The No Coffee Experiment

Well, I’m on day ten of drinking tea instead of coffee to see if it would affect the burgeoning joint pain in my fingers.  I decided to try this because my mother has some bad joint deformity in her fingers at 81 years old, and I noticed that my pointer finger knuckle was looking like it was about to take the same journey. I can’t say I have pain necessarily, just some swelling and tenderness if I squeeze it. I am not giving up caffeine, just the coffee. However I estimate I’ve gone from 500 mg of caffeine a day to about 150 mg, which is the equivalent of about 1 cup of brewed coffee.

So on day ten I’m about to throw in the towel, because I’m not noticing one bit of difference in my hands. I did a blood test last year that didn’t show any inflammation from coffee, but I know not all inflammatory markers are measured in every test so I did the elimination to see if it made a difference. Coffee is listed for exclusion on autoimmune protocols, and since I know I can’t consume nightshades, gluten or dairy I figured it would be worth a try.

I haven’t noticed any improvement in sleep and I mostly just feel more tired at the end of the day. My digestion is the same. No miracle skin improvement or energy boosts. For the most part I’m just sad because I can’t have my coffee. I don’t like tea and half the time it upsets my stomach. Therefore in the spirit of not depriving myself further joy, I’m going back on the juice! Upside is I’ve greatly decreased the amount of caffeine I have to have, so I’m going to stick to just one cup (12oz size) of the magical java daily for now.

 

The Magic Pill is Real Food – So you’ve decided to be healthy. Now what?

So much information, so little time. We all want to be healthier, but with so many experts telling you what you should be eating or what supplements you should be taking it can be confusing. I say strip it down to the basics. Just eat real food.

What is real food as I define it? Sustainably raised meat, poultry & eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds. What isn’t it? Processed food like bread, pasta, cereal, or pretty much anything with a label. Most of what’s in the grocery store actually. Typical SAD (Standard American Diet) food. Does it mean you can never have a treat again? No. Once you make improvements in your health, you can have occasional splurges. For me personally, my digestive health and overall wellbeing improved so much typical SAD food isn’t even tempting. I’ve become a much better cook and I’ve learned to genuinely enjoy whole food based treats.

I’m not a nutritionist and have no medical credentials, so what I offer here is not in any way medical or nutritional advice. I think of myself as a whole food facilitator. When you have decided to make improvements in your diet, it is hard work. Most of us are so entrenched in our food preparation and eating habits we don’t even know where to start. I’ve been down the path and regained my health. I no longer rely on allergy medicine, heart burn medication, Nsaids or acetaminophen to feel operational. My migraine frequency continues to diminish.  So I want to help you if you want to try it out! If you are ready…dive in.

STEP 1: Clean the crap out of your kitchen. Box up unopened SAD food and take it to the food bank. If it is opened, throw it out. This includes cereal, bread, crackers, chips, anything with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, vegetable oils-canola, soy, safflower, corn, etc. JUST GET RID OF IT! This is not negotiable. If it is in your house, you will eat it. Set yourself up for success.

STEP 2: Meal plan. This includes making shopping lists and cooking several meals for the week. Plan on at least five hours to get yourself set up for the week. The upside is you’ll have free time during the week because you’ll have planned so well. No need to spend a bunch of money on cookbooks to start off, there are plenty of free resources to get you started.  Here are some great links for recipes and information on real food eating:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/    http://everydaypaleo.com/    http://theclothesmakethegirl.com/                                                   http://nomnompaleo.com/recipeindex

STEP 3: Sleep. At least 8-9 hours a night. This is not negotiable. Get a sleep mask and earplugs if it helps.

STEP 4: Get more sunshine & increase your activity. Find a walking/workout buddy. If that isn’t an option, use a website like http://www.meetup.com to find other people in your area that have the same health and fitness goals. Make plans, not excuses.

That’s all I have for now.  Hope it helps! If you have questions or need tips or encouragement, e-mail me at: haclife@outlook.com

Confessions of a Beautycounter Consultant

I have a confession to make. I signed up to sell Beautycounter before I even tried their products.

