Category: Balanced Living

Chicken Tortilla Soup (with Chicken Bone Broth)

Chicken Tortilla Soup
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Chicken Tortilla Soup (with Bone Broth)

  • Author: Jessica Parker
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

It’s the first day of Fall as I type this so it’s officially SOUP SEASON! This soup isn’t very “Fall-like”, but it sure is good! Plus, I made it with homemade chicken bone broth, which makes it that much better in terms of immune boosting potential!

I made mine extra spicy, but you can absolutely dial that down if you would like with less spice. Cilantro, bone broth, garlic, onions, tomatoes….such good micronutrients in here that support optimal health, especially as cold and flu season is staring us in the face!

The tortilla strips are optional. If you are following a low carb/ketogenic protocol, I would suggest using a low carb tortilla or just skipping them. It’s delicious with or without these!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 Tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 4 cups homemade bone broth
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • Pink Himalayan or sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • diced avocado (for topping)
  • 2 low carb tortillas  (optional)
  • chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened and translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat.
  5. Add the tomatoes (with juices)  and chili powder.
  6. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth (you could do this in a high powered blender if you don’t have an immersion blender).
  7. Add the bone broth to the tomato mixture and stir.
  8. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a simmer.
  9. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
  10. Remove the chicken form the soup and shred with 2 forks and then return to the pot.
  11. Add the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  12. To make the tortilla strips: preheat oven to 350°F.
  13. Brush the tortillas with melted butter.
  14. Bake for 5-10 minutes.
  15. Remove from the oven and cut the tortillas into strips.
  16. Divide the soup between serving bowls.
  17. Top with tortilla strips, diced avocado, chopped cilantro and enjoy!

Calories Count, But Don’t Count Calories

Calories Count, But Don’t Count Calories

How do you lose weight without slowing down your metabolism or losing your mind?

Gone are the days of low fat and calorie restriction…right? Are they? I’m not so sure.

If you are low carb you totally don’t have to worry about calories, right? Wait, is that true? I’m so confused.

If you ask people about either of these subjects I can promise you will receive different responses and they will be all across the board. You will likely become quite confused and left wondering “now what?”

Calories are a tricky thing. The first thing to understand is that the way your body metabolizes a calorie will be different than how it works for your best friend or neighbor and it’s dependent upon many things. In fact, this also is different for your own body in your 20s versus your 40s, etc.

Let’s put age and genetics aside for a moment. What factors impact our metabolisms that we have control over?

Body composition, meaning your body fat % compared with muscle and skeletal mass. Clearly the more muscle and less fat you have going on, the higher your metabolism will be. Good motivation to get to lifting weights or doing some functional fitness using your bodyweight!

Thyroid levels. I go into detail on which labs to have run here, but what you need to understand is that if your doctor checks your TSH only or your TSH and Free T4, that is NOT ENOUGH INFORMATION!! We need TSH, Free t4, Free T3 and Thyroid Antibodies (Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies [TPOAb] and Thyroglobulin Antibodies [TgAb]) at the very minimum for thyroid labs (yes there are more numbers involved!). Go read that article I linked above because it will also explain how your doctor might look at your labs and say “you’re fine” when you don’t feel fine and it’s because YOU’RE NOT! You need to understand this stuff if you are going to be able to advocate for yourself!

Hormone Balance. This is another one that I dive into more here. but what you need to understand is that the relationship between estrogen and progesterone is extremely important at any age. AND what you need to know is which is higher than the other? If your progesterone is lower than your estrogen, there’s a problem. Even if both hormones are low, If you have more estrogen than progesterone you will experience symptoms of ESTROGEN DOMINANCE which will mimic low thyroid hormone. A couple of these symptoms are slow metabolism and weight gain around the hips and thighs (is this sounding about right?).

Toxic (tox-sick) Load. Yes, our bodies are beautifully designed to detox continually through our skin, digestive system, liver, kidneys, endocrine system and respiratory system; HOWEVER, the culture in which we live in is inundated with toxins through food, electronics, chemicals in our cleaning supplies, scented “everything”, plastics, stress (it’s a toxin), makeup, body products, detergents, etc. Our bodies are OVERLOADED! When this happens, the scale (literally and figuratively) will tip in the wrong direction because toxins store in fat! In addition, the high toxin burden creates systemic inflammation which is part of the whole paradigm when it comes to our hormones, thyroid, adrenals and therefore metabolism.

Now that we have that snapshot of some of the big ones that impact our metabolism, let’s throw another one in there, and it happens to be the topic of this post. CALORIES RESTRICTION.

Calories, while they DO matter, clearly are not a black and white “thing”. We could line 5 people up and all 5 will burn the same food differently, even if they are the same “size”, and that is dependent upon the factors outlined above. What your body needs will be different than mine, for sure. So it really doesn’t make sense to follow some program that is generalized, right? My first word of advice with this is to track what you eat for a few days, being super honest, and then reduce your caloric intake by even just a couple of hundred and go from there.

Here is what we want to avoid: I see many people start to follow some kind of plan (and I am sorry but these plans often include food you have to purchase from them that is just FULL OF CHEMICALS [speaking of toxic]) and they tend to be SUPER low in calorie. Usually it’s around 1200 and below.

Here is the typical scenario:
Let’s call our person Daisy (name of my dog!). Daisy signs up for a weight loss program and is super excited because of all the amazing testimonials she has seen and heard about. She gets all of her products (which cost hundreds of dollars. It was a stretch for her, but she’s sick and tired of…well…being sick and tired, and overweight). She feels super hungry the first few days because they have her at 900 calories and those calories go fast! However, she’s determined and likes that she doesn’t have to plan the food…she just opens a package and there you go! She had a hard time with energy and focus for the first few days because of her low calories but she’s already lost 7 pounds so she’s jazzed and committed to this amazing program.

Fast forward: Daisy ended up losing 13 pounds over just two weeks which was amazing! But things just kind of STOPPED. The scale wouldn’t budge. So, she decided to lower her calories just a tiny bit more and add some HIIT (high intensity interval training) classes in to burn more calories. Thankfully, the scale started moving again! Slower now, but she expected that because “they say” you lose mostly water weight at first.

Once again, however, the scale stalled. Daisy was starting to feel bummed, her energy wasn’t where she had hoped it would be and she could swear her hair was getting thinner.

What’s going on??

According to Dr. Westin Childs, “calorie reduction, especially in hypothyroid patients, will result in the combination of ‘metabolic adaptation’ and ‘thyroid damage’”. What this means is that your body (which is freaking smart) will detect this calorie restriction and interpret as “danger”. From there it will change things up within the metabolism in order to adjust so that the body can do more important things for survival (it is far less concerned with our weight than we are!).

Think of the thermostat in your house…it’s just like this. Your body is designed to regulate itself well, so when things change, it will adjust so that it can reach that state of equilibrium once again. We just don’t always like it!

This is something that people need to take seriously. The way your body reaches that state of equilibrium again is by doing things like lowering the free T3 (this is our active thyroid hormone…we don’t want it to lower!). Or it will raise the reverse T3 which is the hormone that is produced when stress is detected and, unfortunately it will attach to T3 receptor sites but it is inactive, so it is basically blocking those receptor sites from receiving the active thyroid hormone it needs.

Your TSH might not reflect a change at all, or maybe just slightly, therefore if your doctor tests your thyroid and that’s the number he’s most concerned with (SO typical…sadly), he will send you on your merry way with a pat on the back telling you “it sucks getting old”, or something equally helpful.

