Author

Melissa Villamizar

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I feel like one of the reasons I was put on this Earth was to help people to find happiness and success in their lives. I enjoy sharing my life experiences when I know that others will gain strength through them. I’ve probably started a dozen blog posts in the past 2 years that I was just waiting on the happy ending before posting. Posts about how I had a baby and got my body back, how I’m training my ass off, and about how I was sick but I overcame it. Unfortunately, these things haven’t happened yet, and it makes me feel like a failure and a bad role model.

I have something that’s been weighing on me, quite literally, for quite some time now. I’ve been struggling pretty intensely for the past year and a half with Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). And since I’m well past the “dormant” phases, I’m also suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), (also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) but most appropriately as Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID)) and Fibromyalgia. It turns out I’ve probably had EBV for 15+ years (since I had mono as a child) but never knew it until recently, when things got bad.

But You Look Healthy
A few months after the birth of my son, I started to notice constant nausea and pain in my body that was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I’ll spare you all the details. I figured it could be a number of things…exhaustion from working two, er, make that three jobs not including being a Mommy, having a newborn, breastfeeding 24/7, not sleeping for more than 90 minutes at a time, but with every solution I came up with for those things, the pain just got worse and worse. Despite my lab work being “perfect”, I knew something was not right.

Denial
I haven’t really talked about it much for several reasons. Part of me is in denial that this is really happening, and the other part of me knows it’s real and is hopeful that it will be over soon, and I won’t have to worry about it. This is a strange space for me, I have never before put a blog post together about something that’s beating me before I’ve overcome it. Probably because I really don’t want to put myself out there, in this vulnerable position. I fear that if I tell this story, people will see me as weak, or unhealthy, two things that I spend every waking moment of my life trying NOT to be. That and—let’s be honest—I’m not all that great at accepting help from other people. I also do not want to admit that I am not well. If I put this blog post out there, I’m admitting to myself and the world that this is true, which I’m not sure I’m ready for. I don’t want to have to answer a ton of questions because truthfully, I don’t have the answers. On the other hand, if I’m not open and honest, I’m doing a huge disservice to the people I care most about and want to be a role model to. Not only that but at this point, I feel like I’ve been keeping a secret that’s actually hindering my healing process. It’s time to move forward, as difficult as the process ahead might be.

I Can’t Seem To Fix It
I have a positive attitude most of the time, but sometimes I feel like it’s getting harder and harder to hold on to. I don’t understand how this could possibly be happening. I’d rather it not be true, and I’ve tried so many things to “get better”, from weekly nutritive IVs, rest, diet changes, and more, and I’m just not there. Lately there have been so many reminders that God is in control and I’m working hard to process that concept. That’s a different blog post altogether. I will say, though, that although I am sometimes confused by my relationship with God, I believe in Him and in the power of prayer.

When I was in labor with my son, I didn’t want anyone to know because I didn’t want to feel “pressured”. I would have flipped if my husband had received a text message like “is he here yet?” kind of thing. But in hindsight, I realize that people wanted to know when I was in labor so that they could offer prayer and support, not pressure. What can I say, hindsight is 20/20. 🙂 That said, there was a point in my delivery where I felt a shift in my mindset and I felt prayers from people. I felt His presence with me. I don’t feel like it was me that got through the experience of a natural, drug-free childbirth. It was my team, prayer, and Him that brought my son into this world. A power much greater than me, that’s for sure.

It’s very difficult for me to reach out for help. The normal “me” is positive, happy and has it all together. But the birth of my son reminds me that I cannot do everything on my own. It is with this knowledge that I open myself up, in the midst of my struggle, when I really, REALLY don’t want to. I’ve talked about this in pieces to some close friends and family members, but I have a hard time explaining what’s going on. For some reason I feel embarrassed by it, and can’t even look people in the eye when discussing it. I get the feeling from my friends and family that they aren’t sure how to help. Nor do I. But now I’m starting to feel like the answer might be in prayer. I hope that I will find renewed strength in being honest and vulnerable.

What It’s Like — In My Body and In My Head
I started this particular post the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I was in bed all day with a pain I can only describe as unbearable. In silent tears most of the day, with my phone in one had, researching remedies and reading things from support groups. I decided to write about my journey, as it helps me to process things. But I haven’t wanted to post it. And even today, as I read through it, I find myself editing it, taking out the “hard” parts, once again. Because maybe, just maybe, I’ll wake up tomorrow and this will all be over.

