This may be one of those taboo subjects for you, that you don’t like to discuss. But a mom/woman striving for health should always consider her own reproductive health and the health of her sex life. All too often when we experience a health issue we reach for a prescription bottle, which may help with the symptoms of initial concern but they open up a whole other can of worms, such as low sex drive or dryness. Perhaps these issues are creeping up on their own due to the simple fact that we are aging. No matter though, there are things we can do to feel better if we are in pain and enjoy the pleasures of life and love to fullest extent we can.
The graphic below outlines some things we can do including:
- Cutting back on medications if we can, especially ones that are designed to mess with our hormones…ie birth control. It is never too late to try NFP! Also look at the side effects listed for ALL your meds. You may be surprised.
- Begin a meditation practice to help eliminate stress. This can improve many aspects of your life and health, this issue included.
- Get rid of irritants and toxic products…perfumed menstrual products, tampons with pesticide residue, lotions with parabens, etc. You cannot expect to have healthy nether regions when you use toxic stuff down there.
- Rev up the foreplay and use natural lubricants.
I would also add that you need to eat a healthy diet and look into essential oils that help support hormones. I know I used one such oil blend recently and the it helped amp of the natural juices and clear my skin or hormonal acne flare ups. I was in love until I started getting my period every 3 weeks instead of 4 and decided to cut back on usage. It did show me however though that natural methods can work! Hope it helps.
Image Sourced from LubeZilla. They have a lot of options there for safer, natural lubes.
Due to the fast pace of the modern world, making time to relax and focus has become a difficult task. Even when we make time, we often feel as though we can’t truly relax and live in the moment. Our mind wanders to our struggles, our busy schedule, our conflicts, and our worries. A truly healthy mind requires training to be able to accomplish that kind of focus. Learning the skill of meditation is a great way to achieve a high level of focus and control over your mind. It has a variety of benefits to reveal if you are willing to take the time to develop the skill.
For years I thought meditation was kind of woo-woo. I also thought it sounded really boring. Yet every time I listened to an interview or read a memoir of a super successful person, they almost always mentioned meditation. I slowly began to want to give it a try and knowing my short attention span I started with guided meditations so I would begin to understand the process and the intention.
Short Periods of Meditation Are Beneficial Too
One thing that people don’t realize, is that you don’t need to sit for hours in a quiet room to meditate properly. Meditation can be done in almost any place where you feel comfortable, and you can spend mere minutes meditating if that is all you have time for. This will train your mind to get used to coming into a period of meditation with a lot less production. When you have mastered these short meditation periods, feel free to delve deeper into this amazing and rewarding practice.
I began my meditation practice with the popular app HeadSpace. I make it a habit to get to work about 20-30 minutes early for a variety of reasons and I often spent that time sitting in my car scouring Facebook. When I decided to try meditation it was that before work time that seemed to make the greatest sense. I decided to do a 5-10 minute meditation every morning and right from the very first day I was hooked. I felt good all day long and pretty soon people were telling me that I seemed peaceful, happy, and more smiley. A morning meditation seemed like a very small thing but the benefits were not small at all. I was walking into work every day feeling like a freaking rockstar. Woo woo? No, “Woohoo!” is more accurate.
Work Your Way Up to Longer Periods
Once you have gotten used to meditating, you’ll find that you have a much easier time sitting down and getting into a focused state of mind. When you have the time, begin increasing your meditation periods by increments of 3 – 4 minutes. This will extend your stamina for meditation and take you into deeper levels of concentration. There you can find a sort of clarity that is less commonly available during normal conscious hours. You can either focus on specific ideas, or simply repeat a mantra, but the mental benefits will be noticeable over time.
The Many Benefits of Meditation
It’s clear that meditation can help you to reach new levels of relaxation, help you to mull over ideas and decisions, and concentrate on specific things, but what else can it do? One of the major changes that you go through after meditation has become a common practice for you, is that the relaxation that you experience will help to improve your neurologic functionality. It makes your brain work better. It can reduce stress (and thus improve your health), make you more self aware, increase acceptance, optimism, and happiness, and improve moods and memory retention. More and more scientific benefits are attributed to meditation each year but all one has to do to see the proof in the pudding is start…with five minutes, and see where it takes you.
I have some brutally honest words to share with you today and for some of you, it will not be the easiest thing to read and come to grasp with. I know, I have been on the other end before and thought…”Geez…what do they know! They don’t know me or what I struggle with!”
