Monday, March 31, 2014

Each day, I try to listen to some motivational and inspirational audio to get my mind in the right place. Last week I was introduced to an idea regarding the law of attraction that was a bit different from what I've heard in the past.  I remember when LOA was big, people were writing million dollar checks to themselves in order to attract financial abundance into their lives.  We were told to dream and think big because there was no difference in manifesting a million dollars versus manifesting $1.00.

The only issue that arises with that type of thinking is our belief levels.  You see, attraction, goal achievement, etc requires one key factor in order to allow the intention to become a reality.  That one key factor is belief. Belief is the fuel that transports you from thoughts to actions to achievement.  This is why we are asked to visualize (to increase our belief), to state affirmations (to increase our belief), to create vision boards (to increase our belief),  and to write down our goals in present tense (to increase our belief).  Without faith/belief, we are unable to leverage the law of attraction.  I remember having a conversation with my brother once about an intention that was taking me years to manifest.  We talked about the possible root causes and finally I said, "I'm not able to reach that outcome because deep down I don't believe it's possible."  That way of thinking was holding me back.

Ok. So now that we have established how important it is to believe our goals are possible, lets discuss how to increase that belief.  Like I said earlier, you can (and should) visualize the goal, write it down, look at pictures, affirm the end result to help convince your subconscious mind that what you want is possible.  But let me also introduce you to another technique to guarantee that you will manifest your intentions.

Start dreaming smaller.  Yep, you heard me correctly.  Instead of writing yourself million dollar checks and putting images of spacious mansions on your vision board, start thinking smaller.  The fastest way to manifest an intention that your desire is to leverage the power of belief to activate your actions.  When we create these larger than life goals of what we want to achieve, our subconscious sneaks in and starts to create seeds of doubt.  You may or may not be aware of what your subconscious is doing but, if you notice that you're not taking action towards you intentions, you can safely assume that underlying (self)doubt is present.

The easiest way to work around that doubt is to create smaller, more believable intentions.  Something you KNOW you can achieve.  This doesn't necessarily mean that you give up your big dreams, but you have to break them down into chunks that can be accomplished without a shadow of a doubt.  I still keep the intention of cashing a million dollar check one day, but I create an equal intention of obtaining my business license, or reading 1 book a month on wealth creation.  Those, mini-intentions are doable and therefore believable.  As I fixate on achieving them with intensity of emotion,  I cause it to naturally occur in my life.  Once those intentions are met, I move on to the next level mini-intention.  I repeat this intention cycle over and over again and next thing you know, I've made a ton of progress towards my goals.

This idea of "dreaming small" also helps take away the anxiety that we sometimes feel when we see the gap between where we want to be and where we are.  If I'm 60lbs overweight and I tell myself I need to lose 60lbs, there's a certain amount of pressure attached with reaching that goal.  But if I tell myself that I strongly desire to lose 5lbs.  It's totally believable.  I set my intentions, visualize, affirm and when I lose those 5 lbs, I do it again with even more belief because I know in my heart how possible it is.

Does any of this makes sense?  I'm going to try this technique with my financial goals.  The number that I want to earn a month is a bit unbelievable for me because I've never been at that level before.  So what I'm going to do is create a much smaller goal and brainstorm what I can do to easily reach that level of monthly increase.  Once that's achieved, I do it again.  I suspect that as my level of belief builds, I'll be able to attract my mini-intentions at a faster pace.

Let's give it a try!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

There's nothing like the satisfaction of scratching one more item from your cravings list.   My most recent acquisition is the Panasonic Nano Care Facial Steamer.  I'm not stranger to facial steamers, in fact, I've owned a handful of them in the past from the most entry level to this deluxe version.  Regular steam sessions give me the most amazing skin.  Specifically,  steaming helps me eliminate the congestion that lies just beneath the surface that gives me the appearance of rough skin if not properly addressed.  Paired with my favorite deep cleansing mud mask, regular steaming sessions are a recipe for amazing skin.

My strategy was to buy the most expensive steamer I find.  I'm hoping this would be that last steamer I ever purchase for the rest of my life so I didn't mind making the investment up front.  My other motive was to utilize the steamer as a way of bringing steam setting back into my regimen.  My original Caruso Steam Reservoir stopped working eons ago and my facial steamers have served as suitable substitutes ever since.
Another major factor that drew me to this particular unit was its cool steam option.  I was curious about whether I could actually curl my hair using "cool steam" which could (in theory) help seal the cuticle layer as it curled.  Lastly, I made my purchase based on its claim of utilizing nano-particle ion steam.  Basically, the particles are extremely small which should equal better penetration and deeper moisturizing to the skin.  Immediately, I thought about how my Micromist steamer also uses micro water particles as well.  I imagined my skin receiving the same nourishing experience as my hair does on wash days and I was sold.  Not to mention how much more moisturized my hair could feel as a result of the steam styling.

Less than a week after it's long awaited arrival and I'm ready to share my thoughts.  First off, since this is a Japanese product, everything including manual, the writing on the steamer, and the instructional videos on Youtube, are in Japanese.  So it took me a few minutes of fumbling around with to figure it out (not sure if I've totally figured it out, there's one button on it that I've yet to understand its purpose).
Although the shape of it is a little strange, I like the portability of it and the fact that it has a little handle for carrying.  Another thing I really like about it is the water reservoir is removable.  This will allow me to clean it if the need arises.  Luckily for me, the area where the steam comes out perfectly accommodates my rollers.  The rollers rest comfortably on it horizontally and collect the steam as I part my hair in sections.  As a facial steamer, this machine is top notch.  The steam power is high (meaning lots of steam) and the comfort level is high as well.  With some of my other facial steamers, I'd have to be careful not to scold myself if I got too close. This may have something to do with the size of the steam particles.  With my Panasonic steamer, I can sit comfortably away from the machine and enjoy a relaxing steam session while working on the computer, doing my nails or whatever.  It's such a relaxing experience.

