When I fell in love with needles

Fell in love… that seems so dramatic, but it is so true.

First off, I cannot tell you how many times I have said I was going to go for a massage or pedicure or to a yoga class. What’s the reason?! Because I wanted to do something for myself to unwind or destress. Did I ever do it?! Nope! I think I have had a massage once or twice, but talked about it about 300 times. 

While I was recovering from my miscarriage, I knew I wanted to do something to relax and unwind. The body is so resilient! Ahhhh, it just makes me beam thinking about how amazing the human body is. It can recover from so much trauma and pain.

I am a researcher. I have researched and researched holistic and  natural ways to deal with recovery and stress. I have always been a little curious about acupuncture and how it could help me manage stress.

My ultimate goal in life is to be super zen, but without the hairy armpits and legs. You feel me?!
Here’s how acupuncture works: Fine needles are inserted in to the body by an acupuncturist. The needles are inserted into specific identified acupuncture points on “meridians”. Meridians run throughout the body and correspond to certain organs. The acupuncturist explained to me that these can be thought of as highways, he actually compared it to LA. The highways, or energy highway becomes blocked or congested. The acupuncture works by getting rid of the roadblock and allowing the energy to flow freely.

Acupuncture has been shown to release endorphins and releases natural pain killers. Acupuncture is used as a way to treat chronic back, neck, and other pain in the body. 

Here is why I tried acupuncture: I wanted a way to reset my body after our loss. I wanted to allow my body to recover, reset, and get a moment to just BE without being pumped full of medicine, anxiety, and fear. Not to mention, anything to help me manage my stress… SIGN ME UP. Stress is a constant factor in most of our lives. I see acupuncture as a way to release the negative energy and tension. Acupuncture is also used to help with hormone balance and fertility.

The amount of ups and downs by body has experienced with our 2 miscarriages is reason enough to do acupuncture. 2 miscarriages can create just a little bit a lot of stress. The acupuncturist explained to me our first goal was to reset the body and wait for my cycle to reset.

So what was it like?! We started with a consultation, much like a doctor’s office. I answered questions regarding my miscarriages, stress, daily habits, pain, and concerns. He checked my pulse and my tongue. I thought it was quite interesting when he took my pulse and said “you need more sleep” and “you are a worrier”. Not WARRIOR, worrier. 🙂 Both are pretty accurate. 

He pressed on a few areas in my abdomen and collar bone. After that, we were ready for the needles. Yes!

If you are afraid of pain, I can tell you I experience worse pain just doing the dishes or digging in my purse. Most of the needles, I think there were about 30 or so, I couldn’t feel. He placed a couple in my feet, shins, abdomen, chest, face, and ears. The needles on my ears I felt, but nothing worth saying “ouch” for. It really wasn’t painful. So if that’s your reason for not trying acupuncture, I promise you will be just fine. 

After the needles were in, he put warm red lights on my abdomen and my feet/shin area. He told me to rest/relax and he left the room. The room was dark with the warm glow of the red lights and the relaxing music playing. Within a few minutes I felt like my right arm just melted in to the table. The rest of my body eventually followed.

I laid there trying to focus on something other than work and the other irritations in my life. I actually felt a difference laying there, though I know I can get better when it comes to NOT thinking about stressful things. Always a work in progress. 

After 20 minutes he returned, took out the needles and discussed my next visit with me. I scheduled an appointment for a week later. 

I left feeling relaxed and very aware of how relaxed I was.

For the “moms” of the group… I know some of you might be worrying right now (Hi, Mom!). Yes, the needles were sterilized. They were taken out of a sterilized envelope, similar to the dentist office. The needles were put in to a biohazard needle bin afterwards. So yes, the needles were sterilized. My skin was wiped with a one time use sterilized cotton pad. Smelled a little like rubbing alcohol. The office was so clean and organized. Oh, and the restrooms too. It was just like a doctors office with the wax paper stuff on the bed and sterilizer spray to clean the room.

Okay, now that I have addressed the worriers… back to our normal program.

