The Secret of Happiness

I discovered the secret of true and deep and lasting happiness.

Aren’t we all looking for happiness? Aren’t there images everywhere, all around us, of ways that we could be happier? Don’t we, in almost all of our conversations, assume that happiness is the ideal state of being?

In my nutrition school last week, we had a lecture video by Gretchen Rubin, who researches habits and habit formation.

She gave us 7 keys to happiness. Here they are:

  1. Sleep 7+ hours every night.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Cultivate good smells. (my favorite)
  4. Organize possessions and declutter your space.
  5. Make your bed every morning.
  6. Establish and deepen relationships.
  7. Build self-knowledge.

These are phenomenal suggestions, some of which you and I probably already knew. I have invested significant amounts of time in all of these areas since beginning my year of intention, as I’m now calling it. And, they work. If all of us do just these seven things, I think we’d see a significant improvement in happiness.

This led me to a conclusion of my very own. The secret to happiness.

Here’s my equation:

Health > Happiness

The sign in the middle is a greater than sign, maybe. It might also be an arrow. We could read this as “health is greater than happiness,” or “health leads to happiness.”

What kind of health? All kinds of health. A healthy body, a healthy brain, a healthy spirit. In R.A. training in college we called the health areas “SMELPS” – Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, Lifestyle, Physical, and Social.

News flash:

These areas of health still matter in adulthood. Maybe more than ever.

Let me pose you a question:

Is there one thing that you know, if you did it right now, it would make you healthier? At this very moment?

Maybe it’s brushing your teeth. Maybe it’s having a glass of water. Maybe it’s reading a great book before bed. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite  music, burning a favorite candle, remembering your favorite childhood bedtime story.

Do one of these things in the next 24 hours. Do one thing that makes you healthier. Maybe more than that. If you do a thing anyway, without meaning to, pause and recognize it. Like: “hey, healthy thing. Thanks for making me feel better!”

Odds are, it’s also something that makes you happier.

Both happiness and health live in the inconsequential corners of our lives. They reside in the minutia of our mundane daily rhythms. Health and happiness are both achieved by making small, intentional choices about how we spend the next moment.

Neither are things we “achieve.” Neither are permanent, nor are they a given. They take diligence and work, but not the hard or tasking or monumental kind.

Health, and therefore happiness, take the kind of work that begins with mindful attention to what we need or want, and ends with following through to get it for ourselves. Moment by moment.

Happy moments add up to make happy lives.



The Secret of Happiness

Mindful Consumption

“The Fifth Wonderful Precept:

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations….I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and the transformation of society.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

These words were given to me this past week by a counselor, who thought they might speak to me. She was right.

My personal challenge of the week may sound strange and shocking (it did to me at first, too). It is reading deprivation.

Yes, I am depriving myself of reading for one week. Because I obtained this challenge from a book that was written in the 70s, I’ve edited and extended the challenge to consumption of all forms of media. I am not allowed to scroll mindlessly through Facebook or Instagram, spend time watching Netflix or Snapchat or Instagram stories. I can’t read any of the books I bought recently, including ones that I have to start reading for my grad program. I can’t consume any written words, aside from those that are unavoidable and those I write myself.

I made an exception for this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, because I’m an adult with free will.

But, aside from my favorite medieval gore-fest, I am totally off the written or mass-produced word. It was shocking to me, because the book I got it from is a book about how to be a more liberated artist. I thought that other art could only serve as inspiration for my own, which I still think it does. But, as it turns out, the key to being an artist is listening to your inner voice.

Sound familiar? I just wrote a post about this in the context of intuitive little Baby Anne.

So this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about consumption.

We live in a culture of consuming. We consume food, we consume entertainment, we consume products that improve our lives. We consume precious resources and irreplaceable energy reserves.

My own food-consumption journey has undergone one primary, overarching change: it has become more mindful. Gone are the days of opening a bag of chips and a pint of ice cream and wolfing it down so fast I hardly taste it. I select it, I prepare it, and I consume it. I try to savor every bite (but it’s not a perfect world over here, either – sometimes I just gotta eat).

