Probiotics: Why these may hold the key to belly fat loss!!!

Standard

I love when I find a treasure in my Inbox! Today, I received an email from a website I follow related to health and nutrition. For obvious reasons, in the past year I have become obsessed with learning all that I can about probiotics and their very important role in our body. I KNOW I feel better since starting Probio5, but I want to UNDERSTAND why!

If you are like me, then your prior experience with probiotics might have been limited to being told to take them after you finish a round of antibiotics. If you are also like me, you went to the health food store, found the most expensive bottle in the refrigerator case, with the biggest number of billions of CFU and came home, put the liquid gold in your refrigerator and pretty much forgot to ever take it. Oops!

I have since learned that as long as your probiotic contains the RIGHT and DIVERSE strains of bacteria (and a very beneficial yeast) that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it doesn’t need a gazillion bacteria in it and IT DOES NOT NEED to cost a fortune.

But I digress, my post today is related to pioneering research that is leading scientists to believe that probiotics play a very beneficial role in reducing belly fat!

heart hands

IS THERE NEW SCIENCE BEHIND PROBIOTICS AND GETTING LEAN?

In a study from the European Association for the Study of Obesity, researchers discovered that pregnant women who took certain probiotics were far less likely to be obese or have a fat belly one year after giving birth.3

  • Group 1 received dietary advice and daily capsules of probiotics.
  • Group 2 received dietary advice and received placebo pills (no probiotics).
  • Group 3 was not given dietary advice but also received placebo pills.

After one year, the researchers measured the women for what they call “central obesity,” the accumulation of abdominal fat resulting in an increased waist size. This is a form of obesity that is correlated with cardiovascular disease.

WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?

The women who took the real probiotics and not the placebo were more than 41% less likely to be obese than the women who received the placebo pills.
That means the women taking the probiotics significantly cut their risk of being fat.
While there isn’t enough proof to call this a sure thing, there are other studies that suggest probiotics can help you slim down:

  • A study from 2010, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed 87 people for 12 weeks as they drank fermented milk enhanced with a probiotic called Lactobacillus gasseri (LG2055). Compared to the control group, the people taking the LG2055 lost more body weight and belly fat.4
  • An animal study published in the journal Microbiology showed that a specially-engineered probiotic had an impact on the metabolism and fat composition of mice. The authors of the study concluded that the probiotics may play a role in preventing obesity.5
  • Another curious study published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery followed patients recovering from gastric bypass surgery. Split into two groups, the patients who received the probiotics showed significantly greater weight loss than those who didn’t.6

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Although few in number, studies such as these, are letting scientists know that probiotics may be a viable way to help control weight gain, and could even help you get rid of some belly fat. This is information that I wish I had known when I was pregnant with my children. Research is showing more and more the benefits of probiotics for both mother and baby!

Dr. Mercola wrote a great article about probiotics, pregnancy and weight. Read it here.

Advertisements

What do you see …..

Standard

hypo

What do you see when you look at these pictures of me? Some might say “a happy young mother” or “a beautiful smile”. And while those statements might be true, what you do not see is someone who was sick. Very sick. The reason being that hormone imbalances are often invisible. The person looks completely healthy, may be well put together and can often keep the extent of their misery hidden behind a smile.

I want to take you through a journey of each of these pictures:

January 2009

jan 2009

My first girls night out since having my son. At this point my main struggle is with depression and fatigue and jaw pain. The doctors put me back on Cymbalta (I was on it prior to pregnancy). There is also a chronic issue with eye inflammation that will eventually lead me to being unable to wear contacts ever again. I am having to put steroid eye drops in my eyes around the clock and that forced me to stop breastfeeding. At night, I am clenching my teeth severely and that is causing a burning pain in my tongue.

June 2009

June 2009

Michael has decided to go to Nursing School and we are about to move out of our beloved home and in with my mom. The chronic eye inflammation is still ongoing and getting worse. I wore contacts for this impromptu photo session and took them out immediately after. My hair is starting to fall out. The teeth clenching is getting better because I am seeing a orthodontist who has me wearing a bizarre contraption throughout the day and night. The previous mouth guard created an “open bite” and this one is “harnessing” the power of my clench to close it.

On Mother’s day, a few weeks before this, I miscarried for the second time. My body was extremely progesterone deficient and couldn’t hold onto the pregnancy. I am exhausted, depressed, gaining weight, fatigued, sleeping poorly and have begun isolating myself from friendships.

October 2009

oct 2010

Still gaining weight. The jaw pain has become almost unbearable, so I am on pain medication and muscle relaxers. I have been diagnosed as hypothyroid and started taking Synthroid. My TSH looks great, but none of my symptoms are better, infact they may be worsening. I spend thousands of dollars seeing an integrative medicine nurse practitioner, but to no avail. Stress is crushing me on all sides: my husband is so busy with nursing school that it feels like I am single parenting (he was studying on this day), we are living with my mother, I have reluctantly gone back into teaching and am in my training year for Reading Recovery. At night I sleep with ice packs and heating pads on my jaw. The one bright spot is that in August I had LASIK done on my eyes so the inflammation is brought under control.

