Healthy Body, Healthy Family, Healthy Home, Healthy Mind, Healthy Recipes, Healthy Spirit

Healthy Chocolate Donut Holes

I have been craving chocolate lately.  I don’t normally deprive myself from what I am craving. Since  cleaning up my diet and tuning into my body, cravings have become an indicator that I am lacking something in my diet.  I try to figure out what it is I’m lacking, then eat the healthiest nutrient dense version of what it is, to satisfy my need.  However, I am doing a 28 Day Cleanse, so this is ALL mental

I decided to whipped up a cleanse friendly treat.  BUT there was a bit of a casualty…. my beloved Vitamix, Zippy (yes I named my Vitamix) crashed!!  We’ve shared 6 long years together.  I am truly crushed! She seems only to have enough oomph to mix up liquids.  I have used Zippy every day for the past 6 years, unless I was traveling and sometimes  she even traveled with me.  

I was able to complete my mission, however the batter wasn’t as smooth as I like it to be, but it tasted just as good!!! These Donut Holes go really well with a Bullet Proof Chaga Tea!  

There’s a link below to print of a PDF of the recipe.  

Ingredients: 

Directions: 

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine dates, black beans, chocolate protein powder, pumpkin seed butter, sea salt, and cacao powder in the bowl of your food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  3. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in unsweetened coconut flakes and place on the covered baking sheet.
  4. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to set. Enjoy! 3 balls equal one serving.

Chocolaty Blessing to you all! 
~Jen~ 

 
Healthy Body, Healthy Family, Healthy Home, Healthy Mind, Healthy Pets, Healthy Spirit, Uncategorized

What Self-Care Really Looks Like

The one thing I love about Facebook (and probably the only thing), is the memory feature.  I do enjoy being reminded of what I was doing on the same day years before.  Today I didn’t need reminding.  

Seven years ago today, I said “good-bye” to the Animal Welfare Program which had become my identity, and my passion, or I should say obsession.

There is a fine line between passion and obsession.  Passion fulfills, energizes and gives you joy.  Obsession is ego driven, drains your energy and leaves you feeling depleted.

After leaving my position as a Humane Agent, I stayed in the animal welfare field by taking a job as a kennel manger at one of the largest shelter in Maine.  I LOVED working with a team and being connected with those that had the same mission I did.  But I hadn’t dealt with the trauma I had suffered from the years of conducting animal cruelty investigations.  At the shelter I had experienced a whole other level of trauma, and most of it ended up crated in my living room, kitchen, and bedrooms night after night.  

I pushed through 2 more years in the animal welfare field, a year at the shelter, then another year at IDEXX Laboratories,  until it became too unbearable and I really feared for my well being. 

I HAD to learn the art of Self-Care.  

During my time working in Animal Welfare, if someone told me that I needed to practice self-care, I would have told them to “go pound sand.” I did not have the time or the finances to get a mani/pedi, nor would that be practical in my line of work.  My hands were bitten, scratched, bleached and smeared with the joys of parasitic poop every day.  (so maybe a manicure would have been helpful).

The bottom line is, self-care is NOT getting manicures and massages. That can be part of you self-care practice, if that is something you ENJOY! Self-care is much deeper than that.    

Self-care are the practices and activities you do to take care of your physical, emotional, and mental well being.  Practicing self-care reduces stress and anxiety. If you can’t afford a massage or manicure, or are repulsed by the idea of being touched by a stranger, it will only add to your stress.  You have to find what feels right for you. And for most of us, we NEED to put it on our calendars!!!

For me, the most important practice I incorporated was being still. Call it mediation or what have you, just sitting in silence and checking in to see how I was feeling, was extremely helpful. For years, when I wasn’t working 50-60 hours a week, I would find things to keep me busy, especially when I felt anxious.  Instead of checking in with myself to find out what I was anxious about and addressing it in a healthy manner, I ignored it with “busy” work.  

