I Haven’t Shampooed My Hair in a Year!

It’s true!  And I’m loving it!

I cleaned my hair throughout 2016 with two simple ingredients which only cost pennies per month:  baking soda and vinegar.

Check out this post to learn the no-shampoo method of hair washing that I use and to see my…

"Never buy shampoo again!" One year update

Avoiding harsh chemicals, saving money, and having soft, clean hair — Yes!  That makes me a happy lady!

Fitness Blender

Hello, everyone.  I wanted to share that I added a new entry to my personal health journal post (for the first time in a long time — Yes, I’ve gotten a bit flabby and lazy over the last few months, but I’m back on track now.)

Have you heard of a site called “Fitness Blender“?  They have a YouTube channel with hundreds of free workout videos that are really great, from what I’ve seen so far.  Click here and scroll down to the December 21st journal entry to learn more about these free videos and about how I’m on the road to recovery with a probable torn deltoid muscle in my shoulder…without surgery–yay!

(I’m not saying you should not get surgery if you severely injure your shoulder. I was just wanting to avoid it for myself, personally. It has taken over a year, but I think I’m very close to a successful recovery.)

Have a great day, and take care of your health!

Oh, and please share in the comments below any free exercise videos that you enjoy using.  I’d love to try new routines.  Thanks!

Never Buy Shampoo Again!

After getting a great checkup from my dentist, I recently shared recipes that make it possible for you to never buy toothpaste or mouthwash again.  Today, I am ready to reveal the results of another personal care experiment I’ve been testing…

I haven’t shampooed my hair in six months.

Does that make you shudder at the thought?  I know some people are grossed out by those words.  Here’s a quick example:

Earlier in this experiment, a friend was running her fingers through my hair and commenting over and over about how shiny and pretty it looked and how soft it felt.  I just couldn’t resist responding with “Oh really?  That must be because I haven’t shampooed it in a couple of months.”  She snapped her hand away from my head with a brief flash of horror on her face.  I rolled with laughter!

As I’m sure you can understand, I haven’t told many people before now.  It’s not that I haven’t been cleaning my hair at all; it’s just that my ever-present fragrance allergies have spurred me to try simpler methods of home and body care.  The keys I’ve discovered to chemical-free clean hair are baking soda and vinegar.

My daughter has had great success with this method, as well, for about five months now.  Her hair is a completely different color, texture, and thickness than mine, so we have both tailored our routines to work best for each of us.  I think with a little time anyone could successfully use these two ingredients to keep their hair shiny and healthy, without ever touching a bottle of shampoo again!

Never buy shampoo again!

~~~METHOD~~~

There are many places on the internet to learn about cleaning your hair this way, some of which seem unnecessarily complicated to me.  I’ll explain the simple method we use to clean our hair and how you can tailor it to work for your hair as well.

STEP 1:  I keep a container of baking soda handy in the bathroom, and I keep a container of distilled white vinegar and a disposable plastic three-ounce cup in the shower.

STEP 2:  Before showering, I measure my individual portion of baking soda into the cup and set it back into the shower.  I just eyeball the amount in the cup.  For the sake of this post, I measured the amount — about 1 1/2 teaspoons.

STEP 3:  After wetting my hair during the shower, I fill the cup with water.  Using my finger, I stir the baking soda and water mixture before pouring a little on my hair.  The baking soda settles to the bottom very quickly, so I repeatedly stir and apply, stir and apply.  The key is to focus on the scalp.  (If your hair is long, the liquid that runs down will likely be enough to take care of the rest of your hair.)  Then, I gently scrub the baking soda around on my scalp for about a minute.

STEP 4:  I turn the shower head onto the power massage spray to do a thorough rinse of my hair, starting at the scalp and working my way down.  Once I think it is rinsed well, I rinse some more!  Unless your hair tends to be extremely greasy, it’s best to rinse out the baking soda as well as you can.

I repeat steps 3-4 using the vinegar, with minor adjustments.

STEP 5:  For my hair, I use about the same amount of vinegar — it measured 1 1/4 teaspoons.  After filling the cup with water and stirring once, I apply the vinegar quickly to my scalp, give it a fast scrub with my fingers, and immediately rinse it out.  

STEP 6:  I turn the massager shower blast on again and rinse very thoroughly.

STEP 7:  After the shower, I give my hair a gentle pat dry with the towel (or wrap it in the towel for a few minutes) and then brush it out two or three times while it’s drying.

