When things were getting a little heavy in our household, there were still things to be thankful for.
When it comes to our health, we usually can handle it on our own- but in this moment, we felt a momentary sense of helplessness with our daughter's health. Thankfully she was able to recover, but it made me ponder how grateful I truly am that we take care of our bodies from the inside out.
While our eating style does not prevent us from getting sick, we have seen it's ability to help us heal differently than those who do not share our diet. I have realized that sometimes I may make things look difficult, but the easiest part of our diet that helps us maintain our health is Juice Plus.
I firmly believe that Juice Plus has been the catalyst for my daughter to have regained her health so quickly, and I urge you to consider the benefits it can have for you.
Emmylou helps me make a salad from our personal Tower Garden! Tower Gardens are such an innovative way to garden fresh greens for your family! Can you believe the amount of growth after only 14 days!? Emmylou gets so excited when she tests the PH of the water basin about once a week for us. A Ph level of 5.5 is PERFECT for the water in a Tower Garden since the range should be 5-6.5! We love seeing our food grow healthy right in front of us!
These wonderful towers are being used in schools to promote learning in agriculture as well as healthy food choices! Does your child's school have a tower garden? If they do, let me know in the comments below!
*This video was filmed in advance, please note the Facebook Live event discussed has already occurred. If you would like to learn more about Steven Ritz and his thoughts on Tower Gardens, visit his website at https://stephenritz.com/tower-gardens/
“When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave, new ending.” - Brene Brown
This is my story. I am a Christ follower, wife, mother of two beautiful girls, speech therapist, current yoga junkie, food enthusiast, and former daily 1/2 marathoner. My life is messy and I love it. It wasn’t always that way…..
In high school, like many girls, external pressures and forces flooded my life and psyche to the point that it registered as uncontrollable chaos. I had a desire to have the “perfect” figure. The attempts at attaining that ideal were really just attempts to control the uncontrollable. It was a revolving door— restrict, binge, run. Rinse and repeat. Letting the chaos define me. Just doing. Not living.
I came to Charleston for college. A fresh beginning, a new environment, different people. Although the pressures and forces shifted, the uncontrollable chaos seemed to remain constant. As they say, old habits die hard.
Fast forward after graduation and marriage…. I was STILL silently struggling with self-destructive behaviors, food addictions, guilt, shame, self-love, zero confidence, self-criticism and self-doubt. Exhausted. The same story on repeat…restrict, binge, spend hours at the gym or pounding the pavement to wake up and do it all over again. And now PREGNANT! Ecstatic, thrilled for this precious gift to be a mother, something I was told may never be my reality because of the many years of self-inflicted abuse my body endured. For someone with food issues, pregnancy is very scary; eating more, gaining weight, and exercising less. I was tired. So Tired of the YEARS of yo-yo dieting, feeling ashamed of how I looked, tired of saying no to girls nights because I could’t find something to wear, tired of feeling envious of friends who didn’t struggle with weight, tired of anxiety surrounding food. I felt desperate to make a change. This time, not for me but for the little girl growing inside of me. She deserved better. More. The gift of new life was the hope I needed to end this cycle. The glimpse of hope I needed to make a change. Little did I know the person that would experience the greatest impact would be me.
That realization of that Hope started when a wonderful person shared a way to flood my body with whole foods: The simplicity and convenience of 30 fruits, vegetables, and berries in a capsule. I had a fairly basic understanding of nutrition but I knew I wasn’t fueling my body with the right foods. I was nutritionally starving. I was malnourish. I had NO idea that when I said YES to swallowing those tiny little capsules, that my life would be changed forever. I thought my physical health might improve but I had no idea, that it would have an impact on my emotional, spiritual, and mental health. Those capsules served as a catalyst; I could feel my body coming back to life. I began to crave these foods. Today, I feel a freedom; a freedom I really have never known. A freedom that allows me to be more present in every area of my life: my marriage, my relationships, being a mom. I don’t miss a night out with girlfriends anymore because I can’t find something to wear or make up an excuse as to why we can’t have “date night” because I am ashamed of how I feel. I don’t miss family dinners anymore to go on a second run because my morning workout wasn’t sufficient. I’m more accepting of my imperfections…with my body, with my words, my conversations, in my relationships.
