Learn From My Mistakes

 Compliments of  Lillie Duncan

Compliments of Lillie Duncan

Learn From My Mistakes 


On my journey of self-awareness over the past couple years, I've been shocked by how poorly I dealt with life's challenges. Little things could send me into deep unrest in my soul. For those who have experienced this type of life imbalance, it can show itself with anxiety, tightness in the chest, depression, tight muscles, headaches, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate/palpitations, brain fog, fatigue, trouble sleeping and trouble within relationships in general. Here are few things I learned through a difficult season. 


Build In Rest

One of the eye-opening moments for me was learning about how crucial stopping and resting was. I mentioned a couple of books in the last newsletter that has revealed a missing vital component in my life. Specifically - a weekly Sabbath. By this I mean a 24 hour period of time that I intentionally stop working (paid and unpaid), rest (sometimes this looks like a nap or just playing on the ground with my kids), contemplating and delighting in God's creation. 

I have to intentionally slow down daily and weekly so that life's blessings don't pass me by without me even noticing them.  Embracing our limits as a blessing is a struggle but an absolute paradigm shift for many like myself. 


Breathe Deeply

Besides establishing some healthier rhythms of rest in my daily and weekly routine, I have also noticed that without intentionality, I don't take deep breaths. When I am constantly watching the clock to stay on task, it's as if my body is sensing it's always under pressure and therefore breathing naturally gets faster and shallower. 

When I use my "Sabbath breaks" each day to slow down my breathing and delight in God's creation, the internal unrest fades away. There are many good places to learn breath work for various purposes. I love Wim Hof's approach for really strengthening the immune system and nervous system coupled with cold therapies and meditation. But even without any professional breath training, just slowing down and taking 10-20 deep breathes a few times per day can be powerful. 

In a future newsletter, I will share my journey into meditation. The research on the health benefits of meditation are clear but as a Christian, I was fearful of meditation as it seemed to contradict my worldview at first glance. As I've studied God's Word and learned from others who have successfully implemented this practice into their lives, I am eager to continue growing in this vital area. 


Establish Healthy Boundaries

As a people pleaser, I would say "yes" when I wanted (and needed) to say "no". This led to me leading a life that was not my own but instead a life that others wanted me to lead. Obviously, this can lead to a lot of deep frustration and resentment toward those I am attempting to love and serve. Negative emotions like anxiety, fear, and resentment cause a bombardment of inflammatory cytokines to be released throughout the body in an attempt to combat or survive the situation. Not only does this leave feeling bad but it also causes a cascade of dysfunction throughout our physical biochemistry leaving our bodies in a compromised state. 

Realizing this false self I was living in has allowed me to start to establish healthier boundaries so that I can serve people more fully and without expectations of something in return.  It has been a challenge to realize that it is often more loving to say "no" until we can fully say "yes." The book that has had the most impact on me is literally called "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend. 

Please share this on to anyone you think may benefit. 

Humbly, 

Jake Duncan PA-C
Stewarding Life Wellness 

 

How to Find an Environmentally-Friendly Mattress

 photo credit: http://lillieduncan.com/

photo credit: http://lillieduncan.com/

Guest blog by Samantha Kent: Samantha (Sam) Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face. 

You spend nearly one-third of your life asleep in bed. While it may feel safe and cozy, many mattresses contain or are processed with chemicals that are harmful to your body. It may take a little more time and money to find an environmentally-friendly mattress, but you'll be able to rest easy knowing you're protecting your health and your family's wellbeing.

Learn the Language

Mattress retailers and manufacturers often put labels on their products that can be misleading. Many times, the labels apply to only one part or component of the mattress rather than the mattress as a whole. For example, the cotton used to make the mattress cover may have been grown and harvested without the use of pesticides or chemicals, so the mattress can be labeled as "organic" even though most of it is not natural.

At this time, there is not a governing organization to check claims of "natural," and "eco-friendly." Instead of relying on these labels, you'll need to check the materials used to make the mattress and look for certifications from independent organizations.

What Makes a Mattress Organic or Biodegradable?

