Fresh Idea Friday: The Shocking Truth about Eating Your Placenta

Welcome Granolaville's newest Crunchy Contributor, Courtney Durfee. She offers a fresh perspective on a topic that's causing quite a stir, ingesting placentas.

Placentas have been in the news a lot in the past few months. You may have read about or seen news spots on new mothers ingesting their placentas in New York Magazine, on Anderson Cooper, and a few times on Huffington Post (here, here and here).

A more recent  New York Times Blog by a woman, who regretted her choice to encapsulate, spawned a news spot on Good Morning America  that began with a placenta specialist in NYC and ended with the California mom and author of the New York Times blog post, discussing her negative perceptions.

All of these stories have generated some great conversations and responses from placenta specialists internationally, as well as on the blog of Jodi Selander, owner of the first Placenta Specialist training & certification organization, PBI.

All of this huff and puff is about placenta ingestion.

If you haven't heard about placenta ingestion in the postpartum period, I'll sum it up for you. The placenta is said to contain many beneficial hormones, nutrients and enzymes that can be helpful following the birth of a child.

Anybody who's ever given birth, or has seen a woman just give birth, knows that once the exhilaration wears off, many of us feel and look depleted. Ingesting placenta straight-up, in smoothies, meals, or more commonly now, encapsulated like a nutritional supplement, has been linked to helping mothers have a myriad of positive side effects.

Claims include quicker recovery time, having more energy, decreased incidence of postpartum mood disorders, and potentially increasing milk quality and quantity. Some mothers are over the moon happy with the benefits they report while some medical professionals think it must only be a placebo effect.

Placebo effect or not, the overwhelmingly encouraging experiences of the mothers choosing to do this is absolutely amazing. Anecdotal or not, the immense differences in the postpartum experience of mothers who ingest their placenta---and those who do not--- cannot be denied.

The University of Nevada will be publishing their finding in a study this summer and a pilot study was launched last year in Seattle.

Contrary to the Times blog, I do not regret eating my placenta. I am a mom who did ingest her placenta via raw smoothie, encapsulation, tincture and wait for it... truffles! In conjunction my experience as an Independent Placenta Service Provider has given me first-hand insight into this hot topic.

The entire reason that I started teaching trainings for birth professionals who wanted to offer this service was so that I could be assured that people were practicing this skill safely and correctly.

Nancy, the NY Times blogger, makes a great case for informed consent. After the fact she felt like she didn't have enough information going in and even though her husband observed the encapsulation process, she still worried there was something in there making her have an averse reaction. Women are advised to follow the cues of their body as opposed to any standardized dosage, since every woman and every placenta is different. She did not follow the cues of her body, took way too many capsules and did not consult with her provider.

She is the only one, out of 400 women, that a particular provider serviced to have such an experience. Whether you take into consideration the thousands of women benefiting from this service worldwide or not, it brings up an interesting point that I've been asked when people contact me about training or about finding a provider in their local area, “How do you know if somebody knows what they're doing?”

The PBI answer is simple. Make sure you use a PBI specialist. The more in-depth answer is to ask the proper questions you need to make an informed decision. Just as you would when hiring any other professional, you are responsible for verifying the competence of people you employ.

I was just discussing this with Jen Mayer, the IPSP that the New York Magazine article & Anderson Cooper spots feature. She was being interviewed in response to the Times blog and GMA spot and was asked that very question. I trained her myself so I know that she is knowledgeable and I'm very happy to report that her answer is that same as mine would've been and is. A real placenta professional will answer all of your questions thoroughly and transparently, as the Time's blogger's provider did.

