Learn How to Relax: 5 Essential Must-Have Tips

Learn How to Relax: 5 Essential Must-Have Tips

When it comes to learning how to relax there are a few things one must do to achieve a peaceful relaxed state. If there is one thing that can mess with our minds when we’re trying to relax its guilt. To feel guilty because we are taking a break can absolutely ruin our efforts in relaxing. Why? Because “busy” is the norm in this day and age. “Busy” is acceptable and at times “busy” is how we measure our days. Let’s give permission for our mind and body to let go and loosen the tension.

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What does busy mean anyway?

Why would we need a definition of busy? Because it helps us understand if we really are busy. Merriam-Webster Dictionary says ‘busy’ is: engaged in action, occupied. My definition of ‘busy’ is this: ‘Busy’ is yearning to do things you want to do without having the time to do them. The difference between the two definitions is this: when I’m ‘engaged in action’ with an activity I want to do, I’m not ‘busy’, but when I want to do something I can’t because of running errands, etc, then I am ‘busy’. You might need to read that again to let it sink in. Where do you lay right now with ‘busy’?

How to relax?

How do we relax so we have the freedom to work on the things that bring purpose into our lives? Or on the flip-side, how do we not think about anything and just be?

Men are pretty good at being able to turn their minds off. My husband and I will be having coffee, talking right along then five minutes of silence go by. I ask my husband what he’s thinking; and he says, “Nothing”. Seriously? Mark Gungor, author, and motivational speaker has an excellent and hilarious way of describing the differences between men’s and women’s minds. For instance, men have this thing called the ‘Nothing Box’. I mean, what the heck is that? You can watch it here; so funny yet true.

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5 essential tips for us ladies to learn how to relax

But how do we ladies go about finding relaxation when so much pressure is put on us daily and even socially?

1. Change environments

Escape from the environment that is causing you to constantly think of your to-do list, or the problem you’re facing. For instance; for me, I need to step away from the house. Because I’m a stay-at-home-mom I live in my work. So when I’m at my house it’s natural for me to always have a project. For short-term results, I’ll go to my favorite store and wonder. I didn’t say buy stuff, just window shop. For long-term effects, we get out of town; and for my family that means camping.

If you’re stuck inside there are a few things you can do to escape. You can find a space that is only yours; a closet works, the laundry room, even a corner space that says you. Make this space a place for your soul to regenerate. Get some amazing wall art and lose yourself in the picture, find inspirational quotes or scripture and post them on the wall, decorate with string lights, put splashes of your favorite colors throughout, and be sure to have something cozy. Make this a space you can’t wait to escape to.

2. Write things out, this is how.

Writing all the crud or to-do list down on paper can lessen the power it has in your mind. When it’s on paper, it makes something that was a big deal in our minds, easier to digest. We, humans, tend to let our minds get away from us. I personally enjoy taking a clean sheet of copy paper, grabbing a pencil, and drawing a circle. From the circle, I create branches of all the things I’m thinking about, then I break those branches into smaller do-able bites. A journal works too.

Speaking of journaling. Writing freely helps too. Ask yourself thought-provoking questions that can get to the meat of the busyness. Here are some great questions to get you started.

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3. Converse with God

Talking with God helps to release the chains and give them to Him. Did you catch what I said? “Talking with God, not at Him or to Him, but with, like a friend talks with a friend. He wants a relationship with you, he wants to hear your side of the story, and he wants to help you. All you need to do is talk with Him.

For instance, I escape to my favorite walking place and pray while I’m walking. For me, hearing my voice speak rather than trying to sort it all out in my mind helps me focus on the conversation. Then I stop talking and just listen; this gives me a breather and a chance for God to breathe into me.  I enjoy Jesus Calling as a nice devotional to help hear His voice.  

4. Watch a good show, read a book, or listen to instrumental music

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When we are entertained it gives us time to relax and just be. It’s a chance we get to wander out of our reality and into a story. Whether it’s a good movie or book, get the comfy clothes on and kindly alert the family to not interrupt your time.

Here’s a tip, be picky of what you put in your brain. If you’re looking to just feel good and float on a cloud, don’t choose The Silence of the Lambs; maybe try La La Land, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or Steel Magnolias. Ask yourself what you want to get out of a show before you start channel flipping. And yes, it’s true, what you put in your mind affects how you think, and how you think affects how you act. Be careful of what you put in your mind, you could be inviting darkness in.

Instrumental music is an extremely effective way to relax. Find a track you enjoy. When I get stressed I turn to Soaking in His Presence by William Augusto. He does such a great job of putting me in the right frame of mind. This music is also amazing to pray with. Love it!

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5. Create

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Creativity gets your mind off the stress and into a relaxed state of being. Entrepreneur.com has a great article on the benefits of putting our creativity to use. There are scientific studies on how it can reduce stress. Psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, says that when you “lose yourself” in the composition of a song (creating)…, you are essentially entering a healthy flow state. No wonder I feel so great after I create something. Try experimenting in the kitchen, rearrange your furniture, color, sew a baby quilt, and create a playlist…we all have creative abilities. Tap into your creativity and make it a hobby.

In conclusion

There are other obvious tips to relax like taking a hot bath, getting a massage, taking your time in sipping a fancy coffee, or watching the birds, my last bonus tip is to set boundaries for yourself and those around you. Don’t let others steel your relax time, protect it with all your might. If you’re at the coffee shop and there is an annoying person by you, get up and move.

I challenge you to tap into at least two of the above suggestions this week to relax. Ask yourself what do I need to let go of to give myself the time I need? Know how to slowdown and be less busy so you can be your best!

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence, All Rights Reserved.

How to live your dream life: embrace this 1 word.

How to live your dream life: embrace this 1 word.

How to live your dream life starts with looking at one word in a completely different way, this one thing can be a huge game-changer in how you move forward. To help paint this picture let’s look at a movie.

In 2018 the movie I Can Only Imagine debuted and has made over $85 million. The song I Can Only Imagine hit radio stations 19 years earlier. The story behind the song is based on the life of the songwriter, Bart Millard. When the movie came out, I personally thought it would be a boring movie. Two years later, I finally watched it and my emotional response shocked me.

Why did the movie grab me so much?

This past summer I was in a funk. We had just come off a 3-week vacation camping at a nearby campground…kudos to my husband who stayed there the entire duration, but for me? My busy brain came home now and then to get things done around the house, to tend to appointments, and so forth. The campground was only 30 minutes from home. I just couldn’t settle down. It wasn’t until the last week that I could finally sink into a vacation. Have you ever experienced something like that? I was actually mad I couldn’t submit to vacation.

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My funk.

Since I did most of my chores while on vacation when we got back home I didn’t have any motivation to do anything! Needless to say, I needed to reset my brain and escape to a movie.

As I was flipping through movie options my finger stopped at “I Can Only Imagine” and thought, what the heck; it’s Sunday, why not watch a Christian movie.   

When someone tells you it can't be done, it's more a reflection of their limitations, not yours.

From the start of the show, I was into it. The crazy thing about this specific movie was how emotional I found myself. My heart was jumping from one character to another. One minute I was sad for Bart, and the next I was upset about his mom. I was sad his dad was so confused. Then my heart ached for his dad when he was trying to figure out the Bible on his own. And then back to Bart of how he heard from God and pursued to live his dream life. But what was I really crying about?

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The truth comes out

Deep emotions surfaced from my own past, and as I peered closer to the anchor which has kept me down, I saw a four-letter word written on it. Through my blurred teary eyes the word “can’t” became clear.