Mattresses are a complex product made of several layers. You'll need to consider the materials used in the cover, comfort layers, and support core. You want to look for:

  • Natural Latex: Natural latex is used to make the only mattresses on the market that are both 95 percent organic and biodegradable. Although, it should be noted that the percentage of natural latex used in the mattress can vary by manufacturer and model. Natural latex mattresses contain a small amount of synthetic latex, which is derived from petrochemicals.

  • Plant-Based Polyurethane and Memory Foam:  Plant oils are used to make plant-based foams, reducing harmful chemical emissions.

  • Organic Fibers: Look for organic mattress covers made from cotton or wool.

  • Fire Socks: Fire socks made of wool, cotton, thistle, and Kevlar are safer than chemical flame retardants. While Kevlar isn't a natural material, no flame retardant chemicals are used in the manufacturing process.

Rely on Certifications

To find more information about the materials used to make mattresses, look for certifications from independent organizations. These groups monitor everything from the harvesting practices of the cotton used to make the mattress cover to the chemical emissions of the polyfoam. We’ve created a list of some of the most helpful certifications and what they monitor:

  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100: This certification comes from a group of 18 independent research and testing institutes in Europe and Japan. Only those products that do not exceed certain emission levels of harmful chemicals receive this certification. Amongst others, they check for emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and other flame retardants.

  • CertiPUR-US: The CertiPUR-US certification is received after testing polyurethane foam for chemical emissions.

  • GREENGUARD: The GREENGUARD certification evaluates finished mattresses for VOC emissions. While the certification does mean lower emissions, it does not mean there won’t be some off-gassing when the mattress is removed from its packaging.

  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): Both raw materials and their derivatives can receive the GOTS certification, which ensures that the product is 70 percent organic.

Are You Soul Tired?

 Image Courtesy of http://lillieduncan.com/

Image Courtesy of http://lillieduncan.com/

Are You Truly Resting? 


Most of us measure our amount of rest or need for rest in hours of sleep. Although sleep is critical for recovery and repair from each day's challenges, true rest is far beyond just merely time spent in slumber.  The Scripture talks often about rest outside of the context of sleep. This type of rest or "sabbath" is something most of us long for in our souls but don't really know how to experience. 

Many who are driven in life and desire to help others and excel in whatever they do can easily fall into a very dangerous rut. This rut is characterized by often feeling guilty if we aren't doing something productive. In Wayne Muller's book, "Sabbath," he says, " While many of us are terribly weary, we have come to associate tremendous guilt and shame with taking time to rest. Sabbath gives us permission; it commands us to stop." 

In another fantastic book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero describes it this way: "We listen to sermons and read books about slowing down and creating margin our lives. We read about the need to rest and recharge our batteries. Our workplaces offer seminars on increased productivity through replenishing ourselves. But we can't stop. And if we aren't busy, we feel guilty that we waste time and are not productive....It's like being addicted-- only it is not to drugs or alcohol but to tasks, to work, to doing. Any sense of rhythm in our daily, weekly, and yearly lives has been swallowed up in the blizzard of our lives." 

So what? What's the danger of living without resting? I think most of us know this but don't want to face it. We miss life. We miss the beauty that's right in front of us. We live with short fuses and almost anything can cause us to get irritable, anxious, depressed, and angry. We do violence to our own lives and bodies and do violence to everyone that comes in contact with our disoriented life. We have no space in our lives for people to be human. 

If this hits home with you, don't beat yourself up. We are already good at that and it only makes matters worse. Show yourself compassion. Dig into this. The 2 books mentioned above can literally save your life, restore your relationships, and return the joy back into your life, even when storms are all around. They can remind you that God sees you in your struggle and He loves you. He has given us several ropes to find our way back home. Grab hold and join me on this exciting, restful journey. 

~ Jake

What to Pack for School Lunches

Packing lunches for school is a necessity for the school year... but honestly something that we all kind of dread.

By the second month, it feels like we are packing the exact same thing every day! So here are some ideas we put together for you all. A lot of it is simple but can be helpful to have ideas, right? 

The first biggest tip we can share is to PREP for the week! 

Plan what lunches you want to prepare for the week and keep it simple. It's ok if you have the same foods for a whole week if you want- just switch it up the next week! 

Second, prep as much as you can in advance!

