Friday, June 17, 2016

YOU are the killer and it's time to admit it

Things are getting pretty intense lately. Several states have enacted or are attempting to enact increased mandatory vaccination laws. Some people, such as famed Paul Offit who receives royalties from one of the vaccines on the CDC childhood schedule, are even joining a campaign called "Let Them Live" that could have children removed from homes for not fully vaccinating.

The vitriol on social media is thick. If you don't vaccinate (or if you simply are researching, or partially vaccinating, or waiting to see if your child is healthy enough to withstand vaccination) you are pretty strongly harassed. I'm not talking merely about the namecalling and death threats. You can even find pages dedicated to hunting you down and reporting you to your employer, or people joining together to make multiple CPS reports on you.

With all the action and focus, vaccines must be THE hot topic, eh? I mean, we must be hemorrhaging as a country. And yet, a quick look at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, you know, the official, reliable, government resource for those who are pro-vaccine) shows us this isn't the case.

What IS the leading killer in the U.S. of children?

Let's see what the CDC has to say:

"Motor vehicle crashes kill more children in the United States than
any other cause of death. In 2011, more than 800 children aged

14 years and younger died in motor vehicle crashes1

and almost 180,000 more were injured as motor vehicle passengers2. 

Most motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries are predictable and preventable." 

~CDC National Action Plan (PDF here.)


So, in 2011, the CDC counted 800 children's deaths and about 180,000 injuries from "predictable and preventable" car accidents. (This is referring to things such as texting and driving, drinking and driving, using prescription medications and driving, or driving while drowsy. All of these together are what NHTSA and CDC call "distracted driving.")

Let's take a quick look at the CDC numbers for measles cases in 2011. We'll go with measles here because it was prominently displayed in the media and it's one of the vaccine diseases that has a higher number of cases. This is an attempt to be fair and brief. You're welcome to research the CDC's MMWR yourself to find out statistics for other diseases.

For 2011, the CDC reported 220 cases and 0 deaths.





So in 2011, while 800 children were being killed on the roads, most of them due to "predictable and preventable" reasons, there were 220 total cases (including ADULTS) of non-fatal measles.

Parents, let me step out of my comfort zone here for moment to say something.

What the ever living FUCK. Yes, a FUCK is more than warranted here! This is pure and total bullshit, Parents! Put on your damn thinking caps! Take off the pro-vaccine tinfoil hats!

Our children are being maimed and slaughtered daily on the roads through what the CDC calls "predictable and preventable" ways. But we are being encouraged to freak out over vaccines? Or any odd story. How many of you shook and cried and gasped at the boy drowned by the alligator? How many of you got into a discussion on social media about the boy dragged around by the gorilla? How many of you know about that DAMN NAP NANNY RECALL that killed 6 children while being used improperly?!!



By the way! Idaho's carseat law is still outdated by decades
and only requires an infant rearfacing to age 1/20lbs!

We have officials such as Offit promoting campaigns and laws that could lead to having your children removed from your care if you don't fully vaccinate.

We have people calling for non-vaccinating families to go to jail. We have a group on Facebook the other day organizing to hunt down people who don't vaccinate and harass their employers so they lose their jobs! 





And all the while, our children are being MAIMED AND KILLED through "PREDICTABLE AND PREVENTABLE" car accidents!

Don't let them distract you! Don't let them manipulate your parental anxiety or waste your parental energy. Even if you are pro-vaccine, or partially vaccinate, look at the numbers. By sheer numbers and commonality alone, your anxiety and RAGE should be a thousand fold higher when it comes to car accidents.

Ask yourself this: are you rationally and thoroughly assessing the actual risk for your children? We have people rolling "mandatory vaccination laws" off their tongues without wincing. And yet children's deaths from car accidents alone are higher than the number of TOTAL non-fatal measles cases in the same year.

I have some straight up heavy hits to put on a plate for you people out there who have spent years mocking, harassing, or otherwise invalidating those who choose to keep their children's immune systems intact.