“You Can’t”

Throughout my life, I have heard “you can’t” from people I love and respect, from people I have trusted, and mostly myself. With ideas and dreams I’ve shared, I was hopeful for encouragement and instead got, “that’s silly”, “you know how hard you’d have to work?”, “you don’t want to do that”, “do you even qualify to do that?”… “you can’t”… these words not only were verbally spoken, but the Enemy whispered them in my ear too. They pretty much say, “don’t even try”.

Not only did I hear it from my family and friends, but I heard it on the media. “You can’t do that without this.” “You can’t lose weight without this system and support team.” And the list goes on.

To add more shine to the word “can’t”, my body was telling me I can’t! My digestive system got so messed up that I’m unable to eat a “normal” diet. I actually have to think about what to order at a restaurant and make sure it’s safe for me to eat. Other aliments loitered and set up camp for months and then years crippling my ability to sit for long periods and walk without pain.

I was really starting to believe I couldn’t do the things I had ideas about. It felt like no one took me seriously or believed in me…even me. Do you know what that’s like?

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Moving On

As I reflected on the movie and looked closer at the word “can’t” I realized something. Do you know how some people get motivated when other people tell them they can’t do something? Then you turn around and the next thing you know they’ve achieved that very dream someone told them they couldn’t do! From a Christian perspective take a look at the configuration of the word “can’t”. What do you see?

This movie showed me something I’ve missed for so many years. If you want to l live your dream life, the next time someone says you can’t, look at the letters of the word very closely. You may just be thanking them for that. Simply said, anything is possible with Jesus.

To get you started download my 30 favorite affirmations right now. And for more freebies head over to my freebies page and unlock numerous resources to get you moving forward.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, whether you’re a Christian or not, give it try, you may just experience a breakthrough.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Food Combining Does What? Manage stomach acid now!

Food Combining Does What? Manage stomach acid now!

Tired, bloated, indigestion after you eat? Let me fill you in on a little secret, it probably has something to do with food combining. Our stomach is known for acid. Stomach acid, along with the help of enzymes, helps break down food. Not only that but it actually helps support the body in absorbing protein and vitamin B-12, which we only get from protein (meat). In this post, you’ll find tips on how to feel better and get more bang for your nutrition buck! How to reduce stomach acid, how to increase stomach acid, how to test which one you have, and why food combining has a lot to do with stomach acid is in this post. Plus! You can download my free easy to understand food combining chart!

Let’s jump into the stomach.

If you have high levels of stomach acid you’re probably experiencing one of these symptoms: acid reflux, burping, or you may even feel nauseated. If you have too little stomach acid you may feel bloated, experience diarrhea or constipation, have food intolerances, osteoporosis, leaky gut, malnutrition, and heartburn. It’s kind of confusing, eh?

If you have either too high or too low of stomach acid it puts stress on the digestive system which can lead to further problems down the road, for instance, if you have heartburn (GERDS) and don’t pay attention to it, it can cause permanent damage to the esophagus and upping your chances of precancerous cells. If the stomach acid is too low and left untreated it can lead to hair loss, GI infections, anemia, lupus, allergies, chronic autoimmune disorders, and thyroid issues to name a few. Yikes!

how to manage stomach acid

How do you know if you have high or low stomach acid?

First off, I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share the information I have either experienced myself or am extremely interested in. I keep things simple and give you the nutshell version of what I’ve learned. *Consult your physician before jumping into new things.*

There are a number of things you can do to figure this out:

1) You could visit your doctor and have them order a test. Most likely it will be a CBC (complete blood count) and CMP (comprehensive metabolic panel). From the test they’ll look at a variety of factors, some include iron and phosphorous levels.

2) The other test is the Heidelberg Stomach Acid Test, this test requires fasting for 12 hours and swallowing a tiny electronic capsule. You will need to drink a baking soda solution and then the capsule will record how long it takes your stomach to restore normal acidity levels. Cool!

3) If you don’t like doctors or want to spend the extra cash, there is a simple at-home test is called the Baking Soda Acid Test. The accuracy of this test is not 100%, so it’s best to do this test regularly to get a better idea of where you are on stomach acid.

Here’s how to do it: Mix ¼ tsp of baking soda in four ounces of water. In the morning before you eat or drink anything else, drink the concoction. Next, start your timer on your phone and time how long it takes to burp. If it takes more than five minutes or you experience no burp at all, it’s a sign of low stomach acid.

IBD Triggers

Tips on how to reduce gastric juice:

1) Understand what food combinations cause high acidity. See my chart on freebies.

2) Eat smaller meals. Overeating can put pressure on the esophageal sphincter, which causes it to open and leak acid into your esophagus.

3) Try a low-carb diet. When our system can’t digest carbs well, we get gassy and bloated, which then leads to GERD. Numerous studies support this idea. Looking into amylase, a digestive enzyme that helps break down carbs may significantly help you when you can’t say no.

4) Limit the guilty pleasures of caffeine and alcohol. The alcohol relaxes the esophageal sphincter and the caffeine weakens the sphincter. They basically have the same effects on the sphincter. Try decaf coffee instead, that’s what I do and my body has adjusted well after the caffeine withdrawal ended.

5) Chew gum. This helps increase saliva production and helps clear the esophagus of stomach acid. It helps with symptoms but doesn’t solve the root cause. No wonder my son loves gum!

6) Cut back on carbonated drinks and citrus juice. Again both of these kinds of beverages weaken the esophageal sphincter.

7) Mint is a no-go. Mint chocolate-chip ice cream should take a backseat if you experience symptoms. This refreshing herb is so relaxing that it too relaxes the sphincter. Peppermint tea, peppermint chocolate or candies, and peppermint-flavored gum have the potential to fire back, literally up your esophagus.

Some other tips to help alleviate symptoms are not eating too close to bedtime, elevating your head while sleeping, and avoiding laying on your RIGHT side. These tactics help calm the acid and keep that pesky sphincter closed!

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4 little ways to increase low stomach acid at home

1) I wouldn’t hit the meat & potatoes to fix your low stomach acid, instead, take a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar that includes the Mother. This is an easy way to help your stomach acid get ready to work before a meal. Mix one tablespoon of the vinegar in water and drink before a meal.

2) Like honey? Try Manuka Honey. This honey comes from New Zealand and has amazing antimicrobial properties. It helps with IBS, indigestion, stomach ulcer prevention, oral health, and like most honey, helps with wound healing and sore throats. Get more details on Manuka Honey here.

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3) Chew. “Chew, chew, chew.” When we’re hungry, we tend to eat fast and take big bites! It’s like a welcome mat for a stuck burp. Chew every bite so it turns into mush. There is no need to eat your food fast. Simply use a smaller fork to help with bite-size.

4) Digestive enzymes also do the trick. Unfortunately, the first time I tried these they gave me diarrhea. They can actually cause constipation in some people too. But don’t let this discourage you. Digestive enzymes play an important role in vitamin and nutrient absorption. As you age or if you have a digestive disorder, or have pancreas issues, your enzymes deplete and lead to uncomfortable symptoms. For instance, one sign is a change in bowels and/or seeing undigested food in your stool. Yes, you should look at your poop! So before I completely gave up on digestive enzymes, I gave them another try. This time I played with the dose. Instead of a whole pill before a meal, I only took a pinch and it worked a lot better. After your body gets used to them you can move forward from there.

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What are digestive enzymes?

In a nutshell, there are three main types of digestive enzymes: proteases, lipases, and amylases. Here is a list of the enzymes and what they do. Helpful Hint: Pancreatic enzyme names usually end in “-in” (like trypsin or pepsin), while other digestive enzymes usually end in “-ase” or “-ose” (like lactose, sucrose, fructose).

The trick for making digestive enzymes work for you is to first determine if you are a candidate for supplementation. Know your body, pay attention to how it reacts after you eat. Are you burping, bloated, having to run the bathroom, heartburn, stinky gas and a lot of it, or cramping?

