encouragement · Food · health · Keto · Wellness

Kissing Grains Goodbye

Most everyone who keeps up with me in any way, knows that I have been implementing the Ketogenic Diet for the past 8 months.  I have lost 37 pounds and, most importantly to me, I have seen a marked improvement in some areas of my physical health that have caused me discomfort and sometimes even misery for many, many years.  It’s been life-changing for sure!

Over the course of these past 8 months of eating an extremely low amount of carbs, and having basically eliminated all consumption of grains from my diet, I have come to realize that grains have been the culprit of much suffering throughout my life.  I grew up in the Deep South, and I have always eaten a hugely grain-saturated diet:  corn, rice, and wheat out the wazoo!  Eliminating these things has promoted an overall healing in my body that I truly never believed would take place.  I have had stomach issues for my entire life, y’all:  gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and yes even hemorrhoidal issues (which is an effect of many years of bowel issues).  I know that’s somewhat personal information…but health is personal!  If we don’t share our challenges and victories in these areas, no one will ever be able to benefit from our own trials and errors!  So…I’m not sorry for that little “overshare.”

Moving on though…

So how do I know grains are the problem?  Well, this leads me to a quick confession time.  Like I stated before, I’ve been on the Ketogenic Diet for quite some time now, (for more information on that, click here), but for the past two weeks I have not been a smart girl and I have had little bits of sugar and carbs here and there.  I kept thinking, “It’s not a big deal now that I am pretty much just in maintenance mode.”  However, it turns out that it is a big deal.  In these last couple of weeks I have consistently made small, yet impactful, bad decisions in my eating…and it’s been painfully clear that the common denominator has been…yep you guessed it…grains.  The process of elimination is a tried and true method for figuring things out in every aspect of life, and it is the number one way to find out an allergy or sensitivity on your own.  These two weeks have been eye-opening for me, and so here I come straggling down the road…a prodigal daughter…home…back to what I know is right for me:  grain-free.

When I began to realize that something I was consuming was actually harming me, I had to figure out what it was.  Was it sugar, or was it grains?  So, as I always do, I began to research.  First I looked into gluten allergy and/or sensitivity.  My findings were somewhat similar to what I was experiencing, but not quite the answer I was looking to discover.  I needed to know what would cause my:

  • itchy, red patches of skin (eczema)
  • cystic acne
  • sinus congestion and drainage
  • hormonal imbalance (unbearable periods and out of control PMS)
  • bloating and water retention all over my body
  • gastrointestinal upset
  • fatigue
  • mood changes (feeling depressed for no specific reason)
  • unexplained physical pain (much like Fibromyalgia)
  • migraines

So the next thing I researched was wheat allergy.  Again, not quite right.  So that’s when I came across resource after resource on grain sensitivity.  Ding, ding, ding!  We have a winner!  I was pleasantly surprised to find my perpetrator so quickly, but then I began to think about all of the foods I must eliminate for the rest of my life…if I truly want to feel well and truly thrive…and I must admit, for this foodie, it was somewhat depressing.  You see, when I began the Ketogenic Diet, I always had this mindset that I could reintroduce some foods once I’d hit my goal weight and made some great strides with my overall health.  I wanted to reset my body, and that’s exactly what I did.  I have learned so much about eating clean and how we truly are what we eat.  Going Keto taught me that.  Even if you don’t want to do the full-on Keto way of eating, I think it’s beneficial for everyone to limit carbs and to go organic!  However, I don’t think I realized (until now) what an impact grains had been having on my body all of my life.  They are not something that I can, in good faith, ever reintroduce into my diet if I want to feel great.  Admittedly, it’s kind of aggravating to know that there are some foods that I was raised on which are no longer options for me…unless I think it’s worth the havoc I know it will wreak on my system.  If I’m honest, I’m sure there will be times when I will falter, yet again, and put myself through unnecessary distress…but now that I am aware and certain, I will be making educated decisions about what goes into my body and how it will make me feel.  Ultimately, how I feel in the long-run is much more important than how I feel in the now.  

As always, I am sharing the resources that I found in my investigation.  I think it’s important to share, share, share when it comes to health education.  When we find something helpful, it’s almost immoral to keep it to ourselves…don’t you think?  So here are a few links to some articles that were interesting and valuable to me in my quest.

  1. Grains Beyond Wheat
  2. How do I know if I’m sensitive to grains?
  3. Why Grains are Such a Problem
  4. The Problem with Grains and Legumes

So, as I sit here writing this…a bloated, moody mess…with a residual stomachache and headache…with itchy skin…enduring PMS from hell…and trying to breathe through one nostril because of nasal congestion…I am reminding myself that today is a new day, and I am promising my body that I have hit my own proverbial “reset button.”  I am kissing grains goodbye, y’all.

If you are, or someone you know is, experiencing these same issues and you think it may be grains, I encourage you to do a little trial and error experiment of your own.  Take your health back…empower someone else to do the same!  Life is too important to spend it feeling like crap!

 As always, feel free to share!  Thanks, y’all!

Advertisements
DIY · Essential Oils · Gardening · Skin Care · Summer · travel · Wellness

Summertime Essential Oil Must-Haves…

Alright guys, if you love essential oils and can’t live without them, or if you’re just curious and wondering what this oil craze is all about…I have put together a list of the top 10 must-have essential oils for summer.

