Widmayer Wellness LLC

Encouragement in Your Wellness Journey

Category Archives: wellness

Back to School With Healthy Products

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It’s that time again!  Back to school.  We survived the days of 90+ temperatures and overwhelming humidity in July.  And though we still have a full month of summer left, we can’t help think about fall and the upcoming school year—even if we are no longer personally involved getting kids ready.

Walking into any store will remind you that education is making its annual comeback.  Christmas in July sales have given way to Back to School sales.  Mom is sorting clothes to see that Johnny has once again outgrown all his long pants and wondering if he can go to school in shorts until Christmas. Johnny also needs new tennis shoes.  And Susie wants a whole new wardrobe because she can’t possibly wear last season’s outfits.

But mom is not done shopping.  There is the excitement of backpacks, folders, pens and pencils, a new lunch box, and maybe some rain boots.

Thankfully, Young Living has some things to make the transition from summer to school year easier and healthier.

Here are five tips for a successful start to the new school year.

  1. Mom, you are first on the list. Stress Away is a sweet-smelling essential oil blend that will calm you during those shopping sprees with Johnny and Susie.  A word of advice from a mom who has been there—if possible, take one child at a time shopping.  It saves arguments and sanity.
  2. Breakfast and Snacks – Stock up on healthy choices for a quick breakfast or  between meal snack.
    • Einkorn Granola – Eat it dry, add milk to make a cereal, or mix in with yogurt and fruit.
    • Wolfberry bars – A great grab and go snack.
    • Ningxia popsicles – Have some of these stashed in the freezer for cooling off when summer temperatures continue into early fall.
    • Einkorn Flour – This Heirloom Wheat flour contains only 1% gluten and bakes up great using your favorite cookie and quick bread recipes. Check back next week for my blog about baking with Einkorn.
  3. Focus – Keep essential oils on hand that support cognitive function. Start your day alert and finish with concentration on homework. Try Lemon, Peppermint, or Clarity.
  4. Thieves – Support the immune system with a Thieves roller or add a few drops to your diffuser while enjoying some family TV time.
  5. Sleep – Keep essential oils on hand that promote good sleep. When it is time to unwind, and the sun is still in the sky, diffuse some calming oils. Try Lavender,  Peace & Calming, or Sleepyize to get everyone settled in for the evening.

Now that you have your shopping well in hand, it’s time to get out and enjoy the remainder of the summer.  School will wait a few more weeks.

 

SAFE FUN IN THE SUMMER SUN

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Yesterday at my grandson’s birthday party, I donned my bathing suit and went in a pool, something I haven’t done in a long time. But it was a 90+ degree day so it was definitely worth it.  I even had a squirt gun fight with one boy.  And there were lots of boys. . . and squirt guns, nerf guns, an obstacle course, presents, ice cream and party food—you know, the works!! It was a PARTY!! While it was fun to sit back and relax, I couldn’t help but think about wellness and healthy lifestyles. My wellness meter was working overtime. A long afternoon in the sun can be fun, but it can also be detrimental if you don’t take precautions. So, here are some tips for a healthy summer using natural, plant-based products to protect your family.

SUNSCREEN – Here’s what you need to know about sunscreen. You NEED to KNOW about sunscreen.  There are so many choices, how do you know what to choose?

TWO KINDS OF RAYS – Most people look at SPF (sun protection factor) when purchasing sunscreen. SPF is only rated for UVB rays (the ones that cause sunburns.) This is why it’s important to understand that SPF is not the only protection you need from the sun. UVA rays are the more damaging sun rays, as they cause more long term damage and premature aging. To protect you from both types of rays, look for a sunscreen that is Broad Spectrum.