If you support compliant vaccination for all children, but you don't rearface to the absolute max of the seats on the market (50lbs/52"), you are a bamboozled hypocrite.

If you support compliant vaccination for all children, but you don't put your phone into the glovebox every time you drive, you are a hypocrite.

If you support compliant vaccination for all children, but you get behind the wheel while on prescription medication or painkillers, you are a hypocrite.

If you support compliant vaccination for all children, but you drive your car while feeling drowsy/tired, then you are a hypocrite.

If you support compliant vaccination for all children, but you get into your vehicle after drinking alcohol, then you are a hypocrite.

If you call antivaxxers dangerous to society, you are a hypocrite.

If you want "antivax parents" to have their children removed and forcibly vaccinated, you are a hypocrite.


YOU driving in your car distracted, tired, or drugged and drunk are the DANGER to society!

YOU ARE THE MENACE! YOU ARE THE KILLER.

EVERY YEAR.

It didn't get better since 2011.

In 2013, the CDC reported 1,149 children's deaths. And 200 of them were caused directly by drunk driving.

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) partnered with the CDC and urgently reported a sharper increase in deaths. They predict 2016 will be even worse.

The kicker? The NHTSA is saying cars have never been safer, and that these statistics are due to driver behavior!

YOU ARE KILLING THE CHILDREN!

When you drive distracted. When you drive impaired. When you fail to use the correct seat for your children and fail to buckle them in correctly. When you fail to get your seats checked for expiration and recalls. YOU ARE THE KILLER.

It's time to admit it. The NHTSA estimates we will break the 40,000 mark this year. (Read more from NHTSA.gov right here.)

That is to say, our government estimates that over FORTY THOUSAND PEOPLE will die this year alone from mostly "predictable and preventable" car accidents.

You want mandatory laws? You want parental rights restricted? Let's see you drop the hypocrisy and apply it to something maiming and killing thousands annually. You're the killer and it's time to admit it.

Here's my challenge to you, Parents! The next time you read a scary headline about some obscure, rare or strange event and feel your heart pounding, feel dizzy or sick, start to cry , etc. Take all of that anxiety, adrenaline, fear, and grief AND PUT IT INTO THE BACKSEAT OF YOUR VEHICLE!


  1. Rearface your children to the maximum height and weight limits allowed by the seat.
  2. Harness your child forward facing and booster train them.
  3. Keep them in a booster until they pass the 5 step test as tweens.
  4. Have your seats checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST)
  5. Buckle your children in correctly EVERY TIME.
  6. Put your phone in the glovebox EVERY TIME.
  7. Never drive drowsy, drunk, or drugged.
  8. Tell other parents! Participate in events! Share links!
And this part is for the pro-vaccine trolls out there. The ones who visit my page to comment on vaccine articles. The ones who PM my parent friends and harass them. The ones who run violent or harassing pages and groups. I've noticed something. You're primarily male, white, 20-30 years old and appear childless.

Do you know what demographic that is for car accidents? Yep, you guessed right.

YOU are killing our children! And not only do you feel entitled to drive your vehicle unsafely, to potentially maim and kill innocent children. You also feel entitled to force parents to sacrifice their children for the "good of the herd" by which, let's not beat around the bush here...you really mean my children are to be sacrificed for YOU. On the roads and in the doctor's office.

You, sirs, are malignant narcissists.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Say NO to Martyrdom and YES to Modeling a Healthy, Happy Life


This meme, and many others that are similar, spreads a small nugget of truth about the deep love parents have for their children, but also imbues several unhealthy scripts.


Do me a favour. Do yourself a favour. Do your children, and really our society overall, a favour.


Stop spreading this codependent, covert narcissistic, faux martyr crap.

Your children need you to model a healthy ego, strong boundaries, and respect for your body/mind/soul. They rely on you to show them how to live a balanced life. They look up to you to show them their inherent worth and value, and what it means to give to others, and how to do that in a loving and healthy way.

