Why Hating Your Body Won’t Help You Get Thin

I came upon fitness in an unconventional way. I spent years as an athlete in high school and worked out some after I had kids, but I would never have said that fitness was important to me.

Playing hockey and fastpitch softball was important to me, because I enjoyed being on a team. I had high-pressure positions (goalie and pitcher/3rd base) so I also think I sought social validation by playing.

When we joined the local YMCA after having a couple kids, I joined group exercise classes. I had no idea what to do in the weight room and running on an elliptical machine for 45 minutes was pretty boring, so I liked the idea of being told what to do and participating in the “shared suffering” of the class. This, however, I did so I could be less fat. I didn’t do it to be healthy or strong, I simply wanted to be less fat.

So twice now I’ve done something unexpected and out of the ordinary for myself since we moved to a new town 150 miles from where we grew up back in October 2015. One of the first things I did when we got here was to say “I don’t know ANYONE here! I need to connect with other moms.” I joined MOPS. The second thing, was when my husband deployed last year. I said, “If I’m going to survive this, I need to take care of myself.” Somehow, even though I hadn’t stepped foot in a gym in more than 5 years, that thing became CrossFit.

Interestingly, I had spent the previous year lurking in a Facebook group all about self-acceptance. “Weight is only a measure of your relationship with gravity.” “How you look does not determine your value.” I began to appreciate my body for all the things it had done for me. It grew 5 tiny humans, and then fed them. It carried me through my toughest moments. It held me for my happiest moments. Every mark is part of my story.

All of a sudden, I wanted to take care of this body. I wanted it to be strong and capable to play with my kids, to take them on hikes, and to be around for them as they grow up.

My dad has been “prediabetic” for many years (basically he has diabetes but it can be managed with his diet and exercise, and recently started on some oral medication). His mother was diabetic and took insulin shots most of my life. I knew this was a risk for me. Then, suddenly, in August of 2017 my mom was diagnosed with full-on Type 2 diabetes. I didn’t see it coming, and it shook me.

Now my risk is even higher. I realized I have several familial risk factors for feminine cancers as well. Uterine prolapse, fibroids, stage 1A endometrial cancer, all in my family tree. And now 2 biological parents with diabetes.

My health risks, self-acceptance, and husband’s deployment all piled on top of each other, and I decided to choose fitness. 

This time I wasn’t trying to look better, but to feel better. I wanted to be strong.

And this time it stuck.

It took months of me taking the time to accept and appreciate myself for who I am RIGHT NOW to give me the strength, courage, and resolve to change. I didn’t change because I disliked who and what I saw in the mirror, I changed because I cared about that girl. For the first time in years, I really cared about her and wanted something different for her.

There are so many messages out there about what women’s bodies should look like or what we should think about them, who we should strive to be, and I’m here to tell you to turn all that off. Hating who you see in the mirror won’t help you make any lasting change in your life. It won’t help you to grow and become the woman you are capable of. Self-hatred will only breed hateful thoughts, and at the first sign of adversity, you’ll quit.

It’s a journey. Take that first step.

Look in the mirror and appreciate the girl looking back at you. Remember all the things she has done for you. The journey you’ve been on. The stories you share. And start to love her. Feed that love little by little until you believe it with all your being.

Then sign up for that painting class. Join a gym. Go for a walk. Go on a date. Put yourself out there and believe in yourself, because that’s when the magic happens.

Choosing Your Wardrobe

Practical fashion. That’s what I’m all about.

Only recently have I begun to truly choose a style for myself. Over the past several years I’ve worn t-shirts from high school, or what I could find on the clearance rack or at the thrift store. It has only been in the last few months that I have begun to analyze what I really WANT to look like, and begin slowly purchasing things (on clearance and at the thrift store) that embody that “look”.

Today I have a guest post from Dawnita at Prairie Dust Trail to help us with HOW to choose clothes that look good on our bodies. Please join me in welcoming Dawnita!

Thank you for having me as a guest today Virginia! First, let me assure your readers that I am NOT a fashion-ista with the perfect figure and tons of money to spend on clothes. I have six children and my body is abundantly curved and scarred from my blessings. I buy most of my wardrobe at thrift stores or clearance racks. I would like to share with you a few tips for dressing to suit and flatter your figure, style, and complexion. Lets let go of frump or pomp and try to hit a nice middle of the road, realistic look. We don’t have to give up comfort or cute to be stylish and elegant.

Shape

Wear clothes that fit you well. There are so many styles and fits today, shopping can be a nightmare if you aren’t sure what you’re really looking for. You don’t just go shopping for a pair of bottoms, ladies. First, you MUST consider your build. There are three basic body builds. They can be broken down, of course, but I’d like to keep things simple. All need balance. Find what you need to balance you.

  • Y shape ladies need minimization on top and add fluff and fun on bottom for balance. Darker or more neutral colors on top. If you’re layering, a deep V neck helps a lot. Stretchy tops with texture help to minimize without accentuating. You want people to look at your face, not your bulk. You can wear fluffy skirts with lots of frills and ruffles and wide leg pants, bright colored bottoms, or the bells with decorative legs. If you’re short, knee-length skirts & capris or tall boots help give a look of height. If you are tall, bright colored maxi-skirts look nice.
  • Pear shaped ladies, like me, need darker, loose fitting bottoms. Shop “relaxed fit” for comfort and flattering fit. Don’t try to squeeze your bulk into sausage skins! If you wear stretchy things that look tight or form fitting, wear long tops and tunics to help blend. Wear bright, fun, and fluffy tops and scarves that help bring attention to your face in colors that complement your complexion.
  • Straight ladies are a bit more flexible. You can use two strategies. One – wear fun belts or outfits with waistbands to give more contour in the middle. Two – Tops with collars, frills, or embroidery around your neck and shoulders. A-symmetric hems and fun layers will help give depth and movement.