From here you will go home and “recommit” to your program! You are going to exercise more and harder and eat less or try a different diet altogether! In fact, this is stuff your doctor may have encouraged. In reality, your body is in distress and going “harder” at this will cause the situation to get even worse. Down the road, you will give up because you can’t possibly eat less or exercise more and what’s the point anyway? So, you start eating your “regular” diet again and you could swear you are gaining weight faster. It’s like you just look at food and the scale goes up.

You’re not crazy; your metabolism has slowed down and so the whole scenario is going to be a tough one now.

Big sigh.

If this is you, please know that the very most important thing to focus on now, if you want your body to respond well again, is to send messages to it that it is NOT in danger. You are NOT starving it. It is NOT being over stressed with too much exercise.

This doesn’t mean start eating dozens of donuts and watching hours and hours of TV in the name of selfcare. What it means is easing up, having a balanced approach, and getting some help.

It’s a good idea to know where your thyroid levels are. It’s a good idea to know where your sex hormones are at as well. If you have any imbalances going on in these areas, your body will have a very hard time with weight loss, you will struggle with energy, brain fog, motivation, moods, digestion, sleep, and all the things.

Do I recommend KETO?

Maybe, maybe not. This would require some assessment to see if this fits your lifestyle (it is a commitment) as well as to determine if your body is too stressed to try something like this at the moment. Most importantly if your thyroid is low or adrenals are out of whack you can absolutely do KETO, but it needs to be modified.

Confused? I don’t think this is the kind of advice most people want from a health coach. I mean, where do you go from here? This is not an easy answer, as you should know from reading the above. It all takes a very individual approach.

Please do reach out if you are in this position and feel stuck. I am here to help. I offer free consultations via the phone so we can hash some things out and see if there are some things I can help with. Please head here to my calendar to schedule a consult or simply email me at jess@healthwithjess.com

Now, consider having a healthy snack and going on a gentle walk! <3

Tried Everything But Feeling Stuck? Weight Gain, Low Energy, Sleep Issues… Important Labs to Consider!

Tried Everything But Feeling Stuck? Weight Gain, Low Energy, Sleep Issues… Important Labs to Consider!

I see it time and time again with women:

She’s trying a new diet or protocol, maybe she loses a little bit of weight but then gets stuck. She’s tired, sometimes downright exhausted. She is exercising her buns off (except for that her buns don’t seem to be responding very well) OR she’s too tired to exercise. She has little sex drive. She has brain fog and just feels like she’s “not herself”. Sleep might be an issue as well; either having difficulty falling asleep or falling asleep only to wake later and stare at the ceiling. Maybe she thinks she’s getting enough sleep but then relying on caffeine to push her through her day…

Stop right there, sister. Let me give you permission to just breathe, perhaps cry if you need to.

Understand that trying to beat your body into submission with “diet” and tons of exercise or getting down on yourself because of lack of energy and motivation is just not going to help. In fact, I can assure you these tactics will make things worse.

The problem is that a lot of our mainstream/cookie cutter approaches to health and weight loss target surface level “stuff” rather than getting to the root of the issue.

What does this mean?

If my car is not running right because of an issue with the engine, filling it with more gas will not help. Driving my car more and hoping the issue will resolve itself will cause a faster breakdown. Changing the oil or using a different kind of gas won’t even help if what is going on is internal.

Why do we think stressing our bodies out will equal long term health? It never works.

Rather than climbing back on that frantic hamster wheel that leads to nowhere, let’s step off for a minute and tune into what your body is telling you.

If you are exhausted, not sleeping well, feeling like your head is in the clouds and you can’t focus, your body seems to do the opposite of what you want it to, you think you might just not be able to function at all without caffeine, your moods suck… THERE IS A REASON FOR ALL OF THIS…and, sorry friends, as much as I love KETO, it won’t solve the problem either.

There are THREE major players in our health and wellbeing that us women really need to be familiar with because they run the show!!

Cortisol, Thyroid and Sex Hormones (Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone)

These 3 have a very tight relationship. You cannot mess with one without another being impacted. But, the truth is that it really all stems from Cortisol. That’s where it starts and cascades down from there.

CORTISOL is good, until it’s not.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone made in the adrenal glands. Most cells within the body have cortisol receptors. It is known for helping fuel your body’s “fight-or-flight” instinct in a crisis, but cortisol plays an important role in a number of things your body does, such as:

  • Managing how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
  • Controlling inflammation
  • Regulating blood pressure
  • Increasing blood sugar (glucose)
  • Controlling your sleep/wake cycle
  • Boosts energy so you can handle stress and restores balance afterward

This is how cortisol works when things are going well. However, in our modern-day culture, most of us deal with a boatload of stress on a normal basis. STRESS comes in the form of mental/emotional, chemical or physical. This is critical to understand. Stress is not just being overworked, fighting traffic, dealing with financial issues or a boss you hate… stress comes from the toxins we put into our body constantly (from food, body products, makeup, detergents, etc), infections, over or under exercising, being “plugged in” all the time with all the technology we rely on, etc.

According to Dr. Sara Gottfried, “high cortisol levels wreak havoc over time, and make you store fat—especially in your belly, deplete your happy brain chemicals like serotonin, and rob your sleep. High cortisol is also linked to depression, food addiction, and sugar cravings”.

Notice above that one of the things cortisol is responsible for is increasing blood sugar. So, when my body is stressed for whatever reason, it releases cortisol in order to help me with added energy so I can deal with that stress. What then happens is that my blood sugar stays elevated, and insulin comes into play as well. This is a very hard battle to fight because what people typically do at this point is exercise harder and reduce calories. Guess what your body thinks with this?? STRESS. Up goes the cortisol and the crazy cycle continues.

TESTING CORTISOL

You can for sure go to your doc and ask for a blood cortisol test. This is fine and will help give you a little idea of some imbalance. HOWEVER, when you go to have a cortisol test run first thing in the morning, you are A) getting up, out of bed, getting ready and driving to have your test run so it’s not a true representation of waking cortisol. B) if you are anything like me just the thought of having a needle poked into my arm STRESSES ME OUT! So, you could have low cortisol but that might not show from the test if your cortisol spiked! C) our cortisol has a natural rhythm throughout the day. It goes up and down and there are optimal levels morning, noon and night. Therefore, testing once doesn’t give you a very full picture of what’s happening.

What I recommend: a four-point cortisol test with saliva. This one is a much better indicator of what is happening with your cortisol as it pinpoints patterns throughout a 24-hour period.

THYROID regulates pretty much every cell in the body. It is the boss of the metabolism! If you have a slow thyroid you might experience brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, low sex drive, depression, etc.

It is critical to understand that thyroid symptoms present differently in each person and occur in stages. It is quite obviously best to catch an issue early on when symptoms are few and low rather than wait until things are worse and hard to turn around. It is up to YOU to get clear on this and advocate for yourself because, sadly, most mainstream medical doctors will not consider thyroid an issue until your numbers are dramatically out of range (for which they have a pill). This is 100% not necessary! You can absolutely detect when a problem is starting and make efforts to support your thyroid and reverse your condition!

TESTING THYROID

TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone): secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain when your brain detects you need more thyroid hormone. THIS IS NOT YOUR ACTIVE THYROID HORMONE! This is simply where your thyroid hormone is initiated from. At this point, when your TSH is released, you feel nothing; energy and metabolism are not impacted by TSH.

Free T4: triggered by TSH, T4 is really just a messenger. The release of T4 still does not impact your energy and metabolism! It must be converted into T3 which is where the magic happens. FREE simply means you are measuring the part of the hormone that is being used in your body. You can have more T4 swimming around but if it isn’t available to convert to T3, it doesn’t matter.

