Guest Post | A New Mama’s Life-Changing Diet + Supplement Journey

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Photo credit to Lexarie Photography

It’s a privilege and honor for me to introduce to you today my friend Brittany Musser of Natural Wellness Mama. Brittany and I, though we’d mostly lost contact in recent years, go way back…we were two of about ten baby girls born during the space of about eight months within the church our families were a part of at the time. (As you can imagine, this made for some pretty epic birthday parties when we were little tots.) Fast forward nearly a quarter-century, and here we are starting our own families. Brittany has been an inspiration to me over the last year or so especially as I’ve followed her health & wellness journey, particularly with the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan and the growing Plexus trend. And since health and wellness are NOT my areas of expertise, but something I believe we’d all do well to pay more attention to, I’ve asked Brittany to share her story here today. I’ll let her take it from here!

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Life takes on a whole new meaning when you become a mother. You are responsible for this new little life that demands your constant attention and care. All your time is dedicated to the wellbeing of your child, and things get put on the back burner…and often times, they tend to be important things. Important things take time, dedication, determination, and energy. And those are exactly the things that I lacked as a new mom and I didn’t have any extra to spare. It felt like all my time and energy was being put into this new role of being a mom and I was VERY determined to be the best mom I could be. Motherhood is one of God’s greatest blessings, but the struggle is real. Motherhood is HARD. And in the midst of all the chaos there are many important things that can be put to the wayside, but one in particular is your health.

I found this out first hand in the weeks and months after giving birth. I knew I should be eating healthy and taking my vitamins to nourish myself and my baby, but cooking healthy takes a lot more time and preparation and energy, and taking my vitamins seemed to be the last thing on my mind when all I wanted to do was sleep. I quickly realized taking care of my health became much more of a challenge since becoming a mother. I would make excuses and tell myself that I am in a season of my life where it is next to impossible to take care of my health. But, we can NOT rely on our own strength or it may very well be next to impossible. Ask God to give you the desire to take care of your health and to walk with you on the journey. Your body is God’s temple, so let’s make taking care of His temple a top priority.

I have also learned that I owe it to my husband and my children to take care of myself. Our children deserve healthy, energetic mamas! We as mothers are not doing our families any favors by neglecting our health. Instead of using our children as an excuse for not having time and energy to take care of ourselves, let’s use them as our motivation! I like how Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison say it in their first book, Trim Healthy Mama:

Our body is not only our own. You are your husband’s investment and your children’s role model. Attaining a healthy weight and learning the art of maintaining that weight is not only a gift to yourself, but is one you keep giving your husband and children throughout the years.

I believe we can take this statement and apply it to general overall health and wellbeing. Maintaining our health and vitality is not only a gift to ourselves, but to our families and to God as well. Since becoming a mother and going through some struggles myself, helping mothers recover and maintain their health is a new found passion of mine and I would like to share with you a few of my favorite tools that I use every day.

Two years ago my mom gave me the book Trim Healthy Mama as an early Christmas gift. I was VERY skeptical at first, and thought it was just another unhealthy diet that promoted the use of toxin-laden diet foods. Yuck. But, it actually turned out to be one of the best gifts I was ever given and changed the way I look at food, and is hands-down my favorite tool for maintaining my health. I love how it is written from a Christian perspective, and chock-full of information. I am by nature a researcher, so I LOVE to read informative books, however long they may be.

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The “THM” way of eating is a family-friendly lifestyle change that was designed to optimize your health while keeping your sanity, which is especially important for all us mothers out there. It is low glycemic, protein-centered, and focuses on the importance of not spiking your blood sugar. Being gentle to your blood sugar is a must if you want to lose weight and is vital to your overall wellbeing. Too much insulin has an inflammatory effect on the body, and when you don’t have enough, your body’s cells begin to starve. A little bit of knowledge on how blood sugar reacts to different foods will make a huge difference in the way we look at “eating healthy.” Even healthy food can be dangerous to our insulin levels.