Whatever you wear, make sure you don’t have to pull, tug, or rearrange things every time you stand up. If it doesn’t hang comfortable naturally, it probably doesn’t look as nice to others either.

Class

Don’t pick out something just because it’s on sale, cute, or your favorite color. Think about how it will look. Out here where the wind is blowing constantly, there are some styles that don’t work unless it’s an unusually calm day. If it’s transparent, wear a cami. …and when did it become “the thing” to wear spaghetti straps with bold or contrasting colored bra straps showing? It’s trashy girls, really. Layer coordinating colors together in a way that flatters instead of distracting. You can be comfortable and still look pretty.

Colors

To complement your complexion, it doesn’t matter how light or dark you are. I’ve seen very dark women wear the same colors as my porcelain tone with complementary beauty. It’s the undertones in your skin that make the difference. We all have them. Try holding something bold up to your face and see how it looks. If it makes your skin appear too red, yellow, or blue then that is NOT your color. If it gives you a lovely glow; go for it! Ask someone you trust. Think about the colors you get the most complements in.

Occasions

Remember to dress for the occasion. Spring & summer events early in the day call for light airy colors, short sleeves, and calf length hems with few accessories. Think rainbows and tropical birds and fish, but don’t try to be them all at the same time. In the evening pick a solid color with bright, fun accessories. In fall and winter, wear ¾ to long sleeves in more earthy colors and longer hems. Think mountain ranges. During the day, brighten things up with a bold scarf and in evening keep things in jewel tone colors with minimal accessories.

For weddings and special occasions, try to be classy ladies. We don’t want to outdo the bride, but we don’t want her wedding to look like she has a bunch of uncaring friends and family either. Let her know you really care about her event by dressing nice. Navy and Plum are colors that tend to work with anything. Dusty blues and purples in mid-length dresses or outfits always complement as well. Dress professional, or “Sunday best”. Don’t dress for the beach unless it’s a beach theme or beach-side event.

Practical Fashion | Practical fashion tips for the low maintenance woman! | Virginia George

Dressing nice doesn’t have to be hard. It can be fun and flattering to any figure and style. I hope some of these ideas help.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

Dawnita Fogleman is a fifth generation Oklahoma Panhandle Pioneer. She remembers only ever wanting to be a scientist when she grew up. While she has decided to never grow up, she researches and experiments with her family. Dawnita helps the love of her life manage the family business, small farm, and six amazing, exclusively homeschooled blessings. The oldest two are graduated and starting their own businesses. “Sometimes I struggle with carrying Bible, coffee, sewing basket, and feed bucket all at the same time so I commit the Bible to my heart, sip my coffee fast, sew every chance I get, delegate chores, and disciple the children along the way.” On the Fogleman Funny Farm every day is a surprise! She blogs about homeschooling, homemaking, and homesteading at PrairieDustTrail.com and recently published Star Chronicles: A Bible Based Study of the Stars.

Essential Oils: Meet Tea Tree

I first began using essential oils more than a decade ago, when my oldest was a wee little boy. Becoming a parent changes you.

I started thinking about my little one crawling across floors and licking coffee tables covered in toxic household cleaners. I knew there had to be a different way. . . a better way. That’s where essential oils came in, and tea tree was one of the first oils I purchased.

Melaleuca essential oil is widely known as tea tree oil. There can be some confusion because there is a company named Melaleuca that sells supplements and cleaning products, but today I want to share with you the wonderful uses of melaleuca alternifolia.

Legend has it that Australian soldiers were issued tea tree essential oil in their medical packs during World War II. There is, of course, no hard evidence to support this, but it speaks to the importance and power of this essential oil. Tea tree essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves of the plant. It is versatile and generally considered very gentle.

Here are some of my favorite ways to use tea tree essential oil!

Aromatically

Some people really dislike the smell of tea tree essential oil. To me, it means “clean” so I don’t mind it. The smell can be described as medicinal, woody, or herbaceous.

Immune Support

Tea tree essential oil is great for immune support. This blend is fantastic for promoting clear breathing. I like to put a towel as a “tent” over my head and breathe in very carefully. When finished, pour the water into the diffuser!

Topically

Topically, tea tree essential oil is great for skin health. It is cleansing and reuvenating, and is great to soothe and protect occasional skin irritations.

Over the years, one of my favorite uses for tea tree (aside from a drop in the toilet before I hit it with a scrub brush) is this hand cleanser. We use it when a sink is unavailable, or in public places such as the children’s museum. This hand cleanser can also be used across the sinuses to protect against seasonal threats.

To further support skin health, add a drop of tea tree to your lotion to apply after shaving. You can also use it after showering on fingernails and toenails to purify  them and keep nails looking healthy.

Lastly, tea tree can be used topically around the ear (never inside the ear) to reduce occasional ear pressure.

Cleaning

Tea tree has a very “clean” smell to me. A drop in the toilet bowl is great for getting rid of bathroom smells. You can also make this all purpose cleaner with tea tree essential oil.

Internally

Tea tree essential oil doesn’t have a great flavor, but it can be supportive to your immune system. One drop each of tea tree, lemon, oregano, and a protective blend in a veggie capsule, topped off with a carrier oil like olive oil, can be great for immune support. Please make sure to add a carrier oil to your homemade capsules to reduce the risk of mucous membrane irritation in your digestive system. I would also recommend eating a food with some healthy fat in it to further dilute the oils.

Tea tree essential oil also can be used as a mouth rinse. Pair it with peppermint for minty-fresh breath! Add a splash of vodka to an empty mouthwash bottle, then add 5 drops each tea tree and peppermint essential oils. Swirl to dissolve the oils in the alcohol. Add 1 tbsp Real Salt, 1/4 c xylitol, and fill with water. Use it as you would your regular mouth wash!

