ANCESTRAL JUNKIE

A movement designed to join ancestral health with modern culture

My Current Parasite Cleansing Protocol

Parasites, Gut HealthHolly SteinComment

A lot of people have been asking me the parasite cleansing protocol that I have been following! This is what I have been doing the last six weeks based on my own research. I have started working with Modern Holistic Health in Austin, TX and we will what sort of protocol they put me on based the results from my blood panel and Organic Acids Test. I also have results from Viome and uBiome that I purchased prior to working them, so that will give them even more info.

Mimosa Pudica Seed For Parasite Cleansing

Gut Health, ParasitesHolly SteinComment

I’ve parasite cleansed many times before, but never with the results that I’ve been having recently! I’ve been doing several things differently this time around, one of them being mimosa pudica seed. I initially heard Dr. Jay Davidson talking about it on a documentary series (The Gut Solution). I had just started parasite cleansing so I immediately ordered a bottle (thank you Amazon Prime 2-day delivery!) and I was soon adding it into my regimen. I am currently taking 2 capsules, 2 x day on an empty stomach, and I see worms EVERY SINGLE TIME I use the restroom right now. I am doing other things as well, which I will be sure to post about soon.

Here’s a little overview of mimosa pudica seed that I found from Dr. Jay and Microbe Formulas, but click on these two links below to see the full details of info! There’s also a video below with Dr. Jay talking about its benefits with parasite cleansing!

Dr. Jay and Parasite Cleansing // Microbe Formulas + Mimosa Pudica Seed

Here are just a few fun facts about mimosa pudica seed:

  • Originates with Ayurveda and is designed to help support the body’s natural functioning and healing by increasing your body’s strength and supporting natural healing functions*

  • Deep cleans your GI tract and allows for more health bacteria to populate*

  • Acts as a gut scrubber unwanted biofilms, build up, infections, heavy metals and other invaders*

  • Paralyzes parasites and forces them to fall away from intestine walls, which means they can be effectively flushed from your system**

  • Mimosa Pudica should be used for at least six months because it plays multiple parts in gut recovery. It binds toxins in the body AND repairs cell membranes. It also delivers positive nutrients to the blood and digestive system.**

  • Make sure you address any constipation issues so all the parasites and toxins you are releasing have a place to go!**

*taken from Microbes Formula website

**taken from Dr. Jay Davidson’s website

The Hot Dog That Ruined My Life (Kidding...Kind Of)

Gut HealthHolly SteinComment

Joking, but not...but seriously though, had it not happened, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I truly do believe that it all happens for a reason.  Maybe I would have never ended up on this path of gut health….who knows! But I really do believe this is how my gut issues started. Many of my close friends know about the “hot dog” and how I’ve had digestive issues ever since I ate it!

So anyways.  Senior year of high school I went to a Laker game with my h.s. boyfriend.  His parents had front row center court seasons tickets which was rad, and I was lucky to go to many games!  After games I always wanted one of those bacon wrapped hot dogs from the street vendors….they just looked and smelled SO GOOD.  Well, one day in March 2003, I gave some random guy $5 in exchange for a greasy bacon wrapped hotdog topped with grilled onions.  It was delicious. I finished the whole thing by the time we got to the car. About 25 minutes into our drive home my stomach started to hurt.  I didn’t think much of it and it kinda went away. The next day, Friday, I went to school and was totally fine. But that afternoon while watching our school’s soccer game I started to get super nauseous and weak so I went home.  I rested and it went away. The rest of the weekend was like that as well. I then started to have a lot of acidity and reflux symptoms and the only thing I felt like I could eat was bread.

A few weeks after that I went to a G.I. doctor.  He didn’t ask me about my diet and what I was eating (never mentioned to maybe try eliminating gluten for 30 days...although back in 2003 I guess it wasn’t a thing yet).  He didn’t talk to me much about my lifestyle or stress levels, and parasites were DEFINITELY not a though on his mind. He prescribed me some antacids and sent me on my way.  Well, that didn’t seem to help. So after trying different medicines without a ton of relief we did an endoscopy. I was told I was fine. That fall I started college and things started to get better on their own.  I tried avoiding a lot of fat in my diet because I felt like it was harder to digest...but by spring semester it seemed to be in the rear view mirror.

