Why juicing is my favorite, and juice fasting is a total health game changer

pexels-photo-616833.jpegHopefully my kids never read this, and I apologise to any woman struggling with fertility for how this may come across, but I have never once tried to get pregnant and have been blessed with two kids.

This may not seem at all crazy to the countless woman every year who experience unwanted pregnancies, but the thing that set my pregnancies apart from the millions of others is that I got pregnant with PCOS.

PCOS is the most common cause of infertility and led me to believe I would probably never have kids thus, when I shacked up with my now husband, I wasn’t terribly cautious with birth control.

For four years, I managed to have a fairly healthy sex life without any hint of pregnancy. This would be pretty unheard of for any early 20 something with no fertility issues doing the deed daily, but not me, I had that inbuilt birth control that at my age was the one symptom of PCOS I actually welcomed.

Despite losing tons of hair, having s**tty skin, and facial fuzz, it wasn’t until I stepped on the scale and realised I had gained A LOT of weight that I decided it was high time to get a grip on my pcos symptoms. I changed up my diet (less carbs more greens), started supplementing with maca powder, and walked/biked everywhere, but I’m convinced one of the main things that turned it around for me was juicing.

My guy bought me a juicer as a gift of encouragement when I had been working out hard for a few months and still hadn’t lost much. His friends wife owned a health food store and she swore to him that juicing was a game changer, so I was finally baptized in the juice of cucumbers and celery, and my health really began to turn a corner.

Every cup of juice was like a shot of energy to my cells, but not like a caffeine shot of energy where you feel jittery and wired. Juice energy is more like a calm and peaceful sense of ‘I have enough energy to climb a f**cking mountain, write a book and conquer the world all at the same time.’ The greener the juice the better (though admittedly some tastes took a bit more getting used to)

After about two months of juicing daily and continuing an active lifestyle I was just 12 pounds short of my goal weight and seemed to have hit a plateau. It was late one night in my ‘research’ (googling) that I came across the concept of juice fasting.

What? I could really just drink nothing but juice for days and I wouldn’t die?

I researched (googled) the phenomena of juice fasting for weeks, certain people must occasionally die from it. Yet I found that, not only did they not die, but many people regained lost health and transformed their bodies and their lives in the process.

Some of these amazing people consumed nothing but juice for months and were still alive to tell the tale.

So that was it, I was sold. I made a list of juice recipes to try and bought what I thought was an aggressive amount of produce (it barely got me through the first day.) But I was off and juicing and while it was honestly a pretty rough three days, the results were glorious.

The first day I was in a fog. I felt weird constantly aside from the short spikes of energy I would get immediately after consuming my juices. My mouth tasted like someone’s butt hole and I had zero energy to do even the simplest tasks. Luckily, I researched well (thank you google) and planned to begin my fast on the weekend so I basically laid on the couch and binged on curb your enthusiasm and juice.

The second day I awoke with a renewed sense of clarity and purpose. There is a spiritual element to juicing that can only really be experienced. You feel closer to God, to your fellow humans animals and the earth. You do a lot of reflection, and while your body is detoxing, your mind and heart is also.

I went to a local park, lay by a pond, read a book and felt like freaking snow white, all the birds and squirrels were my friends and I was glowing like an angel.

By the time I rode my bike home I was starving and had transformed into the evil witch. I quickly double checked with google to make sure I hadn’t missed any stories of people dying on a juice fasts while glaring with hatred at my boyfriend eating KFC across the room. The smells were amplified by 100% and I eventually had to leave while he finished dinner.

This is one thing to remember about juice fasting. Do not be anywhere that smells like food. Hot dog stands, mall food courts, county fairs, torture.

Later that night I was still seething as my boyfriend ate his way through an entire bag of jalapeno chips. I had initially wanted to fast for as long as possible but was starting to feel like unless I was in an ashram somewhere far away from all food, three days would suffice.

I stepped on the scale that night and was down a whopping seven pounds, IN TWO DAYS. Granted it was mostly all water weight but I was going to take it. It was the push I needed to get me through the final day and I went to bed dreaming about the healthy green salad I would eventually break my fast with (ha!).

