Body and Beauty, Health, Healthy Food

The Beachside Resident September 2018 Issue

I contributed to The Beachside Resident for their September 2018 issue. Check it out!

A Smoothie a Day

Improving health and quality of life can be achieved with a morning routine. We are creatures of habit and tend to take up to a month to break and form habits. Starting your morning out with a fresh smoothie can boost your energy and make you feel better. We often have plenty of options lying around the kitchen to make a beneficial smoothie blend from scratch. Skip the preservatives, dyes, artificial flavors and sweeteners and whip up your own healthy batch.

I used a banana, handful of fresh spinach, a few slices of frozen peaches, ginger tea and a splash of pineapple juice for the base. I sprinkled in a generous amount of cinnamon, ashwagandha root and local honey. One slice of watermelon and a few ice cubes later, you have a blended brew of beneficial freshness. 
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb root that has anti-cancer properties, reduces cortisol levels, helps reduce stress and anxiety, improves muscle mass and strength while also reducing inflammation. Local honey fights infection and helps with local allergies.
Watermelon has multiple beneficial plant compounds and is high in vitamin C and A. It is also lowers inflammation. Watermelon keeps you hydrated and can improve heart health. This melon is great post workout because it increases muscle recovery. It has also been know as a natural Viagra. Ginger, yet another anti-inflammatory, can treat indigestion, menstrual pain, muscle aches and nausea.
The beauty of a homemade smoothie is that you can substitute juice for tea, kombucha or even water if you are low on options. I always keep frozen fruit in my freezer. If I can’t eat my fruit in time before it goes bad, I freeze it for a smoothie later. I keep spinach on hand to help with my iron levels. If I don’t have fresh ginger or ginger tea then I go to my spice cabinet. Turmeric is also an anti inflammatory that could work well in a smoothie, though I prefer it it in my meals. Healing Sprinkles is my new spice blend that tastes amazing in smoothies and is loaded with many healing herbs and spices.
You can balance your body and correct deficiencies, imbalances, energy levels, mood and health ailments with what you eat and drink. As you can see, there are many benefits that plants have to offer and it will literally save you a headache not having to process unnatural ingredients.
Healthy Food

The Art of Plant Based Diets

*From my article in The Beachside Resident November 2018
Mother nature gives us the good stuff. Not only are fruits and vegetables beautiful but they fuel our bodies. I chose super vibrant art inspired food to highlight the juicy details. Check out the amazing benefits from each of these ingredients:
Dragon Fruit: High in nutrients, fiber, minerals and vitamins, low on calories and a great source of antioxidants and magnesium. Ideal for gut health and boosting your immune system. Put it in a smoothie or with your yogurt.
Star Fruit: High in vitamin C and a great source of potassium with anti-inflammatory properties. Also high in fiber. These also look awesome as a garnish on a martini glass. 
Carrots: Rich in vitamin A. Great for your metabolism, promotes healthy skin and reduces vision problems. Reduces cancer risks and lowers cholesterol. Top carrots on your salad or sneak them into your muffins or meals.
Beets: wonderful source of fiber, C and folate. Beets have a plethora of benefits, like boosting your endurance, digestion, brain health and sexual health. Just don’t be scared when you drink a glass of beet juice then next morning when you poop. It’s just beets. Juice them or top off your salad with some beets. They also make a great base for a veggie burger and pairs well with goat cheese. 
Spinach: Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate and it isn’t good for you. In fact, 40% of the population can’t even process it due to the very common MTHFR mutation, which causes many issues, including ADHD, autoimmune disorders, depression, brain fog, anxiety and more. Folate can be found naturally in your leafy greens. I put some in all of my meals and even in my smoothies. Also a great source of tons of other minerals and vitamins your body needs that you can’t get in a bag of Doritos.
Health, Healthy Food, Sweet Tooth

Sugar – The Silent Killer and a Low Glycemic List of Foods Best For You

Our blood sugar or glucose levels should be in the 74-100 range. Glucose enters the bloodstream then to your cells. Our pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Chronic high glucose levels will create issues with your insulin levels.

