not a sales pitch, part one

by MrsFatass on October 11, 2017

Today I’m writing about what I do with essential oils.

I’m writing this post for the same reasons I’ve written about sleep, stress, and food – essential oils and natural, non-toxic products are an important part of my recovery from Adrenal Fatigue. And also, I’m writing because people have asked. I have talked about oils as part of my regimen AND I mentioned yesterday that the holidays are coming up, and oils may be part of your gift giving or receiving, and some of you reached out, so I decided to write the first of maybe a couple really in depth, link filled posts about how I use essential oils.

THIS IS NOT A SALES PITCH. Ya’ll know being sales-y makes me feel dirty, and not in a good way.

That said…

I AM a Young Living Distributer, and this post is full of links. It is possible I receive a small commission or bonus if you order from my site.

I am not really one to do FB parties and groups and all that stuff, I do not hold myself out as an expert, and I don’t rely on YL as an income stream. I’m just a girl who loves oils, who has been using them for close to 20 years, and who will guide you to things that interest you, and share my favorite items, products, projects and tips from time to time. But look, I will not hold myself out as someone with the education and training to “prescribe” anything, as I am not a holistic practitioner. And I urge you to be discriminating; oils are powerful and medicinal, and if you’re ingesting oils it’s best to have confidence in the credentials of the prescriber. Yes?

And I’ll also help you get started with YL if you’re interested, or just share my discount with you where I can if you just want to make some commitment free purchases. If you already have a YL distributor in your life, or if you purchase oils elsewhere, that it totally fine by me.

Okay? We cool?

So I’ve organized the post into three sections – Getting Started, Aromatherapy, and On My Bod, which I think is enough for one post (though there may be a Part Deux coming because there is just so much more), and then I’ll finish up just listing a few of my current favorite products. I’ll first try to focus on how to use the items in your kit, and then tell you a bit about how I added on.


When I got started, I got started with a Premium Starter Kit that provided me with a variety of oils, a diffuser, a few sample sizes, and a product guide. They have evolved a bit over the years, and have some different choices since I joined, and I firmly believe they are the best way to get started because these starter kits give you a very economical option to receive a variety of the most used, most popular oils and products AND to get a high-quality diffuser. They range in price from $160-$260.

There is also a Basic Starter Kit available for $45 that basically just comes with the sample sized items, and doesn’t include a diffuser.

There are also starter kits that focus on other product groups. The Premium Starter Kit with Thieves is an amazing value for $144, and can help you get started with this line of personal and home care products. And also a Premium Starter Kit with NingXia Red products for $170.

You can browse all of the kits about halfway down my Young Living website homepage here.

Sue’s TIP: the Premium Starter Kit with Thieves is my next purchase. Not only is the scent delicious for Fall, I’m ready to change over my household cleaner from the Lysol products I’ve been using. (If any of you used to come to Trio, we used Thieves hand soap, Hand Purifier, and Cleaner there if you remember the scent!) Also, my daughter’s hands get super chapped and cracked because of all the hand sanitizer used in school; I send her with the Thieves Hand Purifier instead, and that, along with the Rose Ointment (with Rosewood and Tea Tree) once a day at home keeps her hands in excellent condition. These kits are a great way to get a variety of products at a good price!

*Note: There is no discount that I can offer you on the starter kits. They are already deeply discounted to help you get started!


My favorite way to use oils, and one of the easiest ways to get started is simple aromatherapy. A good diffuser or spray bottle, some purified water, and a few drops of oils can make an immediate impact.

In the beginning, these came first, because I had them in my kit:

  • I set the mood for our Mind/Body classes with two blends that came in my kit: Peace and Calming, for a soothing and calming atmosphere, and Stress Away, for help with relaxation and comfort. There is a reason why these blends are best sellers, and I think the names say it all. I think that I answer the most questions about how to use oils to “combat” stress and anxiety. Here are two that come with the premium kit!
  • I used citrus blends like Purification and Citrus Fresh during the day or throughout the night to help keep the studio from smelling sweaty, because, well, we got sweaty! I also love to make a Purification spray and I use it like Febreeze on stinky gym shoes, in the dogs car, or just in the air when things need a boost of freshness.
  • I first diffused Lavender at home to help with my son’s seasonal allergies. There is no scent like the YL Lavender. To this day, every time I open that bottle (which is at least once a day) I take a huge whiff and just love it. I like to add a few drops of Lemon (or any kind of citrus, really) or Peppermint when I’m diffusing for allergies. I LOVE to make a linen spray to spray down sheets and pillowcases to help the kids unwind and get ready for sleep. Lavender is one of three oils I use in my after-sun spray (Peppermint and Tea Tree are the other two). And every single night I use Lavender and Cedarwood in my bedroom diffuser to help me both fall and stay asleep. Sue’s TIP: If you have any trouble falling or staying asleep, Lavender and Cedarwood are a MUST. Lavender comes in your kit, and Cedarwood is $11.25 wholesale. WORTH EVERY PENNY.
  • Thieves. Diffuse it because it smells divine, but also reap the immunity benefits!
  • Frankincense is considered one of the heavy hitters in terms of coping with Anxiety and Depression. Now, I am NOT recommending this oil IN PLACE OF medication. I’m not. But what I am saying is that aromatherapy adds another layer to how we cope, in cooperation with medication, therapy, whatever. Frankincense promotes deep breathing and open air passages, which can help alleviate feelings of fear, nerves, or stress, and it is also said to have an effect on blood pressure. I was first introduced to this powerful oil when I was pregnant with my son. I like to diffuse it with a drop or two of Lemon (or later, Bergamot) because I just love how uplifting citrus oils make me feel.