Well, spring semester sophomore year they started to come back.  I did another endoscopy and I was fine. I also did a 24 hour PH test where they stick a tube up your nose and down the back of your throat into your stomach.  You wear this little monitor and it constantly measures the PH of your stomach for 24 hours. It was a cool look for a 19 year old. I also did this upper GI test where I drank some sort of fluid and they scanned my upper GI.  Those tests also came back normal.

After that symptoms subsided again and things were “normal.”  I put normal in quotes because while I felt like I could pretty much live life uninterrupted, I was constantly dealing with constipation.  I also at that time didn’t know it was not normal to go days without pooping. And sidenote: Just because something is common, does not mean it’s normal.  

Then at around 25 other symptoms came back and I did a colonoscopy...which if I remember correctly came back normal.  I needed to just drink a lot of water, eat a lot of fiber, and exercise.

Let’s also sprinkle in many rounds of antibiotics for urinary tract infections over the years as well.  My last round of antibiotics was at 25 when I had a kidney infection. And back then I had NO idea about the concept of repopulating my gut bacteria.  

Finally, at 26 I started to awaken.  Eric and I watched Food, Inc. (Shoutout to the O.G. health documentaries!) and were aghast at what we learned.  We also watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and I did a 10 day juice cleanse. We started making major changes and making sure to buy organic/non-gmo/grass fed/pasture-raised.  I started to feel fantastic! We also went further down the rabbit hole and learned about the toxic chemicals in our skin care products, cleaning products, etc. and I’ve been making just about all of those products for the last six years.  And what I don’t make, I buy super clean non-toxic lines. In the midst of that I lost 30 pounds and felt like I had a new start at life.

From about 27 to 31 things were pretty smooth sailing in the physical health department.  I no joke didn’t even catch a cold for like 5-6 years. I was energized, my brain and focus were laser sharp.  I never got that afternoon slump, and my digestion was pretty on point as long as I started my morning with a huge glass of water with lemon.

Through my entire pregnancy (Feb 2016-Nov 2016) I felt great.  I didn’t have any aches or pains, and the only ailment I had to complain about was heartburn.  But as long as I avoided the super acidic foods it was fine. It was after the birth of my son that things started to unravel….

After my son was born I experienced a lot of the common post partum symptoms.  I was tired, emotional, a little brain foggy, bloated. And while I’m sure those things really were attributed to post partum, I blamed “post partum” for too long as to why I was not feeling up to par.  I breastfed Rory for two years, so for his first two years of life I kept saying, “Well I’m still breastfeeding, that’s why I feel like this… my hormones are still off.” And then I stopped breastfeeding and things didnt get better.  But they didnt get worse right away either. The symptoms were on and off until mid-January of this year.

Out of nowhere I was insanely bloated 24/7, had brain fog, crazy fatigue out of nowhere, headaches, dizziness, etc.  I knew something was wrong at that point that I needed to fix. If you read a few posts back you’ll see how I found out how I had parasites.

BUT...this brings us full circle with the hot dog.  Parasites are rampant in pork. After talking with my doctor that I am working with… it is likely that I contracted a parasite(s) from that hot dog back in 2003.  Parasites can stay dormant for years without wreaking havoc. It seems that they did wreak a little havoc over the first few years, but when I really started to eat cleaner and strengthen my immune system they laid low.  Parasites and infections will lay dormant waiting for the right opportunity to attack. My doctor ALSO thinks that due to the weakened immune system that comes with pregnancy along with the crazy hormone shifts...the parasites/infection found the window they were waiting for to make their presence more known.  Over the least two-ish years they have slowly started to take over until I got to a point this January when I really knew something was wrong.

However, as you can see, this story is all speculation and a bunch of things that could have likely happened, and I’ll never officially know the story of how it all went down...but for now, I’m still holding on my story of the “hot dog” that messed me up.

Maybe after reading this you have a similar story.  Or maybe looking back some pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together?  If you think you have some sort of gut issue and/or parasites...act now! Start doing some research and give yourself a cleanse!




How Do You Contract Parasites?

