In this inaugural episode of The Wellness Mama Podcast: Simple Answers for Healthier Families, I discus my personal journey and my reason for starting this blog and the podcast.
I also talk about what is next for the podcast and topics I’ll be covering in the future, especially my core topics on how to “RESET” your health:
Why A Podcast?
When my oldest son was just six weeks old, I was reading a magazine in the doctor’s office at my follow-up appointment and I read a line that hit me like a ton of bricks:
“For the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents.”
The article continued to talk about the coming rise in cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease and other problems. I looked down at my tiny, perfect infant and every cell in my body rebelled against the idea that he would have to suffer these problems.
I decided that a 50:50 chance of diabetes wasn’t good enough for our children. That a 1 in 3 chance of getting cancer was not going to cut it and that statistics like “95% of the US population will be obese in the next two decades,” needed to change.
That day, the mission of WellnessMama.com was born as I realized what an uphill battle we must fight to protect future generations. It started a personal journey for me to find ways to improve my own health and the health of my husband and children. It also ignited a fire in me to change these statistics.
I also realized that I was a victim of these statistics myself. I am the classic type-A first child. In high school I was senior class president, graduated with honors and was in 23 different extra curricular activities and several sports. I made the grades and was up late studying and up early for meetings at school so I didn’t sleep much.
Like most students, I figured I could eat whatever I wanted as long as i didn’t gain weight so I subsisted on fried foods, cafeteria pizza and coffee.
College was more of the same plus writing assignments that added extra hours and occasional travel. One summer, I walked across the country, literally, which was one of the best experiences of my life but also the most difficult until I had children.
I was with a group of students and we walked 15-20 miles or more a day each day, sometimes during the night. Combine that with bad food and stress and you pretty much have the breeding ground for health problems.
Fast forward a few years and I left the journalism dream to become a wife and a mom, which is definitely the best choice I’ve ever made, but five kids pretty close together also means not much sleep for about eight years.
Turns out that stress, bad food and lack of sleep are a great way to create problems like autoimmune disease, trouble losing weight and more.
Ever since that moment when I read that statistic in that doctors office, I’ve been on a search to create a better future for my children and yours but also to find answers to my own health struggles. I finally got some answers for myself lately and found out that I have autoimmune thyroid problems, likely fueled by my stress, lack of sleep and bad diet earlier in life.
I know first hand how difficult these challenges are and how hard they are to reverse once they are there, and I don’t want my children to struggle with this same fate.
My goal with this podcast and with WellnessMama.com is to address these topics and provide answers for your family. I’ll be interviewing health experts, other moms, doctors, researchers and getting their best advice to help you improve your health and the health of your family members.
The Core: RESET Your Health
When talking about health and wellness, I focus on my seven core topics that work to transform health. An easy way to remember them is with the acronym “RESET – IT”
The “R” and cornerstone of health is real food. I often say that you can’t out supplement or out exercise a bad diet and this is an area that really needs some improvement for a lot of us. The three most consumed plant foods in the US are corn, wheat and soybeans and ironically, none of those are vegetables. Some tribes throughout the world consume hundreds of different types of vegetation and we focus primarily on three.
On top of this, our food is home to hundreds of chemicals and additives that the body does not recognize and which it must filter and remove, which increases the burden of these foods on our bodies. How many children think that food actually originates in a grocery store or have never seen a local farm where their food is prepared.
If you look at the statistics for the last hundred years, especially the last four decades, you see some disturbing trends. Some interesting ones to note are:
- rising rates of heart disease, stroke, cancer and death from those causes
- rise in consumption of carbohydrates and decline in saturated fat consumption
- rising rates of sugar and sweetener consumption
- rising consumption of vegetable oils, and rising rates of obesity
- declining rates of home-grown food, varied agriculture, home cooked meals and time spent as a family.
I will focus a lot on how to make a real food diet manageable and especially topics like finding good sources of locally grown food, avoiding chemicals and additives in foods, home cooking when possible and focusing on nutrient dense foods and not calories.
The second part of my RESET IT challenge is E for Eliminate stress.
While stress is often thought of as a strictly emotional and mental problem, there is a growing amount of evidence that is has a host of physiological effects as well. One study found that a chemical released when the body is in a stressed state, Neuropeptide Y, causes fat cells to open and store fat rather than burn it. Another study found that, especially in women, higher cortisol (stress hormone) leads to weight gain around the waist, even in otherwise slender women.
Another study found that stress shortens telomeres in cells at a faster rate, leading to premature aging and the increased risk of diseases that accompanies it.
Stress can impact hormones and fertility as well. When cortisol is high in the body, progesterone is often low because the body uses progesterone to manufacture cortisol. This is often why stress and elevated cortisol levels correlate with trouble conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy. While natural progesterone cream can be helpful, it is important to address the causes as well.
Other physical reactions associated with high stress levels are:
- Hair loss (from prolonged stress)
- Dry mouth
- Increased incidence of heart disease and stroke
- Higher incidence of allergy
- Muscle pain or twitching
- Hormonal and menstrual troubles
- Increased incidence of eczema and psoriasis
- Slower healing from all illness
Effectively dealing with stress requires an integrative approach that not only addresses the causes of stress (mental, emotional, physical) but also works to actively reverse the damage that has already been done. For me personally, this is one of my toughest health challenges to address, since even though I know what I should be doing, I don’t always have time to fit it all in.