Having high levels of blood sugar on a constant basis can damage your blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis (the hardening of your blood vessels). In time, this can create the perfect environment for heart disease due to the damage of long term elevated glucose. Sugar can increase the risk of stroke or heart attacks due to ischemia, or lack of blood flow to an organ, just as bad as cholesterol and high blood pressure. Besides heart disease and stroke, the narrowing or hardening of blood vessels can also compromise other organs and cause issues such as kidney disease, erectile disfunction, vision issues, poor circulation, nerve damage, slow wound healing and a weakened immune system.

You can run around the gym and count calories all day, but what you put into your body DOES matter. Justifying your workout so that you can eat processed foods with high sugar content or artificial ingredients will not work long term. You may feel fine now and slim down but as you age, these issues will catch up to you.

Foods to avoid:

  • White potatoes
  • White rice
  • White bread
  • Sugar
  • Sports and energy drinks
  • Soda
  • Yogurt with sugar*
  • BBQ sauce*
  • Ketchup*
  • Marinara sauce*
  • Granola*
  • Flavored coffees
  • Sweet tea
  • Protein bars and cereal bars*
  • Canned fruit
  • Bottled or premade smoothies
  • Breakfast cereals*
  • Cocktail mixers

*Check the labels! These can still be good as long as they do not have a high sugar content.

Best option, low glycemic:

  • Green vegetables
  • Sugar-free yogurt
  • Raw carrots
  • Berries
  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpea
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Sweet potato
  • Peas
  • Quinoa
  • Watermelon
  • Artichokes
  • Grapefruit
  • Peaches
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Apples
  • Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn tortillas

Maple syrup and local honey are great natural sweeteners and substitutes for sugar. Artificial sweeteners and even many natural sweeteners like Stevia are still very processed to the point of losing all natural value. Remember to read the labels and sugar content. We sometimes see products that are marketed as healthy as assume they are okay, but are often loaded with sugar.

Every day is a new day. Every hour is a new chance to start over. Many of us mess up and fall off the track, then stay there. Pick yourself back up, and start over. You are worth it. Your future self with thank you.

We are creatures of habit and you will change your habits and lifestyle if you stick to it. Prevent disease and future health issues by eating clean and keeping your body in balance.