I must start up by saying that I’m not going to push a particular brand on you or bash any other brands that I don’t use…for some reason there tends to be this rivalry among oil users to convince others that your brand is the best.   With that said, I have to reiterate that pure quality oils are a must, or they simply won’t be effective, and can even cause harm.  You cannot buy quality oils at the grocery store (not even organic chains), pharmacies or over the counter.  You pretty much have to order from an essential oil company or through someone who sells for the oil companies. If a company’s main focus is not on essential oils I can guarantee that their oils are not 100% pure, organic or therapeutic grade oils. Now,  I know you’re thinking it and yes I do have a company that I use and trust for my family and business.  I could go into a whole other post about why I choose this company, but for now we’ll just say they are 100% pure, organic and grown in the most natural state that the plants thrive in.

Ok, so now onto to the summer must-have list! I will list them from 10 to 1, 1 being my favorite and/or most useful for summer.

10. Vacation Car Oils –  Can I get an amen?!  If you have kids, this is vital in order for your family to arrive at your vacation destination with your sanity and the majority of your hair.   For my family it has double purposes.  I have 3 members of my family that get car sick…seriously bag carrying, pulling over in the nick of time…car sick.  So, it is a must for me to carry peppermint oil and the digestion blend, Digestzen.  Simply applying to the stomach and even just smelling these can ward off this awful feeling for my family.  Secondly, I carry relaxing oils like Lavender, a grounding blend called Balance and a calming blend called Serenity.   You can imagine the value these calming oils can have on a van full of bad attitudes, restless legs and cooped up kiddos.  On a road trip these are priceless to me!!


9. Poison Ivy Blend– Also, a yearly tradition is for someone in our house to get poison ivy or poison oak.  I can testify it is awful and so annoying to have that constant nagging feeling to scratch.  For this you can use Lavender “neat” (undiluted – full strength), or Cypress and Peppermint with just a few added drops of Witch Hazel.  Apply as often as needed.  (Caution: limit use of Peppermint on little ones under 1 year old).

 

8. Allergy Blend– For those summer allergies like Ragweed…whatever may be the trigger… LLP is the relief you need.  Lemon, Lavender and Peppermint blended with a carrier oil (like coconut oil) is a great way to use it topically, but diffusing and/or taking it orally are very effective as well. Remember, do not take essential oils internally if the company advises against it.  My company does inform you if an oil is safe to be ingested or not.


7. Cooling Mist Spray– Oh my goodness, I can’t tell you how great this trick is when you’re standing in line at Disney or some amusement park roasting in the sun.  All you need is Peppermint oil, water and a spray bottle.  The cooling effect peppermint has on you is remarkable. Tests can actually prove that peppermint can lower your body temperature.  Hint: those fan spray bottles (like at Disney) are even better with just couple added drops of peppermint!


6. Super Sleep Blend– Alrighty, I’m just being real. Summer can be hard for us parents to get our kids to bed…and let’s face it, we need quiet time occasionally in order to be fully functioning adults.  There are usually a couple nights a week where I have to whip out this sleep blend to get my rascals to bed.  I blend 30 drops Serenity (restful blend), 15 drops Lavender and 10 drops Vetiver all in a roller bottle with FCO (Fractionated Coconut Oil).  Roll it on wrists, pillows, and (if necessary) on the bottoms of feet and behind ears.  It works like a charm…even for my night owl.


5. Bug Bite Blend– If your family is like mine, and you’re outside a lot, then without fail, someone probably forgets to apply bug repellent and you end up with itchy, scratchy kids.  This blend is a great relief for them when they just can’t stop scratching.  There’s actually 2 variations of this blend, and both are great. First is 25 drops Lavender, 15 drops Melaleuca mixed with some FCO in a roller ball, applying to bites as needed. Second is the allergy blend listed above as #8, which also works well for bug bites.

4. Stress and Anxiety Blend (Chill Out)– This blend is a must for me when the whole day (for whatever reason) has been difficult or just plain impossible.  This is a 50/50 blend of Serenity and Balance(grounding blend).  Add 30 drops of each, topped off with FCO, to a roller bottle and you’re set. Roll that sucker on your wrists, behind ears, back of the neck, over your heart…maybe not all at once…but really find the area that works best for you, and reapply until your sanity has returned.


3. After Sun Spray– OMG, it’s hard for me to contain my excitement for this blend!!! It has helped me and my kiddos when we have gotten too much sun, and (well, let’s face it) when I (mom) have forgotten to reapply the sunblock.  No more sleepless nights or chills from being severely burned. I apply this blend at the first sight of pinkness on any of us.  I generally apply 2 times before bed and by morning we’re usually tanned already. If not, keep applying. It not only tans, but it also removes the heat from the burn and helps to prevent peeling as well.  The blend is simply 20-25 drops Lavender and 8 drops Peppermint filling the rest of a 2oz spray bottle with FCO.

