Category: Health & Wellness

Intermittent Fasting

The holidays are upon us and you know what that means… A lot of people are in crunch mode to lose a few pounds before the holidays for a work party, a family gathering, or so they can indulge a bit more during those delicious dinners!

One of the methods I have been using on-and-off for the past few months to help me through my plateaus has been intermittent fasting.

Let me preface this by stating that I do this in small durations and for small cycles. I do not treat this as a diet but rather as an eating pattern. In other words, I do not conscientiously alter the foods I eat when I break my fast nor do I do this for weeks at a time. I am also not a medical professional; this is just personal experience and personal research.

What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a cycle of eating in which there is a period of time that a person does not consume food and other periods of time that they do. Fasting has been a practice throughout time and is still practiced today outside of the health arena. Think about our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors – there were no GrubHub or Postmates or supermarkets, so there were times where eating wasn’t possible. Presently, people who observe Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism all fast at some point for religious reasons.

Why intermittent fasting?
There are several changes to the human body during a fast -some on a cellular level and some even on a molecular level. Many of you may have heard of the diet trend Keto which essentially forces your body to go into ketosis, working on insulin levels and carbohydrate processing. Fasting does something similar without the diet aspect and more.
Hormone levels are altered such as the human growth hormone (HGH) which increases and helps with fat loss and muscle gain; insulin productivity increases which reduce insulin levels and makes stored body fat more accessible (think ketosis); cells throughout the body begin initiate repair which helps process/eliminate protein inside the cells; gene expression occurs which have been linked to longevity and disease protection. Coincidentally, you become more conscientious of what you eat when you stop fasting (or break a fast) which means you opt to make healthier choices overall. Also, I have noticed that I don’t need to eat as much when I am observing a fast in order to feel full.

How do you fast?
There are several different types of fasting cycles. Below are just a few examples, but these can all be customized to fit a person’s needs.

  • Circadian Rhythm – Fasting period starts at sunset and lasts till morning.
  • 16:8 – A fasting period of 16 hours with an 8-hour eating window
  • 18:6 – A fasting period of 18 hours with a 6-hour eating window
  • 20:4 – A fasting period of 20 hours with a 4-hour eating window
  • Monk Fasting – A fasting period of 36 straight hours
  • Eat-Stop-Eat – Fasting for 24 hours, eating for one day, fasting again
  • 5:2 Diet Fast – This combines dieting with fasting in which a person only consumes 500 (plus/minus) calories a 2 times a week and then eat normally the rest of the week.

What is allowed during a fast?
Not much which is why the breaks are so important and why I do this only during short durations.
You are allowed to have water, tea, and black coffee – essentially clear liquids only. So no broth, no milk, no food.

I am fasting but I’m hungry (or don’t feel well). What do I do?
EAT. You have to listen to your body and if you aren’t feeling well or you are hungry – you need to eat. This is not meant to deprive you of nutrients or what your body needs. It isn’t worth getting sick over. This is just an eating style.

I started intermittent fasting with a Circadian Rhythm cycle that I then continued into the late morning. Now I do more of a 12:12 or 16:8 cycle because I stop eating around 8 PM and do not eat again until around noon unless I’m hungry in which I will have a light BREAKFAST (does that make sense now…break…fast) of my regular coffee (with almond milk and monk fruit) and usually an avocado toast for a good dosing of healthy fats.

Again, I do this for a few weeks at a time and then resume normal food consumption. This cycle of off-and-on helps me push through some weight loss hurdles and through mindless snacking/binging.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried intermittent fasting? What cycle have you tried? What has your experience been like? If you haven’t, are you interested in trying it?

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12 Ways to Cope with a Migraine

When you look up the word “migraine” in a medical textbook, my photo appears…along with almost every symptom that I experience from light sensitivity to nausea.

Though I have been told many times by family, friends, and even licensed professionals that I am “too young” or “too healthy” or “too naive” to be a migraine-sufferer, I have had migraines almost all my life. I am all too familiar with the difference between headaches, cluster headaches, tension headaches, sinus pressure, and migraines. I have been plugged to machines that have mapped my brain and been told that there was nothing wrong. I have been given anti-seizure medication, migraine pills, and other pharmaceutical remedies to treat what they still put on file as “headaches”. I was told to log when I got a migraine to see what the trigger was and was always thought to be dishonest because no pattern could be determined. I have done home remedies, omitted foods and drinks that “aggravate migraines” and taken countless OTC remedies all to no avail.

This is just a part of my life that I have learned to deal with and though it does cause issues on day to day living, I have a few tricks that help ease some of the pain. Nothing has been 100% fool-proof and I still continue to get migraines, but these are some methods that help me cope.

