Category Archives: Lifehacks

Lifehack: Get rid of Gallbladder Sludge, with water.

Every now and then I realize that for all my talk about gallbladder sludge, I haven’t emphasized the MOST IMPORTANT THING, which is water. In terms of getting rid of sludge of any kind in life, water is the key. Can I say this again? If you want to get rid of gallbladder sludge, water is absolutely vital. Let’s review.

Your gallbladder is a small little sac-shaped organ that is connected to both your liver and your intestines by thin tubes. Your liver makes bile, which helps your body to emulsify the fats from your diet in order to absorb them, and also helps you eliminate fat-soluble toxins including excess hormones. Bile is usually very fluid, but once it gets to the gallbladder your body starts to pull out the water and concentrate it, helping it to become more effective.  By pulling out this water you make the bile thicker and more goopy. If you pull out too much water or there isn’t enough in there to begin with, then goopy turns into sludgy. This one simple factor can lead to sludge pretty quickly.

Want to get rid of gallbladder sludge? WATER is the biggest key.

Want to get rid of gallbladder sludge? WATER is the biggest key.

Get Rid of Gallbladder Sludge Long-Term:

If you have gallbladder sludge, and the pain that goes with it, you know how important it becomes to eliminate it quickly.  Here are some of the quick things you can do to get rid of gallbladder sludge for good:

  1. Boost your water intake quickly and make it a life-habit.  The more fluid your bile is, and the more well-hydrated you are, the faster you will flush out that sludge and the less likely your bile will get too thick in the future.  Did you know that according to a New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center Survey, 75% of American Adults are chronically dehydrated? Wha????? If you have gallbladder sludge my guess would be that you’re one of the 75%.
  2. Boost Your Fiber, Just Like Your Grandmother Told You. Fiber helps to bind to the fat soluble toxins and bile salts that are eliminated and pull them out of your system so that your thrifty body doesn’t recycle them.
  3. Eat Sensibly For Your Gallbladder. This means ix-nay the fried foods, trans-fats and excess animal fats and add more fruits, veggies and lean proteins.
  4. Boost the Power of your Water With a Little Lemon. Lemon and other acids, like apple cider vinegar, help with both detox and hydration, both of which help with gallbladder sludge. Super!
  5. Consider a Gallbladder Cleanse: BUT the gallbladder cleanse has it’s own risks so it’s only safe if you know, because a doctor did the appropriate testing, that you don’t have stones.  If you only have sludge and you’re not pregnant, then this could be helpful.




Get Rid of Gallbladder Pain Short-Term:

So, if you’re having a gallbladder attack you’re probably not sitting down at the computer to read about it, but hopefully, you’ll google it later and remember it for next time.  As soon as you start to feel an attack coming on:

  1. Guzzle The Water: Again, the quickest way to clean out goop is to dilute it and thin it out.  Your body will thank me for it. This is especially important if you get nausea or vomiting with your attacks because the vomiting makes dehydration worse quickly, which just makes the sludge worse.  Even if you have stones that are causing the pain water will help them to pass if they’re going to.
  2. Add Lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar: Taking a shot of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice at the start of an attack (followed by a BUNCH of water) will help head the attack off before it gets into full swing. Also adding a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to the vast quantities of water you’re drinking (ahem) will help it to be more effective.
  3. Slather on the Castor Oil: Castor oil is anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving in it’s own right, but it is also especially “lubricating” to the lymphatic flow around the liver and gallbladder, which comes in handy when that whole area is jammed up with pain, inflammation, and sludge.
  4. Consider some Supplements: There are a few things that help in the short term.  Water and the acidic juices are the biggest things, but some others include digestive bitters and lecithin.




Doesn't this look awesome? Don't be one of the 75% of adults who are dehydrated. And Get rid of the gallbladder pain for good!

Doesn’t this look awesome? Don’t be one of the 75% of adults who are dehydrated. And Get rid of the gallbladder pain for good!

So – will water and proper hydration fix the problem permanently?  It could, but not if you’re still eating fast food or if you have a major hormone shift contributing (like pregnancy ladies, sorry.) But if your diet is reasonably good and your hormones close to normal, then yup. The water is the key. Simple, right?



Lifehack for Weight Loss: Imaginary Food

The easiest life hack for weight loss ever! Imaginary food. Image: Plate, Saucer, And Bowl © Brett Stoltz | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The easiest life hack for weight loss ever! Imaginary food. Image: Plate, Saucer, And Bowl
© Brett Stoltz | Dreamstime Stock Photos

This study is truly a case for mind over matter. The study shows that if you’re having a food craving, imagining yourself eating that food gives you the same level of satisfaction as does actually eating that food.  So if you’re at a party staring down a chocolate cake, and you imagine yourself eating and enjoying it, you are less likely to actually eat it.  Also if you do have a piece, you will be more satisfied by a smaller piece than you would be if you hadn’t imagined eating it. Talk about a life hack for weight loss!




Basically this means that imagining eating something is almost as satisfying to your body as actually eating something and the more you imagine eating it the less of it you are likely to eat.  Imagining eating something else doesn’t help.  So if you go to a party and have the choice of chocolate cake and chips, imagining eating the chocolate cake will give you some protection from the temptation of eating chocolate cake, but won’t protect you from eating the chips. Also the more you imagine eating it the less likely you are to actually eat it, so involving yourself in a nice long fudge fantasy can be your anti-fudge vaccine.

Please enjoy this food fantasy and lose weight.

Please enjoy this food fantasy and lose weight.

I think for a long time dieters have tried to never think of the foods they crave for fear that the cravings will get worse, but this study actually shows us that the opposite is true.  Daydreaming about the food you crave actually gives you some satisfaction, brings you some joy and makes that craving less. For once this is great news for weight loss!

For every dieter who is dreading this holiday season, just imagine those yummy Christmas cookies. Have a Christmas cookie fantasy date.   Go ahead and roll around in the cheese dip at the office party (um… in your imagination only.  In real life it doesn’t look good on your resume).  Imagine eating and loving whatever is in front of you right now and then either have a small piece, or move on to the next food daydream because hey – your imagination is your best life hack for weight loss and you’re helping yourself to weight loss success. Because science says so.



