Saturday, February 28, 2015

Style Inspo | Oxblood.

It's been quite a while since I've been inspired to acquire any new clothing pieces.  But lately, I catch myself glimpsing a little longer whenever I come across style pieces in the deepest shades of red.  I love how oxblood can be worn as any part of the outfit (or as the entire look).


Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Thirst Is Real | The true reasons why you should drink your water.

We're back with another important discussion about staying hydrated.  We've gone in detail, in the past regarding how many benefits are possible if you regularly drink lots of water.  We've studied the regimens of the greats who proclaim that they consume up to a gallon or more a day.

Let's discuss this water drinking thing on a new level.  As your resident "Eternal Youth" specialist,  I feel it is my obligation to do so.  There have been times when I've severely neglected my water intake.  If this goes on too long, I start to experience negative side effects such as flaking scalp, splitting nails and rough dry skin.  But, truthfully, by the time I notice the external results, it's too late.  Why?  Because other, more serious consequences of inadequate water intake are happening on the inside.

Water is a nutrient to our bodies.  Our cells need it to survive.  The most important thing our bodies need for survival is oxygen.  The second most important is water.  Interestingly enough, water contains oxygen.  In fact, water is a secondary supplier of oxygen to our cells.  Water doesn't only hydrate, it oxygenates.  I should also mention that most of us aren't breathing "properly."  Ideally, the body prefers deep breaths to properly oxygenate. But many of us don't unconsciously breathe that way.  I've read that we only utilize only 30% of our breathing capacity.  That means we are taking in less oxygen than we are capable of.  The whole topic of optimal oxygen is something I may discuss in a future post.

Beyond oxygenation, water cleanses.  Without it, our cells can not transport nutrients and eliminate waste.  Things become stagnant and we, essentially, start to wallow in our own waste.  Oh, and guess what else happens when you become dehydrate?  Your cortisol levels increase.  Cortisol is a hormone your body releases during stress.  I consider stress hormones highly destructive as they essentially work to break down the body.

You remember how I talked about maintaining bone density via resistance exercise as a method to combat aging.  Well, if you're walking around dehydrated, weight training won't save you from the gradual eating away of the bones that happens when you shun your water intake.  Cortisol interferes with the bone building process which eventually decreases your bone density.  Strong, healthy bones are a sign of youth.  As a matter of fact, experts can tell how old a person was at time of death simply by examining the condition and density of the bones.  You want to extend your youth?  Pay attention to what's happening to your bones.

The glowing, soft skin are a tell tale sign of the level of health we experience inside.  If you aren't consistent with your water intake,  I urge you to think about the bigger picture.  Think of how much your body NEEDS it to stay alive and function properly.   When you choose to go without water, think of the price you pay when body to become hydrated.  It's not worth it.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Motivation Monday | Build Your Belief

Whenever I think about the stuff on my goal list, one thing I have to remind myself is gauge my level of belief. There are things that I say I want, but deep down inside, I'm not clear on how and when it will happen.  Heck I can't even say for certain IF it will happen.

By not working on my belief, I delay progress.  My actions waiver between absolute certainty and giving up.  That's highly ineffective.  So I'm making a shift in mindset to elevate my entire belief system.  Belief is an absolutely necessary component.  It's like the fuel that drives your directly towards your goals.  You can assess your level of belief in something by taking a look at your actions.

When your belief is high, your actions will correlate highly with the result you desire.  The actions you take will appear as if you are preparing for the goal to manifest in your life.  One example that comes to mind is Noah.  When God asked him to build the ark.  Noah believed. As a result, his actions were geared towards preparing for the rains to come.  Belief drive your actions, actions create your result.  Our goal should be to eliminate doubt at all costs.  

Here are some tips on what you can do to build your level of belief.

1] Surround yourself with others doing what you want to do.  Last year, I finally came to the realization that I really didn't belief I was capable of reaching a big goal on my list.  The minute I realized this was the case, I immediately sprang into action to address it.  What did I do?  I went on the hunt to find others who accomplished what I desired.  I watched dozens of hours of video and read a hundred accounts of others traveled the path that I wanted.  I was obsessed.  It didn't take long for my mind to feel comfortable with seeing myself in their position.  Soon my actions shifted to reflect my new belief.  By the end of the year.  My intention was manifested.  

2]  See it.  Create it.  One thing that hinders belief is my difficulty with visualizing.  There's more than one way to visualize something.  The most common is sitting with your eyes closed while creating a picture of the future your want.  Another option is to describe your future outcome in great detail.  I've spend the last several days binge watching episodes of Flipping out Hulu.  The show highlights the business journey of Jeff Lewis a professional house flipper and designer.  The guy has the innate ability to walk into a house (no matter the condition) and visualize a completely different picture than the current reality.  What's impressive is how clearly he can see, and describe, the desired result.  Jeff knows this is an advantage and, at one point mentions, a large percentage of the population doesn't have the ability to visualize which is why he's able to find great deals and turn them into a huge profit.  

3] Certainty Language.  Belief shows up in actions and in language.  Be aware of the type of language you use when you discuss your future outcome.  Stay away from unclear language like "I'd like to,"  "someday..."  etc.  When you talk about your desires, use clear language that demonstrates your complete belief that it will happen.  

4]  Think of past successes.  One technique I've been using a lot lately is thinking about all the goals I've held in the past which are now a reality.  Doing this helped me to remember all the other times I've been in a similar situation of wanting what I now enjoy.  This instantly reduces the amount of anxiety I have regarding my current desires. It reminds me that I am in the midst of "the process" and I adjust my actions to accelerate the process versus feeling bad about the progress made so far.  

5] Gratitude.  Nothing builds belief more than being thankful for what you have.  Quickly, your mind moves from a place of lack (disbelief) to abundance.   Abundance is such a wonderful mindset to have. If you don't firmly believe in your goal, there's underlying resistance.  All that does is slow things down and divert you from the path you set for yourself.  Gratitude makes the entire process of building your belief easy because it helps removes resistance and, without resistance, anything is possible.  


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Let's talk about frequent washing and hair growth.