The foundation to self-care is boundary setting.  This include setting boundaries on how we interact with others, but more importantly how we interact and treat our self.  How can you set boundaries when you don’t even know how you feel or what you want? So being still, checking in with yourself, and allowing time to process your experiences and feelings, really helps you identify where you need to create boundaries.  

For me it looked like this:

  • I got a good therapist, which really helped me stay accountable to my bullshit. So no excuses, created plans, and worked through the emotions and feelings of all that I witnessed. My first experience in therapy in was a disaster.  I basically ended up spending most of our sessions teaching the therapist how to train her dog.  My next time around, I did my research and asked a lot of questions.  It’s really important to feel safe with the person you are working with.  
  • For every negative thought I had about myself, I needed to find 3 things about myself that were positive. When your job requires you to always be responding to disasters, it’s really hard to feel accomplished and/or successful because you know there’s another disaster waiting for your attention.  There were a lot of times those disasters couldn’t be saved.  This left a dark emptiness in my heart most of the time and feeling like a failure. 
  • I create the space for more alone time, to check in with myself and process what I was feeling.  Most of the time I was just reacting to the world around me without thought or intention.  My alone times included a long drives, walks, hot baths or anything that didn’t require me to be taking care of someone or something.  
  • I didn’t say “Yes” right away, and said “No” if that was immediately how I felt.  I am a people pleasers, and I genuinely like to help people, but I have a tendency to say “Yes,” without looking at my schedule.  Leaving me overwhelmed, exhausted and angry, trying to accomplish all that I had committed too.
  • Healthy nutrient dense foods and lots of water.  In struggling with my weight my whole life, I reached a point that  realized I order to have a healthy body, I needed to support a healthy body. Starving myself, binging and purging, eating food in wrappers – laced with gmos and chemicals, and going to drive-thru was not self-care.  This required getting rid of processed foods, sugar, gluten and eating organic foods. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals also helps with relieving anxiety and depression.  
  • Movement everyday, even if it was simple stretches.  Movement was the key to pushing the trauma I experienced, out of my body.  There were days I couldn’t get out of bed and face the world, but I would lay in bed practicing yoga poses.  Now I find dancing is most healing for me. 
  • Journaling.  I can sometimes spend hours writing.  But when I first got started I would just write everything that came to mind.  Even if it didn’t make sense or sounded silly.  A lot of the time I would just grab a piece of paper, write down the a list of things I didn’t get done, or perhaps a “To Do List” that I knew wasn’t humanly possible to complete in the day, then light it on fire.  There was something powerful in not only releasing those thoughts from my mind, but then burning them up.  Plus, no one would ever see it! 
  • Getting good quality sleep!  During my time as a cruelty investigator, I slept maybe 3 hours a night if I was lucky.  Lack of sleep can quickly lead to mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression. Sleep should be a priority in your self-care plan.  
  • Practicing creativity.  For me, this could be dancing, writing, painting, sewing, drawing, baking, whatever sparks my interest. It felt healing just to create something.  
  • Spending time with people I LOVE.  Working in Animal Welfare, I saw the scum bags of humanity most days.  I forgot that most people are really good, kind, compassion, caring folks.  If you work in a field where you are always encountering challenging people, it is so important to surround yourself with good people. Even if they don’t “get” your work. This is were I failed.  I was so consumed by my own misery that I felt like I couldn’t relate to anyone, or they wouldn’t understand what I did or how much my heart hurt.  The truth is, unless you live in a rainbow bubble your whole life, EVERYONE experiences trauma at some point in their lives.  Though the experience of our trauma is individualized, the feelings of anger, loss, mistrust, violation, sadness, despair, and so on, are intensely felt.  And it’s not a contest of who’s trauma is worse or more important.  We are ALL hurting, and it’s extremely healing to share our story with others that are safe, kind and compassionate. 

Self-care is NOT a luxury.  IT IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT! By not practicing self-care, you rob others of experiencing the best version of you. 

I am still sorting through some of the trauma I experienced while working in Animal Welfare. There were also some REALLY AMAZING memories as well.  I am thankful for the experiences because it taught me what self-Care really looks like, and now I am better equipped to show up in the world as my best self. I’m so grateful for that.

