The Importance of Buying Quality Supplements

Prior to when I began this nontoxic journey in 2012 and added several vitamins to help relieve my hypothyroidism symptoms, I didn’t think it mattered much which brand of vitamins I bought.That is, until I went to buy some vitamin C at a big box retailer and noticed a suspicious ingredient: sodium laurel sulfate! In case you don’t know, sodium laurel sulfate is a cleansing agent used to cut through grease in things like shampoo and cleaning products.  What the heck is that doing in a vitamin?  Not something I want to ingest!  Seeing that on a label for a vitamin was eye-opening.

From then on, I vowed only to buy quality vitamin supplements. Here are a few brands I feel good about recommending.

  • Now Solutions – their supplements are free of unnecessary ingredients and most are also free of many common allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, etc. Now Solutions also has a wide array of vitamins, minerals and herbs and they are sold in the most bio-available form. Prices are reasonable – although a bit higher than the junk that sits on the shelf of many big box retailers. But, remember if it’s not in a form your body can use it’s a waste of money anyway. Most of the vitamins I buy are made by Now Solutions. They also have great personal care products!
  • Solgar – another quality supplement brand. They are made in the USA, in bio-available forms, and free of many common allergens. A bit more expensive than Now Solutions, but easier to find in my area, and they have a great selection of all types of vitamins, minerals, etc.  I buy mine at Vitamin Shoppe
  • Central Market – this is a brand that is available in limited markets (I believe only in southern United States). It’s available at HEB and Central Market stores. Before we moved away from Texas, many of my vitamins and supplements were made by Central Market. They are free of unnecessary chemicals and many common allergens. Many of the supplements are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans, too.
  • Puritans Pride – value vitamin brand that also sells some snacks, personal care, and beauty items. Great if you want to buy in bulk. There’s almost always a deal that saves you money the more you buy. Because I take so many different vitamins and supplements and we don’t have a huge pantry, I stopped ordering from them as much due to our limited storage space. I still recommend using them if you have the room to store the bottles, because they offer great deals and sell high quality vitamins.

Once again I want to throw this out there:  none of these companies paid me to say these positive things about them.  If you’re going to take supplements, make sure you do some research buy the most bio-available form of the vitamin.  Otherwise your body won’t be able to use it and you will be wasting your money.   Of course, you always want to make sure to talk to your health care provider prior to taking any supplements.

I hope you found this helpful, and as always, thanks for reading!

Hypothyroid Guide to Nontoxic Lifestyle

Back in 2012, I reached a point where I was tired of feeling like crap all the time and had basically hit a brick wall with my doctors. Since being diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2009, I had been on increasing doses of synthetic thyroid hormone.  My blood work was normal, but I continued to feel worse and worse and I’d had enough.  While my gynecologist seemed to really care and want to help me, she had done everything she knew how to do.  What I needed help with was beyond the scope of her practice.  My primary care doctor treated me like a number & wanted me on 125 mcg of Synthroid no matter how bad it made me feel!  He ignored my complaints of worsening symptoms and didn’t even look at the list of supplements I was taking.  At that point I felt like I was out of options, so I knew it was time for me to take control!  You can read the full details here if you have time and care to know all the gory details that brought me to my breaking point.  It’s a long read though, so make sure you have a few minutes and really want to get to know me better.

Because I was completely fed up and I am VERY stubborn, I decided I was going to find a way to feel better.  We couldn’t afford to pay for a naturopathic doctor out of pocket, and those type of services are not covered by our insurance.  So I did the next best thing – I bought a stack of books and got to reading.  Every night I would read before bed, and at work I would read blogs every time I had a few minutes (and even sometimes when I didn’t!).  Over the course of about 8 months I slowly began to implement changes, one area at a time.  When I decided it was time to change one area, though, it was a complete change!  When we switched to nontoxic personal care, we gave away all the toxic stuff all at once & replaced it with nontoxic versions.  Each time we implemented a change, the toxic stuff was purged and replaced with nontoxic items.