Health, mental health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

The Invisible Battle of Chronic Illness

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is an umbrella of many ailments that fall beneath it. This genetic disorder manifests in many ways; various joints and organs are affected and there is a large range of severity on each spectrum. None of us EDSers are the same. We call ourselves zebras because most doctors think of horses when they hear hooves, but rarely it can be a zebra. We are the zebras in the medical world. There is no cure for EDS but each symptom can be managed separately. It is tricky because we sometimes have several specialists to manage each symptom, or comorbidity, which can resemble having a full time job. Juggling this health conditions not only takes a toll on our energy but it also takes up most of our time. 
On a regular basis, I see several specialists: cardiologist, electrophysiologist, pulmonologist, cardiothoracic surgeon, rheumatologist, neurologist, otolaryngologist (ENT), endocrinologist, gynecologist, gastroenterologist, and of course my general physician. I also sometimes see a chiropractor for traction and the use of some machines to help build strength in my lower back. I don’t have access, but need to see a geneticist, nephrologist, ophthalmologist and orthopedic specialist. That is about 12-16 specialists every 3-6 months. If I see fourteen doctors four times per year, just as a guess, that is fifty six doctors appointments in a year! I also end up in the ER, on average, about six times per year and usually have one or two hospital admissions… on a good year. This year, I had a few surgeries already and last year I had a pacemaker put in. Last year I probably had close to fifty emergency room visits so we won’t count that year. 
An average day for me is waking up around 2am-4am with lower back pain, thirst and several bathroom breaks. I never truly sleep through the night. I have a dysfunctional nervous system (dysautonomia) and suffer from Neurocardiogenic Syncope, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, sleep apnea and issues with my body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and more. My pain level has NEVER been under a five on the 1-10 scale. Not even for a moment. I usually have to be out of bed by 7-8am because my body is so sore when lying down for a long time. Even if I am sick, I have to get out of bed or the pain is so severe that I can not breathe. This means that I can not sleep for over six hours without a break, or the pain is unbearable. 
I take most of my medications and supplements in the morning. I usually start my day off with a headache, nausea, low blood pressure and a general feeling of being hungover but without the fun tequila shots. As I make it to midday, my entire body aches. Every cell in my body hurts. I feel so fatigued and exhausted, even if I didn’t do much. My head hurts and if I am around strong perfumes, chemicals or exposed to any chemicals in my food, I will have a runny nose, body aches and migraine with aura (visual disturbances). My lips and left hand go numb, simultaneously, about five times a day. No one knows why. My symptoms often mimic a stroke so I fear that one day if I have a stroke, I wouldn’t know the difference. I have chemical sensitivities that are hard to avoid. Wearing a mask and watching what I eat helps. Usually by 5-6pm, I am ready to collapse. Sometimes I make it through, with a smile on my face, because I try to live my life to the fullest. Despite how I feel, I push it to the limit to be the best mother, wife, friend, student and so on. I refuse to give up no matter how hard it gets.
By evening, I have made it through the day and usually my body temperature is low and I am freezing but somehow feel like I am burning up and running a fever. My temperature usually will read 96-97 degrees. It is incredibly uncomfortable to feel hot and cold at the same time. My chest feels heavy at night and if I lie on my back I start to feel fluid in my lungs. On a tough day, I will breathe so shallow while I fall asleep that I jump up gasping for air, with low oxygen and a racing heart. Other nights, I can’t sleep because memories flash back from the past when I was in the back of an ambulance or in the ER with chaotic arrhythmias. I close my eyes and hope to get to the next morning. It all starts over again in the morning. 
Depression can be a struggle for those who suffer with daily pain or frequent traumatic hospital visits. I recently came up with the term “Post Traumatic Health Disorder.” Depression can also be a factor because we feel like we have lost the person we once were and are prisoners to a body that doesn’t feel like it belongs to us. Our friends drop like flies the more we cancel on them, relationships are strained and many physicians don’t take us seriously because oftentimes these symptoms don’t show anything in blood work and we are passed off as a mental case. Many doctors are not familiar with rare, genetic disorders so they typically label us with anxiety or a catch-all diagnosis and send us on our way. We feel alone and like no one understands. It is scary, disheartening and frustrating. Seeing a therapist is important, as well as finding a support group.
Having an invisible illness is a battle and we all think of ourselves as warriors. We are warriors. We battle and fight every damn day. Tears are shed on the battlefield often and we watch our tribe through ups and downs on our online support groups. We have lost some and watched others give up. We keep fighting and supporting each other and raising awareness while we struggle to make it out of bed.
Always be kind to others, as you have no idea what they are battling under all that makeup and forced smile. And to those who are my fellow warriors, I believe you.
Body and Beauty, Health

Toxic Free and Chemical Free Perfume Oils

Yesterday, I was at the post office shipping an order and the woman in front of me had a powerfully pungent toxic perfume that gave me an instant headache and nausea that lasted for hours. If you don’t care about what your body absorbs then maybe you could be mindful of your friends and family members who hug you and see you at gatherings and are too timid to speak up that your toxic fragrance is making them ill. In the U.S., manufacturers can legally hide hundreds of synthetic chemicals in the one word: fragrance. We live in a toxic world so why not minimize our exposure where we can. Live a healthy life and give the gift of quality air to your loved ones.

Wildling Apothecary

Healthy Food

Halloween Festive Party Recipes

October is such a transitional month. Hurricane season is almost over and the tease of a cool breeze is on the way. It’s time to start getting festive and decorating. Food can be fun and still be healthy and delicious. I am offering a spooky dinner dish and side that will be a hit at any party. Everything is also gluten-free, and can be dairy-free as well. Most importantly, none of the ingredients call for scary preservatives, dyes or fillers. You won’t feel like a pumpkin after this meal! It is so delicious that it will haunt you forever with cravings. 

