My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression with Herbology & Self Love

Health & Wellness, Self-Help

I made an appointment. I filled out the forms. I was asked personal questions. The health professionals checked my pulse and tongue. By the end of my appointment, the herbalists all reached the same diagnosis: my heart was broken.

Seeing a Western Herbalist?

Years ago if you would have told me that whenever I got sick I would be seeking out the help of an herbalist over a doctor, I don’t think I would have believed you. But sometimes we surprise ourselves like that.

It all started several months back when I ended up getting really sick. I was suffering from tonsillitis that wouldn’t go away, chronic stomach aches every night that lasted hours, and what I thought was my fourth or fifth breast infection. So of course, I went to the doctor. And then another doctor, and then another doctor, and then another and another and another. I had so many appointments, but they always ended up going the same way. The doctor would shoo me out as fast as possible, give me a prescription, and say that they didn’t know what was wrong with me.

After experiencing that for many months in a row, I finally decided to change my methods. I decided to instead go to Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Petersburg, Fla. I enjoyed my experience and their holistic approach at Traditions so much that when I started to experience depression, getting in for an appointment was my top priority. No way was I going to take random depression pills. Nope. I had already tried that once before when I was a teenager.

I am not at all saying that taking pills is wrong and I know that for some people it is extremely helpful, especially for those who suffer from clinical depression. But pills don’t work for me and I’ve found that they tend to only create weird side effects for me. Plus, being so involved in self-help, health, and wellness, seeing a traditional doctor and going on pills was not at all what I wanted to do. Instead, I was going to go to the Herbal Clinic and go about healthily treating depression by trying to heal from the inside out, not cover up the depression with a band-aid.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression

If you’ve never been to an herbal clinic before, it’s the exact opposite experience of seeing a traditional doctor. The approach at herbal clinics is to get to the root of the problem, rather than treat a symptom. The herbalist will sit with you for an hour or more discussing EVERYTHING from your mental health to digestion. They also use very traditional methods that have been used for centuries before we had people in lab coats with medical degrees throwing pills around like candy on Halloween. At the Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Pete, they specifically use a mixture of Western and Chinese Herbalism. In each visit, they will examine your pulse in nine different places on each wrist to get an idea of how the organs are functioning, and they do a tongue examination. 

The way the appointment works when you go to the student clinic is you sit with them for about an hour and go over everything with them. They write down their thoughts and theories on what’s going on with your body, then one of the owners comes in to make sure it’s correct and to see if they have any other recommendations or additions. The owners include Dr. Bob Linde, AP, DOM, RH(AHG) and Renee Crozier, RH(AHG). (You could choose to see the owners themselves, however, it does cost more money.) I saw Allison for my appointment and then Renee who specializes in cancer care and traditional healing.

After you see both the student and the owner and discuss your health history, systems, diet, lifestyle, digestion, etc., they put together a very specific herbal formula for you and create a wellness plan. The formula and wellness plan that they put together have very specific recommendations that are supposed to help you to heal physically, spiritually, AND mentally. This is exactly the approach that I wanted to take to treating depression. I wanted to sit with someone who talked to me rather than shooed me out of the office and I wanted to be put on a holistic formula rather than with pharmaceutical drugs that only address a symptom. I also decided to begin regular therapy. Which, if you’re interested in hearing about that, make sure to read my last post, “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It.”

My Appointment

Disclaimer: I just want to say that the people at Tradition’s Herbal Clinic are extremely knowledgeable in traditional healing and herbalism, so I know I’m not doing their hypothesis justice by trying to explain it myself. But I will try the best I can!

The day I went in for my appointment I filled out all the paperwork and health history information. After that, Allison took my paperwork with her to review for a few minutes and then we started. She asked me all sorts of questions related to what I wrote down, discussed my symptoms with me, checked my pulse and tongue, and even asked me very personal questions about my lifestyle and relationships. Renee then joined us about mid-way through the appointment. 

About an hour and fifteen minutes, both Renee and Allison had come to a conclusion that I’ve never heard before from any kind of doctor or health appointment I’ve had: they concluded that I was suffering from a broken heart.

They shared with me that just as we have PHYSICAL organs like the heart and the brain, we also have SPIRITUAL ones. We have a physical heart just as we have a spiritual heart and they’re both connected. Meaning that when we’re having problems in the body they can manifest as mental issues and vice versa.

In my case, they believed that I have a broken heart, and because of outside influences and comments that I had stored in my memory and internalized, I had also developed awful self-talk. All of this sadness and negativity was building up in my heart and my mind creating depression and symptoms in my physical body. They believed that if I didn’t get a hold on it and heal myself that those mental issues could later manifest in the body and create serious diseases as I age, such as coronary artery disease.

Herbalist Recommendations & Wellness Plan

To heal my body and my heart, Renee and Allison recommended I drink loose leaf tea twice a day that they made for me later that night. The tea is made from a mixture of eight different herbs including schizandra berry, tulsi, eose, hawthorn berry, hibiscus, and passion flower. They also wanted me to take a flower essence tincture three times a day by placing four drops of the essence under my tongue. Aside from their formula they would create for me, Renee and Allison wanted me to be taking Probiotics REGULARLY (not just when the mood strikes) as well as magnesium and vitamin D supplements.

Above all, they wanted me to work on my mindset, my self-talk, and learn to love myself. (Easier said than done, right?) Their suggestions for this were to get three different books that they felt could help me the most, but they wanted me to listen to audiobooks because I remember better when I hear something rather than read it. Two of the three audiobooks they recommended included, “The Four Agreements,” and “The Fifth Agreement,” both by Miguel Ruiz. They believed that I would benefit if I learned to adopt the agreements: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and do your best.

They also believed that I could gain some insight from these books by learning about HOW we make agreements with ourselves and internalize beliefs. They also thought that it would help me learn about how humans spew emotional poison onto others creating more unhappiness on an individual scale which has a ripple effect out into the rest of the world.

The last audiobook they wanted me to listen to is “You Can Heal Your Life,” by Louise Hay. This one is about how our limiting beliefs and ideas are often the cause of illness and how we can change our thinking to improve the quality of our lives. 

Lastly, Renee and Allison wanted me to talk to myself. Also not something I was expecting to hear! They wanted me to talk to myself out loud and in my mind giving myself compliments or saying affirmations. The hope this that though me doing this regularly, my mindset will start to shift and become more loving and compassionate towards myself rather than being an invisible bully that follows me all day.

Those are my herbalist’s recommendations for helping with the depression that I’ve been experiencing from all the stress and big life changes over the last year. From here on I’m supposed to follow their recommendations for the next month until my second appointment. Then I’ll have a follow-up appointment where I’ll go back to meet with Allison and Renee and they’ll examine me again to provide new recommendations to incorporate and to discuss my next round of healing with a second herbal formula. 

My Self-Love Challenge

Because I have an entire month left of taking their advice before the next appointment, I thought it would be nice to make this month a time of serious self-love. Because not only do I want to go into that next appointment having made progress and taking their suggestions seriously, but I also want to see if shifting your mindset is even possible in the first place. I know it must be possible because all the books and blogs talk about it, but I’ve always been so skeptical about whether I could do it myself. Could I REALLY shift my mindset and get rid of my negative self-talk? I hope so. 

So I decided to layout a month-long self-love routine for myself that will help me heal in more ways that one. Here’s my month-long self-love practice!

Morning and Nighttime Skincare Routine – This one may seem very random, but when I got stuck in my rut I was extremely lazy and unmotivated. Throughout all my life I have always had a pretty involved skincare routine complete with oil, a cleansing, a toner, a serum, moisturizer, eye cream, and SPF. But when I felt so low, I could hardly bring myself to wash my face. Now, I’m making it a point to focus on my skin again first thing in the morning and at the end of the day as well. 

Moisturize – I recently came back with all of these gorgeous lotions and body products from my super spontaneous trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. So as part of my self-love practice, I will also make it a point to moisturize after a shower. As much as I hate the idea that people think self-love and self-care is PAMPERING because it’s NOT, I’ve been completely neglecting those things after I started to feel low. Adopting this simple act of pampering is just one way that I’m showing love and appreciation for myself by taking those few moments just to make myself feel good on the outside, which I believe can also make you feel good on the inside. 

Self Love Reflection – Next I’m incorporating a self-love reflection into the day whether it’s through stream of consciousness journaling or quietly reflecting on something that I love about myself or that I’m proud of. The point is to help me get rid of the negative self-talk by slowly replacing it with happier and more pleasant thoughts that lift me up. 

Affirmations – I’ll admit I’m super new to affirmations. I hadn’t come across any affirmations that spoke to me and I NEVER remembered to do them. But to me, it seemed too weird walking around my apartment throughout the day telling myself compliments as Allison recommended. I decided that as my way of “talking to myself” as she suggested, I would find a list of affirmations and I would say them aloud to myself and meditate on them. This way has been working well for me because I don’t have to think up what I want to say. I instead pick an affirmation for the day and repeat that affirmation until I feel like it’s sinking in. If I’m feeling extra motivated I will read through a list of affirmations or pick several. But either way I pick one affirmation for the day, repeat it for several minutes in the morning, and then make it a point to remind myself the affirmation throughout the day by writing it down in the morning and keeping it close by.

My absolute favorite list of affirmations that I discovered came from Peaceful Banyan Tree in an article titled, “20 Powerful Affirmations of All Time.” I LOVE this list because it covers positive thinking, health, confidence, self-worth, happiness, letting go, money, success, stress, and today. It hits on all of the areas that bring us full-body health and wellness. For that reason, this list has resonated with me and helped me choose my morning affirmation with ease.

  • I am able to find positivity in every situation.
  • I create only positive thoughts and radiate positivity.
  • I am getting stronger and healthier every day.
  • I am taking good care of my mental and physical health.
  • I am becoming a better version of myself every day.
  • I am confident to overcome any hurdles.
  • I know my self-worth and I am worthy of the best.
  • I believe in myself.
  • I am overflowing with happiness, joy, and satisfaction.
  • I choose happiness over doubt and fear.
  • I forgive myself and everyone else for all the mistakes.
  • I choose to release hurt and resentment.
  • I am a money magnet and attract money easily.
  • The universe is creating opportunities for me to earn more and more money.
  • I see success and abundance everywhere.
  • I am becoming more and more successful every day.
  • Every breath I take fills my soul with calmness and ease.
  • I am at peace now.
  • Today is the most beautiful day.
  • Today I lay the foundation for a wonderful future.

If you’d like some more ideas, make sure to check out my “Mantras” board on Pinterest @LostOnlineBlog.

Pray – After doing my morning affirmation, I decided that I would end with a prayer. I ask the universe to help me take the affirmation into the day, and for help in healing and becoming my highest self. I don’t have a script and what I say tends to vary each day. I always speak from the heart and say whatever feels good at the moment. This is my favorite part of my daily ritual because it makes me feel so at peace.

Supplements and Herbs – For the longest time I completely stopped taking my supplements or I would take them very randomly. But the thing is with supplements you have to take them for an extended period to actually receive and notice the benefit of it. For example, when I started taking biotin for my hair and nails, I didn’t notice how much it helped until at least three months later. Now, as part of my self-love practice, I’m making my supplements and my herbs one of my top priorities along with my formula from Tradition’s Herbal Clinic.

Audio Books – In the afternoon or evening that’s when I’ll be incorporating the audiobooks that were recommended to me. Whether it’s at the gym, in the afternoon when I’m done working, or as I’m getting ready for bed, this is where I’ll take the time to absorb all of that knowledge that my herbalists believe will help. So far I’ve listened to “The Four Agreements” and part of “The Fifth Agreement.” I like them so far because the advice is so simple, but I can see how if you adopt The Four Agreements you could be free from all of the dramas that cause us so much pain, and also have greater self-love. 

Gratitude – At this point, you all are very familiar with how much I believe in my gratitude practice, so I won’t rehash all the benefits again. You can check out my blog post, “My Daily Gratitude Practice,” or “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.” But it should come as no surprise that when I started to feel so low that I could hardly get myself moving for the day, so of course I didn’t end up sticking to this ritual either. So I’m making it a point to reinstate gratitude in my day. 

Read – Whenever I fall into a funk, I always tend to start numbing with Netflix, which always makes me feel so much worse in the end. I feel as if I’m unproductive and lazy and like I didn’t accomplish anything important. I decided that as part of my self-love ritual I would stop watching shows and instead read in bed every night, not just when the mood strikes. I’m so happy that I’ve adopted this one because I already had so many great conversations with people over our shared love for the book that I’m reading right now: “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Meditate – Last but not least is meditation. I’ve been following along with the happiness series on the Headspace app lately and it’s helped me to find some peace and serenity right before I go to bed and fall asleep. I’m such a night owl that usually the moment my head hits the pillow I’m 100% awake, but whenever I meditate before bed that’s not the case. I’ve adopted this last habit because not only will it help me feel a sense of calmness in my mind, but it will also help me to take care of myself by falling asleep at a reasonable hour and be able to wake up earlier than usual. 

How is it going?

It’s now been two weeks since I went to the herbal clinic and got my formula. I’ve been taking it every day aside from the days when I was in Pennsylvania and Ontario because I didn’t want to lose it or be questioned about my brown paper bag of herbs at the airport. I don’t know if the formula is what’s helping or if it’s a combination of self-love practices, supplements, herbs, and books.

I do feel much better than I did before though. I have finally pulled myself out of my latest funk and I’m hoping I’ll keep feeling this way for at least a few weeks. I think what is actually helping me the most is that I LOVE trying out wellness practices and products, so I don’t know if it’s their suggestions exactly, or if I’m just so excited to now be going to therapy and to get to test out all of these recommendations and share my experience. 

I have been feeling incredibly proud of myself though because I didn’t think I would be able to take so many recommendations from someone and incorporate it into my life with such ease. I mean really, I have a hard enough following my dentists one simple piece of advice – floss. But I really want to get better, so I’ve been doing everything! 

