Monday, December 10, 2018

Homemade All Natural Hard Lotion Bars

Hard Lotion Bar Recipe

Chances are, if you live in Colorado, the midwest or northeast you are always in need of a good quality moisturizer for your skin, especially in winter time. Our climate is just too dry, and your skin can feel very irritated if it gets too dry. 
For me, normal lotion doesn't seem to help much at all, I've even begun talking weekly detox baths (2 cups epsom salts, 1 cup baking soda, 2 tablespoons bentonite clay, a few drops essential oils and half a cup of olive oil) to help my skin absorb some moisture, and my body some much needed magnesium. The problem is that my skin doesn't stay soft and supple for long before that uncomfortable itchy feeling returns. 
There is a common misconception that intake of water will increase hydration to the skin, this is in fact untrue, oils and yes fats are the substance in which hydration of the skin and hair comes from. Oils used both internally and externally will give your skin the hydration it needs and fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) that will keep it healthy, supple and young looking. 
These lotion bars are hard, and you rub them over your skin, creating warmth as it absorbs in. I actually used something very similar that I purchased while in Alaska, that was made from beeswax and was incredibly expense, now since finding this recipe, I can easily and cheaply make these from scratch.  The smell is light and pleasant, and they absorb fairly quickly. Plus, these make great christmas gifts, you can purchase a decorative mold and give these gifts out!
 All you need for these these bars is three ingredients, one pot, and molds – that’s it!
1 part each, by weight (2 oz each)
  • Cocoa butter or shea butter
  • Almond Oil
  • Beeswax
  • Essential oil, if desired
  • Silicone molds
Melt all ingredients together, pour in molds, let set until hard, unmold, and you’re done! 

Recipe adapted from: Super Easy Hard Lotion Bars

My Frustration with the American Diet

It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant and complacent people are with the foods they put into their bodies. Why would people agree to eat foods that are known to contain ingredients horrible to our health? Why do we buy and not question? Why do we eat and not learn? Why do we consume but not create? These are questions I've found myself asking over the past year, and I can tell you the wool has certainly been pulled from my eyes.

I grew up with the common practice of growing my own vegetables and fruit, not ever thinking once about why. I don't know why, maybe because my grandparents taught my parents, maybe because it's essentially free and we didn't have a lot of money, or maybe my parents were ahead of the game and wanted organic foods before the term was invented... Either way, I consider myself lucky, even more so in the last year or two, realizing the invaluable knowledge and habits engrained in me as a child. The love of fresh vegetables grown on the backyard is something I can only hope to share with others someday, as I try to pass my love along to my nephew and fiancé.

The chemicals that are found in the foods today are nothing more than large scale human experiments- played on an all to willing American public-at the expense of our long term health.

Case in point- margarine and trans fats. I bet most people don't even realize what a trans fat molecule is, or where it comes from- but some slick advertising has convinced is that it's better than natural butter, animal fats, natural tropical oils or nut oils. Do you know who invented margarine? Or that is used to be required to be colored pink to show it as an unappealing/non-food product...
Proctor and Gamble held the US patent for margarine/trans fats. What is a baby products company making "food" for? To corner the lard and butter market, of course, by whipping cotton seed or rape seed oil and later dying it yellow, sounds delicious right? They also decided to use left over waste from soy bean production to save costs and use a useless industrial byproduct. Sounds healthy right? (BTW the rape seed is called canola for those who don't know, NOT an actual food). Trans fats became commonplace after the war to allow food to sit on shelves longer and lowering the bottom line for companies, without any regard for the poison they unleashed on the public.

Yet even after decades of proof that they cause cancer and coronary disease, I readily see people defend trans fats- defend the use of "ingredients" that are not food. Brainwashing? It must be, cause I can't figure out why someone would defend a companies use of "ingredients" instead of demanding its abolition. We know, we've known for a long time, what trans fats have done to us, but only now are people realizing the toxins they've consumed.

How about artificial sweeteners? Let's produce a series of chemicals to replicate a pure substance the human body is engineered to crave, and tweak it until the point that it actually tricks the human body to gain weight without calorie consumption, wow that sounds healthy! If people could learn and understand moderation we wouldn't be desperately seeking zero calorie "foods" to begin with.

But maybe we just didn't know? Maybe companies truly believed these "foods" benefited the public... Bullshit- then and especially now we know what this crap does to us, but has any of it been pulled off the shelves? Of course not, cause that would only benefit the consumer (us).

Probably my favorite misconception that is still alive and burning today is the dangerous and ill-conceived "low-fat diet", or as I call it, the demise of American nutrition. With it's inception in the 1980's obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease have increased exponentially, but apparently we are too stupid to wake up and realize why.