2. Lavender– Yep, that’s all.  Lavender is a must around the pool and to have readily available if your kids run barefoot outside.  I’m not kidding when I say Lavender will take out a bee sting or wasp sting…any sting…in a matter of seconds!!  Someone in my crew, without fail, always manages to get stung by the pool, and Lavender is my life saver.  I rub it onto the sting area and count to 3 and they’re already jumping back in the pool…after screaming just seconds before from an awful sting.  Seriously, this makes my mom job so much easier!


1. Bug/Pest Repellent– Yes, this is a must-have for our family.  Three of us I think attract bugs from the neighboring counties!  So, I spray us all down…including my dog! It’s non-toxic, and I don’t have to fret over wether or not they get a bath every time I apply this repellent like I did when I used products containing Deet and other harmful chemicals.  The blend consists of  25 drops Terrashield, 8 drops Peppermint, 8 drops Lavender, 8 drops Lemongrass and 6 drops Cedar Wood with the remaining amount of the 2oz spray bottle being filled with spring (or distilled) bottled water.  Be sure to shake well before each use, and you can reapply as needed. Click here for more info on this blend. 


So…there you have it!!  The top 10 oils to make your summer easier and more enjoyable.  If you’re needing a place to buy quality essential oils, click here to access my website.  Feel free to contact me for more information, or with any questions you may have about essential oils.  

encouragement · Food · Keto · Weight Loss · Wellness

Keto…Thus Far…

When I first changed over to the Ketogenic Diet, I did so purely on my own.  I didn’t have help, or anyone’s brain to pick about it.  I just had to sort of figure things out as I went.  A couple of months back, I posted a how-to article for those interested in this way of eating, aka “WOE.”  (You can access that article by clicking here.)  Since that time, I have had even more success with weight loss and health benefits from living a clean, ketogenic lifestyle.

I began this journey on March 8, 2017.  Since then I have lost 30 pounds, and I have shed 15 inches overall from my body.  I am still not quite to my goal size/weight, but I am well on my way (just 20 pounds shy of my official goal).  Along with the fat loss, I have experienced some desired results with my hormones and with my issues due to PCOS and Adenomyosis symptoms.  I am experiencing regular, and much lighter periods, with much less pain than ever before.  I feel like I am having somewhat “normal” periods for the first time in many, many years, I haven’t had a migraine since May, and the all-over shooting pain that I would have for two weeks of every month has completely disappeared from my life…and I know that this is all because of Keto…namely, the absence of wheat and grain from my diet!

Going Keto hasn’t been a seamless effort, as I have had to learn by trial and error, doing a ton of “Googling” in the midst of it all, but I do feel that I have finally got this thing mastered.  So, I wanted to just take a little time to share my victories, failures, and the lessons learned from all of it, with those of you who may be on a similar journey and could use some tips to help you along your way.

