What’s Lurking in Your Essential Oil Bottle?

Whenever I talk about health supplements and essential oils, I try to emphasize the importance of obtaining them from a reliable source. Many health supplements and essential oils on the market contain harmful synthetic substances. Because of this, if I wasn’t able to find a reputable source, I would skip them altogether! Luckily, when it comes to essential oils, I know who I can trust.


Because essential oil particles are so tiny, and because they can penetrate the cells of my body, I need to know that I am buying a product that is 100% pure and organic—it cannot have contaminants or adulterants. Unfortunately, according to scientists at the Aromatic Plant Research Center, approximately 80% of the essential oils on the market have been contaminated or adulterated. These essential oils contain fake plant oil, they have been watered down with other substances, and/or they contain contaminants (like pesticides).

For the brand that I use, each batch is rigorously tested for purity and potency; I know this because each essential oil bottle that I buy has a lot number on the bottom. When I enter the number into the company’s database, I can see the testing that has been done on my particular essential oil batch—this testing has been signed off by a third party biochemist.

Indigenous Sourcing

If I try to grow lavender in my backyard, it will have a different chemical makeup than lavender grown in Bulgaria or France. Plants grown in different climates will not have the same chemical components and health benefits. Research has shown that plants are most potent when they are grown in their natural habitats. The company that I use searches the earth for plants with the most beneficial chemical profiles—and they only grow those plants in their natural habitats. This results in pure essential oils that provide the greatest health benefits!

Fair Trade, Sustainability, and Charity

I buy essential oils from a company that pays farmers a fair wage, and gives back to the farmers’ communities through various community improvement projects. When I buy essential oils, I am also helping to improve the lives of people in impoverished communities throughout the world!

Email me at contact@inspirationforwellness.com for the essential oil brand that I use!

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Demasi, S., Caser, M., Lonati, M., Cioni, P.L., Pistelli, L., Najar, B., & Scariot, V. (2018). Latitude and Altitude Influence Secondary Metabolite Production in Peripheral Alpine Populations of the Mediterranean Species Lavandula angustifolia Mill. Frontiers in Plant Science, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2018.00983/full

Why I Love Essential Oils

In 2012, I read the book, Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home which motivated and empowered me to make some major health changes in my life. This is where my passion for natural wellness started and it was this passion that led to my recent discovery of essential oils. I was a skeptic at first, but I later became a daily user of essential oils for five main reasons.

The history. Essential oils have been used by many cultures throughout history. I have read that they have been used in Egypt, Greece, Rome, Iran, India, China and France. Also, there are more than 300 verses in the Bible that reference essential oils!

Beauty. When I switched to natural skin care, I tried three new brands. The first brand caused irritation to my skin. The second brand was not effective. The third brand was very effective, but it was very expensive. Unlike the other brands that I tried, I discovered that skin care with pure essential oils is nourishing to the skin, extraordinarily effective, and affordable.

The aroma. Admittedly, I don’t love the smell of all the essential oils, and I avoided all of them while I had severe morning sickness. However, after my morning sickness passed, I gave the oils another chance. It took awhile, but after I began to add oils into my daily routine, I started to love and savor the aroma of these precious plant oils. The last oil that I tried was clary sage. When I open a bottle of clary sage, I feel like I am being transported to a world of captivating beauty, similar to the world created by Monet, in his painting, The Artist’s Garden at Giverny. To me, clary sage smells alluring and intoxicating. Please note that everyone’s body chemistry is different and that your response to a particular oil might not be the same as mine. For example, I don’t really appreciate the smell of lavender oil, but you might enjoy it as many others find that that the smell of lavender oil instantly promotes calming feelings.

Physical health benefits, emotional health benefits, and the science of essential oils. If you look on PubMed, you will find numerous articles related to essential oils and their amazing health benefits. I encourage you to take a peek at some of the current research and ongoing clinical trials with essential oils. I bet you didn’t know that these oils are slowly being integrated into hospitals across the U.S.! Each time you open a bottle of a pure essential oil, you are potentially improving your overall wellness. There is an essential oil for almost every ailment and problem!

It took me about two years to give essential oils a chance. Have you tried them yet? If not, I hope that you don’t wait two years like I did. Email me at contact@inspirationforwellness.com if you want to learn more!

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This post was originally published on October 14, 2018 and updated on July 6, 2019.

14 Tips for a Natural Birth

The births of my three beautiful children were very different from the traditional American birth experiences that you see in the movies. For starters, as opposed to just the allowance of ice chips, I was permitted to eat food and drink any kind of beverage while I was in labor. In contrast to the traditional supine position on the hospital bed, I labored in any position that was most comfortable for me. My first two babies were born in a tub of water, no interventions were needed and I did not take any medication. My third baby was born while I was in a hands and knees position on the hospital bed.

