Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Naturopathic Medicine & Dietary Changes

I've been working with a Naturopathic Doctor since December because I was feeling very overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, and unhappy. In addition to overall exhaustion and sadness, I was gaining weight, breaking out, and had terrible anxiety. I didn't want to leave the house or have guests over because of how I felt. My symptoms and my lifestyle were all playing into this ongoing defeat.

Although the symptoms aren't entirely gone or "cured" yet (I don't think they ever will be; depression or anxiety take time to work through and both are a lifelong battle) working with my doctor has been an incredibly insightful experience. She has worked extensively with me using acupuncture, homeopathic drainage (Unda therapy), natural supplements, and basic self-care routines to restore some of the natural health and vitality that has dissipated over the years due to stress, environment, and overall health.

So what does this treatment plan entail? Well - let me start by saying that being an ND would be no easy feat. When I first came to Melissa I was just excited to try acupuncture - I had always heard of it and wanted to try it. I figured she would do a couple treatments, and the  Then I found out that naturopathic care is far more than just acupuncture - it's an entire overhaul of everything you're doing, from your thoughts and activities to your diet and lifestyle. Medical doctors are not trained in nutrition, but many Naturopathic schools train their doctors and acupuncturists in both diet and illness treatment.

Back to my point - the Treatment Plan. ND's take into account your entire wellness, including your mind and mental health (which medical doctors either ignore or treat much more compartmentally instead of holistically.) First, my doctor had my basic blood work done. It came back showing that inflammation in my body was double what the HIGH range should be! A high level of inflammation is a 3 and I am a 6. Even though everything else was running normally - normal cholesterol, blood pressure, etc - my inflammation was through the roof. Along with low vitamin D because I live in the Northwest and there's only three months of actual sunshine here.

With the high levels of inflammation and being overweight, my doctor stressed the importance of self-care in combination with an anti-inflammatory diet. I went strong on the AI diet for about 12 days, lost a few pounds, and when I faced another considerably stressful event related to finances, I totally went off the deep end. I couldn't focus on caring about what I ate or what I felt because I was so wrapped up in how hard things were.

I kept going to see my doctor, every Saturday, for one hour - for acupuncture and treatments as needed. Even on days I really didn't feel like getting up and getting out, I still forced myself to go and forced myself to be honest with her; "No, I didn't follow the diet this week. Yes, my stomach has been hurting again. No... I didn't do my self-care routine. My back has been killing me again." I was continually inspired by her ability to encourage me in a non-judgmental way; we all know how judgmental or harsh MDs can be. (Not ruling out MDs - just saying, some of them can be thoughtless and harsh.)

Spirituality, naturopathy, and holistic health in general is a topic that seems to freak some people out. They think that "hippie stuff" like "natural treatments" and "homeopathic remedies" are just hogwash that should be thrown out along with 18th century witchcraft. Many people are quick to assume "The FDA knows best, the government wouldn't feed us anything that isn't good for us, and corn syrup is fine in moderation." I've even heard people go as far as to say that gluten-free diets are just a fad diet. When you look at the general dismay our country is in - in terms of mental health, physical health, obesity, depression - it's important to take a closer look at underlying causes, instead of covering up our symptoms with continued prescription drugs.

After a few visits with Melissa, I decided it was just time to get back to basics. Back to everything basic - taking care of myself. Doing laundry. Hanging up my clothes. Feeling prepared for each day. Detoxing negative energy at the end of each day by spending time by myself doing things I love - like writing, reading, or watching YouTube. Back to basic, wholesome, homemade foods. Back to what I know in my heart is best for me. But for those of you who, like myself, experienced harsh criticism at a young age for attempting to do something you wanted to do, you know all too well the fear that's associated with trying something new or advocating for your own needs. There's a sense of discomfort - that you don't fit in - if you don't eat gluten, if you don't eat meat, if you don't eat certain foods, if you don't like sugary desserts. People become defensive about their own choices when they see you making better ones.

I wanted to share this inspiration I felt because I think it's important to remember that we are all human, we all make mistakes - maybe you have been the food pusher, the one telling someone to get off a diet and eat cake with them, the one saying "I would die without 'X type of food' in my life!" When people say negative things about your choices, or poke fun at your decisions or lifestyle choices, that's their own insecurity. Because if they don't recruit more people like them who are on their level, they will be the outcast instead of you (in their mind).

These are just some of my thoughts regarding lifestyle and diet choices. It's no one else's problem what you eat - is it affecting them directly? No. Will it hurt their feelings if you don't eat their special dessert (they made it JUST for you) or if you don't want to participate in traditional holiday meals? Maybe. But is that really your problem or your fault? Not at all, in any way. You can simply say "Eating this way makes me happy" or "I really appreciate you making this for me, but I'm having a hard time with sugar - would you mind if I took some to work and shared it with my coworkers?" or honestly, what works best sometimes is simply saying "I'm allergic." Who can argue with that?