SPF FACTOR – Next people look at the SPF Factor. What level of protection is needed?  What do the numbers mean? “If you are wearing an SPF of 2 you will incur that same amount of damage in 2 hours that you would have incurred in one hour without any SPF. An SPF of 10 will get you 10 hours, SPF 30 will get you 30 hours, etc. Here’s the thing, SPF is not linear (i.e. you don’t get 10 times more protection going from SPF 1 to 10 or 10 to 100).  When you apply SPF 10, you are blocking approximately 90% of UVB rays. SPF 15, approximately 93%; SPF 30, approximately 97%; and SPF 50, 98%.  So applying an SPF of 30 only gives you 7% more protection than SPF 10.” [https://lindseyelmore.com/mineral-sunscreen-lotion/]  No matter which level of protection you choose, the number isn’t as important as the application.

FREQUENCY OF APPLICATION – Regardless of SPF Factor, sunscreen needs to be applied appropriately and often to be effective.  Generally, you should apply every 80-90 minutes.  If you are swimming, you may need to apply more often.  The higher SPF number does not protect you longer.  People often think they don’t need to reapply because they are not burning. However, by not reapplying, they are actually getting more exposure to UVA rays, which are more damaging. But there’s other damage that can be done, even when you are protected. What is IN your sunscreen?

INGREDIENTS – When choosing a sunscreen, it is critical to look at the ingredient list.  Ingredients may be a more important factor than SPF because what is put on the skin soaks into the body.  Chemical sunscreens may contain parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, animal-derived ingredients, and synthetic fragrances, dyes, and preservatives.  To avoid these, choose a sunscreen that is free from chemicals and contains non-nano zinc oxide (UV Protection) so it won’t absorb into blood stream and cells.  Non-nano particles are too small to penetrate the skin.  A Mineral Sunscreen with non-nano zinc oxide particles that offer broad spectrum protection (UVB and UVA) will offer protection and help you avoid chemical sunscreens, which are cause for concern. Concern about these chemicals extends to their impact the environment.  A recent New York Times article  revealed that some sunscreens have been banned in Hawaii. Because large numbers of people wear them and then swim in the ocean, the sunscreens are harming the coral reef.  Hawaii is banning sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate.  If sunscreen in the ocean is hurting the coral reef, it makes me wonder what it is doing to our skin and bodies!  “Over the course of 12 years, EWG  (Environmental Working Group) has uncovered mounting evidence that one common sunscreen chemical, oxybenzone, poses a hazard to human health and the environment. It is an allergen and a hormone disruptor that soaks through skin and is measured in the body of nearly every American.” [https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/executive-summary/#.WzlEsdJKg2w]

SUN HATS – We have been told for years to wear sunscreen to avoid skin cancer, but sunscreen alone is not enough, even when you have a good one.  You need to take other precautions. Everyone should wear a hat.  A ball cap is good, but a sun hat is better because it covers the back of your neck and your ears, too.  I know those of us that grew up playing outside daily never wore hats have a hard time adopting this in practice, even if we agree in theory. But you need a sun hat. Get one.  Wear it.  You’ll look younger in the long run.  Make your spouse, kids, grandkids, and friends wear one, too.  It is not fun to have to go and have cancer scraped from your body.  I know several people who have had to deal with this.  Save yourself the trouble.  Buy a hat!

UPF CLOTHING – UPF is similar to SPF. It’s a label given to clothes that are considered sun-safe. Is this a good idea?  As I began to researching this for my blog, thinking it sounded logical, I discovered disagreement.  Here’s why.  Yes, covering up is a good idea; however, if clothing has been protected against the sun, then what is in it?  Does it have the same chemicals and nano particles that you just avoided by buying a safe sunscreen?  Older articles tend to discount this kind of clothing as ineffective, especially after a few washings.  A more recent article suggests that washing clothing with UPF can actually increase the protective factor due to shrinkage of fabric.  Another article suggests that sun-safe clothing is safe because of the weave of the fabric.  If it is tight enough to block the light, then it’s good. Ultimately, most any clothing that covers the body is more protective that no clothing.  I remember wearing t-shirts over my swimsuit at times when I was a child.  And I often wear a long sleeve cotton shirt these days when I go out to garden. However, don’t just use a lightweight white cotton t-shirt. It only has an SPF of 5.  Doctors agree that denim offers the best protection, but who goes to the beach in jeans?

