Friday, January 29, 2016

Master your metabolism and burn fat like a 20 year old.

All my life, I've been a petite girl.  Although I always enjoyed working out, I didn't have to do it to stay slim.  Exercising was more about making sure I didn't get winded climbing up a flight of stairs.   I could eat whatever and not have to worry about a thing.  Life was good.

Then my thirties hit and I noticed something strange happening.  Although I stayed relatively the same size, my legs weren't as toned.  Suddenly, my food belly wasn't going down hours after a meal like it used to.  The more closely I examined my body, the more I noticed what was occurring.  Slowly, muscle was being replaced by fat.

For a while, I played it off. I still tried to squeeze into skinny jeans and fitted tops, but there was no denying the change.  So, I made some changes, and noticed the positive impact.  But the moment, I slacked, the pounds came back on.  Finally, I had to accept once, and for all, that my metabolism (my once trusty friend who never let me down) was slowing.

In my younger days, my metabolism was on over drive!  I could eat from a drive through 5 days a week and suffer no consequences.  'Cause my beloved metabolism always had my back.  But now I realize that it needs my help to rev it back up again. No longer can I neglect it and still expect it to perform at optimum levels.  My metabolism was always there for me and now it needs my help!

Are you over 25? If so, your metabolism has been slowing down by between 1-4% every year.  Not 25 yet, well enjoy these last few years of worry free eating because it won't last forever. Luckily for us, we can do something about it.  If we make conscious decisions that speed up our metabolism, we can be burning mega calories even while at rest.  Let's talk about how to do that.

One of the foundational tips to improve metabolism is to eat more often.  But immediately, my mind starts to think "but if I eat more, won't my body store more calories?"  The important distinction to make is that eating more DOES NOT MEAN  more of what you currently eat.  You're not supposed to be consuming 5-6 plates of food a day.  When the fitness experts say eat 5-6 meals a day, what they really mean is "shrink your meal size and spread it throughout the day instead of eating 1-3 large meals."  Or eat small meals and include healthy snacks in between. This is to make your body think that there's a steady flow of calories all day, so there's no need to store it.  The idea is not to allow yourself to get too hungry.  This will also keep you from binge eating or having to battle crazy cravings.
My tip regarding this technique is to practice mindful eating.  Once upon a time, I took on the challenge of chewing my food until it was nearly liquid.  I hated to do it but I wanted to experience the potential benefits.  Let me tell you, not only did I get full on less food. My digestion improved and my stomach flattened.  The only change I made was to eat with single minded focus (not eating in front of tv, phone, etc) and chewed way more than normal.  I'm convinced that combining mindfulness eating with multiple small meals a day will improve your metabolism.
Improve your resting metabolic rate.
Let's say you're awake for 14 hours today.  And you work out for an hour before work, for less than 10% of your day, you increase your calorie burn.  But what about the other 90% of your day?  If you work in front of a computer, then you come home, eat, and catch up on your shows, you're sedentary for most of the day.  That work out has to be pretty awesome in order to impact how you burn calories all day while you're at rest.

Eating 5-6 small meals will help, but if you want to make a MAJOR IMPACT ON YOUR METABOLISM, you need to increase your resting metabolic rate (basically, how many calories burned while you're inactive).  This, my friends, is the key to getting the metabolism of a youngin' in their twenties.  

Simply put, the most effective way to increase resting calorie burn is to have more lean muscle.  MUSCLE EATS FAT!  Maintaining muscle requires more calories than maintaining fat.  So if you are serious about boosting your metabolism, you need to be strength training on a regular basis.
Adding muscle shrinks you!
I started incorporating strength training in my exercise routine a few years ago.  Not only did I not bulk up, my body was sculpted in a way that was way greater than in my 20's.  Then I experienced a wonderful side effect of adding muscle....increased energy.  And when I have more energy, I move more, which means burning more calories.  Best of all, muscle takes up less room than fat so I was able to enjoy having a slim body again.

If you are ready to kickstart your metabolism boosting journey, I recommend you start strong by incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) into your routine.  This is a serious fat burning technique that helps you see results fast.  Basically, you exercise in short high intensity bursts coupled with less intense recovery periods.  Another benefit of high intensity training beyond faster fat loss, is increased human growth hormone levels (which slows down as we age).  While people are paying for human growth hormone shots, you can produce your own all natural version with high intensity training.

This morning, I completed a high intensity burst session on the treadmill (after strength training).  My session wasn't long (only 15 minutes total) but it was powerful.  There's  an obvious difference in my energy levels compared to when I walked on the treadmill for 45 minutes the day prior.  I feel amazing.

Just knowing that an HIIT session can burn fat (for up to 36 hours after the workout) and spikes human growth levels is enough to me motivated to continue.

