Posts tagged ‘health’

October 14, 2010

Food.

by Hannah

delicious

{This is something I have never really shared publicly, but for some reason I felt led to today. It feels so strange to be putting it “out there”, but I hoping that my transparency on this subject will be somehow encouraging or helpful to someone out there.}

As I sit here eating my quinoa and green beans for lunch, I’ve been reflecting on my relationship with food. It’s an odd thing, the emotional connections involved in what we eat. My attitudes about food have changed drastically throughout my life.

As a teenager- studying ballet and coping with the constant pressure within that craft to be lithe and thin- I had quite an unhealthy view of food. I even feared it. I dabbled in liquid fasts and veganism (not saying being vegan is bad, at all, just at the point I was doing it for all the wrong reasons). I restricted my calories, counting them obsessively, while dancing and exercising for hours each day. I lacked energy to the point where I frequently felt light-headed.

My dancing came to a halt when I began to get intense migraines on an almost daily basis. Maybe it was body’s way of forcing me to begin healing. I no longer felt quite as much pressure to stay skinny, but my perspective on food and my body had been damaged. I fluctuated between overdoing it with very unhealthy foods, and not eating enough. I did not feel whole and healthy, and frequently berated myself for lack of discipline.

My mind and body have healed so much since that time in my life. I saw a counselor for a while I was college, and I finally reached a point where I felt comfortable in my skin. I celebrated by getting the word “victory” tattooed on my ankle in Hebrew- the language of some of my oldest ancestors, and of the book that helped me to get through it.

I got this tattoo knowing well that I still had a long way to go, but I wanted a permanent reminder of this victory over self-loathing and depression.

Now, my relationship with food has shifted from being about weight, to being about health. I still have weeks where I go crazy with the refined-sugar domino effect (the more you eat, the more you crave), and I know it makes me feel sick but it is hard to stop. Dairy is the same way for me- I like it, but if I eat too much of it I feel awful. Yet too often I eat a lot of these things anyway in the name of “indulgence”- I always pay for it later though in the form of stomach pain, headaches and fatigue.

On the flip side, I have learned that whole, living foods (like to today’s lunch I mentioned) give me energy and make me feel fantastic, and yet I am not always motivated to prepare them for myself. There is a domino effect here too though, because if I get in the habit of eating a lot of veggies, fruits, and whole grains for a while, I do actually crave them.

I am hoping to get to a truly balanced place, in which moderation rules and nothing feels restricted or deprived. I want to make food decisions on a daily basis that really nourish my body and make me feel good, because that is a form of self-care as well. I want to want to make these decisions. And so the journey continues…

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January 14, 2010

The Teeth are Coming!

by Hannah

After months of drooling and fussing and chewing and drooling and sleepless nights and fevers and DROOLING… Seth’s first two teeth are finally coming in!

I first felt something there earlier while giving him teething oil because he was obviously very uncomfortable, and then this afternoon his grandma Jackie and I could actually see the bits of pearly whiteness on the surface of his gums. I’m sure that in the next several days they will really pop up and be seen more easily, and I will definitely take pictures for you.

By the way, I have a sore spot on my gums where one of my wisdom teeth used to be, so I decided to try Seth’s teething oil, and I am amazed at how well it works. It numbed it really well for a while. It is called Gum-omile Oil from the company Herbs for Kids, and I got it at Whole Foods. It contains clove oil, willow bark extract, and chamomile extract, and you just rub a little bit on their gums when they seem to be bothered by teething pain. It is safer and more natural than regular OTC teething gels like Oragel. It, along with Hyland’s homeopathic teething tablets, have been working really well for us.

September 15, 2009

My new perspective

by Hannah

I have been going for walks every day since we moved into our new neighborhood, and I’m loving it. I take Seth out in the stroller every morning. It is the first time since I was a child that I’ve exercised not to improve how I look, but just to feel good, because I enjoy it, and because I know it will improve my health. There is such a difference when physical activity isn’t driven by self-criticism, but by self-care. While, like nearly any woman out there, I critique myself in the mirror and see a few things I wouldn’t mind changing, my relationship with my body has become much healthier as of late. I think a lot of it has to do with having a baby. I have experienced what my body is capable of- bringing a life into the world and nurturing it- and that is amazing. But even aside from that, I find myself thinking of food in terms of the energy it will give me to live my life rather than how much fat/sugar/calories it has, and so I end up choosing the healthy options anyway, but enjoying them more than I used to. I value sleep more than ever before, because it is a gift these days, and one that is necessary to function well. Most of all, I am paying more attention to research on disease prevention and overall maintenance of good health, because now I have to be healthy and live longer not just for myself, but for my son.