How much did it cost?! Okay, first, I was told most insurances cover acupuncture and most acupuncturists take insurance. Unfortunately where I wanted to go, doesn’t take Kaiser. I paid $90 for the initial consultation and treatment. Future treatments are $60, which I have researched and it is about normal. Since going to the acupuncturist, I was told Kaiser covers acupuncture. I emailed my doctor to ask her for a referral. Say some prayers and send good vibes my way because that would be AMAZING if I could just pay a <less expensive> co-pay. HOWEVER, with or without insurance I would still pay the $60, that’s how much I enjoyed it. 

I believe acupuncture is something that you have to keep going to to get the full effect. You wouldn’t go to one eyebrow wax and expect it to last you 6 months or forever, right?! You also wouldn’t go to one massage and never return again.

Holistic health is all about being proactive, aware, and preventative.

Have you had acupuncture before? How about cupping? I’d really like to try cupping. 

I share more of the day to day of my journey on Snapchat. Username: AnnaLPanza

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Another “M” Word

If there was one thing I wasn’t planning on doing, it was sitting down to write a blog post about another miscarriage. I am learning though, things don’t always go as planned. I rehearsed this blog post a little in my head, but sitting down to write my fingers and brain feel a little blank. 

I suppose it is because it is such a taboo or vulnerable subject. It is difficult for people to find the right words when they hear about someone else’s loss. Maybe I should first start by saying, I am okay… we are okay. We have faith in God and God’s plan. While it is a vulnerable subject, I choose to talk about it to bring awareness to something that impacts 1 out of 4 women. 25% of women will experience a miscarriage, but it isn’t something we talk about. Maybe it is because women will feel judged? (been there) Maybe because it’s kind of awkward? (been there) Maybe because we feel like we are letting down the ARMY of people who pressured us to “hurry up and have kids”? (been there, too)

In all of the awkwardness, I choose to be a little vulnerable so the 25% of women will know they aren’t alone. Even though, it is still something people seem to think is uncommon.

A survey was completed with 1,084 people, both men and women. 50% of those surveyed thought miscarriage was uncommon. 22% of those surveyed thought miscarriage was caused by someone’s life choices or they felt the person was at fault in some way. With statistics like that, I feel like we should really talk about this. 

Miscarriage isn’t a personal fail or something someone is to blame for. More than half of miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities. There was something wrong from the beginning. The other half of cases are due to abnormal hormone levels, the structure of the uterus, or autoimmune disorders. Basically, the complication of miscarriage is usually uncontrollable. There isn’t a better diet that could have “fixed it”. There isn’t an “eat more of this” or a “you should just relax” that would eliminate miscarriage.

Our second miscarriage had blessings wrapped in the chaos, which is what keeps us moving forward. We found out we were expecting on January 27th. February 15th we went in for an ultrasound. Unlike last time, we got to hear a heartbeat. Such a blessing. To hear and know you can create swoosh heartbeats, exciting. We headed back in on February 24th for our 8 week ultrasound.

I waited for the doctor for what felt like forever. I kept reciting over, and over, and over in my head Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” After what felt like FOREVER, our ultrasound began.

Unlike the week prior, there was no heart beat. The baby measured 6 weeks, 6 days, when we should have been around 8 weeks. As a woman, as a mom, you just know, this time isn’t it. We were sent for a confirmation ultrasound in radiology. It was confirmed the baby had grown it’s wings and my body hadn’t realized it, again. My heart actually felt like it was in a million pieces.

Very reminiscent in some ways to our August miscarriage, we prepared for what was ahead. A surgical D & C was scheduled for February 28th, the day before my birthday. We waited all day in the surgery center as an add on. Recovering took several weeks, but surprisingly my mind healed faster than my body. All of the downtime, the waiting, the recovering, allowed for a lot of soul searching.

Here’s what I believe –

First, God does not hand us anything we cannot handle and He certainly knows the plan for our lives. Our WHOLE lives. “He has a plan” isn’t some cliche saying that holds no value. If you believe He has a plan, you will find comfort. He also doesn’t want you to live in fear.My comfort comes from trusting God’s plan, even in a time of fear. Everyday I sang “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music  to my little one. I didn’t know what the future held, but I knew (and still know) that any pregnancy is a gift from God and serves a purpose. The lyrics still comfort me while moving through a journey that is a little unknown. I have always found comfort in music, 

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
And I could stand and sing
I am a child of God

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

We sang it in church the other day. I was a total snot crying mess. 🙂 

My amazing Nick and I trust this plan. The best thing we can do is trust it, lean on each other, and keep living out our plan.

