Raise your hand if you missed your own dress rehearsal for your wedding! Yeah probably none of you;) Well not only did I miss most of my own dress rehearsal, but I missed both of my sister’s dress rehearsals for their weddings as well. Humble pie served on a nice platter. I have always had an awareness of the importance of physical health and lived a fairly healthy lifestyle, but I never saw the weight of its importance in my own life until I ended up in the ER and was forced to pay attention. So just as I addressed in yesterday’s caring for the mind post, the mental and physical aspects of our beings are very tightly knit. It turned out that the issues I started to battle were stress and anemia induced….

These patterns of getting severely sick started in college. The episodes started from a terrible reaction to a glass of wine or to a good southern fried dinner. I kept narrowing it down thinking I couldn’t have this or that until I soon realized ALL alcohol and fried foods were off limits. I assumed I had an ulcer or an allergy, but I would later find out after an endoscopy that I had gastritis. An irritated stomach condition that is caused by…..guess what?? Stress. The result is a stomach that reacts to certain food and drink as if they were poison, and would often leave me in need of an IV. As a classic INFJ personality, I was someone who was always anxious about grades and studying and pleasing people, and I lived with stress over education related matters since high school. It resulted in an un-curable stomach condition. Parents – imagine not being able to cap off a hard day with a good glass of wine? Exactly.  Not ideal, but it taught me how to face stress in other alternatives.  I had to learn about the food triggers as well as heal my stomach lining. I would also later experience kidney stones (which for the record are more painful than natural child birth since I have had the wonderful opportunity to compare the two;)).

This is just to give you a summarized background story of why caring for my physical health was forced to the top of my priority list. When we care for the mind, we can prevent so many physical ailments from working their way into our systems. And when we take the time to care for our bodies, we also give ourselves the energy to care for the areas of our life we want to give ourselves to. Each reciprocates energy to the other.

After researching how to naturally heal my stomach and kidney (after I took medication needed though), I discovered so much about gut health, the correlation of physical exercise and brain health for women, and the importance of understanding what was in the foods we eat the products we put onto our bodies.

I know each of you could probably share your own experiences with physical health, and as you know, all we need is a starting point. A place to put one foot in front of the other. It has taken me a long time to change our lifestyle. It’s been a process of cutting out certain foods, and introducing the right ones. It also has taken me until this past year to get rid of all of the toxic chemicals I didn’t realize I was using in our household. So if you feel overwhelmed with the thought of making changes for you or your family, I did too. You don’t have to do it all at once. Just start somewhere. Take baby steps until you start noticing the good change, and that will fuel you to keep going.

I shared some helpful resources in the guide if you are looking for self-care practices for your body. I will also share briefly here how I’ve been working on my own physical health…

Gut health – The gut is linked to many health issues that are common today. It is the first line of defense against pathogens. Except most of the foods we eat do not allow our guts to function the way they are supposed to. Here is a really helpful article on gut health and the foods you can consume to detox and rebuild your gut. I am not doing a full detox (make sure you consult a physician first!), but working on implementing certain foods, and eliminating others. I will share more about this topic, recipes that my kids love, and more on the IHOD wellness instagram page.

Exercise – Gabe can testify that when I get cranky or irritable, a good run completely changes my demeanor. (This is because endorphines are released when you exercise that make us feel happy and energized.) I am at a place in my life that I just don’t have time to work out every day, and if I do have time, I am lucky if it’s twenty minutes. So my goal for now is to just to get moving in some way for 10-15 minutes per day. This may be doing sprints in the backyard while my kids are out playing or toning exercises in my living room, but other times it is a good run around the neighborhood or a hike with my family. It doesn’t have to be a marathon race you are training for! Your goal can start small.

Immune Building – This is the first year my little ones haven’t been sick frequently. We only have had one set of colds in the last six months! This is largely from the diet change as well as regular probiotic and immune building supplements such as Elderberry syrupmanuka honeyechinacea, and essential oils.

Tossing chemicals – There is a staggering rise in cancers, fertility issues, thyroid imbalance, hormone imbalance, etc. in recent years, which have been linked to both the foods we eat and the toxins being put into our bodies. Many of these toxins in our bodies are coming from makeup, skin care, hair care, household cleaning products, and even detergents. The FDA only has banned 30 ingredients that are harmful for human use compared to Europe’s list of over a thousand banned ingredients. This means we have to be our own advocates for safer health. I felt like it would be impossible to get rid of everything I was used to using, but thankfully there are some good options available now that not only are safe for use, but actually improve our health.

It’s not always possible to be able to pay more for organic foods, supplements, and body care so I say do what you can! I like to look at it as preventative care for more costly medical bills down the road.

Lastly, I wanted to breakdown a skin care detox I am doing to reset after a few weeks of bad eating, sleeping, and cold weather! You can start whenever you like, and you will notice improvements to your skin within a few weeks. (Pair this with good eating and LOTS of water.)

Step 1 – Charcoal Cleansing Bar – Detoxifies and absorbs impurities in your skin without drying it out. Targets breakouts, oily skin, or blackheads! You can cut the bar in half, and keep one by the sink and one in the shower to use on your face and body. (Read the reviews!)
Step 2 – Nourishing Day Cream – Easily absorbed and never greasy, but it leaves a nice fresh glow. It contains a mix of organic coconut oil, safflower oil, and aloe to provide nourishing hydration, plus antioxidant-rich acai to protect against dry skin.
Step 3 – Rosewater Mist – Wakes up your complexion with this skin-softening toning spray that balances ph levels. Spritz it on to set makeup, after a workout, or whenever your skin needs an instant pick-me-up.
Step 4 – Charcoal Mask – This nutrient-rich kaolin clay mask is really good for absorbing excess oil and drawing out impurities. The activated charcoal ingredient is known to minimize the appearance of pores, clear up breakouts, and balance oily skin. Works for all skin types. I put this on ten minutes before I get in the shower once or twice a week. It has gotten rid of my break out spots!

Each of these products last forever because you only need a little bit. I’ve had mine for over 6 months. This detox works for all skin types, but if you’d like to start with an anti-aging focus try the rejuvenating line. If you have super dry skin, try the baby protective balm as an overnight healing treatment after a good night cream. It’s nice to be a part of a company that is committed to transparency and never using ingredients that are harmful for the human body.

I know this was a lengthy post, but hopefully it gives you some ideas of ways to support your body inside and out as we start a new year!  I’d love to hear about any additional resources that have been helpful for you. Instagram accounts, podcasts, books, etc.

This article was originally published here. Follow In Honor of Design on Instagram!