Lastly, I just wanted to share that this is how I’m treating my depression right now. I’m seeing a therapist, seeing an herbalist, and adopting self-love. I hope that you find some nuggets of wisdom in here that might help you, however, I’m not suggesting that EVERYONE treat depression by repeating affirmations or taking probiotics. Some people do need medication and some people have serious clinical depression and suicidal thoughts that an herbalist is not equipped to fix. If you’re suffering from depression I HIGHLY suggest that you see a doctor and a therapist. Just keep in mind that these things like rituals, books, and supplements can serve a purpose too, and I believe that trying a mixture of traditional and holistic recommendations will help you heal the fastest. 

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for reading and make sure to let me know you’re thoughts in the comments! I’m particularly interested to hear what people think about this post and how I’m going about healing myself. 

What are your thoughts about this post? Did you get any ideas from it? Have you had depression before? How did you go about treating it? What worked for you? Do you believe in going using a mixture of traditional and herbal treatments or do you believe one is better than the other?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Why I’m A Golden Milk Connoisseur + My Personal Recipe

Health & Wellness

What’s golden milk? Where did golden milk come from?

Golden milk has become extremely popular in the last few years with blog after blog reposting recipes. That’s how I got hooked. About two and a half years ago I read all of the blogs about golden milk and its benefits, and decided to make it myself. You’d think that golden milk would have been something I tried in excitement from all the Pinterest hype and forgot about almost immediately, but the day I made my first recipe I was hooked. I’ve been making golden milk regularly since then as a way to help me unwind for the day and as a way to settle digestive issues and banish inflammation in my body.

So what is golden milk and why am I so jazzed up about it? Golden milk, also known as haldi doodh, is a drink that was created thousands of years ago in India and has roots in Ayurveda. If you’re unfamiliar with Ayurveda, it’s considered to be the sister science of yoga. If you’re curious about it, I highly suggest the book, “An Idiots Guide to Ayurveda,” by Sahara Rose Ketabi. She’s the one person who I learned from the most about Ayurveda through her book and her podcast, “The Highest Self Podcast.”

According to Sahara, “Ayurveda is the world’s oldest health system, stemming from ancient India more than 5,000 years ago. In fact, it’s the health system from which all others originated — Chinese, Western, and Herbology included. The Sanskrit word Ayurveda means ‘knowledge of life,’ and in order to achieve complete health, you must have knowledge of all aspects of your life. This healing system transcends the physical and combines the medical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and metaphysical, which are all interconnected. Ayurveda dives into the complex mind-body relationship and brings you back into balance…” (From The Idiots Guide to Ayurveda, Intro)

Golden milk was one of the many natural medicines of the time. However, the recipes used back then were a bit different than the sweet, Starbucks versions that we have now. I’ve been trying to learn about the original recipe, but I believe that it was once a simple mixture of turmeric and milk. But either way, this recipe that I’m going to give you today is one thing that I swear by and I’ll continue to make for many, many years to come. 

Why I’m drinking the golden Kool-Aid

Now I’m obsessed with golden milk and have passed along my recipe to several friends and family who asked for it. I absolutely love this part of my nighttime routine and for that reason, I was planning on sharing a post about golden milk months ago. Unfortunately, it kept being put off. I finally decided to create this post today after watching a very educational and informative lecture called, “A Healthcare Call to Action,” from Andrew Weil (MD) through my Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) classes.

Most of Weil’s lecture focused on the topic of inflammation and after hearing his research on inflammation in the body, I felt so motivated and inspired to pass it on to you. More than ever I believe that this simple elixir has the power to drastically improve our health short term and long term and is 110% worth the online hype. Here’s why…

As you get older, especially once you are over the age of 60, the possibility of getting serious diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease increases substantially, right? Of course, we’re all very familiar with that by now. Sadly, our culture has come to the understanding that as you get older it’s unavoidable to become seriously sick. However, Weil’s research all centered around one question: Is it inevitable that we’re going to get one or another disease as we age? Does it HAVE to happen?

Well the answer is, NO. That’s not the case. Research overwhelmingly proves that it’s possible to age healthily and prevent diseases. But how? How do you reduce the risk and delay the onset of age-related diseases? It turns out that all of these well-known, age-related diseases begin as inflammatory processes in the human body. For example, coronary artery disease begins as inflammation in the lining of the arteries which can also PRECEDE the deposition of cholesterol. According to Weil, cholesterol may even be the body’s way of attempting to patch up areas that have been damaged by inflammation.

Alzheimer’s disease is another example. Alzheimer’s begins as inflammation in the brain which is why ibuprofen has a preventative effect in Alzheimer’s Disease. This may even be why India has the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s in the world because they eat turmeric at every meal – the most potent natural anti-inflammatory agent that’s been found. Weil also shared that one of the reasons why aspirin can prevent heart attacks: it’s an anti-inflammatory agent as well as a blood-thinning agent.

Amazingly all of the worst age-related diseases we’ve become so familiar with begin as inflammation, even cancer. Why? Because anything that intensifies inflammation in the body simultaneously increases cell proliferation. This means that cells divide more frequently, which increases malignant transformation.

Now inflammation is not ALL bad. It’s actually a very healthy and necessary response that our bodies have. Inflammation is the body’s healing response, it’s how the body gets more nourishment to the area that needs it. For example, if you’ve been hurt or injured the area will swell and turn red. However, inflammation can be very powerful and in the end even dangerous. Which means it’s important that the inflammation stays where it’s supposed to stay in the body and ends where it’s supposed to end, not continue to linger once it’s served its purpose. If inflammation does persist and serve no purpose it becomes productive of disease.

The majority of Weil’s lecture centered around the fact that he believes that all these diseases have a common root which is inappropriate inflammation in the body, so anything that reduces or contains inflammation in the body is going to reduce the risk of disease.

The kind of inflammation that he worries about is low-level inflammation throughout the body which is influenced by genetics, stress, exposure to environmental toxins, but most of all DIET. The reason why this is so important to remember is that the mainstream American diet is pro-inflammatory — it’s a diet filled with fats and carbohydrates (not the good kind) and it lacks the foods that protect and heal our body like fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices. I believe that our culture is increasingly stressed out as our self worth is viewed by how productive and successful we are. Throw in our three coffees a day to keep us going and energized and we REALLY have a recipe for disaster. These issues leave us walking around with inflammation on a day to day basis, the kind that could seriously affect our health in the long term as Weil pointed out.

Anything that can help fight chronic inflammation in the body has the possibility to prevent and even treat these diseases. That’s where turmeric and my beloved golden milk comes in. 

Golden Ingredients & Benefits 

TURMERIC – Turmeric is the main ingredient in golden milk and has been used in India for thousands of years for its medicinal properties, and as I shared before, it’s the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory. Although there’s a large number of people that believe that using herbs and supplements for medical purposes is a bunch of bull, turmeric is far from make-believe. Today, science is finally able to back up why this herb is so beneficial. Turmeric contains compounds that are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin – the compound responsible for giving turmeric its anti-inflammatory properties.

Not only is it anti-inflammatory, but the curcumin compound drastically increases the antioxidant capacity of the body, it improves brain function, lowers the risk of heart disease, prevents and treats cancer, helps treat people with depression, improves digestion, relieves pain, and delays age-related chronic diseases. This one compound works like magic in our bodies. If you would like to read evidence-based articles on these claims, make sure to check out the Healthline article titled, “10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin” or “Everything You Need to Know About Turmeric,” by Medical News Today.

PEPPER – BUT, don’t go making your golden milk just yet without the second more important ingredient: pepper. You might be thinking, “why pepper?” You wouldn’t think that this ingredient would be so necessary to the recipe, but it is. Although curcumin is wonderful for the body, it, unfortunately, is poorly absorbed in our bloodstream. In an article on Nature’s Path by Kate Barrington titled, “What’s the Deal with Golden Milk,” she shares that black pepper contains a compound called piperine that prevents the liver from metabolizing the curcumin before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Just a pinch of black pepper can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by as much as 2,000%. Not only does it help the compound to absorb completely, but it also magnifies its benefits!

In addition to all of the benefits from turmeric, modern Golden Milk recipes include cinnamon, ginger, coconut oil, and vanilla extract or honey – all of which include their own health benefits while making the recipe absolutely delicious.

COCONUT OIL – I probably don’t need to tell you all about the health benefits of coconut oil by now which has been raved about forever for just about every ailment both internally and externally. You could use it as an all-natural body lotion, while simultaneously taking it to treat Alzheimer’s disease, reduce inflammation, treat allergies and digestion, heal cold sores, grow your hair, speed up weight loss, relieve stress, take your makeup off and MUCH more. How would life go on without coconut oil? BUT, there is one other reason why coconut oil is so important to include when you’re making golden milk, aside from its countless health benefits.

CINNAMON – According to an article from Simple India Mom called “10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon,” cinnamon is especially beneficial as it contains three special compounds, cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid and cinnamate which allow cinnamon to act as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, and immune-booster while also protecting against cancer and heart disease. A separate article from Healthline titled “10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon,” shares that cinnamon also lowers blood sugar levels and protects against neurodegenerative diseases.

According to Healthline, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of brain cells. Two compounds found in cinnamon inhibit the buildup of a protein called “tau” in the brain – one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

GINGER – Ginger is one ingredient that I absolutely cannot live without since I’ve suffered from countless stomach bugs and digestive issues in my life. It something that I ALWAYS have stashed in case of emergency, and something that I always include in my golden milk thanks to its variety of digestive benefits. Ginger helps with just about any digestive problems and is the best home remedy for alleviating nausea. According to another article by Medical News Today titled, “Ginger: Health Benefits and Dietary Tips,” ginger can also help with cold and flu relief, reduce cholesterol and reduce pain. Ginger also contains curcumin too so it has the same benefits of turmeric including the most important one: reducing inflammation. 

HONEY or VANILLA – And lastly, no golden milk latte recipe is complete without a natural sweetener. Honey is another one of those health foods that have also been hyped up as it has dozens of medicinal and personal care uses. You can use it to treat dandruff, fade scars, prevent wrinkles, and heal razor burn while at the same time using it to treat heartburn and allergies, go to sleep, improve digestion AND of course, reduce inflammation. Vanilla extract, on the other hand, can help with heart health, anxiety, digestion, and respiratory issues. Whichever one you choose to use is completely up to you. However, if you are going to buy honey buy LOCAL honey which can help your body get used to the allergens in your area and you’ll know that you’re getting real honey. There are tons of companies selling fake honey these days! And if you’re buying vanilla extract, splurge that extra dollar or two and get the real, organic vanilla extract. 

My Thoughts 

Six ingredients later do you understand why I’m a Golden Milk Connoisseur? Not only does each one of those ingredients have separate health benefits, but each one of them also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Each of these ingredients has the potential to help you live a longer, happier, and healthier life disease-free.

I know that I may not be at risk for Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s, or cancer right now, but I believe in adopting simple and healthy habits when you’re young to try to prevent things like that from even happening in the first place. 

For many bloggers across America, golden milk was a health and wellness fad that they used to get readers, clicks, and subscribers. For me, golden milk is truly one of my simple, healthy habits that I chose to adopt for my health and well-being. I want to share it with you today so that you might benefit from it too. And the beauty is that this ancient recipe has been used and agreed on for its health benefits for 5,000+ years. So why not try it? 

My Recipe

This is my person golden milk recipe. After making it more times than I can count I don’t normally measure it out and make it so carefully anymore, but if you’re new feel free to try this out and tweak it to your personal preferences. 

WARNING: Turmeric stains! Be aware that turmeric is used for dyeing clothing. Once you get it on your clothes, GOOD LUCK getting it out. Always make sure to wear clothes that you don’t care about when making this recipe and whatever you do, do NOT wear white. 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups milk (I use pea milk or almond milk)
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • .5 teaspoon cinnamon
  • .5 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 pinch of pepper
  • 2 teaspoons honey or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: 

On a stovetop in a small pot warm the milk while slowly putting in each ingredient at a time while whisking in between. This helps the ingredients to dissolve while also making the milk a little bit foamy and creamy just like a latte. If I’m making it on the stove and taking my time, I prefer to use fresh, cut up ginger and cinnamon sticks instead of the powder. However, the downside of using the stove is that the turmeric usually gets all over the pot and is a pain to scrub out.

When I make the golden milk in the microwave, I usually put the milk into a mug and heat it for one minute with the turmeric already added. I take the milk out to whisk or stir, add the other ingredients and heat up for one more minute. Then I stir or mix it again. 

My Routine

I’ve been making golden milk for the last two-plus years and I love how this recipe is incredibly powerful, while also being incredibly cheap and easy to make. Each night, it only takes me about 3 minutes to have my golden milk ready and will hopefully help to bring me a long and healthy life.

But even if golden milk didn’t have all of those benefits, I still might be making it anyways. It’s always been very hard for me to relax and wind down at night, but whenever I have my golden milk it helps me to feel better, calm down before I go to bed, relax, and drift off to sleep easier. I like to make it each night after I’ve gotten myself ready for bed and I’m about to start meditating. If you haven’t tried it yourself, I couldn’t recommend it more. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always let me know what you think in the comments! Have you tried golden milk? Do you like it or not like it? What’s your recipe? Have you noticed any benefits from it? And what are your thoughts on Andrew Weil’s belief that chronic age-related diseases begin as inflammatory processes in the body? Do you believe that simple lifestyle habits could actually help to change this? Or do you still believe that sickness and disease are inevitable? Whatever your thoughts, let me know! I’m so curious about what you think!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

What it Really Means to be Healthy: Primary and Secondary Foods Explained

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Spirituality

I don’t know about you, but for years I feel like I’ve been on a mission to reach perfect health, whatever that means. I’ve bought countless supplements, eaten organic, tried tons of lifestyle changes, and bought a string of random products, but nothing has really changed. I wouldn’t say that now my apartment is filled with supplements and chemical-free products that I feel like I can give myself a gold star for just how wonderfully healthy I’ve become. I’d be willing to bet that you can’t either. No one can. So what does it really mean to be healthy? How do we know that we’ve figured it out? What advice, products, or changes really matter if we want to improve our health long term?

What does it mean to be healthy?

I learned a fun fact this week at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I learned that the word health comes from the old English word HALE meaning wholeness; being whole, sound, or well. The word and its meaning has changed over time and today health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not JUST the absence of disease. Therefore health is a dynamic concept, not a fixed outcome. 

