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!!

 

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!