Thanks to PTSD, I’ll Never Be a Hero

Thanks to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, I’ll never be a hero.

I want to. I’d like to think that I’m a person of action, and that if I witness a dangerous event I’ll jump right into rescue mode. I’m a nice woman, and I like helping.

But I can’t. Trauma keeps me from moving. Trauma keeps me frozen in place, dissociating myself from reality, stuck to the floor in cement boots.

I taught English for 11 years, so looking back, I’m glad the topic of “disaster response time” wasn’t a job interview question. I wouldn’t have passed to the next level of interviews, that’s for sure.

I remember once when I worked at a middle school, a substitute teacher passed out in a classroom down the hall from me. I heard students running down the hallway, calling for the nurse. I peeked my head out the door, knowing I needed to check and see what was going on, knowing I needed to respond. But everything started moving in slow motion. I heard cries, I heard the words “CPR,” I saw others in action. But I was frozen. I couldn’t move.

I was chained to the past.

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I was 9 years old again, listening to the cries of my mother and grandmother as they try to revive my dying grandfather. I hear my grandma shout “No Freeman!” I watch him falling out of the car to the sidewalk and onto my front lawn. I watch them get out an epi pen, perform CPR, yelling for help.

I watch his eyes roll back.

Continue reading “Thanks to PTSD, I’ll Never Be a Hero”

Ketosis for Mental Health with Dr. Lori Shemek

Dr. Lori Shemek is an award-winning, bestselling author of How to Fight FATflammation, The Ketogenic Key, Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting, and Fire-Up Your Fat Burn. She is a leading health and weight loss expert who has been featured in countless publications and TV shows. She is also known as “The Inflammation Terminator.”

In this episode, Dr. Shemek shares about her new book, The Ketogenic Key. She shares what the keto diet is, how ketosis benefits our mental health, benefits of intermittent fasting, how inflammation is a threat to our health and well-being, and practical ways to implement changes to your lifestyle.img_9384

Podcast is available on the show page or wherever you get your podcasts!

Key topics addressed:

  • The importance of the ketogenic diet and how it isn’t a fad
  • The deal with carbs and sugar
  • Creating metabolic flexibility
  • The difference between low carb and keto
  • Intermittent fasting, autophagy, and mitochondrial biogenesis
  • The raw broccoli test for hunger
  • Who should not practice intermittent fasting
  • Why women NEED protein as we age
  • The benefits of healthy fat
  • Types of inflammation and the effects
  • How to do keto in real life
  • What kind of alcohol is okay for keto

Her book, The Ketogenic Key, is a perfect guidebook for all things related to ketosis, and is a great way to learn how to enhance your brain and body health in an easy to understand way. It is available wherever you purchase books!

Re-Focus 2020: Summer Edition

Are you ready to gain a renewed perspective of health and body image?

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Re-FOCUS 2020 is back! In January, author Heather Creekmore and I launched our very first group in order to help women all over the world gain a fresh look at setting new year’s health goals. That group was so wildly successful, we decided to run it again in March, and NOW we are offering an exclusive summer edition!

Here’s what some former participants had to say:

With this group, you get an encouraging scripture verse each day, along with two posts related to the day’s theme. Heather tackles the spiritual/mindset aspect, and I take on the perspective of food and living a sustainable healthy lifestyle without fad dieting!

Both of us care so much about living a life of purpose and wholeness despite what lies we are led to believe about our bodies, so this group is packed with truth and encouragement, no matter where you are in your health journey.

If you are ready to dive in to true health, and you aren’t sure if you’re ready for my private coaching sessions, this is a great starting point!

This group will take place on Facebook in a private group from June 8-21. You have up until a month after the group launches to catch up on all the posts.

The price for this group is only $28! If you sign up by June 1st, the price drops to $22! This includes two packed weeks of content, interaction with me and Heather throughout the week, a live Q and A call, and access to the group for a month after joining. Sure, there are plenty of online coaching groups – but you won’t find many with TWO facilitators who will be interacting with you on the daily!

As a thank you for joining, you’ll receive for free my “Family Favorites” recipe booklet and Heather’s “Mountain Top Experience: Personal Body Image Retreat” (which normally retails for $5.99).

To sign up, click the link here for our participant questionnaire and payment link.

