Today I want to share further information about cleanse, detox,
toxins, clean eating and the basics of an elimination diet.
I get asked these questions often and want to help you understand what all this really means for you and your health.
What is the difference between a cleanse and a detox?
Both detox and cleanse focus on bringing your body into perfect
balance, or homeostasis, where the organs self-regulate to keep the body’s internal environment stable.
A detox focuses on releasing toxicity from metals, chemicals found in cleaning products, cigarette smoke, food and drink, etc. from the body, sometimes from specific organs and/or the blood stream.
A cleanse focuses mainly on cleansing the organs on a deeper level and removing unwanted wastes that accumulate in the colon, digestive tract, and liver that can lead to disease or gut imbalances such as candida, parasites and unwanted pathogens.
In my Winter Clean Eating Program, Eat to Nourish, we are combining the principles of both a detox and a cleanse. Often a cleanse goes deeper into the organs and can include some fasting or a liquid diet for a short amount of time, but I do not believe you need to take this approach to get results. We are ditching the fasting, the pills, and the powders, and focusing instead on improving your digestion. You will only eat whole, seasonal foods that are designed to support your body’s natural processes of detoxification and cleansing.
What is a toxin?
A toxin is any substance that can be harmful to the body, causing allergies, intolerances, sensitivities, bloating, digestive upset, or an overall feeling of sickness. These can be from eating harmful foods, using toxic loaded personal care products and even the air we breathe. You cannot escape toxins
permanently, but you can work to cleanse/detox your system from them.
What is clean eating?
This is a phrase that has become very popular in the past five years. Clean eating is a way of life. By avoiding foods that are processed or refined, which may contain nitrates, chemicals, and pesticides, you reduce your exposure to free radicals that can harm your system and cause disease. By choosing ingredients in their most natural, whole state, including clean animal- or plant- based proteins, and preparing them in healthy fats, you reduce inflammation in your body, balance your pH levels, and improve vitality.
What is an elimination diet?
An elimination diet, such as this program, aims to uncover hidden food allergies and sensitivities and improve your digestion by discovering which foods are right for your body. You eat amazing, whole foods for a week then slowly introduce foods afterward. Your body will tell you what works and what doesn’t.
By cleaning out your digestive system and balancing it with whole foods, you are getting a clean start to finding out any hidden food sensitivities.
I hope this helps to clarify some of the terms associated with my programs. There is not much
better than knowing how to eat correctly for your body. It is truly amazing! For more information on how to get started: Winter Clean Eating Program
If you have been following me for a while, you may already know that both my parents died at the age of 61 (six years apart) from cancer. Being an only child and a single mom with an infant was pretty difficult, to say the least. After my dad died in 2003, my mom kept his ashes in her closet. It was something we would joke about from time to time. “Oh, dad’s in the closet.” Or, “When should we take him out of the closet?” But I was serious…I mean, what was she going to do with him? It had been several years and she had made no plans. So one day I finally asked her and she looked me in the face and said, “Not my problem. When I die, you can put them together and figure it out.” And she was totally serious. She had NO plans on spreading his ashes. Ever. That was now my “problem.” And it was a huge one. How do you determine someone’s final resting place, let alone both of them? And for someone like me that tends to over-analyze situations, this was just almost too much for me to handle by myself.
After my mom died in 2009, I then found myself with two boxes of ashes in MY closet. At first I thought I needed to do something quick. I thought I would throw them out of a boat near Galveston which was near
where I grew up. But that didn’t feel right. The water there isn’t the prettiest. Then I thought I could travel to blue water and do it, but I worried about the ashes getting lost on the plane. If you have ever had
to go to a funeral home to pick up ashes, you know they are actually pretty heavy. So I thought I could carry them on the plane in a rolling suitcase…but they are heavy and I had no idea how I would get them into the overhead bin. I would have to ask for help... "Excuse me, can you help get these ashes up here for me?" Anyways, as you can see, I was struggling to come up with the best resting place for them. And it was driving me absolutely crazy. I finally decided to give myself some time so I wouldn’t end up just throwing them in my back yard out of sheer desperation. Yes, that did cross my mind!