I’m sharing this because it’s important to me to see you succeed and to make a real positive change in your life and your level of courage and self-confidence. I hate when women are down on each other when we should be lifting each other up. We should be swarming around each other in a circle of love and helping each other realize our life’s dreams. Why can’t that be reality? It can, but we first need to take a long look in the mirror and realize we have some things we need to address about ourselves. Many of us struggle with positivity. We struggle with a very bad habit, complaining.
Complaining Does You No Good
I get it. It feels good to complain and let off a little steam from time to time. We ladies often times love to talk and communicate and if we are stressed or unhappy then of course we want to talk about (or complain about) all the things that are making us feel this way. I’m not saying you should never complain and I’m not saying that there isn’t a time and a place when you should launch a legitimate complaint. What I’m trying to tell you is that it’s often a waste of time to whine and complain about your situation. Complaining without action and a desire to bring about change does you no good and actually hurts your self-confidence. When you focus on complaining, you’re embracing the role of a victim and that’s not a powerful role at all. It’s a passive, accepting what’s dealt to you kind of role.
Stop it right now. Don’t be the victim anymore. Be the one who sees a problem and says “I am going to fix this”.
Here’s What I Want You To Focus On Instead
When you stop putting energy into complaining you have a lot more time and energy for productive things. Instead of complaining, I want you to channel that energy into taking action and making a difference. For example, instead of complaining that your kids never clean their room, get in there with them and create a system. Find out why they are having a hard time keeping a clean room clean. Is it clutter? Is it overwhelm due to too many possessions? Are other activities like screen time and sports zapping their desire or energy to keep a tidy room? Take a long hard look at all the potential issues and fix them. Take the time to teach them how to clean their room. Going forward, make them responsible for keeping it tidy and make sure there are consequences when it doesn’t happen. Taking the time to investigate the whys, plan some new strategies, and enact a new system can save you from future frustrations.
Taking action and doing something about the circumstances or things you don’t like is very empowering. Think back on a time when you’ve taken a stand or done something to change your situation instead of complaining about it. I bet your confidence went through the roof once you started talking action. Why? Because you felt POWERFUL.
When our kids come to us with a problem they are having at school with another student or perhaps a teacher we don’t just listen to their complaint and then do nothing. We ask questions, we discern why these issues are arising, we offer suggestions, and we offer our help. They are unhappy and we want to help them resolve that. Yet when problems arise for us or something makes us unhappy we often times resign ourselves to complaining rather than finding a way to fix it. We need to show ourselves that same love and care we show for our children.
From here on out, I want you to think of complaining as your clue to take action. When you hear yourself complain about something, or when you start thinking about complaining, stop and ask yourself what you can do about it. What can you do to change and improve the situation? Not only is it much more productive use of your time and energy than whining and complaining, it is also a great way to build your courage and self-confidence.
A good place to start:
The Positivity Kit: Instant Happiness on Every Page
This is month two of my 12 month new year health challenge. Last month was all about improving my sleep as the foundation of health and wellness. This month is all about diet and nutrition. I have already made many great strides in this area because improved nutrition also helps with sleep but I can focus even more on good nutrition now that the habits for good sleep have been established.
As I mentioned in my initial challenge post I put my health on the back burner when I experienced several personal upheavals and challenges. My diet and fitness suffered and I gained a large amount of weight that I hope to lose. I am not going on a diet though and starting to hit the gym every day. I won’t be counting calories, instead I will focus on eating the most nutritious foods and superfoods I possibly can and getting lots of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. In short I will not worry at all about how much I am eating but what I am eating. When you load up on nutrient dense foods and healthy fats your body has all it needs and cravings and overeating don’t happen.
So what changes are on the menu? Lots! Lots of healthy fats, high qaulity protein, fewer carbs – That in a nutshell is my plan.
Mushroom coffee – My old coffee made an exit last month when I started looking for something with less caffeine. I started drinking Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Coffee with Cordyceps & Chaga. I love it and it is super good for you. It is full of powerful antioxidants! Cordyceps helps with immune function, it improves stamina, detoxes your liver, and has anti-aging effects. Chaga contains structural polysaccharides which provide energy, improved cardiovascular health, and healthy blood sugar levels.
Collagen Peptides – My mushroom coffee and also my afternoon tea gets a boost with the addition of collagen. It helps with a healthy metabolism, strong joints, building muscle, and also better looking skin, hair, and nails.
MCT Oil – This is another add on for bulletproof tea/coffee and a great source of healthy fats. The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are burned by the body for energy, or ‘fuel’, instead of being stored as fat. It can help you lose weight and important to me is the fact that it is great for people who have a hard time digesting fats.
