Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ulta Beauty Haul

Hey everyone!! This is my first official "haul"! I've seen SO many beauty bloggers and vloggers out there with their hauls and have always wanted to do one myself!

Today is the third day on the anti-inflammatory/elimination diet, as prescribed by my ND. Matthew and I are doing the diet together, which makes it SO much easier than if I were doing it on my own. I noticed, though, that in the evenings, I am so used to mindlessly snacking that I've become accustomed to it. Last night and today I've had pretty intense sugar cravings - gummy bears, chocolate, ice cream - and most of the time, the desire for these foods has been more to fill a void - a void of boredom, a way to soothe anxiety, or a way to avoid whatever it is I need to do (like the pile of laundry and dishes, the kitty litter box...)

So, instead of the usual sugar/carb/baked good gorging session, I decided I needed some self-pampering. With some extra Christmas money I received as a gift, I stopped by Ulta and picked up a few goodies while Matt shopped at Powells:

I've been dying for a really good quality black liquid liner recently, and with the extra money I had from Christmas, I was finally able to splurge and get one worth keeping. Sometimes brands like NYX or Wet n Wild just don't cut it in the eyeliner department. I've been addicted to MAC's fluidline, but need to switch it up every now and again. I've heard great things about Urban Decay's liquid liner. This is the color "Perversion."

I absolutely love cream blushes. You know those flawless looking girls who work at MAC and Nordstrom counters? No reason to be jealous of their skills - just try a little cream blush blended on top your foundation, along the cheekbones. Top it off with a powder foundation or a lightweight powder for lighter coverage and you're all set. These are in the colors "Coral Reef" (left) and "Flushed" (right). Flushed actually looks intensely purple with flash, but is actually a very vibrant pink-magenta color.

Okay, magazines and beauty blogs everywhere lately have been raving about BB (beauty balm) creams. These were first popular in Asia, and have now been successful in the West as well. I've been looking for a lightweight, build-able coverage foundation. Tarte's "Smooth Operator" is a paraben-free, vegan, cruelty-free beauty balm or BB cream. This is especially useful for women who don't need or want a lot of coverage but want a silky, smooth feeling to their skin. It also contains vitamins a, c, and e to help nourish the skin. It goes on smooths and sets to a natural, satin-y finish.

I love the little bunny on their packaging!

I have never heard of nor have I ever tried AG brand hair care, but these huge pro-size bottles were on sale, and the "Thikk" shampoo smelled absolutely heavenly, so I splurged. I have a really sensitive scalp and I am always looking for good quality shampoos that don't weigh down my hair and aren't hard on my scalp. I think people tend to forget that your scalp needs moisture, even if your hair is oily - like the skin, too much oil does not mean you should forego moisturizers. Too much oil is usually a symptom of your scalp being stripped of all it's moisture. So give it some love already!
 Lastly, I "indulged" in the Ulta brand Beauty Smoothie. It's an all-in-one bubble bath. This stuff literally smells like you are bathing in a chocolate cupcake. If that doesn't sound relaxing (and delicious)... I don't know what does!
 I am by no means saying that this bubble bath takes the place of a chocolate cupcake - but, when you're trying to cut back and give your body a break, your waist will thank you for it.

And some Powell's postcards, because they were free.

What do you guys do for self-care? Do you often find yourselves mindlessly eating or grazing when you're not really hungry? Share your tips and tricks to feel better without food in the comments.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Elimination Diet

Wow, it's been a while since I've written anything. It's been a while since I've done anything that I used to do, actually. Getting married, moving, and starting new jobs really takes up about 90% of your life.

Now that my husband and I have settled into our new home, we have finally had more time to focus on our health. Over the last 2 years, he and I have gained back all the weight we lost, and more. Just to give some background, when Matthew and I met, we had each individually lost 60+ pounds from our highest weights. Over the last 2 1/2 years together, we have both gained back a considerable amount and are feeling unhappy, lethargic, self-conscious, and are looking for a change.

For those of you who don't know, people who struggle with obesity or overeating early on in life are ten times more likely to gain their weight back at some point in their life; this is why gaining back lost weight is so easy. Your fat cells are already "stretched out" and ready to be filled up again - and quickly. Imagine a rubber band that is losing it's elasticity - your fat cells are essentially a stretched out rubber band, and getting that rubber band to bounce back to it's "normal" state is nearly impossible. Basically, the rubber band never truly stretches back to it's original state - once weight is lost, it takes diligent work to keep the weight off (watching ones dietary habits, or increasing exercise). And those who have yo-yo'd with their weight throughout life know exactly what I'm talking about when I say how easy it is to gain weight back - just like that.

