Overwhelmed?

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Do you ever feel so overwhelmed by all the changes you think you should be making in your life that you end up falling into old patterns? Or perhaps you never even start?

This is exactly how I’ve been feeling the last month or so. I’ve had to start organising getting my business up and running, work full time, study, try and stay on track with my diet, organise catch ups with people I should have seen long ago, and fit some time in there for me as well. Phew! I’ve found it very hard to motivate myself to work on the things I needed to because I had no idea where to start. It was all too much. But finally I’m getting myself on track, and it’s not as hard as I made it out to be. Here are a few of my top tips to get out of that rut and into action.

1. Write out your goals- I know it seems silly. You know what you want right? Perhaps, but putting your goals on paper makes it more real. You have to formulate the right words and think about whether or not you really want to achieve them. Writing out your goals also puts your intentions out into the universe, and that can do wonders on its own.

2. Break down your goals into manageable steps- I love lists! There I’ve said it. I love writing lists, and I love ticking things off lists even more. If you have a series of steps to follow tasks never seem as overwhelming as if you’re looking at the bigger picture. You also get great satisfaction from seeing your progress as you tick items off the list, and see your goal becoming a reality.

3. Tell someone what you are trying to achieve- I have a great support network of family and friends that help keep me accountable to my goals. It also makes me strive harder to achieve them because I hate failing in front of others (probably a personality trait I need to work on 😀 ). Teaming up with people with similar goals to your own can also benefit you greatly. I have a girlfriend on the same healthy eating regime as me, that sure keeps me in check!

4. Scheduling can work wonders- now I’m not a big scheduler, in fact I’m pretty lousy at it. But I definitely notice the difference it makes when I plan my tasks ahead of time. I’m more productive, and again I get great satisfaction from keeping on top of the things I’ve set myself to do for the day. At the end of every week I make time to plan out my tasks for the next, and it’s a lifesaver! Another tip is to make sure you put events/invitations/appointments into your planner as soon as you know about them. This stops things popping up unexpectedly because you forgot about them. Don’t forget to schedule some time for yourself!

5. Stop listening to that voice in your head that tells you you can’t- you know the one I’m talking about. Your mind will always make excuses not to do something for one reason or another, and 90% of the time it’s out of fear. Fear will get you nowhere, and you’ll look back on your life with regret. Yes things may be risky or scary, but holding back will never allow you to grow.

6. Ask for help- you don’t have to be superman/superwoman. If you’ve taken on too much, or you’re not sure how to proceed there’s no shame in bringing in someone to help. It could just be asking a friend to run an errand for you, or getting in a professional to take the burden off. Stress is one of the worst things you can do to your body, so the extra time you get from receiving help can go towards chilling out 🙂

Hope these tips help you in reaching your dreams!

Love and light,

Melissa

xxx


Have you heard of oil pulling?

Have you heard of oil pulling? I hadn’t either until about a month or so ago when I saw this concept popping up quite regularly on the internet. Even the name is intriguing, so I decided to do some research and found myself giving it a go (and loving it!).

Where does it come from?

Sadly I’m a bit behind the times as oil pulling is actually a very ancient Ayurvedic technique that is thousands of years old. It’s a very simple and harmless technique that involves swishing oil around in your mouth to improve dental hygiene, as well as being said to remedy countless other health problems. The Ayurveda textbook, the Caraka Samhita mentions the following about oil pulling:

Keeping of oil gargle provides strength in jaws and voice, development of the face, maximum taste and relish of food. One does not suffer from dryness of throat, lip cracking and teeth become firmly rooted. The teeth do not ache or become sensitive and can chew the hardest food items.

How does it work?

Just like the name implies, oil pulling is said to remove the harmful bacteria from your gums. Oils are also lipophilic which means that they attract other oils, so the fat soluble toxins which are stored in our skin  (eg. pesticides, heavy metals, hormones, additives, preservatives etc.) are pulled out. The immediate effect on our dental hygiene is easily recognisable, with whiter teeth, healthier gums and fresher breath. But how does this affect the rest of the body? Gums and dental health have been directly linked to heart health in numerous studies. Poor gum health allows toxins to penetrate the gums and enter the blood stream, therefore causing many health problems all around the body, not just in the heart.

Numerous studies have been conducted to test the effectiveness of oil pulling on dental hygiene, and have been found to support the oil pulling claims. One particular study took 20 adolescent boys and divided them into 2 groups (the control group, and the oil pulling group). The control group gargled with standard mouth wash, while the study group used oil for 2 weeks. The results showed a significant reduction in Streptococcus mutans in both groups over the study, supporting oil pulling as a mouth cleanser. You can read more about the study here.