A couple of days ago, I was watching reruns of Flipping Out online.  In one episode, Jeff Lewis, the star of the show is having his hair washed and cut by Chaz Dean, the creator of WEN hair products.  Jeff tells Chaz, "my hair has been growing like crazy lately."  Chaz asks "have you been cleansing every day?"  "Yeah." Jeff replies.  "That's why" Chaz answers in a matter of fact tone.

That exchange stayed with me for a little bit.  Then I receive this comment on the post discussing cold showers
"I believe this can work well for hair growth. When was texlaxed I always rinsed with cold water and my hair seemed to grow quickly and my length retention was on point. As a natural, I most quit doing this often only to recently start again. When I had my 2nd summer natural I rinsed my hair with cold water in the shower everyday and my growth was impressive."

Since the topic of frequent washing and growth came up twice within a couple of days, I thought it would make sense to talk about the merits of frequent washing and how it pertains to hair growth.

When I studied the regimens of women with successful hair journeys, I noticed the following patterns. 

Group 1:  Cowashed every day and experienced amazing growth and retention.
Group 2:  Washed in regular intervals and left their hair alone (protective styled) until next wash day.

I'm sure there were other groups but those are the ones that stuck out to me.  Almost everyone who washed/conditioned daily would mention how much growth and retention they enjoyed as a result of their efforts.  But how exactly does daily washing influence hair growth?

1|  Hair is constantly expososed to moisture in the form of water.  Hair that is highly moisturized is likely to break less.

2|  Daily washing creates daily scalp stimulation as you cleanse. Your shower head acts as a second method of scalp stimulation thereby promoting blood flow.  Cold rinses can further accelerate this process.

3|  Daily cleansing promotes a clean scalp which can help promote healthier growth.  A scalp with clogged pores can hamper healthy growth from occuring.

4| Daily co-wash/cleansing also promotes a low manipulation lifestyle.  Most co washers didn't go through any intricate styling process post wash knowing they'd be washing their hair again in the immediate future.

5| Daily co-washing means daily conditioning. Which means the hair follicle is better protected to withstand damage caused by manipulation.

The benefits can even be experienced if one washed several times a week (not just daily).  Back in the day, when I had less texture, I could co-wash and air dry with the best of them.  And yes, my hair did enjoy regular exposure to water and moisturizing conditioners.  But now air drying is my arch nemesis and the thought of roller setting multiple times a week makes me cringe.  It seems like a huge waste of time and I'm not sure about all the manipulation.  But, who knows, my hair might be better equipped to handle it since I now have Olaplex on my side.

Washing hair just might stimulate growth. Especially when done during the warmer months when hair growth rates are already accelerated.  But it could also be the retention that allows us to finally experience the growth that once seemed invisible.    One word of warning is to never forgo deep conditioning if you become a regular co-washer.  Highly moisturized hair may feel healthy but we still need to balance with protein to fortify the strand.  It's all about balance.

I'm ready to try again with more frequent washings.  Maybe not daily. More like 2-3 times a week and see what happens.  For now I have to roller set because nothing else seems to agree with my hair after a wash. 

Those of you who co-wash regularly with great results. Share your tips on what you do with your hair afterwards and whether you've experienced increased growth/retention because of it. 


Friday, February 20, 2015

Shampoo & Vinegar | The perfect combination for healthier hair

My head is brewing with ideas on how to keep my cuticle layer happy while reducing shedding.  This morning, I came across a wonderful article that inspired me to try something different this weekend.  The article, titled The Shampoo pH can affect the Hair: Myth or Reality talks about how an alkaline pH increases a negative charge of the hair's surface which increases the amount of friction between the strands.  The result of all the increased friction is long term damage to the cuticle and breakage.

They go on to say that shampoos with a lower pH can cause less negative charge on the surface of the hair.  Then I got to thinking.  I've done ACV rinses in the past and enjoyed great results.  What would be the pros and cons of adding a little vinegar to my shampoo?
PRO:  Scalp Health
Shampoos are meant to cleanse the hair and scalp.  Since a lot of people are only applying shampoo to the scalp, why not apply a shampoo with a pH level that would also keep it healthy?

PRO: Deeper Cleansing
Another wonderful benefit of apple cider vinegar is that it can help clarify the hair/scalp, removing product build up and hard water residue.  The effects of this are mild so it still makes sense to do a deep clarifying every once in a while.

PRO: Smoother Cuticles
It may seem a little counterproductive but smoother cuticles during the wash could be a good thing.  First, it could reduce the risk of breakage when the hair is most fragile (wet).  Secondly, this could help reduce the amount of tangles during the shampoo.  Third, smoother cuticles can make it easier to apply deep conditioner after the wash. There can be quite a bit of manipulation as I part my hair in small sections, so it makes sense to positively charged strands during all of that friction.

I guess the only con is that closed cuticles during while applying conditioner could hamper the amount of conditioner that gets absorbed by the strand.  But, all of that can be easily rectified by sitting under the dryer or steaming.  Honestly, I only care about open cuticles when I need it. And I only need open cuticles when conditioner is sitting on it.  After that, I want everything closed again.

Which leads me to the next point, using vinegar in the final rinse to close everything back up again after the final rinse. I also understand the slight risk of dry hair from overusing ACV.  That's why I'm experimenting with coconut cider vinegar which, to me, is milder than apple cider vinegar.

Can't wait to try it this weekend.

Does anyone have experience doing an mixing acv with their shampoo?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cold Showers| The Hair + Skin beauty secret you have to experience.

In case you're wondering, I'm currently on a rampage against shedding & tangles.  All of my mind powers have been allocated towards figuring out what I can do to minimize this situation.  Then I received am email early this week that triggered a reminder of one mistake I've been making which could have contributed to my troubles.

I hate cold weather with an intense passion.  I'm one of those people who enjoy the feeling of warmth on my skin.  I'm a summer baby so I think it's part of my makeup. Because of this, I kinda look forward to my warm showers which serve as one of the few moments that I get to experience heat.  The problem with all of this is the horrible consequence I experience as a result of those few minutes of enjoyment.