Change Your Life – Sign Your Contract of Personal Responsibility Now

Personal responsibility – it sounds so grown up. So adult.  So dry, in a way.  But the thing is, without it life feels pretty crappy. You get into this slippery state where things just slide by you without really engaging.  The to-do list piles up, the difference between the way you actually are and the way you want to be grows increasingly wider.  Some part of you knows you aren’t living the right life and in the beginning that part is easy to ignore, but that little voice gets louder and louder and shows up in all kinds of mysterious ways.  Why?  Because while you’re letting things slide, you’re also giving away your power.

Your power is the most precious thing you have and you’re letting it slip through your fingers because personal responsibility is hard. It is so easy to give away your own power, and often it slips by you unnoticed.  It happens every time you allow something else to have power over you. What does that mean? Simple. If you aren’t acknowledging ownership, then you’re stating your powerlessness.




Here’s an example.  I had my daughter (lovely girl) 11 months ago today.  She is amazing and wonderful and brings me so much joy and happiness.  She also gives me a great excuse not to do some of the things that are actually necessary for me to live the life I want – like exercise (but I’m running around after a toddler – surely that’s exercise enough) and meditate (who has the time?!?)  That excuse is actually a reason for a while, because really when there’s no sleep and you’re desperately trying to keep your head above water something really does have to give.  But now?  When she has two good naps per day and doesn’t always sleep through the night, but does sometimes.  Now is it a reason? Nope. It’s just the story I’ve been telling myself as I let my personal responsibility, my power, drain away.  Now it’s easy to say that it’s a minor thing, but the person who pays for this is me.  I don’t feel strong in my body (my fault). I notice more of the scattered monkey-mind coming in.  I don’t have my normal energy level.  Why?  Because I’m just not stepping up to the plate.  It could be habit, it could just be that the little voice that recognizes I’m not being the me I want to be hasn’t been loud enough until today.

Red Flags that You Have Given Away Your Power

The red flags are flying out there for everyone to see, but when you’re on the inside they sound perfectly reasonable.  Let’s do the three biggest:

  1. You’re getting further from your goals or standing still. The difference between how you’re living and how you want to be living is getting bigger, not smaller.  You’re moving away from your goals.
  2. You start using powerless words. These could be the words you say out loud and also the words you use in your head. Here are some of the easiest to recognize (but there are plenty more)
    1. I really wanted to, but
    2. I just can’t because you know how bad [the economy, my joints, my marriage, the 2000s …] is…
    3. I’ll get started when [I have the money, I have extra time, aliens land…]
    4. I just have to [do this thing I’ve been saying I”d do for a year but haven’t done yet] first and then I’ll…
  3. Some part of your life feels out of control.  Like you aren’t driving the ship, you’re being driven (or swimming desperately behind). You can’t seem to get around the mess, the clutter, your weight, your health, all the things you haven’t said to your partner, your kids… whatever.

Okay – So That Might Be Me. Now What?

Step 1 is to take back your power. And here’s the quickest way.  This is a take back your power lifehack. I want you to sign a contract with yourself – a contract of personal responsibility. Here’s a .pdf copy to download ContractofResponsibility

Step 1 to taking back your power is to sign a contract of personal responsibility. Nobody can help you but you.

Step 1 to taking back your power is to sign a contract of personal responsibility. Nobody can help you but you.

Step 2 is up to you.  Here’s the thing – it’s easy to keep giving away your power.  To say I can’t because of this or that.  So here are some exercises to do around this:

  1. Try reading the contract out loud to yourself in the mirror.  You may notice that some parts are actually hard to say, or your brain comes up with an instant “but.” Pay attention to what is triggering you.  This may bring up all kinds of anger, indignation, and furious backlash about how someone really is stopping you from doing something. Are they? Are they really? To what degree are you willing to allow that person to continue to have power over you? These are questions only you can answer.
  2. Start to look at your sense of yourself in the world.  Are you adopting a victim place?  Where someone has done something to you and because of that things aren’t right? No doubt there are people who may have done you wrong, people who you have felt haven’t treated you well, or who have outright abused or violated you.  These events can be incredibly hard to get over, but until you do get over it, until you choose to take your power back and stop giving it to that person, you will continue to be powerless.
  3. Forgive, forgive, forgive.  Mostly forgive yourself and move on.

I hope this is helpful, and I’ll have you know I have both exercised and meditated today because the truth is that I just wasn’t taking personal responsibility, and now I am.  I was giving my power away to my daughter, and while I would give her anything in the world if it would actually benefit her, it will benefit her more to see her mom being powerful. Use this lifehack today to take your power back and start taking personal responsibility and if you feel like sharing a story I’d love to hear it in the comments.



Benefits of Lemon Water for Liver, Gallbladder and Energy

We’ve discussed lemons for skin health and beauty, but what about the awesome benefits of lemon water for your liver, your gallbladder and even your energy? Not to mention the zesty taste! Lemon water has this sort of ambiguously detox-y reputation on the interwebs.  Seems like a lot of people like the way it makes them feel, most people seem to feel it does something related to detox but isn’t sure quite what, and some people claim it’s the cure-all. I’m not going to ever call anything a cure-all because every person’s physiology is unique, but there are some things that are pretty universally good, and as it turns out having a nice, hot lemon water in the morning is one of those.

The benefits of lemon water make this little guy a superfood. Thanks to Evan Amos for the great photo.

The benefits of lemon water make this little guy a superfood. Thanks to Evan Amos for the great photo.




