Moving and My Mental Health

A few years ago, I said to my husband Richard, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a type of counseling center that has regular counseling, all the helpful therapy support, along with nutrition, yoga, and other tools for healing?” He agreed it would be a great idea, and we said… “one day.”

Well that one day is here! We are so thrilled to follow the path that we believe has been so clearly laid out for us. We are going to be working together at a holistic counseling and wellness center in East Texas, called Living Well Tyler.

Tyler is a place that contains sad memories for me, but it is also filled with memories of so much hope and redemption. I first moved there at nine years old, fresh from the Bay Area of California, and six months later I witnessed the death of my grandfather on my front lawn. I spent my mentally tumultuous teen years in Tyler, but I also met my best friends there. I graduated college there. My first child was born there. I went on my first date with my husband there. Almost two decades after leaving, It feels special and fitting to be able to move our family there at this time.

This verse was read during a contemplative prayer session with the soul care director at Living Well a couple months ago, and it has been such a source of comfort as I process this transition:

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – ‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:16-19‬

Any kind of change – even good change – is a trigger for my mental health. The unknown, the “what ifs,” can heighten worry and anxiety.

Continue reading “Moving and My Mental Health”

A Glimpse into the Mental Illness Memory Vault

“Sometimes I feel like being me takes up too much energy.” – me, 20 years ago.

In 2001, I started documenting my journey with what we then called “manic depressive illness,” after being unable to return to college with my friends due to my instability and frequent med changes. I forgot about the following journal pages, but they are so telling. I struggled with intense lows, wanting to leave this earth and end my pain, then I would experience shooting and soaring highs where I wanted to conquer every goal in a day.

Here are some of the entries:

8/27/01: “All I want to do is cry. I haven’t told my friends that I’m not coming back this quarter… What kind of trick are you playing on me, God? What lesson am I going to learn from this?

9/5/01: “Sometimes I really do wonder if I should just end it all. I really do. Even when I’m stable, taking my 600 mg of Lithium, 100 mg of Topomax, and 25 mg and counting down of Zoloft (I’m hopeful that one day soon I’ll end this vicious charade with Zoloft).

What good am I doing here? What help am I to myself? Honestly? Why must I keep keeping on? Isn’t it ironic that the most inspiring thing I heard the other day came from the stupidest move, Joe Dirt. The main character, who lives a life of utter hopelessness, keeps quoting, ‘Life is a garden – dig it!’ I thought, that’s pretty inspiring. Unfortunately, I feel like any garden I’d be digging would only end up looking like weeds.

Continue reading “A Glimpse into the Mental Illness Memory Vault”

Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Nachos

Guys. I just stumbled upon something amazing. Do you ever get the craving for buffalo sauce or is that just me? Lately I have been OBSESSED with Primal Kitchens Buffalo sauce, AND I found a vegan ranch that is creamy and delicious with NO soybean or canola oil. (Can you tell by the capital letters how excited I am???)

I should also add that I am – once again – off of gluten and dairy. Why? A few reasons. One, I feel better. Two, my skin has been acting up and these are the two main culprits for many skin issues. Three, I really don’t need to offer an explanation for why I decide to eat the way I do, so move along with your judgment. Haha. I say that in a spicy way because about a year and a half ago I started following a bunch of “food freedom” nutritionists, dietitians, and influencers in hopes that I would gain a better understanding of how intuitive eating could work in my life – so that I am not held down by diet culture and its nonsensical food rules.

What I discovered is that in allowing myself unconditional permission to eat anything and everything, my mental and physical health started suffering, and turns out – my INTUITION about gluten and dairy and sugar was right – I don’t do well with those guys. So… if by listening to my body’s cues and leaving those things out of my diet means I’m just falling prey to the evil snares of “diet culture,” then the whole food freedom movement is just as judgmental and apt to finger-pointing as the “diet culture” they are so against. You can’t promote food freedom and eating intuitively for YOUR BODY, then tell someone they’re doing it wrong.

Ugh. Double standards and hypocrisy make me LOSE MY MIND. And there is so much of it happening today, I’m surprised I’m sane enough to be typing this out. As one of my good friends in the wellness world says, “eyes on your own plate.” YOU get to decide what is best for you, not matter what anyone else thinks about it.

Oh – am I supposed to be sharing a recipe? Apologies. I’ll stop ranting in CAPITAL LETTERS now.

Here we go…

Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Nachos

Continue reading “Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Nachos”

Feast 2 Fast Lent Round

The Lent round of Feast 2 Fast, starting February 17, is open for registration!

Typically, Feast 2 Fast is 4 weeks long, as we systematically use a pattern of feasting and fasting to increase metabolic flexibility and restore nutrient density. The Lent round is six and a half weeks long. We start with a brief sugar detox and incorporate a weekly superfast. We are encouraging each other to give up a food/practice/poor habit for the duration of Lent, while also adding in a divine activity to level up the spiritual focus and become more mindful and purposeful in who we are.

We are simplifying our lives to focus on what truly matters, and I hope you will join us! For more information or to sign up, click here.

  • No calorie counting.
  • No logging macros.
  • No mandatory workouts.
  • No shakes or supplements.