Upon finding out I have incredible health insurance from my employer, I quickly booked an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. ($15 copay, anyone!? And 100% covered!) Naturopaths are amazing because they are fully trained in the medical field, nutrition, and most are certified acupuncturists, too. A conventional medical doctor is not trained in the field of nutrition because they have to spend a majority of their schooling studying the names of prescriptions and learning how to work deals with insurance companies. (Hopefully that will change with Obamacare.)

Anyway, I ended up finding this amazing naturopathic doctor named Melissa. The first appointment was almost two hours and included an extensive intake of all family history, current symptoms, and basic health checks like blood pressure, weight, heart rate, etc. It's basically an interview and a chance for you to talk about ALL of your ailments, not just one or two, which you normally have to book separate appointments for at a medical doctor. [Tangent]: NDs also take into account your mental health. Finally, an institution that recognizes and realizes that the brain is not a separate entity from the body. Mental health and physical health are directly affected by one another. On a recent episode of The Office, Dwight finds an anti-anxiety pill on the floor of the office, and demands an explanation from his coworkers. He says, "This isn't a disease of the body... it's a disease of the MIND!" to which Nelly replies, "The mind is part of the body..." I think sometimes in America especially, where we are driven to do more and "handle it all with ease" we tend to shrug off emotional and mental issues as "something is wrong with me/her/him/you." That's simply not the case - if your leg hurts, is something wrong with you, innately? No. If your heart or mind hurts, you should treat them the same way you'd treat any ailment. [End tangent.]

Long story short (and I'm getting to the point here, I swear) I asked my doctor for some guidance on what to eat. She gave me a TON of information! It was all incredibly helpful. She asked me to embark on a month-long elimination diet because she noticed that many of my ailments were symptoms of chronic inflammation. Thus, the elimination or "anti-inflammatory diet" begins.

Matt is doing a vlog on YouTube about his experiences with the diet and how he feels; I'm a little camera shy, so while he does that, I'll be posting weekly updates about our progress. We also weighed in and will be taking some before shots so we can compare our results after one month. Here is a link to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. This picture is grainy, but you'll get the idea, if you want to give it a shot. Might I add - the month long anti-inflammatory diet average weight loss is 10-15 pounds. Although the point is to become healthier and lower inflammation (which, by the way, is directly connected to cancer) no one is going to complain if they lose a few pounds in the process.

Matt and I will be back to report our progress. And, with his permission, I will share the link to his vlog in case any of you want to check that out as well. Talk to you soon!!


Friday, January 20, 2012


Matthew always says I make the most incredible smoothies. I don't really have a secret - I just throw a bunch of stuff in a blender. But it does always somehow turn out to be insanely good! ;)

Matt and I were both really into a vegan/raw food lifestyle. I have been vegetarian at various times in my life, but never truly stuck with living a completely vegetarian lifestyle, although after being vegetarian and reverting back to some meat consumption, I've realized how drastically my consumption of animals products has dropped as a whole. With that said, I try to implement some of the ingredients from my raw vegan phase into these smoothies.

Here is one that's pretty simple and easy to make. I added greek yogurt, but to make it vegan, you can omit this part and add additional frozen fruit or use an almond/coconut/soy yogurt to make it vegan. Just make sure to get plain yogurt - commercial yogurts have a ton of unnecessary refined sugar.

Breakfast Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Sodium
Giant Brand - Mixed Frozen Berries, 3/4 - 1 Cup 49 0 1 12 8 0
Bob's Red Mill - Whole Ground Flax Seed Meal, 3 tbsp 90 7 5 6 0 0
Dole - Pitted Dates, 6 dates 138 0 0 38 31 0
Blue Diamond - Unsweetened Almond Milk, 1/2 - 1 Cup         30 2 1 1 0 90
Fat Free Greek Yogurt Total 0% (1 cup) 65 0 12 5 5 43
Bananas - Raw, 1/2 medium  53 0 1 13 7 1  

Here is the nutritional breakdown:
425 calories
9 gram fat
74 grams carbohydrates
18 grams protein
15 grams fiber

I like drizzling the top with agave nectar and sliced almonds. I actually lost weight when I ate raw, because of how much water is in raw fruits and vegetables and how little sodium are in natural, whole foods.