Here we are approximately 3 years later, I’m 95% symptom free, off medication and in sub-clinical hypothyroidism.  Do I still have some issues?  Yes.  They usually surface when I don’t follow my diet for multiple days in a row.  Losing weight and seeing results from exercise is still an uphill battle, but I simply remind myself that it takes my body longer to respond to those things.  I’m happy to say that I feel much better.  Best of all, I have the drive to go after the things I want out of life again.  I’m much more present when I’m with my family and friends, and I enjoy life much more than I did back then.

One thing that I wished I would have been able to find when I started this journey is a single guide to help me get started into a nontoxic lifestyle.  If I had known about some basic things in each category by reading a short and to the point book, I believe I would have achieved symptom relief much sooner!  For example, I was about 6 months into making changes before I discovered a thing called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (also known as MCSS).  At that point I had already made most of the changes I needed to make, but it would have been nice to know about it right away!

Well, I’ve decided to fill that gap! I’m really excited to announce that I am in the process of creating an ebook to help other people who need to clean up their home environment quickly.  This book is going to be just what I wish I’d had back in late 2012 to give me a jump start into nontoxic living.  It’s a condensed version of information it took me months to compile.  When you have hypothyroidism it’s difficult to find energy to do anything, even reading and trying to decide what changes to implement.  If I can make it easy for people to make changes and feel better quickly, it would be a dream come true!  I can’t wait to help people with hypothyroidism with this ebook.

I would really love to hear your feedback.  Please share your thoughts!

  • Are you aware of all the areas in your home where there are toxins that can be affecting your health?
  • Is there a particular item you know is toxic, but aren’t sure how what to replace it with?
  • What would you be willing to pay for a book that would save you months of reading and give you examples of changes you could implement quickly?

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

Acure Organics Argan Stem Cell Argan Oil Shampoo/Conditioner Review

Quick fact about me – I MUST have the matching shampoo and conditioner. I won’t buy one without the other.  I blame my OCD!

This was one of the first products I used when I decided to switch to nontoxic personal care products back in late 2012.  It appealed to me because it smelled nice, was a fair price, and I liked the packaging. The price is great – under $10 for an 8 oz. bottle. The packaging is nice and simple, only two colors used on the bottles. I had never heard of the brand before, but I decided to take a chance and try it. Boy, am I glad I did!

First of all, it smells wonderful! Kind of like vanilla and almond cookies, yummy! The shampoo lathers nicely, which I can’t say for many other natural products I’ve tried. My hair feels clean after I’m finished washing it. The conditioner goes on evenly and smoothly and rinses out easily. My hair smells clean when I finish showering. Whether I blow dry and flat iron/curl or let it air dry, my hair always looks healthy and shiny after using these two products.

Because the scents come from essential oils, they may not be a strong as what you’re used to if you’re using mainstream brands. Bear that in mind when using natural products. Scents that are super-strong and linger for long periods of time are probably made with fragrant oils (aka synthetic fragrance, aka phthalates, aka estrogen-mimicker).

I’ve tried a few other shampoos/conditioners here and there, but I always come back to Acure.   I’ve been using this brand for almost 3 years now, and I’m definitely a loyal customer.  They are hands-down my favorite personal care brand, and I’ve yet to try one of their products I don’t like! I hope this review helps you choose a safer shampoo and conditioner.

Here’s a link to my Amazon page in case you’d like to try it:  http://astore.amazon.com/mycrnoli-20

Thanks for stopping by!

Go Nontoxic to Live Life, Not to Cheat Death

Now that I’ve decided to come home full time to concentrate on blogging, personal training, and Beachbody coaching, I’ve realized there are lots of things I need to do!  Start a garden to save $ on food, make a daily schedule for exercise, work, house cleaning, etc.  You will likely notice that I’ve done some re-vamping of the blog, and I’m posting three times per week.  One area I know I need work on is sticking to that daily at-home work schedule when I know I don’t have to be anywhere or fear losing my job or not meeting a specific deadline.  One way I plan to combat this is by teaching live PiYo classes after I get certified next week.  Saying that seems surreal!  The closer I get to living my truth, the more free I feel!