The next step is to determine what kind of enzyme you need. Asking your doctor, a nutritionist, or a functional medicine doc for their recommendations is the way to go. Just note the FDA does not regulate digestive enzymes, so everyone will have their own opinion, but you know your body best. You want clear ingredients from a reputable manufacturer.

Third, you’ll have to experiment to find the right dose. Remember this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. I’m not a doctor. Seek advice from a qualified health provider before trying something new. This post is to help you investigate how to help heal your body and ask the right questions to your healthcare provider.

digestive enzymes list

Stress can increase stomach acid?

Does stress increase stomach acid? That’s a great question. The answer is debatable but most likely. Stress affects our muscles, our immune systems, and our minds. All of those things work together to keep our bodies functioning. When one is off, it affects the other. If your muscles are tight around the stomach, it might push your stomach contents around and increase pressure. It doesn’t hurt to manage stress. For managing stress you’ll want to check out this post: How to Reduce Stress in your Life: 10 Breakthrough Tips.

Food Combining 101

Back to Food Combining. Yes combining food makes a difference with stomach acid. Food combining gives you a little bit of control. When certain foods are put together they can either wreak havoc on your stomach or can give you energy. For instance, the classic steak n potato with melted butter, well it’s going to spoil in your stomach. You will most likely have bloating, stinky ‘wind’, and indigestion. This combo could also contribute to weight gain. And the melon salad with grilled chicken, well that’s going to do the same thing. This is not to confuse you, it’s just the opposite.

Keeping a diet with a few simple rules will reap benefits in the short and long term. I made a simple, easy-to-understand food combining chart to help regulate your stomach acid. In my kitchen, I tape it to the inside of one of my cupboards. Don’t forget to head to Freebies to download yours today. All in all, remember to eat fruit alone on an empty stomach and only eat proteins with non-starchy vegetables. We’ve covered A LOT of information. Keep this post handy to reference for a quick guide.

Let’s end on a yummy note. Here’s a recipe to get you thinking in a low-acid direction: Better Belly Steak Dinner.

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By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

5 Easy Ways: How to Build Confidence & Courage

5 Easy Ways: How to Build Confidence & Courage

In 2007 my confidence collapsed and my heart panted for fullness. My independence, which I held on to so tightly, attached to others. The attitude to do more than exist went to merely existing. I desperately needed to know how to build confidence and courage once again. Have you ever felt this way? Our adversities are not only confusing but paralyzing. However, there are 5 antidotes to help resurrect us.

how to build confidence wolf running on bridge

A little background

My hardship started in September of 2007 with a pregnancy disease that birthed at five weeks and proceeded to torment me for 31 weeks thereafter. During that anguish my skin was pale green, my mind a twisted mess of nausea, and relief was too far to be seen; I literally was fighting to just exist. Being dependent on others to help me function, let alone trust, made me feel like a failure. Things like I can’t even take care of myself, swarmed my thoughts. Any physical excursion or consumption, or even water, was a cautious and fear-provoked decision. My ribs pierced from wrenching, and dehydration was the foremost threat.

The instant my healthy 7.1-pound baby boy was born, the sickness disappeared. Yet, the mental anguish was far from healing. Have you experienced an event like this in your life? Was it an illness, an unexpected break-up, a massive hit to your bank account, or a loss of something that meant so dear to you? I think the worse of it all is when it’s done, when we think we made it through, after-shocks sucker-punch us with unforeseen triggers we didn’t see coming.

When things don’t go our way

Those days still impress on my psyche today, how can it not? Yet immediately following the birth of my son, the fear of pregnancy halted our family plan. Two years later I knew I had to fight it. I knew I had to give it one more try; after all, every pregnancy is different. This is where I’d like to tell you the second time around was easier, but friend, it was far from that and left our arms empty. I have a post on infertility if you want to read it.

Answers to ‘how was I going to recover my confidence and courage’ slowly inflated my hope. Those answers didn’t come from a special diet, therapist, or medical doctor. The true answers came from one source, Jesus.

You see when I prayed before our second pregnancy, I didn’t hear a “Yes” as I did with our first. With our first baby, my husband and I waited eight years before I drummed up the courage to even pray about it. And when I did pray, I heard a clear “Yes!” But the second go around, I heard a solid “No”. Of course, I didn’t want to believe it, a no to another child? That doesn’t make sense! So I took my destiny into my own hands. And it didn’t turn out as planned

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Subtle answers

Bit by bit I had to rebuild my confidence and courage using my anguish as building blocks and my faith as mortar. Jesus didn’t come down from a cloud and profoundly say, “You are healed, child”. I certainly would have accepted that if He did! It was through His followers who physically passed His love on. He used other people in subtle ways to comfort my broken heart and body. Jesus equips us to love, and honestly, that’s all he wants us to do, is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 Paul says, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (NIV)  

I needed to not only learn to love who I was now, but I needed to learn how to use love to become the confident and courageous person I sought out to be. Moving from just existing to living a life of fullness isn’t about accomplishing amazing feats or earning a special degree, and so forth; it’s about loving others the way Jesus does. It sounds easy, but it’s the doing that’s hard.

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5 easy additions to building confidence & courage

Since God is love. Who do you think we need to connect with to learn how to love? Rick Warren says, “When you are disconnected from God, you’re not really living; you just exist.”

So, how do we connect with our Heavenly Father? How do we hear clear answers? I go to church. I pray. Isn’t that connecting? Yes, friend, it is. But there are some easy additions which can lead us to live a do-more-than-exist kind of life that will naturally build confidence and courage. Let me share with you what I have learned so far in this journey:

1. Emotion

When clarity is the question, I don’t hold the emotion back. I pray with strong emotion, whether it be anger, sadness, joy, or excitement. Expressing it to Him helps keep things real. Emotion develops a relationship with Him, a trust.

2. Music

Listening, singing, humming, and dancing to music that is good for our souls, brings us closer to our Creator. In this day and age Christian music isn’t just hymns. It has developed to feed all our genres. The writers and bands have done a great job at helping us fend off the Enemy and open our hearts for answers and comfort. Give it a try. I really enjoy praying and listening to instrumental music. My favorite is Soaking in His Presence.

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3. Nature

Our beloved Anne Frank says, “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauty of nature. …I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” 

Numerous studies show that… simply sitting and looking at the trees reduces stress-related hormones. And the University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation.” Maybe we should think about spending more time in God’s creation. Here are some nature quotes to get you in the mindset.

4. Church

There is something to be said about being around other Christ-followers. It’s kind of like a family reunion. Being surrounded by a common denominator encourages us, comforts us, and brings us closer to Him. We all have the same goal so to speak. The hard part is finding a church that fits you and your worship style. Keep hunting until you find it, you’ll know when you found it.

5. Gratefulness

Being grateful changed my game. For me to love myself and to pass the love on to others, I had to learn how to be grateful even when it didn’t make sense. Gratefulness brought me out of adversity. Before we move forward, understand I’m not grateful for the hardships we face in life. I’m talking about the little things that surround us, those things we don’t even notice; like clean water out of our faucets, cozy beds to rest our bodies, medical help at our fingertips, and grocery stores to feed us. I’m talking about the love He gives us in delicate ways like music, flowers, and comforting smells.

Yet, what about those moments when you step out and help someone? When you smile at someone even though you don’t feel like it…and they smile back? Sometimes to get what we want we have to give it first. I’m grateful for those promptings where we use our gifts to brighten someone’s day even when our life is a mess. It takes courage and confidence to make those things happen. And I’m grateful for the time He gives us and the freedom to choose how to use it, especially if it involves our calling.