 

Nourish Hormones, Detoxify, Improve Sleep and Boost Immune Health with Esther Blum

Esther Blum is a nutrition expert I have looked up to for quite a while! She is the bestselling author of Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat, Eat Drink and Be Gorgeous, Secrets of Gorgeous, and The Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous Project. As an Integrative Dietitian and High Performance Coach, she provides 360 degrees of healing with physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual support. She has appeared on Dr. Oz, the Today Show, A Healthy You with Carol Alt, the ISAAC show, ABC-TV, FOX- 5’s Good Day NY, and Fox News Live. Esther is also frequently quoted in E!Online, In Touch, Time Magazine, The New York Post, The Los Angeles Times, In Style, Bazaar, Self, Fitness, Marie Claire, and Cosmo.

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In this jam-packed episode of the Sparking Wholeness podcast, we discuss the following topics:

  • How to detox properly
  • How to improve hormone function
  • Why protein is essential and why you may not be eating enough
  • Why managing stress should be foundational to health
  • What does leaky gut have to do with health and how to improve it
  • The real deal with gluten
  • How to hack the immune system
  • Practical sleep tips
  • How finding wholeness starts within

You can schedule a call with Esther here, and the first 12 people who respond get a FREE consultation!

Listen to the episode on iTunes here or my show page here.

Being Bipolar in a Global Crisis

No amount of sugar or substance can make my brain buzz the way a dose of hypomania can. The ideas, the thoughts, and the LIFE that course through my head – all those are amplified in a time of crisis or extreme change. Being thrown off my daily routine or sleep schedule is a risk to my mental health. So throwing me into a global pandemic and giving me access to information 24/7 can really shake things up.

I find myself hopping around from medical research sites to conspiracy theory groups to political commentaries and read over all the comments and opinions. I am an excellent mimic. In order to manage my symptoms early on, I found a way to adapt to acceptable behavior and commentary, so I wouldn’t have to stand out any more than my buzzing brain could allow. I know what I shouldn’t voice in public or on social media, at risk of anyone thinking I am “crazy,” the C word accusation being one of my biggest threats. I fear other people’s opinions of me more than the average person, because deep down inside I know that my brain functions differently from everyone else’s, and that is scary. So I turn inward, and obsess, and research some more, and head down rabbit hole after rabbit hole, at the expense of my sanity.

At first the racing thoughts and buzz are a high, and they fuel me and energize me. At some point though, my brain reaches breaking point and I have to make it stop. I’ve been down these roads long enough to know where they end – in verbal explosions or in heavy medication to shut it all off.

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The carousel ride that is bipolar disorder.

So I fight. I maintain my mind by shutting off my triggers. I stop researching, stop listening and reading to anything that will throw me into a black hole of information. I take naps, and I go to sleep early. I’m fortunate in that I’ve never struggled with sleep. I can always breathe myself to sleep. In for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, out for 8 seconds. I burn off the energy through heavy exercise. I write, I dig into my feelings and name what is going on instead of escaping through obsessive behaviors.

The thing about bipolar disorder, is that it manifests differently in everyone. Everyone struggles in a unique way, and everyone has different triggers.

*To hear more details from others who suffer and how they manage, click to listen to Episode 29 of the podcast on my show page or subscribe on iTunes.

I’ve compiled a list of my favorite tools for finding stability during times of major stress or life change. Before I list them, here is the caveat – these tools aren’t always effective in the middle of a full-fledged episode. It is really hard to tell someone who cannot physically get out of bed due to depression, “You should just lace up your shoes and go outside. Why are you just laying there?” Or telling someone who’s manic, “Slow down and go to sleep.” It doesn’t work like that. These are physical illnesses that affect the physical function of our bodies. Our brains aren’t capable of telling our bodies to do what our bodies need to do. This is why we have to be on the offense and employ these tools REGULARLY, during times of stability, so that they are habitual and instinctual. The sooner we can tighten up these strategies at the beginning of the roller coaster climb or at the beginning of the dip downward, the better off we will be. Continue reading “Being Bipolar in a Global Crisis”

Mom Life During a Pandemic: How We Can Best Support Our Kids’ Mental Health

I don’t have to remind anyone that the last few weeks of this pandemic and period of social distance have been unlike anything experienced or seen in our lifetime. My work schedule has been interrupted, my husband’s work schedule has been interrupted, our social life has disappeared, and my kids are completely thrown off. Field trips were cancelled, basketball season has been delayed, and school went online until…when? Do we even know? Dates spin in and out of my head, fighting for the return of normalcy. Is it April 9th? 21st? Or do we wait for the 30th to resume prior activities? I can’t even keep track.

