Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy February 29th!  Since today is somewhat special, I'd like to discuss a topic that you should pay special attention to.  It's the subject of speed and how it acts as a fuel to ignite your dreams into reality.

The instant you're inspired to make an intention real, you have a choice.  You can either start the creation process or you can allow time to pass.  As we discussed last week, the more time passes, the more we allow our inspiration to settle.  Allowing time to pass can come in many forms. Procrastination, excessive research and taking tiny baby steps are just a few.
Instead of allowing time to rob you of your momentum, leverage the high powered fuel of speed to make your dreams come true.  

Speed is perfection.

The faster you run in the direction of your dreams, the sooner it takes form.  This works in pretty much every scenario.  The faster you move into action, the faster the manifestation process begins.  And when you begin to manifest, you get a rush of momentum to lead you to the next milestone.  Without speed, there is no forward movement.

You know how some people talk about what they desire and, a year later, they are still talking about doing the same thing.  This is an example of no forward movement. No intensity and no urgency in making it actually happen.

I joined a coaching program last year lead by two successful entrepreneurs.  On one of the calls, one of them says "even though I've been doing this business longer, Dave has experienced much more success than me because of his speed in implementation."  Dave, loves fast action.  On every coaching call, he urges us to implement quickly. When people ask questions in the form of concerns, he calls them out on their questions being veiled forms of resistance.  Resistance engages the brake pedal. Moving quickly is like pressing on the gas.

One small example of using speed is implementing micro-actions.  Give yourself ultra-tight deadlines to get into action and do it quickly.  Once you develop the habit of moving quickly into action, you soon develop a skill that others will marvel at.   The skill I'm referring to is the ability to manifest at a high level.  You'll be one of those people that seem to achieve anything you put your mind to.  People will think you're so lucky, but in reality, you are leveraging the power of speed to create massive results.

Just be aware.  When you say you will do something, move quickly!  That's thee most powerful way to break up the power of resistance.  This is one area where I'd like to focus my energy.  At my previous place of employment, fast action was part of our culture.  The company has experienced exceptional growth year over year and I'm 100% certain this has to do with their fast action, high intensity culture.

Let's think of this as a muscle that needs to be worked steadily.  Start small (with micro-actions) then apply the speed force to everything you do.  Time is the most valuable resource we posses to make things happen.  Let's do it quickly.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

During awards season, you often of celebrities' pre-red carpet ritual.  It's what the stars do to make sure they look their absolute best.  Our red carpet equivalent is a night out.  It's one of the many opportunities to look amazing.  Shouldn't we also have a specific routine made for those special moments?

Last night, I was invited to a casual social event with a group of people.  No big deal, except these people were old high school classmates.  It's been quite a while since we all graduated and there have been lots of physical transformations over the years.  I really wanted to look like the best version of myself so I started thinking about what I could do to boost my overall look just a little.

Then it hit me. Why not do a sheet mask ceremony before heading out?  The premise is that perhaps the mask could give my skin an added glow beyond my typical products.  Prior to cleansing, I did a quick facial massage with coconut oil.  This is to promote blood flow to the face while lifting up dirt from the pores.  Next, I cleansed using the Clarisonic pro and Phace cleanser.

Once my skin was dry, I pulled out a sheet mask that I was able to pick up from a local Asian market.  This brand caught my eye because it contained mandelic acid.  Let me warn you all that this brand completely saturates it's masks with product.  Even when I pull out their heavily coated sheet, the packet still contains excess product at the bottom.  Because of their generosity in soaking this mask with serum, I have to wear the mask while in a reclined position.  Even while laying down, excess product eventually starts to drip from the sheet.

The moment this happened, I simply removed the mask and placed it gently back into its package for a second use.  Once removed, my face was covered in serum.  Suddenly, I didn't know what to do. Do wipe it off with a paper towel or cleanse again with a gentle cleanser?  The instant I stopped panicking and started thinking logically, the answer came to me.  "Massage it in, you fool!"  

Immediately, I started massaging the gooey serum in.  Within seconds, most of it was absorbed leaving behind highly moisturized skin.  My face looked like it received a weeks worth of skin loving serum in one short session (but without looking greasy).  I couldn't get over how amazing my skin looked.

When I pulled out of the driveway, I had one have some old classmate look at me and say "wow you look so young....did you go to school with us?" Call it vain, but I had a mission to accomplish.

The night was fun. Lots of getting reconnected with people from the long lost past.  At one point, this guy walks up to me and introduces himself.  I responded by sharing my name and confirming that I attended the same school. After a second of contemplation, he says, "you look kinda young to be in the same class as us."  #missionaccomplished   It was at that point that I revealed my intention to him and congratulated him for helping me to achieve it.

Overall it was a good night. Not only did I catch up with old friends, but I discovered this little trick that'll change all my night outs from this day forward.  The next experiment to try is indulging in consecutive sheet mask rituals for several nights in a row in preparation for more substantial events.  Hopefully, this is just part one of the "pre-night out" beauty ritual series.  Looking forward to doing more of these posts.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Last week, I shared a post on the specific exercise technique that can target belly fat unlike any other.  A comment was left on the post that made me do a double take.  Now, I get some interesting comments every now and then.  Some are spammy and offer no value so I delete quickly.  But this one shared some info that sparked my curiosity.

Anonymous said...
Thank you for this amazing article. I'm already doing that( resistance training, HIIT and eat healthy). I just want to add that sleeping naked helps too. When you sleep naked, it activates your brown fat and brown fat is known to be able to burn calories whereas white fat stores them.
Thank you again.

Immediately, my research began.  "What the heck is 'brown fat' and how do I activate it? Why didn't I know about this before?"  