Many people have said to me: it must take so much time, doing all that for every meal. How do I have that time to spare?

In truth, being more mindful has given me back my time. Rushing to consume food at mealtime goes faster, yes, but it’s also time that disappears. I often had the experience of forgetting that I’d just eaten something. Not realizing an hour had gone by. Spending days going from one thing to the next without really realizing where I was at any moment.

In this week without Instagram stories (which I honestly didn’t think really posed a problem in my life), I have more time when I get up in the morning. I have more space to breathe throughout the day. When I can’t check my phone, I’m more present in my surroundings and less immersed in a world that’s less immediate. As a result, I’m less stressed about my time.

Cooking and consuming also becomes a ritual. It is a sensorial experience: first we feel the food as we prep it, then we smell it, then finally we get to taste it. It’s calming and reassuring and nourishing, and it pays off to sit and just savor the time I have to eat. I have time to realize I’m full and stop eating, then maybe pick it back up again after a moment’s digestion.

I think this can extend to the written word, as well. Often, I feel like I’m in a rush to consume as much new information as I possibly can. Especially because I’m a lifelong student (seriously, I’ve even progressed to being in three schools at once this year! I’m a crazy nerd). This week has made me realize that what I consume affects what I think about. And even how I think!

My favorite line of the Buddhist precept at the beginning of this post is: “I will ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society.”

I think. most of the time, I consider many things I consume to be just neutral. When I’m consuming social media, I don’t really notice the effect it has on me. When I consumed food in the past, I ignored the effects on my system. Sometimes these effects were negative, sometimes they were probably positive, but I didn’t really think about the feelings as they came. It was like a time-filler, something mundane to do as I waited for the next thing.

I love the idea of instead intentionally consuming what brings me joy, peace, and well-being.

I’ve learned that I can’t say that Facebook or Instagram ever bring me “joy,” or really even “peace” or “well-being.” Connecting with friends does, especially through messages and photos. That’s why I’ll keep them. But I like to think I’ll be more mindful about watching or scrolling just for the sake of having something to do. And, I’ll think more about exactly what I see, and how it feels.

I won’t stop consuming, but I’ll continue consuming mindfully. This year, and really in all of life, I’ll need all the peace, joy, well-being, and time to breathe that I can get.


Mindful Consumption

5 Free & Easy Steps Toward Being Well

I’ve been tuned into the wellness community for a few months now, and I want to share some patterns I’ve noticed in wellness advice that can help everyone. Many people think it’s too expensive and time consuming to make themselves more well. Fresh and organic food costs money, cooking takes time, etc. etc. The five things I’m about to write for you are steps that don’t take any money and take very little time. They won’t be easy for everyone. But, if you do just one of them, you’re already taking a step in the right direction!

1. Read ingredient labels. 

This first tip is probably the most important and life-changing thing I started doing as a result of my first round of Whole 30.

Here’s a label from Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Bars (made with 100% natural oats! What? Are there even unnatural oats?)

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 15.15.13Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 15.09.08

I know it’s blurry, but this illustrates the importance of reading labels. These bars, or similar bars, could be made at home using nuts, seeds, oats, chocolate and peanut butter. Easy. They are billed in the store as a healthy choice. However, look at the ingredients! (I know, I’m sorry it’s blurry, I’ll write them out for you):

Whole grain oats, Corn syrup (this is the 2nd ingredient!! And it’s sugar.), Sugar (again), Whole grain wheat flour, almonds, vegetable oils (only mass-produced and nutrient poor ones), rice flour, Fructose (sugar again), Tapioca syrup (sugar again), vegetable glycerin, cocoa, salt, soy lecithin (inflammatory, made from soy), corn starch, barley malt extract, milk, baking soda, yeast, natural flavor, mixed tocopherols added to retain freshness.

And, on the bottom it says: “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.”

Notice how many of these ingredients were SUGAR (four of them) and how many ingredients there were in total. I could write things about all of these ingredients, but I don’t want to give you more information than you need.

