Monthly Archives: May 2015

HELP! Weight Loss Stopped and I Don’t Know Why.

I can’t begin to tell you how many of you I’ve had in my office literally sobbing your eyes out because you’re doing everything right and you were losing weight, but weight loss stopped.  It’s a horrible feeling to feel like you’re “failing” at weight loss. Things were going great – the pounds were steadily coming off and then all of a sudden everything stopped moving.  A few weeks went by and things kept not moving.  Eek!  This is when people  freak out.

I want you to take a deep breath, and relax.  You are doing awesome.  AWESOME. This is totally normal.  It’s just that your plan for how things are going to go and your body’s plan for how things are going to go are two really different things, and they have to be because your body’s number one priority is keeping you alive. Believe me, that’s a really good thing.

Losing weight is not just a matter of digesting a few fat cells for your body.  It’s a big deal!  Say you lose 15 pounds.  For the “average” person (arbitrarily picking 150 lbs as average) that’s 10% of their body weight.

Weight Loss Stopped – What Is Really Happening?

Take a look around your living room or your office or wherever you happen to be sitting right now and picture taking 1/10th (that’s 10%) of the stuff out.  So if there are 10 pictures on the wall, take out one.  If there are 10 pieces of furniture, take one out.  For every 10 books, decorative items, pillows, etc… take out one.  So, for everything in the room, for every 10 pieces of everything, one piece has to go. Seriously.  Once you’ve done that take a look around.  If your house is anything like mine, taking out 10% of everything makes it look like a gap-toothed jack-o-lantern.

After I take 10% of everything out of the room, then I have to take some time to re-organize.  I’ve got to move stuff around and sort through what’s left to make the room work again.  Your body has to do the exact same thing with weight loss – it’s got to re-organize.  So if weight loss stopped it’s probably because your body has a bigger priority at this moment.  Did you know every pound of extra fat has about a mile of extra blood vessels supplying it?  Eek! Your body has to do something with all of that too, because frankly in the grand scheme of things it’s more important to circulate your blood effectively than it is to meet your weight loss goals.

Weight loss stopped? It's because your body has to take the time to rearrange the furniture.

Weight loss stopped? It’s because your body has to take the time to rearrange the furniture. Looks good, right?

Losing weight isn’t a quick and easy process for your body – it’s actually tremendously hard work and takes a lot of shifting of hormones, blood vessels, musculoskeletal support, inflammatory levels and toxins.  Weight loss in real-life is different from what you see on TV and if you don’t remember about that then read through this to remind yourself. If you’re hitting a plateau in your weight loss, and weight loss stopped suddenly, that is completely okay.  In fact, it’s great!  It means that you have lost enough that your body needs to move stuff around so just let it happen and keep doing what you’re supposed to be doing.  The weight loss will start again – your body just needs to take a minute to collect itself.

So, It’s Normal That Weight Loss Stopped – How Long Until It’s A Problem?

If after 6 weeks you’re still stalled out, then talk to your practitioner or whoever you are working with to lose the weight. In that case there may be something blocking you like a hormone issue, a detox issue or a food sensitivity – if you aren’t familiar with weight loss blockers take a look at this. But seriously let your body have six weeks before you freak out and every day keep reminding yourself that your body is a beautiful thing that is doing it’s best every day to keep you alive.  Your body wants you to be happy and healthy and whole.  It’s changing everything in the background so that you can be healthy and wonderful and then move on to the next phase of weight loss.

The bottom line is: go easy on your body.  Go easy on yourself.  Breathe and let this whole process unfold the way it’s going to – it doesn’t have to look exactly like you thought it would for it to be going exactly right. Sure, weight loss stopped – now thank your body for it because it’s busy keeping you alive.  Your body is making sure your heart, lungs, hormones, neurotransmitters and everything else are keeping up with the process. Your body is taking care of a whole lot of stuff that keeps you moving on a daily basis and it’s really important to honor that process and allow your body a little room when it needs to reorganize the furniture.

Aluminum Deodorant Safety and Natural DIY Deodorant

Aluminum deodorant safety is an issue that generates a lot of controversy. Research has shown a link between aluminum levels and a number of conditions including breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, but how much topical aluminum products like deodorant or aluminum antiperspirant make a difference to that is much-debated.

What Are The Health Risks of Aluminum and What About Aluminum Deodorant Safety Research?

First off, aluminum is everywhere. It is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust and happens to be highly useful in industry so most people have high levels of exposure.  The biggest source for aluminum by far is through foods and medicines, as it’s added as an additive and anti-caking agent to flour, and baking powder and also to food colors and food additives. It is a major ingredient in some medications including antacids and buffered aspirin and also aluminum cookware and food packaging contaminates foods. Aluminum is detoxified from the body via the kidneys, so those with kidney impairment are at greater risk.