Stuffed Taco-Lantern

1 pack of Gardein meatless crumbles (you can substitute with meat)

1 can of black beans

1 small 4.5 oz can of green chiles

Season with onion powder, garlic salt, turmeric and cumin

Orange bell peppers 

Sriracha 

Spinach

Goat cheese (optional)

Preheat the over to 375. Mix the meatless crumbles with black beans, green chiles and spices on medium temperature, enough to warm it up and mix everything together. Cut the top of the orange bell pepper off and remove the seeds on the inside. With a small knife, cut different jack-o-lantern designs into the peppers and then stuff them with the mix. Top with goat cheese, unless you want a fully vegan dish. Place the peppers and lids on a foil covered baking dish and cook for 20 minutes. Line the plates with fresh spinach and place the peppers on the spinach. Decorate the top of the peppers with a little bit of Sriracha. 

Misti’s Salsa Salad

1 can of black beans

1 can of fire roasted corn

1 large tomato diced

1/3 of a white onion diced

Handful of chopped cilantro

Handful of chopped scallions

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

2 limes juiced

10 generous shakes of Cholula hot sauce 

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve with chips. You can also add fresh chopped avocado. 

*Published in www.thebeachsideresident.com

October 2018 issue

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Invisible Illnesses Unveiled – Scoliosis

Ra’chelle is someone I have known since the third or fourth grade. She was our babysitter in Clever, Missouri. Somehow, we both migrated to Florida and became photographers hiding an invisible illness. We touched base on Facebook and she opened up to me about her scoliosis.

I knew Ra’chelle as a badass cheerleader. I had seen her at practices and she would toss other cheerleaders up into the air and she would catch them! She was so poised and strong. I always looked up to her and had the coolest babysitter in town. I never had any idea that she could be in pain.

Scoliosis is a condition of the spine that curves sideways. It usually begins during puberty during the growth spurt.

What is your official diagnosis and at what age were you diagnosed?

I was originally diagnosed with a slight case of scoliosis, around the age of eleven or twelve, during a routine sports physical at school. They said it wasn’t too bad but I could probably get some correction of the curvature by wearing a 24 hour brace. As a new junior high cheerleader, my vanity wouldn’t allow the big bulky brace, which was my first mistake.

Currently, I have severe scoliosis, S shape spine, which has caused crooked hips, one leg longer, ribcage is twisted and ribs overlap on one side restricting my breathing at times. The other side of my rib cage hunches up on my right shoulder, my neck is “swan neck” curving the opposite direction it is supposed to, causing it to feel as though I am carrying a 50 pound head around by the end of the day. I have constant headaches; everything being crooked causes joint pain and catches in my knees and hips. My right shoulder dislocates on a regular basis and has to be popped back in. I recently found out that the exhausting pain I’ve felt in my low back for the last couple years is because I have a fracture in my lower spine. I have degenerating discs and osteo arthritis, consistent muscle tension, spasms, and pinched off nerves from everything trying to keep up with my physical activities. I have lost a total of 3-4 inches in height since high school. These are all issues I never talk about and keep to myself.

At what point in your life did you start to see or feel a change in your body? How did that affect you?

I began having some discomfort toward the end of my high school years, because of the sports that I was involved in, and the activities I proceeded to do without the suggested brace. It didn’t feel serious to me at the time. I was young and invincible! By my early twenties, my condition had progressed enough that I had already lost an inch in height since graduating high school. I was having a considerable amount of pain and symptoms. I had Medicaid at the time, which didn’t cover chiropractic treatment but they sent me through an extensive Pain Management Course. I learned self-hypnosis to help me sleep, had some therapeutic massage, learned that no combination of narcotic pain meds or muscle relaxers were going to help because my body doesn’t do well with heavy medications. I refused to live in the fog that they caused. My days of ibuprofen around the clock began. During this course, they also diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. Add that to the IBS, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and reoccurring vertigo, and ulcers, that were all diagnosed back in high school, and what do you get? Depression!