Our entire system of nutritional guidelines was never designed to benefit the consumer, it's straight up for the corporations, big pharma and food industry to benefit from. I have actually heard of diabetics being prescribed a low fat "whole-grain" diet- a slow and expensive death sentence if you ask me.
Probably one of the most laugh out loud hilariously tragic (if there is such a thing) instances of lack understanding I have ever seen was an article written about cook Paula Dean and her outing of diabetes. In reading the hundreds of comments in the section below the article were dozens of comments like, "of course she has diabetes, look at all the butter she uses!" or "all she cooks are fried foods, what to you expect?" and I had to laugh, while I definitely do not condone the blissfully ignorant diet rich in fried foods, I do have the common sense to understand that fat cannot and never will cause diabetes. Period.
Fat has no influence on raising blood glucose levels, which of course, when habitually and intensely raised cause insulin resistance- leading to diabetes, yet I would guess a majority of Americans believe a diet rich in fats (of any kind) directly cause diabetes. Kinda sad in my opinion, basic high school biology evades us, and how our bodies use food is for the vast majority, a complete mystery.

Do you really think that the human species made it tens of thousands of years on a primal hunter gatherer diet, free of all modern diseases only to be stuffed with grains and sugar as our primary source of nutrition?

Haven't you ever wondered how early humans thrived without bread? That diabetes, tooth decay, cancer, heart disease and mental illness all became prevalent when farming grains started? Look even today traditional diets are rare, but they still exist, and only after the introduction of the modern grain/sugar diet do modern diseases and obesity become prevalent. Inuit people ate straight up whale blubber and never had a heart attack or stroke, but how can that be?

The evil saturated fat

I find it to be downright infuriating the absolute disgust and hatred for animal fats. You'd think they were toxic chemicals the way people turn their noses in disgust, shove their plates away in fear. For literally hundreds of centuries humans ate animal fat, raw animal fat. In fact they treasured it, revered and hoarded it, because it raises cholesterol and causes heart disease right? That's every early humans desire, they seeked out foods that they observed to harm right? Makes sense.

Isn't it obvious we are only here today because of the choices our ancestors made? They knew a whole hell of a lot more about nutrition than we do today, and with a fraction of the available food resources we have access to, but still we choose boxes of stuff on shelves in a grocery store, made to resemble the traditional foods of past.

I'm not even trying to bash all grains, just wheat specifically, the modern wheat plant that exists today isn't even close to the wheat harvested just 20 years ago- and its light years away from the original species. If there is one "food" source we have truly destroyed it is wheat, it's been so genetically modified without any regard to its affects to health that it doesn't even resemble an edible plant. Why? Money. Wheat has been genetically modified to such a degree to increase crop yields and decrease resistance to chemicals and grown at a different size to ease farm equipment, that's it. I doubt it was ever modified to increase nutritional value.

Grain consumption is our primary source of food for many Americans and it's been taught to us that it should be the bulk of our diet (think food pyramid) but why? What evidence suggests that humans had it wrong for thousands of centuries? How is eating vegetables and nuts/seeds as the bulk of our diet unhealthy? How did we make it this far without bagels? Hmmm makes me wonder who is feeding us this crap, pun intended.

And people can't figure out why our health is the worst it's ever been? Are we really admitting to be that ignorant?
Are we really that complacent to love in perfect bliss, desperately testing or crash diet after another, wreaking havoc on our internal systems in search of health?

What to do

Doesn't it make more sense to have an honest thought process about our history as a species, about other cultures of the past, to see how they have thrived? Well that's the conversation I've had with myself over the past few years, and I've made the choice to seek out food that would have been available in the human diet 1,000 or more years ago. Pretty simple when you think about it...
Nothing too difficult, stay to the perimeter of your grocery store, avoid foods in cans and boxes, for the most part, and make everything you can from scratch.
Above all else, avoid anything labeled "low-fat", diet, vegetable oil, refined, or enriched, these foods almost certainly mean chemical alteration, bleaching, deodorizing, or other God awful industrial processes not suitable for food consumption. Use butter, non- hydrogenated lard, coconut oil, nut oils and olive oils and avoid all else completely.

Make the majority of your dinner plate vegetables, two or three different kinds, and fill the other 1/3 of your plate with a grass fed animal protein.

Seek foods as close to their original state, and organic as possible. Visualize that little cave man over an open fire pit and think about what made his genetic make-up allow for you and I to exist today...

Don't Kill Yourself Over it

Not entirely possible all the time, and yes some foods are hard to resist, but make things like pasta, breads, sweets, cakes and pastries rare and occasional treats not normal foods and I guarantee you will feel like a whole new person in no time...

Suggested Reading:

Here is a list of sources I have read to help me decide my new life of health and happiness, please give them a read!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

My birth story

As many of you know, I gave birth to my son on March 6th 2015. He is my first child, and after two years of trying to conceive, having 2 miscarriages, we were finally blessed with our son CJ.

My pregnancy was normal by all accounts, normal amount of morning sickness, weight gain, blood pressure etc..., so I was expecting a normal as possible birth as well, but unfortunately I got anything but.