Suffice it to say that in creating foods like this, the food industry has removed real ingredients (expensive) and replaced them with cheaper, genetically engineered, and easy to mass-produce ingredients. This has put food on the shelves that is nutrient poor and full of inflammatory chemicals/additives/fake foods/sugars, which are causing our national health crisis.

The most important takeaway is: read the labels! You never know what kinds of sugar/flour/soy are hiding in even the “healthy” food. A good rule of thumb is to eat mostly foods that have fewer than 8 ingredients – and, the fewer the better.

2. Drink more water.

Water is the drink of LIFE! Most people don’t drink nearly enough. My doctor recommended at least 60 oz per day (two big Nalgene bottles): drink more in the morning, tapering off throughout the day so we don’t get up all night to pee. This has the added benefit of crowding out the other, more sugary drinks that we might pick up. There is a limit to exactly how much fluid we can consume each day, and most of it should be water.

3. Eat more vegetables.

This has a crowding out effect as well. More vegetables most likely won’t increase your intake of food; they will replace something less healthy on the plate. In changing to the Autoimmune Protocol, I was eating far more veggies than before, almost solely because I couldn’t eat potatoes. Veggies are the healthiest form of carb, with the most nutrient density aka vitamins and antioxidants and stuff like that! They are also the most sustainable food group, and many people even have the time and space to grow their own.

Despite being grouped together frequently, fruits and veggies are not created equal. Fruits are sugar/carbs. The most nutrient-dense fruit is strawberry! They are better than processed foods with sugar simply because they have more nutrients and enough fiber to make us feel full.

4. Cook at home. 

Cooking at home has many benefits. This is often the hardest part for all of us, because we want the convenience of hot and ready food of any variety right when our limited mealtimes fall. It is much easier to go out, order in, or heat something up than it is to prepare foods from scratch, at least in the beginning.

However, in practicing cooking at home as a daily habit, I can say that it gets so much easier! The secret is prep. One of my favorite time-saving tips is to chop all the veggies right when you get home from the store, storing them in glass containers with a small amount of water until you’re ready to use them. Then, you wash one cutting board, one knife, and chop everything all at once. I use chopped veggies to dump in pans and roast, in scrambles, and to make salads.

Always cook enough to have leftovers. This is easy when cooking for one, harder when cooking for a family. Freeze the leftovers if you get bored with the food, or remix them (e.g., turn roasted chicken into a chicken scramble with toast or chicken salad over greens).

Cooking at home’s benefits include: more social time and me-time (with family, friends, yourself – whomever you’re cooking with and for), bringing us closer to our food, enhanced enjoyment of our food, more healthful eating and less spending. It’s also a really pleasurable ritual once it becomes easy enough to do regularly. I’ll probably write a whole other post on this one.

5. Limit sugar and processed foods.

Notice – this is the only tip that involves taking something away/restricting a thing in your diet. What are processed foods, anyway? Basically, anything that’s made in a factory instead of grown or raised on a farm. Most forms of snack and junk food are heavily processed, as are many desserts. Processing reduces the nutrient value of food and exploits our taste buds. Food chemists create flavors that keep our brains totally hooked on things that do nothing to nourish our bodies. This is the true “empty calorie.”

Sugar & processed foods (most of which also contain TONS of sneaky sugar) are nutrient-poor, not satiating, and generally make humans less healthy. By not satiating, I mean that they don’t have enough fat, fiber, and nutrients to signal our bodies that we should stop eating when we’re full. This, combined with the psychological effects of sugar (a hit of dopamine, triggering a feeling of pleasure), make us crave more and more and more even as it nourishes us less and less. It’s extremely hard to consume in moderation and very hard to give up. This is not our fault.

In addition, buying processed foods supports an industry with unregulated marketing capabilities and no interest in people’s health or well-being. It’s a social justice issue as much as it’s a health issue: buying food that makes us less well helps these companies to continue exploiting our cravings for money.