In situations of severe circumstances, in moments of sheer survival will we give our lives? Absolutely. Will we sacrifice when we have no other choice? Unquestioningly.

But, that's very different from overlaying your entire life with the unproductive anxiety of surviving as a theme. This is a disservice to developing children, who are creating life long scripts that teach them how relationships work and what is expected of them in society.

We want our children to thrive, not merely survive. We want our children to give, and to help, and to be a part of society in a healthy and productive way, not in a codependent or passively controlling way.

So today, I challenge you. Turn away from these small societal scripts that encourage mothers harm themselves as a form of love. And instead, commit to doing something for yourself. With a smile. Openly talk about it with your children.

Show your children that practicing self-care skills leads to a balanced life, giving you more opportunities to care for others and to make this world a better place. Point out your self-care today as an example that critical thinking and problem solving can create a family atmosphere where all family members are valued and have their needs met.

Emphasize an abundance principle. When we choose martrydom, we are sending a non-verbal message that our families don't have enough. Enough resources, enough food, enough love, enough time, enough energy. We are communicating to our children that someone has to lose for others to have basic human needs fulfilled. And we are communicating that the person who must consistently lose is the one who carries the least value.

Stop. And think about this. Especially if you have a daughter and you dream of a future where your daughter becomes a mother. You are specifically telling your daughters that the least valued person in a family and society is a mother. While simultaneously hoping she gets to experience motherhood in her future if she so chooses.

Today, break the motherwound. Cast off the artificial guilt game. Open up the windows to the family emotional home. Show your children that all people can be valued, loved, and fulfilled in a family. Sit down, brainstorm. Think positively about each person and how needs and dreams can be matched together or organized so that it works in your individual family.

Don't forget to include your partner/spouse in this transformation. All of these concepts I'm writing about have always applied to marriage. In fact, as you spend time thinking about these concepts, you might start to realize that this dynamic begins in your romantic relationship and slowly seeped into your motherhood with your children. Don't shy away from that, you can make conscious change in that area, too.

When you start to hear those cycling scripts of motherwounding and martyrdom, look at them straight in the face. When you are cleaning the dishes and muttering about how no one else cares and you're the only one who cleans. Stop. Stop doing the dishes. Step back. And ask yourself, "What do I need?" Pay attention. Close your eyes. Listen to your emotional temperature. Think back through the day (or other recent events in the past weeks and months) and start to see the connections between your human needs and your feeling of martyrdom.

Once you see it, you can't unsee it. Now it's up to you to choose to value yourself and to meet your needs. Yes, the dishes will still need to be washed. But, somehow when you've taken care of the basics and even spent a little time on the big dreams, doing those dishes goes back to feeling like a mother's privilege and a service of joy.

Take the challenge today. You have nothing to lose but negativity, resentment, sadness, guilt, and unhappiness.


Here are some ideas if you are in a harder stage of motherhood, such as post-partum, special needs, single/solo parenting. I know from experience that some days are so hard, and so dreary, that even the smallest and most trivial things seem as if they are 100 miles away from your reality.

Brush your hair slowly and do a simple style
Wash your face and steam with a hot washrag
Oil pull for 5 minutes with coconut oil or sesame oil
Paint your nails w/ a natural polish such as Zoya.
Bonus: sit down and paint your nails with your kids such as w/ Piggy Paint.
Spend 1 minute exercising. Do 10 jumping jacks, 10 squats, 5 pushups and 5 lunges. This will bring oxygen to your brain, release endorphins, and stimulate your lymph system which is especially helpful for those who are breastfeeding.
Read something new today. A medical study. A brief article. A short story. A poem. A comic.
Spend 15 minutes outside in high sun (10am-1pm). No sunglasses.


Resources
Why it's crucial to heal the motherwound

7 nontoxic fingernail polishes

Will I ever be good enough? Healing from narcissism in the family.

