.

My Recipe:

1/2 cup hot water (not boiling)

1/2 cup nut milk ( I pretty much always use almond milk, but you can use any kind of milk you’d like!)

1 scoop collagen (I have been loving Vital Proteins lately)

1-2 tbsp Dandy Blend, depending on how strong you want the taste. I love 2 full scoops, but you might want to start out with just 1.

1 tsp Four Sigmatic Caffeine-Free Adaptogen blend (this is optional, but highly encouraged to give you an extra medicinal kick, and add a little to the overall taste)

a dash of Pumpkin Pie Spice (found at Whole Foods or Trader Joes) or cinnamon

+ optional honey or maple syrup to sweeten

Blend everything together, & enjoy!

Turmeric “Golden Milk”

Finally, one of my favorites, the turmeric “golden milk” latte! I’ve been experimenting with turmeric probably longer than any of the others. When I discovered a “golden milk” recipe, I instantly had to give it a try. I remember it was one of the hottest days of last summer in NYC, but I opened all the windows in my Brooklyn apartment, and turned up the stove to give this baby a try. My first attempt…awful! LOL but I think I’ve gotten better over time…

I love turmeric because it is beneficial for your WHOLE body and brain. It battles against inflammation, increases your antioxidant capacity and helps to boost the immune system, eases joint pain, boosts mood, protects your heart and your gut, plus much more! Turmeric has been shown to improve long-term cognitive function through it’s active ingredient curcumin which directly supports the health of an important brain hormone.

I like to use turmeric as much as I can, but especially during the ovulation phase of my cycle, and especially in the form of my golden milk latte! Check out my *improved* recipe below…

My Recipe:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup nut milk ( I pretty much always use almond milk, but you can use any kind of milk you’d like!)

1 scoop collagen (I have been loving Vital Proteins lately)

1-2 tsp ground turmeric (more or less depending on how strong of a taste you like)

a whole cinnamon stick

1/4 tsp fresh or ground ginger

a dash of pepper (important to help activate the turmeric)

1/4 tsp cardamom (optional, and I don’t always use when I don’t have it on hand)

Bring everything to a simmer over low-medium heat, but do not boil! Strain out the ginger and cinnamon stick (you can reuse), froth the top if you’d like, & enjoy!

I am also linking my hand-held frother here because I am obsessed! I use it for all of these cocktails, and it is just too good to live without.

I hope you all enjoy these recipes! Let me know if you give them a try! 🙂

All About the Bones

I first became interested in bone broth a few months ago – initially attracted to the idea because of all of it’s healing properties. A common misconception of bone broth is that it is too expensive! It’s true, buying the pre-made, organic, fancy versions can get pricey – especially if this is something you’d like to incorporate into your everyday routine. However, making your own can actually be super easy, and inexpensive if you take the right approach!

Bone broth is different than the chicken or beef broth you see in the store for a couple of bucks – technically “stock,” is a mineral infusion which comes from slowly simmering bones and ligaments of healthy animals. It is rich in powerful amino acids including collagen, glycine, proline, and glutamine – all which are vital for healthy connective tissue (ligaments, joints, around organs, etc.) and start to naturally go away as we get older. Drinking bone broth can help to slow the effects of aging on your body – internally and externally. Bone broth is known to work wonders for those with leaky gut, or other digestive issues such as IBS, and has even been said to help clear skin, boost the immune system, and help the body overcome food sensitivities.

I personally have enjoyed making and drinking bone broth throughout my luteal phase (the 10-14 day phase before starting your period) in order to reduce cramps and help give me a sense of calm.

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I’ll give more detail on a couple of these amino acids below, but feel free to skip this section if you just want to get to the recipe! 🙂

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies – helping to build muscles, bones, skins, blood vessels, tendons, and our digestive system. Collagen is what gives our skin strength and elasticity. Basically, you can think of it as a glue which helps to hold the whole body together! As we age, the amount of collagen our body naturally produces starts to slow down, and that is when we might start to notice wrinkles, sagging skin, joint pains, etc. Factors such as eating a diet high in sugar, smoking, excess exposure to the sun, etc., can also contribute to depleting collagen levels. Consuming collagen may help to improve these aspects of your health, among others!

Glycine plays a major role in digestive health and proper functioning of the nervous system as it is required for synthesis of DNA, RNA and other proteins in the body. It enhances muscles by increasing levels of creatine, helps wound healing, and is involved in detoxification. It also aids in the regulation of blood sugar levels by controlling gluconeogensis, which prepares and ships glucose from proteins to the liver. Arguably, most importantly, glycine positively affects the brain as produces a calming effect, while also promoting mental alertness, improving memory, and boosting mood.

Proline helps to reduce cholesterol buildups in the blood stream, preventing potential blockages, and helps the body to break down proteins in order to create new, healthy muscle cells.