I try to ignore the pain and most of the time, and with the knowledge I’ve gained in the last 7 months, I can. I guess that’s part of what makes it so difficult. One day I’m okay and another, I physically cannot get out of bed because of the unbearable pain that I can’t really explain, GI distress and nausea. The pain is so real and so intense, and it’s extremely depressing. I lay there and I wonder what the rest of my life will be like. Who am I if I am not the bubbly, energetic, fit athlete I’ve come to identity with? Who is this person lying in bed? I have not wanted to talk about this with my family and friends because if I don’t know how to explain what’s happening, and they haven’t experienced it themselves, how could they possibly understand?

Most people don’t know what Epstein Barr is, and when they hear “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”, they tell me to rest. They tell me it’s probably because I “do so much.” But here’s the thing… I don’t need a nap, and resting doesn’t prevent these flare-ups. And don’t get me started with “Oh I’m tired too, I must have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” I will literally drop kick you. Thank goodness it’s been renamed, but people still unfortunately are more familiar with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome than Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease. Anyone who has this knows that the name “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” is a bunch of bullshit. Pardon my French.

My “Recovery”
I’m told there’s no cure for EBV and the other super-fun related diseases/disorders I’ve seemed to collect, but on the other hand, I know people who have in fact “recovered” from it. I can see myself in the future, and I know I’m well, but I just don’t know how to get there. My Type A personality wants to know three things.

1: What caused this?
2. What I need to do to recover?
3. How long this is going to last?

Wouldn’t that be nice.

I’ve been getting nutritive IVs for the past 7 months and they have definitely helped. I’ve tweaked my diet even more, rest when I need to, etc. But anytime I catch a cold, try to exercise, miss any sleep etc., it takes me about 6 weeks to recover. I’ve tried to be careful after my recent surgery but I dropped the ball for a few days nutritionally and I can guarantee you it played a part in my recent flare-up. Lesson learned.

Going Out On a Scary, Scary Limb
If you’d like more information on EBV, SEID and Fibro, here is a great article. It broke me down, but gave me hope. I’m telling my story in hopes that I will help others with this as well and that my honesty will help me in the next phase of this journey. Please don’t feel bad for me, that’s not what I need. Just know that I’m not an unfit, lazy Trainer. 🙂 Not that anyone’s said that, it’s just how I fear others may see me. Please provide me grace during this time in my life.

“Lord Father, I’m going out on a limb and exposing myself in ways that make me extremely uncomfortable. I also have an immense amount of guilt for praying to be healed when there are people that need it more than I. Please put them first. Please help me find strength and freedom in truth, power in knowledge and the drive to not give up, with your help. I know deep down that you’re in control, as difficult as that is to grasp sometimes. Your plan is bigger than mine. I don’t understand your plan, but I understand it’s happening for a greater purpose. I pray for a sign that everything’s going to be okay. I can’t seem to do this on my own. Please help me heal. Thank you for hearing my prayers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

I hope that this reaches others suffering with EBV, CFS, Fibro, etc. I hope that this connects us, we can one day share success stories and put all this behind us!

Peace, love, and Faith,

Melissa

 

Great article on Epstein-Barr Virus / CFS / Fibromyalgia
http://goop.com/the-medical-medium-and-whats-potentially-at-the-root-of-medical-mysteries/

CFS / ME / SEID
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/02/11/385465667/panel-says-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-is-a-disease-and-renames-it
http://www.uptodate.com/contents/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-systemic-exertion-intolerance-disease-beyond-the-basics

Fibromyalgia
http://www.uptodate.com/contents/fibromyalgia-beyond-the-basics?source=see_link

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted new content on the blog. Something about having three jobs, a husband and a toddler makes that difficult to do. As I was making pancakes Sunday morning, I decided this would be a good recipe to share with y’all. Please read instructions all the way through before starting.

How To Make Blueberry Banana Nut Pancakes With a Toddler

Set out ingredients: Coconut oil, unsweetened applesauce, banana, 2 eggs, vanilla, cashew (or other) milk, spelt (or GF) flour, almond meal, chopped pecans, himalayan pink sea salt (or other sea salt), cinnamon, ground flaxseed, frozen blueberries.

Tend to toddler who is politely demanding a pear. Peel the pear, because otherwise toddler chews and spits out all the skin and you find it all over the house. Ask him to please sit on the rug and eat it.

Take ~ 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil and melt it in a pan. You don’t have time to measure, so just “ballpark” all of your ingredients.

