Lights On My Path: 9 Hacks That Got My Life Back

I currently live in north Idaho, all the way up near Canada, in a city called Coeur d’Alene (“Cord-A-Lane”). It's highly esteemed by residents and enthusiastic visitors for its pristine, breathtaking, and seemingly unspoiled forests and lakes, and for that reason is growing by leaps and bounds.
What most people don’t know is that, hidden beneath the gorgeous facade of this pure mountain lake is actually a toxic dump. Due to irresponsible mining up river in the Silver Valley over the past century, the lake conceals an enormous volume of toxic waste including arsenic and heavy metals. So great is the toxicity, that is has been known to be lethal to many birds in the local marshlands, as well as lake fish. Recreational enthusiasts have been warned to shower immediately after swimming near the outlet shallows lest they encounter serious health risks. Sadly, this has greatly impacted the local Native American population who used to subsist primarily on lake fish. And this problem isn’t confined to North Idaho; it  continues on to heavily contaminate the Columbia River Basin where it merges downstream, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. What looks somewhat healthy and untainted on the surface is actually an ecological disaster that has widespread consequences for the whole ecosystem. 
I tell you this story, because my body, and maybe your body, bears resemblance to Lake Coeur d’Alene. For 40 years, I unknowingly acquired a heap of toxins—mind, body, and spirit—that eventually caused an eco-disaster in my health and quality of life. Everything looked great on the surface (except for the obvious weight gain), but I had no idea just how toxic and unhealthy my cells and systems were until everything started falling apart. It is always crisis that makes us search for answers, and unfortunately, it was going to take me at least 10 years to hack my issues just so I could recover my life and be able to share my discoveries to help others like you.
Following, I am going to lay out a brief introduction to the 9 hacks that have all brought me to the point today of an increasingly vibrant, healthy, nearly restored life. Most of these came about as little gifts put on my path like lighted jewels—gifts that I likely never would have discovered on my own without a nudge from God/The Universe. I’m not back 100% yet, but at least 80% and continuing to improve—enough to be able to enjoy life again, and to see the finish line ahead of complete wellness. The important thing to recognize here is that this was not found in a miracle pill or a quick fix. Getting toxic takes years, and it takes time and a multi-faceted approach to undo the damage. It is also going to be a different journey for each person based on exposures, lifestyles, and genetics, but there will always be a lot of common ground between us in this stage of life for healing hacks and clues along the way that provide insight for recovery.  
To be honest, I am actually glad and thankful that I deeply struggled through all of these because I never would have understood the pain, confusion, the absolute frustration, and deep despair of living in a world where answers are few, everybody has an opinion, and most are trying to profit from it (and no doctor will take a genuine, investigative interest in your wellness). I’m glad to know how it feels to be lost and completely clueless about where to find help because I believe this is exactly what brought you here, too. It is my deepest desire to help you find real answers to your health problems and get you on the road to recovering your beautiful future! 
I plan to develop each of these points more fully in future blog posts, but here is an introduction. I would love to hear your feedback on the ones that are most meaningful or curious to you in your health pursuit and that you would like me to develop first. This was my basic order of discovery except for #9, the alpha and omega of my journey. In other words, I started there first and it has provided ongoing inner spiritual transformation, revelation, and revival for the past 10 years.
  1. Supplementing with methylated B and folic acid. Several years ago, I went to a general practice doctor trying to find answers for my declining health. I mean, for a few years I had some pretty severe symptoms that are too numerous to mention. After hearing my symptoms, he tested me for a specific gene called the MTHFR and discovered that both of my parents gave me this variant, which keeps me from being able to “methylate” and therefore use the critically important vitamin B12 which is used for DNA synthesis, red blood cell production, cognitive function, energy, nerve function, and cellular detoxification. For the past 8 years or so, I have been regularly supplementing with sublingual methylated B12 which I am quite sure has improved my life. Also note that many people don't adequately absorb B12 in their gut due to leaky gut and compromised lining, so these sublingual B12's are more bioavailable (readily usable) for just about everyone. 