When it comes to making my own broth recipes, I have two preferences – using beef bones definitely improves the overall turnout of the broth (consistency, taste, etc.) but the chicken was just as good and to me, more sustainable: I had to purchase the beef bones (without the meat), whereas for the chicken, I just bought a rotisserie and at least got dinner and lunch out of it! LOL

INGREDIENTS:
• All of the bones from a whole chicken, or 1-3 pounds of assorted bones • 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns
• A sprig of fresh rosemary
• Water

The steps to making your own broth are extremely simple, and honestly not that time-consuming, considering you can prep the recipe then leave it for the majority of the time it takes to “cook.”

Regardless if you prefer beef or chicken, I would recommend purchasing your supplies from Whole Foods, or another store that you trust has not used any preservatives or weird stuff. Make sure the bones are completely clean and healthy! You can even roast a chicken yourself if you want, and feel free to use any spices, added veggies, etc. – this will only add more flavor to your broth!

 

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1. BLANCH:
Once you’re ready to begin, put all of the bones, ligaments, etc. into a big enough pot so that you can cover it with water. To the water, add a pinch of salt, allow the water to come to a boil, then cover and allow to simmer aggressively for about 20 minutes. This step is called blanching, and is very important to remove any impurities from the bones.

2. ROAST:
After the bones have been blanched, drain the water, and place them into a roasting pan. Roast the bones in the oven for 20-40 minutes in order to brown and caramelize them. This helps to improve the flavor. Don’t be shy about cranking up the heat to 400-450 and allowing them to roast for a good amount of time. The bones may stick a bit to the pan, but just be sure to scrape any brown bits back into the pot for the next step – trust me, you don’t want them to go to waste!

3. BOIL:
Back in the pot, cover the bones again with water, and add in 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns, a sprig of fresh rosemary, and any additional spices that you wish. DON’T OVER DO IT! A lot of recipes will encourage you to add in vegetable “scraps,” and a bunch of other crazy spices – Good bone broth doesn’t need much more than just the bones and adding more stuff can absorb the liquid, or overpower the natural depth of flavor. Bring the bones to a boil.

I usually allow it to boil for another 20ish minutes, maybe on medium to low heat, meanwhile warming up my crock pot on high. I personally don’t like to leave my oven burner on, so the next step I take is transferring the bone broth to the pre-heated crock pot. If you want, you can leave the burner on low and allow the bones to simmer that way, but I am usually not home long enough to monitor it, and I wouldn’t leave it on if I left my house. Even in the crock pot, keep an eye on the broth until you notice it has reached a simmer (there is usually a bit of a lag as the liquid adjusts from the heat of the burner to the crock). Once it is simmering, you can turn it on the low setting.

4. SIMMER:
Set a timer for 18-24 hours (shorter for chicken, longer for beef).

5. COOL & STRAIN:
When it’s time to finish up, make sure you cool the broth appropriately! Don’t put it still boiling hot in the fridge, but don’t allow it to cool off completely. Broth can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so  this step is super important. Once it’s cool enough to handle, strain it into an air tight container and store it in the fridge so that it is able to form properly. Once it’s ready, it will have formed a light gelatinous layer around the top. That’s how you know you did it right! Before serving, simply scrape this layer off. You can then add the broth to a small pot to heat up, or use in recipes as you see fit!

I like to top mine with lots of additions including fresh cilantro, cracked black pepper, turmeric, crushed red pepper flakes, sometimes a little salt – you can really mix it up however you want! I sometimes use it as a substitute for recipes that call for water, or any cooking broth, but most of the time I just enjoy it after dinner or first thing in the morning to start my day off feeling super nourished and ready to go!

A Brief Introduction to Life with PCOS

No matter how much you attempt to surround yourself with those things that make you feel comfortable, it can inevitably often feel as if the battles you fight are fought entirely on your own. This is how I have always felt when it comes to PCOS. Unlike many women who are diagnosed with PCOS in early adulthood, I have actually been aware of my condition since I was about 13 years old…almost 3 years before I ever had my first period.

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and it refers to a disorder within the female reproductive system. It’s widely believed to be incurable, as well as the direct cause of a slew of hormonal imbalances which include irregular periods, hair loss, uncontrollable acne, dramatic mood swings, and fertility problems, (to name a few).

In addition to the entirety of that short list, I’ve experienced most every catalogued “symptom” related to PCOS. However, rather than a path of discovery through these issues, my journey in navigating my disorder has been a bit backwards.

Let me start by speaking a bit on how my experience has unfolded thus far:

How I Learned I Had PCOS:
Pretty simply, my mother has it. When I was “coming of age,” I complained of severe migraine headaches, and unbearable pain in my abdomen, coincidently around the same time every month. I hadn’t yet started bleeding, but my mom took me to see a gynecologist who confirmed her belief that I had inherited the curse of small cysts forming on my oversized ovaries, then bursting around the time of my menstrual cycle (the fluid causing the pain and discomfort). The doctor immediately prescribed me a low dose of synthetic birth control, and sent me on my way. I was 14.

The symptoms subsided within a couple of months, and I was honestly ecstatic. I was able to maintain an active lifestyle throughout high school, and rarely complained of any side effects. I loved my birth control regimen because as a young teen, it made everything so much easier. When I did get my period, it was consistent, and easy to navigate. I never shared with any of my girlfriends that I had a hormonal condition because I didn’t have to. Birth control masked my imbalances, and once I got used to it, made me feel “normal.”