While more studies on the other health claims of oil pulling need to be done, it certainly looks promising.

Method

Oil pulling is super easy. On an empty stomach (before breakfast), just take about a tablespoon of oil and swish it around in your mouth for about 10-20 mins, sucking and pulling the oil between your teeth. There are many different recommendations for what oil to use, but traditionally sesame oil or coconut oil is used. Personally I use coconut oil as I like the taste better. After 10-20 mins the oil should become thicker and turn white, this is how you know it’s done. Spit it out in the sink, rinse your mouth out with water, and brush your teeth. Easy!  It’s very important not to swallow the oil, as it now contains a high volume of toxins. It’s also a good idea to wash your sink out afterwards.

This may sound like it’s really gross, and to be honest at first it was. The first few days I had to control my gag reflexes, but by the third day I was fine with it. I’ve been doing it for over a week now, and it’s become part of my daily routine. 20 mins seems like a long time, but if you do it while getting ready for the day the time passes quickly.

 

In terms of results, I have noticed a dramatic improvement in my gum health and the feeling of cleanliness in my mouth. My teeth do appear whiter, and my gums are that nice light pink colour (the more dark pink/red your gums, the worse health they in). I’ve also noticed how much fresher my breath and mouth feels towards the end of the day, to what it normally feels like. While I haven’t yet experienced any other life changing health improvements, it’s only been a bit over a week so I’ll continue on with it and see how it goes. But the mouth improvements seems to be worth it all on their own. Much better than using chemical mouth washes.

If you want to learn more about oil pulling there’s a dedicated oil pulling website that explains everything, and you can download a free “How to do Oil Pulling” book.

I urge you to give it a go, even if it’s just for the sake of your own curiosity. You never know what it could do for you.

 

Love and light,

Melissa

xxx

 

References

http://oilpulling.com/

http://lifespa.com/the-truth-about-oil-pulling/

http://wellnessmama.com/7866/oil-pulling-for-oral-health/

http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/HeartDisease/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18408265

http://authoritynutrition.com/oil-pulling-coconut-oil/

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/oil-pulling-the-new-health-trend-for-wellness-warriors/story-fneuz9ev-1226774117202


You don’t have to put up with IBS!

When I was in year 12 I used to get horrible cramps and digestive trouble. Sometimes it was so painful that I would be doubled over on the floor in agony. Naturally I just thought it was due to the stress of my final year of high school, until my mother made me go to the doctor. After describing my symptoms my doctor told me I most likely had IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) brought on by stress, and that there wasn’t much I could do besides try to keep my stress levels down and avoid certain foods. From that point on I thought that digestive trouble was just going to be something that I had to put up with. Thankfully, my symptoms lessened over the years, but things were still never quite ‘normal’.

This week I’ve started reading up on IBS to expand my health knowledge. For those that don’t know I’m studying to be a holistic health coach, and the more knowledge on various conditions I have, the better coach I will be! It reminded me of the problems I had all those years ago, and it made me think about how many people are suffering with IBS in silence (approximately 1 in 5 Australians experience IBS symptoms!). Perhaps without even having ever seen a doctor or other healthcare practitioner. So I thought I would shed some light on the topic, and hopefully let a few people know that it’s something you don’t have to ‘just put up with’.

So what is IBS? Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (namely the large intestine), which can cause a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. Some of which include abdominal pain, altered bowel movements (diarrhoea or constipation), bloating, mucus present in stools, and nausea. IBS is known as a ‘functional disorder’ because there are no physical signs of disease when the GI tract is examined, however the function of the tract has changed in quality. Unfortunately the exact cause/s of IBS are not known, but there a number of theories consisting of mental and physical problems. For example:

  • bacterial imbalances in the gut
  • food sensitivity
  • mental health problems eg. anxiety
  • genetics
  • brain-gut signal problems, and
  • GI motor problems

What we do know is that there are a number of ‘triggers’ which can set off or worsen symptoms. These triggers range from medication, to food intolerance, to stress.

Diagnosing IBS can be a lengthy process, as other conditions such as Coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease have to be ruled out. It is best to seek your preferred healthcare
professional if you suspect you have this condition.

