Reconnecting with Joy, Creativity, & Peace

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Joy. Creativity. Peace. What do you feel when you read those words? What type of response to they elicit in you? 

Aren't they beautiful gifts of life? Especially the relief of feeling joy after sadness... finding creativity through stagnation... and feeling at peace post chaos.

However, feeling joyless, forgoing our creativity, and never finding peace is a recipe for slowly inviting disease into our lives as we age. 

Have you met an amazing cancer survivor who has lived years past the doctor's prognosis with either natural or conventional treatment? The type of person that inspires us simply through the way they live their life? They overcame because of their mindset. They survived because of their strong spirit. They lived because they know joy, creativity, and peace.

How we lose touch with joy, creativity, and peace

In our modern world it's so easy to get wrapped in our daily routine of traveling here and there, getting this or that marked off the to-do list, and the constant thinking our minds do.

This is not the mindset and actions that help us feel better in chronic illness. This is not the mindset or actions that help us live healthy and purposeful lives.

Eventually, we don't make time for the activity that brought us joy, such as taking time for physical activity or playing with our kids or nieces and nephews. We don't find the time to meet with the friends that bring us joy through laughter and connection. Maybe anxiety or depression has taken over and joy is a distant memory. 

As our lives grow, we may lose touch with our creative side. Maybe you no longer make art, write, or play with food and new recipes. The mindset of completing tasks takes over.

Lastly, we don't take a peaceful moment for ourselves. You don't go for a run alone anymore. You don't take time out on your meditation cushion. Or, perhaps you don't know how to have inner peace when chaos is all around you.

I have, at one time or another, lost each one of these jewels of life. I also found ways to bring each of them back into my life and bounced back.

How to reconnect with joy

I'm no expert in joy, that's for certain. 

But, there has always been ONE thing that brings me joy no matter what. 

My dogs.

Playing, snuggling, and going on an adventure with our pets is probably the most cathartic therapy there is.

Make time for that activity, person or hobby that makes you smile, that brings you gratitude, or that centers you.

For me, this is hiking with my dogs and my husband. Not just the physical activity or the sense of adventure, but seeing the joy it brings my dogs is enough to fill me with complete joy. 

When do you remember feeling the most joy?

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We're creative as kids. We drew and painted. And we enjoyed it... even if we were terrible at it!

I remember I had a huge rubber stamp collection along with fancy gadgets and I made individualized greeting cards for Christmas and birthdays to give to friends and family. At some point in high school, I gave this up because it no longer was a priority. I gave in to the "save time" mindset and bought cards for special occasions.

I lost touch with creativity for a long time as an adult. Mostly, when I was busy running our gym and too exhausted for anything outside of work.

I found it again as I learned to love to cook and create in the kitchen. I had forgotten the feeling of losing time when working on a creative project. You know, the "I forgot to eat because I was so enthralled in my flow" type of activity.

Being in that state of "flow" is important for healing our body, mind, and spirit. Our parasympathetic nervous system takes over and this is where we heal. Not only that, but when we're creative, we're in touch with our higher selves. This is grounding, centering, and a spiritual experience.

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It doesn't matter what has robbed you of your inner peace; you have the ability and the right as a human being, to feel inner peace.

Being at peace requires being okay with what is. Being okay with what you can not control. Accepting the situation as it is, not what once was or what could have been.

This goes for accepting ourselves as we are now, not what we were or what we could have been.

It's those thoughts that prevent us from feeling the freedom of inner peace.

A calm mind that isn't thinking about the next thing we have to do. Or, thinking about what we should have done or said in an awkward situation or conflict.

We won't always have a calm mind at peace, but we can find it whenever we want to do so. It's always there because our higher self, outside of our "ego" or "monkey mind", is always there. We just have to connect with it.

Something higher than yourself, such as God, the Universe, or Mother Earth can help remind us what peace feels like.

In closing...

Reclaiming our joy, rediscovering our creativity, and finding our inner peace are just a few ways to bring ourselves closer to vibrant mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

What can you do today to bring you close to joy, your creativity, or inner peace?

 

To your health and healing,

Mandi

 
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How High Intensity Exercise Broke Me (and Why it's Bad News for Chronic Illness)

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With CrossFit popularizing high intensity training, you've either heard of it or even tried it yourself. CrossFit took fitness that was once just a competition with yourself, added ego and changed the way millions of people practice fitness today. It's not just about beating your own record for a 400m run, but beating others as well (seemingly in the good spirit of competition).

The friendly competition environment it creates is all good fun on the outside. Those succeeding around you pushes you to succeed more, right? This is very true. But, let me tell you, the degree in which people are pushing themselves everyday in this environment... day after day... is extreme and opens the door to health problems down the road. 

My story of chronic illness and running a crossfit gym for 8 years

The root of my health decline began at the age of 19 from Accutane (a common drug prescribed for acne). It was the start of chronic, painful, and always unpredictable digestive problems.