  1. Acknowledge the pain. There were a few years that I would try and ignore the warning symptoms that a migraine was developing. I did not want to admit that I had to deal with this and most likely the remainder of the day would be shot. However, just denying the pain would not make it go away. I had to accept it and come up with ways to deal with it.
  2. Cool showers. When it is too hot or after extraneous exercise, I am more inclined to get a migraine, so when I feel the beginnings of one, I take a cool shower to help regulate my body temperature and ironically clear my head.
  3. Turn off electronics. Blue light has been increasingly known to hurt our eyes which is also a contributing factor to the onset of migraines. Blue light is emitted from many of our favorite electronic devices from our computer monitors to our cell phones. When my migraine is creeping in, my cell phone is put away, the laptop is closed, and my tablet is shut.
    To help prevent the blue light from causing a migraine in the first place, especially since 8+ hours of my day is spent in front of a computer screen, I wear orange tinted or anti-blue light glasses (which can be bought on Amazon for about $12.99).
  4. Block out light. I use an eye mask to help me block out any ambient light that may irritate my eyes beyond a computer screen. My favorite is one that I also leave in the refrigerator so it helps with the puffiness and blood flow that usually cause my temples to look like they are speakers in a Jersey shore club. I bought mine on Amazon for about $10 (click here) at the time.
  5. Stay cool. My body temperature fluctuates tremendously when a migraine sets in and I can go from boiling hot to freezing cold. However when a full blown migraine hits, I force myself to lay down with a light blanket and the ceiling fan on. This constant flow of air helps the pressure and prevents me from sweating!
  6. Medicine. Yes, there are times where my migraines are too strong and homeopathic methods are simply inadequate. While I do not like to take medication regularly, I also realize that this was all developed for a reason and suffering will only make matters worse. So I will take Excedrin Migraine or other ibuprofen options to help at least take the edge off.
  7. Eat or drink yogurt. Another way I help regulate my internal body temperature as well as help calm an irritable stomach is through the consumption of yogurt. A quick bowl of yogurt is one way or I drink “tahn”. “Tahn” is an Armenian drink  which is simply yogurt mixed with water and some salt -trust me it tastes better than it sounds. Other Middle Eastern countries have their own name and variation for this drink like “ayran” in Turkey, “lassi” or “majjiga” in India, “kefir” or “doogh” in Persian. If I cannot have either, I will at least consume some acidophilus which will help calm my stomach.
  8. Find quiet. Like light, sounds tend to make my migraines worse so when one is developing, or already full-blown, I will make sure that I find some solitude even if that means using ear plugs.
  9. Hydrate. I am not able to eat or drink much of anything when I have a migraine because even toast makes me nauseous. However, dehydration makes my migraines even worse so I will start off with sipping cold water and then make my way to a coffee or tea for the added caffeine. Caffeine, though a dehydrating chemical, helps dilate my blood vessels making it easier for blood to pump. I limit this to one cup though and will continue to drink water until my migraine has subsided.
  10. Steer clear of fragrances. So again, like light and sound, strong smells make the migraine worse and will often make me extremely nauseous. This includes scents that linger from the kitchen. When I get a migraine, I am like a bloodhound and the simpliest smell can make me neasous.
  11. Eat minimally and light. Once the worst of the migraine has passed, I know that I need to eat something. I tend to opt for some toast, cereal, or, if I am feeling lucky, chicken/turkey. I will not, however, eat anything raw (like veggies), dairy, or any other meat until the next day as all of those are harder for me to digest and can aggravate my migraine.
  12. Take it easy. After a migraine subsides, I want to make up for lost time and act like everything is fine. But I have come to learn that doing that will only make things worse. Once I start to feel better, I have to take it easy, often for the remainder of the day, because I feel fatigued and overall weak. Trying to do more than my body will allow will only make me feel worse and often will mean that I will be stuck in bed till the next day.

Headaches suck. Migraines are deplorable. But when you have them, finding your tried and true ways to cope will help. I am also very fortunate to have people in my life that have either experienced migraines themselves or been around other people that have had them, so they truly understand and help me when needed.

So inquiring minds want to know…do you suffer from migraines? What do you do to deal with them?

Top 9 Things I Do for a Good Night’s Sleep

I personally need 8+ hours of sleep every night but for the longest time, barely clocked 6. This directly contributed to my stress levels which in turn led to my weight gain and kept the vicious cycle going. Additionally, the sleep deprivation had other consequences like communication issues with my husband and family, inability to focus, delayed reaction times, and so much more. I also knew this was impacting my weight. I knew my temper was shorter. I knew that other stressors were compounding the issue and I was getting sick more often than I should.

So I needed to make an adjustment on my sleeping habits. After some research and trial & error, I incorporated some key features to help me catch those elusive Zzzz’s. Below are the top 9 things I do to improve my sleep and overall well-being. I will try to link the products I use in case you are interested to give it a try for yourself – just remember that I am an Amazon junkie so most items are ordered!