For this particular post, I will not go into the research and the reasons why I believe that a natural birth is beneficial for babies. You might not want a natural birth, and that’s okay! For those that are interested, I hope that these 14 tips will empower you to have the birthing experience that you desire!

  1. Interview your provider. Try to find a compassionate provider that will help you have the birth that you desire.
  2. Educate yourself. Read birthing books by Ina May Gaskin and watch “The Business of Being Born.”
  3. Eat well. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about foods to eat and foods to avoid.
  4. Take a full, daily dose of supplements (prenatal multivitamin, DHA and probiotic). Ensure that your supplements are high-quality and do not contain GMOs. (See your healthcare provider for guidance.)
  5. Exercise. Research shows that exercise is great for mom and baby. Prenatal yoga was wonderful for my morning sickness. (See your healthcare provider for guidance.)
  6. Encourage your partner’s involvement. My husband attended Bradley classes with me and was ready and willing to make some tough decisions with me during the birth of our third child.
  7. Hire a doula. A doula can be a very helpful and calming person that can act as another advocate for you in the hospital.
  8. Take a local Bradley class. This 12-week class will prepare you very well for a natural birth. The class will teach you about the birthing process, nutrition, prenatal exercises, relaxation techniques, birthing techniques, postpartum information, etc. Most couples that take this class have natural births.
  9. Write a birth plan. With your partner, talk about what the perfect birth looks like to both of you. Write down your plan and discuss your plan with your provider.
  10. Labor at home for as long as you can. If possible, do not go to the hospital or birthing center until you and your provider agree that it is an optimal time to go. It is more comfortable to labor at home. If possible, opt for a home birth!
  11. Play some soothing music. In my third trimester, my husband uploaded some relaxing Hawaiian music into his phone and played it during birth.
  12. Practice and use relaxation techniques. During labor, it really helped me to close my eyes and visualize myself on the beach with my family.
  13. Count during contractions! The discomfort of a contraction peaks at approximately 30 seconds and lasts for approximately 60 seconds. When my contractions started to get stronger, I started to count the seconds. Every time I reached 30 seconds, I felt encouraged because I knew that the worst part of the contraction was likely over. This helped tremendously!
  14. Don’t expend unnecessary energy. When it is time to push the baby out, remember that your body automatically does some of the work on its own. Therefore, don’t think that you have to push so hard that your eyes pop out. When the time comes, follow your provider’s instruction.

No matter what happens during your birth experience, I hope that you will enjoy your new, precious baby blessing! What do you think of natural birthing?

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This post was originally published on September 24, 2018 and updated on June 30, 2019.

Consider CrossFit

I recently had the privilege of watching my husband compete in a CrossFit competition! The energy, motivation and camaraderie among the CrossFit athletes was so impressive and inspiring that I decided to interview my husband (and personal trainer) about the exciting sport of CrossFit. He has been doing CrossFit for two years now and has lost 40 pounds in the process!

Question: What other work-outs have you done in the past?

I’ve done strength training, body building, running, interval training and cycling. I have done all types of work-outs. None of them seemed to work for me. I would either get stronger and lack endurance, or I would gain more endurance without getting stronger.

Question: Why did you start doing CrossFit?

For a number of reasons. I wanted to get stronger and healthier. I just like to work-out overall and wanted to improve in my Tough Mudder races and other obstacle course races. With CrossFit, along with a low carb and healthy diet, I was also hoping to improve my diabetes and bring down my A1C to normal. I wanted to cut down my insulin intake and feel more energized. CrossFit has helped me to achieve my goals. Other work-outs are great, but I wasn’t as motivated to do them because I usually did my work-outs alone. I tried other work-outs for two decades, but they weren’t the same as doing CrossFit. Since CrossFit always evolves, it’s always challenging and that’s what makes it fun for me. I like the challenge and am motivated to do better. CrossFit is never repetitive or mundane and usually provides a total body work-out. CrossFit has a community and a great support system within that community. Because of that, you have someone to motivate you and challenge you to do better. You’re not alone in your struggle for your health, to get stronger or for whatever reason, you’re not alone. Someone is always there to cheer you on.

Question: How is CrossFit different from other workouts?

It’s not just bodybuilding. It’s not just endurance, and it’s not just cardio. It’s not just gymnastics. It’s everything that you can think of. It’s muscle confusion and metabolic conditioning. You go from a leg work-out, to a core work-out, to an upper body work-out, to a cardio work-out, to any combination of those work-outs. Every work-out is challenging and there is a new program everyday.

Question: How often do you work-out and how often should others work-out?

I work-out four to five times a week. I recommend that everyone work-out at least three times per week for good health.

Question: What does your training routine look like?