Toddler is requesting the pear be washed because it fell on the ground. Wash toddler’s pear, and ensure him all is right with the world.

Add to melted coconut oil: a bunch of applesauce (~1 cup), 2 eggs, a little vanilla (~1 tsp), and some milk (~½ cup).

Tend to whining toddler because the dog did something toddler did not approve of.

Where were we? Oh, right, we added wet stuff to a big bowl. Go ahead and add the dry stuff to a bowl. Mix it all together. Then add the blueberries, and mix just until combined.

Make sure pan is hot, and dump heaping spoonfuls of batter onto pan.

Realize you forgot to add the banana to the “Blueberry Banana Nut Pancakes.” Add banana to remaining batter, mashing it with a fork.

Keep an eye on the pancakes and your toddler, flipping over when lightly browned. The pancakes, not your toddler. Meanwhile, stop your toddler from dumping a box of plastic straws into the trash. Pull out a tupperware container so that he can practice putting the straws into container. Give him a blanket to sit on because that rug really needs to be washed.

Remove pancakes when done and put on a plate.

Tend to toddler who is banging on the door to the garage crying “daddy daddy daddy daddy daddy!” Take toddler outside to see that Daddy is busy building a nice wooden garden box. Then calm crying toddler because the sound of the screwdriver is terrifying. Explain how the screw goes into the wood to hold it together and then politely ask toddler to come back inside to eat pancakes.

React quickly to catch toddler who has catapulted himself backwards to initiate full-blown tantrum because he wants to do the opposite of what you’re asking. Calmly explain to toddler that he is hungry and that eating breakfast will solve his problem. Carry toddler who is now screaming, crying and kicking you into the house under one arm, keeping your composure.

Explain the ingredients in the pancakes and how healthy and delicious they will be. Give toddler applesauce to dip pancakes in because ain’t nobody got time for a toddler with a headache from the sugar in syrup (yes, even if it’s the good organic, Grade B kind, I ain’t ready for that).

Sit with your toddler while he eats pancakes because he asked you to “sit sit” and it’s absolutely adorable. Hopefully somewhere in the process you’ve put new batter on the stove and are flipping the new pancakes, because you have to remember to eat too.

After toddler is finished eating, clean him up and send him on his merry way. Finish cooking the rest of your batter, while noticing items being thrown downstairs from the top of the stair, over the banister. Ask yourself if he’s really tall enough to be able to do this already? Notice that the items he’s bending and throwing downstairs are the nice family photos you had printed to frame and hang.

Have a couple pancakes, pat yourself on the back, and consider pancake breakfast a success. Now it’s time to get dressed and get ready to leave.

But first, feed toddler, who is now demanding a pear…no, make that an orange… yes, an orange… right. this. second.

 

Peace, love, and sanity with children,

Melissa

 

This recipe comes from the Clean Team, whom I love so dearly! This recipe is time-consuming, but well worth it! Keep in mind that you’ll need to pre-soak the cashews for 4-6 hours before making this meal. If you’re a working mom/dad, this is a great Saturday or Sunday recipe. 🙂

Filling

3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 to 4 shallots, minced
1 cup sliced carrots
2 celery stalks, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided into two equal portions
2 to 3 boneless chicken breasts (about 1½ pounds), diced
1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
2 cups chicken broth (may need more but start with this amount)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ red onion, minced
1½ cups raw cashews, soaked for 4 to 6 hours, then drained
½ teaspoon cayenne
Optional: 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Crust

1½ cups blanched almond flour
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon dried herbs, such as sage, rosemary, thyme, or chives (fresh herbs will work too; just use a bit more)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water

 

Directions for the filling

Heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté them for 5 minutes, or until they are translucent. Then add the carrots, celery, and half the minced garlic, and continue to sauté until the carrots begin to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes.Add the chicken and cook until most of the pink hue is gone from the flesh. Add the peas and ½ cup of the chicken broth. Continue simmering until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is fully cooked. Salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the red onion and sauté 5 to 8 minutes. Add the other half of the garlic and sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. In a blender, purée the onion mixture, cashews, 1½ cups of the chicken broth, cayenne, and the optional paprika until smooth. Transfer the mixture back to the large skillet with the chicken and vegetables, and cook everything over medium heat until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Add more broth if needed and stir frequently. Further salt and pepper to taste, then transfer everything to a lightly oiled deep baking dish.