In conclusion

If you’re hurting for confidence in a specific area of your life I encourage you to begin with being thankful for each comfort you receive every day. When we recognize the little things, the small achievements, the flickers of love passed hand to hand, then our courage and confidence surface and we begin to see what life is all about…love. 

Don’t miss out:

Download my favorite affirmations to help make you stronger. You can get them here. Plus! Here is another post you may find helpful: 10 Amazing Courage Quotes + 3 Tips

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved. 

9 Comforting Gift Ideas to Warm the Body & Soul

9 Comforting Gift Ideas to Warm the Body & Soul

Need some comforting gift ideas? Surprise your special someone with a practical yet thoughtful gift this year. Gifts that make us feel good are a home run these days. Sure, candles and blankets are flooding the stores; as well as fuzzy socks and scarfs. Try something different this year, choose a gift people will really use and love. Here are nine great gift ideas that will make a lasting impression on them.

9 gift ideas to warm the body and soul

Gift ideas #1: Leg Warmers

Leg warmers were a big hit in the ’80s largely due to the movie Fame and Flashdance; not to mention aerobics. They may have been a fashion statement, but leg warmers are actually very functional and practical if I say so myself! In the 90’s I wore leg warmers to the gym all the time. During that time I was in college and had to walk everywhere, needless to say, I wore shorts. The leg warmers were super easy to slip on and off over my shoes. Today with the leggings craze, I use my leg warmers to walk the dog in the morning. I simply slide them over my leggings on cold days and I’m good to go! Leg warmers are a great gift for people who live in the city and walk to work, for college students walking to the gym, and for the dog owner on cold days. You can get a pair on Amazon and pick your color!

Gift ideas #2: Heating pads

Heating pads. This sounds like an old person. Hear me out though, heating pads are an awesome way to get the blood flowing to the areas of your body to heal. They don’t just naturally ease sore muscles, but they give you peace of mind. Heating pads are portable, which is great for travel or sitting on the couch. There is nothing more comforting than a warm heating pad against your aches and pains. If you don’t have access to a bathtub or hot shower, a heating pad is the next best thing to warm the bones and bring a sense of calm to your heart.

#3: Hot Chocolate (Dairy-free!)

Hot cocoa – Dairy Free. There is nothing more soothing than sipping on a cup of hot cocoa. It not only warms your insides, but it warms up the childhood memories from coming inside after hours of playing in the snow. When I had to go dairy-free, not to mention gluten-free, I couldn’t have hot chocolate anymore. If I did, I would have repercussions that were not worth it. However, I just discovered that Swiss Miss now makes a dairy-free version! And I gotta say, it’s fantastic. If you have a dairy-free friend, a cup of hot cocoa would be a really awesome gift.

#4: Epson Salts (this is my favorite)

Epson Bath Salts: these are my favorite all year round. Epson salts aren’t just for after a chiropractic or massage appointment, they are for everyday use to release your muscle tightness and rid toxins from your body. They even have Epson salts infused with essential oils, which enhance the bath experience and give your body and mind extra care. My personal favorite is Dr. Teals Chamomile. When I smell the scent of these Epson salts my mind immediately releases and melts into the tub. 

#5: Mini Electrical Fireplace

Small electrical fireplace: This might sound silly, but these small electrical fireplaces are so nice to have around. These days, they are very affordable and portable! They are easy to use and instantly bring warmth to your room both physically and mentally. There is nothing better on a cold winter’s day than having the glow of a fireplace. You don’t need a fancy fireplace to get the same warm fuzzies.  What I love about the electrical is that you can turn on the flames without the heat, because sometimes, you might just want the ambiance without the extra heat.

#6: Essential Oils

Essential Oils: essential oils were the craze in the 20-teens, but they are still beneficial for the mind and body. My essential oils are used every day, mainly for mental goodness, but also for sore muscles. I do have my go-to oils, but there are some no-fail oils to give as gifts, like Tea Tree, Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon, and Frankincense. A little bit goes a long way and gives our senses a treat and healing.

Simplify Firefly Etsy

Gift ideas #7: Instrumental Music

William Augusto: Soaking in His Presence instrumental music. I usually don’t say much about music because everyone has their own taste, but this one is a must. When you just want to escape your reality without having to think about lyrics, this album is a keeper. Soaking in His Presence is beautiful, soft, and welcoming. Love, love, love this! When I want to feel closer to God Almighty, I play this music and pray. This is great when you’re driving and just need a minute to relax and calm your road rage. 😊

#8: Flowers

Flowers never get old. This is a great birthday gift idea and this is especially a great Mother’s Day gift idea. Add color to their kitchen table. This simple gift gives the gift of peace. Seriously, flowers are known to promote positive thinking and reduce stress! Head to your local grocery store, Trader Joe’s, ALDI’s, or Costco to get some amazing deals on flowers.

Gift ideas #9: Silk Pillowcase

Silk pillowcase: this has been a game-changer in my sleep…for the better. A silk pillowcase is not only soft and cool, but it’s actually good for your hair! My husband even loves them. I know that a silk pillowcase sounds a little cheesy, but it is the bomb. If you don’t have one yet, I encourage you to get one for yourself!

Wrapping it up!

In wrapping up these great gift ideas, I’m sure you found at least one of them to be a perfect fit for your friend or family member. Who doesn’t want a little warmth to the heart and bones after two years of constant change and uncertainty? Note: these gifts can not only be for Christmas gifts, but for Mother’s Day gifts, Father’s Day, Birthday gift ideas, and even gifts to mend a broken heart. May these gift ideas refresh and bring joy to yourself and those you care about. Surprise someone with one of these thoughtful gifts.

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By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.
4 Amazing Tips for Weight Loss

4 Amazing Tips for Weight Loss

The only way to change is to change. If you want to feel better and lose weight then grab these tips for weight loss. Here’s the thing, weight loss doesn’t have to be hard or depriving. I have a simple philosophy that will bring you relief and motivation; plus it’s backed up by science. Simply put: TAKE. IT. SLOW. Read about my four game-changing tips for losing weight and keeping it off for good!

Changing the diet isn’t something I could do cold turkey. In fact, I’m allergic to turkey! Hence the going slow part. With a gradual approach, you’re more likely to stick with it and for longer if not forever! Chris Kresser uses the words, “shrink the change“.

The 4 Tips for weight loss

Weight loss Tip #1: Go Gradual

The trick to losing weight is to eat a healthier diet so the body can clean out the bad stuff, call me Sherlock-Homes. I repeat, when you take a gradual approach, this gives your body time to adjust and not be shocked. If you lose weight too fast, it could backfire and you’ll be headfirst in the bag of cheese puffs…not to mention gain even more weight! The cool thing about gradually reducing the bad stuff, like sugar, is that your body will start to crave healthier foods. You’ll feel better and the sugary snacks will start to taste bad. Interesting, eh? The bottom line is that our bodies will feel better with cleaner foods and they’ll want more of that awesome clean energy. Stick to simple ingredients and ingredients that you understand.

Tip #2: Awareness is key!

Awareness. Sugar was my number one weakness. It still is, but I’m now aware of my consumption and I know my limits. When I adjusted my intake of the sweet stuff I finally understood the ‘less is more’ philosophy. My taste buds became more content and my body was a happy human. Did you hear that? I didn’t give up sugar completely, I just cut back immensely. With that said, I wanted to share with you what I used to eat for lunch and what I’m eating now for lunch.

What’s for lunch?