Sue’s TIP: My first order after joining included Melaleuca (Tea Tree), Eucalyptus and Rosemary. Between having kids in school who bring home lots of crud, being in the sweaty studio with lots of germs, and just living through cold and flu season, I quickly became a fan of my “Sinus Cocktail” in the diffuser to get through colds and sinus infections without resorting to nasty medicines or nasal sprays: 1-2 drops each of Lemon, Peppermint, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus and Rosemary.

Here are some oils that did not come in my kit that I sniff/diffuse often:

  • Bergamot. It’s my favorite oil when I’m feeling anxious. Over the last 8 months or so I’ve sniffed it A LOT. I oftentimes have a bottle in my purse to sniff, and it’s my favorite one to put on my aromatherapy bracelet. Its also become my go-to oil for diffusing during the day, so I add a bottle to my order about every 3 months. Light, citrusy, and $27 wholesale.
  • En-R-Gee. Yall, this bottle was my lifesaver last winter and spring. At the height of my crash, but still having to function, I always had this bottle in my bag, and my favorite way to use it was to put a drop in the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and get it warmed up, then cup my hands and sniff. I’d do this pretty much every time I had to walk into the gym to train clients, any time I was driving between NC and FL I’d put some on a cotton ball to sniff as I drove. I still love it for the afternoon lull, or if I’m groggy waking up in the morning. It saved my ass when I was proctoring tests at Thing One’s school, because sitting in a silent room made me just want to curl up and fall asleep. I truly wouldn’t have made it through without it. It’s $24.75 wholesale and I’m not even halfway through the bottle. (For some reason I don’t love this in the diffuser; but sniffing the bottle, my hands or a cotton ball is my favorite).
  • OOLA Balance, OOLA Finance, OOLA Grow: I am one by one adding all of the OOLA blends to my collection, but these are my favorite. If you’re not familiar with the OOLA movement, check them out on Facebook, or get their book. They really helped me get things in perspective when we were preparing for and executing our move, and even before that, in putting out in the universe what I wanted for myself and my family. Good stuff, and YL has beautiful blends to go with each OOLA principle.
  1. ON MY BOD

Okay. About 5 years ago I got serious about getting crap chemicals out of my bathroom, and now more than ever I think it’s important to take control over what we put on our bodies. In the beginning, I threw all my bath and body products away and made everything and I mean EVERYTHING from scratch – deodorant, body lotion, soap and bath bombs, lotion bars, toothpaste, lip scrub, lip balm. Now I make things when I want to, and some I prefer to buy.

Here’s what I used from my kit:

  • Peppermint and Lavender (not in the same recipe) were my favorites for lip balm, as was Lemongrass and PLEASE be careful when you’re searching Pinterest for recipes – know your oils – because there are some oils (some citrus, for example) that leave you very sensitive to sunlight for 24 hours afterward.
  • My Premium Kit back in the day came with a blend called Valor, and I got a couple of bonus oils with my order that included Tangerine. I used these two scents in my first batch of Kelly Jelly, which is my favorite body lotion recipe to date. (my most recent batch used Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage, and Lavender. )
  • I was a staunch no-poo person, and I my favorite combo to add for fragrance was Ginger and Orange (more bonus oils with monthly orders!)
  • I was using Peppermint or Thieves in my homemade toothpaste. Now, for various reasons I’m not making toothpaste anymore but most days I oil pull. I put a few drops of either Peppermint Vitality or Thieves Vitality (both included in the new kits) in the coconut oil before I pull. Some people make coconut oil pulling cubes with the oils already added, but I’d have to keep them in the fridge and I can’t imagine putting a cold cube in my mouth to have to chew up and swish because my teeth are sensitive, so I just add a couple of drops to the spoon.
  • PanAway is another kit oil that I love. I eventually bought the Ortho-Sport Massage Oil, but before that I’d put a few drops of Fractionated Coconut Oil (or any carrier oil) in the palm of my hand, a few drops of Panaway, rub my hands together and apply to my sore muscles. My favorite is still to massage my feet with this mixture, and then put on socks. I like to sleep that way.
  • ESSENTIAL OIL ROLL ONS: Already blended with a carrier oil so they are safe for your skin, they are great to have on hand for quick use. My favorite is Deep Relief (a great pre-workout burst of energy). My next purchase will be Breathe Again, to apply to neck and chest when congested. You can also purchase Tranquil or Stress Away. These cost anywhere from $25-$35 wholesale, and my experience has been they last a long time. I’ve had my two for about 8 months and they are still halfway full.
  • ESSENTIAL OIL COLLECTIONS: Just like the starter kits, the YL Oil Collections pull together groups of 5ML bottles together at a great price so you can try several at a time. Everyday Oils are those first 10 popular, versatile oils from the starter kit. I’m thinking about adding Animal Scents sometime soon. Our Holiday Catalogue is out in a few days, and I’m sure I’ll be purchasing a Holiday Collection in my next order. If you want to go whole hog you can get the Premier Aroma Collection for $2099 wholesale!
  • SAVVY MINERALS: Young Living has a new line of makeup! I think this needs to be a separate post now that I’ve tried some of the products and love them. I do love the Seedlings Baby Wipes to take my eye makeup off in the evenings, too.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface. There are some fantastic bath and body and oral care products that I love too, and though I don’t use much from the Healthy & Fit nutritional line as yet, I know a lot of people who do and am happy to make those recommendations too. And seriously? They have some of my favorite diffusers. But if you’re still reading, then I’m guessing your mind is starting to wander and you’re ready for me to wrap it up. Which I’ll do.