The Actual Benefits of Lemon Water

Detoxify

  • The acidity of lemon juice makes it a much-used cholagogue for herbalists and even the doctors of yore (yore has to be one of my favorite words – I couldn’t resist a chance to sneak it in there). Cholagogues promote the discharge of bile from the system, purging it downward.  In plain English, that means that when you eat or drink lemon or lemon juice it stimulates your body to release bile into your intestinal tract to pass through into the stool. Bile helps you to digest fats that you eat, and it also helps eliminate cholesterol and fat soluble toxins.  This makes lemon water a gentle detoxifier.
  • Just as a fun factoid, if you’re not sure if something is a good cholagogue (the new word of the day), just taste it.  Cholagogues are usually strongly sour or bitter and you can feel that little salivary gland at the back of your jaw start to freak out.  Lemons are all over this!
  • Your liver does much of it’s heavy lifting overnight while you sleep. In the morning there can be a back-log of toxins from the night before that your body would love to eliminate. To do that it honestly benefits pretty greatly from both the water – especially warm water, and the lemon juice itself.
  • Lemon juice may even stimulate healthy production of both bile and stomach acid and it was used historically to do just that, although there isn’t research out there to support this use.

Hydrate

  • In addition to the lemon, there’s the water and the water is actually key to this whole thing.  Detoxification, which is essentially cleaning, requires water just like every other washing job you’ve ever done.  Have you ever tried cleaning the dishes without water? Washing the car? Yup. All hinges on water.
  • Let’s face it – we all struggle for that 8-10 glasses of water we’re supposed to get every day. With lemon water at least one of them tastes good!

Think More Clearly

  • There is a strongly established link between getting enough water and using your brain effectively. The mountain of research on this link for adults is huge and there’s even research showing clearly this link in kiddos.
  • Essential oil of lemon, which is the lemon smell released by the lemon water, is also shown to improve mood and cognitive performance in adults, so double whammy.
  • Triple whammy! The bioflavenoids in citrus fruit are also shown to boost cognitive performance including nobilitin and hesperidin.

Lose Weight and Boost Heart Health

  • A study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that drinking more water boosts metabolism by about 30% for both men and women.  That is incredibly helpful! The study went on to say that people who drank 1.5 liters of water per day burn an additional 17,400 calories over a year just through this one simple step. That’s a weight loss of 5 pounds, just by drinking water.
  • An additional study on the lemon detox diet showed that adding lemon detox drink to a low calorie diet actually improves the cardiovascular benefits of that diet.  They compared three groups, one eating a normal diet, one eating a calorie restricted diet and one eating a calorie restricted diet plus lemon water sweetened with maple syrup. Both low calorie groups lost weight, lowered their insulin and reduced their waist-hip ratios but only the lemon water group showed improvements in cardiovascular inflammation.

Get Your Antioxidants

  • Lemon water from the recipe below has about 22 mg of vitamin C, or 36% of your daily value. It also has small amounts of vitamin A and vitamin E.
  • Citrus bioflavenoids are an incredibly diverse group of compounds that are high-powered antioxidants and every day there is new research emerging for compounds such as hesperidin, quercitin, rutin, nobilitin and there are literally hundreds of others that have yet to be researched.

Boost Your Happy

  • Lemon essential oil is one of the scents most associated with elevated mood.  It is stimulating to the energy but not agitating – it remains calming to the nerves. In short, it gives you the happy.

Not only that but one of the best benefits of lemon water is that you can drink this, and also your coffee. It doesn’t have caffeine and so won’t conflict at all with that beloved morning ritual. Now – if you want to enjoy the health benefits of lemon water, here’s a fantastic recipe:

Lemon Water Recipe

Juice from 1/2 large lemon or 1 small lemon
Zest from the peel – just a few swipes will do
12-16 oz hot water (I prefer 16 to soften the tartness)
If you can’t tolerate the tartness then a little bit of raw honey

Mix it all together in your favorite mug and enjoy the lovely fresh smell, the tart wake-me-up taste and all those health benefits of lemon water. And no worries – you can still have a coffee or tea if you want without worrying about being over-caffeinated.



Lifehack for beauty – Lemons for skin health

Lemons are kind of awesome. Zesty and fresh and yummy in everything, they also happen to be an awesome lifehack for beauty because lemons for skin are like a miracle. They are rich in antioxidants, highly acidic (which means anti-microbial), and lightening/brightening for your skin.

Lemons for skin - and some other things too. Beauty lifehack! Image By Franz Eugen Köhler,

Lemons for skin – and some other things too. Beauty lifehack! Image By Franz Eugen Köhler




Lemons For Skin – So Many Benefits!

It’s a little staggering to list the benefits of this simple fruit, but we’ll try:

  • Acne – lemons highly acidic juice helps to kill bacteria and fungus, making it an ideal aid for acne and rashes
  • Anti-itch – lemon juice has a long history of use topically for the measles and chicken pox rashes to soothe the itch and help to calm the skin. Use caution if you’ve scratched the rash so much the skin is raw because the acidity of lemon juice will burn, but it is reputed to reduce the itch long-term.
  • Brightening and Refreshing Skin – Leaving lemon juice on your skin for 10 minutes or more allows the acidic juice and enzymes to soften and loosen the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin and reveal the healthy glowing skin below. Your own mini, delicious-smelling mini skin peel. Check out some recipe ideas below.
  • Lightening Sun Spots – Lemon juice also helps to lighten and brighten areas that have become pigmented after sun exposure.
  • Reduce the Appearance of Wrinkles – again the magical acidity, combined with the brightening effect of lemons helps your skin to look tighter and more toned and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Just don’t get the juice too near your eyes – ouch!
  • The Smell Lightens your Mood – no joke! Lemon and other citrus essential oils, which is what you’re smelling when you slice open that fresh lemon, has been shown to elevate mood and boost productivity as well as reduce anxiety. Lemon specifically boosts cognitive performance and mood.




Lemons for Skin: The Recipes

Before you try these, be sure to try a test patch of lemon juice on the skin inside your arm to see if you have any kind of negative reaction. There are people who have citrus allergies, and the acidity can be too much for some sensitive skin (but usually diluting with water will fix this problem). Also avoid sun exposure while the lemon juice is on your skin as it can make your skin more photosensitive and increase your likelihood of sun burn. After you try these yummy recipes, leave a comment and let me know how it goes for you! I’m a huge fan, but I’d love to know what you think.