In 2010 I started dating Justin, who is now my awesome husband. When he moved in, I gave him my closet and moved my stuff to the second closet. But I had to warn him…if he was going to live with me and take that closet, he had to be okay with Larry & Phyllis in there with him. He said that would be fine. Whew…they were finally out of MY closet! He even talked to them sometimes which I thought was great given that he never got to meet them. How lucky to find a great guy that didn’t think I was nuts for keeping these ashes all these years. And he's just as nutty as me talking to them. Perfect match!
Right before the holidays in 2011 I decided that it was time to
let my parents go free. My decision was to spread the ashes over Bear Lake in southern Colorado which is where they spent many afternoons fishing. It was going to be perfect, so I told myself in my head. So literally a few days after I made this huge decision, we jumped in the car and drove from Texas to Colorado. We rented a room at the Cuchara Inn and were the only guests in the entire hotel. The owner gave us his home phone number in case we needed anything. It was a little like the movie The Shining…having an entire hotel to yourself in the dead of winter. And that is where the problem came in: it was winter which meant that Bear Lake was frozen and the roads to get to it were closed off. How the heck did I not think of this before we drove 2 states over? Why didn’t I have a plan B? I always have a plan B. I was devastated and my anxiety kicked in full force. We decided to sleep on it (in our empty hotel) and figure things out the next morning.
We woke up early and headed out toward the house my parent’s built that they planned to spend retirement in. Sadly, they barely lived there a year before the cancer hit. As we were
driving up the steep road to their house, I was flooded with memories and sadness that they didn’t ever get to enjoy what they had worked so hard to obtain. We pulled in front of the
house and it was covered in at least 5 feet of snow all the way up to the front door. The new owners apparently don’t spend the winters there or it would have been plowed. We hiked up to the house and peeked in the windows and I could picture them in there, enjoying retirement.
Justin and I eventually found the perfect spot to spread their ashes which I cannot share here because Colorado has some pretty specific laws about this sort of thing. I was hoping that the spot we picked would be okay for them. As soon as we were done, we headed back to town to get something warm to
drink. When I got in the car, I felt this absolute feeling of peace come over me. I cannot explain it fully as it was just like the weight of years had been lifted off me. Something I had dreaded and stressed over for years was finally done.
We found this cute little café/coffee shop in LaVeta and went
inside. We were freezing cold as we live in Texas and didn't quite prepare for December in Colorado. Everyone could tell we were not local so we found ourselves trying to explain what brought us to this part of the state, in this tiny town, in the middle of winter. Justin was talking with the owner behind
the counter when I turned and saw this beautiful flower on a stand against the wall. I have no idea why, but I was SO drawn to this flower. I am not even into flowers or anything of the such so it was weird that I was obsessed with it. Well, I did take Horticulture in college at Texas A&M and grew a few unidentified plants on my apartment stove... Anyways, I interrupted
their conversation and asked the lady what kind of flower was it, where do you get it, why is it blooming in winter, etc. She said it was a White Paper Narcissus. I had never heard of this flower, but for some reason, I pulled out my iPhone and wrote the name down. (I didn't even spell it right!) I didn’t snap a picture of the flower as I knew I would remember the beauty of it, but I did know I would forget the name. This was at 10:08am mountain time which would have been 11:08 in Texas. This detail is important.
Justin and I then thanked the owner for their hospitality and she even sent us on our way with a bag of free baked goodies. We then began the drive back to Texas.