Back in the day of wanting to lose weight, I would only eat a salad for lunch. It contained greens, Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and maybe fresh broccoli. I didn’t have any protein or cheese. Just veggies. I chose whatever salad dressing sounded good, however, I would dip my fork in the dressing before I stabbed a helping of lettuce. Not too shabby of a lunch; but for me, it didn’t hold me over, which lead to a Snickers Bar in the afternoon, and then a hefty snack after work. Can we say blood sugar on the fritz?

The small change I made was to add protein to my salad in the form of lean protein, I’m not talking cheese or other dairy products; but things like nuts, eggs, or grilled chicken are good choices. At lunch I still aim to have more greens than protein.

4 tips to change up weight loss
Eatingwell.com

Tip for losing weight #3: Know your body

Know your body. If you need protein, get protein with every meal. Whether it’s nuts, clean meat, or low-fat dairy (if you can tolerate it) make sure you get enough protein into your diet. If you don’t, you’ll be hungry all the time and your blood sugar will be on the fritz. Protein helps you feel satisfied longer, it gives you energy, and need I say meat is an excellent source of B12, B6, zinc, and iron to name a few?

A little bit more about protein

Protein builds muscle mass, and it’s especially good after a workout. Add a little vitamin C to the mix and you’ve got a digestive helper and a helping hand at iron absorption. Listen up! The meat won’t make you fat unless it’s highly marbled or fatty; you also want to keep in check your portions. Choose lean beef, grilled chicken, grilled or baked fish, nuts, legumes, eggs, or pork loin. Don’t be scared to add it to your diet or your salad. Remember portion-control is king.

does a body good

Tip 4#: be prepared

Okay, okay, okay…you’re at work and can’t make lunch. That’s okay! You have a couple of options for a healthy clean lunch; the most obvious is to make it the night before. The other is to choose simple, limited, ingredient dishes when eating out. For instance, a 100% beef burger without the bun paired with a side of steamed veggies or a cup of clear broth soup, is a great lunch. It’s not heavy in carbs (bread or pasta) and it’s high in protein. You can also opt for an “unwich”, a sandwich without the bread. I eat this all the time but use lettuce instead of bread. Some people use a gluten-free wrap, turn the sandwich inside out…lettuce in the center and lean ham for the wrap. If you want this weight loss thing to work, you need to be prepared and stay on point. Pack ahead or have a plan when eating out.

All in all: Keep it simple

Think ‘simple’ when at a restaurant and think portion control! As for drinks, you know what I’m going to say…water without ice. Hey, it may be a little boring, but your body will be quieter and happier. You may not even need to drink water with your meal. Too much aqua with food will cause a lot of vitamins to flush through your system, plus it will take longer to digest the yum yums. I hope you found these tips for losing weight helpful. Remember to take a gradual approach, be aware of what you’re eating, know your body, and be prepared. You got this if you want it. Keep moving forward!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly, LLC All Rights Reserved.

7 Ways to Take Care of Your Lungs

7 Ways to Take Care of Your Lungs

7 ways to take care of your lungs

With COVID-19 penetrating our bodies, seasonal allergies clogging our sinuses, and the normal colds circulating in our environment, keeping our lungs happy can be stressful. Our lungs give us energy and life. When we’re breathing well, our minds are clear, our sleeping is solid, and we don’t really think about breathing. Learn seven ways to help your lungs.

Viruses

The Corona virus attacks our lungs. It takes a completely healthy human being and preys off our breathing source. I understand this virus reacts differently in everyone depending on age and underlying conditions. We tend to think it’s out of our control. But we can be in control of how we are preparing our bodies for viruses or seasonal allergies.  

walking 6000 steps a day will improve health and 10000 steps a day will help lose weight

7 Lung Builders

Exercise

Simply walking every day is a great exercise for your lungs. Nothing is better than to exercise the lungs. If you start walking try increasing the speed or distance every once in a while to give your lungs a workout. A slow jog will also do the trick. Aim for at least 20 minutes. Try breathing in your nose and out your mouth.

Breathe clean air

We can clean our air. During allergy season it’s not a bad idea to try an air purifier. Here is an economical air purifier option.

**I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share the information I have either experienced myself or are extremely interested in, and then I keep things simple and give you the nutshell version. This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician before jumping into new things. This article is for information purposes only.**

Humidify

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Humidify while we sleep. I have slept with a humidifier since I was a kid. It helped my dry nose. A morning bloody nose is usually what I had for breakfast at least twice a week when I was a kid. There were three causes to this: dry winter air, seasonal allergies, and me picking my nose. Yet, I didn’t pick my nose that often because I didn’t want a bloody nose! My fix was a humidifier.

A humidifier keeps nasal passageways moist. Meaning with viruses, when the surface is moist it has a harder time sticking and penetrating through our body. Similar to a sore throat regime; keep the throat moist to flush out the virus. Here’s my humidifier. I absolutely love it!

water

Drink Agua

Drink lots of water. Keep things slippery in your body. Remember that viruses like to stick to things. Don’t give them an opportunity. Get a good water filter.

No smoking, please

Steer clear of smoking. I know you know not to smoke. There is no proof that smoking is good for your lungs. It may feel good for a little bit, but it’s not worth the long term effects it’s going to cause you. I’m talking about cigarettes, vaping, marijuana, and cloves. I understand that pipe (as in tobacco) and cigar smoking is slightly different…they don’t inhale the smoke, but those sinful pleasures have problems of their own.  

Roll up the car windows

Roll up the windows on diesel. Some people love the smell, others despise it. If you’re behind a truck or diesel driven vehicle your nose will tell you, especially if they don’t have Def in the line. Short-term exposure to diesel can cause people to feel dizzy, get a headache, or have irritation in the eye, nose, and throat. Long term exposure can result in cardiovascular and respiratory disease including lung cancer.

apples bananas leafy greens for healthy lungs

Eat for your lungs

Eat lung-healthy foods. Foods for your lungs? For healthy lungs you’re going to want to eat:

Apples. Apples might slow deteriorating lung function down over a 10-year period this according to The European Respiratory Journal.

Bananas. These rich in potassium fruits help the lungs contract and expand, hence preventing breathing problems.

Leafy Greens. These delicious yet scary looking plants are packed with vital nutrients to support the lungs. Studies show that consuming these leaves could be linked to a lower risk of COPD, adult asthma, and lung cancer. Choose kale, spinach, and arugula. Salad here we come!

Garlic and Ginger. These antibacterial powerhouses have the ability to lower the risk of developing lung cancer (garlic) and decrease lung damage (ginger).

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Salmon. This omega-3 fatty acid is a great lung cleansing food. This fights inflammation and increases blood flow. Here’s a post all about omega oils.

Turmeric. Of course turmeric. This is one of the best foods for your lungs. It’s filled with curcumin, this is what makes it a bright color. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that help with asthma, COPD, and lung injury. This is a great one I recommend. Turmeric.

Put some muscle in your lungs

Our motivation for strong well-being may come by fear, like what our countries are pressing with the spread of Corona virus, or our motivation is for good health before we’re forced to change. Either way, take these tips and help your body get ready to fight off viruses, improve allergy symptoms, or get healthier.

Stay well.  

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved.

How to Stay Healthy: 15 Simple Ways

How to Stay Healthy: 15 Simple Ways

How to stay healthy is a skill. To keep our immune system functioning at top speed during ‘sick season’ there are a few things we can do to ward off illness and increase health. I’ve got 15 simple yet powerful ways you won’t want to miss in preventing sickness.

When I got more conscience about germs.

Back in 2001, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. This meant my immune system was whacked, confused, or bored, I don’t know. My immune system was attacking healthy organs. I literally had a war going on inside me. It was me versus me. When something like this happens in our bodies steroid treatment is usually the first line of treatment. It surely has its side effects, but it’s what helped me get things back in balance. After a good eleven years with an amazing gastroenterologist and an adjustment to my diet, the war ended.