Here lies the mother with the cleanest house

What's your excuse?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Beachfront Baby Wrap Review




Babywearing is one of the enjoyable past times as a parent. Besides being functional, the versatility and style of carriers adds to the experience. You can purchase beautiful silky ring slings for a special wedding. Or a durable SCC with pockets everywhere for a long day at an amusement park.

What many parents still don't realize is that you can purchase carriers for water and sports/exercise. Or even just for easy co-showering at home!

Beachfront Baby provided their classic babywrap to me for review. I was excited to learn that it's from recycled materials! Innovative and functional always gives me goosebumps!

For parents who are unfamiliar with the reasons to babywear around and in water, these are the direct benefits you'll experience with a Beachfront Babywrap:

Safety. Small infants are slippery when wet! They are squirmy and they are quiet in water. In an instant, a small infant could be under the water, yes, including right in front of your eyes. While holding an infant in your arms, you might absentmindedly droop or lean over, and again, the baby could instantly aspirate water without you realizing it. (This can happen during water births, too! As a side note.) A waterwrap used correctly will keep your baby up higher, closer to your chest and face where you can watch carefully, and keep your baby secure even when wet.

Safety again. For parents who are watching more than one child, a waterwrap is a must. I actually consider it a necessity for safe water play. If you're busy holding onto your infant, your eyes are averted from your active children. When your baby is wrapped up high by your chest/face and secure, you have your arms and eyes free to keep your other children safe.

Sun coverage. The lightweight fabric although not UV resistant can still provide breathable and cool coverage in the sun.


Ability to regulate temperature. Especially during the earlier part of the season, little babies and cold bodies of water don't mix well! You can warm your carrier in the sun and then wrap your baby up high, allowing you to be in the water while your baby is dry and comfortable. Baby is getting hot? Just dip down into the water and you've got an instant cooling method as the material works much like sports clothes.

Nursing comfort and cover. I'm an advocate of NIP in whatever way is comfortable for you. A waterwrap can quickly provide a little coverage for breastfeeding poolside. It also lets you breastfeed hands-free while your baby is covered and sitting in comfort. And this makes napping effortless, too, as your baby can fall asleep right there after nursing and stay chest to chest for added security. This is a great bonus during busy events that can stress small babies such as going on vacation or spending all day at a loud, busy venue.


Beachfront Baby includes an adorable matching bag with their carriers. Everything is the right size to squeeze into the pocket of a diaper bag or purse. I especially love this part because it helps keep your carrier clean and preserves its life while on the go!

The only downside is one I've had to honestly note about all long woven carriers and moby wraps. When you're using a full size wrap, you'll often have a learning curve. It's not a style all parents appreciate. Some parents specifically want the flexibility and adjustability of a full size wrap. It will fit any body type and can do a variety of carries, including hip and back (and even tandem: twin carries.) If a full size wrap is not for you, Beachfront Baby also offers a ringsling with the same material. You can see all their styles and colours in their shop.

If you're looking for another versatile, stylish, and helpful carrier to add to your collection, consider a Beachfront Baby wrap. As someone who has used waterwraps with all four of my children, I definitely recommend owning one, especially if you're going to spend time in and around water during the summer. Drowning remains one of the leading causes of death for children up to age 4, and the majority of deaths occur in residential pools, with the next location being public pools and public bodies of water. You can never be too safe when it comes to infants/small children and water. The sun protection, convenience, and style are simply additional benefits!

From May 11th-20th, readers can use promo code guggie16 to receive 10% off at the Beachfront Baby store here.








Friday, March 11, 2016

When moms feel worthless and unproductive in society



"Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother." ~Lin Yutang
Photography by Erica Lynn Wolf Photography

One of the hard things about being a SAHP (stay at home parent) is the sense of isolation and drudgery. Our society has not done a good job at emphasizing the importance of every day service work for the smallest members of our family.