Another very important thing that I had to do was to really think about what my mission is.  After some soul searching and analyzing, I was able to determine my very specific purpose.  My mission is to provide customized lifestyle plans both online and in person to people who are struggling with hypothyroidism from a place of personal understanding in a nonjudgmental environment.

Hypothyroidism brings with it unique challenges that are best understood by someone who has experienced them.  Often those of us with the disease have been misdiagnosed, misunderstood, dismissed as crazy, and judged by others for our lack of motivation, which is often perceived as laziness.  My experience with implementing nontoxic changes in my own life has given me a unique perspective on helping others do the same.

Personally, I’ve not had the best experience with traditional doctors as it relates to this disease.  One doctor pat me on the knee and said, “oh you’re fine” after describing all my symptoms to him (I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism less than a year later by a different doctor who actually ran a blood test).  Another doctor told me that he didn’t think I had hypothyroidism, that I was simply depressed and needed to see a psychologist (depression is a symptom of the disease I had already been diagnosed with!!).  And yet, he prescribed my thyroid medication but refused to run a blood test, despite me telling him I was newly diagnosed and not yet on the proper dose (I switched doctors immediately of course).  Another doctor told me that this was a relatively benign disease, and didn’t understand why I was so upset when describing my symptoms to her (my birth control pill was interacting with my thyroid pill which was why I was so emotional!).  The next doctor I went to spewed statistics at me, treated me like a number, and thought it was a good idea to take me from 75 mcg to 125 mcg (increases should be gradual, not practically doubled in one fell swoop!).  The medication they put me on made things much worse, so I decided to research what I could do to improve my life.  Most people with hypothyroidism have dealt with this type of mistreatment from medical professionals, which is why so many of us turn to “alternative” practitioners.  This was definitely the case for me.  A wealth of information was readily available, so why on earth do so many doctors know so little about this disease?

There are many doctors who mean well and really want to help, but their knowledge is often limited to anatomy and pharmaceuticals.  Nutrition courses are not a requirement to finish medical school!  Personally I find this appalling, because so many diseases can be reversed with diet and exercise alone.  Please understand I’m not shunning modern medicine or saying that all doctors are bad.  I truly believe that most doctors really do want to help people, and modern medicines are useful in certain scenarios.  At the same time, I believe that the mind body connection and so-called alternative therapies have tremendous value as well.  You could say that I believe in integrative medicine.  Lifestyle modifications should ALWAYS come before prescribing medication, except in the case of acute conditions.

There’s no reason why a person should have to settle for only surviving and not being able to live.  That’s why I decided to opt for a non-toxic lifestyle.  Not to cheat death but to live my life!  Since implementing dietary & lifestyle changes, my quality of life has improved dramatically.  If I hadn’t made these changes, I’d still be going to work, coming home and doing absolutely nothing while my poor husband tried to do everything.  Now that I feel better, I have the energy to live and follow my passion in life!  When I tell traditional medical professionals about all the changes I’ve made and how much they’ve improved my life, they don’t seem to believe me.  You know what?  I don’t care!  What I do care about it how much better I feel.  In my heart I know I did the right thing.  Now I see a Naturopath in addition to my traditional doctors.  She absolutely sees the value in the changes I’ve made, and has even recommended a few more.

Why go nontoxic?  To live life, not to cheat death!  Low levels of exposure to toxins that accumulate in the body can add up to long term damage to many systems, not just to the thyroid.  Whichever system is affected, it reduces quality of life.  Quality over quantity, I always say!  While the information I post here was found because of my hypothyroidism, it can help anyone.  The problem with many of the synthetic chemicals used in our environment today is that they affect people in so many different ways.  Many of them have been linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, allergies, and many more.  That is why I felt the need to start this blog – not only to help people struggling with hypothyroidism, but anyone who simply wants to be more health and environmentally conscious.