In this program, we use intermittent fasting in a way that works for YOUR unique body. We introduce real food carbs, whole food carbs, and my favorite – heck yeah carbs – which not only encourages metabolic flexibility, it encourages a healthy mindset toward food as well!

Weekly Zoom meetings are available for those wanting more individualized support, but they aren’t mandatory. You get to go at your own pace and use what components work best for you!

Sign up here.

How Many Times a Day Should I Eat?

The blood sugar conversation is more important than ever. We have to understand how to manage our blood sugar before it starts managing us. Like most “common” health concerns, it shouldn’t have to be normal to have blood sugar that is on a continual roller coaster.

Kris DeFoer is a Nutritional Therapist and owner of Happy Body Health. She is passionate about helping women optimize their nutrition and lifestyles to look and feel their best. She believes that healthy digestion and blood sugar regulation are critical to good health and that a healthy diet and lifestyle can address many of the chronic issues that people deal with today.

This discussion with Kris breaks down why we want to fuel our bodies with food that helps to stabilize our blood sugar, and keep our brain and immune systems strong! Download the episode here or find wherever you listen to podcasts!

Key Topics:

– What blood sugar is and why we should care about it

– The difference between hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia

– Kris’ history with dieting and finding a way to regulate her blood sugar naturally

– How many meals a day should I actually eat?

– The stress and blood sugar connection

– What to eat to support a healthy insulin response

– How to eat enough nutrients

– How to support a healthy immune system through food

– The key to salad-building (and a listener challenge)

Learn more about Kris and sign up for her informative emails at Happy Body Health.

Should You Practice Fasting?

Should you try fasting this year?

That’s a hot topic question right now!

Fasting is a practice that has been implemented for thousands of years for a variety of reasons. It isn’t a dieting trend, though it is often misunderstood as another weight loss quick fix. While there are plenty health experts promoting it as a great option to bring balance to your body, optimize insulin sensitivity and support digestion, there are others who treat fasting as if it’s a type of starvation tool that will lead to an eating disorder.

This is why fasting must be addressed with an individualized approach – what I teach in my Feast 2 Fast program!

Most people can benefit from different types of fasts, whether it is a true water fast, or fat fast, or even a bone broth fast. It is a good way to improve your health, and it can be a beneficial spiritual discipline as well.

The majority of studies on the trendy 16:8 style of intermittent fasting have been done on men and postmenopausal women, so it’s important for women who still have a menstrual cycle to nourish hormones and not restrict food too much at all cycle phases. That can really backfire and cause stress to your body!

My advice? Start with a 12 hour fast. Everyone can benefit from a 12 hour break between their last meal and first meal. And hey – if you’re sleeping 8 hours at night most of your fasting will happen then, which makes it even easier!

Want to make fasting work for you, while also learning how to incorporate more nutrient density into your real life? Join my four week Feast 2 Fast program that starts January 4!

This program is one of the most science-based approaches to health I have seen! But we don’t just target physical health; that’s secondary. Every day you will receive nourishment for your soul in the form of a short devotional. We even meet weekly on Zoom to individualize our approaches to even more!

For more details, and to sign up, click here

Past Participants Say This:

“Through Feast 2 Fast I learned to listen to the natural cues from my body. After years of dieting I had stopped listening to the natural cues like hunger. Feast 2 Fast slowed me down and forced me to listen and learn what is best for my body and not just follow it because some ‘diet’ tells me it’s right. It literally brought joy back to my relationship with food!!” – Jen

“The feast to fast program allowed me to stop and really think about the way food affects me. It was truly like a reset and I now feel more in-tune with my body and mind! I lost a lot more weight than I expected and gained confidence in my ability to listen to my body!! That is priceless!” – Laura

Join the program here!

Refocus 2020: Don’t Wait for the New Year to Feel Good About Your Body

My friend Heather Creekmore (Compared to Who) and I teamed up in January to bring a different kind of detox for the new year. We wanted to bring women a mindset detox, heart detox, and a spiritual reset about health and body image. It was a success!

We start our final round on November 30. In this 14 day e-course, you will receive daily videos from me and Heather, written inspirational posts, and tips for whole body health. I include a FREE recipe download for all participants, and Heather provides her ebook “Mountain Top Experience: Personal Body Image Retreat.”

The cost of the group is only $28. This includes two full weeks of daily content, an additional month of access (in case you get behind or want to watch the videos again!), interactions with me & Heather through the week, and a live Q&A call on Zoom where you can get your questions answered! Other online coaching courses may cost about the same –but you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a course like this that will give you direct access to the facilitators through Facebook conversations every day!

Here’s what a few past participants have said:

“Listening to the heartfelt, prayerful, and knowledgeable videos by Erin and Heather was like having good friends giving me a heart-to-heart. I looked forward to every single video and post, and gained a renewed and healthier perspective on food and body image. Thank you so much!”

“This was a GREAT value for my money. I couldn’t believe how available Heather and Erin were to answer my questions and dialogue about tough issues. I’m sad it’s over!”

