Mental and Emotional Health

Snow in April?!

Unless you live under a rock, you are likely aware that it snowed this weekend in the Midwest – it snowed a LOT.  Some places got over a foot of snow over the course of the weekend. Green Bay, Wisconsin got just shy of TWO FEET! 😳

Also, unless you live under a rock, you are likely aware that it is April.  That’s right, it has officially been spring for almost a month and we were hit with a massive snowstorm.  So massive it was even given a name – Xanto.

Many people were stuck at home, activities were cancelled, and snowblowers and shovels had to be dug out of storage.  If you looked on social media at all you couldn’t help but notice all of the grumbling.

I get it – people want to be outside, it’s been cold for the past 6 months.  We’re ready for the inevitable change in season.  However, being ready for warm weather doesn’t change the fact that, at this moment, there is over a foot of snow on the ground.

So then what?  The way I see it we have 2 options: resist the snow and complain, or accept reality and not let it get us down.

Now I’m sure if we were having this conversation face to face, when you heard me suggest positivity in relation to snowpocalypse Xanto of April 2018 I would get a massive eye roll or even a half-hearted chuckle at the very least.

Regardless, I stand my ground.

Why be cold and miserable when you can be cold and happy?  😉

So back to positivity.

What experts are saying isn’t that healthier people are happy, it’s that happy people are healthier.  Did you catch that?  It’s a fact that the side effects of positivity will trickle into your physical health, mental health, job, marriage, friendships, relationships with your children, and the list goes on and on.

But how do you practice positivity when you’re just not having it? You have to raise your energy by finding legit reasons to be positivehappygrateful, etc.

If you’re still giving me “that look” then here are some examples to get you going:

  • watching your dog pounce around in the snow
  • watching someone else’s dog pounce around in the snow
  • help someone else shovel their driveway/sidewalk (helping others makes you happy – it’s science!)
  • talk to someone who owns a snowplow business… I bet they’re happy!
  • channel your inner kid and go sledding, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, build a fort, have a snowball fight, eat some snow (NOT yellow snow, though!), etc
  • do something – ANYTHING – that makes you happy to help you get out of complaining mode
  • take advantage of being inside a warm house (snuggle with a pet/spouse/bf/gf/baby/stuffed animal, blanket, watch a movie, turn on the fireplace, make hot cocoa, make a hot toddy, bake cookies, etc.)

Still struggling?  Ok,  then it’s time to bring out the big guns.

Cue the hashtag #firstworldproblems.

Look at your complaints.  Are they actual problems or just first world problems?  Here’s a handy list to help you.  #yourewelcome

  • I hate shoveling my driveway (that means that you have a house and you’re physically able to shovel)
  • I can’t leave the house (again – you have shelter!)
  • My kids are driving me crazy (I’m so happy I have kids!)
  • My spouse/roommate is driving me crazy (see above)
  • I have to drive to work in this mess (you have a car, you have a job)

Also, if you’re spending a lot of time complaining about the snow then likely it means that you don’t have bigger problems, like not having enough money to buy groceries for your family, being unemployed, homeless, recent loss of a loved one, significant health concerns.

Are you feeling me now?

The key to gratitude and happiness is perspective – it is the only thing standing between you enjoying the snow [or insert any other complaint or inconvenience you feel is present in your life] or being unhappy.  So next time you find yourself complaining about something, change your perspective by employing gratitude for things of which you are actually grateful.  Because there is always always something to be thankful for (sometimes you just have to work harder to find it!) 

 

Love and Light,

Sally

 

Health and the Body

Read those labels!

Trying to get healthy can seem complicated – but it doesn’t have to be!  One of the easiest ways to start making healthier choices is to read the labels of the items you’re buying.  And when I say “read the labels” I’m not talking about the number of calories or the fat content of what you’re eating.  NOPE it’s WAY more simple than that!  Just look at the ingredients!  Yep, that’s all you need to do!

When you look at the label, keep these guidelines in mind…

  • A LOT of ingredients
  • Ingredients you can’t pronounce (such as erythorbic acid found in Mountain Dew or monosodium glutamate, or MSG, found in Doritos….ew!)
  • If you see high fructose corn syrup, or anything ending in -ose, meaning it’s a form of sugar
  • If it contains preservatives or food dyes

Those are the basic basics…  If your label hits any of the above, put it back and look for a healthier version!  If they don’t have a healthier version you can try and make it at home or work on eliminating that from your diet.  Trust me – your body will thank you!

Making little changes on a consistent basis will lead you to the life you’ve always wanted so keep going – it’s possible!

In health,

Sally

Health Coaching

What is Health Coaching?