The takeaway?  Switching to less toxic products is beneficial to everyone – you’re helping yourself and the planet by making the switch.  The only ones that will not immediately benefit are the companies who make toxic products, but they will adapt to the market for consumer demand.  If consumers demand safer products, companies will make them.

In the end, the world will be a better place when we all go nontoxic.  As always, thanks for reading!

 

Acure Moroccan Argan Stem Cell + Argan Oil Shampoo/Conditioner Review

Something to know about me – I MUST have the matching shampoo and conditioner! I won’t buy one without the other.

This was one of the first products I used when I decided to switch to nontoxic personal care products.  It appealed to me because it smelled nice, was a fair price, and I liked the packaging. The price is great – under $10 for an 8 oz. bottle. The packaging is nice and simple, only two colors used on the bottles. I had never heard of the brand before, but I decided to take a chance and try it. Boy, am I glad I did!

First of all, it smells wonderful! Kind of like vanilla and almond cookies, yummy! The shampoo lathers nicely, which I can’t say for many other natural products I’ve tried. My hair feels clean after I’m finished washing it. The conditioner goes on evenly and smoothly and rinses out easily. My hair smells clean when I finish showering. Whether I blow dry and flat iron/curl or let it air dry, my hair always looks healthy and shiny after using these two products.

Because the scents come from essential oils, they may not be a strong as what you’re used to if you’re using mainstream brands. Bear that in mind when using natural products. Scents that are super-strong and linger for long periods of time are probably made with fragrant oils (aka synthetic fragrance, aka phthalates, aka estrogen-mimicker).

I’ve tried a few other shampoos/conditioners, but I always come back to Acure. They’re hands-down my favorite personal care brand, and I’ve yet to try one of their products I don’t like! I hope this review helps you choose a safer shampoo and conditioner.

Here’s a link to my Amazon page in case you’d like to try it:  http://amzn.to/1BnTcfX

Thanks for stopping by!

Not All Vitamins are Created Equal

Prior to when I began this nontoxic journey in 2012 and added several vitamins to help relieve my hypothyroidism symptoms, I didn’t think it mattered much which brand of vitamins I bought.That is, until I went to buy some vitamin C at a big box retailer and noticed a suspicious ingredient: sodium laurel sulfate! What the heck is a surfactant doing in a vitamin?

From then on, I vowed only to buy quality vitamin supplements. There are a few brands I feel good about recommending.

  • Now Solutions – their supplements are free of unnecessary ingredients and most are also free of many common allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, etc. Now Solutions also has a wide array of vitamins, minerals and herbs and they are sold in the most bio-available form. Prices are reasonable – although a bit higher than the junk that sits on the shelf of many big box retailers. But, remember if it’s not in a form your body can use it’s a waste of money anyway. Most of the vitamins I buy are made by Now Solutions. They also have great personal care products!
  • Solgar – another quality supplement brand. They are made in the USA, in bio-available forms, and free of many common allergens. A bit more expensive than Now Solutions, but easier to find in my area, and they have a great selection of all types of vitamins, minerals, etc.  I buy mine at Vitamin Shoppe
  • Central Market – this is a brand that is available in limited markets (I believe only in southern United States). It’s available at HEB and Central Market stores. Before we moved away from Texas, many of my vitamins and supplements were made by Central Market. They are free of unnecessary chemicals and many common allergens. Many of the supplements are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans, too.
  • Puritans Pride – value vitamin brand that also sells some snacks, personal care, and beauty items. Great if you want to buy in bulk. There’s almost always a deal that saves you money the more you buy. Because I take so many different vitamins and supplements and we don’t have a huge pantry, I stopped ordering from them as much due to our limited storage space. I still recommend using them if you have the room to store the bottles, because they offer great deals and sell high quality vitamins.

Once again I want to throw this out there:  none of these companies paid me to say these positive things about them.

Crazy Thyroid Story Outline

This is the short version of my story from diagnosis to removing toxins from our home and being on a lower dose of medication.  This contains personal (perhaps graphic) info, so please bear that in mind before reading on.

