Tag: 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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Amazon Favorites – July

It’s the second half of the year and we are turning the corner on holiday shopping!! I know, you did not want to be reminded of that when the temperatures are nearing 100 and the sun doesn’t set till almost 8pm, but it’s true…

In fact, I have already started my savings account for holiday shopping. Using Digit (which I posted about here), I have started a bucket of funds for the holidays specifically so I know how much I can spend and am not hit with a large bill in December/January! I have also started to write my list AND buy some off-season items so I am ahead of the game.

One of the great things about Amazon and the month of July is the famous (or infamous) Amazon Prime Day which became Prime Days this year. It allowed us to buy a couple of the off items that we have been eyeing for ourselves or the house and not spend as much as we normally do. Plus we started our Amazon Gift Card which automatically renews monthly (giving us our spending limit) and adds an additional 2% if you link your checking account.

So with all of that, lets dive into July’s Amazon haul!

Disclaimer: Please note that these photos are the stock photo from Amazon; they are not mine. Also all links are affiliate and if you purchase the item through my link, I do receive a small profit but it does not change the price or experience for you!

After doing some research on shower puffs, or poofs or loofas or whatever you call them, it was apparent that the bacteria that was festering was too much for me! So I wanted a better alternative. I tried hand towels but that just felt awkward, didn’t provide a good lather, and ultimately would be only a slight improvement to the loofah unless you washed it every time you used it. Then I tried just the bar of soap but that was ill-fated. So I found this silicone loofah on Amazon and because of its material, it does not harbor bacterial growth the way that the loofahs do as it rinses clean every time and is not as permeable. I have to say that after using it for almost a month now, I will NOT go back and have already bought one for my mom and husband! It allows the soap to lather well, rinses completely clean, and is soft enough for all areas of the body. The reverse side has harder, exfoliating heads so you can scrub a little better on your arms, legs, what have you. For only $8.99, I think that this silicone loofah is amazing!!

So maybe this is TMI, but since we all go #2, having one of these in the home is so helpful -especially if you share a bathroom with someone! I bought this as a part of the Amazon Prime Day sales. I had tried this in the past but stopped buy them because my husband and I wanted a less floral scent than the original ones. So we tried this one and loved it so much, we signed up for the subscribe and save! We want to have one in each bathroom we, as well as guests, can have their own bottle! It normally is around $10-$12 per individual bottle.

Another item from the Prime Day deals is this back-up battery from Anker. With having so many technological gadgets running on battery and traveling so much, having an extra battery is fundamental. However so many models are big, heavy, and cumbersome to try and cram into a bag with the power cords and adapters. This model is very slim and compact but carries a big charge! It charges quickly and works on Android as well as Apple products – in fact it can charge my iPhone 2x on one charge! It even comes with a carrying bag so it doesn’t get scuffed up and it’s silicone exterior won’t scuff your phone! This is currently $35 dollars but the price has fluctuated. Click here to purchase yours!

I have been wanting to get over-the-ear headphones for over a year now but could not bring myself to shell out hundreds of dollars! So I purchased off-brand headphones that went in your ear for the gym and traveling but it would get annoying especially on a long flight. So when I saw these for 1/2 the price on Amazon during Prime Day, I bought TWO – one for myself and one for my husband. I figured that if they didn’t work, I could return them but if they did, it would be a steal. And thankfully it was! These have a 30+ hour playtime, are noise-canceling, and are super comfortable! I even fell asleep with these on! They are bluetooth but also come with a connection cord if you are on a plane, for example. They are made by COWIN and come in so many great colors! You can use them to listen to music, talk, or just to drown out the surrounding noise. These are the E7 model, which has been recently upgraded, but I honestly don’t need anything other than these! They are great! They are currently $59.99 with a $10 coupon!!

So many of you know that I no longer drink regular dairy milk anymore and have switched almost exclusively to almond milk. While it is delicious, one of the draw backs is that I cannot get those gourmet lattes at home as good as those purchased at those fancy coffee shops (you know who I am talking about). Almond milk just doesn’t foam/froth as well as regular milk so my coffees were always standard and my matcha lattes never had that little extra “oomph”. So when I saw this on sale, I figured it was worth the $10 to try it and worst case, I could save it for the holidays when I make hot cocoa with regular milk for my family or when my husband wants to make coquito – Puerto Rican egg nog (more on that during the holidays). With two AA batteries, I washed this and gave it a go… The results are amazing!!!!!! And clean-up is a breeze. It comes with a stand to prevent damage to the device as well which makes for a nice little display. It also works with eggs and powdered supplements! I can froth my almond milk for my morning coffee in less than 30 seconds!! I honestly don’t know why I didn’t try this sooner. This milk frother by Zulay is currently $14.99 with a $3.00 off coupon.

