Change

Image Source: http://pinterest.com/pin/27373510208140446/

Image Source: http://pinterest.com/pin/27373510208140446/

Let’s have a real moment, shall we?

There’s a particular time in a woman’s life they call… the “change.”

As I journey through this season of my own life, I now understand that this one small word “change” encompasses, not a mere trickle, but a FLOOD of change!

I’ve read all kinds of information online about what exactly the menopause process is and what to expect. I’m not going to rehash all that here — it’s as easy as asking google for yourself if you’re interested in knowing. I’ve read horror stories and I’ve also read some pretty exciting stories of transformation. I really want mine to be the latter.

I look forward to getting to the other side of this transition. I’m actually excited for the new season to come! They say you become more bold and confident in who you are, no longer caring so much what people think. Well then, I’ll take two helpings of that, thanks!

For now, I’m still caught in the struggle of pushing through that cocoon. Hormones and emotions can be all over the place without warning and when they are, I do my best to keep my wits about me. Most days I still manage to keep my composure well, thanks to a LOT of prayer and an understanding family. Other times, I want to scream. I don’t even always need a reason, but I really, really want to. Some of you are shocked at that statement coming from me. And some of you ladies will get me completely! ;)

I know rationally what is happening chemically inside my body and brain, and that it will pass — but at the same time, I’m feeling a little whacked out emotionally at times. I always believed I would be one of those women that would float through this normal life transition with little disruption to my every day life. Not so, silly girl! Maybe you’ve gone through it with nary a mood swing to speak of and you’re thinking I’m being overly dramatic. Well, bless you!

And, for crying out loud, I just have to ask — how is it even physically possible to both be sweltering and have goose bumps at the same time???!!! I mean, really?!

Don’t get me wrong, dear friends. I haven’t completely lost my ever lovin’ mind. Just feeling the need to vent a tiny little bit and really, just to share some honesty. I may sound like a mess, but I’m thinking if I don’t share the ugly truth of where I’ve been, how will anyone recognize the grace? ‘Cause that’s what’s getting me through.

I think we hide behind our fake “fine” a little too much, and frankly, I’m tired of that. We never want to show our truth because it makes us vulnerable to judgment and criticism. We think that to struggle is to be a failure as a Christian. I’m finally getting it that the brokenness is what draws us closer to the heart of God — if we let it. There will always be some that don’t understand and pass their judgment. So what does that even matter? Isn’t it worth taking that chance if it means connecting with someone in a similar struggle?

And so, if I have seemed a little different lately, please understand — it’s not you, it’s me. I’m just working through some of this weirdness as gracefully as I can. I’m certain I’ll never be the same old me as before — but I know I’m becoming a better me. And I won’t be able to take the credit for it because this is outside of my control. Jesus knows my personality, my feelings, every experience I’ve ever had that has shaped who I am, and He’s continuing to stretch and change me daily. This process is uncomfortable, yet also a gift, for it’s in the struggle and surrender where we find our real freedom.

Change really is a good thing, and I know this. So, rather than continue to fight it, I now choose to embrace this passage with great expectation. If I’m gonna be on this roller coaster for a little while longer, I might as well throw my hands up in the air and ride it out with childlike anticipation.

Update on 40 Day Detox (Day 29)

Things are still moving along well with the detox, although it’s turned out to be 40 days of about 95% raw instead of 100%. There have been a couple of circumstances that it was not possible for me to maintain 100% raw. However, rather than beat myself up for “failing” – I just recognized the fact that I have to go with the flow of life as it comes and it will not always accommodate my dietary limitations. I simply made the exceptions where necessary and got right back on track for the next meal.

Gone are the days when I carry around guilt for not doing something perfectly. I believe I have finally been delivered from that! Thank God for that miracle! I am learning to love the skin I’m in without micro-obsessing about every little detail of my body that isn’t exactly the way I want it to be. So I have a roll here or some flab there. I am human and I’m getting older, so I don’t really know how you can even define what a perfect body is supposed to look like anyway. My job is simply to be the best steward I can of the body I’ve been given.