Free T3: this is our ACTIVE thyroid hormone! Sadly, doctors RARELY test this one. You MUST ASK to have this tested. If you are told no, ask again. You will likely hear all sorts of excuses as to why they won’t test it (such as it is not an important number) but stick to your guns with this. Your TSH and T4 can be “normal” but if your Free T3 is low, you’ll know it because you’ll feel like crap! However, without testing this your doctor will say “you’re fine” and send you on your way.

Reverse T3: this is another that is rarely tested. This one is important because it is a trickster. It is essentially an inactive form of T3 that gets released when high stress occurs (low calorie diets and over exercising are a huge cause of this!!). RT3 will take the place of Free T3 in thyroid receptors, not allowing the active hormone to do its job.

Thyroid Antibodies (Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb): these antibodies will be elevated when your immune system is attacking your thyroid. They are indicative of Hashimoto’s Disease (hypothyroid) and Graves Disease (hyperthyroid). These are so important to test because it will dictate your approach to supporting your thyroid!

SEX HORMONES are the third piece of this puzzle and are directed by cortisol and thyroid. If you have an imbalance here, it is quite likely due to an upstream issue.

For women estrogen is typically what we relate to. However, our progesterone and testosterone are both just as important and impactful. In fact, the relationship between progesterone and estrogen matters more than the individual levels of either of them.

For example:
If your estrogen is low, but your progesterone is lower, you will experience symptoms of ESTROGEN DOMINANCE. This can even happen if your progesterone is at a more optimal level. If your estrogen is dominating the situation, that is what you will experience.

According to Dr. Christiane Northrup here are symptoms of estrogen dominance:

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Irregular or otherwise abnormal menstrual periods
  • Bloating (water retention)
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Headaches (especially premenstrually)
  • Mood swings (most often irritability and depression)
  • Weight and/or fat gain (particularly around the abdomen and hips)
  • Cold hands and feet (a symptom of thyroid dysfunction)
  • Hair loss
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Sluggish metabolism
  • Foggy thinking, memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping/insomnia
  • PMS

Progesterone is a calming, protecting hormone. It gives us our sense of well-being and balance by helping us deal with stress better and feel more grounded.

Testosterone is one that is often neglected because we think of it more as a male hormone. However, us girls need it too! The tricky thing is that we need enough, but not too much. Too much and we run into things like PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and other issues.

Although I mention testosterone here, it’s really about ANDROGENS in general (DHEA, a precursor to testosterone; androstenedione, related to both testosterone and estrogen; DHT, converted from testosterone). One of the biggest issues with androgens is that when they are in excess then will cause insulin resistance.

With too little testosterone we can experience these symptoms according to Dr. Becky Campbell:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor memory
  • Dry skin
  • Gaining weight around the midsection
  • Osteoporosis
  • Having a hard time keeping muscle on
  • Low libido
  • Depression and or anxiety

Do you see how all of these things have so many cross overs?? One thing can look like 10 other hormonal imbalances. That is why it is so important to TEST, NOT GUESS! Sometimes things are obvious, but a lot of the time it’s just not and you don’t want to be taking shots in the dark when it comes to your health! What can happen is that a bigger imbalance or more symptoms can occur on top of what you are already dealing with.

What test results mean!

Another important thing to note is that even if you get your doctor to order ALL of the necessary labs, they are most often compared to “standard ranges”. Please LISTEN UP! Standard really means “an average of all the labs from people who feel like a big pile of CRAP”. Most people who go in to the doctor to have their labs drawn are doing so because they don’t feel good, are gaining weight, have no energy, are at their wits end, RIGHT?! YES! The “standard ranges” are an average of all of these labs!!

STOP. Think about what you just read. I am a 42 year old female. I want to know where my numbers should be compared to a 42 year old female at her OPTIMAL HEALTH. I do not want to be compared to a pile of 42 year old females who are feeling like they’ve been run over by a truck and hoping someone will come along with a spatula and scrape them up off the road!

If I go into my doctor’s office, she runs my labs and they comeback “within range” according to those standard numbers, she will pat me on the back, tell me I’m “normal” and send me home STILL FEELING LIKE CRAP!

IGNORE THE STANDARD RANGES!

Here are some more optimal ranges to compare your labs to:

CORITSOL:

Optimal blood ranges

(morning) 10-15 μg/dL
(afternoon) 6-10 μg/dL

Optimal saliva ranges

(morning) 3.7-9.5
(noon) 1.2-3.0
(evening) 0.6-1.9
(night) 0.4-1.0

THYROID:

TSH 1-2 UIU/ML or lower (Armour or compounded T3 can artificially suppress TSH)
FT4 >1.1 NG/DL
FT3 > 3.2 PG/ML
RT3 less than a 10:1 ratio RT3:FT3
TPO – TgAb – < 4 IU/ML or negative SEX HORMONES: Estradiol (serum) Day 3: < 80 pg/mL; Day 14: 150-350 pg/mL; Postmenopause, approx. 50 pg/mL for bone strength Progesterone (serum): Luteal phase (day 21-23) 15-33 ng/ml Free Testosterone (1.1-2.2 pg/ml Ok. You have your results, you have some imbalances as suspected. Now what? The “now what” is an extremely individualized situation! There is absolutely no ONE SIZE FITS ALL remedy for all of this because our bodies are remarkably different, the cause of imbalances will vary wildly, labs themselves will be completely different from one person to the next. Also, our situations are going to be all over the place depending on age, level of stress, any gut issues or infections, current medications, etc. If you are interested in getting some one-on-one help with this stuff, taking a deeper dive and unraveling YOUR story and creating a NEW STORY, please connect with me! I would love to extend an offer for a complimentary consultation to see where and how I might be able to join forces with you and help you reach a place of more optimal health! Simply schedule a consultation with me here! Or email me at jess@healthwithjess.com

Hashimoto’s. What is it and why everyone should care (and NO, it is NOT the same as hypothyroidism)

Hashimoto’s. What is it and why everyone should care (and NO, it is NOT the same as hypothyroidism)

Hashimoto’s might sound like a very exotic name for a scary condition; but truth be told, it’s FAR more common than you might think. In fact, it has been reported that over 90% of hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s!

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease which is what happens when your immune system goes rogue and attacks tissues in your body in some form or fashion: joints, skin, intestines, brain, etc. Hashimoto’s is when your immune system specifically attacks your thyroid.

Why does this happen?

Some of the biggest culprits leading to Hashimoto’s are gluten intolerance, toxins (from food, daily products used in our households or things like mercury from fish or amalgams), blood sugar imbalances, adrenal stress and a leaky gut and infection (just to name a few).
How do you know if you have Hashimoto’s?

Hashimoto’s is largely determined by measuring thyroid antibodies through blood tests. (I will go further into this in another post, but there are many nuances to this, but this is the first place to check, symptoms are super important to pay attention to as well). Antibody tests consist of:

1) Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) which attack an enzyme used to synthesize thyroid hormones and are commonly elevated in both Hashimoto’s and Graves’ Disease patients.

2) Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb), attack thyroglobulin, which your thyroid uses to produce its hormones. These are typically elevated in Hashimoto’s patients.

Optimal ranges for both are really as low to zero as possible. Practitioners vary in what they feel is the “warning light” going off in terms of once numbers get elevated; some say above 15, some say 30, etc. The important thing is that you understand, zero is the goal and if you are at all elevated AND have symptoms of Hashimoto’s, it is time to act before things get worse!