What questions should you ask a potential placenta person (can't say lady anymore because there are two gentlemen in the US that offer this service as well)? Well, if it were me I would ask the following:
  • How long have you been preparing placentas? How experienced are you? Inexperienced providers aren't necessarily poor providers as everyone is new at some point. Their answer to this and its impact on your decision should be based on all the answers unless having a very experienced provider is a requirement for you.
  • What methods do you use for encapsulation and why? What are the differences? Most providers offer one or both of the following methods: Raw Dehydration Method or the Traditional Method based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. They should be able to describe every step of the process in as much detail as you need. A real placenta professional knows all the ins and outs of their services and should be aware that nothing should be in the capsules except for placenta, regardless of prep method.
  • How were you trained in these methods?  There are a few training and certification organizations including Hudson Valley Placenta Services and PBi. Training through an organization doesn't necessarily equate to competence. Certification generally means that a certain level of competence was required to be demonstrated but you should inquire as to the specifics of their certification, if one is held. Providers who have done self-study and distance education can also be knowledgeable providers. It is important to know that only few placenta encapsulation providers are practitioners of Chinese Medicine so unless they are, they should not be prescribing you any herbal formulas.
  • Have you completed a course in Blood borne Pathogen safety training and/or food safety? At least one of these should be a yes, if not both. I hold both and require all HVPS trained providers to take a BBP course, specifically for placenta encapsulation professionals. You should be able to see these certificates, if you wish.
  • Do you follow the OSHA safety protocols? This question and the next should be easy ones that the provider can rattle off. If the provider is hesitant, unsure or says yes but your gut says no, ask them what protocols they are following and how.
  • How are the multi-use supplies cleaned, sanitized and handled between clients? Again, easy question for a qualified professional. Bleach is the only OSHA approved sanitation so if they are using Seventh Generation or other more “crunchy” products then they are not doing it right. (Sorry fellow crunchy mamas, but there is no wiggle room on that when you're dealing with blood borne pathogens and the safety of your family, yourself, the provider and other moms.)
  • How many placentas will the provider handle at one time? The answer should always, always be one (unless we're talking twins of high order multiples).
  • Where do you provide these services? Some providers pick it up from you in the hospital or at home and then either provide the services in your home or in another kitchen, which could be in their own home or in a professional kitchen space. Find out and ask all the sanitation questions that you need to. It is largely personal preference on the part of the parents as well as the provider as to where the services are performed but wherever that is, a real placenta professional will be doing it safely and correctly.
So, basically, what I'm getting out of this recent hype is that it is more important than ever with the growing availability of providers offering placenta services to make an informed decision. Do your research to find out if it is right for you. Talk to providers and get all of your questions asked. Review their websites, which should also be openly informative, for a full picture of what is offered. 

Explore your options, make the right choice for you and your family, and please be safe.

Would you consider ingesting your placenta?

~ Courtney

Courtney Durfee is a married mother of one and a compulsive organizer. She is a Certified Birth Doula (CAPPA, DONA & HypnoBabies) at CD Doula Services, Midwife's Assistant, and an Independent Placenta Services Provider. In addition to the cloth diaper education, prenatal, postpartum and parenting support services that she offers through her business, she volunteers her services to in-need families in the Hudson Valley through Dutchess County Healthy Families, Operation Special Delivery and other organizations. She enjoys living sustainably, holistically and naturally with her family, volunteering at Phillie's Bridge Farm and working at a farm in Orange County's black dirt region. She uses chiropractic care, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, nutrition, herbs and homeopathy to help keep her body in balance.

Thoughtful Thursday: Meditative Breathing, it's NOT Just For Monks

Breathing. It's a simple, yet imperative process we perform every moment, of everyday. We inhale and exhale automatically to keep oxygen flowing to our brain and air permeating our lungs. In yoga, the breath is known as prana or a universal energy that can be used to find a balance between the body-mind, the conscious-unconscious, and the sympathetic-parasympathetic nervous system. Breathing is not just a necessary tool for physical survival; it is an untapped resource with the ability to slow the mind in a hectic world.

It's easy to see why, for some of us, "turning off" our brains can be challenging. Even while driving, shooting off emails, checking our Facebook page, eating dinner, or watching our kid's baseball game we are often preoccupied; thinking of the things we need to get done, or places we need to be. Being able to just stop...breathe, and return to the present moment, would promote a myriad of physical and spiritual benefits.

Meditation along with deep breathing, has been used for thousands of years; most commonly to get a deeper understanding into the sacred and mystical forces of life. But today, it is an inexpensive and simple way to release stress and find a moment of peace.