  1. Clean my space – I cannot sleep when the room is full of clutter so I always have to make sure that the room is clear. For example, all of the clothes have to be put away, the shoes are in the closet, and any puppy toys that may have migrated in are put in their play box. A decluttered room means a room with better air flow and a simpler and quieter space. I do take 10-15 minutes a day to clean up my space so there is never a daunting pile waiting for me.
  2. Taking my nightly vitamins – Some people think that the only time you can take vitamins are with your morning coffee. Now there are some vitamins that should not be taken together as they counteract each other and prove to be less effective or altogether harmful. As far as I can remember, vitamin C acted like a sleeping pill for me – whether I took it in its natural form through eating an orange or as a part of a multivitamin ($11.10). I also take magnesium every other night to help my muscles and reduce muscle cramping. I bought mine from Amazon ($10.79)
  3.  Crank up my sound machine – This may sound silly for some but to clear my head and focus, I need to have my surrounding support my focus. Back in Florida, I had a sound machine that helped cancel out any TV sounds from my neighbors, the puppies trying to get attention, my husband typing away on his laptop, the fifth car alarm going off in the parking lot or the fire engine that just always seems to drive by when I was ready to call it a night. So when Amazon had a great lightning deal and I had the chance to replace the sound machine that I gave to my mom, I was thrilled! I did not have to use my phone anymore and could really disconnect. Mine was from Pure Enrichment and it is black and half the price of what I found is currently listed but it is a simple sound machine that takes up almost no space on my nightstand ($29.99).
  4. Color – Yep, you read that correctly – almost every night, especially after a rough day, I will take 10-15 minutes to color with my colored pencils and mandala book. Like my sound machine, this helps me clear my head and stop focusing on events from the day. Plus it helps me build my patience because I was always that kid that colored everywhere BUT in the lines.
  5. Pray –  I am not the most religious person but ever since I was a child, I always had my nightly prayers. Sometimes it was for a sick relative, sometimes it was in vain and was for a delay on a school test, but whatever it was for, I always took the 5 minutes to pray. Maybe it was the ideaology of being a part of something bigger than oneself, or maybe it was something else, but having that informal connection with God is always a part of my night.
  6. Complete my nightly skincare routine – I always make it a point to take off the day before I crawl into bed and prepare my skin for some TLC and repair. Though I will go into this into more detail in a future post, I always wash off all of my makeup, use a toner, apply a face oil, an eye cream, and a lip masque (especially now that I live in a very arid climate).
  7. Complete my nightly dental routine – This is a given but I always make sure that I floss, brush, and rinse with mouthwash before going to bed. I also use my Invisalign guard but that is probably for another day. There have even been nights where I was so tired I passed out before brushing and will wake up, brush, and then go back to bed.
  8. Moisturize – So beyond my face, I always take a few minutes to apply a moisturizer to my body and typically it has a lavender or chamomile scent to help lull me into a deep sleep.
    SLEEP – Lavender and Cedarwood Body Cream
    I also have Keratosis pilaris which is more commonly known as chicken skin or permanent goosebumps. The moisturizer I use for my upper arms help exfoliate and reduce the inflammation. I have bought Amlactin ($12.59) from Amazon, Walgreens, and most recently at Costco (which is the best deal) and would recommend you buy the small bottle first to test it out before the full commitment.
  9. Set the room – I need to make sure that my room’s ambiance helps set the stage for a restful night so I draw my blackout curtains from Target (Rune Printed Heathered Blackout Panel) and fill the room with the scent of lavender which really helps me calm down and drift into a restful night. I have used the Febreeze brand with Mediterranean Lavender but recently switched to a more conscientious and inexpensive brand, Mrs. Meyers ($5.89) when I don’t have my essential oil diffuser on blast:

Each of these, though simple, help me turn my mind off and get ready for a quality night’s sleep. I do change things up every now and again as I find new ways, techniques, and products that aim to help with sleep. I also want to make sure that my techniques are not disruptive to guests or my husband or the doggies. 

Inquiring minds want to know… What do you do to have a restful night? Do you have any tips or tricks that you find particularly helpful?

Freshen the Air Naturally

The air quality in California is no joke. Though it is one of the most strict states as far as emissions goes, especially living in the Central Valley, the air can be super saturated with pollutants. This is then coupled with lingering scents in the car from last night’s takeout or Fido’s accident or that afternoon you worked out a little too hard at the gym… So what do we typically do? We buy scents, sprays, and other noxtious chemicals to try and mask the odors and make the car ride more enjoyable – especially when you’re spending 5+ hours a week riding around.

So as a part of my health journey, I wanted to find a better way to make my car smell better, give me a little pick me up, and do my part to stop circling harmful chemicals around. I took a page from what I have started to do at home – switch out my chemical aerosols for natural water diffusers and essential oils, and decided that there had to be something equivalent for the car. I also wanted to find something that would help absorb the lingering scents between diffusing (because a girl needs to switch it up sometimes) and any stagnant smells from the Costco chicken I bought on my way home or the gym bag I forgot was in the backseat.

Turning to my trusty friend and my wallet’s archnemesis, Amazon, I found an inexpensive water-based diffuser for $12.99 (you can click here to purchase one yourself). It came with an extra cotton wick and very easy instructions. You need to use distilled or filtered water and whatever essential oil of your choice, but it should be water soluble. This is why I am so glad that I have been getting back into my DoTerra oils (thank you, Carrie) because I know they are quality and water soluable – they are not just scents but rather real oils made from real ingredients.
Once filled, you plug it in your … wait, I am about to age myself here, cigarette lighter, lightly tap the “power” button and enjoy the ride! Plus, this is using water as a way to diffuse the oil so it adds some extra humidity which is GREAT for someone who is living in an area with percentages topping at 18 in the summer.