Cut up a ton of veggies to have ready to eat and store in glass mason jars or glass storage containers. This makes packing lunches and grabbing healthy snacks so much easier. 

When you are cooking dinner, grab some extra veggies and chop while you are cooking to have fresh things available all week. 

If you can, go ahead and divide and store other foods in small containers to put straight into the lunch box like chicken salads, sauces, trail mix, etc. 

Third, an easy rule for preparing lunches is to always include fat, fiber, and protein in meals.

This helps stabilize blood sugar levels and give kids balanced meals to have the most consistent energy and focus possible. 

Fiber:

-Carrots, celery, cucumber, bell pepper (easily prepped in advance!)

-Mini sweet bell peppers are ready to eat as-is

-Fruits: apple slices, grapes, oranges, berries, etc. 

-Hummus in individual snack packs (at Costco!) to pair with veggie sticks or gluten free crackers

-Dried fruits or raisins (check for sugar and sulfates or unwanted preservatives)

-Nuts (omit if nut-free classroom)

-Seeds 

-Pressed by Kindbars (at Costco); a nut free option, too!

-Larabars

-Gluten free or grainfree granola 

-Custom trail mix to your liking with coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, clean chocolate chips, etc. This is a GREAT way to get kids involved with packing their lunches and being excited about creating their own food!

-MamaChia squeeze pouches 

-GoGo squeeze pouches

-Pure Organics or Stretch Island fruit strips 

-Plantain chips

-Cassava chips

-Non-gmo air-popped popcorn (if you tolerate corn)

-The Good Bean Dried chickpeas (if you tolerate beans)

-Pickles (check for unwanted dyes and sugars; love the organic dill pickles from Trader Joe’s)

-Gluten free pasta with veggies and protein (nuts, seeds, or meat) Trader Joe's is our favorite price and flavor.

- Jackson's Honest chips 

 

Fat:

-Guacamole snack packs or tubs (Great prices at Costco)

-Justin's Almond butter snack packs: pair with carrot/celery sticks, or apple slices for the fiber.

-Trailmix has great fats as well!

-Chia seed pudding

-Avocado slices

-Grassfed/Organic/Raw cheese (if dairy is tolerated well)

-Simple Mills muffins (mixes are easy to make!)

 

Protein:

-Trail mix. (Pumpkin seeds are an amazing form of protein!)

-Simple Mills almond flour crackers,sprouted seed crackers (if nut free is required), or cookies.

-Organic turkey breast slices rolled by itself or with mayo or hummus spread

-Lettuce wrap with turkey and avocado slice

-Lettuce wraps with tomatoes, bacon for a breadless BLT

-Hard boiled eggs

-Deviled eggs or egg salad

-Chicken Salad with crackers

-Chicken tenders with sauce to dip

-Protein bars like RX bars and Primal Kitchen are favorites

-Unsweetened organic/grassfed yogurt with berries and granola

-Egg muffins- another great thing for kids to help make! 

-Smoothies store well in insulated thermos' and can be super nutrient dense and a fun treat! (Using collagen is a great protein source to add!)

Beautycounter: Safer Beauty & Personal Care Products

At Stewarding Life Wellness, we are passionate about living a healthy, balanced, and toxic-free lifestyle. We strive to eat healthy food that supports our health, we use safe cleaning products in our home, exercise, sleep well and meditate often. However, one thing that is easily overlooked in the pursuit of health are the cosmetics and personal care products we use daily such as lotions, soaps, deodorant, and make up.

Americans spend over 62 billion dollars every year on personal care products, and many of these are filled with toxic chemicals. Thousands of these chemicals are used without adequate testing or research done to identify the effects they have on us. The FDA does not require testing to approve chemicals used on humans, nor do they have the power to recall a product that could be dangerous. The European Union has banned nearly 1400 toxic chemicals from their cosmetic products. America has only banned or restricted 30.

Why are avoiding toxic chemicals so vitally important for our health?

It is easy to assume that, since we are only using these products on our hair or skin, that it isn’t affecting our health like food or supplements do. But did you know that your skin is the largest organ in the body, and that it absorbs these toxic chemicals in less than 26 seconds directly into the blood stream? Some of these chemicals have dangerous impacts on our body. Research has shown that toxins in our personal care products can contribute to cancer, infertility, hormone disruption, autoimmune diseases, rashes, and many other medical conditions.