The cool steam function is more of a cool mist than a cool steam.  My only qualm is that I haven't been able to find how to activate the cool mist on it's own.  Based on what I know so far, it's added on to the end of a traditional warm steam session. To date, I've used this beauty less than a handful of times.  I can not begin to tell you the difference between my skin now and how it looked before my steamer arrived.  This thing is worth it's weight in gold for just that reason alone. My favorite thing to do is steam in the morning while practicing the Tanaka Massage technique.

Overall, I judge how good an item is by whether I would repurchase if it were to break or if I were to lose it.  If this were to break, I would replace without even thinking about it.  Sure, it's pretty pricey but it pays for itself when I think about how much I save from not having to get professional facials.  Plus, I can't see myself going back to the other steamers I used before that gave just ok results.  This is definitely one of my favorite purchases this year.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ah the mornings. A time to put your best face forward in preparation for the new day.  But once upon a time, putting my best face forward was a real challenge for me. Before I eliminated gluten from my diet, I would wake up in the morning with a puffy, swollen face.  Without knowing what it was, I just assumed that it was my morning face You can see an example of what I'm talking about in my drink water in the mornings video taken at around 6:00 am.

Desperate to find a solution, I scoured the web for options.  My salvation came in the form of a Japanese massage technique created by  woman in her sixties named Yukuko Tanaka.    The technique is a face conturing massage meant to help eliminate droopiness, sagging, and puffiness in the face and even wrinkles.  The massage technique also works to help drain our lymphatic system by helping remove excess fluid buildup.

Instantly, this method became a part of my morning routine. Day after day, I faithfully completed the simple massage routine.  Overall, the Tanaka Massage made a huge difference in my face.  My morning puffy face became a thing of the past (as long as I remained consistent).  Eventually, I became hip to the whole "gluten causes inflammation" thing.  Soon, I no longer woke up with the puffy face.  But I realized that the massage technique was still a vital component to my beauty ritual.  It really does help my face remain toned.  My favorite is the massage around the lips and eyes.  The eye massage helps keep my eye bags in check and the massage around the lips helps prevent my lips from turning downwards.  Look people in their mid thirties or older.  For the most part, their lips begin their decent into a slight frown when in resting position.  I'm trying to avoid that at all costs.

I even found a testimony in this blog post where a woman claims that her aunt was able to eliminate her double chin by being consistent with this massage method.  Are you excited to try it yet? Give it a shot, it only takes about 5-10 minutes.

In total, there are four parts you can find the other two parts on Youtube the other two vids are a continuation of the technique found in part 1 and part 2.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One of new finds from my last Instagram Beauty Secrets posts that I was most excited about was CapriClear.  If you've been reading my blog over the past few weeks, you know that I've been fascinated with the idea of spraying oil on my hair instead of using manual application.  The Misto Sprayer has changed my life.  Incidentally, I was planning on investing on a second sprayer to house my coconut oil when I learned of CapriClear.  Right away I placed my order on Amazon, and from the moment my package arrived, we've been inseparable.

Girl, this stuff has been sprayed on my hair, my cuticles, my scalp, my feet, my elbows, my face, everywhere. This morning I even sprayed a little on my finger tips and rubbed on my lips as an all natural lip conditioner.  When my dermatisis strikes again on my scalp and hair line, I'll be ready.

 It's made of 100% coconut oil and nothing else.  It sprays in a fine mist that releases just enough product.  Because it's fractioned coconut oil, it doesn't actually carry the coconut oil scent.  So, no matter how many times I sprayed it, there was no trace of coconut scent to be found.  Fractioned coconut oil also doesn't become solid in cooler temps so it's perfect for nourishing dry skin in the winter. 

I love this product so much.  Instantly, it became an item that I will carry around with me at all times.  I knew I was sprung when I left home for an overnight trip and went out to buy a replacement after realizing that I left my CapriClear at home.  Now I have the travel size an the 5oz bottle. Honestly, this is the most versatile product I own.  Often, when I travel, I battle drier skin and hair due to the change in climates.  I can't tell you how long I've dreamed of having a way to bring coconut oil with me on the road.  Finally, my dream has come true.   What I appreciate most about CapriClear is the liquid consistency.  Since warmer weather is coming upon us, I'm not looking forward to slathering on lotions that cause build up and feel heavy on the skin.  I can keep a bottle in the fridge and mist to refresh my skin while creating a nice glow (not greasy).

Because of my obsessive excessive use, I suspect that it won't be long before I'm repurchasing again (for a third time).  I think I'll experiment will buying larger bottles of fractioned coconut oil to refill when run out (which won't be long).  The convenience of this packaging is worth it's weight in gold.  Add to that to how versatile this product is and you have the recipe for a must have beauty product.  Everyone needs this......even you.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I'm claiming 2014 as the year of retention!  So far we've learned a ton about tips in our "Happy Endings" posts.  Today we're merging "happy endings" with "avoiding setbacks."  This year I experienced a transformation in thinking which I hope will lead to great progress in the months to come. I'd like to share that mind shift with you.

It all goes back to July of 2013.  We were midway through the year and, for the better part of the year, I was violating rule one of avoiding setbacks.  I allowed my busy schedule to become an excuse for not conducting regular deep conditioning treatments.  I wore my hair in a daily bun which allowed for neglect to occur as I placed my focus mainly on my skin care journey.  Put all those factors together and you have a recipe for a setback.