  1. Meals:  The most important part of this lifestyle is finding some easy, delicious, go-to recipes.  I have a Pinterest board dedicated solely to this WOE, and there are endless amount of Keto recipes, but I have a few that are tried and true that I am sharing below in the “links” with y’all today.  However, I do like to keep things as simple as I possibly can with meals.  The more complicated and stressful a “diet” is, the more likely we are to just give up on it, right?  So how do you keep it simple with Keto?  Two things:  meat and veggies.  Refer to your favorite Keto food list (click here to access mine), choose a meat and a few vegetables, and cook them up your favorite way.  I prefer tossing my veggies in some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, and oven roasting them until they are little crispy.  Sometimes I take them out a little early, grate some fresh parmesan or cheddar cheese on top and return them to to oven for the last 5 minutes or so.  Delicious…every time!  For meats, you can grill them, pan sear them, roast in the oven, slow cook in a crock pot…really just whatever suits your time-frame and your palate.  Figure out what works best for you and stick with it.  Be creative with herbs and spices too!  Don’t be afraid to season, season, season!  And don’t forget, butter is your friend (a pan seared steak with butter and herbs is a favorite around here)!
  2. Plateaus/Stalls:  Know this right now…and just go ahead and accept it…prepare for it…you WILL stall out from time to time.  I have had two or three periods of days and even weeks where I lost absolutely no weight whatsoever.  I have even fluctuated up to 7 pounds up then back down to my current low within a week.  This is why, even though weighing yourself is important and gives you a feel for what foods will make you retain water and feel bloated, you can’t always trust in the honesty of the scale.  It doesn’t always reflect your fat loss.  Keep eating within your macros, consume clean food choices, and stay active.  You will absolutely see results both on and off of the scale!  I promise!  There is something called a “whoosh” that takes place after a stall almost every time, and if you just hang on and trust the process, you will get your “whoosh” and feel that gratification you need to stay motivated!  (Click here to read more about this.)
  3. Intermittent Fasting:  I started practicing intermittent fasting to get over my first stall, and when I realized how easy it was for me to do, I decided to do it most days.  I have never been one to want to eat anything at all before lunch, and I have always hated feeling like I have to force myself to eat when I am not necessarily hungry yet, so this system works very well for me in my daily life.  However, if you are one that wakes up hungry, this may simply be a discipline that you will want to employ when you need to get past a hump in your weight loss journey.  Basically, you just stop eating for a 12-16 hour period of time and allow the remainder window of time for your calorie consumption for the entire day.  So, I take the last time that I ate in the evening, and I don’t eat for the next 12-16 hours.  It is quite easy to do, because this type of fast happens mostly when you are asleep overnight.  Anything over 50 calories will break a fast, so usually what I do each morning is have a cup of coffee with some heavy whipping cream in it (which is less than 50 calories).  That is all I need, plus lots of water, until I begin eating around noon or so.  For an even better explanation of IF, click here.
  4. Cheating:  I feel compelled to stress to you…DO NOT CHEAT!  It is almost never worth it.  It will most assuredly cause you gastrointestinal upset, bloating, water weight gain, lots of discouragement, and make you have some serious cravings for sugar and carbs!  However, let’s be honest and realistic here…cheating happens.  When it does, the best thing to do is get a good fast in, and jump back on the Keto train.  Don’t let it get you down…even if the scale goes up some.  It isn’t fat gain…just water.  Remember that.  Also please note:  IF YOU HAVE A REGULAR CHEAT DAY EACH WEEK YOU ARE NOT LIVING A KETO LIFESTYLE.  DON’T CLAIM IT IF YOU AREN’T GOING TO LIVE IT!!  JUST CONSIDER YOURSELF EATING LOW-CARB AND GO ON WITH YOUR LIFE.  Keto is short for “KETOSIS” and if you are cheating regularly, there is no possible way you are staying in Ketosis or becoming fat adapted.  Kinda defeats the purpose…don’t you think?
  5. Eating Out:  I’m here to tell it…eating at restaurants can be Keto friendly!  You just have to be careful about ingredients (less is more), and steer clear of foods that have sauces, rubs, and glazes.  Grilled meats (especially fish) are a safe bet, and a Caesar salad and/or some steamed or grilled veggies.  At a Mexican restaurant, a great option is fajitas.  Just make sure you tell them no beans, no rice, and no tortillas.  Get your fork and some hot sauce and dig in!
  6. Snacking:  People always ask me what I eat for snacks.  Truth be told, I don’t do a ton of snacking, but when I do get the yen for something between meals, or in the evenings, I have some favorites:
    • pork rinds dipped in sour cream or guacamole
    • uncured beef sticks, salami, ham, pepperoni (etc.)
    • dill pickles
    • full fat cheeses
    • roasted, salted almonds
    • peanut butter
    • berries
  7. NSVs:  Non-Scale Victories – events that make you feel confident and motivated…even when the scale isn’t moving.  Examples:  before and after pics, smaller clothing sizes, compliments, overcoming cravings, turning down junk at parties and such…  These victories are vital to your success, because the scale sometimes lies to us.  Make sure you share these NSVs with friends and family.  Give yourself those well-deserved pats on the back as often as you can!
  8. Recipe Links:

I would also like to link you over to my Keto pin board on Pinterest.  Click here to visit it.  There are tons more recipes that I have saved, as well as a lot of great Keto advice articles.  I am constantly adding to my board, so follow if you want.

Also, Stephanie (Nitty) and I (Gritty) had recently posted a blog detailing our successful endeavor into a few Keto recipes that looked good to us.  You can access that by clicking here.

I hope this update has been of some help, and (as always) feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about this way of life.  Also, like and share on social medias, please and thank you!

I am still on this journey of mine, so I am sure there will be more updates in the future.  So stay tuned!  Keto on!!

 

ALDI · Budgeting · Frugal · Grocery shopping · Keto · Wellness

Waste Not, Want Not

Ok, so I realize there’s a thousand different books, apps and guru’s out there for budgeting. That’s not where I’m going with this exactly. I just want to focus on how to stretch your grocery budget while eating whole, healthy food, how to use what you have and in the process have a healthy family.

First things first, I can’t express how much I LOVE ALDI. This is not a commercial for ALDI, but there’s no way to post this without going into detail about this great store. ALDI is a discount grocery store that offers organic, non-gmo, no artificial dyes, gluten free and no added msg products for the same price of “normal” products in a regular grocery store. The main way this store is able to offer all these “specialty” foods is by using their own brand of foods. They do not have to outsource brands, they set their prices and are not dictated by major food company’s price limits. 90 to 95% of the products offered in ALDI stores are their brand with limited items that are name brands. Now, I know all you brand loyal folks out there are about to stop reading and give up on this post, but wait don’t do it! I, like many of you have had my brands and products I am loyal to. Some things just cannot be duplicated or replaced. I completely get it. I’ve tried 20 kinds of steak sauce and there is only one for my family, A1 sauce has no rival in this house. However, almost everything else you can think of I have found at ALDI and it’s just as good if not better. I’m not kidding some of it is better than the national brands.

A few other ways ALDI is able to pass some price savings onto the customers are; they do not bag your groceries for you as well as they don’t have bags for your items either. You can purchase bags for $.06-.10 each depending on if you want paper or plastic bags. Most people though just bring reusable cloth bags from home and they have a bagging counter where you can bag up your groceries after checking out. Another way they are able to offer lower prices is the way the stock their shelves, it’s sort of like Sam’s club I guess, with products on the shelves still in boxes. Oh and the other big thing they do is, you have to have a quarter to get a cart. When you return your cart to the corral after shopping, you then get your quarter back! (I always have an ALDI quarter hidden in my console where my kids can’t find it.


