Get to Know Your Cycle: The Follicular Phase


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Well, hello, again. It's been a bit since I worked on this series, but some new inspiration has hit and I'm ready to get back to writing about your cycle! 

In the first post of this "Get to Know Your Cycle" series, we discussed the hypothalamus and pituitary gland and their importance in your cycle. If you missed it, find the post here. This time, we're discussing the Follicular Phase. 

What is the Follicular Phase?

Let's start with the breakdown of what the four phases of our cycle are. You will often see only three phases on hormone tests that you may have done, but the four phases give greater clarity to our cycles and what our bodies need during each phase. Alissa Vitti, the hormone whisperer and founder of FloLiving, has delved deep into our cycles and makes some of the best recommendations on how we can support each phase. Her book WomanCode is my biggest reference for this series. 

The Four Phases

Follicular: Starts right after your period ends and lasts between 7-10 days

Ovulatory: Follicular phase leads up to ovulation, or the release of the egg from the follicle. It can last between 3-5 days.

Luteal: When the egg has released and peak ovulation (your most fertile point) decreases, your luteal phase begins. This phase lasts 10-14 days.

Menstrual: Begins the first day you bleed. This phases can last 3-7 days, but can be longer or shorter depending on hormonal imbalances.

Follicular Phase

While technically the second phase, as menstruation is considered the first, this is the phase that starts everything over again. Hormone levels have dropped during menstruation as the lining is shed from the uterus, but they slowly begin to increase in concentration. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to send Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) to the ovaries. This helps mature an egg for release, swelling several egg follicles in response. The uterine lining starts to thicken thanks to an increase in estrogen to prepare your uterus for an egg. This phase peaks at ovulation when an egg is released from the follicle. 

Vitti has a lot more to say on this phase from what the body's energy is like to how to harness your creativity during this time, but I'll let her book (and app!) tell you about those. I want to focus on food and herbs. 

Food and Herbs for the Follicular Phase

The follicular phase is the time when the body is being prepped for ovulation while also flushing out the old hormones from the system at the start. I can't stress enough how important proper elimination (aka pooping!) is during this cycle (and all others). Our bodies flush out our sex hormones from the liver, while they can be reabsorbed by the large intestine. If the system is not eliminating on a regular basis (e.g. you're constipated, or have less frequent bowel movements) those sex hormones that the body is trying to get rid of can go back into the system, causing hormonal imbalances. Light, fresh food is important during the follicular phase to help keep your body energized and lots of fiber help promote regular bowel movements. 

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli can help your body metabolize the estrogen through their phytochemical Indole-3-Carbinol which breaks down into Diindolylmethane (DIM). DIM can also reduce the amount of estrogen in the body. So as estrogen is increasing in the body during the follicular phase, it's good to have a way to keep it in check in the body, especially if you have estrogen dominance, but we also don't want to thoroughly decrease it through too many cruciferous veggies. Save that for luteal phase when estrogen is at its highest. 

Herbs such as red clover and marshmallow leaf and root can promote moisture in the body and increase cervical mucus as the body nears ovulation. To continue helping with estrogen balance and flushing the detoxification system, roots like burdock, dandelion, and yellow dock, as well as milk thistle, can be of assistance during this phase. As with all things herbal, slow is best, so I recommend a tea blend that can be tailored to your needs at this time. 

Have you adjusted your eating habits to your cycle? How has the change affected your cycle and symptoms?

Stay tuned for the next post in this series when we discuss Ovulation!

Get to Know Your Cycle: The Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland


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I've been reflecting on why the word "hormones" seems to pop into my mouth any time I talk about my passions or what I want to do with my life. My hormone journey really started with my skin. My acne was embarrassing and painful. Even today, I still struggle with it, and it affects more than just what my face looks like. It affects my mental state. It's an endless cycle of stress, acne, and shame and anger. For me, hormones in balance indicate a thriving life. And THAT is what I want for you. 