We have found lots of healthy options that just don't work effectively - especially cosmetics! In our search for safe products, we were introduced to Beautycounter and have been very impressed. Beautycounter has extremely rigid third party testing, a "Never List" of over 1500 ingredients they never use, and the strictest heavy metal standards in the industry. Not only do we love the quality of their products, we also are impressed with their mission as a company. Below is a short video discussing their mission to provide safe products for their consumers:

One of my favorite things about these products is that they are high performing, and I have the comfort of knowing they are safe. My daughter has a lot of fun “dressing up like Mommy,” and I love being able to let her play with my make up with out being concerned about heavy metals or dangerous chemicals.

Some of my favorite products for our family are:

 

Charcoal bar
 

Charcoal helps to extract toxins from the skin and leaves it feeling smooth and clean. It is great for men, women, and teenagers!


Balancing Face Mask

I feel like I have been to a spa after using this. It leaves my skin feeling amazingly clean and rejuvenated. I have also used it on rashes and other skin irritants, and it helps tremendously in healing. This is fantastic for men and women!


Tinted foundation

This tinted foundation is amazing! I have never been a fan of liquid foundations because of how heavy and sticky they feel, but this one feels light and covers well. For a thicker coverage, you can also use this concealer pen


Baby products

 Children today are exposed to far more environmental toxins than we were as children. I am committed to minimizing the number of toxic chemicals that my children are exposed to at home during our daily routines. I have tried many baby products, but these are the best I have used! I use these products on my children every single day, and I use the baby oil on my own face every night before bed - it's that awesome!


It is so important to be mindful of the things we are putting IN our bodies, but also equally important to consider what we are putting ON our bodies. We believe in the importance of removing toxins from our lives, and would love to help you find the best products that will continue to support your best life. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to email our nutritionist, Stephanie. Stephanie@stewardinglifewellness.com.

Curb Your Sugar Cravings with this Delicious Smoothie

When you cut refined sugar out of your diet, what is the first thing you crave? I don’t know about you, but for me, it is chocolate. I’m not even much of a chocolate person, but I crave it when the sugar is gone.

Oftentimes, there are ways to curb our cravings without giving into unhealthy ways of eating again. That’s why I love this smoothie.

This Chocolate Almond Banana Smoothie is the perfect way to satisfy that sweet tooth and keep you cool and refreshed this summer. Made with almond butter, almond milk, cacao powder, and bananas, it almost tastes like a liquid peanut butter cup!

Ingredients:
1 cup almond milk
1 banana
2 tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 date
Dash of sea salt

To make this delicious smoothie, simply toss all of the following ingredients into your favorite high-powered blender, and blitz until smooth. If you’re feeling fancy, top with almond slivers and/or cacao nibs for some added crunch.

Almond milk is quickly becoming the favorite non-dairy milk product of the health conscious and lactose sensitive. Fortified almond milk contains many of the same nutrients as cow’s milk, without any of the effects of the lactose - and it has a fraction of the calories. Almond milk also contains no cholesterol or saturated fat.

You’ll notice that this recipe also calls for cacao powder. You may be asking yourself, “Couldn’t I just use cocoa powder instead of cacao powder? What’s the difference?” You could use the cocoa powder sitting in your pantry that you would typically use for baking, but you would be doing your body a disservice. While the two powders look identical, there is a vast nutritional difference.

Cocoa powder has been roasted at high temperatures, which removes the enzymes that actually makes chocolate (or cacao) healthy. Cacao powder is cold pressed, so it retains all of the healthy enzymes. By using cacao powder, you will feel a mood boost – as if you were eating a chocolate bar, without worrying about looking great in a swimsuit.

If you are trying to stay healthy, but can’t seem to shake that chocolate craving, this smoothie is sure to help.

Want fresh, chef-crafted smoothies to sip on this summer but don’t want to make them yourself?

Get a month of free smoothies when you sign up for a SAVOR meal delivery service from now until July 31. To get started, simply fill out a food questionnaire and mention this blog post!