 Looking forward to having my old metabolism back again.
Thursday, January 28, 2016

3 Ways to take your pre-poo to the next level

Sometimes, if I'm not careful, I tend to get a little lazy when it comes to the pre-poo step.  Subconsciously, I'm not looking forward to the amount of time dedicated towards wash day so I try to cut corners where possible.

Lately, I haven't been investing much time into pre-pooing.  I know from past experience that when I invest in what happens before the wash, I'm rewarded handsomely.  But, if I cut corners, my progress is stunted. To make sure I have a successful 2016 hair journey, the pre-wash step must be in full effect. But slapping on some product before jumping in the shower is just the beginning.  Let's discuss some ways to amp up our pre-poo.
June Ambrose enjoying a lavender, peppermint and honey scalp massage.
One technique that I tried (and loved) was applying a little essential/carrier oil blend to my scalp prior to washing.  June Ambrose inspired me to try this technique after sharing her experience on Instagram.  In my mind, the essential oil blend is loosening buildup and preparing the scalp for a proper cleansing.

The Clarified Pre-Poo
A while back, I brought up the idea of pre-pooing on cleansed hair.  That way the strands are free from build up. This is especially useful for those times when you wish to pre-poo with coconut oil for additional protein absorption.  As you may recall, coconut oil has the power to penetrate the hair.  Whenever I experience a few more broken stands than normal, coconut oil is my go-to.  Applying it to clean, mostly dry hair before deep conditioning seems to raise it's effectiveness that much more.

Deeper conditioning pre-poo
At first, I didn't see the need to waste quality conditioner on dry hair, knowing that I would be washing it out with shampoo.  My belief was that pre-poos only happened with cheap conditioners.  But, everything changed once I experimented with a thicker, richer, pre-poo product.  The premise of deep conditioning before the wash is that the hair could benefit from the amazing ingredients before coming in contact with water.  As you know, water will take up space causing the strand to swell. That swelling could be what causes wet hair to break so easily.

If I'm not careful, I could loose more hair than necessary with all the manipulation happening on wash day.  The absolute best way to prevent some of that breakage is to adequately prepare the hair. Say it with me... no more pre-poo short cuts.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fab Skin DIY | Try these mini-peel pads for an everyday glow

When I was younger, a brand called Stridex filled the airwaves with commercials depicting acne ridden teens wiping their faces clean with medicated pads.  A teen smiles directly into the camera as she moves the damp pad in circular motions.  When finished, she flips the pad towards the screen revealing visible dirt instantly lifted off her skin.

Of course, I immediately ran to the drug store and grabbed several boxes. Those medicated pads took the place of a toner after washing.  This may not have been a good idea because, with daily use, it dried out my skin.  Eventually, I transitioned to using apple cider vinegar on soft cotton pads as a toner.

But then, Dr. Dennis Gross' Alpha Beta Peels came into my life.  I fell in love with the idea of giving myself a mini-chemical exfoliation with just a swipe of a pad. While convenient, Alpha Beta Peels are a bit pricey.  And since I've been in a DIY mood lately, I asked myself, "is there a way to create these mini-peel pads myself?"

The answer is yes!  All I had to do is get a hold of a gentle acid.  In my case, I use Mandelic Acid because it's effective, yet gentle enough for pigmented skin.  Prior to my DIY experiment, I applied the Mandelic Acid using a cotton pad.  I quickly figured out that this method was highly ineffective.  Cotton absorbs too much product.  I needed a plain "Stridex pad" like Dr. Dennis Gross uses.  
Immediately, my search began.  A short while later, I stumbled on a brand called Theraderm that offers dry exfoliation pads!  That's right.  You apply your own exfoliant or toner for a fraction of the cost. 

These DIY pads make it so easy to exfoliate on the regular.  It's as simple as moistening a cotton round.  Because these pads have somewhat of a rough texture, I still experience physical exfoliation even when I saturate them with toner instead of an acid.  I noticed the Mandelic Acid seemed much more effective when used with Theraderm pads versus with a cotton round application.  What I love most about these exfoliation pads, is that they seem to have the ability to easily draw out additional dirt and oil.  They are going to be a must have during the summer when oil production goes haywire.  And since the pads are dry, there's barely any waste.  You use as much product as you need. No more no less.  
If you've always liked the idea of giving yourself a mini-facial peel with little effort, these Theraderm pads are a dream come true.  

(p.s. If you're exfoliating more often with these convenient pads, make sure you stay consistent with daily sunscreen).  

Now go get your glow.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday Motivation | The Monthly Success Check-In Process

We're in the last week of the month.  January seemed to just fly by.  It wasn't long ago that we were making promises to ourselves of the new habits we'll bring into the new year. are things going so far?  Are you having an amazing month to kick off the new year?