I've experimented with cold showers in the past and I know first hand the multitude of benefits that come with it.  When cold showers were the norm, I enjoyed smooth, hydrated skin. My skin seems to naturally retain moisture with the help of the cold water.  Not only that, my face & breasts benefited.  Let me explain..... When the cold water hits your skin, everything constricts.  Pores tighten, and blood flows in a new direction.  One of the wonderful side effects to my face was how tight everything felt.  And I don't mean dry skin tight.  I mean toned and lifted tight.  Everything seemed to firm up, including breasts.  At first I thought I was a little crazy for noticing so I searched online and learned that dipping breasts in ice water is an age old home remedy to create firmer breasts. See, I'm not crazy.
But let's talk about the real reason why we're here.  The crazy tangles and shedding which are ruining my life.  Back when I took cold showers on the regular, I developed enough courage to do cold water rinses on wash day.  If memory serves me right, doing so made an impact on my wash day shedding.  I notice that even if I detangle prior to washing.  As soon as I jump into a warm shower to rinse the conditioner, the shedding kicks up again and I pay for it during the roller set.  Since I became a wimp, I've suffered the consequences.  Not only is the shedding more than I'm comfortable with, I've also had the pleasure of having to deal with lifted cuticles thanks to the hot water. Lifted cuticles are one of  the raw ingredients needed to create tangled hair.  From now on, I want to eliminate tangled hair from the menu.

I'm so ashamed of myself for allowing temporary comfort to come in the way of the bigger picture.  So now I'm done being a wimp.  Done.  It's time to build a little mental toughness and do what I have to do.  What motivates me is knowing that I'll experience benefits almost immediately.  Plus, I realize that the feeling of having icy cold water attacking my skin is only temporary.  The body quickly reacts to the experience and works vigorously to warm the skin.  Soon the cold water becomes tolerable and, before you know it, the experience is complete.  Then you're left with smoother skin and healthier looking + feeling hair.  Not to mention the benefits to your face and body.  Hey, if Naomi Campbell and Pharrell Williams use cold water to keep them looking ageless, maybe we can consider it too!  Let's add this to our list of beauty rituals to complete while we shower.

It's worth it.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Transform everything in just two minutes a day.

I've been thinking a lot about my experience at the Makeup Show a few months back.  There I met a young lady who took the initiative to help find colors that work well with my skin tone.  She was a tiny little thing at under 5ft tall.  Which gave me the rare experience of look down at the makeup artist.

Like peeking, I found myself examining her lashes to see if they were extensions.  Curiosity got the best of me so I finally had to ask her.  "How do I get lashes like yours, I asked?"  Grandelash, she replied.  "Twice a day....morning and night."  I went back to my original post on the product and was reminded of a similar experience where a coworker also enjoyed wonderful results from applying the lash serum twice a day.  It didn't take much time and effort. Just a bit of consistency. 

It made me wonder, "what other actions can I do twice a day to create quick, amazing results?"  The whole idea of this twice a day thing is that it should take much time 5-10 minutes at the most, but when you do it morning and night (and do it every night) the results compound.  And since spring is just around the corner, these can be the things that get us back on track and ready for the next season. 

Facial Massage
I would love to do a quick facial massage 2X a day to see what the outcomes would be.  The benefits of a daily massage are numerous.  You experience increase blood flow to the face which draws oxygen to that area, helping to give you a natural glow.  Plus the muscles of the face are stimulated, helping you maintain muscle tone.  I also believe there's a benefit to the pressure placed on the facial bone during massage which will help maintain bone density.  I just believe that our faces, if left alone, will fall victim to atrophy (which no one wants).  Lastly, our skin also benefits from facial massage.  Something about the friction caused by our fingers on the skin helps promote cell turnover and exfoliation.  A face that receives massage daily will look amazing.

Scalp Massage
What if, twice a day, we subjected our scalp to a rush of oxygen rich blood?  Not only do we promote growth but I think massage serves a form of exercise for the scalp. Since really scalp exercises are a bit difficult.  Massaging it would be the next best thing. The other best thing would be hop on your trampoline and rebound.  When I do a quick rebound session, I can feel a slight movement in my scalp as my feet bounce on the trampoline.  Once I noticed what was happening, I actually began wearing my hair down whenever I rebound just to make sure my scalp can freely enjoy all the benefits.

Feet Scrub
I will never not talk about the power of daily heel scrubbing.  Never.  One thing I would like to add to take this feet scrubbing thing to the next level is to make sure you drink enough water and take your fermented cod liver oil.  Otherwise, you will still have dry feet with no dead skin.  That's not winning.  Let's take this thing all the way and make sure our skin is hydrated from head to heel.

Moisturize & Seal
Of course we have to talk about how your hair can transform if you took to the time to moisturize and seal daily.  Daily moisturizing and sealing is powerful but what would happen to your hair if it experienced a moisture boost twice a day?  I know that some of you don't really need to moisturize your hair two times a day, but, if you experience dry hair. Once a day may not be enough.   Upping the frequency to twice a day will allow you to play offense, not defense.  You will retain like never before and retaining is the name of the game.

Visualize & Meditate
One thing that makes a difference in whether I move towards my goals is how much I actually think about them.  If I go days/weeks without thinking about what I want, my actions follow and I pretty much do nothing to move forward.  But if I take time to reflect on what I want to create, ideas come to me and I'm motivate to achieve them.  Those moments when I focus on what I want are invaluable.  Which is why I need to create more of them.  One missing piece which I slacked on is visualizing the outcome I want to experience.  Instead I tend to focus of the actions I need to do (which is a good thing) but I also should invest painting the clearest picture possible.  When the picture is clear, the actions become easier. 

The whole idea of this twice a day thing is to invest little time.  The duration is not as important as the consistency.  Consistency, consistency, consistency.  Heck, if I only dedicated 2 minutes, twice a day for each action, that would be enough.   The artist with the amazing lashes did it in just a few seconds a day (twice a day).   I could go on with even more examples but you get the picture.  Decide what outcome you want and figure out what you have to do, in just 2-5 minutes a day to get it. 
Saturday, February 14, 2015

Olive Her Look.

Aside from black, I'd say olive green (army green) is my favorite color when it comes to clothes.  In my closet are 2 jackets in the olive green family.  One is a solid color, the other has a camouflage print. They're in constant rotation as they pretty much go with anything.  I was pretty satisfied with these the pieces I currently had until I was inspired to begin the hunt for a third.