Brightening Lemon Exfoliation

Sprinkle raw sugar crystals over a thick lemon slice and use that in the shower to scrub your skin. The gritty sugar and acidic lemon juice combine to form a totally delicious skin brightener. *LOVE*

Nourishing Skin Lightener

10 drops lemon juice
5 drops sweet almond oil or apricot kernel oil  – organic if possible
1 teaspoon raw honey
Combine these and massage into facial skin in upward strokes.  Lie back and let it do it’s magic for 20 minutes then rinse and go about your day feeling fabulous darling.

Lemon Lightener for Sun Damage and Liver Spots

10 drops lemon juice
3 drops sweet almond oil or apricot kernel oil
Using a cotton swab or clean fingertip dab this mixture onto the spots before bed and allow it to penetrate overnight.  In your morning shower use the Brightening Lemon Exfoliation.

Lemon Mask for Dry Skin

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon avocado oil
1/2 teaspoon raw honey
Mix the ingredients and apply to face, lips, elbows, knees, hands or feet – any area that needs softening and deep moisturizing.  Leave for 15-30 minutes then rinse with warm water.

Lemon Lift For Mood and Attitude

If you need to nail an interview, calm your nerves or need a major boost then put 2 drops of lemon essential oil on a freshly cut slice of lemon and rub over your wrists, behind your ear or the back of your neck. The subtle scent will lift your mood and even make your interviewer (or date) more happy if they get a whiff. Just make sure it isn’t going to be exposed to sun because this will make you more sensitive to UV rays. Also make sure this doesn’t get on your brightly colored clothes because it will lighten and bleach them. If your skin is too sensitive for direct application you can put it on a white handkerchief and discreetly sniff when you need a lift.

Here’s my favorite source for good quality organic oils and other fun ingredients if you happen to be into this stuff.  Apricot oil and sweet almond oil are pretty easy to find in the health food store too.

A passion for organics
 

The humble lemon, aside from being one of my favorite fruit flavors has myriad benefits for skin health and beauty. In fact lemons for skin are just as useful as they are internally – but more on that next week. In terms of beauty lifehacks, lemons for skin is a simple one.  Lemons are generally inexpensive, readily available, and many of you probably have one sitting around right now that you can slice up – one slice for the cocktail and one for your face. That’s my kind of versatile!



Lifehack to Making changes – What Are You Resisting?

Let me be the first to say that making changes in life really sucks.  That’s a technical term. There are many reasons why making changes is difficult – you have your routines, you making changes means the people around you also have to adapt and shift, etc… But I believe the biggest reason that making changes is so difficult is that human brains are tricksy and the change you want to make is actually just a thin veneer over the change you NEED to make. Let me explain.

Your life is the way it is because that is the easiest way for it to be right now and the way that “works” even if there’s something about it that clearly isn’t working. When you look at your life there are areas that are easy, areas that are messy and areas that are downright dysfunctional but all of those parts of your life are doing *something* for you.  No matter how crappy parts of your life might look, they are giving you something positive (even if you complain about it constantly or feel like you need to change it). If it wasn’t giving you something positive  you wouldn’t be doing it that way.

Lifehack – Follow the Resistance

It’s easy to look at the end points that you want to change – I want to lose 10 pounds, get my groove back, have a better relationship with the in-laws, learn to really communicate with the kids, etc… Those are the goals.  To get to those goals there are things you have to change and somewhere in there is a change that you’re resisting.  Especially when you’ve had the same goal for a long time (like that same 10 pounds has been waiting to come off for five years).  Somewhere there is something that you’re resisting doing, resisting looking at, or just not seeing.  The most important thing you have to do when you’re making changes is to follow the resistance.  This is where the real meat of the matter lies.  The problem is that sometimes it can be hard to find the resistance, and as it turns out there is a  way to find that resistance and toddlers already know it.  It’s to just keep asking “why?”

Just keep asking "Why?" Making changes is hard, but it's easier when you know what REALLY needs to change.

Just keep asking “Why?” Making changes is hard, but it’s easier when you know what REALLY needs to change.

Just Keep Asking “Why?”

That sounds really simple, but it isn’t. Here’s an example that I have had the opportunity to explore recently.  One of my clients has an issue with her weight – we’ll call her Jane Doe. She is a mother of four, has a full time job, and a happy marriage. Her family is financially comfortable but doesn’t have a lot extra.  She eats well all day, exercises and has an active job but then falls apart in the evening and gets cravings for salty-crunchy, that are incredibly hard to resist.  We had been working together for some time and just kept getting to this same block.  She was beating herself up for not being able to get past this, for not having the will power, and for not being able to just make it change. After a few months of futility, we sat down and had a heart-to-heart to follow the resistance. Here’s what happened (slightly paraphrased because the whole conversation gets really annoying before it actually resolves).

Amy: “Why do you binge on the salty-crunchy in the evenings?”
JD: “I can’t stop myself”Amy: “Why?”
JD: “I just can’t – it tastes too good”
Amy: “Why do you need something to taste so good?”
JD: “It makes me happy. It’s instant pleasure”
Amy: “Why?”
JD (clearly annoyed now): “It just is – it’s easy and makes me happy”
Amy: “Why do you need something easy that makes you happy?”
JD: “everyone needs pleasure in their lives”
Amy: “Why is your life not giving you pleasure?”
JD (kind of angry with words coming out in a rush): “I work so hard and then come home and have more work. I clean, I cook – my husband helps but between the two of us we’re always running kids here and there, spending money so they can do their stuff, there isn’t really time or money left over for me, so this is what makes me happy.”

Then she cried.

You know you reached the resistance when you cry. Or get angry, or shout and scream, or storm out of the room.  THAT is the resistance.  THAT is the thing that is lurking underneath that really needs to change.  It isn’t the weight, or the binge eating, it’s the lack of time and energy for her own happiness.  Is it easy to change? Nope.  Is it going to require a big step back to find a solution? Yup. When she figures it out will it make a way bigger impact on her life than the silly 10 pounds would?  You bet.