If you're not staying on track, perhaps you can benefit from incorporating regular checkin's into your routine.  What are check ins?  Basically, it's taking time to assess and measure your actions & results.  In corporate America, annual performance reviews are considered check ins.  But, the problem with them is that they're too far apart.  Once a year is to infrequent.  By then we've missed out on a year of potential course corrections.
Seize the day poster
I used to absolutely HATE having annual performance review discussions with my supervisor.   So glad I never have to do those again.  Instead, I do monthly check ins with my personal goals.  Basically, I review my progress on the major areas of my life.  I reflect on what's working well, and what strategies I need to adjust.

This has been a monthly ritual for years.  I can say with certainty, that the monthly check in method has directly impacted my life.  All I do is record a short update on the Iphone while on a long nature walk.  In my recording, I discuss all of my current intentions, my outcomes for the month, and what I'll do differently to create new results in the month ahead.  This ritual keeps me focused on my goals because otherwise, the days & months will slip by and nothing has changed.

This strategy is so effective that I'm ready to step it to the next level.  Ideally, I'd like to incorporate bi-weekly updates to review my activities (good or bad) over the last couple of weeks.  And to make it that much more interesting, I'll include a method to measure activities.  One thing I'm motivated by is seeing results in black and white. When I used to track my personal finances, I easily reached my financial goals.

My tip for everyone is to find a way to break down your big goals into measurable activities.

For instance. Your goal is to lose 10 lbs by March.  Measurable activities include:
1. How many days you went to the gym.
2. How many steps you take daily.
3. How many clean meals eaten per week.
4. How much water you drank.

If your goal is to make huge progress on your hair journey, measurable activities can include:
1. How many days you consumed your hair vitamins.
2. Tracking daily scalp massages.
3. How much water intake.
4. How many times a week do you moisturize and seal.
5. Tracking wash day activities.

These are actions that can easily be tracked and measured.  Measuring monthly is good, weekly is better. But daily is best!  Ultimately, I want to get to the level of conducting daily check ins.  I know for a fact that daily checkins could accelerate success by 10X!  Steady results are good. But growing results exponentially would be amazing.  As I write my daily to-do list, I'm making sure to include specific actions which are directly linked to my goals.  

If daily check ins seems a bit much for you, then start with this process monthly.  Without the monthly check in, I wouldn't be where I am today. It's simple, all you have to do is reflect on your intentions and take a look a where you are on your progress.  You can do a voice recording, write in your journal, or record a video.  Whatever you decide, it's important to stay consistent (even when the results aren't good).  Consistency is the blood that gives this process life.

Since we're starting the last week of the month, give this method a try.  Start by incorporating goal related actions into your daily to-dos and measure your results at the end of the week. Then, on January 31, 2016, do your first monthly check in.  Keeping this habit up for the entire year will ensure that 2016 is your best year ever.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

5 Lazy Girl Hairstyles to Rock This Weekend

In 2016, I vow not to neglect my hair as much as I did last year.  One thing I'm famous for is putting my hair away in an uncared for bun and forgetting about it until wash day.  Even though I'm still lazy when it comes to my hair, that doesn't mean that I can't put in a little effort to look presentable.

So I'm compiling a short list of cute "lazy girl" hair styles to rock when lounging around.
I stayed away from cornrows for a long time because of a misconception that they weren't feminine enough to flatter my face.  Truth is, I never took the time to do them right.  But then I changed my strategy.  I started paying attention to the details, making sure the braids were hydrated, edges neat, and I accessorized the look with cute earrings & makeup.  Because of my efforts, cornrows became a great go-to summer protective style and I've not looked back.
Goddess braids are a favorite of mine because they can be dressed up or down. I love this variation with a couple of loose, soft ringlets.  Whenever I wear this style (braided or twisted) I enjoy a head full of waves after the take down.  That's two hair styles in one.  It's a lazy girl's dream come true.
And who can forget the ultimate cute look with little effort....the top knot.  Moving the topknot forward makes it a bit more casual and effortless.  The bigger the top knot, the better.  
I'm a huge fan of creating two braids or twists to keep hair away from the face.  It's a small effort but the final look is really stylish and feminine.  
I love this alternate version of creating two twists on each side just to make the look a bit more interesting.  
Today, I think I'll experiment with this half top knot with larger ringlets.  Shouldn't take long to recreate. Just throw on some flexi rods and wear 'em while I clean up around the house.  If I don't have time to wait, I'll mist them lightly to help the curls set.  The sleek top knot creates the perfect balance to the giant waves.   Not only is this look effortless, but it's a great 2nd or 3rd day style post braid out or twist out.

No more excuses....go do something cute with your hair.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Beyonce exfoliates with skin peels monthly. Should you?

Well, hello there. I see that you're back to uncover yet another of Beyonce's Flawless Skin secrets.  Let's see, so far we've discussed how the superstar follows the fundamental rule of healthy skin by drinking copious amounts of water daily.
Then we learned a special tip, from her makeup artist Sir John, of how using eye cream as skin moisturizer all over will provide even greater hydration.  I don't know about you, that tip alone made a huge difference with my skin.