Directions for the crust

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor combine the flour, sunflower seeds, herbs, garlic powder, salt, olive oil, and water, and pulse everything until well combined. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured (non-gluten flour) cutting board or on a sheet of parchment paper, which might be helpful in transferring the dough to the baking dish. Lay the dough over the top of the chicken mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

I’ve had so much to say on this topic for the past year, but as soon as I sit down to write this post, I find myself staring at a blank screen. I’ve experienced such a huge range of emotions throughout this journey, I truly don’t know where to begin.

Before my son was born, I assumed I would breastfeed him for one year. Well aware of the benefits of breastfeeding and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of one year, I thought nothing of it—until he nursed for the very first time, and I immediately wanted to retract my statement. Holy…painful…experience! All I could think of was, “I just gave birth and now I have to endure MORE pain?! This is SO not fair!” After a few days of raw, bleeding nipples and toe-curling pain, I wasn’t sure I would make it another feeding let alone 12 months!

To make matters worse, I was dealing with D-MER, short for Dysmorphic Milk Ejection Reflex. It sounds weird, but what it actually means is that I experienced extreme depression before my milk let down, which then lasted most of the feeding session. As soon as he was finished it would disappear, but it made nursing him very difficult and made pumping almost impossible. I’m extremely thankful that milk supply was never an issue for me, but then of course there are side effects of having plenty of milk. Goodbye morning workouts, or ANY workout for that matter, until baby was fed!

Even with a broken tailbone, I took only 5 weeks off from training, and 6 weeks off from my full time gig at the office. I had this twisted idea in my head that I would have a baby and then go right back to my “normal” life. Unfortunately it took about 8 months, 3 doctors, 1 husband (haha) and an extreme amount of stress before I really understood that I couldn’t continue on the way I was. I would nurse him most of the night (he wasn’t a fan of sleeping through the night at ALL), then teach camp, work my full time job, then train again in the evening. It was easily a 20 hour day, and with an infant and breastfeeding on demand exclusively, it was too much.

Incredibly stressed, suffering both mentally and physically, I needed to reassess my goal. I was at 3 months of breastfeeding, and knew if I had any chance of making it one more day (let alone 12 months), I would have to create a more attainable goal. With the support of my husband and friends and decided I wanted to get to the 6 month mark and then I could quit breastfeeding.

Luckily, reestablishing a smaller goal did the trick! I was able to reach the 6 month mark and after that, I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t get me wrong, it was never “easy” by any means. It just got “manageable”. In fact I heard a quote recently that describes breastfeeding quite perfectly,

“Breastfeeding is incredibly difficult, except for when it’s easy.”

Last week officially marked 12 months of breastfeeding and I feel like the most accomplished woman on the planet. I am still working 2 jobs (more than that, actually), and am still breastfeeding without ever having to supplement with formula. I actually worked my tail off to build up a nice supply in the first 4-5 months to ensure my LO would be able to be breastfed as long as possible regardless of how long I made it. With that supply, I was able to help a friend out by donating some breastmilk for her sweet baby. This donation actually helped me in meeting my goal. Knowing that I was blessed with a very generous milk supply and that there are other women who aren’t as fortunate, I felt it was my responsibility to keep going.

This entire journey has been incredibly difficult, yet enjoyable and memorable at the same time. As I look back, I remember crying when nursing, having to do anything to distract myself (lots of squats, usually, because the wave of depression was so intense I did anything to keep my mind off of it), and wanting to quit on a daily basis. I am finally “here” and want to jump up and down and throw my pump off of a tall building, but I can’t. I can’t because I am doing the most beautiful thing for my child. (Also that pump is freakin’ expensive and that would be a totally idiotic move.) I know I have the support of my friends and family if I do decide to stop, and a few doctors have gently suggested I consider it (for my own health reasons), but they are also incredibly supportive of my decision to continue.

I can’t describe the emotions that come over me when I contemplate ending this, and I know that most Mommas understand what I mean by this. I should be ecstatic that I have hit my goal and I should now be able to give myself permission to stop breastfeeding. But I can’t. But I want to. But I don’t want to. I feel selfish. I need to stop. Or do I? I do realize that my full physical and mental wellbeing will not be restored until I stop—but I can’t yet. The mix of emotions and hormones is overwhelming. One second I feel like I could breastfeed forever, and the next I feel like I cannot go on one more day. The amount of hours I have spent sitting still in a chair while my LO eats is insane. Those are hours I will never get back and for a Type A workaholic like myself, that was very difficult for a very long time. However, I thankfully grew to love that time together and as the end draws nearer, I cherish our moments together more and more. Thankfully, Honey Brown Photography was able to capture some of these beautiful moments on film. I will treasure them forever.