I do feel so much healthier after having been on this detox. I’ve lost a few pounds, I have more energy, I sleep better, and my head is clearer. I feel like I can breathe easier and I’ve also noticed my sense of smell has gotten much more sensitive. I can smell the slightest odors. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes… well, not so much. ;)

The migraines have definitely reduced in frequency and intensity, though I still have had about one per week. That’s still too many, but I believe they are gradually diminishing the longer I am taking in lots of fresh raw food.

11 Days to go to finish this detox, and then, I’ll likely be continuing on with a high raw plant based diet with occasional farm fresh eggs. But, I must admit, I am looking forward to adding some cooked meals back into the mix. Until then, I’m continuing to enjoy some pretty spectacular salads, smoothies and juices!

Update on 40 Day Raw Food Detox (Day 11)

Today is day 11 of my raw food detox. I wish I would have had more time to write before now!

The 2nd-4th days were absolutely the hardest! I had some overall detox and probably dairy & sugar withdrawal symptoms that sent me to bed on more than one occasion over these few days. I felt completely wiped out as if I had the flu. Excruciating migraine for 3 days straight along with extreme tiredness and achy all over. I knew I just needed to push through because I knew it would pass and I would feel a whole lot better soon.

Thankfully, by day 5 I was feeling much better! My mind started to clear and I felt less inflamed in the mornings. So far I’ve dropped 3.5 lbs. This morning I’m a little bloated but that has more to do with the time of the month than having slipped up. I haven’t. I’ve been keeping to the program quite well, in fact.

Something happens when you thoroughly make up your mind that you won’t let anything keep you from your goal. My goal was to commit to this 40 day raw food detox without wavering or compromise. So far, having passed the 25% mark, I am happy to say it has been easier than I anticipated. Thank God for that miracle!

Every day just seems to get a little better. I have had a couple of low points when I waited too long to eat that I became quite sensitive and irritable. But with a little food and prayer, I was back in my centered space, filled with peace and optimism once again. Sometimes you just need to eat a banana and have a little talk with Jesus. ;)

I am loving the changes I’m already seeing in myself and I know I am doing good for my body and mind. I think we all know our brain is directly linked to our stomach! After all, what we eat does not just feed our stomach, it feeds our whole body. How well do you think the brain is going to run on processed junk food vs. living fresh natural food? Seems like a no-brainer, to me.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed… I was constantly getting the munchies in the evenings and never satisfied with anything, so I’d eat something else, then something else, … But now — I am eating a lot less in volume, but everything is living and nutrient dense, so it must be satisfying me because I am not having the desire to constantly graze anymore. Plus, I’ve been keeping a closer eye on my water intake because I knew it wasn’t enough. Dehydration makes you feel zapped and it’s amazing what a difference the proper amount of water can make.

I’ve really enjoyed getting back to the basics of real, whole, fresh food. It has forced me to give more thought to what I am about eat. Everything takes time, planning, preparation and thought. It’s forced me to slow down and stop eating mindlessly or emotionally. That has been my biggest hurdle to overcome. There’s never been a better time to do something like this because the recipe resources on the web are endless.

Even if you don’t go all raw like I’m doing right now, start looking for ways to incorporate more and more raw foods into your day. You will start to see a difference.

40 Day Detox

detox (1)
I’ve been away from blogging for so long! I’ve had a pretty full plate with other things going on in my life, and along with that, I got myself a bit off track nutritionally. I’ve decided to embark on a 40 day detox to take back control of my health.

Today is day 1 of my commitment to the next 40 days on a 100% raw food diet. I have been really struggling with my health lately, getting lots and lots of migraines again, putting on weight, body aches and pains, inflammation, sluggishness and sharp mood swings. The emotional side of feeling this way is not pretty! These are certainly NOT ways I want to describe myself and it’s up to me to change it!