As I experienced with my first Whole30, when I quit eating sugar, everything tasted better. Carrots, snap peas, and avocados are sweet. Apples and bananas are almost too sweet. Our senses are dulled by these incredibly powerful synthetic flavors, and that makes us think they’re so much better than natural foods.

We lived off nature for so long for a reason: it provides all the nourishment and satisfaction that we need. And, the more we eat real food, the easier it becomes to be healthy.

5 Free & Easy Steps Toward Being Well

A Lesson From Baby Anne

I have a little baby as a neighbor. I’ve become friends with her mom, so I get to see her quite often. Not only does she always brighten my day, she also frequently puts things that I’m thinking about into perspective.

As humans grow, we receive messages about our worthiness, our likability, and our identity. They come from our families. They come from our friends. They come from the particular culture of our hometown. They come from the media, whose influence is only growing as our world becomes more connected.  They even come from advertisements.

These messages are often wrong. Often, because they generally aren’t based in the understanding that everyone is different.

When I was a baby, I ate every two to three hours, and I always ate “snacks.” I knew exactly when I was hungry and when it was time to stop eating. I knew whether or not I liked a food, and I’d respond accordingly.

I have no idea how I knew, Baby Anne being incapable of metacognition, but somehow I was able to eat for fuel based on nothing but intuition. I still have fond memories of my favorite baby food (sweet potato), which I’m pretty sure I ate well into childhood (and SP’s are still my favorite today).

Almost-Baby Anne

We all have this miraculous ability as babies. We were all capable of regulating our own fuel intake (with delicate, gentle signaling to our caregivers…right Mom? ;)). Healthy babies aren’t obese or suffering from cravings and food addiction (special circumstances such as fetal alcohol syndrome, drug addicted babies, etc., change things of course).

So what goes wrong?

The messages!

We should eat three times per day. We should eat whole grains, dairy, protein, fruit and vegetables. We should limit sugar. We should limit fat. We are fat, we need to restrict to lose weight. We should burn more calories than we consume. We should look like that picture in that magazine. We should fit into these clothes. We have to eat this and look like that to attract a mate.

These are only some of the more general messages. All of us also get specific messages that interfere with our natural ability to intuit what we need when we need it. “Should” is tyrannical and “should” be eliminated from our vocabulary. There is no should. There is only need or want and don’t need or don’t want.

Side note: my August intention is to eliminate “should” from my vocabulary, whenever I’m using it to make myself feel bad for something I’m not doing. If I’m not doing it, I don’t need or want it. If I need or want it, I’ll do it.

The processed foods!

Another thing that interferes with the ability to identify hunger-full signals and intuit bodily needs and wants is sugar. Or processed snacks. Crackers are my personal kryptonite: if I eat one, I keep eating until the box is empty (wayyy past when the stomach is full).

There is actually an entire industry (the “food” industry) that employs “food chemists” to determine the exactly perfect flavors to include in processed snacks that will make people crave more. They engineer combinations that tantalize and trap us into buying more more and more. That is how they make money. That is how we DIE!

Okay, a little dramatic. Some chips and cookies once in a while won’t be the death of us. However, falling out of touch with the needs of our bodies could.

Sugar is a particularly troubling disruptor of hunger-full signals and our ability to be intuitive. It actually causes the body to store energy through hormonal signaling, which means the food we consume turns directly into fat. We feel hungry because none of the energy was used immediately for fuel. And we also accumulate fat cells. Scary stuff.

Being ignored and/or restricted.

I won’t go into eating disorders here, because they are frightening and dark and require much deeper treatment. However, they are the extreme version of what I mean here.

Actively ignoring the body’s signals to the brain (I feel stuffed, but I’ll have one more…I’m craving meat, but it’s too many calories…etc.) will eventually turn them off. In the midst of busy lives, a sense of control is many people’s saving grace. However, control can be dangerous when aimed at the body.

Numerous studies have shown that restricting the food you can eat actually makes it harder to avoid eating what’s less healthy for you. I found no long-term success with rules like “I can only eat 1500 calories a day.” Some of you may say “but the Whole30/another elimination diet is super restrictive!” Yes, but it’s temporary, and you can eat as much as you want.