In conclusion.

If there is anything you are interested in ordering, I’m happy to help you get it or I’m happy to help you get signed up to get it yourself. Or I’m happy to swap information and just wish you well on your own oil journey!

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bottoms up

by MrsFatass on October 9, 2017

It’s been about 6 months since my flurry of doctor’s appointments, tests, and follow ups that lead me to my diagnosis of advanced adrenal fatigue. Through the process I learned that my thyroid is pronounced and full of nodules, that I have all the symptoms of fibromyalgia except for one – nerve pain, that my cortisol levels were such that I was tested for Addison’s disease, and that I was getting the REM sleep that was minimally necessary to basically keep me from going insane.

Those were good times.

Among the treatments and supplements and dietary changes that became part of my “healing regimen” was a whole lot of conversation about eliminating stress, which is kind of laughable because who can do THAT? Some of highlights of the last couple years included dissolving my business partnership and closing the studio doors, having a death in the family, moving from North Carolina to Florida…

I developed a method of just handling one thing at a time. No more multitasking. Just making a list and going down point by point, one thing at a time. Pack the house. Reserve the U Haul. Find movers. Forward the mail.

Check. Check. Check.

And I kept telling myself to just do what I could to treat my condition, and once we were settled I could really “buckle down.” I kept up with the “easy” things as best I could. Take my supplements. Put my screens down. Turn off the TV. Diffuse the oils. Sleep as much as I possibly could. Meditate. Meditate. Meditate.

And, of course, there was The Great Purge, which I am pretty sure was the best stress reliever of all.  I haven’t written as in depth as I would like to about that process, and I don’t really know if I can, at least not as openly and honestly as I’d want to be. But what started with organizing junk drawers and shredding old bills turned into getting rid of any tangible material item with bad vibes. And the more I did, the deeper I went. I cleaned out my contacts. I unfriended, and in the occasional case, I blocked. I cleaned out my email account and my phone, and organized just one file on my desktop of correspondences I was advised to keep for a period of time. I unsubscribed like crazy, too, and now I keep my inbox totally clean.

The Purge has culminated in getting stuff off my chest and out of my heart. So many times I held my tongue, or was “diplomatic” for the sake of business or mutual friendships because I thought that being positive or Godly or “letting things go” meant being passive and staying quiet to “be the bigger person”, but you know what? It’s hard to release things when you don’t speak them. So I have been talking, sharing, and also just plain old answering questions with my truth.

The other day I watched a doctor lecture online about Adrenal Fatigue, and he talked about how stress was cumulative. It’s like water being poured in a glass. It makes sense to me now that as I work through things that led to my crash, some of what comes up is from what I thought was in the rear view. But also? If it’s from the past, then that means I’m getting to the bottom of the glass.  

Which leads me to the point of this post. You knew I’d get here eventually, right?

Well. We’re here. In our new home. Getting settled. Thing One occasionally asks me how my “health” is going. And we talk it over.

I realized a few things.

I realized that I was spending less time in bed and more time in the living room.

I realized that I was cooking dinner.

I realized that I was taking fewer naps and that I was having more dreams.

I realized that I wasn’t feeling hopeless about my recovery, or on the verge of panicking.

I realized that I was feeling better!

I’ve begun to tackle the another pillar: FOOD. By eliminating (most) inflammatory foods (most of the time), joining a few Keto groups on Facebook, and going back to tracking my macros, I have added to my energy level and decreased even more inflammation. And I’ve begun to add 10 minutes of cardio. Just 10. Me and my jumprope.

And then I tentatively, quietly, privately unpacked my scale and stood on it.

Two weeks later, I did it again. And this happened.

I’m not trying to get to hung up on the weight loss, because who knows? It may mean my body is beginning to come out of survival mode, it may not. I know that reversing all of this and losing weight is a long slow process, and I keep reminding myself that it took me years to get in this condition, so it may take years to get out of it.

But it is beginning to feel like maybe I’m coming back to life, at the bottom of the glass, ready to refill it in a healthier, more positive way. 

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she believed she could

by MrsFatass on October 1, 2017

Dear Bear,

You’ve been excited about turning TEN since the day after you turned nine. I want time to slow down, but you are charging ahead! Growing up! Greeting each new day with wide open arms!

Every time I write one of these letters I say something about how special you are. But it’s true. You have such a loving, positive energy. You’re like a walking belly laugh. You feel a whole spectrum of emotions – but you don’t stay stuck in any of them. You always come back to joy.

You went to see Santa this year, and he was a good one. He knew you had two dogs, and you couldn’t even begin to wrap your head around how he knew that, because you were beginning to have questions, and people around you were trying to shake your faith. I really think the Santa we went to see was an angel looking out for you, the perfect Santa at the perfect time, who taught you that belief in the magic of Christmas was just as good as believing in Santa Claus. Better, even.