As anyone who has healed from an eating disorder can attest, it is anything but a linear process. As I began to feel better because I was feeding my brain a wide variety of whole foods consistently that I had restricted for YEARS, I noticed some changes: more energy, improved complexion, brain fog lifted, chronic fatigue improved, sugar cravings reduced, and slowly with time (and I mean SLOWLY) those obsessive, crippling, controlling behaviors and thoughts became less consuming. I dove into the research, watched the documentaries, learned about the power of plants, and why God’s farmacy heals the body and mind; after all, we were created and put in a garden. My thoughts surrounding food as the problem began to shift to food as the solution. I began to witness that eating healthy whole foods did not result in weight gain, I began to trust food again. At the height of my dieting obsession, I had denied myself the nutrient-dense foods my body so desperately craved and needed. Disordered eating is not just a psychological battle. Our relationship with food affects our hormones, neurotransmitters, immune system, and gut bacteria. Now I know why those whole food concentrates made all the difference in the world!
As I began to learn about the power behind plants, my body, the innate wisdom we have to determine the right food choices, hunger and satiety cues, a gradual transition took place. I became a student of my body. When choosing foods, the focus was pulled away from, “will this make me fat?” to “how nourishing is this food for my body?” “how do I feel?” “what do I need?” Y’all, I have not arrived. I am still on this journey of self-discovery, listening, learning to love my body for all of it’s imperfections and practicing gratitude daily! Our relationship with food is much like the relationship that we have with ourselves and with others. Any successful relationship makes room for flexibility, understanding, and love.
As my relationship with food evolved, my relationship with exercise shifted as well. I had spent many hours on the treadmill, headphones on, tv on, reading a magazine, “checked out.” Today, exercise is a way for me to “check in”; what do I need, what does my body need, how do I feel both physically AND mentally. This is where my love affair with yoga began. The science of yoga does not dictate where the body ends and the mind begins, but approaches both as a single, integrated entity. It is a never-ending circle of influence! The skills I’ve learned on the mat have influenced my life off the mat. During times of stress, I have to get really honest with myself because old patterns creep in and the enemy rears his ugly head. The solution is always more of the good stuff…gratitude, yoga, sleep, self-reflection, greens, getting curious about what ACTUALLY is happening, sitting with the uncomfortable and looking INward for the answer! It’s always there if we are open to it!
During this journey, probably the most revolutionary change has been my relationship with MYSELF! When I came to truly believe that life wasn’t happening TO me but FOR me, the heavens parted. I took back my power. I get to decide how I show up in every situation. For YEARS, “perfectionism" was in the driver seat and “shame” was riding shotgun. This journey to more self-love, self-awareness, acceptance, grace, and gratitude has not come easy but is so worth it. For me, it is a daily dance; committed to show up, practicing gratitude, checking in, taking inventory on how I feel (without judgement), giving myself permission to BE or do what is needed to move to a more authentic space. By showing up as the most genuine version of myself, I have so much more energy, time, and space to do more in this world.
Here I am 6 years later! I have not “arrived” but I am making one simple change at a time! This is my sweet family, healthy and thriving. It’s become my life’s purpose to pay this gift forward and help other who are struggling. Jeremiah 29:11 reads “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I believe the things that happen to us in life, they are not designed to stop us. They are designed to reposition us so we can come in contact with what God really has for us. I truly believe every trial and struggle I faced happened for a reason. "Rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5: 3-5). Whether you know me personally, through social media, or the divine spirit has brought you here, my prayer is that my story brings you Hope. The Hope you need to take that first (or next) step. And about those tiny capsules I mentioned above, reach out if you have questions! Are you ready to write your Brave new ending? I'm here to help! xoxo
The picture on the left is my senior year in high school, a year after being hospitalized for anorexia. Even though I am 90 lbs, my face is as round as a basketball! Can you say inflammation? The picture on the right was taken the week we found out I was pregnant!
As with most stories, let’s start at the beginning: my husband was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile onset diabetes, when he was 13 years old. His mother has the same disease, which is different than the more common and manageable Type II diabetes( adult onset diabetes). When our oldest daughter was two years old, I had that momma gut feeling that I wanted to have her tested. No, she did not have the typical symptoms of diabetes onset: thirst, wetting the bed, tired, losing weight, etc. Instead, we enrolled in a screening program called TrialNet. It looks for diabetes-related autoantibodies that signal an increased risk of T1D. The JDRF, ADA and Endocrine Society now classify having two or more of these autoantibodies as early stage T1D. Finding T1D in its earliest stage allows for prompt intervention aiming to change the course of the disease. Risk for people in the general population is about 1 in 300. If you have a family member with T1D, your risk is 1 in 20. The program’s goal is to identify the disease in its earliest stage and stop disease progression by preserving beta cell production.