February 2010

Feb 2010

I have started disappearing …. from pictures, from relationships, from myself. We have been living with my mom for almost 8 months and none of us can take it anymore. Michael and I, with the help of his mother, purchase a tiny 2 bedroom home that had been foreclosed on. In the midst of everything else that has been going on, we undertake remodeling it to “flip” in a few years. Ephraim is two. I am in pain most days. Every muscle in my body aches. I have no energy. When he goes down for his nap at 2 pm, I lay down too and sleep until he wakes at 4:30 or 5. While I sleep, I am often jolted awake with heart palpitations. At night, i strict and rub my muscles over a tennis ball. I am still on 125 mcg of Synthroid. I am depressed. I am exhausted. I am extremely irritable. I have few, if any friends, left. My jaw is unbearable.

This cycle continues until I find the help of a neuromuscular dentist in September 2010. He is able to relax my muscles and properly fit me to a mouth guard that I wear 24/7 at first. It helps tremendously. Later that month I see a female doctor specializing in women’s health. I tell her I think something is wrong with my hormones and that I suspect nutritional deficiencies. She laughs at me. Literally. Since I have a period every month she says that my hormones have to be normal. She tells me I don’t need the thyroid med so I should not take it. She refuses to test my B12 or vitamin D levels. She leaves me with prescriptions for ADHD meds, a sleep study, and a medicine called Giadon. My husband (who was doing his psych clinicals at the time) recognizes that as a medication used for those with schizophrenia. It has some nasty side effect, so I won’t take it. I leave there more desperate than before. I decide to try the Naturopath one last time.

She discovered I was severely hypothyroid, my adrenals were exhausted and I had almost no progesterone which made me severely Estrogen Dominant. Good times.

She took me off of Synthroid and put me on Armour thyroid 30 mg.  I started using 20 mg of progesterone cream at night days 14-28 of my cycle. I took high doses of vitamin D and got B 12 shots. I removed all gluten and dairy from my diet. What happened?

Nothing.

By January, I was in so much physical pain and so down-trodden that I decided to try an antidepressant again. No sooner had I started it than I found out I was pregnant again. And then something amazing happened. They were checking my thyroid often to make sure I had enough to sustain a pregnancy so they kept raising my meds. They also upped the progesterone. I felt incredible. Better than I had in years. I looked awesome too. See….

glowing

#glowing!!!!

I truly thought we had conquered this thing. I delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl on October 5. And by November 5th, my world came crashing in around me. I could not function. I was in the throes of horrible anxiety and depression. I couldn’t eat, sleep and I was terrified to be alone. By December, I relented and went back on an anti-depressant. It helped. It really did. So much so that I thought it was ok to go off of it. I also decided not to go back to work. So, I was now a stay at home mother of 2, in a tiny house with an infant who would not nap and a 3-year-old who didn’t understand why he had to be quite. I convinced myself the house was the problem and that it was time to sell. “We can’t sell it and keep it staged with all this baby stuff around!,” I surmised. So back to my mom’s house we went while we waited for a sale. And it sold. And we found another house that seemed to fit our needs. And day by day my situation got subtly worse and worse. It wasn’t like it happened overnight. Depression caused by hormone imbalance never is. It is more like an insidious, creeping fog that finds its way into the nooks and crannies of your heart, mind, life, thoughts, feelings and relationships. The day we moved into the new home I was so breathless with exhaustion and pain that I could not even wipe down the counters. My whole body hurt!

How could this be happening again? I inwardly screamed.

I knew the answer had to lie somewhere in the blood work, so between naps and feedings I poured over every lab I had ever had looking for some hidden thread of continuity. There had to be a trend of some kind. Something the doctors were missing. I googled my little heart out and found a website called Stop The Thyroid Madness and cried and wept as I discovered myself and my situation on every page. I ordered the book, which became like a dog-eared Bible to me. I was obsessed with learning as much as I could. But it was all for nothing because I could not convince anyone there was anything wrong with me. My thyroid labs looked great, maybe even a little hyperthyroid. Even the naturopath I had so trusted was growing tired of me. “Try meditation, Emotional Freedom Tapping, take this herb or that … “

October 2012

october 2012

I became more obsessed. And my obsession did yield some good information. I learned that cortisol, whether too low or too high prevents thyroid hormone from working properly. I learned that iron (ferretin) could also create issues with the thyroid.  But daily my symptoms grew worse. The pain was back. The anxiety came back too. This time both were accompanied by a weird inner vibration and sort of dizziness. Perhaps it was a sinus infection the doctor thought. One or two rounds of antibiotics and anti-vert and it was still there. A referral to an ENT, hearing tests and an MRI were ordered. In the meantime, 60 mg of Prednisone was ordered to combat “potential” inner ear inflammation.