It all seems pretty grim right? Well don’t despair there are things you can do to ease and maybe eradicate symptoms altogether. Traditionally, there are medications you can take for some of the symptoms, however I believe medication is just a band-aid fix and won’t help you in the long run. I believe diet change is first and foremost the most important change you can make. Some people groan at the thought of having to watch what they eat, but it’s worth feeling better right?

The first step in an IBS friendly diet is elimination. There are certain foods/substances which wreak havoc on those with sensitive stomachs. Sorry coffee drinkers, but coffee is an absolute no-no. Coffee strips the lining of the intestinal tract! The lining of our intestines is what keeps all the things our body doesn’t want out of the bloodstream, so you can imagine the damage that could occur when this isn’t working properly.

The second food to eliminate is white flour. “But flour is in everything!”, I hear you say. Yes, it is in a lot of processed foods, so you’re going to have to check labels. Flour also strips the lining of the intestine, and it has next to no nutritional value anyway.

Third is sugar because it causes loose bowel movements. This can be one of the hardest things for people give up (believe me I know!). It’s an addicting substance, and even consuming a little bit will always leave you wanting more. But if you persevere there are healthier options you can replace sugar with. Dairy is another no-no, especially cows milk or products containing milk. Scientists have identified 25 different molecules in milk that have the potential to cause an allergic response. If you can’t live without dairy, try eating sheep and goat dairy products as they’re easier to digest, and make sure the stuff you do buy is organic.

Finally, the last substance that should be weened out is artificial sweeteners. These guys have all sorts of nasty chemicals in them such as aspartame and sucralose. Now as far as I’m aware, there are strong arguments for and against the safety of artificial sweeteners (which I won’t go into in this blog), but as far as I’m concerned natural is always best. Some great natural sweeteners include honey, brown rice syrup, stevia, and agave nectar. Again, in my opinion I think they taste better too 😉
If you do try to eliminate any or all of these foods, do take care to do it gradually, as the body can experience some withdrawal symptoms from some of them.

Well hopefully you’re not running for the hills already because there are many more things you can do to ease symptoms. So let’s talk about what you can eat, and it can be summed up in one word, ‘fibre’. Fibre is essentially plant roughage, which keeps your digestive system healthy. It helps you to feel more satiated, and breaks down slowly so you feel fuller for longer. For those with IBS, lots of dietary fibre will help make bowel movements less painful, and more regular. Really good sources of fibre include, dark leafy greens such as kale and chard (silver beet), nuts and seeds, and a general increase in fruit and vegetables. When you increase your intake of fibre, remember to chew (and this goes for anything you eat). Digestion starts in your mouth when saliva starts breaking down the food. If you eat too fast your intestines have to do all the work of breaking down food for you.

Another inclusion to your diet that can be very helpful are probiotic supplements. Probiotics are good bacteria that are very similar to the ones found in our own GI tracts. They help improve the balance of flora in our digestive system, and provide a number of beneficial roles to keep our digestive systems healthy. Probiotics come in a number of forms, but it’s best to speak to your healthcare professional first.

I also cannot stress how important water is for the body. We are made up by more than half of it! Bodily functions slow down and stop working if we don’t have enough water. So first thing tomorrow morning have two big glasses of water before you start your day, and your body will thank you for it.

So with all this diet information, it’s best to start keeping a food diary. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner religiously, and you may be able to figure out patterns to what food makes you feel good, and what food triggers your symptoms.

Aside from diet, lifestyle is a huge factor in contributing to IBS, and stress is a big culprit. If you’re a bit of a worry wort and have noticed that your symptoms worsen when you’re put in a stressful situation, you are the perfect candidate for some relaxation training. There are many, many ways you can lower your stress levels, so it’s up to you to find what works best for you. I find meditation and breathing exercises really beneficial, but you might just enjoy sitting and reading a book. I have a friend who finds cooking her most relaxing activity! Whatever you choose, find some time each day for it, and not only will it help you relax, but it will also make your day a bit better. Another important lifestyle move is exercise (see what I did there 🙂 ). Exercise can also help with stress levels, but more importantly a study had shown it can substantially reduce symptoms.

Now you may be asking “what can I do when I’m in the middle of an attack?”. I know how painful digestive pain can be, and I’ve tried some of these remedies, and they really do help. First and foremost you need to try to relax your body. Breathing exercises and meditation can help enormously. Hot water bottles can also provide great relief, and are great to use daily anyway. If you have a gas pocket that won’t shift, try moving around or doing sit-ups in attempt to dislodge it (only if you are able to). You can also get some gas relief products from health food stores.