During college and my young adult life, I continued to suffer from random bouts of indigestion, bloating, and abdominal distention- this abdominal distention made me look 5 or 6 months pregnant and I've always been petite which made it very noticeable. It could be painful and it kept me from often living a normal college life. I tried to manage it with diet and the help of doctors (diagnosed me with IBS), but it persisted.

My health, despite the IBS, was decent for the next 6 years or so. However, this was all going to change for the worse the age of 24 in 2008 I began high intensity training. After about just one year, I had new health problems.

While in my unseemingly vulnerable state of health, high intensity training took my easily inflamed and irritable gut to a whole new realm of chronic and mystery illness. It started with frequent headaches which I attributed to stress. Then some headaches turned into migraines.

The next of my conditions to arrive was the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity which arrived as an immediate migraine, nausea, weakness and fatigue from bleach, building materials, hair color, cigarettes, and anything scented.

Then the vertigo arrived. Now, these spells were SEVERE. I was completely bedridden unable to move for 7 days at a time, plus a 4-7 days to recover. I couldn't turn my head or open my eyes, let alone get out of bed to use the bathroom. I was in a debilitated and weakened state. 

The next to appear was the insomnia. Insomnia is a special kind of torture, as some of you may know. There were nights where all I could do was cry because I felt so desperate and hopelessly wanted to fall asleep. 

By the time I was 28, migraines were about a monthly occurrence. My glands were chronically swollen, I didn't sleep well, I had "bone-deep fatigue" (as I called my adrenal fatigue), and I had to be on the lookout for chemicals that would set off an MCS reaction. Living with all of this was my daily life for several years.

I thought I was taking care of my health by crossfitting and eating paleo. Afterall, I KNEW that exercise and a healthy diet is the foundation to good health. And how our cavemen ancestors functionally exercised and ate was, to me, the logical answer. 

The Hard Truth

In 2014, I started to realize my execution of this knowledge was anything but a solid foundation for good health.

It took a while for me to admit to myself, to Aaron, and to my holistic practitioner that one of the possible causes for my poor health was the same thing that I helped create and that which put food on our table. 

CrossFit was hurting my health.

The business that I poured my heart and soul into was perpetuating my chronic illnesses. 

The more I backed off of high intensity training- the heavy lifting, the high intensity circuits, and the elite athlete mentality- the better I felt. 

My fitness routine slowly became more conventional. I lifted weights, but lighter loads and higher reps. I completed circuits, but with purposeful rest incorporated. 

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Changing My Fitness Routine Meant Changing My Life

This created a disconnect between me and my business. The members felt it. The only clients I connected with were my personal training clients that saw me for corrective exercise and massage therapy. I no longer taught the crossfit group classes, except for the babyboomers. My gentle, cautious approach was just what this age group needed. 

Aaron thoroughly supported my journey. And with his own objections, he eventually grew tired of the fitness business. He grew tired mentally and emotionally from running such a personal business. And he grew tired physically from the high intensity training. 

We ended up selling the gym in 2016 and both of us set out for new careers.

The parallel story here is that once I grew out of the crossfit lifestyle and mentality, my heart was no longer in that business. Morally, I couldn't continue teaching those philosophies on fitness when I believed from personal experience that it would only harm them in the long run, not help them. 

Decreased Stress to the System is Healing!

My renewed outlook on fitness has given my body the opportunity to heal. No longer am I adding significant physical stress in the form of exercise contributing to my conditions. Nowadays, I stick with Yoga, hiking, and light kettlebell and bodyweight training. 

I know I've painted a dark picture of high intensity training. It certainly can have tremendous benefits especially for those in the military, law enforcement, and firefighters. Interval training itself (high intensity or not) has wonderful benefits proven in many studies.

However, it is an inappropriate approach for anyone dealing with any type of chronic illness. Depending on one's lifestyle and aspirations, the execution of interval training should vary accordingly. If you're suffering from autoimmune disease, chronic Lyme, persistent gut problems, any of the same conditions I've had, or dealing with any perpetuating, chronic illness consider making modifications to your training and see if you notice an improvement in your condition.

Learn more about helping your chronic illness here.

 

To your health and healing,

Mandi

 
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Do you suffer from chronic illness perpetuated by high intensity fitness training? Sign up for a FREE 30 minute phone consult and let's talk about it. 

Managing Toxic Body Burden Part 4: How to Cleanse

This is the final Toxic Body Burden Post! If you've missed parts 1-3 here are the links:

Part 1: Sources of Contamination, Part 2: How to Protect Yourself, Part 3: The Connection to Illness.

What kind of feelings come up for you when you think about putting your body through a cleanse or detox? You might feel hesitant and afraid of unpleasant symptoms such as headaches, increased and urgent bowel movements, and fatigue.