Dandy – I recently bought some of this herbal beverage with dandelion to try with my coffee and tea. It is highly recommended and I love dandelion tea already. Made from a blend of roasted barley, rye, chicory root and dandelion root.
Laird Superfood Creamer – Made with coconut milk, coconut oil, and mineral rich marine algae. I love it!
No Fast Food! – This is hard limit for me. My only two faster food options will be Chipotle (and only the salad bowl) and Bibibop.
Hydration- Between meals I will drink spring water and lots of it. Also bone broth will make a regular appearance. I will have bulletproof coffee in the morning and bulletproof tea in the afternoon. A few times a week I will also have coconut water or Kombucha. I am cutting out all alcohol except for special occasions, like date night.
Nuts – I have added a handful of nuts (almonds, pecans, and pepitas) to my morning and afternoon meals. They fill me up and they are loaded with healthy fats.
Reduced sugar at all times but especially in the morning – I will not be starting my day with sugars, even natural sugars such as fruit. This seems to help me get my metabolism started in the most efficient way.
Supplements – Our food is not nearly as nutritious as it once was because our soil has been depleted so greatly. To make up for missing or inadequate nutrients, vitamins, and minerals I will be taking the following supplements. A whole foods source is always preferred!
Nature’s Plus Source of Life Gold Liquid
MegaFoods Turmeric Strength, Balanced B Complex, and Blood Builder
Liquid Ionic Magnesium
I have been gradually implementing these dietary changes over the past four weeks and not only do I feel incredible, I had to retire my two pairs of jeans I usually wear because they got too big! I am also seeing tremendous results in my skin and hair. I swear I look ten years younger and my hair is growing really fast. I am very confident that this will be a fantastic years for my health goals.
This article is part of my 12 month new year’s health challenge. I have used one word as a catalyst for my life in the upcoming year: HEALTH. That may seem like a rather broad goal or resolution and it absolutely is. This is why I am breaking down this lofty goal…to reclaim my health, into 12 monthly challenges.
I plan to completely immerse myself in one aspect of health each month and establish new products and practices into routine before I move on to others. It is said that it takes at least 21 days before a lifestyle change becomes habit. We also know that if you bite off too much at one time you can end up losing momentum. A 12 month challenge will give me 21 days of focus and less chance I will burn out trying to do to much.
This doesn’t mean I plan to completely ignore other aspects of health I am just giving myself permission to be a bit relaxed about it while I concentrate most of my focus elsewhere. Focus on exercise for instance will not be making an appearance in this challenge for a couple of months but that does not mean though I will be a couch potato until such time. It just means exercise will be secondary and a source of no stress or guilt while I work on other parts of me and my life.
Let us begin…the first monthly challenge is all about SLEEP.
Why sleep? I believe that sleep is the secret ingredient. It is the foundation for good health or lack thereof. There is no aspect of your life…physical, mental, or emotional that is not directly impacted by the quality of your sleep. Sleep is when your body regenerates, builds, heals, grows, balances your body systems and hormones, and generally repairs all the damage you do it to it during the day. And frankly some of us do a lot of damage with bad diets, prescription drugs, sedentary jobs, high levels of stress, and so much more. When you do not get enough sleep or when the sleep you do get is low quality due to lifestyle choices and modern conveniences you are crippling your body’s ability to perform and thrive.
So what is my issue with sleep? Well, I get about eight hours a night of sleep by design and I stick to that fiercely but the quality of my sleep is not great. I often have a hard time falling to sleep. I wake multiple times each night. I toss and turn and I do not generally feel refreshed when I wake up. I know that the quality of my sleep is lacking and the first month of this challenge is all about how to change that. Here are my plans to create the ultimate sleep sanctuary:
Comfortable Relaxing Atmosphere: For awhile now I have been wanting to make my bedroom a more relaxing and appealing place to be, more like an upscale hotel. I plan to get a couple more sets of my favorite super soft bamboo sheets from Cariloha. They have deep pockets and they are the softest and most luxurious sheets I have ever felt. I also ordered a luxurious sherpa and velvet comforter. I will hang some art, clear some clutter, and generally create a room that makes me happy to walk into.
No Pets: Having my dog in my bed really impacts my sleep in a negative way. She likes to sleep right up on me and takes up half the bed until I am uncomfortable and about to fall off. I am sick of struggling for room and for covers. She has go to go! She has a dog bed but it is uncomfortable and she hates it. I plan to get a different one or perhaps even a futon or chaise since we have a big enough bedroom. Then I can reclaim my bed.
