Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A while back, I was instructed by Lady Dee (skincare expert to celebrities) to never use a towel to dry my face.  I heeded her advice and my skin reaped the benefits.  But, for some reason, I never thought to apply this same principle to the rest  the rest of body until now.

We all know that air drying our hair can help keep it from over drying out.  The same thing could be said for our skin. Normally, the skin on my body gets ultra dry during the winter. So dry that it actually begins to itch.  The itching is serious.  Most of the day, I'm scratching at my skin (especially on my legs) hoping to get some relief.

Yesterday, I tried something totally different and it literally transformed my skin.  Instead of toweling off after my shower, I air dried.  Once I stepped out, I stood on my mat for a few minutes to allow the water droplets to fall.  Then I headed to my bedroom where I applied virgin coconut oil all over my damp skin.

I can't begin to describe how much my skin glowed.  Not to mention how soft and wonderful it felt to the touch.  I didn't need to apply another ounce of lotion for the remainder of the day and, best of all, no itch.  This is definitely a keeper for me.  I also think some of the credit goes to my full body exfoliation routine that I've practiced consistently for the past couple of weeks.  That combined with this coconut oil massage is perfection.  No other word to describe it.

Take advantage of the precious time while waiting for your body to dry (before applying the oil).  Put on your favorite scent, add a little lip balm, massage your scalp, say your affirmations, whatever. Make this a part of your beauty ritual.  This routine does require you to be in the buff a little longer than you may be used to.  So use it as motivation to tone up so you can feel totally amazing throughout the experience.  You absolutely have to try this.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Have you ever heard the saying that you should consistently be operating outside of your comfort zone?  Why is this so? Because when we continue to take the same actions over and over again, we experience the same outcomes/results.  New results can only come from new actions.  Pretty simple right?

But if you remember my post on the subconscious mind, you might recall that we typical tend to follow the same patterns day after day.  Not only do we tend to repeat patterns, we are also programmed to be risk averse. Meaning, our natural way of being is to avoid risk or situations that seem risky.  This is why people tend to imagine the worst case scenario whenever they discuss a new endeavor.   Since we're programmed to avoid situations that could be perceived as "dangerous" or unfamiliar,  we tend to remain within the circle of our comfort zone.

But everyone keeps telling us to "break free of our comfort zone."  So what do we do?  I believe that our subconscious wishes to exert as little mental & emotional energy as possible.  Operating outside of the comfort zone takes a lot of mental energy.  You've got to overcome limiting beliefs, fears, and uncertainty.  That's too much to deal with.

So what's the solution to this dilemma?  Walk towards the edge of your comfort zone.

 There's a car wash that I frequent near my home.  At the end of the wash there's this massive drier that sits right at the same level as my windshield.  As I drive towards it, I feel like my windshield will collide with dryer causing irreparable damage to my car.  But guess what happens?  As I move closer to the drier, it inches upwards.  I move even closer....it moves up a little higher.  This little dance continues until I've reached the end of the car wash and the drier is now behind me.

The first time I went through that experience, I was genuinely afraid of what was going to happen to my car.  But now I understand that drier behaves in the same way as our comfort zone.  We think that by moving forward we're headed straight for a disaster.  But, on the contrary,  it expands.....(YOU EXPAND).....Our comfort zone moves as we move.  This means that you don't have to worry about operating outside your comfort zone, you just have to move towards the edge.

But there is no edge, really.

And the great thing about moving towards the edge is that you don't have to do anything too drastic. Just something that makes you feel "slightly uncomfortable", but not uncomfortable enough to stop moving towards it.   Just like with the car wash drier, I didn't stay in same spot, I kept inching towards it hoping that it wouldn't collide with my car.  Right now, your mind keeps nudging you to move towards something in your life. But you remain still....paralyzed with fear. You're deciding to remain in the carwash for the rest of your life instead of moving forward.

Just think of the most comfortable step you can take. And once you've done it, take the next one. Keep moving comfortably outside your comfort zone and experience the benefits  the infinite possibilities.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

This morning I met a friend for breakfast.  We met early enough in the morning that I didn't have to worry too much about what to wear.  But, at the same time, I wanted to look like I put a little effort into my look.

