My weight has exploded in the last few years, slowly and steadily and about a month ago I had a breakdown about it.
My thoughts went something like this, “I don’t have a working scale but the “fat” pants are getting tight. Seriously! Just some of the thoughts running through my head...I’m a health coach, I know better, I teach about clean eating...I’m a SAHM but the kids are finally in school full-time AND I work from home...I should have the time to do this, This should not be happening...Is it my hormones, I’m almost 40?”
I reached out to my closest girlfriends and told them about it (I love accountability and support). Then, I started walk/jogging again and it happened...All over my body, I would get this intense, burning pins and needles sensation. I’m not sure if you have ever had this experience, but it is the most uncomfortable feeling and it makes me want to stop exercising...or, actually it makes me a little scared to move like I love to move.
Rebecca and I got to talking about this when we were packing up Little Mother's Helper (WOOT!) and I sort of had an "ah-haa" moment when she asked me about my lymph system.
This burning, I learned, was my stagnant lymph system. When your skin burns like fire with the start of exercise, your lymph system is stagnant and needs to be moved.
Honestly, it wasn’t until just now that it really hit my how important a healthy lymphatic system is, that is the KEY to my personal weight loss journey, and truly how simple it can be to get it moving again.
Let’s go a little deeper.
The way your body gets oxygen is through your blood. Blood carries the oxygen around your body and delivers it to your cells. The way your cells get rid of waste is through your lymph system. There is three times more fluid in your lymph system than in blood. It’s a transport for helping us eliminate waste.
Unlike the blood, which relies on a pump (the heart) to push it through the arteries, the lymphatic system relies on muscle activity in the body.
Imagine your kitchen sink. It’s backed up because the drain is clogged. Would you drink that standing water? I don’t think so!
In your body you also have a drainage system; it’s the largest circulatory system in your body and it’s called your lymphatic system. This system helps keep your tissues and organs alive and healthy by moving fluid throughout the body so waste doesn’t pool around your cells.
Some key indications you may have stagnation in your lymphatic system are: bloating, swelling, rashes, cellulite, pain in the hands and feet, fatigue, lethargy, and breast swelling and acne around menstruation.
In Ayurveda when a person suffers from such chronic symptoms, you look to destagnate the lymphatic system before moving on to other treatment. You need to improve your body’s efficiency in moving waste out.
To optimize lymph movement, Dr. John Douillard, DC, recommends the following:
Hydrate— Drink up to ½ your weight in ounces daily, preferably hot water, which dilates your cells and opens them up for much-needed rehydration. When the cells are hydrated they function properly to eliminate toxins and since the lymphatic system is liquid being hydrated makes it easier for you to quickly eliminate the released toxins.
Breathe Deeply— Breathing deeply exclusively through your nose during exercise or otherwise is a potent lymph mover as it stimulates the rib cage to move more fully (the rib cage is one of the major lymph pumps in the body, responsible for pulling toxic waste from the intestinal tract).
Destress— Stress-fighting hormones, called cortisol, are extremely acidic and lymph doesn’t drain well in an acidic environment, so you need to find ways to relax! Or...transform the belief that stress benefits your body rather than attacks.
Alkalize— Eating lots of greens, beets, berries and other alkaline food encourages lymph movement. Avoid overly sweet, salty, processed, or fried food as this makes the body more acidic.
Exercise—The vertical use of acceleration, deceleration, and gravity provide the ideal conditions for cleansing cells. "Lymphasizing" is a way of doing exercises that get your body to go up and down similar to a mini trampoline, jumping jacks and jump rope, because you’re going up and down, gravity is working to help pull the toxins. Bouncing on a rebounder (mini trampoline) is the most efficient exercise for destagnating your lymphatic system, but walking and running are also potent. (Remember to nose breath throughout for best results!)
Encourage Sweating— Don’t block sweat glands by using antiperspirant (especially if it contains aluminum)! Try to make sweating part of your daily routine through exercise, saunas, steam rooms, or Epsom salt or fresh ginger baths.
If you are truly clogged, which most of us are, it can take several months to get the pipes cleared up. You don't have to have the burning sensation to justify taking care of your lymph system, it's just something we all can do daily.
With patience and persistence, you will help establish new lymph-supporting habits. Once you are flowing freely again, you’ll be glad you made the effort.
Angela Sydnes CHHC, AADP is a holistic health coach who received a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from Montana State University-Bozeman. While there she apprenticed in herbal medicine at the Sweet Grass School of Herbalism. Since, she has worked coast to coast in the field of Horticulture before opening her own holistic health coaching practice. A mother of two, wife, avid gardener and wild plant enthusiast she is our go-to-woman for health information.