Luckily for us, Sir John, is a man that loves to share the secrets.  In a recent Elle article, Sir John divulges the source of Beyonce's glowing skin.

His philosophy is that in the summer, our skin should radiate without the help of heavy makeup.  The key to this result is "monthly enzyme peels."  He goes on to tell us to incorporate regular fruit enzyme peels increase cell turnover.
What's so great about fruit enzyme peels?  Well for one thing, there's no down time.  Secondly, they only target the dead skin cells.  Live cells are left untouched.  They also diminish fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration, leaving behind, fresh youthful skin.

We understand the importance of regular exfoliation. I've talked about this topic incessantly in the past.  But, reading his words really made it clear how important it is to incorporate deep exfoliation into our routine on a regular basis.  Beyonce isn't the only one on the "monthly skin peel" bandwagon. I recall that Chilli once mentioned in a video interview that she also treats her skin to monthly peels. Is this part of secret to how she's pretty much managed to look the same for 20 years?

In an previous post, I mentioned that I'm currently experimenting with regular professional skin care treatments to see how much of a difference it makes.  So far, I've enjoyed two oxygen facials and one Sensi peel.  I have two more Sensi peel sessions to go then I'll share my thoughts.

To be honest, the idea of monthly enzyme peels makes perfect sense.  Those of you who use a pumice bar daily  know that even though you slough off dead skin regularly, it still accumulates like crazy.  Each year that you are alive, your cell turnover rate declines. Oh yeah, cell turnover also slows in the winter.  Essentially, if you do nothing, your skin gets duller as time passes.  No one wants that.

So if you haven't taken any action to create your winter glow, maybe it's time to take a lesson from the queen of healthy skin.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Lifestyle Design | Creating mini-experiences

Years ago, I stumbled on a USteam video of a few friends enjoying dinner.  During their impromptu conversations, the topic of relationships came up.  At one point this guy speaks up and provides one of the best pieces of relationship advice that I heard in a long time.  He advised all the viewers in relationships to "never stop creating experiences."

He went on to describe how at the start of our dating journey, almost every interaction involves a new experience.  As the relationship solidifies, the two of you go on trips and start building a life together.  Then, as time passes, we fall victim to the dangers of routine.  Everyday starts to look and feel the same.  You ever see a couple at dinner that barely speaks to each other?  I'm pretty sure you look at them and swear that your relationship will never be that way.  But, before making such a bold statement, we must ask ourselves, how did they end up like that in the first place?  According to the  young man on UStream, a couple that is constantly creating new experiences will always have lots to talk about.

This piece of relationship advice is great, but I also want to transfer that concept into our personal lives.  For the most part, our lives are pretty mundane.  We get up in the morning, get ready for work, go to work, come home, get ready for bed, sleep, then do it all again.  The days start to run together because nothing notable has happened.
One practice I'd like to implement is infusing at least one new experience a week.  A new experience doesn't mean that I have to fly off to an exotic location.  Maybe we'll get to that level soon but, to start the process, I'll focus on small, wonderful moments that I'll intentionally incorporate in my life.

I used to follow this process when I worked in a high stress, uninspiring environment.  In order to avoid a breakdown, I'd do something new that mentally took me to different place.  New experiences and the ability to shift our mood & mindset in an instant. And that new feeling lasts long after the experience is gone.  As your mind goes back to that moment in time, your breathing slows and a small smile forms as you reminisce.

Quick example:  On Monday, I had a mid-day sauna session.  While in there, I played my favorite songs as I played a slideshow containing images of my ideal life.  Not only was that experience amazing, I believe it contributed to the direction of my entire week.  

I know some of you might be thinking "I work all day, I don't get to jump into a sauna on a Monday afternoon."  True. But, if you'd like to live a life that will allow for this type of freedom, then create mini-experiences now!  These experiences have been a part of my life for years.  Lunch breaks were ALWAYS spent in the car listening to audio books or sitting at restaurant lobby reading success stories.  If I went out for lunch on a weekend, I would pretend like it was a weekday and I was in total control of my time.  The more stressful life got, the more diligent I became in creating mini-feel good moments.  Those little experiences kept me sane.

In the same way that new experiences can infuse life into a dying relationship, mini-experiences can transform your life.  Start small. Driving a different way to work is a mini-experience.  Anything that takes us out of our normal routine.  Make it a ritual that you vow to continue from this day forward. If we allow a full 7 days to pass without incorporating a personal feel-good experience, we're doing ourselves a disservice.  I urge you to build mini-experiences into this very week to make it stand out from all the rest.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Glowing Skin DIY | Try this Ford Model's technique for flawless skin

via Anstasia's Instagram
I'm still on my DIY hair and skin care kick.  Since the other DIY experiments are going so well, I
went out into the interwebs to find more.  Today I bring you a recipe for you to create your own version of GlamGlow's mud cleanser.