My husband and I have been working on making some important changes in our home – some of them including green cleaning products while others are healthier alternatives for those overly fragrant aerosols. So I decided to try one of the top rated Amazon diffusers with my doTERRA oils (more on this in a future post) to see if this could truly replace those candles or sprays. I actually took this one to my office to try it before buying one for the home especially since it is only $14.99 (currently with a $2.00 off coupon). This little diffuser is no bigger than the iPhone X but it packs quite the punch! It does light up if you want it to too and can either change colors or stay one color depending on your preference – I personally don’t use the light option in my office. It also has the option for intermittent diffusing -30 seconds on, 30 off or continuous. It has a large enough reservoir that I can have it running for an 8-hour day and I still have some leftover. It evenly dispersing my essential oils and leaves my space fresh and with a hint of cool mist which is essential when living in a very dry climate! I highly recommend the InnoGear diffuser for bedrooms or smaller rooms in your home as it is whisper quiet and has an auto-off feature so when it runs out of water, it turns off! You really should try the Ultrasonic Diffuser!

So I didn’t go completely overboard in July but I definitely purchased more than I had anticipated! These have all been great additions to the home and were items that I was already waiting to buy any way so I did not overly indulge in my splurge Amazon shopping. And of course with Prime these all came in 24 or 48 hours which far beats many other retailers for only shopping!

Have you tried any of these items? What are your thoughts? Anything that you want me to purchase and review for you? 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!!

Smoothie Recipe – Happy 4th of July!

In honor of the hot temperatures and Independence Day, I decided to do a patriotic smoothie blend this morning that is quite refreshing and delicious! This is definitely a good way to kick off the festivities, especially since I will be on “smoothie vacation” the rest of the week!

Today’s concoction looks purple but is chalk full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is naturally sweet with a hint of a tang from the berries. I made it this morning in my NutriBullet and for my 32oz bottle and it took me less than 5 minutes from start to finish!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1/3 cup blackberries
1/8 cup coconut chips (unsweetened from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup beets (I buy the frozen pack from Trader Joe’s)
12 oz of coconut water
8 oz of almond milk
1 scoop protein
1 scoop collagen powder
1 scoop of Power Greens
1 tbsp Maca powder

I really can tell that these smoothies have been helpful in my day to day life and in my health journey. Between, and yes this is oversharing but we are all family here, being more regular to the increase in energy to the curbed food cravings, I really look forward to my morning smoothie.

Do you have any plans for the 4th of July? Any go-to recipes for the holiday that I should try? Are you going to give this recipe a try?? Comment below!

Smoothie Update – Quick Morning Protein Coffee

Parting is such sweet sorrow, but alas, the time has come!

With a lot going on in my life, finances, traveling, reorganization, and, if we are being honest, the need for more time for myself, I must bid adieu to the “Smoothie Club”. But fear not! The Smoothie recipes, especially the new recipes I try (like an upcoming Chia Latte or Maple or Pumpkin in the coming months) will be posted on here. Like today’s simple yet satisfying smoothie:

Vanilla Coffee Latte:
– 1 Cup black coffee
– 1 Cup Almond Milk
– 1 Scoop Protein Powder (I use Combat Protein Powder)
– 1 Tbsp Maca Powder
– 1 Tbsp Grounded Flax
– 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
– 1 Tsp Grounded Cinnamon
– 1 Scoop Collagen Powder
– 1/2 Banana
– Ice

For several months now, I have had a number of my friends ask me to make them the shakes that I drink as they have noticed a significant difference in my physique, my energy levels, and my skin. I had no problem with helping them on their journeys as well, so was born the “Smoothie Club”. However, there is always a cost associated with these smoothies…and time. Now I may sound a little conceited but my time is valuable and I need time to focus on many juggling priorities including my well being. So while I continue to write content about a healthy lifestyle, I need to practice what I preach.

In fact, I will be starting my workout regimen on here which has been super basic but yielded high results. I will also be adding some food recipes including some video footage – just bear with me as I am still no YouTube sensation! Additionally, I will be showcasing some other exciting content including my recent financial health series and some tried & true tests which will include my personal review of items from makeup to skin care to hair care and so much more.