Unfortunately, I stood in front of my closet completely devoid of any inspiration of what to wear.  So I decided to scour the web for a look of what I would have worn if I could've put together the perfect outfit.

A simple beige cable knit sweater looks casual yet polished. Pair with a comfy distressed jeans that I'm sure we all have in our closet.  What I adore most of this look are the camel accents.  I could totally wear this look with a comfy pair of camel heels and an oversized hobo bag.  But I also like the idea of styling it with a camel clutch like this cut out structured crossbody.  Last but not least, I need to get my hands on a beige/light colored wool coat.  I found this one from H&M and fell in love.

Such a simple, easy to wear look, yet such a bold statement.  I love it.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Ever since I've stumbled upon the technique of filling the entire lip with pencil, I've been on a massive manhunt for the most flattering hues.  Unlike my search for the perfect lipstick, finding the right lip pencil proved to be far easier. So easy that I've identified a multitude of colors that suit me beautifully.

Wearing lip pencil in lieu of lipstick makes so much sense.  First, lip pencils can cost a fraction of the price of a decent lipstick.  Secondly, they last much longer while offering a great color payout.  Third, they take up almost no space in your makeup pouch.  Fourth, they cover the lip without feeling heavy or overdone.  Fifth, the color seems much more natural than if I were wearing a similar shade in using a traditional lipstick.  Sixth, lip liners have a longer shelf life than lipstick. Seventh....ok, I've run out of reasons but if you're not convinced by now then there's nothing more I can say.

I've amassed quite a collection.  Some I love more than others.  I thought I'd share a few of my faves with you in case you're on the market to create your own version of the nude lip
The most expensive in my collection.  As one would expect, you enjoy a higher quality with these jumbo pencils.  The color payoff is amazing!  Not only are you enjoying bold color, but these chunky lip pencils are super hydrating which is a rare thing with a typical pencil.

MACs lips pencils are cool & all, but the money is in the their cremestick lip liners.  After digging deep in my current collection, I found "80%" which is now a discontinued color.  I loved it so much as a lip color that I went immediately to the MAC store to stock up. As soon as I found out it was long gone, I shed a tear.  Then I manned up and picked up an alternate color that also looked great on my skin tone.  MAC's Portside has a slightly more reddish tone than 80% but I appreciate the creamy texture which helps the color glide on.  I'll definitely be back for more.
Pictured |  Nars Palais Royal | NARS Train Bleu |  MAC Portside + 80% Cremestick | NYX Nude Truffle + Mauve + Mahogany + Brown + Nutmeg | MAC Chestnut + Cork lip liner | Rimmel Epic + Obsession
My favorite of the drug store pencils.  You gotta love the massive range of nude options in this line.  I picked up a ton of different colors each very similar yet different in their own way.  I love each one of them equally and the price makes it easy for me to indulge without feeling guilty. So far I've grabbed

Another drug store brand that deserves a shout out.  Similar to MAC's Cremesticks, these Rimmel pencils are softer textured liner that glides on pretty easily.  These softer liners give you the freedom to apply without having to worry too much about your lips drying out.  Plus they're retractable so no need to carry around a pencil sharpener.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I have this reoccurring fantasy where I live a life consisting of regular pamper treatments such as weekly massages and regular visit to my skin care practitioner to receive oxygen facials.  Well now I'm adding one more treatment to the list.  The IV Vitamin Infusion.

You may have heard me talk about how I prefer to take my supplements in liquid form whenever possible because little to no digestion is involved which allows the nutrients to better enter the blood stream. Well, the IV Infusion is the definition of nutrients entering the bloodstream.  The solution is delivered intravenously through the vein ensuring 100% absorption by the body. 100% absorption.
@Iamjesswhite | Shares her experiences with IV Infusion via her instagram
I first became hip to this technique via instagram when @iamjesswhite shared a couple of pics of herself receiving the treatment.  Then I learned of other celebrities like Simon Cowell, Madonna, Cindy Crawford and Rihanna who also enjoy this treatment.

