Fed & Fit

Ep. 154: Marilee’s Story of Positive Rebellion

On today's episode, I'm chatting with one of the owners of Branch Basics, Marilee Nelson! It's an incredibly inspiring story of love, determination, and positive rebellion.

We're back with our 154th episode of the Fed+Fit Podcast! Remember to check back every Monday for a new episode and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

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Episode 154 Links

  • Marilee's Full Story
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Episode 154 Sponsors

  • Wine Fellas – use the code “fedandfit” for $10-off your first wine club shipment!
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Episode 154 Transcription

Today’s show is brought to you by my friends at Wine Fellas! Wine Fellas is your wine club for small allocation, hard to find, natural wines from around the world. They specialize in organic and biodynamic wines that are made using traditional wine making methods, but with minimal interventions. They’re free of added sugar and chemical additives. They’re low in sulfites. They’re bottling the wine world describes as “natural wines.” These are wines as they were meant to be enjoyed, with nothing standing between you and pure, expressive fruit.

What I love most about Wine Fellas, aside from the fact that they only source the best, natural wines in the world, but they also go the extra mile by giving you a fact sheet on each bottle that contains authentic alcohol content, residual sugars, sulfur dioxide in parts per million, pH, and acidity. Learn more about Wine Fellas by visiting them at www. WineFellas.com. Be sure to use the code Fed and Fit for $10 off your first wine club shipment.

Cassy Joy: Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. I am your host, Cassy Joy Garcia. And I wanted to let you know that today we’re hearing from Marilee Nelson, one of the owners and founders of Branch Basics. Branch Basics works to bring you the world’s safest, natural, nontoxic cleaning products.

And today’s episode is a special one. Marilee and I actually recorded this thinking we would fit it all into one show. But the conversation was so great that we just kept chatting. And instead of cutting it down, we wanted to divide it up and give you two full episodes. So on today’s show, we’re talking with Marilee and we’re hearing about her incredible story. I think you guys are really going to enjoy hearing this from Marilee.

And then next week, we’re going to talk about Branch Basics specifically, and how you can really help to create a healthier home using safer products. So without further ado, let’s get into the show.

Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. I am your host, Cassy Joy Garcia. And you guys; we’re back. {laughs} I am; baby girl Graysen Joy is here. And she’s hanging out with my mom right now while I can do a little few recordings. We’re dipping my toe back in, like I said last week on coming back from my maternity leave. And coming back with my first interview, and I could not be more excited about today’s conversation.

It’s a real honor to introduce you guys to this incredible woman, and this fantastic company. I am a customer. I am a fan. And I want to shout your story from the rooftops. But instead I’m going to have you do it! I’m welcoming today Merilee Nelson today to the show. She is one of the founders of Branch Basics. And she has a fantastic story. And I could go into a little bit of it, but what I just told Merilee is I think it’s best coming from her. You can read her full story online. And of course, we’ll include links to everything in the show notes. But without further ado, welcome to the show, Merilee.

Merilee Nelson: Oh, thank you so much. I’m just so grateful to you for the privilege and sharing. Especially since you just have a new baby. That’s such an exciting time. In my life, when I first had my first baby, what looked like a life-threatening or life-altering circumstance for myself, for my son. And then later my niece. It was turned into an opportunity beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of.

I want to extend that opportunity to you, and all your listeners, because application of what we learned was absolutely lifechanging. And it’s really simple. And it’s not complicated, but it’s just getting back to basics.

So at age 23, I found myself at a crossroad. I was facing a really big decision. Was I going to accept the diagnosis I was given, or was I going to go down a road less traveled? So after exploratory surgery, I was told that I would never have children. I would need to be put on dialysis. And I would need to have a kidney transplant.

I just looked up at that doctor, and I said, “With respect. I just can’t accept that. And I can’t be limited to what you, the medical world, has to offer me at that time.” And I was actually pre-med. I wanted to be a doctor. So it wasn’t like this was something saying I wanted to reject their answer. But it just wasn’t something I wanted.

I said to him; “What if, in 5 years, 3 years, or even next year, you would know what to do? But I would have already lost a kidney.” So I knew in my heart there was another way. And that was I wanted to just trust God to lead me to what I needed. I’m sure the doctor thought I was nuts, or hallucinating on the drugs I was on after surgery. But the answer I got later was not what I expected. And it seemed to come out of left field.

