One of my favourite things about Health-Esteem is that it has allowed me to connect with so many wonderful people! I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a plethora of inspiring individuals – healthy foodies, inspiring yogis, beautiful spoonies and amazing Graves Warriors. I love hearing your stories and talking health and lifestyle with you!
I am so excited to turn the spotlight on to one of my fellow Graves Warriors today. She is a true Health-Esteem Queen! Misty Totzke is an Essential Oils Educator, Health Coach and Business Mentor. She is a ball of positive, inspiring energy! Her beautiful website mistytotzke.com is a mix of Essential Oil goodness, yummy recipes, Graves journey updates and healthspiration.
Tell us about your health philosophy.
I feel like health in general is so broad, and it means something different for everyone. I think that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned in this journey is that there isn’t one right thing for everyone. We’re all unique and need different things, different foods, different self-care habits – it’s actually really inspiring to watch different people’s health journeys and see what changes they’ve implemented, what worked, what didn’t, etc.
For me personally, I’ve found it best to let go of all the things I had learned as I was growing up and focus on what my body tells me instead. Instead of saying “broccoli is great for me,” I pay attention to how I feel after I eat it. Does it fuel me or drain me? Once you stop living in generalities, I feel like your whole world opens up and you become so much more in tune with your own specific needs!
What’s your favourite part of your health esteem journey so far?
I love being able to share my mess. That might sound crazy, but let me explain – I was listening to a webinar on gratitude and generosity over the holidays and they spoke about how your mess is your message.
It really stuck with me because sometimes we see all these things happen to us and we suddenly start to feel buried beneath it all.
My parents are sick, I lost my job, I hate my thighs – all these negative things can start to creep up and load up until you just feel consumed and completely helpless. I’ve learned to reframe that thinking and I’ve realized that everything that I’ve been through, dealt with, had happen (good or bad) is the message I get to share with people and the situations I can help them through if it should happen to them.
Everyone has bad stuff come up – some more than others – but it’s such an empowering feeling to be able to be a coach and a friend and say, “Hey you know what I’ve been there and I know how much it sucks, BUT here’s what I did that really helped if you want to try it”. I think that’s been my favorite part of my journey; being able to be a real person that people can relate to.
What changes were necessary in order to achieve your state of self-love?
I feel like I really needed to get myself in a mental state of thinking for myself and what was best for my body long term. I think that a lot of people fall into the trap of living by their doctor’s orders. I’m not bashing doctors or Western medicine by any means, but I feel like people forget that we have so many things at our disposal that WE can do without having to be told to do it. Like our diets for example, most people are well aware that eating processed foods, sugar, fast food, etc. is bad for our health – but we do it anyway. We know smoking and drinking alcohol is bad, but we do it anyway.
The point is WE KNOW what isn’t good for us, but WE CHOOSE to do it anyway. So for me, I feel like I needed to get in a space where I chose to be healthier. I chose to go different natural medicine doctors and healers until I found something that worked. I chose to figure out my dietary triggers and remove them from my diet. That’s not to say any of this was easy, it wasn’t – and it’s something I have to work at every day, BUT I had to make the decision to do it at all costs. My health literally depended upon it.
The other big change I had to make was to live in a space of gratitude. I feel like this is really hard for people to do because we’re constantly feeling like we aren’t enough, life is too stressful, etc.… but we have the divine power to be able to choose our thoughts and when something negative comes into your head, YOU can reframe it into something positive.
Let me give you an example, I went to a self-love talk last month and one of the ladies that was leading the discussion was explaining how we’re always so hard on ourselves and instead of showing gratitude, we show resentment.
For her, she was an athlete and relied a lot on her legs. She had recently suffered a knee injury and she was really upset at her body for breaking down on her. Instead of staying in that negative space, she reframed her thoughts and wrote her legs a letter of gratitude telling them all the things she was grateful to them for – like supporting her all day long, allowing her to engage in her athletic career with minor injuries along the way, taking a beating from her routine and enduring anyways… It really made me stop and realize how much gratitude doesn’t enter our minds much each day, but it needs to!
Since that day, I made a conscious decision to be more grateful for things, especially the things that are easy to be ungrateful for. I’ve seen a shift in my life, in my business and in the lives of those around me. It’s so incredibly powerful! One exercise I took away from a recent leadership retreat was to start a gratitude journal.
Every day in the morning once I’ve woken up, I take my coffee over to my fireplace (it’s my favorite spot in my house) and I take my notebook and pen and I write down 2 things I’m grateful for every day. After you get done with the common ones (higher power, family, spouse, friends, kids, etc.) it starts to get a little more interesting to try to find things that you’re grateful for. What I decided to do was focus more on the things I wasn’t feeling particularly grateful for and flip them into something I was grateful for. Instead of being annoyed that there was a sink full of dirty dishes, I was grateful we had food to eat.