What Happened Next:
I wasn’t only private about my hormonal condition in high school, I was also close-lipped on the little pills I was taking with my lunch every day. To me, I had an “issue” for which I was taking medication, and I would have felt embarrassed if all of my classmates knew I was “different.” Once I got to college, I quickly learned that A LOT of girls were taking birth control, but not for the same reasons I was. They were taking it to literally control whether or not they gave birth. This may seem like a stupid realization to have after I had been taking it for years at this point, but you have to remember, that was never why I started taking it. To me, it was a medicine I thought I needed to mitigate the side effects of my condition. It had nothing to do with having sex.

Once I learned that was not the primary motivation for most of those using an oral contraceptive, what happened next is kind of hard to explain – I just started to feel a little uncomfortable. Here I was, almost 20 years old, and I had been religiously taking a pill I knew little to nothing about every day, for almost a quarter of my life!

I wasn’t sexually active at the time, and I was more afraid of the risk of not knowing, so without really thinking about it, I decided to stop taking it. Just like that.

In what seemed like an overnight change – I immediately felt better than I ever remembered. Within just a few weeks, I lost nearly 15 pounds. Meanwhile, my appetite and energy levels dramatically increased to a healthy level. I was overall lighter and happier.

Fast Forward:
Of course, nothing good can last (without maintenance). After graduating, I experienced both a level of stress and a variety of emotions that I had never known before. More specifically, my physical health was struggling, and I had no idea what was wrong. I drank easily an entire pot of coffee a day, and quickly gained back all the weight I had lost in college. I was rarely active, and always anxious. I had hair growing in the most random of places, and acne showing up in places I had never experienced before! And they weren’t little bitty blackheads. It was cystic (hormonal) acne, always around my chin and jawline and it never went away! (More on this later).

I visited a psychologist to try to talk through my uncontrollable mood swings; I saw specialists who tested for food allergies like celiac disease, and lactose intolerance; I was even recommended to have multiple tests done to scan for rare cancers in my breasts and colon. Thankfully, none of these tests proved fruitful, but unfortunately, the mystery of my long-list of discomforts remained unsolved.

You have to remember, it had been almost a decade at this point since I last even spoke of PCOS with a doctor, and almost four years since I had given up the pill, cold turkey. It truthfully never crossed my mind to tie anything I was feeling to my hormones. In hindsight, I didn’t really know enough about my condition to know all of the symptoms, and it wasn’t something I had ever consciously thought to allow to play a role in my life.

A Push, Then A Shove:
In late 2015, results from a routine pap came back as “irregular,” and “inconclusive.” I pretended not to panic, and reminded myself that I had never really been that convinced I’d ever have children, anyway.

“What should I do differently?” I asked my doctor.

“Nothing you can do,” she explained. And told me to make sure I get another check up in a year to make sure it’s nothing serious.

What?! Nothing I can do. The cells in my cervix were showing up “irregular,” and the results of whether or not I had cervical cancer were “inconclusive,” yet there was nothing I could do over the course of 12 months to ensure the next test was better?

For the first time, I shared with my doctor that I had a condition called PCOS, “they told me about it when I was young,” I explained, “but I haven’t taken birth control in a while. Do you think either of those things could be impacting my results?”

“I’m not sure,” she said, “but PCOS is incurable. I would strongly encourage you to reconsider birth control.”

I was floored. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it. This time was different than when I was a young teen because I felt as if I had more knowledge. I surely didn’t know all there was to know about my PCOS still, or even birth control, but faced with a hormonal issue, I certainly couldn’t believe the solution would be to chase it with synthetic hormones.

Womancode:
In the Summer of 2016, shortly after my move to NYC and starting a new life, I started researching more seriously the condition and came across a lot of great resources which helped me to feel more educated and empowered than I ever imagined. One book was especially interesting to me: Womancode, by Alisa Vitti. I skimmed it half-heartedly, but didn’t implement any of it’s recommended strategies until months later. What she suggested in the book seemed almost too simplistic, and so I was afraid of it not working for me. I was terrified that maybe what the doctors had told me my whole life was true: there was no hope; I am incurable, and I could never have children. I would always be defined by this condition.

As my symptoms worsened, and the fear for my fertility (and happiness) loomed, it became blaring that I could not continue to live my life this way. The day-to-day symptom I was affected by the worst? Mood swings. I felt as if I was losing my mind, literally, and it was making me miserable. I decided to take a stand of my own. I dove back into my research, determined to win this supposed would-be life-long battle. This would not be my story, I was sure of it.

I decided the following Spring to take a leap of faith. Everything kept pointing me toward Womancode. Armed with new knowledge and understanding I had gained from my research, I had already read Vitti’s book, but now it was time to study it like the Bible. I cried as I read through the testimonials she spoke of. “This is me,” I thought, “this is exactly how I feel.” My confidence was restored, even before taking action. I felt empowered through her words, and for the first time, as if I was not alone in this experience.

