Category: Health

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!

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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!!

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.

Smoothie Recipes – Weeks 03 & 04

Sorry that week 03 never got its own week of glory! That week was super busy with classes starting up again. But have no fear, this is a two-fer Sunday post with both week 03 and 04!

Now that week 04 is over, we will be starting back at week 01 and making some small improvements and throwing in a curveball or two – especially since I try to use fresh produce whenever possible and the summer months allow for some great variations!

I also want to share that these smoothies are not for someone that is on a low-carb diet. Though predominantly vegetarian and organic, these shakes allow me to essentially have a meal replacement and often times, two meals are replaced because I am simply not hungry. Each shake varies but they are between 280-350 calories. I do sip them throughout the morning, and sometimes into the afternoon, so I do not find myself snacking as much either. Those that are also a part of the “shake club” are getting a daily dose of at least one serving of vegetables and one serving of fruit, though many shakes are upwards of 3 servings. I also shop weekly for my produce with the exception of the powder supplements and any frozen items.

Remember that each shake contains Combat protein, collagen power, Maca powder, and unless otherwise noted (*), Amazing Greens.
Okay, so disclaimer is out – now on to the important stuff!

WEEK 03

Wake-Me Up Monday*
Cacao Powder, Banana, Coffee (straight from the Ninja after cooling), coconut flakes, vanilla extract, and flax. The liquid base is: almond milk

An Apple a Day Tuesday*
Apples, walnuts, oats (soaked from the night prior), cinnamon, spinach, yogurt, and chia. The liquid base is: almond milk.

Green-a-colada Wednesday
Banana, pineapple, coconut, spinach, Greek yogurt, and flax. The liquid base is: water.

Friday Eve Blues
Blueberries, blackberries, tofu, walnuts, flax and Greek yogurt. The liquid base is: coconut water.

Cheesecake Friday*
Strawberries, non-dairy sour cream, honey graham cracker, cinnamon and ice. The liquid base is: almond milk.

The obvious winner of the week was Cheesecake Friday. This was very indulgent and very rich, even though it was low in fats, dairy-free, and surprisingly not high in calories. It genuinely tasted like a cheesecake and even non-“shake club” members thought it was relatively spot on!
The second place winner was An Apple A Day Tuesday as it mimicked an apple pie!


Week 04

Cup ‘O Sunshine Monday
Carrots, banana, Greek yogurt, mango, papaya, and pineapple. The liquid base is: orange juice.

Watermelon Delight
Watermelon, Greek yogurt, lime juice, mint and ice. The liquid base is: coconut water.

Berry Glad It’s Already Wednesday
Blueberries, blackberries, mango, avocado, chia, honey and peanut butter powder (or almond butter). The liquid base is: coconut water.

Power Through Thursday
Mixed greens, apples, cucumber, zucchini, lime juice, banana, ice, turmeric and ginger. The liquid base is water.

Strawberry Shortcake / Peaches & Cream Friday*
Strawberries, vanilla extract, graham cracker, cinnamon, oats (soaked from the night before), almond butter. The liquid base is: almond milk.
Peaches, vanilla extract, graham cracker, cinnamon, oats (soaked from the night before), almond butter. The liquid base is: almond milk.
This day had two variations due to the availability of frozen strawberries. So “shake club” had the strawberry shortcake and Hubby & I had the peaches & cream.

This week’s winner was actually Wednesday’s shake! It had a lot of flavor without being too overpowering. Also, Friday’s shake was the second choice.


I honestly have to say that after 4 weeks of doing these daily shakes, I do not see an end in sight just yet. I enjoy making these and enjoy getting a good jump start to my day. I don’t snack much anymore. I don’t eat as much -even for dinner. I have more energy, less of a crash in the afternoon, and have noticed a difference with my recovery from workouts as well as the length & strength of my hair, skin and nails.

If you think you want to give these a try, please let me know what you think! I am always open to feedback and suggestions. If you have any tried and true recipes, please let me know!

Next week I will be covering my current blender situation – and no, I do not have a Vitamix, as well as which blender is next on my radar since these are becoming a staple in my household.

Recovering!