SUNBURN TREATMENT – Despite all your best intentions, you were having so much party fun you got sunburned.  What do you use to treat your skin?  If you are sunburned, you will want something cool and soothing.  If you are not sunburned, you still need to put moisture back in your body.  Many of the same toxic ingredients that occur in sunscreen are found in other skin care products, so read labels with care and avoid the chemicals mentioned above.  Natural products with essential oils are a good choice. And drink lots of water to re-hydrate.

INSECTS – What is a summer party without bugs?  Insect repellent is something else that goes on your skin.  So, guess what?  You need to read the labels.  If you can’t pronounce it, it probably isn’t good for your skin.  A Google search will reveal lots of articles about repellents and ingredients.  Some say they are safe; others say they aren’t.  What I found interesting from my brief perusal is that the writer/editor usually has some stake in the results, so it is difficult to judge whether the information is unbiased. Peer-reviewed research indicates caution. For general back yard fun, it seems appropriate to me to use more natural, plant-based solutions, like essential oils and essential oil products.

CUTS AND SCRAPES – With a crowd full of kids, a cement pool, nerf guns, and the high speed running around a yard that comes with a party, accidents are bound to happen.  For soothing and calming skin and crying, it’s good to have a supply of lavender essential oil on hand.  You could also use a misting spray that’s good for both cuts and scrapes, as well as sunburns. Again, read labels and make sure you are using plant-based, chemical-free products.

TOO MUCH PARTY? – Remember all that party food I talked about?  Maybe the kids can handle it, but too much party food is always hard on my digestive system.  Add to that a hot day in the sun, and sometimes tummies are not happy.  Essential oils can support the digestive system, and I always have a few on hand to meet the need.  My favorite is peppermint, but you could also try lemon, fennel, ginger, or a blend of oils for digestive support.

Summer activities and enjoying the great outdoors are fun after a long winter.  But when you are preparing for that outdoor party, a beach vacation, or any other outside activity, take the precautions you need for sun protection so you and your loved ones can enjoy the party without having to worry about your long term health. With a few wise choices, you will have lots of summer fun for years to come.

Ah, my wellness meter is happy now.

SOURCES:

 

ESSENTIAL OILS IN THE WORKPLACE

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Using essential oils in your business will aid in a healthy environment and encourage wellness among your staff.  One customer shares about her work environment: “I work for a real estate brokerage; and throughout the building, there are a minimum of 4-5 diffusers going at any given time. From everything to enhancing energy to promoting a calm environment, our essential oils play a big role in our day to day operations and mood!”

Here are easy ways to incorporate essential oils in your office.

DIFFUSERS – Placing diffusers at strategic locations in your business can support the immune system of your employees and create a refreshing atmosphere in which to work.  Staff will inhale the fresh scents and boost immunity at the same time.  Thieves essential is a good blend for helping support the immune system. Additionally, depending on which essential oils you chose, you can promote focus, encourage positive moods, and avoid the mid-afternoon slump.  For mood boosting and focus, try diffusing Lemon essential oil.  Instead of that afternoon energy drink or cup of coffee, try some Peppermint aromatherapy. It is an invigorating and refreshing scent.  Working on a deadline?  Is everyone uptight?  Diffuse Stress Away to help promote a calm environment.

THIEVES WATERLESS HAND PURIFIER – We all want to keep our hands clean, especially after a meeting where we have had to shake hands many times. Or maybe after using office tools and machines that are shared by a whole staff.  A quick way to do this is with hand sanitizer; however, normal hand sanitizers aren’t the best option. Synthetic fragrances have been show to disrupt the endocrine system and provoke allergies.  They are drying to the skin, especially in winter months when we are already dry. Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier contains aloe vera to help nourish the skin. Finally, antibiotic resistance is an issue. If you overuse regular hand sanitizers, you can actually lower your resistance because every time you use them, you are killing off the good bacteria along with the bad.  Use Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier instead. It contains essential oils.  And while essential oils are consistent enough to maintain their fragrance and therapeutic properties, each growing year offers mild differences.  These differences are due to soil and weather conditions.  Therefore, Thieves Hand Purifier does not present the same risk of antibiotic resistance from overuse as traditional hand sanitizers.