I learned so much about listening to my body, and giving in to my feminine energy to stay in tune with my cycles in order to optimize my abilities, but the journey was also a testament to a patience and perseverance I didn’t know I had.

How Did It All Happen?
The first task I challenged myself with was balancing my blood sugar. I learned a lot about what can cause sudden drops and spikes in blood sugar, which seemed to be a major culprit in my uncontrollable mood swings. Now, I try to eat every few hours, even if only a small snack, in order to maintain this balance.

Overall, aligning my diet with my hormones was the easiest part. Womancode includes a super-easy to follow list of cycle-friendly foods, so you know what is best for you during the different phases of your cycle, and what to avoid. What worked best for me was doing a 21-day elimination diet to determine where I might have food sensitivities, and then continuing to avoid those foods as mindfully as I can. I also got to try a lot of new foods I’d never otherwise think of incorporating into my recipes!

It took me almost three months to fully churn my bathroom cabinets, but eliminating harsh products was the next step I took. Harsh toxins can disrupt the endocrine system, and that can lead to hormone imbalances, as well. I studied which parabens specifically tend to appear in which types of products, and used helpful apps like ThinkDirty to determine if what I was already using would make the cut. This was sometimes sad, because I had to say goodbye to a lot of products I loved, but also exciting because I was able to try new things. After a few months of getting used to my new products, I found I love them just as much and it’s great knowing they’re better for me!

A few other key strategies I try to implement into my lifestyle as much as possible include:

  • As much stress-relieving activities as possible – journaling, herbal tea, long walks/runs when I am feeling overwhelmed, using essential oils (I love clary sage), yoga, meditation, using hormonal complementing herbs (I love ashwagandha), self-care splurges like a pedicure or massage every once in a while. I also have recently adapted some special mantras that I like to speak to myself when I am feeling especially stressed, or as if I am losing control of my mood.
  • Limiting sugar – this has been a more recent discovery, but I’ve always known sugar sensitivity is common in those with PCOS. At the beginning of the year I did a 31-day sugar detox in which I consumed absolutely no sugar. This helped to “reset” the way my brain thinks about sugar, and as I slowly reintroduced different types, I’ve been able to keep my intake at a minimum.
  • Cutting out coffee – yep. from a pot-to-myself a day to no coffee at all. I recently reintroduced coffee after my elimination diet this year and confirmed the subtle theory that this too was contributing heavily to my mood swings, and hormone imbalances. I plan to stick to matcha (if necessary, but not every day), and avoid coffee as much as I can!
  • Cycle-syncing my workouts – you read that right – and no, I’m not making this stuff up. There is a whole section in Womancode which talks about the different physical exercises that are better during different phases of your cycle. To me, this mostly just means listening to my body. If I’m in my menstrual phase and don’t feel like going to the gym, I don’t go. I also try to push myself out of my comfort zone and try new things during my Follicular phase, when I know I am in a good position to discover something new I might love!
  • Limiting carbohydrates – ok, if you’re reading this and I’ve ever spoken to you about carbs before, you know how much I value them as a source of energy for our bodies. However, consuming carbohydrates in moderation is important for everyone, not just those with PCOS. I try to avoid ingesting more than one complex carb per meal, (for example, at Chipotle I might order beans, but no rice). I also try to avoid carbs entirely for dinner. If I can’t avoid a carb heavy dinner, I at least try to complement it with plenty of protein and fat to balance it out, and then opt for more protein and fat the next day. Another great couple of books I’ve read which speak more to diet as it relates to the brain and hormones include Grain Brain by Dr. David Pearlmutter, and Unleash the Power of the Female Brain by Daniel Amen.
  • Maintaining a consistent morning routine – arguably one of the most impactful things I done to improve my health has been drinking at least 32 ounces of water as soon as I wake up (before anything else), then making sure to eat breakfast or at least protein/collagen within the first 90 minutes of being awake. This helps to ensure you’re blood sugar is off to a proper start, and provides you with stable energy to positively impact your mood first thing in the morning which can set the stage for your day as a whole!

It is safe for me to say that following the Womancode Protocol has changed my life dramatically, as well as has continuing to learn from other authors. Within 2 months of becoming more mindful about my diet alone – that means none of the other stuff I mentioned, just eating food recommended for each of my cycles – I experienced the first regular period I had since stopping birth control…my first regular period in over 7 years! I also noticed differences in my mood and overall happiness after only a month of cleaning out 90% of my products (not even all of them, because I was using most of them until they ran out).

What’s Next?
Ever since learning more about PCOS and my hormones, I feel excited talking about the topic, and I want to share with others that there are ways to take control of your body. You can change the way you feel. It all starts by working with your hormones, rather than against them.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s definitely still a journey, but that to me is exciting. I am still battling some skin purging, and sometimes I still struggle with my mood swings…but I am able to look at these now as “flare ups,” which I can tie to specific causes. KNOWLEDGE is powerful, and it helps me to feel in control – something I never felt I had before.