All in all, melaleuca essential oil is a very versatile oil, and is considered very gentle. It can be used with children as young as 6 months, with dilution of course (1 drop in 1 Tbsp for children under 2). As far as I know, melaleuca has few contraindications, and is a great asset to any budding aromatherpist’s stash!

What is your favorite use for tea tree essential oil?

Which oils do I recommend?

Essential oil safety and purity is vital when you are using essential oils to support your family’s lifestyle. I only use doTERRA’s essential oils because I believe in the safety, consistency, and purity of their oils.

You can purchase them here, or contact me to learn more or to receive a free sample.

“Busy” is a Four Letter Word

It happens all the time. You run into someone you haven’t seen in awhile and they ask you, “What are you up to these days?” You respond, “Keeping busy.” Or you’re at the grocery store and the cashier notices the 4 kids you have in tow and remarks, “Wow, you’re busy!”

What is it about our culture that values “busy” so much? We wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as if the busier we are the greater our value. It’s simply not so. Why are we so obsessed with being busy?

"BUSY" is a Four Letter Word | The importance of choosing and creating margin in our lives. | Virginia George

The Opposite of Busy is Not Idleness

I suspect we want to be busy, because we are afraid of judgement for idleness.

idle, adj: (1) not active or in use; (2) without purpose or effect, pointless

The problem lies in the lie. Being not busy doesn’t mean being idle. Choosing a life of non-busyness does not mean choosing laziness. It simply means being intentional about where we choose to spend our time. It’s choosing a life with margin, with space around the edges so you don’t lose focus on what’s important.

Imagine this website. Imagine if the sidebars were full of bright pictures, words, gifs, and videos. How well would you be able to see the content, the message on the page, the purpose behind the article? I’m guessing you’d be so distracted with all the busyness on the page, you’d not be able to focus on the article itself.

And so it is with our lives. When we fill up all the free space with “stuff” we aren’t able to focus on the main event. Our faith, our kids, our spouse, and our job get pushed aside with the noise of everything else we’re trying to do. And in the end we are living a distracted life, not just a busy one.

The Value of Rest

When God created the world, he took the 7th day to rest. Can you imagine… God saw the sun rise on that 7th day, leaned over to Jesus, and said, “You know, *yawn* that Holy Spirit kept me up all night last night. Boy, can he be chatty. *sigh* I’ve been busy these last few days with Creation and all, I think I’m going to take today off. In fact, let’s all take today off!”

I don’t think that’s how it went. In fact, I believe that God was very intentional when He chose to take the 7th day and rest. He made 1/7 or 14% of Creation rest. He spent more time resting than He did creating Man. And then He commanded it to His people.

When I was in high school I had a friend and mentor who would say “I can sleep in heaven!”

If God put that high of a priority on rest, shouldn’t we? Of course there are busy seasons of life where we are doing God’s work, raising a family, or building a business and we have to keep going, but rest can be found in the little things.

Rest can be as simple as stopping when you are feeling frustrated or empty and raising your hands to God in prayer, pausing in peace and silence and asking Him to fill your spirit.

Rest can be sitting in the car at the grocery store for 5 minutes with your music off and eyes closed, breathing.

A New Paradigm

Rest doesn’t have to mean taking an entire day to sit at home and play cards. It’s about taking these stolen moments and using them to fill up with God and His peace. Allow Him to fill the holes in your life.

It’s about cultivating a life of praise. As we do, rest will come more naturally.

And what if we responded to these questions differently? What if we took off our Badges of Busyness and responded differently?

I know I want to cultivate a life of peace, contentment, and intentionality for my kids. I don’t want them growing up believing there’s never enough time to do the things you want. I don’t want them to think running behind and on Empty is a sustainable way of life.

So the next time you want to say you’re “keeping busy,” what will you say instead?

I’m content.

I’m in love with my life.

I’m finding my joy and living in peace.

How will you eliminate B-U-S-Y from your life, and how will you choose rest instead?

Kicking Codependency

You don't need to be the family member of an addict to be codependent. Find out what I'm doing to kick my codependency. | Virginia George

I always thought codependency was reserved for the immediate family members of alcoholics or drug addicts. A group of people who couldn’t see that their loved one was participating in destructive behaviors who continued to enable them.

Turns out I was wrong.

Codependency is really an addiction itself. An addiction to relationships. To be technical, codependency is defined as “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.”

Typically due to an illness or addiction. Not always. Codependency is caretaking. It’s trying to fix another person’s problems so they don’t have to hurt.  Codependency is losing yourself in other people. Finding your identity in your roles, rather than your being.

Codependency is allowing someone else’s opinion of you to shape your opinion of yourself. It’s sacrificing who you are to become who you think you’re supposed to be.

 Hi, my name is Virginia. I’m a grateful follower and believer in Jesus Christ, and I struggle with codependency.

I’ll share more of my story in my upcoming posts “Dear Codependent Wife,” and “Dear Codependent Mom.” The short version is that I lost sight of who I was for a long time. I was defined by my roles as a wife and mother. Even now, several months into recovery, I have a hard time answering the question “What do you do for fun?” because all of my “fun” has been doing what I thought everyone else wanted to do for fun.

In short, I buried Virginia. My value was tied to what other people thought of me, and every day I prayed for God to make me different. I didn’t pray to be closer to Him or for God to reveal His truths to me. I prayed to be someone else, the person the people in my life “needed.”

It has been a slow journey back, but today I want to share with you a few of the things that have helped me to get my life back.

Kicking Codependency

I am, by no means, any kind of expert on the subject. I am actively working through my codependency and kicking it to the curb. But as quickly as I can process through one thing, another comes to the surface.

I am going to share with you a few of the things that have been the most effective for me rehabbing my life.