THIEVES HOUSEHOLD CLEANER, WIPES, AND SPRAY – Common cleaners, sprays, and wipes also contain chemicals and fragrances that are not friendly to our health. Keeping Thieves Wipes and Spray on hand can help promote a healthy workplace. Wipe down desks, office phones, doorknobs, and faucets.  Do you have an office kitchen?  Thieves Household Cleaner is a concentrate. Dilute it in spray bottles and keep several on hand for quick cleanups.  How about the office refrigerator?  Ew!  Thieves can help you there, too.  And while you’re cleaning out the refrigerator, add a cotton ball with drops of Purification essential oil blend to help keep those areas odor free.

Keep Thieves Cleaner in the bathrooms.  A quick spray down will help keep things fresh and clean all day.  Try the Thieves Foaming Hand Soap, too!

DRINK OIL-INFUSED WATER- We all need to drink more water to stay healthy and hydrated.  Adding a citrus essential oil to your water can give you flavor without added calories.  Many like to add Lemon or Lime Vitality to their water.  But there are other Vitality oils—Orange, Tangerine, or Grapefruit Vitality.  Maybe you’d prefer Peppermint or Lavender.  Please use glass or metal beverage containers (not plastic.) Citrus essential oils, especially, should not be used in a plastic beverage container.  The oils break down the toxins in the container, and they bleed into your water.  Also, please make sure the essential oils you add to water are pure and meet GRAS standards.  Young Living markets a separate line of oils called Vitality to help you identify those which are safe for ingestion.  Drinking water with essential oils will actually help cleanse your system, as well as add a pick me up to your day. Be sure to drink plain water, too.

These are just a few ways to create a pleasant office environment and promote wellness at the same time.  Happy Oiling!

 

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Hacks for Seasonal Suffering

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Woman With Hay Fever Allergy From Flowers

I have had allergies since I was a kid, and they are not fun.  A runny nose, itchy eyes and ears, a scratchy throat, bloody noses, sneezing, and wheezing—I had it all.  As an adult, I have improved to the point where I no longer suffer from them regularly, but I can’t really explain why.  My husband still has frequent flare ups.  We have both run the gamut of remedies from antihistamines and decongestants to allergy shots.  Even after I had shots, I had lots of issues as a young woman. (Living on a dirt road didn’t help.) Though I had suffered since I was a child, I had no idea that one of the symptoms of hay fever is fatigue.  Between that and antihistamines, it’s no wonder I was a sleepyhead.

Over the years, I have had all kinds of recommendations from friends and medical professionals.  Some are preventative. Others are remedy oriented. I am not a medical professional, and I am not here to prevent, treat, or cure allergies.  These are things that I have tried, as a long time sufferer from seasonal discomfort. I pass them on to you merely from my personal experience and encourage you to do your research.  All things do not work for all people.  But here are some ideas that may make a difference in supporting management of symptoms.