However, during this time on steroids, my immune system was compromised. Steroids suppress the immune system, meaning they make your body more prone to getting sick. Not to mention it takes twice as long as normal to get better from colds, flu, and viruses. So while on this treatment I had to be careful not to get sick, because if I did…and I would …it take me forever to get over a simple cold. 

Since 2011 I have been steroid-free. However, immune systems can get pretty touchy with other factors like hormones or dormant genes, so I’m always on alert.

Germaphobe, not so.

Please know I am not a full-blown germaphobic. Yes, I pay attention to my surroundings and am aware of the little buggers, but I also know it’s important to develop our immune systems by offering hospitality to our bug friends. Throughout life, I have learned a lot about germs and how to care for myself, and I certainly want to pass this knowledge onto you. Whether you’re on steroid treatment or just want to remain healthy during outbreaks, keep these things in mind in caring for yourself and your family.

**First off, I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share the information I have either experienced myself or am extremely interested in, and then I keep things simple and give you the nutshell version. This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician before jumping into new things. This article is for information purposes only.**

15 Ways to How to Stay Healthy and Boost Immune System

1. Exercise

I read an article about longevity. And the number one action we can take to live longer is to move our bodies. Exercising keeps the blood flowing and pumping. It keeps us young and helps the joints loosen up and work like they’re supposed to. It’s also good for regularity, which is key to rid of toxins. Aim for at least 20 minutes, 30 minutes is ideal. Try breathing in your nose and out your mouth.

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2. Use a humidifier.

In the winter months, my humidifier is my best friend. I LOVE my humidifier. In my book on how to stay healthy during the sick season, I use a humidifier to keep nasal passageways moist. Meaning with viruses, when a surface is moist it has a harder time sticking and penetrating through our body. Keep things slippery. Sleep with a humidifier and drink a lot of water. The noise of the humidifier will rock you to sleep as well. Here’s my happy little humidifier.

3. Drink lots of water.

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Remember, keep things slippery in your body. Viruses like to stick to things. They like dryness. Don’t give them a foothold. Because our drinking water out of the faucets and plastic bottles is somewhat questionable, it’s more cost-effective and valuable to our health to install a water filter on the kitchen sink. My family uses this kind of water filter. If you can’t do this with your sink, get one of the water filter pitchers or a Berkey

4. Wash your hands.

This is common sense, but many of us forget to wash our hands with soap! Ever since my son was a toddler I have drilled into him to wash his hands every time we walk in the house. Now I don’t have to ask him to wash his hands because he automatically does it!

This goes along with hand sanitizer. There are a lot of opinions on hand sanitizer. I get it. But if you have a compromised immune system, my opinion is to use it. Put a squirt or a spray on your patty cakes. Especially so if you’re in a place where you just shook someone’s hand who is clearly sick, use hand sanitizer when they’re not looking.

5. Keep your humor.

Keep the mood light. There have been studies about how humor can help heal and how to stay healthy. The mind and body work together, and when one is off it usually affects the other. Being funny isn’t that hard around the family. One idea is to tell a corny joke at the dinner table or in the car. Kids love these things, even tweens and teens! To help you out I have 96 family-friendly jokes ready to go! Head to my Etsy store for an instant download.

Lunchbox Note Jokes

6. Wipes.

The hand wipes (not the cleaning wipes) come in handy in traveling situations or times when a bathroom is not available. Similar to hand sanitizer they clean up most germs but wipes also get the dirt off.  When we’re on a road trip, I use wipes to wash our hands before biting into our burgers. Or when I hop on a plane, I always wipe down the armrests and table in my airplane seat. Simply look at the surfaces you’re touching and wipe.  

7. How to stay healthy, keep fingers off your face.

This is one of the main causes of sickness. Picking our noses without thinking, rubbing our eyes, putting our pen up to our lips, and picking our teeth can be a welcome mat for germs. To keep our digits from messing with our face it’s best to train yourself to not touch your face. Simply make it a game to see how long you can go without touching your face. If you have an itch, use your arm, tissue, or sleeve.

9 easy to find foods to ramp up your immune system

8. Eat immune-boosting foods

Here are some simple foods that increase your odds of how to stay healthy.

Broccoli. This green veggie is packed with vitamins A, C, and E. It has amazing antioxidants and is full of fiber.

Bone Broth. Bone what? This is broth from boiling chicken bones or beef bones for long periods of time. The collagen and amino acids is cooked out of the bones. And it’s these hidden gems that help repair the gut lining and reduce inflammation. Not to mention help our joints.

Garlic and Ginger. These antibacterial powerhouses have the ability to be like a hand wipe but for inside our bodies. The list of benefits is way too long to list here. These yum-yums also boost up our lung health.

Vitamin C Foods: citrus fruits, kiwi, bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, pineapple, tomatoes, spinach. I don’t think you need an explanation of vitamin C. Just know your body doesn’t accumulate it, so you’ll need to consume it every day.

Vitamin E. This vitamin is equally important as vitamin C. It is a fat-soluble vitamin which means it needs to have fat to absorb properly. Sources of vitamin E include almonds, avocado, butternut squash, and wheat germ.

Yogurt. Bust into the probiotics. For yogurt to be effective choose Greek PLAIN yogurt. If there is sugar added to the yogurt it defeats it purpose. I know there are delicious flavors out there, but save those as a dessert, not for your daily probiotic. Use berries or honey to flavor your yogurt.

Turmeric. It’s filled with curcumin, this is what makes it a bright color. Turmeric has massive amounts of anti-inflammatory properties that help with all sorts of inflammation. It’s like a superfood. Check it out here.

Zinc. This micro-mineral is essential for a healthy immune system, although it is touchy. If you have too much you could get sick, and if you have too little you can get sick. It’s best to get your zinc through foods. High sources of zinc are found in chicken, chickpeas, clams, crab, eggs, grass-fed beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, and plain yogurt.

does a body good

9. Sleep.

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Make sure you’re getting enough sleep to recharge your body. It’s when we’re sleeping our body does the most of the healing. Have a bedtime routine. And get your room ready for slumber. Things you’ll want to consider are room temperature, the number of blankets, humidifier, pillow comfort, and sound machine. These are my must-do’s for sleepy time.

10. Clean your home.

I’m not just talking about vacuuming, I’m referring to wiping things down with disinfectant wipes or sprays. You’ll want to do countertops, kitchen cupboard knobs, faucet handle, refrigerator/freezer door handles, microwave handle, stove and oven knobs, all door handles, and more. I have a checklist for you to download right here: Disinfecting Checklist. You can also find it in Freebies along with some other amazing tips.

11. Vaccines.

This is such a touchy subject. Again everyone has their own opinion of vaccines, so I’ll leave this one up to you.

12. Steer clear of smoking and limit alcohol.

I know these are fun things to indulge in but if you’re serious about becoming stronger and healthier, these can’t be ignored. Pay attention to how much you’re using and consuming. Remember less is more.

13. Facemasks.

Again, this is a touchy subject. Do what you want, but in my experience, I have found these helpful in high contagious situations. Herd immunity is a great thing, but if you just got done being sick with something and need a break before joining the herd again, wear a facemask to give your immune system a time-out. You can make your own mask at home. Here is the pattern on YouTube. And here is a great article on what type of fabric is the most effective. It’s very surprising! I made this silly video when COVID first hit the planet.

14. Cover hands after the bathroom

 Do you know that door handle in public restrooms? After you wash your hands, keep the paper towel you dried your hands with and use that to open the door. No paper towel? Use your sleeve.