We got to our house late the following night and I walked in through the kitchen and turned on the light. I seriously almost fell over when I saw a White Paper Narcissus sitting beautifully on my kitchen table with a note from my best friend Jennifer. It was almost too much for me to handle. I had to grab onto the kitchen counter to keep from keeling over. I immediately called her and demanded to know what day and time that she purchased this flower. She told me it was around 11am the previous morning. The exact same time I was looking at one in a tiny cafe in Colorado. She was out shopping, saw it, and was drawn to it for some unexplained reason as well. She was drawn to it enough to buy it and leave it on my table for me when I came home. And I might mention, I didn't talk to her while I was gone as there was literally no cell reception for most of our trip. I get tears in my eyes just writing about this. I mean, how can you explain this? It wasn’t like Jenn came to my house all the time and left me flowers. This could only mean one thing to me: it was a sign and a gift from my parents, through Jenn. What else could it mean? At the exact time I was drawn to the flower in Colorado, minutes after spreading my parents’ ashes, Jenn was drawn to the same flower in Texas and had to get it for me. This is what I know to be true. It was a sign that I could finally be at peace and know that they were at peace. It was a sign that they were happy with the place we chose to spread their ashes. It was a sign to tell me all was going to be okay.
My 40th birthday was two weeks ago and my incredible mother-in-law sent my husband home with a White Paper Narcissus for my birthday. When he walked in, I just thought how incredibly sweet and thoughtful of her to remember the significance around this flower for me. When I talked to her on the phone she said she called every florist in town and no one had one. So she had given up the plan to get one for me. But later that day she was at her local grocery store shopping and they had one!
Even though people leave our lives, there are still signs of them all around us. Sometimes it has to hit you over the head to realize it, but they are there and they are with us. Is the sign always going to be something as huge as this was? Probably not, but don’t be surprised if it is. I find comfort in knowing that my parents are watching over me each and every day. I don’t have all the answers to heaven and what really happens, but I do believe they are my angels.
One final note: If you tell your family you want to be cremated, do them a favor and give them some ideas on where you would like your ashes to be spread. You don’t have to give specific coordinates on a map, but at least a general idea of what you would prefer. No one should have to go through what I did to make such a decision with no direction. I can laugh about it now because it is done, but darn my mom for leaving me with such a task and no guidance!
Growing up, we spent the holidays with at least one set of my
grandparents, if not both. On my mom’s side of the family, I was the only grandchild so it was me and all the adults. That was fine, being an only child I learned at an early age to be independent and entertain myself. I never had to worry about
Christmas plans as it was already established. Then my dad died in 2003 which changed everything. My mom and I, along
with my daughter who was one at the time, did our best to go through the motions for my daughter’s sake. Then
after my mom died in 2009, I really had no where to go for the holidays. The first year I did spend it with my best friends’ family which was great, but sad all at the same time. Since then, I have spent many Christmas’ alone. Being divorced, my daughter is only with me every other Christmas.
I remember how alone and sorry I felt for myself during those times. But you know what? I made it through. I didn’t check Facebook so I wasn’t reminded about how perfect everyone else’s life was while mine had been completely turned upside down. I would usually go to a drive thru Mexican chain (this was before I knew how to eat healthy!) and get my dinner as they were the only place open. I spent the time relaxing, watching TV and reading. It wasn’t all that bad. I didn’t have to worry about cooking, entertaining, buying stacks of presents and all the stress that comes with a packed holiday season. That was kind of nice actually.
But now I have my very awesome husband and I know I won’t ever spend a holiday alone again. We
both have to work all this week, except for tomorrow, so we are going to cherish our one day off. We have everything we need to throw in the crock pot for a delicious meal and will enjoy the quiet time together. And for that, I am truly blessed.
This is the time of year that I really focus on the good in the world and for all that I am blessed to have in my life. I have a husband that loves me, my daughter, our dog Bingo and a handful of close friends. Without them, my life would not be complete. I miss my parents terribly, but know they are watching over me and proud of me for not giving up hope that I would be okay after they left.
So during this holiday season, think of those that don’t have family to spend time with. Maybe even invite them over but don’t be upset if they don’t take you up on the offer. I know I was invited to many holidays with other families but I just couldn’t bring myself to go. It was just a huge reminder of what I no longer had. And if you are alone this Christmas, use the time to take care of yourself, eat a decent meal
and even take a nap! Cherish the quiet time and know that there are many more years to come that could very well be filled with new friends and family. Life is hard but you must keep going. Have the pity party, like I did, and then get out there and start a new life for yourself.