November 2012

I was actually kind of excited about the prednisone. You see, I had convinced myself that my issue was adrenal fatigue, i.e. low cortisol. So if that was the case, the prednisone would help. It didn’t. As I learned later, taking the prednisone was tantamount to “jumping on a trampoline with a 2×4 full of nails”. An accurate description. I really didn’t know things could get worse, but curled up on the floor of my closet while my children watched a fourth or fifth hour of TV, I BEGGED my husband to check me into the psych hospital. I was done. Another doctors appointment was made and back on Cymbalta I went (and remained). It was the right decision. By that point, my gut health was so bad and my neurotransmitters were so shot that an anti-depressant was absolutely necessary.

January 2012

By this point, the naturopath had washed her hands of me and referred me to her father, an Integrative Medicine doctor. Well respected. Very expensive. He looked at EVERYTHING! Again, thyroid was under medicated and we switched from Armour to Naturethroid. My cortisol was not too low, it was sky HIGH!!! So, I began a regimen of adaptogens (herbs that lower and balance cortisol production). Progesterone was upped to 80mg and was to be taken vaginally days 14-28. This man saved my life. But the bottom-line is, that at no point in this saga, did anyone connect the dots to hormones. The early clues where there … undiagnosed infertility, early miscarriage, melasma, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, rapid aging, muscle pain, and on and on. I love this graphic explaining what hormone balance should look like and how imbalance wreaks havoc:

balance

December 2014

I am feeling better, much better. Maybe 85% of who I once remember being. My biggest complaints: weight and energy. I still crash at around 3 pm everyday and that is not conducive to having kids. I start seeing a friend (an acquaintance) post about a product called Plexus. Intrigued, I decide to try it. I feel better. Like, I have energy. I feel kind of … NORMAL. Cautiously optimistic, i decide to try the probiotic the company offers. I didn’t know I could feel better than better was a week ago. My husband tells me “I don’t know what is in that stuff, but whatever it is you are going to keep taking it!” Then he said five magical words ….

I have my wife back ….

Today, this is my daily regimen of Plexus products, Thyroid medication and Progesterone cream:

regimen

This is SOME of what I tried before … I have several more CABINETS worth!

supplements

If you would like more info on Plexus products and Hormone Harmony, please message me at neagler@gmail.com

Connect with me on my Facebook page: Hormone Harmony: Balancing Thyroid, Adrenal and Sex Hormones

You can order from my site directly:

http://www.myplexusproducts.com/rachaelneagle

Ambassador ID: 225481

Nitric Oxide, Beet Root Extract and Plexus Slim

Standard

Nitric Oxide, you may be thinking of the gas used at the dentists office . Or perhaps the stuff used to make cars go really fast. That is what I thought it was when the doctor tested my husbands levels at his physical today. But I was wrong. “Nitric Oxide is a molecule that our body produces to help its 50 trillion cells communicate with each other by transmitting signals thoughout the entire body” So, why the heck am I writing about this?

About a week and a half ago my husband had an “event” happen halfway through the service at our church. He was leading worship and got very light headed. He felt like he was going to pass out, had light sensitivity, experienced tunnel vision and had weakness in his legs. It was basically all he could do to plow though the set with the help of his team. I was at home with our kids when he called and said “I feel like I am dying”. Now, for those of you that know him, the hubs is not someone given to dramatics or hysterics. Of course it completely freaked me out. I tried to calm him and talk him through it. It seemed to me like he might be having a panic attack. I told him to wait in his office and I headed up there. I texted our pastors and they met me in his office. We checked blood sugar and vitals and all seemed good. He had been at church since 6:30 am, it was a stressful morning, he didn’t eat and had about 2 pots of coffee. Yes, I said POTS. He came home with me and immediately went to bed. I really expected him to wake up fully recovered, but that was not the case. After visits to our family doctor in Amarillo this week and full physical we still had no answers. He has continued to experience bouts of the same symptoms and just said he felt really weak and fatigued. The only thing a complete panel of blood work revealed was low B12.

Having walked through both adrenal and thyroid dysfunction, I was obviously suspicious of some of his symptoms. We ordered a saliva test for his adrenals (sending it off tomorrow!) and sought out a Nurse Practitioner who works for a local D.O. It was during our visit with her this morning and her assessment of Michael that she brought Nitric Oxide to my attention. She left the room and came back with a little vial of test strips similar to those used when testing Ph. She laid it on his tongue and over the course of about 30 seconds it turned a pink color. The color indicated that Michael does indeed have low nitric oxide. With all of my investigation into natural health I had NEVER heard of this. So while she continued her assessment I turned to the google machine. 