This kind of disruption and uncertainty is difficult for me. Change of all kind is hard for me, especially as one who fights to stay mentally stable. I get the opportunity to verbalize that, share about it with my friends (via phone or text only, of course), and have long discussions with my husband.

My kids, however, don’t know how to express their fear or anxiety as well. For them, it comes out in misbehavior, aggression, moodiness, hyperactivity, tearfulness, or even closed off apathy. That is developmentally understandable. As their prefrontal cortexes are still developing, it is difficult for them to access emotions or positive decision-making when they are in fight or flight mode. A stressful trigger, like being told they can no longer see their friends or go to school, is going to take a toll on their bodies. Stress hormones get ramped up, contributing to more fear and anxiety that is difficult to process. Chronic stress can also affect the immune system and its function.

This is true for adults as well. Even though we have the luxury of developed brains, it is still difficult to access our frontal lobe and respond appropriately to hardship when we are faced with extreme stressors.

So what is the solution?

It starts with us.

Continue reading “Mom Life During a Pandemic: How We Can Best Support Our Kids’ Mental Health”

What to Cook When You’re “Social Distancing”

 

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Y’all, times are crazy. While toilet paper may be absent from stores, last I checked there are still some shelf-stable and frozen items available for plunder… I mean, purchase.

So I figured what better time to share ways to create nourishing and filling meals out of a stockpile… just in case.

Reminder – this isn’t about sticking to a diet or trying to “eat right.” This is about finding food that is going to be packed with nutrients to boost our immune systems by creating diversity in our gut microbiome. Vegetables always go together. I’ve never had a combination of veggies I didn’t like. Now, for picky eaters and super tasters that’s a different story. Hopefully, you will find a wide variety of options below to keep you happy, nourished, and full. Continue reading “What to Cook When You’re “Social Distancing””

Roasting Veggies for Beginners

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Want to hear something crazy? I only started eating vegetables regularly about 9 years ago. Before that, it seemed so daunting to chop and season, and I relied on packaged meals allll the time due to lack of knowledge and insecurity around cooking. If that’s you – you’re in good company and it’s not too late to start!

I thought I’d share how I do it! It’s fast, easy, delicious – and a great way to make in bulk and have on hand throughout the next few days!

Continue reading “Roasting Veggies for Beginners”

Chocolate Hummus

Nothing says Valentine’s Day like chocolate covered strawberries, am I right? Confession – I don’t love strawberries, and the only way I like to eat them is with chocolate. I am not opposed to melting chocolate chips with butter or coconut oil and making a dip that way, but this year I was challenged to come up with a fun recipe for kids on Valentine’s Day – and I am quite pleased with the results… as were my kids who couldn’t keep their little fingers away.

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Continue reading “Chocolate Hummus”

The Age of Outrage

I try to be very intentional about what I choose to speak out on. I am a woman with a LOT of opinions on a lot of things, but I prize relationships over my opinions so I don’t speak up if I fear it will hinder authentic relationship-building.

That being said, I have spent the last 5 days silently observing the frenzy taking over my newsfeeds. It has deeply disturbed me, though maybe not for reasons you would think. I’m ready to speak up now.

We are currently caught up in a viral response system. We are tangled up in an age of outrage, and nobody is immune.

As a result of this age of outrage, everyone is REACTING to everything, and nobody is RESPONDING to anything. And there’s a physiological reason this is occurring.

But before I explain that, here is what I mean by the age of outrage:

After a skillful performance that was a dazzling and empowering celebration of Latin American culture at the Super Bowl halftime show, my newsfeed blew up in criticism. I’m not surprised by much anymore, but that caught me off guard. I didn’t expect anything different from performers like Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, so I didn’t understand the outrage and shock. (Side note – I also spent most of the show dancing along and trying to do whatever they were doing, so I didn’t scrutinize every movement either.) Did it bother me that a 50 year old has to strive to look like a 25 year old to stay relevant and desirable? Maybe. But again, I didn’t expect anything different from the entertainment industry.

What affected me the most and what caused me to silently observe, hesitant to say anything at all, is that everyone seemed to be REACTING based on their own perception of the show, based on their own life stage and season, based on their own personal triggers. And so many of these reactions and post fed MORE posts, and shares, and back and forth commentaries.

For this reason, I am NOT going to share any more of my personal views, as they are multi-layered and will cause division and have nothing to do with the reason I am writing this. Now, I could talk about clothing choices and unfortunate camera angles (seriously – was J Lo’s gynecologist filming???) but that’s not what I want to get at here. Continue reading “The Age of Outrage”