I was actually led to a doctor in a Boston hospital that was using food as medicine. And I had no frame of reference for healthy versus non-healthy food. I was a food addict. I was a sugar-holic. A bottomless pit. I was never satisfied. I was always eating. And it was literally a family joke that my mother called me her human garbage disposal. There just weren’t any leftovers at my house.

Yet, I experienced a radical transformation after I changed my SAD diet; which is the Standard American Diet, to a really micronutrient rich diet. And it was specifically prescribed; like a prescription. And oh my gosh; the power of only intensive nutrition. I did nothing else. No supplements. No vitamins. And this diet changed, enabled me to avoid dialysis and a kidney transplanted. Eliminated a lot of my other issues, such as severe cramps, endometriosis, pollen allergies, asthma, bronchitis, all resolved.

Cassy Joy: Amazing.

Merilee Nelson: Yeah. And it also revolutionized my baby’s nursing life. My nursing baby’s life. Obviously, the doctor’s prediction that I would never have children didn’t come true. But at that time, we were both in trouble and I could barely function because of my kidney issues. And my 18-month-old son, Douglas, was unable to sleep. He was miserable. And he wasn’t developing at the rate expected.

So, in less than 3 days of changing my diet, he completely turned around. He was calm, peaceful, and he slept like a baby.

Anyway, since I changed my diet at that time, I’ve never been on another prescription drug or even taken one over the counter medication. I changed my life’s direction. I ended up studying food as medicine. I became a cook, and I saw incredible results in the people I cooked for. The power of pure food. It was just obvious to me that replacing the SAD diet, the Standard American Diet with the toxic empty food, with real, organic food was foundational to health.

I was actually soon to learn that there was another arena that affecting health just as dramatically as diet. And that was air quality. So, when my son was 5, we were living in Houston, Texas. And I was offered the opportunity to be in charge of the kitchen in a health resort. And it was the opportunity of a lifetime. It was right on the white beaches of Jamaica, where you’ve got the ocean air and it’s pristine, clean, wonderful. So moving from Houston to Jamaica was kind of like the experience of our diet upgrade. Our whole family felt better than ever. And I thought I was feeling good, but I had a significant increase in my vitality and stamina.

But what was truly spectacular; and all you parents listen. This was the unfolding of my child’s intellectual potential. I was like any mother. I thought my son was really smart. And he was. But a few weeks after we had arrived, he started suddenly spontaneously multiplying and dividing and adding and subtracting. This is in complex numbers. And it was like, nobody had to teach him. It was as if his mind had been expanded. His coordination and athletic ability also improved.

Well, we were experiencing the power of clean air. And interesting to note; Harvard has now done several studies that is documenting the fact that your air quality affects your intellect. They’re very interesting.

Anyway, we didn’t realize that 5 years later we were going to see a very clearly just the opposite how exposure to harmful chemicals in indoor air dramatically affects the mind and the body and the emotions and behavior. And this was unfortunately through my son’s experience.

So at age 10, he was catastrophically chemically injured by exposure to pesticides. And we were told that the damage to his nervous system was so great that he would never recover, and he would be on medication for the rest of his life. The biggest blow was that the doctor said he was now a bubble boy, because his body could no longer break down and detoxify the chemicals that we encounter, you know in our everyday life. People’s perfume, people’s deodorant, the laundry detergent, the dryer softeners, etc.

So, when the doctor told me that, I had a deja vu moment. Because I literally could not take that in. I couldn’t accept that he would never recover. And I knew, again, that I was going to trust God to lead me to what my son needed. And at that time, he had gone from one day being a calm, obedient, brilliant, and athletic child to being unpredictable, uncoordinated, hyperactive, and unable to spell simple three-letter words or do even simple math.

So one minute he would start crying. He’d go into deep depression. He’d snap out of it, and he’d become so wired that he couldn’t sleep. He’d literally be sometimes almost bouncing off the walls. He’d get irritable. He’d have blinding headaches. He’d have excruciating sensitivity to sound. He would just have tears streaming down his face with his hands to his hears, pleading with us to just whisper. And we were. But it sounded like we were shouting to him.