Best selling author and integrative physician, Dr. Weil, states:
"Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders."
Andrew Weil, M.D
By controlling the rate and speed of your breath you can clear your thoughts of distractions and find tranquility where ever you may be.

For a simple guide to relaxing your breath try mantra mediation, taught by Dr. Deepak Chopra in his book "The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire":
A common way to begin meditation is to gently focus on one thing so that it becomes more difficult for stray thoughts to enter your mind. I like to start with a breathing meditation.

To begin meditation, find a comfortable position. Sit in a comfortable chair, with your feet flat on the ground. Place your hands in your lap with the palms facing upward. Close your eyes and begin witnessing your breath.
Once a person becomes comfortable with simply sitting quietly and focusing on breathing, I recommend adding a mantra, which creates a mental environment that will allow you to expand your consciousness.
The mantra I use, and that I recommend for achieving synchrodestiny, is the simple mantra "so-hum." This is the mantra of the breath; if you observe your breathing you'll hear "so-hum" as air moves in and out of your lungs. As you inhale, the sound of that vibration is "so." And as you exhale, the sound becomes "hum." If you want, you can experiment with this. Inhale deeply, close your eyes and your mouth, and exhale forcefully through your nose. If you concentrate, you'll hear the "hum" sound quite clearly.
One of the techniques of meditation is, in fact, simply focusing on where your breath comes from. With your eyes closed, inhale and think the word "so"; on the exhale, think the word "hum." Gradually both the breath and the sound will become quieter and quieter and quieter, and the breath becomes so quiet that it almost seems to stop. By quieting your breath, you quiet your mind. 
Read more:
If you find yourself in a place, like your car, that won't permit you to close you eyes, try deep belly breathing. When we get agitated or stressed our breathing tends to get short and shallow. The goal is to lengthen each inhale and exhale by focusing on your breath--letting go of all thoughts and worries.

Sit in a comfortable position and inhale slowly for about 5 seconds through your nose, allowing your belly to fill with air. Then exhale through your mouth for 3 seconds, pushing out all the air from your lungs until your belly is flat again. Repeat this until you feel a sense of calm wash over your body, and the only thing you are paying attention to is your breath. This can be done quietly at you desk, or while sitting in traffic.

Whatever technique you use, remember that focusing on your breath and the present moment can be a useful tool when the world around you becomes too chaotic.

What do you do calm yourself when things get crazy? Let me know in the comments section below.

Deeply Breathing in Granolaville,

Taste it Tuesday: That Cake'll Kill Ya, 7 Reasons Grains Are No Good

Pumpkin donuts, butter cream cake, garlic bread, and steaming hot cinnamon rolls...if I was on death row, these are the foods I want as my last meal.

No I don't plan on kicking the bucket anytime soon (or getting arrested), but if I knew I was headed to the great beyond I'd want a buttery blueberry muffin for the road.

Grain based foods have become a staple for every special occasion in our country. Whether you are getting married, celebrating a birth, graduating, retiring from 30 years on the job, or its just Tuesday, there's ALWAYS a reason to have cake.

Can you imagine salad without bread sticks, or breakfast without toast? Years ago I nearly had a melt down when I wasn't served a steaming hot biscuit at Thanksgiving dinner. What the hell am I supposed to sop up my gravy with!?

That all changed when my sweet pea allergic son was born. From nearly the get-go this child had eczema and an allergy to dairy and soy. Now at age 6 he's developed an intolerance to gluten and refined wheat products.

What is the difference between whole wheat and refined wheat products, you ask? Bare with me I'm about to go all sciencey on ya.

A whole wheat product contains--you guessed it--the whole  3 part wheat kernel---endosperm, bran, and germ. Whereas refined wheat is only comprised of the starchy endosperm. This means that refined products like white flour and white bread are missing important nutritional components.

Because of this recent diagnosis I've really had to come to terms with the idea that the foods that I want to be smothered in are endangering the health of my son. The most shocking thing I've learned is that grains aren't really good for anyone. I know you might be thinking "How you can be against grains when your site is called Granolaville?!" Lemme splain....

