Which came first: hormonal imbalance or Ulcerative Colitis?

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I have been wondering about this “chicken or the egg” question for a long time – which REALLY came first: my hormonal imbalances or my Ulcerative Colitis?  Or were both issues stewing in my system for years and feeding off of each other? I’m highly intrigued by the possible correlation between my out-of-whack hormones and my UC diagnosis., and have done a decent bit of research on the topic.  In addition, I plan to start myself on a “Healthy Hormone” Supplement Plan courtesy of The Hormone Diet by Natasha Turner, ND, and will outline below the supplements I plan to take as suggested in the book for my specific* hormonal issues.

*My supplement plan is NOT for everyone – the book outlines really great HOLISTIC supplement/diet/lifestyle suggestions for ALL hormonal imbalances, so it’s definitely worth a read for yourself if your hormone issues vary greatly from mine.

When I was 15, I found out I had excess testosterone through a blood test and was put on birth control for 7 years.  I stopped taking birth control a little over a year ago, because I was tired of putting yet another drug in my body everyday (9 pills a day for my UC was enough, thank you), and since then my issues have slowly returned.  I currently have mild acne, darker hair growth on my body/chin/cheeks and breast reduction – all signs of excess testosterone or excess androgen in females.  Not to mention, I seem to have “flare-ups” around the same time as my periods which are not regular.

No connection? I think not…

Realizing that my hormonal problems had not been fixed, but just masked by birth control, and remembering the strides I’d made with treating my Ulcerative Colitis with diet, supplements and lifestyle changes, I dove into research about how to naturally regulate my hormones and have learned some pretty encouraging information, the most important of which is that:

Systemic Inflammation is the underlying cause of most hormonal imbalances, as well as autoimmune diseases! 

Natasha Turner, author of The Hormone Diet, created the hormonal “Treatment Pyramid”, which outlines how inflammation can lead to a host of other hormonal imbalances (click on the “Treatment Pyramid” link for a photo of the pyramid), and should be the first issue to be addressed before correcting the rest of your hormonal imbalances.  All this time I was thinking I needed to simply lower my testosterone, where as inflammation could be at the root of the problem…

Here are the basics of the “Treatment Pyramid” / Hormonal Imbalances, starting from the base:

3.  “Stress and Anti-Stress Hormones” (in order of Importance):  A) Low Cortisol  B)  Low DHEA

4.  “Sex Hormones” (in order of Importance) :  A) Excess Estrogen  B)  Low Estrogen  C)  Low Progesterone                             D)  Excess Progesterone  E)  Low Testosterone  F) Excess Testosterone

5.  “Metabolism”: Low Thyroid

6.  “Renewal” (in order of Importance):  A)  Low Acetylcholine  B)  Low Melatonin

7.  “Strength”  Low Growth Hormone

I actually found by taking the hormonal imbalance test in the book that I have multiple imbalances – Inflammation, Excess Insulin, Low Serotonin, Low GABA, Excess Cortisol, Excess Testosterone and Low Thyroid.  Damn – that’s a lot of problems.  As Turner suggests, I am going to start by treating the inflammation and if that doesn’t work, move on to treating the next imbalance (for me, it will be Excess Insulin) and so on.  My current diet of no grains, no dairy and low sugar to treat/heal my Ulcerative Colitis has already begun to help me regulate my insulin levels.

Erika’s Hormonal Balance Supplement Plan:

General Supplements and doses for ALL people regardless of hormonal imbalance:

  • Probiotic – I use one specifically for Colon Health, but there are lots of great options out there
  • High Quality Multivitamin containing 800-1,000 IU of Vitamin D3, Iron and Folic Acid (important for women of reproductive age)
  • Omega 3 Fish Oil High in DHA – 2 to 4 grams a day with meals
  • Calcium-Magnesium in a Citrate base with Vitamin D3

Supplements for Specific Hormonal Imbalances (I’m going to start with treating my inflammation and then move on to the next hormone levels if need be:

1st – Inflammation – (Pyramid Base)

  • Turmeric – also supports liver function and detox – 500 – 1,500 mg/day on empty stomach
  • Organic Green Tea – 2 to 3 times a day in tea form or capsule form

2nd – Excess Insulin –

  • CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) – has anti-inflammatory properties – take 1,500 mg 2x/day with food for 3 months – “conjulite form”

3rd – Low Serotonin –

  • 5HTP – 50 – 400 mg/day – divide in 2 throughout the day or take whole does at bedtime

4th – Low GABA –

  • GABA – 500 to 2,000 mg 1-2 hours before bed
  • also helpful to regulate GABA is getting more regular sleep and practicing yoga!

5th – Excess Cortisol –

  • Vitamin C (lots of it!) – 2,000 – 6,000 mg spread throughout the day – should contain bioflavonoids

6th – Excess Testosterone –

  • Saw Palmetto 160 mg 2x/day on empty stomach
  • supplements taken for Excess Insulin and Excess Cortisol can regulate testosterone also!

I’m truly hoping to NOT need to take all of these – but it feels SO good to have a clear-cut plan to begin to deal with hormonal problems that have been plaguing me my whole life.  It would be such an awesome plus if my Ulcerative Colitis followed suit and responds to the reduction in inflammation.

I’ll be sure to post updates about my progress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

instead of wallowing in my pity, I decided to dive into some research to learn how I could naturally reset my hormones.

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AIP-Friendly Goodies – “soft serve” and cake-cookies

So – I like sweet things – like alot, a lot.

I don’t remember EVER having as much of a sweet tooth as I do currently and ever since going Paleo just under a year ago.  I used to crave cheese, carbs – in college I had pasta almost every day!! – but never really sweets.  Sure, I rarely turned them down either, but I literally could not say no to a plate of pasta.  Sweets I could have lived without.

Then things changed.  I could care less about cheese and pasta now – again, SURE, I miss them both from time to time but I don’t long for them.  What I do long for most days is just a simple cookie or two that won’t break my AIP diet, or any baked good really! …..

So, I’ve realized that I experiment the most with AIP dessert recipes and find that I spend most of my lunch hour browsing the AIP dessert section of Pinterest – follow my AIP Board, I post at least one new recipe I want to try almost every day – and Chowstalker’s AIP recipes, and actually get giddy thinking about baking when I get home from work.  I admit that baking with coconut flour is hard and that many of my attempts have fizzled into mostly almost-burnt-to-a-crisp cookies that crumble (and not in a good way) once they’ve cooled.  And since removing eggs and nuts from my diet about 3 weeks ago, baking while sticking to my diet became about 10 times harder.  But for now, I’m taking it as a challenge, not a negative, and have recently come up with two really yummy and easy AIP friendly treats!  I’m still working on the recipes for both, but I didn’t want to wait to share them, so here they are:

Creamy Banana Berry “soft Serve”

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First of all, sorry for the shadowy pictures – I am no photographer, that’s for sure!

So, this is, like, the easiest thing ever to make – and it’s almost like its simplicity makes it that much more delicious!  I walked around my house eating this creamy and cold dessert going “mmmm” after every bite.  The texture is perfect and the recipe leaves room for SO many different flavor combinations, you’ll never get bored!  It’s best if eaten right away but can be frozen – it will just need to thaw a bit on the counter or more quickly in the microwave to regain its creamy texture.

I used my Nutribullet to make this treat, but a blender or food processor would work just fine.  I’m still currently saving up for a good food processor, so the “‘bullet” was a good second choice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized frozen bananas cut into chunks
  • at least 3/4 cup of frozen blueberries and/or strawberries, plus a handful to top/mix into your “yogurt” if desired
  • the fat/crème from 1 can full fat coconut milk (I used Taste of Thai which I can find for pretty cheap at my local Walmart)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Add all the ingredients into your Nutribullet, blender or food processor and mix/pulse until smooth.  Using the bullet I had to pulse mine a couple times and shake the mixing cup once or twice since the mixture was pretty thick.  If you want a thinner texture add a teaspoon or two of the coconut milk left in the can after scooping out the fat (clear or milky liquid), and if you want a thicker texture, add more banana or try a couple of ice cubes and pulse until well mixed.  The mixture should have the texture of soft serve – hence it’s name!  As you will notice, I didn’t add any additional sweetener, but a little honey, coconut sugar or maple syrup would be nice!!  Once warmer weather is here to stay, i’ll be pouring this mixture into some popsicle molds for a quick treat!