It varies. Here is an example of one day. First, I focus on mobility and stability. When I do mobility training and stability training, I use light weights so that my joints and my movements are accurate. That helps me to feel stronger and has prevented me from getting injuries. Stability training with light weights helps to slowly stimulate my muscles and activates my muscles and joints. Stability training helps me to get stronger. I also take about 45 minutes to an hour of just stretching. After mobility/stability training, I move onto a little bit of metabolic conditioning. That’s an example of one day. On another day, when I work-out at the CrossFit box, I look at the Work-Out of the Day or what we call “WOD” and try to follow that. On other days, I do cardio, which includes something like spin, the elliptical machine, or just running. I combine cardio with calisthenics, like push-ups, pull-ups or air squats. I work on strength training for two days per week so that I can get stronger. On Friday’s or at the end of the week, I do another metabolic work-out at my CrossFit box.

Question: Do CrossFit athletes have to follow a special diet? 

A lot of the athletes in CrossFit follow a healthy diet. It really depends on the individual and what they want to accomplish. Some people do keto diet. Some people just load up on carbs when training. Or some people load up on fats during training and then carb up when they compete. But definitely, nutrition is an important key in CrossFit for performance and recovery. It depends on what kind of goal you have. Eating healthier, cleaner food will help you to reach your goals.

Question: Can anyone do CrossFit?

Anyone can do CrossFit. CrossFit challenges you with different types of work-outs. It’s endurance; it’s strength; it’s resistance; it’s stamina. It’s all of that. It is a great way to exercise.

Question: Do you have any tips for people just starting out in Cross-Fit or for people just starting to work-out in general? 

Yes. Just get your butt to the gym and just try it out. Try something light. Don’t push yourself too hard right way. Don’t get intimidated by the people around you because they’ve been doing what they do for years. Those people didn’t start out that way. At one point, everyone started from the bottom and worked their way up to where they are. Just get to the gym, talk to trainers, ask for tips and start from there.

Question: Do you have to go to the gym to work-out?

There are work-outs that you can do at home without using weights. You can use a chair or steps. You can do step-ups followed by jumping jacks, burpees, push-ups, air squats, bicycle kicks, crunches and/or hollow body holds. Mix it up so that it doesn’t feel repetitive and boring. You can work out in your hotel room, dorm room, living room or really just about in any open space.

Question: How did you train for the CrossFit games?

It’s difficult to have a specific training plan for the games because the exercises are usually kept secret. The exercises are not released until maybe a week ahead of time. Sometimes they have a surprise exercise at the very last minute. So you just do your best. Go to your CrossFit box to do the WODs and strength training. When you do train for the games, work on your stability, mobility and stretching because that will keep you from getting injured. Also, get a lot of rest.

Question: How long should a person be in training before joining a CrossFit competition?

It depends on which divisions are offered. If there is a scaled version, do CrossFit for at least three months with at least three to four days of training per week before joining a competition. Practice on mobility and stability so that you don’t get hurt. Snatch and Clean movements (possible events in the competition) are olympic-type movements that you don’t just learn overnight; it takes practice.

Question: How did you feel during and after the games?

I felt excited and terrified during the games. Afterwards, I felt relieved and proud, and felt a sense of accomplishment.

QuestionWhat keeps you motivated to do CrossFit or what motivates you to work-out in general?

I like to challenge myself. I want to lift heavier weights. I want to learn how to rope climb. I want to be healthier. I want to have the energy to play with my kids. CrossFit work-outs can be really tough. So after you complete a WOD, normal, everyday activities seem a lot easier in comparison.

Question: How long will CrossFit be a part of your life?

I want to keep doing CrossFit for as long as I am physically able to.

Do you work-out? What gives you the motivation to work-out?

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This post was originally published on November 22, 2008 and updated on June 29, 2019.

Be Your Own Lab Rat

Are you confused by all of the conflicting medical advice in the media? What about all of the different diets out there? The Natural Medicine versus Conventional Medicine camps? Here’s my advice.

Find a healthcare practitioner that you trust. I have an integrative nurse practitioner that addresses health from a holistic perspective. She is also familiar with natural and conventional treatments.

Do your own research. You have information at your fingertips everyday. With that said, try to avoid misinformation by looking for reputable sources.

If something isn’t working, try something new. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find what works for you. Remember that everybody’s body is different. What works for me might not work for you.

Be patient. Unfortunately, your health probably won’t change overnight. It might take awhile to see changes, especially if you are changing your diet or trying new health supplements.

Listen to your body. Remember—you are the only one that is living in your body (unless you have a little one growing inside of you). Sometimes you are the only one that will know when something is wrong or when something needs to change.

Don’t give up. If you are making even the smallest effort to improve your health, that is great! Just keep on going and give yourself some credit for your effort.

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