The length of Kerrueche's coat/shirt is wonderful.  Another selling point is that it's lightweight. Which is perfect to throw over casual outfits, especially as we slowly move into spring.  It appears as if she's found the perfect over sized shirt to double as a lightweight jacket.  I'm completely down for that idea in the event that I never come across a solid color lightweight olive coat. 

Another thing  I adore about this look is how she wore lighter, neutral shades which serve as a back drop so her olive coat and Chanel bag can shine.  The coat is so captivating, it doesn't require much more effort with hair and jewelry to pull everything together.   I need something like this in my life.
Friday, February 13, 2015

#Fearless Friday | You know what you need to do.

"What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do"  -Tim Ferriss, The Four Hour Workweek.
For many years that quote was a part of the signature of my work emails, along with my name and job title.  When I discovered it, while reading The Four Hour Workweek, those words immediately struck a cord, making a lasting impression.  Then I saw this illustration from the book "The Tools" of a man keeping himself boxed in a comfort zone while missing out on all the limitless possibilities awaiting.  Someone put it best when they said that fear is an emotion that served us well, when we actually lived a dangerous environment.  Centuries ago, fear was the emotion that allowed us to survive life threatening situations.

Nowadays, we rarely face life and death situations. Instead, we improperly attach fear to relatively harmless scenarios like talking in front of others, or clowns.  The fear feels real to us, because our heart rate races, our heart pounds, and hands get sweaty.  But doesn't the same thing happen when we get excited about something or when we fall in love?

A seminar leader at a, meeting I attended, said it best when he said, "the feeling you're experiencing isn't fear, it's your heart pumping blood through your body.  That's a good thing....means you're alive!"  

What if we are incorrectly labeling and reacting to the sensations in our bodies (and the stories in our minds) as "fear."  What if the heightened emotions are an indication that this is something that we should be doing?  What if you were to lean into the thing you "fear" instead of cowering away?

Chances are, if you took a step forward, you'd find it to be less scary than you first imagined.  Or maybe, you experience even more of the "blood moving through your body" feeling,  Remember, that is a sign of your aliveness!  You are invigorated by the experience. It makes you feel alive!  From this day forward, when you experience heightened emotions from something you "fear," ask yourself "if I did it anyway would it make me a better, stronger person? Would it bring me one step closer to my overall goals?  If yes, then you know what to do.  

Think of all the things that bring you slight bit of anxiety, that makes you flinch.  Take a moment to reflect on what's on the other side if you were able to move beyond it.  These are the actions that you are being led to do.  There's a handsome reward for you on the other side if you are willing to move forward.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Avoiding Setbacks | Don't let tangles rob you of your progress

I think I just narrowly avoided my first setback of 2015.   Although there were some casualties, the damage wasn't not as bad as it could have been.  I had to take some drastic action to address the situation, which, looking back, could have been avoided.  That's why I'm sharing my experience, as a reminder to myself, and hopefully as a warning to others.
My hair is prone to excessive tangling.  Actually, it graduated beyond tangles to full blown knots.  One thing I love about being texlaxed is the fullness that comes with added texture. But, on the other hand,  the coarser texture of my hair makes it a breeding ground to tangles.  When my hair is bone straight, shed hair is easily removed via finger detangling or with a comb.  I rarely straighten my textlaxed hair so it pretty much wraps itself around its neighbors as it sheds.  The longer I go without combing, the worse it gets.

And that's the problem.  I rarely comb my hair.  The only time I actually comb it is during my roller set on wash days.  The rest of the time I finger detangle.  Detangling by hand a wonderful thing unless, it's done in frequently and haphazardly.  Which is exactly what happened in my case.

But all of that is about to change.  I'm putting 100% of my energy into overcoming this issue once and for ever.  Tangles are a sensitive issue for me.  If I put off detangling, I end up with knots. If I finger detangle too frequently, I over manipulate and end up with breakage + thinning.  What's a girl to do?

Going extended periods without a well conducted detangling session is out of the question. I never want to get to a place where I 'm cutting knots out of my hair again.  The only other option is to remove the shed hairs in a way that completely avoids the negative effects of mechanical manipulation.  If my hair could withstand the detangling session with minimal breakage, I'd be set.  I received some assistance with managing breakage from Olaplex (full review to come).  Once I have the threat of breakage under control, I just have to increase frequency of detangling to avoid the worst case scenario.

Ideally, I'd like to do some form of detangling at every 1-3 days.  Preferably as part of a nightly routine before bed.  One mistake I've made when detangling in the past was to try tackling all of my hair at once.   Going forward, I'd like to divide my hair into 9 sections (three on the right side, three in the middle section, and 3 parts on the left).  If 9 sections isn't enough, I'll up it to 12.  At least that way I could be systematic about it.  Using 9 sections would also help me address the weaker areas of my hair.  Back in the day, I would divide my hair into two, maybe four sections whenever I applied product.  That, my friends, is the fastest way to experiencing damaged areas (and setbacks).  The more sections I create, the more I equitable I am in how I handle my hair.

Next are the tools for detangling. My favorite comb in the whole wide world for detangling is (The Mason Pearson rake comb).  This comb is all I need and more. I have every detangling comb known to man.  They all are now collecting dust because none of them love my hair the way my Mason Pearson does.  None of them.  Even though it's teeth aren't as wide as some of the others I own, it's gentler.  Don't know how to explain it.

 I'm putting out mental request for a product to use daily,  that'll help the shed hairs easily slide down the length of my hair without getting tangled.  When my hair was bone straight, I loved using It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In with Keratin.  I broke it out again last nigh and did a decent job.  I like that it contains strengtheners, like keratin, to help protect my hair from breakage during manipulation.  For the moment, I'm using it as a spot treatment.  Once I find my bottle of the original It's a 10 Leave-In, I'll try that out as well and compare the two.  Also got my eye on Keracare's detangling mist which has pretty good reviews.

Honestly, I would love to find a "dryer" product to fight tangles.  Something light that doesn't weigh the hair down.  I think most products on the market are aiming for the client to use while the hair is wet (after washing), I'm looking for something that can aid in detangling at any time, day or night. If I do come across this miracle detangle, you'll be the first to know.

Some other actions I'll take to deal with tangles include:

What's your favorite detangling product?  Please share your secrets to effortless detangling.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

V Day

Happy V day.  No, I'm not referring to Valentine's day although it's somewhat related to the topic at hand.  I'm referring to the other V and how to promote all around vaginal health and happiness.