Here's the scoop.  Apparently brown fat is a good fat we have in our bodies.  Part of the reason it's considered a good fat is due to the high amount of mitochondria content.  The mitochondria in brown fat helps the body to generate heat by burning calories. Brown fat is highest in babies, young women and slender individuals.   White fat/yellow fat, on the other hand stores energy. Some stored energy is good, but too much of it and we become unhealthy.

And guess what?  You can actually convert some of that extra white fat into brown fat? How? Via exercise and being exposed to colder temps for an extended period of time.  Converting white into brown fat is beneficial because brown fat has the ability to continue burning additional calories even after you workout.  A study found that as little as 2 ounces of brown fat in the body could burn as much as 20% of your daily caloric intake. That's right... brown fat is more efficient at burning fat in the body than muscle (pound for pound). 

What does all of this have to do with sleeping naked?  When we're exposed to cooler temps for an extended amount of time, our brown fat activates to start burning calories as a means to keep us warm.  When we sleep without all of the clothing layers, our body has to compensate by activating the type of fat equipped to do the job.  By the way, our internal body temperature naturally drops when we sleep.  Most of us wrap up in cozy blankets to keep warm at night.  I know I do.  Although that helps us feel more comfortable, we may be missing an opportunity to generate more brown-fat-calorie-burning-action.

I'm not sure I'm ready to sleep naked with no covers just yet.  Maybe if the weather warms up, I may give it a go for science.

There are other ways to rev up brown fat activity.  Remember when I used to talk about taking cold showers?  Not only did my skin and hair benefit from the cold water, but, little did I know, I was stimulating brown fat as well.  I recall the experience of sheer torture as the icy cold water hit my skin. But, if I was able to withstand the instant shock, I soon realized that my body temp quickly adjusted to keep me warm under the cool water.  Part of that was due to the rush of the increased blood flow, but it also had to do with the brown fat working over time to do its part.

For those of you who are like "sorry Nadege, there's no way I'm doing either of these things,"  no worries.  You can also activate brown fat through exercise.  Working out causes your body to release an enzyme called irisin that prompts your white fat to convert to brown fat.

Just recently, I listed several ways to boost metabolism.  All those tips I shared in the other post are excellent strategies, but let's add "building brown fat" to the list.  Whether you opt for cold showers, sleeping naked,  or working out, it's up to you.

Shout out to that commenter that helped us to learn something new, you're awesome.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Recently, I treated myself to a series of 3 professional peels at a local spa.  I've always heard that purchasing a series of treatments was much more effective than sporadic visits. The treatments themselves were fairly mild. My skin only peeled lightly for the most part.  Overall, I did experience some acne scar fading. But what was really interesting is what happened on my last visit.

As I laid on the little bed awaiting the application of the peel, I took the opportunity to ask a few questions.  The esthetician and I got on the topic of acne scars.  That's when she gave me possibly the best advice on treating discoloration that I've ever heard.  "You have to do something every day to fade your acne."  She went on to explain how she used the "do something every day" method to successfully create her flawless skin.
Summer's coming y'all.  The signature look of summer skin is superb flawlessness.  Most of us will sport hair styles that keep our hair off our shoulders.  Your skin will become the center of attention.  That's why we gotta start working now! Let's adopt this daily acne scar elimination strategy pronto.

Ok, to keep it simple, we'll the actions to 3 main categories: Exfoliation, Protection & Treatment.

Protection comes down to one thing, wearing sunscreen excuses.  The sun basically acts as an instigator, causing your skin to hyperpigment.  Without the aid of sunscreen, you're leaving your skin vulnerable to the short term & long effects of the sun.  If you aren't committed to wearing sunscreen daily, how can you be serious about wanting even toned skin? Let's make this priority #1.

Once we have protection down pact, it's time to address current discoloration.  Everyone we've ever studied with perfect skin all profess to following a regular practice of exfoliation. We've seen it over, and over, and over again.  Regular exfoliation and a glowing complexion go hand in hand.  Keep in mind that there a levels to this.  You can exfoliate daily using the gentlest of products like Cure Exfoliating Gel or you can opt to facial scrubs and fading serums.  Maybe daily exfoliation isn't your thing, if not, you can try regular enzyme peels like Beyonce does.  I mean, if it's good enough to create Beyonce's perfect glow, it's good enough for us too.

Lastly, we must actively fight discoloration with a product meant to dissolve pigment. That's one area that I've been lacking in.  One thing the aesthetician stressed is using a product daily that will break down the extra pigment.  There are lots of products on the market that have the power to fade surface level scars.  You can opt for a skin brightening serum or a targeted fade cream.  That's next on my shopping list.  Currently I have my eye on Murad's Lightening Gel but I'm open to suggestions if any of you have a recommendation that worked well for you.

If you've got stubborn scars like me, you may have to take a more direct route, like indulging in professional treatments or employing facial tools that directly target dark spots.

Let's implement this daily practice of fading our acne scars today so by summer you'll have the skin of your dreams.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ever since stumbling upon the amazing Korean Beauty Routine, I've had my eye out for asian inspired products and techniques to take my skin to the next level.  So when someone mention a collagen rich skin cream that left their skin feeling more plump after overnight use, I was intrigued.

Since the product was pretty affordable, I immediately purchased without even blinking.  The claims are that collagen jelly packs are loaded with high density collagen sourced from the dermis of pigs.  It's supposed to intensely hydrate the dermis while promoting elasticity of the skin and other anti-aging eternal youth benefits.

We all know that collagen injections can instantly fill and smooth out wrinkles, but what about applying a collagen cream directly to the skin?  Most will tell you that topical collagen won't be absorbed by the skin in an effective manner.  But, what these collagen gel-creams will do is retain hydration, giving the skin a more plump appearance.

I am a very firm believer in moisture retention as a means of eternal youth.  Most of us know of  women who look way younger than their years while on a vaseline only beauty regimen.  Why? I suspect it's because of the intense moisture retaining properties of vaseline.  Skin with high levels of moisture will naturally appear more plump and youthful.