So for the rest of the time, I thought about what I was using for my fridge to help keep my ingredients longer and suck up some of the smells of the salmon or ham. While the one I have in my fridge is a little different (I’ll post about that soon – promise!), I found these charcoal-based air purifier bags. Just one of these in my car can absorb and neutralize the differnet scents, leaving it fresh and ready for my essential oils. The Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag that contains 200mg of natural bamboo charcoal that can be reset through direct sunlight and reused several times -up to two years. After the first hour of having this inside the car, the car already smelled like it had recently been vacuumed! And this was only $9.95 with prime shipping. The baggie itself has no scent and is small enough to fit in the door sill or between the seats. 

I have used both of these in my husband’s older car and will be using it in mine. I am so happy to have these without having to purchase plugins or trees that last for a day or two at best.

So inquiring minds want to know… Do you have any healthy alternatives that you use in your car or home to help freshen up the environment? Do you use essential oils? What’s your favorite scent?

5 FRUGAL Tips for Self-Care

Let’s take a second to think about our daily list of to-dos. For a good percentage of us, there is family, work, household (includes the cooking, cleaning, and upkeep), friends…and in some cases like mine, school. So what is the one thing we have forgotten? Ourselves.

It isn’t uncommon to put everything and everyone over ourselves thinking that when our cup runneth over with helping others, that is all we need. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Plus with technology consuming the majority of our lives from the television to our cell phones, it is so easy to lose track of time and end up in a downward spiral of YouTube videos or Amazon shopping. Dare I say that some of us even feel guilty, or are made to think that putting ourselves first is selfish.

There have been many times that I have ‘crashed’ or ‘burned out’ because of the fact that I have given over 100% of myself to everything else in my life. Eventually, my body, my spirit, my mind -they all shut down because you can only run on adrenaline for so long before you putter out -just like a car without a full tank of gasoline. And yet I repeatedly find myself starting the vicious cycle after I recuperate – seemingly never learning my lesson!

However, I am the first to admit that if I am not taking care of myself first, then everything else will topple over like a bad tower of Jenga blocks. So I have started to incorporate some self-care techniques to help myself be a better me – all at no cost which makes it an easier pill to swallow if you will. While these may not be appropriate for everyone, they have been working for me and those around me – I have even received feedback that people have noticed a change in me!

1 – Incorporate sleep. Simple enough, right? Well, do you know how many hours your body needs to feel optimal? I personally need between 8-9 hours of sleep -any less and I am a shell of myself; any more and I actually am sluggish. So I have my phone set with a reminder on when I need to be asleep by, give myself a 30-minute buffer to take care of my nighttime routine, and am in bed. This took a long time to get used to the routine, especially when I am submerged in a great Netflix movie, doing homework, or spending time with friends/family. But I know that without my proper sleep, I am not myself so I force myself to make sleep my number one self-care tactic.

2 – Exercise daily. Sounds insane, right? We are always complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day but if you think about the fact that there are 1,440 minutes in a day, making 30 for exercise doesn’t seem so bad. Now I am not saying you have to go to the gym every day or become a triathlon athlete, but if we can make it a point to do some form of exercise every day, you are helping promote a better self. Exercise is proven to have long term benefits with reducing heart disease, reducing weight, and so much more. But think about reducing stress – 30 minutes of brisk walking to clear your head after a long day or 30 minutes of low impact yoga before your day starts to start off on the right foot… This will also help your body catch up to your mind and help establish proper sleep at the day’s end – just don’t start to exercise less than 2 hours before bed!

3 – Learn that saying “no” is healthy. So often we are told that “no” is essentially a bad word. We should always say “yes” and welcome the responsibilities. But think about the last time you said “no” to someone or something…did the world stop? Saying “no” sometimes can be self-empowering because you are taking control of your self, your actions, your choices. And this gives you the opportunity to reassess what you are saying “yes” to before making the promise for one…more…thing. Saying “no” could also help prevent burnout because you are not adding yet another event, assignment, or chore to your plate.

4- Schedule “me” time. Just like you schedule a meeting, schedule time dedicated to just you. So you can paint, knit, read, sew, meditate, or whatever you want during that time but it is your dedicated time. Start with just 15 minutes and adjust as necessary. This is the time that is exempt from anything else but you. I have personally made some time at the start of my day, waking up earlier so I can get my time to do whatever I need to – check my emails, respond to text messages, read, exercise, meditate or try to map out the winning lottery numbers (a girl can dream). I then dedicate 15 minutes at the end of the day to recap, plan, and reflect.

5- Use positive language. So what does that mean? Well, let me ask you a simple question – how do you describe yourself when something didn’t go as planned? Do you say: “I am so stupid”? Or how about when you need to describe yourself physically? Do you say: “I am overweight.” or “My hair is messy” or “I feel frumpy”? This is all negative language and it feeds into a cycle of unhealthy behavior. Changing the negative adjective for something more positive can lift you up and alter perception. So “I am so stupid” becomes “I am going to ask for help” or “I can try this again”. You can do this with others too – instead of saying “I’m sorry for being late” try saying “Thank you for waiting for me”; this cuts the negativity and acknowledges positive actions!