For a while, birth control was a bandage for my imbalanced hormones. When I realized that not only were the birth control hormones interrupting my body's natural processes, but they could not actually fix the problem, I knew I needed to get off the pill and figure out what was really going on. Debilitating cramps, acne, and digestive issues were alarm bells I didn't know to pay attention to, because I wasn't educated enough to know there was a problem. When I finally started paying attention and listening to what my body was telling me, I stopped feeling out of control and started to feel that there was something I could do to help. Understanding your cycle is knowledge and knowledge is power, at least when it comes to bringing your body back into balance. 

This is going to be the first in a series I like to call "Get to Know Your Cycle". I've gotten to know my cycle better over the past year and am continuing to experiment with how I can prevent further hormonal imbalances. I want to share that information with you through a monthly series getting to know the female reproductive system. It may seem daunting to figure these scientific things out, but it is amazing how simple (and, at the same time, complex) our bodies are to understand. Everything has a purpose within the body and everything connects together. It really is a magical thing once you start to understand how everything works! We're starting from the top this time to find out where our cycles begin: the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.

No one talks about hormones better than Alissa Vitti, the hormone whisperer and author of WomanCode. She writes, "Hormones that flow from glands in your brain dictate what organs throughout your entire body--all the way down to your ovaries--do. The hormones that those glands release, in turn, govern every major process your body performs, from setting your internal thermostat, to metabolizing food, to keeping your heart beating, to regulating your mood, to determining your fertility, and so much more." And this flow of hormones starts in your hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus is an almond-shaped region in your brain that receives information from the bloodstream about concentrations of hormones in the body and speaks to the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland lies below the hypothalamus and speaks to other glands and organs in the endocrine system: the thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, adrenals, and ovaries. For example, beginning in puberty, the hypothalamus releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to signal the pituitary to send out follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) to signal to the ovaries when it's time to start maturing an egg, the start of your cycle. Through the hormones it produces, the pituitary gland controls many vital processes and functions of the body, including growth, metabolism, blood pressure, reproduction, and sexual maturation.  

The little hypothalamus is also tied to the limbic system of the brain which controls the emotions and feelings, has a direct pathway to the adrenals, bypassing the pituitary gland in times of stress, and is also directly connected to the digestive system. It's such an important part of our brain!

So to simplify: A little region in the brain named the hypothalamus reads your blood to learn how much hormones flows throughout your body. That region talks to a gland below it, called the pituitary, by releasing hormones. In turn the pituitary is signaled to send out hormones of its own to other glands and organs. Those glands and organs then produce their own hormones which compensate for any lack in the system or are needed to release at a specific time in your cycle. 

There are some things we can do to keep our hypothalamus functioning well. According to Dr. Josh Axe, author of one of my favorite books Eat Dirt, healthy fats, good sleep, reduced stress, and exercising regularly are all important to a healthy hypothalamus. Also adding in chromium-rich foods, such as broccoli, apples, bananas, oranges, potatoes, green beans, basil, and garlic and utilizing frankincense and myrrh essential oils are all great ways to keep the hypothalamus happy. Some herbs like vitex berry and maca can also be helpful, though I would recommend working with a practitioner to incorporate them into your routine. 

Next time, we'll talk more about the different phases of your cycle and focus on the follicular phase. 

If you want to dive deeper until then, I found the website You and Your Hormones really helpful at getting at the basic understanding of each layer of your endocrine system. It is a great resource from the Society of Endocrinology. This video from Crash Course is also a good visual lesson to go along with this series.

The Wellness Project Book


While I still am not 100% sure whether or not I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis (GP says no, naturopath says yes), I'm taking all my happy thyroid cues from Phoebe Lapine, the leader of the #HashiPosse. I was so excited to help launch her new book The Wellness Project, which started as a year-long experiment of monthly challenges to improve her health. 

