Last week slipped away from me as follows: WE FINALLY GOT OUR TAX REFUND, SO NOW I CAN BUY CLOTH DIAPERS AND NURSING TANKS–AND, OH, IT’S GETTING HOT, HOT, HOT OUTSIDE AND MY DAUGHTER DOESN’T HAVE ANY SUMMER CLOTHES FOR HER SIZE, SO WE NEED SOME OF THOSE TOO! Needless to say, with my head swimming with baby and toddler needs, I didn’t get this post out, but as I’ve had several pregnant women in my classes come up to me asking about my experience with natural childbirth and any advice I can give them, I thought I’d pass along the information here.

Please note: I’m not a medical practitioner. All of the advice that follows merely comes from my own experience. Seek a qualified medical practitioner to answer any and all your questions with regards to your health care options.

Almost all mothers, particularly first-time mothers, have fears. Many of these are related to the pain, or perceived pain, that you’ll encounter while giving birth. Make no mistakes–I’m not going to lie–giving birth to a child hurtsA lot. Underline that at least three times.

With that said, here are the four main points I tell mothers interested in going a natural route for childbirth:

  • Trust your body: it knows what it’s doing. The key is to keep your head when the going starts getting rough.
  • It’s a mind game: in order to achieve that natural birth plan, you’ve got to be mentally prepared to override your impulses for pain-relief. You’ve got to be tougher mentally than the contractions that can–and do–make you cry.
  • Breathe: practicing yoga breathing (slow, steady breaths) is one of the best ways to help your body relax as you’re going through contractions. You can also look to see if there are birthing classes in your area for breathing tips and techniques. Relaxation is key to a successful natural birth.
  • Go with the flow: stuff happens. All our perfectly laid-out plans don’t always go accordingly, and sometimes we’re totally thrown off by the sudden need for medical intervention. Don’t beat yourself up because your drug-free plans went awry. It’s better than you and baby are safe (via a c-section, etc.) than risk further complications and your lives.

One final thought I’ll touch upon before I wrap up. Make sure that you’ve got a good “team” or support person with you while you go through the birthing process. My husband was fantastic. He jumped right in, did what the nurses and midwife instructed him to do without batting an eyelash. They were even cracking jokes!

Not all men are like that. We know families whose guys were squeamish, and that just creates more stress than a mother in the middle of childbirth needs. Seek someone else (a parent or friend) or hire a doula (birthing coach) to help you if your significant other can’t or won’t be there for you physically, emotionally, etc.

Most importantly, make sure that you are completely comfortable with how your doctor will be delivering your child(ren). If you aren’t, I suggest finding someone you’ll like well, or even love. Even with all our amazing technological advances in medicine today, childbirth is still a risky business as well as being a very personal experience. The fewer worries you have going into the birthing process, the more you’ll be able to put your game face on, concentrate on having baby, and celebrating the life that’s coming to rest in your arms.

There are a lot of opinions out there on how to use essential oils (EO’s). So many, in fact, that it can leave you scratching your head wondering what way to go. Companies like doTERRA, for whom I sell, claim that many of their products can be applied directly to the skin without dilution, or neat; those that are considered “hot” need a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil. On the other side of the coin, many aromatherapists state that essential oils are such strong compounds that you should always diffuse them and/or use them with carrier oils. Then there are the age ranges, like how and when and how much to use on young children.

Truth be told, it gets overwhelming!

Even though I represent doTERRA, I fall on the side of caution for several reasons: 1) scientific research, while being done, isn’t finished yet on many/most EO’s; 2) diffusion/dilution of EO’s reduces the risks of sensitivity reactions and/or sensitization; 3) there’s a lot of reading I need to do on the various EO’s genotypes and any safety concerns that go along with them; 4) I typically believe in the less-is-more approach. Even Modern Essentials, the reference book many doTERRA wellness advocates regularly consult, suggests diffusion/dilution for a good many of the oils listed, and to not use any oil (except, perhaps, lavender) on children under the age of 6 neat, or even at all.