1. They Block the Good Stuff
Grains contain Phytic Acid, a mineral blocker that prevents absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Before we began mass producing them, fields of grain would have time to sprout which would break down some of the phytic acid and retain many nutrients. But today, crops are harvested quickly and eaten on such a large scale that we are negating the purpose of eating wheat in the first place.

2. Trust Your Gut
Both traditional and alternative medicine have begun to realize how the health of our intestines is critical to good overall health. Grains like wheat, barely, and rye contain gluten which is a sticky protein that can wreak havoc on your intestinal wall. Gluten and other nasty grain based proteins breakdown the microvilli in your small intestine. Microvilli are small finger-like hairs that are supposed to allow your body to absorb nutrients. If they have become damaged all the nutrient dense food you do eat won't be properly distributed into your system, causing weight loss and malnutrition. Grains are also connected to leaky gut syndrome. The intestinal walls become so damaged that bacteria, waste and other toxins may literally "leak" into the blood stream.

3. You May Have a Gluten Intolerance
It seems that this diagnosis is running rampant in this country. But there is a good reason for that. Researchers studying Celiac disease, which is an allergy that effects 1% of the population, have found that nearly 30% of all people of European decent have a gluten intolerance. Which means a whole lot of people are eating foods that are making them sick and they might not even know it. My son was one of these kids. He experienced loose bowl movements, bloating, stomach aches after every meal and slow weight gain. If you have any of these symptoms a simple blood test can determine if you are sensitive to gluten. Luckily there are now many delicious wheat and gluten free pastas, snacks and even chicken nuggets  for those picky kids like mine.

4. They Rot Your Teeth
The same phytic acid that prevents mineral absorption of calcium also uses up precious Vitamin D, which is imperative for bone growth. This can lead to dental decay, which was not found in our pre-agricultural ancestors or in cultures today that eat a fruit and vegetable based diet, with no dental care.

5. Grains Make You Want More Grains
Recall the smell of fresh baked bread, brownies, or cake. That warm sweet smell that envelopes your senses. Foods that are dense in carbohydrates can give you a quick energy boost, but will wear off just as rapidly leaving your body in a sugar induced slump. When those carbs break down into sugar, your insulin levels increase and then decrease leaving you craving more grains--- and so the cycle continues.

6. Eating Excess Grains Can Cause Infertility
A 2010 article from the NY Times discusses the link between Celiac and infertility in women.
Women with Celiac disease are reported to start having periods later and stop menstruating earlier than average. They also suffer more often from secondary amenorrhea, a condition in which menses start but then stop. Together, these menstrual disorders lead to fewer ovulations, which results in less of a chance to get pregnant. Hormonal factors and poor nutrition are thought to play a role in causing these problems.... For men, problems can include abnormal sperm – such as lower sperm numbers, altered shape, and reduced function. Men with untreated Celiac disease may also have lower testosterone levels. 
7. The Aren't Good For Your Joints
The inflammatory nature of processed grains can not only cause skin irritation manifesting as eczema or psoriasis, but can also cause pain in your joints and arthritis. The amino acids that make up the composition of a grain mirror that of the soft tissue in your joints. When immune cells become inflamed they begin to attack your joints soft tissue as if it were an invader, causing serious damage.

So now what do you do? The key is moderation for most people. If you do eat grains stick to whole grains with minimal processing. You can also try alternatives like rice, corn, buckwheat, or millet, which contain no gluten.

BUT if you do notice any of the above issues try removing them from your diet, one meal at a time, for a few weeks. Sure breakfast might not taste the same without your trusty piece of toast, but your body will thank you for it in the end.

My son's gluten intolerance has actually made it A LOT easier for the whole family to jump on board. I try to minimize the amount of refined wheat the rest of us eat, with a few splurges, like garlic bread (YUM), here and there.

Could you live without grains? Let me know in the comments section below!

Dreaming of Cake in Granolaville,


Natural Mom Monday FEATURE: The Midlife Midwife, The Adventure of Life

Each month Granolaville will feature the exclusive blog The Midlife Midwife, which chronicles the journey of a passionate, holistic, student midwife.

