It’s that time of year, friends! It seems like most everyone I know has gotten some kind of crud or flu and it’s definitely making its way through the school. I know both my kiddos have gotten it. My parents and nephew were sick for a bit. Even Matt caught a nasty cold on his way back from Chicago. Wear a mask out there, peeps! Orrrr… make some elderberry syrup!

Now if you are new to the benefits of elderberry you are probably wondering, is this just another fad? I can assure you it is not. In fact, people have been using Elderberry (also known as the Sambucas plant!) for hundreds of years for its healing properties. I know it’s helped us stay above the wellness line and supported us in our times of need where we did not have to get antibiotics or prescribed medications. I’m currently taking it so I don’t get sick, and guess who’s the only one in this household to make it this season unscathed by the ickies? This lady, that’s who!

Benefits of Elderberry

There are quite a few reasons to have elderberry on hand. The following are some of the main reasons why this is essential in our wellness toolbox:

  • It boosts the immune system.
  • It helps to fight off colds, the flu, and respiratory infections.
  • Elderberry is loaded with Vitamin A & C.
  • It is full of antioxidants to help combat those free radicals.
  • Aids in digestion.
  • Safe for children.

Now you may have seen bottles of this good, all-natural medicinal liquid gold at the store, but I highly encourage you to try making your own. What?! Make my own?! YES! It’s super easy and it will definitely be more cost effective in the long run. Trust me, I wasn’t a big DIY girl back in the day, but there are so many benefits to taking a little bit more time into products you know will be life changing for your family. Besides, you want to get this goodness into your body before you get sick, and this is a great way to pump your body full of that goodness at a great price.

How to Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup

There are many recipes out there on the interwebs, and honestly, I don’t know where I first got my recipe, but a huge shout out to Annie Hauser for incorporating the Young Living Vitality oils into her recipe, so naturally I add it to mine too! But generally, the measurements are the same – 1 cup of water per 1/4 cup of dried elderberry, 1 cup of honey, and the amount of herbs or oils you wish to incorporate into your syrup.

  • 3/4 cup of dried elderberry. I got mine here. But Mountain Rose Herbs carries them, but usually, they are out.
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of raw local honey
  • Thieves, Clove, Frankincense, Copaiba, Cinnamon Bark, Orange, Nutmeg essential oils. You can use all of these or just some. I start off with a drop and adjust it as I see fit.

That’s it! Here’s my method, which you can also find in my highlights on my Instagram in my DIY stories:

  • Combine dried elderberry and water in a pot. Mix together and then bring to a boil with lid off. Heads up – uncooked elderberry is unsafe and toxic! Keep away from kids and animals!
  • Once it boils, bring the temperature down to a simmer and simmer this liquid with the lid on for about 45 minutes to an hour. You want this reduce by half.
  • After you reduce turn off the heat and let cool.
  • Once cooled smash the berries in your pot with the back of your ladle, spatula spoon.
  • Drain into another container. You can also smash the berries more while draining. You want every ounce of that goodness!
  • Add honey and herbs or oils. Friends, if you don’t have oils, you are making life a lot harder than it needs to be!
  • Put into a mason jar and store in fridge.

Voila! That’s it. Seriously. More than anything it is just a process, but definitely not hard. So what are you waiting for? Click that link above and get you some dried elderberry and make it this weekend. Let me know if you do!

Happy DIY-ing!

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How many of you have heard of IV Therapy? I didn’t really know too much about it until the other day when it completely changed the course of my health for the better.

Now I know there are some debates as to whether or not this type of therapy really helps, and I’m not looking to get into any hard core debates over this. For one, I’m not a medical professional, so anything I write is truly my opinion and it comes from my own research and my experience. I trust the medical professionals who have explained how this therapy works, and even more so have found it to be to so beneficial for me.

So let me preface this experience with a little backstory. Some of you may know, but for those of you who don’t, I have ulcerative colitis. I was diagnosed about 16 years ago when I was 23yrs old. When I was diagnosed I was literally on my death bed the day I was finally admitted into the hospital. I had two blood transfusions and had to stay there for 5 days to get myself back to where I was no longer in the danger zone. It was a super scary time for me. These days I now know the signs of when a flare is reaching the point of needing serious help. This is where I was at the day I made my appointment for a Hydration Therapy IV at Enhance IV Spa in the Foundations Medical Center over in Destin.

I made my appointment on a Thursday and went the following day. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. The space is so inviting and relaxing, right off the bat I had such a good feeling about this. After filling out the paperwork and looking over the menu of services one last time, the nurse got me set up with the IV. The one I had chosen was called, Hydration Enhance, which is a combination of fluids, vitamins, and electrolytes. I sat in the coziest chair for about 45 minutes as this concoction entered my body. While I was there I chatted with the nurse for a bit how I had read that this type of therapy was good for me because this would all go straight into my body without me having to worry about worsening my stomach issues, and not only that, but that I would get the fluids my body so desperately needed after months (and a REALLY bad week) of flaring up.