So we didn’t really understand. We had heard what the doctor had said, but we didn’t connect completely that these episodes were being caused by whatever product or chemical he was being exposed to. And I was in a mad scramble to remove everything from our home that could possibly be an issue. And I could throw out all day long, and that was easy. But trying to find products he didn’t react to was our greatest challenge.

He was reacting to even the nontoxic products available at the time. And I couldn’t find anything he could tolerate for cleaning, or for on his body. So I didn’t have the internet. It was back before that. And I was trying to get my hands on everything I could to figure out what to do. I had stripped the house of everything I could think of. And I kept trying to figure out what was missing.

So we tried a product that was working for the people who saw the doctor that treats the Gulf War victims of chemical poisoning. They were very chemically injured, as well, and that worked for them. And thankfully it ended up working for my son.

So after cleaning with that, he started tolerating the house better. But he was having trouble sleeping in the house. So we were sleeping outside. Not in a tent, because he would react to that. But on cots, out in the open air. And that was really fun. I mean, it was a family adventure.

Cassy Joy: That’s sweet.

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Merilee Nelson: Thankfully, we live in part of the country that we could do that. And one night, I was lying there trying to figure out what in the world I was missing. And I remembered that there was a box of some of my favorite products. Perfumes, skin care products, that I had not removed from the house. I put them in a box, and I put it in my closet thinking that one day, when he gets better, I can pull these out and use them again.

So I’m lying there, and I’m telling myself; you are crazy to even think this. And of course, I was thinking that maybe I should take that out of the house. So I got up, and I did it. And I didn’t say anything to anyone that I had. And oh my gosh, lo and behold. The next day, when we went into the house, he didn’t have his typical reactions. We had finally created a baseline. A healthy home that he didn’t react to, and that he could sleep in.

Cassy Joy: Amazing.

Merilee Nelson: Yeah. And I know it sounds insane, that taking that one box out with a few products in a closet was preventing him from sleeping. But this discovery was key. And it’s been fundamental to many of my client’s recoveries, as well. And let me give you an example to help you understand why it really does make sense.

Just think, and imagine, the last time you walked down the grocery store aisle, where the cleaning products were. And the pesticides are located. If you close your eyes, you probably would know you're there, because you can smell it. These products are not only closed, but they’re also sealed. And yet, the smell coming from that aisle is so strong. The chemicals that you smell are the volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. And they escape from their containers in parts per million, parts per billion, or even parts per trillion. So in a home, all the products that you have under your sinks and in your cabinets and in your bathrooms, their emission create a low-level chemical soup that spreads throughout your home that your body has to constantly deal with and detoxify.

And if that’s the case, and it typically is, the body never really has a chance to do its full repair at night, as it’s designed to when you're sleeping. So if you consider what the science of epigenetics is now saying; that exposure to even small amounts of these chemicals can be significant. One chemical can turn genes on and off. And what happened next proves that point in our experience.

After we cleared the house, and he stopped having such continuous reactions, Douglas was just like a canary in the coal mine. Giving a warning every time he was exposed to even tiny, tiny amounts of chemicals. He was our way of knowing what was safe and what wasn’t. He had reached a point where what he is called is unmasked and stabilized. All the immune stressors had been taken away, and his body was starting to balance out.

But his behavior, his mood, his emotional wellbeing, his intellectual ability, were vulnerable. Very vulnerable to deterioration whenever we inadvertently brought something into the house that had chemicals in it. It was clear-cut cause and effect. Before he was unmasked, we didn’t know what he was reacting to. It was just a blur. Now, it became clear.

So I was observing a severely disabled child drop symptoms, both physical and mental and emotionally. And if he had an unintended exposure; we might make a mistake. One time, my husband didn’t think, and he opened the front door. And he put a bag from Walmart in the front door. And my son was back in the back of the house in the kitchen. And within a very short time, his neck was exploding with his lymph glands growing. And he was having a severe reaction.

So those parts per million or billion were floating through the house from that bag from Walmart that was carrying the chemical smell that it’s Walmart.

Cassy Joy: Amazing. That’s incredible.