Now, I didn’t jump in with both feet, into this ALDI place. The first two times I went, I was leery of their brand so I kinda just dabbled some and tried a few items to see how I liked them. Low and behold by week 3 of shopping there, 85% of my groceries were coming from ALDI. We are a larger family (not huge), I cook about 6 dinners a week not including breakfasts and lunches. Before switching to ALDI our monthly grocery spending had reached an all time high of $750-800 per month. GASP!!!! When I realized this from my check register I about had a cow! I currently work very part-time in order to care for our children and ensure the quality of family life we desire. So, this large monthly expense was my motivation for change. After going to ALDI for the last year, my new average per month on groceries is $400-$450 per month. That’s $350-400 each month that I’m saving!! Ya’ll that’s a part-time job in itself!!  Not to mention I have a ton of healthy food in my fridge and pantry, that meets all the special needs of our diets.

Food price was not my only reason for trying ALDI, I had read about all the other great features as mentioned earlier that ALDI offers. In our family we have one child extremely sensitive to red dye, another who is very sensitive to gluten, another family member allergic to msg and I myself have to be gluten and gain-free as well as low carb. Guys, I tell ya being able to buy “cheetos”, cereal and even yogurt without having to constantly check for red dye is a brain saver, not to mention I have a happy child for sure. There is also a very tasty and affordable gluten free line of products for my gluten free kiddo, who is happy to be able to eat pizza, crackers and bread again. None of ALDI’s brands have added msg either. I’m starting to think this store was made for us! As for me and my gf, grain-free low carb way of eating, the very affordable produce, dairy, nuts and meat make it a no brainer as to why they are great for me.

Alright, now that my ALDI plug is done I need to spend some time on the importance of regular consistent cooking. What it costs on average for one to one and a half kids meals you can feed your entire family. For our family to eat at Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s it generally costs about $25. That’s being as frugal as possible while trying to meet our diet needs. Now, for our family to eat a home cooked meal, which I know is better tasting and more nutritious, it only cost our family $5.59. This meal was grilled Chicken wings ($3.74), green beans($.65) and seasoned veggies ($1.20) on the grill. On average our meals cost about $4.50-7.50 per meal. Whether you shop at ALDI or not this price difference between eating out and home cooked is still going to be significant. Let’s also not forget about leftovers. I can feel some of you cringing…..yes I said it….LEFTOVERS. Leftovers can be used for lunches, late night snacks and even another dinner. Some weeks we have a night of leftover smorgasbord. Other options are to use leftover chicken and beef to make soups, chicken and dumplings or to use as sandwich meat. Another habit in our house is we do not throw away fruit. If it seems as though all the bananas aren’t going to get eaten before getting overly ripe, we pop them suckers in the freezer. Most of our frozen fruit goes into making fresh cool smoothies that my kiddos freak over. One of the household favorites that I do is make homemade croutons from our leftover buns, heels and bread. They’re super simple and fast, not to mention delish. Plus, my gluten free kiddo gets croutons made from the heels of his gf bread. There are so many ways to be frugal, you just have to get creative sometimes. For instance, if there is a week or two in the summer and ice cream or popsicles are a little on the expensive side, I will check the price of the yogurt tubes (they’re generally cheaper). I freeze these for yogurt pops for the kids. I do realize that some of these ideas may seem time consuming, but so is having to pickup another day of work each week to make up for these money saving ideas. There are numerous other things you can do, but the main thing to do is to sit back and analyze your family’s needs and habits and look to see where you can be less wasteful and “recycle” so to speak the foods you all are eating.

I hope this information and these ideas help to spur even more money saving ideas for you and your family! So, don’t turn away from a new store just because it’s different or weird at first. I promise, the savings and quality are worth it. Before you know it, you’ll be walking around your old grocery store mumbling to yourself “How did I ever pay this much for these?”

DIY · Essential Oils · Skin Care · Wellness

Let’s Talk About Skin, Baby: Part 1

Skin is an incredible thing.  For starters, it’s an organ!  In fact, it’s the largest organ in (or on, rather) the human body.  It accounts for about 15% of your total body weight, and every 28 days, your skin actually renews itself!  Wow, that’s truly amazing!!

Even though it is located on the outside of your body, you should still be very careful of how you treat your skin.  It isn’t just a protective covering.  Though it does renew and regenerate, your skin is still a very delicate part of your body.  You can do permanent damage to it if you don’t take care of it, and that permanent damage can not only harm your self-esteem, but it can also cause other health issues (infections, skin cancer, and nerve damage, just to name a few).

So I just wanted to share a few things with you that I have learned about my own skin — issues I’ve dealt with and how I dealt with them.  This will be a multi-part series of posts (probably just two…maybe three), because of the huge amount of information that there is on this important topic.  So please stay tuned for more!  So, let’s jump in!

I love lists, and I think they make for easier and more efficient reading of informational texts, so I’ve made a list that will hopefully be easy for you to scan through to the things that apply to you or someone that you know.

I’m going to begin with the most aggravating skin condition of all (at least, it is to me):  acne.

