Monthly Archives: April 2013

My Plant-based Life: Part Deux (Getting healthier)

I decided to try yoga because my body was way too run down to start jogging.  I had always been pretty flexible; so, it seemed like it might be a good fit.  Also, yoga seemed to be a series of slower movements.  So, I didn’t have to worry about being a spaz… the way I always felt in dance and aerobics classes.  Turns out, I LOVED it!  At first, I did it on my own with tapes and DVDs; then when I was brave enough, I began taking classes.  I highly recommend going to an experienced yoga instructor.  It’s always a good to have someone checking your form and giving you tips to grow your practice.

As I began learning about yoga, I found a lot of information on being a vegetarian.  Not all people who practice yoga are veg, but there seemed to be a lot of vegetarian info. in yoga magazines and books (Teaser: more on why this is this next week!).  And from what I was reading, many people found relief from the digestive orders like I had, by eliminating meat and dairy from their diet.  So, I began to experiment.

First, the red meat went.  Instantly, I started to feel better.  The bouts of diarrhea stopped.  I also stopped drinking milk.  I never liked milk.  When I was a little girl, I struggled to finish my glass of milk with dinner.  Often, I would be the last one at the dinner with Mom wiping the table down around me because it was so hard to get down.  Milk and ice cream would leave my belly so distended but I never made the connection because I thought milk was so good for you. Eventually, I stopped eating all animals, seafood, eggs and most dairy.  I felt better and better with each elimination. (No pun intended but FYI that improved too!)

As I was getting rid of these items, I had to learn to new ways of eating.    Given what some friends have referred to as my Virgo nature, I had to find out how to be a healthy vegetarian, as well as, the answers to any questions detractors might throw at me.  (Virgos don’t like to argue but, apparently, we like losing arguments even less.)  So, I officially became a nutrtion nerd, devouring books, magazines and websites on vegetarian nutrition.

Protein was something I had always heard was lacking in vegetarian diets.  Indeed, to this day, “how do you get your protein?” is the top question I am asked.  I quickly learned that protein deficiency is rarely an issue.  (And if you think about it, many of the animals, omnivores eat for protein, are actually vegetarian.)  I’ve also learned that too much animal protein is a likely contributor to chronic diseases.  I could write a whole post just on this topic alone but a few sources of veggie protein include nuts, seeds, legumes, tofu, fermented soy products and certain grains like buckwheat.

The next biggest question I get is: What do you eat?/Don’t you feel deprived?  The great irony is that I eat MORE and more varied food now that I am veg than I did when I was an omnivore.  I also still eat a lot of the same food I ate before like pasta, pizza, burritos, burgers, fries, salads etc. but of course now they are made without animal products.  I became a better cook and got more adventurous in trying new things like kale, different types of mushrooms and dandelion greens.  I finally learned how to cook beans.  I found that the more colorful my diet became, the better I felt.  A lot of my food before had been beige: chicken breast, potato, pasta, bread and margarine.  In fact, my doctors had told me to eat plain foods to keep my digestive issues at bay. After I went veg, my meals became a dazzling display of healthy lush greens with red, yellow, purple and orange veggies.  The more colorful my diet got, the better my digestion was.

My health bounced back rather rapidly after I started a yoga practice and adopted a vegetarian diet.  I lost 15 of the 20 pounds I had gained.  My energy increased significantly.  I also experienced a greater sense of emotional well-being and I felt more like myself but more on that in next week’s post… Going all the way Veg.

Love and many blessings,


Please follow me on Twitter.  My handle is @cynthialenz.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page:

My Plant-based Life: Part One

The most controversial word I have ever encountered is VEGAN.  Holy cow, if you want to see people get whipped up into a frenzy, just utter the word vegan in a mixed crowd and see what happens.  Militant meat-eaters will throw out phrases like “grazers” or make assumptions like, “you only eat rabbit food” or get ethical and say “vegans act like they are better than everyone else because they don’t eat animals.”  Militant vegans have thrown paint on people for wearing fur coats; accuse people of being murderers just for eating the way they have their whole life.   In short, it can get really ugly.

You and me, we’re not militant, right?  So, let’s avoid all that today, shall we?  I am going to tell you my story and what I have learned over the last 10 and a half years of being a vegetarian and living a mostly plant-based lifestyle.

I remember very distinctly the first time I considered becoming a vegetarian at seven years-old.  We were at my grandparents’ house for a barbecue and I suddenly became aware that the cheeseburger I was enjoying used to be a living, breathing animal.  I told my family that I didn’t want to eat animals anymore.  Mom informed me that I would be a vegetarian then.  “Yes, I will be a vegetarian!” I decided.