Set Healthy Boundaries

This might seem obvious, but if I’m honest, I’ve never had good boundaries. I just never learned how to effectively stand up for myself, decide what’s okay with me and what’s not, and to realize what’s within my realm of control.

My eyes were opened when I read “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life.” There is an analogy toward the beginning of the book that I keep in the forefront of my mind now.

Think about how property ownership goes. Let’s say you and I are neighbors. We live on a quiet street in the suburbs. There is a property line that goes around each of our homes and we are each responsible for what happens within those boundaries. I’m not responsible for cutting your grass, and you’re not responsible for picking up doggie poo in my yard.

It is the same with people and relationships. We all are responsible for our own space. I am responsible for my own feelings and actions. My husband is responsible for his. You are responsible for yours.

Give Value to Your Own Feelings

Especially in Christian circles we are taught to value others. To “love your neighbor as yourself.” We value sacrifice and service, and these are good things. When done with the right heart.

Let me give you an example. We were cleaning our house one day, and my husband asked me to do a task I had done a couple days before. It wasn’t a big deal – just clean off my nightstand – but it was making me feel resentful.

Are you giving out of the fullness of your heart, or out of obligation?

The Bible says to “love your neighbor as yourself,” not to love your neighbor more than yourself. This means that your feelings, your reservations, and your concerns are just as valid as your neighbor’s.

Listen to your internal self. Always, and in all circumstances. Sometimes we are faced with situations that make us uncomfortable, but being self aware we can help us determine why it’s making us uncomfortable. With awareness, we can process those things and maybe diffuse them altogether.

When you faced with something that you are uncertain about, ask yourself:

  • How does this make me feel?
  • Am I comfortable doing this?
  • Do I have the resources to do this?

If the answer is “no” on any one, don’t do it. Give out of the fullness of your heart. Acknowledge your feelings, they are valid, even if you think they are wrong.

Change Your Internal Narrative

If you’re anything like me, your mind is full of “proof” of your inadequacy. I’m here to tell you that every one of those is a lie.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). You are made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5). You have been set free from sin and death (Romans 8:2).

Those are truths. Whatever is going on in your mind is not a truth, but rather a lie from the pit of hell. The further I am in this recovery process, the more convinced I am of this.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says,”We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (ESV) Take every thought captive. Every thought.

This means every time you have a devaluing though you stop and change it. Every time. It’s exhausting, but it pays off. And you will realize how much mental energy you have spent on tearing yourself down and believing lies.

Focus your energy on praising God. Thank him for His beauty and strength, and who He is in your life. Seek the Lord, not your relationships. You might be surprised by how much He wants to walk with you. I know I was.

Get Support

For me, having support has been critical to my success in recovering from codependency. Support can be as simple as telling a spouse or trusted friendabout your codependency, sharing your struggles with them, and having them keep you accountable. An outside perspective can be very helpful. (If you are in an abusive marriage, your spouse is not the right choice for this one. Find a friend who you can confide in and trust with the softest part of your heart.)

For me, something more formal has been useful. I have been attending Celebrate Recovery meetings at my church for the last several months. Celebrate Recovery is a Christian based 12 step program. There are CR meetings all around the US, and should contain a large group time and a small group time. During the large group there is either a testimony or a teaching, and the small group time is left to share. Groups are split by gender and hurt, habit, or hangup. Check with a group in your area to find out what support groups they offer, as it will vary by need.

Celebrate Recover has been the biggest support for me. I can openly share what I’m struggling with, and know these women are going to pray for me throughout the week.

Another support group is Alanon. Alanon is an offshoot of Alcoholics Anonymous, set up to for those who have been affected by someone else’s alcoholism. I believe it would be helpful for other codependents as well. I’ve never attended the meeting, but have heard good things about it.

Lastly, you can get support through personal therapy. When you are codependent, it can be difficult to look through your own lens and see what needs to change. Having a neutral party like a counselor or therapist can help you learn new skills to live in healthy relationships.

The same thing isn’t going to work for everyone. If you try a support group, I encourage you to attend three or four meetings before deciding if it will work for you. If it doesn’t, see if you can find another meeting. Each group has its own personality, and it may take some time for you to find the one that fits you best.

You don't need to be the family member of an addict to be codependent. Find out what I'm doing to kick my codependency. | Virginia George

Above all, stick with it. It’s not going to be easy and there is no “quick fix.” It’s simply building your life back, one day at a time, one moment at a time.

It’s believing that you have value, simply because you are God’s creation.

It’s taking responsibility for your life, and no one else’s.

It’s letting others fall, fail, and hurt, because that is part of their journey, and not something that you need to fix.

Recovering from codependency isn’t easy, but you can do it. I believe in you.

Can you identify with any of the traits of a codependent? What are you doing to kick codependency?

Image Credit: FreeImages.com/Piotr Ciuchta

The Ins and Outs of Carrier Oils {5 Common Carrier Oils and Their Uses}

We love using essential oils in our home. We use them to help manage emotional issues, clean our home, and for supporting our bodies in a variety of other ways.

The safest ways to use essential oils are topically and aromatically. When we talk about topical use of essential oils, you often will see people refer to a carrier oil. A carrier oil is used to dilute an essential oil.

Why Use a Carrier Oil?

Essential oils are powerful, up to 70x more powerful than when used as an herb, so they need to be used with care and appropriate dilution.

You will find some people arguing to use essential oils “neat”, or without dilution. Not only can this cause skin sensitization, but much of the oil is lost to evaporation and never even makes it onto your body or into the tissue. I recommend diluting essential oils to below 20% for adults, and below 10% for children. 1% – 2% for infants and toddlers, making sure the oils aren’t contraindicated for that age group.

Every drop of essential oil added to 1 tsp or 5mL of carrier oil will increase the dilution 1%. So if I’m using a 10mL roller ball, every 2 drops in that container will raise the dilution percentage 1%.