15. Gargle salt water

If you feel a tingle in your throat or have a hunch you may be coming down with something, gargle saltwater. Salt can kill those pesky bugs and viruses if you get at it in time before it’s too late. In how to stay healthy, this trick is a great yet simple weapon. It may not be task pleasant, and you may accidentally swallow a little bit, but gargling salt water helps.

How to gargle saltwater starts with warm water and table salt. I mix 2 tablespoons or 1.5 tablespoons of salt with 1 cup of warm water. Make sure you stir it. Take a small sip, tilt your head back and gargle for about 20 seconds then spit it out. Repeat this until all the water is gone. You want to make sure you’re getting the back of the throat, but try not to swallow. I repeat, DO NOT swallow the saltwater.

In conclusion with our immune system

Out of all these 15 suggestions on how to stay healthy during the sick season, there is one that is super important: keep your fingers off your face. I know that sounds ‘toddler-ish’ but it really is the most important factor. Use common sense too. Drinking from someone else’s drink or using the same spoon for a taste is not a good idea. Neither is kissing a sick person. Use the brain to protect the body, and the body will then protect you. Stay healthy, be mindful, and teach your family how to stay healthy.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved.

First Step to Losing Weight: 5 Effective Questions

First Step to Losing Weight: 5 Effective Questions

The first step to losing weight isn’t cutting back on calories, it’s much simpler than that. To be successful with weight loss and the management thereafter, it’s going to take a pencil and paper. There’s more to weight loss than weight. That’s why the first step in losing weight should be to answer some questions. Clarity gives you a pathway. This can seriously be a total game-changer for you!

My Story

In 1992 I was 20 pounds overweight. I know this was a long time ago, but that’s important to know. Listen up, I wanted to lose the weight, but all the things I was trying to drop pounds weren’t working. It was like walking in the sand; every step seemed so hard and it barely felt like I was going anywhere!

Then something clicked and changed my weight destiny into a reality. When I did this first step in losing weight, the weight came off. My story is an interesting one, wondering if you can relate. At that time I was a freshman at a small college. As months ticked by in this new setting, the weight inched on. However, I noticed that sitting and studying weren’t the cause of my weight gain, it was actually depression! I’m not saying that all weight gain is due to depression, but this was my story. I was living in a toxic environment where judgment after judgment was passed. As if high school was bad enough, this was worse! Something had to change. I wanted to be happy, to find me, to be free.

does a body good

My ‘ah-ha’ moment came when my roommates and I were watching TV in the common area. We happened to be watching an Indiana University basketball game. One of my roommates said something that stirred my inner core. She said, “I’d love to go to Indiana.” I looked at her as she watched the game and asked, “Why don’t you?” She responded, “Because I don’t know anyone and I don’t think I can get in.”

Her answer struck a chord in me. You’re letting the fear of not knowing, stop you? It was as if I was asking myself that question. As I watched the game and the exciting fans…I began to want to be a part of that picture. I wanted a large university experience.

Be true to yourself

What does this have to do with the first step in losing weight? I’m getting there. In the fall of ’93, I was officially an Indiana University student. I was in a new setting, with new people, and new goals. I faced a fear and made things happen, not knowing what would happen.

Within six months, I lost 20 pounds and then some; all because I looked at my thought process first. On the surface, I wanted to lose weight, but deep down I wanted to explore who I was and be true to myself. When I understood my motives, the weight naturally came off.

Are you asking yourself the right question/s before you start your weight loss plan? Do you have a picture of what you want to be a part of?

This is the first step to losing weight:

This leads me to the core: it’s not what we’re eating or doing, it’s what we’re thinking. It’s not the weight on our bodies that give us frustration; it’s the weight we carry around in our minds that trip us up.

First off, I’m not going to tell you how to lose weight; you’re going to do that. Why? Because I want YOU to see results in more areas than one. I want you to live in harmony with your body, mind, and heart for the rest of your life…not just swimsuit season. And only YOU can make that happen, not someone telling you what to do.

Does a Body Good Printable

5 Questions You’ll Want to Answer.

1: What is your WHY? Why do you want to lose weight? I’m not talking surface answers here. Peal that off, look under that. WHY? Write this down in a journal.

2: What are you WRESTLING with? What’s blocking you from making this happen? What are you carrying around with you? Stress? A belief? Fear? Identity crisis? Loneliness?

3: What is your WAY? In other words, what method works for YOU to reach your weight goals? What are you going to do EACH WEEK to make this happen?

4: What will you WIN? By reaching your goal, what is it going to do for you? Freedom? Confidence? More energy? More outgoing? Motivation? Purpose?

5: What is it WORTH?

Wrapping up

I’m happy to say I’ve kept the weight off ever since my Indiana days; even after having a baby and going through steroid treatment for an ailment. I have managed the weight; not the other way around. There is no better feeling than saying, “I finally figured it out.” If you need encouragement, please visit my Etsy store and check out my Simplify in Seven mini e-book. This workbook focuses on simplifying our budget, organizing our stuff, getting our health under control, and simplifying our electronics. Download it off Etsy.

Simplify in 7

Stay Connected

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly, All Rights Reserved.

How to help your digestive system: 10 triggers to watch for.

How to help your digestive system: 10 triggers to watch for.

If there is one thing in how to help your digestive system it is to figure out what is causing the digestive issues. When it comes to gut cramping and rushing to the bathroom it’s usually a bad burrito and clears up in a few days on its own, but when the bowels howl longer than normal something needs more attention. In my own personal experience with IBD (Intestinal Bowel Disease) over the years and with hours upon hours of research, I’ve found 10 major triggers that can set people off. If I would have known these triggers earlier, I would have healed a lot faster. My hope is that this post will save you a lot of time and frustration. Let’s take a look at what might be triggering your lingering symptoms so you can get on the right intestinal track.

Step 1 in how to help your digestive system

Ever since I started to talk about my own digestive distress, more and more people have opened up to me about theirs. Let’s face it, talking about cramps and diarrhea is not something people want to talk about, but these things DO need to be talked about. A huge part of healing is understanding what’s going on and why. Knowing this, not only gives you peace of mind, but a solid direction to focus on in your healing journey.  Discovering your cause can be a frustrating maze but it could be as simple as asking around and doing some research. You never know what someone is going to say that could be your ticket to healing.

Let me reiterate that when people are silent about their chronic digestive system it is only going to make them worse.  What ends up happening is despair, loss of hope, loneliness, and settling with chronic misery. Self-confidence goes down the drain and limitations in physical activity and social outings go on the wayside. You do not deserve to live like this!

Listen up, this is super important

Another thing about “ignoring’ this issue is that if left untreated, it will lead to other misery down the road; for instance, vitamin absorption problems, depression, stress, hair thinning, and more. I’ve been there, done that, with tears and frustration and a sink full of hair. There is nothing worse than not understanding what is going on and if you’ll ever get better! So please, listen up to how to help your digestive system if you want to get better.

I HIGHLY recommend reading the “Triggers and What to do for IBD: How to identify and heal for good” book. I wish I had this information when I was having problems. This book would have saved me LOADS of time and frustration. Download, read, and heal. It’s a quick read packed with answers that will help you.

Encouragement Coaching Moment

First off, you will get better. If you want it bad enough, you will go into remission and will live a life of no more cramping, no more rushing to the bathroom, and no more uncertainty. The work it takes to heal is totally worth it. It is possible to manage this thing without having to take any pharmaceuticals! The body will heal if you help it.

Your healing journey begins with this

My journey has been quite a road. I am not a doctor or gastroenterologist, but I have experienced firsthand what it’s like to carry colitis and all that goes with it. With an un-relentless drive to figure it out, I’ve tried many different treatments and have spent hours and hours researching (probably too much time) in getting to the bottom of my imbalance. After all, when something isn’t right, things aren’t aligned. So this bullcrap all starts with what threw you off in the first place.