The most common concoction helps to rehydrate the body but fancier blends have been developed to help stimulate weight loss, promote anti-aging, boost energy + immune functions. There are even formulations for great hair, skin and nails.  I would have loved to experience one of these after a long week of extensive travel and not so healthy eating.  I've been told by coworkers that I look visibly tired after enduring unusually long work days.  Imagine how quickly I'd recover from stressful weeks with just one IV Vitamin appointment.

I want badly to try a hair, skin and nail blend for multiple sessions to see what the long term results are like. The treatment ranges in price depending on the formula, starting at just over $100.00 and can climb up to several hundred depending on the blend you choose.

If you're not quite ready to take the plunge yet on IV treatments, you can opt for a nutrient dense smoothie.  But smoothies contain fiber and require the help of stomach acids to digest.  Not that fiber is bad but sometimes we just want direct access to the nutrients.  That's why juicing may be a better option.  Other nutrient dense liquids like silica rich bamboo tea, mineral rich, or other liquid vitamins are also a great choice.

I'm putting IV Vitamin Infusion on my bucket list to enjoy sometime in the future.  For now, I'll continue indulge in my fantasy life where bi-weekly vitamin infusions are a normal part of my make believe pampering routine.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Aldo HARRUP heel
Not too long ago, I made myself promise not to buy any more pairs of shoes for an unspecified time period.  I had this habit of buying similar pairs of shoes add to that the fact that I rarely get to wear them with such a hectic work schedule.  

But life always seems to have other plans for us.  These perfect pair of heels came into my life as a result of chance email sent to me by a wonderful reader. She reached out to me to connect and, as we exchanged emails, I learned that she was visiting my city. One thing led to another and next thing I know, the two of us meet for lunch and a little shopping.
It was her that identified these amazing heels and brought them to my attention. The minute I tried them on, I knew.  The zipper detailing is everything.  Pairing classic design with a little bit of edge.
Once I realized how comfortable they were, I accepted that I would be breaking my promise.  I have no regrets because these Aldo heels stand out from the rest of my shoe collection, not to mention the high quality of the materials.

Heads up! They're currently on sale for much, much less than what I paid.  You can check them out here or take a look at the other gorgeous heels + boots currently on sale on their website.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Years ago my favorite past time was to visit my local library or book store in search of the next motivational, self help book that would have the key to all of my desires. The problem is that I pretty much jumped from one book to the next without putting much practice into the lessons I learned.  Things moved in my life but not at the pace that I wanted.

Then one day I stumbled upon an old interview of the late Phyllis Diller where she talked about taking on the principles of the Magic of Believing and applying it to her life.  She studied the book for two years. Reading and reading it daily, underlining the most important aspects and PRACTICING the techniques over and over again in her daily life until she mastered them.
Tony Robbins talks about doing his incantations every day know matter how much he's success he's achieved.  Incantations are similar to affirmations only he practices them with high levels of intense emotion.  Decades after he's achieved everything he's ever wanted, he still practices that one technique that has brought him all of his success.

Once upon a time I chose to practice visualization several times a day. I was so bad at visualizing that I forced myself to do it often so I can get better. When I first began, my mind was all over the place and I could barely picture anything that wasn't already in existence.  With each day that passed, the visions became clearer and easier to formulate (and manifest).  Could you imagine where I'd be right now if I chose to keep that habit up for years like Phyllis and Tony did?  This coming year I plan on selecting a few principles to practice as a daily habit.  Some techniques that immediately come to mind are:

+ Writing & rewriting down my goals each day.
+ Visualizing goals each day.
+ Practice The Slight Edge Principle.
+ Pray, meditate and study the Bible daily.
+ Study one self help book for the year (practice the principles over and over).

I can go on but I'll keep this list short for the sake of brevity and focus.  Let's not be like the guy who's practiced 10,000 kicks once.  This person has no power.  But the person who has one or two moves that they've practiced over and over again, to the point of mastery is able to accomplish anything.

Which technique do you plan on mastering in 2015?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday nights used to cause a bit of anxiety as the weekend came to an end, meaning I'd have to mentally prepare for the start of a new and hectic week.  The Sunday night blues are not a way to complete an otherwise perfect weekend.  So I've decided to do something about it.