Gut Health, ParasitesHolly SteinComment

So it turns out we’re all coming into contact with parasites all of the time.  Yes, even in the United States. While there are many cases of contracting parasites from a major food poisoning, or international travel, what is more common is just our day to day living.  We are all constantly coming into contact with parasites. If you interact with dogs, if you’ve eaten pork, if you’ve used a public restroom, grocery cart, etc. you’re in contact. Some can be transferred via sneeze or through walking barefoot.  What I’m saying is that they are everywhere and you are in contact.

However, we hope that we are healthy enough that they don’t become an issue.  A healthy gut, strong stomach acid, etc. determines how well these parasites will thrive after we’ve come into contact with them.  They do not thrive when are healthy and cleansing often. I learned that many other cultures regularly cleanse for parasites, including the Amish!  I also learned that back in the day (not exactly sure which day LOL), we used to cleanse all of our animals and ourselves for parasites seasonally. I imaging this practice started to die off as less and less of us were farming and working in the land and with animals.  

Here a long host of symptoms that parasites can cause…

Constipation, Diarrhea, Gas and Bloating, Painful Menstruation, IBS, Joint/Muscle Aches, Anemia, Cravings (especially sugar), Allergies, Skin Conditions like eczema, Sleep Disorders, Teeth Grinding, Chronic Fatigue, Brain Fog, Headaches, Acne, Weight Issues (Gain or Loss), Anxiety, Depression, and much more!

So if you have any of the above you may want to consider following along my journey and starting your own research!  However, one thing I will touch on soon is that it is very rare to have parasites without some sort of other gut infection.

Also, if you’d like to read more about parasites, Organic Olivia has a 2-part parasite blog post that is EXCELLENTLY written and super informative!  See below to read it!

Organic Olivia- Everyone Has Parasites Part One

Organic Olivia - Everyone Has Parasites Part Two


How Did I Discover I Have Parasites?

Gut HealthHolly SteinComment

That's the question I've been getting TONS of messages about, and it's the first question people ask me when I tell them I have parasites.

So first.  After doing a LOT of reading (both holistic and western opinions), and joining forums and FB groups about parasites..for reals guys, it's consumed me.  And it turns out there are some varying opinions on parasites.  Some people believe that a lot of these parasites (specifically rope parasites) are just biofilm (an intestinal mucous caused by gut dysbiosis).  Dysbiosis is a microbial imbalance in the gut.  And some people believe they are parasites.  Ascaris is another that people debate.  People generally agree that Ascaris is a parasite, but many people disagree on photos of what is Ascaris and what is rope worm/biofilm.  I've sent a bunch of pictures to my the doctor I'll be working with and she said they are parasites.  And yes, I've taken pictures of them...1. I just don't seem to be that grossed out by it, and 2. I've been getting desperate for answers and wanted to be able to show pictures to get help identifying them.

Ok, so that's my super long disclaimer.  What I'm writing/will write/have written is always my own personal opinion/experience, and while I do feel that my opinions are pretty informed, always do your own research.

SO, back to how I found my first parasite.  I had read that parasites are super common and parasite cleansed twice last year, but not much came of it.  But to be honest, I was a little lackadaisical on the diet.  Parasites FEAST on sugar, so you need to eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, and dairy for a few weeks at a time and I kind of just thought, "Oh I'm so healthy, I rarely eat those things, I'll be ok."  Well, I always ended up indulging a little more than I thought and I saw a few things here and there that I thought *could* be parasites but I wasn't sure.  And I never felt any different after so I was unsure.

Fast forward to January of this year when overnight my symptoms exploded overnight.  All of a sudden major bloat, fatigue, brain fog....and feeling super irrational, irritable and tense.  I knew something was wrong and I didn't know what to do.  I saw an Ayurvedic practitioner and confirmed that I have a vata imbalance (that's for another post), and was given a list of foods to eat/avoid.  Essentially I'm supposed to eat warm grounding foods and avoid cold/dry foods (things like smoothies and crackers). 

I also did a microbiome test through Viome which gives you almost every food divided into 4 categories. 1. Superfoods for your gut, 2. Enjoy as much as you'd like, 3. Minimize (only eat 1 serving of minimize foods per day), and 4. Avoid - aka do NOT eat these.  These suggestions are completely personalized to your gut and can change as you increase/decrease the health of your gut.