Melissa Hartwig did much research on habit formation, and she found that people more easily stick to habits if the “rules” are black and white. This is the reasoning behind the NO list on the Whole30. But, she’s up front that it’s not for the long term. It’s an experiment to figure out what your food future looks like. The key is to gradually reintroduce foods and see what happens, not to eliminate groups randomly forever.

So, black-and-white to kickstart a journey toward sustainable lifestyle change: yes. Black and white to fit into a dress/shirt/pair of pants or feel good about yourself: no.

Bingeing is the opposite, and also involves ignoring signals from the body. Using the W30 as an example again (tired of it yet?), one of the rules is that you can eat as much as you want. As much as it takes to feel full. So how come it doesn’t turn into bingeing, you ask?

Well, have you ever binged on some pan-seared chicken breast, cauli rice, and broccoli that you had to make yourself?

There’s your answer. Theoretically, and as I’ve found in practice, when we eat real food, we don’t want to binge on it. We feel full.


We should all be able to learn a lesson from having been babies. Not only did we all intuit our needs perfectly well (even better than we do now), we also were special enough to have someone addressing our needs as they came up.

Maybe we never had people who met our needs, or maybe we did; regardless, being an adult means suddenly having to do all that need-meeting all by ourselves.

The best, most healthy thing that anyone can do is to pay attention to their body. All bodies deserve their owner’s love and respect. That doesn’t mean that you can never have more than what makes you full. I overate some plant-based ice cream and super awesome sushi last week. But, that’s becoming an intentional choice rather than a mindless habit.

Love that body, it’s the only one you’ve got. ❤







A Lesson From Baby Anne

Be Who You Wanna Be!

One of the things that’s been most helpful to me in life, but especially in my health journey, is the idea of a growth mindset.

Here’s a little exercise: write down one “negative” thing that you believe to be true about yourself.

Mine was something along the lines of: “I’m not an athlete.”

In junior high, I was on the softball field, up to bat, and I hit a foul ball. The boys behind me said, “well, at least she hit it.” I laughed it off. But I learned, gradually, that I was bad at sports. Not a natural athlete. Not a runner. Not able to be active without feeling defeated and comparing myself to the “natural athletes” I thought I wasn’t. I failed all the P.E. “tests” on various sports rules – football, basketball, etc. I was picked last for teams. I focused entirely on my intellectual self, because my physical self was the source of such hard feelings.

Of course, if you think you’re bad at something, you aren’t going to want to do it in your free time. So, rather than getting “better” at sports, I just avoided them. This reinforced my identity as a non-sports person, and I became what I thought I was: bad at sportsNot athletic. Not active.

This was cemented for me a decade ago, and I didn’t really question it until this year. When my energy and physical well-being started improving in January and February, I started craving movement. I felt like I had so much energy to burn. I started Barre classes, running, and swing dance lessons. I would go home and take a walk. These new behaviors were both cause and consequence of a new attitude that I was forming: If I move, I will get better at moving.

Obvious, right? But it was not obvious until I challenged my own beliefs about exercise. I believed that exercise wasn’t “worth it” if I didn’t go hard, and when I felt like I couldn’t go hard I just wouldn’t go. I thought exercise was all about losing weight, and when that didn’t happen (see: thyroid problems), I stopped. I set a lot of goals and couldn’t fulfill them, partly because I was handicapped by my own attitude, my own identity as someone who doesn’t exercise. Who’s not a natural athlete.

Now, instead, I describe myself like this:

I enjoy movement. Moving makes me feel good. Moving gives me energy. No matter how much movement I do, it’s beneficial to my health. The goal of my movement is to have fun and feel strong and flexible.

Everyone is a “natural athlete.” It is natural for us to move! Humans did nothing but move for hundreds of years, and it was pretty healthy for them. Another thing I’ve learned is that you get better at whatever you want to practice. If I do yoga, I’ll get stronger and bendier. Running will make me better at running. If I do barre, I’ll get stronger and more stable. If I swing dance, I’ll get better at swing dancing. And, as long as I’m enjoying myself, I will keep moving! I don’t have to worry about when my next workout is, because I’ll know when I need to move next.