  1. Keep the windows closed all the time, especially at night. The widespread installation of air conditioning in homes and cars has made this suggestion much more realistic than it was in past years.  I know we are tempted to open our windows in the spring when we have been cooped up all winter and want to smell the fresh breezes, but this may play havoc with your allergies. If you live on a dirt road or if it is windy, it is even more important. If you must open your windows on occasion, at least keep them closed at night.  The damp, night air has proven detrimental to both my husband and me, as became really apparent in our camping years. We resist the temptation to turn off the air conditioning and open the windows at night, and we breathe easier.
  2. Don’t spend a lot of time outside when the pollen count is high. Now unless you’re a hermit, you can’t avoid going outside, but hanging out for hours in the great out of doors when the pollen count is high is asking for trouble. Weather forecasters usually let you know when things are especially bad, so stay tuned to your favorite weather resource.  If you are responsible for the yard work, and you don’t want to hire a service, wear a mask when doing things like mowing, weed whipping, or leaf/grass blowing. My husband always wears a mask when he is working outside.
  3. Don’t hang your sheets on the line to dry. Despite the convenience of home dryers, many are tempted to save money by hanging their sheets outside to dry.  We love that fresh air smell.  But that fresh air smell isn’t good for your allergies.  This recommendation was given to me by my GP years ago.  Wet sheets attract pollen.  That is not what you need when you lie down to sleep.  Use the dryer.
  4. Fighting the dust is an ongoing battle, but vacuuming and dusting can help, especially in the bedroom.  Keep things as clean as you can by vacuuming and dusting regularly, as well as changing furnace filters. Assign allergy producing tasks to a family member who does not suffer from allergies or hire someone to clean. If you have to do it, wear a mask while cleaning dusty areas. If you are doing a big project like cleaning a basement or sorting through old books, take breaks and get away from the area for some deep breaths.
  5. No pets. – This is hard, and I would venture to say most of us don’t follow it. I didn’t have a pet growing up, but both my siblings had dogs so they were in the house.  When my kids were growing up we had a cat—the worst!  Cat hair everywhere.  If you are going to have pets, you just have to keep up with the vacuuming and dusting even more.  If you do have a pet, avoid having your pet sleep with you.
  6. Change to plant-based cleaning products. – Many people with allergies are allergic and/or sensitive to smells of all types—perfumes, chemicals, soaps, etc. Numerous cleaning products contain fragrances that are not good for anyone’s health, let alone an allergy sufferer. Countless products contain skin and respiratory irritants. (See ewg.org.) We want to use natural products, but “natural” does NOT always mean natural.  Choose plant-based, essential oil-infused products or make your own.  There are several companies on the market that sell fragrance-free, safe cleaning products, and there are lots of recipes on Pinterest for making your own. Do your homework and find safe products.
  7. Shower and shampoo. Some doctors recommend showering in the evening so you are not carrying the pollens attracted to your skin during the day into your bed at night. If you don’t want to shampoo your hair every day, consider wearing a hat when you are outside.  This is not only good for lessening pollen attracted to your hair; it’s also good for keeping your skin safe from sun damage.
  8. Change your clothes and shoes. After working or sitting outside, change your clothes so the pollen you have carried in doesn’t deposit on your furniture. Wear different shoes in the house than you wear outside.
  9. Personal care products. Personal care products, like cleaning products, contain fragrances and toxins that are often linked to allergies. Products like gel and hair spray attract pollen to your head. [droz.com]
  10. Be proactive and preventative with doctor prescribed or recommended meds. My GP recommended that if you take any kind of OTC allergy remedy, you need to take it BEFORE you start having symptoms. So if you don’t take it all year round, you probably need to think about it again when the season comes around and take it until the season is over, which is generally considered to be at the first hard frost.
  11. Try essential oils. I like to run my diffuser using Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint oil. It provides a refreshing aroma.  I also like to inhale scents like peppermint or a eucalyptus blend, which may support the respiratory system. Diluted essential oils may be rubbed on topically to provide an invigorating lift to your day.
  12. Get adequate sleep. We know allergies can make you tired so it is important that you don’t skimp on sleep even when daylight makes it hard to get to bed on time. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, and you’ll feel a lot better.

Most of these are common sense remedies, but it always helps to review.  I hope something on this list will help you find relief when your symptoms have got you down. My prayer is that all of you will be able to find relief and enjoy the summer.

Choosing the Right Exercise Plan

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When the New Year rolled around and I chose the word WELLNESS as my #onelittleword for 2018, I had to decide how I was going to get back to exercising for my physical wellness.  I had been limited to exercise in the previous six months due to an injury and surgery.  But let’s be honest—I had fallen off the exercise track before my injury.