The best thing we can do is keep praying, keep building a strong foundation, and continue to build a home of positive energy and love. We trust that our rainbow after the storm will come, but we must wait out the storm.

No one ever said life was easy, but the beautiful part is we get to choose how we respond to the trials we are handed.

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Dear Body,

Last week I made my first appointment for acupuncture. I am excited and cannot wait to do something relaxing for my body. I plan on documenting the journey using acupuncture to reset my body after loss and improve how I allow stress to affect me.

I laid awake that night thinking about the amazing things my body has done for me. I thought about how this was an opportunity to give back to my body and thank it for being so resilient. I laid awake dreaming up this letter to my body. This letter is true to how I feel and a genuine expression of gratitude for the amazing journey we have been on. When is the last time you actually acknowledge what you’ve put yourself through and what your body has overcome?

Dear Body, 
I wanted to take the time for all of the incredible things you have stuck with me through. You kind of had no choice I guess, but I am amazed at your resiliency. 

I suppose I should start by thanking you for getting us through the teenage years. The years in and well beyond high school that included crash diets of spinach and green tea in an effort to “clear up my skin”. The days of cinnamelts from McDonalds, 3 at a time and eating salad the rest of the day. What was I thinking?!

Then were the days of restrict and binge. You remember, sometime around 20 and 21 where I would “diet” throughout the week and then completely stuff my face on the weekends. Let’s be honest, my diet was McDonalds grilled chicken wraps, yogurt, and protein bars. Then 21 brought alcohol. Mmmm hhmmm, it was far from a health way of life. It’s highly likely you were starving, which is probably why we hit our highest weight. Restrict like a little rabbit during the week, binge on the weekend. Yeah, I don’t miss those days.Ooooooooo, then there were the competition days. Oooooh body, I know you haven’t forgotten those days. The 2 and a half year journey of “what the hell was I thinking?!” Really expensive rhinestone bikinis and being, well, a tad bit obsessive about my food and maybe a little too skinny. Okay, too skinny. Don’t get me wrong, they are the days that actually saved us from the restrict and binge diet days, so they were actually life changing. The thing I think about most is how HARD I was on you. At your tannest, leanest, most fit-self, I still nitpicked the “flaws”. I was still overly judgmental of you, body. I was so hard on you in the quest for perfection, whatever that was.

We can agree, the competition days were a much needed journey, but a time of way too many “rules” and a lot of judgement. Those days led me to understanding how to fuel you and how nutrition played such a big role in how you functioned. I learned which foods helped me with my anxiety, my acne, and energy. I learned so much about how to nourish and energize you. A learning process I am still going through.

Your resiliency shined this past August when we took on our first miscarriage. A little tough, am I right?! You went from being pregnant, to complete loss and emotional turmoil. The last thing on my mind was proper fuel and nutrition for you. You were resilient, you healed, you kept me moving. Moving straight in to the holidays and finally overcoming the emotional struggles inside.Right as we started to get in motion again this January, another pregnancy blessing came. February was filled with probably a little too much fear, mixed with excitement, and a whole lot of crackers. Body you are so strong and smart. Something wasn’t right and our little one went on to grow little wings after 8 weeks. Another difficult loss. Again, you shined. You were resilient. Recovering from another loss, a surgery, and the 5 boxes of brownies I consumed in a week.

Body, you are resilient and I don’t thank you enough for the amazing things you have pushed through. You have survived so many obstacles, been fueled on only protein bars and green tea at times, and still you are resilient. Still you operate like the beautiful machine you are. Still… still you move me through some of the most difficult times and you always respond when I nourish and love you.

Right now, we have a few boxes of brownies to put behind us, there are a few yoga classes we should put to use, and my plan is to continue to nourish you, thank you, and keeping pressing on. I will continue to trust God and you that you know what you are doing. Thank you!