And, guess what falls by the wayside when you’re feeling bad all the time? Yep, definitely exercise! So, I’ll be working on improving that too. I’m done making excuses and putting off what I know I need for my own well being, and I’m taking the plunge. I’ll be posting my progress periodically, but I can’t guarantee how often. Just taking this thing one day at a time and being real along the way.

I’ve really missed writing and I suspect that this period of detox is going to stir up some things to write about. We’ll see what happens! ;)

Inspiration to Get Moving

Here’s a little inspiration to get you thinking about what you want to see from yourself. This video makes me want to put my running shoes on and determine to make it happen. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m working on it every time I get back out there!

What motivates YOU?

Sugar… It Does a Body BAD!

There is no use denying it — sugar is highly addictive and there are probably more people addicted to it than any other substance we put into our bodies. It’s scary when you think about how pervasive and hidden it is in our foods. The vast majority of processed foods pushed at us are loaded with sugar. Even foods you wouldn’t think would have any reason to have sugar in them! So why is it there? Because it keeps us coming back for more, and the companies know it! Repeat buyers = big profits!

That’s just one reason why eating whole living foods is so important to your health. With whole foods, you know exactly what you’re getting. If it comes in a box, can, jar, or bag — who knows what’s in there?! Sugar has many forms and names, too, so when you’re reading labels you might not see that sugar has been added because they don’t just come out and say sugar.

Sugar is definitely hard on the body and we should do our best to avoid it for the most part in our diet. I still use sugar in natural forms, but even those I use very sparingly. A word about fruit — yes, fruits are typically high in natural sugars, and I usually stay away from drinking fruit juices because the sugar concentration is high. However, eating fruits in their whole form should be fine for most people because the fiber of the fruit accompanies the sugar and the body knows how to handle that. It’s when there’s a flood of sugar entering the body without any fiber that causes havoc to our systems. Green smoothies are an excellent way to get our taste for something sweet, because we’re taking in all that fiber and all those greens together with it.

It’s the refined sugars and artificial sweeteners you need to run from. They are no good in any scenario. They are poison to your body and if you don’t think you are addicted, just try stopping your consumption of them and see what happens. Your body might react just like it’s been deprived of a drug fix — headaches, mood swings, fatigue, lethargy, rage, irritability, skin breakouts… Not pretty!

Those chemical artificial sweeteners are just as bad and have no place in anyone’s diet! There are plenty of resources on the internet for you to look into the effects of consuming these toxic chemicals, so I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, but as you can probably tell, I’m strongly against them! You can check out more info on aspartame here (aka Equal, Nutrasweet). Here is another excellent article about Splenda and other sugars and their effect in a woman’s body, particularly.

Enjoying sweet things now and then is not bad. After all, we were created with taste buds that love them. Your best bet is to stick to natural forms of sugar, and avoid refined sugars as much as possible.

Natural sugars I use

Agave Nectar — There are several forms of agave – raw, light, and dark. I typically only use the raw as it would be less processed than the other two. There is a lot of disagreement over whether or not agave is actually a good or bad sweetener. Using it in moderation seems to work for me. Every body responds differently, so you’ll have to test this by seeing how your body responds when you use it.

Raw Honey — Notice I said RAW honey. I believe in the value of raw, unfiltered honey and know it is very beneficial to the body. The reason you want to make sure it’s raw is because it’s the living enzymes and other bee goodness in the raw version of honey that assists the body in healing. Heat processed honey is no better than refined sugar — in fact, it’s been shown that many manufacturers actually feed their bees high fructose corn syrup to increase their honey production — so guess what’s in that honey? Yep, high fructose corn syrup! But you won’t find that on the label!

Pure Maple Syrup — Pure maple syrup is pricey, so I use it sparingly for certain things. Certainly, once you’ve tasted the real thing, those sticky, thick, syrups with maple flavoring you may have been used to using will never do it for you again.