Although I have a trial size version of the cleansing mud, I didn't think to make a DIY version until my "glowing skin hero" Ford model Anastasia, shared her facial cleansing technique on a grainy Youtube video.

Anastasia has two striking features, her large curls, and glowing skin.  She doesn't share beauty details on Instagram so you can imagine how happy I was to find one secret to her flawless skin.
In the video, you see Anastasia sitting in a beach front villa (of course) looking flawless as the pool reflects off her brown skin.  She shares a testimony for a skin care product line as she reveals her secret technique.  Essentially, she blends a little cleanser and mineral clay mask together, adds water and allows the cleansing mask to work its magic.  After rinsing, she applies a little argan oil to bring balance back to her skin.

I could not wait to try this. This morning I blended a little bit of Aztec Clay + Phace Bioactive Cleanser.  Within a few seconds of application, I could feel my skin tingle.  I wasn't sure if it had anything to do with the mild peel I receive a week ago or if the cleanser and clay somehow were working together to promote circulation to my skin.

The solution dried quickly and easily rinsed off.  Because of the drier air, I made sure to follow up with a toner and serums per the Korean layering technique.  Finally, I sealed using a little coconut oil and marveled at the brightness of my skin.

This DIY clay skin cleanser could have multiple applications. After a workout when you want to cleanse a little deeper, just add a pinch of clay mask.  I could see myself using this method quite a bit in the summer when my oil production is high.  This is also a great time saver for those instances when your skin needs extra help but you don't have time for a full at home facial.

Don't take my word for it, watch the video as Ansastia shares her flawless complexion technique with you.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Monday Motivation | Get the Slight Edge on life by listening to this audiobook.

I've listened to countless personal development audio books over the years.  Some have made more of a lasting impact than others.  Every once in a while, I'll learn about a concept, that if applied regularly, can absolutely change my results.

One such book is The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen.  This book should be required reading at the start of the new year.  It's no coincidence that readers rated The Slight Edge a full 5 STARS on Amazon. It reminds how much our decisions (big or small) have an impact on our results in the long run.  The Slight Edge really resonated with me because I have this terrible habit of not continuing a behavior unless I experience immediate results.  Since most of our results show up later down the road, I often have to deal with the negative consequences of my inconsistent actions.
Jeff reminds us that small, positive actions are both"easy to do" AND "easy not to do." If I choose not to do it, there's no immediate repercussions.  But if I continue to make that same decision over and over again, I'm essentially ensuring that I create a negative outcome.

"Greatness is made in the moment of our decisions"

Today, I'm recommending that everyone read or listen to "The Slight Edge." Especially since we are at the start of a new year.  Luckily for us, someone uploaded the audio recording on Youtube for us to enjoy at our leisure.

Maybe you listen to this on your drive to work. Perhaps you play it while getting ready for work in the morning.  Or maybe you listen to the concepts while you go on your daily walk. Whatever you decide is up to you. If you don't listen, nothing bad will happen. But if you take on the concept of The Slight Edge, you might transform your entire life.

A quick synopsis of the Slight Edge concepts:

***The Author speaks for the first 30 minutes of the audio book. He kinda rambles a bit, so feel free to fast forward to the 30:40 mark to begin listening to the book."***

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fit Friday | How not to let winter weight creep up on ya.

I'm not sure how it happened, but somehow I became a little pudgier than normal.  Maybe it's because of those amazing butter cookies that I couldn't seem to get enough of.  Perhaps, it had something to do with skipping the meal prep process.  Or could it be because I opted to spend more time under warm blankets than I did getting my desired steps in for the day?

In either case, it happened and if I'm not proactive, those extra few pounds could multiply.  Months later, I could be slipping on a tank top wondering where I went wrong, or I could be feeling really good about the decisions I made today.  Another reason to take action now is to make it easier on myself in the future.  Working off 5-10 lbs now is way better than 15-25 lbs down the road.

Let's talk about some quick shifts we can make to stave off pesky winter weight once an for all.

Stick to form fitting attire
I was on cloud 9 after finding a pair of hubby's sweats.  They were super baggy on me and felt so cozy.  Sweats and oversized tops became my new uniform.  While that was going on, I was secretly putting on weight.  But I was completely oblivious until a friend invited me for breakfast.  Sure, no problem...I'll just slip on my favorite skinny jeans.  And that's when the truth came out. Those skinny jeans didn't fit nearly as comfortable as they used to.  Add insult to injury, my friend referred to me as "thickums" during our conversation.  That was all I needed to hear.  From that point on, I swore off baggy sweats and stuck to wearing fitted clothing around the house as a measurement tool.  Never would I be caught off guard again.
Warm up with broths 
As the temperature drops, we tend to crave warm, comfort foods.  If we aren't careful, those comfort foods are a recipe for extra weight gain.  My solution to this dilemma came in the form of bone broth.  Every morning the past few days, I've whipped up a small bowl of broth with onions, spices and rice noodles.  Not only does it warm me up, but if fills my belly and nourishes from the inside.   The benefits alone are enough to keep me coming back.  Plus it's really yummy and keeps me full all morning.  Broths are a fantastic alternative to your typical high calorie winter beverage.  If broths aren't your thing, opt for warm lemon water or nutrient rich tea.   You can enjoy several cups throughout the day without having to worry about expanding your waistline.