Instead of feeling extremely sleep deprived because our dog had kept waking me up during the night, I was grateful that we had a dog I could love and nurture. Sometimes choosing to stay in the light rather than the darkness can make all the difference. What you’re really doing too is creating a running gratitude list, which is going to be amazing for you to go back to when you’re feeling down or hopeless to remind you of all the positive things in your life you could focus on instead.
What has Graves Disease taught you?
Graves Disease has taught me to be aware. It’s taught me that everything that happens, everything I put into my body, every decision I make has an impact on my health – good or bad. Before, I was just running through life by the seat of my pants – trying the new diets, living at the gym, getting so busy that I didn’t have time for myself, giving giving giving to others so much that I wasn’t actually even giving anything to myself. It made me really take a step back from my life and evaluate what was working and what wasn’t, what was helping and what was hurting, what was fueling me and what was draining me. I was able to create some boundaries that have since helped me out in a tremendous way.
What’s your favourite part of being an Essential Oils Educator?
Honestly I love learning from everyone else, which I know probably sounds crazy, but when you teach about essential oils, you’re basically teaching the same basic information over and over and over again, which is awesome because you’re helping open up people’s worlds to all the amazing things essential oils can do. The excitement comes in when you hear people tell you the different ways they’re using their oils – because a lot of people use different oils for different things and in different ways and combinations. It’s always so great to hear someone get so excited because they figured out how to use oils to support their body’s needs.
Another thing I love is helping someone feel empowered. In my classes I always tell people at the beginning that my intention is never to pressure them into using oils, but to really open their minds to something they can have at a moment’s notice in their home that is beneficial to their bodies, whether or not they have to seek out medical care.
There’s something so fulfilling in giving someone the option to choose how they want to care for themselves and their families. Watching lives change right in front of me solidifies my mission and just gives me this inner joy I can’t even describe.
What are your top 3 oils and why?
I can only pick 3?! =) If I absolutely had to choose, I would say that lavender, peppermint and lemon. They’re 3 of the most common oils, but they are incredibly versatile. I’ve used all 3 to help on a physical spectrum – anywhere from supporting my respiratory system, supporting my immune system, soothing occasional skin irritations; gosh there are so many things!
My husband is actually a huge consumer of lemon oil – he’s always using it to get sticky residue off surfaces and also using it to clean his hands after he’s been painting or working with vehicle grease. For me though, I love using lemon to make DIY cleaners and furniture polish! So many great recipes out there and lemon has incredible benefits to use in place of commercial cleaners.
One of my favorite ways to use peppermint oil is putting a drop in my hands, rubbing them together and inhaling the aroma for a quick pick-me-up. Peppermint is also a life-saver in the hotter months to help cool your body down.
Lavender – where do I even begin?! I think my favorite way to use lavender is either in bath water to help soak away some stress, or on the bottoms of my feet right before bed to promote a more restful night’s sleep.
What inspired you to become the Healthy Foodie you are today?
I had gone to college in Arizona and had worked at an animal shelter that was connected to an ASPCA where they always got a lot of animal cruelty calls. It was my first real glimpse into what happens to animals and to our food. It got the gears turning in my head and I started reading more.
I became more aware of what was allowed to happen to our food before it got to our plate, what it was injected with, how it impacted our health, etc. From there I felt a moral obligation to become a vegetarian and when I moved back home to Illinois in 2007, I read the book ‘Skinny Bitch’ and that just put the nail in the coffin for me.
I felt great for a while, but then my lifestyle took over and I became extremely dependent on wheat products and grains. When I started having more autoimmune issues, my naturopath at the time took a hard look at my diet, found that I was a Type-O blood type (huge carnivores) and gently suggested to try putting meat back into my diet to see if that might help my body get back on track. It didn’t help right away, for the most part because I was still eating gluten and dairy every day, both which I’ve come to realize actually drain me energetically.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve changed my diet – I’ve included organic, free range meats and eggs back into my diet and eliminated gluten, grains and dairy (for the most part – I still cheat every now and then when I just can’t help myself). My thyroid levels have normalized, I’ve been able to cut down on my medication, I’ve gotten into a great workout routine, and I’ve implemented a ton of healthy habits like oil pulling, food prepping, gratitude journaling, just to name a few.
My body is responding well to all the changes thus far and I’m really excited to see what the future looks like on this path.
Describe a typical day on your plate.
I’ve really learned how to prep for the week. I lead an incredibly busy life and I noticed that when I didn’t prep, life kind of caved in on me and instead of taking the time to cook and eat, I’d skip meals or we’d end up getting takeout from somewhere. All the time! Just recently, I started taking a couple hours on Sundays to prep my breakfast and lunch for the coming week.
