Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Road Trip

I am writing from Big Sky country, Montana. We are traveling into Wyoming today heading for Yellowstone National Park and then onto The Grand Teton National Park. By the time I get home, I will have been gone a month. It's fun to travel but I'm really ready to be home and sleep in my own bed. Living out of suitcases can get old pretty fast. Our cross country trek started off at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan for a week long workshop on hydrotherapy and natural remedies. This program was developed by Dr. Agatha Thrash, M.D. Wow! I was so inspired by this workshop. Home staging consultations are not what I had in mind when I pursued design but is what is available in a sluggish economy. I think, however, that I would have enjoyed naturopathy as a field of study. There was so much excellent information at this workshop that I would like to share with you! The program was mostly lead out by Dr. David DeRose, MD from Weimar Center of Health and Education and Don Miller, ND from Uchee Pines Institute. I am fascinated by natural methods of healing. There is something alluring about taking the road less traveled that attracts me to no end. So much to blog about on this topic, so little time.
Grand Hotel - Mackinac Island, Michigan
From Berrien Springs we headed up to quintessentially idyllic Mackinac Island. I really need to spend more time on this historic island. There are no cars allowed there . My kids got a real kick out seeing the horse drawn garbage collection buggy. We cycled the eight-mile loop around the island and left feeling like we just didn't spend enough time in such a gorgeous place.
Authentic Wells Fargo Stage Coach, 1880 Town - South Dakota
We traveled across the Upper Peninsula into Wisconsin and Minnesota. My family couldn't resist staying away from the Mall of America in Minneapolis and going on a couple of the rides at the theme park situated in the middle of this massive mall. From here we were off to the wild west. I felt like I was in some western movie as soon as we hit South Dakota. I never knew that there was so much to see and do in this state. My husband kept humming a tune from the old western films he watched when he was growing up. I couldn't help but think about what it must have been like for Lewis and Clark or Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family. I need to go back some time; I felt like we just scratched the surface there.
Mountain Goat, Glacier National Park- Montana

Do you see the line that traverses the mountain?  That's a road!  I white-knuckled it the whole way!  Logan Pass, Glacier National Park - Montana
During our trip we saw spectacular vistas at Glacier National Park, Montana and harvested wild huckleberries in grizzly country in northern Idaho. Aside from the famed novel by Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, I had never heard of huckleberries. It turns out that huckleberries are the most highly prized berries out in those parts. My husband wanted to buy a huckleberry pie and came back with just a seven-dollar slice to share among the four of us. They were selling a pie for a whopping $42.00! A pound of freshly picked huckleberries can fetch between $40.00 and $50.00 wholesale. Talk about a pricey berry! When we experienced how long it took to harvest these dark succulent beauties, we understood why they are so highly prized. Not only do you have to look over you shoulder to be sure not to have any grizzly or mountain lion encounters, you also need to harvest from shrubs that stubbornly will grow only where they darn well please - which happens to be mostly in remote mountain tops.
Big Horn Sheep (Ram was not around) - Badlands, South Dakota

It thrills me to see wildlife in their natural setting. So much nicer than going to the zoo and seeing them in boring enclosures. Chancing upon a regal bull elk with a full, impressive rack or handfeeding skiddish prairie dogs just sends me to the moon. Anyone else get excited over such experiences?
Bison, Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming

Me and my kids (Nathan took the shot)

There is so much breathtaking beauty in this country of ours. From plains and prairies to fantastic sweeping mountain panoramas. It's no wonder that this land has been the muse of so many writers and artists striving to capture and convey the arresting beauty found in the varied landscapes. So much I want to see and do but time is limited! We'll save further exploration for another trip! Back to my regular blogging by next week!

Have a great day!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Battle of the Diet Gurus

I saw this clip and wanted to share it with you.  It is very telling!  From time to time, I hear from different people that they are going to try this diet or that.  When I see them again after some time, they still look like they are struggling with weight.  So, what do I think of the Atkins Diet?  Oh, you may lose weight but you just might die of a heart attack in the process.  Take a look at these weight loss gurus and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chemicals in Body Care Products

When I was a little girl I had (maybe still do) a daredevil tomboy streak in me.  I would just about give my mother a heart attack when she found me scaling the door jams of my house and hanging out by the ceiling.  I would often slide down the banister of my house, climb trees and do anything that would give me an adrenaline rush.  My mom tells me that I even would swing from the drapes - yikes!   I also had a lot of friends who were boys.  Despite the fact that I enjoyed hanging out with the guys, I became very aware of girlie things.  Yes, I do enjoy more exciting things but when it comes right down to it, I am a girlie girl.  I love sun dresses, handbags and shoes and everything that makes me feel feminine.  Growing up I often would go into department stores in Boston with my mother.  Anyone familiar with the now defunct Filene's?  (Remember The Running of the Brides?  Very similar to the Running of the Bulls if you ask me.)  I loved to sample flowery lotions, designer fragrances and cosmetics.  When I slathered on the samples, I never stopped to think about what I was putting on my skin.  I always trusted that if it came from a fancy cosmetic line with some frou frou French name and a fat price tag that it had to be good.  Well, as with almost everything else that is manufactured in a chemistry lab, maybe it just isn't good for us.