  2. Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). I went into early menopause at age 44. Shortly after, I had a host of unpleasant symptoms, the worst in my case was sudden and unsettling cognitive decline and raging hot flashes. During my pursuit of a nursing degree, I was only operating on about half a brain because I had significant difficulty with processing, remembering, and word recall. I felt like I was going to have to check into a memory care center at any time. Finally, I expressed my distressing difficulties to my instructor in nursing school, a nurse practitioner, and she told me to get on HRT right away. I started supplementing with bio-identical hormones and my symptoms gradually receded with many noticeable improvements. Though no long term studies have been conducted (to my knowledge) to demonstrate the safety of bio-identical balanced HRT (normally considered safe for 8-10 years after menopause), my quality of life is so much better than I may stay on a low dose indefinitely. Also, supplementing with HRT at least in the first decade of menopause is important for slowing down the aging process!
  3. Gut health. Two years ago, I started researching the new rage—gut health and microbiome! I started implementing dietary changes to support my gut health, which was in quite sad shape at that point. For starters, I had struggled with frequent constipation since my late 30s to early 40s (especially with travel), increasing gas, bloating, inability to tolerate beans, and just not a happy gut. The important thing here is that gut health and microbiome changes are definitely a marathon and not a sprint. It has been compared to regrowing a rain forest that has been decimated, or in the case of our analogy above, flushing lake Coeur d’Alene over time and watching the ecosystem slowly recover.
    For me, it has been an area of shocking insight and awakening to the needs and makeup of my body. It is now estimated that we are only about 2%-10% human, and how we nurture our microbiomes essentially make up who we are. Change the diet and a few other habits, and one becomes a completely new person via a transformed microbiome. My gut is still healing, but it has been reborn! I am rarely constipated, the gas and bloating are nearly gone, I can now tolerate beans, and I am totally regular—something that had not happened my whole life.
  4. Intermittent Fasting. I came across this practice when trialing the Leptin-Resistance healing steps, and I can confidently say this practice has changed my life by helping (along with steps 5-8) to heal my insulin-resistance, previously non-stop hunger and hangry spells, sugar cravings, sluggish metabolism, and toxicity issues. Leptin is a hormone that tells your body that you’re no longer hungry and you can stop eating. Many of us do not have adequate amounts of it, but this can be fixed! Intermittent fasting is one way to improve this and to start helping your body detox. Yes, it takes a village (more than one angle of assisting your body out of toxicity), but this is a powerful tool and life habit! The premise is to eat all your caloric intake in a 12-16 hour window every day. I aim to have at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, but will wait up to 16 if I’m not hungry. 
  5. Root Canal and amalgam (silver/mercury) filling removals. I only learned about this angle of health about 1.5 years ago. It happened by accident. Nobody ever told me that silver fillings leached neurotoxic (brain), gut toxic, and cell toxic mercury into my body every day, every meal, and more when I drank hot liquids. And especially more after I got a gold crown! Nobody also told me that getting silver fillings removed at the dentist was an important undertaking with a very particular protocol to limit mercury exposure.
    It so happened that I went to see a Naturopathic MD for an evaluation to try to keep hacking away at my issues (did I mention I have spent enough on doctors, dentists, travel to said doctors and dentists, supplements, books, and therapies to retire on a beachfront estate in Maui?). At that time, not so long ago, I was experiencing this aforementioned host of persistent complaints, including overweight and inability to lose weight, tired, puffy eyes, frequent heart palpitations, dizziness, majorly disturbed sleep, continuous neck and shoulder pain…I mean, isn’t that enough?
    The Naturopath did some heart testing on me and said that I was headed into the chronic disease/poor longevity realm with my current health. WHAT?? After 8 years of working non-stop to improve my health? What could be the issue? I was devastated, but I also could tell by the way I felt that he was right. He performed a health history assessment and found out I had three root canals in large molars, two of which happened during the stress of nursing school. He gave me the verdict: “Julie, you are never going to get healthy until you get your root canals removed.”