Anyway, to wrap this up - I am embarking again on a purely, 100 % gluten free, dairy free and soy free diet. I will admit - it's very challenging, but the payoff is extremely rewarding. In just 4 days my skin has calmed down - just last week I had the same acne on my face that I'd had for weeks that simply wouldn't heal. And 4 days into cooking my own foods and eating delicious, health replacements, my skin and digestion have drastically improved.

Here are some delicious replacements for your typical American diet:

Unhealthy Choice                                                    Healthier Substitute
Cheeseburger, fries, coke
Hamburger patty, side salad, and handful of fries
Cheese smothered omelet
2 fried or boiled eggs, avocado slices, and fresh fruit
Cinnamon roll
Steel cut oats with almond milk, cinnamon, agave, and blueberries or fresh fruit of your choice or try it with nut butter and a banana for a creamy variety
Deep dish pizza
Gluten free or whole grain pizza crusts, store bought pizza sauce, cheese substitute, tomato slices, mushrooms
Regular soda or diet soda
Carbonated water with lemon, cucumber, and orange slices or herbal tea poured over ice with lemon
Regular dairy milk
Coconut milk is the creamiest replacement. It also contains more nutrients and minerals than dairy milk - specifically iron, which can help those who are anemic or low in iron levels, and phosphorus, which strengthens bones.
Potato or tortilla chips
Raw unsalted nuts (1-2 ounces) or homemade kale chips; nuts provide fiber and minerals such as selenium (a mineral that protects cells from damage) and kale has an abundance of vitamin A - amazing for skin, hair, nails, and Vitamin K, which helps your blot clot normally and can prevent your bones from fracturing prematurely.

Theses are just some of MANY ideas for substitutions. Sorry for the long article, but I feel it's important to explore these issues and tell others that I, too, have felt miserable from the inside out - and that you (and I) can, and will feel better when we make mindful choices for our bodies and minds.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Healthy Lunch & Dinner Recipes

If you are looking for the perfect balanced meals to power you through your day, look no further! Well, I do want you to read the rest of the post, but... you get the idea.

These recipes were inspired by Annie Jaffrey, who is my favorite health & lifestyle blogger. She recently posted about how she decided to go entirely gluten and dairy free, which is very challenging to maintain in our fast-food available everywhere society. She re-inspired me to cut those foods out of my diet. What I love most about Annie's blog is that she never focuses on what she can't eat - she always focuses on what she can eat, and she makes delicious, wholesome meals.

One thing I want to remind anyone who may have stumbled upon this post is that weight loss and being healthy are less about knowledge and more about action. It doesn't matter how much you think you know about being healthy - everyone knows how good they feel when they eat more wholesome, delicious, homemade meals. 

Chicken Breast, Quinoa, and Avocado/Tomato Recipe
  • 1 chicken breast, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • Olive oil
  • Chicken or vegetable broth
  • Various seasonings (garlic, onion, pepper, salt)
Start by preparing your quinoa, which takes the longest. 
  1. Place one cup uncooked quinoa in a medium saucepan; add a splash of olive oil to the dry quinoa.
  2. Turn burner on medium heat and toast quinoa for 1-2 minutes with olive oil.
  3. Turn burner to high and add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock. (If you are vegetarian, this is a really awesome broth you can use to give the quinoa nice flavor.)
  4. Bring quinoa broth mixture to a boil.
  5. Turn heat to lowest setting, cover, and allow quinoa to simmer for 15 minutes. (Make sure to set your timer! Even though the low setting seems very low, I promise it will cook. Unless your burner is broken... I can't help you there!)
While quinoa is cooking, start your chicken. Here's what you'll need:
  1. Cut one chicken breast in half length-wise. I do this by holding the top of the chicken breast down with my hand, and using a sharp knife to slice back and forth to get an even split.
  2. With clean hands, season your chicken breast with the following. Season both sides of the chicken by lightly coating both sides with the following spices. There is no measurement needed - just be weary of over-using salted spice mixtures:
    • Garlic-pepper seasoning
    • Onion salt
    • Mrs. Dash 
    • Black pepper (I like fresh ground best)
  3. Using a medium-size non-stick pan, turn your burner to medium-high. 
  4. Add one tablespoon of olive oil.
  5. Once pan is hot and oil is either smoking (or about to smoke), add both chicken breasts to your pan. Make sure your pan is big enough to give some space between the breasts but still allow for consistent heat.
  6. Turn heat down slightly, about medium high. Since the breasts are sliced fairly thin, the chicken will cook quickly. 
  7. Cook each chicken breast for about 2-3 minutes per side. They really don't need much time, since they are so thin. When you first place them down, down move them for at least 2 minutes to get a nice sear on the outside.
  8. Once the breasts have browned on both sides, leave the chicken in the pan and remove the pan from heat (I normally move mine to another burner that is off.) 
By now, your quinoa should almost be done cooking. Check by removing the lid and fluffing with a fork - if you see any broth left on the bottom of the saucepan, the water or broth has not entirely evaporated and you should cover the pan and give it about 3-5 additional minutes, depending on how long it's been simmering.