Some of you may have wondered where I went these past few weeks and some of you may have scooted over to my IG and saw some photo or message…

Well, for the past couple of weeks I have gone dark because I was sick. And by sick I mean I could not eat, drink, sleep or do much of anything without being in crippling pain and having to pray to the porcelain gods. I even went to the ER at two of our local hospitals on two different days! And if you know me…hospitals and I are not friends. But after two weeks, I finally found a physician that would HEAR me -not just listen and I am on the road to recovery. Below is a little insight on to where I was and I promise I will be back to a full schedule next week!

April 20th – Picture this. My in-laws had just gotten to town the night prior and we (my husband and I) had created a whole schedule of outings and menu (Yeah, I’m a Type A)! I woke up with a migraine (typical for me) and my stomach was out of sorts. After some medicine, I thought I was fine and we loaded into the car to head out of town and visit new-age wine country! Alas, not even 1 hour into the drive, I was done. I was a mess and could not sit in the car for more than a few minutes at a time. Cue in a Target run for meds and voila – I was fine! Or so I thought. That night I took a turn. 101º fever. Chills to the point my body locked up on me. Nausea. Pain. I was in bad shape.

April 22nd – First hospital visit. What. A. Nightmare. I had never been to the ER in Cali but this was quite an experience that I wish upon no one. Waiting rooms at full capacity. No beds. No where to sit. Hours of waiting for medication. No fluids. No follow up. Barely anything more than a quick blood draw.

April 24th – I took a turn for the worst. Not even 6am and we were in the waiting room at the ER (hospital #2) and this would be the beginning of a 12+ hour day. I had to beg for medication…twice. But at least they ran tests – mostly because I asked. Yet I still walked out at the end of the day with a prescription for medication and no answers – just pain and hunger.

April 29th – I was still not eating but I had to go to work. I lost 10 pounds. I looked frail. I felt worse. I just wanted to sleep. Thankfully I work with an amazing team and one of my physicians made a few phone calls and I had an appointment for the 2nd. Prayers and crackers was all I had.

May 2nd – Two doctors appointments -the first being one of the most awkward visits I had ever had and the second was a dream come true. We sat for over 1 hour and discussed what was wrong, how to treat it, what I could try to start eating, what my limitations would be, and what would be my next steps. I went home with medication that was actually effective for what I had -not making me worse- and started recuperating THAT NIGHT.

So why am I sharing all this? Well, for the sake of oversharing, I really want to hit home that you have to advocate for yourself. Health care is here to help you but there are a lot of hurdles and obstacles in providers’ way but also in yours. While I do not expect everyone to have a doctorate degree or read the ICD10 code book, you need to be your own advocate.
For example, at hospital #2, I only received fluids because I asked for it -mind you this was almost 5 days without being able to really even keep water in. I was then given pain killers but was still in pain so I wanted more answers and more help – ask number 2 and cue the additional testing that uncovered an abnormality that 3 other tests did not show. You cannot rely on your health care provider knowing everything, especially since he/she does not know your body better than you.

Ask questions! Do not settle for the baseline or textbook answer. Ask for help. And if you can…take someone with you. I personally felt like a burden to my family but I am blessed that I was not alone throughout the whole ordeal.

Universal Hair Request: Righteous Roots

Many of you may know by now that I have curly hair that sometimes looks like 2C, sometimes 3A, and sometimes 3B… If you don’t know what that means, I have curly hair that sometimes is with a looser pattern and sometimes it looks like I wrapped my hair around a cork screw!

But one thing that you may not know is that I am the only one in my family with not straight hair. And no, it is not because I am adopted or switched at birth because I otherwise am a spitting image of my mother, but some genetic fluke decided that I would have curls instead of lustrous (and dare I say more easily manageable) hair. In fact, my mom has such straight hair that even if you try to curl it, pin it, put it in a ponytail, or really style it in any way, within an hour it is out and straight.

So what am I getting at? While my family and I do not have the same hair pattern (my husband leans towards 3C/4A which is tight curls to kink), we all have the same wants with our hair (well, maybe not my husband on everything). We want volume, definition, health, shine, and growth. We do not want to settle for hair falling out or dry, brittle, lifeless locks.

Yes, I do use a heck of a lot more products than my mother and I use different curly hair products than my husband, but there is some definite overlap if we want the same results and we want to use products that are good for us – not chalk full of chemicals than only a chemist could pronounce (even a biologist by trade such as myself cannot pronounce half of these items). We do not want parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, alcohols, silicone, or formaldehyde. And in my case, because I have sensitive skin, I want no or natural only scents – no perfumes!