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s (according to Dr. Amy Meyers) include (please remember you do not have to have ALL symptoms in order for this to be you. A few is too many and could be early warning signs!):

  • Fatigue and feeling exhausted even after sleeping 8-10 hours
  • Brain fog, difficulty concentrating, poor memory
  • Weight gain or inability to lose weight
  • Cold hands or feet, low body temperature
  • Hair loss or thinning, brittle hair
  • Constipation
  • Hormonal imbalances including PMS, irregular periods, and low sex drive, infertility
  • Dry skin or brittle nails
  • Mood imbalances such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Neck swelling, snoring, or hoarse voice

Why is it important to know if you are struggling with Hashimoto’s? Aside from the obvious in terms of symptoms it can cause, let me remind you that over 90% of hypothyroidism is CAUSED BY HASHIMOTO’S!

Something extremely important to understand is about ROOT CAUSE. If your hypothyroid condition is being caused by this underlying condition, treating the thyroid itself will never be enough to help alleviate the problem! You must address this autoimmune condition.
Next time we will chat about WHAT TO DO to turn this around. In the meantime, understand 2 things:

If you go to a mainstream medical practitioner and ask about this you might have these responses:

A) we don’t need to test this for _ reason.

B) if you have Hashimoto’s there’s nothing you can do about it.

This article is meant to empower you. You DO need to test for Hashimoto’s especially if you have symptoms AT ALL and if you already know you have hypothyroidism. Also, there is SO MUCH you can do about this and you can put this in remission, especially if you catch it before it gets too out of hand.

Stay tuned to dive into what we can do to turn this around!

My Doctor Says My Thyroid is “Normal” But I Just Don’t Feel Right

My Doctor Says My Thyroid is “Normal” but I Just Don’t Feel Right

The first thing I want to say here is that you always need to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If you feel OFF or “not right”, that is far more important than any lab test or what any doctor will try to tell you. YOU know YOUR body and if it doesn’t feel right, there is a reason for that!

Here is a typical scenario: you start gaining weight, or just can’t lose extra weight; you might notice your hair is thinning; energy levels are low; perhaps you notice your eyebrows thinning; you might have some pretty good brain fog…. So you increase your exercise and lower your calories but it only makes the whole thing worse. You then go to the doctor because you know enough about thyroid to think it might be what is at play here. You go into your doctor and are sent home discouraged. Your doctor says you are “fine”. So, what happened?

It starts with what lab numbers are actually tested. When you go into your mainstream medical practitioner and have your labs run for thyroid, they will always order TSH and *sometimes* they will throw T4 in there. TSH is the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone that is sent out by the pituitary gland in your brain when it detects you need more thyroid hormone for energy and overall metabolism. What happens then? The pituitary releases TSH and all is well, right? Nope.

Your TSH travels to the thyroid gland and binds to receptors there that signal the T4 to be released. Now you are feeling good and energy levels are where they should be! ….actually….NO. ONE MORE STEP has to occur. Your T4 has to be converted to T3 by an enzymatic process before you will actually feel any benefit as T4 is really only like a messenger (it is INACTIVE). T3 is the active thyroid hormone that gives you what you need (this is the gas that gives you energy)!

Ok let’s pause here and think about this. If T3 is the active hormone, why aren’t doctors concerned about your T3 level?

Without going into any theories as to why this is the case (and it IS the case for most mainstream practitioners), just understand this: you NEED to know what your free T3 level is at (free T3 because that is the “unbound” form of T3 that is actually in action in your body). If your doctor tells you they will NOT order a full thyroid panel that includes free T3 (which is very likely to happen and they might give you any number of reasons why that are NOT VALID) you need to A) be assertive and insist that you have the full panel run, B) find a new doctor or C) order your test yourself. You can order your own test here. (It is very easy [I have done it] and relatively inexpensive. You go to the lab near you that you will be connected with via this website once you order your test and your results are emailed to you.)

Another important part of the full thyroid panel is Reverse T3. Reverse T3 (RT3) is inactive like T4; but it will bind to receptor sites meant for T3 and therefore hijack the system, therefore not allowing you to receive the benefits of the active thyroid hormone, T3.

***PLEASE NOTE: chronic calorie restriction and reducing carbs TOO low will raise RT3 (I love the ketogenic protocol, but you can absolutely be very low carb without causing this problem. You need to listen to your body’s signals and if there is resistance, restricting carbs further is NOT the answer!). Chronic stress will also raise RT3 levels!***

Lastly, it is also imperative that you check your thyroid antibody levels checked. I would argue these might be the MOST important to test. Why?

Thyroid antibodies There are two main types of thyroid antibodies. Here is some great information from Amy Meyers, MD, “Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) attack an enzyme used to synthesize thyroid hormones and are commonly elevated in both Hashimoto’s and Graves’ Disease patients. Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb), attack thyroglobulin, which your thyroid uses to produce its hormones. These are typically elevated in Hashimoto’s patients.”

A little known fact is that over 90% of hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is simply inflammation in your body leading to an attack on the thyroid. It is clearly VERY common and yet people do not realize this. The importance of knowing this is that you can then take steps to reduce systemic inflammation in your body and bring your antibody numbers down, therefore protecting the thyroid.

Full thyroid panel to request:
TSH
Free T4
Free T3
Reverse T3
Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb)
Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb)

Once you have your thyroid panel run, your doctor could look at it (even this full panel) and tell you that you are “within range” and therefore, “fine” and send you home; but you might still feel like there’s a problem. Here’s why:

The thyroid ranges mainstream medicine uses come from an average of actual patient labs run. What does this mean? It means the ranges you are given are based on those with thyroid problems. They are very broad ranges because they consider these numbers “normal”. However, I do not want to be compared to “normal” ranges that represent people with thyroid disorders. I want to know where my labs should be if I am at a healthy, “optimal” level. Here is a general guide from Amy Myers MD:

TSH 1-2 UIU/ML or lower (Armour or compounded T3 can artificially suppress TSH)
FT4 >1.1 NG/DL
FT3 > 3.2 PG/ML
RT3 less than a 10:1 ratio RT3:FT3
TPO – TgAb – < 4 IU/ML or negative Knowing ALL of your thyroid numbers and comparing them to OPTIMAL ranges versus “standard ranges” will change how you approach your thyroid condition and can lead you to the ROOT CAUSE of the issue so that you can treat the actual problem and potentially reverse the issue!

5 Things You Can Do To Naturally Lower Anxiety

5 Things You Can Do To Naturally Lower Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. The CDC has told us that this is one of the top risk factors for experiencing greater complications with Covid-19 is fear and anxiety. This is a rather overwhelming fact when so many are dealing with just this exact thing, at a critical level, due to circumstances surrounding Covid-19.

Something to understand is that anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.

People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events (emphasis on this last one right now). (Anxiety & Depression Association of America)

Most of us have at least experienced some form of anxiety in our lives. When someone mentions anxiety, we can typically all empathize to a degree. However, anxiety lives on a pretty broad spectrum and for some it can be quite debilitating.

Typically, if you go to your primary care physician and you tell them you are dealing with anxiety they are very quick to prescribe a medication. Now, I will not argue that at times that might be absolutely necessary. However, what this approach does is quiets the symptoms without dealing with the root cause. What happens then? It will likely cause side effects that then have to be dealt with and you will still have the underlying problem lingering. For some, the medications just don’t work or not well enough. OR, the side effects are just too great.

