What's with the name?

What's with the name? In my mid-twenties, I had essentially gone through one kind of life and am starting to enter another. The people that are probably going to read this blog know exactly what I'm talking about - but for those who don't know, here's a brief rundown . Cheers to Chapter 2! A journey in health in many ways, and to be the best version of myself I can possibly be. I am also a blogger for GreenMommas.com. This is my blog.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

1 week in - not looking back

As I return from my very warm beach vacation at the Cape, I feel I should probably write an update on how ditching the chemical products [experiment] is going. In a word - perfect.

You see, seven days in not using any commercial hair or skin products, I'm in love. I love my hair and my skin in more ways than I ever did before. I do have admit that I did use a good, all natural, organic shampoo and conditioner on day 3 to help my hair transition but then realized that it only needed a bit more of the vinegar rinse so it wasn't so dry. Once I had 'washed' and 'conditioned' my hair with baking soda, vinegar, essential oils and water for a few days, my hair promptly revealed years of heat damage [and probably shampoo stripping damage] that had been done to it over many, many years. This wasn't a problem - I used some coconut oil which helped the dry parts as the natural oils continued to travel down the length of my hair. As it turns out it didn't really need the avocado conditioner, so here I am on day 4 without using that and my hair feels great. Really thick, healthy [not at all greasy or smelly like some of you are probably thinking] and pretty stubborn to heat styling! I would consider this a pretty complete success at just a week in and would encourage any one to try it - what have you got to lose, really, except the chemicals that your skin absorbs. Oh, and by the way saw this news story while on vacation that babies are testing positive for pot because of the things used in baby shampoos like Aveeno and Johnson & Johnson. Food for thought for sure. Your skin really does absorb what you put on it! I have a really nice bottle of Vermont Soapworks baby shampoo to use on my little one while I find a good combo to make on my own. But the stuff has five ingredients, all natural oils!

The skin products continue to be unbelievable. My face feels better than it ever has, both clean and moisturized. I've pretty much figured out that coconut oil is good for moisturizing anything. Legs, under eyes, elbows, hair, the stuff is impressive. Although when it got to like 85 degrees at the Cape house, the solid oil turned in to a liquid. It was neat. I'm honestly trying to figure out a way to premix the honey/baking soda face wash. If I can, you may seem me selling it at the farmers' markets around next year.

So, what's next? We're working on formulating our own dish soap, laundry soap and hand soap. Hopefully a body wash. I'm going to also try and create my own essential oil perfumes. Stay tuned, more fun to come! Oh, and here's a few pics on day 2 and 6 of my hair! By day 6 I thought it really look pretty, thick and the ends looked better. Hard to tell probably just by the pics but I can definitely feel the difference.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 1 : Amazed

It's day one of my new beauty routine and I have to say, I've impressed myself. I love beauty products but today I'm finding that they just weren't that great after all and I should have been expecting more.

But, lets start with the reason I decided to quit my old beauty products cold turkey. Below are some example labels of my home products that I was using every day. From top to bottom : deodorant, face wash and shampoo.

Reading these labels was my 'WTF' moment. Don't be fooled by the little green leaf. Even my 'natural' kitchen cleaner formula with vinegar only had the formula number as an ingredient. So I looked it up and guess what? No vinegar. Lying idiots. I suddenly felt I had just accepted what was out there for me to take without even looking at what it actually was. I cannot even pronounce these ingredients. Hundreds of chemicals, on me, everyday. I was pretty scared until I really realized I had the power to change this, like, now.

So I got online, I researched (btw if you're looking for a place to start Crunchybetty.com is where I've gotten a lot of these recipes). It was overwhelming. There are a lot really good, natural options. I decided to start as simple as I could with as little ingredients as possible. I figured mastering the morning routine was the most effective way to eliminate the daily chemical assault.

Here was my morning 'get ready' routine today :
Shampoo : 1 tb baking soda mixed with 1 cup water & a few drops fresh lemon juice
Conditioner: 1 tb organic apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 cup water and a few drops rosemary/lavender essential oils
Estimated cost for one batch (will probably last 3-4 washes): < 30 cents (WIN!!!)