I hope everyone has an amazing holiday filled with what makes you happy! And here's to an amazing 2014, full of health, hope and love!
I love this time of year when I get holiday cards from friends
that include letters about the fantastic year they have had.
They mention all the milestones their children have reached and the
amazing trips they took. I have had years like that before…but not this past one. Which is exactly why I didn’t send out a letter about my Very Bad Year. No one wants to hear all that. They just want to know the good, not the ugly. And that is totally understandable.
Instead, I figured I would share my letter (if I were to do it, which I am not) here with all of you!
I can officially call the year 2013 the "Year of Michelle’s Breakdown." It really started around the holidays last year. I just felt off…I couldn’t really put my finger on anything specific other than I didn’t feel right. Once January hit and school started back for my daughter, I began to have stomach aches and nausea pretty regularly. It started when I went out of the house. Then it happened at home and did not stop.
You know that feeling when you are driving and you almost get hit by another car? Well, I pretty much
had that feeling for three months. It got to the point where I literally could not leave my house. The only time I did leave was when my husband would drive me to the doctor or the ER because I knew I was dying. I just didn’t know why. I lost too much weight as I literally couldn’t eat a bite of anything. I had every possible test run and every doctor came back telling me I was perfectly fine and healthy. BUT I WASN’T!
I was at my lowest point, just lying in bed crying and wishing it would all go away. And it did… once I
checked myself in to a psychiatric hospital. You can read about that here.
How could I end up with a diagnosis of extreme anxiety and major depression? Well, for starters, if
you have extreme anxiety, you are most likely depressed about it as it limits your life completely. Anxiety is a nasty problem to have and can literally ruin your life. I went to one counselor who had been working in the business for over 20 years and she told me, in front of my husband, that I had the worst case she had ever seen. Well, I do strive to be #1 most of the time, but this wasn’t a trophy I wanted to display on the mantle.
At the hospital I was put on pharmaceutical medications. I fought it for so long and knew this was the only way out at the time. I tried every single holistic method I could and absolutely nothing worked. But the medications allowed me to get my life back, sort of. The biggest problem was that they left me feeling completely sleepy all day, every day. I also feel like I went through the last 9 months like a zombie, no real highs or lows….just mediums.
I researched every possible article on anxiety that I could find on the internet. And I was shocked at how many people actually experience it. Not many get to the point where I did, thankfully. But it is common and it is sad that more people don’t discuss it. I felt completely alone and knew there was no way I could explain any of this to someone that had never experienced it. Even my poor husband was at a loss at trying to understand. I can remember begging him one day to take me to the ER and he didn’t want to
because he knew what would happen: they would run tests and nothing would show up wrong. I went so many times that I will be paying off these medical bills for the next few years, lucky me.
So what I found was that there HAD to be something wrong in my head (literally!). I found a Functional Medicine doctor and went to see her about 6 weeks ago. She ran a bunch of tests and discovered I have a parasite and candida. I wasn’t expecting those two as I eat really clean and haven’t taken antibiotics in years. But the best news I got was from a blood test she performed which measured my organic acids, amino acids and minerals, among a few more. This test revealed I was low in EVERY SINGLE CATEGORY. So normally that would be bad news, but it is great news because now I have found the source of this horrific anxiety. My body basically isn’t absorbing the amino acids and vitamins most likely due to the parasite. This for me was proof that I am NOT crazy! There are medical reasons behind my issues that eating all the healthy food in the world wouldn’t fix until I found the root problem. And for that, I am so thankful.
I am now treating the parasite, then will follow up with a candida treatment and am supplementing the amino acids in the meantime. I am not fully healed yet but, for the first time all year, there is light at the end of this tunnel!
So really, this anxiety tore through me and my family for the better part of 2013. How do you write that in a letter to all your friends and family? Well, you don’t!