    Crickets. After spending multiple thousands of dollars on the three—one that had to be redone twice!—including the cost of crowns on top of root canals and the fact that nobody wants to lose teeth with all those associated expenses, pain, and future eating problems, I did not want to believe him. I was not ready to hear this news. I thanked him and left, and did not go back. 
    I will tell you more on this story, but eventually it led to me reading a book on the topic, where I learned that root canals are one of the major contributors to heart disease and heart attacks, which led to me getting the rest of my silver fillings and gold crown removed, and also all three root canals extracted. My health improved immensely over the next few months, including improvements in my heart palpitations and better sleep, reassuring me that I had done the right thing!
  6. Chelation. That is a fancy word for getting the heavy metals out (or as my dad used to say, “get the lead out!). I had mercury fillings in all my back teeth—twice in my life—along with unsafe removals of mercury fillings and another extreme exposure as a child. I ended up learning about how to take certain supplements safely to slowly pull metals out of my body and started doing that practice for a few months last year (need to resume but more on that later). Sleep is better and better. Metabolism has dramatically improved. Pain is mostly gone. Life is getting better.
  7. WFPBD (if you downloaded and read my Transformational Guide, that is Whole Food Plant-Based Diet). Since January of this year, I have been able to lose 30 pounds by following this diet about 90% of the time. Even more importantly and unlike any time before in the past several years, I have been able to keep it off!  Lest you think it’s just the diet working my success though, it’s not. The weight loss is a combination of all the other things leading up, because during these last 10 years I have had times where I was barely eating anything and still unable to lose weight and especially unable to keep it off. The fact is, I used the other things to set my body up to lose weight. But what I love about WFPBD is that it makes sense. Eating close to Mother is the way to get healthy and stay healthy! For the first time in YEARS, the accumulation of these practices has set me up for success. #successstory #beyondrelieved #happiness #eatclosetoMother
  8. Avoiding saturated fat and commercial oils. This is part of the WFPBD protocol but it deserves its own paragraph. An insight from my DNA testing a few years ago revealed a genetic variant I have that makes me more susceptible to gaining weight when I eat saturated fats. That explains why I could not lose weight on the Keto diet, not even the plant-based Keto where I was incorporating coconut oil! Once I started employing the low fat recommendations of the WFPBD, the fat started melting off! It was like my body started screaming, “She finally gets us! Now we can actually start cleaning house!” Also, it was eye-opening to realize how commercial oils (even ones that claim to be healthy) cause damage to the inside layer of the blood vessels, which increases inflammation, blood pressure, and potential for heart disease. 
  9. Nondualism. A curiously obscure word that contains infinite possibility and meaning! Ultimately, it offers us all a view of a safe, benevolent Universe where we are all loved and connected to God and each other. If you have ever heard me quote Richard Rohr, he is a great thinker and presenter of nondualism, and an author who has exponentially supported my inner transformative, liberated journey over the past 10 years. I have to stop here and leave something for later, but I promise to give it skin and bones, and something special that you can sink your teeth into. 
  10. Filtered Water (oops, I forgot this one...). Water is such an important foundational part of hydrating and clearing waste from your body...why would you allow water into your body that is brimming with toxins? Most municipal (tap) water systems in our country are full of toxins—pesticides, heavy metals, fluoride, chlorine (carcinogenic). It's not that difficult or costly to install a reverse osmosis filtration system under your kitchen sink and the benefits are realized every time you ingest. Plus you don't want to be buying bottled water for a host of important reasons (including the health of your body and your environment). If you really want to geek out like me, you can buy a water particle tester to see for yourself how pure your RO water is compared to your tap. 
So what you are thinking about after this blog entry? What are you struggling with? What do you want to know more about? Please give me feedback about which topic you want to see me address and don’t forget to share!

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