After realizing I was mainly eating "minimize" foods, I decided to do 30 days of my list of Superfoods/Enjoy foods that also fit into the Vata category.  And that list is honestly super minimal.  Since March 1st, I've pretty much been eating eggs, berries, carrots, zuchinnis, rudabegas, parsnips, some pasture raised beef/turkey, and white rice on occasion.  

After about a week on that diet (which as you can see is almost no sugar except for what is naturally occuring in the berries and veggies), I did a coffee enema.  Coffee enemas are great for detoxing because it stimulates the liver/bile duct.  I also found out it disrupts the biofilm that parasites surround themselves with to stay safely in their habitat.  After that enema I expelled a 12" long parasite.  Not joking.  The coffee enema plus completely starving them was a lethal combination.

I immediately started adding parasite cleansing herbs and protocols (for another post), and have been seeing them come out constantly.  Constantly. Tons. Lots Of Them.

So that's how I figured out how I have parasites... essentially starving them by eliminating sugar (even in natural forms), dairy, grains and alcohol...and then the coffee enema.  

On An (Emotionally and Physically) Challenging Journey to Heal My Gut & Eliminate Parasites

Gut HealthHolly SteinComment

I've been hesitant to share what I’ve been going through recently, frankly because I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed to struggle with health issues when I strive to live such a “healthy” lifestyle... whatever that means. I felt like such a fraud for posting about so many health-conscious choices I’ve made over the years... only to end up where I am right now.

However, with every challenge comes the opportunity for growth. Yet as we all know, it’s not easy when you’re in the midst of it. I’ve started to get answers and feel like I’m on the road to healing, so I’ve started to be able to step back and look at the situation more objectively.

My biggest take away so far has been this: I place an enormous amount of my self worth in being healthy. I seriously had no idea.  But having it taken away made me realize how obvious it was.  I was feeling so worthless.

So what am I even dealing with here?!  Well, first of all parasites.  And gut issues, which is likely some sort of bacterial, fungal or viral infection.  Oh, and I know for sure low stomach acid.  It's a whole host of symptoms like bloating...INSANE 6+ months pregnant painful bloating...as in I don't fit into my pants bloating.  Messed up digestion, increased agitation and irritability (yes, symptoms of parasites and gut issues), and it's CONSTANT work to keep my anxiety at bay (yes, also symptoms of parasites and gut infections).

I felt like a mess, but after feeling like I've taken myself as far as I can go on my own, I am going to be working with a holistic, functional practitioner to heal as quickly and efficiently as possible.  With some additional testing, we'll be able to see EXACTLY what I have going on in my gut and treat it appropriately.  They say it takes about 3-5 months to kill off the infections/parasites and another 3-5 months to heal the gut... So while we're looking at the 6-9 month range, I peg myself more at the 6 month range because I'm on over achiever like that... But hey, no expectations...just doing my best and going with it!

Honestly, there's like SO MUCH MORE to it than this post, and I plan to take you along on my journey.  It's honestly so cathartic for me to share these things.  I love the encouragement, the feedback of other perspectives, and the inspiration it can provide others to take a closer look at their health.

7 Tips For Natural Childbirth

Pregnancy and Post Partum, BodyHolly SteinComment

When you hear the phrase natural birth, what comes to mind?  Are you in a hospital?  A birth center?  Maybe you’re at home, or out in a field with nature?  One thing is certain, many people see natural birth differently.  To me a natural birth is one that does not include the augmentation of pharmaceuticals like Pitocin (for induction) or epidural for pain relief, and the like.

For the record I am not a healthcare professional nor a birthing expert.  Always consult a licensed professional before making pregnancy related decisions.  I've been pregnant only once and have no idea how things would have turned out had I not followed this regime.  However, I do believe the recommendations in this article created a synergy that surely contributed to my successful natural birth.  That being said, everyone has different needs and mindsets, so please always go with your gut and choose what's best for you.  

You're reading this because the idea of a natural birth has piqued your curiosity.  The first thing to ask yourself is why?  Think for a moment.  Why do you want a natural birth?  For my husband and me there were several reasons:

1.     We wanted to avoid pharmaceuticals during the birth. 

2.     We believe the birth is how the baby's soul transitions to our earthly bodies, and that this experience can have an impact on their life.  We wanted to welcome Rory into a quiet, dimly lit space with candles, soft voices and essential oils.  We wanted it to be a gentle transition

3.     The last reason was a personal one:  I wanted to do it for myself.  I wanted to prove to myself just how strong I am.