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If you were asked to conjure up an image of health, what would it look like? Would it be of a person with a slim figure? Someone working out at the gym? Eating a salad? Spending time with friends? Meditating?

A simple Google search found this definition of health:

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The thing is, there is no one correct definition of health. It doesn’t matter what your coworker, your mother, a celebrity, or anyone else thinks. What matters is how YOU define health. Why? because in the end, you know what’s best for yourself.

So, if we know what’s best for ourselves, why aren’t we all exercising everyday and eating multiple servings of vegetables at each meal?

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Well…. I’m glad you asked!

There is a BIG difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it.

That’s where health coaching comes in.

Health coaching allows you to tap into your strengths in order to help you meet your goals, whatever they may be.

Notice the underlined word in the previous sentence?

That means that the health coach doesn’t create goals or a plan. Instead, the coach helps you figure out what you want for your life. Makes sense, right?

In addition, working with a health coach provides accountability and support – two things that are difficult to cultivate on your own.  Think of it like a workout buddy or a book club!

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How does health coaching work?

Before the initial session at Life Support you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire. This helps me to learn a little bit more about you in a more efficient manner. During the first session that information is used, as well as information discussed in the session, to complete a wellness assessment.  The wellness assessment is essentially a summary of your goals, strengths, barriers, health information, and anything else that is important for your journey to better health.

From there we will narrow down your goals together to identify what is most important. You will then be a partner in creating your wellness plan.

This is the point where health coaching becomes even more individualized.   Some people may get their assessment and plan and use that information to make changes. Others, though, may want more help in implementing and maintaining their goals.

So…health coaching could simply be one session or it could be ongoing, depending on your needs.   Also, sessions may be done in the grocery store, on a nature walk, in the Life Support office, or at another location depending on your needs.

Why are some reasons people choose health coaching?

  • Smoking cessation
  • Weight Loss
  • Dietary changes (big or small)
  • Wanting to get off prescription medications (done in conjunction with your doctor)
  • Grocery store “lessons”
  • Pantry clean out
  • Increasing exercise
  • Reducing stress
  • Spending more time with your family
  • Making more time for yourself
  • Improving sleep
  • Detoxifying the home
  • Improving relationships
  • Increasing work/life balance
  • …the list goes on!

Who could benefit from health coaching?              

Trick question – ANYONE!

“Ok, but what if I’m really unhealthy?”

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No problem!

Again, health coaching is personalized to you and your needs and is done in a non-judgmental setting. That means you won’t be shamed or made to feel guilty for continuing to eat ice cream every night or going to happy hour everyday after work. You won’t be forced into implementing diet or lifestyle changes that you don’t want to do. Small changes are celebrated just as much as big changes!

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“Ok, I think I’ve got it – now what?”

If you think that you’d like to try out health coaching either before, during, or after the holidays, Life Support is offering a promotion that allows you to get a free wellness assessment when you sign up in the month of December ($80 value!)  In addition, subsequent sessions will be offered at 10% off.

*Please note that if you choose to participate in the wellness assessment you are at no obligation to purchase subsequent sessions.

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Health and the Body

Inflammation

 

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Inflammation is one of the biggest buzzwords in health circles today because is VERY common in our American society… so common that you probably have inflammation in your body and you don’t even know it.

Today I’ll give you the quick and dirty explanation first. If you’re one of those who wants more detail then I’ve got you taken care of, too.

Basically

Inflammation is your body’s way of keeping you healthy by fighting foreign invaders and alerting you to their presence. When the enemy is detected the army comes out to fight, then your body talks to you through headaches, joint pain, weight gain, etc. The purpose of these symptoms is to alert you that the invaders are present so you stop letting them in.

What do you do about it? Stop putting harmful things in your body and start putting helpful things in.

 

Easy.

As.

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(Actually, that’s an awful analogy, because too much pie will cause inflammation.)

 

 

Moving on…

If you’re still reading that means you want to know more. Good!

Let’s start from the very beginning (a very good place to start!)

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In the beginning

As humans, we were created in and given a world that provided for all our needs.

Sunshine for light, night for sleeping, soil rich with nutrients for growing fruits and vegetables, herbs and plants for healing, water for drinking, animals for eating, etc.

Eighty-hour work weeks, red dye #40, Mountain Dew, Facebook, and mercury fillings were never intended to be a part of human life. Instead, we are meant to experience stress when being chased by a predator, and then return to a relaxed state once the coast is clear. We are meant to eat fruits and vegetables, not Special K bars and Doritos. We are meant to drink water, not Gatorade and Pepsi.