I still remember where I was standing, the long conversation, and kind of gloomy cloud over our family for the first couple of days we got that call that my daughter was not YET a diabetic but would likely develop type 1 diabetes in her lifetime. Actually the endocrinologists exact words were: “I actually can’t believe she is not having any symptoms and is not a full blown diabetic already.” She was two years old at the time when all 7 antibodies came back positive for type 1 diabetes.
Three years later, we are happy to report that our daughter has not been diagnosed with Type I diabetes! We know there is an genetic component and likely an environmental trigger that has been pulled but….after many late nights researching about what could have been that environmental trigger, I have turned my focus on what steps we can take now to prolong or even PREVENT full blown onset. The JDRF official position is that “onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and—at present—nothing you can do to get rid of it.” I slightly disagree because there must be a reason that T1D is increasingly more prevalent than years ago (source and data). Y’all, lets keep it simple. With disease there is inflammation of the cells. To decrease inflammation, you need antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries, grains). Hence, this has led us to where we are today. Passionate about a plant-based diet. Note the before and after picture above. Before we had this switch and eliminated dairy and gluten (both inflammatory foods as well), my daughter had dark circles under her eyes, running nose, chronic cough, easily fatigued, pale skin, enlarged tonsils, sleep apnea, and an unfocused look in her eyes. Today, she has none of that.
Is there research yet to support a plant-based diet can help with specifically T1D? Clinical research is beginning to demonstrate that adopting a plant-based, vegan diet without animal protein and fat will improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes (Clinical research here). If one is injecting less insulin, this results in less lipid, or fat, production in the body. That’s a motivating factor. But this momma is going to give it a try. What I do know is that we are almost 3 years and counting, my daughter remains NORMAL (5.1 A1C) and feels amazing! This way of eating has tremendously helped my husband manage his diabetes and seen huge benefits with his overall health since making this shift. LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE!
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“For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to improve, you have to improve. When you grow, everything in your life grows with you.”
For me and many people, change can be a scary word or concept. I have thought about why is change unsettling: is it because we are comfortable and a change may disrupt that feeling of comfort? Are we pessimistic and believe that change will necessarily bring unwanted consequence? Lastly, making a concerted effort to change would require our admission that the status quo is not enough or acceptable….
Once we come to the point of appreciating the need to change some aspect of our life, taking the first step can be daunting. I visit the words spoken by Jim Rohn often. During seasons of challenges and uncertainty, I ponder these words, which actually portray a fairly simple idea: to make a difference, you must actually do something different.
Rohn goes on to say that change comes from two sources: desperation or inspiration. For me, it was a person of inspiration. A great friend of mine was living a life of graciousness, humility, generosity, and joy. She was an example of truly trying to live a Christ-like existence: walking that Life, as opposed to merely talking of its virtues. It was inspirational to me. I realized the status quo needed to be improved. The inner garden needed to grow, so I thought: how do I get what she’s got? The answer was fairly simple: I needed to grow in my faith, if I wanted everything in my life to grow. I started making changes.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13 My internal mantra changed. My daily actions changed. First and foremost, I began to pray often- In the car, at night, in the morning, stolen moments during the day. I began to give thanks often. My day begins and ends with a prayer of gratitude. Next, my church attendance became more regular, and I began to immerse myself and truly worship. Finally, I took a step back to see what I was absorbing in life. What I was listening to? Reading? Watching? I needed a simple concept: Good stuff in, good stuff out.
Like a body that starts to get good nutrition, a shift happened for me. Other aspects of my life began to grow. That internal critic wasn’t so loud anymore. Through lots of “work” and some hard self discovery, tears, honest conversations, I have been on a journey to discover my deepest truths and gifts to live out a real purpose. Through my pain, I have found true meaning. I am doing the work. It is a DAILY commitment to surrender, show up , be humble, show grace toward others (and myself!), take notice of my internal thoughts and replace those intimidating and upsetting, destructive self-talk with positive, empowering thoughts. It’s a journey that is just beginning.
Years ago, I would never have put this much out there for people to consume, but now, “forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not see it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” Isaiah 43:18-19.
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