What I found is that nitric oxide has been shown to be important in the following cellular activities:

• help memory and behavior by transmitting information between nerve cells in the brain
• assist the immune system at fighting off bacteria and defending against tumors
• regulate blood pressure by dilating arteries
• reduce inflammation
• improve sleep quality
• increase your recognition of sense (i.e. smell)
• increase endurance and strength
• assist in gastric motility

There have been over 60,000 studies done on nitric oxide in the last 20 years and in 1998, The Nobel Prize for Medicine was given to three scientists that discovered the signaling role of nitric oxide. 

WHAT??? 60,000 studies and a Nobel Prize? Have YOU ever heard of this? As the nurse explained it Nitric Acid is needed for EVERYTHING your body does. And if you are low in it you can experience severe fatigue, depression, anxiety etc … Additionally, is very important for cardiac health. In fact, heart patients are often prescribed nitroglycerin when experiencing cardiac symptoms because it dilates the blood vessels. Turns out nitroglycerin acts by releasing nitric oxide which relaxes narrowed blood vessels, increasing oxygen and blood flow.

So at this point I am kind of intrigued. Then she walks back into the room with the nitric acid lozenges for Michael to begin taking. I took a look at the ingredients and my jaw dropped. One of the primary ingredients and methods of increasing Nitric Oxide levels is Beet Root Extract. Well, at this point I just start laughing, quietly, to myself. You see, a question that I often get asked about Plexus Slim is “what makes the pink drink pink? The answer is: Beet Root Extract. Mind. Officially. Blown.

If you have spent anytime reading through the health testimonials related to Plexus Slim, and if you have read the medical literature, you will find that many of the benefits people experience on Slim are very similar to those listed as benefits of nitric oxide. Slim is proven to lower cholesterol and balance lipids. We KNOW it improves energy (holler!) and so many report lowered blood pressure and improved mood.

I am just constantly blown away by the powerful combination of ingredients used in Plexus Slim. I have talked before about chromium and its beneficial effects no both thyroid and adrenal health. I have also discussed how alpha lipoic acid lowers blood sugar and heals neuropathy. But in all of the researchI have done on Slim never did I read ANYTHING about the beet root used for coloring or anything about its potential health benefits. I have reported from the beginning of my journey that my energy has increased immeasurably and it is so cool to see that this ingredient has played such a big role in that!!!

Cortisol: The Worst Enemy of Weight Loss

Standard

I spent a few hours this week checking in with my Plexus customers to see how they are doing. I wanted to see if anyone was not having success, and if that was the case, help trouble shoot why. After checking in with most everyone, I discovered that it was time to have a discussion about the “BAD BOY” in all of our lives and how it can reek havoc on your health and weight loss goals. Who is this bad boy? His name is CORTISOL and he is Not your friend.

Cortisol is the hormone that is released by your adrenal glands during times of stress. It is known of as the fight or flight hormone and it is the hormone that saved the lives of our ancestors. See bear. That bear can kill you. You have two choices: stay and fight or run away. Adrenaline and cortisol get released and you run away real fast. Or you stay and fight the bear. Hopefully, you ran.

The problem in our modern day society is that we are not fighting or running from bears. Instead we work long hours, have incredible demands placed on us by both work and home, we shuffle kids all over the place, we are sleep deprived by newborns. We experience emotional stressors from difficult family relationships, troubled marriages, out of control teenagers, kids with emotional/behavioral/physical limitations and disabilities. We live in a difficult economy and financial pressures are weighing on us as we try to find better jobs, reduce spending, live on a budget, pay the mortgage etc. Do I need to go on?

So what happens when you are under chronic stress? Hopefully you have good self care and you spend some time each day doing contemplative thinking/meditation, you breathe deep, you go to the gym and get a good sweaty workout, you make time for yourself and you get really, really good deep restful sleep every night? Are you doing that? no? That’s exactly what I suspected.
If you are not taking steps to reduce the stress in your life and you are not doing anything to “burn” through the extra cortisol your adrenals are pumping out it is going to result in a few things: fatigue, weight gain (around your middle especially), sugar cravings, sleep is that is interrupted (waking every night between 2-4 pm is a huge clue) or not being able to sleep. And even when you do sleep you will wake up feeling unrefreshed. Additionally, you will begin to experience issues with your immune system: chronic sinus infections are a big offender, or catching any and every bug that is out there. You may also begin to experience major issues with your menstrual cycle. Erratic periods, no periods, periods every 2 weeks, awful PMS, bloating, painful breats etc … The reason for this is that your hormones work in a cascade. That means one hormone gets made from another. Cortisol is made from progesterone. So when you are stressed and your body can’t keep up it siphons progesterone to make more cortisol. This is how a lot of women end up with progesterone deficiency and the litany of issues that go along with that and estrogen dominance.