Grandpa said, “Why draw the line there?  You have to kill plants to be a vegetarian.  Why is it okay to murder plants?”  I said, “Grandpa! Plants don’t get hurt the way animals do!”  He insisted that they did.  He went onto say that whenever he mowed the lawn that he could hear the grass screaming.  Everyone (except me) had a big laugh over this and it was clear that my vegetarian goal was not going to be supported.  So, I released the idea into the summer night and didn’t think about it again for over 20 years.

All through my life, I was plagued by digestive issues ranging from gas, severe bloating, bad bouts of diarrhea, nausea and cramping.  It always seemed like something was going on but no doctor could get to the bottom of it.  Almost always I was told to use antacids or given a script for whatever new drug was out that year and sent on my way.  Complicating my digestive discomfort, I have suffered with bouts of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) on and off since I had a severe case of mononucleosis my freshmen year of college.  I also struggled with nasal allergies and chronic sinus infections.   It seemed like something was always wrong with me and it sucked because none of the traditional treatments ever seemed to work.

When I was 29, I went through the worst bout of CFS I had ever had, and was sick and tired of being sick and tired, all the time.  And for the first time in my life, I had gained a lot of weight from the lethargy induced by my illness.  Nothing I had been given by western medical practitioners had worked.  I knew that if I wanted a different result I would have to find a new way of doing things.  The two areas I had yet to delve into were diet and exercise.

To be continued…

Please check back next week for Part Two of My Plant-based Story…

Love and many blessings,


Please follow me on Twitter.  My handle is @cynthialenz.  Also, please LIKE my Facebook Page:

Scars: What can ya do about ‘em naturally?

It’s been five and a half weeks since the accident.  While Doc fixes the inside of my mouth, I’ve decided to focus on the outside, namely my upper lip.  You can see in the photo below, I still have quite a fat lip and that jaggedy scar is what remains of the deepest cut you can get.  Basically, I ripped my lip all the way through in two places.  So, the scar continues on the inside of my mouth and loops around in a U shape back out again…Ugh!

Unretouched photo of my lip 5 weeks and 3 days after the Fall

Unretouched photo of my lip 5 weeks and 3 days after the Fall


So, how do I fix it naturally?  Well, since I got home from the hospital I have been rubbing aloe and organic lavender oil on it at least twice a day.  Most people know about using aloe vera to soothe burns but may not realize that aloe has swelling reduction and skin rebuilding properties.   Lavender oil, according to herbalist Brigitte Mars, “is an essential oil that is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It can be applied topically to wounds, burns, bruises, insect bites and blisters. Lavender reduces the risk of infection, reduces pain and stimulates skin regeneration. When inhaled it has a calming effect on the nervous system and gives comfort during times of trauma.”

My mom has offered several times to buy Mederma for me.  An offer I appreciated but being a nature gal, I wanted to find out what was in Mederma before I tried it.  It turns out that the active ingredient is an onion extract.  There is much debate about whether Mederma is effective or not.  However, I did learn that rubbing onion on a scar may well work on its’ own. Onion is believed to inhibit the over-production of collagen thus suppressing the formation of scar tissue and is an also an anti-inflammatory.   So, I have added rubbing raw onion on my scar to my routine.  (Smelly?  Perhaps… but after being on a liquid diet for 5 and a half weeks, I kind of like it.)

Doc suggested I massage my fat lip to keep scar tissue from forming and because he thought felt a salivary gland dropping down.  (Weird, right?  I had no idea we have secondary salivary glands in our lips either! )  Anyway, I had already been using coconut oil to keep my lips soft and chap-free.  So, now it is massage oil as well.  Coconut oil is also good to use on scars because it may prevent and reverse free radical damage.

I ordered Vitamin E oil and Shea Butter too. Vitamin E is good for skin because it increases circulation and is also a very effective anti-oxidant against free radicals.  Shea Butter is a good source of Vitamin E and Vitamin A.  Shea Butter is also an incredible emollient that will moisturize your skin and make it silky soft.  Keeping the skin soft is important because the last thing you want is for damaged skin; is for it to get dry, leaving it even more vulnerable to further damage.  To that end, I have also been wearing a hat outside to protect my face from the sun, to avoid it getting dried out or burned.

So, what are your tips for treating scars and damaged skin?  I would love to read them.  Please share!

Love and Many Blessings,


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Know Your Rights in the Hospital: Urgent vs. Emergent Care

There are basically two types of scenarios when you have to go to the emergency room for trauma: 1) Emergent- where you are in some kind of danger and need an immediate procedure to be stabilized or 2) Urgent-you are going to need to do something relatively soon but you are not in immediate danger.

This is what I want you to always remember:  If it is urgent, not emergent, you can leave and get another opinion if you don’t feel comfortable.