Sometimes, simply gestating for the day, or offering the breast to your toddler 100x a day, or playing Mommy Cat and Baby Kitten for 3 hours with your preschooler is one of the biggest achievements you've reached for the day.

Over and over, a mom comes to me and says, "Guggie, help me. I feel so lowly. I feel so useless. I feel unproductive and unworthy. I spent 12 hours today feeling completely exhausted yet completely bored. As I went to bed, I looked around me and realized I didn't even do the dishes. I'm failing. I'm not helping anyone. I'm not doing anything with my life."

Danialle Beck breastfeeding her toddler. We call this "gymnurstics.
Superheroes are a prominent theme in our society. Supergiving. Superloving. Supersized everything when it comes to charity and altruism. On social media, we applaud the people who carefully outline the major accomplishments they've reached for those who are impoverished or differently abled. Touching videos with matching music move us to tears daily.

The mom continues in her tearful message to me. "What have I done with my life? I'm worthless. I'm a drain to society. I can't even make my husband a meal when he gets home at night. I can't even show up on time to a volunteer event at my child's school."

Society forgot something important. Our society forgot that sometimes the most heroic action of all is the daily, diminutive act of service. It's actually easy to be a superhero. It's easy to give a big donation to a charity and snap a photo of your check for instagram. It's exciting and fulfilling to bring pizza to homeless strangers, shake their hands and smile while your friend youtubes it. It's satisfying to receive praise from thousands of strangers online while you show off your invention.

But, behind closed doors? When your 3 year old is screeching and you want to screech back? And you manage to grit your teeth? That's heroic.

When your entire body is aching and you haven't slept longer than an hour at a time for the last month, and you cheerfully play hide and seek with your preschoolers? That's being a superhero.

When your baby wakes up at night scared and alone, and you want to run screaming from the house but instead take a deep breath and offer your breast-your literal body- for the service of a little person who has zero concept of gratitude? That's amazing.

Your heroism is in the thousands of times you wipe a butt. Your altruism is in the millions of times you reassure a scared toddler. Your courage is in the hundreds of pounds of food, vomit, snot, poop, and dog food that you clean up off the floor every day. Your productivity is spending years. Literally, YEARS, painstakingly working on one of the most important, detailed, integral aspects of society's success: raising a human being to be empathetic, to be lovable and to love others, to be educated, to be fit and healthy, and to be a functioning part of this world.

IF you're getting ready to go to bed convinced that you are a useless burden to society, it's time to take a second look at what you're doing with your very body, breasts, and years of unconditional service.

You're a superhero. Your children know this.

It's time for you to believe it, too.



Friday, February 26, 2016

Don't get hitched to your OB/Midwife!

When people ask me if I could give one piece of advice, or one food for thought that could help the most expecting mothers. When women demand, "But, what do I REALLY need to know?" "What is the best thing I can do???"

Here's my answer.

Don't marry your doctor. Or midwife. Nurse. Or MIL.
The role changes, but the song is the same. When you're determined to emotionally attach yourself to this person and defend this person, then you will be unable to care for yourself and your baby.

I know that deep down women know this. Because they come to me, and they ask for help. They ask for another opinion. They ask for more ideas. But then when I suggest something or probe to learn about what HAS been tested/researched, I get the marriage statements.

"Oh. Oh, well, he's WONDERFUL. He's the best!"
"I'm sure she did all that. She's really smart."
"I have a GREAT OB. I couldn't think of doing all that stuff. I'm in good hands."
"My naturopath is amazing."
"Uh, I don't know if I can do that. I'll see if he will let me."
"But, if I do that, she would be so disappointed."
"I can't leave him! He's been with me since I got pregnant!"
"I could never do that. It's betrayal."

DO NOT MARRY THEM. They are EMPLOYEES who WORK FOR YOU. And if they aren't working for YOU and YOUR BABY'S ABSOLUTE best interest, then tell them. IF they don't respond apologetically, then fire them.