For now, I will continue breastfeeding. I no longer have a goal, now the plan is to continue on as long as I feel I can. I think part of my reward for hitting my 12-month goal is to no longer have a goal. There’s something really “freeing” about having hit the mark. I feel like every day I continue on is an extra special bonus for my little angel.

A very special thank you goes out to my husband, friends, doula and family for being so supportive. I’ve called you in tears plenty of times this past year asking for reassurance that if I quit before my goal I was still a good Mother. Thank you for all you have done to help me hit this milestone, I couldn’t have done this without you.

Peace, love, and breastmilk,

Melissa

 

It’s hard to believe, but my little angel turned one this past week! What an incredible, challenging and exhausting year it has been! We had his party this weekend and I was faced with the decision of what to do in terms of a birthday cake. I don’t want to be that parent who doesn’t let their kid eat anything “bad”, but I also am not ready to fill his body with sugar, dairy, gluten, etc., especially considering he has not yet been introduced to any of these potential allergens.

I elected to make him his very own CLEAN smash cake—free of all food allergens—using only foods he has been introduced to and we know don’t cause any adverse reactions. It was a huge success! In fact, almost everyone wanted to try the “clean cupcakes” just to see what they were like! I’ll consider that a win.

The recipe is below. Feel free to experiment with different proportions and different gluten-free (or other) flours. I personally started out just using quinoa flour but found I don’t really love the flavor, so I mixed it with a few others. Coconut flour on it’s own can be pretty dry and brown rice flour is okay, but mixing these together was perfect. We also have not yet introduced nuts, so almond meal was not an option.

I made these as cupcakes, but you could easily use a larger pan and make this a larger cake. Be mindful to adjust cooking times, and prepare the cake pan by lining with parchment paper or using coconut oil. On the other hand, if you use these as cupcakes, they make great breakfast muffins with or without the avocado on top!

Happy birthday baking!

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, vegetarian and vegan.

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: One small cake or about 6 cupcakes/muffins
  • Prep time: 10 minutes (if you cook the sweet potato ahead of time, 50 minutes if you don’t)
  • Cook time: ~15-20 minutes

Ingredients

Wet

  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ baked sweet potato (no skin)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed

Dry

  •  cup quinoa flour (gluten-free)
  • ⅓ cup brown rice flour (gluten-free)
  •  cup coconut flour (gluten-free)
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • A pinch of baking powder (optional)
  • A handful of pumpkin seeds (optional)

“Frosting”

  • 1 ripe avocado

Preparation

  1. COOK THE SWEET POTATO: You can do this ahead of time if you would like. Use a fork to poke some holes in the potato, wrap in aluminum foil and bake for ~40 minutes at 400°.
  2. FOR THE CAKE: Preheat oven to 375°
  3. In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients
  4. In a separate large bowl, combine and mix dry ingredients
  5. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix well. If mixture seems too dry, add additional applesauce. If mixture seems too wet, add additional flour.
  6. Coat the cake pan with coconut oil (and GF flour if you’d like). You can also use muffin tins to make muffins/cupcakes.
  7. Spread batter into pan
  8. Bake for ~15-20 minutes at 375° (baking times vary per oven). Remove from oven when the cake starts to brown on top.
  9. Let cool, then spread avocado on top of cake. NOTE: If you attempt to spread avocado on top of cake too soon out of the oven, you will smoosh the cake. I actually baked the cupcakes the night before and stored them in the refrigerator overnight. The morning of the party, I removed them from the fridge and let them sit out at room temperature until the party that afternoon. I frosted them right before we ate to keep the avocado fresh.

Feel free to be creative with the ingredients! Pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds, and nuts (if your child is OK with nuts) are nutritious additions! If you’re making these for yourself or other adults, I might suggest adding some cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, (baking soda/powder if you want the cake to rise more) and possibly some coconut aminos if you want added sweetness. Also, I am very loose when it comes to measurements for this (and most) of my recipes. If you find you prefer more or less of something, please feel free to customize this recipe to fit your taste! Enjoy!

Peace, love and clean-eating babies,

Melissa

 

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan.