Last week I visited my dad who put me on to this wonderful concoction of ginger, lemon and cayenne that he blended in water and pleaded for me to drink.  As he put everything together in a cup of room temp water, I looked at the blend not at all excited about what the final product would taste like.

Boy was I completely wrong.  Not only did it taste amazing, it's super good for you.  I've since then, I've adopted this tonic as my own.  Except that I've stepped it up a notch by turning it into a beauty tea + hair tonic.

It's winter and internal circulation is at an all time low.  What are we going to do about it? Promote increased blood flow by consuming healthy foods that stir things up.  Ginger has the amazing ability to jump start our circulation which can help promote healthy hair growth.  Of course you can also use ginger topically to warm the scalp and stimulate it directly.  For now, I'll stick to using it internally so my entire body can experience the benefits.

What circulation conversation would be complete without the inclusion of cayenne pepper.  When my dad was mixing the concoction, he put ample amounts of cayenne because he knew just how effective it is for internal circulation.  Remember that circulation = life.  Babies and children have high circulation.  As we get older, circulation slows.  The poorer the circulation, the more the body is prone to ailments.  When it's cold out, our bodies want to preserve internal heat to keep our organs warm so it restricts blood flow to extremities.  Could this be the reason why our hair grows slower this time of year?  Either way, taking cayenne pepper, in either pill form or adding it directly to your tonic, is an amazing way to stir things back up again.

Without lemon, our beauty tonic would not reach its full potential.  When stress builds in our body, it takes on an acid pH.  Adding an alkalizing ingredient, like lemon, is perfect way to end a stressful day/weekend.    Did I mention the fact that adding lemon increases the vitamin C content of your beauty tonic which makes it even more powerful.  Lemon water also detoxifies and purifies. I like to think of lemon water as an aid to help mitigate the potential consequences of eating greasy, fattening foods over the weekend.

Instead of plain water like my daddy made, I decided to take it one level up by brewing bamboo tea as the base for this tonic.  Ever since offering bamboo tea on Amazon, I've had the pleasure of reading the various accounts of how many of you are experiencing longer hair, stronger nails, beautiful skin, joint pain relief and even weight loss!  With every review I read, it makes me want to be even more consistent with drinking my tea.  Thank you all for the inspiration.

I drink this hair + beauty tonic unsweetened but if I wanted to add a little sweetness, I'd probably add some manuka honey because of its antimicrobial properties and many other benefits.

I'm gonna go on a limb and say that this nightcap is darn near flawless.  Perhaps I may add a little powdered collagen to it to make it just a tad better.  The collagen works synergistically with silica in the bamboo tea and the vitamin C from the lemon to really promote healthy skin.

What a perfect way to unwind after a long and wonderful weekend.

Just sharing some of the moments captured on my instapage lately.  Have you caught up with me on Instagram yet?  If not, you can check me out and follow at @lifeasnadege.  See you there.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

From the moment I saw this woman on Basketball Wives, the first thing that struck me was how amazing her skin looked.  So even toned, bright and healthy.  Most obvious was how her skin looked like someone much younger.  I kept thinking to myself, "I wonder if she does anything special or if she's just blessed to have perfect skin."
The season ended and time passed.  Then one day, out of no where, Sundy Carter popped in my head and instantly I wondered if she gave any insights to her skin care routine with her loyal followers.  So I followed her and this week she shared this post.

"Here's the secret ladies & gents.  My my skincare guru @deendeenlove."  Then someone Sundy left a comment asking her to share any tips she has that keeps her looking so "gorge, young, and glowing."

Sundy's response:
"Thank you, I only drink water throughout the day, sauna when time permits, changed my eating habits.  And cardio does the body good.  Deendeenlove gives the best facials ever.  I go again on Friday and will post a b4 and after."  
Is it any surprise to any of you that Sundy, like everyone else there with flawless skin, drinks a boat load of water?  That combined with all the sweating from visiting the sauna is pretty much the recipe for glowing skin.  But can we talk about how she got all excited about the facials?