June 10, 2009

Amber for Teething

by Hannah

After reading about it on a few different natural parenting message boards, I decided to get a Baltic amber necklace for Seth, to help through teething. Since he started wearing it, several people have asked me what it’s for and how it works, and I realized that I hadn’t done any research as to why it helps relieve teething pain.
I did a little research, and I found this article: http://www.amberartisans.com/baamalme.html, that explains some of the history of amber’s medicinal use, and the science behind it. The pain relieving ingredient is called succinic acid, and it is actually used in contemporary medicines. Since amber is fossilized resin, most likely the tree it came from originally produced this acid.
Though my little one is still a little fussier than usual from teething, I do think this necklace is helping him. It is a great way to minimize the use of teething remedies that aren’t as natural and safe, such as Oragel and Motrin. Another great natural remedy to complement use of a Baltic amber necklace is Hyland’s homeopathic teething tablets. They dissolve instantly in the baby’s mouth and treat the symptoms associated with teething.
I got Seth’s necklace here, but I have heard a lot of rave reviews of this shop, and I’m actually thinking about getting myself one from there, as the pain relieving properties extent beyond just teething.

June 1, 2009

A Better Nail Polish

by Hannah

When I was pregnant I stopped using regular nail polish because I’d read about chemicals in it that can be harmful for a growing baby. And just one whiff will tell anyone they probably shouldn’t be around it for very long either. But I love to have a bit of color on my toes, so I decided to seek out a more natural option. I found No Miss at Whole Foods, which comes in tons of great colors and is very similar in consistency and wear to traditional polishes, but doesn’t contain formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl-pthalate or camphor- some of the most harmful ingredients found in common brands. I have also started using No Miss’s “Almost Natural” nail polish remover- it isn’t quite as effective as the old stuff, but it is much less stinky and with a little extra rubbing gets the job done just fine. Here’s to pretty (and non-toxic) summer feet!

January 9, 2009

Massage Oil and Cloth Diapers

by Hannah

So a few things today…

I read once about the amazing properties of coconut oil in healing and maintaining the skin, and since I had some in the cupboard for cooking I decided the other day to make my own massage/belly oil. Apparently it works wonderfully to prevent stretch marks, in addition to being a moisturizer and protector. I mixed it in a small jar with some lavender essential oil, and it is wonderful! You can use it for massage and in place of lotion on dry skin, and it smells really nice. (I also use Mother’s Special Blend from Mountain Ocean every day on my belly after showering- it is completely safe and natural and can be found in many natural food stores. No stretch marks yet- finger crossed!)
In other news, I ordered our cloth diaper trial package from Jillian’s Drawers today. We decided to do this so we can try out many different types of cloth diaper before making an investment in them. The pack allows you to try prefolds and a snappi (easy alternative to pins), fitted diapers, pocket diapers and inserts, and all-in-ones from several of the top brands for 21 days (starting from baby’s birth day, not when you order, which is why I went ahead an ordered it). I will review the diapers later, when I have a baby to try them on :-P
I also ordered a diaper pail liner, a wet bag, and a type of laundry detergent that I have found to be most highly recommended for cloth diapers. From what I have read you simply toss all the dirty diapers into pail (13 gallon trash can works fine) with the waterproof pail liner in it, and wash every couple days. No swishing or soaking involved. For breastfed babies the poo doesn’t need to be rinsed off first, and later when we start solid foods we can use either flushable liners or a sprayer that attaches to the toilet to make cleanup easier. So there you have it- I am actually really excited about using cloth diapers, as strange as that may sound. It is much less expensive, better for the baby, and not nearly as hard as people tend to think. Plus seriously, who could say no anything this stinkin cute?:


Sooo much better than disposable IMO…

January 8, 2009

Six more weeks!