November 2009:  Diagnosed with hypothyroidism, put on 55 mcg levothyroxine, no improvement in symptoms

February 2010:  Levothyroxine dose increased to 75 mcg

May 2010:  Started experiencing break-through bleeding, thrush, GI upset, painful intercourse in addition to typical hypothyroidism symptoms

June 2010:  Went to ER for pelvic pain and bloody discharge, nothing found, was told to see a gynecologist

August 2010:  Saw new gynecologist, was told that birth control pills and thyroid pills can interfere with each other, and issues may clear up with increase of estrogen in birth control pills.  New birth control slowly made things worse:  pelvic pain increased, intercourse and bowel movements were excruciating, and mood swings worsened.

January 2011:  Called OBGYN because I couldn’t take it anymore.  She said stop taking birth control since hubby was in Iraq, 10 days later things got much better!  No more pelvic pain, mood swings, and brain fog lifted. Still had some other symptoms, but life was bearable again!

November 2011:  General practitioner switched practices,  I changed doctors without researching because I was pretty busy.  New doctor ordered blood work, and increased my dose from 75 mcg to 125 mcg.

January 2012:  New symptoms arose:  immune system depressed (strep throat, ear infection, stomach bug and two upper respiratory infections over the course of a few months), mid-cycle pain/nausea, increased pain/bleeding during menstruation, no tolerance for stress or exercise.  Cystic acne along jaw, sweating & shaking after applying personal care, cosmetics & perfume.  Ignored it because I was busy with work, two hour commute and accounting classes.

September 2012:  While out to dinner with my family, couldn’t concentrate because my uterus felt like it was on fire, cramps were horrible, and in less than three hours a super absorbency tampon, a panty liner, my underwear, and my upper inner thighs were soaked with blood.

October 2012:  Saw gynecologist again, had more blood work, received a letter stating my thyroid was fine and she wasn’t sure what else to do.  Decided I would research if lifestyle changes could improve my symptoms.  Started obsessively reading about thyroid, bio-identical hormones, endocrine disrupting chemicals, natural remedies, vitamins, etc.  Decided to cut my thyroid pills in half.  Some brain fog lifted and energy increased a little.

November 2012:  Added selenium, magnesium, zinc, tyrosine, coq10, glutathione, extra A & B vitamins & tea with ashwagandha.  Within a few weeks I had more energy and less cramps.  Still had some issues with severe bleeding (but not as bad as before).  Went back to gyno for ultrasound & results showed uterine fibroid.

December 2012:  Replaced personal care with natural & nontoxic versions.  Eliminated all sources of synthetic fragrances (perfume, air freshener, detergents, plug ins, candles). No more sweating, shaking, and acne cleared rapidly

March 2013:  Switched to Armour thyroid, replaced household cleaners with less toxic ones when we moved closer to my job, decided not to heat food in plastic and to stop using nonstick cookware

May 2013:  Armour dose too high, gave me palpitations, reduced, but not enough

July 2013:  Asked doctor to lower Armour dose again, he refused & tried to put me back on synthetic.  I weaned myself off medication

August 2013:  Saw new doctor who prescribed lifestyle changes (most of which I had already implemented), was put on natural adrenal and thyroid supplements.  Noticed acne and ovulation pain again, eliminated tyrosine and it cleared.

September 2013:  Once things calmed down, cleaned up diet.  Continued avoiding gluten, dairy, unfermented soy, refined sugar, fluoride in drinking water and started avoiding artificial flavors, colors, preservatives.  Added regular practice of Kundalini yoga – now all lifestyle changes are in place.  Dropped 11 lbs without really trying

January 2014:  dry skin and depression become issues, doctor puts me on 15 mg Armour.  Things get better

July 2014:  We moved, so I had to see new doctor, and also got to see an endocrinologist.  Continuing with lifestyle modifications, blood work is normal, most symptoms resolved, and still on 15 mg Armour (but no longer on adrenal/thyroid supplements)