Yet today we live in a society where organizations, companies, brands, celebrities, and influencers are always blasting information at us about how we SHOULD be. That’s how they make money and sell us products, diets, pills, and food that promise to help us reach the destination of perfect health. If we just follow their advice, buy the program, or purchase the pill, eventually shiny golden doors will open up and we’ll be welcomed into the land of perfect health. If we can only get there, then we’ll finally have flawless digestion, glowing skin, a tiny waist, a toned body, strong bones, luscious hair, and most importantly HAPPINESS. Right?

Sadly, that’s not how it works. I love my Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer, my detox teas, my almond yogurt, but I know that they’re never going to bring me this fantasy that I have in my head of perfect health. Why? Because there is NO SUCH THING as perfect health.

Health is much more like a journey than a destination. (Ugh, I hate how cliche that sounds! Sorry!) It’s about making changes that improve your health and HAPPINESS in several areas of your life, not just about buying organic or sculpting a six-pack. 

The flawed outlook of health

We can go round and round all day about our flawed health care system, so I’m not going to address all of those major issues in this blog post. You’d be reading this post until the end of time, and we both have sh*t to do. But what I am going to talk about is ONE major issue that I see when we talk about health, and it’s that health is a destination with a specific path you take on how to get there. This path could be diets, exercise, detoxing, supplements, acupuncture, etc. It’s whatever YOU have been told what health should look like in your life. Maybe it’s never eating, or laying in a sensory deprivation tank every month, or drinking celery juice. 

There’s a very flawed approach to health today where people believe that if you just follow a specific set of rules you’ll be “healthy.” Then, to top off this crazy theory that health is a destination, we have magazines, social media accounts, and brands that put out these filtered, photoshopped images of fitness models, further adding to this illusion that there’s a magical land of sexy, healthy, superhuman, happy people who have it all figured out. 

Here’s the thing, not only is perfect health something that can’t be bought or accomplished through a set of rules and diets, BUT health is also NOT only about what you put in your stomach. It’s not about how much kale you eat, about how disciplined you are in avoiding sugar and dairy, or about taking supplements every day. Health is complete physical, mental, and social well-being.

The wiser approach to health and wellness

As a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and a future Integrative Health Coach, I’m learning about a newer, wiser approach to full body health and wellness, and you can’t buy it at Whole Foods. The idea that IIN and it’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal, share is that human beings are nurtured by both Primary Foods and Secondary Foods. Can you guess what they might be?

Primary Foods 

Upon first guess, you might think that Primary Foods are actual food right? At least I did. But it’s the opposite. Primary Foods are the most important things in our lives and impact our health far more than the chia seeds. Primary Foods are broken down into relationships, physical activity, career, and spirituality. If these things are out of whack in our lives then we’re far less healthy. We’re far more likely to have diseases and far less likely to have life satisfaction.

“Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career, and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life.” – Joshua Rosenthal

Although it’s important to understand what people are eating, to find what works for their unique body, and to make improvements in those areas of their lives as well, all of that is secondary to the quality of people’s life. I’ve heard so many stories and studies from doctors and researches who have proved that how happy people are in their relationships determines how healthy they are and how long they live. People who have toxic relationships or a lonely, are much more susceptible to disease and have a much shorter life span. 

Side Note: If you’d like to learn about my absolute favorite study on this, check out this Ted talk video on the longest study that’s ever been conducted on happiness. This video is all about researchers have tracked the lives of 2 groups of men since 1938. The first group started in the study when they were sophomores at Harvard College, finished college during WWII, and most of which went off to serve in the war. The second group was a group of boys from one of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. This group was specifically chosen because they were from some of the troubled and disadvantaged families in the 1930s.

This study has been going on for over 75 years and has studied the original men as well as all of their children and grandchildren they’ve brought in to the world. This study is extremely in-depth and goes as far as to interview the men on the phone and in their living rooms, examine their medical records, scan their brains, draw blood, interview family members. The research staff even goes as far as to videotape the men talking to their wives about their deepest concerns. It’s a very intensive study that’s closely examined these men for decades. What they’ve found after 75+ years of research later is this… Good relationships keep us happier AND healthier.

The hundreds of thousands of pages of research and the last 75+ years prove above all else that social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills. The people who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, physically healthier, and live longer than the people who are less connected. Loneliness, on the other hand, turns out to be toxic. People who are less connected and more isolated than they want to be are less happy, their health declines earlier in mid-life, their brain functioning declines sooner, and they live shorter lives. If you have some time today, this is one of my all-time favorite Ted Talks and health studies that I’ve heard of and it’s definitely worth a watch.

1. Relationships

The first (and more important aspect of primary foods if you ask me) is our relationships. Relationships are the number one thing that feed us and have the largest impact on the quality of our lives. It doesn’t have to be a relationship between you and a partner. It includes your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Anyone and everyone who is in your life and the quality of the relationship you have with them.

Today, these relationships are weaker due to social media and the internet. Technology has created the illusion that we’re connected and in a relationship with people, even though it’s through a screen. More and more we’re living isolated lives, and it used to not be like this. People once lived in multi-generational homes, lived in the same city their entire lives, and carried friends with them far into old age. Now it’s different. You may be “friends” with someone online, but never even speak to them in person. Those types of relationships don’t fill us up and make us happy and healthy.

Relationships are also in turmoil today as divorce rates increase. It’s become much more common to cut people out of our lives than to make it work and get past our differences. (Please don’t misinterpret this as me saying divorce isn’t justified). The other issue is that not only are people divorcing, but there are also many people who have very unhealthy or unhappy marriages and feel stuck in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling for them. 

If we really want to improve our overall healthy and longevity, it starts with the quality of relationships in our lives. It starts by either making more connection or improving the relationships that we have with family, friends, neighbors, in-law, and co-workers. It starts by making the effort to pick up your phone and call someone, starting couples therapy, or spending more quality time with each other.

2. Physical Activity

Of course, physical activity plays a large role in how healthy we are as we age. Having the right types of exercise in our daily lives that we actually enjoy doing is way more important than people realize. It’s not that we have to run X number of miles a day, do yoga, or do CrossFit. Just like the messages related to our overall health, we’re programmed to believe that we have to follow a specific program or reach a certain number of minutes of exercise each day.

In order to feel truly healthy, people have to slowly incorporate ways to stay active in their lives that work for them AND actually make them happy. If pilates isn’t your thing, don’t do it! Today, people may also be doing the wrong forms of exercise for their body. For example, many runners or weight lifters completely neglect stretching, while many yogis neglect cardiovascular exercise. In order to be healthy, you don’t have to follow specific rules and programs that promise to help you drop 30 pounds in 30 days, but instead slowly incorporate balanced forms of exercise that you actually LIKE doing. For example, getting a walk in each day, stretching before bed, doing a yoga class once a week, or doing InForm Fitness weekly.

3. Career 

Career is the next primary food that so many of us have neglected. We spend the majority of our live WORKING. We spend more time with our co-workers than our own family. We spend more time in an office chair than we do working on our hobbies. Our career feeds us way more than what we eat on our lunch breaks. I know when I was working a normal 9-5 job every other aspect of my life slowly deteriorated. I was so unhappy and exhausted that I didn’t have time to food prep and eat healthy, my relationships suffered drastically because of what little time and energy I had to give them, and I completely stopped exercising. If you’re miserable and stressed out for those 40+ hours a week, how can you possibly be healthy and flourish in your personal life? Those weeks take a toll on your overall physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Our careers really do feed our body and soul, and that’s why it’s important to either find work you love OR find ways to love the work you do. 

Side Note: As I write this at a coffee shop right now, I’m sitting next to a woman discussing with someone how miserable she is at her job. How it bores her and it doesn’t fill her up. “That kind of job didn’t develop me in a way that it should have after college,” she says. The girl with her is also sharing how unfulfilled she is at her job. Her exact words are, “I don’t feel fulfilled.”

Photo by Autumn Clark.

4. Spirituality 

This aspect of primary foods is also very important to our overall well-being, but at the same time it’s usually the first thing that people neglect. What I’ve been taught at IIN is that we need to have a spiritual practice. Having some kind of spiritual practice that fills up our soul and gives us hope and faith can make a drastic difference in our happiness. It doesn’t matter what your religious affiliation is or what the spiritual practice looks like. A spiritual practice could be going to church, praying, journaling, meditating, volunteer work, painting, or even hiking. It’s whatever works for you that makes you feel connected with a higher power and fills you up in that way. 

As Joshua Rosenthal shares in IIN, “we are spiritual beings in a material world.” The more congruity we have with who we are, how we represent ourselves, the career that we are working in, the more likely we are to achieve the outcome that we came here in this lifetime to achieve. That’s why when health is approached by looking at primary food and secondary food, the better off we are.

Secondary Foods

The secondary foods are the foods that we actually eat and that nourish our physical bodies. It’s not that these aren’t important, but they are secondary. Have you noticed that when you’re REALLY enjoying the work that you’re doing and you’re in a state of flow, time stops? The world around you melts away. You forget to go to the bathroom, drink water, or eat food? You’re enjoying yourself so much that someone has to remind you to eat dinner? When you’re having so much fun with friends you don’t want to stop and go get food. You’re being fulfilled and energized from those other aspects of your life that food becomes an afterthought. It’s why whenever I work on my writing or website, I forget to eat all day. Matt’s been trying to get me to eat lunch for months now!

However, there’s the opposite side of that. When people crave food it doesn’t happen by mistake. It means that something in your life is out of balance. It means that you’re not feeling fulfilled and you want food for comfort and to feel whole again. 

The other important aspect to understand about secondary foods is that each and every person has a completely unique body that has a unique set of needs. That’s why I get so infuriated when people get pushy about a specific diet or lifestyle they preach to others. Just because YOU personally eat a lot of ___(fill in the blank)___ or don’t eat ___(fill in the blank)___, doesn’t mean that other people have to. We all have a very unique bio-computer that maybe thrives when we eat fresh fruit and berries or closes our throat the moment we step into a room with blueberries. 

How does this relate to my philosophy?

I’ve always felt this way about health and nutrition. However, before starting at IIN, I didn’t have the words to express it. Lost Online is what I describe as a self-help, health and wellness blog, and I chose these categories because I believe the MIND and our MENTAL WELL-BEING override everything else when it comes to living a healthy life. That’s why I focus on the mind and what we can do to improve our lives in all areas and sprinkle in health and fitness through my posts. Because what matters more than how much chia seeds and kale you consume is how happy you are. 

How do we become healthy long term? 

You may be wondering, “What now? How do we become healthy?” Here’s how: 

1. Forget

Scratch the RULES that you have been force fed about health and wellness up to this point in your life. Understand the fact that we are fed more by our Primary Foods than what you put in your grocery cart. Understand that in order to achieve whole body wellness, you have to improve every area of your life – this might involve you being brave and taking leaps that terrify you short term, but would fulfill you in the long term. 

2. Identify 

Identify the areas of your life that need improvement. Write down each primary food group and secondary food and what aspects in each category you’re struggling with. For example, in relationships are you struggling to meet friends as an adult, do you have a strenuous relationship with someone, is there someone you don’t have a relationship with that you wish you did? In a way, you have to play your own therapist here, determine the areas of your life that aren’t filling you up in the way you need to flourish. 

3. Take action… but think small 

The biggest mistake that people make over and over again is that they want to change, but they try to do it drastically. They want to eat healthy, so they go vegan in one day. They want to lose weight so they cut their calories in half or exercise for two hours a day. They want to be more spiritual, so they buy 10 spirituality books on Amazon in one sitting. Do you see what I mean? We try to take giant leaps, but we don’t work that way. It’s too drastic of a change, so we’ll instantly revert back to how we used to be. If you want to change your life in any of these areas, make ONE change at a time. Setting drastic and unrealistic expectations of yourself is a sure way to fail. People learn and change their behaviors through slow and simple lifestyle changes. 

You might still be thinking, “WHAT DO I DO, HEATHER?!” 

Because we’re so used to people beating specifics into our head when it comes to wellness, hearing information that’s more broad might be difficult for you. We’re used to being told that we have to eat X amount of calories or do X number of reps. Here’s the thing: YOU know what you need to do. You know what changes you should be making in your life. I can’t make that decision for you. You know whether you need to go network with someone, meditate daily, call up a friend, cut out potato chips, start taking a supplement, see a therapist, quit the job, stop drinking a six pack of soda daily, put yourself out there, join a club, buy a program, go to church, etc. I guarantee you have some idea of a step that you know you need to be doing. If you realize that these areas in your life are still struggling, that you need more direction, then please reach out to me personally. 

Takeaway

My goal with this post is to help you understand that full-body health and wellness is about much more than what supplements you’re on and what you put on your plate. It’s also about the primary foods: relationships, career, spirituality, and physical activity. Only when you address and make improvements to each of these areas will you really come alive and be able to reach your potential. So scratch whatever diet you think you should be on right now. Dig deeper into all the aspects of your life and make small improvements. If you need help along the way, I’m always here to answer your questions. 

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online and let me know what you think in the comments. Have you heard of Joshua Rosenthal’s idea of Primary Foods and Secondary Foods before? Do you believe that we are fed more by Primary Foods? Why yes or no? What areas have you found that you need to make adjustments to in order to feel happier and healthier? What steps will you make to improve?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Honest Flat Tummy Tea Product Review + Instagram Giveaway

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Product Reviews

I’m super excited because today I bring to you a product review for another one of my absolute favorite companies, Flat Tummy Tea.

But first…

Like I said in the past and will say many more times, I will never come to this platform and write a blog post so that I or anyone else can sell a crap product to you. This blog is my passion and only reflects my personal beliefs, values, and opinions. This post is not sponsored or paid for in any way. This is my honest review of Flat Tummy Tea. I stopped studying advertising in college because nothing sounded worse to me than promoting things that I knew I didn’t believe in and that didn’t actually add value to someone’s life. I chose to do this review because I’m a huge fan of Flat Tummy Tea and have been a customer for years!