~~~PHOTOS~~~

For those who imagine a greasy mop limply hanging from my head, I took some photos. The first one (dark blue shirt) is my hair on a typical day.  I had washed it the day before.  The second one (light blue shirt) is my hair when it was almost dry after being washed.  The only thing I did was brush it out before taking each photo.  It’s a streaky, strange color because I began developing premature gray when just a junior high student, and it has been rapidly taking over the last few years.

Click on the photos for a closer view.

Using only the baking soda and vinegar, my fine hair is softer and has more body.  I see about half as much hair gathering around the drain guard in the shower, and no one has to pick dozens of loose hairs off the back of my shirt anymore.  My hair also feels slightly thicker when I wring it out after a shower or put it up in a pony tail.  My daughter’s hair is much less greasy with a lot less of those fuzzy fly-away baby hairs that used to stick up on the top of her head.  I also rarely ever see a dandruff flake on her hair these days.

[I was about to publish this post when I realized there is no photo of my daughter’s hair.  The best I could get at the moment is her damp hair fresh out of the shower.  Can you believe how thick that braid is?!]

dark, braided hair of girl who just washed hair with baking soda and vinegar

So why does this method work? The theory is that shampoo strips so much oil off your scalp and hair that your scalp overproduces in an attempt to replace the protective coating on your hair.  The more you shampoo, the more your scalp produces oil.  I would imagine that conditioner helps to combat this cycle to a degree, but both shampoo and conditioner tend to leave their own undesirable buildup on your hair.

~~~TIPS~~~

When you ditch the store bought bottles and try this method, there can be a three- or four-week transition period (I’ve read possibly up to six weeks) of extra greasiness as you break the cycle of oil removal and overproduction.  Personally, I didn’t notice much of a transition.  That’s probably because I was already using (expensive) “natural” shampoos and conditioners and was only washing my hair every other day.  My daughter did have greasier hair for about a month until she broke the cycle and found the techniques that worked best for her.  If you experience a bad transition, hang in there!  You only have to go through it once, and it’s worth it!  If you give in and try to occasionally use regular shampoo, it will probably restart the old strip-and-oil cycle.

It isn’t necessary to clean your hair every day.  I usually only wash mine twice per week now.  I’ve read that some people wash once every week or two, and in between washings they just rinse carefully with warm water when they shower.

When I scrub the baking soda onto my scalp, my hair feels really strange.  It feels almost sticky and grainy, and I can’t really run my fingers through it.  After the vinegar rinse, it feels almost like I’ve put on conditioner, and I can easily run my fingers through the soft hair again.

You can tweak the amounts of baking soda and vinegar and/or the duration of application depending upon how oily your hair feels on that day.  Diet, sweat, wind, hormones, how much you’ve touched your hair, and many other factors can affect how oily your hair becomes.  More baking soda will absorb oil better, but you must balance it with a vinegar rinse or you will get a build-up on your hair from the baking soda.  Don’t worry that you will walk around smelling like sour pickles.  In our experience, our hair has pretty much no smell at all now.

My daughter’s hair is very thick and heavy compared to mine (or to most people, actually), plus she has those raging teen hormones flowing through her veins, so she uses a lot more baking soda than I do.  She brought me her normal amount, and it was about 7-8 teaspoons! Her cup was filled between a third- and half-full, while my 1 1/2 teaspoons was only a thin layer in the bottom of my cup.  Now I understand why she has trouble rinsing it all out!

Surprisingly, my daughter and I both use the same amount of vinegar — about 1 1/4 teaspoons.  By the end of the fifth month, I noticed the ends of my hair were a bit dry, so I knew that even my quick application of weak vinegar solution was too much.  For the next few washes, I kept the tips of my hair in the shower spray while I applied the vinegar to my scalp, and the problem was solved.  (It might have worked to just use less vinegar, I suppose.)

When my daughter’s hair seems determined to be extra oily, she dusts a little baking soda onto her part and combs it in (which helps to absorb the oil, similar to how a dry shampoo works).  Greasy hair was a problem for me, too, at her age.  My hair is becoming more dry and wiry as the gray multiplies, so a small amount of baking soda and very quick vinegar rinse works well for me at this point in my life.

~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~

Extra Tip!  (Update from June 30th, 2016)