You found your happy place in Running Club, and this mama couldn’t be happier about that. Every week you would get in the car and tell me about your workouts, and as the talk went on you began to tell me about how it felt when you’d run. You’re not a shallow person at all, but sometimes I have to work to get you to peel away some layers and get deep; talking about running club was a great way to get you to vent your frustrations, your challenges and even your hurts. Because your coaches provided you a safe and positive place, and as you warmed up and got moving, you could feel the day melting away. You always walked out with a red face and a big smile.

And you ran races! You ran so many races that we had to get a plaque for you to hang your bibs and your medals!

You also did your first obstacle course race. You climbed and you crawled and you made your way all the way through a race that even I could barely finish. You absolutely crushed it, and I’m just so proud of you for getting in there and facing your fears.

We cheered on your second season of basketball, which was super fun, but I think the bigger milestone was your first year of basketball camp! Your brother has been travelling to Florida every June to take part in camp, and this year, you did too. Your team advanced in the tournament, but lost. However, my heart nearly exploded when your brother – sharing his experience in such matters – put his arm around you and commiserated. 

The Daddy/Daughter Dance this year was extra special for you. You were in love with your dress, you were so excited to go to your friend’s house for photos and hors d’oeuvres, and you couldn’t wait to get there and see everyone.

But what you really loved was being with your Daddy. You are two peas in a pod, you and your dad. When his mother told us she was sick, you hopped in the car with him to go visit her, and later when we got the news that she died, well, I’ve never seen you so sad. You were sad to lose your grandma, yes, but you were sad because you knew your Dad was sad. And even now, almost a year later, you haven’t forgotten her and you haven’t forgotten to be concerned about your dad’s feelings. You were looking forward to that dance because you and your dad always have so much fun going together, and you knew it would make him happy.

There are so many things you experienced this year that you loved! You proclaimed it to be the Best! Halloween! Ever! when your costume turned out perfectly, and when we all dressed up with our friends and trick or treated until your bags were crammed full!

You fed a giraffe at the zoo, which made you actually jump for joy. A literal, actual jump!

You are crazy about sharks, which can be seen in the number of shark books, shark necklaces, shark teeth, shark slippers, shark stuffed animals and shark beach towels you own.

You love your dogs with your whole entire heart, and they love you back just as much.

And you learned that you love babies – and one baby in particular – and you are dying to be old enough to babysit.

Even with all the happiness, there were some frustrations for you this year. For the very first time, you didn’t really love your teacher, and when you’re in elementary school in a classroom with the same teacher day in and day out, that can make for a long year. Your love for school began to wane, and I was concerned. Also, the same bus driver that was a problem for your brother became a problem for you, too, and there were many days where you’d get off of the bus in tears. You’re a good kid and a rule follower, but the constant fussing and negative feedback from these two authority figures really wore you down after a while. When the kids who lived across the street moved, you and your brother moped around together. The neighborhood just didn’t seem the same without them. We said no to most play dates and all sleepovers for you too, which was kind of a bummer, but you also kind of appreciated. Now that we know how stressed you were in some previous situations, we decided to just take them all off the table for a while. And it was a relief. 

And, this was the year that you reluctantly decided to stop sucking your thumb.

But, my dear, 10 is a brand new year.

You’re kicking off your tenth year in a new house, in a new city, in a new school, and with new opportunities, and once again you are embracing it all with pure joy! You loved your new school as soon as you laid eyes on it, and you eagerly accepted the school uniforms, which I must say look fabulous on you.

Your teacher might be another angel sent to watch over you, because you knew in an instant that she was kind, and positive, and funny, and encouraging. There hasn’t been one single day yet where you’ve come home sad or upset about anything that has happened in class; your love for school has returned and your straight As have too! You also have a new running club, which you approached in a very tentative manner. You weren’t sure you could strike gold twice, but, sure enough, you still love to run.

Your birthday happened smack dab in the middle of a hurricane. School was closed and it was the first year I didn’t bring cupcakes for a class party, and we had to reschedule your birthday party since most of our town was still without power and under water. But you rolled with the punches. You and your dad managed to find a Dunkin’ Donuts that was open so you could have your birthday coffee date. I hung up streamers and your brother blew up balloons. You baked and decorated your own cake. You were thrilled to get a Dream Tent, which was the only thing you truly wanted.

And you had your two best friends come over to celebrate.

Arranging the play date took some doing. I had never met the girls, and didn’t know the parents, and they didn’t know me, so there was lots of Facebook Stalking texting and coordinating and making sure everyone was comfortable. And you know what?

It turned out beautifully. It was perfect. 

Your judge of character continues to be spot on.

The things that made you anxious last year? They don’t exist with your new friends. You chose girls with a similar sweetness, and innocence, and character to you. Your dad and I listened to the laughter and chatter in the playroom with big smiles on our faces.

It was fun. Pure and simple.

I think that ten is going to be a very good year for you, my sweet Care Bear. I think there will be a lot more laughter and a lot less frustration.

I can see why you were so excited for this one.