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A Dairy-Free Fruit and Yogurt Parfait


Remember when those McDonald’s Fruit N Yogurt Parfaits came out?! They were originally the size of a Starbucks tall drink. Remember that? Loaded with vanilla yogurt, berries, and granola. I think now they are like the size of a small child’s to go cup.

The size of the parfait is completely irrelevant to my post.  I just wanted to point out how the sizes of everything have changed. “back in my day” granny moment.

I wanted to create a lower sugar and dairy-free version of a parfait. I think parfaits are tasty in the morning or as a snack, but my intolerance to dairy always rules out the store bought or restaurant versions. 

For my parfaits, I use unsweetened vanilla So Delicious coconut milk yogurt. It is yogurt made out of coconut milk, so it is completely dairy-free. No upset stomach. Hallelujah!

This parfait is perfect for PanzaTine’s Day/Valentine’s Day morning. The red raspberries at that festive pinkish red color and the granola gives a tasty crunch. You can add whatever toppings you would like too or other berries.

I mentioned last week that we were house hunting. My goodness! I knew it would be a little stressful, but I suppose I thought I would just find “the one” right off the bat. There are so many components to think about when looking for a house. The streets it is near, the school district, the neighborhood, and even what setup you want for entertaining. Are you following me yet on Snapchat?

I shared on Snapchat a kitchen pantry that was the size of a small bedroom. One home we went in smelled like pee, NO THANK YOU! We nicknamed the houses we saw and that one was “smelly house”. #SorryNotSorry

Today we are preparing to go view a few more. One or two of which I can really see myself living in and creating a home in. I have already redesigned the front landscaping in my head for one of the homes. 🙂

Anyways! I will be hosting a giveaway in my Facebook group this week. I am giving away the book You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. If you haven’t joined us, request to join at The Busy Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Life on Facebook

No more delaying, here is the recipe for you. 
Do you enjoy recipes like these?! Let me know and I will continue to share more. 

Dairy-Free Coconut Raspberry Parfait
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Servings
1 serving
Servings
1 serving
Dairy-Free Coconut Raspberry Parfait
Print Recipe
Servings
1 serving
Servings
1 serving
Ingredients
Servings: serving
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. You can also add a little bit of coco powder if you would like a rich, chocolatey tasting parfait. Pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and dried goji berries are also tasty toppings.
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No Guilt – Rich and Creamy Cherry Cheesecake

dairy free cherry cheesecake shake www.panzaavenue.com/ccheesecake

dairy- free Cherry Cheesecake Shake panzaavenue.com/CCheesecake

I love, LOVE shakes that have a rich flavor to them. Don’t you?! This dairy-free cherry cheesecake way is a great way to satisfy a sweet, dessert craving! I love the sweetness of the cherries and the creaminess of the “cream cheese”.

This shake is completely dairy-free. If you are new around here, you should know all of my recipes are dairy-free. Why?! Well, my husband and I discovered we both had a dairy intolerance about 2 years ago. They have those little dairy enzyme pills you can take before you eat any dairy, but it really doesn’t solve the problem entirely. While we certainly use them on occasion, I found that creating dairy or lactose free recipes was just an easier way to solve the problem.
dairy- free Cherry Cheesecake Shake panzaavenue.com/CCheesecake

I hope you are enjoying #PanzaTinesDay so far! What are your plans for ACTUAL Valentine’s Day?! I just bought the cutest skirt from Target with red glitter hearts on it. I cannot wait to wear it for Valentine’s Day!

Nick and I have started the house hunting process! Cheers to making some type of progress on our 2017 wishlist, right? Have you house hunted before? I am trying really hard to not be overly picky, but I keep finding myself being really picky. I keep getting sucked in to the vortex of Pinterest, pinning home decor ideas. I thought I Pinterest addiction was cured after the wedding. Turns out Pinterest sucks you in at all stages of life. 

If you follow me on Snapchat, I am taking you along for the journey this weekend when we do a little house hunting. Username: AnnaLPanza

Wish us luck!!

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Dairy-Free Cherry Cheesecake Shake
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Dairy-Free Cherry Cheesecake Shake
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Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
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