The Dreaded A-Word

I had to do something today that I really didn’t want to do: start a two week course of antibiotics. The good news is there’s a small chance the medicine will help with some of the chronic health issues I’ve been dealing with for the past year. If there’s even a small chance, I figure it’s worth a try, so I’m going for it.

The bad news is this is happening after I’ve worked with a naturopath for five months to undo some of the damage that antibiotics have caused me in the past. I’ve had a ton of success with a sugar-free diet and a new supplement regimen and I don’t want the next two weeks to throw me totally off track!

In order to go into this process as informed as possible, I’ve done a little bit of research on how I can stay healthy while taking antibiotics. This article over at Whole9 gives a great run-down on probiotics and how and why to take them. I’ll definitely be keeping up with my probiotic regimen over the next two weeks and beyond.

Whole9 also happens to be the site behind the Whole30 program, in which you follow a very strict version of the Paleo diet for a month. I am considering doing my first Whole30 to help combat the negative effects of the antibiotics. Apparently the medicine has pretty severe gastrointestinal side effects, so I am starting off on the Whole30 plan today, but may end up postponing it if I find it difficult to stomach the type of food I need to eat while on the medicine.

Even more important than keeping my body in balance though, is keeping my mind in balance. The chances of this new strategy working are slim, and I don’t want to feel too disappointed if it doesn’t work, especially after I’ve done such a great job getting used to my new lifestyle. And if it does work – well – I’ll certainly go back to eating oranges, tomato sauce, chocolate and tons of other foods that I currently have to steer clear of, but I hope I’d have the willpower to stay away from all of the processed food I’ve learned to avoid over the past several months.

As I go through the next two weeks, I’ll continue to post as usual and share my life with you, but in the back of my head I’ll probably spend a lot of time wondering whether the treatment is working. Good vibes, prayers, wishes – whatever you have to offer is much appreciated. Regardless of how this turns out, it will be just another step along the path of a fulfilling life.

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Products I Love: Neutrogena Makeup Remover Towelettes

Years ago, during my first week of performing with a touring children’s theatre show, my new roommate and I went shopping for supplies we needed for our new jobs. Up until that point I had always used liquid eye makeup remover and simply used face wash to remove the rest of my makeup. For my new job, however, my makeup would be heavy and for the first time ever I would be performing in a show with a long run, rather than only two or three weeks of performances. For the sake of my skin, I was gonna need something with a little more power.

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My roommate immediately grabbed these Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes, claiming that they were the best makeup wipes ever. I assumed they would be good, but having never used makeup wipes before, I had no idea how far ahead these wipes were than the competitors.

Four and a half years have passed, and as you can probably guess from the crinkled package, I still don’t go anywhere without my Neutrogena towelettes. The few times I’ve been forced to use other brands, they haven’t even come close in terms of makeup removal, softness, or the aftereffect on my skin. One of the best things about these wipes is that if you’re in a rush, or don’t have face wash around, you don’t need to wash your face after using them. A quick rinse is fine, and you’re good to go. I often take advantage of this if I’m changing my makeup quickly after work or taking my makeup off before I step into the yoga studio.

I love these wipes so much that the first time I moved to Hong Kong, I brought six months worth just in case they weren’t sold here (they are). If you’re looking for a new way to remove your makeup on the go, I can’t recommend them enough.

What are your favorite makeup removers?

Cornish Hens in a Toaster Oven

I did something really exciting Tuesday morning. I’d been mulling over it for a while, but fear kept holding me back.

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That’s right! I threw away all the medicines I was prescribed last year when my health issues began. I only took these medicines for a couple months because they caused horrendous side effects. Half of them, actually, were prescribed in order to hide the side effects of the other half, and some of that second tier of medicine actually caused side effects of its own. Top that off with the fact that none of them truly helped the original problem. What a mess! I haven’t taken any of them in in over six months, so I decided it was time. I’m a happy girl.