 "The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of life is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give."  ~William Arthur Ward 
I believe events happen in a person’s life for a reason. Call it divine intervention, the spirits talking to you, or just life unfolding. When this quote above appeared on my friend Tara’s Facebook page as her post, it spoke to me. This was my divine intervention. I needed to sit on this quote. Meditate to it. Let it speak to me. And then write about it.

Lately, I have been struggling with “me”.  Not so much an identity crisis, but a something is missing crisis. And I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a "crisis" either; I like "awakening" better. If I dissect this quote, pulling out the words that mean something to me about life, I get; learn, grow, change, overcome, care, serve, dare, befriend, and give. Isn’t this what life is all about? Shouldn’t this be what we strive for every day, believing in ourselves to live the best life we can?  

Notice what word is not in that quote......fear? Too many of us live our lives based on fear. I know I am guilty of it. What is holding me back now from going further in my self-awakening? If I’m totally honest with myself, it is fear of failure. Fear is what takes an awakening and makes it a crisis. So reading this quote has helped me realize that I am not going to give into fear. I will accept fear, because only by acknowledging the fear in our lives, do we move past it and change ourselves for the better. 

My life right now is easy. I get up every morning at 6am, make a hot breakfast for 3 boys, pack their lunches, give them kisses and send them off to school. I spend some time on FB, checking emails, running errands. I have appointments, grocery shopping, a house to clean and laundry to do. I run 3 boys to various sporting events and school functions. 

I volunteer for our families in the community and the sports my kids are involved in. I work every so often as an RN for an Occupational Health Services company. I’m a LaLeche League Leader, Doula, and Lactation Consultant. Squeeze in my hubby, and you’ve got the gist of my days. What you don’t see is looming 3 years oldest son goes off to college.

With one less kid to drive around, feed and clothe on a daily basis, I am going to have time for my passion. My life’s calling. The dream that I’ve harbored deep in my soul since I was 8 years old. The gift that God gave be a midwife. I have lived within the birthing community for a decade now, but have made some connections lately that sing to my heart. 

I'm watching a change, a positive force being unleashed through social media that is changing the way babies are being born. As women, we need to take back our instincts from doctors and hospitals and health insurance companies. We need to take back our babies and our bodies. Get rid of FEAR and dare to embrace the change. Use a midwife, have a home birth, do whatever it takes to come back to your mothering instincts.

So to help this change along, I am going back to school. In September 2011 I was accepted into graduate school at Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, Kentucky. It’s a three year program for registered nurses to become Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM). The program is completely on-line, with a few Kentucky campus visits sprinkled here and there. I will get my own clinical site when the time comes for me to start learning hands-on training and skills. Until then, in a virtual classroom is where I will sit, learning and testing and absorbing information. All so I can be the best midwife I can be.

Attending births for the last 10 years, both in the hospital and at home is an honor. Every birth is different, every birth is that mother’s story, and every birth grabs my heart. Watching the miracle unfold between that last push and the baby’s first breath, watching that infant take her first suckle at the breast, and watching the new father gaze loving at his new son is breathtaking. I cry at every one. And this is why I need to be a midwife. 

I am going to grow as a person, embrace the change, overcome the fear, dare to serve women, care for families, befriend fellow classmates and give myself over to the midwifery passion.

Have you embarked on any recent adventures? Tell us in the comments section below!

~ Melissa

Melissa Lawlor is married to a loving, hard-working man and mother to 3 hockey playing, lacrosse throwing boys. In her "free-time" she is a student Midwife, Registered Nurse, Doula, Lactation Consultant, and La Leche League Leader. She lives a holistic, organic, life-style, nurturing her family through the earth with fruits and vegetables she grows, and meat raised on pasture without hormones or antibiotics. She uses chiropractic care, accupuncture, massage, essential oils, nutrition, herbs and homeopathy to help keep her body in balance.

Fresh Idea Friday: 9 Non-Edible Ways to Use Coconut Oil

Happy Friday Granolaville! Well I've made it through my first week of sharing my holistic living ideas with you all. A BIG THANK YOU needs to be hurled at my ever so patient and supportive husband, my uber cheerleader mom, my kids for not driving me crazy, and fitness expert Liz Cort for her AWESOME guest post on clean eating. But most importantly, thank you to ALL those who have, tweeted, commented, liked, or shared Granolaville here on the interwebs! I'm so excited about creating this community of holistically crunchy peeps, so thank you for being a part of that.