By focusing on your internal health, your V will benefit.

Probiotics
The first priority is to make sure your bacterial balance is on par.  If it isn't you allow the opportunity for unfriendly bacteria to grow.  The unsavory outcome of this scenario can lead to bacteria vaginosis and possibly yeast infections.  It's a good idea to supplement your diet with Lactobacilli will help shift your vaginal microflora from pathogen friendly to pathogen resistant.  Who wouldn't want that? For highest potency, try keeping your probiotics refrigerated.  Another good habit is to add a quality yogurt to your diet loaded with healthy bacteria.  

Lemon Water 
We've talked about the wonderful benefits of drinking lemon water in the past.  Lemon water keeps our internal environment alkaline.  Which is extremely important when we're talking about the health of the "V".  Although the preferred vaginal pH is acidic, an alkaline internal environment is absolutely necessary otherwise everything will be thrown off.  Think of lemon water as a preventative measure to keep everything in the right balance.  While we're on the topic of water, you should always strive to drink as much water as possible.  You've seen the difference in your urine when you're dehydrated vs. when you drink plenty of water.  There's a wonderful cleansing and purifying effect from drinking adequate amounts of water.  Since the vagina is self cleaning, why not give it a hand by equipping it with the tools needed to do it's job.

Once you have the basics covered, then you can move on to the fancy stuff.  I don't know any woman who wouldn't want to make sure their lady parts are as pleasant as possible.  With Valentine's day is coming up, you might be picking out your outfit and deciding your hair style.  Might I also interest you in adjusting your diet over the next couple of days to include lots of veggies and fruits.  Not only will help your skin glow and your dress fit better, but it can also positively influence your scent and taste.

So load up on pineapples, natural cranberry juice, citrus fruits, celery (high water content), watermelon, strawberries and the like.  Make it a part of your regular diet.

Exercise
Last but not least, we need to talk about strengthening the vaginal muscles.  Just like your abs, the muscles of your scalp, your face, and your vaginal walls are all subject to atrophy.  If we neglect to exercise those muscles, we will find ourselves having to purchase adult diapers because of incontinence.  Kegal exercises are so easy to do and really don't require any extra effort.  They're super easy to do and very effective.  Think of your vaginal walls as part of your internal core.  It's just as important to have strong internal muscles as it is to make sure your stomach looks flat.  I find the most of the time we are in a resting position where our muscles aren't contracted/engaged.  This allows the muscles to weaken.  When we contract our muscles (especially against resistance) blood flow to the area increases and the muscles strengthen.  Strong muscles are a indicator of youth so it's important to exercise everything.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Caviar Cravings | Is Caviar the ingredient your hair has been waiting for?

We've discussed the multitude of benefits of nutritious super foods of the sea.  Among my favorites are green micro organisms such as spirulina + chlorella.  Next on the list is seaweed which I enjoy snacking on at random times of the day. Most recently, I ushered caviar (fish roe) into my diet as a concentrated source of omega 3, vitamin D, amino acids and other vitamins & minerals.  And just like fermented cod liver oil, the vitamin and fatty acid source found in fish eggs are a whole food source and better utilized by the body.
Now it seems that a couple professional hair care brands have harnessed the nutritional benefits of caviar extract as part of their hair care lines.  I read online that Katherine Zeta Jones is a fan of receiving caviar hair care treatments from her favorite stylist.  There they apply liquified caviar to her strands to give them a lustrous and healthy glow.  One factor in the results could be attributed to the high fatty acid content of the fish eggs.  I can attest to the wonderful benefits on incorporating omega rich oils into my regimen.  My hair absolutely adored my mega omega hair oil blend.  Although I incorporated a vegetarian source of omega 3, I think adding caviar extract would have taken everything to the very next level.

Not sure if I'm ready to start liquifying fish eggs in my Blentec just yet.  Instead, I've got my eyes on a couple of products from Alterna's Caviar line.  According to the director of marketing at Alterna, caviar has a similar cellular format to human skin.  That, in turn, helps to increase the hair's elasticity and improve the health of the scalp.

I took a quick gander at the ingredient list of Alterna Caviar CC Cream10 IN 1 Complete Correction to see exactly how much "caviar" was actually in the product.  I hovered at the bottom of the list for several moments wondering if they used some other fancy name to disguise the actual ingredient.  Much to my surprise, I realized that I was looking in the wrong place.  Caviar extract was listed pretty high on the list, just after algae extract.  Perhaps the amount of extract in the bottle correlates with the relatively high reviews on Amazon.

I'm not gonna lie, I'm interested.  Oh, and I also find out that one of my favorite brands, Kerastase also offers a professional caviar hair treatment both in salon and at home.  It's touted as "the finest hair care treatment offered by Kerastase" so you know it's an investment.

I think I have some fish roe in the fridge so there's a 50% chance that I might mash them up and add 'em to my conditioner on wash day.  Who knows, I just might treat myself to a caviar  infused face mask. I can see it now.  Me, sitting under the hair dryer with a glass of wine as I pretend to be an international super star enjoying a $1000.00 caviar skin and hair treatment.   If I do, I'll let you know how it turns out.

 Last, but not least, I think the biggest benefits of fish roe come from taking it internally so I'll make sure to continue enjoying a little caviar as a snack on a regular basis.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Four Success Lessons learned from my Fitness Coach

After years of contemplating , I finally decided to work with a personal trainer fitness coach.  Actually, he approached me while I was haphazardly working out and asked me about my fitness goals.  After sharing my intentions, we discussed how he can help me achieve my desired outcome.  Taking my own advice, I decided to say "yes!"

I'm so glad I did because our very first session working together has taught me several life lessons.
#notme // FitnessGoal // Don't know her instagram //
LESSON 1: Have a written plan
The biggest difference between my typical workouts and the one with my fitness coach was his structured approach.  When I go to the gym, I wander around until I find the machine(s) that catch my fancy.  After working on it for a little while, I get bored and move on to something else.  My coach, on the other hand, had a clear, well written plan that he'd hold closely and refer back to on a regular basis.