Then, for many of us who use Dr. Google to find out more information on a particular topic of choice, there are the internal disagreements in the EO community, both between traditional aromatherapists and corporations, and between corporation and corporation. I’m not one to bash any company or way of using EO’s. I merely promote doing your own research. Therefore, I’ve dug around and come up with a starter list of good places to go when you want to know more (regardless of any company affiliation):

  • Using Essential Oils Safely (Facebook group): where education is the primary focus, not sales or support of brands, and moderated by a group of trained aromatherapists who, in my opinion, give good advice on EO use. They also have a list of good websites to go to for more EO information under their files.
  • Learning about EOs: a website run by an aromatherapist trained through AromaHead Institute, one of the leading aromatherapy schools in the USA.
  • The Tisserand Institute: Robert Tisserand is, perhaps, the foremost expert on EO’s, their constituents, their uses, and their safety concerns. He also sends out a newsletter, to which you can subscribe, and also wrote Essential Oil Safety, a huge compendium of his lifelong research in the field.
  • Essential Oil Blogging: run by Plant Therapy, a company that I’ve heard recently began working with Tisserand, and whose blog is extremely friendly for those who aren’t into scientific terminology.

I’ve deliberately stayed away from websites linked to big corporations, like doTERRA and Young Living, merely because my primary goal here is to educate rather than sell (though I do list the monthly promotions in each month’s EO blog post), and because there is a lot of contention between companies that, frankly, I’d rather not get into as it makes my head spin. I think that the EO community is better off with good, solid information from non-biased sources (or as non-biased as I can find currently) rather than any propaganda aimed at undermining a competitor. Where you go to purchase quality therapeutic-grade oils is entirely up to you, as each person will swear by what works for them–and what works for them isn’t necessarily what will work for others. (DoTERRA has worked well for me, which is why I chose to become a wellness advocate in addition to how they source their oils and work to give back to the distillation communities. Likewise, a friend of mine swears by her Young Living oils. It all comes down to personal preference and what works for you.)

So how do you use EO’s safely?

  • Read the Latin name of the oil being used–this is really important so you aren’t using the wrong type of, say, lavender.
  • Check out material safety data sheets, if available, or another source (like Tisserand) to find out what safety concerns there are.
  • When in doubt, dilute, diffuse, or avoid all together.
  • Always consult your physician before starting a new regimen (even an EO regimen) and/or an aromatherapist for details on EO’s that will benefit you.

The biggest part of using EO’s safely is to read, read, read, and talk with those who have experience in the field. If you aren’t certain that the information you received from a company sales rep is accurate, look for good, non-biased EO sources that can just focus on what EO’s and their blends are about without regard to brand name and the bottom line. In my own personal experience, the more I research, the more I am considering becoming a certified aromatherapist so that I know what I’m selling better in order to give the very best advice to those seeking to use EO’s.

For those who are interested, there are many good aromatherapy training options out there. Check out the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy for lists of approved schools. Those that cross over in both lists are, it seems, the most highly recommended.

See more on EO’s here and here.

Speaking of how doTERRA sources, here is a spotlight on the process they go through on sourcing their lemon and bergamot essential oils in addition to a closer look at lemon oil.

March 2015 Specials

Visit www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information

Visit http://www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information

Visit www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information

Visit http://www.mydoterra.com/leahrnovak for more information

I’m about four weeks out from my delivery date with Bumpkin 2, which means a lot of waiting and taking care of last minute things. I honestly can’t wait for the pregnancy part to be over :) Until then, however, I’m trudging on and wanted to leave you with some health and fitness articles and recipes for you to try! Enjoy, and hope your March is nicer than your February. (I know a lot of you have been slammed with snow!)

Articles

The Essential Link Between Emotional Intelligence and Behavioral Change

Lack of Exercise Deadlier than Obesity?