OK, enough with the sappy's some fun stuff you might not know about COCONUTS!

Over the last few months coconut oil has replaced all other oils in my pantry, aside from olive oil. When I began using it we had already become accustomed to coconut milk in lieu of cow's milk (though now we are strictly an almond milk family). My dairy allergic son was even chowing down on coconut yogurt and ice cream. But I had no idea how many uses there were for coconut oil...aside from making delicious almond fried chicken ( I told you I had a weakness).

1. As a lotion. I suffer from SUPER dry skin and so do my two younger sons. You can literally take virgin coconut oil from the jar, rub it in your hands to melt it, and smooth anywhere on your body. Especially in the winter months this works best by applying right after a shower or bath. For super smooth feet generously apply and then cover with socks. They will be just as smooth as those pricey pedicures, for a fraction of the cost, and without getting those nasty germs from the guy with foot fungus.

2. Stop Buggy Itches. Next time a pesky mosquito tries to feast on you, dab a little bit of coconut oil on the area. It's antibacterial properties will prevent scarring and stop the itching. You can also mix with peppermint oil and you'll have a sweet smelling bug repellent.

3. Ward off Eczema. I have first hand experience with this remedy. Though the cause of most eczema is an allergic reaction to foods or an imbalance in the micro-flora in the gut, used topically, coconut oil help protect your skin from outbreaks. Be sure to only use virgin oil to avoid further irritation and don't use if your skin is already inflamed.

4. Fight Foot Funk & Fungus I'm sure my hubby is dying to share with you his slight (and by slight I mean so strong it feels like you were smacked in the face by the smell) foot odor. Who knew that by applying coconut and tea tree oil on smelly tootsies you can cure athlete's foot and funky odor?

5. Remove Rust. If you have any tarnished silverware or metal objects try rubbing oil on it, letting sit for about an hour and rinse.

6. Moisture Your Hair. If you're spending and arm and a leg on fancy conditioners STOP. RIGHT. NOW. If you want luxurious soft locks melt a tablespoon of organic virgin coconut oil, like Tropical Traditions or Nutiva by rubbing it in your hands. Apply directly to your wet or dry hair then let sit for 20-45 minutes. I can tell you from personal experience this has worked wonders on my hair.

7. Deodorant. Since traditional, even "natural" deodorants use aluminum as the main ingredient, have been linked to breast cancer and mess with estrogen levels, why not try making your own. Fellow crunchy blogger, Crunchy Betty, has a simple recipe that she swears by. It looks so easy I might even try it.

8. Lip Balm. Coconut oil is a white solid at room temperature, but just the heat from your fingers will leave it smooth enough to apply right to your lips. Bonus side effect----your lips will taste like you've been sipping Pina Coladas on some tropical island. I keep a small BPA free plastic container in my bathroom just for my cosmetic needs.

9. Make-up Remover. Who ever thought it made sense to remove chemicals, dirt and toxins from your face with more chemicals??? Well if you look on the back of any name brand face wash that's what you are getting. Instead, dab a little bit of coconut oil on a slightly damp washcloth and wipe anywhere on your face. It will leave your skin glowing and moisturized.

Do you have any non-edible uses for coconut oil?

Going Coco-nutty in Granolaville,

Thoughtful Thursday: 10 Mantras That Can Change Your Life

1. What You Resist Persists

This saying was my mantra while sitting in the delivery room ready to welcome my now 6 year old son. I remember like it was yesterday. Now I have to admit I am incredibly lucky when it comes to child birth. Labor for all three of my sons was under 3 hours. I don't think I have a natural tolerance for pain, but the mixture of the awesome nursing staff, a soothing mid-wife, and the support of my mother and husband, I was able to see past it. I realized some discomfort was natural, especially without medication, and I would only being doing myself a disservice if I were to fight the pain. So I picked a red spot on the hideous gown I was given to wear and stared a hole into it while repeating the saying "What I resist persists". It not only helped me to control my breathing and take my mind off the pain, but it reminded me that I need to just accept the way things are, even if they are hard because resistance causes more pain for myself and others. Once you surrender to "what is" it is easier to move past it.