There are times when I approach my day like my fitness coach, with a documented plan of action for the day.  Then there are times when I just "wing it."  The difference, in outcome, between the two are like night and day.  Because of my coach's written plan, I was able to accomplish much more in less time.  My sore muscles are a testament to the level of effectiveness from just 1 hour of focused, planned activity.

LESSON 2: You can accomplish much more than you give yourself credit for
One of the exercises on the list were dead lifts.  I've done dead lifts in the past but with much less weight than coach recommended.  On my first run, he requested that I  dead lift 50 lbs.  Even before my first lift attempt, I automatically told myself that 50 lbs was too much.  Coach, on the other hand, expected me to do a total of 45 dead lifts (3 sets of 15) using 50 lbs.  I'm 5 feet tall with puny arms. I would never challenge myself to dead lift 50 lbs.  But coach never relented and I successfully completed all the sets.

Now I'm wondering where else in my life am I carrying self limiting beliefs.  I can think of a couple instances where I've put things off because I don't think I'm fully capable.  Now, instead of listening to my self defeating thoughts, I can think of the dead lift exercise and remember what I'm capable of.

LESSON 3:  Get out of your comfort zone
The biggest difference between working out on my own and my first real session with my fitness coach, is that he took me completely out of my comfort zone.  Most of the work out took place in a part of the gym where I never venture.  He doesn't really like using machines. Instead he prefers using motions that utilize the full range of the major muscle groups.  This raises the intensity of the exercise and will bring greater results.

That entire work out took me completely outside of my comfort zone. Honestly, I couldn't wait for that hour to be over so I could go back to being comfortable again.  Heck, there was even a split second where I regretted my decision to hire him.  But he continued to remind me that the hard work will all pay off for me in the end.

LESSON 4:  Don't stop until you've reached your goal
After doing some excruciating dead lifts and other lower body exercises, coach had the nerve to lead me to the squat hack machine.   I could feel my muscles screaming for mercy with every lift.  It took everything inside for me to reach 15 reps.  Once done, I quickly dismounted the machine.  Confused, coached informed me that I had another set of 15 to accomplish.  Since I knew I couldn't do another 15, I decided to negotiate.  "Can we do the second set later?" I asked hoping that he'd somehow forget.  Smiling, he replied "sure."  

Then we moved on to Bulgarian split squats.  While suffering through a total of 90 split squats (45 per side), I secretly cursed myself for having putting off the second set of hack squats.  There was no way I could push out one more set on that machine.  I tried talking my way out of it but coach was not having it.  His only response was to repeatedly chant "last set, BEST SET!"  Reluctantly, I positioned myself once again in the squat hack machine and blurted out "this machine hates me!"  Unphased, coach responded, " the squat hack hates everyone."

Eyes shut, I took a deep breath and completed an amazing set of hack squats.  Heck the second set even felt easier than the first.

 If I were working out on my own, there was no way I would go back on the machine after my first experience.  Coach, on the other hand, had a written down goal and never bended to allow me an out even when I pretty much begged for mercy.  Sometimes I challenge myself to accomplish something but, if I don't feel like doing it, I don't.  I don't hold myself accountable to work my plans until completion.  As a result, I never fully realize what I'm capable of.

This first session was eye opening.  Not only did I learn the proper form for many of the exercises, I've been doing (wrong) for years, I also learned several lessons that can bring success.  Long after these sore muscles heal, the life lessons I learned from him will have a lasting impact.

Speaking of coaching.  If you would like to connect with me 1 on 1 to help you achieve breakthroughs in your life, drop me a note via my contact form.



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Weekend Wishlist | Surround yourself with beautiful things.

"This house is 100% me, I've created every inch of it.   My surroundings are everything. 

I have to live in a place where I feel inspired and [that's] a sexy space. Otherwise I can't do what I do"  

"If you surround yourself with beautiful things, beautiful things will come to you. You have to live in abundance to attract abundance."  -ASA (Shahs of Sunset)

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Take a moment to look around at your home surroundings. Where you spend the most time.  Do you feel absolutely inspired by your home environment?  Or do you at least have a place in your home where you can go to refresh, refuel and create?

If not, then you have some work to do.  Your homework for this weekend is to create a space where you feel inspired, peaceful, energized!  Why?  Because your environment pretty much impacts who you are and everything you do.  You want to change your life? Change your environment.  Your environment is comprised of multiple layers.  There's your internal environment consisting of your thoughts, health, and physical well being.  Your external environment which includes your home, car, and people you surround yourself with.

Today, we'll focus on your home environment.  Here's my experience.  When things are out of place and clutter builds up. My mind gets cluttered, my thoughts aren't clear, anxiety builds, and I'm uninspired to do anything except surf the internet mindlessly.  It's a viscous cycle.

Why I allow myself to live like this when I have 100% control over how I operate when I'm at home?

Because I don't make is A PRIORITY to control my environment in a way that brings me the experience I want.
 Creating an inspiring environment should be the very first thing I do on a daily basis.  I'm reminded of the movie "Limitless" where the star of the film consumes pills that help him access 100% of his brain.  The very first thing he did after walking into his apartment was to clean + eliminate clutter.  Once the work was complete, he was able to write a book that he's been putting off for years.   Steven Presfield, author of "The war of Art," talked about overcoming writer's block by tackling a huge mound of dishes that were building up in his kitchen sink.

Clutter in the house creates blockages to our creativity.  Your home is a place of creativity whether you realize it or not.  At work, you're told what to do but at home, there are no boundaries.  Anything is possible when you are in a place with no constraints.  But if the environment doesn't inspire you, then your home becomes a place where you EXIST versus a place where you LIVE.

This weekend, invest some time in creating your ideal environment (whatever that means to you).  Decluttering should be at the top of your list because creating space in your home invites a new type of energy.  Declutter to the point where you notice a positive change in your mood when you look around.

 Once you're there, you can move on to the little extras like rewarding yourself with a new favorite candle or buying fresh flowers or a new plant for the home.  Maybe you play some soothing jazz music to travel throughout your home.  Whatever makes you feel good......do it.

What's most important is that we PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT at all costs!  Steve Jobs, when he first returned to Apple, requested that everything be painted white.  He realized that an all white background is free from all distractions which is the baseline for creativity.   The fewer distractions around you, the more you can create.  Consider creating a ritual on Thursday or Friday evenings of cleaning + decluttering your space in preparation a beautiful and most inspiring weekend.