So what’s my medicine now? Food! Here’s a perfect example from Monday night:

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I was so happy with the blend of seasoning on this Cornish game hen. The prep was so easy, although cooking it became a bit of a project thanks to my tiny kitchen.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t actually have an oven. I do all of my cooking in a toaster oven. To clarify, here’s a picture of my kitchen:

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That’s it. The entire thing. The oven is that little rectangle with the kettle on top!

A Cornish game hen seemed like a great option because I figured it would fit into the toaster oven. I was wrong. I ended up having to cut it in half and cook it in two shifts. Luckily, I was cooking for one, so I ate the first half while I cooked the second half, which ended up in my lunch box the next day.

Measurements aren’t necessary for this recipe. Just rub olive oil all over your halved hen and coat with generous amounts of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, parsley, and basil.

Stick the hen halves into the toaster oven and cook away! I cooked each half for 30 minutes (yes, that’s right, my oven doesn’t even have temperature settings).

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The moral of the story is you do NOT need a good kitchen to make a good dinner. I bought my toaster oven from a friend for $20 HK (that’s $3 USD) and I use it to cook up delicious meals on the regular.

What kitchen limitations do you work your way around?

Supplements for (almost) everyone

When I decided to treat my chronic illness using alternative methods, I ditched the prescriptions and replaced them with healthy eating and quite a few supplements. Many of the supplements I took were specific to my condition, and as my health has improved I’ve been able to stop taking them.

Along the way I learned about a few supplements that are good for nearly everyone, even if you’re healthy. As aways, it’s best to consult a professional before starting a new supplement or medicine, especially if you have unique health circumstances or allergies. That being said, here’s what’s worked for me:

20130613-114316.jpgI take these four supplements every morning:

Fish Oil – It seems like proponents of fish oil claim that it can help with nearly every illness known to man. The reason for this is that it helps reduce inflammation in the body and many conditions, particularly chronic ones like rheumatoid arthritis and interstitial cystitis, have an inflammatory factor. When choosing a fish oil, make sure to choose one that contains both EPA and DHA. I like this one from Vital Nutrients because it is citrus-free, so I don’t have to worry about my citrus sensitivity.

Psyllium – I cannot sing enough praises for this wonder supplement. Psyllium is a form of dietary fiber from the seeds of the herb Plantago ovata. If you ever have trouble, well, going every day this supplement is for you. Each morning I mix a tablespoon of the powder into a glass of water and follow it up with another plain glass of water. Metamucil is essentially the same product, but I like this version from Organic India because it is organic and free of added flavors. The texture seemed a little gross at first, but I was used to it after a couple days and now I swear by the stuff.

Calcium – This is SO important, particularly for women. It is really difficult to get your recommended daily intake of calcium from food. I love dairy – I have a yogurt smoothie for breakfast every day and a glass of milk almost every evening as my dessert – and I still wasn’t meeting my daily requirement. To make up for it, I take a calcium supplement every day. You should choose a brand that includes Vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption. I like this version from Caltrate. Vitamin supplementation is only useful if you aren’t getting enough from your diet, so I only take one pill a day to make up for the deficiency. It is recommended that women between 19 and 50 years of age get at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Preventing osteoporosis begins decades before the disease actually strikes!

Probiotic – In the perfect world, no one would have to take antibiotics, but we all know that just isn’t realistic. If you come down with strep throat or any other bacterial illness or have a surgical procedure you’re going to end up taking them. The unfortunate truth is that these drugs don’t just kill the bad bacteria and leave the good stuff to do it’s job. There is a ton of helpful bacteria in our body and antibiotics kill those guys too. A probiotic supplement can help to resupply our bodies with the bacteria they need to keep things running smoothly. When choosing a probiotic, stick with the one from the refrigerator section with multiple strands of good bacteria, and keep it in the refrigerator at home. Although it is pricy, I like this one from BioCeuticals because it contains nine different strands of bacteria and 45 Billion CFU (colony forming units) per capsule.

All of these supplements are available over the counter, but as I mentioned before, check with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about starting a new supplement. Just because something doesn’t require a prescription doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful or potentially dangerous – a lesson I learned a few months ago after taking an over the counter supplement for relaxation that had effects similar to a recreational drug!

What supplements work for you?