Merilee Nelson: It was. For me to tell it, it sounds insane. But as we go on, you're going to see how scientific evidence is just documenting this now. But anyway, if he had an unintended exposure, he would revert back to a phase and he would react. But then he would start recovering from that point, once we’d removed the offender.

So he might just go into spontaneous crying, anger, depression. Sometimes he would become depressed so much that he would just be sort of in a stupor. He would be hyperactive, hypoactive. So it was such; I felt like I was in a laboratory experiment, actually.

Anyway, slowly but surely I realized more and more the more I could keep these exposures away from him, the more he could heal. And I likened it to the idea of; if you cut yourself, that skin is going to heal. Unless everyday you come in and take a knife and open it up again.

Cassy Joy: Right.

Merilee Nelson: So we tried our best to keep him as free from exposures as possible. And thankfully, our loving, calm, intelligent child began to emerge. And he not only recovered, he fully recovered. Which was nothing short of incredible.

I started to have deep conviction that these everyday chemicals that we had to remove from his environment, in order for him to heal, were in fact undermining everyone’s health on subtle and not so subtle levels. That basically we’re all unintentionally living in a veritable chemical soup in our homes. And that would later be proven and born out in my work with clients. And also with my niece, years later. And now, with the scientific research.

So, the last part of this story is that in 2008, my niece, Allison was a healthy college student. And about a week after moving into a newly renovated apartment, all of a sudden she was riddled with mysterious symptoms. Neck pain, excruciating back pain, burning in her face, numbness in her calves and her arms. She started to lose motor control. And for two years, she sought help from 14 of the best medical doctors from all over the country.

She was told she had everything from osteoarthritis to multiple sclerosis, and many other things. And not one of those doctors asked her any questions about the fact that one week she was normal, and a couple of weeks later she was on a rapid, downward, spiraling path. No doctor or therapy could help her. And she was just having to take more and more pain medication. And she was getting worse.

It ended up that Allison and her best friend Kelly came to stay with me. And in just two months, after getting back to basics. Eating only real food. Using the one formula that I used with my son, and clients for personal care and cleaning. And staying in my home that contained no products with harmful chemicals, her life was transformed. She was out of pain and ready to go.

Cassy Joy: Awesome.

Merilee Nelson: Yeah. And this next part is really important. Because Kelly, who considered herself healthy, also had a radical change in her wellbeing. She felt like she was healthy, but she had symptoms she just considered were normal. Like menstrual cramps, dry and itchy eyes, headaches. She had some muscles aches and pains. She got tight neck and shoulders. And those all disappeared. And she realized they were symptoms connected to the exposures to these chemicals.

And because of the radical change in Allison’s condition, as well as the unexpected changes that Kelly experienced, they both decided to shift the courses of their lives, join me, and dedicate themselves to spreading the world and helping people to learn how to transform their lives. And that’s how the company Branch Basics was born.

Cassy Joy: So neat. It’s the dream team. {laughs}

Merilee Nelson: {laughs} Now, coming out of a nightmare, into a good dream. Yes.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. And something you say, Merilee, in your online bio that I love. It’s a phrase you used a couple of times, was, when you faced these seemingly impossible circumstances. And all of the resources at hand told you there is no hope, in essence. You embodied, or you put on what you phrase a “positive rebellion.” And I love that so much. And I think that’s going to resonate with a lot of listeners here. You get to a point where it’s not a point of no hope; it’s all hope.

Merilee Nelson: That’s right.

Cassy Joy: And even though on paper it can read the opposite, we’re cloaking ourselves in this positive rebellion. And just that believe that you have that there is a bright future, like you said. Is absolutely incredible. And your story, I know, is going to impact, as it already has, impacted so many people. Will impact so many more. It’s a story of hope, and what a great example of a positive rebellion.

I’m just so impressed with you! And I’m so thrilled that how you approached it; it made all the difference in the world. And something so beautiful, like this incredible company, was born from it.

Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll be back again next week to hear more from Merilee on how to create a healthier home. And in case you want to go ahead and check out Branch Basics a little bit closer right now, head to their website. www. BranchBasics.com. And be sure to use the code FEDANDFIT15; that’s all one word. For 15% off. It’s a one-time coupon. You get 15% off that first order. I hope you love it. We’ll be back again next week.

   

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