All About Overtraining

Targeted Training vs. Functional Fitness

4 Core Movements for Beginners

Increase Mobility/Strength with This Bodyweight Circuit

A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga: 5 Widely Practiced Poses

Yoga Beginner Series (Part III)

Prenatal Gentle Flow (yoga)

Vets and Chronic Pain

How to Fall in Love with Whole Foods

Clash of the Food Titans

Flavonoids for Healthy Aging

Artificial Sweeteners and Gut Microbiota

Aromatherapy for Muscle Tension: Make an Inhaler

DIY Mustard Bath

7 Ways to Remove Toxins From Your Life

Recipes

4 Green Smoothies to Kick-start the Day

Italian Hot Chocolate

Banana Pancakes

Yeasted Belgian Waffles

Homemade Greek Yogurt

Herb-roasted Chicken with Herb-infused Gravy

Flourless Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Homemade Samoas (grain-free)

Orange Poppyseed Bundt Cakes (grain-, nut-free, Paleo)

24 Rhubarb Recipes

I’m a part of a few Facebook mom groups, and sometimes I come across posts that I find rather humorous. Not because I think the mom posing the question lacks common sense or a knowledge base. Rather, I smile because I had the same thoughts as these things happened to me for the first time.

I’ll start by saying that you can (most often) blame your hormones for the random things that happen to you after you have your baby. Just as everything gets wacky while you’re pregnant, things go a little crazy again as your body returns to it’s pre-pregnancy self. As levels of estrogen and progesterone readjust to a (perhaps, new) baseline, you start pondering what the heck is happening to your body. Here are some postpartum (PP) phenomena, my own thoughts when I went through them, and how to handle any/all hurtles.

Breastfeeding: for mamas who are going to breastfeed, the first 2-4 weeks (sometimes longer) are a real roller coaster ride. Your breasts swell. You hurt in ways you’ve never hurt before. You’re tired from round-the-clock feedings. You’re wondering if baby ever gets enough. You’re wondering if you can really tolerate baby latching one more time.

The good news is that it gets easier. The not-so-good news is that it takes some time. You and baby have got to work as a team to figure out how best to breastfeed. You may really need some outside help too. Never hesitate to contact your family doctor/pediatrician and/or lactation consultant (LC), and consider joining your local La Leche League, International, chapter. Most often, you’ll find a ton of support through these channels, which will give you a morale boost and the courage you need to continue.

On one side note, there still are a lot of doctors out there who recommend, or even push, supplementation when you come in with questions and/or for checkups. Virtually all women make enough milk to sustain their children (I think it’s less than 2% don’t and/or cannot produce enough breast milk). This, however, doesn’t mean that your supply can’t dwindle or dry up sooner than later–another reason to get into contact with good LC’s, who can recommend safe foods for boosting milk supply. If your doctor recommends supplementation right off the bat, consider seeking a second opinion before making a final decision. I know I didn’t have any issues with milk supply; I also know that one of my girlfriend’s did about four months PP, and needed to supplement her baby’s diet so he’d gain weight. In the end, you’re mom. You know what’s best for your baby. Go with your gut.

The jiggle: one of the most common posts I see come from women ready to reclaim their pre-pregnancy body. They’ve got baby pudge and, six weeks PP, they want it gone! Now!

Let me start off by stating that it took almost 10 months for you to grow a baby. It’s going to take you at least that much time to have your body go back to it’s pre-pregnancy self. (It may never go back totally, but more on that in a second.) That doesn’t mean don’t start back up with your exercise and/or diet routines after your six-week PP checkup. It does mean take it easy, gradually ease into your routines again, seeking advice on diet if you’re breastfeeding so your supply doesn’t diminish, and on exercise if you’re still feeling aches and pangs in certain areas of your body. Note what makes you feel discomfort, and pay particular attention to anatomical alignment and how to perform the exercise properly. I know that when I moved into side plank a certain way, I’d feel a terrible pain in my pelvis, so I made sure that I didn’t transition into that particular exercise in that particular way again for at least six months.