As much as I love google, you can’t always trust it. Almost everything I read swore that by the third day I wouldn’t feel hungry anymore. It was all LIES.

The third day was the worst. I think it was a combination of extreme caffeine withdrawal ( I should have weaned off coffee before beginning the fast), detoxing and hunger but I was basically a psycho hose beast the entire day.

When my boyfriend dared to come home with sushi for dinner I actually had a flash visualisation of stabbing him with the chop sticks.

By this point I not only had terrible breath but my body odor smelled like three day old tacos. Thank you detox symptoms.

I spent a few hours indulging in food porn before going to bed dreaming about all the glorious things I would be able to eat the next morning. When I stepped on the scale I was only two pounds off of my goal weight and I felt triumphant knowing I would soon be chewing food again.

When you break a fast you are supposed to take it easy and start with light foods. I wish I could say I followed this advice but after devouring a whole package of blackberries that tasted like manna from Heaven, I waited a few minutes to make sure my stomach wouldn’t burst before sampling bites of everything in sight.

I actually baked fresh bread for my first time ever in my life. I was ready to eat all the food.

But, because my stomach had shrunk a bit, I found I got full fairly fast, and in the days following the fast portion control was much easier for me than it had been previously.

In many ways it was like my short juice fast reprogrammed my eating habits entirely. Suddenly, I craved veggies constantly and had completely lost the desire to eat meat.

Maybe it was that snow white moment by the pond but my juice fast completely kicked off a life of conscious eating, beginning with vegetarianism and eventually veganism. (I am no longer a vegetarian or a vegan but do ensure that at least half of my meals are entirely plant based and all my food choices are consciously made.)

It was like the whole experience gave me a fresh perspective on the roll I play in the world and my responsibility to share it peacefully with the other creatures who live here.

My skin went from being broken out and zitty to the skin of a baby. Literally, NO cream, serum or peel has ever been able to come close to what juicing for three days did to my skin. I also noticed a slight reduction in hair shedding (interesting) and the peach fuzz around my jaw line seemed to have diminished.

I had obviously lost a lot of water weight, but when my boyfriends babe of a friend (who is literally a male model) commented weeks later that I looked like I had lost a lot of weight (blush) I realised the fast must have kick started healing in my body that eventually led to sustainable fat loss.
(There is evidence that fasting can help activate an insulin response in individuals with insulin resistance!)

Within a couple months I had dropped below my goal weight and was looking and feeling amazing, all thanks to three (long) days of juicing, and a follow up of healthier eating and daily exercise.

And that’s when it happened… My boobs magically went up a full cup size. Was this another welcome side effect of juicing? I googled it ready to jump right back into another juice fast asap. But, no.

Missing a period was so common for me I had no idea when my period was even ‘due’ but on a strange hunch I bought a pregnancy test and took it in a community pool bathroom. When the two lines appeared I felt a strange sense of peace come over me. I yelled out loud and emerged from the stall with tears of joy streaming down my face.  People probably thought I was crazy.  But I didn’t care, I had been given a gift. I was going to have something I never thought I could and until that moment hadn’t even realised I wanted.

There is indisputable proof that for women with PCOS, a reduction in body fat is an excellent way to increase fertility, but it is a cruel catch-22 that losing weight with PCOS is really really hard.

I am 100% positive that my mini juice fast helped activate my insulin response, allowed me to shed a few important pounds and was a contributing factor in my being able to conceive. I always sing the praises of juicing to anyone who will listen. I turn to mini (one day) juice fasts whenever I’m feeling run down, and have been able to stave off colds, cure freak breakouts, and get bathing suit ready quick with fresh juice in my healing arsenal.

Don’t just take my word for it, if you need inspiration about the powers of juicing, just watch the movie ‘fat sick and nearly dead’ on Netflix, it is a mega motivator.

Lately my body has been calling me to do another longer fast, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve been putting it off. But I think when I get mentally ready I’m going to aim for a minimum of 5 days and will post the results here when I finally gather the willpower to do it. (Cooking for my family while fasting is a torture I am quite honestly terrified to endure)

What do you think? Do you juice? Do you love it? Has it changed your life in some profound way? Let me know, and if you’ve never juiced what are you waiting for?!