I started using Flat Tummy Tea at the beginning of college after I saw this product really take off. I constantly saw content creators, influencers, and celebrities sharing photos holding up their fresh bags of Flat Tummy Tea. Everywhere I looked online back then, I saw Flat Tummy Tea – on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. There was always a beautiful girl with a perfect body holding up two bags of the tea with a beaming smile on her face. Of course, as an 18- and 19-year-old girl who wasn’t comfortable with her body, I was their ideal target market and I was SO curious about this product.

I finally decided to purchase the tea after seeing the product countless times and beginning a nice, long health and exercise kick. I saw that my stomach was not exactly as flat as I would have liked and I went shopping for any product that could get me one step closer to the body I wanted, which of course led me to purchase Flat Tummy Tea. 

What is Flat Tummy Tea?

Flat Tummy Tea is a loose leaf detox tea that’s made from natural herbs known to cleanse the digestive system, reduce bloating, and speed up the metabolism. The cleanse includes two different teas – activate and cleanse. Activate reduces bloating, supports the metabolism, helps maintain a healthy immune system, and boosts energy. The cleanse detoxifies your system, reduces bloating, decreases water retention, and cleans out the digestive system. 

It’s designed to help your body kick that bloat around your belly that comes from eating out way too often and not being as kind to your body as you should be. It gets rid of that bloating that’s been hanging around and with it that super heavy, gross, sluggish, and un-sexy feeling. 

It’s not like a diet supplement that will make you lose weight or get rid of your appetite, but rather a cleansing system. It won’t make you drop 10 pounds so you look extra hot this summer. Trust me, you’ll still have to work out. Flat Tummy Tea cleans out the digestive tract, makes the bloat go away and helps you feel more confident in everything that you wear. 

Ingredients

Activate Ingredients – peppermint (leaf), lemon balm (leaf), Liquorice (root), dandelion (leaf and root), cleavers (leaf), fennel (seed), green tea (leaf), caraway (seed), cardamom (pods). 

Cleanse Ingredients – senna (leaf), peppermint (leaf), cassia chamaecrista (pods), liquorice (root), caraway (seed), dandelion (root), rhubarb (root).

Here are some of the benefits of the ingredients found in Flat Tummy Tea as it relates to the product:

  • Peppermint: Ease digestive upsets including symptoms such as gas, bloating, cramping, nausea, and indigestion. Aids in weight loss and treats Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 
  • Lemon balm: Used to treat stomach problems such as nausea and indigestion; boosts cognitive functioning, improves alertness and memory; helps with weight loss. Acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. 
  • Liquorice: Licorice root is used to soothe gastrointestinal problems including nausea, indigestion, heartburn, and stomach pain; helps to treat leaky gut; increases energy.
  • Dandelion: Improves digestion as a diabetic and laxative; prevents and treats constipation; aids in weight loss; anti-inflammatory. 
  • Cleavers: Reduces water retention; Diuretic; Detoxifying. 
  • Fennel: Treats digestive issues such as bloating, cramps, and gas; Diuretic; Suppresses appetite. 
  • Green Tea: Increases fat burning; Improves brain function; Improves memory; Boosts physical performance. 
  • Caraway: Treats digestive problems including heartburn, bloating, gas, loss of appetite, mild spasms of the stomach and intestines, and constipation.
  • Cardamom: Relieves nausea and vomiting; Helps to heal Ulcers; Helps with weight loss.
  • Senna: Aids in weight loss; Treats constipation; Detoxifies the body; Most commonly used as a laxative. 
  • Cassia Chamaecrista: Commonly used as a laxative. 
  • Rhubarb: Commonly used as a laxative. 

How does it work?

The Flat Tummy Tea cleanse is two different teas that are meant to be taken at different times. The Activate tea is meant to be taken every morning when you have breakfast. It helps reduce the bloat while also giving you extra energy and helping to boost metabolism. The Cleanse is meant to be taken in the evening. For the first three days, you use the Cleanse tea every evening, after that you switch to every other day for about a week. Once that period is over, it’s meant to be used once every three nights until you’ve finished the program.

The Flat Tummy Tea Cleanse is sold in two-week programs and four-week programs on the website, but I typically don’t do more than two weeks at a time. I think the four-weeks would be way too hard on my system and wouldn’t necessarily work “better” than the two-week program. 

Disclaimer: It is the loose leaf tea, so you do have to boil the water, put the leaves in an infuser and let it steep for several minutes. You also DON’T want to go overboard with the tea leaves to try to get it to work “faster” or “better.” A teaspoon of the leaves will do. This is a cleansing system and it can be hard on your stomach if you use too much of it. You’ll also be spending far more time in the bathroom than you’re used to, so maybe don’t try Flat Tummy Tea while you’re on vacation, about to go on a date, or before you’re about to work a 15-hour shift. 

My Experience 

I’ll be honest, as curious as I was about this product and all the hype around it, I didn’t actually believe that it would work. At least not enough to still be using this product five years later even as an adult who ALWAYS keeps Flat Tummy Tea around the kitchen “just in case.” No, I thought this product would be another one of those things that I got super excited about for a couple of weeks before I realized it wasn’t all THAT.

However, from the first time I used Flat Tummy Tea I was amazed. Within the first few days, the bloating that had hung around – no matter how much water I consumed and how frequently I worked out – simply disappeared. It went down dramatically. My stomach no longer had that little round shape to it, and instead laid flat. Before then, I thought that maybe, “That’s just how my body is.” I hadn’t realized that it was just bloating that a simple cleanse could fix. Had I known that very first time how dramatic it would be, I would have definitely taken before and after pictures! Oh well, that was five years ago.

Since that first time I saw results from Flat Tummy Tea I used it at least twice a year and do the entire two-week cleanse. I always use this product religiously around Thanksgiving and Christmas when my bloating and water retention is at its WORST. (You know what I’m talking about!) My family has become very familiar now with my “special detox tea” that I make a point of sharing it’s “expensive.” I always make a big deal whenever I leave the room to tell everyone in my family, “I’m NOT done drinking my tea! No one dump out the tea trying to clean up!” Once I even put a note in front of it so the tea would still be there even through one my mom’s and grandma’s frantic cleaning frenzies. 

Now I know you weren’t expecting that tangent, but I share it because I really AM a fan and real-life customer of this product. I believe in it enough to pack it and take it with me during the holidays!

However, I don’t do the entire two-week program all the time. Sometimes, if I notice a little bit of bloating through the year but don’t think it’s necessary to do an entire two weeks, I’ll even use the cleanse for a couple of days until my stomach flattens out. Flat Tummy Tea has become my secret weapon. I even use Flat Tummy Tea for a few days before I have a shoot coming up!

Company Review 

I normally don’t review a company when writing a product review, but I did include this part for Flat Tummy Tea for their wonderful customer service. TWO TIMES my Flat Tummy Tea was stolen right after it was delivered to my house. It happened in two different neighborhoods in two different states. I haven’t had many packages stolen, but somehow it was taken TWICE from me. Both times, the company sent me my order again free of charge. I was so thankful for that because most companies would only do that once to make sure that customers don’t take advantage of it. I also was a super broke college student both times my tea was stolen, so I was very thankful I didn’t have to order $40 worth of tea again.

I also wanted to mention that the company has now expanded and creates shakes, supplements, appetite suppressing lollipops, a wide range of teas, and workout plans. Every time I take a look at the Flat Tummy website, there are always new products available, but there was a time when the company’s only product was their detox tea. It just goes to show that the company is doing something right and people love their products since they’ve been able to expand so much.

Flat Tummy Tea is not just some random product that’s all hype with no results. I love the product so much that I always have some on hand. Even my boyfriend, Matt, just asked me last week, “When are we gonna start Flat Tummy Tea again?”

Instagram Giveaway!

Because I love this product so much I wanted to share it with YOU as well, which is why I’ve decided to do an INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY!

All you have to do to enter is FOLLOW ME on Instagram @heather.ione, LIKE THIS PHOTO, and TAG 3 BEAUTIFUL FRIENDS. One lucky winner will receive a two-week cleanse from me!

I love this product so much that I want to help one of you experience it as well. And it’s perfect timing! Right smack dab in the middle of bikini season. Make sure to head over to my Instagram real quick @heather.ione and enter to win!

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you so much for reading. I really hope you enjoyed this post about Flat Tummy Tea. I love to share my own experiences with popular products because I know it can be so hard to find reviews that you trust when most of the people creating blogs and YouTube reviews are sponsored. 

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! What this post helpful for you? Have you tried Flat Tummy Tea before? OR are you thinking about trying it? What drew you to the product? What did you think? Did you see any results? Did you have any side effects? Do you think you would use it again?

If you like what you read here, be sure to scroll all the way down, click that “+” and subscribe below to have my weekly blog posts sent right to you!

Photos by Ray Reyes, IG: @rocketsciencephoto.

Disclaimer

Before I hit that beautiful, blue publish button today, I feel like I should first share that there are many mixed opinions about cleanses and detox teas. It seems that people either believe detox teas are wonderful for your health and digestive system or that they’re dangerous. I personally believe that detox teas are beneficial when you’re suffering from bloating, gas, constipation and other unpleasant digestive issues. However, detox teas such as Flat Tummy Tea should be used carefully and in moderation.

It’s important to mention this because the sad truth is that some young women (and men) suffer from the eating disorder known as Bulimia Nervosa and end up using excessive amount of laxatives, cleanses, and detox teas as a way to purge and lose weight.

The constant consumption of detox teas or laxatives ends up leading to a wide variety of health complications. I’m not going to go into detail about all of them because that’s not what this post is about. However, the biggest issue that arises from heavy laxative use is that it makes your body become reliant on laxatives. 

If you’d like to read one woman’s very personal and eye-opening story of this, check out, “Why You Shouldn’t Drink Cleanses and Detox Teas,” on CelebMix.com. The article is about a young woman who suffered from an eating disorder and ended up becoming addicted to laxatives causing her bowels to become reliant on it and to bleed while she was trying to go to the bathroom.

That’s why I only recommend doing two-weeks of these teas at a time and to only use products such as this one in moderation. Follow the instructions and use the recommended amount of tea each day. Although I do recommend this product to others and I love using it myself, I think it’s important to mention that if you have struggled with eating disorders in the past, I wouldn’t suggest using this product. Detox teas, just like anything else should be used in moderation. 

The Start of a New Chapter: Why I’m Studying to Become a Certified Health Coach

Health & Wellness

Hello friends, followers, readers, and subscribers! Today I wanted to come to Lost Online to make an announcement. I’m officially a student with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) studying and training to receive my health coaching certification!

It was over a year ago that I first learned of IIN from someone I had met at a coffee shop in St. Augustine. He told me all about this program he had been a part of for months and how it had completely transformed his life. The program caused improvements in each and every area of his life from his relationships to nutrition. Since then, IIN has been popping up in conversations, podcasts, and social media posts since I spoke with him.

The thought of potentially starting the program continued to keep me up at night and distracted me during the day. With my message about full body health and wellness on Lost Online, I felt called to learn more and finally receive proper education and training on how we can live well during the modern age, and how I can coach people through their own wellness journey.

I’m so excited to embark on this new chapter and learn more from the most accomplished people in the health and wellness industry. You’ll be getting tons more content from me as I explore health-related topics at IIN. Before you start hearing more about the institute in future posts, I first wanted to explain what IIN is, how it relates to my message on Lost Online, and why I decided to pursue health coaching for those of you who are curious.

Thank you for your support on this new endeavor and I can’t wait to take you along with me!

So, What is The Institute for Integrative Nutrition?

IIN is the world’s largest nutrition school that teaches its students unique education theories. While the rest of the health care system in America continues to keep us sick and unhealthy by treating symptoms rather than the cause of dis-ease in the body, IIN is way ahead of its time. Rather the school teaches the importance of getting to the root of “dis-ease” — some misalignment in the body that manifests as sickness and improving our health through the mind, body, and spirit.

The school was created by Joshua Rosenthal, a pioneer and visionary in holistic health and wellness. He built IIN after he realized that people’s health is determined not by how many supplements and wheatgrass shots they take, but by their quality of life. Our mind, body, and spirits are fed mainly by what Joshua refers to as “Primary Food,” which is broken down into relationships, spirituality, career, and physical activity. “Secondary Food,” is the actual food on your plate. If you’re not convinced just think: when all those other areas of Primary Food are thriving in our lives, we are far less likely to rely on the food we eat. When those areas are struggling we binge, we look to food for comfort, and cravings manifest. Primary Food actually overrides Secondary Foods in many ways.

The program is also built around the idea that the body knows how to heal itself (given half a chance) – but we don’t allow it to. We overwork ourselves, feed the body the wrong foods, abandon our dreams, stay in bad relationships, take prescription drugs, stop our spiritual practice, etc…and then wonder why we’re so sick, bloated, stressed out, and unhealthy. The body is the most intelligent computer in the world. If we just take care of it, the body knows how to heal itself. If we just stop treating symptoms and start treating the real cause of “dis-ease” in the body, and it may surprise you how often the diseases are mental and emotional.

The one other central theme of IIN is that it teaches another way to look at “biodiversity.” At IIN, biodiversity is the idea that each and every one of us has a unique body with a unique diet and lifestyle needs. One man’s food or medicine is another man’s poison. Yet there’s a brand new diet coming out each year or a brand new exercise program that promises that it’s perfect for each and every one of us. However, health doesn’t work like that. No two people are the same and therefore their nutrition and lifestyle can’t be identical either.

IIN teaches that in order to have full body vitality, people have to make small changes to improve each of those aspects of their lives in a way that works for them. Otherwise, stress and inflammation linger in the body, and symptoms and diseases develop.

Why is this important?

The reason why this is so important is because we currently have a disease management system in America, NOT a health system. What’s worse is that most of the diseases we try to manage are 100% preventable – they could have completely been avoided with lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, prevention doesn’t make money – sickness, pills, and hospital bills do.

We live in a country where the food system pays NO attention to health, the health systems pay NO attention to food, and the education system pays NO attention to wellness. We’re turning a blind eye to the fact that the health of our bodies and our minds are connected AND that disease can be preventable through living a holistic lifestyle.