As part of helping launch her book, I participated in the #4WeekstoWellness challenge. I decided to work out some of my gut issues and proper elimination. I began my making my own bone broth (see recipe below) and drinking 1/2 cup to a cup every morning. I also tried to up my leafy green intake to help the process along. The second week I tried to up my hydration level, which is so hard! I always think I drink so much, but I am always so thirsty when I leave work. In the book Phoebe says that if our body goes thirsty one day it can replace the thirst desire with a hunger desire. I have definitely noticed that feeling, especially mid-morning when hunger strikes, but I really just need to drink more water. 

The third week I began to cut out sugar. While my sugar level has significantly dropped from a year ago (I no longer eat a bag of gummy bears in a sitting), I have been eating a lot of dark chocolate. It's been a stressful year and dark chocolate is my go-to de-stresser. These days I'm trying to cut out the sugar and see if the acne that has set up shop on my jaw dissipates. It's been two weeks and, while I'm also doing my best to stop leaning on my hands so much, it seems it's finally starting to fade. I've been upping my fruit intake to curb the sugar cravings which includes lots of fruit: frozen fruit smoothies, dried fruit, & fruit with nut butters. Fruit, though high in sugar, contains fiber which slows the release of glucose into your system (which is why they say smoothies are better than juices). 

I'm happy to report that even though my digestion has been upset with some of the foods I've event lately (ugh, onions!), I've been fairly regular and that is pretty fantastic. Why did I choose focusing on my elimination patterns? For anyone with a hormonal imbalance, it is imperative to have a regular system of elimination. I'll get into this further in another post, but our excess sex hormones are flushed out through the large intestine and if they sit in there for a longer period they can be reabsorbed back into the body. That re-absorption can lead to further imbalance which can manifest in a myriad of ways, acne included. 

If you're interested in learning more about how you can start your own #4WeekstoWellness challenge and focus on a specific issue you may be dealing with, check out Phoebe's site, Feed Me Phoebe, or order the book! It was such a great (and funny!) read filled with so much valuable information on healthier lifestyle patterns. 

Want to make your own bone broth? Here's the basic recipe I used from The Bone Broth Miracle by Ariane Resnick:

Basic Bone Broth

1 lb of grass-fed (VERY IMPORTANT) beef bones. You can use more, but it will be equal to how much water you can fit in whatever pot you use.

1 quart of water per pound of bones

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per quart of water

1 teaspoon of sea salt per quart of water

1 bay leaf or tablespoon of dry herbs of your choosing

Roast the bones slightly for added flavor, if desired. If using a crockpot, combine all the ingredients and set on low for at least 24 hours, but it can go for up to 48 hours. If using the stove, set the temperature to as low as possible and simmer for 24 hours or longer. 

Strain the bones, bottle, and store in the fridge up to a week. Reheat on low whenever desired. 

Reading The Wellness Project? Making some bone broth? Tag me @lisammagee and @phoebelapine. If you begin your own health challenge be sure to use the tag #4WeekstoWellness. 

Jessica Murnane + Reflecting on the Old Self


Photo by Nicole Franzen for One Part Plant

Photo by Nicole Franzen for One Part Plant

My sister is a treasure trove of information. I don't know how she does it, but somehow she finds most of the things that make me happy. I have her to credit for putting me on to today's interviewee. Jessica Murnane is an inspiration. She's a podcast host, cookbook author, plant-based eating evangelist, and mother to one of the cutest kids I've ever seen (seriously). I had the chance to meet her through helping to launch her cookbook baby, One Part Plant, into the world. I was so excited that she agreed to let me interview her to share with you here. 

 

Before jumping into the interview, I wanted to share something I've been struggling with that Jessica addresses below: the old self. The old Lisa has been haunting me a bit lately. Old me ate until she was beyond full. She shoved every sugary thing in her mouth. She was sick, but she ate anything that she wanted. It isn't hard for me to admit that I miss old Lisa, even if I didn't feel well then. I want to eat pizza and not stress about what on the menu I CAN eat. What IS hard for me to admit is that I actually really like the idea of the new me. While I've still been feeling pretty fatigued, I like the idea of enjoying exercise and having great digestion. Of balancing my hormones and skin naturally. It's a work in progress, but I have to remember that it's barely been a year since I radically shifted my lifestyle. One day, this will be easier, but for now I just need to have a little patience with myself and keep up the good work. 