Let me reiterate: take your time. You’ll thank yourself later.

Diastasis recti: some women experience a separation in their abdominal muscles (the rectus) after having a baby. If you do experience this,, seek guidance from your healthcare provider before returning to your exercise regimen. As nice as it’d be to crunch your way to a flat belly, that may actually make the separation worse rather than better.

Symphysis pubic dysfunction (SPD): the same advice applies to SPD. Because the hormone relaxin works so nicely to make your ligaments stretch so you can push baby through the birth canal, sometimes it takes a long while for things to line up properly again. Sometimes, you need to go through physical therapy. Seek medical advice if you find yourself having discomfort or pain in your pelvic/pubic region, even if you’ve had your six-week PP checkup.

The pants dance: yep. It happens. As much as we jump, dance, squirm, kick our legs, lie back on the bed, our pants might not fit. Ever again. You might have to go shopping (gasp!) for new ones. It might also just take more time for your hips to realign to their PP positions (or close to them). A lot of women’s hips change shape after they have babies. It’s natural, and will making having subsequent children much easier. Don’t fret about it. Embrace your new curves and celebrate the life you’re now holding in your arms!

Holy hairballs: around 3 months, all that luscious hair you grew while pregnant will start falling out by the handful, particularly around your temples. It will eventually stop (in time for your little one to start pulling it out by the fistful), but I still remember feeling aghast at how much I lost.

I’m sure there are more things I’ve overlooked. Each woman experiences pregnancy and postpartum life differently. When in doubt, talk with your doctor, pediatrician, LC, or another professional. Mom blogs can be great and make us feel good (or bad), but it’s always wise to get advice from all sides of the spectrum in order to make the best-informed decisions for ourselves and our children.

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list on the top 12 foods you ought to purchase organically, and the Clean 15 you can pick up in the grocery store (and properly wash and prep once you get home). While the organization isn’t the end all, be all of research into the harmful affects of chemicals, they are committed to bringing you, the consumer, the latest research being done and what is happening in Washington, D.C. with regards to appropriate food labeling…or lack thereof.

In the most recent IDEA/ACE Fitness Journal (February 2015), it was announced that the EWG has recently come out with a Food Additives Dirty Dozen. In their press release, one of their senior scientists stated that while not all food additives are cause for concern, those found on this list are good to identify, especially (the article includes) since so many of them are restricted and/or banned in other countries. The list includes chemicals like nitrates/nitrites, potassium bromate, and propyl paraben. (The full list is linked above.)

While browsing their latest research page, I also discovered a Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors list that I thought I’d post along with the others. While BPA is possibly the most well-known on the list due to its risks highlighted associated with plastics (mainly, but also canned goods) in the last several years, others, like phthalates, are also good to keep in mind when out shopping not only for food but also for health/beauty products. Again, the full list is posted above.

Last month, I discussed what essential oils are. This month, I wanted to briefly touch on why you might consider using them. Before I do, I’d like to reiterate what I’ve said many times before:

I’m not a doctor, and therefore I cannot diagnose, treat, cure, and/or prevent any disease. My intention is to discuss ways in which you may be able to help maintain wellness and quality of life. Since essential oils are considered supplements by the FDA, companies and sales representatives cannot claim that oils treat specific conditions/diseases/illnesses, nor should they. Always consult your physician, dietitian, naturopath, etc., before starting to use any new supplement or regimen, including essential oils.

One of the main reasons people are attracted by essential oils (EO’s) is because numerous medical studies have found that they have antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties. (Check out PubMed and Aroma Science for specific studies on EO’s, including this month’s spotlight oil, lavender.) They work on your physiology, at the cellular level, which is why so many people recommend them and why so many researchers are looking into EO’s for potential medical benefits. This is also why you want to look for therapeutic-grade essential oils and steer clear of most brands that are sold in conventional retail stores.

