Thinking back on my past ten-ish years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever once shared a health and wellness plan with you, but friends, that’s all about to change. Today, I’m opening up about some of the health challenges I’m currently facing and what I’m doing to counter those challenges this year.
Now, don’t worry too much. There’s nothing major going on with my health, thank goodness. In fact, I consider myself to be quite healthy. However, I do have some symptoms that are alerting me to deeper issues, and it’s important that I pay attention to these symptoms before a more serious condition develops.
My View of Health & Wellness
Okay, to start, let me explain my stance on health and wellness with you. I typically have a DIY, less is more mindset when it comes to health, and while that is still true, my perspective has had to change a bit simply because I’ve realized I can’t do it all on my own.
First of all, thanks to my education as a nurse and an herbalist, I do have a decent understanding of health and how to keep the body well. However, I’m not an expert in all things health. I also understand that while I mostly know what to do to maintain good health, I don’t do all of those things 100% of the time because I’m not perfect. It’s true. I’m just like you—a normal person trying to navigate the world in which I live in the best way I can, and sometimes I do better than other times.
So with that said, while I know health changes can be made through simple healthy lifestyle practices, I also recognize the need to incorporate herbal and nutritional supplements into my diet alongside these healthy lifestyle practices for optimal health.
Yes, I kinda dislike supplements. I mean, in an ideal world, our diets would be enough, but the truth of the matter is that in today’s world they’re not.
In a perfect world, our soil would be full of healthy minerals and limited in toxins like pesticides and heavy metals. We’d be nourished and thriving, never knowing that such a thing as a nutritional or herbal supplement existed. Unfortunately, our world isn’t perfect, and while our bodies were perfectly designed to thrive, they don’t always function as they were meant to. Sometimes, we need supplements to help us out, even if just for a short time.
Sure, I can be bummed about this. I can buck it and ignore it, but that only gets me to where I am now. Not sick by any means, but not what I would call thriving either. So at this point in my life, I’m choosing to understand that taking supplements is a part of the process for me to get back into a better state of optimal health, and instead of being sad about it (which is really my response to my lack of self-perfection and self-control), I can accept that these tools are good and will serve me for the best in the long-run.
Subtle Symptoms That Speak Volumes
When it comes to my current health challenges, I guess I should start by saying that I’ve never had the best digestive health. For as long as I can remember, my digestion has been slow, even as a child. I’ve experienced gas and bloating here and there over the years, realizing that certain foods trigger this more than others. I dealt with a candida overgrowth 6-7 years ago, and while I thought I had fully dealt with that, I either never completely got it under control or have let my gut microbiome become imbalanced again. Over the last 2-3 years, I’ve also experienced a bit of abdominal cramping in the mornings that comes and goes. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes it isn’t. I’ve also developed symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) that come and go. Ultimately, my digestive system isn’t in a healthy, balanced place.
Next, I am also a type-A, ESTJ, enneagram 8, with a pitta constitution. What does all of this mean? Well, it means I thrive on my natural stress response, but if stress becomes chronic, my endocrine and nervous systems suffer. It also means that I am prone to liver congestion. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that I am more easily irritated and overwhelmed. I can’t think as clearly, and I tend to forget words or what I’m doing. This is better known as brain fog. I also have had some signs of estrogen dominance. My skin is usually dry, but I have hormonal breakouts every single month. I also feel like my vision is getting worse, and trimming down isn’t as easy as it once was.
Now, I could easily write some of these symptoms off as a normal part of aging, but because of my past health training, I know that many of these symptoms stem from imbalanced body systems. I also know that these subtle symptoms are there to warn me that if I don’t take some time to focus on supporting these body systems and get them back into a state of balance, worse conditions are around the corner.
You’ve heard that saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? Well, these signs of imbalance are alerting me that I need to pay attention to my body
With that said, I’ve created some health goals for myself for 2020, and I’m confident that if I work on meeting these goals, my body will move closer to a balanced state, and I will function as it was designed to do.
2020 Health & Wellness Plan
Health and wellness are one and the same thing to me, but health and wellness apply to more than the physical body alone.
When it comes to having a holistic perspective of wellness, there are 8 dimensions of wellness to pay attention to. I’m not sure who to credit for the following information because it’s all over the Internet, but below are the 8 areas of focus when it comes to holistic wellness.
8 Dimensions of Wellness
- Physical: Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep.
- Social: Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system.
- Spiritual: Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life.
- Emotional: Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships.
- Environmental: Occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support wellbeing.
- Financial: Feeling satisfied with current and future financial situations.
- Intellectual: Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills.
- Career: Creating personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work.