  1. Acne:  I didn’t encounter this issue until I was WELL into my adult years.  Mine was caused by PCOS (Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome).  I had never dealt with this as a teenager, so I didn’t know what to do about it!  It was very humiliating to me, to have so many pimples.  It was never truly severe for me, thank goodness, but the bumps were very large and very painful — wounding both my pride and my skin.  A lot of what I have learned about treating acne at home has been by trial and error.
    • Causes: oil production, dead skin cells, clogged pores, hormones, medications, diet, and stress
    • Remedies:  (These are remedies that I have tried and tested that have worked for me.  I am not going to guarantee that any of them will work for you, but I will never share something that hasn’t had a positive impact on my life.)
      • Green Tea/Honey Mask:  (I use this concoction at least twice a week to exfoliate, soften, clarify, and purify my skin and its pores.  It can be used anywhere on your body that you are having problems.  I love this mask because it makes an immediate difference in the way your skin looks and feels.)
        1. Brew a cup of green tea and let it cool.
        2. Mix a couple tablespoons of the tea with some honey, some sugar, and some apple cider vinegar (ACV) to make a thick paste.  I just keep adding the ingredients until I’m happy with the consistency and then slather it on thick, massaging into the skin as I go.
        3. Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.
      • Essential Oils:  (I use DoTerra brand, because it’s the only brand I’ve ever used and they have done wonders for my skin and overall health in many different ways.  Click here to visit Stephanie’s DoTerra site for ordering and/or more information about these glorious oils.)
        1. Acne Roller Ball:  (I use this on breakouts every time I wash my face…before moisturizer.)
          • 10 drops melaleuca
          • 10 drop lavender
          • 5 drops lemongrass
          • 5 drops frankincense
          • 6 drops rosemary
          • fill remainder of bottle with fractionated coconut oil (FCO) – this is just a carrier oil that dilutes the oils and makes application easier
        2. OnGuard:  This is a DoTerra blend that contains wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils.  It has many uses, and is not typically used for acne treatment, however it is recommended for inflammation, so I had the bright idea to put it directly on blemishes and it works beautifully!  I don’t dilute it with any FCO (fractionated coconut oil).  I just put a drop of it on my finger and dab away.  It almost immediately takes out redness and swelling, and within a day the zit is basically gone.  LOVE IT.
        3. Skin Soothing Essential Oil Cream:  This is a blend of essential oils that is mixed with equal parts raw coconut oil and organic shea butter.  It is highly moisturizing and is perfect to slather on at night.  Plus, it smells divine.  It feels like a small luxury to me when I use it.  I use it on my face, as well as on other areas of my body with problem skin…even my feet.   To make, simply add the following oils to the coconut oil and shea butter.  (It’s a good idea to slightly warm both before adding the essential oils for easier mixing.):
          • 5 drops geranium
          • 4 drops lavender
          • 2 drops myrhh
          • 3 drops cypress
          • 5 drops franincense
      • Washing and Moisturizing:  Lipids are very important.  They are what keep the outer layer of your skin moist and healthy.  When you use harsh chemicals on your skin, you strip away these lipids causing dryness.  Your skin will, in turn, begin to go into overdrive trying to re-hydrate itself by creating excess oils.  When these excess oils mix with dead and dry skin cells in your hair follicles, they create a nice little breeding ground for bacteria, thus causing breakouts of acne.  So, make sure you are using a mild soap to remove dirt and makeup.  I like to use a Castile soap because I know it will be pure, having very few ingredients and zero harsh chemicals.  Dove Soap, white beauty bar, is also an excellent choice that is dermatologist recommended.  Unless you have been sweating or have to remove makeup, don’t bother with using any soap — warm water will open up your pores and cleanse your skin in the mornings.  Also, always moisturize while your skin is still slightly damp.  Moisturizing is KEY to acne prevention!  I promise!!  Just make sure that you are using a light, mild moisturizer that will not clog your pores.
      • Diet:  It has been argued back and forth for years and years about whether or not what you eat affects the condition of your skin.  While some of the information is based on myth (like the indication that oily and fatty foods cause acne), it is true that diet does, in fact, play a large role in what your skin looks like.  Your diet affects your hormones, which in turn can cause acne.  If you are having trouble with your skin, I would suggest cutting back on sugar and carbs.  Increase your fiber and your healthy fats, and limit your dairy.  Also, spring for the organic and grass-fed food items.  The extra hormones that are pumped into the cheaper foods are absolutely TERRIBLE for your skin and just for your overall health.  And as far as fats go, they are actually fantastic for your skin.  As I said earlier, keeping your skin’s oil production at a steady level is ideal.  You want your body to produce those natural moisturizers.  A few months back, I was having a very rough time with my hormones due to my PCOS.  My skin was constantly broken out in acne, and one of the things that I decided to do was to go on the Ketogenic Diet.  I began this way of eating back in March, and my skin has cleared up wonderfully.  There is a lot of information out there about this diet, and I will post a link below to a previous blog I wrote about it if you want to learn more.  It is basically a low carb, high fat way of eating that helps control your insulin levels and helps your body learn to burn fat stores.  It also has many other health benefits, one of which is healthier skin.
      • Informational Links:
        1. DoTerra Essential Oils (distributor:  Stephanie Williams – aka – “Nitty”):  You can find out more about essential oils and/or how to order them here.  Just click the link above!
        2. That Weird Keto Thing (link to an earlier post that I wrote about The Ketogenic Diet)
        3. The Mayo Clinic – Acne Basics (this is an excellent source of information about causes, risk factors, and myths to help you make informed decisions about skin care, per expert doctors)