I've gotten a few facials in my time, but for the most part, I vowed that once my skin cleared, I would no longer need professional facials. Reason? Because I saw facials as a corrective measure, not as a means to achieve the glowing skin I've always wanted.  Notice how she's already scheduled a follow up appointment.  I'm one of those people that'll get a facial for special occasion and never go back.

That's when I started questioning my approach.  Would I enjoy bright, healthy skin if I too maintained a healthy regimen of regular facials along with everything else I'm doing?  I'm gonna be honest and say that the price of regular facial treatments is a bit off putting for me.  That's why I've decided to master the art of the at home facial.

By the way, her healthy skin practices serve as a timely reminder that people who enjoy perfect skin, fit bodies, healthy hair, are probably not just lucky recipients, they work hard to achieve it.  Remember when Kelly Rowland shared that she does hundreds of sit ups each night.  I, for one, thought that her perfectly flat abs were hereditary.  Oh, speaking of flat abs, Sundy mentioned that cardio does a body good.  She was right. Take a look at her new figure share on her insta not too long ago.  Homegirl has been putting in work.
Look out for posts in the future on mastering the at home facial.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

 Years ago, I wrote a interesting story about how promote healthy hair growth using a very unusual method.  A former co-worker of mine let me in on this ancient Indian secret.  His father, he claimed, was able to enjoy thick, black hair even well into his senior years  because he was diligent in his ritual of nail rubbing.  Nail rubbing somehow had the ability to directly affect hair growth and color. 

Of course I was skeptical but I looked into it anyway.  Turns out that the simple act of nail rubbing somehow ignites the blood flow to the scalp thereby promoting healthier growth.  When I shared the technique, I thought people would laugh me off the stage.  To the contrary, I received dozens of comments on my original post filled with various accounts of how people have used this technique to experience real improvement in their hair.  One reader even emailed me her account of how well this practice worked for her.  To this day, I'm still receiving comments.  As a matter of fact, this comment came in this week.
 Hi all,
Finally I've found people who had tried this like me! I am 56. I have been doing this nail rubbing for a year. My hair was getting a little thin, and I was getting a some grey hair. I decided to give it a try. It's free! I have long thick auburn hair. It has been growing so fast in the last 4 months. My daughters finally believe that it works. People ask me about my hair all the time. I tell them what I do and they roll their eyes. Lol oh well. I'm here to tell you it works! I also do face yoga. People think, I'm in my early forties. :) It's awesome! It takes patience, but it's worth the wait!
 Every time I receive one of these comments, I smile.  Then I silently curse myself for not remaining consistent.  If you haven't read my original post on nail rubbing for long hair, you can check it out here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

About a month back, I finished up my bottle of Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor.  This product has been a long time staple.  I told myself that I'd be replacing the bottle one day soon but now I have an even better reason to get it sooner rather than later.

Way before the Silicon Mix and Kanechom craze began, one lone poster on the LHCF shared her experience after mixing Silicon Mix conditioner with Aphogee's strengthening treatment.  Here's what she had to say in a thread aptly titled:  "Silicon Mix + Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor = Bombness!!!!"
Ok so I'm at work and since I have nothing to do, I decided to wash my hair and blow dry it so I can flat iron in the am. I washed my hair with Paul Mitchell Tea Tree shampoo. When it came time to condition and deep condition, I decided to just put both the Silicon Mix and the Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor on my hair with a cap and let it sit while I do paper work. 50 min later I washed it out and my hair feels like silk!!!   I sprayed the Aphogee Keratin with Green Tea on my hair along with Chi Silk infusion and Redken Antisnap . I did blow dry and it feels so soft! My coworker was in shock, needless to say I'll be doing her hair tomorrow night while I'm at work lol. Ladies please don't sleep on this! And the crazy part, I didn't even use [direct]heat and the slip was amazing!!! Silk I tell u!!!
Lol happy hair growing ladies!"
@riaseurat | Silicon Mix Pearl Protein + Aphogee Green Tea

First off, could you imagine how convenient it would be to have the opportunity to do a full wash and deep condition while at work?  But back to the topic at hand.  We all fell in love with Kanechom and Silicon Mix duo.  Could this be a new version that can add a little bit of strength to the equation.  Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor strengthens the hair without overloading the hair with protein.   What would it be like to mix all three?  I have all these thoughts swirling in my head right now.

