Monday, January 23, 2017

My Monthly Battle and Why I’m Choosing to Have Surgery

It all started about six months ago with a routine visit to the gynecologist.  When he asked me the standard questions regarding my monthly cycle, I explained that I was experiencing a heavier period than I typically was used to. He responded with some possible reasons and then suggested a vaginal ultrasound just to make sure all my lady parts were looking good. Well, a short 10 minutes later, as I was lying with my feet in the cold metal stirrups, I was told there was a small mass in my uterus. Naturally, I freaked out and went into full blown panic mode. The nurse assured me I was going to be just fine and this mass is a fibroid, which is a non-cancerous tumor that forms in the childbearing years of a woman’s life. Uterine fibroids either grow within the muscles of the uterus, on the outside of the uterus, or hang in the uterine cavity. They can range in diameter from the size of a pea to as big as a grapefruit. Some women never have any symptoms and can go their entire lives with them. Others experience excruciating abdominal pain and heavy bleeding. Unfortunately I was the latter. My doctor explained it in a way that completely makes sense: due to the location of my fibroid, which is right smack in the middle of my uterus, my body thinks of it essentially as a baby and tries to push it out by squeezing or otherwise known as contracting, the uterine muscles. So…the debilitating cramps I’m experiencing once a month are contractions! Yep, that’s right contractions WITHOUT an epidural mind you. Additionally, I am losing 3x the amount of blood the average woman loses during their menstrual cycle, which makes me anemic. There is absolutely nothing pleasant that comes from fibroids.

Detox herbs, at-home hormone test, and book on fertility awareness
So like anyone who is passionate about holistic health, I obsessively researched how to solve this problem naturally. I began my journey into learning why these fibroids exist in the first place and possible ways to shrink them. I incessantly listened to functional medicine podcasts, read countless articles and saw many different doctors for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th opinions. It was a tiring, expensive, but super informative process. The first major change I made was getting off birth control pills. The majority of the data says hormones stimulate fibroid growth. Specifically estrogen dominance can be a cause of creating these tumors.   Birth control pills function by maintaining estrogen at unnaturally high levels to fool the body into believing it is pregnant, thereby preventing another pregnancy from occurring. The synthetic estrogen found in birth control pills contributes to and exacerbates estrogen dominance. The ironic part of all of this new found information is that I always knew birth control pills messed with your hormones and contributed to other health issues, yet I was on them for almost 10 years! It was like this Band-Aid I was always in fear of pulling off. I was this healthy food blogger committed to living life naturally, but I had been popping synthetic hormones into my body on a daily basis. I knew I needed to stop cold turkey, and so I did. I’ve officially been off for 5 months and although it’s definitely been a struggle to re-balance my hormones, I feel so much better already. Another part of my fibroid shrinking mission was weekly acupuncture, TONS of detoxifying Chinese herbs, castor oil packs, and yoga. Despite all the time, money and energy I was spending trying to go the natural route, my fibroid did not go away. I do believe it’s possible, but just takes much more time. I’m talking years. So I then started to consider surgery as an option. This monthly battle I’m experiencing truly affects my quality of life, so with that said, I knew I couldn’t spend years trying to go the natural route. Eventually, I found the best fibroid specialist in Los Angeles, and I made an appointment. The doctor immediately put me at ease with his confidence and extensive knowledge.  He explained in great detail how the fairly simple, straightforward procedure would go; I instantly knew this was the best decision for me.

Abdominal acupuncture 
I wanted to write this post to show the other side of the coin. The side that many health bloggers don’t show, but instead, make look seemingly “perfect”. Everybody has their own battle, and I wanted anyone who is reading this to know they are not alone. I have found countless support groups and forums that have made me feel not only comforted, but also empowered. The silver lining in all this is that by delving into the root cause of why I had this issue in the first place has made me explore my health in deeper ways than I ever have before. I always considered myself a health conscious person, but now I’m even more aware of what I should and should not be putting into my body. Hormones specifically plays such a vital role in how our bodies function and getting them to be balanced can improve numerous issues ranging from sleep quality to sugar cravings to energy levels.  I encourage everyone to get their hormone levels tested by a functional doctor and see what possible areas can be enhanced. This whole process has been extremely educational and I hope that I’ve helped shed some light on an area that most bloggers don’t talk about. 

*My surgery is scheduled in a couple days, and I will update this with my post op progress! 

UPDATE: I had my surgery, which was called a hysteroscopy, done on 1/26 and it went as smooth as possible! It was a 30 minute outpatient procedure that was absolutely painless. I woke up a little groggy, but within in the hour I was walking around and discharged from the hospital. After that, the big question would my periods be after removing the fibroid? I am happy to report they are night and day different than what I was experiencing before! They are way shorter, lighter, and substantially less painful. No more excruciating cramps over here! I am over the moon excited and so grateful I had access to this amazing doctor. It took me a while to settle on going the surgery route, but in the end, it was right for my particular situation.     