If you or someone you know is dealing with PCOS, or maybe has some of the symptoms I discussed but doesn’t understand why, you are not alone. PMS, hormonal acne, mood swings, irregular, painful periods, and difficulty conceiving are not normal. We were not designed to struggle as women, we were designed to thrive. Be open and honest about how you’re feeling, and seek support for attacking these issues. If you’re willing to face them and make a change, I promise you, it’s possible to overcome.

 

So You’re About to Start A New Diet?

I can appreciate all the sides of the “dieting” arguments out there, and it’s no secret that many in the health and wellness community would disapprove of any form of a constricting diet regimen. I, on the other hand, strongly disapprove of closed-mindedness – on condition. When I think about restricting what you consume, I frame it more as a way of preservation. I don’t remove things from my diet to punish, or torture myself – I choose to remove what I believe (based on research and communication with my own body) actually causes more harm than good. Ideally, once these foods are removed, they stay removed. Therefore, I am not simply participating in an elimination diet, but I am embarking on the first step of a journey toward understanding more about my body.

I strategically plot to improve my overall wellbeing by structuring a dietary regimen that will support the areas through which I define such a state: stable mood, quality sleep, energy level, comfortable digestion…to name a few.

To be perfectly honest, I think it would be difficult for me to support any kind of diet-altering plan that wasn’t backed by some kind of research, be it personal at the very least, but I can whole-heartedly and confidently stand behind any well-organized and thought out attempt to feel better.

With the new year off to the races, and many of us “trying new things,” read on for my top 5 tips for switching up your diet/nutrition, not just for a moment, but in order to cultivate a serious change in your relationship with nutrition + everything else. After all, food is fuel – might as well customize what drives you.

1.     Make Sure It’s Healthy

A healthy eating plan should include foods you enjoy, along with plenty of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, etc. And take note on what ‘healthy’ means in that previous sentence. It depends greatly on your overall goal of dieting as to what ‘healthy’ might mean to you. If you are attempting to lose weight, maybe these healthy foods include low-fat diary, and whole grains. If you are attempting to uncover potential trigger foods that could be the root cause of a perpetual discomfort in your body, maybe you stick to all natural substances like nuts and beans, instead. The only way to actually feel good is to make sure you are consuming a healthy amount of nutrients that your body needs in order to survive, and the only way to make sure you are in tune with this information is to read, and learn, and be open to the discovery. Don’t start a new diet without knowledge of how it might affect you.

2.     Take Baby Steps/Track/Prepare

Change is hard. The ideal approach to creating new habits it replacing them gradually, and experts agree, this is actually the best way to overhaul your diet. If a goal of yours is to simply drink less soda, then maybe the goal today should be to drink less than you did yesterday, and so on. Don’t stress yourself out by attempting to quit something you love cold turkey – spoiler alert: it’ll be incredibly difficult to maintain, and you’ll likely end up feeling disappointed and discouraged if you’re not successful right away. I wanted to stop drinking coffee, which I LOVE, and averaged 2-3 cups of every day. It took me almost 6 weeks to even completely ween off of it, and every single day that I turn down a cup is a successful day to me. I’m still taking baby steps, even after it seems the goal has been reached. Track your progress using your phone, or a note book, or even a handy tracking app like My Fitness Pal or Fat Secret. Even if part of your diet is not necessarily focused on calorie/macro counting, having the ability to actually see what you’re consuming and how it adds up can be extremely powerful, and encouraging. Write everything down! From how you’re feeling to what you did that day. You will be surprised looking back at the progress you’ve made internally from improving your diet. Consider it like progress photos for the mind.

Overall, the most important part of this step is to be prepared. Similarly to doing your research ahead of time, make sure you are prepared for any potential obstacles that may present themselves to throw you off course. Have a company happy hour coming up? Know ahead of time what you can get from the menu, or pack a snack/eat before you go and politely sip on soda water at the event. Plan your shopping trips so that you have plenty of time to get everything you need, and then plan your meal-prep day so that you are not stressed out, or end up going hungry because you didn’t make enough food for lunch AND dinner one night. Prepare until you feel over-prepared and then prepare some more.

3.     Set Realistic Goals

It often seems that those who wish to change their lives the most are the ones who set the most lofty, unrealistic goals. What you may not realize is that even a 5-10% change may make a huge difference in how you feel. Set realistic goals so that you can feel accomplished when you reach them. If you are attempting to lose weight, keep in mind that it’s recommended to strive for shedding no more than 1-2 pounds a week. Slow and steady…or rather, focused and consistent wins the race in developing habits that you can sustain for the rest of your life.

4.     Clean Out/Start Fresh

As it reads, if you’re attempting to switch up your diet, then you might as well actually do just that. Not only will cleaning out your kitchen prevent you from feeling tempted by the sugary snacks you’re used to having, but it will support the overall fresh start that you are attempting to give to your health. Donate the foods you don’t want to a food bank, or neighbor. Don’t put them in the bottom of a closet – get them out of the house! Eliminate the possibility of having a crutch, and simply dispose of anything that doesn’t fit into your new lifestyle. This will be HUGELY impactful to making changes that remain consistent, and not just for a phase.