In their exhaustive toxicology reports, the Centers for Disease Control reports many risks of orally ingested aluminum including:

  • Reduced immunity
  • Memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Behavioral changes
  • Learning impairment
  • Confusion
  • Muscle Twitching
  • Bone pain
  • Alzheimers – maybe?  Studies are mixed but :
    • brains with Alzheimers have higher levels of Aluminum than normal
    • Aluminum is clearly neurotoxic
    • Areas with high aluminum levels in the water typically have higher rates of Alzheimer’s
  • ALS, or Lou Gherig’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Breast Cancer? – Studies have shown higher aluminum levels in breast tumors, but it’s not clear if the aluminum is related, or if it just happens to deposit there.

Obviously aluminum isn’t a health food, but this still doesn’t tell us anything aluminum deodorant safety or risk. A study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology indicates that about 0.012% of aluminum applied to the skin is absorbed. Another study published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry shows that in stripped skin absorption of aluminum from stick-type antiperspirants is actually much higher – almost 10x higher. Both of these studies emphasize the safety of single usages of aluminum deodorant, but give cautions about long-term use.

Why is Aluminum in Deodorant Anyway?

There is a lot of talk about aluminum deodorant safety, so it seems like manufacturers would remove it, but aluminum is largely why deodorants work – or at least why anti-antiperspirants work.  The aluminum forms gentle plugs in the skin that blocks the ducts so that sweat is trapped in the skin. Aside from being mildly gross, sweat is a detoxification method for your body and clearly aluminum blocks that process.

Aluminum deodorant safety is a hot topic - but take a look at the way the aluminum plugs are thought to form in your deep skin. Eek!

Aluminum deodorant safety is a hot topic – but take a look at the way the aluminum plugs are thought to form in your deep skin. Eek! Great file by Christopher Exley ( [CC BY 1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Are There Natural Alternatives?

Yes, but they don’t do the same thing because there is nothing natural about blocking sweat from leaving the body.  Honestly – my experience has been that the natural products work, but don’t last as long and don’t hold up as well to extreme situations (like job interviews or first dates or marathons).  With the natural products you may find you have to carry some with you to reapply.  You will also find that the natural products don’t reduce sweating at all – sadly that doesn’t really happen without the aluminum.  So you still sweat, but you smell just fine.  My real-life compromise has been to use the natural home-made deodorant most of the time because I have enough concern about aluminum deodorant safety to avoid regular use, but I will break down and use the aluminum one if I’m speaking at a conference or in some other higher-pressure situation.

Great DIY Natural Deodorant Recipe:

I’ve been trying this one lately and really like the way it feels on my skin – it’s an adaptation from one I found on Wellness Mama but I add a little more baking soda because I found it just a little too oily without it – but try both ways and see what you like.  Also if you’re looking for a great source for clean oils, herbs and essential oils try Mountain Rose Herbs. Starting out you may have to buy a few ingredients, but overall this is a super-thrifty, super healthy alternative because believe it or not this works out way cheaper in the long-run. God I *love* thrifty health. It’s such a bonus when the best way to do it is also cheaper than the way we normally do it.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com
My version of the recipe includes:

  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons shea butter
  • 2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder (or you can use baking soda if you don’t have arrowroot)
  • Essential oils (optional – but I always like it to have a light scent.)

Mix the coconut oil and shea butter and heat gently on a double-boiler (I use a stainless steel bowl placed over the top of a pot with a little boiling water at the bottom – that way the steam heats the bowl but it isn’t directly on the stove top).  Warm the oils just until the shea butter melts and you can mix them together then take it off the heat and add the baking soda and arrowroot powders. Stir this really well – a little whisk works or even pour it into the blender if you’re feeling a little lazy, but it’s a heavy oil base so the blender will take some thorough washing afterward. Add 20-40 drops of an essential oil once it’s all mixed and stir that in.  Now it’s ready to pour into a small wide-mouth jar and set for a while. I just let mine sit overnight so that it can solidify.

For this batch I added about 30 drops of grapefruit oil and maybe 4-5 drops of lemon oil just because the citrus smells always make me feel happy and perky so they’re perfect for morning, but have fun playing around and finding the best combo for you.  Once your natural deodorant has re-solidified then it’s ready to use! Just a small amount rubbed under each arm will do the trick but it’s not a bad idea to put a little bit in a tiny lip gloss jar to keep in your purse or pocket. Just don’t leave it in the hot car because it will melt.

Making the Switch to Natural Deodorant

So – it sounds kind of goofy, but if you’re been using an aluminum based product that reduces sweating then your body is probably going to have to detox a bit as it pushes the residual aluminum plugs out of those sweat glands and then pushes out all the toxins that have been building up behind those plugs.  It can take a couple of weeks and what I hear most from people (and certainly what I experienced) was just kind of a funky two weeks.  Your body may produce some interesting odors during this time in it’s joy at getting rid of the junk that has built up.  Don’t worry – there are some strategies to manage it:

Wipe your armpits a few times per day with distilled white vinegar or rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball or cotton pad – it will help to kill any funky bacteria or yeast that may be growing in that slightly toxic environment as well as to pick up the toxins.  Every time you clean your pits this way then re-apply your natural deodorant.  Risking a too-much-information situation here, I will tell you that I tend to be a sweaty kind of gal, so I always used vinegar at home before and after work and carried alcohol wipes to work with me to use maybe three times in the middle of the day.  It was a weird transition, but after about a week and a half it seemed like everything calmed down so that I didn’t need to do anything other than reapply the deodorant towards the end of the day.  Just be careful because if you’ve just shaved then both the vinegar and alcohol burn a little. Also I’ve noticed that since the switch my skin texture in that area has totally changed – there’s a big difference in the softness of the skin and also I’m realizing that my armpits are less irritable, for lack of a better word. It just seems like that whole area is healthier overall.

