New Year Detox… Or Not?

I LOVE a new year. Although I set goals and try to live well through each of the twelve months, there is just something sort of cleansing about a new year. A fresh start, if you will. I am sure your Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of plans for jumpstarting a healthy new year. New Year – New You! Prescribing detox plans and rigid exercise programs will sell a lot of books in January.

But is any of it necessary?

We expose ourselves to myriad toxins all day, everyday, even while we sleep. Poor dietary choices, alcohol, prescription drugs, recreational drugs, air pollution, water with added crap in it, lazy attitudes, stress (financial, emotional etc.) and so much more can create a build up of toxins in our bodies, causing illness, fatigue and weight gain. The good news is, our bodies are amazing things, capable of so much more than we give them credit for. On their own, our bodies are in a constant state of detoxification, night and day, 24-7 ridding themselves of the damage our bad habits can cause.

Because our bodies were purposefully created to detox, going on that New Year juice cleanse is not only unnecessary, but can be dangerous. While billed as a weight loss tool, or a great way to recover from the additional abuse we endured through the holidays, a complete cleansing can actually backfire. If your liver and kidneys aren’t clear, the toxins being expelled through a typical juicing plan have nowhere to go and can actually make you sicker.

The key is to slowly ease your body into it, and provide your system with added tools to boost its natural detoxifying ability. It is true that a sluggish system can be responsible for weight gain, fatigue and even certain cancers, but this cannot be fixed in 3-5 days of juicing carrots and spinach. In fact, fasting and quick cleanse plans can cause headaches, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, irritability, fatigue, insomnia and more, making them very difficult to stick with.

You don’t need a quick cleanse, you need a lifestyle change

Your body’s own detox system is made up of the liver, the intestines, kidneys, lungs, skin and the lymphatic system. Let’s take a closer look at how we can give them the boost they need and be on the road to a healthier more energetic life!

  1. The liver. This organ eliminates toxins through urine and bile. The best thing we can do for our liver is avoid alcohol. I am not suggesting that we don’t enjoy a good Cabernet from time to time, or even a little bourbon, but as with all things in life, moderation is the key. Our liver can also benefit from amino acids, which can be taken in a capsule or by eating raw walnuts; chlorophyll from leafy greens (kale, spinach) and vitamin C (add a little lemon to your water).
  2. The intestines. These guys are responsible for balancing the good and bad bacteria in our gut, which helps us to produce natural antibiotics. In order for the intestines to do their job properly, we need to avoid sugar, coffee (sorry), white flour, dairy products and alcohol. I know, it seems impossible, but I think you’ll find that if you ease into it, after a while, you won’t even miss those things. You can also help by adding fiber (eat an apple) and sulforaphanes (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage).
  3. The kidneys. Your kidneys filter the blood. They can’t do that well if we don’t help out by keeping them clean, which means… drink water! Drink enough water that your pee is clear. Hippuric acid helps too by cleaning out the uric acid. You can get this with cranberry juice. I don’t like cranberry juice, so I drink green tea, which I add a bit of dandelion to. You can find dandelion extract at most health food stores. Dandelion contains a lot of potassium, which acts as a diuretic.
  4. The lungs. These awesome tools expel toxins out of the body through our breath, so the best thing you can do for the lungs is USE THEM! Yoga and other exercises that require slow, deep breathing are essential, as is good posture. Also, and this should go without saying, stop smoking. Period.
  5. The lymphatic system. This system is many parts working together, using our white blood cells to pick up bacteria and other harmful agents, move them home (like to the lymph nodes) and then destroy them. Exercise is the key here, as it helps pump blood throughout the body at a quicker rate. Also, eat more raw fruit and on an empty stomach. Eating them on an empty stomach helps you digest them faster and adds maximum lymph-cleansing benefits.
  6. The skin is our largest organ and should NOT be neglected! Taking care of your skin not only helps you look more youthful, but because healthy skin eliminates toxins faster, you will find you feel better overall. One awesome thing we can do for our skin is SWEAT! The other is to stay hydrated (which of course allows you to sweat even more). I also have a few things I like to do occasionally just to offer my skin a boost (especially after indulging in the holidays).
  • Use a dry, soft bristled brush in a circular motion all over your entire body. This removes dead skin cells. Then apply a little sesame oil, which is a natural detoxifier and adds moisture too. Leave it on for about 5 minutes and then hop in a warm shower.
  • Soak in a tub with 1 cup Epsom salt, 1 cup baking soda, one cup sesame oil and a few drops of your favorite essential oil (I like lavender at bed time).
  • Look at your favorite store for a clay mask, or make one at home. Use 1 TBS of either Kaolin Clay or Bentonite Clay (available on line or at your local health food store), with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar and any essential oil. You can also mix the clay with a tsp of coconut oil and a tsp of raw honey.