What is a Carrier Oil?

A carrier oil can be anything you use to dilute and disperse an essential oil. You can use anything with a lipid or fat base. Liquid oils such as jojoba, olive, and fractionated coconut oil will work well, and so will more solid choices like shea butter, lotion, or regular coconut oil.

Simply choose the carrier oil that is going to compliment the purpose of the essential oil application, or one that is convenient.

Here are 5 commonly used carrier oils and their benefits.

Fractionated Coconut Oil

Fractionated coconut oil, or FCO, probably one of the most common carrier oils. It is used frequently by massage therapists because it provides a non-greasy barrier that does not clog pores.

FCO is different than the coconut oil you might use for cooking. It is, as the name implies, a fraction of coconut oil. The medium chain fatty acid, lauric acid, is removed, leaving the other medium-chain fatty acids caprylic and capric acids. This process makes FCO stay liquid at room temperature.

Fractionated coconut oil is my “go-to” when filling roller ball containers and when diluting essential oil samples for friends and customers. Choose fractionated coconut oil especially for it’s anti-fungal properties and when you need a smooth gliding application.

Coconut Oil

Good old coconut oil is a great carrier oil. Coconut oil is antifungal, making it a great carrier oil to use to protect the skin. It also moisturizes deeply, which makes it a good choice for carrying essential oils down into the tissues.

Coconut oil solid below 76*F. It can be whipped into a more lotion-like state if desired, but it melts easily with the warmth of your body, so I often just leave it alone.

Some kinds of coconut oil are scentless (like Wildly Organic’s expeller pressed coconut oil), while others smell coconutty (like their raw cold pressed oil). Be aware of the scent profile when choosing coconut oil, but it is a great anti-fungal.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil has many benefits for our skin and body. It is, however, more expensive than most oils. Jojoba oil penetrates the skin easily, and is especially a good choice for more mature skin.

Jojoba is actually a liquid wax, and not a true oil. It’s structure closely resembles that of our skin’s natural sebum, and therefore works very well in harmony with the skin’s natural chemistry. It is also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.

Choose jojoba oil if you have aging skin, or have severely damaged skin.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is full of antioxidants, including vitamin E and polyphenols, and therefore helps to prevent premature aging of the skin. Vitamin E helps to protect against UV radiation as well.

Olive oil penetrates deeply into the skin to moisturize and cleanse the skin without clogging pores. Olive oil is a great choice for facial products and can even be used as an aftershave.

There have been a lot of adulterated olive oils on the market lately, so make sure you are getting pure olive oil to get the maximum benefit.

Sweet Almond Oil

Sweet almond oil is a common oil to use in skincare products. It is rich in vitamins A, B, and E. Sweet almond oil is absorbed quickly by the skin, and doesn’t clog pores. Choose sweet almond oil when you need to soothe and hydrate your skin.

Five carrier oils. All incredible in their own right. So the next time you have an essential oil you need diluted, choose the carrier oil that’s right for you!

Which carrier oils have you tried? Which is your favorite?

Essential Oils: Meet Lemon

Have you ever peeled a lemon or squeezed a lemon wedge into your water? If so, you have probably experienced lemon essential oil. The essential oil is extracted from the rind, and that left over oily substance on your hands is exactly that. Cool huh?

Lemon essential oil is antidepressant, antifungal, antioxidant, antiviral, and invigorating. I just love the aroma of lemon essential oil. It is so fresh, like summer in a bottle! Lemon essential oil is extremely versatile, which is one reason why it’s a staple in our home.

Here are a few ways we use this fresh and brightening oil in our home!

Lemon is a great oil to have in your home, and can be used for boosting your immune system, lifting your mood, and cleaning your home. Now that’s versatility!

When using lemon or any other citrus oil to clean, but sure to spot test. Citrus oils will dissolve petrochemicals and plastics, so make sure to test it or check the materials in your home before you make a hole in your couch.

Aromatically

Lemon essential oil is fabulous when used aromatically. Lemon is clean and uplifting, and a scent that most people can agree on. As such, it’s a great choice!

Emotional Support

Lemon is such an uplifting aroma, I love using it in my home. Besides being energizing, lemon essential oil can help us to think and learn, increase our memory, and help us to reconnect with ourselves. Lemon is definitely an oil to keep in your arsenal!

Lemon essential oil is beneficial for our mood and emotional health. | Virginia George

Adding lemon and lavender to the diffuser is a great after school blend. Lavender can help to calm agitation and overwhelming emotions, while lemon will boost the mood in the room. A great combination, calm and happy!

Respiratory Support

Lemon, when used with lavender and peppermint is great for support the respiratory system during seasonal challenges. Simply add a drop or 2 of all three oils to a diffuser to help reduce respiratory inflammation and irritation.

Topically

Lemon essential oil is extracted from the rind, and can be phototoxic. This means it can increase sun irritation wen exposed to UV light. For this reason, you should avoid using lemon essential oil on your skin for at least 12 hours before going into the sun, if you have particularly burn-sensitive skin you may want to wait longer.

When using lemon essential oil topically, use it at a low dilution (less than 2%), or stay out of the sun for up to 48 hours.

Cleaning

Lemon essential oil is ah-maz-ing for cleaning. Not only will it leave your home smelling fresh and clean, it will polish your wood and leather, and help to remove sticky residues.

Use this recipe to clean your windows with lemon essential oil instead of products with harsh chemicals. | Virginia George

Replace your household window cleaners and furniture polish with a spray bottle and lemon essential oil!

We also like to use a hand cleanser made with lemon essential oil. We love and use these roller ball containers.

My favorite hand cleanser recipe using essential oils - fits in your pocket and is great for travel. Not only cleanses hands but supports the immune system as well! | Virginia George

This hand cleanser fits great in my pocket so when we go to the children’s museum or zoo, I can keep it in my pocket and use it on myself and with my kids. Bonus, the kids love the smell!