These pig collagen-infused jelly packs also claim to have the power to keep the skin ultra-hydrated. One brand boasts 24 hour moisture retention with the help of their collagen magic.

Yesterday, the Samsung brand collagen pack arrived in the mail.  [I guess when Samsung isn't busy churning out electronics, they produce skin care products as a side hustle.]  Upon opening the jar, the first thing I noticed was the consistency of the product.  It was like a hybrid between lotion and jelly. They also give you this little scoop so you don't contaminate the product.  Technically, it's meant as a overnight face mask but my first inclination was to rub a little on my hands.

This stuff is definitely more hydrating than lotion.  In an instant the collagen cream absorbed into my skin without much effort leaving behind a veil of softness. My husband, who just happened to be standing next to me, immediately scooped out a little on his hands before feeling compelled to slather it all over his face.  I felt it was only right to inform him that he was rubbing in pig collagen. He was unbothered.

 I allowed an hour or so to pass before asking him for an update on his skin. After touching his face, he shared that his skin felt soft to the touch and non-greasy.  That's exactly the way my hands felt.  Neither of us could deny the lasting power of pig collagen gel.  This stuff is good.  My biggest problem with lotions & facial moisturizers is how temporary they are.  I always felt like they just absorb into the skin with no long lasting results.  So I'm going to test out using this as a facial  moisturizer. Although it's meant as an overnight treatment, it's light enough to substitute as a daily facial hydrator.  There's actually a collagen rich face cream infused with hyaluronic acid & green tea extract, that I might pick up next.

If I ever did a monthly "faves" series, this would definitely be on the list for February.  I, seriously, can't stop touching my hands whenever I apply it and I can't wait to incorporate it into my facial skin care regimen.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Has this ever happened to you?  Out of no where, you're struck with inspiration to do something new like write a book, visit a foreign land, launch a business, etc. When the idea strikes, you can barely contain your excitement.  And you're 100% certain that this is it!  You will finally go after what you want.

But then, a little time passes and you start to weigh the pros and cons of what could happen if you move forward.  As you have your internal dialogue, you realize that some of the "cons" are new scenarios you haven't faced before.  Then you linger on the worst case scenarios and you subconsciously decide to put it off for another time or, worse yet, you abandon ship.

Or, maybe you're struck with an idea, then start your research.  You read books on the topic, listen to videos, and ask people for advice about your future endeavors.  Eventually, time passes and your intense passion, for the once amazing idea, starts to fade.

Time can act as an enemy to our intentions.  Example:  You decide to go to the gym tomorrow and when morning comes, you change your mind and choose to stay in bed.  What happened?  Two things: (1.) Time passed (2.) You experienced a shift in your mental & physical state.

Let's make a comparison between you and a snow globe.  When you have a spark of inspiration that excites you, it's like shaking a snow globe causing the contents to move rapidly inside the little dome. And, as you set the snow globe down, the particles begin to settle, slowly at first, but within a minute, everything has gone back to the way it was.
This is what happens with us.  The snow globe particles represents our level of excitement around the new possibility we've created for ourselves. When the idea first appears our energy and vibration is high.   But, when we allow time to pass, we begin to vibrate at a lower energy.  The lower our vibrational energy, the less likely we are to take action.

Having an awareness of this process is critical because, when we know what's happening, we can do something about it.  

There are times during the day when I'm super-motivated, and other times, when I don't want to do a thing.  I started paying attention to what was happening, both in a motivated state and when I was at my laziest.  Here's what I realized.

Motivation, for me, happens when these things were present.
1. When listening to others share their story of what they were able to accomplish.
2. Whenever I'm feeling good!
3. When I'm in movement.

Any of the three above acts like a catalyst that shakes up my snow globe.  Whenever I'm experiencing resistance, I know that I can instantly change my state by employing one, or more,  of these three techniques.  So if I'm in bed, feeling lazy about not wanting to work out, all I really need to do is to walk to my shoes and put them on (movement).  If that doesn't work, I can bounce on the rebounder for a few minutes (more intense movement) or rebound while I watch fitness motivation videos (combining movement +motivation).

Understand that none of us ever remain in a state of constant motivation.  Just like to snow globe particles, our energy starts to slow down. The slower our vibration, the less likely we are to move into action (which requires quite a bit of energy to initiate).  But just as snow globe particles work against gravity, we too have a negative force working against our momentum. And that is our fears, concerns and doubts.  They thrive in a low energy environment. This is why the best way to combat our fears is with energy and forward motion.

Here's your homework,  identify your motivation triggers to employ when you notice your excitement energy settling.  The best thing you can do in that situation is to implement your motivation strategy swiftly!

Speed is the fuel that will ignite all of your intentions.  Let's discuss the topic of speed more in a future post.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Warmer weather is just around the corner. Every year, as I shed the warm layers of clothing, I also start thinking about how to release the extra pounds.  The desire to slim down isn't just for vanity reasons.  It gets incredibly hot here in the summers and I can't stand to carry extra weight in the sweltering heat.  It just makes everything so much more uncomfortable.

I tend to gain weight in my thighs/legs & in the abdomen.  Obviously, the extra weight in my lower half doesn't bother me as much as the pot belly.  Once, I messaged a personal trainer on social media about how I could target my abdominal fat.  His answer, like many others, was that I could not target fat loss to one area of the body.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

In about a month from now, we'll be entering into spring.  I've noticed a few warmer days lately which is why I sought out some style inspiration to get ready for spring.

Then this came across my feed and I immediately was smitten.  First off, her look is very easy to recreate.

For the past several months, I've contemplated converting from an almost all black wardrobe to wearing white as part of my daily uniform.  White is so crisp, bright and fresh.  It's the perfect color for spring.