To make something similar to a “Dairy Queen Blizzard” (especially in time for summer!), add some crunch and texture to your “soft serve” with the following diet-appropriate suggestions:

For AIP –

For Regular Paleo (less restrictive than AIP):

Hand-mixed Pumpkin Banana “Cake Cookies”

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Now THESE little beauties I am proud of – especially because I just threw the ingredients in a bowl and told myself I was going to eat them however they tasted.  Well – I actually ate TOO MANY of them because they were so good…Coconut flour has a lot of inulin fiber which can aggrevate some GI conditions like Ulcaertaive Colitis.  So, just a precaution, limit your self to a couple of these a day, don’t eat the whole batch in one day like I did!  I got carried away…with pride…

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed
  • about 1/3 can of pumpkin puree (I use the Aldi’s brand – no additives and it’s cheap)
  • 4-5 tablespoons of coconut flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons of arrowroot flour
  • 1 and 1/2 tsps. baking soda
  • cinnamon – it’s your call on the amount – I added some into the batter and sprinkled some on top of the cookies before I put them in the over.  I REALLY like cinnamon.
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
  • about 1 tbsp coconut oil, softened but not melted
  • 1-2 tbsp. of preferred natural sweetener – I used about a tablespoon of coconut sugar, but maple syrup would work too, you may just need to add more coconut flour to soak up a little more moisture

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  • Mix all ingredients together in one bowl (yep, just one!) I used my hands to mix the batter.  The batter should be on the dry side, a little spongy and should leave no residue on the sides of the bowl. It should be the consistency of – well, cookie dough 🙂
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Roll dough into balls of about 1″ in size and flatten with fingers to about 1/4″ thick.  Depending on size of cookies, this recipe makes between a dozen and 16 cookies.
  • Bake for 40 -45 minutes, checking every so often that the cookies aren’t burning. My cookies were soft on the inside and fully baked and a little chewy on the outside, and reminded me of cake!
  • Once these cooled, I squirted a little honey on them and they were amazing!

So amazing, I ate too many, kind of defeating the purpose of a sweet “treat” – it was more like a sweet meal.  Still, it was better than eating too many processed cookies.  Just be careful with coconut flour quantity if you have UC.

BUT 2 or 3 of these puppies with a hot cup of black coffee or tea in the morning with a little fruit or (((bacon))) would be the perfect start to any day.

Hope you enjoyed these recipes!  Have any ideas on how to make them better – please let me know!!

 

Yours truly,

-Erika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fool-proof AIP meal: my “go-to” nutrient-dense lunch/dinner equation

So —- meal planning while eating on the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) diet is hard.  Especially for me.  Something you’ll learn about me is that I like to save money wherever I can, even while eating a super-healthy diet and steering clear of cheap, processed foods (it’s no accident that 1) these foods are cheap as dirt and 2) most of the coupons floating around out there are for these items)).

While our local GIANT Food Store offers an OK selection of organic meats, I refuse to buy an expensive cut of organic meat at full price, just because I’ve been having a hankering for a pork chop or a nice steak.  I ALWAYS buy 2-3 packs of whatever meat is on sale (more if it’s a REALLY good price to stash in my freezer) and plan my menu for the week around those items – a process which has led to some pretty intersting meal combinations (most pretty good, some definitely not!).  I’m a a big fan of having my meat mixed in with my veggies, rather than just a big hunk of it on my plate.  That being said, I’ve become pretty creative over the last year with my meals, and have created a general, rule-of-thumb equation, so to speak, for a fool-proof easy AIP meal, with any type of meat, vegetables, fats and seasonings you are currently craving!  It’s kind of a cross between a stir-fry and a salad.  You’re intrigued now…I know you are!