5.     Experiment and have fun!

Finally – the most important of all – have fun! If you find yourself miserable, hating the idea of every new day, you’re definitely doing something terribly wrong. Use the new opportunity to get in touch with yourself – try new things, explore more about yourself and your surroundings. DON’T sit at home on the weekend sulking because you can’t go out with friends due to your new diet…instead, use the opportunity to see if there are any cool restaurants around town where you can enjoy healthy options. Invite friends out for a movie instead of drinks. Experiment in the kitchen – maybe buy a new cookbook and play around with recipes. Whatever you do – take advantage of this time. You’re not just doing a thing, you’re creating a chapter of your life which has the potential to affect the entire rest of the story. Make it your own, be proud of yourself, and enjoy it!

Good luck!

The ACV Chronicles

It’s no secret that I tend to “go through phases” when it comes to experimenting with my health. Unique to this cycle, Apple Cider Vinegar has been an ongoing “experiment” for over a year. The first time I tried it, I took a shot of it straight (from an actual shot glass), and chased it with room temperature water. It was horrible! I remember thinking, “why would anyone ever do this to themselves…this cannot be worth it!” But, with all the trial and error that is my wellness journey, I knew that was just a mindless reaction to something new and uncomfortable and I owed it to myself to keep researching, and learning before writing it off for good. Over the most recent several months, my relationship with ACV hasn’t dimished, or even faulted by more than a day or two – usually onset by travel, but it has evolved in terms of everything from concoction, routine, and appreciation.

What I’ve learned? I’ll separate it into categories:

The Benefits – WHY drink this stuff in the first place? The regimen initially sparked my interest because of it’s natural effects on detoxification, and anti-inflammation. I was experiencing gut related discomfort, and this seemed it could potentially be an easily accessible and inexpensive solution.

But the perks don’t stop there. Incorporating ACV into your diet can help to improve your overall health by positively impacting your digestion, helping to regulate your bowels, strengthening your immune system, and even improving bad breath! And listen, I’ve become so obsessed with it that I’ve recently been using my Apple Cider Vinegar as a toner for my skin…but more on that another time…

What keeps me coming back specifically? Well I wasn’t consistent right away and I actually NOTICED the difference in the way I felt when I didn’t drink it. Even now, missing a few days here or there due to travel, my energy level drops, I can sometimes lose focus more easily, and often times I’ll get chest/stomach pains from indigestion (I suffered from acid reflux for years and ate tums like candy before ACV – now, it’s a complete nonissue when I drink it on a consistent basis!).

The Method – HOW do you drink it? I will admit, the first several trials were rough – as I mentioned, I was just straight up ripping this like it was cheap vodka in college, and trust me, the experience was eerily similar. In my experimentation, I eventually ruled out several juice options as chasers as well. A few were good, like actual apple cider, but these options eventually got to be too expensive.

You can also try some mixed concoctions using grapefruit juice, honey, cinnamon, lemon juice, and more!

I can’t really remember where the logic came from, but for some reason I recall feeling concerned diluting the ACV would minimize it’s benefits – NOT TRUE. Right around the time I got to the comfort level of drinking it straight from the bottle (talk about building a tolerance), I found it’s actually BETTER to dilute your intake.

The recommended mixture is anywhere from 1/3 ACV to 2/3 water, or 1-2oz ACV with 8oz water. Sometimes I’ll add honey, which is of course optional, but I sometimes like to add it if I’ve had any kind of hiatus from my routine and need a little pep-talk for that first dive back in.

When do you drink it? I also learned that while it matters less when you take it, and more so just that you do, the most optimal time-frame for your daily concoction is first thing in the morning – after 8oz of water to jumpstart your system, but before any amount of caffiene. When we are sleeping, our bodies are working to clear-out, and get ready for a new day. Taking the ACV early in your day can help to optimize it’s potential benefits with minimal distractions floating around your system.

Early in my experience I was taking it at night, right before bed. I was drinking it straight, so it was irritating to my esophagus, possibly distracting me from noticing it’s impact. When I started chasing it, I was able to notice my typical evening-bloatiness lessen overtime. I also woke up more refreshed, and still less bloated than I was used to.

During the real wild straight-from-the-bottle era, I was keeiping it on my desk at work and would swig it in the middle of the day, or just on my way out of the office in the evening. I was able to coorelate it with thinking clearly, and an improved ability to focus, and though still present, the inconsistency in schedule seemed to lessen the positive impact it had on my bathroom habits.

Finally, with most of my kinks worked out, the first thing I do after I get home from the gym in the morning is mix 2oz of ACV with 1/2c of water and toss it back like everyday is my birthday! Immediately following the shot, I refill the measuring cup with water and wash it down further (I usually drink it from a measuring cup…two birds, one less dish to clean). I could have just had the best workout of my life at the gym and I still don’t feel fully awake until I have my ACV. I’ve also noticed the regularity of the routine heightens it’s benefits (at least for me!).

Whether you needd to get your gut in check, or if you’re just looking for a step in the right direction toward improving your overall health, look no further than that nasty stuff your grandma used to give you if you said a bad word! I highly recommend apple cider vinegar above almost anything else in my healthcare routine. It’s natural, it’s cheap, and it’s super beneficial for serveral reasons! Make sure you get it organically (if you can) and always with the mother!