Sure there are plenty more steps that we can take to start to take better care of ourselves, but this is not a marathon -it’s a journey. So every step towards better self-care, improved mental health, improved physical health…that is what matters! And sometimes finding a frugal way to make those improvements are even better!

So inquiring minds want to know… What do you do for self-care? Do you have any other techniques to share? How do you make time for yourself?

Health: Protein Powder Supplements

In order to maintain a healthy weight and still allow my body enough nutrients, I have been turning to protein powders to fill some of my dietary gaps. Many of you know that I have opted to having a healthy, homemade smoothie every weekday that usually supplements my breakfast and lunch. So how do I get one little smoothie to actually fill me up that much that I’m not order GrubHub every day? Protein.

Now by protein I don’t necessarily mean straight out fish or eggs or meat or diary but rather a supplement powder that can be added to the cocktail of fruits and vegetables. I am sure you have seen a wide variety of protein powders on the shelves of your local grocery store, but are they all created equal? Simply put, no.

So I want to break down the different types of protein powders available which are the foundation of the supplement, regardless of whatever name is on the label. Some supplements are good for vegans while others are meant to help you gain muscle mass. So which is which? Keep reading!

1) Whey Protein – this is originally derived from milk and is the leading type of protein that is used in supplemental shakes. It is often sold in a powder form and is believed to enhance the immune system. It is also the least expensive type of protein powder and is often enhanced to have better taste by the introduction of flavorings like chocolate or coffee or vanilla. Whey protein also comes in two varieties:

  • a) Whey Concentrate
  • b) Whey Isolate

Yep, so you get twice as confused when you head over to your nutrition store or order online. The main difference between the two? Whey concentrate, like the name states, is concentrated so it is less expensive and has a lower dose of lactose. On the other hand, Whey Isolate has almost no fat and typically has little to no lactose.

2) Casein or Milk Protein – Yep, so this is not to be confused with whey protein which is also a milk derivative (whey and casein actually make up whole milk on a 20:80 ratio). Casein, unlike whey, is slowly absorbed by the body releasing amino acids more steadily. This form of protein has been noted by researchers to be the better option for those that are active while whey is more aligned with stimulating protein synthesis during periods of rest.

3) Egg White Protein – So the name gives it away, but this protein is the old time go-to for protein supplement. Though the taste is gross in comparison to the flavor-enhanced whey and casein proteins, egg white protein has the same low levels of fat and carbs. So perhaps this is an option if you must stay away from dairy.

4) Plant Protein – Instead of listing out each one, this cumulative “plant protein” concept includes protein from plants like soy, rice, or pea. Vegetarian or Vegan? This is the option that is selected most by people that cannot have dairy or are staying away from animal products. They provide the same amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as their competitors. However, these also provide their plant-benefits so for example, soy protein also has isoflavones which provides added antioxidants and has heart benefits. Typically these are more expensive than their milk counterparts but are easily found at any store.

5) Beef Protein – Saved for last as it is most commonly used by bodybuilders, as is beef in general. Beef protein, as the name suggests, is derived from beef but is also sorted down to remove high levels of fat and cholesterol while also introducing a flavoring like chocolate or vanilla. In addition to the protein benefit, this protein also offers creatine (which is an organic acid that provides energy to the cells of the body, specifically muscle).

So that’s the list but what does it mean and do you need added protein in your diet? Since most of us are not athletes or body building, please keep in mind that I am speaking to and for average consumers. That means that the following are reasons why the average person is suggested to consume that protein concoction:

  1. You’re not done growing – You are a teenager whose body needs protein as fuel for your muscles to continue to grow.
  2. You’re not done growing – You are an adult that is looking to grow more muscle mass.
  3. You’re not done growing – You have decided that running on the treadmill is not enough and you want to participate in a marathon or started HIIT workouts. Amped up workouts, or workouts that are beyond one’s normal regimen, would require additional fuel in the form of protein.
  4. You’re done growing but you got hurt – Protein feeds your muscles and helps them heal so if you’re in recovery, protein helps the healing process. This is also why it is often recommended to have protein after a workout.
  5. You’re vegan – Nothing wrong with this lifestyle, but there are certain minerals and vitamins that are not readily obtainable if you gave up all meat and animal products, so you need to supplement your diet.

So back to the original question… Do you need protein? Yes. Do you need protein to lose weight? Not really. Do you need to shell out big bucks or jump on various company bandwagons to get protein? Nope. Will I continue to consume my daily protein shake which consists of a variety of the ones listed above? Yep!

Again, protein is for your muscles and even lean muscle needs fuel, but if you are looking to tone or drop a few pounds, you could probably get away with just introducing some more fish or nuts to your diet. Now, if you are trying to increase muscle mass or have changed up your routine altogether, then yes, please invest in the right protein supplement for you.