Dates — Dates are great to use in many different kinds of recipes to add a little sweetness. They are also nice for a sweet treat just to eat by themselves. There are many good reasons to include dates in your diet.

Stevia — Stevia is probably the best way to add sweetness without any negative effects on your body. You have to be very careful not to use too much, though, because it’s very concentrated and leaves a bitter taste if you overdo it in a recipe. Just learn where the “sweet spot” is and you will love using it.

Start Something New

start of something new(image source)

It has been  F O R E V E R  since I’ve written! I’m happy to be back, inspired with new ideas and ready for change! I love writing and I have missed it so much! I really have no excuse for ignoring my blog for so long; just have not invested the time into it.

Today is my birthday, and kind of like New Year’s Day, I usually spend the anniversary of my entrance into the world reflecting and taking stock of where I am and where I’d like to be. What better day than today to kick start a new beginning?

I think I’ve come a long way, baby, and yet there are many more tweaks to be made. Unfortunately, I tend to procrastinate and get lazy without accountability, so that’s what this blog is for me. It keeps me honest, which is probably why I’ve been avoiding it — because I’ve been messing up lately with my food (not so healthy) choices.

Enough of that nonsense! I’m ready to get back on track and hopefully even inspire a few people along the way.

My reality is that I am a relentless perfectionist with obsessive and addictive tendencies. Therefore, even in good things, I can be extreme in an unhealthy way and I torment myself beyond reasonable. I try hard, but I get stuff wrong sometimes. I imagine if you’re human, you’ve got some issues and hangups that get in your way, too.

So, I decided once and for all that there is absolutely no reason to bother having yet another blog on these “interwebs” if I am just going to be adding to the noise and not be willing to open up for real. There are enough blogs telling people how to be healthy. What we really need is more honesty about the challenges of real life. And, since I can’t seem to silence the words in my head screaming to be written, then apparently my words, thoughts, struggles and triumphs do have purpose. At least I hope they do!

So, here I am back at it — Welcome to Grace & Greens 2.0.

What If It’s Not What You’re Eating, But What’s Eating You?

We can do everything right with our eating habits and exercise, but if we are not careful, we can let our emotions run wild and wreck our efforts to be well. That’s why it’s so important to not only fill up on good, healthy food, but to make sure you’re keeping your spiritual tank full, too.

I can think of so many times that I’ve caught myself obsessing in my thoughts. For me, being an introvert who spends a lot of time thinking about the issues of life, I sometimes forget to take those thoughts captive and bring them to God in prayer.

When we are tempted to fill in the missing blanks in situations where we don’t have enough information, we end up creating a false story in our mind that almost always ends up in bringing us down. Instead of believing the best, we fear the worst. Then we start acting accordingly. We need to stop this because it feeds fear, anxiety, anger, resentment, hurt feelings — and these things will eat you alive! The body begins to respond to these negative emotions by releasing all kinds of stress hormones and pretty soon it affects your health in a bad way.

Don’t go there! Decide as soon as you start slipping into an emotional pit that you will NOT waste a moment of your God-given time on this earth to entertain such foolish thinking. You are made for more than that. Forgive all offenses quickly and completely. Turn your worries into prayers. Transform your fears into opportunities to praise God for His goodness in your life. It’s not as bad as your mind wants to think it is!

It’s taken me a lot of years to get to this place, but I’ve finally realized that for my own health and well being, I must learn to lighten up about things I’m faced with in this life. I can’t afford to take life so seriously that I dwell and dwell and dwell on stuff until it makes me sick. Worrying about what people think was a giant sensitive spot for me. I finally faced the fact that it is impossible to please everyone all the time. People won’t always understand me or why I do the things I do. Sometimes, I’ll make them downright mad. There used to be a time I couldn’t live with the idea of anyone being mad at me. But you know what? I found such freedom in letting all that people pleasing nonsense go.

