Brain Hack: Have Something to Look Forward To

Joy is the antidote to stress. While stress shuts us down and sends negative signals to our HPA axis, joy opens us up and helps us to rest and digest. So often we get stuck in the same way of doing things, the work-eat-sleep repeat schedule, that we don’t make time for fun and joy!

Even though our brain is wired to focus on the negative, having something to look forward to is a tool that can help our brain focus on the positive. I do this with my youngest child on the way to school every day, because he’s slow to get moving and always says he doesn’t want to go, even though he always ends up liking it. In the car on the way there, I say, “It’s going to be a great day today. Can you think of three things that will make today great?” One day, he was excited about taking his Avengers backpack to school. Another day it’s because we were going swimming right after. It’s usually pretty random, but his answers often inspire me to look beyond what I would normally say as well.

I think this is why I put so many books on hold at the public library. Do you know how much excitement I get when I receive an email that says that the book I had on hold is available? (And even better that it’s free!) We do the same thing with online shopping orders and deliveries. I love to make plans to eat out at a fun restaurant with my family on the weekend, or even plans to pick up takeout. It gives me anticipation that feels good.

Continue reading “Brain Hack: Have Something to Look Forward To”

When the December Blahs Hit

December is my mental slump month. I recently posted about the top triggers for holiday anxiety, but to be honest, holiday anxiety is not something I struggle with throughout the month. But my “December Blahs?” They’re definitely a struggle and always have been.

Though I’ve never been formally diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, my mood definitely shifts after Thanksgiving. The husband often catches it before I do. This year, I started feeling it earlier than usual. For me, it shows up as complete lack of motivation and willingness to engage. That’s the first symptom. I know from past history that if I let it linger there, I’ll take a deeper dive into true depression.

Last week, I made a trip to the library to load up on some fun holiday reading. As I gathered my stack of no less than seven books, I had this sudden despairing thought that it seemed like such a task to start a new book. Listen – new books bring me so much joy, so that thought was definitely an alert for me. When things that I consider fun stop feeling fun, that’s a sign that my mood is starting to tank.

At that moment, I realized I needed to take a step back and slow it down. I made no plans to fight the lack of motivation with excess activity, to beat my brain and body into submission like I used to. Instead, I came to the realization that for the rest of December, I’m committing myself to erasing to-do items off my lists. I’m not going to fight the blah. Instead, I’m going to recognize it for what it is, and re-adjust my expectations of myself.

This is a difficult mindset shift for me. I like to fill my schedule, I thrive with activity and overscheduling, and I love to have a thousand different plates spinning at one time.

Not for the rest of December.

Continue reading “When the December Blahs Hit”

Understanding and Embracing the Healing Power of Herbs

Adaptogenic herbs are getting a lot of buzz in the health world, so this episode is a dive into all things herbs and herbalism, with herbalist and writer Brittany Ducham.

Brittany’s new book, Radical Remedies, is a great starter for anyone wanting to learn more about how to use herbs to support health and well-being. In this conversation, we discuss her new book and how to individualize your personal use of herbs to support your health goals.

Download this episode and listen here, or find wherever you get podcasts!

Key Topics:

  • Brittany’s background in herbalism
  • How herbalism is a form of empowerment and activism and background on her book, Radical Remedies
  • Herbal energetics and elemental forces and how different people need different things
  • Herbs for mental health support, anxiety, stress, and tension
  • Digestive support and herbs that improve gut health
  • Adaptogens – what they are and how they help
  • How to get started with herbs without getting overwhelmed
  • Where to find herbal tinctures and formulations that are good quality
  • The interconnectedness of our world with plants and nature’s healing power

Find more information about Brittany and herbalism at her website here and follow her on Instagram at spellboundherbals.

Get a free $75 credit from Indeed when you go to indeed.com/spark

Authentic Conversations and Communication in Marriage and Beyond

Can we truly have authentic conversations in today’s world? How can we navigate the ups and downs of relationships stress in a healthy way? How can we speak to one another in a way that is respectful and also gets heard?

Cathy Krafve is the host of Fireside Talk Radio and the author of two books, Marriage Conversations and The Well: The Art of Drawing Out Authentic Conversation.

In this episode of the Sparking Wholeness podcast, Cathy shares about her books and what she has learned about communication in marriage, friendships, parenting, social media, and more!

Continue reading “Authentic Conversations and Communication in Marriage and Beyond”

How Relationships Impact Your Health

It’s February, the month of loooooove, so I can’t NOT talk about the importance of relationships to your overall well-being.