 

Written by Savor Culinary Services | www.savorculinaryservices.com

Conversations with Jake: SAVOR Culinary Services

Jake recently had the pleasure of talking with Chef Deb from SAVOR Culinary Services, a personal chef company that has been in business for over 15 years and served over 5,000 families in the DFW area.

They provide busy families, professionals, athletes and those with special dietary needs, chef-prepared, customized meals made with fresh, wholesome ingredients delivered right to their fridge! Besides their weekly prepared meals, SAVOR also provides food intolerance testing, dietary consulting and boutique catering.

Here is a recording of Jake and Deb's conversation:

Do you experience some of the symptoms Jake and Deb talked about like fatigue, brain fog, weird weight gain, etc.? Let us know! We would love to help you find natural solutions to the root cause behind your symptoms so you can experience optimal health.

 

Fore more information about SAVOR, click here.

Essential Oils: Weight Management

Did you know that essential oils can aid weight loss, manage food cravings, and support digestion?

Essential Oils have so many benefits! They have many medicinal benefits, and they also make great alternatives to the many toxic cleaners and fragrances surrounding us daily.

Dr. Axe wrote a great article about his Top 3 Essential Oils for Weight Loss and how to use them. As he says at the beginning, "you’re not going to start using essential oils and lose 20, 30 or 50 pounds. But it could help your body in shedding a few pounds, plus support your body in important, healthy ways for weight loss." We're sharing Dr. Axe's insights below, but for more information, we suggest reading the original article (it has videos and links to additional resources!).

Grapefruit

The grapefruit peel is where the EO is derived from, which is very high in compounds like D-limonene, which support the metabolism and the lymphatic glands. Topically applied to the skin in small amounts, grapefruit EO is an excellent diuretic. It's often included in cellulite creams and blends used for dry brushing. Taken internally, it activates enzymes in your saliva, which help the body break down fat.  It is also known to lower cravings and hunger, especially when mixed with patchouli oil. Add several drops to your water, diffuse it in your office or home, or massage some onto your chest and wrists when a craving strikes.

Cinnamon

Time and again, cinnamon oil has been shown to regulate blood glucose levels, and something in your body called GTF, or glucose tolerance factor. It helps balance blood sugar, which long-term will help with weight loss and reduce those sugar cravings. Unstable blood sugar can lead to overeating, low energy, and weight gain. Adding cinnamon oil to fruit tea, oats, baked goods or smoothies helps to slow the rate at which glucose is released into the blood. It is a fantastic support for anyone with diabetes.

Ginger

It is essential that, if you are going to lose weight, you also reduce inflammation in the body, and support digestion and absorption of nutrients. Ginger not only reduces sugar cravings, but it also reduces inflammation in the body. The compounds in ginger are called gingerols, which have been scientifically proven to reduce disease-causing inflammation in the intestines, and improve overall absorption of vitamins and minerals being consumed.

How to Use:

Topically. Use a carrier oil like coconut oil, especially when you’re using the cinnamon oil (which is considered a "hot" oil). It's safest to use a 1:1 ratio, especially when you haven't used an oil topically before.

Internally. You can add any of these oils to water, foods, or capsules that you can swallow. Not all oils can be ingested, so it's important to always check with the manufacturer/supplier.

Diffusing. Any of these oils, or blends containing these oils, can be diffused to activate all of your senses. They'll make your home or office smell great!

Where to Buy:

We believe quality matters tremendously in all things. There are several sources putting out high quality oils. At Stewarding Life Wellness, we're currently using Young Living essential oils, but if you already use oils from a different source, we applaud and encourage you to keep going!

One reason we love Young Living is their Vitality™ line of EOs, which are designed specifically for internal use. These are separate from their regular oils, and have different packaging so it's easy to keep your topical-use oils separate from your internal-use oils. 

If you're new to using essential oils, send Kim an email about your interest, and she will happily get some oils in your hands!

Ever Wonder Why that Diet isn’t Working?

Health is about creating healthy, sustainable habits - not rules. Instead of focusing on a “diet,” let’s refocus on a lifestyle of eating real food that is nutrient dense and beneficial for our health. By eating whole foods that nourish our bodies, most of us will reduce inflammation, lose weight, and improve our moods naturally. And, eating this way can be delicious, too! Win-Win.