I personally went on a medication years ago when I was a single mom (my son was a toddler), I was going to college AND working full-time. Stress was high for sure! I had an episode where I had extreme (and quite scary) chest pain. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and even thought I might be having an aneurysm. I was sent to the ER where the doctor there prescribed me some medications to calm me, told me I was stressed and sent me on my way. I then went to my primary care physician who put me on an anti-anxiety medication. I was hesitant, and yet followed through. At first I kind of liked the chilled out feeling it gave me. I even lost a couple of pounds effortlessly. But then things rapidly changed. The scale then went UP dramatically (well, 6 lbs in a matter of a couple of weeks on my 5’4 frame was a lot) AND I noticed I just didn’t really care…about anything. I was just FLAT. What really bothered me is that I typically used exercise to manage stress and moods and found that I could’ve cared less about exercise! Needless to say, I weaned myself off (*side note: I don’t recommend weaning yourself off of medication if you have severe anxiety and/or you’ve been on the medication for any length of time! This was not the case for me).

So, how does this even happen? Why do we experience anxiety?

There is no simple answer for this, as I am sure you know. It is never just one thing for almost any issue we deal with mentally or physically. We can’t just point a finger at a tough childhood, stress, genes or diet; it is often a combination of things that make us more susceptible to anxiety. With that being said, it is important to take a multi-pronged approach when trying to manage and/or reduce anxiety. Here are 5 things (there are many more, but let’s start here) that you might consider implementing for yourself:

*Please keep in mind that what works for me or your best friend or your neighbor may not work for you. We are all very unique even in this and must take an approach that works for our unique selves. Always listen to your body!

1) NUTRIENTS

According to Chris Kresser, “there are many nutrients that play an important role in mental health: B12, folate, zinc, copper, EPA and DHA, vitamin D, choline, B6, riboflavin, just to name a few”. In order to know where you are deficient, it is a very good idea to have your micronutrient levels tested by your doctor. If they won’t do it (which they should!), you can order your own online here. We sometimes have deficiencies we wouldn’t know about because our bodies aren’t processing our nutrients correctly or absorbing them the way they should be, so I do recommend testing.

2) MAGNESIUM

Magnesium gets it’s own place in this lineup because I recommend that EVERYONE supplement with this mineral! Over 80% of adults are deficient in magnesium due to soil depletion, gut dysbiosis, the use of antibiotics and poor diet. This micronutrient is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in our body. It would just make sense then that it plays into anxiety, wouldn’t it? Magnesium is known to have a calming effect on the body. It can help you relax, soothe sore muscles, help you sleep better, mitigate migraines, calm restless legs, etc.

You can get magnesium through the diet by eating magnesium rich foods such as:

    • Spinach
    • Almonds
    • Cashews
    • Avocados
    • Pumpkin Seeds
    • Broccoli
    • Brussels Sprouts

I typically recommend using a supplement as well. When looking for a supplement, steer clear of Magnesium Oxide. This is a form that is only absorbed by the body by about 4%, which makes it hardly worth the money.

Some good forms to look for are:

      • Magnesium Glycinate
      • Citrate
      • Threonate
      • Malate

It is important that you invest in a form that is more bioavailable, otherwise it won’t do it’s job! Dr. Josh Axe has some really good information on magnesium here (including more about what all it is involved in in our bodies).

3) COPAIBA ESSENTIAL OIL

Both Copaiba and CBD oil bind to cannabinoid receptors that we all have in our central and peripheral nervous systems (this makes up the endocannabinoid system), in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. “In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment” Dustin Sulak, DO.

We have two known types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 & CB2. CB1 are found in the nerve cells in the brain and have to do with memory and pain regulation. Phytocannabinoids are plant substances that stimulate cannabinoid receptors; both CBD and Copaiba are examples of these phytocannabinoids. CB2 are connected to the immune system; they help reduce inflammation and support healthy immune function.

The main component of Copaiba (which comes from Copaifera trees in the Brazilian Amazon) is beta-caryophyllene which binds to CB2 receptors in particular. dōTERRA’s Copaiba essential oil is actually made up of 60% of beta-caryophellene (and only about 35% in CBD oil)!

And how does this all relate to anxiety? Neuroinflammation can cause anxiety. By targeting CB2 receptors, we can potentially reduce such neuroinflammation, relaxing the system and easing anxiety.

Benefits of Copaiba over CBD are cost (Copaiba is often a fraction of the cost for the same amount), more BCP per dose (beta-caryophellene), none of the controversy involved in using this substance AND, With doTERRA’s extensive 3rd party and open source testing, you know that the product won’t contain any pesticides or heavy metals (which can be a large cause of anxiety).

Copaiba can be used aromatically by diffusing, applying it topically to affected areas or internally (I use the capsules, but you can just put a drop under your tongue!

To learn more go here & feel free to reach out with any questions!

4) REDUCE STRESS

I know this is easier said than done; but it is critical!! Stress (regardless of where it comes from) will cause “changes in the output of stress hormones like DHEA and cortisol and pregnenolone, which in turn affects the production of many other hormones and neurotransmitters in the body,” according to Chris Kresser. Stress is also one of the main causes behind inflammation which is the culprit behind chronic conditions such as autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, crohn’s disease, asthma, depression, Alzheimer’s, eczema, ANXIETY…(the list goes on and on…MS, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)….

We can all do certain things to reduce stress, like get more sleep, have better boundaries, reduce screen time (this constant stimulation causes stress whether you’d like to believe it or not!), reduce toxic load in your life (this is a HUGE stress on the body!) like chemicals from toxic cleaning products, body products, make up, ingredients in processed foods, pesticides, etc. Sometimes we need to reach out for added support to wade through of this stuff with a counselor or coach; don’t ever feel like you have to figure it all out alone!

5) EXERCISE

According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “numerous epidemiological studies have shown that exercise improves one’s self-esteem, and a sense of wellbeing…. Adults who engage in regular physical activity experience fewer depressive and anxiety symptoms, thus supporting the notion that exercise offers a protective effect against the development of mental disorders”.

This is an amazing research article to read if you’d like to dive in a little deeper to the “why” behind exercise reducing anxiety: Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety. The impact is pretty astounding! With just a little bit of regular exercise you will cause actual physiological changes and adaptations in your body. “Studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise is associated with lower sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity” (NLMNIH) which means less anxiety!

Before you start getting high anxiety over the thought of regular exercise, understand that I am not encouraging you to start training for a marathon or take up a CrossFit class (unless those things light you up inside!). I am talking about getting out and walking briskly so that you SWEAT and your heart rate stays up for a steady 20 minutes or so. I’m saying take a yoga class, get on your bike a few times a week, dance in your living room, swim, hike, ride a unicycle 🙂 Whatever it is, do something that you LOVE! Do it for a minimum of 20 minutes and 3-5 days a week (if you can get outside for a least some of this the healing properties of the sunlight will only make you feel even better)!

There you are; 5 things you can target in your life to help ease anxiety. Anxiety is no joke. It is important that you understand that a lot of people experience this and you might not even know it! It’s also important to understand that you really can do something about it; it doesn’t have to control your life. <3

Toxins in Our Daily Products Matter More Than You Might Think!

Toxins in Our Daily Products Matter More Than You Might Think!

Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs everything we expose it to.

When my kiddo was little, I started switching things up that I use in our household because his skin was pretty sensitive and dry. I am such a sensory oriented person (give me all the yummy smells!) and was particular about how things like my laundry detergent smelled because it just made me happy. Well, I gave up the typical detergents when I realized they were likely adding to my kiddos skin issues. That was a tough one for me! I hated moving to the bland “free and clear” options out there. (BORING)

Truly this was the beginning of my understanding of just how our products impact our health on a much deeper level than I had ever considered.