There are certain tenets or axiomatic truths of health that we should cement into our brains and I think that this is one of them: Everything that you put on your skin gets absorbed and goes right into your bloodstream.  The thought becomes even more sobering when hearing that women who have breast cancer have been found with a high percentage of parabens in their breast tissue.  Other studies indicate that chemicals can increase the risk of diabetes.  The products obviously don't need to be expensive or high end to be harmful.  I see brands that look like they might be more natural by the way they are packaged.  A closer look reveals that the manufacturers can make them look natural, but the ingredients are far from it.  Think about everything that we expose ourselves to -- deodorants, shampoos, body lotions, hair spray, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc., etc.  Therefore, being careful to not expose ourselves to chemicals becomes a very critical component of reversing or preventing cancer.

Bear in mind that the cosmetic industry is not regulated.  If products need to be tested on animals, then the red flag goes up for me.  Some natural products don't need to be tested on animals at all because they are plant based and not harmful.  Unfortunately, not all natural products are created equally and some natural products do carry chemicals that aren't good. Here is a list of chemicals that are harmful and a list or sources for body care products that I trust.

The Culprits

Harmful ingredients include isopropyl alcohol, mineral oil, petrolatum, PEG polythylene glycol, PG propylene glycol, sodium laurel/laureth sulfate, sodium flouride, chlorine, diethanolamine (DEA, TEA, MEA), FD&C color pigments, artificial fragrances, imidazolindynyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Iodoprotynyl butylcarbamate,triclosan, phenol, phthalates and parabens.  I'm sure this list is not exhaustive, but it will rule out most everything at your local drug store.

Natural Product Resources

You don't need to go to the sources listed here. I'm sure if you search you could find clean ingredients in the products you find, but I'm just offering options in case you don't want to search. You can find clean products at health food stores or order online. (Check Trader Joe's.)  You could also make them yourselfHere are some great sources(Please click on the title of each section for the link.)

Nadine Artemis - Living Libations.  

Nadine is a true flower child that is so in-tune with natural ingredients and has a great knowledge of their effect on the body.  She has an extensive line of body care products that are truly all natural.  Check out her body care line that includes lotions, dental care, shampoos, deodorants.  She also has a line of products for men.  If you have the time, check her out in these two clips where she discusses the harmful effects of petroleum (petrolatum) on the body.  These are excellent clips!

Vapour's line of cosmetics is probably among the best that I know with a high standard of purity.  They carry an extensive line of cosmetics which includes skincare, nail polish and perfume.  Their philosophy and commitment to using clean ingredients resonates with me.  Take time to look at what they put into their products here.  Vapour Organic Beauty, Tata Harper and Sally B's Skin Yummies are favorites of Celebrity Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder.


Eniva has a couple of different body lotions, shampoos and lip balms that are clean.  Go to their beauty section to find these products.  The manufacturers to these products are also committed to using safe ingredients.

Mountain Rose Herbs body care products

Mountain Rose Herbs

You may remember that this is my source for coconut oil.  If you want to make your own body care products, they carry ingredients you may want to use. If you are like me and don't care to go to such great lengths, you could just purchase their clean body care products.  They also have products for men.   I find their prices to be much more reasonable than some of the other sources I have listed.

Longevity Warehouse

If you haven't already noticed, I'm a big fan of David Wolfe, The Longevity Now conferences and Longevity Warehouse.  I trust this organization to be committed to the cleanest products using the highest grade organic ingredients.

Tonya Zavasta

Remember this ageless woman?  She refuses to get any wrinkles and manages to do it naturally!  She has a great line of beauty products which includes hair, skin and dental care.

Sally B's Skin Yummies Lip gloss

Sally B's Skin Yummies

Sally has a great cosmetic line as well as a line for bath and body care products that are more reasonably priced.  She also carries deodorants and fragrances that are safe to put on your skin.  Her lip glosses look so luxurious; they are on my wishlist!

Palette by Nature

If you are interested in safe hair color, this company seems to be conscientious about using clean ingredients.

Dr. Mercola

I like Dr. Mercola's products.  He has many low cost alternatives.  I have a hard time spending 40.00 on toothpaste!  He has less expensive, clean products you can look up on his site.  Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to the blue section.  Here he lists the products he carries which include bath, skin, dental and feminine care.

Low Cost Alternatives:

I use pure raw virgin organic coconut oil (from Mountain Rose Herbs) to moisturize my skin.  You could also use it as a moisturizing treatment for your hair before you wash it.  Nadine Artemis mentions brushing her teeth with baking soda and then rinsing her mouth with apple cider vinegar. Whoa!  Imagine the science experiment going off in your mouth!  Green clay can be used as a facial mask.  Exfoliate your skin with skin brushing.  You can use white distilled vinegar in a spray bottle as a deodorant.  There are several low cost, chemical free short cuts you can take if you search for them.

I think it really does matter what you choose to put on you skin.  Staving off and limiting exposure to carcinogens is a big part of cancer prevention or cancer reversal -- not to mention that harmful ingredients also age you faster. I have to be honest, though. I do get exposed to some chemicals.  I do a keratin treatment for my hair once a year.  It has a small amount of formaldehyde, and other not so great ingredients, I know!  The way I see it, I do so much to detoxify my body and try to have the cleanest products otherwise, that I see this once a year treatment as an exception. I don't want to look like the late Gilda Radner (SNL) during the summer months, so I decided to just pick my battles!  Otherwise I still think its fun looking for alternatives and it feels even better knowing you're limiting chemical exposure by using these alternatives. As you clear out your medicine cabinet of the chemical laden products you may have, consider switching your household cleaning products to cleaner, greener products. You can only stand to gain better health by doing so.

Enjoy the Journey!