Tag: healthjourney

5 FRUGAL Tips for Self-Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hair Health: Hair Loss

I bet you looked at that title and were like…”Uh…those two things don’t go together. She must not have had enough caffeine today.”

While you are most definitely right on the caffeine front (is there ever really enough), today’s topic is about how I have found myself losing my thick, curly hair and what steps I am taking now to try and reverse this! In the past few weeks, due to a few reasons – stress and hormones mostly, my hair has been thinning and shedding in clumps. I am still doing my weekly masques, nightly scalp massages, taking my daily vitamins, exercising and eating well but I have recently found myself in a highly stressful situation and have decided to stop taking birth control pills –double whammy.

So what am I talking about when I say hair loss? I’m talking about excessive shedding and thinning of my hair. Below is a photo outlining what I’m referring to where you can see how much I lost in one wash day and how thin my hairline looks. Yes, I have curly hair so I can hide it well but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

About two months ago, I noticed my hair was shedding a little more than normal. I attributed that to the heat and stress, but it was normal for my hair to go in phases – in fact a visit to the dermatologist a year ago even cemented that. However, the past month, my hair has been shedding with no end in sight. I dread wash day because of how much will fall out in the shower -at times in clumps. I don’t slick my hair back because it shows just how thin my hair has become. I hesitated every time I had to remove my hair tie because of the clumps that came with it. It may not look too bad in the photos above, but I want to prevent any further damage and try to regain a piece of me. I have never been in this situation before, even when I personally experienced high stress, so I wanted to act fast.

Now I know you already know that stress can cause hair loss. I know you know that an improper diet can cause hair loss. I know you know that medications and surgeries and trauma can cause hair loss. I know you know that hormones can also cause hair loss – hello male pattern baldness. But did you know that you are supposed to lose 100 or so strands of hair a day? And did you know that because curly hair does not wash daily, some of those strands can get knotted into the rest of the hair making wash day look even worse? That is because our hair goes through phases of growth with the shedding phase being known as telophase. Unfortunately that was way more than normal for me which brings me to today.

So after crying for a bit (because I didn’t want to admit that something was wrong), it was time for some research to resolve this issue. I scoured the internet and journals. I started taking prenatal vitamins. I tried to force myself to sleep earlier. I slowed my roll of exercising and did just yoga. And all to no avail. So I decided to start taking Nutrafol.

What is Nutrafol? Nutrafol is a company started by 3 people who were also experiencing hair loss/thinning and could not get the mass marketed solutions to work effectively. They collaborated with physicians and scientists to find a natural alternative to cure this issue plaguing so many people. The results are oral supplements that work with your body to balance hormones gone-awry, reduce over production of cortisol, balance glucose response, or other issues that may be affecting your hair growth.

One of the biggest reasons I took the plunge with Nutrafol is that local dermatologists actually promote this product in addition to their in-house services. Moreover, Nutrafol is transparent with their ingredients – in fact almost all the information from the “Core” supplement (this is the main supplement divvied up by gender) is up on their website for public view! Lastly, the plan you get may be very different than mine because your regimen varies per person! When you first start out with Nutrafol, you take a GrowthPlan assessment and answer a few questions on your environment, your diet, your stress levels, even things you wouldn’t normally think about like if you get hangry if you don’t eat or when you have more energy during the day. 

Yeah, so what I am trying to get at is that starting 2 days ago (Saturday, August 24th), I started taking 4 pills a day with a meal to help my hair grow again! I also am taking 2 of the stress adaptogen every morning but opted to not take the liver support (both of which are a part of my personalized growth plan) due to the high levels of milk thistle and possible interactions with endometriosis. I am scheduled to speak with one of their on-staff physicians in the coming weeks to see about an alternative for the livers support booster.

I will then be checking in every month as each bottle is a 30-day supply to show you the effects that Nutrafol is having with me – or if there is no effect at all! Make sure you follow me on Instagram (@ms_bella_daniela) to get updates as they happen with my hair journey!!

Inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried Nutrafol? Have you tried other growth plans? Comment down below!

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.