When it's cold out, I just want to nestle under a pile of blankets for warmth.  Sure, that's one way to do it, but I've come to realize that the most optimal strategy is to move.  Even if I lay under a blanket for 15 minutes, I'll still be cold.  But, if I do cardio for the same amount of time, my temperature instantly rises.  Whenever I exercise in cold weather, I find myself peeling off layers of clothes as my internal temperature rises.  Blankets rarely ever offer those same results.  

My strategy for the past week has been to head to the gym first thing in the morning.  I know that minutes into my workout being cold will be the last thing on my mind.  Yes, the pounds will eventually come off, but I'll also enjoy instant gratification.  The short term benefits of feeling warm is enough to motivate me each morning.  It's a win-win.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why developing your signature uniform could be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Celebrities who developed a signature look
For several years, I worked for an organization that required everyone to wear a uniform consisting of black slacks and a simple polo shirt displaying the company logo.  I remember the first time I met my supervisor wearing a cute, stylish outfit. After our greetings the first thing she said to me was "I appreciate how much time and effort you put into looking great but you have to adhere to the dress code."

I felt the life sucked out of me.  I didn't want to become one of those soulless employees walking around looking like everyone else.  But, for the sake of the paycheck, I obeyed.  Fast forward a year later and I'm counting all of my blessings for having to wear the same thing everyday.  Here's just a few benefits I enjoyed:

1. I saved a TON of money!  Not having to buy business casual work clothes allowed me the money to splurge on other indulgences.  Having to always have new, nice clothes to wear is not only exhausting, it's expensive.

2. Time. Time. Time!  Oh my gosh,  I can not tell you enough about how good it feels to wake up in the morning and not have to worry about deciding what to wear.  When I had to leave at 4:30 am to catch a flight, all I had to do was iron a polo shirt and head out the door.  I enjoyed lots of extra sleep thanks to that uniform.

3.  Less clutter & bulk.  After leaving my job, I started buying "normal" clothes again because I wanted to celebrate my freedom.  It didn't take long for the closet to get filled with clutter. And when I go on vacation, I end up bringing lots of unnecessary outfits because of indecision.  When I traveled for work, I had the smallest little carry on filled with a handful of different colored polo shirts and a few pair of black slacks.  That was it.  Life was so much simpler then.

4. You develop your brand.  Because my polos had a logo on it, random people would start chatting with me about the company.  At first, I was annoyed by this, but after a while, I realized what a smart business move it was.

Developing a personal uniform is like creating your own brand.  If done right, that's what you become known for.  Look at all the fashion designers who are all easily recognizable because of their attire.  If you develop a style brand for yourself, people may look at you funny at first, but in time, they'll realize this is a carefully thought out strategy that pays off in a big way in the long run.  Wearing a daily uniform doesn't always mean black + white attire.  Designer Betsey Johnson has a signature look that speaks to her creativity.  I love this story of how a woman designed her signature look then bought all of her work clothes for the year in one fell swoop.

Lots of successful people follow the approach of having a signature look.  As someone who's lived that life for over 4 years, I totally get it.  When I see Kim K wearing various shades of the same dress, I nod silently to myself because I completely understand.

I never thought I'd miss the days of having to wear a daily uniform. But all these successful people can't be wrong.  Some of us wear almost the same thing every day anyway, but is it stylish, and does it elevate your look?  My current daily attire doesn't meet these requirements so it's time to design a uniform as part of my signature look.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

RAVE | This Product Helps Your Hair Actually Retain Moisture Longer

Stumbling on DRC 28 is thee best thing that has happened to me.   Every wash seems to be getting better and better.  But, on the other hand, I know that using such an effective protein treatment week after week could have some undesirable repercussions.

Protein overload is something I fear with all of my heart.  But, at the same time, my hair has been responding so well to the protein.  What's a girl to do?  There's only one solution and that's to ramp up moisture levels!  We all need moisture now more than ever.  The dry air is wreaking havoc on our skin and hair.  Without the help of humidity, my typical moisturizer just didn't seem to be cutting like it did before.