Here we have a simple casual look that can be worn out for a day of shopping, brunch with the gals, a casual date, or as cute loungewear around the house.

 A white shirt dress can be styled in a million different ways which is why we all should have this staple piece in our wardrobe.  The great thing about shirt dresses is that you can play around with your desired length.  She has amazing legs so she [rightfully] opted for a shorter option.  I love the cuffed sleeves which adds a bit of formality to the somewhat casual look.

My favorite part of her styling are the darn near perfect pair of statement heels.  Nude heels with white attire is my new obsession.  I've been hesitant to pick up a pair of statement heels but if I stick to a neutral color, and pair them with staple pieces, a stand out pair of heels is a viable option.

I have a similar shirt dress in army green that now I'm inspired to wear this weekend with wild hair and minimalist jewelry.  The other part of the weekend will be dedicated towards checking out my favorite online stores for the perfect white shirt dress.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

This winter has been exceptionally uncomfortable for me.  The cold brisk winds a glaring reminder of how horrible life is when humidity levels plummet. Desperate times call for desperate measures.  So I've had to adapt to this dry, hateful air by getting a little creative.

As you may already know, I tend to use oils and gels versus water based lotions.  The main reason is because I found that some lotions were coating my skin causing icky build up.  Cocoa Butter and baby oil gel works great, I sometimes miss the hydrating effect of a water based product (especially on extremely dry skin).

Not willing to go back to lotions, I sought out alternatives.  Turns out that the solution was already in my midst.
Do you remember when I raved about using Missha's essense in a spray bottle as a facial mist?  If you recall, I said that, unlike my other facial mists, this version was very moisturizing.  Much more moisturizing than simply misting some water on the skin. The consistency was thicker than water and the effects lasted much longer.

So I was like "hey, why don't I use this stuff all over?"  They give you enough product to experiment. Without hesitation, I grabbed one of my glass spray bottles, poured a little in (undiluted) and began to mist my hands and feet.  Once I rubbed the watery serum in, I experienced immediate relief.  Then to seal it all in, I sealed with a little oil and voila!

That has to be one of my favorite DIYs of the winter.  For the past few weeks, I've been plagued with dry, itchy skin.  Now, I apply this serum water where ever excess dryness occurs. Not to mention how luxurious it feels to mist First Treatment Essence all over your body.  I feel like queens of old would bathe in milk for healthy skin.  I'm not slathering some drug store lotion on my skin, I'm misting with nourishing yeast and various healthy skin extracts.  Very upper echelon.  But at an affordable cost.

Today I checked Amazon and discovered that Missha actually released a facial mist.  Of course I had to buy it.  Once it arrives, I plan on misting my face with it every hour, on the hour.  Review coming soon.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Once upon a time, I loved talking about the goals I wanted to achieve.  And I had no problem discussing them for years with no sign of any of them actually becoming reality.  It was almost cool to be in a constant state of desiring rather than manifesting.

There's nothing wrong with desiring unless you are fooling yourself into thinking that you're actually in the act of manifesting.  There are clear differences between desiring and manifesting.

Words represent the first signs of our desires.  When we want to experience something, we verbalize that desire.

From there, words can either fuel our actions or they keep us in a constant state of inaction.  Here's how you can tell if your words are aiding in your manifestation or keeping you in the same place.
Using action-oriented language.  For  example.  Instead of saying  "I really need to lose these 20 lbs," you say "I'm in the gym 4 times a week so I can lose 20lbs,"  The second sentence is a clear indication that this person is in "creation mode."

Once you've verbally expressed your intentions, you have to make a choice.  Are you going to be someone who talks about it or are you going to be about it?

BEING ABOUT IT (getting in creation mode)!

Once you've decided to get serious about actually experiencing the life you want, then it's time to make a shift.    It takes A LOT of energy to bring something new into existence.  You'll require lots of mental energy to stay focused and plenty of physical energy to take action day after day.

If you aren't expanding lots of excess energy on your intentions, then consider whether you are really being honest about your level of desire for it.

I have a goal to earn $XX,XXX dollars within a specific period of time.  I've talked about this goal for ever.  But I realize that, for most of that time, I spoke about it as if it were something magical (and unreal).

Recently, I've decided to switch from desiring to manifestation with regards to this goal.  Since the outcome doesn't currently exist, I know it'll take lots of  energy to start the creation process.  To keep motivated, I create smaller milestones to reach along the way.  Milestones are like the street signs that let us know we're heading in the right direction.  As milestones are reached, I reward myself to acknowledge the work that has been done so far.  It's really important that we celebrate the mini victories on the way because it gives us additional fuel to keep going.

To make sure that I actually reach the goal, I need to assess my level of action.  Small, actions are great but if I'm want to create extra-ordinary outcomes,  I need to dedicate more time or more leverage (or both).   Also, if this outcome is something I've never been able to achieve before, I study several real world examples of people who have achieved this goal.  When I was in middle school, my father requested that I earn straight A's.  Feeling defeated, I told him it would be very difficult to achieve.  Then he asked, "has any one else ever earned straight A's?"  "Yes," I answered quietly.  "Then you'll get straights A's too!"  And guess what? Next semester, it happened.

It's part of human nature. For years, no athlete ran a mile in under 4 minutes until Roger Bannister finally showed the world it could be done in 1954.  Since then, multiple athletes have broken Roger's record.  It's like our minds are programmed achieve certain results once we know for sure it's possible.  That's why I love filling my mind with proof that my intentions are not only possible, but easily obtainable.