I did my research on this no shampoo method, which is supposed to restore the natural oils back in your hair because commercial shampoos strip them entirely (which is why I was probably needing to deep condition often). The baking soda 'shampoo' I applied mainly to the roots of my hair and really worked it in to my scalp for about 5 min. I then rinsed it. Next, the ACV 'conditioner' was applied to the ends of my hair. I finger-combed it through and let it hang out for a few minutes then rinsed my hair VERY well. This seemed important from what I read so as to not have baking soda hanging out on your scalp for awhile.

Body wash: Dr. Bronners peppermint castile soap - 100% natural oils
Cost for one bar: 2.99 (available at City Market) (DOUBLE WIN!!!)

Face wash: (this was my favorite thing)
1/2 tb honey (I had local VT honey) + just a sprinkle of baking soda
I also put a bit of extra virgin olive oil on a cotton round to remove eye make-up
Estimated cost for a 2-3 month supply ($4.50) - but still about 1/2 price as my usual face wash

Method for this was really easy as well. I just scooped out a dab of honey and sprinkled a bit of baking soda over it. Mixed together with my hands and rubbed around on my face (just like you would when exfoliating) and rinse - really, that's it.

Lemon juice - just put a little in your hand and rub it around under there.

A few drops apple cider vinegar on a moist cotton round - swipe across face

A dab of coconut oil ($6 for 7oz - it will seriously last me a year - a little of this goes a long way)
I used some on my elbows, legs and patted some under and around my eyes

Day 1 results

My face feels spectacular. It was a pretty immediate difference. The olive oil takes off waterproof mascara and eyeliner exceptionally well. I was using witch hazel before but this definitely leaves my under eye area and lids much more moisturized. Wow wow wow - the honey wash is an amazing discovery. It exfoliates and moisturizes at the same time. So much so that I didn't have to put any moisturizer on it at all. Normally throughout the day I would blot my face with a paper towel to remove excess oil - I did not have to do this today, even with my make-up on.

My hair is a little less stellar but still feels great. I've heard there is a bit of a transition period with this washing method where you're hair gets oily when your scalp is trying to adjust itself. My hair was, as expected, a little less clean near my roots and drier at the ends. But, it does style much easier and has significantly less little fly-aways. It smells really clean. On the drier parts I put a tiny bit of coconut oil on it before blow drying. Overall it feels clean, thicker, more manageable and healthier. The color seems a little more vibrant today, I might add. I really hope there is not much of a transition period where my hair gets gross - thinking about picking up a good organic/natural shampoo or conditioner that I may use once a week. My hair is my 'thing' so it looking unkempt and yucky is not really an option for me. But today it looks really nice.

I can pretty comfortably ditch all my lotions, deodorant and face wash right now. The coconut smells and feels great on my skin. Although the lemon stung a bit, it's doing the job for me. I actually tried it yesterday - did a spin class - and still smelt ok throughout the rest of the day.

I find myself asking "is it really this simple? Have we really been tricked in to buying products that aren't good for us?" It's looking like the homemade laundry/dish/hand soaps are pretty easy and very inexpensive to make as well. I'll keep updating, but day one was a smashing success!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Journey to Health

A journey, yes. I'm in my late twenties now and have never really found true health. Perhaps that's because I've never defined it entirely. Actually, I've been redefining it quite a bit lately.

You see, there was a time in my life where I though I considered myself 'healthy'. In my freshman year of high school, through borderline starvation and overexercising lost around 80 pounds and become a healthy weight. At 5'4" I was down to about 130 pounds. I stayed that way for about a year and then it slowly crept back on, sometimes off but mostly on in the last 10 years until I was a few pounds heavier than when before I had lost the weight. So, was I really healthy then? From all the information about nutrition and natural living I know now (and am constantly accruing) I would say no. My daily diet would consist of exactly this : a 'diet' breakfast shake with skim milk, for lunch a Lenders bagel with jam and maybe some carrots, for dinner - always a microwavable Lean Cuisine. This was not nutrition. It was empty energy, full of preservatives (have you ever seen a Lenders bagel mold?!?) and although I lost the weight, my body rejected these methods and I ultimately gained all the weight back.