Blocking Artificial Light: Sleep quality is best when there is total darkness. Artificial light throws off our circadian clocks and throws off our natural melatonin production. This is a big problem! Not only does melatonin help with our sleep cycles it has also been shown to have a hand in improving our immune system, improving thyroid function, and balancing blood pressure. To block outside light I am replacing my curtains with blackout curtains. I have them in other areas of the home but not in the bedroom where I need them most.
Blocking Harmful Blue Light: Blue light from our TVs and devices (tablets, computers, phones) really alters sleep quality and quantity. This is why it is often recommended that you not have a TV in your bedroom and also that you not watch TV or use your devices within two hours of bedtime. In fact use within 2 hours before bedtime has been shown to significantly suppress nighttime melatonin levels.
I plan to try and reduce my nighttime use of electronics but frankly I think I may be setting myself up to fail because this is really the only time I have available to watch a little TV and catch up on shows I missed. I enjoy this time. Even so, I plan to make a couple nights a week device free and then use blue light blockers other nights. You can watch TV or use your devices with blue light blocking glasses, which I have. And you can block the light with apps such as f.lux. I have this amazing app installed on my phone, computer, and my TV. Booyah!
Protection from EMFs: All electronic devices emit electric and magnetic fields called EMFs. Eelctric fields can often be blocked by walls but magnetic fields can pass through walls and buildings with ease. This is bad because they can dissrupt communitcation between cells in our bodies which can cause big issues. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies electromagnetic fields as a Group 2B carcinogen and recommends that everyone find ways to reduce their EMF exposure.
I plan to turn off and unplug as many electronics in my home/bedroom as I can each night and this includes my sleep number bed. I plan to put my wifi router on a timer so it shuts off when everyone is alseep. I plan to use EMF protection sleeves for our phones since we use them as alarm clocks and I am going try putting my phone in the bathroom instead of right next to my head.
Beneficial Exposure to Light: Sunlight is really beneficial for our health and for our sleep. I wake up at 4AM though when it is dark, dark, dark. I am going to break out my happy light and use it while I drink my morning cup of tea and check my emails. I am also going to try a wake up light that simulates the sunrise with gradual light. It is also an alarm clock so maybe my phone could then go downstairs. I am also going to try and sit outside for 30 minutes each day when I come home. That should help with vitamin D levels too.
Magnesium Oil: I used to use magnesium oil every day and it really helped with aches and pains as well as sleep. Why I got out of the habit is beyond me but in general but I am bringing it back. Magnesium is responsible for maintaining muscle and nerve function, brain health, building bones, and immune support. This is the fuel your body needs to do its job at night and since magnesium is most readily absorbed through the skin, an oil is the best way to get more magnesium. Spray it on your body each night and let it air dry.
Exercise: Physical activity makes you happy and it ultimately helps with sleep. My goal this month is just to start to move more each morning. I plan to spend 5-10 minutes doing tabata exercises such as squats, dumbbell presses, kettlebell swings, Russian twists with a medicine ball, or wallballs.
Nightime Tea: I plan to enjoy a hot cup of Yogi Bedtime tea each evening as part of a bed time ritual. Hopefully it won’t mean I have to wake up to pee in the night!
Essential Oils: I love my essential oils and they really help with just about anything that ails you. To promote sleep I plan to diffuse chamomile, vetiver, or jasmine in my room each evening just before bed. I also have a roll-on that stays in my bedside table with lavender, cedarwood, roman chamomile and coconut oil. I may also use a spritzer for my pillow.
So this is my plan and it starts today. I plan to focus and get this sleep thing under control! Do you have any advice to offer or tricks that have worked for you?
Must Read Book List:
Sleep Smarter – I recommend the audio book version and the author’s podcast is a MUST!!!
The Magnesium Miracle
30 Day Follow-Up!!
Okay, checking in thirty days later. How did I do?! Amazingly well!
I am not going to say that every night I slept like a baby because I have to keep it real but my sleep quantity and quality did improve by huge leaps and bounds. My journey with finding better sleep is by no means done but all the work I did and all the hacks I implemented are now habit. I feel more energized during the day, I am falling alseep faster, and I am dreaming way more.
The biggest props have to go to magnesium oil, blue light filters, EMF blockers, a bed and bedroom that now look and feel like a posh spa-like hotel, no dog in my bed, using essential oils topically and diffused each night, and also an unexpected surprise. I started taking Thyromin capsules for thyroid and adrenal support and a happy side effect is deep, deep sleep.
I am excited to tackle the next month’s challenge on the right foot!