Be well my friends, 
~Jen~ 

Healthy Body, Healthy Recipes, Uncategorized

Avocado Egg Salad

I got 4 chickens a few weeks ago.  I knew I would enjoy having them, but I seriously have become a CRAZY CHICKEN LADY.  Yes, I’ve even looked at sweaters for my chickens online!!  They are the first thing I think about when I wake up, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed.  I LOVE my chickens!!

My girls have been good to me, producing 3-4 eggs per day.  So needless to say, we’ve been eating a lot of eggs and been giving some away.  The other day I did a trade with a friend.  She has some beautiful collard greens she traded me for some eggs.  I knew I wanted to use them to make a wrap of some kinds, so I decided to put a spin on egg salad and it came out delicious!

Avocado Egg Salad

4 Hard boiled eggs mashed
1 Avocado mashed
1 Tablespoon of Avocado Oil or Olive Oil
4-5 Sprigs of fresh Dill
2-3 chopped scallions
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Simple as that!  You could eat this on it’s own, in bread, on crackers or like I did, wrapped in greens and added some tomato.

An easy nutrient dense meal, which was great when I needed a quick lunch.  It has been so hot here, I haven’t have much of an appetite.  This has been the prefect meal to enjoy on those hot days.  Especially when you don’t really feel like chopping up veggies for a salad or using the oven.  

Do you have a favorite egg recipe?  Feel free to it share below.

In love and magic
~Jen~

 

 

Healthy Body, Healthy Family, Healthy Home, Healthy Mind, Healthy Spirit, Uncategorized

Seven Years after Weight Loss Surgery: The number on the scale doesn’t equate to health

One month before weight loss surgery.

Seven years ago today, I took an extreme measure to what I thought would regain control of my health.  What I thought would be the cure to my increasing weight and what I thought would bring me to a place of self-love.  That was NOT the case.  Up until 5 years ago, I had always equated my weight to my health.  And up until seven years ago, I was considered morbidly obese. = UNHEALTHY

Seven year ago I had gastric bypass surgery.  I entered this world of weight loss surgery (WLS) on April 26, 2011 after attending an informational meeting explaining how the surgery was done, what tests and other specialist I would need to see and in about a year’s time, I would be having surgery.  From the time I was sixteen, until I was 34 I had used every diet plan, work out program, hours at the gym, ran 2-5 miles a day, tried every weight loss supplement and drugs on the market to try to control my weight. I was also hiding a very serious eating disorder.

I met with surgeon the week following the informational meeting and was scheduled to see the dietitian, do a sleep study, have an endoscope, and meet with a psychologist.

At this point in my life,  I was vegan and for several periods of time, I was a raw vegan.  I which meant I only ate plant foods in their raw form.  I thought by eating a vegan diet, I was being healthy.  But most vegan diets consist of eating processed food, lots of grains and lots of fruit, which is a whole lot of sugar! I was really missing some essential nutrients by following this diet for several years.

Since I had no comorbidities, what was usually a year long wait for surgery, turned into less than 4 months.  It was at this time I began my dive into learning about holistic health to treat the other problems I was having.  Not only was my weight an issue, but I was battling anxiety, depression, insomnia, along with a host of other symptoms. I began researching ways to help with the laundry list of aliments I had.  I believe at that time they were related to my weight, and by losing weight they would go away.  I now know that my weight was just another symptom, and these problems were cause by the enormous amount of stress from my job, as well as the lack of nutrients in my high sugar vegan diet (mostly smoothies and juices).

At the time I had WLS, I was working as an animal cruelty investigator.  I was on the road for about 10-15 hours a day, many times knocking on doors of violent criminals with no way to protect myself, eating in my truck, not sleeping, suffering from panic attacks, binge eating and purging. I was a mess!