A handful of people have told me how "lucky" I am to have had the experience I wanted.  While I do feel extremely fortunate, I wouldn't be so quick to call it luck.  I was very intentional about the choices I made during pregnancy.  I had a goal in mind (natural birth) and I was constantly directing myself towards it.

Luck favors the prepared.

One of the hardest parts for me was hearing comments and opinions about what I was doing!  The things I heard during pregnancy were enough to make your head spin! 

"Don't be a hero, get the epidural” or “Just get the epidural, you have nothing to prove” was common.

"Whatever you do, just get the epidural as soon as you can" was another good one.

Or my personal favorite, "You're not having the baby in a bath tub are you?"

I actually lied to people about where I was giving birth because I felt I would be judged and told I was doing the wrong thing.  Imagine starting a diet and your good friend, who didn’t know your plan, says “Oh man diets are SO HARD!  The only way to do it is to take the weight-loss pills.  If you don’t you are crazy!”  Would you feel confident about your diet?  Same holds true for your birth, only times 1,000.

The following are seven areas to consider when planning for a natural birth:

BIRTHING LOCATION:  This. Is. HUGE.  Birthing a human is insanely challenging and it is of utmost importance to select a location that makes you feel comfortable.  If that’s a hospital, perfect, that's where you should be.  For me, the idea of a hospital made me uncomfortable.  I had read enough statistics and studies to know it is perfectly safe to deliver a baby at a birth center or at home.  I also felt very comfortable knowing that everyone involved in our labor deals with natural birth daily.  That is all they do.  I knew that they would allow me to be in control and trust my body, which was important to me. 

I also set myself up in a scenario where pitocin, epidural and other pharmaceuticals and interventions were not even available.  I didn't have it in my back pocket just in case, and I knew this going in to the birth.  If I wanted an epidural I would have had to get into the car and drive to the hospital. 

If natural birth is what you desire, be warned a very small percentage of women who deliver in hospitals avoid pitocin and epidurals.  Hospitals commonly recommend pitocin, which produces more intense and painful contractions, to “move things along.”  This is frequently the first step that leads to epidural because the pain becomes too much to manage.  If you have not already, please watch "The Business of Being Born."  This documentary goes much deeper than I ever could about the different places to give birth (hospital, birth center, or home).  Here's a link to another shorter video that talks about out of hospital births. 

However, if the idea of being outside of a hospital is terrifying, by all means, be in the hospital.  In order for your body to produce oxytocin to stimulate birthing waves, you need to be calm and relaxed.  Cortisol, the stress hormone, and oxytocin are inversely correlated, so the less stress the better!  Put yourself in a place where stress is minimal!  

BIRTHING TEAM: Your birth team is equally as important as the location.  Our birthing team consisted of a midwife, two midwife's assistants, a doula, and Eric.  There are two things to consider in your team: quantity and quality.  Most midwives will tell you the more people present the longer the labor will be.  Keep your list short.  In regards to quality, choose a team that is aligned with your goals.  People that that take part in only natural births know how to coach laboring women through natural birth.  This is HUGE.  My team ONLY sees natural births.  They treated me as if the whole process was completely normal without even thinking of intervention.

Midwives are great for this because they are trained in the normalcy of birth.  If you are more comfortable with an OB, choose one that is supportive of your goals, and remember no matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, it's never too late to change providers.  

If you are having a hospital birth, consider a doula mandatory.  You have no idea who will be on staff the day you deliver.  The nurses are in and out managing other moms as well.  A doula will dedicate their time and energy to only you.  They help you through each contraction and apply counter pressure when and where it’s needed. 

A doula does not replace your partner, but allows him or her to relax and be more present with you.  It's a lot of pressure for your partner to do it all.  The doula will also help you to labor at home as long as possible, so when you get to the hospital you are in active labor rather than waiting around.  I've heard several women credit their doula for their unmedicated birth at hospitals.

I am so thankful for our doula.  She applied counterpressure exactly where I needed it during the car ride to the birth center.  She held my leg and massaged me at the birth center and allowed Eric to sit there peacefully and connect with me.  Eric and I were extremely prepared, but we had never done anything like this before.  We didn't know what to expect, but having a doula helped reassure us that everything happening is totally normal.