Beautycounter lured me into the life of sales with their strong message of education and advocacy. Their belief that each consultant has the power to share the message of safer beauty and personal care products is empowering. Their work in Washington D.C. to actually make this happen is admirable. When I heard their mission statement- “Our mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone.”- I was sold.  It is powerful in its accuracy and simplicity. How many of you know how safe the products you are putting on your body are? I wasn’t aware that the U.S. only bans 30 ingredients out of 80,000 that are used in personal products before I went to a Beautycounter social. Did you? The E.U. bans 1400 and Canada 600. This bothered our CEO Gregg Renfrew and she decided to do something about it. Beginning with a list of 1500 ingredients that Beautycounter will never use. More importantly, she along with a few other beauty industry executives are sharing the need for stronger regulations in their own industry with members of Congress. Why does this matter you ask? You could currently be slathering on known carcinogenic (cancer causing) or endocrine disrupting (hormone levels) products in the form of soap, lotion, shampoo or makeup on your body. Beautycounter helps provide alternatives that are safer and if you don’t want Beautycounter they will provide you with resources to determine what other brands might be safer. Personally, I’ve never used any safer products that perform as beautifully as Beautycounter’s do.

Another quality I enjoy about Beautycounter is that it is a B Certified Corporation which means it values people, planet and profit equally. Working for a company that believes it can help solve social problems, help the environment and voluntarily meet higher standards of transparency (you KNOW what is in BC products), accountability, and performance is inspiring.

I’m delighted to be a part of a company that values my health and wellness and provides me with the opportunity to share and educate family and friends about the products they use. I’m part of a movement through Beautycounter to educate, advocate and provide fantastic beauty and personal care products. And I like it. 

 

My Beautycounter Life So Far

Dew___Tint_Skin

It has been three months since I joined the ranks of Beautycounter  as a customer and  consultant and I wanted to briefly share my experience.

In one word it has been positive. The improvement to my skin through the use of their Essential Nourishing line and their No.1 Brightening Facial Oil has been extremely encouraging. I’ve learned to love facial mists and oils, two products I never knew existed.  I’ve been using the makeup from their Flawless in Five collection and have never felt so put together in my life. The best part about all of these products is that they last. Beautycounter has made safer beauty super high performing so it takes a small amount to get results. I am still using all my original purchases three months in and from what my mentor is telling me I can count on around six months for most of the products in my regimen.

As a consultant I feel encouraged, valued and empowered by Beautycounter as a company and the mission they are on. Yes it is direct retail, because they feel their message is best shared one on one. Honestly as soon as I started using their products and learning about how much vigilance goes into the procuring and testing of ingredients, I wanted to share it with my family and friends. Having a little extra income is great, but knowing that I am helping to spread the word about using cleaner & safer personal care products gives me a sense of satisfaction. Doing drop offs so people can use before they buy is fantastic. Seriously, once you use these products you’ll be sold.

The best part about Beautycounter is their belief in the importance of transparency in regards to their ingredients. You should be able to find out from companies before you use their products if they avoid using ingredients linked to cancer. While it seems like common sense, companies are allowed to use endocrine disruptive and toxic chemicals in personal care products you use every day. Beautycounter is working to change that and has created a Never List to demonstrate that devotion to selling safer beauty & personal care products.

 

My Favorite BEAUTYCOUNTER Products Reviewed

With so many fantastic Beautycounter products to choose from it is difficult to pick some favorites. However I’ll do it for you guys. First I want to tell you WHY I use Beautycounter. Their intentional attention to the safety of their products continues to impress me. As I learn more about what beauty companies can get away with when it comes to the consumers safety, and how Beautycounter purposefully avoids those practices, I want all my family and friends to try it. I care about my health and longevity and I want to use the highest performing, safest products I can find. Beautycounter fits the bill.

First favorite Beautycounter product: Dew Skin Moisturizer $45   This light weight moisturizer is a 2015 Allure Magazine award winner and with good reason. I don’t notice it on my skin, it gives me plenty of protection from the sun (and my 50-year-old face needs that) and it lasts a really long time. I’ve been using the same tube since the middle of July and have given out two considerable samples to clients and it still feels over half full. Beautycounter invests a huge amount of time not only into the safety of its products, but the performance of them. Win win.