What is PCOS, what causes it and what to do about it?

What is PCOS, what causes it and what to do about it?

pexels-photo-735966.jpegPCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome is a tricky little beast that can crop us seemingly out of nowhere and completely turn your life upside down. Up to 1 in 4 woman are currently living with PCOS but exact numbers are hard to pin down due to the fact that many women spend years searching for a diagnosis, and some are never properly diagnosed.

In my own case it took five years of harassing doctors with a long list of questions before I got referred for an ultrasound where they found my cysts.

Pcos is an endocrine disorder that presents itself when elevated androgens (or male hormones) are excreted from the ovaries causing a whole smorgasbord of life altering symptoms. It is the number 1 cause of infertility in women and can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart attack if not properly diagnosed and treated. (Women with pcos face a risk of heart attack 4-7 times greater than the average woman!)

Symptoms appear slightly different in everyone affected and can include menstrual disorders, hair thinning/ loss, unexplained weight gain, excess fat storage in belly or hips, facial hair growth and infertitly among others. These are all particularly devastating symptoms for women as they not only affect a womans health and quality of life but her physical appearance as well.

No one knows for sure exactly what causes PCOS but there are a few suspected culprits that likely all coexist in to some degree to bring about the disorder. These are excess insulin, low grade chronic inflammation and genetics.

So if you have received a diagnosis of PCOS or are presenting with enough symptoms to assume you have it (official doctor diagnosis aren’t always easy to come by so its vital you listen to your body first and your doctor second) you are probably left wondering what to do next. There are heaps of information about PCOS that can sometimes be conflicting and always overwhelming so to get to the root of healing we must first examine the cause.

Because there is not much we can do about hereditary influences we must look closer into the other two possible culprits, excess insulin and low grade chronic inflammation. Both of these likely have a genetic component but can be mostly controlled by DIET!

First lets look at insulin resistance, IR occurs when insulin doesn’t do a proper job of getting your cells to open up and absorb the glucose secreted through the digestion of sugars and carbs. In turn your body secretes more insulin in an attempt to absorb all that extra glucose. Over time this results in far too much insulin in the blood stream which makes it super difficult for the body to use stored fat and it just keeps running on sugars. (This also leads to all those fierce carb/ sugar cravings!) All of this creates an environment of weight gain which in turn worsens insulin resistance. It is the great catch- 22, losing weight is the best way to reverse insulin resistance but weight loss with IR can seem downright impossible with all that sneaky insulin running free in your bloodstream.

So how do you stop your body from producing all that insulin? You buck up, grab those cravings by the balls and cut your intake of sugars and carbs drastically. (Because ALL carbs turn to glucose when digested)

Studies have shown a ketogenic diet is one of the best diets to manage and reverse PCOS symptoms. My only issue with the ketogenic diet is that if you are also dealing with adrenal fatigue, thyroid disorders or other autoimmune disorders, such a dramatic reduction in carbs can sometimes do more harm than good. Because I am a huge believer in the healing powers of fruits and veggies, and because fruits and veggies contain carbs, I just cant get fully on board with a lifetime of keto eating.

To ease into the low carb lifestyle in a healthy and sustainable way I suggest limiting your carb intake to between 50 and 100 g per day, don’t bother including the carbs you get from fruits and veggies but DO go super easy on the starchy ones like potatoes and bananas. After eating this way for at least six months, if you are still not at an ideal weight and experiencing symptoms you can always hop onboard the keto train to lose those last stubborn pounds.

I personally do not recommend anyone with thyroid or adrenal issues staying on the keto diet for any longer than a month at a time, but again, listen to your body and do what works for you.

There are also some great supplements for insulin resistance including, Berberine, Chromium, magnesium, cinnamon and green tea.

So now that you know what’s going on on the insulin side of things,  we have to address that other sneaky little culprit, chronic inflammation.

Accute inflammation can actually be a good thing, it means your white blood cells are capable of addressing and fighting off infections. Without inflammation wounds would not heal and common colds would stick around forever. It is when the inflammation is chronic that things can get out of control.