Just so you get a better idea, I had lost 10LBS in a week, ( A WEEK!), right before going in because I was constantly going to the bathroom. To be honest, it’s still a bit uncomfortable to talk about my colitis sometimes, although I’m getting better, but if you really want to know what have UC entails click here. 

So I get this IV and as I’m sitting there I notice a sign that says if I check in on Facebook while I’m there I can receive 10% off my service, so naturally I do. Who doesn’t want a good discount?! So make sure that if you go, check in!

Nothing too exciting happens after receiving the IV. The nurse took the needle out and got me all bandaged up and then I went out into the lobby to pay. However, as the day continued I just felt that I had more energy. I felt really really good. I actually ran a few errands around Destin and had no issues. Woo-hoo! The first time in months I didn’t have to run to the bathroom every 30 minutes. I could have cried, and I probably almost did, I was that amazed and happy. I slept so sound that night and could feel my body had some basic nutrients that it was severely lacking. I felt so amazing!!

I’m looking to book an appointment in the medical center in the new year and I hope it all works out. Insurance issues! After years of having to deal with my UC, I feel a glimmer of hope with the services that Foundations Medical Center and Enhance IV Spa provides. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to go to the doctor’s office in my life! If you are in the Destin/Niceville/Fort Walton Beach area and in need of some vitamins, I suggest you look this place up. You can thank me later!

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Since the arrival of Fit4Mom here in our local community of Niceville, FL, I have been eagerly awaiting the launch of the Body Back program. With my kiddos now in the pre-teen ages the other programs Fit4Mom offered just didn’t cut it for me. I love what Fit4Mom is all about and was looking for support and camaraderie, so when franchise owner, April Dokianos, contacted me and mentioned that the program was finally here I was like, HECK YES! Sign me up, friend!

For months I had been waiting and when we all gathered together that first night at Lion’s Park I was full of anticipation, excitement, and fear. Standing there right by the water’s edge with a group of women I had never met before my mind started with the inner dialogue of all sorts of questions. What was I to expect? How out of shape am I? Am I dressed appropriately? Do I have enough water? Am I going to die? Yes, I know. I think too much. It’s safe to say we all know the answer to that last question!

LET’S DO THIS

So what exactly is Body Back? It is an 8-week transformation program that targets your overall health and well being. This is done through the strengthening of not only your body but your mind. It begins with pre-fitness assessments so you are able to monitor your progress throughout your journey. There are two hour-long HIITs (High-Intensity Interval Training) per week, including various online workouts for you to do at home (or wherever you like, really) on the other days. Also included is a meal plan that is highly encouraged, as it focuses on healthier eating habits and a community Facebook page where we could turn to for support & encouragement. I soon learned that this would not only be a workout but total reset in lifestyle, which I accepted with arms wide open.

Our coach for our session was Alyssa. She was wonderful and she did not mess around! I found her to embody the right amount of tenderness and grit. We received most of our information, workouts, challenges etc. from her and through our group’s Facebook page. I really enjoyed her presence not only at our HIITs but in the online group as well. There was always something motivating, positive, and inspiring coming from her and of course our reminders to get our daily food diaries and water challenges done. If it wasn’t for her encouragement, I don’t think I would have made it through some of the HIITs!

To give you a better idea of what a HIIT workout consisted of I’ll give you the deets of our preview class. During this class, Alyssa explained that the workouts consisted of circuits and stations. She talked us through what we would expect and demonstrated each of the exercises. We would first do circuits that consisted of 1 min at each station then we would rotate. We would have 15 seconds between each station and we would go around until each station was complete and then rest for 2 min. We would then continue on that for a second round of 45 seconds at each station.

Now you are probably thinking. A minute? 45 seconds? Psshhh… I can do that! And truth be told, we all could. But after a few stations, we were definitely feeling it! Pair these exercises with our environment (it was really hot and humid those first few weeks), you got some good body conditioning going on. Not too long into our second round, I was sweating big time! I hardly ever sweat that much!!!

The first exercises were:

Squats

Plank

Kick Butt

Overhead Press

Crunch

Fast Feet

The second round of exercises:

High Knees

Rows

Side Crunch

Burpees

Donkey Kick

Sit Ups

 

Then we went on to do some light ab work. OMGoodness! No joke. Remember that question I asked previously, about whether or not I was in shape? I clearly was not!