What You Resist Might Just Be What You Need To Change Most

The funny thing about making changes is that it’s all linked up.  There is the thing we might want to change (the 10 pounds) and then the change that we really REALLY need to make for our life to work (JDs lack of time for her own happiness). The change we want seems to always hinge on the change we actually need in the big picture – it’s like some wonderful cosmic synergy  that happens. I tend to call anything along this vein The Great Mystery. It’s like the universe keeps bumping us up against the things that will help us the most if we can just get to the bottom of them.  The really hard part is getting to the bottom of them. So – did Jane Doe just make some time for herself and la-di-da 10 pounds fell off and everyone lived happily ever after?  Um… No.

Making Changes: Resistance is Tricky

No – Jane certainly did not make time for herself and those 10 pounds melted away.  Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:

Amy: “Now we’re getting somewhere! What else could you do that would make you happy?”
JD (genuinely angry now): “You don’t understand.  We don’t have time, we don’t have money. The kids have gymnastics, soccer, summer camp and tutoring and it eats all of the money and I have to run them around to these things. There just isn’t anything left over.”Amy: “Why do you have to run them around?”
JD: “Because they have to do those things – they love them and I want them to have every opportunity.”
etc… etc… etc…




There was a lot more back and forth in which Jane got incredibly frustrated with me, got angry, got indignant, called me a bunch of names for being insensitive, and ended up crying again.  At the end of the day we were friends again, but there was a lot of messy, dark, ugly ground to cover before we got there.  The whole conversation is too cumbersome, but the bottom line was that Jane was beating herself up against a made up idea called “good parent” and to be a “good parent” meant giving up everything that makes you happy so that the kids can have all of the things they’re supposed to have.  That one isn’t an easy fix at all.  But, by managing to fix it not only Jane’s life would be better but her whole family dynamic is better too.

Jane just had an appointment after about 6 months of silence after the above conversation.  I really wasn’t sure if what we did helped or if I’d made her angry enough to go somewhere else.  As it turned out it was a great thing – and also still a work in progress.  Jane ended up sitting down for a conversation with her husband who, as it turns out, felt exactly the same way but instead of turning to food he turned to alcohol.  The two of them tried to shift things around and give each other more breaks and more space, but time management wasn’t really solving the problem.  At this point they sat down with the kids to have a conversation.  Then the floodgates opened.

The kids were stressed out – they could see that mom wasn’t entirely happy and dad was distant and all of them felt guilty for it in different ways (kids always seem to think they cause any problems around them).  Sitting down and talking about it was stressful for the family but got a lot of simmering issues out in the open.  It also revealed that what the kids wanted more than gymnastics and summer camp was time with their parents. The kids really missed the sit-down dinners they used to have before everyone started running in twenty different directions.  They missed the lazy Saturday morning brunch with waffles and they wanted to go camping again and roast marshmallows on the camp fire.  To get those things back, everyone would have to dial back their extracurricular activities.

This wasn’t easy – the kids liked the stuff they were doing, but at the end of the day they liked time with their family more. Did this help Jane?  Not at first.  The things they wanted to do were all food-intensive (as family activities tend to be).  Jane actually gained weight at first because the brunch was all carbs, the sit down dinners were all comfort food and they only managed to go camping once but it was an absolute festival of hot dogs on sticks and popcorn over the campfire and marshmallows galore. As the time went by though and Jane relaxed into a little bit more leisurely schedule, things started to shift. Jane was feeling happier and less rushed and over-scheduled.  She felt like she was enjoying her kids more and not just seeing them as to-do items.  After this six months, the weight was actually starting to come off.

Best of all, Jane said she was actually enjoying her life in a way that she didn’t realize she was missing. Her slow creep into losing her own joy had been gradual enough as to go unnoticed by her and everyone else.  She would never have said at the beginning of that conversation that she wasn’t happy.  Her resistance pointed to a problem that she wasn’t seeing or acknowledging and by doing the hard work of actually addressing that problem, she is seeing a huge reward.  Jane came back to say thanks – how awesome is that?

If you notice that you are making changes, or trying, and you’re coming to a block somewhere that doesn’t seem to move no matter what you do, maybe it’s time to follow the resistance.  Get into it and find the big thing hiding underneath – your life will be better for it.



How To Do A Castor Oil Pack the Lazy Way

A castor oil pack is something that sounds not-glamorous. Not-glamorous to the same extent as say a mustard plaster, or possibly even an enema (gasp).  I get that. This isn’t a sexy sounding topic, but the thing is, doing a castor oil pack is one of the simplest, gentlest, best life hacks for liver health, gallbladder function and even women’s hormones and breast health. I honestly think if everyone would do these on a regular basis, we’d have world peace. Okay, not quite world peace, but we’d all be a lot healthier.

What is a Castor Oil Pack?

Simply stated, this is a great way to help your body absorb castor oil through your skin to help the local area (meaning the skin in that area but also the underlying organs and structures) and your health in general. Why, you might ask, do you want to absorb castor oil through your skin?  There’s a whole post on it here, but the quick and dirty is that castor oil topically gives you a tremendous immune boost, anti-inflammatory benefit, and also a gentle detoxification.  Hard to get all of those things anywhere else with so little effort.

The Traditional Castor Oil Pack

There is a formal way to do this, popularized by Edgar Cayce and many other practitioners. I don’t usually do it this way, but it’s probably the best way to do it.

Castor oil pack - picture by Pete Markham from Loretto, USA

Castor oil – picture by Pete Markham from Loretto, USA. This bottle is from the light-keepers house at Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota.