To sum everything up, it's up to us to discern if we are really lying to ourselves when we talk about our goals.  If a large percentage of your time and energy are not directed towards making your goals happen, then it's time to stop lying and to start doing.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A little while back, I shared an Instagram Beauty Secret article on Giorgio Armani's Luminous Silk Foundation.  Even though I went on and on about how much I adored the look of this product on my skin, I allowed the high price tag to scare me and was lured into purchasing Nar's Sheer Glow foundation.  The reviews for NARS were pretty good and saving an extra $20.00 was definitely a motivation.
@ canickacabarras wearing Giorgio Armani Luminous Skin Foundation
Don't get me wrong. NARS' foundation is pretty decent. But it doesn't love my skin like Giorgio Armani does.  As a matter of fact, on a trip to Sephora I tested multiple brands of foundations in search of the perfect one.  Again, most of the foundations I tested did a solid job of covering blemishes and evening out skin tone, but Giorgio Armani was the only one that made my skin look better and healthier.

Last night, I went to an event of young professionals.  Instead of wearing NARS, I decided to scrape the rest of the Giorgio Armani sample and mix it with Kevin Aucoin's Sensual Skin Enhancer.  Since I was running late, I didn't get a chance to examine the results closely.  But when I ran into a friend who complimented me on my skin, I knew something magical happened.  Why? Because she and I see each other a couple of times a week. She's seen my skin with NARS foundation (and other brands).  I should also mention that this girl's skin is BEYOND flawless and she doesn't even have to wear foundation!  Once again, Giorgio Armani  demonstrated, that it is essentially the most perfect foundation for my skin.

@glambylibby-"I'm in love with foundation, I would marry it if I could."
Now, I'm not telling you that Giorgio Armani is going to give the same results to everyone.  If you look at various reviews on Youtube, there are people who swear by it and others who claim it isn't worth the $62.00 investment.  I too thought that paying more than $50.00 for a foundation was nonsensical which is why I avoided purchasing it for so long.  But, in the end, I found the foundation that does exactly what I want. Covering flaws should be a given. But I longed for something that could actually make my skin look like I was receiving regular facial treatments.  That's what this does (for me).  And I can no longer deny that.  One reviewer said it best when she proclaimed that Giorgio Armani "brings out the best in her skin."

The moral of the story is that I want all of you to be very discerning when it comes to your foundation. Create a clear picture in your mind of what your skin would look like if it were absolutely perfect. Then, work tirelessly to find the right formula that brings your best skin forward.  If that happens with a $20.00 drug store foundation, then great! But if you haven't found "the one" yet, then there's still work to do.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Years back, I was on a massive manhunt for effective tools to melt through tangles with the greatest of ease. My search lead me to multi-rowed combs.  They seemed to have the ability to power through tough knots and tangles without causing much damage to the hair (unlike the Tangle Teezer).  I found a few drug store brand versions with two rows of teeth but the most powerful of all the detangling combs I found was Ouidad's Double Tangling Comb.  This thing is massive.  But it found that it worked quite well. The only issue I had with the comb is that it seemed a bit awkward to use at times because of it's enormous size.

Then eventually I discovered Mason Pearson's rake comb and fell in love.  It just seems gentler on my hair in general.  Whenever I'm working through tangled hair with the Mason Pearson, my mind is at ease knowing that I'm using the most gentle comb I've ever come across. the back of my mind, I kinda missed the additional power that comes with the second row of teeth.
I'm happy to report that I may have found a perfect alternative to Ouidad's Double Row Comb.  While strolling through the aisles of my local Target, I stumbled upon a few things that immediately caught my eye.  First, they were having a buy 2 get one free sale on various hair accessories.  Without hesitation, I immediately reached for more of those amazing Goody hair pins that I love oh so much.  Then I ran further down the aisle and began filling my cart with Scunci No Slip gel ponytail holders (which are absolutely awesome).

Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I noticed what looked like a smaller version of Ouidad's Double Row Comb.  It seems that Conair created their own version of the curl loving comb.  Except Conair's was smaller and their teeth had a squiggly pattern to it. I thought about it for about half a second before tossing that bad boy into my cart.
The next day I put it to the test.  The back of my hair is severely under processed and tangles easily.   Trying to comb through it on wash day is usually a challenge.  This time, I had the odd looking comb on my side.  Just as I suspected, it was much easier to maneuver than Ouidad's. Best of all, it worked.  Using short strokes, I was easily able to loosen those stubborn clumps that typically happen on wash days.  The combination of using both the Mason Pearson and Conair's double row comb together made the entire detangling session so much easier.  When comparing one super detangling comb to another, I would say that Ouidad's is built better.  This comb will come in extremely handy if you have LOTS of thick hair.  But since I detangle in smaller sections, Conair's version gives me better handling.  Both do a great job.

If anyone out there feeling defeated by the amount of work it takes to detangle your thick hair, please consider giving this unique looking comb a try.  Sure, the Conair comb is a bit of a knockoff, but I actually believe they improved on the design slightly by shrinking the comb. Not to mention the savings of $20.00 which you can use to buy another super detangling product, like It's a 10 Leave In.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

In 2016, I'm ready to have thee best skin ever!  And one of the strategies on my list is a series of hydrafacial treatments.  If you recall, my first hydrafacial experience was pretty amazing.  I completely understand why celebrities are so addicted to this skin transforming experience. What I love about the treatment is that it hydrates, exfoliates, and nourishes all at once.

I had almost forgotten about the wonders of the hydra facial until I stumbled upon an interview of Ashley Weatherford after trying the experience for herself.  Ashley is a beauty editor who has direct, unlimited access to all of the high end beauty products anyone could ever ask for. So when she describes something as "by far, one of the best facials ever...because of the immediate glow factor," we should all be paying attention.  Ashley goes on to say that for the rest of the day, following her facial, she walked around with a "halo-like effect" on her skin.
Ashley wearing Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminator
When you watch the interview, you'll notice the journalist repeatedly ask questions about the controversy of a hydra facial serum containing baby foreskins.  Ashley tries to clarify by stating that the serum contains "growth factors" derived from the foreskins....not actual foreskins. Growth factors can help increase collagen production and improve the integrity of the skin.