But wait, it gets even better. Because in time, as your adrenals begin to become quite tired, your body decides to “down-regulate” and conserve energy for your survival. And it begins this process of down regulation by having  your thyroid become sluggish. Your thyroid helps control your metabolism (and a gagillion other things too). At its root, thyroid disease is a metabolic disorder. As the thyroid slows down you will experience less energy, weight gain, all over aches and pains, your hair will start to fall out, you will feel exhausted all day, your skin will be dry, your cycle will continue to be off, you will be constipated, you will not sleep well and you will experience anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, low libido etc … Good times.

Is any of this sounding familiar? Do you feel like I am holding a mirror up to your face? Ok good.

Hopefully you know from researching Plexus that it is FIRST a health and wellness company. The products they have developed are designed to get your body healthy from the inside out. By addressing issues like candida, an acidic and oxygen deprived gut, balancing blood sugars and lipids, and lowering LDL cholesterol these products work in synergy to get you feeling better. And weight loss is just a happy side effect!!!

But Plexus is not a miracle pill and if you live a lifestyle that places your body under the demands of chronic stress, and the myriad of health issues that accompany it, you may not find the success that you have hoped for. Will Plexus help still? Yes! Getting your gut healthy and lowering your blood sugar will benefit your hormones tremendously. That is why some of people have reported other tremendous benefits but no weight loss.

So what do you do about high cortisol? First and foremost you have to take inventory of your life and see where you can reduce and eliminate stress. I realize the society we live in means that stress is an inevitable part of our lives, but there are steps you can take to improve it! Exercise is one! Getting sweaty everyday can really help to reduce cortisol. But you need to be mindful of the type of exercise. When dealing with high cortisol options like yoga, weight lifting, walking are all great choices. Running and other intense exercise can actually raise your cortisol levels and lower your thyroid levels. This is something that I, myself, have to be very mindful of. Even time spent in a sauna can be beneficial because you are sweating out the toxins.

Secondly, you can add supplements known as adaptogens into your regimen. Adaptogens do just what the name implies: they help your body adapt to and better handle stress. They can help lower cortisol where it is too high and raise it where it may need slight improvement. My favorite adaptogen is called Rhodiola Rosea. It is an ancient herb that has been proven to lower cortisol. There are also several adaptogenic blends of herbs that are great. My favorite is called Stress Response made by Gaia. These herbs will help lower cortisol and all of its negative side effects. They will also help you sleep better. Fish oil and vitamin B12 will also help.

Third, sleep. A good nights sleep is the BEST possible thing you can do for yourself when you are dealing with stress. Go to bed early and sleep as late as you can. Try to get a minimum of 7 – 9 hours of sleep. If you and get extra sleep on the weekends then take advantage of that. Your body needs sleep to heal and reset the adrenals. Go to bed before 11, preferably by 10. Leave the TV off and silence your phone. A dark environment is imperative. Get a sleep mask if necessary. Also cover any electronic devices that emit a blue light with electrical tape. The light, blue in particular, has been shown to upset the release of melatonin, a hormone produced by the body to induce sleep. 

Fourth, your diet. Caffeine is the worst enemy of cortisol. It spikes your blood sugar and adrenaline and can fuel cortisol over production. This causes issues with blood sugar regulation and creates cravings for both salty and sweet convenience foods. It can also lead to hypoglycemic episodes of shaking, sweating and dizziness. Not fun. Unhealthy food choices will not help either. Your body is crying out for foods that will help heal and restore. Anything processed should be avoided. Foods that are nutrient dense like kale, spinach, sweet potatoes etc are full of vitamins and minerals. Your adrenals also LOVE vitamin C and B-complex vitamins so adding these as a supplement is advisable.

So am I asking you to take some time and really evaluate your current stress level and see if there are some things that I have written here that resonate with you on a personal level. If so, make some room in your life to implement some of the suggestions I have made. Do some research on cortisol and adrenal health. Continue with your Plexus products and chronicle EVERY non-scale victory you experience: more energy, better sleep, better moods, having at least 3 regular bowel movements per day, no PMS, improved cycles, better stamina, increased libido, cleared up skin, reduced bloating, etc …
I am attaching an article written by Dr. Sara Gottfried, author of “The Hormone Cure” Here she discusses the BAD BOY: Cortisol and her tips for lowering it. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sara-gottfried-md/cortisol_b_2822176.html

Leaky Gut … It all comes full circle

Standard

As many of you already know, I have followed a gluten free diet for six years (for health reasons including my thyroid, etc.). My most recent blood work shows on ongoing battle with intestinal inflammation (aka Leaky Gut Syndrome) Not good. I feel no symptoms of this which is what makes it so dangerous. Inflammation has been called the “Silent Killer” by many.

Recently, a fellow celiac/gluten intolerant friend sent me an article from The University of Chicago.  This institution has one of the leading treatment and research centers for Celiac Disease in the U.S., so my jaw dropped when they posted this:

 

“While healing may take up to 2 years for many older adults, new research shows that the small intestines of up to 60% of adults never completely heal.”