EO’s have hundreds of uses, including as bug repellent, anxiety reducers, air purifiers, and flavors in cooking. It is always best to get guidance when starting to use EO’s. If you have one near you, consulting a naturopath physician or aromatherapist is the best route to go–they have undergone the education necessary to understanding the chemical compositions of EO’s and how the act/react with one another and in the body under certain conditions. However, sometimes these resources are cost prohibitive. Therefore, in addition to websites like PubMed and Aroma Science, you might check out the following resources:

There are several good blogs out there; the one I’ve started following the one written by Andrea Butje of the Aromahead Institute, who incidentally is having free webinars on the AI’s aromatherapy course. There are also several Facebook groups out there advocating the safe use of EO’s, including Using Essential Oils Safely. Most of all, the more you research and learn, the more you’ll be able to use EO’s with safety and skill.

One final note before I finish. A lot of people recommend using EO’s on children, particularly lavender. Because they have such powerful properties, you should not use undiluted EO’s on children under the age of 6. If you chose to use an EO on their skin, it should be highly diluted (one drop in at least 2 Tbs. of a carrier oil, like fractionated coconut oil), but may be better and more safely utilized in a diffuser. EO’s should only be used on young children with purpose and possibly should be avoided on infants altogether. Again, always check with your pediatrician before using any EO’s on your children.

This Month’s Spotlight Oil: Lavender angustifolia

This Month’s doTERRA Deals:

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Please note, I am a doTERRA wellness advocate. While the main goal of these posts on EO’s is to educate, you can go to my website to purchase oils. I do earn a small commission from your purchases, and thank you for any business you send my way. I hope you find them as nice and useful and I have!

I hope this year has been a terrific one already. January is drawing to a close (already?!) but not before I leave you with this month’s articles and recipes. Enjoy them, and may you find many ways to apply them to your new lifestyle habits!

Articles

Yoga-inspired Dynamic Warm-up

20-minute Calorie-burning HIIT Workout

Little Black Dress Workout

Boost Your Workout with Metabolic Drills

Top Exercises to Gain Thoracic Mobility

Does Exercise Order Really Matter?

Diabetes and Exercise: What Every Fitness Professional Should Know

The Physiology of Fat Loss

Cold Winter Temps Trigger Brown Fat Burning

Improving Chronic Neck Pain with Pilates

Pilates and Chronic Lower Back Pain

Pilates for Larger Bodies

Sun Salutations Solutions

Seniors and Self-myofascial Release

Stretching for Men

Sleep: Fueling Brain and Body

Laughter, Brain Fitness, and Older Adults

The Skinny on Happiness

The Mental Aspects of Chronic Pain

Bust Out of a Food Rut

Eating with the Seasons

Understanding Iron-deficiency Anemia and Sports Anemia

From Farm to Doorstep with a Click

From Heirloom Seeds to Heirloom Breeds

How to Handle a Whole Chicken

DIY Cayenne/St. John’s Wort Salve

Natural Herbal Foot Care

The Wonders of Bergamot

Recipes

Avocado Toast

Banana Blueberry Muffins

On-the-go Breakfast Oatmeal Trail Mix Cupcakes

Baked Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal

Meyer Lemon, Kale, and Goat Cheese Flatbread

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Power Salad with Lemon Chia Seed Dressing

3 Ingredient Split Pea Soup (vegan)

Spaghetti and Olive Rosemary Meatballs (grain-free)

Goat Cheese Chicken Alfredo (gluten-free)

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili (vegan)

Easy Chickpea Vegetable Stir Fry

Apple Berry Crumble (grain-free)

Mini-Carob Brownies (gluten-free)

Coconut Custard

The Importance of Gratitude

January 22, 2015

We live in a world that tells us we need more. We are bombarded with endless advertisements and images telling us that we aren’t good enough (as we are), that we need this food, that cosmetic, this surgery, that diet, etc., to shape us into something better…and that will make us happier. Sadly, these are industries driven by cold, hard cash. In most cases, you are an afterthought.