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Because we don’t live in a perfect world, our bodies were equipped with an inner army to keep us safe. Thank God!

This is where inflammation comes in.

When you’re out on your nature walk and you get a scrape from a rogue branch your skin gets red, swollen, and warm. Then it scabs over to protect the wound while it heals.  This is called acute inflammation.

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How cool is that?

Think about it – your body heals itself and regenerates skin! Can you imagine how we would fare if our physical wounds never healed? We’d be one unfortunate looking species and probably wouldn’t last very long. But…I digress.

Again, because we don’t live in a perfect world, our body has to deal with a lot more foreign invaders than scrapes and the common cold. So, when our body is flooded with sugar from our coffee creamer, that morning donut, and pizza for lunch washed down with a Diet Coke, the body reacts by sending out the army. This is chronic inflammation. It often starts slowly over time, but if it’s not caught it can result in some serious problems.

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Just like that cut, our body knows it needs to fight and repair.   Unfortunately for our body, this internal inflammation is not visible to the naked eye. Although the body tries to alert us with physical symptoms, they’re often ignored.

 


Let’s take a break to talk about the gut.

Why?

The inflammatory response is part of our immune system.   Our gut is part of our immune system, too. So much so, it is thought that around 80% of our immune system is located in our gut.

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When we add in foreign invaders to our gut it both damages the friendly bacteria living there and thins out our gut lining. This is bad because it results in what we call leaky gut.

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Gross, right?

What this means is that undigested food particles sneak out of the gut and end up in the bloodstream. The body knows these particles aren’t supposed to be there, so the army comes out – makes sense!

This results in a wide variety of problems, including (but not limited to):

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Wrinkles
  • Pimples
  • Eczema
  • Diabetes
  • Acid Reflux
  • Obesity
  • Heart Disease
  • Joint Pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • IBS
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s
  • and the list goes on…

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In relation to mental health, it is believed that depression is not due to a chemical imbalance or lack of serotonin as initially believed (or reported by drug companies), but instead is simply an inflammatory response by the body.

So…what causes inflammation?

Basically everything that makes up our modern world:

  • Refined sugar
  • Refined flour
  • Preservatives
  • Pesticides
  • Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
  • Food allergens/intolerances
  • Dairy/animal products (for some)
  • Imbalance of bacteria in the gut
  • Stress
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Antibiotics
  • Acid blockers
  • Lack of sleep
  • Toxic metals (think mercury in fillings/vaccines, aluminum foil, etc)
  • History of infections
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Processed food

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Ok, so you have inflammation. Now what?

It’s simple.

Remove the bad. Bring in the good.

How do you remove the bad?

Identify areas of your life that could be toxic for your body:

  • Diet
  • Stress
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Relationships
  • Underlying infections
  • Potential food sensitivities
  • Or any other areas that feel out of balance…

When you remove the bad stuff you also need to add in the good stuff to help reduce inflammation and make the body happy, whole, and balanced again.

How do you bring in the good?

  • Identify any underlying food sensitivities (gluten, dairy, yeast, soy, and nuts are common irritants)
  • Identify any underlying infections
  • Practice relaxation (i.e. reduce stress, meditation is GREAT for this!)
  • Get up and move on a regular basis
  • Sleep at least 7-8 hours per night
  • Reduce toxins (think skincare products, shampoo and conditioner, cleaners, cooking with aluminum foil, mercury fillings)
  • Make your gut healthy (think fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha as well as potentially adding in a high quality probiotic)
  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet

 

Essential components of an anti-inflammatory diet:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Bok choy
  • Celery
  • Beets
  • Broccoli (my husband’s personal favorite…not!)
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple
  • Wild caught salmon (farm raised salmon often contains antibiotics and pesticides as well as other chemicals that one wouldn’t want to eat)
  • Bone broth (here’s a great recipe )
  • Walnuts
  • Coconut oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric (believed to be an inflammatory powerhouse!)

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If you’ve deprived your body of essential nutrients and continued to take in toxins then it may be a good idea to add in supplementation, as well.

From my perspective there are two camps regarding supplementation. One side believes that if you are eating a diet rich in nutrients you don’t need supplements. The other believes that our industrialized world has stripped our food supply of many essential nutrients, and therefore supplementation is necessary.

My take is that some people may need supplements and some may not. I think the ideal is to find a healthcare practitioner that can identify what you, specifically, are lacking, and supplement accordingly.

BUT…before you go ahead and run to your local drug store to buy your vitamins, know that not all supplements are created equal. Some are created from plants squished up reeeeeal tight and others…not so much.

