When I was growing up, if you eschewed carbs, ate low fat devil’s food cookies instead of regular cookies, and walked for 30 minutes a day, by most people’s standards, you were going to be healthy for the long haul. No one talked about super foods, or the dangers of GMO’s, or how tampons were plotting to turn your insides into cancer.
When I developed ongoing health issues a year and a half ago, I turned to a doctor, assuming they would be able to fix me. One doctor led to another doctor, which led to another doctor. I was told I would need to take medicine for the rest of my life. I was told my body would figure it out eventually and not to worry. I was told to go visit an infectious disease doctor and asked if I heard voices that weren’t there.
Frustrated and overly medicated, I turned to the internet.
I found countless stories just like mine- people who were fed up with conventional medicine, who were being fed pills for conditions no one could actually diagnose. These people were fixing themselves- they were throwing out their deodorants and swearing off antibiotics, fermenting their own foods and paying top dollar for laptop shields and organic mattresses. I spent hours reading about ‘natural living,’ researching the dangers of chemicals in my makeup, hormones in my food, and toxins in my environment.
I know being ‘natural’ is very trendy now, and let me just say that although I am prone to trend following, I have literally been dropped off on the front door step of Natural Living. I wanted more than anything to get better, and if giving up my deodorant was going to help that to happen, I was going to try it.
So, I went hippie chick. And soon learned that it was a bit more complicated than that.
First of all, it was so overwhelming. I swapped all of my cleaning products for natural ones and then started stressing about whether the natural ones were actually working. I spent way.too.long. researching formaldehyde in mascara and whether that was a) true and b) actual cause for concern. I spent a lot of money on new products.
Second of all, it was depressing. Every waking moment was spent either researching natural living or worrying about how everything was working together to lead to my eventual demise.
I learned the following things:
1. Sometimes the internet lies. And by ‘the internet,’ I mean people, Pinterest, articles, reviewers (I’m looking at you, Amazon). And by ‘lies,’ I mean gives out misinformation. Backed by pseudo science. So, take everything you read with a grain of salt, check your facts as best you can, and try things out for yourself.
2. Start slow. Pick one or two things to focus on and once you’ve incorporated them into your life, move on to another thing.
3. Overhauling how you eat should always be step #1. You cannot go wrong with eating healthy, organic, non GMO food that has not been processed in a factory somewhere. That’s real.
4. Every body is different and reacts differently to their environment- it’s important to get to know your own body and remember that just because something works for someone else, it may not work for you (or vice versa).
Without further adieu, Part I of my ‘Natural Living’ Reviews:
Natural Stuff I’ve Tried & Loved & Mostly Stuck With:
Brushing your dry nekkid bod with a long handled brush before showering “helps to unclog pores and excrete toxins that become trapped in the skin” and “helps move lymph fluid into the lymph nodes so this waste can be eliminated.” It’s also supposed to get rid of cellulite.
I don’t even know how to really quantify my level of lymph waste, but I can say that dry brushing makes my skin super soft, and seems to (somehow) magically make it so that I don’t get a five o’clock shadow on my legs. I’m guessing it’s because of the ingrown hair thing- I don’t have that anymore. It also gives me a little jolt of energy in the morning.
As for cellulite, that has not happened for me (cellulite has happened, the removal by dry brush has not).
Proponents of oil pulling claim that the practice of swishing oil in your mouth for a sustained period of time (usually around 20 minutes) is effective in pulling toxins out of your body, thereby reducing inflammation that can lead to headaches, acne, sinus pressure, and just about anything else that ails you.
I have no idea if oil pulling does any of those things, but I can tell you that my teeth feel amazing after I do it, and it’s a great natural teeth whitener. My oil of choice is coconut oil, but I’ve heard good things about sesame oil. I can’t imagine doing it with olive oil.