Chronic inflammation occurs when your body sends your white blood cells to fight a foreign invader but this ‘invader’ ends up being a necessary part of your human anatomy (intestines, thyroid, ovaries etc) When there is a low grade viral, bacterial or fungal infection present in the body your inflammatory response will be heightened. Candida for example can be a harmless fungus that lives symbiotically with the flora in your intestinal tract, but if it is allowed to grow out of control (which can happen when it has a diet rich in glucose to feed on) it can spread throughout your body causing chronic inflammation wherever it goes.

Undiagnosed food sensitivities can also cause chronic inflammation. If you have a sensitivity to gluten or dairy (most people do) nightshades, saponins, and many other common irritants, particles of these foods can be mis-read by your body as foreign invaders and BAM- your white blood cells are at war leading to chronic inflammation and a body that is more susceptible to infections and disease.

To address chronic inflammation it is also super important to reduce/ remove exposures to other common allergens, pet dander, molds, and pollens that could be aggravating your bodies inflammatory response. I also highly recommend switching to all natural household and beauty products as well as being mindful of the fabrics you wear as your skin is your bodies largest organ and everything that touches it is absorbed into your bloodstream.

One major thing I did to set my body on track to healing was to follow a total healing protocol, the results have been nothing short of amazing for me and for anyone else who has tried it out. It takes time and commitment but it well worth the effort.

You CAN heal your body of PCOS symptoms, and with a solid game plan and the proper mindset you WILL. With so much doom and gloom around this disorder its easy to feel hopeless, that’s why hearing stories of other peoples success is so important. Here’s SELRES_bf5b7340-f36f-4a89-a9df-08b24f89aad5SELRES_8a8b4648-1521-499c-b5b5-5badc4b925c5SELRES_2515d88f-8df0-44f2-9687-03dc3c63fe89one storySELRES_2515d88f-8df0-44f2-9687-03dc3c63fe89SELRES_8a8b4648-1521-499c-b5b5-5badc4b925c5SELRES_bf5b7340-f36f-4a89-a9df-08b24f89aad5 of a woman who put her pcos into remission, and if you look around there are many more out there.

Just remember it probably took years to reach the state of health you are currently experiencing, healing and transformation is not going to happen overnight. Be patient, be kind to yourself, and remember your health and wellness is worth the sacrifice. You only have this one body to live in for your entire lifetime, so love it, be good to it, and treat it with respect and kindness, it will return the favor.

This is my PCOS story

This is my PCOS story

It all started over a decade ago, I was a fresh graduate out of hair school, had landed a job at an amazing hair salon in downtown Vancouver and was building a clientele at lightening speed when I volunteered to be a hair model for a charity one of my former instructors was putting on.  The man had a slight obsession with Bettie page, and decided I would be a perfect candidate for a Bettie page transformation. 

My boob length auburn hair was chopped into an iconic pin up coif and dyed a deep rich (almost black) brown.  To be honest I was initially thrilled with the transformation, I did look a bit like BP.  I was edgier, more mysterious and admittedly looked a little more bad ass.  I was rocking the new look with confidence, that was until I saw my head under some unforgiving bathroom lighting and literally gasped in shock.  Was that scalp I saw shining through?  That is not bad ass at all.

I began to obsess, staring at peoples heads creepily and asking everyone I knew if it looked like I was balding.  You do look a little more scalp-y my friend at the salon admitted, but it is probably just the contrast of your white skin to the dark hair that makes it seem that way. 

However, as the months progressed it became apparent that something was in fact going on with my once overly abundant hair.  Whenever I would shower I would emerge with so much hair attached to my body I felt like Chewbacca.  Every time I ran my hands through my hair, strands would shake loose, my clothes were constantly covered. It took four wraps to secure my ponytail that once took only two

Upon the advice of a dermatologist I spent one day collecting every single hair I lost and counted them all.  Three hundred and forty seven.  ‘That does seem a little high,’ he told me ‘but based on the pattern of your hair loss I think its safe to assume you have hereditary baldness and there is not much you can do about it aside from using rogaine for the rest of your life, oh and it might make you grow a beard.’

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