MY STINKY PIT JOURNEY
Over the years I’ve tried just about every natural deodorant there is. I tried Tom’s of Maine, Native, Schmidt’s, Primal Pit Paste, EO…and on, and on, and on it goes.
Unfortunately, none of these deodorants kept me smelling shower-fresh, and some of them gave me a painful armpit rash! By the end of the day (and usually by the middle of the day), I was smelling like I had just rolled out of an onion patch. I also discovered that even some of the “natural” deodorants I tried still had gnarly and misleading ingredients in them like “fragrance” which is the worst F word in personal care products.
Despite my inevitably stinky pits, I was unwilling to sacrifice my health for smelling good. I’m sorry if you were one of the people who were unwittingly impacted by this decision!
Here’s a rundown of what the common ingredients in deodorant will do to your health:
WHAT IN THE WORLD?
Are you confused as to why your personal care products have ingredients in them that have been found to cause cancer, infertility and autoimmune diseases? You’re not alone in this question!
Join me for my Clean Beauty: The Endocrine System workshop where we dive into the in’s and out’s of personal care products, and how you can arm yourself with the knowledge to protect yourself and your family. You’ll also experience a full spa-treatment with Beautycounter samples as well as a good laugh doing yoga for the face. It’s a fun way to spend time together, and I hope you will join me! Click HERE to register.
If you would like some one-on-one help with your skin, schedule a complimentary 30 minute Clean Beauty Consult with me. Another lifetime ago I was an aesthetician, and I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve.
I became a consultant for Beautycounter because I believe in their mission, and I LOVE their products. I quite literally can’t get enough of them.
Beautycounter has been working on mastering a clean deodorant for five years (!), and just this week they came out with their Clean Deo’s. This deodorant works, and it's kind to the environment with refillable containers. I just LOVE this!
DETOX YOUR ARMPITS
When you go clean, you need to sweat it out. It can take several weeks for your underarms to detox from the toxins that have been trapped in sweat ducts by antiperspirants, and you might experience a (temporary) odor. Trust me—The Clean Deo is worth the wait.
Fresh Tip: to help speed the process along, use Counter+ Charcoal Facial Mask on underarms once a week, and wash underarms daily with Counter+ Charcoal Cleansing Bar. If you aren't a Band of Beauty Member yet, you can get the Charcoal Mask for free when you join!
Keep an eye out on social media where I'll be doing a video on this!
To revamp your personal care routine and order Beautycounter through me, click HERE to be directed to my Beautycounter website.
Over the course of my life I’ve been collecting a series of self care practices to help reset my nervous system every day. There are two different modes of the nervous system: the parasympathetic (rest and digest state) and the sympathetic (fight and flight state). The majority of us predominantly live in the sympathetic state, and the constant demands of our lives make it difficult to flux between stress and rest.
Thus, it’s so helpful to have some easy and convenient go-to self care practices to integrate into daily life. Here’s a list of my top 5 practices:
I absolutely love the holidays. It's a time of year where I can viscerally feel the warmth of the human spirit. There's magic in the air. And now that I have a little one, I see that magic through her eyes which is truly breathtaking.
And...let's be real. The holidays are oftentimes the most stressful time of the year. There's a lot of things to get done, and Covid-19 has brought a whole new meaning to "home for the holidays".
Last year I promised myself that I would get all of my holiday shopping done in November so that I could really relax into the enjoyment of December. I'm happy to report I met my goal, although I'm feeling quite tempted by some Beautycounter products I want for stocking stuffers.
If you're struggling to find the perfect gift for your loves, keep reading for my Top Picks for under $100.
Now that my Christmas shopping is complete, all I need to do is make some Christmas cookies!
You can get my Christmas cookie recipe HERE.
I use this recipe as a jumping off point for my creativity. Cut out the cacao and add some cinnamon and nutmeg to make Snickerdoodles or make a plain sugar cookie and top with homemade jam.
Also remember that there are so many different ways to sweeten desserts. Because I have bloodsugar handling issues, I stick with monk fruit, but sometimes that can be irritating to people's bellies. If monk fruit doesn't work for you, dates ground up in the food processor is a great option as is coconut sugar, molasses, maple syrup or honey.
TOP PICKS FOR HOLIDAY GIFTS (for under $100!)
SEMICOLON BOOKS: Believe me, the great behemoth that is Amazon is a service that makes life so much easier, but it's important to me to support small businesses and black-owned small businesses. I've begun alternating between ordering my books from Powell's and Semicolon Bookstore. Here are some of the books I'm gifting to people this year:
Nom Nom Paleo Cookbook by Michelle Tam
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou (My absolute favorite book of all time.)
Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
Also, you might consider visiting the Portland Made window shop website. I LOVE this idea! Due to Covid-19, small businesses (especially retail) are taking a major hit. This is a fabulous way to get out and safely enjoy the shopping season.