So that concludes my spiel on the dilemma that is acne!  I speak from personal experience, and while not everyone’s skin is exactly the same and may not react to products in the same ways, much of what I have shared here is mild enough to be universally helpful.  As always, feel free to contact Nitty & Gritty with an email or a comment!  Thanks for reading, and I hope what I’ve written has been of some help to you.  I will continue this series in two weeks with the next few items on my list of skin woes including:  Eczema, Shingles, Aging Skin, and Sensitive Skin/Sunburn.  So stay tuned for more…

Keto · Weight Loss · Wellness

That Weird Keto Thing

I have been flooded with questions over the last couple of months about it, so I wanted to take a few minutes of your time to share a little about Keto and how it has changed (and is currently changing) my life.  So, for those of you who are intrigued, I have answered a few questions, and shared some of my own insights and tidbits, in hopes that the information will better explain this thing that has made such a huge difference in my personal journey to better health.

  1. What the heck is Keto?

“Keto” is short for “ketogenic.”  It is an alternative way of eating (WOE) that can and will reverse many negative health issues, many of which are either a result of weight gain or the cause of weight gain.  The Ketogenic Diet (I hesitate to even call it a diet, but that’s the official title of this WOE) is a diet that tends to promote the metabolic formation of ketone bodies by causing the body to use fat (rather than carbohydrates) as its principal energy source.  In short, you are eating in a way that will cause your body to begin to burn through its fat stores, resulting in successful loss of body fat.  This WOE is basically the elimination of most carbs and sugars from your diet.  It is recommended that you keep track of your nutrients in order to maintain your desired protein, carbohydrate, and fat levels.  I use the Lose It! app (which is FREE) on my smart phone.  Below is a picture of my macros nutrients on a good day (and yes, I have had my bad days for sure):

macros

This is helpful to do, especially at first when you are getting used to the changes you are making, but it isn’t necessary in order to be successful.  As long as you keep those carbs and sugars super low, you’ll see results.  

  1. Why do I do Keto?

Over the past several years, I have been in quite a battle with my hormones due to a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  I was first diagnosed with this problem in 2013, but I suffered with its symptoms far earlier than that.

Ever since I was about 26 (I am now 36), I have dealt with the adverse effects of PCOS.  Some of the oppressive things that I have endured are:  excess facial hair (yep…I’m talking about whiskers…yuck), cystic acne, secondary infertility, debilitating and irregular periods, migraines and cluster headaches, fatigueextreme mood swings due to Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), and weight gain — all of which have been a huge blow not only to my self-esteem and confidence, but also to my ability to lead a healthy life.

I tried taking continuous birth control, which was recommended by my doctor.  I did that for about a year, and at first it really seemed to be the answer.  I stopped having periods altogether, my skin cleared up, and I felt like myself again.  But after about 6 months, I began to notice things that did not make me happy at all.  The mood swings returned and were worse than ever.  I also picked up about 25 pounds, which made me feel even worse.  I decided to endure and give it an entire year, but I just felt worse and worse.  So I decided to come off of the hormones, attempting to just grin and bear it.  From that point, I just let myself hover in maintenance mode…and my skin was a wreck (I had perfect skin as a teenager, so this was very difficult for me)!  It had really become quite the helpless situation for me, because I seem to have tried just about everything that I could…barring a complete hysterectomy (which my doctor does not want to do before I turn 40).

Well, if you know me, then you have probably come to realize that I am somewhat of a control freak.  I don’t like feeling helpless and out of control.  I am proactive and independent, so helplessness is misery for me!  Well, after about 2 years of being in this misery, I decided I was done!  I logged into Pinterest and began searching for information on how to naturally heal PCOS.  Over and over, this Keto thing kept popping up.  So, being the curious cat that I am, I started reading about it.  Everything I read seemed to say the same thing:  a Keto diet can heal your body.  So, about 2 months ago, I decided to go for it.  For me, it was worth the try…and it has been life-changing, as I have said already!

  1. My results so far:
  • Clearer skin!
  • Way less whiskers!
  • 14 pounds GONE!
  • No more stomach issues, bloating, migraines, body aches, sluggishness, brain fog, extreme mood swings! (This excludes the few times that I have “cheated” and suffered the consequences. I do NOT recommend cheating…ever!)
  • Confidence!
  1. Is Keto safe?

If you are a diabetic on medication, pregnant and/or breastfeeding, or if you are on medication(s) for mental health, cholesterol or blood pressure, you should talk to your doctor about making any extreme dietary changes.

If you are simply overweight, or dealing with issues that are not being treated regularly by a physician and medication, then it is perfectly safe and will most likely begin to heal your body from the inside out!