Now that I think about it, I probably should’ve sworn a lot more as a child…

Dat New New Is Coming!

Eeek! I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Should I be excited? I don’t know, to be honest, but I am! I remember when I was really little and first learning about the Solar Eclipse, and I remember thinking, “Wow, not another eclipse in the US until I’m in my 20’s?! I’ll never get to see it!” LOL (Fun fact: Solar Eclipses happen every year – almost – their visibility just differs across the globe). This year is the first TOTAL Solar Eclipse in almost 100 years though, making it an extra special event. Even with less than typical amount of sleep for a Sunday night, and despite Monday’s usually being a rest day for me from the gym, I woke up FULL of energy! I literally jumped out of bed, and the next thing I knew I was in the weight room for a full blown leg-day! Had to use my energy somehow!

Anyway, whether you’re feelin’ extra froggy today like me or not, a quick few words on today’s eclipse from yours truly: I have no qualifications whatsoever that entitle me to speak about the Zodiac, Astrology, universal energies, or even science, but I have always allowed myself to be open-minded, and wildly intrigued by this side of curiosity. My birthday actually happens to be this week, on the first day of Virgo, but today’s eclipse will be rounding out the end of the Leo pathway. What does this mean, and why does it matter? Well, it may mean less or more to you than to others depending on your sign, and your relationship with the universe…but I won’t get too deep into all of that…

In general, eclipse periods coincide with endings and beginnings and in some cases can feel like starting a whole new chapter of life. The effects of this supercharged new moon can still manifest over the next several months to follow! Today’s Total Solar Eclipse is especially exciting because it’s an opportunity to accept the energies of the universe as a powerful PUSH in the direction of all our hopes and dreams!

Bear with me…As the energy of the cosmos align in a way which can bring into sharp focus any potential blockades – emotional, spiritual, physical – we are able to lean into this energy and face any fears that may stand between us and whatever it is we need to do in order to fulfill the visions we have for ourselves and our lives.

In a sense, we are being invited by the universe the go beyond what we otherwise would consider “limitations.” We are able to pursue our passions, open our minds, liberate our hearts, and ultimately discover a place within ourselves of total emotional clarity – a place which will allow us to understand our true purpose, and truly begin living.

This is truly an amazing moment in the scope of our humanity, and if you’ve never attempted before to live a mindful life, I encourage you now, more than ever to set an intention to strengthen your energy, and connect with the world around you! IT’S THE FREAKING BEST!!!

If you want to read some more good juju on today’s happenings, I’ve linked some of my favorite articles/tidbits I’ve come across over the past few weeks below, including the best places to catch it in NYC! Don’t forget your sunglasses 😎

How To Watch The Solar Eclipse – New York Times

What You Need to Know About the Solar Eclipse – Well + Good

Astrology and the Solar Eclipse – Well + Good

The Eclipse and Your Horoscope – Women’s Health

What the Solar Eclipse Means for Wellness – ChalkBoardMag

Hello Hydration!

If you know me from Adam, you know your girl lovesssss her water! Ever since I was wee little, I remember the inquiry as to how much water I had drank in a day always being the first question my mom would ask me, regardless of what it was that ailed me. Even when I was older and off at college, if I would call and explain I had developed a cold, a cough, had been feeling sluggish, or lazy, or even if I mentioned I was feeling really hungry (!), “how much water have you drank today?” followed by a suggestion of drinking more (usually regardless of my answer), was always her go-to response.

Naturally, this was one lesson that stuck with me. Being my curious self, I’ve logged a lot of hours of research regarding water consumption, and not surprisingly, mother knows best!

The truth is, whether you’re a serious athlete, exercise here and there, really are not all that active at all, in great health, or poor – it’s so so important to stay hydrated! Think about it? Our bodies are made up of about 55-60% of water. It serves as a vital nutrient to keep your body functioning properly, regulates our internal body temperature, and metabolizes the carbohydrates and proteins our bodies use as fuel. Just as well, water assists in flushing your body of wastes and toxins, acts as a form of shock absorption for your neural system, and helps to lubricate your joints.

You can learn more about all of these specific functions of water in your body by visiting the Water Science School.

I’ve been specifically interested in the role of water in my body recently for a number of different reasons. While the focus of my research recently has been primarily on the anatomy of the human body, I’ve been supplementing that information with proper treatment of the body during exercise.

Pre-Workout Hydration: Hydration is major key to developing a healthy work-out routine. As mentioned, water serves as a lubricant to your joints, i.e. drinking enough can help prevent soreness, and ensure you are developing your muscles in a healthy way!

To encourage a healthy digestive system, as well as to prepare myself for a long workout, I have been drinking at least 8oz of water every morning (sometimes a full 17oz bottle), AS SOON as I get out of bed. This fires up my body’s metabolism, immediately replaces any hydration lost over night, fuels my brain so that I actually do feel awake, and halts any potential immediate morning hunger.