After Ashley's segment, a skin care expert who routinely treats clients with troubled skin, shares her experience.  According to her, immediately after one treatment, you get this amazing glow.  But those, who have completed a series of six treatments have "literally transformed their skin for the better."  

You can check out the full interview, and gaze longingly at Ashley's gorgeous skin, in the video below.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Feeling a little unmotivated lately?  Well you've come to the right place.  If you're one of those people who gets amped by seeing others who are doing their thing, than get ready to be inspired. I've put together a collection of gurus with major hustle and are reaping the delicious benefits of their intense, hard work.  They are self proclaimed work horses who inspire me every time I hear them speak.  So without further adieu, here are my favorite hard work inspirations.
Gary Vaynerchuk is the son of immigrants who came to America with pretty much nothing.  Eventually, his parents saved enough to buy a wine store.  As a child, Gary opened up several lemonade stands before launching a successful baseball card business as a pre-teen.  After being forced to leave his sports card business, to work as a stock boy for his dad, Grant eventually poured ALL of his energy and focus into growing the wine business.  Thanks to Gary's efforts, his dad's wine store grew into a multimillion dollar operation.  I'll never forget the first time I listened to Gary's best selling book "Crush it."  I could tell by the level of passion in his voice that this guy is all about his hustle.  Don't listen to me, I'll let Gary explain it to you for himself.

Grant Cardone had me pumped as I listened to his audio book, The 10X Rule.  Gary intense sales background really shines through in what he does.  This guy won't take no for an answer when it comes to achieving his goals.  Grant holds nothing back and challenges us to increase our efforts to 10X levels so we can enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Will Smith's interview with Tavis Smiley will forever be one of my hard work inspiration videos of all time.  I can probably quote Will word for word, that's how much this interview resonated with me.  I appreciate when a successful person reveals that his life is a result of hard work, not luck.

Here's one last hard work motivation video for good measure.  It has great foundational lessons to help you build an amazing work ethic.

Now, get to work!

Friday, February 5, 2016

For several years I lived in what I considered to be a constant state of high stress.  I'm talking about the type of stress that you can physically feel in your body.  First, I was operating on very, very little sleep. Secondly, the nature of my work was high stress. Essentially, people reached out to me when they had complex issues. My phone was always on. Sometimes I would wake up to a phone call from a disgruntled employee on a Sunday night. Other times, I was on business conference calls that ended at 11:00 pm at night or later. Once I factor in all the traveling involved I'd realized that your lifestyle could actually be affecting your health.

Luckily for me, I didn't suffer any health issues (that I know of) but the signs of stress were very visible to those who knew me.  Friends would often ask me if everything was ok after seeing the signs of long-term stress.  The problem with living a high stress lifestyle is the increase in the cortisol hormone.

I urge you to label cortisol as your number one enemy because of severity of impact it has on your body.  Being in a stressed state doesn't just feel bad, it actually triggers a series of reactions that can have catastrophic effects.

Cortisol raises blood sugar which leads to insulin resistance.  When you're stressed out, you'll probably experience weight gain.  That's 'cause your blood sugar is disrupted because of your constant stress levels. To make matters worse, cortisol will also increase your cravings for sweets. Ever notice that when you're stressed out, you tend to reach for non-healthy foods?  That's cortisol at work.   If you notice that you've been holding on to extra weight that won't go away, take a look at your stress levels.  I recall on episodes of The Biggest Loser when a contestant wouldn't loose weight even though she was exercising like crazy.  Bob or Jillian would interject with their recommendation to deal with the mental factors (stress) stopping their bodies from operating normally.

[Cortisol breaks down muscle tissue and bone]
When we think about eternal youth, one of the biggest strategies should be to maintain healthy bone density + muscle mass.  As we know, lack of muscle tone not only looks bad, but it causes us to burn calories at a much slower rate.  Building and retaining muscle should be at the top of your priorities.  But, every time your body releases cortisol the mechanisms that take place causes the body to metabolize muscle mass. Worse yet, it also interferes with bone formation.  Stress literally ages your body without you even knowing it.   In one expert's opinion, osteoporosis is induced by gut inflammation and high cortisol.

[High Cortisol Shortens Telomeres (cell aging)]
We brought up the topic of telomeres in a previous post on the importance of vitamin D.  Basically, telomeres are an indicator of youth.  The younger (and healthier) you are, the longer your telomeres.  As you age, telomere length goes down.  The good news is that we can actually alter the length of our telomeres through a healthy lifestyle.  It's been proven that regular meditation can actually increase your telomere length.  I heard a doctor explain that a woman can reduce her cortisol levels by 50% if she conducts breathing exercises for 5 minutes in a quite room while instrumental music plays.

The simple act of conscious breathing makes a world of difference in our physical and mental state.  Think about it, when we're stressed out, our breathing is short and constricted.  The more relaxed and at ease we are, the deeper and more rhythmic our breaths.  When engaging in deep breathing, we're sending a very strong signal to our brains that we're in strong state of calm.  When that happens, our bodies respond accordingly.

Spending time with friends is another way to reduce stress levels.  When I worked non-stop, I didn't have time to meet with friends, which probably made my situation worse.  We also know that excess cortisol is excreted through the urine so, once again, I beg you....drink your water.

Lastly, please, please follow my advice of creating your feel good routine.  The purpose of the feel good routine is to give you direct access to quickly moving you from a state of stress to a place of elation.  Like, if someone where to come up to you, post feel good routine, and ask you how you are, you'd answer "I'm feeling absolutely amazing!" 