I'll definitely have to do a follow up post once I give this combination a go.  Who's excited to try this?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Let's talk a little more on being conscious of our subconscious behaviors so that you can operate in a way that you want versus acting out old repeated behaviors and thought processes.  Chances are, most of your subconscious actions are not ideal.  Before we talk about what we can do, it's important to note that over 90% of what we do in a day is a result of, or connected to, past thoughts and actions.  In some cases this is a good thing, but for most of us, these old patterns no longer serve us.

I believe there are diminishing returns for our actions.  When we first do something, there's an immediate impact or benefit so we do it again and again.  The more we do it, the greater the impact.  Then, at some point, the results start to level off and, eventually, you start to experience negative returns for the same actions.  Even "good" actions are subject to this which is why it's critical to always elevate our thoughts and actions.  One example of this diminishing return theory is when people hit plateaus in their fitness journey.  The same actions that brought them outstanding results no longer have the same effect. New actions must be introduced in order achieve the results you want.

This is precisely why we don't want our subconscious leading us throughout the day.  It specializes in turning past actions into habit patterns.  Meanwhile the quality of our lives slowly start to diminish.  Got it?

Ok, so know what do we do?  The First Rule in living consciously is:  BE AWARE THAT YOU ARE LIVING SUBCONSCIOUSLY.  Knowing that we're always defaulting to the path of least resistance is half the battle.  Because now, you are armed with the knowledge needed to transform.  Sometimes I catch myself in a trance like state while bouncing from one website to another without having any purpose.  Before, I could do this for hours on end.  Now, it doesn't take me long before I'm like "Nadege, you're being mindless right now, snap out of it!"

Sometimes those words are enough to make a difference, sometimes not.  Which brings me to rule #2 of living consciously:  CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR AUTOMATICALLY BRING US INTO A CONSCIOUS STATE.  Whenever I see my life entering into a lull, I know that I have to do something different to snap out of it.  Sometimes that means driving a new route to work, or instead of doing what I normally do when I get home, I do one thing different.  This suddenly brings me to a state where I'm conscious and present to what I'm doing.

Rule number 3 of living consciously is my favorite technique and I thing the most powerful.  One thing our subconscious mind is designed to do is conserve mental energy.  It enjoys turning on the cruise control settings.  The way to combat this default setting is to EMPLOY YOUR POWER OF CHOICE.  Let's say that every night after work you eat diner then settle in for a night of TV watching and web surfing.  One thing you can do is ask yourself "what else can I do when I get home?"  From there, you may come up with options such as stopping by the gym, research ideas for your business, write down your list of important things to do tomorrow, etc. The possibilities are endless.  The more options you come up with, the more possibilities you create for yourself.

The last rule of living consciously that I'll mention today is regarding your environment.  Whoever said that we are the product of our environment was on to something.  I once heard that Steve Jobs worked in an all white office because it sparked the most creativity.  When my office is cluttered, my creativity is stifled.  Nothing good comes from it.  But when my environment is clear, my mind feels free to create at new levels.  Our environment is the foundation for everything that happens in our lives.  Lookout for a full post on this topic in the future. In the mean time start practicing the art of living consciously by creating the ideal environment for yourself.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Normally, when New Years Eve rolls around, I'm probably lounging around in my house clothes, trying to stay awake until midnight.  Most times I don't make it but then I'm awaken by the fireworks in the neighborhood, I send out a few text messages, give hubby a kiss and go back to bed.  This year, I'd love to go out and celebrate the new year.

With only two weeks or so left, I'm mapping out a mini makeover strategy to have me looking my best by the time the new year rolls in.   Check it out.
My first priority will be on creating bright/glowy skin.  This is a multi-step process that involves heavy exfoliation. Clear skin is one thing, but fresh, exfoliated skin takes it to a whole 'nother level. I want my skin to have a slight reflective property like in the image above.   For this reason, I'm breaking out my Riiviva Microderm kit the next couple of weekends and will make sure to exfoliate daily using Dr. Dennis Gross' exfoliation pads or Fresh Sugar Face Scrub.