The victim/abuser cycle plays out in our lives in every relationship all around us until WE say no. If you're having second thoughts, if you're realizing your options are limited, if you're noticing that your standards are violated, then WALK AWAY. You are not married to this person. Demand better. Raise the rent, kick them out. You and YOUR BABY are worth it.


My toddler figured it would be helpful if I brushed my teeth.
I suppose the cute doulas don't need to be kicked out. ;)

Related:

Stop mothering your care provider

Our bodies are not defective

5 signs of a controlling assistant

Monday, February 1, 2016

When Melatonin Helps: What it Really Means

When Melatonin Helps: What it Really Means
Melatonin quickly became a household name as parents around the country discovered it can help konk out children at night, erasing or easing bedtime fights and struggles. But, just as quickly as popularity peaked for this hormone that is normally created in the brain and gut through amino acid synthesis, its following tanked when the media unleashed a volley of warnings about side effects and unknown dangers.

Although the caution is merited and well worth noting, it turns out that melatonin is a big player. Parents might have fallen in love with the supplement because it heralded an end to the struggle over bedtime. Now, they need to learn about its vital role outside of the bedroom.

Mela-what?

Melatonin is a hormone. The body normally synthesizes it in the gut and brain by converting an amino acid, l-tryptophan, through several fairly complex stages. Most people recognize melatonin as a brain hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm, which is to say, it helps people go to sleep at the right time.

Stopping there is a disservice to this important hormone, which actually has several big roles in the body such as regulating the immune system, assisting with producing the primary antioxidant called glutathione, and scrubbing free radical and oxidative damage.

Heavy Metals

Another role melatonin plays in the body is binding with heavy metals and healing the damage from them. This is not a minor role. The medical literature is so compelling on melatonin's ability to remove heavy metals from the body that it's considered more effective than other popular chelating substances such as vitamin C! Pieri et al measured radical scavenger activity using commonly accepted antioxidants such as vitamin E and glutathione, and found that melatonin was superior (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7934611).

Not only does melatonin effectively eradicate metals and alleviate oxidative stress, it also continues to support and enhance other antioxidants, helping the immune system to recover from the toxic exposure or trauma.

Helping is a Red Flag

If you've given your child melatonin out of desperation in the face of SPD, ASD, or ADHD symptoms and found that it helps, it's most likely a red flag warning that you need to do more research and potentially provide more supplements or lifestyle changes. Tryptophan, the precursor that helps to create serotonin and melatonin in the body, is a simple amino acid available in a variety of foods. Short of a severely restricted diet, an actual deficiency probably does not explain why giving supplemental melatonin is helping your child. This means a problem lies in other areas, such as the body needing more than normal to combat a problem.

Since the symptoms of metal toxicity and impaired immune function overlap many behavioral disorders, it's important to look carefully at your child's health status and environment. Heavy metals such as lead and aluminum are ubiquitous, present in food, water, cosmetics, art supplies, and every day household items. Something as innocent as a tube of toothpaste can contain over 10mg of aluminum. And electronic devices and cords are often contaminated with lead. If you become a detective and look under every stone in your child's life, you might find the underlying cause, and finally be able to eradicate it.

Here's a quick list of items that represent chronic, accumulative exposure to aluminum:

Toothpaste
Aluminum soda cans and aluminum coated juice pouches
Aluminum foil used for cooking
Deodorant
Sunscreen (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070812084458.htm)
Lotion
Shampoo
Vaccines

A quick list of lead sources:

Art supplies
Electronic devices
PVC products
Contaminated soil
Lead tainted water
Cosmetics
Glazes used on dishes

These are just two quick lists of two common heavy metals! It's easy to see how chronic, overlooked exposure can occur. And this slow, accumulative exposure can impair young children silently, resulting in things such as verbal delays, tics, seizures, bedtime wetting, mineral deficiencies, abdominal pain, dizziness/balance issues, hyperactivity, teeth defects, leg cramps, low muscle tone, and nausea. Some of these issues fly under the radar because they look like something else. Muscle cramping and twitching for example, might be categorized as normal growing pains and missed until it continues for many months. Nausea and abdominal pain might cause a young child to act picky or refuse to eat, resulting in other diagnoses such as sensory disorders or anxiety.