[Side note: In case you are unfamiliar, endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that makes up the lining of the uterus attaches itself to other parts of the body, usually within the abdomen. As the lining builds up during the cycle, the rogue tissue builds up as well causing pain and cramping. Jessica refers to this condition below.]


Tell me about why you started the One Part Plant Movement?

I changed my diet because of my Stage IV endometriosis. Well, I should say I "tried" to change my diet for Stage IV endo. I didn't think it would actually work. I had tried so many things to manage my pain and symptoms and nothing helped. I planned on getting a hysterectomy before a friend intervened and suggested I try a plant-based diet. I told her I would try it for three weeks and see what happens. In the back of my mind, I thought I'd still get the surgery. But then in just a couple of weeks, I began to feel better. I was able to get out of bed, exercise, and feel alive again. I never got the hysterectomy. 

But changing my diet was one of the hardest things I've ever done. There were moments where I thought it would just be easier to get a hysterectomy. I didn't know how to cook. I didn't know what to eat if I did cook. I felt so alone in my new food choices. I created One Part Plant for all those people like me. People that didn't wake up loving kale smoothies. People that struggle with food choices and change. I never want anyone to feel the way I did! 

 

Did endometriosis affect your digestion, skin, or hormones before you changed your diet?

I mean, my endo still affects my digestion, skin, and hormones. But now it feels manageable. In the old days, the week before my period you'd find me curled up on the bathroom floor crying. I was out of control emotionally. My face would be a mess and had terrible digestion. 

Now is a different story. I'm not saying I don't get moody now, because I can still be a little asshole the week before. But I'm more in control. I'll still get a pimple from time to time. And if I go off my endo diet, I'll have bathroom issues. But I'm a completely different woman!! 

 

Once you changed your diet and your endometriosis began to be managed, did you notice any other changes physically?

I still battle with inflammation issues (which I'm working on), so I'm not rocking a six-pack or anything . But overall, I just look healthier. My eyes are wider and whiter, my skin is softer, and I just feel so much better physically. It's been a huge lesson in my relationship with food. I make food choices based on managing my pain and symptoms and not on what foods make me "skinny" or "fat". 

 

What about mentally? 

There is a huge difference mentally for me. When you live with chronic pain and you know that every single month that you will lose a few days-week of your life because of your illness, it can put you in a very dark place. I was severely depressed and there were some days that I just didn't want to wake up knowing the pain I'd be in. 

I think it's so important that we raise more awareness about endo because of infertility issues and unnecessary surgeries, but we can't forget to talk about the mental toll it can have on a woman. It's very real and needs to be talked about. 

 

On a recent podcast you spoke with Minaa B about your "old self". This is something I am grappling with right now, too. Can you tell me what your old self was like? Do you ever miss her?

My old self still lingers around. I don't miss her, but do recognize the fact that she's made me who I am. She's the reason I got to change my life, write a book, and talk to you right now. She's insanely strong and determined, but was just in so much pain, (mentally and physically). She creeps back in when I'm struggling with negative self-talk. She can VISIT, but I kick her out because sometimes she overstays her welcome! 

 

What has been toughest about reconciling your new self to your old self?

Pizza. Kidding. But not kidding. Pizza meaning just being able to go out with a group of friends to grab some pizza and not having to plan ahead about what options I can eat there. I get bummed about this, but then remind myself just how shitty I felt after eating that pizza. I could be in bed for the day because of it. Having to plan ahead is worth feeling good...even if sometimes it feels like a pain. 

 

How do you celebrate the person you've become while still honoring your past?

By acknowledging her and not pretending that it wasn't hard to get here. 

 

As a teen, and even into adulthood, I had no idea what was going on in my body. You've been starting to speak to young girls about endo. What has the response been? Are things clicking for them?