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In addition to the THM plan, I also supplement. To quote Pearl and Serene again:

It would be nice to say that a whole foods diet can give you all the vitamins and minerals you need, but this is the real world. Let’s face it, we need a few extras to keep our bodies protected and running at optimum.

For this reason, ever since I began my THM journey, I have tried my best at keeping a supplementation routine as described in the book. I am so thrilled I came across Plexus products, because they work hand-in-hand with THM! Especially because it helps stabilize your blood sugar. This is my second favorite tool! My supplement routine has been greatly simplified, but at the same time, I feel like it’s more complete and effective. I was super skeptical when I first heard of Plexus. All I heard about was the “pink drink,” which I just assumed was full of junk. But I didn’t realize Plexus is a complete health and wellness company with numerous supplements and vitamins, and even a probiotic. So after researching the ingredients and discovering how nourishing they are for the body, I decided to give Plexus a try.

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At the time, I was also dealing with severe fatigue, yeast, and hormonal issues after having my baby. But after the blues and fatigue didn’t improve much even after my daughter was sleeping through the night and I was six months postpartum, I knew I needed to do something about it. A lot of people might say that is normal after having a baby, which is true to an extent. But just because something is deemed normal, does not mean that’s the way it’s supposed to be and that we just have to live with it.

I am happy to report that my health has greatly improved since starting Plexus supplements six months ago. The Slim has given me energy, cleared the brain fog and also boosted my milk supply for my still-nursing little girl. Our yeast issues have been resolved thanks to the probiotic, and to my delight, my eyesight has noticeably improved after adding in the XFactor as my multivitamin. All this combined with eating the Trim Healthy Mama way, and I have never felt better. Health is really such a blessing.

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Trim Healthy Mama is not just for crunchy mamas and health fanatics, and Plexus is not just for people with health issues or weight to loose. Both are beneficial to people from all different walks of life to help us maintain our health and vitality! So let’s encourage each other to make healthy choices for ourselves and our families, and to allow ourselves grace on the journey.

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You can get in touch with Brittany on her Facebook page or on Instagram (@thenaturalwellnessmama).

Have questions we could all benefit from hearing the answers to? Ask away in the comment section below! Did you enjoy this post? Let us know! I’m hoping this won’t be the last we’ll hear from Brittany here at The Realization of Good. Until next time…best wishes for your pursuit of health + wellness! ❤

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made*

*Title is a reference to Psalm 139:14.

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A couple weeks ago, the chain slipped off a bicycle my husband was riding, causing him to wreck and resulting in a sore shoulder and severely skinned knee. He was in a fair amount of pain for a few days, and of course I tried everything I could think of to bring him some relief–Deep Relief for the muscle injury, Sweet Bee Magic for the road rash–all my old favorites plus a few new experiments. I was snapping photos of his knee, thinking maybe I could do a sequence collage to show how great the all-in-one healing skin cream worked. But I decided against it, and here’s why:

His knee really didn’t need anything put on it; it would have healed up just fine on its own. My knowledge of anatomy and medicine is minimal, but our cells and skin and tissue and blood vessels have intricate protocol to follow after sustaining an injury, and they go straight to work on the healing process. Automatically. No essential oils, creams, or supplements needed. Now of course we know that some of these things can support the health of the systems that take care of these things, and speed things along, and help to prevent infection, and provide temporary pain relief, but in the end, they’re not the things that do the healing.

I thought of posting the pictures anyway, and saying something like: This is what road rash looks like after 1 day…3 days…5 days of… a magic cream? a miracle supplement? a superior brand of essential oils? Nope. This is what it looks like after sitting back and watching the incredible design of the human body, created by a divine Creator, do its job.

But, the pictures were gross, so I decided to spare you. 😉

Seriously though, this thought has been haunting me ever since. How many times do I attribute healing or other forms of betterment or improvement to a man-made product, or my own mind, rather than the Creator of all things and Author of all that is pure? It’s good for me to be reminded that every good and perfect thing comes from above.

I talk a lot, here on the blog and in real life, about products and places and activities and ideas that I think are really great. But I want my life in general to ultimately point to the One who is higher than the things or the people of this earth. And I want to consistently seek Him in and know him through the goodness and the beauty that earth contains.