I also found out quickly that I have pretty severe reactions to most antidepressants! The first time the doctors began telling me to go on disability, I was the young age of 26 with two small children and there was NO WAY I was going to do that! They also had lots of big ideas about surgeries we could try, which I also refused due to seeing my sister in law go through the same surgeries first hand. I didn’t feel like any of these solutions were acceptable. I just powered through and pressed on. Skip forward to 2013 or so, I was late in my 30’s and had spent the years powering through the pain, now alternating Ibuprofen and Aleve all day, every day just to be able to move, and was getting some intermittent chiropractic care. After one hell of a year full of illness from some rare third world country parasite (entamoeba histolytica) that I somehow contracted, along with a hysterectomy and a total prolift surgery, I decided it was time to do everything I could possibly do on my own to maintain my health. This was the start to my health and fitness journey. I began changing my diet and educating myself on the importance of what we put in our bodies as well as getting in shape and strengthening my core, which is of crucial importance with any type of back issues! It was during this transition of shedding fat, toning up, and growing muscle that I began taking photos of my progress which I quickly developed a love/hate relationship with. This was the first time I really began to physically SEE my deformities caused from my S shaped spine. By this point, the curve was causing my entire rib cage to twist leaving some ribs on one side visibly protruding. My hip bones were crooked, and when bending over toward my toes the “hunch back” on one side had begun. This started a whole new mental struggle with my vanity. I stopped wearing little tight shirts as much, always wore my hair down to cover the top of my back if in a tank top, and became very self-conscious of my disfigurements.

What is your biggest struggle?

My biggest struggle is listening to my body when it is telling me to stop. I have raised my kids and am still young and work very hard to be healthy and physically fit, despite my conditions, because there is still so much that I want to do in life! I love being outside in nature and being active and going on adventures. So often, so many times each and every day, my back is telling me to stop, or my shoulders and neck are telling me to take my hair down and take my bra off because it’s pulling on my muscles. My lower back, hips and legs are screaming to get horizontal to relieve the pressure and it’s so difficult to listen. I don’t claim the disabled title and I do still work and from the outside, people truly have no idea what I am feeling as I push to just keep up with everyday tasks. How do I suddenly stop in the middle of an outing, photo shoot at work, or a shift at the gym and say “I have to stop now.”

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I would say my biggest accomplishment is what I have done to stay strong enough to have raised my littles into bigs and to be fighting like hell to stay strong enough to play with my grand kids when I see them, to carry out my career goals as a photographer, and to go on many more adventures with my husband.

If you had advice for anyone newly diagnosed with your condition, what would it be?

First, drop your vanity and WEAR THE BRACE! I am sure they make them much less bulky these days! Second, start now and never stop strengthening your core. This is so very important. The docs told me early on that the best thing I could do is keep my core strong and also swim thirty minutes each day, neither of which I did until way later into my life. I still don’t swim everyday as I don’t have a pool, but it is a goal. This condition CAN be corrected if caught and treated at an early age of growth. You CAN keep it from progressing as much or as rapidly IF you treat it early on. The only thing I can do at my stage now is just a million different things each day just to maintain and stay mobile. It’s exhausting but it’s necessary.

What are three things you can’t live without?

My loved ones, music, my faith. I wouldn’t want to live without the beach ever again.

Favorite quote:

“Just Be Real”

What inspires you on a daily basis?

Watching how my grand babies are growing into these very active little angels makes me push to keep going so that I can spend more time with them as they grow. Also, seeing the stories of so many other people who have struggles and conditions that far outweigh anything I could ever imagine and how they have overcome and press on. It’s truly amazing what we humans are capable of with the right amount of courage, faith, and desire. Better healthcare would definitely make the fight less agonizing.

Photos by Misti Blu Day

Ra’chelle’s Photography: Majestic Soul Photography