Normally, I’ll make protein pancakes (see the recipe below) for breakfast and usually some kind of protein and veggie combo for lunch – a favorite is chicken breast and veggies. Quick and easy is the name of the game! Then for dinner it’s usually about the same thing as lunch, some kind of protein and veggie.
It does sound a little boring, and I will admit sometimes it does get old – but this is really where my connection to Sara will shine, because she’s such a foodie!! I love watching what she creates without gluten and dairy. I do hope to be that creative in the kitchen someday =)
What is a daily health ritual must?
Tongue scraping!! It was something I had never ever heard of before attending IIN (The Institute of Integrative Nutrition), and now I do it at least once a day – I don’t think I’d ever want to imagine what my mouth would feel like without it. I was always a huge believer in brushing your tongue with your toothbrush, but I never realized how much gross stuff gets left behind in your mouth and on your tongue until I started using a tongue scraper.
What advice would you give for someone wishing to make some health invoking changes?
Be patient and give yourself room to screw up, because you will. Anytime you make changes it’s incredibly easy to fall off the wagon because it’s new, and probably hard. Baby steps every day, that’s the key. Pick something and implement it until it becomes second nature and you don’t even think about doing it anymore. Then pick something else and do the same thing. Sooner or later you’ll crowd out all your old bad habits and gently replace them with new, healthy ones!
What’s your biggest health misconception pet peeve?
That one diet is good for everyone. I honestly never really understood this myself until I went to IIN and I started paying attention to how food interacted with my body.
One diet is absolutely NOT good for every person. You have to see what works for your particular body and circumstances. Some people can digest meat just fine, others it completely drains them of energy. Some people can handle dairy, others can’t. It’s the same thing with grains and gluten and different vegetables.
Pay attention to your body, it will always tell you what it likes and what it doesn’t – the trick is to learn to pay attention.
What is your favourite health food staple?
I love my coffee. Love love love my coffee. Recently I learned that you should always buy coffee beans instead of grounds, because when you buy coffee grounds the coffee has already oxidized and it loses a lot of the really amazing natural health properties.
I’m a huge fan of organic, fair-trade coffee – always research your brands! It does make a difference how and where the beans were grown.
I love putting a couple teaspoons of organic full-fat coconut milk in my coffee (I’m talking about the real stuff in the can, not that coconut beverage crap) and Canadian maple syrup as sweetener. One of my favorite things EVER!!
So I suppose none of these were really “health food staples,” but I’m a healthy foodie that loves healthier versions of not-so-great foods. I love my chocolate, but I’ll only let myself eat organic, fair-trade dark chocolate – the darker the better in my book!
What’s your go to healthy snack?
I LOVE those little cutie mandarin oranges – I can’t get enough of them, but I try to limit myself to 2 in the mornings or I’ll OD. Haha =) I also love anything dark chocolate, except bugs – no one likes dark chocolate covered bugs.
What does Health-Esteem mean to you?
It means owning the power you have over a lot of your health. Our health for the most part gets better or worse from our decisions – our food decisions, our lifestyle decisions, what we decide to think, what we decide to do, say, everything.
I think health-esteem means knowing you have a choice, you’re controlling your life and not letting it control you. Obviously there will always be factors outside of your control, BUT if we’re able to do better and be better than we were yesterday, it stands to reason things can only get better.
Please share a favourite health-inducing recipe.
The only recipe I ever use anymore, consistently anyhow, are banana protein pancakes! I love to eat them right off the pan, warmed up or I’ve even been known to grab one cold on the way out the door when I’m hungry and may not have time for an actual meal. I normally increase this recipe – on Sundays, I’ll make these pancakes for the coming week Monday through Thursday, so I quadruple it.
1 yellow banana
(Optional: depending on my mood, I may throw some ground cinnamon or vanilla extract in the batter)
Mash up the bananas, add in your eggs and beat until it’s well combined (this is where you’d add in your vanilla, cinnamon, etc. too). You can also use a food processor if you prefer.
Heat your griddle or pan over medium heat, I like to use a little grass-fed butter on the pan so the pancakes don’t stick – totally optional. Coconut oil would work too.
I fill a ⅓ measuring cup with batter to make my pancakes – they’re a little chunky and not super pretty, but they taste great and that’s all I care about =). You’ll cook them like you would normal pancakes, except these won’t bubble on top so just wait for the edges to look a little brown and flip over to cook on the other side.
Depending what I’m in the mood for, sometimes I’ll put some grass-fed butter on the pancakes, if I’m in the mood for a little sweetness I’ll even drizzle some local raw honey on top. Get creative with them and make them your own!
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