Tag Archives: energy

How I Healed my immune system & quit getting sick. Part One

This is the first in an 8-part journey toward a healthier immune system and a healthier you. Getting healthy was what led me to go back to school to become a certified health coach. I love helping people see that it doesn’t have to be complicated, and they don’t have to change everything at once. Focus on a couple of small things a month and, one step at a time, you’ll begin to ache less, have more energy, be more focused … and your immune system will be doing a happy dance!

In my experience, no one journey is the same. Test ideas and if they don’t work, we can look for another solution.

Part One: I Fed the Critters in My Gut the Food They Thrive On

I used to have horrible allergies and caught colds and bronchitis regularly. I’ve even had pneumonia a few times. Now? I can’t remember when the last cold was, but it didn’t sink into my chest leaving me gasping for air, coughing, wheezing, sweating one minute and chills the next. And, it was gone in two days!

Allergies? I occasionally get itchy eyes and sneeze, but no wheezing or asthma in years! The eye thing tends to happen when one of my neighbors uses fabric softener sheets. I still have issues with perfumes and chemicals, but I don’t think that’s an over-reactive immune system, rather a healthy one … it knows those chemicals are bad for us!

Add in to crowd out! The founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Joshua Rosenthal, has taught this concept since 1992, long before the explosion of interest in wellness went mainstream. That’s where I went to school and learned the concept.

Americans really do love junk food and that makes it hard to stick to a healthy plan. Everywhere you look there’s a decadent photograph of unhealthy food!

So, instead of changing everything at once, choose to go slow and start by adding in one thing that’s good for you. You might try adding in an apple. (I love a good Gala!) Think about how happy you’ll make your body when you toss in the thousands of eensy teensy micronutrients in that apple … I guarantee you’re not getting them in your multivitamin!

Want to take it to the next level? Eat a handful of nuts with the apple. Whoa! Now, you’ve created an amazing burst of nutrition the likes of which have been unknown to your cells! Clean protein! Healthy fat! Fiber!!! Your microbiome will be feasting!

Microbiome is the term for the trillions of bacteria, bacteriophage, fungi, protozoa and viruses that live in your gut. Keep in mind that there is a well-orchestrated balance of good guys and bad guys in your microbiome. The good guys love the nutrients and fiber from plants, and we want a LOT of the good guys!

Overly processed and chemically-laden foods (artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and a ton of other additives) do NOT support healthy gut flora.

How does this impact your immune system? Your gut, and its critters, is the seat of your immune system’s soul. By feeding it with clean, real food you are making your immune system happy by supporting the good guys and challenging the bad ones.

A happy immune system is much more likely to step up and do its job of recognizing and destroying intruders. Rather than focus on ‘boosting’ your immune system, it’s helpful to think of it as bringing into balance. You don’t want an over- or under-reactive immune system. In one case it unleashes a defense system that attacks your own healthy cells (autoimmune), pollen or peanuts (for example). In the case of an under-reactive system, not much of a defense is launched and we catch colds, bronchitis, strep, pneumonia, etc.

Back to ‘adding in.’ Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the key. Different varieties of plants feed different critters. Some might like the hundreds or thousands of nutrients in an apple and others the nutrients in strawberries or blueberries. Spinach might feed one type, while celery feeds another. The fiber in raspberries may be the perfect food for that little guy in the corner.

Here are some ideas for how to add in good food:

  • Have a tray of veggies with dip out on the table while preparing dinner. It’s the only thing you and the family can munch on before dinner.  Have celery and carrot sticks, cauliflower and broccoli, cherry tomatoes and radishes already washed and sliced. You can also have dips such as guacamole or salsa … even ranch.
  • When you cook at home more often you control the quality of ingredients. Notice I said more, not exclusively.
  • If you don’t know how to cook, try borrowing a kid’s cookbook from the library. They have great basics! Chop! Chop! is a great magazine that is designed for families to learn how to cook healthy foods. Check it out! chopchopfamily.org
  • Try the nuts and fruit above instead of a candy bar. I know the feeling when the vending machine starts calling my name … having raisins and nuts nearby can make all the difference whether it’s in your desk drawer, purse, or the console of your car.
  • A quick run through the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken and salad is a better choice than burgers or tacos from a fast food restaurant. Try adding something you’ve never eaten before to the salad. Oh, come on … Just put a bit on the side!