At first they are like "who is this chick coming in at 8am to talk about periods?!". I'm a pretty open person and have to remind myself that they are still teenagers and aren't as open yet (and may not ever be) talking about periods. The thing that always gets them to get more engaged is when I tell them that 1 in 10 women have endo. They can look around the room and know that one of their friends or themselves might have it, it makes it less of an abstract idea. 

The most important thing is for them to know the symptoms. This is something I focus on a lot in my sessions with them. Just knowing the symptoms is a huge education moment. Not just for themselves, but they might be able to help other women around them. 

 

When you began this lifestyle and diet change did you use any herbs or essential oils to assist you in the transition?

I didn't! I wish I did. It was weird enough to me that I was eating vegetables, essential oils were not even on my radar. Since then, I know the power of them. My friend, Giselle Wasfie (she's a Chinese Medicine Dr.) has educated me on all things herbs and oils. My favorite phrase she says is "HERBS WORK". They do. They are so powerful and it's important to find which ones work and don't work for you. I loved my interview with her on my podcast

 

Do you have a daily self-care routine? 

It really varies every single day depending where I am in the country. I've been traveling a lot on my book tour. But I always try to get in some form of body movement. Even if that's just doing a 20 minute yoga class on my Aaptiv app in a hotel (I just did that on Saturday!) or finding a quick workout somewhere in the city I am visiting. I always make sure to take my Tumeric, B12, and D. Eat something green. And I try to make someone happy everyday. 

I think lots of potions, powders, and self-care "stuff" is cool. But I try to keep it pretty simple, so I don't get stressed about adding more to my day or feeling guilty because I forgot to skin brush. P.S. I do love skin brushing, but am usually half-way through my shower when I remember I was supposed to do it! 

 

Before guests leave your podcast they always share their favorite plant-based recipe. What are you sharing with us?

AH! Turning the tables. I love this Creamy Mushroom Lasagna from the One Part Plant Cookbook. It's one that for sure doesn't taste "healthy" and you can share with all type of eaters in your life, plant-based or not. 

 

Photo by Nicole Franzen for One Part Plant

Photo by Nicole Franzen for One Part Plant

Creamy Mushroom Lasagna

serves 8

Olive, grape seed, or coconut oil, or veggie broth for sautéeing
3 garlic cloves, minced
16 ounces mushrooms, chopped (you can use a mix of different mushrooms)
1 tablespoon tamari or coconut aminos
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours (overnight is best), drained
1 cup veggie broth
2 big handfuls spinach
10 ounces gluten-free lasagna noodles (I love Tinkyada’s brown rice pasta)
4 cups marinara sauce, store-bought (a 32 oz jar) or homemade
Nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat a glug of oil or veggie broth over medium. When the pan is hot, add the garlic and sauté until it becomes fragrant. This will take about a minute. Add the mushrooms, tamari, and thyme. Cook, stirring every minute or so, for 6 to 8 minutes or until the mushrooms release their water and a little broth starts to form.

Combine the cashews and veggie broth in a high-speed blender and blend until the mixture is completely smooth. This might take up to 5 minutes, depending on the speed and power of your blender. Pour the cashew sauce into the pan with the mushrooms. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for a couple minutes to let the sauce thicken, stirring frequently. Throw in the spinach and stir for another minute.

Prepare the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Make sure to do this after your mushroom sauce is ready to go, so the noodles don’t sit for too long and start sticking together. Spread a third of the marinara sauce on the bottom of an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with half of the mushroom cream. Add a layer of noodles. Use another third of the marinara to cover these noodles. Add the remaining mushroom cream. Add the last layer of noodles and cover it with the remaining marinara sauce. 

Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast over the top, if you like, and bake for another 15 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Thank you so much to Jessica for answering my questions! You can find out more about her and the One Part Plant Movement by heading to her website and connecting with her on Instagram @jessicamurnane and @onepartplant. Be sure to tag @onepartplant and #onepartplant if you make this yummy lasagna!