Friday, February 6, 2015

Fierce Friday | Put your money where your goals are.

It's Friday and many of you might be receiving a paycheck today.  If you're anything like me, the very first thought on payday is how to divvy up the funds towards various bills and expenses.  Then, whatever's left is considered "spending money" to be used on random expenses that occur over the next couple of weeks.  Then, payday happens again and the cycle repeats itself.

Here's the thing.  We really have only two main resources to creating what we desire. We have our time and we have our money.  Both can be easily squandered mindlessly if we aren't careful. In the past, we've discussed how to purposefully allocate time by using a calendar and scheduling in time to work on your goals.  Now we talk about how to use your money in a way that propels you forward.
One fun activity you can do is to take a look back at the electronic records of your spending in January.  When I looked back, some of the transactions were eye opening.  Although I didn't make any major purchases, I had quite a few random small purchases that were insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  For instance, one day I had a craving for garlic flavored plantain chips and made an impromptu trip to Walgreens to satisfy my urges.  While there, I picked up a few other small items and incurred an expense of $9. 00. Yesterday, I visited the beauty supply store near my home that carries infinite varieties of NYX lip pencils.  After picking up 4 more shades and a couple other things, I left with $21.00 less than I had when I entered.   Was I wrong to spend that money on those items? Absolutely not.  We work hard, we are rewarded with money and we have a choice with how we spend our money.

But, what if instead of buying more lip pencils (I already have 100 of them) and plantain chips,  I decided to allocate those $30.00 towards something of more value.  If I had taken the same $30.00 and bought a quality candle instead, I would have received more value.  Why? Because when I burn one of my favorite smelling candles while I work, it elevates my mood, boosts my creativity and increased my productivity.  Or, I could have used the $30.00 and treated myself to a mani or pedi. Doing so could have a positive confidence and encouraged me to put a little more time in my daily appearance.  Maybe could have purchased enough organic vegetables to cover a week of juicing.  Or perhaps, I should have applied the $30.00 towards and experience that brings immense joy in my life like visiting my favorite sushi restaurant or having Sunday brunch with my husband. The possibilities are endless. The point is that I could think of 50 "better" things to do with the $30.00 based on the value I received.

Money is a tool exchanged for value.  Your goal should be to allocate your money towards things that bring greater value than what you spent.  When I bought those chips and other stuff at Walgreens, the value I received was short lived. On the other hand, if I bought organic kale + other veggies with those $9.00, the value (or benefits) would be greater than my investment.  Even in the case of the lip pencils.  I really do like the colors I chose, but the value is minimal because I already own so many brownish lip pencils.

 Now, before I spend money, I will ask myself, "Am I getting the value back for my investment?"  Another important question to ask "what else can I be doing with this money that could bring me more overall value?"

One really HIGH value action is using your money to generate more money.  We've talked about this a little in the past.  If, you have invested $0.00 last month towards generating more money, I invite you to rethink how you spend.  It could be something as passive as an interest bearing saving account or 401(k).  Or maybe you're taking even bolder steps like investing in a business. Whatever you decide to do, make it a goal to allocate a little money every month to work for you.

What about your goals? Do you have a dream car or a vacation on your vision board?  How much of the money spent last month could have been saved/allocated to bring those goals closer to reality?

What I plan to do is print out my bank statement and highlight all the charges for 2015 that I consider of "low value".  Then I'll also look for any charges of medium/high value.  Finally, I'll check to see how much of my income spent last month will bring back a return.  One last thing I'll do is look at my written goals for the year and see if any of my spending correlates with the goals I want to achieve.  If it doesn't, I plan on changing my spending strategy ASAP.

The moral of the story, kids, is to be an active participant in the flow of your money.  Let's not spend based on past behaviors, habits, and spur of the moment desires, let's be intentional so that every dollar that comes into our lives brings forth a harvest of great abundance and value.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bucket List | Mastering your Signature Look

For several years, I was required to wear a uniform to work that consisted of black slacks, a polo shirt with company logo and my hair pulled back into a bun.  The uniform code also warranted minimal jewelry and clear, unpainted nails.  For years I dreaded looking like everyone else in the organization. I hated the lack of individual freedom of expression.

But, now that I look back, I can appreciate the advantages of having a signature look and how amazing it would be to create, and master, a flawless everyday look.  What I speak of is a go-to look, which you've already perfected, that can be replicated as often as necessary without a lot of guess work.  You can choose to make your look as glammed up or as simple as you want.  What's most important is that you don't allow your every day look to happen by chance.

Now that I no longer have to wear a uniform, I'm beginning the work of creating my signature look.  Actually, I plan on creating a few go-to looks depending on the occasion, starting with a casual look first.  I'm starting with casual is because that's where I currently put the least effort. If I'm going out for the evening, I can transform. But, I put way less thought than I should with my daily look. But that's all about to change.

the SIGNATURE FACE //
The goal is to create a simple face in less than 15 minutes to highlight my features while looking polished.  It's too easy for me to go all day without wearing a stitch of make up.  There are advantages to going bare faced but, on the other hand, I also tend to avoid other essential activities like applying my lash growth serum, and wearing sunscreen when I'm going au natural.  I've come to the conclusion that it makes sense to create a basic routine consisting of filling in brows, wearing Iman's BB Creme (with sunscreen) to even my skin tone, moisturizing my lashes and/or wearing mascara, and penciling in my lip.  When I wear a little makeup, I'm more likely to put in a little more time doing prep work on my skin (like exfoliating with Dennis Gross's Alpha Beta Peels). Versus the days when I'm bare faced.  In the long run, I suspect my skin will benefit from the extra 15 minutes I'll dedicate to it daily.

the SIGNATURE HAIR //
Believe it or not, this is my biggest challenge.  After years of wearing a daily bun years, I no longer have the same level of excitement around styling my hair every day.  I need a solution that's easy to do and still look polished an put together.  Typically, I go for the top knot but, in all honesty,  wearing my hair this way on the regular is not conducive to my hair goals.  A better option for me is a braided style like this. Simple, and yet it provides direct access to my hair for moisturizing and sealing.  As an added bonus, this style transitions easily to a wavy braid out with practically no effort.

the SIGNATURE OUTFIT // (Brilliant @ the Basics)
Here's where it gets interesting.  I want to put together a series of outfit looks that can be worn pretty much on a daily basis.  I'm inspired by a young lady online who shared that she preferred wearing dresses every day because it takes away all of the guesswork of having to put together complete outfits.  I fully agree with her philosophy. But, at the same time, I don't yet own enough dresses to pull that off and, in all honesty, I'm more of a jeans type girl.  What's missing from my daily uniform are QUALITY basic tops to pair with my favorite jeans.  I've never been one to splurge on basics, but after picking up a fairly expensive white top at Zara, I was reminded of  the obvious differences between buying basics for under $10.00 and investing in quality pieces.  Coats + Jackets make all the difference in the world when your outfits mainly consists of basics.  And I've already made lots of headway in upgrading my outwear collection this winter.