I love you,


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stress pillar

by MrsFatass on August 20, 2017

I’ve explained before how I’m looking at my recovery from Adrenal Fatigue like different pillars holding me up. Right now, this is a time in my healthy living process where I’m really being  forced encouraged to consider the importance of REST and the elimination of STRESS. I’ve skimmed articles here and there that talk about stress and sleep and how these things can be preventing you from losing weight or building muscle/strength the way you want to and I just kind of thought “yeah, right”. It was never an option for me to “reduce stress”, or so I thought. Anyone with a family and a job is going to have stress. I’ve gone through bouts of insomnia too, and would turn on the tv or scroll my phone until I got sleepy again. Then the flipside were periods where I would sleep and sleep and sleep but never ever feel rested. And the final blow for me, I believe, was when I added a 5:30AM class to my lineup. It was never really possible for me to get to bed at night before 10 or 11PM, and I was up by 4:45 (which got pushed back to 4 once I went to the gym and then on to personal training).

And as my clients got leaner, fitter, stronger, and happier? I got slower, angrier, weaker, and fatter.

And it didn’t make sense. Because I was training, and I was clean eating, and I was hydrating.

Eventually I was sent for a sleep study, which opened my eyes to a lot of things.

In the hour that we went over my results, we talked about my weight, my job, my life, the results of my endocrinological workup, and the fact that I was barely managing to get enough REM sleep to keep from going insane falling apart. “No wonder you aren’t getting results from your efforts! Your body has no ability to recover right now!”

He made all of my test results come alive. On the surface I presented to him as someone with fibromayalgia (I have every symptom but the nerve pain) and he said at the rate I was going, more serious autoimmune issues were going to be a given. We talked about how to get better sleep, how I should be supplementing, ways to be using oils, reducing stress, and how I needed to rid my life of toxic relationships.

The last one made me give him one of my BLINKS.

He asked me about the nature of some of my closer relationships. We discussed my business partnership, and how I basically traded one brand of stress for another when I escaped went to work at the gym. We talked about friendships (both current and past) and the types of conversations and activities they included, and my feelings about that. We talked about my faith, and how I was grasping at it for answers to why I was working so hard but feeling so awful.

He said that it seemed that I wanted to release a lot of “toxicity”, but for whatever reason I wasn’t allowing myself to do it. He suggested that what I was doing was swallowing it, bending around it, and finding ways to justify other people’s toxic behavior when really, what I needed to do was eliminate it.

He explained that wellness meant much more than the results of a blood test. He said that if I had the balls to make real, impactful changes in my life, that I’d be able to reclaim peace, which would lead to health.

At the height of my “crash” I was sleeping maybe 6-7 hours at night, in chunks, and falling asleep oftentimes sitting up) in a chair throughout the day. I was physically exhausted from both by training schedule and my own personal workout schedule. I was drinking both daily whey protein and a daily amino drink for “energy”, which was the tip of the iceberg in terms of things I was eating that caused my body immense inflammation. I was turning to screens to “unwind”, sometimes scrolling social media, but also reading books on my phone when I couldn’t sleep at night. I was living with near constant pain for months. I was feeling so physically terrible that I manifested negativity in many personal and professional relationships. I was swallowing toxicity by the gallon.

So. What is all of this leading up to? Well, while I realize that everyone reading this who may be drowning in a sea of stress might not be able to go to Key West with friends who have known you from the start of your adult life, have an epiphany, pack up your life and move it to your happy place, there are probably things you CAN be doing right now to either remove stress, or better deal with that which you can’t get rid of. Here are some suggestions that have worked for me.

  • MEDITATION. So, I’m a pray-er. I have always been a pray-er and there have been many times over the last year that I have white-knuckled my faith in hopes to hang on long enough to find answers. But I have learned that in addition to devotionals, studies, worship services, and prayer, taking time for daily meditation has helped ground me, and has trained my mind and body to be able to breathe through stressors and challenges in a more fluid way. Little by little the tension in my neck and shoulders is releasing, I’m clenching my jaws less, I don’t swear as much, my road rage is softening. Using a mantra, doing breathing exercise, using guided visualization – all of these have given me great clarity, and I am now easily able to see myself healthy and whole someday. (Don’t know where to start? I just downloaded some free apps on my phone in the beginning! I find that being guided by another voice helps me focus more clearly on my practice.)
  • AROMATHERAPY. If you know me even a little, you know that I’m an oil junkie. While sniffing oils doesn’t “cure” adrenal fatigue, aromatherapy absolutely helps me deal with my reaction to the stress and the symptoms. If you can identify what’s in my diffuser, then you can pretty much tell where my head is at that day. Right now a blend of Balance and Bergamot. Sometimes Lavender or Cedarwood for sleep, sometimes Peppermint for energy, Citrus for clarity, or Ylang Ylang for femininity and bow chicka bow wow. I sniff my bracelets and my car diffuser and I usually have a bottle or two in my purse.
  • TAKE CARE OF MY EYES, LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY. I look at screens. I look at them A LOT. Google how bad that is for sleep later! It’s quite an education. So I now have filters on my screens and my glasses also block blue light. However, I also took a figurative turn with this one and began protecting my eyes from other things that were keeping me up at night. Let’s just say Unfriend/Unfollow/Block lifted a huge weight. I changed the things I was reading, choosing more uplifting, motivational books and magazines. I finished some household projects, so even the walls of my home were pretty to look at. I began driving more scenic routes to places, even if they weren’t the most direct. And this summer I looked at the ocean as much as I possibly could.
  • PURGE. Trophy Husband and I decided we would not move anything with us to Florida that had any bad energy. So we purged. Any material item that had negativity associated with it – gone. Old emails or text messages or photos – deleted. Anything that didn’t deserve a place in our new life – eliminated. The pile of things wasn’t all that big, but it was hugely meaningful, and letting go of those things has created so much more room in my heart for my beautiful circle of family and friends that are family.
  • SLOW DOWN. Initially, this was about my workouts, but since my island vacation – where time seems to stop – I am consciously slowing down other things in my life, too. I don’t feel the need to power walk, or to push the speed limit, or to cram a thousand to-dos into one day. I do what my body feels capable of, and I rest when I need to. There have been many times over the last year when people have said to me “I don’t know how you’re doing it all”. But I have learned that a “one at a time” mindset is better for me than a “how can I multitask it all” one does.