Consequently, we’re going through a global health crisis. Access to healthy, organic foods is limited to the small percentage of people who can afford them, while fast food and products filled with sugar (specifically to make us addicted) fill up grocery store aisles, our home, and our bodies. More people are obese and sick than ever.

Now we can point fingers at our government, the health care system, the food industry, and the pharmaceutical companies all day, but that’s not going to get us anywhere. Those entities have enormous amounts of money and power to make sure that their interests won’t be compromised. The only way to change this is through a grassroots movement. Through regular people like you and me going out and learning about full body health and wellness and incorporating it into our lives. Through learning about things like meditation, spiritual practices, biodiversity, healthy eating, stress management, supportive relationships, and more. Eventually, if enough people start taking this approach to full body wellness and making changes, everything else will come behind it. But that won’t happen unless the majority gets on board and starts taking integrative nutrition seriously.

How does it relate to Lost Online?

When people ask me what my blog is about, I always tell that it’s about self-help, health, and wellness. I always say self-help first because I believe that our mental health and mindset are just as important, if not more important than how often you go to the gym or how wonderful you are at getting enough greens.

The most impactful moments of my life came when there was a shift in my mentality, when I felt better about myself, my situation, and the world around me. Once I was feeling better mentally and emotionally and in my work, spirituality, and relationships, my food and nutrition seemed to follow without much effort.

Self-help (no matter how you choose to practice it) is just as important as your diet and lifestyle, in my opinion. That’s why my content revolves highly around self-help with health and wellness sprinkled in. I’ve always felt this way, but until starting at IIN, I didn’t have the language to relay my message accurately. I didn’t know vocabulary like primary foods, secondary food, the circle of life, and grassroots movements to help explain it.

Why I’m becoming a health coach?

I’ve wanted to go into health and wellness since I worked on a smoke- and tobacco-free policy at my college, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. I knew that I was passionate about inspiring others to live a healthy and happy life, but until now I thought the only way I could do it was through sharing content or getting a very traditional job in health care.

Through this program, I’ll be learning how to coach others who wish to feel better every day. I’ll have the tools and the training to help my future clients – and readers – so they reach their potential and not be held back by a foggy mind, anxiety, toxic relationships, or uncomfortable symptoms.

Why? Because I believe that we all are here today walking around in human form because we have a purpose. We were put on this planet to do more than pay bills and make babies. We came here because we all have work to do. We all have special gifts and something spectacular to offer the world. Maybe you want to design clothes made from recycled water bottles, maybe you want to end human trafficking, or create music, or discover the cure to cancer – you can’t do that or function at your best if your primary and secondary foods are lacking.

I realized the power of meditation, self-help, spiritual practices, and lifestyle changes in my own life, and it’s been my passion to help others see those changes for themselves so they can flourish into the best versions of themselves that they can be.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I hope you enjoyed this post and my special announcement! I’m so looking forward to finally receiving an education in health and wellness beyond those uncomfortable health classes I used to take in school (which, let’s be honest, mainly focused on STD and teen pregnancy). I’m excited to finally learn more about how the health of the mind and body are intimately linked and how I can better help others who would like to feel healthy, happy, fulfilled, and vibrant. Stayed tuned for tons of fresh self-help, nutrition, and wellness content!

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you heard of IIN? Do you believe in Joshua’s theory that we are fed more by Primary Foods than Secondary Foods? Have you seen this in your own life? How do you think we can change the health care system and food industry together?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photo by Whitnie Williams @whitawill.

Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer Product Review

Health & Wellness, Product Reviews

If you’re a follower of mine on Instagram then you’re probably not at all surprised by this new blog post and Sweet Sweat product review. I’ve been using the Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer and Workout Enhancer for several weeks, and have been posting some very satisfying (and sometimes gross) videos of me peeling off the Waist Trimmer after an intense workout. Each video looks the same, I stand in front of the mirror and peel off the velcro strap and open up the Waist Trimmer to reveal sweat pouring off of my stomach and hips.

I’m sure many of you have heard of Sweet Sweat in the past year or so. The company has become very well known for videos that have blown up the internet and nearly everyone’s Instagram feed. Influencers everywhere have posted stories and photos of them peeling off the product after a workout to show off their sweat, hard work, and sculpted abs. For this reason, thousands of eyes have been on the company and there’s been tons of speculation about whether or not the product “works” and helps you get a flatter stomach.

Sure it looks like it makes you nice and sweaty, but does it actually do anything? I was among the many people that stared at the videos on social media with interest, and a lot of confusion. I must have thought about the product for two years and how much I wanted to try it. Eventually, the day came when I finally did! I received Sweet Sweat for Christmas this year from my boyfriend Matt and just started using it in February.

So here is my honest review after using Sweat Sweet for over a month. I share how I use Sweet Sweat, clean it, how it works, and the pros and cons that I discovered. This post is not sponsored in any way, I’m not making any money, and these are all my personal opinions and experiences using this product. Here are my opinion and takeaways if you’re thinking about trying Sweet Sweat yourself!

How Sweet Sweat Works + My Disclaimer

Before I get started, I want all my readers to be aware of the fact that I do not believe a product such as this one can make you look like Jillian Michaels. I do not believe that getting in shape is as simple as a $45 online purchase. And this is why I, and many other people, have been a bit hesitant when Sweet Sweat showed up in social media feeds. I believe that working out is what gets you into shape, and unless you actually commit to your fitness journey you’re not going to see your body miraculously tone up.

What Sweet Sweat has posted on their website is that their products improve circulation, accelerate the body’s warm up, improve sweating, increase motivation, and prevent injury.

The company is not making any crazy statements… however, the average person scrolling through social media and watching dozens of people with six packs peeling off the waist trimmer might get confused. It may appear as if the company wants people to think that if you buy this product you will look like these fitness models and influencers. That somehow by a simple purchase and use of a Waist Trimmer will give you rock hard abs. However, the company doesn’t actually say that, and people who think this way may want to go back to high school and re-take health class.

People look like Greek gods NOT because they buy one product, but because they work out for an hour or more every day, count calories, and are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about health and fitness.

I will say that it is true that the warmer your muscles are the less likely you are to injure yourself or pull something. At this point, that is common knowledge. It’s the same idea people have when they wear sweatshirts to workout. Sweet Sweat definitely makes you warm, makes you sweat, prevents injury, and motivates you. And I would be willing to bet that it could improve circulation as well because of how warm I feel when I use it.

The Sweet Sweat company often shows thermal images on social media of people who use the product compared to those who didn’t. The people who use the two products together always have a very warm core revealed on thermal imaging. So yes, it does work in that sense.

However, a common myth is that a product like this will make you burn more fat. This is false. You could lose more weight because you’re making yourself warmer which will make you lose water weight, but it won’t make you burn extra calories or wake up looking like Channing Tatum in “Magic Mike.” If you want results like that you’re going to have to do some serious work through exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle changes. I just don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea about this product.

How to Use Sweet Sweat

Sweet Sweat works when the Waist Trimmer and the Workout Enhancer are used together. You apply an ample amount of the gel to your stomach and the areas you want to target. I apply it all over my stomach, lower abdomen, hips, and back. You can also apply it to problem areas like your triceps or inner thighs. Then you put on the Waist Trimmer over your stomach and make it pretty snug. I like mine to feel pretty tight on my body. I’ve seen that people also put on the Waist Trimmer over their arms or thighs if they really want to focus on those areas more than their stomach.

Side Note: You should not use Sweet Sweat it you have lotion or other gels or product on your body. This could clog your pores and prevent sweating.

Then, I go and workout. I always start with cardio which is either stair stepping or jogging and then go into weights. I use the product the entire time I’m at the gym and I don’t take it off until I’m completely done exercising. At the end of my workout, I undo the Velcro strap and slowly remove the Waist Trimmer. That’s when you see how much you’ve sweated during the workout.

PROS of Sweet Sweat

It’s highly satisfying to peel off

At the very end of your workout that’s when you get that satisfying moment of watching the Waist Trimmer come off while sweat drips from your stomach showing you what a f*cking badass you are and feeling like you’ve just been given a shiny gold star from the Fitness Gods. It’s a pretty great feeling. Sometimes I’ll take videos or boomerangs of it for all of you to see on my Instagram Stories! And that’s why it’s probably no surprise that I’m writing this post now. I may have become a bit obsessed with that final moment in the gym when I get finally see my hard work staring back at me in the mirror. If there’s one thing that I will say about this product above everything else is that it’s incredibly rewarding and inspires you to work out more.

Maybe I’m unique and just a very visual person when it comes to things like that, so someone else’s experience may be different than mine. I wrote another post, “My Apple Watch Turned Me Into a Workout Junkie,” about how the only time I’ve ever been inspired to workout regularly was when I got my Apple Watch and had those three little rings on my wrist that I had to close each day. Something about seeing the rings progress and feeling like I had a goal that I was working toward with a little reward at the end, made me actually exercise. Not occasionally, but every single day for 47 days straight! I live for that moment when I can see my hard work, and Sweet Sweat does that for me too.

I like that reward at the end of the workout. I like to see my rings close and swirl, and I like to see the sweat drip off me at the end of the workout. I feel slightly stupid that I need these rewards to exercise! But whatever, at least I exercise. Most Americans don’t.

I have a feeling that other people have this exact same mentality that I do, otherwise I wouldn’t see so many videos on social media of people closing their rings and taking off Sweet Sweat Waist Trainers. It’s a satisfying and rewarding feeling, and it makes you feel like you’re working towards a goal each day, rather than the goal of a body that you might not see until you’ve put in weeks, months, or even years of hard work. It’s a reminder that lets you know you did well today and you’re one day closer to accomplishing those larger health and fitness goals.

It helps with bloating and water retention for a flatter stomach

Now, I know I’ve told you that a product like this will not make you suddenly look ripped or have an entirely different stomach–and that is true. However, after using this product for a while, I can say confidently that it made me look a bit slimmer. Not because the product will make you burn off more fat and calories, but because it makes your core sweat so much that I’ve noticed that I’m having less bloating and water retention. So yes, I do look like I have a flatter stomach!

I’m someone that gets a lot of bloating and sometimes looks like I have a little “pouch” on my belly. Since using Sweet Sweat regularly, I notice that my stomach always looks flatter now than it did before AND it also looks flatter immediately after I use it. So if you’re one of those people who keeps wondering if Sweet Sweat “works”–meaning will it make you look skinnier–I would (hesitantly) say yes. If you have a problem with bloating as I do, I think you’ll also be able to notice that you look slimmer, especially if you use it regularly. Just so we’re on the same page, it won’t make you look Alexis Ren skinny. It will make you look slightly slimmer. You’ll be able to feel more confident in that tight dress if you know what I mean. (And please someone give Alexis a burger… or 100 burgers. That girl needs it!).

Your core feels warmer during exercise

I also like that when I use Sweet Sweat, my core feels warmer during exercise. As I mentioned before, this does prevent injury and makes you sweat, but I also just like the way it feels while I’m working out. My core feels much warmer even if I’m not focusing on that area and doing a plank or sit up. I notice that the warmer I am the more my heartbeat increases, my body is sweating, and I feel like I’m having an intense workout. In the middle of exercising and even after my exercise I feel like I was more productive and had a more challenging workout than I do if I wasn’t wearing it that day.

It creates support and better posture during exercise

The other big plus that I like about the Waist Trimmer is that my posture is just naturally better when I have it on. I don’t get as sloppy or loose no matter what exercise I’m doing. Nice posture is not only good for our health, but it also looks better and helps me maintain better form. I don’t have to work hard to have correct form when there’s something wrapped around me keeping my core and my spine straight. It feels similar to people who use a weightlifting belt for support so that they maintain good posture and are less likely to injure themselves.

I also will say that waist trainers, in general, are known to weaken your core because your core does not have to work as hard and relies on the trainer. So for this reason, I wouldn’t use an actual waist trainer that the Kardashians have been pushing. Sweet Sweat is meant to be used for exercising to help you stay warm and sweat more, it’s not designed to create that hourglass shape. So that’s a good thing! I would never recommend using a waist trainer that could squish organs and break bones. If you’re at all worried about Sweet Sweat, I would only use Sweet Sweat when exercising, and I would also make sure to not neglect the core! You’ll still have to do your planks!

CONS of Using Sweet Sweat

SO MUCH SWEAT

One thing that I don’t particularly like is that this product really does make you sweat a lot more than you’re used to. When I use Sweet Sweat the perspiration actually drips out from under the Waist Trimmer and makes my pants wet. Not damp, wet. It’s pretty nasty. I think it could be because I’m someone who just naturally sweats a lot anyway, so using a product that’s designed to make you sweat gets pretty gross for me. I already drip sweat when I workout, but now when I use Sweet Sweat, it’s a crazy amount! Like, I need to use a towel and wipe sweat off me every minute kind of sweat.

It also doesn’t just make me sweat in the areas where I put it on. I’ve noticed that when I use Sweet Sweat I sweat more over my entire body. So if you’re someone that hardly sweats you’ll probably really like this product, but if you’re like me and you sweat like an animal, it might not be your cup of tea. So there are some days when I decide to not wear it because I’m just not in the mood to feel that sweaty, that gross, and that warm. Some days I just want to take it easy. Other days I love that part about Sweet Sweat, and how intense and sweaty my workouts are because it makes me feel like I’m working harder.

I can’t use Sweet Sweat with light colored clothing

This is because of how much I sweat when I use the product. I have to be conscious of not wearing light-colored clothing like light pink, grey, or blue. I have to wear it with dark or neon colors or else the sweat is very obvious. It wouldn’t really bother me if I wore it in a home gym, but when I exercise in a gym with other people or in a workout class, it would just be embarrassing or awkward to have wet clothing or have to wipe off sweat that much. Again this could be a problem that is unique to me and my body, but if you know you’re someone who sweats a lot like me, you probably will want to be conscious of that while wearing it in a public gym or with light-colored clothes. Unless you’re a badass that just doesn’t care what other people think at all. Keep doing you, make sure to comment on your secret!

Cleaning the product takes a minute

When I first started using the Waist Trimmer, Sweet Sweat put in the directions to wipe off the Waist Trimmer with a towel after use. However, once you actually get the product and notice the material and all of the holes in the product where sweat can hide, you’ll realize that cleaning the product like that would not only take forever but is also NOT sanitary. My Waist Trimmer now has a permanent home hanging in the shower.