Finally, I will add mindfulness to each of the above. Simply taking the time to relax, mediate, walk, pray, live in the moment. When our bodies are filled with stress, we struggle to move the toxins out, and instead more toxins build inside, making us literally sick with worry.

Water, exercise, mindfulness. Three essential daily habits. 

So here is the BIG question… can you stick with it?

Of course you can. I am a firm believer that you can do anything, if it’s important to you. For me, I am not super happy with my weight, but I am not unhappy enough to give up sugar, butter, bread, coffee or Wild Turkey.

What is important to me, is being here to raise my kids. I battled breast cancer this last year, which was determined to be environmental, not heredity. I never want to put my family though that again, so I’m pretty motivated to keep the toxins moving out of my space as quickly as possible. You need to find your own motivation. Motivation and practice are the keys to your success here. Don’t be discouraged if you slip up once in a while. Perfection is not the goal. The goal is overall better health, so even if you only adopt one or two of these items into your lifestyle, you’ll be doing better than you were before, right?

If you’d like to read some supporting scripture to help you focus on your new healthy habits, start here:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Daniel 1:8, 12-15
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way… ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.

1 Timothy 4:7-8
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Matthew 6:16-18
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

 

 

Dear God, Please Use Me

God uses ordinary people to do His work every day. Sometimes He uses us when we don’t expect it, when we don’t feel worthy of the honor and even when we don’t know how. But He cannot use us if we are not obedient to Him. Let me rephrase that. He cannot use us if we don’t at least have faith, and if we aren’t making an attempt to grow in our obedience. None of us will get it right every single time. That’s what makes us human, ordinary.

Sometimes I fail to heed His teachings and to obey His wishes. Okay, perhaps sometimes is an understatement. I find myself using excuses when I fail at obedience – as if it were His job to protect me from all of this temptation. As if when I sin, it is somehow God’s fault.  “He made me who I am”. Well, that’s true. But He also gave me free will, and often I use that free will in a way that wouldn’t make my Earthly father proud, never mind my Heavenly Father! I try, I stumble. Now I have a choice, do I stay down, where the devil gets to use me for his lowly work, or do I rise up and try again?

I am a sinner. And listen, sometimes sinning comes disguised as a whole lot of fun. But if we look back on all of the times that we chose fun over obeying the word of God, I think we’d all agree that in the end, it wasn’t worth it. The fun went away and came back as grief.  It’s so easy to make excuses for the sins we’ve committed or are planning to commit. Continuing to make those excuses is the equivalent of saying, “It’s okay to sin, a little”.  Let’s try to remember that the only people God uses are redeemed sinners. Even when the enemy convinces us that God will forsake us because we’re such a hot mess teetering between good and evil, we must stay focused on the end goal. One minute we’re in church, hands raised in the air, singing His praises, and the next minute we’re looking at our neighbor with lust filled eyes and we think, “Meh, one day I’ll be Holy, but it doesn’t look like today is that day.”  No my friends, it doesn’t work like that. You cannot honestly tell me that you don’t know what His expectations are. You are free to decide that you don’t care to meet those expectations (there is that free will thing again), but you can’t deny that you know what they are.

If our lives are to be truly  useful, we need to begin seeing ourselves in the stream of God’s work. He has not blessed us just so we can be blessed. He has blessed us so that we can become a blessing to others. We cannot hide from it. He wants us, ordinary, human and flawed as we are, to be His messengers.  I don’t mean to make that sound too glamourous, because sometimes all it means is taking a moment to carry down your neighbor’s garbage cans.  Sometimes delivering God’s message will be a downright struggle. The Pastor, who first shared the word of God with me, worked in our State Capital. For many years he was not welcome there. He had to fight for his right to preach in a state building, to host a bible study and to counsel our legislators. I can’t imagine the bureaucratic nightmare he went through, but I know he never gave up. We must remember that the hassles in our lives are part of God’s bigger plan for us. If we obey Him, He will use our problems, large and small, to accomplish His purpose.

God wants to use you like that. If you struggle with trials and fears and sins and hassles and family problems, you qualify, as long as you’re also growing in obedience. As God blesses you, commit yourself to be His channel of blessing to others. And so, my prayer for today goes a little something like this:

Lord thank you for using ordinary people for your purposes.  It gives us hope that our lives can make a difference for your kingdom.  May we believe you, submit to your will and be quick to obey your commands.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

 

Selfie Project

November 4, 2016

One year ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It may have been the single biggest shock my system has ever endured. I think I went through all five stages of grief in less than ten minutes (and have since repeated those stages about fourteen times, lingering through each one as if I expect a miracle to come my way if only I am somehow patient enough.)