Another area to focus on if you're wearing basic essentials are the shoes.  These zippered heels from Aldo were a great start.  For more casual look, I'll break out my all time favorite sandals, the Dolce Vita DV Archer sandals.  As of now I have a total of 3 pair.  This spring, I hope to pick up a few more cute sandals to ensure I'm not wearing them to the point they look worn out.

MISCELLANEOUS //
Lastly,  I plan on focusing on maintaining a certain weight which will allow me to look great in anything I wear.  Nothing kills more time than having to try on multiple pieces in search of clothing to mask my added weight gain.  If my fitness levels are right, pretty much anything will look flattering.  That's why I've decided to work with personal trainer.  So far we've had one session and he's awakened muscles in my body that I never knew I had.

One last thing I plan to perfect in my signature look is maintaining my nails at all times. Sometimes I do really well with this, then things get busy and I'm back to square one.  That's why I'm pairing my nail care with my face routine to make sure it all gets done.    Next I  will pick out a few scents that will become part of my daily rotation and, voila!  My every day signature look is complete.  No more guess work and I'm ready for anything at all times.   Best of all,  I can replicate this process to create a few alternative looks to keep things interesting.


Have you nailed your signature look?


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Required Reading //
+  Dressing Well
+ Becoming an International Woman of Mystery
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Black Ginger Lemonade | Your ultimate detox drink

This weekend, I feel in love with a new detox tonic.  So simple and easy to make.  All it took was a couple of ingredients + my juicer, and I was good to go.  The first version of the drink was perfection.  A little ginger and fresh lemons sweetened, with a little agave nectar, diluted with water 
 Then I wondered, what can I do to take the detoxing power of the ginger lemonade to the next level.  Suddenly, my mind was taken back to the time I first tried blk water.  Although the water was completely black, it actually was virtually tasteless and odorless like any other bottle of water.   I also remembered about the detoxing qualities of activated charcoal.  We've discussed, in previous posts, the adsorption power is contained within the smallest particles of activated charcoal. Adsorption is different from absorption.  Adsorption means that it binds toxins to itself thereby making it extremely effective at cleansing and detox.

When you consume activated charcoal, your body doesn't actually digest it.  Instead, the charcoal travels through the digestive track, picking up toxins along the way.  The thing to take note is that charcoal doesn't discriminate, so it may interfere with absorption of prescription medication which charcoal might identify as a "poison."  Hospitals use activated charcoal on patients admitted for chemical poisoning and drug overdose.
 Although the this ginger lemon tonic is pretty easy to drink, I'll probably include the charcoal 1-2 times a week as a special treat (on an empty stomach).  As, as always, whenever conducting any type of detox, it's imperative to drink plenty of water to help move the toxins out of the body.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Law of Attraction Secrets from Kanye West

I was at the gym the other day on a treadmill watching reruns of Kourtney and Khloe take on the Hamptons.  In one of the episodes, Kim Kardashian was walking her family through her house while under construction.  At one point, they stop to look at the digitally created images of the finished rooms posted on the wall.  What's interesting is that, within the images, are depictions of Kanye and Kim in each room.  Scott, finds it amusing and asks about pics.  Kim replies, "Kanye likes it when we're in the pictures."
To some, this may be a sign of Kanye's apparent narcissism, but, there's another way to look at it.  Years ago, when Kanye's affections for Kim weren't yet manifested into a relationship, he would photoshop images of himself next to the annual family Christmas Card.  Now, mind you, the artist renderings of himself were absolutely dreadful.  But, the importance of his action was how it transformed the his intentions from wanting, to actually seeing the possibility of actually experiencing it.  The child-like scribble version of himself was actually part of the family.  There is a clear difference from wanting something and believing that you will actually have it.  

By inserting pictures of himself in the family photo, or in the construction plans, he's increasing his level of believe that this will happen.  Once your belief increases, your actions, shift accordingly.  Someone who believes in a certain future will behave in a manner that increases the likelihood of that future manifesting.   

Think of all the goals you have for yourself.  Do you see them as an unreachable fairy tale or do you actually believe that you will experience them in the near future?  If you are having a hard time achieving some of your goals, take time to work on your level of belief and see what transpires. 

"You can't tell me nothing....This is my life homie, you decide yours."  -Kanye West

In a previous post, I talked about how much of our days, our lives consists of the outcomes from making the same decisions over and over again.  Kanye seems to operate moment by moment.  Yes, some of his decisions are downright questionable, but, there's something to be said about being aware of how much power you have to decide your life's course.  If you don't like some aspects of your life.  Get certain about what you want, then make a decision to make that happen.  


Creating what you desire goes beyond drawing pictures of yourself and having an unshakable belief.  Once you are clear in what you want, you've gotta be willing to work hard for it.  One thing Kanye West, and any other successful artist has in common is their incredible work ethic. In this video, RZA talks about Kanye's regimen which included detailed planning of what was done and what they'll do next.  Then he'd put in a full 12 hours of work using "focused energy."  How much time and energy your are focusing into realizing your intentions? Maybe you don't have to dedicate 12 hours a day.  Even as little as 1 focused hour a day can start you on your journey to an amazing 2015.  
Sunday, February 1, 2015

Insta Moments.

A quick snapshot of all the good times captured and shared on my Instagram page.  If you haven't already done so, you can follow me at @lifeasnadege.
 

CRAVING

LUST LIST

Instagram