While I have goals in each of the above areas, the physical area is the one getting my utmost attention at the moment. Below I’ll share my goals and some of the changes I’m making where sleep, exercise, and diet are concerned. I’ll also share how I plan to go about supporting each of the body systems I feel need a bit of work at the moment as well.
When it comes to sleep, I feel that I’m doing okay in this area. I regularly get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, which is enough to help me feel fully rested in the morning. One thing I’ll continue to do here is to keep taking my daily ashwagandha supplement as this really helps me sleep better, and it also helps my body’s stress response to be a bit more balanced. I’m also giving up drinking any alcohol close to bedtime as that can interfere with good quality sleep. That means the wine will be enjoyed at mealtimes only!
So, I have a love-hate relationship with exercise—mainly because I’m lazy, but it’s something I’ve come to realize is super important. My preferred form of exercise is yoga or bodyweight workouts, such as Barre workouts. My knees hurt, crack, and give me issues if I do too much of any sort of high-impact exercise, so these low-impact workouts are perfect for me. I love yoga so much simply because it tightens and tones my body while helping with strength, flexibility, and breathing all at the same time!
Not only is exercise great for the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems as well as metabolism, but it’s also good for the lymphatic system. It keeps everything moving and flowing, and that can help a lot when it comes to detoxification and cleansing wastes from the body.
In addition to all of the above, when I get regular exercise I have more energy, I’m in a better mental space, and I can maintain my weight better.
My goal for this year is to do 20-30 minutes of some sort of exercise each day whether it’s doing a yoga or Barre workout in the morning or something simple like walking the perimeter of our property after lunch. Some weeks I do better than others, but if I can get in at least 3 days of intentional exercise a week alongside housework and our afternoon and weekend yard work projects, I feel like I’ve done a good job moving my body that week.
Diet. Oh, where do I begin when it comes to diet? Diet is such a big issue for all of us, and it’s very difficult to find the right one for you. Plus, it seems like the “perfect” diet changes based on which season of life we’re in, where we live, and what health conditions we’re dealing with at the moment.
For me, I know I feel best when I eat a vegan diet. However, I live in a house of meat-eaters who have no desire to go vegan with me all the time, and since I’m the one that cooks for everyone, it makes it very difficult to do it on my own. I’m sure it can be done. I just haven’t figured out how to do it just yet.
That aside, I do eat fairly healthy. I cook most meals at home, we don’t eat too much sugar, and I do my best to buy high-quality foods. I also try to vary our diet so we don’t eat the same types of foods all the time. If I were to match us up with one type of diet, I’d say we’re probably the closest to a Mediterranean style diet, but we don’t implement it perfectly.
When it comes to the nutrition of our meals, I don’t keep close track of how much fiber we eat or even how many carbs, fats, or proteins are in each meal. That just seems like way too much work, and I’m really not interested in making our diets complicated. I need simple and easy at that moment.
As far as changes go here, I’m sure there are always things that can be improved. Perhaps I could cook more fish meals or reduce the amount of dairy we consume. I guess I could also cut out all sugar, but I feel like that’s a bit extreme as we don’t eat that much sugar in the first place. Adding more legumes into our diet is another option as is eating more fermented foods. Again, I’m not really sure how to improve this particular area. I think it’s just going to take some slight tweaking a bit at a time.
One thing I do know I need to improve when it comes to my diet is making myself drink more water. I’m simply not a thirsty person, and staying hydrated has always been difficult for me. I am able to keep myself fairly hydrated by drinking a bit of purified water (6-8 ounces) every time I use the bathroom. It keeps this nice little cycle going that ensures I drink regularly throughout that day!
Lastly, I have a tendency to want to snack at night, so I’m thinking that implementing some intermittent fasting would be a good idea as well as this will help with maintaining a healthy weight, and it will reduce some of the load on my liver as well. Did you know your liver does a lot of work at night? If it’s focused on breaking down fats and detoxing the food you just ate, it has less time to do its other necessary jobs in the body.
Supplements for Body System Support
So with healthy sleep, exercise, and diet practices in place, the only other thing I can do to support the body systems that are experiencing some sort of excess or deficiency is to use supplements (herbal and nutritional) to give my body some extra support.
One of the most vital components of wellness is having a healthy gut, and as I mentioned earlier, this has always been a weak area of mine. I’ve used various probiotics before, and I even used some natural supplements to rid my body of candida back when I was pregnant. Nonetheless, I suppose I’ve let things slide in this area over the last few years, so here I am, back to focusing on gut health.