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: ~12 muffins (depending on the size)
  • Prep time: 12 minutes
  • Cook time: ~17 minutes

Ingredients

Wet

  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp coconut nectar (or honey, or Grade B maple syrup)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed

Dry

  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup gluten-free quick cooking oats
  • ¼ cup sprouted pumpkin seeds (sprouted has more nutrients) (optional)
  • ⅛ cup sunflower seeds (optional)
  • A few dashes of sea salt
  • 2 dashes of cinnamon
  • 2 dashes of nutmeg
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp psyllium husk (optional)
  • ¼ cup raisins (optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 365°
  2. In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine and mix dry ingredients
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix well. If mixture seems too dry, add additional applesauce. If mixture seems too wet, add additional oats/almond meal. This mixture should be “wetter” than a typical dough to ensure the muffins are soft when they are done baking.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or use a muffin tin with the paper muffin liners. (Or, omit liners all together, it’s up to you).
  6. Drop batter by heaping spoonful onto cookie sheet. Muffins/cookies do not change shape while baking, however they look when you drop them on the cookie sheet is how they will look when they are fully baked.
  7. Bake for ~17 minutes at 365° (baking times vary per oven). Remove from oven when the muffins start to brown on top.
  8. Let cool for a few minutes, then, enjoy!

Feel free to be creative with the ingredients! Nuts, seeds, raisins, etc. are all great additions, and if you don’t like something, feel free to omit it! You’ll notice that most of the dry ingredients are listed as “optional”. Also, I am very loose when it comes to measurements for this (and most) of my recipes. If you find you prefer more or less of something, please feel free to customize this recipe to fit your taste! Enjoy!

Melissa

When making the switch from commercial antiperspirants to Live Whole Be Free’s all natural, organic deodorant, I highly recommend starting with a 3-day tea tree oil detox to remove the toxins from your body. 

For three days, you wear only a drop of tea tree oil under each arm. You can purchase tea tree oil at any specialty grocery store BUT… I recommend buying therapeutic-grade from Young Living. This is the best of the best. You will reduce risk of skin irritations and other side effects this way, since Young Living oils are pure and unadulterated. Tea Tree Oil (called Melaleuca Alternifolia) can be used for a myriad of uses such as the ones below, but again, I would only use YL’s oils for such uses. (Use this link to sign up as a YL distributor and receive wholesale pricing. My ID# is 1563299).

Uses for Melaleuca (Tea Tree Oil) 

  • Analgesic
  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Anti-infectious
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Antiparasitic
  • Antiseptic
  • Antiviral
  • Decongestant
  • Digestive
  • Expectorant
  • Immune stimulant
  • Insecticidal
  • Neurotonic
  • Stimulant
  • Tissue regenerative

The three day detox period allows your body rid itself toxins like aluminum zirconium, the icky chemical found in commercial antiperspirants which has been linked to all sorts of issues. You’ll also want to exercise and sweat those toxins out! Don’t sit home all day under the air conditioning trying to avoid getting stinky. The more you sweat, the better! Those first few days—you might smell a bit, but it’s worth it. If you’re concerned about it, do it over the weekend, making Saturday and Sunday the first two days. By Monday, you’ll be much better off. After three days wearing just tea tree oil, you will be ready to start wearing the organic deodorant. Again, the detox is NOT required, it is just helpful. Plenty of people use this product with great success without having done the detox.

To purchase Live Whole Be Free’s all-natural, organic deodorants, visit Live Whole Be Free’s Etsy Shop!

Peace, love and toxin-free bodies!

Melissa

Ahhh, just the name itself calms my nerves. So what is Peace & Calming you ask? About six months ago, I was asking that very same question.

In short, Peace & Calming is a Godsend for those suffering from stress, anxiety, depression and/or tension that want natural ways to relieve these symptoms. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18.1% of U.S. population). Essential oils help to alleviate any sort of emotional issues one may be going through. They are unlike any anti-depressant today. EOs work by bringing refreshment and balance to the limbic center of the brain, which controls emotion, reasoning and smell.

I was first introduced to the therapeutic qualities of essential oils through my midwife and doula. They both recommended P&C to me after the birth of my son to help relieve depression and anxiety. I wasn’t sure what it was at the time. In fact I had no idea it was something that needed to be ordered, that I couldn’t just walk into a grocery store and get it. I also had no idea how well it was going to work. I only wish I had ordered it sooner!

Peace & Calming is an oil blend created by Young Living to help individuals deal with various problems related to the nervous system and emotional balance. This blend has historically been used to help reduce depression, anxiety, stress and tension. P&C may be useful at the end of a stressful day to calm nerves and emotions, promote relaxation or to relieve insomnia. By helping the body relax, more blood is able to circulate to the brain, allowing goals and dreams to be visualized more vividly and accurately. It has also been stated that this blend may help hyperactive children get off Ritalin and may also help children with hypertension.