How to help your digestive system starts with questions.

Ask yourself the following questions and maybe even jot down your answers on a piece of paper. I have kept a “digestive journey” journal where I write down my flares, what might have happened before it, and what I tried to manage it. Answer these questions to help you figure your digestive issues out.

Was I recently sick? Stomach bug? Food poisoning? Bacteria infection?

What are my hormones doing?

Did I eat something funny? Eat too much of something? Eat the same thing every day?

Have I been taking NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Tylenol, etc) on a regular basis?

Has my gallbladder been acting up? Do I still have my gallbladder?

What is my stress level been these days?

What exactly am I eating everyday?

Is my back out of whack?

Answering these questions might help you get on the right track from the get-go. It’s important to go over these things with your doctor or functional doctor before diving into a treatment plan.

A closer look at digestive triggers

Let’s take a closer look at what could be the cause of your cramps, bloating, diarrhea, loose stools, and stinky gas. When you have a flare, it is usually caused by a trigger. For instance, when I get a flare I can usually figure out what brought it on. Most of the time it was something I ate. But other times it’s been hormones, stress, or even a change in weather or time zones. The body is so amazing when it comes to healing; it wants to be aligned and working as it should. When it’s not, it tells you through pain or digestive distress. Let’s look at a few things that could be causing the alarms to go off.

Again, I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share the information I have either experienced myself or am extremely interested in, and then I keep things simple and give you the nutshell version. This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician before jumping into new things. This post is for information purposes only and to help you figure out what you might have going on.

IBS

What is IBS anyway? IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is simply an angry bowel. For instance, when I was a runner I would occasionally get really bad “poop cramps”, this is what IBS is, cramps out of the blue followed by urgency. With my story, the doctors first diagnosed me with IBS, since I knew what IBS was, I had a hard time respecting their diagnoses. Come to find out what I learned through the years is that if doctors can’t diagnose your digestive problem, they’ll usually say it’s IBS. When I went back to the doctor’s office I asked for a colonoscopy which gave us the real answer. So stick with your gut when you go to the doctor and ask a lot of questions; if they say it’s IBS, ask them why they think so.

Food sensitivities: dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, grains, white sugar, fructose.

Food sensitivities are HUGE triggers that lead to digestive system issues. The number one ‘problem food’ is dairy. So many people have issues with dairy; in fact, I heard everyone is a little sensitive to dairy. Lactose intolerant or sensitivity to whey or casein (a protein found in milk) are a few roadblocks to dairy digestion.

The second big one is gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat. People who have Celiac disease cannot have any gluten. Most people with digestive issues steer clear of gluten as well. This bugger is hard to digest and wreaks havoc on your innards. Talk about inflammation! It’s just not worth it folks.

Other popular food sensitivities and allergies are nuts, eggs, soy, white sugar, nightshades, and fructose.

How do you know if you have a food sensitivity?

Pay attention to how you feel after you consume it. Do you have a headache? Is your skin itchy or throat? Heartburn? Do you have gas cramps within an hour of eating? Dizzy? How about your nose, is it runny? What about severe congestion? Are you rushing to the bathroom?

Hormones: can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

This is a tough one to figure out. Hormones play a factor in digestion? Women get a chance to pay close attention to our system every month (if we’re still menstruating). Both progesterone and prostaglandins can mess with your bowels. Even though prostaglandins focus on your uterus, they can also affect the colon that is nearby. Plus our friend, Progesterone, can pilot our trip to the bathroom more often.

On the flip side, when estrogen declines, cortisol rises, which can slow the digestion process down and cause constipation…a.k.a. too little progesterone. Without the proper balance of estrogen and progesterone, your bowels get a bit confused.

Alignment

Who knew that a kink in your back could cause issues in digestion and elimination. The vertebrae in your spine are connected to nerves that send signals to the digestive system which includes the stomach and intestines. When the vertebrae are off or twisted this can affect those nerves and give you symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and bladder issues. Before you head to the chiro, talk to your doctor or physical therapist.

A bug

There are some pesky bugs out there. Bacterial infections, viruses, and parasites, all of these cause inflammation. And when inflammation is present and not calmed down, irritation of the intestinal lining is sure to happen. E-coli, Guardia, Norovirus, and the stomach bug are the main culprits of diarrhea, not to mention vomiting. Yes, even though these are short-lived 1-7 days on average, they can mess up your gut flora and cause silent inflammation in your digestive tract. 

gluten-free granola bars

How to help your digestive system? Reduce stress

Constant stress on the body and mind can be a doozy for your digestion. It can throw your whole system off! From muscle tightness, knots in your gut, to indigestion, stress can physically hurt you. One thing you can do right now in answering the question of how to help your digestive system is to learn some stress-relieving techniques.

Ibuprofen/Tylenol

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like acetaminophen and ibuprofen if taken on a regular basis can actually cause inflammation in your intestines. Yep. Too much of a good thing can backfire. This is true for anything, even food! When inflammation is present, cramps and diarrhea are sure to show up.

Lack of probiotics and digestive enzymes

Sometimes our bodies need a little help getting back on track. Probiotics and/or digestive enzymes are here to save the day. Getting the right bugs in your gut makes a big difference in your digestive health; a game-changer for most folks. The hard part is figuring out what probiotics or digestive enzymes you’re lacking. This is especially important if you’ve been on a regimen of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill everything in your gut, so it’s important to get your gut back up and running as it should. Incorporating probiotics after your antibiotic treatment will help you bounce back a little quicker.

Probiotics may need to be taken every day depending on your condition. The added bonus is they also help your immune system and even skin.

If you have heartburn or stomach acid issues please read my post about stomach acid, it goes more in-depth about digestive enzymes and food combining, you will get a digestive enzyme chart as well!

Bile acid

This sounds kind of gross but excess bile acid from your digestive system can cause diarrhea. Bile acid diarrhea (BAD) or bile acid malabsorption (BAM) is what can cause that urgency, watery, and bloating feeling. Bile acids are produced by your good ole liver and stored in your gallbladder. Their job is to help break down fats to put it simply. For people who have had their gallbladder removed, you may experience a bit of diarrhea…at least now you know why. However, sometimes the body can get confused and cause large amounts of bile acids to exit into the large intestine, hence, diarrhea. Normally there is very little bile acid in the large intestine. I highly recommend you continue to investigate this; check out Verywellhealth.com for starters.  

Yeast

Where do we start with yeast? Is it good or bad? Well, if you get too much of it, it can trigger diarrhea. Along with yeast-associated diarrhea, you may see other signs of too much yeast by looking at your tongue. If it has a white coat on it, you probably have more yeast than you need. You could also have sinus infections, fatigue, and skin fungal issues. The medical term for an overabundance of yeast is Candida. Check out Dr. Axe about Candida.

In conclusion: how to help your digestive system

WHEW! That was a lot to take in. But how to help your digestive system is no joke. From my personal experience, I wish I had this post in my hands when it all started in me. Again, I can’t tell you how many hours I researched diarrhea. I’ve probably clocked as many hours as a gastroenterologist. Anyway, healing is possible, but you must want it to happen. And if you really want it bad enough, you’ll be able to manage it without drugs and their nasty side effects. You got this. Healing takes time so keep moving forward. To help you get started in healing your gut I wrote this mini book: Triggers and What to do for IBD: How to Identify and Heal for Good. It only takes a few minutes to read, but could contain your path to healing! Download it today and start reading!

Please note: talk to your doctor or find a functional doctor before you jump into anything new. If you want to go the natural way without prescriptions, I’ve had success with a functional doctor.

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