by Hannah

I haven’t gotten photos from either of my baby showers yet, but I will post some eventually. I haven’t taken a belly picture recently because I figured those from the showers would serve that purpose. I do believe I am still growing though- sometimes I feel pretty weighed down in front, haha. I’ll try to take one for this week soon.
It’s hard to believe that I’m 34 weeks, and that in three I will be considered full term. That is just amazing to me. I also have three more weeks left at the library- sad, but it will be good to be able to rest whenever I need to. I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping most nights, and of course it affects how I feel during the day.
Now that we have been ‘showered’ with all kinds of gifts from our amazingly generous friends and families, I feel like we’re really almost ready for the baby to come. The crib is set up in our room, his clothes are folded and put away, there are pacifiers and tiny nail clippers and many amazingly soft blankets… I have cleaning to do, and still a lot of reading about birth and babies, and a little more shopping, but I feel like we’re in the home stretch.
I’m surprised that I still feel so good. I remember looking ahead at the calender to January a while back and thinking I would be waddling around feeling really uncomfortable and huge by now. While I am sometimes pretty uncomfortable, it is really bearable. I still feel fairly normal and able to do things (as long as my belly doesn’t get in the way!) I am thankful that Seth and I are both healthy- and so thankful that I had good information early on about nutrition and health during pregnancy (and that I listened to it). I know it has made a really big difference. My midwife says from her experience women who have a healthy pregnancy diet and exercise regularly even have easier, faster labors, as well as healthier babies. I am hoping this will apply to me (well who wouldn’t) and I’m still doing what I can to ensure that it does. While it is more difficult to exercise now, I am trying to stay active all the way through the next several weeks and I feel a lot better when I at least do some yoga or go for a short walk. I am also trying to only put really nourishing whole foods into my body, at least as often as I can. Apparently his brain is developing more now than ever, so I want to give it good fuel. And a fresh, unprocessed diet with as much organic food as possible is best for everyone- you feel so much more alive. I plan to continue this pattern while breastfeeding- it is amazing how much your energy can be depleted by the typical American diet, and the last thing a new mom needs is depleted energy! I won’t get on my soapbox about food right now though- I’ll just sit here drinking my pregnancy tea and munching sprouted grain bread; yum! :-P

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November 18, 2008

Some thoughts

by Hannah

I wish I had been even more active up until this point in my pregnancy, but I am planning on walking more and have been doing my prenatal yoga almost every day. It is so, so important to exercise during pregnancy; my midwife says that besides making for a healthier baby it can make labor much easier (and goodness knows I am an advocate of that!)
I have spent most of the last six months kind of stressed, and while I have tried my best to relax and minimize the tension for the sake of the baby, I really wish I could have slowed down, and not had so much on my plate. The combination of work and taking two classes in school, while pregnant, has stretched me too far. I cannot count how many times I have broken down in exasperated tears (aided of course by the pregnancy hormones).
After December 4th, when I turn in my last school paper, I am going to slow down and really be present in the last few months of my pregnancy. I want to allow myself to be prepared for motherhood, and I haven’t devoted as much time to that as I would like to because of everything else that is going on. It has been so hard to focus on anything else anyway- it seems so natural to me to think almost constantly about the little person inside me… it kind of puts me in a funny daze- a very introspective and peaceful state. That state is what comes naturally to me right now. It makes me want to write and make things and go for longs walks and completely lose track of time and busyness. I have to force myself to remain responsible and on top of things, but I am craving the ability to just let go.
I am so in love with my husband… there aren’t even words for how deeply thankful I am for him, for our intense friendship.
Yet I do wish for women to talk to, especially other young moms and moms-to-be. I rarely see any of my female friends anymore- most don’t live nearby. I miss the mentoring, the advice and understanding between women. It is so strange not to have any friends that live close- I got so used to that when I was in college. Now it is just me and Manny. And I have discovered that I hate cell phones for the purpose of actual conversations (especially since most of the time I lose my connection several times and have to call the person back).
I am hoping that after the baby is born I will meet other new moms that I can connect with.

If you just read all of that, I applaud you. Tomorrow I’ll come back and read this and probably find that none of this really made sense and I probably shouldn’t post public blog entries for all to see when I can barely keep my eyes open…
goodnight!