So I dug my heels in, like I do with most things, and began researching my butt off about how to heal the leaky gut. I already follow a strict gluten free diet and I am eliminating dairy. So what else am I supposed to do? According to Chris Kesser, a leading doctor of  naturopath:

1) Supplement for nutritional deficiencies.

2) Take a probiotic every day

3) Take a digestive enzyme every day

Why am I telling you this? Because you may have been seeing (and annoyed by) my posts and decision to sell Plexus products. What you may not know is that for 2 years now I have been counseling numerous people about thyroid/adrenal/hormonal conditions. I spent 5 devastating years screaming at every doctor I could find that something was wrong with me. I am pretty sure most doctors thought I was a hypochondriac. All suggested anti-depressants. I took them. I didn’t get better. What were my symptoms?

*Debilitating fatigue

*Wide-spread muscle pain

*Shortness of breath/Air hunger

*Heart palpitations that were awful

*Insomnia

*Infertility/multiple miscarriages

*Being extremely startled by loud noises

*Weight gain

*Chronic jaw pain

*Inability to exercise – Because if I did, it took days/weeks to recover (exercise intolerance)

*Depression and anxiety

*A chronic battle with iritis (eye inflammation. Very painful)

Nobody had an answer for me. I saw a rheumatologist who wasn’t helpful. My family doctor (who is fabulous!) was willing to test my thyroid and adrenals. He agreed to try Synthroid for my thyroid, but it didn’t help.

In desperation I began researching and also seeing an Integrative Medicine doctor. That was helpful and difficult because it is INSANELY expensive (they don’t take insurance) and although a lot of the supplements were helpful, I have been swallowing 20 pills per day and spending even more money for stuff that I wasn’t sure was really working.

After I had Loralei in October of 2011 my world began to spin completely out of control. I was diagnosed with post-partum depression. I was placed on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds. The A-D made me clench my teeth so I had to stop taking it. I tried to treat it naturally. This went on for almost 18 months. I was a shell of my former self. I was suffering from chronic dizziness/vertigo. I have mentioned previously that I had to undergo an MRI and was placed on 60 MG of Prednisone (that’s 500 times more that your body makes on its own). The result of that forced me into having take an anti-depressant and allowed me to begin putting my life back together. That brings me to where I am today. Feeling better than I have in a LONG time, but coming to the realization that until I heal my gut I will not get to 100%.

 

If you’re still reading (amazingly) this post started by talking about Leaky Gut. I have been dealing with the symptoms of Leaky Gut and I think that is why I am not at 100% yet. I don’t think most people realize how devastating Leaky Gut o yeast overgrowth can be to someone’s immune system. I watched a portion of the show “The Doctors” the other day and they were highlighting the latest treatment for C-Diff that is now being used to heal the guts of celiac patients as well. It’s called a Fecal Transplant. Yes, you read that right. Someone with a healthy gut donates their stool and then it is injected into the gut of the unhealthy individual. O.M.G. (if you don’t believe me just google it) This procedure is so cutting edge and so successful. That means it is also expensive. You Tube is full of videos on DIY versions involving your husbands poop, a blender and an enema kit. (Again, if you don’t believe me ….)

If you aren’t down with a Fecal Transplant the other alternative is taking heavy doses of an anti-fungal called Nystatin, which is effective, but has some nasty side effects. What is point in this??? It is that if you want to get healthy you HAVE to heal your gut! period.

So this is the journey I am embarking on … (no, not a fecal transplant). I am going to attempt to heal my gut by the most natural means. That means I am going Paleo (for the reals) and will be incorporating things like bone broths into my diet. I will also be using the Plexus products I have already been taking.

I chose to take (and sell) Plexus because of the Probio5. It basically replaced three bottles of supplements I was already taking (digestive enzymes, probiotic and antifungal) because it contains all of them in one pill and cost me half as much as I spent on all three. No brainer. I also found out I had a major issue with candida/yeast that I was not aware of. And candida/yeast is a symptom of leaky gut and can prevent weight loss. It all comes full circle. It is all tied together.

I have never done an MLM before and I swore that I never would. But since I was taking the product anyway I decided to sell it because I do see the potential for supplemental income. However, this is my predicament. A good friend told me once that it’s hard to sell anything with a pure heart because your bottom line is connected to it. That has always resonated with me. Through a lot of discussions with Michael and some prayer I decided to give it a shot, and this is why: I have spent countless hours counseling other people who have been battling issues similar to mine. I have found them doctors who will work with them, directed them to the specific blood tests to ask for, told them about supplements to take, discussed symptoms and pointed them towards a diagnosis, and on and on. So if I am taking something that has helped me, why would I keep that a secret from them? I had my answer.

I am passionate about women’s health issues. I love to research and learn and teach others about it. I love being told that I changed someone’s life. And it breaks my heart to hear people say, “Why did my doctor never tell me about this?” I wish I had an answer for that one.