Free + Native's Tea of the Feminine


If you've been over to my apartment, I've probably offered you some Tea of the Feminine blended by Lacy Phillips of Free + Native. It's one of my favorite teas and I use it regularly during the month to nourish my cycle. I was asked recently what the blend is, so I decided to post here as I merge two different recipes into one. The first recipe is from Free + Native's website and the second is from Claire Ragozzino's Vidya Living though blended by Free + Native. I do a slight variation on this recipe and will sometimes add other herbs that I feel I need at the time. 

Free + Native's Tea of the Feminine (adapted)

1/2 cup Red Raspberry Leaf

1/2 cup Stinging Nettles Leaf

1/2 cup Alfalfa Leaf

1/2 cup Red Clover

2 tbsp Peppermint Leaf

2 tbsp Oatstraw

2 tbsp Lemon Balm

2 tbsp Licorice Root, separated

Optional: Add in 1/2 tsp per cup chamomile or rose for calming and heart opening effects. 

Mix all ingredients except licorice together in a large bowl. Store in a large jar with a label and date. To brew, bring 1.5 cups filtered water to a boil in small saucepan. Add 1/2 tsp (or a little more if you like) to boiling water, lower to a simmer, and cover for 10 minutes. Turn heat off. Add level tablespoon of other blended herbs and steep for an additional 7-10 minutes off the heat with cover on. Strain and enjoy. 

P.S. I haven't added the health benefits of each herb to this recipe because Free + Native does a complete job of explaining on the websites above so I encourage you to head over there to learn more. While these herbs should not contraindicate with any medications, they should also be used slowly, building over time. 

Sometimes I Need to Hear Things Twice


Sometimes I need to hear things twice before I REALLY hear them. Such was the case this past week when I attended The Class by Taryn Toomey on Wednesday. They mention on the website how cathartic of an experience The Class can be. The sounds, movement, and sweat can really get emotions flowing. While in the cool down after intense cardio, I contemplated what I needed to leave in the room before I headed back into the world. My mind immediately jumped to something Erin Stutland says in her "Soul Stroll" audio.

"What you used to think was hard is now easy. Just see if you can take on this idea that it's easy. That life is just getting easier. " 

These words brought tears to my eyes. As crazy hard as the workout was, my life has been feeling harder. It's been so hard to see my face breakout. To see my thyroid hormone plateau at an elevated level. To not know if something I eat is going to make me feel terrible. But as I sat there on that mat and heard those words again (which to be honest, I've heard them at least 20 times), I realized I had a choice to make. I could either choose to let my life feel hard or I could choose to let my life feel easy. I don't know about you, but I want any easy life. Does that mean I won't have bad days? Of course not. But choosing my health is an easy choice. Choosing to not eat specific foods because they can disrupt my body's processes sounds like an easy choice. Is it challenging? YES. But it is the easy choice to make. I keep thinking how hard it is to have to watch what I eat so carefully. And is this going to be life for as long as I live? It probably will be. But that doesn't mean it has to be hard. It may feel hard for awhile. Hard to figure out what my body responds well to, but it will get easier. The more I pay attention to how I feel with certain foods, exercises, and daily habits, the easier it will be to stay on the path of health. 

Face Mapping + Quick Fixes


Recently as I was looking up "acne face maps" trying to figure out where the tiny bumps all over my forehead have come from, I stumbled upon an article from Teen Vogue over the very issue I was looking into. ( Side note: For those of you curious, this is actually a real thing, especially in Chinese medicine.) When I got to the section on jaw/chin acne, the author recommends birth control and some unpronounceable chemical (and, okay, they mentioned leafy greens) as a solution to the hormonal imbalance that is causing the acne. If you know me and you read my first post, you know this made me angry..but, like, righteous anger, because even though I have gone through so much with my skin and body in the past few months, I still want the quick fix.