Since July was my birthday month, I wanted to treat myself to a visit to see Marie. As always, she had my hair laid.  But after straightening, she had to trim a couple of inches of hair to address the damaged ends.  When I left the salon, my hair was blunt cut, reaching the bottom of my brastrap.  I cursed myself silently for letting the damage get this far.  But by the end of the year, my hair began to make a miraculous comeback.

Then I started thinking.......It seems like after every mini chop, I'm likely to retain length.  Another thing I noticed is just after my trim, the hair could better withstand manipulation from styling without excessive breakage. That's when the breakthrough happened.  What if I utilized trimming as a part of my retention strategy versus a last resort to combat damage?

What would happen if I trimmed regularly every 6 months? 3 months? Monthly?   What if I used trimming, not as a way of addressing damage, but as a part of my damage prevention/length retention strategy?  After having that thought, I had to let it sink in just a little.  Normally, I see trimming as a bad thing.  I have to do it because something bad happened.  Once I'm done, I've "lost length" which is also a bad thing.

No longer will I look at trimming as something I should try to avoid.

My new strategy for trimming will look something like this:
  • Make sure I have a pair of quality scissions (DONE)
  • Trim off any obvious split/thin ends (DONE)
  • Trim after every chemical treatment.
  • Trim in sections, not just the ends of my longest layers.
This is a very different system than I used before.  Before, trimming was a last resort to prevent further damage. Now it'll be my way to help achieve my length goals. I maintain my old way of doing things, trimming to cut off excessive damage, I am being reactive.  In the long run, this type of action doesn't serve me. 

Not to mention how great my hair looks and feel after a decent trim.  Sure, I may have lost a couple of inches but I get healthier looking hair in return and additional retention in the long run.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ever have an experience where you've  given into a junk food craving?  For me, the culprit is usually crunchy, salty snacks.  And, as of this moment, I've been weak for Popeye's Shrimp basket.  It's a promotion that only comes around a couple times a year so when it's available, I take full advantage.  The other day a craving came on and I listened.  Just as I was finishing off my last shrimp, a sensation came over me.

Suddenly, I became aware of how I was feeling.  Simply put, I didn't feel good.  And I'm not talking about the "I feel guilty for eating deep fried foods" feeling.  It was more of, "this doesn't actually make me feel good."  Then I asked myself, "why am I eating this?"  After a moment of thought, I realized that it was a simple craving that led me to this meal.

Yesterday, I stopped by Chik fil A for a small fry.  While in the drive through, my eyes caught a glimpse of the mini sundae and I thought "why not?"  After three or four spoonfuls I was overtaken by that same feeling.  Suddenly, I was confronted with the voice that asked said, "this tastes good but how do you feel?"   "How does this food make your body feel?"  When I searched inward, I noticed that after the food passed my taste buds, there was no additional reward. For the first time I truly understood what they meant by empty calories.  Left with no other choice, I put the spoon down
and  tossed the sundae.
Other times during the same week, I had ate salads, drank smoothies. Each time I realized,  that even though it may not have stimulated my taste buds like "junk foods,"  these foods impacted my body in a different way.  At the end of the meal, I felt fulfilled, not just full.  More and more, I'm becoming aware of this.  Literally, as I'm snacking on my favorite treat, I notice that the moment the food is swallowed, the pleasure I received in consuming it is gone.  Not to mention the long term affects of eating this way.   I'm going to explore this a little more.  With every meal I eat, I will pay close attention to how I feel my body responds to what I'm eating.  Not just my taste buds, but my entire being. I'm tired of feeling sluggish, heavy, unfulfilled after eating something that was supposed to be so pleasurable.  It's time to try something new for a change.  I'm sure my body has been trying to tell me this all along.  But now, I'm ready to listen.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Nothing inspires me more than scrolling through my Instagram feed and seeing images of fit women getting their workout out on.  Actually, no.  Nothing inspires me more than scrolling through my Instagram feed and seeing videos of fit women getting their workout on. In just a few seconds I'm able to catch a glimpse of the type of work required to sculpt such beautiful bodies.  On top of that, I my mind starts thinking "I can do that." Next thing you know, I'm knocking out a few squats, sit ups and arm exercises.

Would you mind if I shared some of those mini-vids with you today? 

*Note videos play with sound/music. Mute if you are browsing at work.*

Inspired yet?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Seasons have changed.  Many of us, by now, have made adjustments to our hair regimen to account for the change in weather.  But what about our skin regimen?  Last year, as I began to focus on creating great skin, I noticed something peculiar.  During the warmer months, people I knew who normally had clear skin, began to show signs of breakouts.  And, while everyone else's skin was reacting to the warmer weather, I was fortunate enough to keep breakouts at bay.

Looking back, I realize that I wasn't fortunate at all. I maintained a focused regimen that kept my skin great all year long.  Since then, complacency has set in and I'm starting to see signs of my old, troubled skin.  Winter was a little forgiving of my faux pas. Spring/Summer will not be as forgiving. So I've got to get back on that grind to keep my skin clear and flawless.  

My goal is to get flawless by summer.  I'd love to be able to step out the door with just a little sunscreen.  And when I do wear makeup, I just want to use it to create an even glow versus using it to cover imperfections. I hate the way my skin looks with makeup when breakouts are present. Out skin goes through a lot in the summer.  Normally we're sweating and producing more oil than normal.  And, perhaps, we are indulging in higher fat snacks.  The sweat helps push all that stuff through our pores and, if we aren't diligent, blockage can occur causing breakouts.  