So, if you want to learn more about Plexus, please feel free to contact me. If you are annoyed by my occasional posts to FB or Instagram, don’t de-friend me. I am not going to be the person selling something that you duck and avoid at the grocery store. It won’t hurt my feelings if you say NO. I just wanted to take this opportunity to share my story so you could understand why I am doing this.

**And if you are one of the peeps whom I have helped with health issues, please comment here so people know I am legit!!! 😉

My Why …

Standard

If you follow me on Facebook then you have probably seen posts popping up about a product called Plexus. If you are like me (up until a few months ago anyway) then you probably have not even heard of it. I first learned about it through a friend on Facebook who had had success losing some weight. Intrigued and suspicious, I decided to start doing some research. If you know me well, then you know that I am a big time researcher/user of the Google machine! What I began to find out about it ended up being life changing

I have been wanting, but waiting to put my thoughts about this into words … And I find it appropriate that I am penning this on the day of my son’s sixth birthday because that is really where my journey began. Until I had E my weight had never really been an issue. I had always been on the smaller side and didn’t have to do much to maintain it. However, weight had always been a HUGE issue for me in the sense that I struggled with low self esteem if I gained any weight. I found my worth in my thinness. After struggling with 5+ years of infertility I was so grateful to be pregnant that I gave no thought to what I ate while I was pregnant. I was fat and happy. I also assumed that as long as I breastfed the weight would come off. It didn’t. I held onto about 15 lbs that would not budge. Additionally and more concerning was the fact that my overall health seemed to be declining. I was chronically exhausted (chalked that up to being sleep deprived), my muscles ached all over and seemed to be full of knots, my teeth hurt from clenching my teeth, and my left eye suffered chronic inflammation that resulted in a painful condition known as iritis. The only treatment for the iritis was a protocol of steroid eye drops that had to be placed in my eye multiple times per day. Even scarier was this conditions association with auto-immune diseases systemically attacking the body. Thus began the never ending search for a “cure” or a “cause” that had me bouncing between doctors and specialists. Whether it was this experience or other factors, I also feel into a pretty deep depression.

In late 2010, I finally in complete desperation found a naturopathic nurse practitioner who said she could help. She switched me off of synthetic thyroid meds (Synthroid) and started me on some protocols to treat adrenals and low progesterone. I was pregnant (unintentionally) within three months and felt better than I had in years! I really thought that we had gotten to the bottom of the issue and felt confident going into delivering my daughter. But the fear of the past lurked in shadows and waited for the right moment to pounce. As proactive as I was around 4 months post partum the bottom dropped out and I went into the deepest and darkest place I had ever been. Depression, heart palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, dizziness and the list went on and on. Convinced that it had to be thyroid and adrenal related again, I immersed myself in research. The problem was my labs all looked good and the naturopath was stumped. Crazed with info and fueled with desperation I spiraled further and further down, circling the drain. I vividly remember sobbing so hard one day that I had to pull the car over. Little L was in the backseat, unphased because she had seen me sob so often. No one really knew how dark my life was, not even me.

In November 2012, the dizziness was so bad that my family doctor sent me to an ENT. Unable to determine the cause he ordered an MRI of my brain and suspecting inner ear inflammation, placed me on 60 mg of prednisone. I didn’t think it could get worse, but it did. A certain doctor later likened taking prednisone to jumping on a trampoline with a 2×4 full of nails, and I am inclined to agree. . My husband came home from work one night to find me on the floor in our closet. I begged him to check me into the Pavillion (mental hospital). It was bad. He insisted upon a regimen of anti-depressants and because all other options had failed I relented. And honestly, that was a good choice. It was a necessary intervention at that point. The lights began to flicker amidst the darkness. I still knew intuitively, that something was not right!

I had done enough “research” that I had diagnosed myself as being adrenal insufficient/low cortisol. My symptoms were so similar to those of people with low cortisol. Imagine my surprise when, after saliva testing, it was discovered that my cortisol was high. It had probably been sky high but the oral prednisone literally shut down my own adrenal production and actually helped lower it. I was placed on a regimen of vitamins and supplements to lower the cortisol. In the interest of keeping this as brief as possible, I will live it there. We moved to Lubbock and life really opened up for us all. The power of community and having loving friends did wonders for my soul. By August of this year I would say I was 85-90%. Lingering issues with lack of energy and weight were the main source of frustration. And I really wanted to the anti-depressant!

In late October of 2013, I became aware of plexus and did some research. There was 60 day money back guarantee so I decided to give it a go. To be honest, it didn’t go that well. I actually felt more tired and after 10 days had lost no weight. It was advised that I perform a simple candida spit test which I failed miserably. I was told I need to try the Probio5 to clear the candida. I ordered it, but at this point it was Thanksgiving going into Christmas and I knew my diet would be less than “clean”. I decided to wait and try again after the first of the year. And that is what I did.