While your chicken breasts rest, take this time to prepare your veggies - use any variation of vegetables you like. For this meal, I prefer a sliced avocado and some fresh cherry or roma tomatoes for a nice crunch and "pop". You can add fresh chopped peppers, celery, or any other vegetables.

Healthy dinner: Seasoned chicken breast, half an avocado, one cup cooked quinoa, half-cup sliced cherry/grape tomatoes

Nutritional Breakdown:
Calories: 475
Fat: 16
Protein: 46
Carbs: 38  
Fiber: 8
Sugar: 14

As pictured above, layer one cup quinoa along the bottom of your plate; slice chicken breasts and place on top of quinoa. Add veggies according to your preference.

Baked Cod with Sauteed-Garlic Kale, Mushrooms, and Baked Sweet Potato
  • 8 ounces fresh cod
  • Seafood seasoning of your choice (I love this one from Pike Place Market)
  • 1 medium sweet potato or yam
  • 1 large bunch curly kale (there are so many different ones; curly is my favorite)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • Red Wine Vinegar (you absolutely need this!)
  • Minced garlic (I like the minced garlic in jars. Keeps longer than fresh garlic and it's less messy.)
  • Olive oil
  • Various seasonings (garlic, onion, pepper, salt)
Start with your cod!
  1. Preheat your oven to 375. 
  2. Find a baking sheet or glass pan, and tear a piece of foil big enough for your 8 ounce cod filet. Place cod on foil and place into baking sheet/pan.
  3. Apply a bit of olive oil to cod; season with Northwest Seasoning or combine your favorite seafood seasonings.
  4. Once oven is preheated, place cod on middle oven rack and bake for 9 - 12 minutes. 
  5. When your cod is cooked through, it should be opaque but not pure white. If it's pure white, it's overcooked and will be very chewy. Make sure not to overcook your fish as overcooked food loses it's nutrients and is far less tasty.
While your cod is in the oven, prepare your potato. This is the easiest part! Make sure to do this as soon as your fish is in the oven since they take about the same amount of time to cook.
  1. Place sweet potato in microwave. I'm lucky to have a microwave that auto-senses how big the potato is and cooks it perfectly, but if your microwave doesn't have that option, a medium size potato usually takes about 6-8 minutes to bake. 
  2. Turn the potato over halfway through cooking (about 3-4 minutes into it.) If it helps, set the microwave for 4 minutes first, then turn potato over.
  3. Your potato should be done if you can easily poke through it with a fork.
Garlic Sauteed Kale with Mushrooms - the yummiest part! 
Okay - I must admit, this is not my recipe! I copied this recipe from Bobby Flay's Sauteed Kale Recipe, but for convenience sake, I will post the recipe here as well.

  • 1 bunch curly kale, chopped, stems removed (unless you like them, I don't)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic, or 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. 
  2. Add garlic and cook until soft, but not colored. Be careful with garlic because it burns easily and becomes very bitter - if it turns brown or black, it's burnt.
  3. Turn heat to high; add chicken stock and kale and mushrooms; toss to combine. 
  4. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until stock has evaporated.
  5. Add red wine vinegar.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lunch: Northwest-spice blend coated cod, baked sweet potato, one large bunch kale, half-cup sauteed mushrooms

Nutritional Breakdown:
Protein: 30
Carbs: 33
Fiber: 8
Sugars: 1

I hope you enjoy these recipes. The recipes are for one person, but just doubling up the protein makes more than enough for two people. 

If you'd like to see more, please comment below and let me know!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Interview With Celebrity Makeup Artist Kimberley Bosso


I am honored to interview the beautiful and talented Kimberley Bosso - a well-known celebrity makeup artist, teacher, and founder of Bosso Intensive Makeup School, located in Hollywood, California. Kimberley's students fly into Hollywood from from all around the globe to obtain certification from Bosso Intensive, which is taught by Kimberley herself.

Kimberley's passion for the beauty industry and her ability to inspire those around her makes her one of the most sought after makeup artists in Hollywood. Kimberley frequently travels and is always spending her extra time intensifying her skills and knowledge, which she shares exclusively in her private makeup classes. And she juggles all these priorities with a 1 year old on her arm!

Becky: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. Let's start with how you got into the makeup industry - what inspired you to become a makeup artist?