 Having clear, smooth skin is the objective and I'm ready to employ every single trick I know to get that outcome.  First and foremost, I'm going to be drinking ridiculous amounts of water.  When I'm traveling for meetings and I can't get a hold of a decent amount of water (1 liter or more a day), my skin pays for it.  Instead of leaving it to chance, I've been doing my best to carry 1.5 liter bottles of water with me.  I find that the larger the bottle, the more I drink.  You guys all inspired me with tales on how much improvement you experienced in your skin when you began to drink more water.  I want to keep that momentum going!

I know that hot weather induces sweating, I know that sweating can promote clogged pores. My strategy will be to encourage "controlled sweating" by visiting the sauna regularly or via my workouts.  When I first began frequenting the sauna/steam room, my sweat was salty. But the more I visit, the less salty it became.  I'm guessing this means that my sweat has less toxins. Hopefully this will lead to fewer breakouts.  Last summer I stayed in the sauna and my skin thanked me.  So, ladies remember to sweat every day! Oh, and for days when I can't make it to the sauna, I'll be making great use of my new facial sauna which is making it's way to me as we speak.

Lastly, I'm going to exfoliate like a beast.  I remember picking up a sample of Nutra Bisse products last year at the make up counter of a local department store after reading in an article that Beyonce & Kelly Rowland use them to perfect their skin.  One of those products was a mild peel which I didn't use right away due to active breakouts.  A few weeks later the lady who provided me the samples reached out to me to see how I liked them.  After letting her know that I didn't use the peel because I was waiting for my breakouts to subside, she actually encouraged me to try the peel as a way of addressing the acne.  Then I thought about the time I received a strong peel from Lady Dee.  My before pictures taken moments before the peel revealed troubled skin.  This was in stark contrast to what my skin looked like 5 days later when the peel was removed.  Amazingly, my skin appeared clear and blemish free.  From this point on, I realized that exfoliation could be a good thing for my skin as part of my acne management regimen.   That's were the Riiviva Microderm kit & the Clarisonic Pro comes in. 

I'm thinking about stuff like this now so I can avoid blemishes that eventually lead to dark marks, scarring and other non desirables.  I plan on keeping it simple by drinking lots of water, sweating regularly to eliminate toxins and exfoliating to promote a healthy glow. 

Healthy skin this summer at all costs!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

If you haven't picked up a bottle of Biolage's Keratindose leave in yet based on my craving post, I'm here to tell you that you have made a terrible mistake and lost valuable time.  My shipment arrived last week.  By the time the package arrived, my wash day was over a week overdue.  At this point, my hair was in need of moisture so I decided to put the Keratindose to its first test.
 Instinctively, I reached for the Pro-Keratin Leave in and began to mist my old, dry, bun.  Even before Keratindose touched my hair I knew I was in for a treat.  Because the bottle is clear, I could actually see the product.  By the looks of it, the Keratindose is a creamy leave-in in a spray bottle.  Creamy leave-ins are a dream come true for thick, coarse hair like mine.

Then I sprayed......Then it touched my hair.....Then I fell in love.  After placing my Keritandose on the counter, I picked up my Misto sprayer and sealed my hair with oil.  I am not kidding when I say that my hair was ultra moisturized the entire day.  No, let me correct my last statement.  My hair wasn't just moisturized, it actually felt conditioned all day.  Conditioned hair is on a much higher level than moisturized hair.

Biolage's Keratindose has filled a GREAT VOID in my hair regimen.  For the longest time I've been looking for a creamy leave in with ultra miosturizing qualities.  But, at the same time, I enjoyed using a watery leave-in for detangling purposes during the roller set.  I thought I would never have my cake and eat it too.  But, my friends, Keratindose has come into my life and changed everything!  EVERYTHING!
Keratindose looks like a hydrating moisturizer but sprays like a watery leave-in
This is the most conditioning/hydrating leave in I own!  It sprays like a watery leave-in but it operates like a creamy leave in.  On top of that, my Keratindose detangles my hair like a BOSS!  In fact, I'm gonna say that I like it much more for detangling than my It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In.  Why?  For two reasons:
  1. Gives waaaaaaay more slip. Which means easier detangling.
  2. I've never had the urge to use It's a 10 on my non-tangled hair. Usually I just use it as a spot treatment on my difficult tangles. With Keratindose, I want to use it all over.  
 This stuff is so amazing that it actually coaxed me to experiment with air drying again.  This past weekend was my first successful air dry in years.  Biolage has stepped it's game way up with this product.  My household will never be without it again.   To me Keratindose IS the definition of a leave-in conditioner.  Meaning, it doesn't feel like I'm applying a leave-in product, it feels like I'm using a leave-in that actually conditions my hair.

  You need this product more than you know. Those people who left glowing  Amazon reviews were speaking the honest truth.  I have nothing else to say. Just trust me on this one.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Now that spring is upon us. I'm finding myself moving away from grey and neutral polishes to brighter colors.  Recent additions to my collection include China Glazes' "For Aubrey" (as seen in a past craving post), Essie's "Style Hunter", which is the perfect shade of pinkish red, and Butter's "Slapper."
Speaking of collections, this month I welcomed a new addition.  I got her a little sooner than expected. Due to the laws of supply and demand, I almost lost out of my opportunity to acquire this gorgeous handbag that I've been coveting for oh so long.  But somehow the stars aligned. And now we're together.

I'm most excited about the arrival of my Biolage Keratindose.  I couldn't wait to encounter experiences like those I've read online.  Two uses later and I'm just finishing off my review post which will go live later this week.

Monday, March 17, 2014

One of my major areas of opportunity has to be how little patience I have when it comes to getting results.  After setting a goal, I instantly want it achieved.  Meanwhile, I'm often failing to place any significance on the process required to achieve the goal.  If, and when, the goals is achieved, I totally neglect to maintain the process that got me there in the first place.  I've seen this behavior happen over and over again in my fitness & skin care journey.