For me, the most challenging part of cancer has been the mirror. It isn’t all vanity, though that certainly has played a role. It’s more about this sudden need to feel normal, to find comfort in the most uncomfortable of situations. So, you turn to the person who knows you the best, only she isn’t there. You have been replaced by this weird looking stranger. There is no greater feeling of isolation than when you can’t even find yourself.

As my appearance changed on a daily basis, I began this little project. It took a minute to get used to the idea of taking “selfies”. I always thought those should be reserved for Instagramming teens and the Kardashian sisters. Perhaps in the beginning, it was so that I could prove that at one point in time, I was borderline, pretty. Like my small way of giving cancer the middle finger and saying, “you can make me ugly, but I have photographic evidence that it’s all your fault!” As time went on and my hair thinned and face did the opposite, the selfie project became more about curiosity and wanting to track the daily metamorphosis.

As the year went on, the project took on a life of it’s own, and in a strange way, I believe it kept me strong. By giving me something to focus on, it allowed me to begin living more in the moment. Even when the moments were grueling, it was healing in a way to be living through them rather than wishing them away or worse… going into self-pity mode. Taking the pictures forced me to think for a minute about how I was feeling. Some days were good and other days I couldn’t get out of bed. But when you allow yourself to feel everything, even the tough times, then when you finally feel joy, it’s just that much sweeter. Feel the sorrow when it presents itself. Mourn what you need to mourn and then remember to give God the glory for all that you have.

When we live in the moment, it becomes easier to notice and find pure joy in the little things, like the quirky smile of a loved one or the way a fresh cut orange smells. Smile and be grateful for those things. Taste your morning coffee. I mean, really taste it. Sit outside when it’s cool, feel the sun on your face, and thank God that He put you here. Watch your children play. Play with them, and love the moment you are in. Resentment and negativity will no longer feel welcome in your life and you will feel it diminish.

Someone told me once that “this” (meaning my cancer) was just a tiny dot on the map of my life. That I would pass by it and once on the other side, it would seem inconsequential. She was right. Life is good. Life is beautiful, actually, and I owe all I have to Him, the One who takes our challenges and uses them to make us stronger.

 

Grateful for all of the … Laundry??

There are days when the amount of laundry produced by my household absolutely overwhelms me. Sometimes it gets to the point of tears (especially when the stress is multiplied by the same amount of dirty dishes, toys left on the floor and myriad places to be at once). But then there are those days when I find myself smiling as I fold tiny socks, that I know before too terribly long will be outgrown. I pause and relish in the scent of clean cheer uniforms, soccer jerseys and baseball pants. I may even shed a happy tear as I put away a sweater that has been passed down from kid to kid and memories of holidays and school years that passed to quickly come rushing through.

Having a family to take care of, and children who depend on me is the single greatest blessing of my life. I cannot imagine a larger responsibility nor a more precious gift. God has trusted me with these tiny creatures. His children, mine only for their short time on Earth. He has trusted me with their well-being, their education, their safety and with the job of raising them to be wonderful, loving and productive adults. If a little laundry comes with that, then so-be-it.  Think for a moment about the mothers in less developed countries doing their wash in a dirty creek, or worse! Plenty of moms right here in the United States are doing their laundry in a Laundro-Mat, many of whom had to save up their change just to go to the Laundro-Mat in the first place. Who am I to complain about running a load or two through a designated laundry room in my home, just steps away from a completely stocked fridge, and clean drinking water?  Am I that self-absorbed? Have I completely forgotten how truly wealthy I am (in comparison)?

My laundry room is about 6 feet by 12 feet, and while there is a window and door, there is no air conditioning. It gets warm in there in the summer, and rather chilly in the winter. My machines are anything but new or state-of-the-art. But they are mine, and I have worked hard for them. And I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given in this life that have allowed an income beyond what other’s are even able to dream of. I own a home. It is isn’t fancy, but it is clean, and full of running, laughing, well-fed little hooligans that I can’t imagine my life without.

I am overwhelmingly thankful for my babies, and I am thankful to the good Lord who has given me the amazing job of “mommy”, and I am thankful for the laundry, the dishes, the toys and this entire messy life.

You Are FABULOUS

Thank you so much for visiting my website. I’m sorry there is not a lot to see here just yet. I have been working on building content & I so appreciate your patience!  You know how it is when you’re juggling life, sometimes we get behind. The important stuff continues to happen – mostly just spending time with my beautiful family – but I am going to begin making this website a priority too and keeping you all updated on what’s happening over here and how you can begin creating your own fabulous life. The life you were always meant to be living.  Start today by taking the time to insure you are living in the moment (mediation lessons coming soon… these will help you with living in the moment), being grateful for all you have and greeting everyone you meet with cheer and love.

Peace to you!