When I was taken to the emergency room a month ago, I went in as a trauma patient.  I was admitted because they thought there might be something wrong with my spine and couldn’t get an MRI until the following Monday (the fall happened on a Saturday.)  Still serious, but not emergent, were the injuries to my mouth.  My jaw was fractured, a tooth was lost and several others were chipped or had moved, my nose was fractured.  (My wrist was also in a lot of pain but nobody was paying much attention to that at the time.)

From the second the oral maxillofacial surgery resident started talking to me, I got a bad vibe.  He wasn’t talking to me, so much as talking at me.  He was much more interested in explaining my injuries to a pretty intern than helping me figure out what needed to be done.  From the second he looked at the scan before he even looked in my mouth, he was talking about surgery.  He also refused to put my tooth back in that had been saved at the scene and stated coldly that he doubted that three of my other upper front teeth could be saved.  He started talking about incisions and plates but he had to send the photos to his chief who was off for the night and who would see me the next day.

Thankfully for me, the plastics team came to see me first the next morning.  They explained that they had looked at my scan and that while my jaw was fractured, it was still in position and could very well heal on its’ own without surgery.  This was very good news for an all-natural chick who would only have surgery if it was ABSOLUTLEY NECESSARY.  Then the oral surgery team came in headed by the chief (a four year resident) and the “charming” two-year resident I met the night before.  He painted a much different picture than the plastics team had just given me including dire predictions of future problems if he did not cut the insides of mouth open and install several plates and screws.   These scary warnings were directed mostly to my exhausted parents.

I asked who would perform the surgery, he said he would.  I asked if the attending surgeon (a seasoned and well-respected oral maxillofacial surgeon) could perform it.  He said, “No” and explained that the attending would only be in the room since this was a teaching hospital.  I asked if I could meet the attending.  He said not until after I consented to the surgery.  BIG Red Flag!

When I explained what Plastics had told me, he got pissed off and went to find them.  They all returned together and encircled my bed in the Trauma Unit taking turns pulling on my upper jaw.  The Oral Surgery Chief Resident would say he felt it moving.  Then the Plastics resident would say he didn’t.  Finally, I said I had enough and only one more doctor would get a pull on my jaw.  That’s when the Oral Surgery Chief Resident snapped at me, “Stop being demanding.   We are trying to help you.  You shouldn’t make any demands!”  I looked at him and said through my mangled teeth, “it’s my face.  I will make any demands I want.”  I had remembered something Dr. Christiane Northrup said on her radio show.  I am paraphrasing but it was something like, doctors work for you.  You are their boss and to remind them of that if necessary.

It’s hard to remember that when you have been through a trauma.  You are tired, scared, in pain and in my case mourning a lost tooth.  I was fortunate in my situation because shortly after the doctors left, my best friend, a medical malpractice attorney, came to visit me.   Once I told her what they said; she said we’ve got to get you out of here.  She said it was absolute bullshit that they told me that I couldn’t talk to the attending until after I gave consent.  Furthermore, a resident was not the optimal choice to operate on me if surgery was even necessary.  She explained the hospital I was in was good for trauma but that was about it and if the situation was no longer emergent then I needed to get out of there.

I was sure after I talked to her that I wanted to be released without the surgery but I was stuck until my spine was cleared.  Would you believe they made six different attempts in one day to get me to consent to surgery?  Even the anesthesiologist came in to get consent after I said no to three different people (twice to the guy who would have performed the surgery!)  It got to the point where I was afraid to sleep or take any pain medication because I feared they were trying to break me down.   I finally complained to the Nurse Manager and Hospital Administrator to get them to stop harassing me.

Thankfully, the next day the MRI was done.  My spine was fine and I was cleared to check out.  I was able to go home to finally sleep (and see my dog!)  Then a couple of days later, I met my current, excellent oral maxillofacial surgeon (vetted by my friend’s boss.)  He was shocked that they had done nothing in the hospital to stabilize my teeth.  He explained all the different ways to approach the situation.  Since my bones were in alignment despite the fracture, I opted to have my jaw braced and wired shut.  While he was doing that, he managed to save the three other teeth that were in question because “the blood flow was still good.”

I am so grateful to have had enough knowledge to realize that I didn’t need to stay in a situation that felt wrong.  I am also thankful to have a friend who backed me up and translated my suspicions into facts and helped me get to a better place.   Please know that you have options when it comes to your health.  Avoid making rash decisions.  Quiet down and listen to your heart if something doesn’t feel right and it is not emergent, move on!!

Love and blessings to all,


Please LIKE my Facebook Page and follow me on twitter.  My handle is @cynthialenz.