I know for a fact that this type of behavior doesn't serve me.  Worst of all, I keep finding myself back to square one in with many of my goals.  Now I'm ready to let go of that way of doing things.  From now on, I want to maintain the mindset of "loving the journey" rather than sitting in the back seat constantly asking "are we there yet."  
One of the root causes of why I stop being consistent could be related to the fact that I'm solely focused on the end result.

Instead of setting a goal like this one: "I am going to work out 3-5 times a week."
I set a goal like this: "I am going to lose 5 lbs."

So then I work out, eat right, lose the 5lbs and feel like I can stop "doing all the things" because I don't need to lose the 5lbs anymore.  Nevermind the fact that working out consistently IS the action I need to take to really reach my goal.  The 5lb outcome was actually a "false goal." I call it a false goal because even if you reach it, you can not sustain it without the consistent action.  Reaching a certain hair length is a false goal and so is having a certain amount of money in the bank.  In actually, those false goals should actually be considered milestones you reach as a sign that you are doing what you need to do.  Once that milestone is reached, you can move on to the next milestone. BUT THE REAL GOAL IS TO KEEP TAKING ACTIONS THAT MOVE YOU TOWARDS YOUR MILESTONES.  

This is what I will practice from now on.  If I'm, not constantly taking the right actions, then I'm not reaching my goals. The milestones of gaining 5lbs of muscle or having XXX amount in the bank let me know that I'm headed in the right direction. Once I meet the milestone, I won't stop. I identify a new milestone and adjust my actions accordingly.  I think this new way of goal achievement will be very effective for me. Best of all, I will focus on maintaining the process, not just the outcome.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's time for another round up of some of the beauty secrets shared on Instagram.  From time to time, I go scouring my feeds for new products & techniques that  I can incorporate in my own regimen and share them with you.
Instagram user _starvonna shared this pic of her beautiful hair and left this wonderful review of Nutrilite Hair, Skin & Nails complex :  "Been taking this for a month and my hair is stronger than ever. I have natural long thick hair but would clip my ends due to hair is no longer shedding or splitting."

I adore June Ambrose. I always get excited when she posts some of her beauty products. Recently, she showed us what she uses to keep her skin hydrated and protected while in the sun.  Not only does she rock organic sunscreen but she also sprays on pure liquid coconut oil on her body.  I love using coconut oil on my skin after a shower but I've never seen in a product that can fit in your beach bag or purse.  I'm also thinking about using this on my hair the same way I've been enjoying using my Misto Sprayer.  I've already placed a bottle of Capriclear in my Amazon checkout box.
I've featured Natasha Ellie in fitness motivation posts.  You might remember Natasha from R&B videos like Peaches N' Cream and R Kelly's Fiesta.  This woman is aging beautifully. Not only that, I've seen her hair grow like weeds after her big chop not too long ago.  Luckily for us, she decided to let us in on a few of her secrets.  After posting this pic, she tells us "Wanna know my secret for healthy hair, nails and skin?  Natural products that help detoxify and rejuvenate your cells.  Wonder why I still look the same? Get you some Purpledefense [its] made from grapes and slows down the aging process.  Cellfood detoxifies your cells-allowing your body to take in nutrients from juicing and foods. Silica helps with your hair skin and nails."

I've used Cell Food in the past and got some great results.  Never heard of Purple Defense before but I'm sold. Will have to pick some up on my next vitamin run.

@Mackenziehyatt shared her favorite Lush lip scrub she uses to ward away dry chapped lips.

She also shared this awesome find.  Chewable hair skin and nails vitamin in gummy form!  I checked out the reviews on Amazon and folks are saying that these tastes pretty good while making a difference on hair growth and stronger nails.  I enjoyed taking collagen chews but couldn't find a chewable hair, skin and nails supplement until now.  These are definitely going on my wish list.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

I'm the proud owner of numerous eye shadow palettes.  Once I lay my eyes on on a combination of eyeshadow colors that seem promising, I buy.  Part of the reason for the constant searching was that, deep down, I was still looking for that one palette that would make all of my dreams come true.  I thought that dream palette would be the LoracPro. In fact, when I walked into Sephora weeks ago, that was exactly what I planned on leaving with.  But fate stepped in, and when I learned the LoracPro wasn't available, I inquired about another palette that would suffice.
Nars Narsissist was my second option.  The moment I laid my eyes on it, I knew.  The perfect spectrum of neutral colors was exactly what I was looking for.  Little shimmer but not overwhelmingly so.  Best of all, this pallet contained a blend of matte and shimmer.  A quick swatch test validated that the colors were highly pigmented.

Not only am I in love with the colors but I equally appreciate the packaging.  The sturdy case is PERFECT. It's portable which makes it great for keeping in my bag and, wonderful for traveling. I wouldn't trust most of my other palettes in my purse for fear that something bad would happen.  But with Narsissist, my mind is completely at ease.

Lastly I love how I can use this palette for day or night. My only qualm is that one of the neutral colors don't have as high of a payoff as the others. But overall, I'm in love.  Heck, I'm not sure I even need the LoracPro anymore.

Friday, March 14, 2014

After too many instances of blowing off going to the gym for lack of time. I decided to change my strategy.  I couldn't keep on the path of inactivity for ever.  When worked out consistently, I had enough energy to last me through my long busy days.  My body responded and, best of all, my self confidence increased.
Then I began to miss one day here and there and, before I knew it, I back sliding  Truth be told, I was really busy and a two hour gym visit 4-5 times a week wasn't always an option. 