I have a playlist that can alter my mood within minutes.  I'm also aware that watching funny videos will have me feeling good in no time.  Being in an environment that's clean and decluttered makes me feel incredible.  And when I have a productive day, or if I go out for a long walk,  I know I'm producing lots of serotonin (the feel good hormone).  

I want you to live every day knowing how destructive stress is to your health and life.  Even if your day's aren't overly stressful, I believe we have elevated levels of stress operating in the background like an Iphone app left open after using.  It isn't enough to assume that you have low stress, you must actively create "feel good feelings."  I challenge you to be very diligent in creating and making sure you follow your feel good routine as much as humanly possible.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

I waiver back and forth when it comes to my hair journey. Sometimes I'm ultra motivated, other times, not so much.  But because we're in the first part of the year, I thought. "Why not put together a list of actions that, if I do regularly in 2016, will nurture my hair big time?"

Wash Frequently [retention]
As you all know, wash day is the center of our regimen.  Basically, it's the time when we infuse our hair with moisture, protein and so forth.  Last year, I experimented with frequent vs. infrequent wash days to see which method was more effective for length retention.  What I realized was that frequent wash days provided multiple benefits for the extra time investment.  First, my hair was ultra hydrated because of frequent exposure to water. Secondly, I experienced less knots & tangles (the bane of my existence).  Third, less breakage/hair loss on wash day.  Although I prefer to wash once a week, I get so much more out of wash day if I do it more often.

More Agressive Trims [retention]
After carefully observing awesome progress pics of others on their journey, one thing became apparently clear.  Those who trimmed their ends frequently, experienced incredible length retention.  One of my biggest struggles is making sure to trim regularly.  The solution to my dilemma came in the form of micro-trimming.  Actually, micro-trimming worked well for me.  My ends are definitely thicker than before. But I still think it makes sense to trim a bit more aggressively at least 1-2 times a year.  Especially for those of us who don't constantly keep our hair in protective styles.   I sorta used micro-trimming as a way of avoiding a more substantial cut.  Perhaps the middle ground is to continue micro-trimming as usual than take off a just a little bit more once a quarter.

Neglect Not
Sigh, years of a hectic work schedule and constant travel cause me to become ultra lazy with my hair.  On any given day, you'd find me in a simple bun. And not one of those, ultra moisturized, length retention buns.  Mine was more like, a "I had to wake up at 2:30 am to catch a 5:00 am flight" bun.  After careful reflection, I realized that my hair actually does better when I'm not protective styling.  Let me explain. Basically, when I throw my hair in a bun, I pretty much set it and forget it.  By the time wash day rolls around, I'm plagued with tangles, knots and (of course) plenty of breakage.  But, when I'm trying to keep my hair presentable, I moisturize, trim my ends, and do other beneficial tasks to help improve the look of the final result.

*It's very similar to how you take better care of your skin when you wear makeup frequently because flawless skin has a direct impact on the final look. *

Signature Styles
Which brings me to my next resolution.  Years of being lazy with my hair has taken away all of the creativity when it comes to wearing cute daily hair styles.  Which is why this year, I'm building a portfolio of easy to create signature go-to styles.  I'll compile a few style inspiration that I can where post touch up or when I'm several months into my stretch.

Nurture from the inside [growth]
Finally, I'm recommitting to being consistent with nutritionally supporting my hair regimen.  Focusing on my internal health has made a world of difference, especially during the times of neglect.  And, as I get older, I realize that my body will absolutely need additional support to remain vibrant.  Another thing I notice, I'm more likely to stay consistent with regular trims when I drink Beautifully Bamboo tea on a regular basis.  It's like I'm confident in the quality of new growth so I allow myself to release those dead ends.  In 2016, I want to promote so much healthy growth that I can't handle it all.

I can go on and on but, honestly, if I just follow these 5 resolutions, my hair journey progress is going to be amazing in 2016.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Years of constant traveling force me to develop this desire to seek out all things portable.  Just the other day, I was asking myself, "where can I find a travel size foundation for random touch ups throughout the day?"

I think I may have found the answer.  Today, I stumbled upon Bobbi Brown's Retouching Pencils. Basically, it's a pencil that can even out skin, cover blemishes or conceal under eye darkness.  Lip pencils have been my absolutely favorite thing ever since I first stumbled on the dark nude lip trend.

I kid you not, I probably have around 50 different lip pencils from various brands.  They're all amazing.  I'm really impressed with how companies are creating innovative formulas that give various results.  It was only a matter of time before a pencil-type concealer entered the market.

And I'm so glad Bobbi Brown has released these because they do such a great job of covering various skin tones.  I have couple of Bobbi Brown lip products that I absolutely adore.  A blemish covering pencil is exactly what I've been craving. For years, I've avoided putting liquid makeup in my bag because I know, with 100% certainty, that a spill will happen.  Pencils give me complete piece of mind.
Bobbi Brown Retouching Pencils
My only hope is that this product is buildable and can provide the right amount of coverage. Judging by some of the reviews, the coverage is pretty decent. Imagine how easy it'll be to discreetly pull out a pencil and touch up any visible blemishes, or dark under eye circles in seconds.  That would be perfection.  Since the Retouching Pencils come in various shades, one can pick up a few and experiment with using it as a convenient highlighter as well.

For anyone interested in checking these out for yourselves, these amazing retouching pencils are available at Sephora.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

We're a month into the new year and I'm ashamed of myself for not setting some 2016 resolutions.  This year, I'll do things a bit different.  Instead of setting general goals like "take better care of myself,"  I've decided to set clearer intentions. That way, I can easily measure results and make necessary adjustments.  My resolutions are broken down by categories and today, we'll focus on the beauty intentions for 2016 (and beyond).