One product that we are all using, daily, and have seen a tremendous change in our hair is Righteous Roots Oil ($15/bottle).

Ingredients (per the company’s website): COCOS NUCIFERA OIL (COCONUT), RICINUS COMMUNIS (JAMAICAN BLACK CASTOR OIL), OLEACEAE OIL (OLIVE), PERSEA AMERICANA MILL OIL (AVOCADO), VITIS VINIFERA OIL (GRAPESEED), SESAMUM INDICUM OIL (SEASAME), MENTHA PIPERITA OIL (PEPPERMINT), MELALEUCA ALTERNIFOLIA LEAF OIL (TEA TREE), SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS SEED OIL (JOJOBA), ARGANIA SPINOSA OIL (ARGAN), ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS OIL (ROSEMARY)

This company blew me away when they were not afraid to list their ingredients on their website and on their product. The more I read, the more I realized this was all natural. And after I tried in on myself, everyone in the family was required to give it a try (with a nightly scalp massage of course). Low and behold, each member of the family (straight, curly, or kinky patterns) all noticed hair growth even in that almost annoying baby hair and length. Oddly enough our hair started to get darker too when it started to grow out. It detangled my hair with ease and smelled wonderful without irritating my scalp or rubbing off on everything around me. It also helps me break the cast formed by gels and leaves my hair looking shiny and healthy!

In fact, we ended up ordering 3 additional bottles after just breaking into the first one because we never want to run out! I only use 6 drops per night while my mom uses no more than 4, and my husband uses 8-10. We are just about to finish our first bottle.

Now my only caution is, especially if you have straight hair or are trying to go an extended period before wash day (I know we all dread that because it is a whole day affair for curly girls), is that this can start to coat your hair and leave it feeling oily. This happens to me around day 5 and for my mom around day 3. So how do you wash it – with shampoo like always, right? No. Not this time. There are two tricks on washing your hair when it is super oily albeit through the overuse of this hair oil or other reasons:

  1. Use your shampoo on dry hair. That’s right, do not jump immediately under the water when you are going to wash but rather apply shampoo to your dry hair. This will bond with the oil and allow it to be rinsed off versus the water “mixing”, or better yet coating, with the oil and creating an oilier situation. Once you rubbed the shampoo in, rinse, and repeat your normal process.
  2. Use apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a rinse. Using a bottle or bowl, depending how you want to apply the rinse, mix 1 part ACV to 2 parts water. Then you can rinse and massage this mixture in your hair before applying conditioner in the shower. I do not recommended shampooing after an ACV rinse because it will be super drying.

I am partial for the latter of the two when I have the time, because it helps my hair look and feel shiny and strong, but when I am short on time, the first option works well.

I will have some status photos up soon so you can see first hand on how effective this product is for all of our hair! But in the meantime, do not hesitate to buy a bottle of your own and try to carve out 5 minutes for yourself and massage a little but of Righteous Roots on to your scalp at night and I can almost promise you will see a difference!

If you take the leap of faith and give this product a try, leave a comment below and share your experience!

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. Links and images are not my property and are not affiliate codes.

A Photo is Worth a Thousand Words

So I know that my heading is a play on words but so often nowadays a photo outnumbers a picture! Plus in this circumstance, the proof is in the pudding.

Okay. Enough “Dad-isms”.

I sincerely wanted to share an update on my health journey. There have been a number of changes just within the past couple of weeks!

First and foremost, while I loved OrangeTheory, the schedule wasn’t ideal for my workdays and I guess the word got out because the classes were always packed! Therefore I had to terminate that membership…for now. And since CycleBar started to become more like SoulCycle: The Teenie Bob edition, that member was also cancelled.

But locally we have a full fledged gym, similar to LA Fitness if you have seen those. I was fortunate enough to get a discount because of where I work and signed up myself and the hubster. This was one of the best moves we have made! We can go on our schedule and spend as much or as little time as we want. We can do cardio or machines or weights or participate in classes or swim… And even though we don’t have a trainer, YouTube has become a great way to educate oneself on exercises and regimens!

But more importantly than how I exercise is what I am eating. They say weight loss is 80-90% diet and 10-20% exercise and I believe it! I am not doing a fad diet or signed up for a coaching program or drinking detox anything. I am eating cleaner, more vegetarian and making myself my own smoothie every weekday!

