Rebuilding from the inside out.

January 4, 2018


Raise your hand if  you missed your own dress rehearsal for your wedding! Yeah probably none of you;) Well not only did I miss most of my own dress rehearsal, but I missed both of my sister’s dress rehearsals for their weddings as well. Humble pie served on a nice platter. I have always had an awareness of the importance of physical health and lived a fairly healthy lifestyle, but I never saw the weight of its importance in my own life until I ended up in the ER and was forced to pay attention. So just as I addressed in yesterday’s caring for the mind post, the mental and physical aspects of our beings are very tightly knit. It turned out that the issues I started to battle were stress and anemia induced….

These patterns of getting severely sick started in college. The episodes started from a terrible reaction to a glass of wine or to a good southern fried dinner. I kept narrowing it down thinking I couldn’t have this or that until I soon realized ALL alcohol and fried foods were off limits. I assumed I had an ulcer or an allergy, but I would later find out after an endoscopy that I had gastritis. An irritated stomach condition that is caused by…..guess what?? Stress. The result is a stomach that reacts to certain food and drink as if they were poison, and would often leave me in need of an IV. As a classic INFJ personality, I was someone who was always anxious about grades and studying and pleasing people, and I lived with stress over education related matters since high school. It resulted in an un-curable stomach condition. Parents – imagine not being able to cap off a hard day with a good glass of wine? Exactly.  Not ideal, but it taught me how to face stress in other alternatives.  I had to learn about the food triggers as well as heal my stomach lining. I would also later experience kidney stones (which for the record are more painful than natural child birth since I have had the wonderful opportunity to compare the two;)).


This is just to give you a summarized background story of why caring for my physical health was forced to the top of my priority list. When we care for the mind, we can prevent so many physical ailments from working their way into our systems. And when we take the time to care for our bodies, we also give ourselves the energy to care for the areas of our life we want to give ourselves to. Each reciprocates energy to the other.

After researching how to naturally heal my stomach and kidney (after I took medication needed though), I discovered so much about gut health, the correlation of physical exercise and brain health for women, and the importance of understanding what was in the foods we eat the products we put onto our bodies.

I know each of you could probably share your own experiences with physical health, and as you know, all we need is a starting point. A place to put one foot in front of the other. It has taken me a long time to change our lifestyle. It’s been a process of cutting out certain foods, and introducing the right ones. It also has taken me until this past year to get rid of all of the toxic chemicals I didn’t realize I was using in our household. So if you feel overwhelmed with the thought of making changes for you or your family, I did too. You don’t have to do it all at once. Just start somewhere. Take baby steps until you start noticing the good change, and that will fuel you to keep going.

I shared some helpful resources in the guide if you are looking for self-care practices for your body. I will also share briefly here how I’ve been working on my own physical health…

Gut health – The gut is linked to many health issues that are common today. It is the first line of defense against pathogens. Except most of the foods we eat do not allow our guts to function the way they are supposed to. Here is a really helpful article on gut health and the foods you can consume to detox and rebuild your gut. I am not doing a full detox (make sure you consult a physician first!), but working on implementing certain foods, and eliminating others. I will share more about this topic, recipes that my kids love, and more on the IHOD wellness instagram page.

Exercise – Gabe can testify that when I get cranky or irritable, a good run completely changes my demeanor. (This is because endorphines are released when you exercise that make us feel happy and energized.) I am at a place in my life that I just don’t have time to work out every day, and if I do have time, I am lucky if it’s twenty minutes. So my goal for now is to just to get moving in some way for 10-15 minutes per day. This may be doing sprints in the backyard while my kids are out playing or toning exercises in my living room, but other times it is a good run around the neighborhood or a hike with my family. It doesn’t have to be a marathon race you are training for! Your goal can start small.

Immune Building – This is the first year my little ones haven’t been sick frequently. We only have had one set of colds in the last six months! This is largely from the diet change as well as regular probiotic and immune building supplements such as Elderberry syrup, manuka honey, echinacea, and essential oils.

Tossing chemicals – There is a staggering rise in cancers, fertility issues, thyroid imbalance, hormone imbalance, etc. in recent years, which have been linked to both the foods we eat and the toxins being put into our bodies. Many of these toxins in our bodies are coming from makeup, skin care, hair care, household cleaning products, and even detergents. The FDA only has banned 30 ingredients that are harmful for human use compared to Europe’s list of over a thousand banned ingredients. This means we have to be our own advocates for safer health. I felt like it would be impossible to get rid of everything I was used to using, but thankfully there are some good options available now that not only are safe for use, but actually improve our health.

It’s not always possible to be able to pay more for organic foods, supplements, and body care so I say do what you can! I like to look at it as preventative care for more costly medical bills down the road.

Lastly, I wanted to breakdown a skin care detox I am doing to reset after a few weeks of bad eating, sleeping, and cold weather! You can start whenever you like, and you will notice improvements to your skin within a few weeks. (Pair this with good eating and LOTS of water.)