Contentment for the life we are leading at this very moment, for the things and people in our lives, offers us far more for a longer duration of time than your favorite snack food, diet plan, retail therapy, or next fat-reducing treatment. Scientifically, contentment works on the brain, reducing stress and anxiety while increasing such feelings as hope and love. Best of all, we just feel better, period. To me, at least, it’s as though one can breathe again after holding their breath under water for an extended period of time.

Experiencing gratitude takes a lot of practice before it can become a habit of contentment. Since our society encourages us to constantly buy, gain, change, we often program ourselves with negative reminders and punishments when we don’t meet our expectations. Part of the practice is letting go of the negative self-talk and replacing it with positive self-talk. Here’s one easy way of doing just that.

Think of five people/things in your life, right now, that you are grateful for.

That’s it.

When you wake up, take a minute to think of five people/things. When you encounter rush hour and it’s making you grumpy, come up with five people/things. When you want something that your budget just won’t allow, think of five people/things. When the fire alarm sounds and irritates you, think of five people/things. Before you shut your eyes at night, think of five people/things. Anytime you need an uplifting boost to your spirits, think of five people/things.

If you can’t think of five at first, think of three.

If you can’t think of three, think of one.

It all comes down to practice–just going through the process of musing on someone or something we can be truly grateful for changes the way our brain works. Over time, it becomes easier to think of the five, until all those negatives you’d once cataloged each day diminish and vanish in a wave of contentment ushered in by thoughts of all the goodness you have in your life right now.

It’s isn’t always easy when you’re feeling down.

No, it’s downright hard when you’re in the dumps.

Do it anyway.

It helps, and it gets easier.

So I stumbled upon this TED talk last week, and thought it important. The statistics are ones I’ve heard repeatedly in the health and fitness industry over the last few years, but a lot of people don’t know them. And they don’t know how to research. Here’s what Robyn O’Brien said about her research journey, and why GMO foods are so much cheaper than organics.

At the end, she encourages her audience (and us) to use the talents we were given to create change in our lives, communities, cities, and even the world. I don’t know about you, but I sat there thinking and realizing what a daunting task this can be. But then I began thinking that any great change starts with small steps.

What do those steps look like for the average, everyday person who perhaps, like my family, has to stick to a budget?

  • Read ingredients on the backs of packages for filler/artificial ingredients. Try to choose those processed foods you like that are clearly labeled as non-GMO and USDA-certified organic.
  • Better yet, try cutting out as many processed foods from your diet as possible. Shop
    Found on Facebook

    Found on Facebook

    bulk at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, and invest in a blender that can grind up dry goods like wheat berries, oats, nuts, and other whole foods. Become more self-sufficient. (Pinterest is amazing for having recipes to help with this.)

  • Shop around the perimeter of a store rather than down the aisles. You pay a premium for packaging. Why not put that extra money toward foods that benefit the body?
  • Don’t see what you want in your local grocery store? Put in requests. Keep requesting. Get your friends to buy in a similar way and place requests. Your money talks!
  • Look for local farmer’s markets, even if they’re seasonal. Their prices are usually very good and their produce is excellent. Talk with the vendors about how they grow their produce and about their knowledge in the industry. The more you know, the better informed decisions you make.
  • Don’t have a local farmer’s market within a reasonable distance (to you)? Plant a garden! Don’t have a whole lot of space? Look into square-foot gardening!
  • Consider getting into canning and dehydrating foods, or ask your friends if they know someone who does these things. This way, you can have your yummy produce even in the winter!
  • Become a vegetarian. Even just doing Vegetarian Mondays will make an impact on your budget, your health, and even the environment.
  • Not ready to give up meat? Try buying grass-fed and ethically-raised meats, eggs, and dairy. Not seeing what you want in the store? Research farms that sell grass-fed produce. Don’t shy away from the prices of a quarter/half cow. Split the cost between nearby family/friends/neighbors. It’s a lot of meat, and lasts quite a while. Paying a little extra for meats, eggs, and dairy will benefit your waistline (and bottom line) in the long run. (Fun fact: Some people drive 2-3 hours to get their quarter cow!)
  • Shop online for great deals. I find great deals on websites like Amazon for organic oils, cocoa, and coconut sugar that are also harvested in a sustainable fashion that also helps the local farmers.
  • Don’t forget that these principles can extend to your health and beauty habits, and household goods too! Ever heard of reusable paper towels?