Minimalism vs. Essentialism

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These two words, and the concepts they represent, have been squatting on some pretty prime real estate in my heart and brain, lately. I’m still plugging through back episodes of The Lively Show and being inspired towards things like simplicity, intention, efficiency, and authenticity, and I’m reading Jen Hatmaker’s 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, and I’m having conversations with friends and family about de-cluttering and eliminating excess. I’ve been working on perfecting my summer capsule wardrobe, and helping my husband with his, and going through other drawers and cabinets and storage containers around the house, getting rid of things that we don’t love. I have a capsule wardrobe collaboration coming up, and hopefully some more similar projects. Life in general continues to invoke deeper meaning, the longer I live.

I’ll definitely have to post a full-fledged book review of 7 once I’m finished with it, so I’ll save my ramblings on that for now. But that, along with the Essentials issue of Kinfolk Magazine I was reading while we were camping the other weekend, the conversation I had with my friend Jenny on the way home from the beach yesterday, and an article I read online last evening, have distracted my thinking for much of the day.

The aforementioned article was called The Problem With Minimalism. The title caught my eye as I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed, and since it was posted by a friend whose opinions I value and admire, I decided to check it out. (If you haven’t opened that link in a new tab by now, do it before you scroll down any further!) It’s a somewhat lengthy but easy-read discussion of the elitist persona that minimalism tends to incur, which put into words some of the struggle I’ve been wrestling with as I’ve been getting rid of things. Also, as one commenter on my Facebook post noted, it evaluates both sides of the spectrum without demoralizing either one.

The Kinfolk issue referenced “essentialism” as an alternative to minimalism. It’s maybe mostly a splitting of hairs terminologically, but the difference between the two is realizing, investing in, and hanging onto the things that are “essential” to each of our individual versions of “the good life” as opposed to trying to “make do” with as few things as possible (in some cases, even assigning a number to that goal, i.e. The 100 Things Project).

If the process of letting go of material possessions in order to create more time and energy for people, for the things we really love, and for the Creator and His Creation is something you’re intrigued by, that particular article and that particular magazine (Issue 16) are some of my most highly recommended reading. You can also click here for a few other resources I referenced a couple weeks ago.

What’s been inspiring you towards a higher quality of life lately? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Art of Discipline

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This statement is one of the best things I’ve read this year. Since I stumbled across it, I’ve started thinking about the choices I make, concerning what to do with a free minute, extra hour, or cherished day at home, in a whole new light.

I mentioned previously that I’m currently enjoying The Lively Show, a podcast by Jess Lively featuring interviews with various entrepreneurs, authors, and world-changers that aims to inspire people to “add intention to their everyday.” Hence the word intention has been on my mind a lot lately, and I think that intention and discipline, if not completely synonymous, go hand-in-hand.

One of the tangible things that’s resulted from this thought process so far is my time management plan, which has, though not perfected yet, vastly revolutionized my ability to budget hours and prioritize the tasks that I most want completed. I’m not following it to a “T” quite yet, but I’m definitely getting more accomplished in a week’s time. Having a visible schedule to look at eliminates the tendency for me to waste time + helps me avoid burn-out.

Asking myself whether I want something now or whether I want it most has also been an aid in empowering myself to make smart choices pertaining to diet, fitness, finances, relationships, and more. Reminding myself that…

  • while I may want to eat that cupcake now, what I want most is to feel energized and to have a flat stomach 🙂 …
  • though staying up to accomplish a semi-clean house is something I want badly, what I want even more is to get enough sleep to be able to perform well at work the next day…
  • while staying in bed a few extra minutes feels like the best thing in this moment, what I really want is to be able to come home to a made bed this evening…
  • though Netflix on the couch on a Sunday afternoon seems a viable choice, a bike ride would solicit more benefits + valuable results…

…really does dissipate the struggle.

A pretty life-changing little question, if you ask me. What do you think?