I'm with you 100%! I avoided doing a cleanse for YEARS because I was so fearful of how I would feel. Until I learned that it doesn't have to be unpleasant, you don't have to starve and be cranky, and you don't have to send your friends away.

Here's what I've learned about cleansing by following the Medical Medium protocol (I am in no way affiliated with Medical Medium, I am simply sharing my personal experience. I receive no compensation for sharing my positive results).

1. do not starve yourself-eat, eat eat!

It's true I've cut out many things such as meat and most of the fat I was eating, but I've added an incredible amount of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

Actually, I'm pretty much just eating fruits and vegetables. And let me be the first to tell you as a former Paleo dieter, I never would have thought in a million years that eating only fruits and vegetables would satiate me. But they do, and I feel great. 

The trick is, to eat A LOT and often. I elaborate on this in number 4.

2. Allow your intuition to come through

No two people experience detox with exactly the same symptoms, for the exact same time period, or with the exact same intensity.

It's crucial that you listen to and learn the cues your body is giving you. Common symptoms of detox can be fatigue, increased bowel movements, headaches, skin reactions, and bloating. 

However, if these symptoms get to be too intense, back off what you're doing a little bit. Slow down the detox. Replace a raw food meal with a meal of cooked food. 

One of the most common intuitions is knowing what you want to eat (not cravings, see below). I'm talking about intuitive eating. When you're preparing your meal and you're searching the pantry and refrigerator, just using the ingredients that jump out at you. Or while shopping for fruits and veggies... which are jumping out at you? These will be the most nourishing to you at the moment because you're using your own intuition to feed yourself and give your body what it's asking for.

3. Know the difference between a craving and intuitive eating.

Now that you understand intuitive eating better, let's compare that to a craving. A craving is urgent. I will just die if I don't have such and such. Generally, a craving is something that's not very good for us. A savory, fatty, comfort food, something salty and crunchy, or a sweet, luscious, decadent dessert are usually what's calling our name. 

When you have that kind of craving while doing a cleanse, DO NOT GIVE IN! You're having the craving because those are the toxins associated with that food that is trying to exit your body. They're causing your body to crave it so it can stay and not be eliminated. But let me tell you, once you eliminate it, you will never have the craving again. Be strong. On the other side of that craving is less bloating, less water weight, and an increase in intuitive eating.

4. What to eat when cleansing

Fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices, and wild foods. These are the '4 food groups' that Medical Medium discusses in Life Changing Foods. I noticed that when I changed my diet to incorporate more of these foods, I was cleansing in a healthy way. I'm not on a cleanse per se, nor is this book advertised as a cleanse. It's just a natural result of eating this way.

So what is recommended by Medical Medium to eat? 

Fruit: mango, papaya, bananas, apples, oranges, berries (especially wild blueberries, not cultivated), kiwi, pears, grapes, etc. 

Vegetables: GREENS and more greens (keep 'em varied), cruciferous veggies such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower, cucumbers, celery, sweet potatoes and potatoes (yes potatoes, just steam them and don't add any fat which keeps the liver from cleansing and the liver is ESSENTIAL to cleansing). 

Herbs and spices: parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, sage, turmeric, ginger, garlic, etc.

Wild foods: FRESH aloe vera (buy the big leaf in the produce section), dulse and other sea vegetables, chaga mushroom, raw honey, dandelion and nettle. 

This is a VERY abbreviated list of the possibilities there are to eat within these four groups. It doesn't sound like a lot of food, but believe me... there truly is!

Some have chosen to continue to eat beans, lentils, and some nuts and seeds while cleansing. Adding them will certainly slow down a cleanse, while eliminating them will speed up a cleanse. 

5. Smoothies and Juicing

Smoothies are a great way to have a snack while on a cleanse. You can add your desired superfood powders, add more greens in like spinach, and increase your fruit intake (especially those nutrient rich wild blueberries!).

Juicing is taking a cleanse one step further. Those really advanced with cleansing will sometimes do a 3 day juice fast- I have not yet got to that point! However, beginning with 6-8oz of a juice and working your way up to 16 oz of any juice is a great way to add juicing to your regimen. A mix of celery, cucumber, and apple is a nice juice for either novice or pro.

6. Raw vs Cooked

The more raw food included on a cleanse, the more cleansing can occur. The more cooked food, the slower the cleanse. Some days I'll eat raw all day and have a cooked dinner. There are a couple of days during the week when I'm feeling particularly good and I'll choose to have a raw dinner. Again, this can be based on intuitively what you're feeling. 

 

Does decreasing your toxic body burden seem more doable now? I certainly hope so. Providing your body with an increase in phytonutrients and enzymes will deeply nourish your body on a cellular level and aid your body's ability to remove toxic substances.

For more information, please contact me here.

To your health and healing,

Mandi