So I hope you continue to join me on my journey for a healthy lifestyle and all the components thereof including financial, mental, physical, and spiritual! And if there are any topics or products you would like for me to look into, please let me know in the comments 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.

Smoothie Recipes – Week 02

As promised, though a day late, the smoothies from last week. Despite Monday being Memorial Day, I made it a point to keep up with the 5-day streak! In fact, I used Monday as a test day to see how a recipe I had planned for later in the week would be.

Just as a reminder, please check out Week 1 – Smoothie Recipes for a recap on what protein, collagen, and other ingredients I use in each smoothie. Also, I do not use any MLM products nor do I do any juicing – I want to make sure I get ALL of the nutrients from my smoothies…fiber and all.


Monday (Memorial Day) – Key Lime Pie
Greek Yogurt, Spinach (for color), ice, protein, one whole lime, lime juice, honey, organic graham crackers, collagen, and Maca. The liquid base was water.

Tuesday – “Pick Me Up Tuesday”
Old-fashioned oats, dates, greek yogurt, iced coffee (I used actual coffee I froze in an ice cube tray), collagen, protein powder, Maca, Greens Powder. The liquid base was almond milk.

Wednesday – Key Lime
Repeated Monday’s recipe!

Thursday – “Going Banana Nuts Thursday”
Banana, chia seeds, almond butter, Maca, cinnamon, walnuts, collagen, protein powder. The liquid base was almond milk.

Friday – “Going Choco-Bananas”
Banana, cacao powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, Greens Powder, protein powder, collagen, Maca. The liquid base was almond milk.


The biggest hit this week was “Going Banana Nuts Thursday” by a landslide! Also, key lime came in second though I still want to manipulate that recipe for a future smoothie!

I have also been dabbling in non-dairy yogurt as an option because some of my friends are steering clear of dairy right now. The only issue I have noticed is that non-dairy yogurt is much more watery than regular or Greek yogurt. In order to maintain a smoothie consistency, I have to cut some of the liquid that I use.

I have also started to add some Creatine powder to my husbands’ smoothies because he is deficient, which we found out after some blood work, and he is looking to start building more muscle mass.


Comment below if you are going to try any of these or are interested in learning more! Do you have any recipes or suggestions for me to try?

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Curly Hair 102 – Dangers Lurking in our Products

It seems that in the past couple of years, being natural and embracing ones curls has become the “in” trend. I happen to think that us curly girls were just too darn tired to keep straightening our hair and too broke to keep paying someone else to do it. I know I personally haven’t straightened my hair, personally or professionally, in 7 years.

On top of embracing ones natural state, it seems that being conscientious of the types of products we use is also a part of everyday vocabulary now. We went from using whatever was on sale at the grocery store, to selectively “canceling” brands because of their chemical components.

Recently, I have come to learn that even in our most treasured and talked about lines, there are chemicals lurking that we need to know more about and stay away from if possible. Now, before you go on that soap box and tell me about how some of these chemical compounds already exist naturally and we consume them in other ways, I have to say while you are right, if I can avoid even 1% more of that formaldehyde or other carcinogen, I will.

So without further ado, lets cover the top 8 chemicals that you should avoid when purchasing your next leave-in conditioner, hair gel, or styling cream…