I weighed my options and thought about what I could do to replicate my workout experience at home.  It started small, a couple of hand weights and a yoga mat.  Then I thought about how much progress I made when I focused on resistance based exercises. 
 One day, a couple of years ago, I noticed something different about my body. Although I was relatively around the same size I always was, things were very different.  It was like my muscle was disappearing and being replaced with fat. And it was happening beneath the surface in stealth mode.  As we all know, fat takes up much more space than muscle so it wasn't long before my clothes no longer fit the same.  

A few weeks of being consistent at the gym made all the difference.  More importantly lifting weights and including resistance in my cardio.  My body sculpted into something new and different. And I loved it!  Now, it seems, that when I let myself go, the fat is quick to return. My little "home gym" helps keep this in check until I can make it back to the fitness center on the weekends. 
Instead of sitting in a chair while watching tv shows online, I do squats, jump rope or tone my arms.  So far my home gym collection consists of:
  • A jump rope
  • Two 10 lb dumb bells
  • A 15 lb kettle bell
  • A stability ball
  • A set of resistance bands
  • A barbell & free weights.
  • A weighted hula hoop.
I'd love to add a treadmill but lack of space takes away that option.  So I go for walks/run instead.  There are a few additional items I'd like to include in my small home gym but for now I'm happy.  Best of all, I have zero excuses.

Want more inspiration? Be sure to check out other Fitness Friday posts from KLP of Saving our Strands, Ebony of Longing for Length and Britt of Oneand20.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ever wanted a product so badly that you were willing to delay wash day until you got your hands on it?  That's exactly what's happening to me right now.  I'm litterally counting down the hours until the UPS man drops off my bottle of Maxtrix Biolage's Pro-Keratin Renewal Leave-In Spray.
Not sure how I happened upon this product, but the moment I saw it on Amazon (and noticed the favorable ratings) I immediately purchased.  No reading the ingredients list, no searching Youtube for reviews.  Matrix and I have a long history.  In fact, their Daily Leave- In Tonic has been a staple of mine for many, many years.  Knowing that there could possibly be a "better" version of their already incredible leave-in makes me gitty inside.  The reviews only served as validation for what I knew I had to do.

Statements like "In love!" "Amazing!" "Love this stuff!"  "Best product I ever used!" "Thankful this stuff exists" are commonplace if you check out the reviews.  What impressed me the most was how the lowest rating was four stars.  This weekend should have been wash day but I couldn't pull myself to go through with it not knowing what I could be missing.  So now I wait.  In less than 24 hours I will have my coveted leave-in and will finally get to allow my hair to experience the softness and conditioning qualities this product claims to bring.

My package can't come soon enough.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I'm here to make a public service announcement.  Yesterday started off like any other day.  While on my way to a get together at a friend's house, I opted for an impromptu stop at a local Target.

"Just need a few things", I thought to myself as I wandered down the aisle.  After I added a few items to the cart, I began to make my way over to the checkout.  But instead of taking the main aisle, something deep inside me told me to stroll by the beauty section.

I stopped abruptly the moment I laid my eyes on what I thought was a vision.  There before me was what appeared to be my beloved Nexxus' split end repair line, ProMend.  If you've never heard me speak of this product before, you HAVE to go back and read my post.  Basically, it has a miracle complex which actually has the ability to repair the split ends.  Claims of healthy hair are one thing but this product actually makes your hair feel smoother and more manageable.
via my instragm
Anyway, so there I was standing with my mouth half open as I stared at the red clearance tags.  I couldn't resist.  Moments later my cart was filled with three bottles of the ProMend conditioner and three bottles of the ProMend leave-in (two of my favorite products from the line).  As I kept searching for more, I happened to also find Oscar Blandi's heat protectant spray on clearance.  Lastly I grabbed a bottle of Umberto Beverly Hills Collagen Pre-Shampoo Treatment.  Not sure what to expect with this product but I thought it would be good to have a strengthening Pre-poo. All the others I currently have are moisturizing pre-poo treatments (including my fave: Philip Kingsley).
I'm saying all of this so you can heed my words!  Check your local Target clearance section to see if you might as fortunate as to save a few dollars on such an amazing product.

Best of luck to you all!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Really excited today to feature a fellow hair blogger.  As a matter of fact, I requested a chance to feature her journey a while ago because her hair is so awesome.  I love how she was able to leverage her signature style, the bun, into lots of length.  Let's get to know her a little better.

 I go by the name of Divachyk on hair forums and social media. I'm a certified product junkie that loves everything hair, health and beauty. I started this journey after experiencing breakage that resulted from pure hair neglect while dealing with the stress of my husband's health (cancer -- praises to God hubby is healed!) During this time, I did not have the time or energy to frequent a salon so I started looking for ways and tips to maintain my hair at home and the rest is history.

I am relaxed and tend to stretch for 10 weeks on average. I tried stretching for longer without great success so 10 weeks became my norm.

-Wash Day: I change things up based on the needs of my hair but the basics remain the same: cleanse, deep condition and air dry.
-Daily Maintenance: I moisturize/seal and lightly comb 2x daily.
-Relaxer: I am salon relaxed and my current stylist uses Naked by Essations which is lye-based.

 I am not a fan of low-lye and no-lye relaxers because calcium deposits made my hair feel dry and brittle. My stylist then started using Design Essentials Honey Nectar. This is a time released relaxer and my hair took to it just fine. Fast forward several years, my hair began to suffer from breakage. I'm unsure if the issues resulted from relaxer strength or stylist technique.

What is your everyday go to hair style?
- Typically, buns - buns are my signature style.