Internally

Lemon essential oil is nutritionally different than lemon juice, so they are not interchangeable. Essential oils should be used internally with care and caution.

Immune Support

Lemon essential oil is antiviral and antiseptic. Antiseptic means that it can be applied to live tissue to protect it and protect against infection.

Add a drop of lemon to a spoonful of honey to help soothe a scratchy throat.

Add the honey with lemon to your tea for a wonderful throat-soothing, immune boosting drink!

Detoxify

Lemon essential oil is a great detoxifier and antioxidant. Add a drop of lemon essential oil to a pinch of salt in a drinking glass, then fill with water and drink down right away in the morning.

Lemon essential oil is extremely versatile, and beneficial to our health in so many ways!

How do you use lemon essential oil in your life?

If you love learning about natural solutions for your family, and want to know more about how essential oils can support that, I invite you to join my Facebook Group! If you’re an essential oil expert we’d love to have you too! Come learn with us! | Virginia George

Which oils do I recommend?

Essential oil safety and purity is vital when you are using essential oils to support your family’s lifestyle. I only use doTERRA’s essential oils because I believe in the safety, consistency, and purity of their oils.

You can purchase them here, or contact me to learn more or to receive a free sample.

Essential Oils: Meet Peppermint

Peppermint is one of my favorite essential oils. If you stick around long, you will find that I have a lot of favorites! But truly, peppermint is one of them.

One of my favorite things about essential oils is their versatility. Essential oils aren’t like pharmaceuticals with one symptom, one treatment. Peppermint essential oil, and others, are useful on a variety of levels. Here are some common uses for peppermint, and some recipes we use in our home!

It should be noted that peppermint essential oil shouldn’t be used with infants. Studies have shown that peppermint, when inhaled by infants, may decrease their breathing to a dangerously low rate. Save the peppermint usage for kids older than 6.

Topically

Peppermint is great used topically in many ways. You should use peppermint diluted, because it can cause skin irritation for some. Also take caution to keep it away from your eyes or other sensitive areas. If it starts irritating your skin or eyes, be sure to rub a carrier oil on the area to dilute the oil.

Tension

Peppermint is great at relieving tension in sore muscles. Put a drop in some carrier oil and let the peppermint melt the discomfort away.

Peppermint is also useful for tension in one’s head. We like to blend peppermint with lavender in a roller ball container. Just apply it wherever you feel the discomfort. I apply it to my temples, because that’s where I feel it, while my husband and 9yo son feel their tension across their foreheads.

Digestion

Peppermint is great for aiding in digestion. Simply put a drop in some carrier oil and rub it on your stomach in a clockwise manner. Our food moves through our intestines in that way, so massaging the oil clockwise will further support digestion and movement through the intestines.

Aromatically

Peppermint oil smells amazing, and because of the high menthol content, it’s great at relieving congestion. Peppermint is also really great at helping create mental focus. I love using peppermint aromatically right away in the morning to get us moving, or any time I need to get some work done. It’s invigorating and just wonderful!

Git ‘Er Done Blend

This is one of my favorite blends of all time. I use this Git ‘Er Done blend whenever I’m feeling sluggish and I have to get some work done. The Wild Orange helps elevate mood, while the Peppermint wakes me up and gets me motivated.

We also like to diffuse a Respiratory Blend containing peppermint when people are congested. It contains laurel, peppermint, eucalyptus, melaleuca, lemon, ravensara, and cardamom essential oils.

Rodent Repellent

Mice don’t like the smell of peppermint, so both the herb and the essential oil are effective at repelling them. Simply place a couple drops of peppermint essential oil on cotton balls or scraps of fabric and place them where mice tend to get in. You’ll have to replace them every once in awhile, but it’s effective! You can use the herb as well.

Internally

Remember that one drop of peppermint essential oil contains what you would get out of 26 cups of peppermint tea! Essential oils are potent, and should be used internally with care.

Digestion

One of the biggest reasons, in my opinion, to use essential oils internally is for internal issues, like digestion. For some, massaging a drop of oil over the abdomen does amazing things for digestion. Some people, however, prefer to use their peppermint internally. Make sure to take it with a bit of fat to dilute it in your stomach.

Cooking

I’m not going to lie, peppermint tastes amazing. I don’t use oils very often in my cooking, but peppermint makes a killer addition to ice cream.

My new favorite is to add one drop to my cream or half and half before adding coffee to my cup. Just make sure you add the oil to the cream first, then add your coffee. The peppermint will mix in with the fat of the cream and be dispersed throughout your coffee rather than sitting on top. Delicious!

There you have it! A bunch of practical ways to use this very versatile oil.

What’s your favorite use for peppermint oil?

If you love learning about natural solutions for your family, and want to know more about how essential oils can support that, I invite you to join my Facebook Group! If you’re an essential oil expert we’d love to have you too! Come learn with us!

Which oils do I recommend?

Essential oil safety and purity is vital when you are using essential oils to support your family’s lifestyle. I only use doTERRA’s essential oils because I believe in the safety, consistency, and purity of their oils.

You can purchase them here, or contact me to learn more or to receive a free sample.

Topical Use of Essential Oils: Why and How To

How to use essential oils topically | Virginia George

Did you know…

  • Essential oils are estimated to be 50-70x more powerful than herbs
  • Some essential oils can pass through the blood-brain barrier
  • Essential oils work with our bodies to support wellness

We love using essential oils in our home for a wide variety of things from cleaning to emotional issues, and more. I love the versatility, and that I can use the same oil for supporting our immune systems when we’re sick and for cleaning my house. Or calming irritated skin and a tantruming toddler. Essential oils come to our rescue on a daily basis, for one reason or another.

There are 3 basic ways we use essential oils in our home: aromatically, topically, and internally. In this post we will look at how we can use oils topically.