“I loved this group so much. . .Every single post was so well planned. I liked that both Heather and Erin would reply to people’s comments. I learned tons from the posts and the videos but I also learned from the comment section.”

Sign up here! You don’t want to miss this opportunity to renew your heart, mind, and body this holiday season!

The Gut-Brain Connection and What You Can Do About It

We are in the middle of a mental illness epidemic. According to a report done by the CDC in June, 25% of people between the ages of 18-24 seriously have considered suicide since March. The percentage was 16% for adults 25-44. 31% of all age groups reported experiencing anxiety or depressive disorder, and over 40% experienced adverse or behavioral health symptoms. “The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder was approximately three times those reported in the second quarter of 2019 (25.5% versus 8.1%), and prevalence of depressive disorder was approximately four times that reported in the second quarter of 2019 (24.3% versus 6.5%) (2).” See full report here.  

These numbers affect me on a very personal level.

I was diagnosed with PTSD at a young age, followed by depression, followed by a diagnosis of bipolar disorder by the time I was 18. I was on many different medications to attempt to treat my mental disconnect, and while some of the worked, some did more harm than good. I understand what it is like to experience the deepest of lows and the highest of highs. I know what it feels like to have a brain that you can’t control, a mind that races and thoughts that spin around and threaten any kind of peace or stability.

One thing I have learned, in my last decade of mental stability, is that our mental health symptoms are always responses to an imbalance in our internal or external environment. External triggers could be grief, stress, or lifestyle disruption. Internal triggers could be something like blood sugar issues, thyroid dysfunction, nutrient deficiencies… or poor gut health. Learning about the gut/brain connection and addressing key areas in my physical health made a huge impact on my mental health.

Now, there is no one size fits all. What worked for me is not going to work exactly the same in someone else. But I do believe everyone can benefit from improving gut health.

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In a perfect world, the lining of the intestine allows entry to nutrients from our food to be absorbed and go where they’re needed. This lining is supposed to prevent toxins, bacterial overgrowth, and food products from exiting the gut lining. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. When you have poor gut health, thanks to stress, toxins in the environment, overconsumption of sugar and processed foods, overuse of antibiotics or other common medications, and a whole lot of other triggers, the intestinal barrier becomes permeable, and endotoxins leak out. This is what the phrase “leaky gut” refers to. The inflammation that results leads to a myriad of health issues, but what is being studied a lot right now is the effect on the brain and mental health. Many psychiatrists are suggesting that poor gut health is at the root of many of our mental illnesses.

To further that point, it’s important to note that over 90% of our serotonin (the “happy” neurotransmitter) is produced in the gut, and serotonin cannot be produced without the assistance of amino acids. So if what we eat impacts the way our neurotransmitters are produced, it stands to reason that what we eat impacts the way our brains receive neurotransmitters and find mental wealth.

There are many lifestyle interventions that are FREE, that can benefit our brain function as well as our gut. To break it down in the most simple form possible, here’s the acronym LIVE to help you get started and give you some practical ways to start taking nourishing your gut and brain together!

Continue reading “The Gut-Brain Connection and What You Can Do About It”

Stop Fearing Fat!

Have you been told to stay away from egg yolks? Are you trying a low fat diet to improve your cholesterol? Is cholesterol a good indicator of health or a risk factor for disease?

We go there in this episode!

“Cholesterol is so important that your body will manufacture it if you don’t eat enough of it.” – Steve Welch

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Steve is a NESTA certified Fitness Nutrition Coach and former publisher of the world renowned medical journal CHEST. His background in medical publishing provides him with insights into assessing medical and nutrition research, which he uses to educate others to improve their own health and fitness.

He is coauthor of the new book “The Ketogenic Key,” which is available in stores now.

In this episode we cover:

– Why we fear fat

– The history of low fat diets and why the data is skewed

– Why our bodies need fat to function

– The cholesterol conversation

– Carbohydrates, cholesterol, and inflammation

– How cutting extreme calories can backfire

– Individualizing the approach for YOU

This is such a fascinating interview that I hope you enjoy and learn from as much as I did!

Learn more about Steve at http://www.ketosteve.net or on Twitter at @ketosteve.

Homemade Bone Broth for Beginners

My latest obsession is something that has been around a long time. It’s not a supplement, a special drink, or an exotic superfood. It’s something my ancestors most likely consumed all the time, yet is sadly missing from the modern American diet.

Bone broth.

Specifically, beef bone broth made from grass fed beef marrow bones. You can use chicken bones as well (it’s super easy to use the bones of a rotisserie chicken), but beef is so nutrient dense, packed with healing amino acids and minerals, and the flavor is so hearty, that I prefer using beef.

The health benefits of bone broth have been documented over and over again and all it takes is a Google search to read about them. But here’s a short list: improved gut health, improved detoxification, skin and hair health, immune health, bone and joint health, reduced cellulite, improved food sensitivities, better digestion, improved metabolism, cellular health, antioxidant boost, the list goes on.

Now, the following is an imaginary Q and A session for my past self, back when I thought bone broth making was complicated. But don’t be like me and buy the carton kind that doesn’t taste as good. Start making this now! Continue reading “Homemade Bone Broth for Beginners”