So now that I have shared all this, I can tell you that this year has been life changing for me in so many great ways. I have learned to appreciate the little things and I work daily to not sweat the small stuff. I have learned to put myself first and make sure that I am whole and healthy. I am calmer and more in touch with my feelings than ever before. I literally hadn’t cried once since my mom’s funeral 4 years ago but this year I have given myself permission to shed tears if I need to.
And it wouldn’t be a proper letter if I didn’t mention that my awesome 6th grade daughter played club volleyball in the spring and is already practicing for the season starting in January. She barely weighs 80 pounds but has mastered her jump serve and I couldn’t be more proud of her. I am thankful that she weathered the storm of this year with me and came out just fine.
I am thankful for my incredible husband that supported and loved me every single day of this year, through all the hard times. I cannot even imagine what he felt the night he left me at the psychiatric hospital. I know it was hard for him as well. But through it, we became even closer and stronger. And that, at the end of the day, is what really matters.
So 2013 was a rough year, but we made it through. I am anticipating a much better holiday letter next year! So stay tuned!
Note: I am sharing this very personal story publicly in hopes that it can help others who have been in my shoes to know you are not alone. Mental health issues, when not treated, can lead to so many devastating things, including suicide. My feeling is that there needs to be more help out there for people that need it. I went through probably 20 doctors that basically dismissed me and offered no help. It's not their fault, they just probably weren't trained to identify issues like this when all my physical tests came back negative. True change starts by having these open conversations and when we let go of the shame behind it.
This article originally appeared on Mind, Body, Green December 10, 2013
I used to do this all the time: I would do something for someone and they would thank me and I would reply with something along the lines of, “Oh, it’s no big deal.” I would always brush off the "thank yous" because for some reason they made me feel uncomfortable. Why was it that I couldn't just accept their thanks and feel good that I'd made a difference for someone? But I know so many of us do this daily. We don't value our role in other's lives, nor do we give ourselves credit for being a caring friend.
I'm also guilty of the the following: when I am out in public and someone compliments my purse, shoes, hair or something else, I am always quick to say “Oh, I got it at XYZ store on sale.” When in reality, I should just say, “Thank you.” That's all. I shouldn’t feel the need to say where I got something or that it was on sale. I work hard for the money I make, and if I am able to purchase something nice, I should appreciate these kinds of comments. We should all be mindful to accept these compliments without feeling guilty.
Have you ever had a bad day and someone says something nice to you? That one compliment can turn your entire day around. But why do we feel the need to brush these things off? In this fast-paced life we all lead, it is nice to receive compliments from someone. This is why I make myself smile and say, "Thank you so much" and leave it at that. There's no need to make excuses or act like it was no big deal. Accept the kind words and know it came from someone's heart.
In addition, when someone genuinely thanks you for something you've done, you should appreciate that and respond with, “You're welcome.” That's all that’s needed. And know in your heart that you touched someone enough for them to appreciate you. So appreciate yourself right back. Responding with an excuse or justification that what you did really didn't matter undermines yourself as a person. Love yourself, and know you did something worthwhile.
All too often we undervalue our gifts to others. And that's undervaluing ourselves. There's no need to act like it was nothing when we did something special for another person. This could be as simple as holding the door for someone or sending a nice letter to a friend. We should all be considerate of others and say "thank you" and "you’re welcome" more often.
At the end of my daughter’s last volleyball season, I sent an email to the Team Mom who organized everything for all of the tournaments. She had sign-up lists, sent reminder emails and basically made sure that our girls had everything they needed to be successful during our all-day tournaments. After my email expressing gratitude for all her help, she immediately responded back with “Oh, it was no big deal.” But it was! She made sure the girls had plenty of nourishing food and drink between games, coordinated ribbons that we gave the girls at each tournament to put on their backpacks and so much more. She put a lot of effort into making sure everything ran smoothly. And when I genuinely thanked her, she didn’t give herself the credit for all the hard work she had done. I wish she would have just said, “Thank you” for her own sake and to know that she made a huge difference for the entire team.
The next time someone thanks you for something, respond with a smile and say, “You are very welcome.” Notice how you feel? It feels much better than brushing it off. Take this to heart and know you have done something that touched another person.