Second product that gives me a little thrill every time I use it: Volumizing Mascara $29 My eyelashes have grown thinner as I get older, fact. This mascara, in two coats, gave them so much volume my friend thought I had gotten eyelash extensions. And it stays put during the day, but is removed easily when I wash my face.

Third and final Beautycounter treat I’ll tell you about here: Repair & Nourish Shampoo and Repair & Nourish Conditioner each $25 These two products changed my opinion of what shampoo and conditioner can and should do. I washed my hair with a surprisingly small amount of shampoo that lathered impressively, conditioned with a smaller than usual amount and rinsed thoroughly. The spa like smell and luxurious lather was fantastic. How my hair dried and styled was awesome. The softness and how well the style held with absolutely no additional product completely wowed me. Seriously, my friends all heard about it.

Are these products worth the price. Absolutely and I’m a bit of a cheap skate. They last so long! And you can feel confident they are vetted for safety and performance. Never tested on animals, only people. Education driven, mission focused, environmentally conscious, Beautycounter is a company to support and believe in.

Feel free to comment or email me with questions about any Beautycounter products  or for more information about the state of the beauty and personal care industry in the USA. 2017-09-23-18-24-45

Beautycounter Review

Believe me when I tell you that I am a skeptic when it comes to  the performance of personal care and beauty products. For years I’ve been trying to find healthy lotion, shampoo and makeup that was up to my expectations regarding ingredients and how well they worked.  I’m admittedly a bit of a high maintenance person when it comes to my health as I eat sustainably raised, local, organic food as much as I can. I cook in cast iron and stainless steel and store food in glass rather than plastic. And I make my own mayo and eat gluten and dairy free.  I put a lot of time and energy into optimizing my time on the planet. Finding more “natural” “safe” beauty care products was hard. They either were chemical free and sucked, or had all ingredients I could read and were okay.  Then I was invited to a Beautycounter social.

I was greatly intrigued by Beautycounter’s mission to get safer products into everyone’s hands and the fact that the first social I went to was extremely low pressure to buy. The main message was educating yourself about what you are using on your own body as well as your family members. I went right home and used the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep database the Beautycounter consultant mentioned to see how the products I was using ranked. I had to throw away two of my chapsticks based on their lower safety rating and one of them was a brand marketed as “natural.” Then I ordered three Beautycounter products and waited. They were the Citrus Mimosa Body Bar, Citrus Mimosa Body Lotion and the Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer.

  1. The Citrus Mimosa Body Bar smells great, but isn’t too strong and the smell doesn’t linger which I liked. The soap has a nice creamy feeling texture as you use it and soaps up just the right amount. I used it for shaving while in the shower too.
  2. The Citrus Mimosa Body Lotion again has the light citrusy floral smell that you enjoy while applying, but it doesn’t leave your skin perfumed. It spreads well and absorbs quickly and provides non-sticky moisture to your skin. I would say it is perfect for normal skin. If you super dry skin you may need a heavier product. Which would be the Citrus Mimosa Body Butter 🙂  This lotion was perfect for me.
  3. The Dew Skin Moisturizer was the one that most surprised me. I used it on fresh washed skin and after my regular moisturizer as my face is dry (and getting old) so I find I have a higher moisture requirement. This glided on, provided excellent sun protection and felt so light I didn’t even know I had it on. It doesn’t really provide coverage, but my skin looks better after a week of using it. Less dry and softer looking.

My sister, who has extremely sensitive skin that will rash up at the wrong input (lotion, soap or laundry detergent) tried both the Citrus Mimosa products and not only liked them, but said her skin was fine and she would be able to use them.

Since then I have become a Beautycounter consultant, ordered more products and have been genuinely impressed with what I’ve tried. The Nourish & Protect Shampoo and Conditioner leaves my hair clean and I can dry it without any other product and it holds its style. My hair feels so soft and healthy and it smells salon fresh. The Color Outline Eye Pencil goes on smoothly, precisely and doesn’t smear and run which is why I had quit wearing eyeliner. The Peppermint Lip Conditioner got rid of the unsightly dry skin flakes on my lips. The Protect Lip Balm kept my lips moisturized and soft even after several days in the Texas heat.

