Lately No. 05 — October 2019
Every month, we publish a post under the category “lately,” where I will share what I’m currently finding helpful in my own continued journey in healing and well-being. While this usually centers around continued education, practice + ritual, and food, today’s post will be a little different. In last month’s lately post, I focused on the specific tools and remedies I had been implementing into my daily routine after a surprisingly severe endometriosis flare up landed me in the ER. I’m happy to report that the menstrual cycle that followed was almost entirely pain free. While I felt a little heavy and tired, I could walk and talk and live my life as if it was any other day. So I thought I’d speak to a few of the tools that I believe played a heavy hand in this.
Ironically, none of the following were mentioned in my last post on this subject. That doesn’t mean that what I shared was not helpful. It simply means that because I’ve had time to reflect and have actually gone through a full cycle, it’s easier for me to pinpoint what felt right to my body in the moment. So let’s dive in.
Adding fiber (beans!) for excess hormones: About a week before I got my period, the work of Karen Hurd flowed into my life. She is a biochemist and nutritionist, uniquely understanding both the body and the fuel we feed it. While her counseling practice has helped so many people with all manners of health problems, it’s her work on women’s health that drew me in.
After reading a few articles and resonating with her message, I “rented” Karen’s women’s health seminar for $3.99. In it, she walks through various health challenges (like PCOS, endometriosis, infertility, and amenorrhea), explaining WHY those conditions are showing up. And in each scenario, it comes down to the person producing too many hormones or not enough. She then goes on to tell you exactly how to bring your body back into balance.
Take me, for example. Those with endometriosis are known for over producing estrogen, which puts me firmly in the “too many hormones” camp. Karen’s suggestion for this is simple: adding (a lot) more soluble fiber to my diet. Why? Because these excess hormones are unable to leave my body without it. After watching Karen’s seminar, I created my own analogy and started thinking of fiber as a bouncer, escorting said excess out of my body. If a bouncer (fiber) is not present, the toxins we should be eliminating get reabsorbed into the bloodstream and can be repeatedly recirculated. That’s a whole lot of toxic sludge going round and round, creating a host of issues within the body.
If you are someone who does not experience a “normal” cycle (30ish days, medium flow, no pain, etc.), Karen’s seminar will shed so much beautiful insight into why that may be. But fiber is important for all beings, so definitely check out her “topics” page for other health challenges that you may be experiencing.
I’ve since incorporated soluble fiber into my diet in a BIG way. Not only do I eat beans (or lentils) at every single meal, but I also snack on it throughout the day. As in, I’ll pop into my kitchen about once per hour * and eat a spoonful of beans. Karen’s called “the bean queen” for a reason and you’ll definitely hear her speak more about this if you dig into any of her work.
* The reason I’m trying my best to eat beans once per hour is because of my endometriosis related flare up two months ago. Karen mentions there’s an opportunity for the body to eliminate toxins every 20ish minutes … but if fiber isn’t present, it recirculates. Hence, the quick “bites” of fiber I’m taking in order to keep it present within my body.
Eliminating sugar and fragrances: Another big part of Karen’s protocol is eliminating sugar (including fruit) and fragrance (including natural ones like essential oils). Besides adding more soluble fiber to your diet, these were the other two biggies that came up. I was blindsided for a second, mostly because I’ve already eliminated refined sugar and unnatural fragrances from my lifestyle. But Karen was talking about ALL sugar and ALL fragrance, explaining that our body doesn’t know the difference. Sugar of ALL forms has the power to create excess hormones, as does fragrance.
While I haven’t quite eliminated all sugar (I eat apples a few times per week) and all fragrance (there’s essential oils in my face wash and shampoo / conditioner), I’ve definitely become more aware of how much I’m consuming. That said, I’m not one for fully restricting myself from joy, so I’m also not going to beat myself up if I choose to whip up a batch of vegan / gluten free chocolate chip cookies or diffuse lavender in our living room every once in awhile.
Listening to my body: While I resonated with and learned a lot of helpful information from Karen’s seminar, the information from one source is never, in my opinion, the end all be all. Our bodies are constantly talking to us and I’ve doubled down on connecting with my own intuition every single day, even if just for a few minutes.
The addition of fiber into my everyday life felt right. But the continued decrease of stress and honoring of my true, authentic self felt just as important, if not more so. My goal with Our Healing House has always been to share the stories of others as a way to illustrate what’s possible. But at the end of the day, your body is your body. So take what resonates, and leave the rest.
Magnesium spray: A few days before I got my last period, I read this article about magnesium and the timing could not have been more perfect. I spent most of September stressed out about my upcoming cycle, terrified that it would be as bad and painful as the one before. But in this particular article, Jessica (who has endo) mentioned that when she sprays magnesium on her abdomen, her pain decreases by half. I was desperate and clung to that line, hoping it would do the same for me. And, well, it did.
When my period arrived, I sprayed magnesium on my belly. And whenever I felt just the tiniest amount of pain, I would spray again. As I mentioned earlier, I experienced next to no pain, but even so … I was vigilant and determined not to end up in the same position I had the month before. That said, whatever discomfort I was feeling decreased noticeably almost immediately whenever magnesium came into the picture. So, it’s my new super tool. ;)
Rest: I would be remiss not to mention that my other plan was to go into full on rest mode on day one of my cycle. And I did! The second my period arrived, I pushed off all work, got cozy on the couch, and began breathing deeply. To the point where if you would have walked into the room, it would have been audible. Sorry not sorry. Within minutes, my body sank into parasympathetic mode (AKA, the opposite of fight or flight), and I kept it there for hours on end. Eventually, I turned on New Girl (while still breathing deeply), and also practiced yoga. It was a low key afternoon and honestly, something I could use more of in my everyday life.
And that’s about it! I’m sure next month will follow the typical “lately” structure, but for now, I’m happy to have a space where I can share real time updates and learnings with you all. In the meantime, I’m headed to Europe (Paris, Rome, and Germany) for some much needed family and friend (and good food) time.
* Some of the links within this post are affiliates. That said, we do not share anything that we don’t already use. ;)