{Build a nightly routine}
If I had to choose one resolution to focus on from this entire list, it would be to develop and maintain a nightly beauty regimen.  I'll go into the details in a follow up post but I am completely sold on how much impact a nightly routine can have.  The actions we take at night can transform our skin, improve digestion, and nurture our hair.  My problem is I allow being tired to become an excuse for not conducting an evening self care regimen.  This year, I want to change all of that.

{Drink water first thing in the morning}
The other day, I read an interview where Carmen Electra detailed her morning ritual of drinking two full bottles of water first thing in the morning.  I can't even count the number of benefits one can experience from developing such a wonderful habit.  First, you are starting your day at optimum hydration levels.  Let's keep in mind how hard our bodies work while we sleep.  All night our cells are engaged in the repair process without any food or water.  Since water is considered nourishment for our cells, drinking upon waking is the equivalent of feeding our bodies.  Drinking 1-2 bottles of water in the morning sends a strong message that you are ready to give your body a head start on the day.  It's a great way to detox after a long night of regeneration.  Since I read that interview, I make sure to reach for water as soon as I start my day.

{Glow from the inside}
I think we've all had the experience where we ate well and stayed hydrated for a short period of time.  Our skin and body probably really benefited from it. Others even noticed and showered us with generous compliments.  But then, we backslide and start indulging in unhealthy foods again.  My intention for this year is to maintain that healthy glow as much as humanly possible.  Perhaps this means I should go back to drinking 1 gallon of water a day again.  Or maybe I'll reinstitute juicing in the mornings.  
{Smell amazing always}
I'm one of those people who only wear fragrance when I'm going somewhere special.  Every once in a while, I'll pass someone on the street wearing an intoxicating scent.  Each time that happened, I said to myself, "dang it, why didn't I wear perfume today?"  That's when I decided to stop hoarding my fragrances and actually enjoy them.   After identifying, a couple of staple scents, I started wearing perfume daily even if I had no where to go.  I did it as part of my feel good routine.  Whenever my mood started slipping, I'd take in the scent and immediately shift my energy.

{Enjoy a weekly pamper day}
One habit that I really let slip was the weekly pamper day.  On Sunday's I'd conduct an extended skin care routine.  Being consistent with this practice helped keep breakouts at bay and really made an impact on my acne scars.  Then I got complacent and soon the blemishes started to reappear.  Next thing you know,  I'm plagued with discoloration and now I'm paying for professional peels to bring things back in balance again.  This year, I want to leverage consistency with pamper days to create the best skin of my life. 

{Pay attention to the details}
Sometimes I watch a Youtube makeup tutorial and observe as a beauty guru takes like 30 seconds to apply mascara.  I loose patience just watching it because I can't fathom putting that much attention and focus on applying something as simple as mascara.  But, I guess that's why her lashes look amazing after application.  When careful attention is placed on the tiny details, the results shift from being mediocre to becoming exceptional.  It's about paying special attention when you paint your nails, groom your brows and style your hair.  Sure, it takes a little extra time in the beginning but in actuality, you're engaged in deliberate practice.  You're paying close attention to creating the exact outcome that you desire. Eventually, you can replicate the same amazing results in a fraction of the time. 

What resolutions have you set for yourself in 2016?

Monday, February 1, 2016

In 2016, I'd like to accelerate the time it takes to create massive results.  In my limited experience, there's one key factor that has the ability to multiply results by 100% or more.  This factor is what I would consider a success lever.

A lever is basically a tool used to move a heavy object.  Or a tool used to create an intended result.  Today, most levers have been replaced by switches.  We essentially flip a switch (or press a button) causing multiple operations to take effect.

What if there were an internal button we could push that could cause intentions to manifest.  If there was a button, or specific action, that could easily multiply your results, would you harness it? Would you make it part of your daily ritual?
If there was one success habit I'd advise you to develop in 2016, it would be the ability to focus.

I heard somewhere that we now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.  The average amount of time we focus on something before shifting our attention is 8 measly seconds.  Basically, we have a hard time focusing on an idea or task long enough to bring it into existence.

For the most part, I toggle between periods of heavy focus and times where my mind is all over the place. When I'm operating with an unfocused mind, I get behind on work, my house looks messy and I stop caring about my appearance.  Basically, everything falls apart around me.

On the flip side, whenever I cultivate the habit of nurturing intense focus, it takes little to no effort to accomplish massive results.   I'll never forget the story I heard in a book on mindfulness where the author details the account of the time when he tuned a piano using all the focus he could muster.  This type of work usually took him hours so he allotted for extra time because of the added attention to detail.  He meticulously went through all the steps required to complete such an effort. And, at the end of his focused session, he was astonished to realize how fast he completed the task.  Taking away all distractions allowed him to complete his work in a fraction of the time.

Back when I had a desk job, I recall leaving for work at the end of the day feeling like I hadn't accomplished anything.  Juggling a bunch of open projects without finding resolution was draining.  I was stressed out and felt like I was drowning.  The solution?  Total and complete focus.  I challenged myself to work single mindedly on a task refusing to change gears unless absolutely necessary.  With my to-do list before me, I worked on one thing on my list until I could cross it off and move to the next.

At the end of the day I felt stress free and filled with a feeling of accomplishment.  The only problem was that I was done with my massive to-do list at around 3:30pm.  Just like Thomas, I accomplished my intentions well ahead of schedule.  If the ability to fully focus allows us to reach our task related results faster, imagine what effect focus has on our achievement long term.  You can become one of those people who seem to always reach your goals with very little effort, or as the author puts it, "without a sense of struggle."

This week, I encourage you to begin the practice of developing your level of attention.  In a world of multiple distractions, cultivating focus will require conscious effort. All you have to do is be fully present with what is in front of you, or the goals you've set for yourself.  If you feel overwhelmed when it comes to experiencing results, try mastering the art of focus and watch your intentions manifest right before your eyes.

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