In my doctors appointments in the weeks leading to my due date the midwife had indicated that CJ was "sunny side up" meaning that normally babies are born with their faces toward your back, CJ was turned so that his face was turned toward the front. I tried to research this information, and discussed it with my doula, but was really not well informed or prepared for what that would ultimately mean.

My last doctors appointment was 3 days after my official "due date" but I wasn't worried, I knew from lots of research that about 70% of first time births occur after the due date, he would come when he was ready. The midwife asked to do a cervical check, which up until that point I had declined, but I allowed it at this last appoint. I was dilated to a 2, no effacement. She asked if she could rupture my membranes, so which I declined. The cervical check felt very uncomfortable, and I remember wondering if she had done it anyways, but my doula later told me that she didn't - it would have been much worse then I described.

It was a Wednesday for my doctors appointment, and I had taken the day off so that I could rest and recuperate but had planned to go to work the remainder of the week. I went to bed and woke up at 3AM to strong contractions. I labored with intermittent contractions until 6:00AM before my husband called my doula to come assist. I had planned to labor at home until I was much farther along in my labor, near the point of transition and then making my way to the hospital.

I tried to relax as much as possible, took a shower and tried to eat, but my contraction pain was unbearable, having what I now know as "back labor" due to my son being turned the wrong way - his skull was pressing down on my spine with each contraction causing a very sharp shooting pain in my back with each contraction.

My doula arrived at 8:00am. She had also suspected that CJ was turned the wrong way - and had suggested some positions of laboring to encourage him to roll over into the proper position, we attempted 3-4 positions of laboring until about 3:00pm that day, as my labor slowly progressed. I got into a situation where I was starting to having regular 4 minute interval contractions and the pain was becoming very intense, so I was hoping that we were close.

We arrived at the hospital only for me to discover to my dismay that I was only dilated to a 3. I persevered and continued to labor, unassisted in both the tub and in a standing position until about 7:00pm that evening, where I was finally convinced to use Pitocin and receive an epidural. Coming to terms with the fact that I would not be having an unmedicated birth was soul crushing for me, I had intended to give birth naturally and tired to mentally prepare myself for other possibilities, but in the end I was crushed when the decision to use medication was reached, I felt like a failure and I felt defeated, which I think also affected the remainder of my labor and delivery, looking back on it now.

The Pitocin and epidural slowed my labor process down even  more, and I didn't reach 10cm until about 5:00pm the following day, the epidural kept wearing off, and I was experiencing something known as "dead spots" where spots of my abdomen had complete feeling, while other spots did not - and while continuing to have back labor - was not providing much relief from the pain at all, they ended up redoing my epidural twice. By this point I had labored for about 41 hours at that point, I was beyond exhausted when it finally came time to push.

I pushed for a full hour, every contraction, without taking a break, and he barely crowned, he was stuck. I started to experience a rapid drop in blood oxygen levels from exertion, and I started to spike a fever. The baby's heart rate began to rise rapidly as well, and so they told me I would need to have an emergency C-section at that point.

When a baby becomes stressed during labor they will actually poop of some of the meconium in their systems, and the doctors told me that this had happened during my labor at some point, and combined with my fever they were worried that the baby was developing an infection. I did not hesitate to agree to the C-section at this point, I was barely conscious and I was not in my right mind at all. I can remember when they told me that I needed to consent to the C-Section I just broke down and began balling with my husband, it felt like forever, but we just cried in each others arms; relieved, scared, defeated, worried - every emotion was going through my mind.

I can distinctly remember thinking that I was too tired to stay awake for the surgery and being worried that I would miss the birth of my son from my overwhelming exhaustion. The doctors had to change my epidural medication to something stronger - for fear that I would feel the surgery take place - something that at the time I couldn't care less about - but in retrospect, should have been terrified given the dead spots I had experienced earlier.

The prep and surgery took less than 30 minutes and my son was born at 7:27PM. When my son was handed to me I had to focus all of my energy on not dropping him, and I had to hand him back to my husband because I was so scared I would. I kept slipping in and out of consciousness and tried to rest as much as possible while they stitched me back up.

In the recovery room I wanted to do skin to skin as quickly as possible, so they striped him naked and laid him on my chest, where he proceeded to poop out a large quantity of that tar like meconium all over me, but I didn't mind at all. I finally had my perfect little miracle and I knew that we would be alright after that. We both lost our fevers, and while I had to remain on oxygen for the next 24 hours to get my blood oxygen levels back to normal, everything else worked out fine.

This also marks that start of my continued (still one year later) deficit of sleep, for which I feel I will never fully recover. We ended up leavng the hospital a day early because the nursing staff would not stop waking us up to mess with us, and I wasn't getting any recuperating rest during our stay. My son is a horrible sleeper as it is - and I am just now starting to get consistent full nights sleep one year later.