On the subject of using coconut oil for all the things, I use coconut oil for all the things. It’s heat stable, so I cook with it (eggs, vegetables, you name it), use it to pop popcorn, and to shave my legs. I have used it for lotion. The one thing I DO NOT use coconut oil for is any kind of face washing/acne treatment. My sister is an aesthetician, and sees clients all the time who saw on Pinterest that coconut oil was a cure all for skin ailments. It’s not. Don’t do it. But it’s safe to go literally everywhere else.
Natural Stuff that Did NOT Work for Me:
I am not a particularly sweaty person, so I thought switching to natural deodorant would be no big deal. I started off using magnesium oil with essentials oils, and two different kinds of primal pit paste. I came out smelling like a …well, bad. I came out smelling bad. At one point, when I was dousing myself in perfume before work, Will came in to the bathroom and said ‘oh, I miss that smell!’ to which I responded ‘I have literally been wearing this every single day since I went off normal deodorant.’ He also at one point asked me what I used in the shower instead of body wash. I responded ‘body wash. the same body wash I’ve always used.’ It wasn’t even so much body odor stinky, I just didn’t smell good.
I will say, I know a lot of people who have successfully made the switch to natural deodorant, and are not stinky. I was not one of them.
Raw Cacao Powder in my Coffee (or in anything):
I read a blog post from a mom with two little girls who claimed to have found a “miracle drink” for her mommy grogginess. She put two tablespoons of cacao (TWO. If only I had known) in her coffee, along with a substantial amount of emulsified coconut oil. I’m sure it was delicious, and that she has not died of a heart attack since writing that blog post.
I added 1 tablespoon of cacoa to my morning coffee, along with a slash of my usual almond milk. It tasted fine, if not a bit gritty. What did I expect? It was fine. For about an hour. And then I started to feel like I was on cocaine. I had jitters, thought my heart was going to start reaching out and groping people, and did not sleep for a good 36 hours (fun fact: this is also when I started my blog, thank you cacao powder, for keeping me up until 6 in the morning on a Tuesday). I also experienced some unsightly stomach issues that I will not elaborate on.
Natural Stuff I’ve Only Dabbled in, But I’ve Still Got Opinions:
Ok, I haven’t dabbled in natural birth. Or any birth for that matter. But I witnessed a friend’s natural birth for her first baby at a birthing center. IT DID NOT GO WELL. FOR ME. I FAINTED. My friend was absolutely beepin’ AMAZING during her labor, but after about 12 hours at the birthing center trying push her 9 pound, 2 week late baby out, she had to be transported to the hospital for an eventual c-section. Her sweet little girl was born around 5 in the morning, so we got to spend most of the evening with the midwife, who accompanied her to the hospital, but was not allowed to help
I capitalized on this opportunity to ask the midwife pretty much everything I had ever wanted to know about natural birth. She explained to me that some women can sneeze their baby out on Tuesday morning like it’s no big thing, and some women need medical intervention or they will die. And you just kind of don’t really know which camp you’re going to fall into until you try. I haven’t made up my mind yet about what kind of birth I will have since I do not currently have any need to make up my mind on that, but I’m trying to keep an open mind on both sides (medicated vs. natural).
Natural Stuff for Which the Jury is Still Out:
Natural Birth Control (Fertility Awareness Method)
The best decision I have made in my adult life besides marrying my husband was quitting all forms of hormonal birth control. That stuff wreaked havoc on my mostly normal adult body, brain, and heart. I read ‘Taking Charge of Your Fertility’ as I was transitioning off the pill, and thought ‘this sounds foolproof!’
Well, let me just say that, although I have not gotten pregnant, it’s not foolproof. In fact, I think the main thing you have to be when attempting natural birth control is not foolish. It’s a complete lifestyle change, and one you have to be very dedicated to. I am still trying to master all the ins and outs, but I will say that it is empowering to know your body well, and to be able to tell when something is not right. I think that so many people shy away from any kind of charting or tracking of their periods because they think they don’t need to- but it’s super important for your overall health, and not just if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy.
That’s all for now! I could probably do ten parts, but I’ll save those for a later date.