Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New health choices!

I'm feeling the best I've felt in a really long time! I've had quite a few people lately say things like "omg, you look really good, have you been working out?"   I've been doing some things differently & started doing other things over the past month.  I have lost some weight, and actually think I weigh less than I did when Chris & I got married!  It's just a start, but I already feel healthy, and never thought I'd be at this point after having two children! I even feel like my memory is back (from having "pregnancy brain")!  I'm not sure what's contributed the most, but I will share! :)

Here's some background:
In February, Chris & I booked a vacation for just him & I to the Dominican Republic this summer!   This definitely sparked a need to get swim suit ready!  Chris & I also knew that we were getting professional photos taken for Portfolio's new website soon, so I wanted my skin to look extra healthy!  We also might be going to Italy in the fall on a business trip!  I want to be in good shape, because I know there will be a lot walking!  Also, hearing stories of people, friends, and family members getting diagnosed with illnesses and cancer, has been a big motivation to us to get healthy and start exercising daily.  Being healthy and good role models to our girls is very important to us.  We want them to live a healthy lifestyle from the beginning.

Bryn was born at the end of last May.  I breastfed her for 7 entire months.  Truthfully, I did not watch what I ate, and did not exercise.   The 27ish pounds that I gained during my pregnancy all came off.  (I gained 37 pounds with Hollyn, and lost it all, plus another 5 pounds)

In mid January, I got back on my allergy medicine (Claritin-D) because I had horrible seasonal allergies (couldn't take while pregnant & nursing).  I continued to take it daily for almost 2 months, but knew that it wasn't healthy to take long term. I felt like if I didn't take it, I would wake up completely congested and would cough up mucus for hours in the mornings.

  •  Lemons: I started hearing people talk about drinking lemon water.  I usually think that a lemon slice in my water at a restaurant is disgusting, but I bought some lemons, and thought i'd try it.  I fill my tervis tumbler up with ice, then add like 16 oz of water, then cut a lemon in half, (get out all the seeds) and squeeze half or an entire lemon in my water, and drink with a straw (so the acid doesn't get on my teeth)!  I really liked it, and noticed it was causing me to drink so much more water.  Around this time, I also decided to do a test & see if I really needed my allergy medicine.  I didn't take it for a week, and was coicidientally drinking lemon water everyday.  I somehow magically had NO excess mucus!  I wondered if there was a correlation, and I found online that the lemons are a natural way to getting rid of mucus!  I had no idea!!!  I knew that cancer can't live in an alkaline environment, but didn't realize they were highly alkaline!  They also:
  1. Support immune function: Lemons are high in antioxidant vitamin C, known for its supportive role in healthy immune function1,2 which may reduce the risk of respiratory infection3. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) found in lemons demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects, and is used as complementary support for asthma and other respiratory symptoms4,5. Lemons also contain saponins6, which show antimicrobial properties that may help keep cold and flu at bay. Last but not least, ascorbic acid enhances iron absorption in the body; iron plays an important role in immune function7.
  2. Alkalize the body: Although the tartness of a lemon may make them seem acidic, lemons are actually one of the most alkalizing foods for the body. Lemons contain both citric and ascorbic acid, weak acids easily metabolized from the body allowing the mineral content of lemons to help alkalize the blood.
  3. Aid digestion: Citrus flavonols8 are believed responsible for lemon’s traditional use as a digestive tonic. Believed to stimulate and purify the liver, lemon juice is traditionally understood to support digestive hydrochloric acid in the stomach further aiding digestion. Vitamin C status has been associated with reduced risk of peptic ulcers caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori9.
  4. Clear skin: Vitamin C and other antioxidants in lemons combat free radical damage. Free radical damage — especially as caused by UV exposure and environmental toxins — is responsible for many symptoms of aging. Antioxidant intake can help offset this damage, minimizing wrinkles. Further, lemon juice can be applied topically to scars and age spots to help reduce their appearance. Traditionally used as a liver stimulant, lemon water is also believed to help purge toxins from the blood, helping to keep skin clear of blemishes.
  5. Promote healing: Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), found in abundance in lemons, promotes wound healing, and is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of healthy bones, connective tissue, and cartilage10. As noted previously, vitamin C also displays anti-inflammatory properties. Combined, vitamin C is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of good health and recovery from stress and injury.
I also think the crow's feet lines by my eyes are barely there right now!  They were extremely bad a few months ago, and something that I'm doing now has made them disappear! (I admit, I was tempted to get Botox, but decided against it, in search of a more natural way!  I'm so glad now!)
  •  Steam Shower: Since our house is on the market, we have been trying to get everything fixed that might come up when it's time to do repairs.  We hadn't been able to get our steam shower to come on, so we sent off the generator to get rebuilt and had it reinstalled.  Chris & I started taking steam showers, but had no idea that there were so many health benefits, such as: 
  1. Boost Your Immunity: Your antibody production actually increases after enjoying a steam shower. And, as everyone knows, antibodies help fight disease and infection. This is a natural, and therefore better, alternative to antibiotics.
  2. Flawless Skin: In a polluted environment, oil and dirt accumulate in your poresOld skin cells do not slough off like they should. In your steam shower, you will feel your skin pores actually opening up, releasing these toxins as you sweat away that dulled look. As your circulation improves, so does your skin’s texture. Hence, your skin will have that vibrant glow. You will be thrilled with the results!
  3. The Stress Buster: Balancing professional and personal commitments is, for most of us, difficult and highly stressful. Imagine looking forward to your personal steam shower, where you can relax and the let steam do its work. Enjoy your steam shower before bed, and you can kiss insomnia goodbye. And, as everyone knows, a good night’s sleep equals a great tomorrow.
  4. Relief from Respiratory Ailments: We all know that steam’s vapors relieve congestion by opening up our airways. As the mucous is cleared away, we can breathe better and deliver more oxygen to our bodies. Whether you suffer from sinusitis, asthma, allergy, or even a common cold, a steam shower is the cure for your misery.
  5. Soothe Away Aches and Pains: Active people are familiar with both the benefits and disadvantages of a good workout. Pulled and strained muscles and ligaments can range from merely annoying to downright painful. You will want to run (or limp), to your steam shower to enjoy the miracle of its powerful relief.  As the steam penetrates your muscles and joints, you will feel your aches and pains disappear. The secret is the heat of the steam, which actually dilates your blood vessels. This increase in circulation delivers healing oxygen to afflicted areas of your body, which accelerates the healing process. Think of it as relief for now, and later on, as well
  6. Lose Weight: Athletes generally prefer steam showers to keep their bodies fit and lean. If you’re thinking ‘water weight,’ you’re absolutely correct. However, the steam shower offers even more than that. A steam shower raises your body’s metabolism which, in turn, increases your body’s ability to burn excess calories. Both ways, you win by losing.
  • I started drinking coffee a couple months ago!  I've never been a coffee drinker!  Now, I just  have one cup a day.  Not sure if contributes to anything, but it's one thing that's different that I've been doing!  And now that I think about it, coffee is very acidic, so it's probably not good for me at all.  
  • Exercise - I started exercising daily (taking one day a week off)!  We have an exercise room at home, so usually after Bryn takes her nap at 10, I try to get 30 minutes or so in, shower & get ready before she wakes up 11:30-12.  I usually just do the elliptical on a high level for at least 20 minutes straight, then I do some weights.   If I don't get it in the morning, Chris & I work out together at night.  
  