Over the years I have tried lots of options.  I have a treadmill, stationary bike, an exercise ball, and free weights in my home.  I have had gym memberships and a personal trainer.  I have joined Jazzercise and gone to yoga classes.  I have tried videos in my living room and walking outside. All of it.  But consistency is hard.  We go through seasons in life when one method works better than another; however, physical fitness is important, especially as one gets older.  There is no more time to procrastinate. It’s use it or lose it!  Even my mother-in-law, who is well into her 89th year, attends classes at her independent living facility.  These classes do not have the same intensity as a young person’s workout.  The goal is motion.  They say, “Motion is lotion.”

The thing I have learned is that all of these exercise methods have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to type of movement, cost, times offered, and social aspects.  I believe when it is time to re-evaluate your exercise plan, writing a pros and cons list can help you choose the best option.  So, here are some things to consider.

  • What amount of money can you afford to spend on a monthly basis? (Now, before you answer, consider that you are investing in your health and are likely saving money you would spend for medical treatment if you are not in good health.)
  • How convenient is the location? Is it on your way home from work, close to your home, accessible on weekends?
  • How convenient are the times? Are there classes at set times; is it open 24/7? Is it really going to work with your schedule?
  • What kind of coaching is available? Are there trainers available, is there an added cost for trainers, or is it teacher-led?
  • Are you self-motivated? Do you have knowledge of fitness so you can exercise without injuries, or do you need guidance?
  • How important is social interaction? Do you have a friend to go with you; do you prefer to be alone? Do you like classes and large groups? Even if you are working out alone, are you comfortable having other people working out along with you?
  • Do you have accountability? A partner? A spouse? Someone?
  • Does the workout plan offer all aspects: cardio, strength, flexibility?
  • Do you have any physical limitations that eliminate some forms of exercise?

What is the variety of workout options? Here’s a few I’ve tried.

  1. A gym has many options—lots of equipment choices, on-site staff to assist, availability because they are open frequently. Some centers also offer classes, both exercise and wellness. Some facilities have a pool.
  2. Jazzercise classes focus on cardio but also offer strength and flexibility as a part of their routines. Zumba offers similar classes, I believe; however, I’ve not tried those.
  3. Yoga can help with stress, flexibility, core strength, and even cardio.
  4. A home gym – Will you use it? Can you afford to purchase equipment? Do you have the space? How does the cost compare with memberships over time?
  5. Video – There are many internet sites offering subscriptions these days—yoga, dancing, and probably others. There are also free videos on YouTube. Are you motivated to workout at home? Do you have space? A designated time?
  6. I know there are others I haven’t experienced. Swimming, karate, kick-boxing, organized sports.  What will work for you?

As I made my own list of pros and cons, it changed my decision about my 2018 choice.  For me, in this season of life, the best choice was a membership at a local community fitness center.  I did not choose the one closest to my home, which was less expensive, because it did not have extended hours and is closed at my prime work out time.  It offers some level of social interaction, even if I attend alone, and I am a social creature.  I also have a couple of friends who are already members. It has a gym and organized classes at various times of day. And as the “parent” fitness center, I can still attend the one closer to my home if I find it more convenient at times.  The advantages were worth the cost.

Though I have enjoyed both yoga and Jazzercise in the past—and they were the right choices then, the fitness center is right for me now.

I have gotten back on track with physical fitness in 2018, and I am motivated to continue to strengthen my body after recent surgery.  By thinking through this decision and weighing my options, I have been more successful than when I just choose something impulsively.  And as I have tried various machines and routines at the center, I have been more motivated to complement those with things I do at home on the days I do not travel to the gym. I have also realized my limitations and given myself permission to go slowly.  I will not regain all of my strength in a short time.  This must be a lifestyle for now and the future.

Though physical fitness is only one aspect of my goals in choosing the word “wellness,” I am happy to have made a strong start to my year.  This was the area where I felt weakest, so it feels good to have made this decision and stuck with it.

I hope my journey inspires you to start exercising if you don’t already.  Get out a pencil and paper, find out what’s available to you locally, and start making that list of pros and cons.  Find something that works for you now, and then stick with.  Put it on your schedule as a non-negotiable.  And if you can, find an accountability partner.  You’re on your way!

Happy Exercising!