I am lucky that I have had time the last few months to reorganize and reprioritize and really DO things to eliminate stress. I can’t even believe that we live by the ocean now. I love that I can see my mom and dad any time I want to. I run into my cousin at the grocery store. I text with my aunts. I walk on the beach. I’ll begin working soon, and will have to juggle all of these “tips” with a schedule, so maybe it will all go out the window.

But maybe it won’t.

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following your gut

by MrsFatass on July 10, 2017

So, the other day, a reader asked me if I was mad that it took so long to get a diagnosis. It was an interesting question to think about, because I’ve been feeling like something was wrong for quite a long time. A couple of years, really, maybe longer. For sure while I still owned the studio, because that is really when my sleep habits changed, which I now understand is a big part of all this. And stress of course. But while it is indeed true that it took a long time to string my list of symptoms together to form a diagnosis, I’ve never been mad at a doctor for not getting to the root of it a long time ago, but I have definitely been frustrated with myself for being talked out of things that my intuition was telling me were true.

I mean, it doesn’t really matter now, for my journey, because here I am finally feeling justified, and learning to understand my illness, but I still think it’s important to look back and discuss some of the bumps in the road for other people who are going through this, and who are being told they are wrong.

There are a few symptoms I was experiencing that my gut told me were happening for a particular reason, and when I discussed them with a doctor or a PA, I was told I was wrong. Had those symptoms not been written off in the beginning, yes, I may have gotten to the bottom of my illness sooner, but who knows? But I’ll share this process with you in hopes that if your intuition is really trying to tell you something, follow your gut.

  • There was a period where I was using a lot of supplements that I think were directly related to last year’s 7 months of pain and inflammation. They were products I began using because they were sold at the gym where I worked, and I was expected to be able to talk about them and encourage clients to shop in our store. Today, I understand that my body has become super sensitive and reactive because of Adrenal Fatigue. Because at my stage of the game, my adrenals are not producing cortisol, which is anti-inflammatory. As a result I am having more sensitivities to food, chemicals, and stress than I was before. So when I thought my body was maybe reacting to whey, or to the stimulant pre-workout drink I was using, I was right. Sadly, it began happening again while taking Thrive, a product I really believed in, that in a lot of ways was helping me a lot. Unfortunately, the inflammation was returning, and I’m going to assume it was the whey protein in the drink. So I’ve had to stop using it.
  • This led me to start thinking about gluten as well, and I had mentioned before to a PA that I felt like eating gluten made me bloated, made my joints achy, and made me want to fall asleep sitting up. I was told that if I tested negative to celiac, then the gluten itself wasn’t a problem, and that being gluten-free is simply the fad diet du jour. She told me that my Google searches were secondary to her degree, and that I was better off just to focus on measuring appropriate portion sizes, not overindulging, and that “what is a life without warm fresh bread or a bowl of pasta anyway?” However, I understand now after the battery of tests with my endo, that even though I’m not positive for celiac, when I thought I was having a reaction to gluten, I was right. And while there are times where I still indulge, I can feel it within hours in my achy hands and feet, in my bloated, gassy belly, and in my inability to stay awake.
  • After two years of triathlon training, I could swim or run no further than when I had started. In fact, I would argue that it was harder now than it was when I started. No matter how much I practiced endurance activities, the clients and friends around me who were following my plan were experiencing gain after gain, and I was feeling left in the dust. I talked to my primary care doctor about this earlier in the year, and while he is of the firm belief that weight loss is 100% calories in versus calories out, he did say that as a “fellow athlete” he did believe I wasn’t seeing results. He is the one who referred me to the endocrinologist, who told me that he was sure we would uncover the reason to tell me that I was right. And he was the first person to tell me to stop the training, because of the stress it was putting on my body, and my body’s inability to overcome it.

So I share these things not because I have sour grapes about getting diagnosed. I actually feel so lucky to have experienced the roadblocks, because it led me to the doctor that told me I wasn’t crazy. Well, not for this, anyway. I don’t know that there are many MDs who place as big an importance on a patient’s intuition as the number on a test result, you know? And I don’t know of a great many MDs who are open to or supportive of holistic or functional medical practitioners. So I do feel very lucky.

I have gotten so many IMs and emails asking questions about various aspects of my process and my recovery, so I plan to continue to address them here. Please know I’m no expert though; I’m simply strong willed enough to keep on. And I hope that you are, too.

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by MrsFatass on May 29, 2017

This photo is from 2012, the summer before things started to take a turn.