It was nice out one day last week (50's but no wind), so after my 3 miles on the elliptical, the girls talked me into a wagon ride, then stroller walk, that was another 3 miles!!!  

  • Eating...  I've been trying to cook dinner at home for the last couple weeks.  This is the thing I find most difficult.  Takes a lot of planning and going to the grocery store a lot to have fresh choices at home!  I've been trying to get Hollyn to eat more fruits and vegetables, so I have been offering the few things she does like to her every chance I get (strawberries/bananas/spinach), instead of her asking for fruit snacks or candy!  Also - no sodas, no french fries (or anything fried), no processed food, no extra sugar & definitely no artificial sweeteners, more raw vegetables, not over eating!
This is what my fridge consists of currently:

and more choices from the top of this list (less from the bottom):

•    Anti-aging – Argan oil use for face and wrinkles are the most popular cosmetical uses of this miraculous organic oil. It has a high level of tocopherols (vitamin E) and antioxidants that can reduce damage of harmful free radicals reducing the progress of skin aging. Aside from these natural properties, the saponins found in Argan oil will help moisturize dry and blemished skin leading to a more youthful and healthy-looking skin.
•    Healing – there are skin conditions that may be treated with natural and organic Argan oilThis oil has triterpenoids that can help heal and protect skin. You can use this oil for healing old and new scars; reduce skin inflammatory conditions like eczema and psoriasis and common skin conditions like pimples and acne. It has been noted that regular use of Argan oil will help reduce skin blemishes and can deal with ugly acne and pimple marks. This natural oil has 80% unsaturated fatty acids that can resist natural cell oxidation as compared to olive oil. Sterolins in this oil can also help improve the metabolism of skin, reduce inflammation and possibly improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture.
•    Protecting – the natural property of Argan oil to protect skin, hair and nails are extraordinary indeed. When used regularly, it can heal damaged tissues and partially healed ones like scars. It can add a layer onto skin to protect it from the harmful rays of the sun as well as a disinfectant layer that will keep pollution, toxins and microorganisms out.
•    Medicinal – benefits of Argan oil extend to as far as treating common and not so common skin and hair problems. It contains plant sterols that can reduce inflammation and can even have anti-cancer properties. This oil may also be beneficial in facilitating digestion by increasing pepsin and gastric juice concentration.
There are studies regarding the positive effects of Argan oil in arthritis and rheumatism because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It may also be effective in reducing cholesterol levels, improving systemic blood circulation and can even strengthen the body’s immune system.
Certain skin conditions like chicken pox, psoriasis and eczema are no match to the benefits of Argan oil and there are even products that contain Argan oil for reducing stretch marks in pregnancy and in weight loss.
•    Other uses – Argan oil is also known to have aphrodisiac properties and may even be effective as a medicinal and energy tonic. Traditional people from Morocco have been known to use this organic oil as a way to rejuvenate their interest and sexual pleasure; it is also effective in improving overall energy and vigor after a long day of work.
Benefits of Argan oil are too many to mention and in fact, advantages of this organic oil are still being discovered up to this day. There is no doubt that this oil will be known as one of the most effective natural treatments for most skin and hair conditions as well as other health problems instead of using chemicals that can harm your health. (read more on wikipedia)

I think that's about it, but I'll keep thinking!! :)


The day I found out I was pregnant with Hollyn:

+37 pounds

Don't have a full body shot, but here's right before I got pregnant with Hollyn - August 2011 
(down 5 lbs from pre-preg with Hollyn)
Sept 24 - two days before I found out I was preg with Bryn
May 24, 2012 - the night before having Bryn! (+27 pounds)
last week (March 2013)- down 10 pounds from pre-pregnancy
(those little lines at the bottom are my c-section scars)

I'm only a month in on my health journey & I'm loving the results so far!  I think keeping it up will be really hard, but I want to be a healthy parent for my girls! (and that's the best motivation I can think of)

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