I know that where absorption of nutrients is concerned, nutrients must be present, the lining of the gut wall must be tight and toned, and the gut’s microbiome needs to be healthy for absorption to occur. I also know that elimination must be regular so toxins are thoroughly removed from the digestive tract.
To support gut health and a healthy metabolism, I’ve incorporated some Plexus products into my supplement regimen, specifically the TriPlex and multivitamin supplements. The TriPlex consists of three products:
- Plexus Slim is “the pink drink” that helps to naturally balance blood sugar to help with weight management. The “microbiome activating” version also has prebiotics in it to feed the healthy bacteria already in the gut.
- ProBio 5 is a probiotic on steroids that not only helps to replenish the gut microbiome, but it includes enzymes that help the body to rid itself of yeast overgrowth. It’s also designed to be able to withstand stomach pH so it can deposit the healthy bacteria to the small intestines where they belong.
- BioCleanse is an oxygenated magnesium supplement that supports healthy and regular elimination of toxins from the gut so the healthy bacteria can replenish and thrive.
In addition to the TriPlex, I’m also taking Plexus’s multivitamin, XFactor, to get some extra nutrients into my diet. This multivitamin also includes aloe, which is great for gut health as well.
My plan is to use these products for a minimum of 3 months—maybe longer if need be, depending on how quickly I reach my health goals. Gut health can be one of those areas that requires quite a bit of nurturing!
My next area of focus is liver health. Based on my symptoms, I’m showing signs of liver heat or excess as well as liver congestion. Because of my constitution, I’ve incorporated milk thistle capsules and dandelion root tincture into my diet daily. Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a great hepatoprotective herb, and it’s one of those herbs that are useful long-term.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root is considered an herbal bitter, and it’s really good for digestion and is gently stimulating to the liver. Not only that but it’s a great fit for my constitution (it’s cooling!) and the symptoms I’m experiencing, so this is something I’ll use before meals for several months. After that, I’ll probably switch to another herbal bitter that has some nervine support (more on this below) and is a good fit for my constitution, such as blue vervain (Verbena hastata), because regular use of herbal bitters is super helpful for healthy digestion!
Endocrine & Nervous System Support
While I’m normally fairly stable in the nervous system area, after this past January’s little crisis, I’m finding that I’m needing a bit more endocrine and nervous system support just to help my body to find a bit more stability in the midst of the ups and downs from this situation.
While the TriPlex products from Plexus will help greatly with this, I’m also taking a daily ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) tablet to help my stress response as well as damiana (Turnera diffusa), a relaxing nervine, to simply nourish my over-stimulated nervous system for the time being.
My plan is to remove these from my supplement regime sometime this summer and simply rely on the TriPlex for support in these body systems.
Does Your Gut Need A Reboot Too?
So maybe you’re like me, and you’ve realized that your body also needs an extra boost in one area or another. Over the course of my natural healthy living journey, I have come to know just how important gut health is to total body health. Our mood, immune system, and many other bodily functions rely on a healthy gut to function properly.
So what’s the MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do to support this particular body system? Well, first of all, we can eat as clean and healthy as we can, and the second thing is that we can give our guts a boost with some healthy probiotics and gentle cleansing. I know mine sure does.
I’m pretty picky about the supplements I use, and I can say that the Plexus and herbal supplements mentioned above are high-quality, gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO. They taste great, and they’re easy to use.
If you’re going to add anything to your own system other than clean food—you want to make sure it’s a clean supplement too. Otherwise, you’re wasting money and potentially leaving your body with even more to detox.
I mean, let’s be honest here, it’s likely that everyone’s microbiome needs a bit of a lift–even if you’re not a chronic antibiotic user, alcohol drinker, sugar addict, or you’ve never dealt with something like Chrone’s disease or an infection like C. difficile. Most of us have taken medications that have messed with our microbiomes (ibuprofen) or eaten a gmo-food here and there. We may not realize that we need to do the work to create a healthy and thriving bodily ecosystem again, but we do. I know I do. If this is you too, choosing to use high-quality supplements might be the place to start.
Interested? Feel free to contact me. I’d be more than happy to walk alongside you on your health journey and share how Plexus and various herbal supplements can help you meet your wellness goals.
And don’t forget—you are in charge of your health. Every day, each of us wake up and choose how we care for our body. This includes the foods and drinks we put into it, how we move it, and what we do that brings us happiness and relaxation. Each evening, do what you can to set yourself up for success the next day. Fill your water bottles with clean water, prep healthy foods for the next day, commit to 20 minutes of movement, schedule in some self-care time. Do whatever you need to do to give your body what it needs to feel good and function properly. And sometimes, you might need to take some supplements too!
Love and light,