During Workout Hydration: Now, just to be clear, everyone has different hydration needs! While drinking plenty of fluids is important to anyone, the amount of hydration needed to optimize your workout routine will likely vary from mine, even if we are similar in height, weight, and activity.

I started estimating the volume of hydration needed for myself a few months ago when I was training for a half-marathon. As an example, I feel as if I spend a bit more time in the gym than the average person (usually 1.5-2 hours). I try to drink 17oz (my full Sip Swell bottle) for every 20 minutes of exercise. This usually ends up being 3-4 bottles completely finished before I leave the gym.

So if you’re keeping track, I should have already drank 85oz of water by about 8am!!

But my day hasn’t even started…

Post Workout (Daily) Hydration: After the gym, I still have a full day ahead of me. And, being summer in New York, it’s probably a hot one. This adds in a couple additional hydrating factors.

I aim to drink about 0.8oz of water per pound minimum each day. That’s 95oz without exercise, i.e. ounces drank at the gym don’t count toward this total. So once I’ve finished a workout, I still know I need to drink at least 5-6 bottles of water throughout the rest of my day. However, this doesn’t factor in the heat of summer.

Summer can be conducive for bacterial infections, and New York is always conducive for germs! For this reason, I usually up this intake goal in the heat to at least 1 x my body weight, which adds an additional 23oz, or about 2 more bottles. No problem right?

Drinking water can be tough if you are drinking other fluids throughout the day. So after all of this, I want to leave you with some alternative options to work into your snacks and lunches! Don’t get me wrong – I still encourage you to drink as much water throughout your day as you can! But if you find you are struggling, try some of my favorite hydrating foods to quench your thirst, and replace the electrolytes your body needs to thrive!

Celery: 96% water, good source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc

Watermelon: 95% water, and rich in vitamin C

Bell Peppers: 92% water, also rich in vitamin C

Cucumbers: 95% water, plus provide calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium

Strawberries: I can’t eat these due to an allergy, but they are 92% water and rich in potassium!

Cantaloupe: 90% water, and also rich in potassium

As a final note, make sure you’re remaining aware of the volume of sugar you’re drinking/consuming! Sugary sports drinks, for example, can be counterproductive to proper/necessary hydration.

Finally, please note I am not a doctor. There is such thing as over-hydration, so if you’re unsure, you should consult with your physician to learn more specifically about your body’s necessary water intake.

Happy summer, and happy hydrating! 💦

Torture and Wonderment and Elimination

So here it goes! I’ve committed. I’m doing it. The idea behind starting such a feat admittedly came from first reading about the experience from one of my favorite health enthusiast, @leefromamerica. While I’ve always been interested in leading a healthy lifestyle, nothing quite captivated me much as did the concept of first needing to take the appropriate steps in determining what was exactly healthy for me. Sure, there are the healthy habits by which we should all aspire to live – exercise, water, moderation of potential toxins…but what really got me thinking was the idea that, as far as I know, I am living as healthy of a lifestyle as could be, yet still often struggle with symptoms I might be able to control if I just take the time to first examine their source. For example, I often feel fatigued, very seldom do I see true definition in my muscles, and I truly feel that admitting I have a perpetual headache is not that extreme of a claim. I know I drink a lot of caffeine (teaching took care of that miscalculation), and I know the handful of alcohol I consume in a week doesn’t seem like a lot, even though it probably is (college took care of that miscalculation). But I also realize with full humility that I am human, and it is a gooooood human feeling to eat cheese, drink beer, and reward myself with donuts whenever I feel like it!

Here is the conclusion I came to – to be honest, I am healthy. I wake up every morning between 5 and 6am, go to the gym, eat oats (& blueberries) everyday for breakfast, and usually a salad for lunch. I have an ever-running list of friends and family whom care for me deeply, and I am so beyond blessed enough that I’ve never had to face a life-threatening situation in which I was forced to change my diet in any kind of extreme way. I am healthy, but I am also lucky. I know a lot of people who cannot say the same. If I’m being completely honest, there is a large possibility that I could continue just as I am now for the rest of my life and I may never have any issues. I may even live into my 90s! But if I’m being realistic, there is also a large possibility that this isn’t the case. I figure a major part of my world (and everyone’s!) is the fuel that provides us the privilege to inhabit it. Without fuel, we are immobile. We are dead. Our bodies really are, or should be, our temples. At least for now.

So at the very least, I figure I owe it to my body to do myself a learn. I study and read and practice and experiment so much with different recipes and foods, but I’ve never really done so with my body. What I have learned to be true is that everyone’s body is different, and is constantly changing and evolving. MY Elimination Plan will revolve around ME, and my only goal for this adventure (as if with most any step I take in life) is to be mindful. 🙂 I want the experience to be one by which I learn more than I ever have – including continuing to try new foods and new recipes, but also paying attention to how what I am consuming is impactful, as well as whatever I am not eating may be.

Up to this point it’s been an astounding (and quite) several MONTHS of preparation. Yes months. I have plans, and lists, and ideas, and dates, and charts, and…well you get it. I am ready. We are doing this.

Stay tuned for all the torture and wonderment. I am SO excited.