Shaw, G. (n.d.). Protein Powder: What You Should Know. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/protein-powder

Taylor, M. G. (n.d.). Choosing a Protein Powder - Nutrition Express Articles. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.nutritionexpress.com:9080/article+index/authors/mark+g+taylor+ms/showarticle.aspx?articleid=896

Volek, J. S. (n.d.). Whey vs Casein: Which one best maintains muscle mass? Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.nutritionexpress.com:9080/article+index/authors/jeff+s+volek+phd+rd/showarticle.aspx?articleid=1082

Preventative Health – Chiropractic Services & Massage Therapy

While taking care of yourself is pivotal on a health journey, sometimes turning to others for help is just as important. This post is regarding the chiropractic services I have been receiving the past few months (since late June), coupled with massage therapy, and my progress thus far.

Let me start by prefacing that chiropractic care is indeed scary. You really need to take the time to find a reputable chiropractor that you can trust. You are literally putting your life in their hands and if you don’t believe me, think about the last time you hurt your neck when you slept on a bad pillow… Now think about a person taking your neck and twisting it (in layman’s terms of course) – one wrong move could lead to serious medical conditions like paralysis. Do your research. Ask around. Go for a consultation and trust your instinct. If you aren’t 100% comfortable, find another provider.

Okay – warning provided. Now let me set the stage for why I sought a chiropractor out in the first place.

Since April/May, I had been having horrendous nights and a constant pain on the left side of my neck to the point that I did not have a full range when turning my head. I was getting more frequent headaches and developed this uncomfortable crick in my neck. Driving was starting to become unsafe because there were days I couldn’t turn my head fully. So after trying heat, ice, SalonPas, IcyHot, and who knows what else, I decided to seek professional care.

I did some research and found a chiropractor that was in-network with my insurance, local, and had amazing hours. In fact, he is operating at a wellness facility so there were multiple services available including massage therapy, cryogenics, and other items. I was also able to schedule a consultation with him on a Saturday which included dedicated time to discuss my issues, x-rays, and a preliminary workup. I left the appointment feeling confident and comfortable.

I go to this facility and I have to say that ALL of the staff is amazing! Thank you for all you do!

When I went back to discuss the outcome of my x-rays and exam, I had some serious though not detrimental issues. The curvature of my neck was non-existent and I was completely straight (thank you ballet classes). My left shoulder was higher than my right. My spine pulled slightly to the right starting that “S” curve. The only good thing was that my hips were straight – guess my hips don’t lie after all. This resulted in a plan of 2 visits per week with a massage and adjustment each visit for 12 weeks.

Fast forward to mid-August and I am nearing the completion of my first round of adjustments and massages (yes, covered by insurance). I feel 80% better with my normal range of motion and significantly less stiffness. The massages work congruently with the adjustments because it helps relieve the tension and fluid build-up which allows the adjustment to be more effective and prevents me from going right back to that awkward position (like a constant state of shrugging). We will be reviewing my curvature once we finish all 12 weeks with another x-ray and plan the long-term care.

So do I recommend chiropractic care? Yes. There may be a lot of hype around preventative care right now with a lot of doctors getting into “prevention” and “public health” over prescriptions and surgery. While I do not believe every claim that chiropractic care has been recently noted to treat/cure, I do believe that it is an improvement on the quality of life. I personally can speak to my reduction of pain, reduced frequency of headaches, better sleep, and better posture. Will I continue to seek care? Yes. This is health journey is not a sprint – I don’t expect to be 100% overnight. Is it for everyone? No, I don’t believe that it is but I think that you should at least get a consultation every so often to prevent long term issue that could arise – especially if you are desk bound!

So tell me – have you ever sought out a chiropractor? When was the last time you had your spine examined? Would you like me to document a visit? Comment below!

Feminine Health – “It’s that time!”

“Aunt Rose”. “The Visitor”. “Aunt Flo”. “THAT THING”. “Period”. “Menstrual Cycle”. “That time of the month”.

Whatever you call it, ladies, we all have it – some more frequently than others, some heavier, but we all get it. So why have we not yet had a talk about what are some best practices for a healthier period?? Gentlemen, you are welcome to read on to help your sister, friend, significant other, but I also know that this is not the most ideal topic for you!

If you have ever watched TV, you know that our monthly cycles are quite the money makers with at least 1 add per 30 minute show being about the new “and totally innovative” feminine hygiene product that is now on the market! You are probably very familiar with the blue water that is supposed to mimic our monthly flow and how the shape of that cotton plug will mean you can do aerobatics and not have to worry about a leak.

But have you ever thought about what that gel core is really made of or how that plastic sheet is causing a rash during those hot summer months? Or have you ever researched what color cotton is – because it isn’t pure white unless you add bleach… Yeah, maybe that is a bit of TMI but I was fed up personally and with my endometriosis, tampons are not my best friend, so what options did I have??

So it was time for a little research and trial & error for a healthier alternative that I would be happy with and could stop poisoning my body every month. Below are just a few options I researched or tried and what is my new go-to for my monthly visit from my “Aunt Flo”!


Disclaimer: These images are stock photos are not mine. When possible, they are linked to the original source. Links within this post may be affiliate links but do not affect the outcome, price, or product.