As God has changed me in this way, He has also helped me to be more compassionate and forgiving towards the actions of others, too. Because the truth is, we all want to be loved, and when we act out in negative ways, it’s usually from a root of not feeling loved. The only way to keep a right perspective is to only look to God to fill your empty places. Never look to another human being to fill you up. They can’t do it. They weren’t made to. When you let people off that hook, it completely takes away the need to be offended because you never expected them to fill you up in the first place.

Jesus is all you need. Look to him to guide you to health and wellness. It’s not just about the physical food you put into your body. Yes, you need to make wise choices and stop putting garbage into your body. But that alone is not enough. Your willpower and determination are not even enough. It takes total trust in God, knowing He is more than enough.

“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.” ~ John 6:27 (The Message)

image credit: home grown hospitality

The Best Medicine

Laughter is probably the best medicine in the world for counteracting all the negative things we deal with in life. I know I sometimes forget to have fun and I find myself getting too serious at times. When I get too serious, I don’t feel well. When I laugh, I feel great!

The next time you’re feeling stressed or a little blue, why don’t you seek out some fun things to lighten your mood? It’s great therapy to have a good laugh!

I love this video about the elderly couple doing some spontaneous entertainment at the Mayo Clinic. Maybe you’ve seen this before — I know it has made its way around the internet!

The second video is worth watching too. You’ll hear a little more about the couple and their mission in life — to put smiles on people’s faces and bring joy to others. What a great mission!

Enjoy :)

 

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What a great reminder for all of us to lighten up a bit! Click here for an excellent article showing the many ways laughter benefits your health.

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A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22

Count Your Blessings

Yesterday I received some news in the mail I had been waiting for. It was something I had been counting on for a great need. I opened the envelope anxious to see what it said and my heart sank with the words in the “we regret to inform you” letter.

Immediately, my mind went in a thousand directions. My heart started racing. I felt my face get hot. As my shaking hands held this unexpected news, my first human reaction was to think, “What are we going to do now? How will we make it work without this thing we were counting on?

Hope deferred makes the heart sick… Proverbs 13:12a

But also in that same stack of mail was another letter. I opened this one, still holding on to hope that this one would be good news. “Congratulations…” and with that one word, I was able to breathe again. Thank you, God. You knew how badly we needed this to come through.

We really needed both things to come through, but one did and the other didn’t. That’s how life works. We don’t get to live a life where there are no disappointments. Encountering hardships and pushing through in spite of them are what empower us for greater things in life.

It was tempting to let my mind dwell on the disappointment, trying to solve the future in that moment. But the truth is, I can’t change a thing about it. It is what it is, and I find myself realizing that even in this disappointment, I still have so much to be thankful for.

As I began to think on all the ways I have been blessed, provided for, and protected, I knew it was going to be alright. Things will work out. I believe that because I have a long track record of experiences to recount how God came through with just what was needed at just the right time.

So, I choose to continue counting all my blessings, and eventually, I have to just stop counting for a while because there is no end to the goodness of God in my life. The negatives are a very short list in comparison.

Studies have even shown that people that practice gratitude are healthier in general than those that are negative complainers. Here’s an interesting article on the subject.

If I would have let myself dwell on the news of the first letter too long, I would have ended up making myself physically sick. I was already experiencing physical changes in my body when I first encountered the news. However, by choosing to accept the negative and then redirecting myself to focus on my gratitude for the good news that came, I felt better. The anxiety left, I felt the calm return, and I had a good night’s sleep.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22 NLT

Don’t carry around a broken spirit. Make the choice to lift your head and see all the good that surrounds you. No matter what problems you are facing in your life — though they seem many and too large to overcome — I’ll bet your blessings far outnumber them, still! And if you keep a thankful heart, you just might be surprised at how those mountains will move out of your way.

Oh, and it’s good for your health, too!

image credit: http://printables4scrapbooking.com/archives/count-your-blessings