  1. What Keto can do for you:
  • weight loss
  • reverse Type 2 Diabetes
  • increase mental clarity and focus
  • better physical endurance and stamina
  • control of Epilepsy
  • lower blood pressure
  • reduce or eliminate acne
  • calm gastrointestinal upset and digestive issues
  • no more sugar cravings
  • reverse PCOS
  • less migraines (if any at all)
  1. Tips on how to get started and be successful with Keto:
  • Just start. Don’t stress over making some huge grocery list and buying everything you need in one go.  Just go with what you can, and KEEP IT SIMPLE!
  • Be prepared for “Negative Nellies.”  Many people cannot wrap their brains around this WOE.  They  have been brainwashed into thinking that fat is bad.  Just nod and smile…and Keto on!
  • Never eat anything that says “Low Fat” on the label!  It will be chock full of sugar and other harmful fillers.
  • Buy grass-fed and organic meats as much as possible.  There truly is a taste difference.
  • DO NOT DRINK DIET SODA!!!!  That stuff is poison!  Stick with water, sparkling water, coffee, and unsweetened teas.
  • Find a sweetener that you like:  Stevia, Monkfruit, Swerve, and Erythritol are the best ones on the market, and they are all natural.  My personal favorite is Monkfruit in the Raw.
  • Weigh yourself and take your measurements (I do bust, waist, hips, upper arms, thighs and calves) once a week. Make sure you weigh first thing in the morning, after you go to the bathroom, wearing no clothes.  (I admittedly weigh myself obsessively, which is not the best idea, but I do anyway…because I’m obsessed!) Record it weekly.  If you keep track of your progress this way, it will help keep you motivated, and you’ll also be quicker to notice when you stall and need to make some more changes.
  • Keep your carbs between 20-30 grams a day.  Don’t stress over the fat and protein so much, as long as you are consuming fats when you get hungry.  Save protein and carbs for meals!
  • DRINK WATER!!!  (Lots of it!  ‘Nuff said!)
  • Keto-friendly foods:

keto food list

  • A few must-haves
    • Coconut Oil – Virgin, Unrefined (I buy Spectrum brand):coconut oil
    •  MCT Oil (I use Wild brand, which I ordered on Amazon):mct oil
    • Grass-fed Butter (It is pricier than regular old butter, but Kerrygold is the butter to beat them all!  Irish butter that you can eat on it’s own…nothing like it!  You can get this anywhere, too):  kerrygold
    •  Eggs, Avocados, Bacon (uncured is best), Cream and Cottage Cheeses (always full fat), Heavy Whipping Cream (for recipes galore, and for a creamy addition to an afternoon cup of coffee), Peanut Butter (technically, peanuts are not recommended, but I love it and I keep it to a minimum.  It hasn’t stopped my progress at all, and it’s a great way for me to get a quick snack!  Other nut butters are a great option as well.), Pork Skins (plain are best…be careful of hidden sugars in the flavored ones – Kroger and Aldi brands do not have added sugars), and Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt (great as a dip for veggies or pork rinds, or to throw some berries in for something sweet from time to time).
    • If you are a coffee drinker, I suggest looking into drinking Bullet Proof Coffee (BPC) in the mornings.  You simply brew your favorite coffee (I recommend Caribou,  Seattle’s Best, or Starbucks – medium roast), throw it in a blender with a Tbsp, each of Coconut Oil, MCT Oil, and Grass-fed Butter, and blend until foamy.  This is an excellent way to boost brain activity and kick-start your energy levels.  Plus, it gets some of those healthy fats in first thing each day.  It sounds weird, but it tastes a lot like a creamy latte.
    • If you are a dark chocolate lover, I have found two kinds of dark chocolate that are Keto friendly and have smooth flavor: Lindt Excellence 90% Cocoa  (this one you can find most anywhere) and Moser Roth Premium 85% Cocoa (you can find this one at Aldi stores).

lindtmoser roth

  • Ketone Test Strips (I ordered mine on Amazon, but you can find them at most   pharmacies and grocers). These are used to check your ketone levels from time to   time just to help make sure you’re on track.  This is what a test strip should look like when you’re in  ketosis:

ketones

  • A Good Digital Scale (I prefer digital because it’s easy to read.)
  • A Measuring Tape (Just a simple seamstress tape works best.  Don’t use the metal ones!  Ouch!)
  1. Support (Helpful Links): (the titles below are links…so just click on them)
  • The Diet Doctor: This website was my introduction to Keto and is what helped me get started.  Take some time to pay it a visit!
  • My Pinterest “Ketogenic Diet” Board: This a compilation of recipes and helpful blogs/websites that I have found via Pinterest.  Have fun perusing it all.  I have tried many of the recipes and will continue to test them out over the coming months.  (I’ll be posting about them!)
  • “Adapting to Keto” Facebook Group: A friend recommended this group to me, and I am so grateful because it has been a source of endless support and encouragement from people who are also just trying to better themselves.  We share recipes, tips, successes, failures, and tons of before/after pics…all of which are very inspiring!

For now, I think this just about covers the basics of Keto.  I hope this post has been helpful to some of you.  I am sure I’ve left some things out, as there is a lot that I have learned in the past few months!  However, I will continue to make posts about my progress and the new things that I find and learn on my journey…so stay tuned!  Feel free to ask me anything, and I will find your answer!  Also, please do me a solid and share…share…SHARE!  And, as always, Keto on, y’all!  God Bless!