There’s an important thing I forgot to mention when I wrote this post.  I was reminded of it while on vacation this week.  When my daughter and I washed our hair at a friend’s house, it did not turn out as well.  Both of us noticed our hair came out rather dry, and my daughter had lots of fly-away fuzzies on top of her head again.  I realized it was because of the chlorine in their water.

At home, we have filters on our showers that screw on between the pipe and the shower head.  They are super simple to install.  All we have to do is twist it open, clean the two rubber “O-rings,” and put a new filter inside every six months.

chlorine filters.jpg

Whether or not you try the no-shampoo-method, one of the simplest things you can do for softer hair and skin is to shower in chlorine-free water.  It might even help your “allergies.”  A friend of mine was having problems with aggravating itching on his scalp and body.  He tried changing his diet, his laundry detergent, and several other things.  When he took a shower after putting a fresh chlorine filter in place, the itching stopped immediately and completely.

~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~

My husband is interested in trying this method but is waiting until he uses up the shampoo.  Since he’s currently the only one using it, it’s taking a long time.  The method is not completely foreign to him, however.  For years, he has periodically used a vinegar rinse to get rid of dandruff. (He scrubs the vinegar vigorously into the problem areas with his fingernails and leaves it a few moments before rinsing it out.)

~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~

"Never buy shampoo again!" One year update

(January 3, 2017)

For those who are curious about the long-term results of the baking soda and vinegar hair-washing method, I thought you’d appreciate an update.  It’s been approximately a year since shampoo or conditioner has touched my hair, and so far I’m still loving it.  In fact, it’s been getting better over time.

I mentioned in the “Tips” above that my hair felt a little sticky and strange while scrubbing in the baking soda.  That doesn’t really happen anymore, so I’m assuming that may have been something to do with removing the product buildup on my hair.

Several people have told me they think my hair looks darker than it used to.  I seriously doubt my gray hairs are turning back to brown, so maybe that also has something to do with removing product buildup.  Whatever the reason, I’m fine with it!

Since the first set of photos, my hair had grown part way down my back and was still looking nice on the “no-poo” method.  It didn’t get greasy or stringy-looking even though I’ve spent the last month transitioning from washing my hair twice per week to only once per week.  (I just rinse well with warm water on other days.)

As you can see from the following update photo, I recently cut my hair into a sort of wedge haircut that’s shorter in the back and longer on the sides.  The old haircut was getting on my nerves.  I’m sure some of you guys/girls are familiar with these annoyances:  the wind blows, and you have hair stuck in the chapstick on your lips; you bend over to pick up something on the floor, and all you can see is a blur of hair; and one of the most gross ones — you sniff and hair goes in your nose!  Ugh!

I stepped in front of the bathroom mirror one Friday night around midnight to brush my teeth, looked at my reflection and thought, “I’m sick of this mop!”  So, I grabbed the scissors and began chopping away!  My most dramatic haircuts have always happened around midnight.  Lol

Anyway, enough blabbing, let’s move on to the update image!  This photo was taken today, three days after washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar:

no-shampoo method wedge haircut seen from the back

After a year of no shampoo, I’m still loving the results!  If you try this method for cleaning your hair, please comment below on how it works for you!  Thanks for reading!

Wholesome, Healing, Homemade Toothpase and Mouthwash

For several years now, I’ve been trying to get away from fragrances and strong chemicals in order to improve my allergies and physical health. My desire is to not burden my immune system any more than necessary so I will feel better and have more energy.

Part of my methods include using natural products like vinegar and baking soda to clean our home.  I have been attempting (unsuccessfully at times) to eat better, exercise more, and get at least seven hours of sleep per night.  Certain herbs and essential oils have also benefited me and my family’s health in several ways.

In a previous post I explained how frankincense essential oil has made a positive impact on my health.  It is one of the ingredients in the recipes I’m sharing today.  So, on with today’s topic…

Did you know teeth can “remineralize” (regrow enamel)?  It’s true!  A few years ago, I saw for myself more than once that with careful, gentle brushing and good general health, small cavities that are beginning to form can actually heal and go away.  I’ve read that this is accomplished when your body uses minerals in your saliva to repair tooth enamel.  The recipes below should help speed that process along without hurting your wallet or putting harsh chemicals in your body.