Fast forward a few years and I found myself turning 40 and getting hit with hormone issues that I only thought happened to OTHER PEOPLE! I guess I figured since I am so strategic with my health that I wouldn’t go down that road. Boy was I wrong.

There are many pieces to the hormone puzzle, but what I have come to understand is that my shampoo & conditioner, my body wash, the lotion I put on after my shower, my make up and skin care, the laundry detergent I use, the things I use to make my home and car smell good…and on and on and on…. all these things impact my HORMONES!!

Do you realize that these chemicals that we use daily build up in our bodies?

Do you realize that this could be the cause of your body’s resistance to weight loss?

LOVE YOUR LIVER
By inundating our bodies with these chemicals on the daily, we over tax our livers. Our livers are a key player in our natural detoxification process. When our livers can’t keep up, our hormones are effected. Estrogen Dominance is a very common hormonal imbalance in our culture due to the foods we eat, stress, the xenoestrogens we are constantly exposed to (pesticides, certain preservatives, phthalates, for example) and overloading our detox pathways (liver, kidneys, skin, lymphatic system, lungs, etc).

ONE THING YOU CAN DO TODAY TO HELP YOUR BODY HAVE BALANCE
Start switching out your products!!!

Two apps I LOVE for detecting the harmful chemicals in my products are:

These are both free to download and allow you to scan products at home and at the store, and give you information on the ingredients that can be VERY EYE OPENING!

Over the past several years I have been switching up my products in my home. I use essential oils in my diffuser rather than the melty wax smelly things that you plug in (ya’all know what I’m talking about). I use essential oils and a natural concentrate for my cleaning as well as my laundry detergent. I use essential oils for everything, lets be real here!

All the items in our showers and bathroom cupboards are free of toxins. I have also recently switched to a makeup company that I 110% align with and feel SO GOOD about what I am putting on my face every morning! And the best part…IT LOOKS GOOD! Nothing worse than getting natural products only to find they….well they suck. I have some darn good stuff that has some darn good ingredients in it!

I hope you take a minute today and at the very least, download one of the apps I shared and scan some of the items in your home. Make some changes! Even if it’s one thing at a time, it is well worth it.

For a deeper dive in to hormone imbalance check out my recent blog post here.

If you are interested in some one-on-one coaching surrounding this issue in your own life and/or some direction with replacing products in your home please click here to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with me!

Do These Hormones Make My Butt Look Big??

Do These Hormones Make My Butt Look Big??

ATTENTION WOMEN WHO ARE IN MENOPAUSE OR BEYOND…. this applies to YOU TOO!! Keep reading for explanation on this!

Are you struggling with your weight, but you can’t figure out why?
Do you have sleep issues?
Do you have fibrous breast tissue?
Do you have heavy periods?
Do you have painful periods?
Do you have an irregular period?
Do you have raging PMS?
Has your sex drive up and left?
Do you feel bloated?
Do you experience swollen and tender breasts?
Do you experience regular headaches (especially before a period)?
Are you moody and/or depressed?
Are you hanging on to fat around your belly and hips?
Have you experienced infertility?
Do you experience cold hands and feet?
Have you noticed hair loss?
Have you been told by a doctor you have thyroid issues?
Does it seem you have the slowest metabolism ever?
Do you experience brain fog and memory issues?
Is fatigue a normal part of your life?
Have been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Have you had ovarian cysts?
Have you been diagnosed with uterine cancer?
All of these symptoms are a sign of ESTROGEN DOMINANCE.

Before you close this article because you think, “that couldn’t possibly be true for me because (fill in the blank)”, please understand that estrogen dominance is EXTREMELY COMMON and MISUNDERSTOOD!

Why is it so common?? Keep reading.

Let’s first set the stage for some basic hormone understanding. Both men and women produce the hormone estrogen in their adrenal glands as well as fat tissues. Women also produce estrogen in the ovaries and men in the testes.

WHAT DOES ESTROGEN DO?

Estrogen is responsible for the physical development in a woman having to do with child bearing: breast development & curvy hips, for example. However, it’s also a driving force in regulating serotonin which plays into mood, sleep and appetite.

Progesterone is important to recognize in that it is a team player with estrogen. It interrupts continuous effects of estrogen in situations such as stepping in to end the menstrual cycle to start the 28 days over again. When the balance between estrogen and progesterone is off, a woman will experience symptoms that our culture tends to embrace as normal and blame hormones in general and/or age. The truth is, the symptoms many women experience that have to do with PMS and menopause (and post menopause such as weight gain) are truly signs of imbalance.

Here’s where you really need to pay attention!

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ESTROGEN AND PROGESTERONE ARE OUT OF BALANCE?

THIS is the question to ask right here! Why? Because it is SO. Darn. Common.

There are three scenarios we are looking at here:

  • 1) Estrogen is high
  • 2) Progesterone is low
  • 3) A combination of both high estrogen and low progesterone

This is keeping it pretty basic, but what you need to understand is that either way, your body will experience the symptoms mentioned above and this is due to ESTROGEN DOMINANCE.

NOW, for you ladies who are in menopause or beyond, YOU STILL HAVE HORMONES!!! So, you do not escape this scenario! Yes, your hormones look different, but you are very much still at risk for estrogen dominance. A LOT of it has to do with our culture. Keep reading.

WHAT CAUSES ESTROGEN DOMINANCE?

The crazy thing is how common this is becoming. In fact, this is why people think such symptoms are “normal”. They are in fact not NORMAL but becoming TYPICAL. Big difference.

Here are some root causes:

  • Excess body fat
  • Too much stress, resulting in excess amounts of cortisol, insulin, and norepinephrine, which can lead to adrenal exhaustion and can also adversely affect overall hormonal balance (hello adrenal fatigue)
  • A low-fiber diet with excess refined carbohydrates and deficient in nutrients and high quality fats (hello Standard American Diet, AKA: “SAD””
  • Impaired immune function
  • Environmental agents (which both overload the liver so it cannot properly detox as well as allows our bodies to absorb substances that act as estrogens in our bodies.)

What I truly want to drive home today are both the affects of stress and environmental agents on estrogen. The others causes are more cut and dry; these two are SO important and can be complicated.

STRESS
I have mentioned adrenals and adrenal fatigue a couple of times here. What happens when our bodies are chronically stressed? Our cortisol eventually bottoms out (this is a super simplistic way of describing it, but essentially, that’s what happens). To make up for it, our bodies will convert progesterone in to cortisol, trying to maintain that homeostasis. What then? LOW PROGESTERONE.

Before we leave this topic I want to draw attention to what STRESS is. It’s not just a big fight with your spouse, money issues or a car accident…it is also:

  • never resting (always on the go)
  • not getting adequate sleep
  • not exercising enough
  • exercising too much (can’t tell you enough how bad this is and how often I see it these days!)
  • always being plugged into technology
  • constantly being inundated with artificial light (throws off the circadian rhythm)
  • chronic health conditions
  • not having healthy boundaries (raise your hands all you people pleasers!)

ENVIRONMENTAL AGENTS
This is one that frustrates the living daylights out of me. WHY? Because people don’t think it’s a thing!

The problem with that is that, not only is it a thing, it is one of the biggest culprits having to do with our underlying health (not just hormone disruption, but chronic disease, autoimmune conditions, mental health conditions…I’ll save this for another article on another day).

How exactly do environmental agents impact our hormones?