You Will Need:

  • Organic flannel – about 1/2 yard (or meter) of organic flannel, folded into a square
  • Organic, hexane-free castor oil
  • A Mason Jar or something similar to put the saturated flannel in after
  • Plastic wrap to cover the outside of the castor oil (it’s preferable to use something non-plastic, but it’s also messier.)
  • A hot water bottle or heating pad
  • 90 minutes




Directions for a Castor Oil Pack:

  1. Saturate the folded flannel with the castor oil. The first time you do this it will take a fair bit of oil. You want the flannel to be full of oil, but not dripping everywhere.
  2. Put the flannel square over the area you’d like to treat – usually the right side of your abdomen under your rib cage (for liver/gallbladder), but it could be over your lower pelvis (for menstrual cramps, hormone balance, fibroids, or really any other uterine issue), over your breasts for fibrocystic breasts, or even over a sore joint, skin rash or other inflammatory issue.
  3. Wrap the pack and the area of your body that it’s covering with plastic wrap. This has no therapeutic value, but it helps to keep your house clean because castor oil is heavy oil and will stain.
  4. Put a hot water bottle or hot pack over the castor oil pack
  5. Lie back and rest for 90 minutes (NICE!!) This is potentially the best part of the castor oil pack.




So – this is great. It allows your skin to absorb as much castor oil as it possibly can because the cloth is saturated so it can just keep soaking up the oil for that gorgeous 90 minute rest.  The problem is, who *actually* has time for a 90 minute rest? Therapeutically it’s a great idea, but practically it’s a little difficult – hence Dr. Amy’s Slightly Lazy Castor Oil Pack…

Dr. Amy’s Slightly Lazy Castor Oil Pack – Castor Oil Life Hack

This is probably not quite as perfect as the traditional method, but it’s a whole lot easier, and because it’s easier it’s a lot more likely to get done. This is an awesome castor oil life hack.  It’s quick and easy detox, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving awesomeness.

You Will Need:

  • Organic castor oil
  • A pair of pyjamas that can be dedicated for the rest of their natural lives to castor oil. They will never be the same again.
  • A hot water bottle of heating pad if you want.

Directions for The Lazy Castor Oil Pack:

  1. Slather a good layer of castor oil over the area you want to treat:
    1. Liver/gallbladder – the right side of your abdomen under your rib cage, including your right side and even the right side of your back. Honestly I pretty much just cover my whole stomach and back and leave it at that.
    2. Uterus – slather your whole lower pelvis
    3. Breasts – just cover the whole area
    4. Joints, rashes and other local inflammation – put a good layer over the whole area
  2. Throw on the chosen pajamas
  3. If you have a hot water bottle or hot pack, go for it.
  4. Go to bed for the night
  5. When you wake up the next morning the oil will be absorbed, your body will be working on the castor oil and enjoying the anti-inflammatory benefits, and you really only spent 5 extra minutes putting on the oil.

This method provides an easy way to work this into a busy lifestyle.  Granted, the 90 minute rest has it’s own therapeutic benefit and if you can do it, I would highly recommend it.  If you can’t work that in (like I often can’t) then by all means do the lazy method. This gives you the opportunity to work castor oil in more frequently – even doing it a few times per week.

After having my daughter I was doing lazy castor oil packs over my abdomen and pelvis 3-4 nights per week just to help my body to deal with the anesthetics, surgical recovery and pain.  I feel like my recovery was far more smooth and easy than it otherwise would have been, simply because I was able to use castor oil so frequently.  If I had to take 90 minutes and do the full castor oil pack experience I wouldn’t have been able to fit it in at all.



Lifehack for Anxiety: Invite Brad Pitt to Dinner

Some anxiety – I like to call it catastrophizing, is basically like entering into a very vivid daydream about every worst-case scenario possible and it’s nice to have a worst-case-scenario lifehack.  What if my partner dies in a car crash?  What if they’re disabled?  What if my daughter isn’t careful and someone abuses her?  What if we go bankrupt and end up homeless? Not realistic fears, not things that are likely to happen – typically it’s the worst possible things that could happen. Happily, there is a great way to fix it.

This isn’t daydreaming about things that are likely to happen, it’s really the worst that could possibly happen, ever, to anyone.  The absolute worst. By worrying about these what-if questions your life becomes similar to navigating a mine-field of potential disasters.  It starts to seem like doom is lurking around every corner and like you’re struggling just to stay alive, and who doesn’t need a lifehack for doom?

Here is a great anti-catastrophizing lifehack from DIY Health: For Women. It’s simple, portable, free and gives you a great reason to have fun for 30 seconds.

Pay attention to your mind – every time you catch yourself thinking what-if-a-piano-falls-out-of-the-sky thoughts – activate your lifehack.  Instead of a negative fantasy, switch to a positive one. Start thinking about the best case scenarios – the ones where Brad Pitt shows up on your doorstep with flowers and offers to cook dinner and vacuum the rug. Or Angelina Jolie really wants to come over to get to know you better.  How about the one where James Bond shows up to tell you that this suitcase full of cash actually belongs to you? Or your spouse shows up at your office with two tickets to the Bahamas and you don’t have to worry about packing because you can just buy all new things when you get there.  Make it over-the-top good and don’t hold anything back.

Really picture that scenario happening – see every detail, if you’re going to dinner in your fantasy pick out what you would order.  Really get into it and enjoy it. All of this only takes 30 seconds out of your day – it’s not like you’re spending hours in this positive fantasy (like you might do with the negative one).  It’s basically a break that allows your brain to jump track, to get distracted from the usual pattern of bad thoughts and to get a little less used to catastrophizing. This allows you to break the cycle of absurd fear and worry thoughts. After all, anxiety has a brain chemistry component but it also has a habit component.




The hardest part, just like with meditation, is actually noticing what your mind is doing. For many of us this form of worry is second nature and we don’t even really notice when it’s happening. It just becomes the background chatter in your brain.  In order to stop the background chatter you have to notice it.  If the noticing is the hard part, you may benefit from some mindfulness meditation to start to be aware of the merry chase your brain is leading you on.

In your anxiety lifehack unicorns really can fart rainbows. Really.  Awesome image from puppylover4002.wordpress.com

In your anxiety lifehack unicorns really can fart rainbows. Really. Awesome image from puppylover4002.wordpress.com

This exercise isn’t necessarily about the good fantasy, it is simply to point out how completely ridiculous it is to get caught up in the ‘what-if’ place.  The smiles you get from the good fantasy are really just the cherry on top. Ironically, it’s easier for your pessimistic human mind to recognize it as ridiculous more easily when you fantasize about good things than when you fantasize about bad things.  It seems that we all know Brad Pitt isn’t showing up for dinner, but we’re not totally sure the roof isn’t going to collapse or a loved one isn’t going to get into a car wreck. Huh.