I’m not a supplement professional, but here are some that I feel are on the more legit side:

  1. Metagenics
  2. Pure Encapsulations
  3. Garden of Life
  4. Standard Process
  5. Apex Energetics

Well, that’s basically it!

But…before you go, here’s one more tidbit of information.

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According to Dr. David Perlmutter, as we age our levels of inflammation slowly increase (given we continue to let the bad in and keep out the good.) This is correlated with brain degeneration and cognitive impairment.

If you read that correctly, there should be a light bulb going on right now.

That’s right, memory loss and dementia are not normal parts of aging, but instead they’re caused by inflammation and can be prevented!

 

Mind. Blown.

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So…putting it all together…

  1. In our modern world most of us are putting toxins into our bodies.
  2. Our bodies don’t like toxins, so they fight and sound the alarms of inflammation.
  3. Inflammation is linked to a myriad of diseases.
  4. You don’t have to be sick.
  5. Remove the toxins.
  6. Add in the good stuff and live a balanced life.
  7. Enjoy your life free of aches, pains, memory loss, and crabbiness.
  8. Spread the love!

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Uncategorized

My Story

Hello all!

It seems as though most of us in alternative health arrived on the other side of the fence because of a personal battle with illness that wasn’t able to be remedied by traditional medicine. My story is no different. Therefore, for my first blog post I thought it fitting to share how I arrived here.

*disclaimer*

This post will be longer than most, so please bear with me.

Let’s start with the basics:

I have 3 children, 2 dogs, and 1 amazing husband (even ask him, he’ll tell you!) Initially, I got into therapy like most people – because I enjoyed helping others. What I love about being a therapist is that I am able to connect with people at a deeper level. Strangers trust me with their story and allow themselves to be vulnerable and real, which allows them to do the hard work that results in meaningful change and improvement.

My first experience as a therapist was during my internship at the Stillwater prison. I had the privilege of working with men who were incarcerated for various crimes from DWI to homicide. While working there I spent some time in the chemical dependency unit and found I really enjoyed my time there, so I pursued an additional licensure as a drug and alcohol counselor.

I then moved on to an employee assistance program before coming back to the prison system. This time I chose to work with female offenders. There I met some very strong women who had endured years of pain and trauma. There I learned that everyone has a story, and that if you knew that story you would be inclined to suspend judgment and instead employ empathy.

I loved working with the women at the prison, but decided I needed a change of pace and transitioned to working on the insurance side of behavioral health. There I spent 2 years getting to know thousands more stories. Although I continued to grow and sharpen my skills as a clinician, I missed that connection that you can only get by sitting down and hearing someone’s story. That brings me to today and why I started life support.

Here is my story:

After completing graduate school I began working full time for the first time in my life (lucky, I know!) At that time I was also singing in a band every Friday and Saturday night late into the morning and began dating my now husband, who had 5-year old twins. The composition of my life drastically changed, as did the perceived demands.

Shortly thereafter I got my first migraine.

It was a 3-day long headache that felt like a mix of the flu and a bad hangover, minus the fun from the night before! The next one came a few weeks later. After the third migraine I sought professional help. My family doctor gave me an official diagnosis, prescribed a medication, and referred me to a neurologist. Thankfully the neurologist was able to rule out any serious medical conditions and encouraged me to continue with the medication. At my follow-up appointment I remember asking various questions in hopes of getting to the bottom of why these were happening so I could go back to not having migraines. That didn’t happen.

My memory of that conversation consisted of the neurologist basically telling me “the medication works, why are you still in my office” and ending the visit.

I accepted this for a short time, but eventually my stubbornness won out. It won out because even though I had medication to relieve the migraines it didn’t prevent them from happening. It often triggered a rebound headache and each migraine episode still took a solid 2 days out of my life at a minimum.

This led me down the road of research (God bless the internet!) and various attempts to find healing.

Here’s the list I’ve compiled of what I tried…

  • acupuncture
  • chiropractic
  • essential oils
  • vitamins
  • Novocain in my neck by a kind dentist (in an attempt to determine if the migraines were muscular)
  • yoga
  • massage (literally got a massage once a week to try and relieve the tension in my neck that I thought could be causing the headaches)
  • no alcohol for 1 month with increased water intake
  • ice pack on my neck
  • ice pack on my neck combined with running hot water over my wrists (or maybe my feet, I can’t remember)

My next attempt at healing was going to be some type of physical therapy to see if sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week could have been the cause of my migraines. The woman I consulted suggested I try food sensitivity testing. While I knew nothing about the testing I vaguely remembered a previous chiropractor also suggesting this, so I made an appointment and spent a great deal of money (IMO) on a blood test.