Take the next step

One thing that must be emphasized: if you do suspect heavy metal toxicity, research, and then research again. Mobilizing and excreting metals from the body is not a simple process, especially if your child has an actual burden. This is truly one of the cases where it's wise to spend the money and take the time to work with a professional. Despite the thousands of blog posts and forum discussions available on detoxing metals, it remains a complicated and sometimes damaging or painful journey that's best done with someone who is experienced. Melatonin as a supplement is also still a synthetic hormonal intervention with scant data on chronic use in young children. This is about researching and then weighing the benefits and the risks.

If your child has been displaying concerning or difficult behaviors and melatonin seems to help, don't hesitate to dig deeper. Start reading about various related topics so you can fit the pieces together. Learn about the role of active B vitamins in overcoming genetic defects. Review how the liver works at breaking down toxins and how it can be damaged. Look at the endocrine system and the immune system and how they work together. As you start to see the whole puzzle, you'll be more likely to find the missing pieces for your individual child, whether that's something such as an acute injury from vaccination, or gut damage from antibiotics, or genetic defects that have created chronic nutritional deficiencies, or anything else.

Investigate your child's environment and look for hidden sources of toxins and heavy metals. If you haven't already, or haven't in several years, take your child in for basic lead testing and vitamin D testing. These are two tests that are less-invasive and less expensive, which makes for a great first baby step. The sooner you begin to find the issue, the sooner you can start to make additional changes for your child's health and wellbeing!


Friday, January 1, 2016

5 New Year's Resolutions Without Dietary Restriction or Food Shaming





It's that time of the year again. Once again, people all over take stock of their physical health and emotional happiness, then commit themselves to new diets and new exercise programs. And nothing is inherently wrong with that. But, as I listen to the same complaints over and over again, I can't help wondering if other resolutions are more effective.

Defaulting to dietary restrictions, shame-based scripting, and intense exercise programs can give us a sense that we are improving. And maybe even give some people the sense that they are paying for their sins and beating themselves back into health.

I've noticed something interesting, though. When a person is surrounded by toxicity in all areas of her life, she transfers all of the anxiety, shame, loss of control, and fear onto food.

She might be disconnected from the people around her and lacking stimulating, intimate friendships. But, SUGAR! Sugar is BAD. If she cuts out all sugar, she will feel better. This constipation, weight gain, and mysterious fatigue is caused by SUGAR.

She might be in a stagnant romantic relationship. She's often living with a verbally or physically abusive spouse. But, it is this DARN GMO FOOD! She determines that cutting GMOs, nay, cutting all grains, is what will help her anxiety, insomnia, IBS, and brain fog.

She might be living a sedentary life, mostly indoors, eating food at stressful and odd times around a work schedule or children. She doesn't have hobbies, she doesn't have fun. In fact, she has somewhat of a disdainful tone when discussing "those women" who have fun. She's decided she needs to cut her calories in half and go on GAPS because her hair is falling out in clumps, her voice is hoarse, her skin is dry, and she has no sexual libido.

I could go on, but wanted to provide a brief snapshot of the most common scenarios brought to me. Let's make something clear before everyone raises the point. Of course, FOOD matters. Of course, DIET is connected to our physical and mental health. OF COURSE.

The problem as I see it, is that people are cyclically entering restrictive diets, and establishing shame and blame to stay in the diet (this is all my fault, I don't have strong will power, I eat too much bad food, I'm not being natural enough). And not caring for any other part of their life. Even using diet as a form of escapism to ignore their lives all the more.

So, here are 5 New Year's Resolutions that don't involve going on a diet, removing food groups, or shaming eating and food.