 What are your every day products that your hair loves (and why)?
 I have all my favorites detailed on my blogsite but the ones I simply cannot be without are:

- Clarify: HairVeda Amala Deep (now discontinued and looking for a replacement). Shampoo: Bee Mine Botanicals Co-Cleanse: HairVeda Amala Cream Rinse Oil Rinse: Wheat GermTea Rinse: loose leaf slippery elm and marshmallow root. Deep Condition: Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose Leave In: Pura Body MuruMuru Moisture Milk Seal: Extra Virgin Avocado Oil Daily Moisturizer: Aubrey Organics White Camellia.

 Share you hair goals and what you will do to achieve them?
 Hair Length: My hair length goal is/was middle back length which I've achieved and surpassed.Hair Health: I revise my goals monthly to avoid complacency. My hair motto is health before length although I've strayed away from this at various times. In the moments that I've strayed, my hair did not flourish whatsoever. Needless to say, I've regained focus and will continue focusing on hair health going forward. My assessment of hair health is a moving target. Hair can be healthy one day and not so healthy the next. Overall, I feel that I've achieved and maintained healthy hair.
Achieved By:
- Protective styling for length retention
- Stretching relaxers for an average of 10 weeks
- Operating within my comfort zone rather than trying to hang with others
- Accepting what works for me and staying the course
- No bandwagons -- I've done them before but it did not work out so well
- Moisturizing / Sealing daily

Have you had any setbacks in your journey?
Please share the root cause and how you overcame your set back. I've had numerous setbacks! All setbacks and the associated effort to bounce back are detailed on my blog.
 Main Root Causes of my setbacks were:
- Jumping on bandwagons
- Not understanding protein / moisture balance
- Not understanding hair porosity
- Improper detangling tools & techniques

The main takeaways for bouncing back are: 
- Never repeat the mistake that caused the setback
- Remaining consistent with a well-defined regimen
- Protective styling for maximizing length retention

  You've started a blog on healthy hair care, what will readers learn  & experience from following your journey? 

 How to manage low porosity hair.   How to achieve healthy hair no matter if relaxed or natural.

 Someone stops you in the street and asks what they can do retain length like you, what do you tell them?  A well-defined regimen, consistency and protective styling.   

You're going on an extended vacation but can only take 3 hair  related products with you.  What do you pack and why? 

Co-Cleanse: HairVeda Amala Cream Rinse (hair cleanser)Conditioner/ Moisturizer / LI: Aubrey Organics White Camellia. Sealant: Extra Virgin Avocado Oil The three items can assist with wash day without causing an imbalance of protein / moisture or potential for setback. They are very moisturizing which my low porosity, dehydrated hair loves.

 Stay Connected With Divachyk // Relaxed Thairapy
Facebook: Relaxed Thairapy  (
Twitter: @relaxedthairapy  (
Instagram: @relaxedthairapy (
YouTube: divachyk (

Friday, March 7, 2014

Last week, I was fortunate to enjoy a few days of warm weather. This served as a clear reminder that soon spring would be upon us with summer not far behind.  Our layers and baggy clothing will be replaced with tank tops, shorts and bathing suits.  Knowing this is coming, we've got to get ready!
Inspiration from my Pinterest Fitness Board
Approximately 90 days from now, how would like to look & feel? Will you be thinking "I wish I would have started three months ago." Or will you be glad you invested a little time in yourself every day.  I don't know about you, but I'm not trying to have any regrets (if I can help it).  So I'm starting a 90 day challenge!  My focuses, the next three months, will be on creating flawless skin, a toned, fit body and making major progress on my hair journey. 

Here's how it's going to work.  First I identify my goals. For the sake of this discussion, I will identify goals not as an end result, but a series of actions that I will take on a regular basis that will bring me the results I want.  In the case of having a healthy, fit body, "my goals" will be around how consistently I work out.  Consistent workouts + healthy eating = healthier body.  So if I don't do these things, there's no point in me setting a "goal" for losing X number of pounds.  I say that I'm committed to consistent physical exercise.  But at times, things get in the way of me doing what I said I would do.  If I continue to allow these obstacles, I can predict what my results will look like 90 days from now.  I'll be wishing I had instead of being glad it did.

They say the hardest part about working out is going to work out.  Meaning, if I can get past the mental struggle that happens occurs when I think to myself "do I have enough time to work out today." Then I would be just fine. If I took out that obstacle of  having to make a decision, I could improve my likelihood of working out on a daily basis.  One thing I've been practicing is how to increase my desire to go work out.  I do this by pairing the physical activity (which I don't love) with something that brings me immense joy.  While I'm exercising, I visualize (daydream) about everything I want to do, have and to be.  I imagine myself frolicking on the beach feeling comfortable in my body.  I daydream about intentions I want to manifest in my life.  I think about things I've wanted in the past that have already materialized.  This practice makes me feel extremely good.  Actually, it gives me something to look forward to while I'm working out.  And if what they say is true about visualization and law of attraction, then I'm also bringing more good things into my life.  It's a win-win!

Another thing I will do differently is to set a work out time and commit.  That way I'm not trying to fit a workout in. It'll be scheduled a head of time. I'm really excited about the visualizing while working out, thing.  Using this technique I went from dreading my time on the treadmill to smiling to myself as I secretly plot my most perfect future.

Feels good.