I waited to share this information until I had thoroughly tried it myself.  In the five months I’ve been using the homemade toothpaste, my teeth have lightened several shades…all except for one tooth on the bottom (which gives me a reliable gauge for how much whiter my other teeth have become). This week I had a great checkup at the dentist. The tartar buildup was a little less than usual, and I had no sign of cavities.

I asked the hygienist about the one tooth that did not brighten in color.  She said the dentin under tooth enamel is a yellowish color and that thinning enamel can cause teeth to look either more yellow or more see-through.  (Does that mean one of my teeth is unable to whiten/remineralize?  Why would that be? I have no idea!  Please share your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.)

Are you interested in trying the recipes?  I’ll list them for you, along with tips on how I made and used them.  Click the links (words in red) to learn more information about ingredients. (Also, if any of the links fail to work, please let me know so I can repair them.  Thanks!)

~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~

homemade toothpaste by Merry Hearts Medicine

homemade toothpaste basic ingredients list

2 Tablespoons baking soda

Used for cleaning and whitening. Yes, this is safe for your enamel. It is usually the lowest item on abrasiveness scales that compare toothpastes. Here is a more detailed article about how the RDA abrasiveness values are tested and what it means.

2 Tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil

Used for cleaning, whitening, and killing bacteria in the mouth.  This is one example of the many articles discussing the health benefits of coconut oil for oral and physical health.

calcium carbonate and magnesium (I use 4 capsules.)

Used to help remineralize teeth.  See if you can find capsules or powder in order to avoid the fillers and chemicals used to hold tablets together.  The minerals inside the capsules I found were not as fine of a powder as I expected.  For my second batch of toothpaste, I grabbed the spice mortar and pestle from my kitchen and ground the tiny lumps out of the powder before adding it.  (Some people replace this ingredient with drops of liquid trace minerals.)

2-5 drops of thyme essential oil

OPTIONAL — Used for teeth and gum health.  This oil contains high levels of thymol, which is one of the main germ-killing active ingredients in most mouth washes. Don’t get carried away with this one because it will sting your mouth.

2-3 drops of frankincense essential oil

OPTIONAL — Used for teeth and gum health.  This oil has done a lot for me since I discovered it at the beginning of this year.  It’s an immune booster and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.  A clinical study showed the oil reduced gingivitis inflammation.

15-25 drops of peppermint essential oil

OPTIONAL — Used for teeth and gum health and for flavor.  Don’t think this essential oil is only for making your toothpaste taste better, it’s a proven antiseptic that kills the bad bacteria in your mouth.

stevia (I don’t use this, but thought most people would want their toothpaste sweeter than mine.)

OPTIONAL — Used for flavor.  This comes from the leaves of a plant containing compounds that are over 100 times sweeter than table sugar.  It does not, however, encourage tooth decay like sugar. It may, in fact, actually help reduce the buildup of plaque.

1/2 teaspoon distilled water

Approximate amount used to get the paste to the desired consistency.  This is the amount I used in the winter (when our house stayed 65-70 degrees) because coconut oil hardens when it cools.  Now that the weather is warming and our house is closer to 80 degrees, I’m thinking I may not need to add water at all.  Filtered water would probably work just fine, too.  I felt like distilled would keep it fresh longer.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Stir your ingredients together (a fork works well) in a bowl and transfer the finished product to a small glass container with a lid.  A smaller container will help it stay moist longer.  If your toothpaste ever does get too firm/dry, stir in a few more drops of water as needed.

Essential oils don’t hold up well when exposed to light, which is why they are sold in dark-colored glass bottles. It’s best to store the toothpaste container in a dark place so the essential oils will not degrade.

I keep a fork in the bathroom to apply it to my toothbrush.  After scooping a pea-sized amount onto the toothbrush, I give the fork a quick wash and dry and leave it in the medicine cabinet near the toothpaste.  (Some people simply dunk their toothbrush into the container of paste, but that grosses out the germophobe in me.)

Don’t forget before you rinse to brush the roof of your mouth and your tongue, too!  The surface of your teeth is only a small portion of your mouth, and other areas need attention as well.  Have you ever noticed a white-looking coating on your tongue?  That is (typically) a colony of bad bacteria that are multiplying happily and adding to halitosis problems.  The essential oils in this toothpaste, combined with the friction of your toothbrush, will help eradicate them and make the surface of your tongue pink and healthy again.