To Dilute or Not to Dilute

Essential oils are extremely potent, as mentioned before they can be more than 50x more potent than the plant from which they are derived. For this reason, we need to use them cautiously.

Some people recommend using oils “neat”, or without dilution while others say essential oils should only be used diluted. Watch this quick video about the use of essential oils neat vs diluted.

Using Oils Neat

Oils like lavender, tea tree, or frankincense are often recommended to be used neat,or by applying them directly to the skin. Neat application is often recommended for quick use or on skin conditions.

There are a few concerns with using essential oils neat. The most basic is skin irritation. Before you use any oil, you can do a patch test to determine if it will cause skin irritation. Oils like oregano and clove should never be used neat, and citrus oils are known to cause phototoxicity (sensitivity to the sun for a few hours after use).

The second, and more concerning possibility, is sensitization.Sensitization occurs particularly with overuse of a particular oil, and is often irreversible. It can present as an irritating rash or burning sensation when applied. Sensitization is similar to an allergic reaction, and in the best case, the oil can be used again in a few years. Worst case, never again.

Dilute

As far as I’m concerned, diluting essential oils is really never a bad idea. You reduce your risk for sensitization, and per the video, adding your essential oil to a carrier is going to reduce evaporation so more of the oil might be used by your body. The added oil will also help to transport the oil further into your tissue, again maximizing the therapeutic use of the oil. And… let’s be honest, your oil will last longer.

Some tips on dilution:

Some oils are what we consider “hot”. Oregano, cinnamon, peppermint, lemongrass, and clove are all hot oils. These oils can cause a burning sensation when put directly on the skin, and in some cases can cause irritation and even burn the skin. Hot oils should be diluted with another neutral oil, like olive oil, coconut oil, or sweet almond oil. {See a list of carrier oils here.}

I like to keep my dilutions under 10% for adults, 5% for children, and 1% or less for babies. Always read about safety of the particular oil before using with children and infants.

You should also never put an essential oil in your eyes or in your ears. In the instance that an essential oil begins to burn your skin or you get some in your eyes, never dilute with water. Consider the old saying, that oil and water don’t mix. Putting water in your eye to flush out an essential oil is only going to push the oil further into your tissue, rather than wash it out. Instead, flush the area with a carrier oil to dilute it. I can say with firsthand experience, that this works very quickly.

One of my favorite ways to have oils ready to use, is prediluted in a roller ball container. I ordered mine on Amazon. These also make it really simple for the kids to apply their own oils, and I can be sure they are diluted properly.

Where to Apply

Our skin is our largest organ, and is in place to protect our bodies from threats. It is our first line of defense, but it is also permeable. We have glands in our skin that can absorb what we put on it, so choosing our personal care products carefully is critical.

The condition of the skin largely affects absorption. “There are variations between individuals in the rate at which drugs are absorbed via the skin due to factors such as thickness of the stratum corneum, skin hydration, underlying skin diseases or injuries, ethnic differences, and body temperature.” (Source)

The dermis is the thickest layer of the skin at 3-5mm, and is the systemic “gateway” into our bodies. Since we have talked about a few places NOT to put our essential oils, let’s talk about a few places we CAN put our essential oils!

Affected Area

When it comes to some kind of acute condition or discomfort, oils can be put right on the place of discomfort. For example, when I twisted me knee, I rubbed a diluted anti-inflammatory and soothing blend right onto the sore knee to help reduce inflammation and discomfort.

Sometimes there are more systemic or emotional reasons to be using an oil, in those cases, one of the following application sites.

Bottoms of the Feet

The bottoms of the feet are a really common place to use essential oils for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the soles of the feet and palms of the hand are less sensitive than other areas of the body. The skin is thicker there and less susceptible to irritation.

Secondly, there are a lot of nerve endings and pressure points. By applying an oil to the appropriate reflex point, the oil can make a bee-line to the affected area. Or that’s the theory. There is little empirical evidence out there regarding reflexology and aromatherapy combined, but that is to be expected with any natural remedy.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons by Stacy Simone
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Foot-massage-chart.jpg

Thirdly, it is commonly said the the pores on the bottom of the feet are larger than the pores in other parts of our bodies. There is a lot of confusing information out there, and it’s unclear if this is true. There are two different kinds of glands: sebaceous glands and sweat glands. The feet do not have sebaceous glands, only sweat glands. Some people say “oil and water don’t mix” so sweat glands would repel the oil. Others say that sebaceous glands would be more likely to block an essential oil, and as long as the body isn’t actively sweating, oils can be absorbed in this manner.

All I know is that anecdotally, people have benefited from using essential oils on their feet, and the skin is less sensitive, and therefore less likely to become irritated.

Back of the Neck

The back of the neck is another common choice for using essential oils. It’s close enough to the face that you can get some aromatic benefit, and it is also close to the brain stem. I often use essential oils and blends to affect mood in this manner.

Pulse Points

Behind the ears and on the wrists are common pulse points, and great places to apply your essential oils. Pulse points provide proximity to the bloodstream for quick effect. These points are also common sites to apply perfumes, and essential oils are a great alternative to conventional perfumes!

Belly Button

The belly button is an area I had never heard of using as an application site until a friend of mine told me about it. I have found little information to corroborate it, but there are a lot of nerve endings around the belly button, just as there are on the bottoms of the feet. For that reason, it makes sense.

Getting the Most Out of Your Oils

Using essential oils topically is a great way to address many issues, but the condition of your skin can greatly affect how much of that oil actually gets into your system. It is estimated that less than 50% (more likely much lower) of the oils you apply make it into your bloodstream. Here are a few tips for increasing the absorption rate.