That will take care of the external appearance of my skin but to make the most impact, I've also got to do some internal work.  The plan is do drink plenty of water + lemon water.  I'm also popping a couple of fermented cod liver oil pills after each meal to lubricate from within.
glo teeth whitening system
I currently do nothing to whiten my teeth other than brushing with the obligatory whitening toothpaste. I want to change all that by pairing my toothpaste with baking soda or activated charcoal. If that doesn't work then my next choice would be to try out the glo teeth whitening system that everyone has been raving about.

Taking a bunch of extra steps each day has helped shed some of the unwanted weight that crept up on my over the last few months.  Now I want to focus on reintroducing resistance bearing exercises so I can quickly tone up.  While everyone is feasting on holiday meals and carb loaded snacks, I'll be dining on delicious salads and building muscle tone.  Last month I made a deal with myself that if I lost the extra pounds by the new year,  I could reward myself by straightening my hair using my Redken Professional Steam iron.  I've got two intense weeks left so now it's time to get really focused.
Ahi tuna lunch
Speaking to straightening my hair.  The whole thing is still up in the air because I will only use heat if my hair is in good condition.  Which means making sure to moisturize and seal daily while focusing heavily on the ends.  It also means no skimping on the extras like using the steamer on wash days and breaking out my Infrared Conditioning Iron.  I didn't using it the last two wash days and I can really tell the difference in my hair.  I may also try some last minute growth stimulating strategies like daily scalp massages and going back to my ultra green smoothies.

Two weeks may not seem like a long time but, believe me, a lot of ground can be covered in two weeks as long as I'm focused and consistent.  Truth be told, I love using an approaching deadline as motivation to see how much I can accomplish in a short period of time.  The two week timeline creates the right amount of urgency. Every day counts.

Let's get started!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I heard a successful business man once say that by the 15th of each month we should already have our goals ready for the following month. With a little two weeks left in the year, I thought now would be a great time look ahead into 2015 and create an intentions list for the year to come.   Next year, I'll be focusing on "who I become" versus obtaining physical items.  If I place full focus on becoming the person I want to be, everything else falls into place.

So far, here are the intentions I wish to experience in 2015 and beyond.  It's kinda like my online vision board.  Take a look.

My first priority for the new year is to place lots of effort on my physical presentation.  I've slacked mightily in this area but I got the wake up call of my life after having an impromptu conversation with a young lady who put everything in perspective.  The post I wrote on always looking your best was extremely well received which means that lots of you also want to invest in yourself. I believe that if we make this a priority for ourselves that our lives will CHANGE.  New people, experiences and opportunities will come our way that wouldn't otherwise.  Let's shift our mindset from seeing dressing well as a "nice to" and make it an absolute must!

I probably should dedicate an entire post to the power of creating an ideal environment.   But for the time being, I  want to declare that in 2015, I will constantly be working to elevate the environment of my home.  I desire a clean, clutter free space that fosters creativity in inspiration.  That is what I will be creating in 2015.

I have high hopes for my hair in 2015.  Microtrimming has been working out well for me and I imagine that I'll see the full benefits of it 6-9 months from now.  This year I'll also try other methods of length retention such as braid outs and satin scarf sets.  And of course, I'll plan to stay heavily focused on moisturizing and sealing. Lookout for an upcoming year in review post where I compile all the great lessons learned in healthy hair for 2014. 

Every once in a while, I'll assign a theme to the upcoming year.  This year will be "The Year of Abundance!"  I'm not just talking about financial abundance. I want 2015 to be the year where I abundantly experience everything I desire.  Abundance of laughter, experiences, creation, joy, giving, inspiration.....all of it!  I just want my life to overflow with abundance.   One way to ensure that happens is to constantly express gratitude for everything.  Everything.  When I remain in a place of gratitude, I receive even more.  To him who has, more will be given.  So I intend to remain in a constant state of being grateful for everything/everyone I have.

Being on an airplane 1-4 times a week has kinda ruined vacation travel for me.  Any my time off, I want to spend at home.  As a result, I haven't really done any "pleasure travel" in the past couple of years.  This year, I want to visit at least one new city (or country).  Better yet, I want to make exotic travel a part of my life.