While loneliness is just as detrimental to your health as smoking, there are numerous studies showing that having healthy relationships increase your quality of life and longevity! Those with social support have better mental health, cardiovascular health, immune system function, and cognitive ability.

In fact, a study spanning eight decades of research at Harvard, proved that close social connections are better indicators of health and lonevity than anything else.

Our relationships with others are PRIMARY NUTRITION.

What you put inside your mouth may cause a temporary shift in your body’s digestive processes, but being in a stressful, unhealthy relationship – or being in isolation – can be a chronic stressor that causes permanent dysfunction to your entire body.

Why is that? I have a few thoughts.

  1. When a body is in “fight or flight” mode from stress, it is impossible to access the prefrontal cortex in the brain to make clear decisions, show empathy, connect to others, regulate emotions, be open-minded, and control impulses. So for someone who is under chronic relationship stress, or under stress from isolation and loneliness, it is possible that they will struggle with making good choices when it comes to health and well-being. They will literally be in survival mode, taking the easy way out, time and time again, because their brain can’t offer any other solution.
  2. Another possible reason stressful relationships wreck physical health is because it increases the amount of cortisol pumped into the bloodstream. Where there is cortisol imbalance, there is inflammation. Where there is inflammation, there is chronic disease and lack of health.
  3. Stress destroys digestion. When digestion is altered, your body can’t utilize nutrients from food or restore bacterial balance in the gut, which is so needed for mental and physical health.

I encourage you to make the effort to strengthen the relationships you have.

Maybe that means seeing a marriage counselor, or finding an individual counselor for yourself to deal with your past hurts in relationships. Maybe you need to call up an old friend or schedule a dinner date with someone you care about but haven’t had time to see lately. If you’re married, plan an intentional date night (you know, something different than turning on Netflix after the kids go to bed).

Take time to nourish your relationships this month. Your health and theirs depend on it.

*If you are looking for a professional therapist to support your healing journey, check out Talkspace and use the code sparkingwholeness for $100 off your first month of therapy.

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.

How to End Comparison and Release the Burden to Be Better

So often in the world of wellness, we find ourselves getting caught up in chasing optimal health yet finding out that there’s always a better goal, diet, plan, solution, etc.

Heather Creekmore is a body image expert, speaker, and the author of Compared to Who along with the newly published The Burden of Better.

In this episode we discuss her newest book, the inspiration behind it, and WHY we need to stop comparing and set aside the heavy burden of better. Download the episode here or listen wherever you get podcasts!

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But that’s not all! Heather and I are excited to share that we are partnering together one last time in 2020 to bring you our 14 day ecourse, Re-Focus 2020! In this course, we tackle the topics of body image, wellness, spiritual health, nutrition, and so much more!

To learn more about Re-Focus 2020, and to sign up, click here.

What Do We Currently Know About Covid?

All we hear from the news media is wash your hands, wear a mask, social distance. Is that really a long term solution for supporting your immune system?

Dr. Chad Edwards is a former army surgeon and currently works as an Emergency Physician. He is the founder and director of Revolution Health and Wellness Clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here, he pays special attention to sports medicine and health and wellness as a preventive strategy to optimize health, minimize injury risk, and decrease disease. Viewing his patients through a holistic approach helps identify subtleties in their function that are beginning to show signs of dysregulation.

This interview is a very balanced and informative take on the current pandemic, what we currently know, and what we can do to support our immune function.

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Key topics include:

  • His experience with Covid patients
  • What the current numbers of deaths and infections tell us, according to CDC data
  • The data on wearing masks
  • The issue of asymptomatic carriers
  • Common sense precautions to take
  • Practical steps to support immune health via gut health and supplementation
  • The magic of vitamin c and nitric oxide (and why you want to avoid mouthwash and proton pump inhibitors)
  • The importance of glutathione, n acetyl cysteine and nitric oxide
  • Should we run out to get the Covid vaccine?

For CDC data mentioned in the episode, click here.

For more information on Dr. Edwards and his work, click here.

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.

 

Green Lentil Curry

I’ve been in a pantry cleaning mood lately. I didn’t say organizing. You can ask my husband – organization is NOT my skill set. But I’m trying to make use of ingredients we have hanging out in the back of the pantry. You know those things you need for a recipe, you use a tiny bit of, then you forget about them? Those things.

So when I found green lentils that, for the life of me I can’t remember what we used them for, I decided to go searching for a way to cook them.

I found the original recipe here, and apart from the green curry paste, I had all the ingredients I needed on hand – total win. I added a few different things to the recipe, took away some others, and the result is a flavorful, hearty dish that is thicker than soup but just as warming. Continue reading “Green Lentil Curry”