I will update you more on the smoothies and new items that I introduced into my diet in my next post but I wanted to leave you all with photographic evidence that what I am doing is working!

In just my face alone my hair is more radiant, my skin is clear, and the shape of my face has slimmed down a lot! And before you try and call my bluff, these are both done with the same filter and in natural sunlight and yes I am wearing makeup in both photos. These are one year apart almost to the day and you can now see my cheekbones again and my jawline whereas before my face was more round that oval.

It isn’t easy and there are some days I look in the mirror and want to say it doesn’t matter or it’s not enough but that defeating behavior is what got me to balloon in weight in the first place. Down almost 25 pounds in a healthy way without giving up my vices or taking medication is arduous but doable.

And the best part is when I step on the scale, which is just one indicator in my health journey, and can say I hit my first milestone and each day gets better. And my support system has also made each workout or shedded pound that much more rewarding.

So here is to the next phase of the journey! Please let me know if you are interested is being a part of the journey too.

Living with Migraines

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, well, for a lack of better terminology, brewing. 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 and it did need to be aired out upon receipt but after a day, it became my go to eye mask.
  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 and again, not feel like Jersey shore club speakers. 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. I have been known to wash my hands if I just happened to put on lotion with a scent or will lay down on a towel if my sheets have any added fragrance boosters.
  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 chicken/turkey. Once I know I am able to consume that small amount of food, I know I am on the mend and will eat more. I will not, however, eat anything raw, 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 tell me…do you suffer from migraines? What do you do to deal with them?

Healthy Journey – You Are What You Eat

Yesterday I was speaking to a friend of mine and she asked me an interesting question which started a 30+ minute conversation and then got me thinking that maybe I should make a post about this… We chatted about how I am working on my health and losing weight and regaining my life back. She was very happy for me and asked me what I changed in my diet to support the weight loss because it is common knowledge that weight loss and fitness is more than just exercise and it in fact starts in the kitchen!

While there is more to my fitness journey than food, like supplements and vitamins, no one wants to read a 20-page blog post (I’ll save that for my dissertation). Below is a view into what my diet consists of and why.

Breakfast

This is always drilled into us as the most important meal of the day and the skipping this is detrimental. Well, I have to admit that breakfast is almost never on the table (ha, literally) for me -weekdays or weekends. I usually wake up around 6:30am during the weekdays (and that is after hitting snooze a few times) and have to get ready for work and out the door in a little over an hour (yep, I push it close). So sitting down to have toast or cereal or oatmeal…none of that is on my morning list of things to do. So long as I have a few minutes to have my coffee and grab the headlines, I am good to go.

Now you could say I should wake up at 6:00am and make time for a meal but beyond time, I am also simply not hungry. I do not want, nor find the need, to consume calories when I am not hungry. It is almost like eating just for the sheer fact of eating and that is not at all necessary. In fact, the days that I eat breakfast like when I am on a vacation or at a conference, I feel sluggish and bloated.

So what do I have? I have my coffee with almond milk and agave, along with a few vitamins that I can take on an empty stomach, and I’m good to go. I gave up dairy milk about 2 years ago and haven’t looked back though I do consume dairy-based cheese and ice cream so this is not due to an lactose intolerance. I just simply did not like the taste of dairy milk nor did I like the treatment of cows to get said milk but that is for another day. I use agave over stevia or sugar or any other sweetener for a few reasons. Agave is a natural sweetener from the blue agave cactus so if you have ever had tequila, you’ve basically had agave. It has a lower glycemic rating than sugar and because it is liquid, it will mix better in hot or cold beverages. It has a slight earthy taste by itself but once mixed with my coffee, it cannot be tasted. I have tried stevia and have not liked the taste or aftertaste so I stopped testing the 1385 variations I found in the grocery stores. I don’t like other sugar alternatives because of the chemical compounds and eventual breakdown (equal and sweet-n-low have been linked to unsafe levels chlorine once dissolved).

Morning Snack

If I start to feel hungry, I will grab a handful of raw or roasted, unsalted almonds. Almonds are low in fat and have been recently linked to heart health when consumed on an empty stomach because it acts similar to fiber in pushing out that gunk. I may also have a banana to help with my potassium intake and my very small sweet tooth.