So here it goes…..:

FOOL-PROOF QUICK AIP DINNER EQUATION – ENDLESS MEAL COMBINATIONS AND NUTRIENTS AHEAD!

At least 1 lb. of organic, grass-fed meat (get organic, grass-fed meat whenever possible)

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1-2 tablespoons of AIP-friendly cooking oil (I’m partial to olive oil, but do use coconut oil sometimes)

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3-4 cups of sauteed veggies (any combo works – one of my favorites is cabbage, mushrooms and greens of some kind)

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1-2 tablespoons (combined) of your desired AIP-friendly spice/seasoning mix (I frequently use a mix of pink himalayan salt, garlic powder, parsley, and oregano)

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a medium-sized spaghetti squash – optional

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A couple big handfuls of fresh spinach or other salad greens (more for a group of 3+) – optional

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the perfect savory and filling AIP meal, every time!

Did I mention that these are 1-skillet meals??  Just icing on the cake, right??

Here is my latest meal creation using my Fool-Proof AIP Equation – Ground beef stir fry with cooked cabbage, mushrooms and spaghetti squash on top of fresh spinach!   It’s not the prettiest picture, but you get the idea – it was a lot prettier before I mixed it up and it was really savory and juicy.

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It’s so simple – but I’ll be glad to walk you through the process 🙂

  • PREP: I baked the spaghetti squash for 45 minutes at 400°F – you could bake it in the morning or even the night before to save yourself some dinner-prep time.  Cut the squash in half (hot-dog style) scrape out the seeds, rub/brush the insides with your oil of choice, sprinkle with salt and desired seasonings, and place in your oven on a baking sheet/pan lined with tinfoil.  Chop up whatever veggies you’re using – I used half a wedge of cabbage and a pack of mini-portabella mushrooms
  • While that’s baking, brown your ground beef in the skillet at low-med heat.  I did not strain the fat from my meat because it was organic.  In conventionally produced meat, toxins are stored in the fat, so if you aren’t using organic meat, strain it first.
  • Transfer the meat to your serving bowl when finished and top with lid to keep hot
  • In the same pan, add a tablespoon (or less) of desired cooking oil and toss in cut up veggies and desired seasonings – I cooked my cabbage for about 5-10 minutes on med heat to get a little brown, before adding the mushrooms.  Cook your veggies to your liking on low-med heat – I like mine tender and juicy but not soggy!
  •  Transfer veggies to serving bowl and mix in with the ground beef.  When the squash is finished cooking, let it sit for a few minutes to cool and then scrape out the insides with a fork and transfer to your serving bowl, or keep it hot in a separate container.
  • Divide your spinach on your dinner plates and pile the meat and veggies mixture on top – I added some of my homemade apple cider vinegar dressing, which gave it JUST a little bit of tang that went great with the spaghetti squash.

This was my lunch two days in a row and I was totally okay with that because it was really yummy and didn’t upset my stomach at all or my UC symptoms from what I could tell.

Speaking of UC symptoms, I’m doing well right now.  No blood for the past couple of days, which is very exciting. Other aspects could be better (passing some mucus, a bit of bloating and gas) but one step at a time, right?

There are so many combinations you could make using this equation, hot, cold or both!  I’ve mixed in shredded chicken, bacon and collard greens and that is probably one of our FAVORITE meals.  SUPER SAVORY, and bacon makes everything better 🙂

What are your fool-proof breakfast/lunch/dinner AIP recipes???  I want to hear them all, so please leave me comments and links below!  I’ve been obsessed for the past couple of days with gathering AIP recipes on Chowstalker – check it out if you have an hour or two to spare!