Years ago, I invested countless hours playing with my makeup with the help of a few Youtube gurus.  The result? My makeup skills improved dramatically.  Heck, I even received a compliment once from an artist at the MAC counter when I walked in with makeup I applied earlier.  Then, just like any other skill, the lack of application diminished my talent.  So I plan to go back to learning and experimenting again. This time I plan to stay consistent.

Maple Dijon Salmon | Recipe here.
Next year, I will take my cooking skills to the next level.  Lookout for more recipe posts in the future as I put in lots of practice.

Next year being someone who is fearless will be my mantra.  This will provide the foundation for everything else to happen in my life.  You shall see more Fearless Friday posts in the future.

I can add more to this list but this will be all for now.  I encourage you to create your own intention list for the year ahead.  Give 2015 a theme and go from there.  Even if you don't manifest everything, at least you will attract much more into you life than you would if you weren't being intentional.  Oh, one last tip. Don't wait until the new year to start.  Do some or all of it now.  Taking a small action now shows how serious you are about receiving everything you desire.  Lastly, have fun and be grateful for all things.

Friday, December 12, 2014

2014 is headed to an end.  How did you do with your fitness goals this year?  Me? I didn't do as well as I wanted.  I have no one to blame but my self.  For the most part, my trips to the gym have diminished as time grew more and more scarce.  Last month I noticed that my jeans starting feeling snug as I tried to wiggle into the them.

Not wanting to wait until the new year to commit to being healthy again, I decided to take small, fairly easy actions to get back on track.  Whenever I'm a little over weight the last thing I want to do is run to the gym and start sweating.  Not to mention having to deal with sore muscles, etc.  I wanted to avoid all of that so I decided to take the path of least resistance.
@swmonroe | Fitness Inspo from my Pinterst Boards
I knew that if I did simple things, week after to week to positively impact my weight, I'd be motivated to increase my efforts until I was back in full swing. The plan was simple. With the help of my trusty Fitbit, I would set a goal for myself to reach 10,000 steps a day.  This came from a video I watched of fitness Guru "Yo Elliot" talking about the easiest, fastest fat loss method as a simple 1 hour walk.  On another occasion I was at dinner with a group of acquaintances when one of the attendees (who's lost over 90 lbs of body weight) advised us that for fat loss he recommended walking over running.  Running, he suggested, utilized more muscle than walking. So, in his words, walking would create a leaner body more easily than running.  I'm not sure if that's 100% true but hearing the same message by different people definitely convinced me to take action.
Pictured Above Fitbit One | Fitbit Flex + Iphone App
I didn't actually "go for walks," I simply increased my daily steps.  This meant that I was more active around the house instead of just sitting in front to the computer.  Whatever it took to get additional steps in, I would do it.  As an insurance policy, I implemented the method of rewarding myself for every time I reached my 10,000 step goal.  Soon, reaching that outcome became addictive.  Best of all, I didn't even have to break a sweat doing it.  As predicted, my tiny actions soon lead to greater actions kinda like the domino theory we discussed in this post.  It started with lots of steps, then I picked up my jump rope for the first time in months and began using my at home exercise equipment. As my energy rose, I craved healthier foods.  It didn't take long for my clothes to start fitting like normal again.
I'm not exactly where I wanted to be but I'm very happy with the progress considering that I didn't make it a huge deal.  I didn't run to the gym and kill myself on equipment, I made it a simple process. Using this method, I've been able to maintain consistency much more easily than previously. It won't be long until I'm back to my old fitness levels  once again.

  For those of you who have fitness/weight loss goals on your 2015 intention list. I urge you to start now.  Just increase the amount of steps you take a day. Fit in steps where ever you can. Park farther, walk while you're on the phone, put your favorite song on and dance. Whatever it takes. My Fitbit has been invaluable in this process so I recommend that you have a definite way of measuring your progress if you are serious about getting healthier.
As of this morning, I've already logged in over 6,500 steps and, once I reach 10,000, I plan on rewarding myself by lighting this amazing peach scented candle.

Can't wait.

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