Menstrual Cups (like Diva Cup)

This method is by far the most green option in that it is a silicone cup that is reusable after a simple wash. This usually comes in two sizes – small for those that have not had natural child birth (or a narrow cervix) and large for those that have had a child. However, Diva Cup has created a third size as well which is typically for those that are under 18. Usually they lack color or are pink, but can come in different colors.

The objective behind this is that it is inserted into the vaginal opening and will collect the menstrual flow. It can then be dumped, washed, and reinserted.

While the ideology behind this method is great, I personally cannot use these. As I mentioned before, tampons are uncomfortable for me, so this is not ideal for me – in fact there is a disclaimer on Diva Cup’s website to consult a healthcare provider if tampons are uncomfortable before using.


Organic Feminine Pads (like Cora)

This organic brand was one of the first that came up when I researched alternatives to standard period pads. While there were a few other brands, this one really jumped out to me. When researching the brand, the social responsibility that this company has is bar none – they actually help women in developing countries get feminine products so they no longer have to forgo school or work during their monthly cycle. They also have tampons with an applicator, bladder pads, and light liners!

These pads are SUPER thin and just the right size. They are very absorbent while still being organic cotton and adhesive so they don’t shift around. There is no feeling like a diaper, no odor, and it is very discreet. When you first order a supply, Cora sends a “pleather” wallet to hold several different pads that can discreetly be hidden into your purse. These are also stored neatly in a box that doesn’t showcase “Hi! I’m pads!” like most of the brightly colored pads nowadays.

I signed up for the 3-month pack which came out to only $12 for the month and I did not have to worry about going to the store – they were delivered directly to me, discreetly (not that I cared), and came within 3 days! Having extra meant that if I had a heavier cycle, I did not have to worry about running out. Having a 3-month supply at once meant that if my cycle was not regular, I would not have to send my husband to the store for me or scour the depths of my bathroom cabinet for that one that fell in the back (c’mon, I know I am not alone on this one). And I get to customize my pack to meet my needs so I do not have to buy 54 overnight pads that feel like diapers and take up a third of my cabinet space! In fact I just edited my upcoming delivery and delayed it a month because I have extra which dropped my monthly amount to $10/month.

If you are interested in giving Cora a try, click here to try a month’s worth for only $5! ALSO I just learned that Cora is sold at Target if you want to give it a try without subscribing just yet.

Another brand, that I have not yet tried as they are more expensive than Cora, is Lola. This company has other products like sexual protection, and “cramp care”.

Whichever option, menstrual cups or organic tampons/pads, making the switch is better for your health especially since it is something we have to do every month! I personally will never go back to standard products that you can buy in the drugstore!

So tell me if you have tried anything new for your monthly flow? Are you willing to make a healthier switch?

Healthy Lifestyle – Traveling Tips & Tricks

It is that time of the year that we are all loading up our cars, packing our suitcases, boarding planes (or trains)… No matter what your mode of transportation, summer is the time of year that traveling amps up! And as someone that has traveled a lot for work (and personal), there have been a few tips and tricks that I have learned along the way to help keep me healthy! Plus most of these can be purchased ahead of time for those holiday trips that are just around the corner!

Disclaimer: Some of these items do have an affiliate link but does not impact your experience or the price. They solely allow me to continue to bring you new reviews and new topics!

I am not a “germ-a-phobe” BUT there are a lot of very nasty surfaces that you come in contact with constantly when traveling. And some of these surfaces are the last place you would think would be ridden with germs, but in fact are worse than toilet seats in a public rest area! For example, the serving tray on the plane is seldom cleaned and I have seen people use it for everything from a food tray to a changing table for their baby to a foot rest… Or if you’re in a hotel, that remote is worse than the bottom of your shoes! So the one thing I ALWAYS pack with me and keep readily available are these wipes that I repeat purchase. I wipe down these surfaces to make sure I don’t pick up any unnecessary germs!

When you’re on a plane, especially a night flight, there is nothing better than getting in a few Zzz’s. But admit it -those U-shaped pillows are basically pointless because you are already crammed in a seat that is not meant for the average human being, you sure won’t be able to lean your head back comfortably! That is why I splurged on this Trtl Pillow that allows me to sleep in a more realistic position for me while keeping my head from whacking the person next to me. There is an updated model coming that allows you to even customize your neck length for an even more comfortable position.

Trying to sleep with that amazing pillow but the lights in the plane bothering you? I bought this pack of eye masks to help block out the light without compressing my eyes or nose. They fold up easily and can be packed away when not in use. They are not tight and can be adjusted as they secure with Velcro. I even use these at home on some nights!

If you’re flying, even if it is a short flight, the air in the plane is brutal for your skin, hair, nails, but most importantly, your eyes! Many people overlook the eyes when flying but the cabin pressure that is drying out your skin is also drying out your eyes. I use these preservative free eye drops every time I fly so my eyes are refreshed, not blood shot! Also, if you wear contact lenses, opt for glasses on your flight – the dryness can damage your contacts just as much as your eyes!