I became a Beautycounter consultant because I was frustrated that I was helping people improve their health through gastrointestinal and hormone therapies as well as through exercise and food, but I didn't have anything to offer them for their largest organ - their skin.
I offer complimentary Clean Beauty: The Endocrine System Workshops (click HERE to view) where you can learn about just how important your personal care products are to your health. I also wrote a blog post about this last month (scroll down to view).
There are a lot of natural personal care products out there, but Beautycounter is my favorite because it's so effective, and each package is so beautifully presented that they are perfect for holiday gift-giving. Some of my favorite Beautycounter gifts to give this year are:
Counter + Mini Skin Stars $45, click HERE to view. This good-for-you trio makes your skin glow. I use these three products every day, and I LOVE how much they've brightened my complexion.
Pout Perfect Lip Care Set $49, click HERE to view. This trio exfoliates, conditions and moisturizes lips for ultimate health and shine.
The Clean Deo Minis $49, click HERE to view. This is my absolute favorite product. This deodorant works and doesn't tear my armpits to shreds like other natural deodorants! And, this product is super environmentally thoughtful. The full size deodorant has a refillable option to reduce plastic waste.
Counterman Shaving Cream $20, click HERE to view. My husband is a super-fan. That's all I can say. Oh, and I'll say one more thing - I'm a super-fan of my husband, and I don't want crap on his face that will mess up his endocrine system. This product features shea butter, aloe, and our Sequoia Stem Cell Complex, and it works to soothe, hydrate, and protect skin from everyday environmental stress.
This meditation pillow is a show-stopper, and believe me, when you need to quiet your mind, comfort is key. Click HERE to view.
DRY FARM WINES
A box of 3 bottles starts at $88. I tell all of my Nutritional Therapy clients about this wine. It's absolutely delightful & the finest quality wine minus the sugar and chemicals often found in wine. Click HERE to view.
From my family to yours, I hope this holiday season brings you peace, joy and a fresh start for 2021.
Out of desperation, I became a Nutritional Therapist in 2012. I was deeply struggling with my health and wasn’t able to get any answers from my naturopaths or western medicine doctors.
My training as a Nutritional Therapist answered several key questions for me, two of which were:
Why was I so dang tired all of the time?
Why was my immune system seemingly incapable of fighting anything off?
When I changed my diet, my entire life changed.
I became more energetic, focused and motivated. I stopped getting sick all of the time, and my weight normalized. My mood improved, and I was even able to get pregnant and have a healthy baby girl after being told that would never happen.
The relationship between the endocrine system and the digestive system has long been known by some of the greatest thinkers of our time, but until recently was unproven by scientific research.
Hippocrates said “All diseases begin in the gut”.
Over the course of the last several years, the studies of the gastrointestinal microbiome and the relationship to the endocrine system has become synonymous with landing on the moon or reaching the depths of the ocean. It’s complicated and fascinating stuff!
We still have so much to learn about the bodies we inhabit, but one thing is clear - what we eat, drink and put on our skin has a huge affect on our wellbeing.
In my nutritional therapy practice I specialize in digestion and hormonal health. For several years it’s bugged me that I was helping people restore their gut microbiome and balance their hormones, and yet I had no tools for advising them on what they were putting on their skin.
The skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs what we put on it.
But that begs the question: who cares what I put on my skin? It doesn’t really make any difference to my health, does it?
Turns out it makes a profound difference what you put on your skin.
Dr. Leonardo Trasande is a world-renowned researcher of environmental toxins and endocrine health.
Dr. Trasande’s resume is too extensive to list here, but he is perhaps best known for a series of studies published in Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology and the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that document disease costs due to endocrine disrupting chemicals in the US and Europe of $340 billion and €163 billion annually, respectively.
Dr. Trasande studies how environmental toxins cause significant disruption to the endocrine system which causes changes to hormones and DNA and leads to the development of disease.
Other countries have gotten keen to this. The European Union has outlawed over 1300 environmental toxins, while the U.S. has only outlawed 30.
Have you ever heard of obesogens?
Obesogens are chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system and can dramatically affect your weight, energy and fertility.
Organizations like Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, The Endocrine Society and the WHO are speaking out on the threats of endocrine disrupting chemicals that are found in food packaging, cleaning products and most commonly - personal care products.
I’ll be breaking down the in’s and out’s of this in my free workshop: Clean Beauty: The Endocrine System on December 1, 7:30-8:30.
You can sign up for the workshop HERE, and read more about it on the Events page of my website by clicking HERE.
“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.” Buddha
In recent years, the affects of meditation have been a hot topic in the science world. Researchers are trying to scientifically explain why mindfulness practices have such a profound impact on participants. One scientist, Gaelle Desbordes, began studying the brain via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine the physical changes in the brain before and after meditating. Desbordes began practicing meditation in medical school to help her manage the stress of academic life. It made such a big difference for her that she wanted to understand why.