For those that are willing to try anything, there are heaps of alternative therapies out there that can also help. I myself love working with crystals, and more recently essential oils, because I usually find that there are underlying emotional blockages that can bring out physical symptoms. Red calcite, and many other red crystals are great for removing blockages in your base chakra. Just make sure you cleanse them before use. Ginger, Frankincense, and Peppermint essential oils are also fantastic to use.

Phew, what a list! And that’s just a small glimpse at the some of the changes you can make! Just like any condition, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or alone, it’s always best to seek help from a professional that can guide you through the changes you need to make. A Health Coach is a great option for putting you on a diet and lifestyle plan that suits your own unique needs, rather than a general plan that may not work for everyone. I encourage you to explore all avenues, no matter how crazy it seems, because it’s better that than suffering in silence.

If you would like anymore information about anything I’ve referred to in this blog please don’t hesitate to comment below. I got much of my information from Health Coach, Randi Cestero, who specialises in IBS, as well as the following websites:

http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/ibs_ez/

http://www.cdd.com.au/pages/disease_info/irritable_bowel_syndrome.html

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Irritable_bowel_syndrome

http://www.gastro.net.au/diets/irritablebowel.html

You can also find clinical trials relating to IBS here.

Good luck!

Love and light,

Melissa

xxx


New Journey

Welcome to my new blog page!

This is such an exciting time for me! I’m embarking on a new journey that will not only change my life completely, but hopefully make a huge difference in the lives of many, many others.

You see I’m coming into my true calling as a healer and an educator!

But before I give you any more information, let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m just your regular girl who works in the fast paced event industry. I work crazy hours, I used to eat very poorly which was directly linked to my time management skills, and worst of all I completely ignored who I am. Like most people I’d been consumed by society, work, time pressures, financial pressures, materialistic desires, filtered information,and the views of others rather than taking note of my own. However, no matter how consumed I was in my own little world, there was always that nagging voice telling me I was on the wrong train. Nevertheless, I kept going on like this for many years.

Then BAM!!! My train crashed and I became very ill. For a long time I was in despair, taking a pile of medication, and thinking I would never get better. I saw doctor after doctor, specialist after specialist, but nothing was helping. It took me a while to realise that this was just the universe’s way of getting me to slow down and reassess my life. So I did just that. It was a long road to recovery, but I can honestly say it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It definitely made me ‘stop and smell the roses’, as they say.

Two of the things that have made the biggest difference in my turn around are my spiritual practice, and my diet. I’ve always believed in something bigger than what we see, that there are no coincidences, and that we came here to learn and grow for a greater purpose. I’ve also always had the special gift of sensing and seeing energy, but I let this side of myself slide. Partly because I was afraid. Partly because we are all so conditioned to think that there is nothing beyond what we can physically see and touch, and partly because there are few people that take you seriously when you open up to them about these things. We live in a very discouraging world where people tell you ‘you can’t’ so much that you end up believing it. Developing this side of myself again took a lot of soul searching, exceptional support and encouragement from my beautiful partner, meditation, workshops, practice and commitment. I’m still learning everyday, and have now reached a point where I’m able to help others.

Changing my diet completely has also made a HUGE difference in my health, that I often wonder how I survived before. I feel healthier, I have more energy, my mind is clearer, and I can see a much brighter future for myself. So much so that I’m currently studying holistic health coaching, which will hopefully lead me into an exciting new career. I want to teach people how to take responsibility for their own health, to help them learn what foods are good for their own bodies, and that you don’t need medication to control many of the rampant health issues that plague our society. Food is medicine. Don’t get me wrong though. Western medicine has a place in our society, but we can often rely too much on others to fix us. Drugs are all too readily available for every condition you can think of, but sometimes it’s as simple as eating more vegetables, or resting so that your body has a chance to do its thing. The first step in the road to better health is the acknowledgement of the role you play in your own health through the choices you make.

In light of all that I’ve learnt, and my continuing journey, this blog page will be a space for me to share information in both the health and spiritual wellness areas, and promote my soon to be business Ascending Heart. If you’re not so keen on the ‘airy fairy’ side of things, don’t worry, there will be plenty of posts on physical health with science to back it up 🙂

Finally, to those who may be reading this that already know me; you may be surprised at what you have read so far! I’ve always kept my cards pretty close to my heart, but I think this forum is a great next step in becoming my true authentic self. I appreciate any and all your support.

I hope you will come back often, and take the journey with me to better health and enlightenment.

Love and light,

Melissa

Xxx

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