Peace & Calming can be diffused in the air or applied topically. Apply Peace & Calming topically under the nose, to the navel, on the back of the neck, wrists, back (diluted), and on the feet. It can also be worn as a perfume or cologne. When I first started using P&C, I would carry it with me and inhale it from the bottle during times of increased anxiety. I also created a new deodorant from it, making it a part of a new premium line I’m now offering on Etsy. Having it in the deodorant is great because it makes me feel like that stress reduction is “with me” all day long. It feels as though I’ve got a force field around me, helping protect me from anxiety! I also apply this to the bottoms of my feet (I apply it diluted) before bedtime. I get a much more restful night’s sleep after an application, with an occasional side serving of some wacky dreams!

Safety Data
Avoid exposure to direct sunlight for 3 to 6 hours after use, as this blend may cause increased photosensitivity.

Companion Oils
Lavender (for insomnia), chamomile (for calming)

Additional Top Oils Helpful for:
Depression: Lemon, Frankincense, Lavender, Joy, Bergamot, Valor, Ylang, Ylang, Rosemary, Rosewood, Tangerine, Grapefruit, Hope, Jasmine, Neroli, Sage, Sensation, Valor
Anxiety: Lavender, Orange, Lemon, Roman Chamomile, Valerian, Melissa, Copaiba, Ylang Ylang
Panic: Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Awaken, Bergamot
Stress: Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Stress Away, Tranquil, Bergamot, Lemon, Common Sense
Tension: Cedarwood, Stress Away, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Traquil

Frequency
Emotional; approximately 105 MHz

Single Oils Contained in This Blend

Tangerine
Contains esters and aldehydes, which are sedating and calming to the nervous system. It is also a diuretic and a decongestant of the lymphatic system.

Orange
Brings peace and happiness to the mind and body and joy to the heart, which feelings provide emotional support to help one overcome depression.

Ylang Ylang
May help balance the male-female energies so one can move closer towards being in spiritual atonement and be able to focus their thoughts, filtering out the ever-present garbage. It brings back feelings of self-love, confidence, joy and peace.

Patchouli
This oil is sedating, calming and relaxing, allowing it to reduce anxiety.

Blue Tansy
May help cleanse the liver and calm the lymphatic system.

You can order Peace & Calming directly from Young Living. Anyone can order it, but you’ll need my sponsor/enroller ID in order to process your order. My ID is 1563299. If you want to take advantage of wholesale prices, you can become a distributor (no obligations to sell, it’s like a Costco membership) or if you’re local, I’m happy to place the order for you using my account and you can pick up from me.

Peace, love and…more PEACE!

Melissa

 

* This the posts in this blog were written to provide information to help educate readers in regards to the subject matter they contain. The author is not liable for the misconception or misuse of the information provided. It is not provided in order to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, illness or injured condition of the body. The author shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, damage, or injury caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in any of the blog posts. The information presented herein is in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. Anyone suffering from any disease, illness, or injury should consult a qualified health care professional.

 

You know the feeling. The mildly sore throat that quickly takes a turn for the worst and leaves you feeling like your swallowing knives? Or the sinus headache or flu bug that so kindly paid you a visit? Here are some natural remedies to help get you back on your feet!

Bacteria-Killing Garlic ACV Tea

Heat water on stove (or in microwave). Transfer hot water to mug, then add the following:

  • The juice of 1/4-1/2 organic lemon
  • 1/2 clove of raw garlic—grate it straight into the mug
  • A few squirts of raw, local honey (sorry, I’m not a huge fan of measuring so these are all approximate)
  • A little bit of organic apple cider vinegar (ACV)—probably approximately 2 Tablespoons
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
Drink this as often as you can stomach it. I was drinking it once every hour or so, because it felt so great on my throat!

Raw garlic is an excellent natural antibiotic. It’s actually INCREDIBLY strong as well. The combination of ingredients doesn’t sound so appetizing but honestly…it wasn’t that bad. And heck, when you get to the point where you will try anything to feel better, it’s really quite delicious! The garlic and honey cut the ACV so it’s not as pungent. Just make sure you brush your teeth before you go kissing anybody. Not that you’re kissing people with strep throat. At least I hope you’re not. Drink this as often as you can stomach it. Works best at the onset of symptoms. I drank it every hour for about 4-5 hours during my last bout with strep.