The first few months after WLS was a real struggle.  Nothing prepares you for the physical or the emotional challenges you face.  From the moment woke up, I knew this was the wrong choice for me.  I knew my weight wasn’t a health condition, it was a symptom of something much deeper going on in my body.  But the surgery was done and there was no turning back.  I just needed to figure out how to heal my body and get my health back.  I knew this surgery was not going to be the answer to heal myself.

Almost 1 year after WLS at 145 lbs

The first year after WLS I lost weight, A LOT of weight.  I lost over 100 lbs.  My highest recorded weight I was 290 lbs, which is when I went for my first appointment with the WLS surgeon .  I know the year prior to that I was over 300 lbs.  It’s shocking to me to think about, and even more terrifying to share.  After the surgery I was down to 145 lbs, which for my large 5’7″ frame, was really too thin.  I was sick all the time and had no energy due to the lack of nutrients my body was able to absorb. I was a mess physically and emotionally. I felt guilty and ashamed of having the surgery.  Feeling as though I was a failure because  I couldn’t get my life and health under control.  As the years went on, and I became a health coach, I felt like a fraud.

I followed the “rules” that the dietitian had given me for the first year, but after studying and researching, I quit the low fat, high protein, low carb diet.  The biggest improvement I saw was after incorporating lots of good quality fat into my diet. My skin, nails and hair improved.  I had more energy, my mood swings diminished, and overall I felt better. This help with vitamins absorption.  Having a compromised digestive system that struggles to absorb nutrients, then taking fat out the diet, really makes it a challenge to absorb fat soluble vitamins. I began implementing an ancestral diet, asking myself what would my grandparents or great grandparent eat?

My diet became simple: locally source grass-fed meats, organic produce, raw dairy, non GMOs and Gluten Free foods. I learned how to fuel my body and because of that, I was able to heal my gut and maintain a healthy weight for the past 7 years.  I have had my challenges with weight gain after surgery, but when I practice self-care, which the first practice is good nutrient dense food, my weight is not an issue.  Will I ever be posing in the next Sports Illustrated? Haha, NOPE!  But I am happy with my weight and comfortable in my own skin.  That for me is true wellness.

3/08/08 to 11/14/08 Weigh-ins from my doctor while I was on phentermine.

There very few studies providing data on the long term weight loss success of WLS patients.  All the studies I have read, report that more research is needed.  I can tell you of my personal experience, along with working with others that have had WLS. WLS is not the answer.  Most of the people I know, including myself that have had WLS, after 2 or more years, regain some of the weight.  Many of them regain it all and then some.  For myself, I no longer have any kind of restriction as I once did for the amount of food I can consume.  Believe me, I can eat a whole Otto’s Gluten Free Pulled Pork and Mango pizza all by myself.  What has been the key to my success is putting my health first, by feeding my body with nutrient dense food, checking with myself, spending time in nature, with loved ones and moving my body in ways that I enjoy, advocating for myself and knowing my limits, and the biggest thing of all setting boundaries. That includes with others, myself, the hours I work do, what I put on my to-do list, and so on. Boundaries keep us healthy.

Meeting Steve Brown of Trixter, 2010. One year before WLS

Meeting Trixter again, 2012. One year after WLS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As anyone that has undergone any kind of weight loss surgery knows, it’s NOT the easy way out.  It’s not a decision I regret, but a decision that if I had to do over again, I would make different choices.  I would have first found a functional medicine doctor to get to the root cause of my weight gain and inability to loose weight, to treat my adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance, my sleep issues, and anxiety, which were ALL related.  I would have run a complete thyroid panel, tested for parasites, viruses and gut infections.  I would have nourished my body with nutrient dense foods, stopped working out like a maniac, and incorporated gentle movement.  I would give my body time to rest and recover from the constant flow of adrenaline and process the trauma I was witnessing on a daily basis from my job. I would be gentle with myself… All the things I practice now because of what I have learned  from this journey, so for that I am grateful.

In Wellness and Magic
~Jen~

Today, August 3, 2018. Seven years after WLS. It has left me with physical and emotional scars. But it has made me stronger and made me take responsibility for my health and wellness.