There are people who are “natural athletes” who have similar, fixed beliefs about themselves. In fact, everybody probably has fixed beliefs about themselves. Your belief about yourself could be in a totally different area than mine. The point is, psychologically, beliefs have a tremendous impact on behaviors. In fact, beliefs cause behaviors. But, behaviors also cause beliefs. Liberation from these fixed beliefs is totally possible, if we are able to challenge the attitude as we change the behavior.

And, when that happens, we can literally change our identities.

I think the world will be a happier place if everyone is exactly who they want to be, don’t you? 🙂



Be Who You Wanna Be!

5 Things You Need to Make a Lifestyle Change

Let me preface this by saying: everyone is different. These are 5 things I needed, and 5 things I’ve seen many other people need, but what you need may be different. Making changes requires a lot of reflection and it’s very specific to each individual, so trust yourself to figure out what you need!

reason : Why do you want or need to make a change?

In my case, I was finally tired of not feeling my best. I wasn’t quite sure how I could feel, but my doctor seemed convinced that I could feel better. I had a laundry list of symptoms that turned out to be the result of chronic autoimmune disease, so my motivation lay in alleviating those symptoms.

Once you’ve identified an area of your life that you want to improve, ask yourself this question, which I learned in the beginnings of my health coaching training:

What does your body need to heal itself?

The theory of non-western medicine is that people know their own bodies better than health professionals do. This is contrary to what we’re led to believe: if something’s wrong, doctors know how to fix it, right?

Wrong. Or, right, but only some of the time. The goal of health coaching is to empower people to listen to the data coming from their own bodies. Are you tired? Are you stressed? Do you have eczema? Allergies? Asthma? Do you need Adderall to focus or Nyquil to sleep? Your body is in a state of stress in all those cases. Making a change will be more successful with the identification of that stressor. There may be a lot – in that case, pick one to address. Generally, when one thing starts falling into place, it has a domino effect.

A goal : Change goals must be specific and measurable.

Lifestyle changes require a lot of willpower, and the brain has limited reserves of willpower. Therefore, willpower must be focused in an intentional way. For instance, instead of “eat better,” decide exactly how you want to eat better. Do you want to eat more veggies? “Include leafy greens in at least two meals per day for a week.” Drink more water? “Drink at least 60 oz per day of water for the next 30 days.” The gray areas are totally removed from these goals, and there is an opportunity to do more than your goal, increasing feelings of success.

Goals like this enable mini-successes which replenish willpower reserves. It’s easy to measure whether you’ve accomplished them, so it’s easier to stick to them. It’s also easier to buy into a change for just a week, or just thirty days, allowing small and incremental changes in lifestyle until they become habitual behaviors.

Support : Love and encouragement, from yourself and others, enables the achievement of goals!

Everyone needs different kinds of support. In my world, a good support system is comprised of people that are able to cheer me on when I’ve had a success, are interested in what I’m working on, and hold me accountable for my intentions. People who shut down, shame, or get competitive about lifestyle behaviors are not your lifestyle-change friends. It’s okay, they can be your fun friends, but you need others to provide all the unconditional encouragement that you need as you exert willpower to make a change!

Also, whatever change you’re making, odds are that someone else has made it already. Either this person is in your personal community, or they’re in some social media community somewhere. Instagram has many powerful sources of information and inspiration in the form of wellness bloggers, or registered dieticians and health coaches. Which brings me to….

Inspiration : Keep up your energy by staying inspired!

Embarking on a new goal can be fun. In my wellness journey thus far, I’ve loved learning new tricks in the kitchen, making new recipes, and absorbing new information about health and wellness. It isn’t always easy, which is why inspiration is so important. In those moments when it feels so boring, so frustrating, and so hard, there is usually a new dish that can rekindle some newfound creativity.

Even yesterday, as I contemplated beginning the Autoimmune Protocol for healing my thyroid, I went to the bookstore and bought a new cookbook full of recipes. It totally reinspired my meal planning and made me excited to start the week!