After each workout I hop in the shower and rinse it off and then I use my body soap or body wash to soap up the product and scrub it before I rinse it off and hang it to dry. That gets the sweat out of all the little areas, cleans it well so it’s not smelly and growing bacteria, and then it helps it dry quickly. You can’t just wipe the product off and throw it on your closet floor and pick it up the next day. If you do that, it’ll smell, collect germs, and still be dripping in sweat the next day as if you just finished your workout. It really only takes me a minute to clean and it’s not a big deal to me, but I could see how it would annoy people have to do an extra step after they get back from the gym.

Warning: Contains Fragrance!

The full list of ingredients in the Sweet Sweat Workout Enhancer is white snow petrolatum, Brazilian carnauba wax, acai pulp oil, organic coconut oil, pomegranate seed oil, organic jojoba oil, squalene oil (olive), aloe vera extract, d-Alpha tocopherol (vitamin E), fragrance.

Ugghhhhh yes, it contains fragrance! I actually got Sweet Sweat as a Christmas present and I picked it out in early November last year. That was before I was fragrance-free. And we all know that fragrance just means hidden, irregulated chemicals that cause cancer. If you’re interested in learning more about the fragrance issue, you can read my blog post, “The Stinky Scary Secret Behind Consumer Products,” or “How I Limited my Exposure to Chemicals and Found Safe Alternatives to Consumer Products.” In the last few months I’ve gotten rid of 95% of my body products and completely changed every body product that I bring into my home, but sadly this product contains fragrance! I was super disappointed to see the word fragrance after ingredients that say “organic.” It’s just another fine example of greenwashing.

However, I decided to try Sweet Sweat anyways because I was so curious about the product and I also didn’t want my boyfriend to be upset that I never used his present (he gets very worked up about gifts lol). What I would like to do is start using a different oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil since it’s already listened as an ingredient and that way I don’t have to worry about what I’m putting on my body. I’ll probably be sharing updates on oils that I’m using on Instagram Stories as I’m searching for a safer alternative. More info to come later! If you have any suggestions for an oil that would work well with this product let me know in the comments!

Sweet Sweat Takeaway

So aside from the fragrance which I consider to be a bigger issue, I think that if you switch out the Workout Enhancer for an organic oil, it’s definitely worth the purchase. Sweet Sweat is not perfect. Yes there are pros and there are cons, but I think it’s definitely worth a try. At the very least Sweet Sweat is motivating and extremely satisfying while taking it off after exercise. I love the feeling of peeling it off after a workout, I have noticed my stomach looks flatter, it warms me up, and creates a more intense workout. Plus, you kind of feel like a badass walking around the gym with a Waist Trimmer on. I guess I would say that it makes you look like you know what you’re doing.

I would recommend this product if you’re interested in trying it. From what I’ve seen on social media, it seems like once people start using Sweet Sweat they become obsessed with it and use it every time they exercise. It’s worth a try and it’s only about $45 to buy the Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer and Workout Enhancer, and the company often puts some items on sale.

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online, and let me know what you think in the comments! Have you used Sweet Sweat before? What were your thoughts on the product? Did you find it extra motivating to workout? Did you notice any of these pros and cons or discover any others that I hadn’t mentioned?

If you liked this post make sure you scroll to the bottom, hit that little “+”, and type in your email where it says “Follow Blog Via Email.” The next post will be sent right to you!

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

How I Limited My Exposure to Chemicals and Found Safe Alternatives to Toxic Consumer Products

Health & Wellness

At the end of last week’s blog post about the fragrance loophole and greenwashing, I left you on a little bit of cliffhanger about what to do next. After reading all about the toxic chemicals that fill our everyday products, you might be thinking, “OK Heather, I’m terrified! How do I protect myself?!” So now that I have you scared out of your mind, believe it or not, there are actually several things that you can do to make sure that the products you’re bringing into your life are safe and healthy.

I would like to first add that clearing out all of the dangerous consumer products in our lives is not an easy task. Most people do not have the means or the time to throw out every body product and cleaning agent in their lives and purchase all new things. So I would like to start this post by saying that if you do want to clean up the products in your life, don’t be hard on yourself about it. Don’t feel like it has to happen instantly. Don’t feel like you have to know everything right away. I’m still learning about the fragrance issue and I’m still trying to search for replacements for products that I’ve used for years. So it’s OK if this change takes a few weeks or a few months, as long as you are making the change! That’s why I put together some information for you in this post to make the transition a little bit easier. I wanted to share a few things that I have been doing to limit my exposure to chemicals so you have a place to start.

Second, I wanted to mention that several people I’ve talked to about this issue of fragrance and greenwashing feel overwhelmed and helpless OR want to throw out everything they own immediately. I’ve noticed that some people approach the problem with the thought process of, “Oh well, everything causes cancer. There’s nothing you can do about it.” But that is not at all true. And if you ask me, I think that throwing your hands in the air and saying that you’re helpless when it comes to this issue is both irresponsible and lazy.

Yes, it will take some research, time, money, trial and error, but you will figure it out and you and your family will be much better off! It just takes doing a little bit of research and switching that automatic instinct to buying something, to one of curiosity about the product. It takes training yourself to flip over a product and reading the ingredients before throwing it in a shopping cart! It’s really that simple. With that being said, here are a few things that you should know that will make a difference in your life today.

The Think Dirty App

In this mission to rid myself of chemicals over the last several weeks, I went searching for resources to make it a little bit easier. As I discussed in last week’s post, even if you do read ingredients, you might not always be able to tell how safe a product is unless you’re very familiar with chemicals and their side effects. Plus, you can’t rely on products that appear natural, because most of the “natural products” contain fragrance and use sneaky greenwashing tricks. One of these resources I discovered is a magical little app called “Think Dirty.” I’ve downloaded many different apps to help me discover what’s really in our products, but none of them stack up to Think Dirty!

Think Dirty was started by a woman, Lily Tse, who had a long history of cancer and breast cancer in her family. Due to her own personal journey and research into consumer products she learned all about the fragrance loophole, greenwashing, and the irregulation of our products. Through her own journey, she discovered that finding safer products for herself was very challenging. So she wanted to create a tool for consumers that compares products easily and has transparency about the ingredients in them. That’s how Think Dirty was born.

Think Dirty allows you to search a body or household product and see the potentially dangerous chemicals that are in them. Each product is reviewed and researched so you figure out just how safe or toxic a product is before you make a purchase. Each ingredient listed on the product’s label is evaluated for documented evidence of Carcinogenicity, Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity, and Allergenicity & Immunotoxicity. This allows the user to see if the product is completely safe or if it could cause short term versus long term health risks.

It shows consumers this by listing every ingredient in the product and then ranks them on a “Dirty Meter” that ranges from 0-10. Products that are in the green are rated as a 0-3 and do not contain any ingredients which have a documented potential negative health impact; products that are in the yellow are rated as a 4-7 and contain ingredients that have a moderate negative long term health effect; and products that are in the red are rated as 8-10 and have potentially serious negative long term health effects.

What’s also great about Think Dirty is if any product is not on the app, you can scan the barcode, type in the product and company information, and it will be reviewed. Currently, there are over 1.1 million products reviewed on the app and it’s still growing!

In the Red

When I first discovered this app, you can probably guess what came next… Matt and I immediately went to the bathroom to look up all of our products and discover what they rated on the Dirty Meter, and what we saw on the screen was so disheartening. All of the common products we both used for years were in the red. Take a look at my favorite products and where they rated:

  • Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash – 8
  • Dove Sulfate Free Deep Moisture – 8
  • Sensodyne Toothpaste – 6
  • Dove Clinical Protection Deodorant – 8
  • Mary Kay Eye Makeup Remover – 8
  • Soft Soap Hand Soap – 8
  • Burt’s Bees Deep Cleansing Cream – 5
  • Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Hand Cream – 8
  • Gold Bond Body Powder – 8
  • Barbasol Shaving Cream – 8
  • Garnier Fructis Flat Iron Perfector Straightening mist – 8
  • Bore Pore Cleansing Strips – 7
  • Alvera Aloe and Almonds Roll On Deodorant – 8
  • Formula 10.06 Sea Side Glow Skin Hydrating Peel Mask – 8
  • Burt’s Bees Brightening Serum – 8
  • Herbal Essences Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner – 8

So there I was standing in the middle of a huge mess in my bathroom, discovering for the first time the true dangers of the products I had lathered on my skin every day for years! I’m not gonna lie, I was completely overwhelmed. I realized that I had to replace nearly every body product I owned, which was no small task. It all started with a big box to throw away the old stuff, a notepad to write down the products I would have to search for, and several weeks of trying out safer alternatives.

With that being said, here are the six changes that I’ve made to drastically reduce the amount of chemicals I’m exposed to without losing my mind…

How I approached this transition

1. Purging all fragrances

My first order of business was purging every product that had a fragrance listed as an ingredient. This includes all cleaning products, all skincare products, all soaps. Everything. After watching the “Stink” documentary, I was very concerned about the fact that I didn’t know what was in the fragrance ingredient. So I first started removing all of that.

However, after I discovered the Think Dirty app, I realized that several of my products may not have had a fragrance, but that didn’t mean they were necessarily safe either. I also wanted to pull all those old products back out so I could learn if what I had been using in the past causes short term or long term health risks. I put a big box in the bathroom one night, read every single label and searched every item on Think Dirty whether they had fragrance or not.

2. Tossing out the high-risk products

It took about an hour for me to look up every product we owned and realize that 9 out of 10 of our products were in the red. So I decided that rather than try to replace everything overnight, I would concentrate on the products that were an 8 or higher. I would clear out the most dangerous ones first!

This, unfortunately, meant the products I use on a daily basis: the toothpaste, the shampoo, the conditioner, and the deodorant. The things that you use every single day which are more difficult to find a quick and safe replacement for. Some of the products I had to keep for a week before I could get my hands on safer toothpaste or deodorant, but they were my top priority.

3. Using Think Dirty to find new products

The next step required spending a few nights searching for replacements on the app. It also required me to evaluate what types of products I would be willing to use instead. Would I buy products that were only in the green and rated a 3 or lower of the Dirty Meter? Would I buy products that were green and yellow and rated a 7 or lower? What level would I feel comfortable and safe using from now on?

I ultimately decided that the products I would use instead would be a 4 or lower–meaning that they wouldn’t cause any long term health risks. Bumping it up to a 4 also meant that I could give myself some leeway and that I didn’t have to be perfect.

This step required some time on Think Dirty to discover products that were in the green but also were reasonably priced. One of the big issues with going fragrance-free and chemical free is that products that are the healthy replacements can sometimes cost 3 to 5 times as much as what you used to buy.

Another challenge is that the “safe” shampoos, deodorants, toothpastes, soaps, etc., don’t work as well. They might not lather or foam up as nicely, or taste as good, or make you feel as fresh or squeaky clean as what we’re used to using, or last for as long. So this step could take you one week, or it could take you months to find a replacement. Stay strong, it will happen! It took me several weeks, but I finally found several replacements that I finally feel are good enough to use on my body every day. See below for my new collection of body products that pose no long term health risks!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Side Note: Keep in mind that when using the Think Dirty App, you’ll have to look up each product individually. Sometimes a shampoo will rank as an 8, but a conditioner will rank as a 3. You’ll also have to look up each variation of the product. A product may be in the same line but have different scents or ingredients, which means that every product will rate differently on the app. You can’t just assume that every hand soap is in the green because you looked up one on Think Dirty.

4. No longer use body lotion

The next change I decided to make was to go natural for some of the products I use all the time rather than purchasing a new product. One of these examples is that I decided to stop using lotion and instead use coconut oil. It works just as well but it doesn’t require me to spend all day searching for something else, it’s inexpensive, and it’s completely natural. I don’t have to worry about a dirty meter at all!

5. Switched to natural tampons

Throughout the last two months of making this change, I knew that I had to focus on the other items I was using that I had also turned a blind eye to for many years, tampons. Our conventional tampons contain fragrance as well! Along with alcohols, additives, and hydrocarbons. Another issue with conventional tampons is that many of them are bleached, which leaves behind other chemicals that we soak up through one of the most absorbent and sensitive areas of the female body. For this reason, one of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to switch to completely organic tampons that I didn’t have to worry about using.

I came across one brand, in particular, that’s inexpensive, can be found at your grocery store or drugstore, and is in the green on Think Dirty! It actually has a little green check next to it instead of a number, that’s how you know it’s super safe! They’re from a brand known at Seventh Generation. The Seventh Generation tampons are BPA-free, fragrance-free, cruelty-free, and are made from 95% plant-based materials. It’s simple changes like this that can drastically improve your long term health.

6. Switched to natural candles with essential oil

Another item that I decided I should be paying equal attention to is the candles that we burn in our home. I no longer trust the Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Whatever candles that I used to buy on sale at Marshalls or Bath and Body Works. Instead, Matt and I are using candles that are natural-made with essential oils instead of a man-made fragrance.

7. Saying goodbye to the Amazon shopping sprees

The last two changes that I wanted to share are about the clothing that we wear. Because it’s not just our lotions and potions that are filled with chemicals. It’s actually on our clothes too. I mentioned this in the previous post about fragrance on clothing that gave me horrible allergic reactions and caused massive hives on my whole body. In my high school and college years when I was obsessed with online shopping, I used to buy so many blouses and graphic tees from Amazon.

It wasn’t just Amazon. I shopped on many online stores that you would see in the mall, but the majority of the time when I had a serious allergic reaction, it was caused by something that I bought on Amazon. Like a big, cozy scarf, or a pretty new blouse, or a sweater, or sports bra, or tank top. Many times I would open a box of clothing from Amazon and immediately smell the chemicals on them. These were the products that would cause the hives and the burning sensations on my skin. Because, as I mentioned last week, America doesn’t regulate chemicals as strongly as other countries too. Oftentimes a company will ship products to America where they can get away with selling it.

For this reason, I no longer splurge on online shopping sprees and fall victim to the “Buy Now With One Click” button. I make sure that I want and need something, and I shop around to find things that I know are not coming to me directly from a factory in China.