The takeaway? Try it! You’ll be surprised and impressed. At the very least your contact with the company will leave you better informed as a consumer going forward. I can be reached for comments or questions either through this site or through at:  Beautycounter by Heather Clark And even if you don’t want to buy anything, look at the Never List of chemicals Beautycounter avoids as well as learn about what the company is doing on a national level to advocate for all of us consumers.

 

 

When a Whole 30 Isn’t Enough

Starting your journey to health with a Whole 30  is a brilliant idea. The information and community support is tremendous. You will feel better and understand the power of eating REAL food. What I’ve learned though is sometimes it isn’t enough. What? Giving up all the food that makes you joyful isn’t enough? That’s crazy talk! Well, it is my truth. Would I go back to eating processed food and too much sugar? No way.

My “only” lingering health issue after several years of real food eating is migraines. I have abnormal ones. They come on first with a visual aura and last 2-4 hours. Occasionally I will go months without one. Sometimes I get a couple a month. If I had to guess, I’d say they have something to do with my hormones as I’ve addressed diet & lifestyle. However I haven’t had to take antibiotics for five years and I cannot remember the last time I was really sick. Oh wait I do remember; it was when the hospital made me get a flu shot before I could see my new granddaughter four years ago. I felt crappy for a few days, but was not bed ridden.

My point of writing this is to say even though your health might not be perfect after you clean up your diet, it will be improved in noticeable ways. The bottom line is you can’t take a pill or supplement and keep making poor food choices if you want to improve your health, lose weight or feel better long term. For improvement in your health to need to heal your gut. And for healing to occur in your gut, you have to eat real food, have good sleep and stress relief hygiene (yoga, meditation), and move. Walk outdoors and lift heavy things and surround yourself with good people. You have to do this for a long time before you “cheat.” Maybe a year, maybe two, maybe three. I was forty when I found out I was gluten and dairy intolerant and had what I now know was the beginnings of autoimmune issues. Real food, real activity, real sleep is a lifestyle, not a diet. You are kidding yourself if you think one Whole 30 is going to fix you forever. It is a stepping stone to get you on track for having a better quality of life. You have damaged your gut over a lot of years and you need to honor yourself enough to give it time to heal. Use the wealth of free information on sites like www.Robbwolf.com , www.thepaleomom.com, www.marksdailyapple.com, www.everydaypaleo.com, and www.radicatamedicine.com to get started. Check out the books links in my resource section for help too. You don’t have to pay for meal plans or shopping lists, because people who live this way (like me) want to help you. Recruit family and friends to do it with you and have planning dates and batch cooking parties. It is work, but it is beyond worth it. If you put in the work, down the road you can have some of the celebratory treats on special occasions, but you might not want them.

The Curse Of Knitting And Other Sedentary Hobbies

cropped-cropped-ascarf3.jpgWhile I have been knitting for almost two decades, it has only become an obsession for the past couple of years. As with many other needle crafts as well as sewing, reading, game playing on electronic devices, even blogging, this involves sitting. I’m astonished to find that many people don’t even take this into consideration.  Well, sitting a lot is a problem and you should care. It is very difficult for me not to rant about the amount of sitting crafty types do and how unhealthy it is, but instead I thought I’d write a few things down that I’ve done to keep me moving more and hopefully minimize the damage sitting does.

  1. Commit to getting up at least once an hour. Sometimes I’ll do 10 air squats on my way to get a drink of water or do lunges on the way to the bathroom. Even working through a few sun salutations helps loosen up my legs and hips and opens my shoulders a bit.
  2. Walk at least two miles a day. That is a  30-35 min walk. And while it is only half of the steps we should be taking in a day, I find it often inspires me to continue on to do a bit of weight lifting. Invest in a kettlebell or some dumbbells and internet search some beginning exercises if it is new to you. Or just stretch!
  3. Sit on the floor to knit. Horrifying to some, but it helps use more muscles to sit upright, gives us the opportunity to straighten our legs and stretch a bit while we knit, and requires an effort to get ourselves up off the floor.
  4. Get a doorway pull-up bar and hang from it to open up your shoulders. It also helps work on your grip strength. I can even do a couple of pull-ups now!
  5. Create a standing work station. I have a wood TV tray on top of a side table that I knit at, so no excuses. You could buy a stand-up desk if you aren’t into creating your own.