2. Let Go and Let God

Let Allah/Buddha/The Universe/Yaweh/Jehovah/JC handle it.
 This definitely ties into the previous mantra. I have always thought as myself as a "go-get um" "make things happen" kind of woman. I also believed that my diligent persistence and ability to keep going when things got tough were positive attributes. Within the last few years I have realized while my tenacity has helped me many times in my life, it has also made it very difficult for things to take their natural course. I'm a Scorpio--- I can't help wanting to control and fix every problem. When my husband and I were looking to buy our first home I was consumed with controlling every part of the process and not letting things happen. I nearly had us buying every house we saw! After calming down, going through some turmoil, and crying in my husbands arms, I just let it all go. I thought ,I can't control everything, and sometimes its better that I don't. The day after I surrendered our home-buying fate to the Universe/GOD/Energy/Source (whatever you want to call your higher power) we found the perfect home for our family. Sometimes you don't have to do anything, just trust that it will be done.

3. Give To Others What You Think They Are Withholding From You

Sounds sappy, but this is it.
 I believe that what we think and say have a profound influence in shaping the world we live in. The Universe is like a mirror, reflecting back to us the way we see and treat the world. If we approach life with distrust, expecting to be let down, hurt, or under appreciated that is exactly what will be given. If you want others to be compassionate to you, show someone compassion. If you want your spouse to show appreciation for you, show them appreciation. If you want others to respect your beliefs and feelings and not judge you, then don't judge them. I am surprised at how often I forget this simple rule.

4. I'm Never Angry For The Reason I Think

It's never come to this, but sometimes I'd like to go a little "Madea" on people!
This one is a toughie, especially when my husband does something annoying, or my kids are driving me crazy, I want to blame them for my mood. The underlying issue might be that I'm not feeling appreciated or I'm under stress (perhaps from launching a new holistic website). I'm not really pissed that the dishes aren't washed or that no one offered to help with the laundry. What causes me to lash out is not feeling supported. Being upset for simple things, usually means something deeper is going on.

5. Living Well is the Best Revenge

Totally rude, but it made me chuckle.
This is one of my favorites, courtesy of my mother. We've all encountered someone, at one point or another in our lives, who wanted to spit on our dreams, say we CAN'T do something, or was just plain hatin'. When I was 16 I got pregnant with my amazing son, Tyler. Even though I knew the odds were against me, I was shocked that a teacher, at my supportive all-girls high school gave me the "yeah right look" when I said after graduation I was attending college. She even verbally questioned my ability to do so. From that moment on I was determined to be successful so that she would know that doubting me was a mistake. No amount of 'FU's' could replace the satisfaction of proving her wrong.

6. Small Moments Leads to Greatness

Again, and again, and again.
As a child I always wanted to be famous. I used to say I didn't care what I was famous for as long as people knew my name. Maturity and Kim Kardashian have made me wiser. Though I still want to use what I know to help others, I have learned that making big changes only comes from the combination of all the little ones. The odds of becoming "great" in 1 moment are stacked against us. Instead, I've gotta be true to who I am, do the best I can with each moment, of each day. When I'm old and gray (but still looking fabulous) I'll be able to look back and see my great life was created by millions of great moments.

7. You Can't Give What You Don't Have

Seems obvious right? But how many us are so drained from our obligations to others that we forget to care for ourselves? I know that when I am feeling MY best I have SO much more to give. Yet still, I have not fully mastered the ability to love and care for myself before tending to the needs of my children, husband, and friends. I sometimes feel like a drained zombie just going through the motions. My kids see that instead of being engaged in what they are doing I'm zoning out because I have too much going on in my head. It's not fair to me and its not fair to the people who count on me if I'm exhausted, stressed, or disconnected. So take care of YOURSELF. Take a hot bath, exercise, eat right, meditate. Be your best, so you can give your best.