Yours truly,

-Erika

Flaring Up? Don’t pop more pills just yet!

Happy Monday, all!  What an oxymoron that statement is 🙂

Just a little update before the main gist of my post…

So I am 12 days into my Autoimmune Protocol diet to begin to heal my Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune digestive condition (check out “The Paleo Mom”  with LOADS of AIP info, recipes, explanations and more). Two big changes I’ve noticed in my colitis symptoms in the past couple of days are: 1) I haven’t bled in the last 4-5 days and 2) the heavy, “inflammed” sensation I was experiencing at the base of my tailbone has greatly subsided.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still experiencing gas, bloating, and some urgency, etc. – but it’s a step in the right direction in my book, and my condition feels quite manageable for the time being.

My goal is to continue with AIP for at least 2 months before I begin reintroducing foods – MAN do I miss EGGS, though!  I’m thinking outloud here – the whole “Reintroduction” phase on this elimination diet scares the living hell out of me, because it seems like such a precise process where one slip throws 2 months of strict AIP down the drain!  I’m a worryer, so of course, I’m already stressing about what’s to come!

eat all the things

…Orrrr eat NONE of the things??

Have you had an experience with re-introducing foods on AIP/Paleo/Specific Carbohydrate Diet ??? How did you go about planinng for it realistically?  Or did you just choose to avoid these foods in your diet indefinitely?  Also I’m thinking about buying “The Paleo Approach” by Sarah Ballantyne – has anyone read this book and could give me a quick review??

the paleo approach

I suppose maybe this fear of “reintroduction” is what has kept me from truly implementing “AIP” in my life for some time now – any feedback you can offer about your own trials, errors and succsses is greatly appreciated!

I’m not ready to post my next “3 Ways to Happy Post”, but I did want to share some natural ways I like to calm my flare ups and symptoms when they hit, WITHOUT having to increase my medication.  I hope these tips help you, but please – I’m not a doctor.  If things are serious, get the help you need!

HOLISTIC FLARE-UP MANAGMENT TIPS:

—- Try sipping some aloe every day.  It soothes inflammation from the inside, just like it soothes sunburn on the outside!  I buy the Lily of the Desert brand from my local natural grocer.  If you don’t like the taste, add it to a smoothie and mix it into a low-sugar organic juice!

—- Drink some healing homemade bone broth, – check out my first post for a simple crockpot recipe!

—- Eat soft foods, while still getting nutrients.  Steam or boil all vegetables to make them easier to break down.  Puree fruits, drink smoothies with avocado and banana, eat less-fatty meats.  I personally really enjoy certain canned veggies like green beans and carrots.  Gross to some maybe, but to me they are the next best thing!

—- Consider taking a daily digestive supplement like GI REVIVE – a nutritionist I saw suggested I take it, and though I am not currently taking it, I still have some in my pantry on hand in case a flare-up rears it’s ugly head.

—- If I’m going to have a big meal, I sometimes take a swig of apple cider vinegar to aid in digestion and to ward off gas, bloating, etc., which worsen my flare-ups.  Try getting ACV into your diet in other ways like making your own delicious and health packed salad dressing!  I mixed up my own (below) in an empty glass spice bottle – 1 parts ACV to 2 parts olive oil, Himalayan salt and herbs to taste.  I used oregano, parsley and onion powder.

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—- Try to eat smaller meals during a flare-up to give your digestive tract a little break.  Big meals will force your system to work twice as hard to break down twice the food!  And if you have a slow digestive system like me, that spells big trouble…

—- Cut back on dried fruit – for me, dried fruit blocks me up, for some it does the opposite.  There is lots of sugar in dried fruit and cutting out that extra sugar can help regulate things.

—- Take up a calming hobby like yoga, jewelry making, reading, painting, writing, walking, etc.  Not only is doing something you like stress relieving, it will also get your mind off of harping on your current flare-up.

—- Sleep!  Sometimes a hot cup of chamomile tea and an early bed time can do wonders!  Snuggle up with a good book, sip some tea, decompress and conk out!  And don’t forget to breathe deep!