The Life-Changing Power of Chiropractic Care

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Chiropractic care is popular in our area of the country. Here in Lancaster, we have plenty of practitioners to choose from, and I’ve always known a number of friends and relatives who get monthly adjustments. But I’d never been to one myself until just five years ago, after I suffered a concussion during an intense game of volleyball.

Since I was still complaining of headaches more than a month after the incident had occurred, friends urged me to try a chiropractor. I was reluctant, believing that if I went once, I’d become “addicted.” I wasn’t interested in making room for such an expense in my budget, especially since the modest salary I received from my employment at a small Christian school at the time didn’t allow for many “extras.” But once I gave in, I quickly realized how worthwhile the cost would be.

A co-worker and close friend of mine referred me to Family Chiropractic of Lancaster, a father/son-owned practice near my home. On my first visit to their office, I easily sensed their commitment to holistic health (of which I knew very little, at the time) and natural well-being. My doctor and his staff take the importance of education very seriously, and that day began my journey of learning the role of the spine and its effect on the rest of the body and on general health.

In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve learned about chiropractic care:

  • Varied, frequent stress on our incredible backbones (because our bodies work so hard!) cause minor misalignments in the spine.
  • These subluxations, as the misalignments are called, affect every system of the body — causing pain and dysfunction, and generally impairing the body’s ability to heal itself.
  • Regular chiropractor adjustments to the spine help to restore the spine’s proper alignment.
  • A properly-aligned spine is a key element to living a healthy life.

Needless to say, my fear of needing to return to the chiropractor regularly was realized — but I don’t regret it. Not only do my monthly visits relieve my muscle tension and stiffness, but my immune system is much stronger and my body recovers from illness and injury significantly faster. And when X-rays are done, I can see the curve in my spine caused by the scoliosis I was born with receding!

Chiropractic care is something I highly recommend when I hear about things like debilitating headaches, frequent cold/flu viruses, and fussy newborns (yes, that arduous journey through the birth canal can and most often does put a baby’s spine out of alignment)! If it’s something you’d like to hear more about, I’m happy to share more of my experience.

What about you? Have you had a positive experience with chiropractic treatment?

Essential Rewards Program Freebies

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So if you caught my Homemade Bug Spray post last week, you know by now that I’m on the essential oils bandwagon. I’d wager a guess that if you’re reading this, you don’t live in a hole 🙂 and have been hearing buzz about the incredible healing + cleaning properties of of essential oils, or earth’s medicine, as I like to call them.

You may also have caught wind of the controversy among the different brands of oils that are available today, many of which are sold by MLM (multi-level marketing) companies, and their often-quite-passionate reps. I’m not going get into that in today’s post, but for now I have chosen to buy and sell Young Living’s products, largely because of their Seed-to-Seal promise.

I’m a sucker for rewards, and I’ve been enrolled (for free, by the way) in Young Living’s Essential Rewards program for a little over three months now. In a nutshell, I get points based on a percentage of my $50-minimum monthly order that I can redeem for free product. I recently placed my first “ER” order using the points I’ve been accumulating, and there was a box waiting on my doorstep when I got home from work today containing my freebies.

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I can’t wait to start using this essential oil-based foaming hand soap, since this officially marks the beginning of my switch from Bath & Body Works hand soaps to something cleaner and more natural. Its namesake ingredient, the Thieves essential oil blend, helps support a healthy immune system. It’s called Thieves because, as legend has it, a band of fifteenth-century French thieves discovered this particular combination of essential oils that enabled them to pillage the dead and dying and remain unscathed during the various plagues of the medieval age. When they were captured, they were offered less severe punishment in exchange for their secret to avoiding these otherwise then-deadly diseases. I’m all about sanitary and anti-germs, so this is my kind of product!

Caleb, my farrier husband, has a hard time getting the scents of his livelihood (horses, manure, steel, and burning hoof–which is akin to burning hair) out of his hands so I’m extra excited to see how this works for him. Much gentler and safer than that Fast Orange stuff!

Want to know more about Young Living + essential oil products? Click here for my info page.