Let me paint you a picture:

You wake up in your spring fresh smelling bed with sheets bathed in artificial fragrances from the detergents, softeners and dryer sheets. You then shower using body and hair products full of chemicals and artificial ingredients. You dry off and head to the vanity where you lather lotions on your face and body…then move on to the hair products and makeup: all with chemicals and artificial ingredients.

Next comes breakfast! Coffee with creamer made from milk that has hormones. A breakfast sandwich made from meat that has been treated with antibiotics and hormones…OR you opt for a soy-based food which is a quick ticket to high estrogen. You top it off with a smoothie made with fruits and vegetables all covered in pesticides.

You get where I’m going with this, right?

“Xenoestrogens are any chemical we are exposed to in the environment that has an estrogen like effect or promotes more estrogenic activity. The big ones that people hear about are BPAs and phthalates, but unfortunately, they are in our drinking water, shampoo, deodorant, dryer sheets, laundry detergents, and all plastics, even the BPA free ones. Besides having an estrogenic effect, xenoestrogens also have to be detoxified by the liver and compete with the same pathways to get out of the body.”

WHAT CAUSES ESTROGEN DOMINANCE

This is not meant to overwhelm you. We have these agents around us 24/7. What YOU CAN DO is take baby steps in order to reduce exposure! Then do things to support your body in being able to detox the way it should (I’m not talking about a major, intense cleanse, but giving your body the help it needs using things like supplements/herbs/essential oils in order to do what it is designed to do!).

WHAT NOW?

TESTING

If you are experiencing symptoms of estrogen dominance but want to know exactly what that looks like (low progesterone, high estrogen, etc??) I would suggest getting a DUTCH test. DO NOT get your hormones tested through blood. This will not give us an accurate picture of where your hormones really are. Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones is gold standard as it tests metabolites you simply can’t get in a blood or saliva test. In addition, you can test cortisol which is what you need to see in order to address adrenal issues.

If you work with a functional or holistic practitioner, they will very likely be on board with ordering this test for you. If not, you can absolutely order the test yourself and complete it in the comfort of your own home.

Go here for more info and/or to order: https://dutchtest.com/ Please use my code in order to receive $100 OFF any DUTCH test on their site: hwj100

There’s a lot of great information and education on their site as well!

STEPS TO BALANCING HORMONES

Whether or not you test to get the real snapshot of what your hormones look like, you can do something about it starting NOW!

1) REDUCE STRESS
Even if you can’t do something major like leave the job you hate, you can do a lot to manage your stress:

  • Exercise
  • Get the right nutrients to support your body
  • Take an adrenal support
  • Pray/meditate
  • Connect with friends/family/church/some kind of network on a regular basis
  • Regularly turn things OFF. Take time to allow your brain to decompress at the end of the day.
  • Take steps to get adequate sleep

2) PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR FOOD

Grass fed/finished
No hormones
No antibiotics
No pesticides
No artificial “stuff”
DITCH sugar and refined carbs
Consider going low carb to regulate blood sugar and insulin

3) LOVE YOUR LIVER
Your liver is responsible for cleansing excess estrogen. The problem is that we are overwhelming our livers with all sorts of stuff in our food and environments. In order to support it in doing its job, you can:

A) avoid those things that cause overload (mentioned above)
B) eat foods that support your liver in detoxing: cruciferous veggies for the win!!
C) take supplements that support your liver (herbs such as turmeric, dandelion, milk thistle, peppermint, yellow dock root, garlic, artichoke)

The bottom line here is that all the things that set us up for having estrogen dominance are directly related to our standard American lifestyle! YOU can take steps RIGHT NOW to help support your body and get back to feeling VIBRANT!

I challenge you to take a good look at your body/hair/makeup products, your cleaning products and any other household items such as things that you plug in or spray for odor control.

Download the FREE Think Dirty App to assess the products you use and replace them!
FEELING OVERWHELMED? NEED MORE SPECIFIC HELP?
Connect with me and we’ll schedule a FREE consultation to see where I might be able to jump in on this journey and help guide you through this process!

Email me at jessica@healthwithjess.com

Article sources:
https://www.drnorthrup.com/estrogen-dominance/
https://www.drberg.com/blog/why-estrogen-dominance-after-menopause

What to do About the Daily Toxins We Encounter (a link to DIY recipes included!)

First, let’s all be honest, this stuff is confusing and can be super overwhelming. I swear, if you listen to everything that floats around on the internet you can get really scared, really fast about toxins in our environment.

I mean, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had frustrating moments where I’ve felt like I must live a totally secluded life on some untouched land somewhere with no makeup (gasp), none of life’s treats, no creature comforts etc. just to ensure I am healthy and not in danger of cancer or some neurodegenerative disease or something along those lines from my shampoo or car fumes or…you name it!

Let me try to simplify this for a minute.

First of all, it is important to understand that we have SIX systems & organs that are in charge of detoxing our bodies naturally:

  • the skin
  • lungs
  • kidney
  • digestive system
  • liver
  • the lymphatic system

Together, these different parts make a strong and effective army to protect our body from things that can interfere with our health by getting into our system through what we breathe, what we put on our skin and what we ingest.

I won’t go into the specifics of what each of these organs and systems individually do for us, but they have very important jobs that makes everything work well as a whole.

What happens when our bodies get overwhelmed with so much junk that the cleansing systems can’t cleanse fast enough?

Think of your body as a car (this is a SUPER simplified way of looking at it since a car isn’t impacted by emotions, hormones, sleep, stress, etc.). If the oil doesn’t get changed and the air filter gets super dirty the car won’t run right. The same thing happens if you use bad fuel. Our bodies are the same in that, it might be fine for a while, but eventually there will be toxic build up.

What does this look like?

Here are several ways build up in our bodies can impact our health and how we will recognize that something is wrong:

  • Food sensitivities from our gut lining & gut microbiota being compromised
  • Skin issues
  • Mood issues (depression and anxiety)
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Hormone disruption
  • Weak immune system
  • Allergies
  • Brain fog
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Sleep disorders
  • Low energy
  • Chronic illness
  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • The list goes on and on…the common theme here is INFLAMMATION.

INFLAMMATION is designed to be GOOD!

When our bodies are attacked somehow, inflammation occurs as an immune response to heal the body rapidly. When you injure yourself blood flows to the location to cleanse the wound and you get some redness and swelling which is the immune cells jumping into action the way they were designed to.

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING
In our modern culture we are so inundated by foreign substances that easily and CONSTANTLY make their ways into our bodies, that inflammation is very commonly chronic amongst people in our culture. That list you just read: that’s what happens from CHRONIC inflammation (when the inflammation just keeps going as an ongoing defense) and for whatever reason people think these things are NORMAL. Although they have become TYPICAL in our culture, they should not be accepted as normal. We are not meant to be in a constant state of inflammation. When this happens, things within us start attacking the good things and our system gets corroded in a sense.

A DAY IN A LIFE:

Picture this…

You wake up from a night of sleep in your sheets and PJs that have been washed and dried in detergents, softening agents and dryer sheets that all have artificial dyes, chemicals and scents that are in the form of teeny tiny particles that super easily get into your blood stream through your lungs & skin.

You jump in the shower and use shampoo, conditioner and body wash all containing parabens, Phthalates, artificial ingredients and chemicals that are endocrine disrupters and wreak havoc on our internal systems even though they smell good and lather up nicely to make us think we are extra squeaky clean!