1. This year, resolve to write a letter to a loved one once a month. Put it on the calendar. Buy a pack of stamps. And commit to writing one connecting, intimate letter to one person every month. Be prepared for a new sense of intimacy, connection, and care from the ones who receive your letters. In fact, whether or not you receive a letter back, you will find yourself feeling more connected simply by devoting time to thinking about another person and organizing those thoughts onto paper.

2. Dedicate yourself to earthing daily for 10 minutes in nature. Did you shake your head in disbelief? Daily? Nature? If you can remove entire primary food groups from your diet, you can step outside barefoot for 10 minutes every day. Walk around in the woods. Wander along a creek. Climb up a hill or trail. Yes, barefoot. Yes, in the rain and cold. Over leaves, rocks, and uneven terrain. Whether or not you believe in the growing list of benefits related to putting your bare skin against the earth, on a purely biological level, this forces your brain to renew and regulate the nervous system. This in turn will stimulate your brain, which means a feeling of awareness, reduced sensation of fatigue, reduced brain fog, and potentially long term benefits such as reducing your risk of neurological diseases. Consider it a crossword puzzle for your feet.

3. Make it your 2016 goal to hug loved ones when arriving and leaving. Usually, kids are covered already as parents try hard to make sure they provide affection. Sometimes, even that has been lost in the chaos of work and school. Dedicate yourself to firmly and fully giving out a hug every time you say hello and goodbye to a loved one. If you're having trouble implementing this habit for your children, consider adding the car routine. Give a hug every time the child climbs into the car, and give a hug every time as the child leaves the car. Physical affection regulates cortisol and the adrenals, and therefore the entire endocrine system. It also releases endorphins in the brain, regulating neurotransmitters. It builds relationships quickly and simply through oxytocin. And it slows you down to remember to connect with others. Hugging is a potent medicine.

4. Participate in an event, class, meeting, etc monthly that is related to something you enjoy. Yes, this means getting out of the house. You can do it, and the benefits make the initial discomfort worth it. It's one thing to read about your passion, to talk about it online, or to enjoy it alone in your home. It's another thing to reach out to others and share it with the world. Take the initiative. Join a local club. Sign up for a community class. Heck, just find a few likeminded friends to casually meet at the park while the kids play. Encourage yourself to connect with others on a shared interest. Your knowledge will grow, your brain will grow, your life will grow. A monthly event incorporates all of the factors that keep isolation and depression at bay. You anticipate, you plan, you set goals, you connect with others, you learn new things, and you deepen your personal identity.

5. Select two real primary health goals for the new year. This year, make it real. If you're suffering from chronic fatigue, rashes, dry skin, hair loss, menstrual problems, organ symptoms, hormonal complaints, neurological or emotional symptoms, etc, commit to selecting two main issues and seeking out concrete assistance. Get complete lab panels for a clear picture. Look at actual treatment protocols. A legitimate protocol will have these main elements: diagnosis, definition of the disease, prognosis, specific treatments, and estimated time to resolution. Don't fall into the habit of guessing, trying out random dietary changes or herbal protocols for an indefinite amount of time, and being unable to see measurable change.

Nail down your complaints. Look at them directly. Is it transference? Is it anxiety about a toxic relationship? Is it an unfulfilled and sedentary life? Is it detachment and isolation? If you've set aside the cognitive defense mechanisms and you're seeing persistent, troubling symptoms, take care of yourself fully. Sometimes it's as simple as getting a small prick on the finger and learning that your vitamin D levels are low. You can cut sugar until the sun doesn't shine, or avoid all the "junk" food on the planet, but that will not miraculously cure actual maladies. Make 2016 a year of concrete changes.


Consider planting a garden with family and friends this year. It will easily incorporate
many of the tips here, such as connecting with others and spending time in nature. (Remember to go barefoot!)
Bonus: it will let you enjoy a bit of your dietary urges because you can plant non-Gmo, organic foods.