8.  I wash it before I wear it

This last piece of advice also relates to clothing. When you do buy a product, make sure you wash it before you wear it! One of my worst allergic reactions was from a headband from Forever 21. Even if it’s something so small, if it’s made out of fabric, it’s best to wash it. Remember the children’s pajamas in the “Stink” documentary I mentioned that were covered in DNA-altering chemicals? You can use all the sustainable fashion apps out there, but you never know what a product came in contact with before you owned it. Always take the time to do research and clean it before you drape it over your body.

Remember: These are just mostly suggestions on how to eliminate chemicals in body products, but there are so many other things to be conscious of including the clothing your purchasing, the cleaning products you use, and food you buy. Of course, it’s impossible to tackle these issues in one day or one blog post, but remember to start making changes in those areas as well. Our consumerist and capitalist culture has left us with so many challenges that hinder our health and well being. But I would like to help make it easier for you in any way that I can, one post at a time.

Let’s Be Honest!

Several weeks later I still have a few things that need to be replaced but I’m feeling much better than I was before I started this journey. It really just takes time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this change, maybe just make it a point to throw out one toxic product and buy a replacement each week.

Just so we’re on the same page, I’m not claiming to be an expert on this issue. I’m just starting to learn about it now. I’m simply a young woman who doesn’t want to get breast cancer, or have a heart attack, or become infertile… all because I live in a country where the profit of companies like Forever 21, Jergens, Bath and Body Works, Marshalls, Target, and Amazon are valued over the health and well being of all of our citizens. I have had many relatives who have died of cancer, and I don’t want that to happen to me. I want to limit my exposure to chemicals as much as I can and try my best to be a conscious consumer. But I’m not perfect and I still haven’t begun to figure out what I’ll use to replace the cleaning products we’re using currently.

I encourage you to do your own research on this topic and find ways to protect yourself as well. And when you do, please please please share your knowledge in the comments section below. Let me know the lifestyle changes that you’ve made to protect yourself and what your experience has been. Our government, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and our very own companies are not helping us. It’s up to us to help and protect each other.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Are you currently trying to go fragrance-free? What inspired the change? Have you had any bad experiences that made you switch your products? What steps did you take to protect yourself? Were there any resources that helped?

If you liked this post make sure you scroll to the bottom, hit that little “+”, and type in your email where it says “Follow Blog Via Email.” The next post will be sent right to you!

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

The Stinky, Scary Secret Behind Consumer Products

Health & Wellness
Photo about the stinky scary secret behind consumer products. Greenwashing, the fragrance loophole, the Stink Documentary, and Seventh Generation products. Learn how to protect yourself from chemicals in American body products.

My Story: Scary Allergic Reactions to Consumer Products

I didn’t know that when I made a simple decision to switch to all natural products this past year that my whole life would change. All I knew was that I hated the smell of chemicals from perfumes, shampoos, cleaning products, clothing, even produce, and I knew that it must not be healthy for me to be rubbing things into my body when I could smell the chemicals in them – chemicals that I knew instinctively were hazardous to my health. But it wasn’t just a hunch, I had experienced it first-hand.

I started to really think about this issue back in college when I started to buy a lot of clothing, cosmetics, and detergent that had caused me to have the worst allergic reactions I had ever experienced. Fast forward to today, and I’ve become a little bit more familiar with this issue than I would like to be.

It happens every couple of months at very random and enormously inconvenient times, and it’s a feeling that I recognize in a heartbeat. My skin heats up like it’s on fire, every cell in my body feels like it’s buzzing trying to get my attention, my heartbeat rises, my skin itches uncontrollably, and hives start to spread all over my body. It seems to always start from my face or my scalp and it works its way down my body within a few minutes until I am covered in huge hives. At worst, one hive took up my entire cheek. I wish I was exaggerating. Every time it happens the hives stick out from my face and burn and itch until finally the Benadryl kicks in.

The worst part? I have no f*cking idea what causes this. All I know is that they put chemicals in and on clothing and other random products like I’ve found at the mall, on Amazon, and at well-known stores like Marshall’s.

My first crazy allergic reaction happened when I was a freshman in college and has happened consistently since then. So that’s when I started to get nervous when I was shopping and would often wonder whether I was making a wise decision buying any product on the shelf, especially if it was imported.

That’s also when I realized how shady and secretive these large companies are, whose products completely fill our homes and bodies. Every time I went to a store or called a company complaining that their product created an awful allergic reaction and hives on every inch of my body, they denied it. Not a single person told me what was in or on the products. Not a single person apologized on behalf of the company. Instead, every single one of them said, “No, that didn’t happen to you.” “It must have been something else.” “You’re mistaken.” “That’s not true, it’s impossible that our product would have done that to you.”

There I was after a horrible allergic reaction that scared the sh*t out of me, and I didn’t even hear an apology. Instead, I was told that I was lying. So I started to become more aware of what I was using and decided to become a more conscious consumer. Because maybe next time I’m exposed to whatever chemical that is, I won’t be that lucky.

The “Stink!” Documentary

Upon making some of these changes, a friend of mine recommended the documentary on Netflix called, “Stink!” which was extremely eye-opening, and finally informed me about this issue I’ve been dealing with for 5 years. It’s a documentary all about what factories and well-known brands knowingly put ON and IN our consumer products.

which was extremely eye-opening, and finally informed me about this issue I’ve been dealing with for 5 years. It’s a documentary all about what factories and well-known brands knowingly put ON and IN our consumer products.

“Stink!” is about a man named Jon J. Whelan who discovered on Christmas morning the dangers these chemicals present when his daughter unwrapped a pair of pajamas from Justice. The room was immediately filled with a horrible stench of chemicals–chemicals that he later found out caused cancer and altered DNA after having them tested by a lab. Through his research to get to the bottom of why his daughters’ pajamas stunk of chemicals, he discovered that the chemicals used in American consumer products are not regulated. In America, there are about 30 chemicals banned (out of 80,000) because we know that they cause cancer, but that doesn’t mean we don’t use them… Why, you ask? Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot do ANYTHING about the issue unless they have absolute, hard-hitting proof that their product causes breast cancer, or infertility, or heart failure for example, under its intended use. So basically it’s impossible to prove. When someone dies of a heart attack, no one thinks to see if their lotion caused it, or if it’s the shirt they wore. Do they? And how on earth would you go about proving something like that? You can’t. And here’s why…

The Fragrance Loophole

“Stink!” talks about one loophole in particular that is a sneaky way companies can put ANYTHING they want into consumer products without having to disclose it or even prove that it’s safe. It’s a seemingly harmless word used on the back of almost all of our popular products that says “Fragrance” or “Parfum.” You see, all the word “fragrance” means is secret chemicals. Companies don’t have to share what is in them, whether it’s clothing, cleaning products, body products, etc., because it’s considered a “trade secret” and because it’s “proprietary.” Because of this loophole, our consumer industry is so under-regulated that other countries send their products to America where they can get away with selling it!

Side note: Would you want to know how many chemicals are banned by the European Union (EU)? Over 1,300. Europeans clearly care about their health far more than we do.

Companies will say that the reason they don’t want to disclose this information is because someone would be able to replicate their product (which means fewer sales for them and less $$$). But in reality, that’s not why it’s kept a secret anymore. The reason all of these hugely successful companies want to keep this loophole and why they regularly lobby for it, is because if American consumers knew that our body products and clothing caused cancer, infertility, birth defects, heart failure, and alter DNA, they wouldn’t buy this crap anymore!

In the documentary, one reporter shares that she had a lab test her for chemicals and found out that she had hundreds of toxic chemicals in her blood. Even American babies are born with around 200 chemicals in their bodies from the products their mothers used, breathed in, and were exposed to while they were pregnant.

If you don’t believe me yet, here’s a fun fact for you: In America, you can legally bottle and sell fracking fluid as a fragrance. That’s how much we turn a blind eye to what’s in our products.

Natural Products… May Not Be Natural

Just like anyone else would after watching a documentary like that, I immediately ran to the medicine cabinet to check my products. What I discovered was that nearly every product I own contains fragrance as an ingredient. Even the seemingly harmless and so-called “natural” products. I was completely disturbed to see that products I own were packaged to appear natural, but were far from it.

What I mean by appearing natural is that the companies used classic typewriter font; used words like “fair trade,” “organic,” and “natural”; and used natural colors like off-white, tan and light green. They may even say specific natural ingredients on the front like “made with organic coconut oil” or “rosemary essential oil.” To the consumer, these products look healthier and natural to the eye, which is why I had bought them. The products still contained fragrance, and the so-called “natural” ingredient could only account for 1% of it for all I know. Plus, even products that say “fragrance-free” on them may have chemicals anyways! Because how would anyone ever know?

But how could this be? How could even “natural” products be so harmful, trick us into believing they’re safe? That question is what lead me to learn about something called “Greenwashing.”

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is when press or marketing is used deceptively to promote the perception that a company’s products are environmentally friendly. Through greenwashing, companies can sell you the idea that their products are all-natural, healthy, organic, and environmentally friendly, even if they are not any of those things. One example is the Dawn Dish Soap campaign.

Remember those adorable little ducklings being cleaned up from the BP Oil Spill with Dawn dish detergent? Did you know that the ingredients found in Dawn are extremely toxic to animals? After knowing what I know now, I would NEVER use Dawn dish soap (use Seventh Generation soap instead) but there was a time when I thought it was a responsible company that cared about people, the environment, and those little ducklings. Nope. Because Dawn is not some wonderfully eco-friendly brand. It’s a company that saw an opportunity from the tragic oil spill and thought it would be fun to play the hero so people would buy more Dawn and the company would make more money.

Also, just because a product may have environmental, or wellness, or organic logos on them, it doesn’t mean anything. The level at which American products are not regulated is baffling.

So what do I do now?

The point of this whole post is that you can’t just blindly buy products if you care at all about your health and the health of your family. You have to actively change your lifestyle to protect yourself, even if it’s inconvenient. This means doing research to figure out how to protect yourself, downloading helpful apps, reading ingredients, and regularly trying out new products to replace your old ones. The days of walking through the body wash aisle in Walgreens and buying the Bubbly Cherry Blossom and Vanilla Blah Blah Blah, are over.

Want to know what you can do each day to better protect yourself from these chemicals? Want to know how you can figure out if a product is healthy to use before you buy it? Stay tuned for next week’s post about how I limit my exposure to chemicals! Hit that little “+” symbol at the bottom of the page and type in your email where it says “Follow Blog Via Email” and the next post will be sent right to you!

And as always let me know what you think in the comments. Did you know about greenwashing or the Fragrance Loophole? Did you run to your medicine cabinet to check your product ingredients after this? What are some examples of products you used that you didn’t realize could be dangerous?

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

CBD, Anxiety, & Me: Thoughts After 3 Months on a CBD Tincture

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle

What I used to think about CBD

I’m probably one of the last people to hop on the CBD bandwagon – if not THE last one. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen CBD–cannabidiol, a compound derived from cannabis plants–become so popular for a variety of different reasons. I heard everything from it cures anxiety, relieves pain and helps you sleep. Then there were bigger claims like it fights cancer, prevents seizures, and lowers risk of diabetes. But I didn’t buy any of it. I knew so many people who were completely head-over-heels in love with CBD and raved about it all the time. However, most of them were also very well-known for… puffing the magic dragon… I’m not sure how I’m supposed to word this in a blog. Anyways, they smoke a lot of weed. You know the type: gets super defensive about weed, munching on something all the time, scatterbrained, listens to The Grateful Dead on repeat, burns incense, wears drug rugs, has at least one Bob Marley poster hanging up in their room. You get the idea.

So I didn’t buy it because I’m not a smoker, and I was never enamored with the stoner culture. I’m not going to be convinced about how magical CBD is from someone who can’t go a few hours without smoking weed. I don’t really trust them to educate me because I always wondered, is this new health supplement really as great as they say? Or has everything marijuana just become a major part of their self-identity? So I debated it many times over the last few years, and I always approached the CBD conversations with skepticism (and if I’m being honest here, a lot of judgment).

Then, I started to see a shift. Instead of just smokers using CBD, it started to become popular among many different types of people. Athletes used it, professionals used it, children used it, mothers used it, wellness advocates used it – and CBD started to become seen as a health supplement rather than a conversation in a college dorm room. Fast forward to the last few months and my boyfriend and I are both working for health and fitness companies that invite other companies to sell CBD Oil to athletes at events and competitions.

Today, I regularly meet people who use CBD for an array of reasons. People who are active professionals with 9-5 jobs. I’ve learned of so many success stories particularly with anxiety, so I finally decided that I would give it a try. I’ve now been on CBD for three months and feel much better, but also incredibly guilty for never giving this natural medicine a try. I was quick to judge these products because of the stoner culture that used to surround them and quick to get annoyed when someone would rave to me about why I should be using it. Especially because it seemed too simple. How could taking a few drops of CBD oil be enough to relieve anxiety? Wouldn’t I need to meditate every day, take prescriptions, and see a therapist if I wanted that to happen? No.

So what is CBD?

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert about this. There are so many people and online influencers out there who pretend that they’re CBD experts but they’re not. So I started looking into it for more information. From what I’ve come across, the most informative and easy to understand content was a video by health and nutrition expert, Thomas DeLauer. He explained exactly how CBD affects the receptors in the brain to make us feel good, relax us, help those suffering from cancer, and more. It really helped me comprehend why and how it works so I could finally understand all those big claims that are made and the science behind it. If you’d like to see if yourself, check it out here.

So you may or may not already know this, but for the sake of educating someone who may not, CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis (there’s no THC). Yes, we all know this. Moving on.

According to DeLauer, there are two different CBD receptors in the body and brain, CBD 1 and CBD 2. CBD 1 is found mostly in the brain and affects mood, emotion, mood, pain, etc. CBD 2 is found mostly in the body and affects things like inflammation and the immune system. THC is what activates both receptors, but CBD oil doesn’t. Instead, CBD influences the body to use more of its naturally occurring endocannabinoids, enhancing how the receptors utilize them. It’s the utilization and activation of vanilloid, serotonin, and adenosine receptors that give people the result they’re looking for from CBD.