Aluminum deodorant safety is still not especially well researched, but there is enough evidence about aluminum and serious illness that I feel uncomfortable using it. The switch to natural deodorant takes a little bit of dedication, but is well worth it in the long run.  Our bodies have enough challenges without slathering on the heavy metals!

What is the Best B12 for MTHFR Mutants?

The best B12 for MTHFR mutants is… not easy. Just like everything else about being an MTHFR mutant – but the good news is that there is a logical process of discovery that you can go through to find the best B12 for your own brand of mutant-hood.  Also, if you’re a little fuzzy on the MTHFR particulars this is a great place to start for the basics and this article will help you figure out if you’re an MTHFR mutant.

Obviously the Best B12 for MTHFR Mutations is Methyl-B12 (methylcobalamin) Right?

Nope. At least not for everyone.  It makes sense on the surface that if you can’t methylate well then you probably don’t methylate B12 any better than you methylate folate. The problem is that nothing about methylation issues is “on the surface.” Let’s look at a diagram from Dr. Amy Yasko’s awesome website, which focuses on MTHFR mutations and autism,  to help to understand this further:

Awesome (and kind of intense) view of that methylation cycle that helps to show the best B12 for MTHFR mutants from

Awesome (and kind of intense) view of that methylation cycle that helps to show what B12 is best for MTHFR mutants from

Just to clarify, what you’re looking at is a huge, complex, multi-step chemical reaction. Each of the green arrows signifies a vitamin or co-factor that is important for that step of the reaction.  The boxes are particular genes that also influence that step of the reaction. You’ll notice the MTHFR gene that we all know and love at the bottom left of the diagram. You’ll also probably notice that the whole picture is so much bigger than just those two genes (eek!).

The big green arrow for B12 comes straight down between the two big wheels of the methylation cycle.  There are two genes that can change that step of the process, which are called MTR and MTRR. Both MTR and MTRR genes code for enzymes that convert homocysteine to methionine. Both of these enzymes need methyl-B12 to work and your body especially needs B12 support if you have the MTR or MTRR mutations. So, in theory, the best B12 for MTHFR mutants should be methyl, and this is a great place to start but sometimes clinically this doesn’t pan out. Often clinically hydroxycobalamin, which is a slower-release, longer-acting form does much better.

Methylcobalamin, or methyl-B12, is still the best first choice. It makes the most logical sense, it’s the most rapidly active form and it’s already methylated so your body doesn’t have to convert it to anything for it to work.  It’s also the most rapidly acting (and therefore rapidly broken down form) and because of this some people with MTHFR mutations have problems with it. Especially the MTHFR mutants who have severe side-effects from taking 5-MTHF. If you’re not sure if that’s you then read more here.

Signs Hydroxycobalamin (hydroxy-B12) Could Be Better For You:

  • You take methyl-B12 and don’t notice any difference in energy level, mood or really anything else.
  • You have the MTR or MTRR mutations but don’t respond to methyl B12.
  • You have started slowly taking methylfolate but quickly started having side effects.
  • Your blood levels of B12 show up too high, but you still have symptoms of B12 deficiency.
  • Even taking a good dose of methylfolate and methylcobalamin your homocysteine levels don’t come down.
  • You take methyl-B12 and kind of start to freak out.
  • You’re taking good methyl-folate, other good B-vitamin support, and you don’t feel better at all, or feel worse.
  • You take methyl-B12 and on blood tests you still show up B12 deficient.
  • You also have the COMT or MAO mutations,  that change the way some of your neurotransmitters are broken down.

The bottom line is that if you start a good protocol with methylfolate and methyl B12 and don’t feel any better, or feel worse then either you started with too high a dose, or hydroxycobalamin (hydroxy B12) would be a better choice than methyl B12.

The Benefits of Hydroxycobalamin or Hydroxy B12

  • Hydroxycobalamin is used more slowly by your body and so can help to maintain steadier levels of B12
  • It helps prevent methylfolate from forming too much nitric oxide in your body, which helps to reduce side effects of 5-MTHF.
  • It easily converts to methyl B12
  • It helps reduce cyanide in the body (totally unrelated, but it’s a bonus!)

So does this mean hydroxycobalamin is the best B12 for MTHFR mutants? Well – no. The best B12 for MTHFR mutants is always unique to that particular person. It means that your total picture determines what’s best for you.  The logical place to start is with a methyl B12, but if that isn’t giving you the results you want or if you’re having a lot of side effects from the mthylfolate you’re taking then try switching to a hydroxycobalamin form. For many of you it will help to get you feeling energetic and happy and all the things we should feel every day.