Within a week of restarting the Plexus products and using the Probio5 I noticed significant changes in energy, cravings and appetite. Three weeks in I had lost 3 pounds. Not too shabby. I have now been on the products about 5 weeks and my weight loss has not been great, but my energy has been amazing. My endurance has been amazing. For the first time in 6 years I am able to exercise 5 times a week without feeling like I got hit by a truck. I have given up a diet coke addiction. I have one cup of half caf coffee in the morning. I don’t have a 2 pm energy slump. And my husband has told me several times that he notices changes in my body that the scale may not reflect …yet.

I can not give Plexus all the credit for my success because that would be untrue. I have been a journey to look at and treat things in my life in a “whole body” approach. I credit wonderful patient practitioners who were willing to work with me. I am so thankful for an army of thyroid patient advocates who helped me learn and understand the science of how the thyroid works in your body. I am grateful to conventional medicine throwing me a lifeline when I was in a place so dark I could not tell up from down. Most of all I am grateful to God for having my back and best interest at heart through this whole journey. I am thankful he made me the kind of person who is not content with a “band aid” but wants to solve the root issue.

So, for those who have been annoyed by the Plexus posts I want you to understand that this is important to me. This is something that has helped me achieve my hearts desire to be active and fit again. It has helped me overcome addictions to sugar and to soda. And I am thankful for the having the opportunity to share it with others.

 

The Story of Us

Standard

I look forward to Christmas for 364 days a year. I love every aspect of this season … the sights, the smells, the decorations. All of it. Normally I restrain myself and insist that we wait until the day  after Thanksgiving to begin decorating, but this year was a slight exception. I broke down and decorated the mantel the week before. And then promptly re-did it. I think this is just one of those years when I needed the joy of this season to surround me. Maybe it is being in our own home this year? I don’t know ….

I know many people were up bright and early on Black Friday to shop til the dropped. Not us. We slept in, had our coffee and then headed off to pick out the perfect tree. Our usual pick is the Charile Brown esque tree, but this year a Noble fir caught our eye and we brought her home. She is full and bountiful and smells of the most delecious evergreen. I can never get enough of that. Reminds me of the mountains. By mid afternoon Michael had all the lights on. We had to go back and buy 3 more sets so there would be enough, because lets face it, you can NEVER have too many lights. By that time little man was up and tree decorating and 2 year olds just are not conducive around our house. It would have to wait.

The next day we embarked on a trip to Lubbock to see old friends of mine from college. We met them at Holland Gardens to view the 100 or so trees they have on display there. Each with it’s own “theme”. Beautiful to look at and kind of fun to make fun of. I am just not a themed tree kind of girl. Home again and the tree had to wait another day. Church today. Lunch. Finish an engrossing book. Pick up the boy from GiGi’s. Daddy off to work. Boy to bed. School work to be done.

Finally a glass of wine. My tree and my ornaments. Opening that box each year is like rediscovering old friends. A trip down memory lane. But tonight, it was so much more. I realized it was the story of us. My tree can tell you in all its humble ornaments of the 12 Christmases I have spent with my amazing husband and of the almost three Christmases we have spent with our miracle son. In previous years I will admit to succumbing to the boxes of colored balls that fill the aisles of Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. I already told you I was not a “theme” girl, but I will say that I used to believe that more was more when it came to tree decorating. Perhaps the overall “downsizing” we have done in the past year led us to downsize our tree as well. Last year it was a mere 5 footer and most of the ornaments were “kid friendly” for the sake of our then almost 2 year old. I left the multi-colored balls and garlands and ribbons in the box and then I sold it all in a garage sale this summer. I kept what was special. What meant something and what tells our story. So hear it is my photo essay of the “Story of Us: Our Life in a Christmas Tree”

The Nativity: The Reason

 

Christmas 199: We are Engaged!!!

 

Year One: Priorities

 

Year Two: My Leopard Phase ... enough said.

Year Three: My mom brings us and ornament from Vancouver.

 

Year Six: A Reindeer!!

Year Nine: What we have been praying for ...

Year One for Baby Boy

 

Year Two for Baby Boy (11 for us)

 

And that brings us to this year …  What we are praying for …

And a few of the boy’s favorite things …

His favorite

His other favorite

And his own little tree bought in the hopes he keeps his hands off mine!

 

So there you have it friends … what I look forward to most is what this post could look like a few years from now: more anniversaries for My Love and me, seeing hoe Eph’s personality emerges in the ornaments he picks to add to our tree each year, and the Hope of adding to our family …maybe a few pink ornaments and some more little boy ones too?

So tonight I am listening to some Bing Crosby and Sufjan Stephens Christmas music and enjoying this tree … celebrating what it represents and imagining all that it could. God bless you all and your families this holiday season. Merry Christmas.