Step 1 – Charcoal Cleansing Bar – Detoxifies and absorbs impurities in your skin without drying it out. Targets breakouts, oily skin, or blackheads! You can cut the bar in half, and keep one by the sink and one in the shower to use on your face and body. (Read the reviews!)
Step 2 – Nourishing Day Cream – Easily absorbed and never greasy, but it leaves a nice fresh glow. It contains a mix of organic coconut oil, safflower oil, and aloe to provide nourishing hydration, plus antioxidant-rich acai to protect against dry skin.
Step 3 – Rosewater Mist – Wakes up your complexion with this skin-softening toning spray that balances ph levels. Spritz it on to set makeup, after a workout, or whenever your skin needs an instant pick-me-up.
Step 4 – Charcoal Mask – This nutrient-rich kaolin clay mask is really good for absorbing excess oil and drawing out impurities. The activated charcoal ingredient is known to minimize the appearance of pores, clear up breakouts, and balance oily skin. Works for all skin types. I put this on ten minutes before I get in the shower once or twice a week. It has gotten rid of my break out spots!

Each of these products last forever because you only need a little bit. I’ve had mine for over 6 months. This detox works for all skin types, but if you’d like to start with an anti-aging focus try the rejuvenating line. If you have super dry skin, try the baby protective balm as an overnight healing treatment after a good night cream. It’s nice to be a part of a company that is committed to transparency and never using ingredients that are harmful for the human body.

I know this was a lengthy post, but hopefully it gives you some ideas of ways to support your body inside and out as we start a new year!  I’d love to hear about any additional resources that have been helpful for you. Instagram accounts, podcasts, books, etc.

See you tomorrow for the last part of this series!


Leave a Comment

  • Oh, I never knew. I’m sorry you had t go through that, but good on you for prioritising health and self care now!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Nicole LeBlanc

    Oh, girl. I can totally relate! And I am so sorry you’ve have gone through all of that. Some things that have helped me:

    -For exercise, I use sweatflix – only 12 min workouts.
    -I love NingXia Red by Young Living.
    -I also love my diffuser from Young Living. I try to make my home as comfortable and relaxing as
    possible since work for my husband and I can be stressful.

    I want to switch over to beauty counter products and toxin-free cleaning products. But like you said, little by little.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles to help us!!

  • Kris Chatfield

    Anna – can you send me some info about Beauty Counter?

  • I so appreciate this post and your honesty! I️ am also and INFJ and have struggled with anxiety almost my whole life. I’ve also been recently struggling with dizzy spells/attacks which my doctor has said could be hormone related but didn’t give me a lot of options on what to do about it. I would love to know any specific foods/excercises/rest that you did to help with your gastritis! Hanks again for sharing!

    • Oh Leah that is so scary! I started to loosely follow the Weston Price cookbook for our goals for eating. Here is the cookbook:

      I took aloe shots to naturally heal my stomach lining and since then I focus a lot of getting probiotics and good digestive enzymes through fermented foods such as kombucha, apple cider vinegar, and kefir yogurt. It has helped so much with building our immune systems as well. I can actually have champagne now without getting super sick.

      For exercise I go through ups and downs, but usually just focus on 15 minute toning or cardio workouts! Hope you find some good solutions and better health. x

  • I wanted this to be a private comment but I wanted to tell you that I am a new reader. I am a mom of two kids and over the past week have read through your blog. There is a sense of deep openness in your most recent posts- like a freedom in them. I am not saying that your older posts were inauthentic but they came across a little more guarded compared to your recent posts. And it’s just the start- Wow- you have made a great decision to be so open. I am so excited to read your blog and relate to another complex part of you. I do wish we could all be perfectly healthy and we didn’t have a cross like this but there is freedom in sharing and everyone has a cross to bare- no shame. Always remember you are easy to love. Happy New Year

    • Crystal, thank you so much for the kind and encouraging comment! It definitely was hard to write and share these but I felt the tug to do it. I know not enough of us are being honest and open about our experiences and it helps when we know we aren’t alone. I definitely feel like I am happier where I am at in blogging than I used to be and that was because I decided to start writing less about what I thought readers would want, and more what I know is genuine to my life. Anyways, have a good start to your year and thanks for being here!

  • Do you have any recommendations for men’s skin care products? It’s the biggest challenge we have been trying to tackle. My husband shaves in the shower (head and beard)and uses Edge shave gel which makes me cringe! He is willing to try something different but hasn’t found anything that works as well. His hair is so coarse that he gets razor burn is he’s not careful. Thank you for any suggestions you can offer. Not shaving is not an option as he is in the military.