There are really enough difficult things in life without creating new ones for yourself, so if you catch yourself getting into a big mental story about the worst case scenario, then take a minute to create a mental story about the best case scenario. Now what if suddenly your boss tells you that you don’t actually have to come to work anymore, but they appreciate you so much they’re keeping you on the payroll.

By doing this over and over again the catastrophe thoughts seem to vanish.  They go away on their own because you’re not feeding them any more and you’re not exercising those mental pathways.  Just let them go and if they come back, well, it’s a great opportunity to revisit that great fantasy where you’re horseback riding down the beach with the Old Spice® guy.



Lifehack – The Bad Habit Reset Button – Fasting.

Don’t you wish you could just hit the button for a bad habit reset?  I do.  Especially right after the holiday season when I feel like I’ve eaten my weight in butter and “treats” (which are clearly not “treats” when you eat them constantly).  Sometimes it’s other habits or life areas that are struggling.  It could be that work hasn’t been going well, it could be that a relationship is rocky, it could be that I’m cultivating all kinds of bad habits I don’t need.  Whatever the reason, it’s nice to know that there is a reset button out there.  You heard me right, there is a way to hit the reset button – thank God for small miracles.

Fasting is the fastest bad habit reset button out there. Picture by © Brett Stoltz | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Fasting is the fastest bad habit reset button out there. Picture by © Brett Stoltz | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Hitting the reset button means taking a break from normal, but unfortunately life is full of obligations, so we can’t always up and fly to Tahiti, no matter how much we might need it.  What this means, is that we need a way to do it ourselves, at home, using things we have on hand and it needs to actually help us to break cycles.

The best reset I’ve ever found is a fast.  I know that’s not what anyone wanted to hear because “fasting” is right up there with “Chinese water torture” for lots of people, but those people probably haven’t tried it.  I’ll talk more about quick fasts in another upcoming post, because they are also one of my favorite life hacks, but in this case we’re looking at something different.  This is a little bit longer.  I’m not talking about Messiah-style 40 days, I’m talking about 3-5 days that are all about you.

Here’s how you do a fast for a bad habit reset:

  1. Choose the right time. Just a hint, if there is a massive deadline in the middle of it, it’s probably not the right time.  Pick a time where you can actually focus on getting in touch with you, getting to know your body, and taking out the trash in every sense of the words.
  2. Make a little space in your life. There isn’t any problem working during a fast, but if you can it’s nice to reduce your schedule to half days or to take a day or two off during your fast to give you a little bit of time for extra sleep, self care and cleaning house (which I always want to do when I’m fasting – I think it’s an external mirror for what is going on internally).
  3. Choose Your Type of Fast. During the fast you can either do all water plus the miracle drink (if you haven’t heard me talk about it before I’ll go over that in the next step), or you can mix freshly juiced veggies and fruits in.  I find that the all water and miracle drink is actually a little easier for me because the veggie juice pushes my body to detoxify too quickly.  Typically if this is the first fast you’re trying, then stick to 3 days and keep it simple. If you’ve fasted before and know your body can handle being really pushed to detox then maybe add in the veggie juices. If you choose to use veggie juices make sure they are actually juiced by you or right in front of you (not bought pre-packaged) and that you get 3-4 cups of the veggie juice throughout the day.  Also make sure they’re mostly veggie with just a touch of fruit or carrot for taste, but that the bulk is good green veggie.
  4. Make Sure You Get Enough Water! This is probably the most important thing, because without the water it’s hard for your body to clean house internally!  8-10 glasses per day is a minimum. When I’m fasting I set a timer every hour and alternate between the miracle drink one hour and water the next.
  5. Drink the Miracle Drink. People laugh when I call it the miracle drink, but it’s because they haven’t tried it.  This is such a great detoxifier and energy boost.
    1. 1 tbsp raw organic apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is my favorite),
    2. honey to taste (no more than 1 tbsp please)
    3. 8-16 oz hot or cold water depending on how strong a flavor you like.  During a fast have this 3-4 times during the day to help your liver keep moving.



  6. Support Your System. If you have any icky feelings while you’re detoxing – this could be headache, grouchiness, mild sick feeling, bad breath, brain fog or a slightly hungover feeling – the do a little extra detox.  Anything that makes you sweat will help, so saunas, steam rooms, hot yoga, or hot baths are great.  Naps work well too.  In general make sure you’re giving yourself extra time for sleep
  7. Be Ready for Emotional Detox Too. Your body isn’t just taking this chance to get rid of the physical junk and bad habits.  There is emotional junk in there that needs to come out, and better out than in.  I love to journal so I use that as a tool to help process whatever comes up, but use whatever tools you like.
  8. Restart Your Life With Consciousness and Intention. This means that you should take some of this time to think about what you actually want in your life.  You’re resetting for a reason here. What do you want emotionally?  What do you want professionally?  How do you want to take care of your body?  What sort of food plan would you like? This is a great time to break bad health habits and restart with a clean slate.
  9. Simple Foods For Your Reentry Meal. The first meal you eat to break your fast should be simple and clean foods – preferably heavy on fruits and veggies, light on lean meats and even lighter (or not at all) on grains.  If you need a grain, choose something that is a cleaner grain like rice or quinoa.  You can eat as much of this fruit and veggie meal as you want, but make sure you’re not just jumping out of a fast into a large pizza because that’s not exactly the reset we’re looking for.

    Fasting is so much easier when you drink enough water. Adding lemon to your water is great to help support your liver through a fast. © Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

    Fasting is so much easier when you drink enough water. Adding lemon to your water is great to help support your liver through a fast. © Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Is It Really Hard to Fast?

