Moments of Joy: May 2016

Last month, I listed the fun activities we enjoyed during a vacation to Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Today, I present something that has changed my life and my family’s lives for the better.
collage of how to make a fruit smoothie with orange, banana, and strawberries

(**This smoothie recipe is listed at the end of the post.)

Health is so easily taken for granted” I think to myself as I lay in bed watching a YouTube video about raw vegan diets.   “Why do we do that, since our health affects all other aspects of our lives?

Sounds of scrubbing tooth brushes and running water float into the room while I sleepily click from one video to another.  “Now THIS is a weird one…’Iridology’?  There’s a chart of an eye with different parts of the body written on different areas.  What?  That reminds me of those old foot massage reflexology charts my mom had when I was a kid.”

My daughter soon bounds into the room with far too much energy for bedtime and flops onto the edge of the bed to begin our family bible reading and prayer time.  Curiosity entices me to click to another short video, this time about veganism and eye color.

“Look at this,” I beckon to my daughter, “I’ve seen several things on the internet saying that people’s eyes changed color after eating a raw vegan diet.”

“Their eye color changed?!” she lifts her eyebrows as she crawls up beside me to look at the laptop screen.

“Whose eye color changed?” my husband asks as he enters the doorway and steps past our sweet old dog (who is patiently lying on the floor, waiting for the highly-anticipated bedtime treat she receives every night).

So begins a discussion of all the (dubious) new information I’ve gleaned that evening about iridology, veganism, and cleansing toxins from the body.  “Oooo!” my daughter exclaims.  “It would be cool if I could make my eye color change back to blue like they were when I was little!”  I’m thinking her eyes are gorgeous as they are, but blue eyes do look quite stunning with dark hair like hers…

The conversation escalates to the point that my crazy hubby and daughter decide to experiment with a raw vegan diet for the sake of her eye color and his health.

“Hey, Mom, how long do you have to eat that way before your eyes change?”

“Months to years, from what this stuff says, if you believe it’s true.”

“I’ve been wanting to make a change for my health, anyway, so I’ll do it with you,” my husband offers.

The two continue to discuss and bargain from each side of me on the bed:  “Let’s do it a month.”  “No, it has to be longer.  Let’s do three months!  We can do it!”

I interrupt their excited chatter with a loud chuckle.  My family does not appreciate my skepticism.  Though I am the only person in the room who has ever fasted or stuck to a strict diet, they are undaunted.

Hoping to save them from disheartening failure, I show them some research I’ve done on the benefits of a five-day raw fruit and veggie cleanse/fast.  We solemnly agree to to begin the diet as a family…right after we return from our vacation at the end of the month.  (None of us are willing to miss out on the delicious treats at our favorite B&B!)

A couple of weeks later, on May 1st, 2016, we embark on a culinary experiment that has set our household (and possibly a few other family members and friends) on a new path in life.  This path holds the blessings of remarkably reduced headaches and stomach pains, clearer thinking, bubbly energy, and hopefully many other great things to come.  The five-day experiment has evolved into a 45-to-55-day experiment that is turning into a life-change for all of us.

I’m realizing now more than ever that food is medicine.  I wouldn’t necessarily have thought in the past that problems like backaches and chronically cold hands are directly connected to diet, but apparently they are! Things just keep getting better and better for my family as we learn more about how different foods affect our bodies and minds.

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You can read details about our eating experiment and updates on the results in my latest health journal post.  Thanks for reading!

**A pleasant part of our experiment for me has been delicious, fresh smoothies!  If you’d like to know the recipe for the pink beauty pictured above, it’s quite simple:  one clementine, one very ripe banana, frozen strawberries, fill half-way with water, add a bit of stevia or other sweetener, assemble, blend, and enjoy!  If  you have room in your blender, a few ice cubes make it even better!

Elaboration

"blah blah blah" written in different colors around a woman typing on a laptop

Recently, I had enough free time to explore the WordPress blogosphere, and two things stuck out to me.  First, I became keenly aware of a quirk of mine that I constantly battle.  Second, I (re)discovered and began to follow a great blog called “The View From my Window.”

In her blog, Laura presents a lot of poetry, photos, and thought-provoking stories.  She has inspired me to share my thoughts about my glaring quirk in poem form:

I’m so wordy;

Please forgive me.