Lunch

This is always the heaviest meal of the day for me because I know I am going to be able to burn it throughout the day. I will make sure that I take the time to eat my meal too because a lot of times we are rushing through the day and scarf down whatever is available. I bring food from home that I cooked earlier in the week whenever possible and will make sure it is balanced with some sort of starch and some protein; when I have a salad, I will make sure to have a protein like tuna or chicken and a few crackers. This will keep me going throughout the day without feeling hungry. I also make sure to portion out my food and will usually only take one small individual-sized Pyrex with my whole lunch. Quick to heat and easy to eat.

Afternoon Snack 

When I feel a 3pm-dip coming on, I always have some sort of snack on hand that is not a candy. bar, a donut, or some other heavy food. Again, I tend to turn to a handful of almonds, a piece of fruit, or dark-chocolate raisins. Sometimes on the weekends, I will have some string cheese and a few crackers since I know dinner will most likely be late. If it is going to be a long day, I may snack on a protein bar or a granola bar as well. I will also have a detox tea without sugar or honey -this just helps keep my tummy full and regular without bloat or gas.

Dinner

First rule for me is that I will not eat a heavy dinner. Second, 7pm is my cutoff. Why? Because I know I need to be in bed by 10pm and sleeping by 10:30pm — sleep is one of the other BIG weight loss and healthy actions for the body and I need at least 8 hours. So when I do eat, I tend to have a like protein like chicken or fish and always have to have some sort of vegetable -salad, corn, asparagus, broccoli…

When I do workout, because of my work schedule, it happens to be at 6 or 6:30 in the evening so when I do eat “dinner” it is always after 7pm. When that is the case, my “dinner” is almost always the same –a good-sized bowl of greek yogurt with granola that I buy at Sprouts or Whole Foods and I will add chia seeds and flax. The chia seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein while the flax is a fiber-source; the yogurt is full of enzymes that help regulate my digestive tract as well as, for women, help with our lady parts; the granola serves also as a fiber and expands in the stomach to help me reach that “full” feeling and not feel deprived. Sometimes I may change things up and add a few shakes of my “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning from Trader Joe’s or a little honey for a hint of sweetness.

Dessert

Never ever deprive yourself of something because that is when you will fall off the wagon and spiral. Now I do not tend to have a sweet tooth but when I want something sweet, I have yogurt ice cream bars in my freezer which surprisingly are delicious (coffee flavored of course) or some fruit -cherries, watermelon, figs and peaches are my favorite when in season.

Water

Now this is what I like to call my secret weapon since I refuse to count calories, cut carbs, or heaven forbid drink those disgusting and useless shakes. Water is the staple for our bodies since we are over 70% water and every organ and system needs water to sustain operation. I actually have an app on my phone that reminds me to consume more water so on my days when I have horse-blinders on and forgot to even eat, I will always remember to drink my water. I drink over 100 ounces of water a day and when I have a workout day, that is the bare minimum.

When I feel adventurous and have the time, I like to add some flavor to my water by adding fruit or herbs. This helps keep things different, adds some vitamins and minerals, and serves as motivation to drink more. It is amazing how adding a few strawberries to your bottle will make you want more water.

Water also helps keep me feeling full so I will always drink a glass before a meal and I will have at least one glass during my meal, whatever that may be.

Miscellaneous

As I mentioned before, I do not and will not deprive myself of the things I enjoy just to shed a few pounds faster because when you have a “cheat day” or a special occasion, you are essentially counteracting everything you do on your other days and may even feel depressed which is detrimental to the success of the journey.

So when I want a beer or some wine, I will consume it in moderation and will make sure to balance it out with my meal, my workout, and my water consumption. For example, if I have a bottle of beer with dinner, I will have a glass of water as well. If I have some popcorn or chips, I will make sure that I will go an extra 10 minutes or take a small walk. If I have some tempting gelato or pizza, the next day will be a salad and few extra ounces of water.

I also have to mention that I will not turn to meal supplements like SlimFast or shakes that promise to help you lose weight. I have done more than enough research and those are all a part of fad diets. I do have protein powder in my kitchen and protein bars at my desk at work. I will admit that I have tried quite a gambit of shakes and meal replacements in my day and they are not effective, especially long term. Yes, you may feel better the first few days, but the longer you deprive yourself, the worse it gets and the harder it is to stay on track. Also, if you want the vitamins and minerals that these powder drinks offer, you may want to look at actual vitamins that your body, based on your needs, will actually help.

So tell me, what diet have you tried that has helped you? What is your daily food regimen?