Surprisingly, no.  It’s almost shockingly not-hard. Almost everyone I’ve done this with is hungry the first day, and then pretty fine for the rest of it.  Occasionally I’ll have someone who is a really fast detoxifier and by day three they feel kind of icky, but most people are just fine. There’s a lot of nostalgia about food because let’s face it – part of eating is the joy of eating that has nothing to do with physically needing food.  But seriously, if you can get through day 1 with it’s hunger then you’re good to go.

Is Fasting Safe for Anybody?

If you have insulin dependent diabetes or severe hypoglycemia then it is necessary that you talk to your doctor and possibly even have in-home supervision while you fast because it can be dangerous if your blood sugars fall too low. Also it’s not a good idea for pregnant or nursing mothers because the demands on your body are already considerable – we don’t need to ask it to do more right now. Also if you have a chronic condition then it’s best policy to talk with your doctor about it.

What Results Will You See?

Fasting is tremendous for your body – it’s essentially a break from the hard work of metabolism. You can expect:

  • Weight loss – 5 to 10 pounds is normal in 3 days.
  • Energy – nobody believes me, but usually your energy is awesome during a fast. Better than normal.
  • Good sleep – everyone thinks the hunger will keep them up. Never seems to happen.
  • Mental perspective – it’s a lot easier to see the bad habits you’ve gotten yourself into when you’ve got a little distance from them. Even if that distance is just a couple of days that are different.
  • Losing Those Food Cravings – 3 days is plenty of time for the food cravings to just fall off.  Your body doesn’t actually want to live on sugar, but if you’ve been living on sugar then you don’t know that.
  • Spiritual benefits – fasting has been used by most faiths in most cultures globally to bring spiritual clarity and discipline.  I’m not an expert on this by any means, but I’m guessing all of those people aren’t wrong.
  • Anti-aging – you may not be able to tell in the moment, but by fasting you’re actually slowing down your aging process. Awesome.

Short fasts of 3-5 days are a great way to clean house, lose weight, and one of the easiest bad habit resets in the book.  After a fast – especially if you can make it through 3 days – most people have lost their sugar and starch cravings and loosened up their bad habits. I suggest doing 2-4 per year  to help keep you healthy, happy and vital.  And did I mention that it’s strongly anti-aging and actually slows the aging process?  The research is entirely clear on this point.  Regular fasting both extends life and slows aging.  Yet another great reason to hit the bad habit reset button!



Easy wet socks for you to try at home. This really is the best free immune boost ever.

Lifehack: Immune boost. Wet socks

I *love* *lovelove* free things that work and this is one of the best – it’s called wet socks or wet sock treatment and it is just as odd as it sounds, but it’s an awesome lifehack immune boost. First I’ll tell you how to do it, and then I’ll tell you why you might want to, because god knows anything to do with wet socks doesn’t really sound like something you’d want to do. I promise, it is.

How To Do Wet Socks

That sounds like the punchline to a joke. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plain cotton socks – any height but try to at least cover your ankles.
  • Wool socks that are as tall (high?) or taller (higher?) than the cotton socks. Really try to get wool because it stays cozy even when wet.
  • Water
  • A cozy bed

Here’s the Simple Method:

  1. Find some plain cotton socks  and run them under the faucet so that they’re fully wet.
  2. Wring them out so that they are damp but not dripping
  3. Put them on your feet and put the (dry) wool socks on over top of them
  4. Go to bed and get a great night’s sleep.

What to Expect With Wet Socks:

  • Your feet will feel cold when you go to bed – that’s totally normal and they’re supposed to.
  • If you wake up int he night you will either be far too cold or far too hot, and far too hot is probably more common. That’s okay – just roll over and go back to sleep.
  • This will be an uncommonly good night of sleep – seriously.
  • You will wake up with toasty warm, mysteriously dry feet.

Why Do Wet Socks?

This is THE BEST FREE IMMUNE BOOST EVER. No joke. Essentially by making one part of your body cold while the rest of you is a normal temperature you are tricking your body into freaking out. Essentially your body can’t figure out what is wrong, so it starts to heat up your core temperature hoping to save your feet. At the same time, you boost your white blood cells in order to go out there and figure out what’s wrong.  If they happen to stumble across other things that have nothing to do with your cold feet, like say the flu virus or a cold or that sinus infection you just can’t shake, well then all the better.




Essentially you are telling your body to go on high alert and so it does, which is perfect if you feel like you’re coming down with something or the guy who sits next to you has done nothing but cough for days. Your sleep during the wet sock treatment will be abnormally deep and satisfying and you will wake up toasty warm.  The best time to use this lifehack immune boost is:

  • When you feel like you’re coming down with something
  • When everyone else in the house is sick and you’re the last man standing
  • When the guy next to you at work coughs on you constantly
  • When your kiddo comes home from preschool covered in snot
  • When you feel done with it all and just need an awesome sleep
  • When you know you’ve been pushing too hard and you can feel your body wearing down
  • When your lungs or sinuses have been congested and you can’t seem to break it up

Times not to do this:

  • If you can’t make time for a full night’s sleep – you’ve got to give your body enough time to work on this.
  • If you are taking prednisone, other steroids, or immune suppressing drugs because they will suppress your body’s response.
  • If you try wet socks and wake up in the morning with the socks still wet – this means your body just isn’t generating enough heat right now to do this thing properly.

    Easy wet socks for you to try at home. This really is the best free immune boost ever.

    Easy wet socks for you to try at home. This really is the best free immune boost ever.

The Benefits of Wet Socks:

  • You get an awesome night’s sleep
  • Your body spikes an artificial fever which helps your body to kill any unwanted bugs like viruses or bacteria
  • Helps break up chest and sinus congestion
  • Elevated white blood cells which helps stop infections from taking hold
  • Quicker recovery from illnesses
  • All of this is free and you don’t have to take any pills

Working with your body and with your immune system in this way means that you increase your bug-resistance and can stop the early phases of viruses or bacteria in their tracks because your body goes on high alert quickly. It’s so simple and it’s so brilliant. Wet socks or “wet sock therapy” is a great, easy, free lifehack immune boost.