These receptors play a role because CBD increases the activity of the receptors which trigger secondary responses in the body. For one thing, it activates a secondary response of excretory catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and epinephrine), which is what gives you a heightened sense of awareness while still feeling calm. Secondly, CBD also activates dopamine and causes the body to naturally and effectively utilize that particular neurotransmitter, which makes us feel better. Thirdly, CBD activates glutamate which (in the right amounts) can trigger energy in the right places. Finally, the serotonin receptors: CBD oil activates 5-HT1A which allows the body to create more serotonin and use it more efficiently. All of these things give us that lovely sensation that CBD companies spend tons of money marketing to us: you’ll feel calm, yet awake. So that’s the long-winded version of what CBD is, as far as how it helps someone struggling with anxiety, like myself. Thank you, Thomas DeLeaur for explaining all of that in a way that makes sense for someone like me who just barely passed science class in school.

Why I tried CBD

I heard several stories from friends who suffered from terrible anxiety and were able to relax and function normally after taking CBD. That they no longer suffered from anxiety attacks, or have moments when their heart races uncontrollably, or feel overwhelmed even when nothing stressful is happening. On top of that, my boyfriend and I also work at well-known health and fitness companies, and we’re constantly surrounded by people who are in incredible shape and participate in competitions on the weekends–and many of them take CBD. So after hearing about CBD for years, I finally decided to take a leap of faith. The worst that could happen was I wouldn’t like it, and move on with my life. When I started using CBD, I started with the brand, Elixinol. Elixinol is a high-quality, naturally processed CBD brand with 100% Organic Industrial Hemp from the U.S., Europe, and Australia. I use it in the morning before work and at night before I fall asleep. It comes in a one-ounce bottle and glass dropper with measurements on it for a .5 milliliter (ml) or 1 ml dose. I fill it up, usually to about .75 ml and I put the CBD underneath my tongue for about a minute to allow it to absorb into my bloodstream and then I swallow.

Side Note: I got this one from my boyfriend because he bought it for himself and realized that there was coconut oil in it which he’s allergic to. So if you’re allergic to coconut oil too, you really have to read CBD labels because tons of brands use coconut oil as a carrier oil.

After using Elixinol for over a month, I then tried out Charlotte’s Web CBD after hearing testimonials from so many people that swear by Charlotte’s Web and found the most success with that brand. If you’ve never heard of the story behind Charlotte’s Web, I highly suggest looking into it. The company was started because of a little girl name Charlotte Fiji who suffered from Dravet Syndrome — a very rare form of epilepsy. Her story is one that is completely heartbreaking and has shown people all of over the world how healing CBD can be. If you want to read the full story check it out here.

After using Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web both for a month and a half each, I can finally say that I am a firm believer in using CBD.

My thoughts after 3 months on CBD

Less Anxiety – Within the first day of being on CBD, I immediately felt better. I noticed that my mental state had become much more peaceful than it was before. The way that I could describe it is like taking an actual chill pill. Normally throughout the day, I have negative emotions, as we all do. I get anxious, angry, and sad, and it regularly ruins my day and makes me feel crappy both mentally and physically. If you’ve had anxiety then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

You know that feeling when you start to have anxiety? It’s not just a mental feeling, but you feel it physically too. Your heart races, you sweat, you feel wired, you don’t feel like you’re in control of your body or mind, and your whole body feels agitated and uncomfortable. When I take CBD, I still feel my regular emotions throughout the day, like sadness or anger, but when I do it’s not nearly as heavy as it normally is. Those feelings don’t spread throughout my whole body and make me feel like I can’t breathe or my heart will come out of my chest. Instead, I feel an emotion, but without all of those physical reactions that usually amplify the feelings of anxiety and make it so much worse.

The first time that I really noticed this was when I was stuck in traffic on the highway one day and someone cut me off. Normally this would have made me feel anxious throughout my whole body. I would have felt the adrenaline coursing through me, and I wouldn’t calm down until I reached my destination and got out of the car. But now, I feel slightly anxious in my mind without all of the adrenaline and nerves. Instead, whenever I experienced an emotion like this, I would think to myself, “Oh, I’m feeling a little stressed out right now. That’s fine, it’ll pass.” Or “Looks like there’s some anxiety showing up again.”

I was so surprised by how calm and rational I felt. I started to identify unpleasant emotions, and then let them go without feeding into them. This has actually been something that I’ve been trying to train my mind to do in meditation, but I haven’t been able to do it alone. But now, on CBD, I can. I watch the negative thought show up and pass by just like seeing someone pass by me on the sidewalk. Not that I’m disconnected from my emotions or have become emotionless, but rather they don’t overwhelm me and affect me physically in the way that they used to.

I also want to add that even though CBD calmed me down, the effects are not at all like a prescription drug that people use to treat anxiety. When someone takes a pill meant for anxiety, it immediately hits them and they have a noticeable reaction. They go from having a panic attack to feeling very happy, relaxed, and basically like they’re floating on a cloud away from all of their problems. Which is why I was afraid to try CBD at first because I didn’t want an effect like that. But CBD doesn’t hit you like a prescription does. It’s very slow so after a while, I’ll notice that I feel calm. Taking CBD oil reminds me of taking an ibuprofen when something is hurting. I don’t notice it kick in immediately – it happens so slowly that I didn’t even realize it was starting to work until 30 minutes later when I notice that my headache is gone. Which is why you may not even notice the effects of CBD and realize that it’s working because it doesn’t hit you like a Xanax. Days might go by and you’ll suddenly have an “ah-ha” moment in traffic like me.

Focus –The other thing that I noticed after being on CBD was that it also helped me get out of my own head and focus on what was in front of me. My mind normally races so much that it’s hard to really pay attention when I’m reading, working, or writing. Now, instead of seeing something that I have to get done and letting it overwhelm me and stress me out, CBD has helped me put my feelings aside and focus on one thing at a time. I have no idea how it does this, but it does. Why did I not get on board with this when I was still in school?!

Take-Away

I feel so guilty for judging people who took CBD as a supplement and assuming that people just used it because they thought it was cool. Maybe some people do. But I’ll admit it… I messed up. Sorry! I now take CBD oil with my other supplements morning and night and it has made each day brighter and more manageable. Now that I’ve seen what a difference it can make, I’m experimenting with some other CBD products and see which ones are the best for me. But as of now, Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web are the two that I keep going back to.

If you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, anger, or maybe you just have a hard time focusing, I think you should consider doing some research on CBD, talking to your doctor, and trying a supplement like this. Everyone is different, but this could be a simple lifestyle change that could make a huge difference in your mental state and your day-to-day experience.

Have you taken CBD oil? What has your experience been? Have you noticed any positive (or negative) changes? What brands do you use? What brands do you dislike? If you don’t understand CBD or may be against it, what are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments! I love hearing the new perspectives! And, if you like what you read, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol and type in your email to subscribe! 

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Text Neck: How My Cell Phone Use Affected My Physical Development

Digital Dilemma, Health & Wellness
textneckfromheavyphoneuse

For those of you who are new to my site and are visiting for the first time, this blog is about the effects of digital media on us and how we can stay sane in a time when we’re living half of our lives online. I’m interested in many of the ways that digital media impacts us. For example, how things like photoshop and sites like Instagram distorts the perception of our bodies. But today, I want to share something that’s a little bit more serious and even darker than that… My phone and computer use affected my physical development.

My Story

When I was in high school, I started to notice that there was a part in my back that always felt like needed to be cracked. At first, I would have to crack the middle of my back once a day, but then it started to get even more frequent. I remember when I first started to have that problem I talked to my parents about how I wanted to see a chiropractor and they were 100% against it. They might have rather seen me dead than in the hands of a chiropractor. In their minds, chiropractors were as legitimate as an old homeless woman on the street corner offering $5 tarot card readings. So, as badly as I wanted to go, I finally had to let it go.

What started as that nagging feeling that bothered me all day had slowing spread to all other parts of my body over the course of ten years the longer it went untreated. It went to my hips, my upper back, my knees, my shoulders, and finally my neck. Eventually, it became worse than a nagging feeling of needing to crack my back and turned into a pain that I felt constantly. I tried yoga, essential oils, hot presses, ice, exercise, massages, you name it. Then one day I decided to get a massage in hopes that it would ease the pain, but it only made it much worse. As the therapist was working on my neck, I could tell that the pain was in my bones rather than my muscles. The top vertebrae in my neck were sticking out and causing inflammation and knots all around that area. But even then, I still let it go. I had been told my whole life that I shouldn’t see a chiropractor so I didn’t really see it as a possibility at that point and thought that I just had to deal with the pain. Eventually, my alignment issue became so painful that I couldn’t function normally. The only time I felt somewhat decent was if I was laying down in bed. Finally, the day came when I had no choice to seek help and find a chiropractor.

Seeking Help

My online searches brought me to a highly rated office called Lighthouse Chiropractic in Saint Augustine, Florida. I read through the reviews and found one by a woman who loved this office so much and found it to be so healing that she believed fate had brought her to Lighthouse Chiropractic. I will never forget that I picked up my phone and left a voicemail for a consultation appointment while I was laying on the floor crying from neck and back pain. To this day, I’m still embarrassed by that voicemail and I wonder if they had ever noticed that I was choking back tears and trying to manage my shaking voice while I left my name and number.

After a day, they called me back and we set up a consultation. That first visit was spent getting all sorts of x-rays and other tests done to figure out what exactly was going on. I mostly sat in a room wearing an ugly gown and wondering what it all was supposed to show. The next visit I came back to go over it all with the Chiropractor, Dr. Adam Podzra (He goes by Dr. Adam so that’s how I’ll refer to him in this post), and discuss a plan for treatment. He walked me through all the different scans which showed him that the areas I always felt like I had to crack were completely inflamed. There was no wonder why I was in so much pain, bad alignment was causing my bones to poke out and cause soreness in my muscles. He also learned that my body is always in a state of fight or flight. I always had just thought that I was “a worrier,” but apparently it’s a bit worse than that.

Eventually, Dr. Adam showed me my x-rays, and I’ll never forget it. The first time I saw my alignment problems on an x-ray I wanted to cry. To him, it was nothing out of the ordinary, but for me it was scary. I was just a couple degrees away from having scoliosis so my spine looked like it was curving and pulling my hip up. My spine was also slightly twisted, and last but not least, my neck had developed straight up and down – a problem known as “Text Neck.” Here is my x-ray below.↡

What is Text Neck?

So you might be thinking, “Duh, isn’t your neck supposed to go straight up and down?” Actually no. If you look at an x-ray of a “healthy” neck, it has a nice curve it in- kind of like the shape of C. But my neck has developed “like a stair stepper,” as Dr. Adam would say. It looks like it’s in a straight line with no curve at all. It’s caused by us constantly looking down at computers, tablets, and cell phones. This misalignment is also referred to as a vertebral subluxation.

Side Note: All of the information I’m sharing and quoting in this post is directly from documents Dr. Adam has sent me so I can learn more about this issue. One is called, “The Cervical Curve: Structure, Function, and Human Health,” and the other is called, “Occupational Health, Safety, and Chiropractic.” Both were written by a man named Keith Wassung, a Chiropractic Advocate.

So what does this mean? “Vertebral subluxations cause nerve interference which diminished the inherent healing potential of the human body. Subluxations have been documented to cause a variety of health problems including headaches, migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, TMJ, sinus infections, ear infections, vertigo, allergies, asthma, thyroid conditions, sinusitis, arm pain, shoulder pain, hormonal imbalance, insomnia, fibromyalgia, and many others.” And I have almost all of those wonderful things. “Vertebral subluxations are often referred to as the “silent killer” because they destroy the health and healing process of the human body long before the presence of any symptoms.”

Over time this leads to something even more exciting called spinal degeneration. What is spinal degeneration? “Spinal degeneration is the gradual and progressive breakdown of vertebral joints and related structures due to long-standing misalignments or vertebral subluxations, caused by deterioration of the intervertebral disc, bad posture, or a variety of traumatic injuries. When left uncorrected these spinal misalignments cause abnormal biomechanics which erode joint surfaces.

So if you’re like me and you don’t want that to happen to you, you have to invest in seeing a Chiropractor. “Doctors of Chiropractic detect and correct vertebral subluxations by physically adjusting the spine to restore normal spinal functions and balance which allows the nervous system to send and receiver information. This allows the inherent healing potential of the body to best express itself.”

Ok, Heather. Why Should I Care?

So this misaligned happens due to accidents, injuries, childhood falls you may not even remember, and even the birth process. But another big cause of it is poor posture, which almost everyone has now. In our modern lifestyle, we’re always looking at some screen, watching a show, scrolling through Instagram, online shopping, writing a blog, sitting at a computer all day at work, etc. This head in a forward posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine (particularly in the area where I always felt like I had to crack my back) and causing alignment to get out of whack. Also, if you really feel like having nightmares tonight, then you should know that it can also deplete our lung capacity and smush gastrointestinal organs. How f*cking scary?!

This is so important to talk about because there are now millions of children growing up with the internet. I nannied for parents who gave their 2, 3, or 4 years old their own iPads. I see little kids with cell phones. My neck developed straight up and down, and I didn’t even start to use the internet heavily until I was in high school. Children now are using this technology every. single. day. I just know that years from now every single one of them is going to wake up one morning and discover that the reason they’re in pain all the time is that their bones have been deteriorating. But by the time that happens, it will be too late to help them.

In the last couple of years more people are coming forward and talking about how digital media impacts their mental health, but there hasn’t been much a discussion about how it impacts physical health. I’m hoping that this blog post acts as a warning to other people who, like me, have spent years consumed by my devices. Let’s talk about this problem now and put an end to “Text Neck.”

Stay tuned for posts in the future about how I treated Text Neck at home and my progress after being under Chiropractic care for 7 months.

Thank you for reading Lost Online and as always, let me know what you think in the comments! What are your thoughts on Text Neck? Do you have Text Neck? Do you see a Chiropractor and has it helped you with this issue? Have you set any restrictions for your tablet, phone, or computer use?

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.