Monday, November 14, 2016

Two Ingredient Cleanser

When it comes to skincare, there is an overwhelming amount of information to sift through. That is why I’m all about simplicity. Yes, the skin is our biggest organ, and yes we want to put the best quality ingredients on it in order to look and feel our best. But why does it have to be so complicated? By now you may have heard of what kinds of ingredients to avoid when buying your skin care products, i.e. parabens, which is a preservative that acts as a synthetic hormone and can easily absorb into your skin thus into your blood stream. I am constantly reading the ingredient labels of products and in general, the less I see of them – the more likely I will use it. That brings me to what this post is all about – my absolute favorite two ingredient cleanser!
The magical potion is made up of jojoba oil + honey, and IT.IS.AMAZING. First off, let’s break down these two ingredients. Jojoba oil is completely natural and derived from a nut. It is unique in that it closely resembles sebum, which is a waxy substance produced by our skin glands, so it can act as a natural skin conditioner. I know many of you might be scared at the idea of using oil on your skin especially if you are acne prone. BUT acne is in fact actually the result of overactive sebaceous glands in the skin. These glands produce this excess oil because the skin is usually dry or going through some sort of hormonal change. Surprisingly, jojoba oil actually reduces your oiliness by regulating your sebum production. 

Now onto my favorite ingredient – honey! I not only love this sweetener for consumption, but for its wide array of medicinal uses. Some of the benefits of raw honey include:

  •     The natural antibacterial and probiotic properties of raw honey effectively reduce breakouts and prevent new acne.
  •     Super nourishing and hydrating
  •     Gently removes dirt and impurities without stripping the skin of natural oils

It does, however, matter what kind of honey you use. Manuka honey is preferable since it has the highest amount of antibacterial properties, it’s raw, and unfiltered meaning the honey hasn’t been heated or changed since it left the beehive! Although it can be expensive compared to the average drugstore cleanser, you use such a little amount each time; it ends up lasting long.

How to use the cleanser:

Wet your face or else the mixture won’t glide nicely onto your skin. Mix equal parts honey and jojoba oil in your hand. Rub all over your face in circular motions. Thoroughly rinse with cold water. Rinsing with cold water instead of hot helps your skin retain its moisture.

If you guys try this, let me know what you think! J

Saturday, July 2, 2016

3 Delicious and Healthy Pasta Alternatives

There is no arguing that pasta is among the ultimate of comfort foods, but filling up on empty carbs certainly isn’t great for our waistlines. Making a simple swap of veggie noodles instead not only cuts the calories, but also provides a nutrient-packed meal leaving you satiated and guilt-free. Using a spiralizer and a food processor, you will be making pasta-like strands out of vegetables like zucchini, sweet potato, and carrots and homemade sauces that are sure to satisfy that comfort food craving.

Here are 3 different recipes to help get you started:

Thai Style Cucumbers with Healthy Peanut Sauce


·      1 large cucumber
·      1 cup of creamy peanut butter
·      ½ cup of full fat coconut milk
·      3 tablespoons water
·      3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
·      3 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or any soy sauce)
·      1 tablespoon of minced ginger root
·      2 cloves of garlic, minced
·      1 tsp sea salt


Using a spiralizer, spiral the cucumber into noodles. On low heat, sauté the cucumbers with salt for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a food processor combine the rest of ingredients to make your sauce and blend until smooth. Add the sauce to the cucumbers; turn up the heat to medium and sauté for about 3-5 minutes. Optional: top with fresh cilantro or green onion. Enjoy!

Squashetti (Spaghetti Squash)


·      1 spaghetti squash
·      2 cups of marinara sauce
·      ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella (optional)
·      Fresh basil leaves
·      Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste


Wash and cut spaghetti squash lengthwise; remove seeds and string. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Place on a cookie sheet face down in the oven for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and use a fork to scrape flesh from top to bottom into strands of “spaghetti”. Add pasta sauce, cheese, and basil. Bon Appetite!

Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado Pesto


·      1 large zucchini or 2 small ones
·      1 cup of pine nuts
·      ½ lemon
·      about 10 basil leaves
·      ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese
·      ½ cup of olive oil
·      1 medium sized avocado
·      1 clove of garlic
·      Salt to taste


Using the spiralizer, spiral the zucchini into pasta-like noodles and set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a food processor to make your creamy pesto. Heat your noodles in a saucepan on low to medium heat with olive oil and a touch of salt. Add your pesto to the noodles and stir well for 5-8 minutes. Try not to over cook the noodles, as they will become mushy. Top with fresh basil and Parmesan. Enjoy!