"In 2012, she (Desbordes) demonstrated that changes in brain activity in subjects who have learned to meditate hold steady even when they’re not meditating. " (The Harvard Gazette) The interesting aspect of Desbordes' study is that she studied the brain when people were engaged in everyday tasks, not when they were meditating. She proved that the impacts of a meditation practice are not limited to the practice itself but have far-reaching and lasting impacts.
One form of meditation that I love to practice - especially before bed - is yoga nidra. I recently recorded a yoga nidra practice for my newsletter crew. Every month I send out something special in my newsletter. To sign up, click HERE.
Yoga nidra is often referred to as the "yoga of sleep". It's a very calming practice that helps to transition the nervous system from a sympathetic state of "fight and flight" to a parasympathetic state of "rest and digest". And as Desbordes and other scientists have proven, the affects of these mindfulness practices can transform the brain and change peoples' lives.
Mindfulness practices like yoga nidra are not just about strengthening the mind, they're also about letting go of control and developing a deeper awareness of the mind's chatter. Have you ever sat back and observed your brain bounce from one topic - and one story - to the next? It's a fascinating practice, and with a little sense of humor can be quite enlightening!
Learning to step back from the mind's three-ring-circus allows for perspective and creates a space between the soul and thought. The mind is thinking all day long, but it doesn't mean that we have to believe every single thing we think. One of the greatest results of mindfulness is the space it creates to rework thoughts and to create a new dialogue over time.
There are hundreds of studies that show how our thoughts create real changes in our physiology. A study at UCLA showed that method actors playing various negative emotions showed a lower immune response in just one day.
I know there aren't a lot of hours in the day, but remember that even five minutes a day of mindfulness practices can make a huge difference not only in your brain, but in the way you view yourself and the world.
As someone who LOVES delicious food, summer is a gold mine for to-die-for recipes that are simple and incredibly nutritious. Portland is surrounded by farms, and one of my favorite summer activities is to go berry picking. There's something incredibly rewarding and meditative about picking produce warmed by the sun.
A few weeks back my family and I went berry picked and had a wonderful time except for the bee sting I got right on my arse! Painful as it was, it was worth it, and below you'll find the recipe I made with our berry stash.
I've spent the last five years studying nutrition and the intimate connection between what we eat and how it affects our digestion, hormones and immune system.
Did you know that your gut health in large part determines your immune health? True story! About 70% of your immune system is housed in your gut. Taking care of your gut can dramatically bolster the immune system and improve your overall health.
What often surprises my clients is that one of the most important things you can do to keep your gut and your immune system happy is to keep your diet dynamic and diverse.
It's important to maintain variety in your diet to provide yourself with an abundance of nutrients and to avoid the food intolerances that can develop from leaky gut.
Leaky gut is when the lining of your small intestines becomes permeable thereby "leaking" undigested food into the bloodstream and triggering a response from the immune system.
When we eat the same foods over and over again, the immune system is much more likely to label that food as a foreign invader thereby setting off a cascade of inflammatory reactions.
Sometimes the hardest part of making healthy eating choices is finding recipes that are delicious and feel like a treat rather than deprivation.
In my experience, deprivation fails 100% of the time.
With a few culinary tricks up your sleeve, you can make the transition to a healthy diet seamlessly while simultaneously supporting your gut and immune health for the long-term.
Below are two of my favorite summer recipes that are also a great choice for people struggling with autoimmune diseases and digestive issues.
BERRY, FIG & APRICOT COBBLER
Gluten free, Dairy free, Paleo, Vegan, Autoimmune Protocol
1 1/2C coconut oil, cold
1C coconut flour
1C arrowroot powder
1/2C maple syrup
1/2t sea salt
1/4C dried figs
1/4C dried apricots
1/4C coconut oil
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo, Vegan
2 lbs heirloom tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
6 inch cucumber
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 t sea salt
2 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 t ground pepper
Place all ingredients in a Vitamix and blend thoroughly. You may need to use the plunger.
The most important part of any healing journey is nailing down your "why".
What does this mean?
Wanting to lose 10lbs because you're going to look better in your jeans is not a lasting "why".
Wanting to lose 10lbs because you know you'll have more energy is a lasting "why".
Why is this? What's the difference between these two "why's"?
The first "why" is aesthetic and can at times be motivated by society. Often, this desire to be a certain size infers that you are somehow less than if you don't fit into this mold. Is wanting to look better in your jeans a bad thing? Absolutely not! Go to it! But soften that goal with self-love, grace and a deep understanding that your desire to look better in your jeans comes from a place of healing and not of shame.
The second "why" is about your ability to show up in the world. You know that if you had more energy, you could be more present with your spouse, and have more patience with your children. You know that if you had more energy you could workout a few days a week which is a major stress-reliever for you. This "why" is truly motivated by self-love.