—- Ease stress during flare-up times by being over-prepared – meal prep for a couple of days with soft, healing comfort foods so you won’t be tempted to eat any problem foods when hungry and stuck in a pinch – this one is embarrassing, but pack an extra pair of undies (maybe even some TP) in your purse, book bag, gym bag, etc.  Obviously, the plan is to NOT use these items but at least you know they are there if need be!

—- LAUGH!  Go watch a funny movie, hang out with your funniest friend (my boyfriend in my case, yes I’m lucky).

Now – I’m SO interested to know – what are your healthy flare-up management tips?? Can’t wait to hear from all of you!

Stay tuned for my next “3 Ways to Happy” post in the next day or so!

 

In healthful happiness,

-Erika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My story and the first “3 Ways to Happy” Post

Hello, world!  Ah, it’s great to be here, to be writing again – and writing about a holistic lifestyle, health and happiness.  I’ll skip the blabbing for now and get right to the story – my story – and the digestive illness and health concerns that have inspired me to start “Holistically Happy”…(caution #1: parts of my tale are not for the “easily-made-queasy – caution #2: I use a lot of “potty humor” to stay positive about my journey, sorry if that’s not your thing!)

SO, here we go…..

During my senior year of high school, I started seeing blood in the toilet when I went #2, accompanied by diarrhea, an increased urgency to use the bathroom, cramping, awful gas and bloating, severe fatigue and swollen joints.  Even as an 18-year-old, I knew that seeing blood when going to the potty was never a good thing.  I was a really good student, played 3 sports, and was going through my first real “break-up” – I boiled my “issues” down to stress and figured it would stop.  Plus, it was an extremely embarrassing problem to have, especially as afemale teenger – I mean, I was just happy to have days now and then when they weren’t huge pimples on my face… So, I chose to play down my debilitating digestive symptoms and pushed through my senior year.

Fast-forward to 6 months later, and after a couple of misdiagnosed hemorrhoids (that took me 5 minutes to spell just now!), the impending doom of a probable blood transfusion (my hemoglobin was dangerously low from passing so much blood when going #2), and my first colonoscopy/endoscopy, I was finally diagnosed by my GI doc with Ulcerative Colitis.  My colonoscopy showed that 2/3 of my colon and rectum were inflamed with open, bleeding ulcers.  No wonder I’d felt so awful – I’d been like a zombie for half a year with awful mental fog and daily exhaustion, running to the bathroom every 15 minutes (sometimes not making it in time – you can do the math there), bloating like a whale, bleeding all the time, and sporting a greenish, sickly, translucent complexion.  It all made sense now – I was sick.  Apparaently, really sick…

senior year

That’s me in the front row with a bunch of my friends senior year right after I was diagnosed.  I look happy, and I probably was, but was still working hard every day to NOT show my peers how awful I felt inside.

So what DID a diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis (UC) mean for as an 18-year-old?  Well, to start, a lifetime full of a medication called “Asacol” (9 pills a day to be exact), no knowledge of ANY cure, cause or treatment for UC other than daily medication.  UC, a form of “Irritable Bowel Disease” is an “incurable” Autoimmune Disorder where my body attacks my own colon as a foreign object.  My doctors told me food played no role in my symptoms or the onset of my disease and that my only option was to pop lots of pills to control my “flare ups”, or periods of bleeding/inflammation/diarrhea/lots of time in the bathroom.