In the last years after many MANY unsuccessful attempts at 'health', I was determined to do something different, make it work and last for my lifetime. I was ready for change and a new way of thinking. I became receptive to information. Thanks to the my access to knowledgeable health coaches I have learned invaluable information on what health actually is. And more importantly to heavily question my current way of living, which leads me to this post and perhaps the rebirth of my blog. Maybe 'Chapter 2.1' ha!

I'll have to start somewhere as there is much information to share - so let's begin with the fundamentals : nutrition and exercise. There will be a post later (very likely many posts) about my attempts to live a chemical-free life. We'll get to that.

My education in nutrition really started a few years ago, right in my workplace (and now you probably think I'm a bit nuts). Awarded one of the first rounds of training scholarships - yea, we have those - my trainer taught me a ton of knowledge about what I should be eating and drinking. Also that what was accepted in society was generally not all that good for me. Like low-fat or non-fat dairy which contains coloring additives that are known cause cancer. Dangerous preservatives and artificial additives, fragrances that you find everyday in food products. I think my real health journey started there, two years ago when I began questioning the way I was used to doing things. A great start - eating local veggies and meats if possible. I have been avoiding the center aisles of the grocery store for quite some time now because if a 'food' can hang out on a shelf for years and not spoil, it's really probably not all that safe to eat. Shopping at local farmer's markets and getting real (raw - unpasteurized) milk delivered to me fresh every week was excellent. Local meats have been sort of a challenge just because the are literally 2 to 3 times the price as grocery store meat. Local veggies have been a snap, with a full year of CSA (community supported agriculture) memberships from a good family friend MR Harvest in Grand Isle. They are at the Essex farmer's market if anyone wants to see the excellent produce they have.

This summer we (Noah & I) really took 'local' to a whole new level - from ground to plate in the same day. Investing a mere $50 in a 625 sq. ft. community garden plot and probably less than $100 in supplies (seeds, tools, etc.) we're now growing our own food - quite successfully I might add. The benefits of this have not only been nutrition, but a bonus amount of physical activity cultivating, weeding and planting. We have so much in that (not-so) small space : corn, peas, beans, broccoli, chard, kale, spinach, cukes, lettuce mix, squash, romaine, arugula, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, melons, basil...probably something I am forgetting here. But a lot - enough to sustain us for hopefully the summer, fall and winter. It has really been a joy and I am so thankful to have a partner in life that is not only on board with this, but really enjoys it as well.

Well that sums up nutrition as quickly as I could. I've lost nearly 30lbs in the last 3.5 months. So yes, I do pay close attention to what I eat. Portion sizes, calories, but more importantly the quality of my food. I am lucky enough to have a cafe at work that cooks (I think) 70% organic food - as local and as whole as possible. Now, here's the funny part. I am losing weight faster by eating nearly twice as many calories and exercising a bit less than I was when I lost all that weight in high school, and I'm more than 10 years older. I am sleeping more, I am happier. But a typical meal today would look like this : two hard boiled eggs & smoothie for breakfast, salmon, brown rice & asparagus for lunch and perhaps a pork chop and kale for dinner. Of course, I have to have my large glass of raw milk before bed. It's great nutrition and delicious. I eat when I'm hungry. This is so different than I was taught or thought how to lose weight - full fat foods (yup I use butter and olive oil all the time), splurging a little (maybe a few glasses of wine) now and then but making sure you are receiving very high-quality nutrition. Local is best, I can't stress that enough. Depending on how much I exercise I will eat 1300 - 1500 calories a day. I also exercise quite a bit, but a manageable amount. I actually really enjoy it - spin classes, walking, weights, Zumba, more spin, gardening. 4-5 hours minimum exercise which is especially important since I sit at a desk most of the day.

I have a way to go (in terms of cutting the chemicals out and losing more weight) but feel empowered and armed with all the right information. I'm writing this post not because I like to brag about my success - I'm a Leo so I kinda do - but because I wish I would've known all of this much, much earlier. Although I am still young, this process - this journey - will still be long, it will be hard, but in the end it will be entirely worth it.

So arm yourselves with information - question labels on everything you eat, drink or put on yourself. I had to start somewhere to get where I want to go. I'm getting somewhere. Many more posts to follow....