So I had a dream the other night that I was walking through a restaurant and I saw a baby choking. I swooped the sweet pea off of her mama’s lap, flipped her over, whacked her back, and the food she was choking on flew out.

Significance? Well, I think a pretty big one. For the last couple of years I haven’t really been aware that I was dreaming at all, and the other night I had one, and I remembered it. I’m going to call that progress. It’s a step forward in terms of fixing my sleep. I’ve adopted a new bedtime ritual, which includes oils and ACV and realty trying to put my screens down, and I have a sexy new mouthguard that makes me look like a hockey player fabulous, and I’m getting closer and closer to actual consistency with all the steps.

I’ve continued my research on Adrenal Fatigue, and feel like I’ve learned so much. I’m visual, so I think about recovering my health like there are pillars holding me up: Sleep, Food, Supplements, Stress and Exercise, and I have work to do on each one. Since my last post, lots of folks have reached out, and it seems like everyone has a story, experience, or suggestion to share, which makes me very hopeful. But the flip side is that there is so much information to sort through that it can be a little overwhelming. A million years ago when I was at the doctor’s office with my baby boy, and I was stressing out because he was lactose intolerant and I wanted him to be all organic and I couldn’t afford to buy all organic and OH MY GOSH I WAS ALREADY DOING MOTHERHOOD WRONG, and he said “Sue, my recommendation is that you pick your biggest priority and start there. Don’t worry about the rest. Handle one thing at a time.”

I’ve kept those words in the back of my mind as I’ve been researching and listening and asking and reading. 

One pillar at a time. 

Food is next.

Some who suffer from AF are keto, some are strictly grain free, some are anti nightshade, some say increased carbs and even rice and white potatoes are okay. How do you choose? Well, here is what I know:

  • Both the sleep doctor and the endo said that they were expecting I’d have fibro. I have some symptoms, but not the widespread nerve pain. I don’t want it either. Keeping inflammatory foods out of my day to day diet is a priority.
  • I know there are certain foods I eat that make me feel achy, puffy, and uncomfortable. I’m breaking up with whey protein for good, and I’m continuing my break from gluten/grains. I’m temporarily eliminating nightshades just to see.
  • I think pretty much every article and book I’ve read about advanced AF has talked about reducing/eliminating sugar. I’m good with that.
  • I’ve invested in some good quality cinnamon, maca, and collagen, and I’m not afraid to use them.

There is a much longer list of things I DON’T know. But even so, it feels so good to be interacting with people who have experienced what I’m experiencing, who have come out the other side feeling healthy again. Many people, along with eliminating the “offensive” foods, pointed me toward carb cycling, and I’m going to give it a go. Lots and lots of folks suggested I read Dr. Alan Christianson’s book on Adrenal Reset, and so that’s the text I’m working with now.

There is a lot written about AF and exercise, and it still freaks me out to scale back. But I follow lots of fitness folks who had to suspend high intensity training for anywhere from 6 months to 3 years! I have gone back to yoga classes when I can make them fit my schedule, and decided in the first one that I was going to take every modification that was offered, whether I felt like I “needed” to or not. It will take a pretty fair amount of practice to stop pushing and competing with myself, and to get in a more restorative mindset. And I don’t love a typical yoga class. I like it when it’s over, I like how I feel stretched out at the end. But I miss the flow and connection to music. So, I take a Yoga class like medicine, because I know I need it. 

Anyway, I kind of got in the groove of being gentle on myself in class, and then came my first scheduled obstacle course race of the season. Participating in the race didn’t really fit in with my new Adrenal Fatigue lifestyle. Plus, I was sick as a dog, with a fever and a cough, and it was cold and wet and I had no business being out there. Pride wouldn’t let me skip it though, so I showed up, but sent my team ahead because my lungs would not let me keep up, and I did the race by myself. And I kind of got into it! I nixed running early on because of my cough, so I just power walked from obstacle to obstacle and did what I could. I was happy with it until one of the volunteers got me right in my insecurities when she asked me if there was anyone on the course behind me, or was I the last one. THE LAST ONE. Ugh. But at that point I was waist deep in swamp muck and had no choice but to keep going. My teammates were cheering for me at the finish and it made me uncomfortable because I didn’t do it the way I’d trained THEM to do it. It was a little emotional for me on the inside.

But I’m finding my way to a new normal and I can’t expect it to just happen overnight.

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palm trees

by MrsFatass on May 15, 2017

I’ve made a decision.

I am no longer trying to lose weight.

Nope. I’m done. Because over the last few years, the harder I try, the bigger I get, the crappier I feel, and the sadder I am.

I’ve spend the last month or so talking to several doctors about my symptoms, and have undergone about a gazillion tests. My endocrinologist, who I think is a pretty good doc, finally said to me “I see these different symptoms, but I can’t make them connect into a diagnosis that I can treat.”

Blink. Blink.

His plan is to wait and see, run all the tests again in 6 months and “hopefully” things will progress to a point of being able to treat. And while I don’t fault him for saying that, I’m not interested in just waiting for my enlarged, nodule-ridden thyroid to peter out. I’m not interested in waiting until I’m diabetic. I’m not interested in waiting for my low cortisol to turn into some chronic inflammatory nightmare. I’m not interested in waiting until I’m sicker, fatter, and more exhausted to get some kind of “treatment”.