Want more inspiration? Be sure to check out other Fitness Friday posts from KLP of Saving our Strands, Ebony of Longing for Length and Britt of Oneand20.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I'm doing this thing where I'm intentional with my wardrobe pieces instead of just wandering into a store and grabbing what I fancy. There's nothing wrong with unscripted shopping excursions but, for some reason, I tend to gravitate towards the same items over and over again.  My way of getting over this challenge is to identify pieces that would bring something new to my current wardrobe. Now that I've identified my next purchase, I'm officially on the hunt.
The weather is warming up, in my neck of the woods, and I know it won't be long until we're enjoying 80 degree weather again.  I'm on the lookout for cute, stylish pieces that also work well with the weather. So far, I'm loving the playsuit and how versatile they can be.  You can pair them with sandals for a casual look or dress them up with heels and cute handbag.
I'm craving at least one piece versatile enough to dress up or down.  But if I had a choice, I'd go with one that would look fabulous with my minimalist heeled sandals.
I've fallen in love with the long sleeve versions of this amazing one piece.   Much props to Natasha for pairing her fabulous  playsuit with a pair of tights which gives it from day to night" feel."  She looks absolutely stunning.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Last week I boasted about a new method of oil application which really helped my hair's moisture levels.  If your hair loves oils like mine, you should check this post out. A wonderful reader by the name of "Emelia" left me a comment about the Misto Olive oil sprayer as an alternative to my makeshift spray bottle.  

Immediately I was intrigued and wanted this sprayer to step my game up.  So I immediately went out and got it!  As soon as the Misto sprayer was in my possession, I began to fill it half way with jojoba oil.  After filling, I utilized the nifty cap to pressurize the Misto ensuring the oil comes out in a mist instead of a stream.  
First impressions, I love it!  The Misto far outperformed my spray bottle.  There were times when it would produce streams of oil, instead of a mist. I quickly rectified that issue by using the cap to aerate my Misto once again.  It's a small price to pay for what I get in return.  The result of when I use the Misto vs. my spray bottle is that my hair doesn't feel quite as oily and weighed down.  I think this method may work better for more people than my previous suggestion. My spray bottle gave a "heavy" sealing. This one is just right. I'm gonna get another one in a different color to house my coconut oil once it's melts as the weather warms up.  I'm predicting that both my spray bottle/w oil and this Misto Sprayer are going to be life savers for me as the weather heats up and humidity rises. 

*whispers in your ear* "My favorite thing to do in the world now is spraying my ends with oil. It makes them so buttery and yummy."

Who's going to try this?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It seems that I've amassed a small collection of facial rollers.  I've come to the realization that I love these facial tools and the promise they bring.  Now that my collection is complete, I thought I'd formally introduce you to each of them and what makes them special. 
First we have what I'd consider the entry level facial rollers.  On the far right is my jade roller.  It's the only one I have with a completely smooth surface.  What I like about my jade roller is the cool feel of the stone against my skin.  It's also double sided.  I can use the small roller near harder to reach areas (around the eyes). The second addition to my collection was the Body Shop Facial Massager.  What attracted me to it was how different it's head looked from my jade roller.  I figured it would give me a greater level of stimulation and boy was I right.  
After grabbing the Body Shop roller, my next purchases were my derma rollers (not pictured).  They're highly effective but the tiny needles can be somewhat invasive.  When I was introduced to this roller with pins that don't penetrate the skin, I was completely sold, using it on my scalp and my face.  It most certainly provides way more stimulation than my jade & Body Shop rollers.  My hope is that this roller can help promote new skin cell production below the surface so my deep scarring goes away even faster.
My newest roller just might be my favorite.  This Panasonic massager is the only one electronic one of the group.  The head rotates on 3 speeds.  Unlike the others, this massager gives me a much deeper level of stimulation.  It goes beyond the surface to the point where I can actually feel the vibration in my facial bones.  Why is this important and why do I have so many rollers in the first place?

I'll answer those questions by sharing a story.  I travel a ton.  Between flights I spend a lot of time people watching at the airport.  Recently I've made a few observations about bright, youthful skin, and the differences it has with aging skin.  From my point of view, youthful skin looked like it was nourished with adequate blood flow.  Aging skin appeared dull and didn't have that "backlit" (glowing) look of younger skin.  When I say aging skin, I don't (just) mean the skin elderly people. I'm talking about people in their late thirties and up who don't take proactive action to exfoliate dead layers and bring blood flow and circulation to the face on a regular basis.  When this doesn't happen, the skin doesn't have that same look of health of someone younger.

When we massage our face, we are calling for blood to flow to that area. Where there is blood flow, there is health.  Children have high levels of circulation and blood flow, aging people do not. Since our blood flow naturally declines with age, we must take action to keep it going.  Exercise is one way to promote blood flow in our bodies.  But what about our face?

I'd also like to bring up the idea that, not only is our blood flow slowing down, but our bones are also shrinking. Ever seen pics of someone in their sixties who still works out regularly?  Their bodies retain it's youthful disposition. Some say this has to do with how our bones respond to resistance training. The more we work out against resistance, the stronger our bones become.  Unfortunately there isn't a way to work out the face in the same way.  This is why people can have amazing youthful bodies but their face still show their true age.  Facial exercise is one day to address that (we can talk more in another post). But facial exercises focus on the muscles and not the bone structure.  When I use my Panasonic Facial Massager, I feel the vibration down to my bones.  According to this site offering Whole Body Vibration machines to the elderly, the brain reacts to the intensity of the vibrations by stimulating and increasing blood flow and oxygenation while triggering a spike in human growth hormone.  They also believe that these vibrations has the power to increase bone density.

My Japanese facial massager is so intense that I feel the vibrations of my facial bones with each use.  It was so powerful that I decided to use it on my scalp.  Unlike other scalp massagers that focus on the surface level, I feel the vibrations throughout my entire head.  I also feel like it helps relieve tension from stress. It's like getting a head massage, not just a scalp massage. Feels really good.  Best of all, it does all the work for me.

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