To start, we definitely must address the basics:
Physical Stress: While some physical stress is good (sprinting, lifting weights, etc.) other types can be harmful (chronic cardio, lack of sleep, etc.) and dietary causes also create a physical stress. A poor diet, especially one that includes any foods you are intolerant or allergic too can create a stress reaction in your body, even if you minimize other types of stresses. To help reduce physical stress, eat a solid real-food diet, get enough sleep and avoid toxins when you can. See the supplement and sleep info below for some practical tips.
Emotional Stress: This one can obviously have many causes, but can often be addressed by working through tough relationships, making time for prayer and meditation, keeping a gratitude journal to focus on the positive, and making time to unwind.
Mental Stress: Similar to emotional stress, this type of stress is often helped my meditation, time management, and organization to only need to focus on one task at a time.
Since this is one of my biggest struggles personally,I’ll be sharing tips that have worked for me and interviewing experts to help find answers for dealing with stress effectively
The third factor of RESETing IT is SLEEP
We all know we should, but most of us aren’t getting enough sleep!
For some (including me) the idea of ever getting a solid night of uninterrupted sleep again may sound wonderful, but unrealistic. My excuse is the constant presence of a child under 18 months in my house but for many others it is insomnia, sleep disturbances, or simply not enough time.
When my husband and I met walking across America, we didn’t have much time to sleep. “We’ll sleep when we’re dead” we often thought. Turns out, not getting enough sleep can make that day come sooner that we expect! Lack of adequate sleep (6-8 hours per night) has been linked to:
Poor memory function, lowered immune function, increased risk of disease, decreased cell regeneration, behavioral problems, skewed insulin and blood sugar numbers and more. In fact, one night of missed or severely impaired sleep can give you the blood sugar numbers of a diabetic the next day, even if you are otherwise healthy!
I admit that I’m not the best at sleep, but it has been a journey for me and I’ve learned some tips along the way about sleep environment, optimizing diet and lifestyle for better sleep and how to get kids to sleep, so I’ll be sharing those and interviewing some sleep experts as well.
The next part of RESET IT is Exercise-
It can be hard to make time for exercise. I get it. With family, a household to maintain, meals to cook and work to do, it isn’t always at the top of the priority list. I’ve found that if I concentrate on fast workouts that provide maximum benefit, I’m more likely to stick to them.
Statistically, getting regular exercise is one area that many of us are not doing, and despite the multi-billion dollar gym and training industry, it isn’t always something that requires a gym membership or expensive equipment. I have a couple pairs of minimalist/barefoot shoes and a kettlebell, and these have served me better than a gym membership ever did because it isn’t about the equipment as much as it is about actually just doing it and learning to enjoy it!
The good news is that exercise can be incorporated into daily life rather than being something for which you must set aside time. Things like kettlebells can make a fast 5-minute home workout easy to sneak in while cooking dinner, or you can do a full set of Tabata sprints in 4 minutes (and they’ve been found more effective than long distance running for both weight loss and increasing fitness level!).
We can all manage to find 5 minutes a day to sneak in some kind of movement, and it doesn’t have to be daunting. I’ll be talking more about ways to incorporate effective exercise in less time.
The T stands for Toxin removal.
We are exposed to a wide variety of toxins every day. in fact, recent studies show that babies are born with an average of over 200 chemicals in their umbilical cord blood.
Indoor air is often a source of more pollutants than outdoor air and many household cleaning and beauty products contain harmful chemicals and endocrine disruptors. One of my favorite topics to write about is making natural alternatives to conventional products so you can avoid the toxins. I share many of these on my blog but I’ll also be sharing my favorites with you here.
The IT in RESET IT is Important Supplements and Togetherness. After all of the other factors are in place, I think there is a time and a place for certain supplements but only after diet and lifestyle have been addressed. I’ll be interviewing doctors and top experts in different areas of health like hormone health, thyroid problems, pediatric health and more to help you learn when supplements can play a role and which ones should be avoided.
Togetherness, the final part of my system, is last but not least. It is also part of my motivation in starting my blog and in having this podcast. Making health changes and living in a way that is sometimes counter cultural isn’t always easy but it is a lot easier with a friend or a few for advice and help.
I know how important my personal and blog communities have been in my own health journey and I wanted to create outlets for this sense of community for others. I’ll be sharing resources for finding both local and online communities to help you in your health journey.
We’ll also be talking about some random and fun topics like:
- why I use coconut oil for mouthwash
- the weird foods I use to wash my face
- The easiest way I’ve ever found to whiten teeth and it is natural
- my best tip for helping children sleep better naturally
- the weird ingredients I add to coffee and tea.
My hope is that you will join me on this podcast each week while you are driving the kids around, cooking dinner, or working out and that together we can make some lasting health changes for our families.
Some episodes I’ll be speaking alone about various topics and I’ve already lined up a few amazing guests who you probably already know but who I can’t wait to share with you.
Please take a second and subscribe to this podcast so that you’ll be notified of future episodes. I’d also really appreciate it if you’d leave a short review telling me what you liked and what you’d like to hear in the future.
If you found me through this podcast, I’d love to see more of you! You can find me at WellnessMama.com and I’d love for you to come say hi!
Until next time- have a healthy week!