You head to the kitchen where you dose up on caffeine with dairy that contains hormones along with sugar and artificial ingredients in that oh so yummy creamer (it’s like a drug I swear). Your taste buds are happy, but the rest of you may eventually tell you otherwise as you start to have hormone issues, skin issues, you can’t kick your sugar cravings, your blood sugar is out of control, you cant seem to lose weight, etc.

You are inundated with car fumes, artificial light up the ying yang, stress from your job, pesticides on your food… you come home too tired to exercise OR you exercise too much, and your body is holding on to weight, getting injured, on a hormonal roller coaster because of it. You need to relax at night so, you stay up too late watching TV with more artificial light and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.

Sound familiar?

OK. THIS IS NOT MEANT TO BE ALL DOOM & GLOOM! BEAR WITH ME!

While it’s important to be AWARE of what we are doing to our bodies, it is also important to NOT live in fear!

What we can do is support our bodies in being able to cleanse themselves in two ways as much as possible:

1) Restricting exposure to harmful substances
2) Using foods, supplements and protocols that make our organs and lymphatic system happy and healthy
Here is an easy system for getting started without feeling overwhelmed:

Think, REMOVE & REPLACE

1) Pay attention to the ingredients in your products and REMOVE those that are harmful

I suggest using a FREE app such as Think Dirty or the EWG’s Healthy Living App. You can scan products in your home or in the store and see how they have been scored in a number of areas to decide whether it’s a product you want to keep using or purchase. It can be VERY surprising as to which products you will decide to ditch because you “thought” they were less harmful than they are.

2) REPLACE harmful products with natural products.

You don’t have to do this all at once. Start small. Start by switching to a clean detergent. I suggest a “FREE & CLEAR” or something like doTERRA’s onguard detergent. OR even using a FREE & CLEAR & adding an essential oil that you love (for more on essential oils click here!).

This is a good place to start.

Pretty soon you can start diving in and learning more but keep in mind, this is NOT about living in a bubble! This is about setting ourselves and our families up for more success with our health! We can do SO much to support our systems without getting hyper focused on it all and stressed out. Truly.

I personally have started using doTERRA essential oils as one way to help me replace other more harmful products. Along the way I have learned SO much, not about how they can replace other things, but the benefits they hold!

I have also started replacing my makeup and skin care products with products by Beauty Counter. This company is all about educating people on the ingredients in our products that shouldn’t be there and offering CLEAN products!

Please click the links above to learn more about doTERRA and/or Beauty Counter and feel free to reach out to me for more info!

In the meantime, please go here for a BUNCH of awesome “do-it-yourself” household and body product recipes from doTERRA that contain HEALTHY ingredients!

My Journey from Vegetarian to Owning a Pasture Raised Meat Business

My Journey from Vegetarian to Owning a Pasture Raised Meat Business

Once upon a time I was vegetarian. Now we own and operate a pasture raised meat business. (Grass fed and finished beef, pasture raised pork and chicken all minus antibiotics or added hormones)

Quite the switch.

When I was ohhhhh around 20 (feels like just a couple years ago) and I went to Alaska for the first time (as a vegetarian), I had the privilege of spending a couple of weeks with a family who was homesteading in the middle of absolute nowhere. The nearest town was 30 miles away by dog sled or snow machine during the winter and by boat in the summer. And that “town”…well if you’ve seen the show Northern Exposure {popular in the early 90’s} then you know what kind of town I’m talking about. You know, where the “airport” and post office are all in one and smaller than my house. You get off the plane outside on the tarmac regardless of the fact that it’s 30 below outside. Oh, and the plane is half cargo. Some of the cargo was fresh produce that people living way up there eagerly anticipated once a month.

ONCE a month! Can you imagine fresh veggies and fruit only once a month??

Needless to say, when the woman of the house {i.e. cabin with no running water and heated only by wood stove} I was staying at asked, “what should we have for dinner?” my first night there and it turned out my options were moose, caribou or….well…moose, I was not surprised.

“My first experience in temperatures so frigid. No store anywhere within reach. Yup, I’ll be eating meat” was how my thought process went. Then, off we went into the “yard” with a chainsaw where she started uncovering something from under a mound of snow. There was dinner. Not even kidding.

My reasons for following a vegetarian lifestyle back then were pretty weak. I was early into my whole health and fitness journey and was very much following trends {and more interested in being skinny than anything else related to health}. So, low fat and vegetarian it was! I would go out with friends and order a pizza with just veggies {cheese was too fattening}. No joke. Thankfully I had good friends who didn’t give me too hard of a time or try to force feed me pepperoni and cheese *gasp*. I will tell you, however, the biggest driver for me was my disgust with how meat was farmed in our country and I really associated it with fast food. Yuck.

Eating meat in the far Northern regions of Alaska in the dead of winter with a family that was completely living off the land, changed my perspective.

After that experience, I moved to a small town in Alaska, not nearly as remote as Kotzebue, however the grocery store was a 2 hour drive away from where I lived (still accessible any time of the year). {I lived in Healy, just north of Denali National Park}

What I noticed when I lived up there was that people hunted and would feed their whole family for the entire year from a moose they shot; and they were SO thankful. I hunted with friends and the experience was completely different than what I expected. The word honor comes to mind. When you work hard for something versus just picking up a package at the store or ordering it off the menu at a restaurant…it makes you really understand and appreciate what you have in front of you.

This was such a far cry from what I was used to down in the lower 48. Not to mention, wild meat had SUCH a different taste.

There is a lot of confusion today with what is good and what isn’t good for you. What I find that many people overlook WHERE things come from and what that means for the integrity fo the food. I haven’t ate a burger from a fast food restaurant in ….you know I can’t even tell you how many years. But, I was still buying meat from the grocery store and not really thinking much about it until in the recent few years. Then I started getting grass fed beef locally and fast forward to now where we have partnered with Pacific Northwest farms who meet our strict standards and we are selling it!

One of the biggest reasons to go for grass fed over grain fed is that grass fed beef contains far more omega 3 than omega 6. Why do we care about this? On our Standard American Diet {S.A.D.} we eat an alarmingly off balance ratio of omega 3/omega 6. This causes systemic inflammation which is at the root cause of basically any known chronic disease in our modern culture. Meat is not the only culprit; not by a long shot. We get an overabundance of omega 6 from all the highly processed vegetable oils in our processed foods {canola, soy, corn, safflower…}.

According to holistic practitioner Chris Kresser, “Depending on the breed of cow, grass-fed beef contains between 2 and 5 times more omega-3s than grain-fed beef, and the average ratio of n-6:n-3 in grass fed beef is 1.53:1. In grain fed beef, this ratio jumps all the way up to 7.65:1”. {For more on this subject AND why meat and saturated fat are not to blame for heart disease like we’ve been told for so long, go here.}

Minus the hormones, minus all the inflammatory omega 6, minus the antibiotics, what do you get?

You get significant amounts of B vitamins, including B 12, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate, niacin, and vitamin B6. You get vitamin D, iron & zinc. You also get a good amount of other vital minerals such as magnesium, copper, cobalt, phosphorus, chromium, nickel, and selenium. And the best part is that these nutrients from a meat source are far more bioavailable than any other sources {meaning your body will actually absorb and use much more than it will from other sources}.

I totally respect those who choose to be vegetarian. That’s not what this article is about {and I’m not interested in debates. You respect my decision, I’ll respect yours}.

What this is about is my own journey, and digging deep into the science behind health rather than just following trends.

It sure feels good to know exactly where our food comes from, to know that they are happy, healthy, well cared for cows! And I will say that I feel like a happier, healthier, more cared for human being having much more nutrient dense food in my diet every day.