Being a person who is a huge advocate for mind & spiritual growth I was particularly delighted by the closing of our HIIT workouts, and not because our butt kicking was over. At the end of our HIITs, we would lay on our mats and end our workout with a nice little meditation. Breathing, relaxation, mindfulness, affirmations…All that was missing on my end was some essential oils!! I found it to be the perfect way to get our heart rates down and reflect on what we had just accomplished.

WHY JOIN?

GROUP SETTING I don’t know about you but I tend to do better in group settings. If I’m going to be completely honest, I’m the worst at motivating myself. Seriously. I’ve always found more success in group workouts or when I have a trainer. Lucky for me, Body Back had both. Also, did you know that group exercises are good for you? According to a study published in the Journal of Social Sciences, participants gravitate toward the exercise behaviors of those around them. When you see others in action it is really motivating for you to push yourself to your limits.

DIVERSE WORKOUTS I loved that every workout was different. The excitement of the something new was always there so there was no space for boredom. It also pushed our bodies more by focusing on the different workouts each day.

ACCOUNTABILITY AND SUPPORT  Knowing that there are others going through this same journey as you made me want to attend our bi-weekly gatherings. Plus, I didn’t want to look like the slacker girl who wasn’t pulling my weight. Even though I know no one was thinking that I felt like we were all in this together and didn’t want to let anyone down.  

Speaking of being it in together… There was one gal, Haley, in our group who was great a cheering people on. Talk about external motivation! One night we had a workout that was intense. Haley was not only there killing her workout but she was there motivating us, cheering us on, and giving high fives. I mean, it was pretty awesome. And it wasn’t just her, I felt that love from a few others. It’s how it should be; women supporting each other, being each other’s biggest cheerleaders! Amiright?!

LAST THOUGHTS

I’m gonna be real here… this takes work. If you are seeking results then this is the program for you, but you have to put in the work. The wonderful thing is you have the support, community & guidance needed to get that work done. In addition to all that there is also the flexibility of the program with all of the online resources available to you. I’ve done many different workouts in my adult life and I can honestly say that this is one of the best ones I’ve joined and experienced.

I can’t sing this program’s praises enough. It really is something special, and it’s not just limited to moms. What?!! I don’t have to be a mom? Nope! That’s another great thing about Body Back, you don’t have to be a mom to participate. In fact, there were several ladies in our group who weren’t moms. One was a teacher who had gone through the program once before and returned because of the amazing results she had from going through it the first time.

But seriously, through this program, I realized that I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was. Once I got control of my mind, it was amazing at what my body could do. And surrounded by a tribe of women seeking some of the same health goals as I cheering me on…cheering each other on…it was great to witness such a beautiful display of sisterhood through a transformational workout program.

Strength, supportive, encouraging, challenging, transformational, camaraderie…I’m happy to say I found a program that fully embodied who I wanted to be, not only as a person but as a mother.

 

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I’m gonna begin this blog post by saying we’re all doing the best we can with what we have. With that said I still feel like I’m gonna perhaps offend someone, which is not my intention at all. Hence, we are all doing the best we can. These are just some thoughts I’ve been having and felt like sharing out loud.

I’m concerned about the foods that go into my kid’s bodies. I want healthier foods not only for myself but for my children, especially! This is my thought as my son slices up an apple this Thursday. Throwback Thursday for us here in the social media world, and since it’s Throwback Thursday I’m thinking of the trips, all the food adventures I’ve had with my kids. My goal was to raise little foodies, and I think I’ve done ok in that department. These days, though, with all that is changing, especially with how busy families can be and with meal times, I find myself wanting to raise kids that have healthier habits. It’s a work in progress. Especially now there are many more outside influences and two homes (3 if you count my parents) they spend their spare time at.

However, through all these years, there has been one constant. Not becoming their own personal chef at meal times here at home. No way, friends!

Here at home, I believe in feeding kids the same meals we (parents) are having. However, over the years I’ve become a tiny bit more lenient. For example, my daughter wants to try out vegetarianism. I didn’t go too out of my way to prepare her something else. She ate everything we did minus the meat. What I’m referring to here is preparing a whole entire meal for your kids. Or buying your kids their own pizza because they don’t like the toppings on yours. In fact, I did know someone who did this when we lived in CA. Now, I’m not trying to judge, you do you. (For the record I did judge more back then. Not proud of it.)  I just thought back then it was way absurd, and to this day still do!

Why do parents do this? Do we assume that kids can’t eat the same foods we do?

I notice this even in going out. Most kid menus have the standard, pizza, chicken nuggets, white pasta with butter, etc… We empower them to make choices and then present them with shitty choices? No thank you. And while on this topic, if you have a toddler can we just save everyone some time and you order for them? Please? Cool. Thanks! I mean, if they are two, you are the parent. Order the food for them.

