musings

Practicing Gratitude

By on November 20, 2019

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The Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner and in my MOP’s Facebook group we have been answering certain thankfulness questions. This has caused me to remember when I thought gratitude was just an expression of thanks in a mannerly way. Gratitude is something I recognized as powerful several years ago, so it is fun to participate and recognize gratitude in many different aspects of life. Gratitude is actually the opposite emotion of fear.

When I married Gus, my friend and wedding officiant told me to thank Gus for being him. Be grateful for who he is and what he brings to my life and our family (I’m paraphrasing, however that was the gist). At the same time, I also started keeping a small gratitude journal in my bedside table. Each night for about a year, I wrote down 3 things I was grateful for in my day.

It wasn’t a “quick fix”. Over time, I started feeling better in my body. An anxious feeling I carried a lot in my chest, a questioning of sorts was lifted. The desire to be more, to do more (in a hardcore, unpleasant way) shifted and I started feeling more secure in my life and my decisions.

What is gratitude?

dictionary.com defines it as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.

How does gratitude change things?

When we feel grateful, we feel full. We feel full of love, inspiration, ideas, and creativity. This is actually quite powerful. We are born to create, we have the ability to create a life of our own design. Sometimes it is difficult to find the light in life when things look or feel bleak, but taking just a moment to recognize and feel gratitude can start to shift our¬†perspective, and even what crosses our path. And there’s actual research that feeling gratitude can literally reduce the risk of heart disease.

I hope I can gift my children with the knowledge of the power of gratitude. I know as an adult, feeling the true sense of gratitude took practice, especially when “getting over” any sort of trauma or emotional pain. I hope I can model gratitude as more than just saying “thank you”.

Here are a few ways to recognize gratitude and practice it for yourself or with your family and begin to shift and fill your cup.

A Gratitude Journal: a simple tool, nothing fancy– just recognizing 3 things each evening before bed and writing them down.

Thank You Cards: in our digital age texting a thank you may be the simplest way to communicate. I have always valued thank you cards and write them myself. My oldest is good about doing it too, and I want him to truly appreciate others and what they do. Instant gratification and expectation is a tough habit to break and writing things out in a personal note can open up a stronger awareness.

Gratitude Alphabet: This is fun and something I read in a book when my oldest was a little guy. Write down the letters of the alphabet and write down something we are grateful for that begins with each corresponding letter. We will do this right before Thanksgiving and display them on our dining room wall just for a tangible reminder.

These are 3 simple things that can be incorporated in daily life or family rhythm and can foster an open heart so that kindness comes naturally. In my world, I am now grateful every evening. It hits me after I put the kids to bed, do the final clean up and take a moment to look around my house. I truly feel grateful for my home and who’s in it and for the process it took to achieve this kind of peace. It is a good feeling and something I want to maintain and expand on. How do you express gratitude and what have you noticed from it?

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gut health | women's health

Gut Health: The Delicate Balance to Ultimate Health

By on February 16, 2019

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Gut health and the human microbiome have been recurring themes in my blogging. On Monday, I received my 25 week pregnancy update and in the article it stated that during these next few weeks of pregnancy, the baby is establishing and developing her immune system. I started thinking, and researching what to do to make sure her immunity will be the best it can be.

Maternal Microbiome

All of the research pointed back to gut health, and the microbiome. Ah-ha! Something I am familiar with. Why is gut health so important? Our guts are literally our second brain, there are over 100 million neurons that line our digestive tract. Our guts house more neurons than our spinal cords! That is pretty incredible! These neurons, along with over 100 trillion bacteria need to stay in perfect balance to help maintain our health.

When the “bad” bacteria is abundant, we see many problems. Compromised immunity, skin issues, trouble achieving and maintaining our ideal weight, brain-fog, lack of focus, and even our emotional/mental health are linked back to this delicate balance of gut bacteria. Craving sugar, wheat, starches and gluten is a warning sign that the bad bacteria is “louder” than the good bacteria in our gut. When this happens, it is possible to starve out the bad bacteria and nourish the good to begin to find that balance. Removing grains and sugar from the diet will starve the bad guys. Foods that nourish the good bacterias are fermented foods, such as keifer or sauerkraut, and fibers from dark, leafy green veggies.

Knowing what your “second brain” is telling you by listening to your food cravings is a great way to build your own immunity, which in turn will give baby a heads up as she develops in-utero, and if mom’s microbiome is functioning well, baby will receive what she needs during the birth process and the “good-guys” will colonize quite quickly. When our microbiome is uninterrupted, that is when we are in “good” health.

The Antibiotic Conundrum

When our immunity is compromised it is easier to pick up viruses and bacteria and suffer their ill-effects. We see our doctor and are often prescribed an antibiotic. An antibiotic may kill the bacteria that is making you ill. However, it also wipes out the delicate ecology in the gut. Have you ever been sick after a round of antibiotics? Maybe started having digestive or skin issues? Possibly a yeast infection? All of your “good” guys have been destroyed and now need nourished and fed.

In the medical community, it is often suggested to take a probiotic immediately after taking an antibiotic. This is good advice, although restoring the microbiome to its original homeostasis can take up to 18 months after 1 round of antibiotic. And, no. I am not saying do not take an antibiotic if you are truly ill with a bacterial infection! The moral of this information is to get your microbiome and immunity in tip-top condition by taking care of your gut health to prevent the need for an antibiotic.

The Body’s Biggest Job

All day, every day our bodies are working on ingesting food, digesting food, assimilating the nutrients from the food, and eliminating the remainder. This is another piece of the puzzle that will boost immunity and microbiome for mom and baby. In our gastrointestinal tract, having an appropriate balance of digestive enzymes supports the digestion and assimilation process.

We need support breaking down proteins, carbs, and fats from the foods we eat. The Standard American Diet, along with commercial farming practices and cooking methods do not allow us to receive adequate enzymes from our food alone. One of the benefits of adding additional digestive enzymes to the body is increased energy. This is because our body is adequately breaking down and assimilating food without increased energy output going to the GI tract just for digestion.

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Postpartum & Beyond

Knowing that gut health is linked to so many disorders of the human body really is great information when it comes to postpartum health and beyond. No matter who you are, pregnant or not, male or female, young or old, gut health is the place to start when wanting to achieve wellness.

For me, learning that certain strains of gut bacteria are responsible for emotional and mental health was quite enlightening. After delivering my second son I suffered from postpartum anxiety. Luckily, I was able to change my diet and add a few good supplements and I received relief from my symptoms very quickly. Knowing this information, I can prepare myself for what’s to come postpartum with this birth by adequately nourishing and supplementing during my pregnancy. So, my supportive methods are supplementing my diet with fiber, digestive enzymes, and probiotics. The benefits for me are increased immunity, better skin and slower aging.

If any of these issues spark your interest, or you know your gut is something you are needing to rebalance and restore. Feel free to email me and I am happy to help you with get started choosing food, supplements, or even just to point you in a direction to do your own research.

 

 

 

 

 

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