November 7, 2008

Toward a Better Pregnancy

by Hannah

I will start this blog with some of the ways I have attempted to have a more natural and balanced pregnancy over the last several months.
One of the first books I purchased back in June when I found I was going to be a mother was The Complete Organic Pregnancy. I knew that I wanted to give my baby the best start possible in life, and that I could start by making sure my own lifestyle was safe and natural. While we couldn’t afford to replace everything toxic in our home right away, once I learned about the dangers of PVC and other common substances (especially plastics!), I started to phase them out as much as possible. I did replace my PVC yoga mat with this mat, since I was doing yoga several times a week, stopped using water bottles containing BPA, and avoided putting any type of plastic in the microwave.
For the last several years, I have been sort of an “on-and-off” vegetarian- sometimes not eating any meat for over a year, and never eating it on a very regular basis. I feel better when my diet is plant-based, but moreover, it can have a huge impact on the earth in general. I wanted to maintain a vegetarian diet throughout my pregnancy, but found that I was struggling to get even close to the recommended amount of protein, so I have begun eating small amounts of hormone-free chicken on occasion. As much as our budget will allow, I eat organic foods, and try to include a lot of fresh produce. Eating well is probably the most important step a woman can take to ensure a healthy baby.
Another big area I have gone earth-friendly in is personal care products. I have been using at least some natural products for years, but since I’ve been pregnant I have pretty much cut out all “drugstore” type items. There are countless harmful or potentially harmful chemicals in everything from skin care to shampoo, lotion to hand soap. Many of these ingredients have not been properly tested to ensure that they are safe for human use, and yet there they are on the shelves in the stores we shop in. Some excellent all-natural brands I’ve found are Avalon, Burt’s Bees, Weleda, Nature’s Gate, Tom’s of Maine and Desert Essence. If you’re lucky enough to have a Whole Foods or other well-stocked natural foods store nearby, they carry many wonderful products that work beautifully. I love Burt’s Bee’s Mama Bee Belly Butter and Leg and Foot Cream. My skin care is currently from Weleda, and my toothpaste from Tom’s of Maine. I’m always looking for new products to try, so I’ll attempt to review what I use on this blog in the future.
I could keep going on and on, but for now I’ll end with a word on cleaning products. Many people do not realize how very important this issue is. Traditional cleaners may seem to make things clean, but what we don’t see are the dangerous toxins they leave behind in our homes. They are not safe for the person cleaning, or those who will come in cantact with the “cleaned” surfaces. Marketing from large companies has fostered the mindset that you need all these chemicals to kill germs and make everything sanitary, but these products are doing much more harn than good. Thanks to green being so popular, there are now tons of alternative options from brands such as Seventh Generation, and they really do work! I have used many different natural cleaners, but have recently started with Shaklee products sold by a friend of mine who is a stay at home mom. Shaklee has been around for a lot longer than I have, and their products are absultely wonderful and completely safe and eco-friendly. I use them for all my cleaning, including laundry and dishes, and I’m anything but disappointed. They are also extremely cost-effective.
Well, this became a post about green living, not just pregnancy, but I guess the point is that just about anything eco-friendly and natural is better when you’re pregnant. The less exposure you have to toxins, the less your baby is being exposed to them.
A few more quick natural pregnancy tips: yoga is amazing and I believe it has really made a difference in how I’ve felt physically and mentally; herbal pregnancy teas are nice alternatives to coffee and can have tremendous benefits; relaxation is so very important- take time for yourself no matter what because your mental state effects your baby, and it is so important to take the time to enjoy pregnancy.

May 25, 2008

First Yoga Class

by Hannah

Last week I took my first yoga class. I have been practicing at home with books and DVDs for about six months, and lately I have become more serious about my practice. I realized I needed a teacher in order to progress, especially in meditation. I decided I wanted to commit to making yoga a significant part of my life, and I wanted to be part of a community of like-minded people. So I found my studio, and it is perfect for me. Being in a class was one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve had in a long time, and I am looking forward to where this yoga will take me on my spiritual journey.
The style is called Sivananda, and it is very practical and holistic. It incorporates 5 Principles of Yoga, which are Proper Exercise (asanas) Proper Breathing (pranayama), Proper Relaxation (savasana), Proper Diet (yogic vegetarianism), and Positive Thinking (vedanta)/Meditation. It also teaches the Four Paths of Yoga: Jnana Yoga (of Wisdom and Knowledge), Raja Yoga (of Self Control), Bhakti Yoga (of Devotion), and Karma Yoga (of Action).
(www.sivananda.org)

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