Since DRC 28 provided my hair with so much strength, it only seemed natural that I seek out the line to see if they offered a product to amp up moisture levels.   Off I went to Amazon to search.  The first result was a moisturizing product that was rated a full five stars!  Immediately I checked out the reviews to see what others had to say.

on December 3, 2015
I brought this product because of the reviews - the cost did not matter I just needed it to work! I was really surprised with how soft and manageable it made my hair. I recommend for perm, natural, weaved and under wig hair.

on September 14, 2015
I have to say I've been using this product for YEARS. I have tight curly hair but not kinky. (3 something) This keeps all my moisture locked in. Sometimes for more definition I might use a curly creme or whipped creme but ALWAYS ALWAYS put PCA FIRST. I love it b/c it protects my hair, keeps my scalp moist ( I never have dandruff or dry scalp thanks to this) and avoids that "Crispy" texture I may get from the curly creme alone. Also mostly, I use PCA alone b/c it's perfect. I use it for my boys. They have short curly hair, not as soft as mine, and the PCA always softens them up righteously! I recommend 1000%. Nothing else out there is like it!

on June 29, 2013
My husband introduced this product to me. He has been using it for many years. I have been using Dudley's PCA Moisturizer for 3 years. Its' creamy formula moisturizes the hair without leaving it oily, greasy or weighted down. I have very fine hair and use a texturizer. I cannot let my hair get dry or frizzy. Dudley's Moisturizer does the job well.
I have used a number of other products, but they dry my hair or do not work as well . This one is, by far, the best!

This product is by far the best product for moisture retainment in my hair! My beautician has been using it for 15 years and recommended I continue with it. I have felt amazing results with daily use of this product! My hair feels healthy and everyone is constantly telling me it looks healthy!

These are just a small sample of the glowing reviews boasting of Dudley's moisturizing power.  What really struck me was how many people raved about how well their hair was staying moisturized.

 The official product name is "Dudley's MOISTURE RETAINER".   Could a product really claim to not only moisturize the hair, but to keep it in a moisturized state?  That's my biggest qualm with most moisturizers. They feel good at first, but hours later (or the next day) your hair is back to feeling dry again.

But, since I had such a wonderful experience with DRC 28, I didn't hesitate to order.  Days later the package arrived and I immediately squeezed a small amount in my hand.  The consistency was thick. I could feel myself frown as I wondered if this thick cream would create loads of build up.  I rubbed my hands together and noticed how easily the product dissolved in my palms.

As I applied the moisture retainer in my hair, I knew.  I knew this moisturizer would be an instant favorite.  The slight bit of dryness from protein overload vanished.  My hair felt instantly soft and moisturized.  But here's the kicker.  My hair continued to feel moisturized even as time past.  Seriously ladies. No other product has trapped in moisture in my hair like Dudley's Moisture Retainer.  The results actually stick!  This doesn't mean that I'll be moisturizing less than I should, but it's an incredible feeling to randomly touch my hair and feel softness....not stiffness.

Dudley's Moisture Retainer is a true gem.  A product that actually lives up to its name deserves all the praise.  Even though I've reapplied the thick cream, there's no signs of buildup.  I rarely take advantage of Amazon's return policy but I made a promise to myself, at purchase, that if it failed to adequately moisturize my hair, Dudleys' would be going right back.  But this is definitely a keeper.  If your go to moisturizer isn't doing a decent job of helping your hair keep the moisture in.  Give Dudley's Moisture Retainer a chance to win your hair over!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Lifestyle Design | Create the Bathroom of your Dreams

Last year, I invested quite a bit into my self-care routine.  Specifically, I made it a mission to experience various treatments such as regular massages, floatation tanks, and the infrared sauna.  It became an addiction.  Namely because of the high level of sensory stimulation one receives during these spa experiences.

The other day, I went for a facial. And once again, I was hit with that sense of well being the moment I entered the private space.  Immediately I asked myself, "why can't I recreate this type of feeling at home?"

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed to immediately start with the bathroom.  Think about it, the bathroom is the first room you'll enter when you start your morning.  And, if you keep up with your water consumption, you probably visit your bathroom countless times a day.

My bathroom is tiny and uninspiring, but that doesn't mean that I can't incorporate elements of the spa life in my everyday experience.  With just a few minor adjustments, I can have a bathroom that lifts my mood every time I step in.

The first course of action is to make sure the bathroom is spotless.  When the cleaning lady used to come on a regular basis, I never had to worry.  But now I have to put in a little bit of effort.  I use to put off bathroom cleaning duties until Saturday, but I realized that it's much easier if I clean throughout the week.  That way, I'm tidying up an already clean room versus having to spend extra time getting it back up to standard.

Once clean, I want to add various touches that are reminiscent of the spa experience.  First on that list is a visually pleasing candle.  I absolutely love inhaling a fresh scent every time I walk into a room.  In order to balance costs, I'll sometimes alternate between a fancy candle and an oil burner.