    • Gabe Liesemeyer

      Hello Peggy, I think my experience can help you here! Beautycounter has men’s shaving products in their men’s line called CounterMan. Keep an eye out for the shave cream called Clean Shave and the post shave moisturizer called About Face. Speaking from experience, the post shave moisturizer makes a huge difference. They may be sold out, but an alternative I like is from Dollar Shave Club. Their Shave Butter and Post Shave Cream work great, and I love the price/quality of the blades. From what I understand DSC products are not as clean as Counter Man, but is is still better than the standard Shave products. Hope this helps the razor burn. Please also tell your husband thank you from us for what he does.

  • Bette Moreno

    oh i know exactly what you mean about taking care of your mental health and trying to stay as healthy as you can. i recently had at stroke in October 2017. oh yes the struggle is real. So important to keep your stress minimal. one question, manuka honey. what are the benefits. thanks for posting this planner. distress and stay healthy. fa la la la la la la la. i’m now walking a mile a day. yay for me

  • I am super interested in your Beauty Counter products. I have extremely dry skin, plus I live in Chicago where it’s dry and cold and we have radiator heat which seems to suck any remaining moisture out of my skin. I love living here, but my skin dries out so fast. I also have really sensitive skin and have broken out in hives many times when trying a new product. Are Beauty Counter products hypo-allergenic? Or what’s the policy if I buy a lotion and then break out in hives?
    Feel free to email me back if that’s easier.

    • Hi Ashley! Good question – Do you know if there is a specific ingredient you tend to have reactions to? If you look on’s skin deep database, you can type in any product and see the ratings on a scale of 0 to 10 (10 being the worst) for ingredients related to hormonal issues, allergies, carcinogens, etc. Beautycounter rates a 0! So chances are, unless you have a specific allergy to an ingredient, these products should work really well for you! They have a 60 day return policy if for some reason there is an issue.

      Winter months are so tough! I get really dry too so I have loved the nourishing day cream, countermatch sleep recovery night cream (, and the cleansing balm or baby balm ( as an overnight intensive moisture mask. I hope this helps! Email me if you have any other q’s:)

  • Anna, thank you so much for sharing! Our family has been on a similar transition from conventional everything to cleaner everything, and you are right! It takes time. Baby steps. I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to go through in your own personal health! 5 children and no wine?! Girl.

    • ha ha ha, I know you feel me! Now that I have worked on healing my lining, I can at least have moscato and champagne, so Gabe so kindly keeps it in stock for me in the fridge. 😉 Thanks for reading Kristen!

  • Can you go over household cleaning products that you use now?

    • Sure! I use seventh generation and Thieves (which smells sooo good) from Young Living on just about everything. It fights bacteria and the ingredients are all safe.

  • So on the same page our little family has a crop of health issues too, for me gluten is a no go area plus we have other ailments in this brood too. Diffusion of natural oils geranium Lavendar ( I’m a Doterra lover) into our environment really aids erratic moods,diabetic mood swings as one has dementia and forgets medication to stabilize frequently. Rosemary ( yes for rememberance) assist with focus ! All aid in keeping us all calmer. Using method throughout the house now it has hit the sandy shores of the UK much easier for the twice daily clean down(!)ditched ointment for cuts and grazes years ago for a splash of
    melaleuca. Therapeutic oils bind faster with the body at a cellular level creating a protective layer and cleaning wounds at the same time – no bandaid needed! Whatever we choose to eat I believe hydration is key
    + plus sleep + food. Apparently a large percentage of the population confuse thirst for hunger. Be Well

    • Hi George,
      We use oils frequently here too! I will have to try melaleuca:) Hydration can do so much for flushing our system and avoiding illness!
      Thanks for the comment:)

  • Could you share where you got your dress and sweater and adorable knit hat. Thank you for sharing your story. Xo

  • […] In case you missed: Part 1: Caring for the Mind, Part 2: Rebuilding from the inside out. […]

  • Lindsey Day

    Hi Anna,
    Could you please tell me some of the supplements you took/take for your digestive issues?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Lindsey, when I was first diagnosed I took a medication to heal the lining, and then I took aloe shots on my own. Now I do a tablespoon of manuka honey because it is extremely helpful for stomach issues!

  • Croshoun Austin

    I’m so glad you found answers! My 6 year old has struggled with chronic vomiting for 6 years. He was told it was all in his head and that because he kept weight, it didn’t matter that he vomited 20 time a day everyday! We know so much and so little about stomach issues! We recently found out it’s gastroparesis, GERD and his sm/lg intestines and colon are not functioning as they should so we are also attempting to remove harmful foods from his diet! When he stress and new experiences make it so his maintenance medication don’t work at all so we teach him calming techniques and ways to relieve these overwhelming feelings! When other are out in the world struggling with similar issue makes you feel not so alone! Thank you for sharing! Just discovered your blog and it’s been a pleasure reading!

    • Croshoun, thank you for reading! I cannot imagine how hard that must be as a parent to see your child go through that. I am so sorry. Glad you have found some answers. Crazy how much stress can affect our systems. Wishing him continued healing and health!

  • What did you do to help with your kidney stones? I have them often and could definitely use any and all advice in this area. And yes, they are so much worse than natural childbirth!

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