There are several other things you can do to aid in a speedy recovery. Again, it’s recommended that you start this protocol as soon as you feel these symptoms coming on, instead of waiting until it’s the full-blown plague.

My Natural Remedies*

  • Drink a lot awesome Garlic ACV Tea (recipe above)
  • Apply Thieves essential oil to the bottoms of my feet several times a day, and diffused it throughout the house. Young Living brand only.
  • I personally take the following supplements when I am ill:
  • Take hot epsom salt baths to relieve the body aches
  • Sleep a LOT. It’s a proven fact that your body needs a lot of extra rest when it is fighting an illness. These days we are so accustomed to getting antibiotics and steroids as a “quick fix”, and it’s not right.
  • Drink a lot of water and take care of yourself the way you should.

It sounds like a lot of supplements but to be honest, these are things I keep in my supplement cabinet on a regular basis, so I didn’t have to go out and buy anything special. Except a LOT more garlic than we had on hand!

Peace, love and NATURAL remedies,
Melissa
* Please note that I am not a doctor. This is just what personally works for me. You should always consult your functional medicine specialist or holistic practitioner. If you have a regular general practitioner they will look at you like you’re crazy for mentioning most of what I wrote about above. And then they’ll probably give you an antibiotic. Do your homework, ask if you really need the antibiotic. If you do, take it. If you do not, well, you get my point.  

Rewind to about 8 years ago, and I’m not sure I would have known what you were talking about if you mentioned essential oils to me. At that time I was lathering my skin in scented lotions and my hair in scented products, burning candles throughout the house, you name it. I started to become more conscious of what I was putting on my skin several years ago, when a shampoo I was using suddenly caused me to breakout in hives. The hives covered my face and neck and it was weeks before it finally cleared up. I discontinued the use of that shampoo, and started to try to figure out what could have caused the reaction.

I started to research the effects things like synthetic fragrances, phthalates, parabens, etc. have on the body. With that knowledge, I could no longer bring myself to lather my body’s largest organ—the skin—in toxins. Everything you put onto your skin, toxic or not, gets absorbed into the bloodstream. Eek! So for me, that meant no more scented lotions, no more perfume, no more crazy scented hair products. Nothing. I also stopped burning candles in the house because they made my eyes red, itchy and watery.

My allergies and overall health definitely improved after I cut out the toxic, synthetic fragrances. Although I had a boring-smelling house since everything I was using at that point was of the unscented variety, I went on my merry way. That is until a couple of years ago, when I mentioned to my natural doctor that I had recently been slurring words when speaking and missing letters when writing. He immediately asked if the antiperspirant I used contained Aluminum Zirconium and a couple other things. I had absolutely no idea. I went home, checked the label, and sure enough, the “bad” things he mentioned were on there. I did more research and found out that aluminum zirconium and several other ingredients in antiperspirants have been linked to some pretty nasty illnesses/diseases. I immediately stopped using the antiperspirant and—long story short—began making and selling my own natural deodorant.

As I started tweaking my deodorant recipe to find perfection, I began experimenting with essential oils. I had no idea at the time what a huge role they would play in my life. What started out as a fun way to scent my deodorants, has now resulted in creating deodorants with healing powers! Who would have known?!

Not only am I now using pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils in my deodorant line, but I use them instead of prescription medications to help control my asthma, anxiety and depression. I use them on my 5-month old to help resolve fussiness, congestion and coughs, as well as for diaper rash prevention. I have also begun using them in place of toxic household cleaning products which is incredibly important to me especially with a little one about to start crawling on the floor! And I can’t forget to mention that I’ve finally found something to help “scent” my house that won’t kill me! Goodbye “Glade Plug-Ins”!  Did you know that those things are filled with formaldehyde—the biggest chemical carcinogen that we know of? Did you know the formaldehyde in there actually deadens your olfactory nerves? That’s why you stop smelling it after a while and have to switch scents! Terrible!

There are so many more uses for essential oils, I am so excited to explore the myriad of possibilities of what EOs can do for myself, my family and my friends! Expect more info coming your way soon, and if you’re interested in purchasing pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils, I do so through Young Living. Feel free to message me for more information, but the best way to experience EOs is to purchase the Premium Starter Kit, which gets you a TON of oils as well as the diffuser, which is muy importante, for a super awesome price.

Peace, love and essential oils,

Melissa

YL Distributor #1563299