I’m taken back to the time when my kids first ate escargot at a little Parisian bistro in Paris. Yes. Escargot are snails. And yes, they loved it. And yes, I ordered it for them. It was such a fun experience for all of us. And I get that this is a little extreme, not every parent is going to take their kid to Paris, but I’m feeling nostalgic because it’s throwback Thursday and man-oh-man how I wish I could go back in time.  Because here’s the thing, like I said before, more outside influences and now sometimes meals are more challenging with my daughter.  I don’t even know if she’d eat escargot now. But I do believe I gave her the tools in the building blocks on which to expand her food horizon. Ninety-five percent of the time she is still more than willing to try something instead of dismissing it all together.

So how did I do this? Will what I did work for you? Maybe. Maybe not. But I do have 5 ways on how you can help your child become a better eater.

  1. Start them young. Introduce a variety of foods, and preferably items that are less sweet at an early age.
  2. You are gonna have to deal with tantrums. There. I said it. We had a few rough meals when they were kids, but not many. Why? Because I didn’t prepare them special meals. They will eat it if they are hungry, and I’m sorry, but one missed meal does not mean your kids will starve.
  3. Eat as a family. Around the dinner table. The same things.
  4. Try everything. You can’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
  5. Continue exposing them to different foods. Especially at the school age level. That’s when peers & stronger will factor in.

I get that this could be a bit controversial. I can see how. I know some parents who swear by allowing their child to have picky appetites and not to force anything on them, and I get it. By no means am I trying to stifle their own individuality. If you think I am, well then we will have to agree to disagree. You do you, I do me. It’s still how we roll and it works for us.

But I’m curious and I encourage you to stop and think for a second…why is it ok to work on yourself, be the best version of you and not do the same for your child? Why do we do this? If we are to set an example, let’s set it. No matter how tough it is. I could go on and on about this topic. But seriously friends, do you do things out of ease or because you want better for your kids? What are your thoughts on this?

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Congratulations!

First of all, congratulations on taking that step towards health and wellness for you and your family. It is my hope and joy to provide you with the education and resources needed for you to truly benefit from the magic that these plants have to offer. They do work, my friends! But we have to consistently use them and not just turn to them when we are having an issue. Essential oils are here to keep you above the wellness line! Once you get a hang of that, you will really fall in love with your oils. Because when it comes down to it, it is such a simple way to begin shifting how we look at health and wellness. It is also such and empowering way! This gift from God… he’s provided you the way, you just have to lean in, trust, and use those oils.

So You Have Your Oils, Now What?

So you have your Premium Starter Kit, now what? First of all, I would go through the kit and open every single oil and take a big whiff of each of them. Find the ones that really call to you and start with those. Or maybe you got your kit for a specific reason. Kiddo needs more sleep? Go straight for the Lavender. Sleep, skin support, relaxation, want your room to smell good? Lavender is your girl!

Education Groups

So you’ve sniffed all your oils, now what? I suggest getting plugged into a few of our larger team groups. You can do that here, here and here. Be sure to read through pinned posts and feel free to ask questions. In these groups, you will learn of the many ways we use these oils in our day to day lives. When you hear someone say, “There’s an oil for that!” There really is!
Many of us are also on Instagram, so if Facebook is not your jam, you can find me here. I post a lot of information in my stories and share mini classes there too.

Oily Tool Kit

Below are several items and resources that have helped me in this oily journey. They are items I recommend for ease in use of oils, and if you are wanting to share with your friends and family, there are items to help with that as well. By the way, if you find that your friends and family are already intrigued by your sharing and asking how they can get oils, create your own link here and send it their way. If you are on Essential Rewards spending 100PV you can receive $50 to cover your oil expense all from sharing the love!

Veggie Capsules – to use Vitality oils internally

Fractionated Coconut Oil – to dilute for roller balls and veggie capsules

Roller Ball Bottles – to create a custom blend

1oz Amber Dropper Bottles – to sample fractionated coconut oil

Dram Sample Bottles – to share samples of 1 or 2 non-kit oils

PRINTED RESOURCES

Little Look Book – Includes roller ball and diffuser blend recipes, a page for each oil and details on other products

Starter Kit Magnet – tips for easy use of Starter Kit oils

Essential Oils Quick Reference Guide – a great reference guide that talks about oil safety and use basics

Essential Oil Pocket Reference Guide – a more comprehensive resource

We Love ER Flyer – Essential Rewards basics

Business Flyer – Young Living Business Opportunity Basics

LABELING + PACKING

Small Bags for Veggie Caps

6×8 Muslin Bags

8.5×12 Padded Envelope

Shipping Labels for Stamps.com

Printable Lid Labels for Dram Sample Bottles

Washi Tape

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