Said tiny forehead bumps have been driving me mad for the past few weeks. I don't feel like my diet has changed or my products, but there they are like a taunting reminder that I don't know everything about my body and I'm not in control. Over the past few weeks I have tried mask after mask trying to detox my skin in hopes of getting rid of them. So as I wiped off my clay mask, I checked my forehead to see if the bumps were gone. Do you hear how silly that is? After a 10 minute mask I expected all of the bumps to magically disappear from my face. Why do I think that? Where does that notion of magic skincare products come from? And then I read that Teen Vogue article, one of my favorite magazines as a teen, mind you, and it struck me. I have been fed the quick fix for at least the past 15 years. I've been told that things can change overnight. That the chemicals I put on are "miracle" creams and gels and I'll look amazing in the morning. And then the morning comes and that giant zit is still there or the harsh chemical I put on has dried my skin out so much I'm peeling. So you buy another product. And then another. Until your cabinet is overflowing with "miracles in a jar". It's madness. And I know it. I've known it for a while and I've changed my skincare products because of it, but there I am using a two-ingredient, all natural, non-toxic mask thinking the exact same way. I've been programmed to believe a product is my savior.

But I know better than that. I know (and I'm telling myself more than anyone) that what is coming out on my skin is a result of how my body is operating. I know that it takes time to heal. That food is the medicine. That it can take a while of storing up good things for any change to come. Yet, even though I know all these things, it's going to take time for ME to heal, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well. I have a tendency to be very hard on myself. If something's not going right, I will find the solution. I'm a problem solver. And I love that about myself, but I also need to realize that patience is the best route for healing. There is no overnight fix, and I need to be okay with that. I want (and need) to work with my body, listening to it at all times for what it is asking of me, instead of forcing it to do the things I want it to do.

Are you experiencing the same kind of "quick fix" anxiety? What is getting you through the frustrating times?

 

From the Beginning...


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I want to begin with how I got to now and why I'm starting this blog.

Since I was a kid I've always had bad skin and a bad digestive system. I just never connected the two. In high school, my dermatologist put me on skin treatments that exacerbated the situation so I let go of the (expensive) creams and stuck with good ol' Clearasil. But nothing changed. For years. Instead, my hormones were imbalanced, my digestion was inflamed, and my skin was a mess. 

As a 24 year old, I began having terrible cystic acne, the worst IBS symptoms for a time, and developed menstrual cramps that made me feel like I could pass out. So I turned to the gynecologist and dermatologist for help. My gynecologist found nothing wrong, but my dermatologist said that the jaw/chin acne were clear signs of an hormonal imbalance. So she put me on a birth control pill to balance my hormones. My acne cleared and my insane cramps went away. Miracle! It was like magic. And I was telling everyone how I had been healed and recommended they do the same if they experienced any similar symptoms. 

Cut to 3-4 years later, skin still free from cystic acne, but painful cramps every so often and low energy, I learn from Nicole Jardim that my miracle pill is just covering the problem like a Band-Aid on a giant gash. My body is tricked into thinking it's pregnant (are anyone else's alarm bells going off???) and what I thought was my period is just bleed-through. The pill I had put my hope in was nothing but a lie. Here starts the drastic change that would ensue. 

A blood test later would reveal I also had hypothyroidism (possibly Hashimoto's autoimmune disorder, but more on that later), a vitamin D deficiency, and high cholesterol and triglycerides. I started working with a naturopathic doctor for three reasons: get off birth control and balance my hormones naturally, calm my digestive system, and improve my thyroid health. 

Now at about five months later, I've been off birth control for 3 months using food and supplements to balance my hormones. This is a work in progress, however. My period has become regular and cramps have subsided and I'm thankful for that. My thyroid health has improved and my energy has increased. My digestive tract is much happier than before and still somewhat inflamed.

So here we are. My mental and emotional state during this transition has taken more time to process than my physical health. I want to explore that, too, since they are so interconnected. I want to use this space to discuss these topics and my progress more in depth. If you have questions about what I'm doing, I want to explore them with you. I believe in community. I believe in a shared life. So share with me. Tell me how you feel healthy and well.  

P.S. Two books that helped me begin my journey were Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore and Woman Code by Alissa Vitti. I will talk about these books more in depth later, but if you need a place to start, these are great reads that really get to the heart of the matter.