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Health and wellness

Year of wellness, first check in

January 22, 2018

How is everyone doing with the first wellness challenge? I won’t lie, I’ve fallen off the alcohol bandwagon a few times, though it’s always been an intentional choice, and I made it a full two weeks before my first infraction (a lovely wedding shower for one of my dearest friends, and I decided the celebration was well worth it).

Cutting out sugar hasn’t been a huge problem for me, though my hubby can’t say the same. He’s a ketchup and barbecue sauce fanatic. We’re talking on sandwiches, pasta, literally anything. Since he’s being super supportive and tackling this wellness challenge with me, I went ahead and made some homemade ketchup for him (super easy and pretty tasty) to show my appreciation and to keep him from going crazy.

One thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve replaced any sugary snacks I may have wanted to with salty foods, mainly chips and salsa. So much so that I’m considering limiting my salt-heavy food consumption in February as I lessen the restraint on sugar.

I’ve also noticed that I miss having a glass of red wine in the evening. I’ve been fine without beer or other liquor, but a nice glass of cabernet during/after dinner is one of my favorite treats. It’s become a relaxation habit, honestly: it’s a signal to my brain that it’s time to slow down, to savor every sip, to enjoy the book or good company I’m keeping (because let’s be real, red wine is often consumed with friends, and I have some truly wonderful friends).

For February, as we start to add sugar and alcohol back into our lives, let’s do it mindfully. I included some tips in the initial post, which you can refer back to, but I’m really digging the Weekday, Weekend approach: no sugar or booze on weekdays, and then indulge on weekends.

We only have one life to live, and I believe we should absolutely enjoy it. That being said, we don’t want to indulge so much that it hampers our health and wellness to a point where we can no longer enjoy the things we love. It’s all about moderation so we can continue enjoying life’s pleasures.

Health and wellness

Year of Wellness, phase one

December 27, 2017

It’s almost here! January 1 is less than a week away, and as I start reflecting on this past year and looking towards the new one, I’ve polished up phase one of Year of Wellness. I’m sharing it here for anyone who wants to join me. In case you missed my last post, I’m breaking down the year into six phases, each one focused on a different wellness topic, in order to find my personal wellness threshold. That will be different for everyone, so I’m trying to create a framework for you to find your own, if you so choose.

So here it is, phase one of my Year of Wellness.

January/February – Liver Love

Goal: Lessen the stress we put on our liver so it can effectively do its job of cleaning our blood every night.

Why? Our livers are unsung heroes. They are absolute powerhouse organs. It is the only organ in our body that can regrow itself, and the only other organ besides the heart that receives all of our blood (because it cleans it). The liver is essentially a cleaning crew for our blood. Every single day, it removes the toxins that build up in our blood and recycles our clean blood back to us. If we lessen our intake of toxins, we can give our liver a bit of a break.

Our Work: For one month, cut out all alcohol and added sugar.


Physically, there are very serious consequences of over indulging in alcohol. If you regularly drink more than your liver can process (more than the recommended amount of one unit of alcohol per hour, no more than 21 per week), your liver is inhibited from effectively cleaning the fluids in your body.

Mentally, there are many reasons why people drink. During this challenge, try to assess what you’re feeling when you want a drink. Is it stress relief? A social event you don’t want to miss out on? Or do you really enjoy a glass of red wine with your dinner?

In the morning, drink a mug of warm water with lemon to give your liver a boost to help excrete all the toxins it processed overnight (read this research article to learn more about lemon juice and its effects on the liver in regards to alcohol:


The focus this month is on cutting out added sugars. There is a difference between added and natural sugars (see the link in the resources for more information on the two). Essentially, natural sugars are found in whole foods, like fruits, whereas added sugar is added in later (think cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup) and is found in everything from bread to pasta sauce.

As you work through the month, you’ll become adept at reading labels. You’ll learn to find hidden sources of sugars (like corn syrup, glucose, and maltose). You’ll probably end up cooking at home more. Be aware of added sugars in sauces and condiments, along with breads and pastas. Sugar hangovers are real, and you may feel headachy for a while.

Helpful tips

  • Take time during the month to journal your process.
  • Give yourself permission to fail, but then get back up and keep going.
  • If you know you won’t be able to quit both at once, start slowly. January 1, cut out alcohol. January 8, cut out sugar. Give yourself at least three full weeks without any of these, and then begin your reintegration one at a time.
  • Each subject gets two months because we are human and we need balance, not all or nothing.


Reintegration tips:

Month two – Reintegration

You may feel like going hog wild after you complete your month of liver love, but go easy on yourself. Reintroduce one item a week. Say you start with sugar. Rather than jumping back into old habits, be mindful about creating new ones. Try eliminating all processed or packaged food during the first month, and keeping that goal as your norm during month two. When you add in alcohol, try not drinking on weeknights and choosing only one night on the weekend to indulge.

Health and wellness

An idea

October 18, 2017

Two weeks ago, I devoured a book.

That hasn’t happened in a while, so I wanted to share it, since it left a lasting impression. The book is called “The Wellness Project” by Phoebe Lapine.

Phoebe has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a thyroid disorder, and has struggled to be healthy since she was diagnosed in her early 20’s. She embarks on a year-long wellness journey where every month, she focuses on a different aspect of health and wellness: alcohol, caffeine, beauty products, sleep, water quality, exercise, etc. She talks with experts and uses herself as a guinea pig each month to determine her own personal “sweet spot,” the place she feels best in each of these categories.

Wellness is so incredibly subjective, and it means different things to different people. It’s hard to say definitively you need X amount of sleep per night, because some people thrive off 6 hours, and others need 9; it’s different for different people.

What I want to do is create a framework to people to use to find their own wellness path. Rather than setting 12 resolutions at once, let’s take it one month at a time. And instead of saying “I want to lose 10 pounds,” maybe we say “I want to feel rested and healthy and strong” and spend each month honing in on how to best make that happen.

Over the next two and a half months, I’m going to be gathering information and putting a framework together for a year-long wellness journey. If you’re interested, I’d love to have you join me! Drop me a comment and let me know. I’m also looking for ideas to build a community around this journey, so send them my way if you have some!