  1. Silicone – This is pretty obvious and I am sure you are tired of hearing about it but just to cover the basics, silicones are found in a lot of different forms. This is a form of plastic and yes, you have heard of silicone breast implants, so why would you put this in your hair? It has some benefits like producing shine and slip (translates to easy to comb through) but it also weighs down your hair and produces a film that prevents other products from helping your hair including water and oxygen.
    Types of silicones: When reading a label, look for a compound that typically ends in “-cone” like dimethicone, methicone, cyclomethicone or sometimes a combo item like: phenyl trimethicone or dimethicone copolyol
  2. Sulfates: So if you have used a silicone, and as I just mentioned, silicones prevent water from penetrating, then you need some even more abrasive -enter sulfates. This is the chemical that is used often in shampoos and creates that lathering and bubbly effect. It works by lifting the cuticle of the hair and stripping it of any product or natural oils which results in long-term dryness, brittleness, and even scalp irritation. You know where else you find sulfates? In your laundry detergent or dishwashing soap. Would you wash your hair with a Tide pod or Dawn?
    Then skip a shampoo that has any variation of sulfates including, but not limited to: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, sodium cocoyl isoethionate, or
    disodium laureth sulfosuccinate. In other words, look for an ingredient that ends in “-ate”.
  3. Alcohol: I have to say that not all alcohols are bad, but think about the last time that you had a few too many drinks. How did you feel later on that night or the next day? Think beyond the headache to the dehydration. The same thing happens with your hair! Alcohols in hair products will help evaporate the natural oils in your hair leaving it dry and brittle overtime.
    Look for ingredients that end in “-ol” such as: ethanol alcohol, ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, isopropanol alcohol. Even if the the “alcohol” word is not there, the base of the chemical is still an alcohol compound.
  4. Parabens: This is another hot discussion item but what exactly is a paraben? Parabens are chemicals that are added to extend the shelf life of a product. These are often also linked to cancer and serve as a harmful carcinogen.
    Look for ingredients that end in “-yl” like: methyl, propyl, butyl, or ethyl. These are also often overlooked or regarded as an alcohol.
  5. Urea: I know some of you read that as a bodily secretion of sorts but really it is another form of preservatives, like parabens, that extend the product’s shelf life. These types of chemicals are linked to skin irritation, flakiness, and even dermatitis. Worse yet is when this is aggravated through heat. When these types of chemicals are exposed to heat, which could be as little as your hair dryer when you diffuse, they break down to even more harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde.
    These are often easy to spot on an ingredients list: diazoldinyl urea or imidazolidinyl urea.
  6. Formaldehyde: I know when I first learned that some of my curly hair products had the same thing that is used when a person dies to embalm the body, I knew this was something I had to avoid. Formaldehyde is used for the same purpose as when it is used for a body – preservation. Yet another cheap ingredient like parabens or urea, this chemical has been known to cause cancer, heart palpitations, infections, and many other health conditions.
    You can find this on your ingredient list in many different ways including: formalin, formic aldehyde, methanediol, methanal, or methyl aldehyde.
  7. Mineral Oil: If you are Curly Girl Method (CGM) or even if you have followed me on IG or in earlier posts, you know that oil + curly hair = a great equation! BUT there are some oils that are actually damaging to your hair such as mineral oil. This is an inexpensive form of oil that does not live up to its name – it is not moisturizing and is often too heavy for hair and weighs the hair down so it is lifeless and greasy. It also causes a lot of build-up on the scalp. It may feel nice because it has a lot of slip but it will have a negative impact in the long run.
    While you will see “mineral oil” as its own ingredient, you may also see its sister compounds like lanolin or petroleum (yep, just like Vaseline).
  8. Perfume: We all want to smell good and usually are persuaded to buy products simply because it may remind us of homemade cookies, our tropical vacation, or what we project romance to smell like. However, putting on products that are full of perfumes is actually damaging to your hair for a few reasons. First off, many bases to perfumes is an alcohol, which as we already discussed, dries out the hair. Secondly, perfumes are often compounded to be concentrated in that 10oz container and if you have any skin sensitivity, you could experience scalp irritation, itchy/watery eyes, rash, dandruff, or other side effects very quickly.
    Typically the ingredient list will simply state “perfume” or “fragrance” in the list so if you can find something with natural scents, you are definitely better off.

So, that’s a long list but what prompted me to start researching and posting this is what I found in one product that I specifically used almost daily – DevaCurl Styling Cream

DevaCurl SUPERCREAM® Coconut Curl Styler

Ingredients:
Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Glycerin, Hydroxpropyl Starch Phosphate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Chloride, PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Ethyl Macadamiate, Laureth-4, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Protein, Panthenol, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Melissa Officinalis Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Lauryldimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Lauryldimonium Hydroxypropyl Wheat Starch, Propylene Glycol, Ceteareth-20, Disodium EDTA, Aminomethyl Propanol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Fragrance.

While I enjoyed the fragrance component (it reminded me of sitting on the beach in the Caribbean), I need to be careful with my sensitive skin. However worst yet is the urea, especially since I often diffuse my hair with the hair dryer. Knowing that this breaks down into formaldehyde and knowing that this could cause unwanted health defects, I have stopped using this altogether and have decided to no longer purchase DevaCurl products personally. Why? It doesn’t stop at the styling cream. The shampoos and conditioners also have harmful ingredients like the No-Poo Original Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser has diazolidinyl urea and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate.

So moral of the story is that I am moving beyond DevaCurl for other brands that may have more organic and safe ingredients. And while I know I cannot avoid everything all of the time, if I can make one swap, and even save some money in the process, I will because my health is more important to me than perfect hair.

Have you heard about these ingredients before? Do you read the label of your hair care products before purchasing? Did it surprise you that DevaCurl had some less than ideal ingredients? Comment below and lets continue the conversation!