Next, I'm considering placing a few mists in the room (1.) a Facial Mist to keep my skin hydrated for the winter (2.) a Room Mist to use in lieu of a candle  (3.) a Coconut Oil Mist to hydrate  cuticles after washing my hands or to mist on the skin post shower and (4.) a light, fresh personal fragrance.

Since I want my bathroom to represent freshness, it is my intention to add elements that represent freshness. Cotton scented candles, fluffy towels, white accents, and fresh flowers immediately come to mind.  For years, I've had white gardenia plant growing in the back yard but paid no attention to it. But now, I'll be snipping off the fresh blooms and showcasing them in my elevated bathroom. Sure, this takes just a bit more effort, but the rewards of having a room reminiscent of a spa day makes up for all the hard work.  It's all about creating a space the truly inspires us.  

It may be years before I get the bathroom of my dreams, but at least I can still feel like it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday Motivation | The technique to reach your goals in 2016

I'm excited to share another Monday Motivation post from Nelida at Awaken to thrive.  Nelida is a career coach who also offers Akashic records readings.  She's graced us with her wisdom once before. Her latest article gives us clear advice on how to ensure we reach our goals in 2016.

Connecting with your goals
If you are like most people by the end of the year you are thinking about your goals for next year. There  is great energetic opportunity in this season. Everyone has huge expectations around the new year. But a common mistake a lot of people do is to recycle last year's goals, checking off what was completed and adding a few more goals.

I'm sorry to tell you that this method is not meant to succeed. You are just keeping the same energy that you had, while trying to manifest new things. You are contaminating 2016 with energy from 2015. Is no wonder why most people don't achieve their goals: they keep the same energy around the goals. 

It's time to refresh!

I am going to invite you to do something different this year. Let's work on the energy and the foundation blocks.

Setting a Ritual:
First I want you to think about a ritual to set around achieving your goals. Schedule some time on your calendar where you will have quite time alone. Take 5 minutes to do a small meditation and then start thinking about what you want for 2016. 

- What feeling comes to your heart? 
- How do you want to experience in 2016? 
- Who do you want to be? 
- What you see yourself doing?

Ignite your Goals with energy
Next, think about a friend you can meet with to discuss your goals. Think carefully about this person. It has to be someone whose energy you like, someone whose energy is not covered up with fear and doubts. Talking with someone about your goals is going to create more energy around it, it's going to feel more real.

Working on foundation blocks:
Now I want you to take time to think about the reasons why you didn't achieve a particular goal last year. 

Let's say you notice that  you didn't have the time to focus on our goals. Write it down. Then repeat this process for any other goals you didn't achieve. If time appears to be a common denominator, you should think about defining "time management" as a top priority goal for next year.  Once you identify your top priority goals, you can now create rituals that address your time management.  

Other common excuses:
If you notice that you didn't achieve certain goals because "I didn't have the money", then focus on learning about financial management. Invest your time in learning how to be the boss of your money. Don't let the money control your life, you should be controlling your money.
Take time to analyze the patterns of behavior you have around money. See how money flows out of your life, pay attention to it. Monitor your money and then create new habits around how you spend it.

Another big goal that a lot of people fail to achieve is regarding weight management. In this very sensitive topic, I invite you to take a look on how you feel about food. 

- What are your patterns of thinking every time you think about food? 
- What is the nature of your relationship with food? 
- How much control do you have over your health habits? 
- What does food mean to you and how can you alter that meaning?

Is time to stop making excuses. How you eat today is the best approach on how you are going to eat tomorrow. Focus on taking care of yourself.

When you solve these foundational issues you will be able to unblock the goals you didn't achieve because of these excuses. Eliminate the excuse! 

Look Beyond the excuses:

Your brain is a beautiful and powerful machine, and one of the best things it can do is convince you that your excuses are real.  If you look beyond your surface levels excuses you will just realize that your excuses are a reflex produced in the brain, just to make you feel better!

Yesterday I was at my cousin's house, and he was talking about how messy his work table and his home office was, "I don't have time to organize it" he said. Although we both know that it makes him feel more comfortable to have this excuse, he knows that is not true. If he wanted it badly enough he would find 5 minutes each day to clean just a little.

Take responsibility for your life and your goals. Don't let life escape thru your fingers because you have too many excuses. 

- What would you do if you had no excuses?
- What would you do to make sure you achieve all of your goals?

Make 2016 the no excuse Year!

I'm grateful to Nelida for sharing her insight with us. I love the idea of seeking out root cause issues for not reaching our desired outcomes.  Once we get to the source of the issue, we can address it in a powerful way.  I also co-sign on the idea of working with a friend to discuss your future goals.  I've implemented this ritual for several years now and I can't tell you how well it works for creating laser like focus on your goals.  Nelida and I have discussed our intentions at length and it's a blessing to have someone to listen, cheer me on, and challenge my strategies.  

If you want to connect with Nelida for additional clarity, you can visit her website here.