This is just a beginning of a list of how to incorporate movement into your crafting. The most important thing though is to start the conversation with yourself about how you are going to move more. And remember to be healthy you have to eat real food and move. There is no pill that takes the place of it.

I keep this book handy to refer to if I have a particular ache or pain. It has been an invaluable resource:  Becoming A Supple Leopard  It is a great addition to your health library.

Zucchini Pizza

Azucchini

What to do with all those zucchini? That is the question. Every. Single. Summer. I always promise myself to plant only one, singular, solitary zucchini plant. Somehow I now have three. Plus one ‘summer squash’ plant, which let’s be honest, is really just a yellow zucchini. So long story short, I have at least 10 lbs of zucchini/summer squash and for some reason I have a hard time tossing it. This is where my 15 (or more) paleo cookbooks come in handy and I began scouring them for ideas. Zucchini Pizza was the best. I of course modified it to what I had in my kitchen and what I felt like putting in it. Yes, I’m going to post an annoying list of ingredients that I used, otherwise known as a recipe, and you will have to use your own expertise, tastes and culinary skills to mold it into your own. They turned out delicious and I highly recommend them as a way to use up the endless supply of zucchini you undoubtedly have growing in abundance in your garden.

Zucchini Pizza

* 2 Medium (9 inches or so) Zucchini

Cut in half long wise and cut out seedy section

* 1 lb Italian pork sausage

* 10 pieces salami

*10 pieces pepperoni –

Cook the pork until done, chop the salami and pepperoni and stir in with pork sausage

*add one small can sliced, black olives to meat mixture

Pizza sauce– buy premade OR…

* 1 cup of diced onion in olive oil until translucent (5-7 min)

Saute for 5-6 minutes

*Add garlic to taste and chopped parsley (about 1/3 cup)  and cook a couple of minutes more

*Add a can of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes  14 oz size

*Small can tomato paste (or drain the diced tomatoes and skip the paste)

*Tsp or so each of basil, oregano  and pinches of rosemary & thyme

*1/2 cup red wine

Cook, gently bubbling, for about 30 minutes

Mix the meat mixture with some of the sauce (you will have some sauce left over, freeze it for later) and spoon into the zucchini. I topped mine with fake cheddar cheese (Daiya brand) and my husbands with a bit of Parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes until it all looks bubbly and the zucchini is soft.

Feel free to wing it on the sauce if you have a family recipe or want to use a jar of spaghetti sauce. Recipes are not fixed and the more you experiment, the better you’ll get. Be free and joyful in your cooking 🙂

Enjoy!

p.s. Tomorrow I’m making zucchini muffins or bread. I’ll post that too.

Cheese Free Snack Plates

Sometimes I miss cheese. That is a fact. However, I also do not miss the tight, achy feeling just above my belly button the day after I eat cheese. I call this a dairyache. This is an invented word, but directly reflects the truth. I don’t have a stomach ache, because it is not in my stomach. It is further through my digestive tract. This is what makes food intolerances so tricky; sometimes you don’t feel the effects until a day or three after you eat a particularly offensive food.

How have I come to understand what exactly is causing my symptoms? Through food elimination protocols. Is there a magic pill? NO!! If you want to be healthy you need to eat real, unprocessed, whole foods (meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, fats) for at least 30 days exclusively. And that is just the beginning. Then add one food at a time back in to see what adversely affects you. For example, have a small amount of dairy for three days after not having it for a month and see if you notice any ill effects.

So when you’ve had a long day at work and really just want some cheese, crackers and wine to relax with, what do you do?  I put together a rather delicious plate of dill pickles, uncured salami & macadamia nuts. And some red wine, which through the elimination process I have learned is okay if I stick with sulfite fee selections.

The good news is that even if you can’t eat all the processed crap that is pervasive in our grocery stores, there are alternatives that still feel like treats. Here is a picture of my deliciousness from last night:

asnack