EDUCATION: Choose a birth education course geared towards natural birth.  Hospitals generally encourage augmentation of labor with epidurals, so you’ll want to take a class that educates you a little deeper about coping with the intensity of labor.  Here are a few birth education classes to consider:

HypnobabiesHypnobirthing, The Bradley Method and Birthing From Within

Look at the approach of each and decide which is the best fit for you.  I went with Hypnobabies and REALLY enjoyed it.  Hypnobabies is based on mindfulness and putting yourself into self hypnosis.  It focused on mindset and changing your perception of labor, and promoted the idea that birth is normal and NOT to be feared.  If you are in Orange County, here's the link to our Hypnobabies Instructor...she was AMAZING.  For our next birth I may check out The Bradley Method or Birthing From Within to gain another perspective to add my tool box of birthing knowledge. 

EXERCISE: The first half of pregnancy I maintained my normal exercise which consisted of jogging and weights.  I added in pre-natal yoga the moment I found out I was pregnant at week 6 and was sure to take daily walks with my dog.  My midwife constantly reminded me how important and beneficial walking is for pregnancy.  At about the halfway point I focused solely on walking (about 1.5-2 miles a day) and pre-natal yoga twice a week.  Once I hit 36 weeks I really made sure to step it up.  I didn't miss a day of walking, and in addition to going to yoga twice a week, I also did pre-natal yoga stretches every other day at home.  I believe that this was HUGE for my birthing process. 

I feel that this made the first stage of my birthing a breeze.  At 38 weeks I was 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced, 39 weeks 3 cm and 80% effaced, and at 40 weeks on my due date I was 4 cm and 90% effaced.  By the time my water broke on the 11th day past my due date I went straight in active labor almost immediately.  My consistent walking and pre-natal yoga allowed me to get the first stage of birthing over the previous few weeks without feeling or noticing a thing. 

My total birthing time was just 7 hours with a posterior (sunny side up) baby!  Most times posterior babies add several hours to labor, and often end in c-section. 

BIRTH PREP: Starting at 36 weeks I took birth prep herbs from my midwife as well as evening primrose oil for “cervical ripening.”  Sometimes I took it orally, but mostly I would poke a hole into the capsule with a safety pin and insert it vaginally.  When my water broke I was 90% effaced which helped eliminate some of the work.  I also saw a chiropractor to ensure I was in proper alignment the second half of my pregnancy.  Often times the body gets all whacky with the new weight distributions of a baby.  Towards the end I did two acupuncture treatments aimed to trigger induction, which I felt helped, but Rory was just not ready to come yet. 

NUTRITION: This could be a whole other blog post in itself.  Prior to getting pregnant I ate pretty much all organic/non-GMO whole foods.  I tried to avoid processed foods as much as possible and followed a combination of a paleo/ketogenic lifestyle.  High fat, moderate protein, low carb...all from quality sources.  The major tweak I made during pregnancy was increasing protein.  The midwives instructed me to eat 70-80 grams of protein per day.  Pasture raised eggs and a homemade protein shakes using grassfed collagen protein powder were easy ways to get quality protein. 

I noticed carb cravings increased dramatically in the beginning, so I listened to my body and ate more rice and potatoes, and occasionally enjoyed sprouted sourdough bread, toasted, slathered in grassfed butter, with half an avocado spread across each piece.  Ah-maz-ing…

For supplements I followed the exact regimen laid out by Dave Asprey in The Better Baby Book. (HIGHLY recommend that book!).  For more information on diet, The Better Baby Books has a wonderful philosophy on eating for pregnancy.  The principles in this book steered us in the right direction.  We were given massive validation when, after the birth, our midwife said my placenta was one of the healthiest she’d ever seen. 

MINDSET: I believe everything presented so far is important, but mindset takes the cake.  Mindset is what gets you through unexpected bumps in the road.  Mindset gave me the power to stick to the game plan.  The birthing time is intense; the most intense experience I've ever been through, and my mindset was truly my most valuable asset.

Leading up to birth and throughout birthing time I never had a shadow of a doubt if I could do it.  I knew 1,000% I was going to succeed.  When things got intense I forced a smile and moaned positive phrases out loud like, "Relax," "Breathe" and "I can do this."  I knew my biggest enemy would be acknowledging the pain or having doubt.  Birth is absolutely, positively, a mind over matter experience.  Count on it.