8. "Our Deepest Fear is That We Are Powerful Beyond Measure"

This quote from Marianne Williamson has changed my life. I truly believe we all have the ability to do great things. I think we all know, intrinsically, that we hold within ourselves the power to move mountains. But as Peter Parker's Uncle Owen said "With great power comes great responsibility". Many times I have held myself back or let others hold me back from living my best life because I am afraid of not being able to remain balanced and handle it all. This does not serve me, and it does not serve others who could benefit from my abilities. When you live your best life it gives others permission to live their own.

9. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

This saying from the Dali Lama lets me know that I can't avoid being hurt, but I can choose how to react to those situations. I can either carry that pain around, allowing it to permeate everything I do, or I can view it as a part of life, and know that this moment does not define me.

10. I am not my story, my story is a part of me

We often give ourselves labels based on periods of time in our life and continue to place those labels on ourselves, even though our story has changed. My stories have included "I'm a single mother" ,"I'm the child of a single mother", and "I'm rebellious". Some might repeat the story "I was fat", "I was abused", or "I wasn't smart in school". All these stories that we tell ourselves are ways to keep our past in the present. Because we continue to tell ourselves "this is how I once was, this is how I will always be" we use these stories as a way to defend our present situation or feelings. We are not our past.

What is your favorite mantra? 

Getting Zen in Granolaville,

Wellness Wednesday: Fight the Cellulite, A Starter Guide to Clean Eating

I told my husband after the birth of my first son I refused to have a “Mommy Butt”. You know that flabby, saggy, flat area you see on women who have lost all muscle tone and definition in their once ample behind. 

Having gained over 50 lbs (during two pregnancies) it was inevitable that my derrière would get out of place and start heading south. That’s why I'm happy to say that I have successfully lost ALL the baby weight (both times within 7 months of giving birth). I am back down to my pre-baby pounds and have a nice round “apple bottom”.  

Ok…so this is not about ME….it’s about helping YOU!

I hope to inspire other women (not just Mom’s) and show you that there IS a way to get rid of your problem areas; with some good old fashioned clean eating, working out and determination.

It’s an all too common phrase I hear from my friends, “ I’ve tried everything to lose weight”. Some methods usually include:

•    Not eating or simply eating “diet” bars and shakes all day
•    Going on a fad diet
•    Taking diet pills
•    Joining a gym, then failing to workout on a regular basis due to family commitments
•    Buying home cardio equipment and then not using it
•    Doing ab exercises for hours on end hoping to shed the belly fat

It’s important to understand the difference between clean eating and a “diet”. Clean eating is simply eating the way nature intended, which can help you feel and look your best! 

The principles of clean eating are based on eating lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to help stabilize blood-sugar levels. Sticking to these 3 simple guidelines will increase your energy and bring your body to its optimal condition. Forget about the days of counting calories, points, and starving yourself!

What you eat and when you eat, can have a huge impact on how your body uses the food you give it (burn or store). It is IMPOSSIBLE to out train a bad diet. Therefore, if you want results, it’s very important to follow a clean eating plan and make sure to consume small meals every three to four hours. These small meals should consist of fruits or veggies, clean complex carbs-- such as oatmeal or Ezekiel bread, a lean protein, and healthy fats.

Once you implement these strategies, everything else will follow. Your body will react by losing extra fat or by maintaining your healthy weight. When you diet, no matter how much weight you lose, without mastering these skills, you are bound to slip back into old habits and gain it all back.

Don’t know where to begin? Here is a sample meal plan to get you started.


If you’d like more information on clean eating, or want your own personally designed plan, check out my site

What kind of healthy eating/fitness tips do you need? 


Liz is the owner/partner of Fitness Fusion of the Hudson Valley. She's won the Miss Fitness America pagent in NY and is certified in Sports Nutrition.

Recipe Links:
Protein Pancakes

Welcome to Granolaville!

Where it All Began

This is it. The words you are reading right now have been in the making for at least 4 years, if not longer.

I have been searching for myself since I was 17 years old and first became a mother. Because I was blessed with my son at such a young age separating who "Nacia" was from my new role of motherhood was really difficult. I had dreams before my son came along, but once I held him in my arms the vision for my life became less important--- it was now about us.