I have made it a rule to NEVER drink and fly -and that includes carbonated beverages as well as adult drinks. When you’re flying, the air pressure changes the molecular compound of these carbonated drinks so they expand MORE and will cause gas and discomfort for the consumer. And alcohol is a dehydrator on land so up in the air it is amplified! So instead I pack my water bottle and fill it up when I get passed TSA. Sometimes I can even get Starbucks, or a like company, to fill it up if the airport does not have a bottle machine. Because this is plastic and clear, I never have a hard time with TSA and it doesn’t break…even when I try to cram my bag under the seat in front of me!

Dry eyes, covered. Hydration, covered. Now what about your skin??? There are a few items I use to keep my skin hydrated and clean on long trips, including road trips! Starting with hands (and arms, elbows…), this is the cream I always have in my purse! It is travel-appropriate (3oz) so it does not cause any problems with TSA. This moisturizer also is pH balanced so it does not OVER moisturize (when your hands feel greasy) and can be layered if needed.

For my face, I know some people use sheet masks (especially international flights), but I cannot get passed the Halloween look and my skin is very sensitive so I do not want to do anything to over aggravate it, which many sheet masks do. So instead I use a combo serum and cream that I will apply after wiping down my face (I use these wipes to make sure I have a clean face). Both sink into my skin nicely and is easy to apply. It isn’t overly oily nor does it have much of a scent, so you aren’t bothering your neighbor!

Like to fly by the window with the shade up? While this is deemed the best seat to prevent contracting airborne germs, most of the time people forget that just because you are behind a window, that does not mean you are immune to those sun rays! Think about the fact that you are essentially in a sardine can, up about 30,000 feet in the air, above the white clouds (think about how snow reflects sun and you can easily sunburn in winter)… You need to wear sunscreen – especially on your face!! I use this mineral sunscreen after applying my moisturizer and it is so lightweight that it doesn’t aggravate my skin! It also is compact and doesn’t dust everywhere so again, no disruptions to your neighbor!

Your hair is also wiped of its moisture when flying, so of course I have a remedy for that! While I use these hair ties that prevent creasing or damaging my curl pattern, they work very well in keeping my hair up (in a pineapple) and away from the frizz-causing headrest. I also apply a few drops of this Moroccan Oil to tame the flyaways and add moisture. It is easy to apply and is light-weight. While it does have a light scent, it dissipates quickly as well so your neighbor shouldn’t be too bothered.

Do you have any tried and true tips or products you use when traveling? Share them with me below! Have you ever tried any of the items above or used any of those tips?? Comment below!!

Health: Living with Endometriosis

Endometriosis, or “Endo” for short, is one of the new hot topic items that is getting a lot of screen time. There are many more people that are coming out and saying they have Endo – some actually do and some don’t. There are also a lot of health care providers that claim they are experts on Endo and can help, but many only know what was in their textbook.

I have been living with Endo all my life but as I get older, it becomes more pertinent and more debilitating. This may be TMI but I got my period at nine years of age -way earlier than a woman should, and spent the majority of my adolescence in pain and calling out of school because of my symptoms. When I finally went to the OB, I was told it was all normal and probably not as bad as I expressed because what did a young teenager know. I was put on birth control to regulate my periods and that was it. But I never got better.

In fact, it wasn’t until I moved to Florida that I found an OB that took more than 5 minutes to examine me. Ultimately he realized that something was indeed wrong with me and we started a plan. Since it has been almost 20 years, and I ultimately wanted children, we did not want to do surgery but started a DepoLupron injection series. That meant 1 shot per month for 6 months and by shot I mean an actual horse tranquilizer- I even had nurses try to change the needle to no avail.

For six months, and several months thereafter, I was less than 30 years old and menopausal. I had all the symptoms. I had the hair loss, night sweats, nausea, hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain… I felt like a shell of myself but the monthly pain did stop. So did I do the right thing?

It has been about six years since those injections and I have moved across the country. The monthly pain has returned. The nausea returned. The debilitating cramps and bleeding have returned. Many don’t understand what I’m going through and I don’t want many to know… I pop aspirin and OTC pain killers like Tic-Tacs. I live with heating pads and always have one in my purse. I go without eating for 24-48 hours and I’m famished. I can’t move much. My back hurts. I usually don’t sleep but I’m so tired. I want to be held but don’t want to be touched. I want to cry but can’t show emotion. I can’t stand up straight or lay down. My head starts to pound and I usually get a migraine.

So what have doctors told me? Honest to God…

“Hurry up and have children so we can do a hysterectomy.”

Most say that because pills don’t work for me and I have stopped altogether because of the side effects. Surgery is not something anyone wants to do because of the risk of scar tissue plus the surgery is temporary and the Endo will return.

So what do I do? I live with it. Every day. Every month. Every year. And I am surrounded by some of the best people in the world that understand that even though what I have cannot be seen, it exists. Also, I have lost weight. I research my disease. I have joined support groups. I talk to my friends that have it too. I apply heat. I exercise often. I meditate and do yoga to help push through the pain. This all helps. And I have found a cocktail of multivitamins and natural supplements that help alleviate a degree of the pain. I smile. I get up in the morning. I breathe.

I don’t let the pain live through me, I live through the pain.