In closing I’d like to say that of course the number one priority in any birth is a healthy mom and baby.  Number two is having your ideal birth experience.  We must remember to save our judgments, because not everyone will think or believe the same things.  Every birth and every person can be vastly different, and remembering this can help manage your expectations.  Not everything will go according to plan and it's important to roll with the punches.  Flexibility is a massive asset in natural child birth.

Just be as prepared as you can and remember everything turns out exactly the way it's supposed to.   Home birth, birth center, hospital birth, natural, epidural or scheduled c-section; no matter how your baby enters this world you are bad-ass.  Just remember that you have options and to chose the plan best for you.

Any Beauty (1).jpg

My Struggle with Positive Dog Training

Eric SteinComment

READ TIME 3 MINUTES

I’ve been torn lately.  Stuck on the fence. And it’s my dog that’s doing it.  He’s...fiery...I guess we’ll call it.  We’ve been trying to follow a positive reinforcement training model which calls for rewarding good behavior in an attempt to push out bad.

Speaking of bad, during a recent training session, to my lack of surprise really, Theodore (our 15lb Maltese Poodle) bit my finger, hard, when I tried to take something from his mouth.  So hard he looked like a football 50 yards out, down by two, one play left. He’s slightly bigger than a football, but still very kick-able.

I felt the anger rise, but let it go, and we continued. As I recall the event, he had something of mine I tried to take back, then he bit me, and I backed away.  There was no punishment or repercussion for this violation. To him, that probably seemed like a success. He snapped at me, defended his territory, and I stepped away.  He’ll probably do it again. I mean, why stop what’s working?

The problem is that it’s NOT his territory.  If he has something I want in his mouth, that’s my territory.  Time to give it up. Period. The part that really gets me is that our trainer can pull anything out of his mouth.  He’s putty in her hands. (She’s super badass btw check out Conscious K9). But when I go in I catch a puncture wound.  WTF.

So why am I torn?  

Little Theo LOVES to run ahead on walks, pulling the leash, almost choking himself out.  It’s like the area next to me is hot lava or something. The positive reinforcement model says to treat him while he walks next to me and to stop/slow when he pulls ahead.  We’ve done this for a while, with some progress, but far from where we want him.  Holly said she’s not made it down the street a few times because there’s so much stopping.

Ultra annoying.

Recently I took my son and dog for a quick walk to a tree by our house that’s firing out avocados, one of nature’s most super foods (a fruit with fat...yum!).  I pushed Rory in his little blue car with Theo in tow on leash. As we headed to the tree, Theo darted ahead per usual, and without thinking, I went rogue on positive reinforcement.  I had a wooden fruit picker in hand (Google if you’re curious), and as he jumped ahead, I popped him on the head with the wood side of the picker. There wasn’t an ounce of anger with it, just a nice little “hey, get next to me” smack, and kept walking.

After that something weird happened.  He looked at me differently. Not scared, more shocked if anything.  I know it rattled him because I know what a broomstick to the head feels like, not the funnest experience in the world.  But I kept walking like nothing happened. We get to the end of the cul de sac and he’s glued next to me. Good dog.

Another street down and he pulls ahead again so I give him a pump fake with the picker.  Enough said. He’s back to my side. Two weeks later, and he’s still much better.

Hmmmm…..

On one hand, I always lean towards positive reinforcement to navigate life.  You know, build people up, praise, forgive, love, etc. Being angry at someone feels silly when you understand they are simply another manifestation of yourself, walking around in a different meat suit.  And this has been uber successful with my two-year-old thus far.

On the other hand, I’m staring in the face of results.  My concern is this method of training can create fear in the dog which may manifest in other ways, so says the positive reinforcement peeps. But he’s already cool with biting me...could it really get any worse?  

My Dad always joked about rolling up a magazine to show him who’s boss.   Maybe there’s merit in it. Maybe there’s a middle ground?

On a walk today Theo pulled ahead, I gave him a quick smack with the leash, and he was glued to my side after that.  The rest of the walk I praised and showered him with treats.

Ancestral Junkie is all about blending modern life with ancestral fundamentals, maybe this middle ground is what will work for Theo?