Remember, finally, that unless you’ve got a medical reason that requires immediate changes (under doctor supervision), the easiest way to go about changing up eating habits is to do it over time. Start slowly. Once you clear out one item or kind of item from your pantry/freezer/fridge, replace is with a healthier alternative. Learn how to make your favorite nut butters, jams, veggie chips, breads, etc. Do the majority of your food prep on the weekends when you have more time; consider making it a family event. Freeze meals that are ready to dump into a crock pot–another great kitchen investment!–so that you can just thaw, pour, start cooking, and go about your busy day.

In the end, healthy habits also comes down to lifestyle. A lot of people run very busy lives. Pick the things you can do. Consider making room in your schedule for the things you’d like to do. Leave the things you really don’t want to/can’t do alone. Maybe one day you’ll get around to them, or maybe not. But don’t beat yourself up for not getting into canning (or whatever) because you simply don’t have the time/energy to do it when your best friend and next door neighbor tells all her wonderful stories about how full her cellar shelves are getting. You’re doing what you can.

I’ve decided to start posting monthly on essential oils, what they are, why I chose to become a doTERRA wellness advocate, and specifics on oils in addition to letting you all know the monthly specials doTERRA offers. My goal is primarily to educate, but should you choose to make a purchase through my website, I do earn a small commission, (and I thank you for choosing to go through me).

So, first off, a lot of people want to know what are essential oils?

According to Wikipedia, essential oils are concentrated hydrophobic (literally, “water-fearing”) liquids comprised of plant-based volatile aroma compounds. The “essential” part of the description comes about because each oil carries the “essence” of the plant’s characteristic fragrance. Most often, essential oils are harvested through the steam distillation process, though they are also obtained through expression and solvent extraction. Historically, these oils were often used for medicinal purposes. Today, essential oils have a wide application, and are often found in common day products like makeup and perfumes, foods, incense, household cleaners, etc. The branch of alternative medicine that mainly uses essential oils is known as aromatherapy.

There are a lot of brands of essential oils out there. Many can be found in stores. While they might be great on price, they are often cut with chemicals. When searching for a good essential oil, make sure that it is certified pure therapeutic-grade quality. For this reason, I generally advise that you research into the companies you buy or are considering on buying from in order to ensure that they, like doTERRA, are meeting the highest quality standards possible. (The FDA does not regulate the essential oils market as they are viewed as supplements.) Look for companies that quality-check each batch of product made, who work closely with the top names in the oils industry, and who meld traditional aromatherapy applications with modern scientific research. Just because essential oils have been used for hundreds and even thousands of years doesn’t mean that good scientific evidence isn’t necessary. It is, and thankfully more scientists are looking at essential oils for their therapeutic and medicinal benefits. (More on that later.)

I’m going to leave you with a rather long video on frankincense oil presented by one of the top names in the industry and doTERRA’s Dr. Hill. Considered the “King of Oils,” frankincense has long been prized for its fragrance and medicinal properties, and is now being looked at by the medical community for anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, among other things. For more information, check out PubMed.

DoTERRA’s January 2015 Specials:

Linked to more information

Linked to more information, extended till January 15th!

Linked to more information

Linked to more information

Linked to New Year, New You website

Linked to New Year, New You website

As a bonus, here are some recipes that promote a Slim & Sassy lifestyle! Remember, to be healthy requires more than using a product. It requires lifestyle changes! Pick one area to focus on at a time, make small goals to meet an overall larger one, be patient and persistent, and you’ll start seeing results! Good luck and best wishes this year!

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