And when people go out of their way to make a difference in your life, not matter how big or small, be sure to thank them. It could very well make their day!
The holiday season seemed to creep up too fast on me this year. I guess you could say I am not really ready for it. I am, however, ready for a new year to start fresh, but getting the tree out, decorating the house and singing carols just doesn’t seem to fit right now. Generally I already have the tree up with all the trimmings by this time, but not this year.
I have been focusing a lot of attention on myself the past 6 months and worked really hard to put my own needs at the top of my list. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been so rewarding. Before I started this focus, I was the last one in line for getting my needs met. I was always putting everyone else before me and realized that if I did not take care of myself, then I was no good to everyone around me, no matter how hard I tried.
This holiday will be a bit different as well.My daughter and step-children will not be here to celebrate. Without having the kids, it just doesn’t seem the same. We are past the age of Santa (thank goodness) so I don’t feel obligated to spend an entire day decorating, only to take it all down a few weeks later.
However, it does make me happy to have the house decorated, but I don't have the energy this year.
In addition, my birthday is on the 13th so it always seemed like the holidays stole my thunder for the month! I can’t even count how many times I received Christmas ornaments as birthday presents as a kid. I generally do not make a big deal out of my birthday, but this year I am turning 40 and I am doing things my way. I have let go of my feelings of needing to be perfect. Because I now know, this just sets me up for failure every single time. I am also letting go of my worries about what my neighbors will think. They all spent hours putting lights outside their houses and I have always felt the need to compete, or at least make an effort. Not this year though. I am okay with what they choose to think about our lack of lights and decorations. That is not what really matters and it is so empowering to let go of what other’s may think of you.
This may seem like I have lost my spirit for the season, but that isn’t the case. I am more grateful and more thankful than any years in the past. This is what I feel like the holidays are about. And it’s not something that we should just celebrate once a year, we should be loving, kind and thankful all year long.
I recently did a collage where I took pictures of the ordinary day-to-day things in my life that bring me happiness. This was an assignment in one of Brene’ Brown’s courses. It was so eye opening! I found myself snapping a picture of my daughter getting ready for school even though she was grumpy, the fresh flowers my husband brought me for no reason and one too many pictures of my adorable dog. Then I started seeing things in a different light. For example, every morning I open the refrigerator and my smoothie is waiting for me. My husband makes it for me before he goes to work each morning at 6:30. It is a small thing, but one that I appreciate every single day. So, I snapped a picture of my smoothie as this is something meaningful in my life. The next night I left him a note by the blender telling him how much I appreciated this every morning. And he called me later and told me that it made his day.
So I am giving myself permission to not go through the motions of decking our halls this year and instead, I am focusing on truly being grateful and thankful for all the blessings in my life. This, to me, is time well spent.
I bought a dehydrator over a year ago and never really used it. I pulled it out this past weekend to make beef jerky for my husband. It was SO easy and tasted delicious. And by making it yourself, you know there is nothing added to it that is bad for you. I decided this was the best way when I read the ingredients on a pack of beef jerky at the store. All the additives were ridiculous and took any nutritional value right out the window.
Since I had such success with the jerky, I decided to try apples and pineapples. These just happened to be in my house at the time. Fruits take longer in the dehydrator than beef, but it is SO worth it!
My pick daughter turned up her nose at the pineapple and I made her eat one. She then had that look on her face like "Oh these are awesome" but also "I don't want my mom to know I like them." Mission accomplished...approval from my pre-teen!
If you have a dehydrator sitting in a closet somewhere, dust it off and put it to use! And if you are looking to purchase one, here is the one I have:
Dehydrator. You can find it under "Kitchen Products" on my Favorite Things tab. There are so many options out there for dehydrators and you can spend hundreds. I have found that this one that is fairly inexpensive does the trick!
Now start making some yummy, healthy snacks!
My mission as a Certified Health Coach is to make the world a happier, healthier place, one person, one meal at a time, with love and gratitude. I work to inspire others to live a life of prevention and overall wellness!