The results indicated I had leaky gut, as grains were found in my bloodstream. The chiropractor suggested an elimination diet to both repair my gut and reset my system. This meant no processed food, no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, no nothing basically!

Did I mention I didn’t really cook? My husband cooked for our family because he made things the kids liked and it was easier for me to just eat what they were eating. Therefore, my diet consisted of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese with hot dogs, pizza, spaghetti…you get the idea. While we had corn and peas occasionally, plants were definitely not a major part of our meals.

I decided to start slow – first I was going to just eliminate gluten. Sadly, that plan was thwarted by another migraine.

At that time they were coming every 7-10 days and I was miserable.

So…March 1, 2015 I got out my pen and paper, made a list of allowed foods, scoured Pinterest, and suited up for battle!

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Previously my husband joked that I was in the kitchen once a year and now I spent every night either making my dinner or making food for the following day. It took a lot of time and energy on my part, but to me it was much better than the time/energy my migraines took from me.

My experience on the diet was definitely interesting. I never considered myself a sugar person – I would always go for a double helping of pasta instead of desert. Now that I couldn’t have sugar, though, I found that I desperately craved it, mostly in the afternoons. I kept reminding myself that if I “cheated” on my diet it could affect my little experiment and may result in needing to start all over – something I did NOT want to do! Therefore, I religiously stuck to the diet.

After the first week I was without a migraine. Day 10 came and went and I was symptom free. It was a miracle! During this time I learned about a naturopathic doctor that was helping a coworker with some issues. While I was mostly symptom free I still experienced a migraine at least once a month (any guesses as to why??), so I contacted her. After some time and testing we learned that my hormones were out of balance. When she suggested this I literally cried. It felt like for the first time in 4.5 years someone had an answer as to WHY!

After a few months of taking natural supplements and continuing with my diet/lifestyle changes I was completely migraine free – something I wasn’t sure would ever happen. I slowly added in nuts and eggs and had my hand at cheese without any digestive issues, but for the most part I stuck with my new way of eating. I would have sugar or gluten on occasion but I never liked how I felt afterward, so those stayed out. Honestly, it was so nice to be so in tune with my body that I had no problem maintaining the diet.

Not only did my migraines disappear, but I also experienced other improvements…

  • No more neck/shoulder pain (still worked at my desk job)
  • Improved digestion
  • Decreased anxiety
  • I felt better able to cope with stress/emotions
  • Decreased irritability
  • Improved mood stability
  • No more brittle nails (huge for me, as I was a nail biter ALL my life)
  • My hairdresser noted my hair felt thicker and healthier (with no prompting from myself)
  • And the list goes on…

Since my recovery, as I like to call it, I haven’t been able to keep quiet about my story.

  • I learned firsthand how the foods I ate and my stressful lifestyle literally caused my health issues.
  • I learned that my migraines weren’t actually a disease, but instead were my body’s way of trying to tell me that it was hurting and off balance. (thus the phrase “listen to your body”)
  • I learned that the traditional healthcare system is great at acute car (think car accident or broken leg) but not so great for chronic conditions.
  • I learned that throwing a pill at my migraines was akin to taking an aspirin for a nail in your foot. You first need to take out the nail otherwise you’ll need pain relievers for the rest of your life. In addition, you’ll probably develop other illnesses due to the continual use of pain relievers and the rusty nail in your foot!
  • Biggest of all – I learned that what I was taught about mental illness may be completely backwards. Basically – in my profession as a counselor I was just as guilty as the doctors that weren’t looking for the underlying cause of my migraines.

This is why I am here, sharing my story and using my experiences to help others. This knowledge is not common knowledge, but the army of healthcare professionals looking for the WHY is growing! Here are some tidbits that I would like to leave with you…

  • “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” ~Michael Pollan
  • Food is medicine – it can either keep you healthy or make you sick
  • Your genetics don’t determine your destiny – “Genetics load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.” ~Dr. Mark Hyman
  • The best thing you can do for yourself is ask “Why.” If a healthcare professional recommends a certain regimen ask “why.” If you receive a diagnosis, ask “why.” Why do I have schizophrenia? diabetes? cancer? depression? If the person you are working with cannot answer, deflects, or plays the blame game and says your fate is sealed then I urge you to close the conversation and work to find someone that will get you the answers!

God Bless and be your own advocate!

 

Resources:

Chiropractor who suggested food sensitivity testing – Dr. Jeff Soltis

Dentist who attempted to cure my migraines with Novocaine – Dr. Chad Boger

Pinterest page with all of my recipes (and others) – Sally’s Pinterest Page

Amazing Naturopath who saved me (contact me for her information)