So much of the time, articles about eating healthy remark on how expensive it can be. It’s true that a burrito from Amy’s is more expensive than a Hot Pocket, but when you learn how to prepare simple things yourself, you cut the cost drastically.

Beans and whole grains are cheap. Buy organic from the dirty dozen list and buy the clean fifteen conventionally. Be aware that the list changes from year to year, so check back occasionally.

Give your immune system the nutrition it needs by adding in something healthy every week or month and crowding out the things that disrupt it. You will be on the way to creating the next best version of yourself … All painlessly and one step at a time!

If you’d like more ideas on how to add in the good stuff and crowd out the bad, check out my book, No Kale Required: Healthy Eating Ideas for the Rest of Us.

If you’d like to arrange a free health conversation, click here, or fill out the contact me at the top of the page.

If you like what you see, please share. THANKS!!

Stress-Free Journaling Part 2: Time & Place … Don’t Forget the Coffee!

It might take a few tries before you find the right time and place for your journaling experience. Don’t give up if you don’t get it right the first time. Try something different.

Originally I tried journaling at night after the rush of the day and evening were over. I thought this would be a fantastic time to reflect on the day and prepare for the next. Wrong! I fell asleep every time. I picked myself up, dusted myself off, (actually I woke myself up and wiped the drool from my face) and brilliantly determined that nighttime journaling wasn’t my thing.

I began setting my alarm 30 minutes earlier and found that it worked. I had to make a few adjustments in my morning schedule, but it was worth it. Now I set my alarm even earlier because I love not feeling rushed when I am writing about something. On the days that I don’t need an hour I get to read the paper more leisurely or putter around the house. (Rising earlier worked so well for me that I added a 20-minute workout into my morning as well. Apparently I’m a morning person … Who knew?)

I have a friend that stops at a coffee shop on her way home from work and journals there. She couldn’t get the quiet time she needed at home so she found a time and place that worked for her. On days when that doesn’t work she’s often able to fit her coffee shop journaling in between dropping her son off at an activity and picking him up. These are great ideas for parents, or if you live with roommates or pesky spouses.

I sit in a comfortable chair with wide arms that sits in a corner between two windows. I use a lap desk to write on. The arm of the chair is perfect for my morning cup of coffee!

My favorite pen feels incredibly smooth when I write and fits comfortably in my hand. Take some time to find that perfect pen—it feels like a wonderful gift whether it costs $3 or $50. My only advice is to fall in love with a refillable pen because if you get going on journaling, you’ll go through a lot of ink and think of the landfill space you’ll save if you’re only tossing refills!

When I started journaling I used spiral notebooks that I bought at the beginning of the school year for around fifty cents. Now I use a nicer spiral notebook that costs around $3. I went nicer because … well … I like them and they are 100% recycled paper with really cute covers. They are made by New Leaf Paper Products and I found them at Office Depot.

Note to dog owners: Bring the dogs into the room with you if no one else is at home or awake. I entice mine with a couple of biscuits and it’s now a daily habit they look forward to. They hear me get a biscuit in the morning and they head for the journal room. I put a gate across the door so that they don’t wander around and bark at people out on their early morning walks. Ahhh … quiet! (I have to admit that their puppy-dog stares interrupt my thought processes occasionally … those big brown eyes looking up at me beseechingly … “just one more biscuit … pleeeeeeese?”)

So, to wrap it up:

  • Find a time and a place that works for you
  • Treat yourself to a ‘refillable’ pen that is a joy to write with
  • Find paper you like, and
  • Write on!

At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition we’re taught that food isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to feeding your body. We’re taught that self-care, relationships, spirituality, movement and career are equally important. Using a journal is a form of self-care that will give you insight into the other elements of your life from whether or not your career is bringing you up or your relationship bringing you down, or if you are using food to nourish your body of fend off boredom.

If you’d like help setting goals and learning to nourish yourself to lose weight, gain energy, sleep better … feel better, visit my website  HealthWorksKC.com


Next up:
Easy-Does-It Journaling #3:
Can’t get the words flowing?