Perspective : The most famous line in the whole30 is a tough love line:


It is followed by the admission that yes, it will be hard. Food, especially, is an emotional, social, cultural, personal issue that can be very triggering for people. Breaking habits is notoriously hard, because they’re habits, a.k.a. deeply entrenched, automatic behaviors. But, I think this quote is important to remember. Many people said, when I told them about the Whole30, “I could never give up (insert food here).” Having a growth mindset has been the most liberating thing for me. My attitude going into January was “yes, I can do it!” Once I did, it only made it easier to believe.

You can do it, too!


5 Things You Need to Make a Lifestyle Change

Where I’ve Been // Where I’m Going


I’m back! From multiple things. I’m back from vacation, back from the blogging hiatus, and back in action. It is now summer break, when the most stressful part of my day is deciding in which coffee shop to do my personal projects. I am deeming this summer “self-care summer,” like the milennial cliché that I am, because I think it’s in my best interest to figure out how to take care of myself before next year hits.

Next year, I will be:

  • Taking a year-long nutrition coaching certification course online through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition
  • Beginning a two-year Master of Arts in Psychology
  • Working 30ish hours a week as a Latin teacher

That probably suffices to explain why I will have to be really on top of my self-care game.

Since I’ve sort of changed the theme of my blog, here is an update on my health-related journey. Some of you may remember that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition wherein the body produces antibodies that attack my own thyroid cells. I’ve had it for a long time. Last year, I went to a naturopathic doctor for the first time and we discovered through blood tests that the medication I’d been prescribed the year before wasn’t working.

Here were my stats in November of 2016:

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 09.31.04.png

A high level of TSH basically means that I have high level of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone in my bloodstream. This indicates that I have Hypothyroidism, because my thyroid is underproducing so much that it requires more and more stimulation to produce even the base amount of hormone. As you can see, it was very high. My doctor said the ideal for her is really around 1.

TPO Ab and Thyroglobulin Antibody are both thyroid hormone-attacking antibodies. If those are present in addition to high TSH levels, it indicates that the thyroid disorder is autoimmune in nature, aka Hashimoto’s. As you can see in my stats, I was pretty critically overproducing those guys.

So, after those first tests, we upped the dosage of Levothyroxine that I was taking – this is basically a synthetic hormone replacement meant to bring down levels of TSH. This next set is from January.

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 09.38.54.png

So, TSH came down quite a bit, but my antibody levels actually went up. My doctor’s explanation was all of the cake and cookies and chocolate – Christmas treats – that I had consumed. Both of these blood tests were pre-Whole30.

In January, I started my second Whole30 round. Those of you who have been following that journey know about this – if you don’t, read back a few posts!

The Whole30ish eating continued through February, March, and I did another strict round in April. To this day, I haven’t had a single meal with soy, gluten, dairy, chicken eggs, or any grains – besides rice and quinoa (maybe a bite or two of a baked good here and there, which I promptly reacted to!).

And, drum roll please….

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Look at that TSH! That was achieved by adding some to my thyroid med dosage (up to 150 mg) and, I like to think, my super clean eating.

However, I am still in the middle of this journey to healing my thyroid. As shown above, my antibodies are still pretty high. At my most recent appointment last week, I suggested (yep, me – I must have a masochistic streak) that I try the Autoimmune Protocol. It’s basically Whole30, although honey and maple syrup are allowed, but without nuts, seeds, eggs, and nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers…), as well as any kind of additive. This unfortunately includes “natural flavor” – goodbye LaCroix – as well as all types of “gum,” which are frequently added as thickeners to coconut milks and things of that nature.

The emphasis with AIP is the consumption of nutrient-dense foods that are anti-inflammatory, meaning they don’t disrupt things in my system.

It’s been a day and a half, and I’ve survived so far! Stay tuned for more things I’ve learned along the way, tips n tricks, reflections, etc.

Wishing everyone the best in all their journeys!




Where I’ve Been // Where I’m Going