Fast-forward again to today – coming up on my 6-year anniversary of my UC diagnosis and a lot has changed, but not everything.  I still suffer from UC, along with some hormonal issues I’ve been battling since I was a pre-teen (I’ll go into all that later, but it’s mostly excess testosterone).  BUT, in the last year, I’ve made numerous decisions to fight for my health that have changed my life, including:

—-> Following a couple diets called the “Autoimmune Paleo Protocol”, and the general “Paleo” or “Caveman” diet – I’ll get into specifics later, but you can learn more about AIP here at one of my favorite blogs.  While following AIP, I do my absolute best to eat no gluten, grains (including corn), dairy, refined sugar, eggs, nuts, seeds and nightshades, and try to keep my natural sugar intake as low as possible.  Many of my posts will pertain to this subject, as every day is a new adventure and/or struggle with keeping this restrictive diet in check.  In fact, my hope is that this blog (and hopefully a handful of followers in the future) will force me to take even more accountability and responsibility for my health when it comes to my diet.  I’ve definitely been loosely follwoing AIP for the past coupls of month, and I’m ready to get more serious about ultimately healing my UC through this seemingly promising regimen.

—-> Practicing Yoga when I can (I should do it daily).  The wonderful, deep breathing I’ve discovered through Yoga is the only thing I’ve found that truly calms me down and clears my head.  I love following free videos on YouTube or http://www.doyogawithme.com/.  Stress very negatively affects my UC symptoms and flare-ups, so keeping my stress levels as low as possible will continue to be an important part of my healing.

—–> Visiting a couple Holistic Health Practitioners who introduced me to various digestive and hormonal support supplements that I have used to literally “supplement” my AIP diet.  My learning curve with supplements has made it even clearer to me that the secrets to my healing success lie somewhere within Mother Nature’s caring embrace.  I’ve tried a handful of different supplements and will comment on their effectiveness, price, etc. throughout my posts.

—->  Experimenting with DIY personal hygiene and home care products like toothpaste, makeup, remover and all-purpose cleaning spray, to eliminate as many toxins from my daily routine as possible (and to save a little money!) to protect my already compromised immune system.  This is time consuming, but so worth it for the peace of mind and money saving – and it’s kinda fun!

But, seriously – WOW do I feel better!  I’ve lost weight (about 20 pounds in the last year, without really trying), I have more energy and more mental clarity, reduced bleeding and “flare-up” severity, less bloating, less acid reflux, reduced joint swelling, clearer skin.  This is all great, and call me crazy for wanting my UC to be GONE – but I believe that with time, effort and perseverance I can ultimately reverse my condition, too.  I’d love to hear about your journey – email me at ezaborny@gmail.com so we can connect!

At this point,  I want to introduce my 1st “3 Ways to Happy” post, a weekly (hopefully daily in the future) feature where I will include 3 “projects” I’m currently working on to improve my health and happiness holistically.  A lot of my inspiration comes from Pinterest – people, if you aren’t “pinning” already, what have you been doing with your lives????  Please follow me on Pinterest HERE!

1)   Our garden plans are in the works!  My boyfriend, Seth, and I moved in together about 6 months ago and we are so excited about starting our first garden!  We picked out a handful of organic seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit company with a GREAT selection of hundreds of seeds.  I’ll definitely be keeping track of our garden’s progress on “Holistically Happy”!

Seeds ordered from Seed Savers Exchange!

2) My first experience with gut-healing chicken bone broth – this recipe could not have been simpler.  I simply put chicken bones, skin and cartillage left over from a whole organic chicken we used for soup in our crock pot with a couple cups of water (less if you want a stronger broth), a couple glugs from my Apple Cider Vinegar bottle and some himalayan salt, garlic powder and parsley.  Man, is a warm mug of this stuff comforting!  My goal for right now is to try to have one cup a day, and eventually increase to 2-3 cups daily.

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3) Bracelet Making – for a little extra income and as a hobby!  I’ve been making leather beaded wrap bracelets for the past 2 years that I sell at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, which is about 20 minutes from my house.  Not only do I make a little extra money from selling these bracelets, it’s also a great stress reliever for me – most days!  I create custom size/color/length/design bracelets, so if you’re ever interested in purchasing one of my handmade creations, email me at ezaborny@gmail.com!

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Whew – that was a novel of a first blog post – but, boy, that felt GOOD to just get it out.

What are 3 things you’ve done lately to take care of yourself in the name of being holistically happy and healthy?

Yours truly,

Erika