He did mention along the way the notion of “adrenal fatigue” and suggested a few things. Rest. Changing the way I work out in order to really avoid the physical stress of what I’m doing now. Emphasis on yoga, weights, and everything low in impact and high in rejuvenation and meditation. He said to definitely keep with the low carb, grain free, no inflammatory way of eating that I’m trying to master. And he said I may want to turn to functional medicine.

I had a sleep study done as well, and that doctor was truly enlightening. Long story short, even though I’m sleeping all the time, I’m not getting nearly enough rest. I’m kicking myself out of REM all night long with clenches and twitches and rubbing my legs together and he says basically I’m getting the minimum amount of deep sleep I need to keep from going insane.

And again, I sat there blinking.

He said he left being a surgeon because he was trained only to cut, and when it finally hit him that he was doing nothing to actually heal people, he had to make a change. He and I talked a long time too, and he said he doesn’t know what came first, the bad sleep or the rest of the issues, but to correct my sleep problems will go a long way to help. Without real rest, I’m not regenerating, I’m not rebuilding, I’m not doing anything. So I left his office with a plan for less screen time, for using more lavender oil, for supplementing with ACV and vitamin C, and for a bite splint to help me with the clenching. We talked a bit about melatonin, which can be used if these other things aren’t enough, but he’s wary of people going straight for the bottle. He said in most countries around the world, melatonin isn’t available over the counter, and he sees it being overused and abused here all the time. So I’m going to hold off on that.

So. I went home and for a week I just took it all in. My symptoms include extreme fatigue, unexplained weight gain, decreased (and decreasing) endurance, slow to heal, slow to poop, slow to build muscle, slow to get into ketosis. Constipation. Thinning hair. Swollen joints. And did I mention weight gain? Which was probably the one that bothered me the most. For so many reasons. I’m a trainer for crying out loud! A triathlete! A Spartan in training! How can I keep getting fatter? And a close second is my endurance, which, even though I incorporate cardio into my workout plans 3-4 times a week, seems to be going BACKWARD.

And I decided that I need to take some time off from competing with others myself. I need to take some time to heal.

I am taking many of the suggestions of these doctors to heart:

  • I am going to fix my bad sleep. I’m limiting screen time: no more kindle app on my phone. No more Candy Crush in the bathroom. No more Facebook in bed. No more falling asleep with the TV on. I am going to bed early, using lavender oil in my diffuser, taking some ACV, and supplementing with Vitamin C.
  • I am going to continue with grain free eating, in a low carb/moderate protein/high fat breakdown.
  • I am also going to take some time to “detox”, which will also include removing dairy, nightshades, sugar, and caffeine for a period of time.
  • I’ve allowed some chemicals back into my personal hygiene products, too, and I’ve got to be disciplined again about keeping them out. I also bought some glass sun tea jars for water in the fridge, and am chucking the plastic water bottles and Tupperware.
  • I am changing my workouts. No more endurance training. No triathlons. I am going to focus on mind/body workouts and weight training. For how long? I don’t know. I’ll know when I know. I’m still leading a Spartan team and I still want a trifecta. But this year may end up being more about my teammates and their success than mine. We’ll just have to see. And I’m also considering a return to Zumba, which was the thing that uplifted my spirit AND changed my body for the better in the first place.
  • Something that we are doing as a family is kicking our spring cleaning up a notch, doing a major purge. It’s the “no bad juju” purge of 2017. Call me crazy, but I think objects carry energy, or, if not, our feeling/reaction to certain objects carry energy, and I’m freeing myself of all that which does not serve me well. Lots of filled up garbage cans and trips to the donation center are happening, and I feel lighter.
  • Find a good functional medicine doctor, and continue to supplement with Thrive. This is listed last on purpose. Thrive is just a given in my life right now. And a functional doctor, while important, is an expense I need to get ready for. So it will come, but I think I have got a pretty good start on my own.

I will never be able to avoid stress, but I am going to take more care about how I deal with stress. More walking the dogs, laughing with my friends, hugging my kids and hiking in the woods. More writing. I was recently on vacation on an island, and if you have been on an island, you know that there is a “vibe”. I’m taking great care not to lose the vibe. More music, more time spent with good people, more family, more love. For me, the palm tree symbolizes hanging on to this feeling of positivity, welcoming change, and the kind of energy I’m putting out into the universe.

Nowhere on this list do you see “weigh myself daily”, “count every calorie eaten and/or burned”, or “feel bad about my pants size.” I’m done with that. As I heal myself, the rest will come. I have to believe that.

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May 7, 2017

it’s time

To my beautiful Thing Two; It’s well known in our family that your big brother was not a sleeper. He wasn’t a huge crier, he wasn’t really fussy or anything like that. He just always preferred to be awake. No matter how much we rocked, tried to cry it out, read stories, adhered to a […]

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April 3, 2017

why i thrive

So, last week I began to use the Le-Vel Premium Supplements that many people know by the name Thrive. Yeah, I know. Some of you have seen my posts and let me know you find it hard to believe. Me, too, because before I knew anything about it, I assumed it was just another MLM […]

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March 27, 2017

as time goes by

Well, I’m once again sitting here starting out another post with “well, it’s been a while.” It was my goal at the beginning of the year to write once a week. Then time passed, and my goal was once a month. Now, writing for the first time in the first quarter of 2017, I’m again […]

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