  • Dilute. By using some kind of carrier oil (coconut, almond, olive, etc.) the essential oil is carried deeper into your skin, and less is lost to evaporation.
  • Cover. By covering the area where the essential oil was applied, less of the oil is lost to evaporation.
  • Heat. Using heat, such as a hot washcloth or a rice bag can help the essential oil travel into your body.

So now that you know how to use essential oils on your skin, which will you use first?

Do you have a favorite topical use of essential oils? Please leave any additional questions in the comments!

Internal Use of Essential Oils

How to Use Essential Oils Internally | Can you? Should you? Find balanced answers here. | Virginia George

There are 3 ways you can use essential oils: aromatically, topically, and internally. In this post we will look at how we can use oils internally.

The internal use of essential oils is a topic that explodes the interwebs with vehement debate. Whether you agree with the internal use of essential oils or not, it is one way to use them. In this post I am going to do my best to present both sides to the anti-internal usage of essential oils and allow you to draw your own conclusions.

Anti-Internal Use

While internal use of essential oils is controversial, the fact that essential oils are very powerful is not. Essential oils are said to be 50 – 70x stronger than herbs. For example, one drop of peppermint oil gives you the therapeutic benefit of 26(ish) cups of peppermint tea.

While this can be a good thing for therapeutic use, it also means that they need to be used with care. The major arguments against the internal use of essential oils include:

  • Damage to the mucosal lining. Some essential oils can cause skin sensitivity, and therefore need to be used with a carrier oil or highly diluted. Consider these potent substances in direct contact with the mucous membranes in the digestive system, and there is a possibility of irritation. There has also been minimal research on what the long term effect of concentrated essential oils might be on gut permeability (leaky gut), or whether essential oils might disrupt the bacterial balance in the GI system.
  • Higher absorbtion rate, causing toxicity. I have read various reports that discuss exactly how much of an oil gets absorbed by the skin and enters the blood stream. One article suggests very little gets absorbed, another suggests as low as 4% and as much as 50%, depending on the oil. When used internally, however, it can be assumed that almost all of the oil is absorbed into the blood stream, making it a far more potent delivery method, possibly leading to toxicity. Also consider that essential oils are not regulated by the FDA and many “drug store brands” of oil may not be pure and haven’t been tested for internal use. Essential oils are often diluted or cut with other substances to decrease the cost of production.
  • Toxic oils. There are some oils that are toxic for internal use, regardless of your stance on general internal use. Oils like wintergreen, pine, parsley seed, and camphor are generally regarded as unsafe for internal consumption. There are a few others as well. Most cases of severe toxicity have come from high doses of certain eucalyptus species, wintergreen, or camphor essential oils.

Pro-Internal Use

I recently watched a video where she talked about essential oil quality. She said that we are looking at an industry where contamination and adulteration is not just possible, it is expected and assumed to be so, and that is largely the reasoning for avoiding internal use. She argues that when oils are pure and unadulterated they can be used internally.

Just as there are common arguments against internal use, there are common arguments for it.

  • Internal support. It makes sense that if one has an issue in their digestive system, that internal use would be effective in soothing it. For example, I have a periodic digestive trouble that can cause a great deal of discomfort. In the midst of such an episode I attempted to rub an oil externally on the area. It continued to trouble me, so I put one drop under my tongue, swished it around and swallowed. Within a minute or so the episode was over and I was able to continue with the day’s activities.
  • Weight management. Some essential oils can help to cleanse the body of toxins and free radicals that can slow the body’s systems down. They can support the normal self-detoxification functions of the cleansing organs (i.e. liver, kidneys), and help promote a healthy metabolism. These are all great reasons to use essential oils as part of a weight management program.

While essential oil toxicity is a real concern, oil ingestion proponents suggest the risks are hyped. AGORA is an international aromatherapy organization dedicated to non-commercial essential oil education. Their article “Toxicity Myths” does agreat job of breaking down the actual risk of toxicity.

There are numerous cases reported in toxicological literature regarding both serious (non-fatal) and fatal outcomes of essential oil ingestion in both children and adults. These cases are generally due to accidental ingestion by young children, attempts at creating abortions in past years and the use of essential oils for suicide attempts. There are more rare cases of toxic effects due to overly large doses of specific essential oils being “self-prescribed”, “prescribed” to children by parents or prescribed to clients by ill-informed therapists.

The article also states that when you look at the toxicity of an oil such as wintergreen, and really look at how much methyl salicylate is necessary to cause toxicity, it is unlikely that a conscientious essential oil user would ingest the required amount.

Make no mistake. Essential oil toxicity is a real concern. Cell membranes can become unstable, disrupting nerve function, and causing heart and respiratory distress. But with access to quality essential oils, the risk may not be as high as we previously believed.

My Thoughts

Of course, I can’t get out of this post without sharing at least a bit about what I think. For me, I have chosen to be selective and ingest some oils, sometimes.

These are the ways that I use essential oils internally.

  • Dilute in fat. Just as we dilute an oil on our skin with a carrier oil, I ingest my oil with another fat to dilute and distribute the oil in my digestive system to reduce the risk of irritation.
  • Distribute with salt. Alternatively, I will add the essential oil to a pinch of salt before adding the liquid. The oil sticks to the salt, and when it’s dissolved in a liquid it will carry the oil with it.
  • Put in a capsule. You can make your own “gelcaps” or capsules by purchasing some empty capsules, adding the essential oil along with a cooking oil, and swallow.

I also am cautious with using essential oils internally with my kids. Most of the time we use topical application, diluted, and also aromatic use (since it’s difficult to use oils topically without using them aromatically as well).

In the end, my recommendation is that you research the heck out of this topic, and make an informed decision. Don’t decide to ingest essential oils because someone said so. Isn’t the whole point of using essential oils to take back our power with our healthcare? So take back your power! Make a decision you can live with, and always be teachable.

What are your thoughts on essential oil ingestion? Do you think it’s safe?