Have any of you tried or had success on a raw vegan diet or just a vegan diet? If so, how was your experience?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I was successful...! creating a 1200 calorie menu that is gluten free, dairy free, cane sugar free, and soy free. It even meets the requirements for a diet that is 45% calories from carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 25% fat. This would be considered a low-fat, moderate carb lifestyle, which personally, I manage with best. I used to be deathly afraid of carbs because there is so much bad press out there about them, but carbs are an essential part of our bodies needs. Carbs provide both instant and sustained energy, as well as the vitamins and minerals our brains need to function properly, as long as they are whole grain (brown carbs, basically).

Here is the menu:

Breakfast Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Sodium
Generic - Oats Steel Cut, 1/2 cup DRY 150 3 5 27 1 0 Ico_delete
Trader Joe's - Slivered Almonds, 1/8 cup (30 g) 85 8 4 3 1 0 Ico_delete
Bananas - Raw, 0.5 medium (7" to 7-7/8" long) 53 0 1 13 7 1 Ico_delete
Blue Diamond - Unsweetened Almond Milk, 0.25 cup or 8 oz (240mL) 15 1 0 1 0 45 Ico_delete
303 12 10 44 9 46

Cucumber - With peel, raw, 0.5 cup slices 8 0 0 2 1 1 Ico_delete
Peppers - Sweet, red, raw, 1 medium (approx 2-3/4" long, 2-1/2" dia) 31 0 1 7 5 2 Ico_delete
Peas - Fresh Sugar Snap, 0.5 C, chopped, 98g 21 0 1 4 0 2 Ico_delete
Heaven Mills - Gluten Free Pita Bread, 0.5 Pita 156 5 3 23 5 126 Ico_delete
Hummus - Home prepared, 0.3 cup 131 6 4 15 0 179 Ico_delete
Boar's Head - 47% Less Sodium Turkey, 4 oz 120 1 24 0 0 680 Ico_delete
467 12 33 51 11 990

Asparagus - Fresh Cooked, 12 spears 64 2 10 5 2 10 Ico_delete
Fish - Salmon, Atlantic, wild, cooked, dry heat, 4.8 oz 248 11 35 0 0 76 Ico_delete
Quinoa - Quinoa Cooked, 1/2 cup cooked 111 2 4 20 0 7 Ico_delete
423 15 49 25 2 93

Totals 1,193 39 92 120 22 1,129
Your Daily Goal 1,200 33 90 135 39 1,200
Remaining 7 -6 -2 15 17 71

Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Sodium

In my opinion, this is a very low calorie menu. Most adults between 135 and 200 pounds need approximately 1400 - 2500 calories per day just to maintain their current weight. I created this menu for people who are looking to lose weight. You don't have to be gluten free or anything-free to enjoy this menu. It is suitable for vegetarians (who eat fish - pescetarians technically) or it can be modified to replace the salmon or seafood with tofu or seitan for adequate protein.

As much as I really enjoy being vegetarian, I find with most of the food restrictions, it's just becomes too difficult. If I could easily tolerate tofu (which I can't, and I LOVE tofu) I would definitely have stayed vegetarian. I believe that everyone can be in tune with their bodies nutritional needs; we all know which foods make us tired and groggy, and which foods give us energy and vitality.

Personally, I have been completely ignorant about my food intake since Halloween. Earlier last year, during August, I was steadily losing weight by eating mostly raw foods, but experienced major financial stress in September when I ironically began gaining weight again. After weighing in at my highest weight in 4 years, I experienced a downward spiral into self pity and subsequently, stress eating to relieve my so-called failure. Gaining weight really isn't a failure; after all, it happens over time. No one gains 50 pounds in 2 months - I did it slowly over the last year and a half.

With that said, when I "fall off the wagon" like I have done in recent months, I lose myself. My heart is grounded in Nutrition and exercise, but I choose to ignore that due to laziness or ignorance, or whatever other emotion I am using to prevent myself from moving forward at any given time. The point is, health is hard. It's work, just like almost everything else in our lives; our relationships with our families, friends, coworkers, our jobs; our health is work, and it takes control and effort to make your health a priority.