I often manage to find a way to express myself in sentences that contain many extra adjectives, phrases, and the like, until the sentences ramble on to become 20 to 30 words long (or even longer) instead of merely…

Two or Three.

~Merry Hearts Medicine, 2016

 

This tendency might be an asset in awkward social situations, but maybe not so much in written words, eh?  I don’t know.  Thanks to those who bear with me and read my ramblings anyway!

~~~~~~~

What’s your opinion on writing styles?  Do you prefer the facts, short and sweet?  Or do detailed descriptions tickle your fancy?

Link

Links to Joy: Health…Part 2

What a tremendous blessing it is to have good health, to have the energy and ability to go about daily tasks and enjoy simple pleasures!

Periodically, I have been adding information to a health journal of sorts.  The post has gotten so tediously long that I decided to give it a fresh start in this new post today.  

Click here to view the original post if you’d like to read about appreciating your health, hypothyroidism, food obsessions, motivation to exercise, diet plans, health-related jokes and videos, Oxycise, essential oils (especially frankincense), or shrinking tumors and scars. I went back and labelled the sections to make it easier to find each topic.

~~~ May 9, 2016 ~~~

[raw vegan diet plan with progressive additions = family lifestyle change!]

My hubby and daughter have spurred us all into a lifestyle change (hopefully)!  What began as a five-day raw-vegan experiment has been expanded into at least a 45-day plan intended to change our diets for the long-term.

For five days, we ate only raw, whole fruits and vegetables, along with some nuts and seeds.  By the end of day one, my husband’s stomach was smaller and softer (meaning less indigestion), and his recently-acquired ulcers had stopped bothering him.  (By the way, a spoonful of honey or a few ounces of aloe vera juice will help heal ulcers if taken a couple of times per day.)  By the fourth day, I had much less hypothyroid “brain fog” and more energy.  My daughter, who had been experiencing headaches 4-5 days per week for the last month, had not a single headache after going on the raw vegan diet.

table covered with fruit, a plate of raw vegan food, and a fruit smoothie

With such great results so quickly, we put our heads together as a family and extended our dietary experiment.  Here’s the plan we are following:

Healthy Eating Plan

We will do five days of each of the following steps:

1.  Raw vegan whole foods = eat it the way God made it

 2. Vegan = no common allergens (corn, egg, dairy, fish, gluten, peanut, shellfish, soy), low salt, & no fast food or junk food

 3. Vegan = add corn, continue low salt & no fast food or junk food

 4. Vegan = add soy & wheat, continue low salt & no fast food or junk food

 5. Vegetarian = add eggs, continue low salt & no fast food or junk food

 6. Vegetarian = add honey & dairy, continue low salt & no fast food or junk food

 7. add fish, continue low salt & no fast food or junk food

 8. add white meat, continue low salt & no fast food or junk food

 9. add red meat, continue low salt & no fast food or junk food

10. Optional: add fast food on some occasions (no more than once per week), otherwise continue low salt & no junk food

11. Optional: add occasional junk foods & sugary foods

Lifetime plan: Limit meat, salt, sugar, & artificial additives; eat until satisfied, never “stuffed;” & stay away from anything that caused problems when reintroduced.

My husband wanted to reintroduce dairy as soon as possible, but I talked him into pushing it farther down the list to keep it out of our systems longer.  I have suspected for years that I have a slight problem with dairy, and he may, too, since he craves it as much as I do.  I’m expecting that dairy is the main culprit adding to my health problems, and it will probably have to be permanently eliminated for me.  Here’s hoping I’m wrong!