Self-love is hard to come by. And, it always wins.
What is your "why"?
Write down what society tells you, you should be. Write down those nuanced and insidious voices that make you feel badly about yourself, and frankly, make you want to give up. Get that shit down on paper so that you can see it for what it is.
Write down all of the reasons why you want a better life for yourself, and how your self-care is a direct link to getting you what you really want.
Write down why self-love can be hard to come by sometimes, and how negative self-talk is impeding your progress.
Finally, sum all of this up into a few concise sentences. Share it with the people who will support you. Put this up in a conspicuous place so that you don't forget your process, your why and your path forward.
PHYSICAL RESPONSES TO STRESS
Most of us know what stress feels like: overwhelm, frustration...and maybe even a quick temper.
But what does stress physically feel like? How does stress manifest in our bodies?
There are essentially two different mechanisms of the nervous system: parasympathetic and sympathetic.
The parasympathetic nervous system is also known as the "rest and digest" state, which means that if you're chronically stressed your digestive system is going to struggle.
When digestion struggles, there can be malabsorption issues which lead to fatigue, blood sugar handling issues, muscle weakness, lack of sleep and you guessed it - more stress.
STRESS AND THE ADRENALS
“The particular kind of rest you need when you have adrenal fatigue comes not so much from lying down, but from standing up for yourself, and from removing or minimizing the harmful stresses in your life.”
― James L. Wilson, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome
A big part of healing has to do with drawing lines in the sand, establishing strong boundaries, saying "no" more often and putting yourself first.
Stress comes in a lot of different forms, and each one of these scenarios is intimately managed by the adrenals:
Here are my top 5 ways to manage stress and heal my adrenals:
Most importantly, don't beat yourself up when you find that you discover you've fallen off of the "self-care" wagon. Take a deep breath and jump in. You'll be glad you did.
When COVID-19 hit, our family like so many others were faced with hard choices and financial uncertainty.
Over night I rebooted my little wellness business after having taken time off when my daughter was born.
The last few months have been nothing short of miraculous as I’ve watched my business expand at break-neck speed. I am so grateful.
Wellness business or not, business is business and it takes A LOT of time and effort. And, as one of my heroes, Brene Brown, says “first time stuff sucks”. There have been technology meltdowns, system breakdowns, shattered iPads and my own fear and insecurity.
There have been a lot of 15 hour work days, and baby kisses I was too busy to get.
And, I’m SO privileged to be able to build this business. A LOT of people would never have had the opportunity to do this in the first place.
As I make plans for the future trajectory of my business, I am reflecting on how I can show up better as an individual and also as a business - especially for BIPOC who I’m learning are categorically disenfranchised from wellness communities and resources.
This should have been starkly apparent to me before, but it wasn’t. I was actively oblivious.
There is no end date to this process or a box I can check. I suspect it will be an ever-evolving unlearning, education and building to affect my small corner of influence.
What affects one of us affects us all.
Sitting with other people’s suffering is painful and necessary to gain a deeper understanding of what the path forward is. And while I will never understand another person’s struggles I can strive to listen and to learn and hopefully in time contribute to the solution and not the problem. I hope to be a part of building a world I can be proud to share with my daughter.
Words fall short and don’t mean much without action behind them. While I have a lot to learn and understand, I’m determined to add my voice & action to the choir of people who are searching for, reflecting on and courageously building a more just and loving world.
Have you ever gone to a workout class and done a million ab repetitions and thought to yourself "I'm going to have a 6 pack in one week at this rate!"
...until you wake up the next morning with a sore neck and a pissed off low back, and absolutely zero soreness in your abs.
For most people, this scenario has happened at least once if not multiple times. And it's really discouraging.
Learning the principles of how to engage your core is a game-changer for ensuring your workout is put to good use, and ensures you'll experience both the aesthetic as well as the biomechanical benefits from the time you put into it.
Here's my go-to trick for relaxing the neck while doing ab work:
1) Lay on your back with your legs bent, and your hands behind your head.
2) Relax your hip flexors as much as possible.
4) On your exhale, curly your head and shoulders off of the floor until your shoulder blades are off of the floor. Hold. Can you relax your head into your hands? Ask your abs to carry the weight of your head rather than your neck and shoulders. Use the weight of your upper body as leverage to cue your abs to hold you up.
Here's my go-to trick for relaxing the low back while doing ab work:
1) Repeat the same exercise as above, except this time practice doing this exercise in imprint.
2) "Imprint" is when you scoop your low belly in as if to draw your low back towards the floor. Engaging your pelvic floor muscles will help you to activate your transversus abdominals which help to create a deep, flattening action in the low belly. These transversus abdominals are the missing link in relieving low back pain.
Remember, go slow, move consciously and be patient with yourself.