This toothpaste doesn’t foam up like commercial varieties, but it really gets the saliva flowing.  After using my first batch for a month, it suddenly smelled a little bad, so I went back to regular toothpaste for a few days until I could make a fresh batch.  The foaming action of the store-bought paste was unpleasant to me.  I never gave a second thought to the foam my entire life, but now it seems a bit offensive.  It feels like I can hardly brush with all those bubbles in the way.

A little of this homemade paste goes a long way!  When my first batch went bad after a month, I still had close to 1/3 of it left.  The next time I made a batch, I left half of it in the fridge until I needed it and had no problems.  Now I’m on round three.  At the moment, it seems that I will have to mix up more about every two months.

I recommend doing the majority of your spitting into the trash can.  Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, and I wouldn’t want to risk having it build up inside the pipes beneath your sink.

Enjoy your whiter teeth with that slick, fresh-from-the-dentist feel!

~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~

homemade mouthwash by Merry Hearts Medicine

 

homemade mouthwash basic ingredients

1 cup distilled water

Filtered water would probably work just fine, too.  I felt like distilled would keep it fresh longer.

2 teaspoons baking soda

Used for cleaning and whitening. Yes, this is safe for your enamel (see the links to this ingredient in the toothpaste recipe above). This helps create a more alkaline environment in your mouth which reduces plaque buildup.

calcium carbonate and magnesium (I use 3 capsules.)

Used to help remineralize teeth.  See if you can find capsules or powder in order to avoid the fillers and chemicals used to hold tablets together.  The minerals inside the capsules I found were not as fine of a powder as I expected.  For my second batch of mouthwash, I grabbed the spice mortar and pestle from my kitchen and ground the tiny lumps out of the powder before adding it.  (Some people replace this ingredient with drops of liquid trace minerals.)

5-7 drops of thyme essential oil

OPTIONAL — Used for teeth and gum health.  This oil contains high levels of thymol, which is one of the main germ-killing active ingredients in most mouth washes.

3-5 drops of frankincense essential oil

OPTIONAL — Used for teeth and gum health.  This oil has done a lot for me since I discovered it at the beginning of this year.  It’s an immune booster and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.  A clinical study showed the oil reduced gingivitis inflammation.

15+ drops of peppermint essential oil  (I use 25 drops because my hubby likes extra minty mouthwash.)

Used for teeth and gum health and for fresh breath.  Don’t think this essential oil is only for making your mouthwash taste better, it’s a proven antiseptic that kills the bad bacteria in your mouth.

stevia (I use 2 packets of the powdered type.)

OPTIONAL — Used for sweetening the flavor.  This comes from the leaves of a plant containing compounds that are over 100 times sweeter than table sugar.  It does not, however, encourage tooth decay like sugar. It may, in fact, actually help reduce the buildup of plaque.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

I prefer to store the mouthwash in a glass bottle.  I washed an empty vinegar bottle and sterilized it with boiling water.  Then I poured all the ingredients into the bottle, with the help of a funnel, and shook it for a while.  In my experience, some of the calcium will always settle to the bottom, now matter how much you stir everything together.  I filtered the last batch through a small strainer and liked the end result much better.

I have read that it is best to make it in small batches like this because the essential oil flavors can blend together and change over time.  Also, essential oils don’t hold up well when exposed to light, which is why they are sold in dark-colored glass bottles.  It is best to use a dark-colored bottle for your mouthwash or to store the container in a dark place so the essential oils will not degrade.

Each time you use it, shake the mixture well before swishing an ounce or two in your mouth for 30 seconds or more.

Enjoy your minty fresh mouth!

~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~

Thanks for reading! Please share any thoughts/questions you have in the comments below!

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.

~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~

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!
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!

~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~

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!

Video

The “Happiness Advantage”

A fellow blogger posted this great video on her site, and I feel it perfectly shares part of the message I seek to convey with this Merry Hearts Medicine blog.  It’s worth your time to sit and watch this TEDx Talk by psychologist Shawn Achor.  If nothing else, you’ll come away from it with a smile on your face! He jokes around a lot, but the message rings true.

Proverbs 17:22 written in gold letters on a photo of a rainbow, Merry Hearts Medicine