We began this journey on May 1st, so right now we are in the middle of step #2. So far, I’m feeling better and more energetic each day! (I should mention that, in addition to the dietary changes, I’ve been taking walks, gardening, and doing Oxycise 3-5 days per week.)  I may stop the diet plan at #8 and limit the rest to holidays and vacations, if I have them at all. I truly want to be healthier and feel better!

~~~ June 1, 2016 ~~~

[more about the raw vegan diet plan with progressive additions]

We began eating fish today (step #7), and things are still going quite well.  We regretted combining soy and wheat on step #4, so we tried each one for 3-4 days and pushed the addition of eggs back a day.

I’m thrilled to note that I did not have any noticeable problems during the five days of eating dairy.  I dedicated a couple of days to cheese and a couple to milk and had no problems.  Hooray!  So now I’m guessing my past problems from hypothyroidism and exhaustion were related to junk/chemicals, salt, &/or simply overeating.  We’ll see as the experiment progresses.  My husband’s stomach seems to disagree with having cheese in it (milk did not bother him at all), so he plans to limit it in the future.  Other than that, none of us have had adverse reactions to anything we’ve added so far.

I’m also excited to say that although I have not kept up with my exercises as often as planned, I am still gradually losing weight while eating about as much as I could want each day.  The only times I’ve gained a pound were when we made a creamy cheese sauce for pasta, and I “cheated” and added too much salt to my plate.  More fresh fruits and veggies the next day helps shed the water weight, though.

This has been interesting, and so worth it!

My husband is exploring processed vegan foods.  My opinions: Wheat hot dogs = disgusting!  I couldn’t get one bite down! Wheat/veggie burgers = not bad at all, as long as the cook isn’t distracted when the grill suddenly flames up and chars one side of them.  Lol  Falafel “meatballs” and falafel chips = wonderful!

I personally don’t care to go any further with the experiment, but I will continue to support my family (or else I’ll be in big trouble with my daughter!  ha ha).  Since we finished with homeschool last week, I’m really enjoying venturing into the garden in the cool of the morning for fresh breakfasts of sugar snap peas, strawberries, raspberries, edible flowers, and carrots.  Blissful!

~~~ June 24, 2016 ~~~

[RESULTS of the raw vegan diet plan with progressive additions]

The diet experiment is over, and the results are in.  The basics I’ve learned are that brazil nuts don’t like me at all if I eat a handful on an empty stomach, dairy (surprisingly) doesn’t seem to bother me, and sugary junk makes me feel gross after going two months without it.

I was weak and craving sweets today, so I gobbled down two sour cream cake doughnuts and a glass of chocolate milk.  I feel like I could throw up.  I don’t know why I caved and bought that today.  I know it’s not good for me!

I want to make processed, sugary junk food a thing of the past and take better care of my body.  I want that bursting energy and clear-mindedness back that I had the first week or two of our healthy-eating experiment!  If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it” (Proverbs 25:16).

~~~ December 21, 2016 ~~~

[recovering from shoulder injury, free exercise videos]

The second half of 2016 has flown by!  As far as diet, I’ve been keeping sugar intake low and incorporating whole foods into my diet every day (when I can keep my family away from restaurants!  It’s so tempting!).  After several months of laziness and working on special rotator cuff exercises for my injured shoulder, I’m finally getting back into an actual exercise routine this last month.

Setting aside time first thing in the morning is definitely the best method for me to make sure I actually complete my exercises each day.  Using Oxycise breathing methods and simple cardio and body weight routines for 20 to 40 minutes, 5-6 days per week, has made a huge difference in my body composition and energy level.

It’s been 15-16 months since I injured my shoulder (possibly tearing the deltoid muscle), and it’s still not quite back to normal.  I quickly learned not to push that shoulder to the level of discomfort at all when exercising and not to think “It’s well enough now to use it to lift this 50 lb bag as long as I mainly lift with my strong arm…” Nope, that doesn’t work because I reinjured it and set myself back several times over the past year.

After babying it for months, faithfully doing rotator cuff rehab exercises, and taking L-Lysine* and Vitamin C, I’m to the point now where I can use the shoulder enough to begin building muscle back onto it.  I’ve looked a little funny with the overused, healthy shoulder being full and round, while the injured one looked like a bony knob.  I’m cautiously on the way to evening out now — hooray!

*(L-Lysine is an amino acid that’s good for sports injuries.  It also helps you recover much faster if you get shingles!)

The main reason I’m adding to this health journal today is to tell you about an exercise YouTube channel I discovered last week called “Fitness Blender.”  The videos are created by a husband and wife team (Daniel and Kelli) who have years of experience as personal trainers.  The routines I’ve tried so far are great!  Here’s a simple beginner workout I completed this morning that was very relaxing:

Remember: Always modify exercise moves that aggravate an injury or push you past your flexibility or fitness level!

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That’s all for the moment.  Please check back later for more updates, and please share your own tips and stories in the comments below!