Kimberley: I've always loved the beauty industry. Fashion, makeup, hairstyles, art direction, etc. Anything that was creative was right up my alley. My inspiration comes from all avenues; maybe it's a song that moves me, a film, walking through the streets of Paris, my own personal story, or my baby boy's happy face. I'm inspired by a variety of subjects.

Becky: When I was younger, my friends and I would play with our mom's makeup and give each other "makeovers". Growing up, what did you want to do for a living? If it wasn't makeup artistry, what led you to cosmetics and makeup?

Kimberley: My journey into the makeup world started on a whim to enroll in makeup school as a backup plan. Shortly after graduating, I dove into independent films, but fell disinterested in the long hours. I then went on to work in editorial with one phone call from a photographer that threw me my first celebrities. It was exciting - even though I was still paying my dues, and working for little money at the time. 
I really didn't fall in love with makeup until I traveled to Europe; specifically Paris, where everything is oh-so-chic! I pulled a lot of style and creativity out of Paris. It was very inspiring.
I wasn't one of those little girls who loved makeup; I was curious about it, but not obsessively playing with it. I loved to be beautified, but to beautify someone else - totally wasn't my interest! I was more into dance classes and piano. Now I can't walk into Sephora (or any makeup store) without leaving with a bag full of all the latest!! I'm a makeup junkie and researcher. It's my job, and I love what I do.
Becky: With your high profile clientele, what is the latest or biggest trend you see or the most requested "look"?
Kimberley: The most requested look I get is either the Kim Kardashian smokey eye, or "red carpet" glowing skin like Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez. These techniques and more are all taught at my makeup school.

Some of the most highly requested celebrity looks

Becky: When you look back at makeup trends throughout the years, especially in Hollywood, what are some of the trends you are happy are no longer popular?
Kimberley: The most unsightly makeup look was the "ghetto fabulous" look of dark liner on the lips and lighter lipstick. Or the matte lipstick look was never my favorite either.
Becky: I couldn't agree more with that one! While you're traveling around the globe, promoting products and teaching, how do you find the energy and inspiration to pursue your passion in this industry? What motivates you?
Kimberley: I find motivation through many sources, but I can honestly say I was born with a ton of energy so I started off a little ahead of the game. But now being a mother to a very energetic 1 year old, I have a many of sluggish days indeed! 
Plenty of sleep is mandatory nowadays, which is scarce for me so I truly rely on juicing raw veggies and kundalini yoga/meditation to keep me centered, which gives me the energy I lack on certain days. I'm also a huge fan of Deepak Chopra and his book "The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success", which motivates me when I'm in a rut in my head. The best motivation though is looking at my son's smiling face every morning! He is pure love and pure inspiration.
Becky: Social media is highly recognized as a means to promote businesses and give makeup artists a great way to connect. How are you or have you found social media to better connect you to others in the makeup and beauty industry? Has in benefited you?
Kimberley: Social media can be a wonderful tool. I didn't jump on the band wagon when it first came out. Actually I was sort of against it at first, until a friend of mine created some accounts for me, convincing me it was beneficial. I was reluctant at first, but now I have a totally new perspective. I think social media is and has been an amazing catalyst for my makeup business. I tell my students all the time to take advantage of these wonderful means that can propel their careers to the next level.
Becky: What is the most requested beauty product you are asked about?
Kimberley: The most requested beauty product I'm asked about is how to achieve perfect skin. This is my forte and what I'm known for (besides the smokey eyes I do).
I teach my students about the importance of skin care and how it all starts from the inside out. What you put in your body shows on your face! Period! A hydrating or oil-free moisturizer is essential and a good foundation or tinted moisturizer like Dermalogica's Tint or Armani's Silk Foundation. Clients should take it easy with the powder - it only creates a "done" or "flat" look, which is not the most flattering if you are going for a youthful glow.
Becky: If you could create a "wonder product" that worked a cosmetic miracle with each use, what would you create?
Kimberley: I'm actually working on a skin care product and an incredible foundation line. I have high hopes it will make skin glow and yet minimize pores and fine lines, all while being lightweight and creating a flawless look.
Becky: With the 2013 Oscars right around the corner, what trends do you anticipate will show up on the red carpet? 
Kimberley: I predict we'll be seeing lots of red lips of various shades, as well as lush lashes and strong brows and liner. Spring fashion week we saw lots of these trends as well as green and blue color on eyes, but we'll see if any celeb is daring enough to do such a thing on the red carpet. With the right hair hair and wardrobe, bold makeup can fare pretty well and tie it all together.

Taylor Swift's red lip has increased popularity of the iconic red lip, reminiscent of the 50's and 60's.
Becky: What type of programs are offered at your school?
Kimberley: Students come from all over the world to attend my makeup school in Los Angeles. I get a ton of Australians and Canadians, but have also had students from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Japan, Guatemala, and Mexico City, to name a few - that's not including the girls across the U.S.! I'm very fortunate to meet such amazing students from around the globe and hear about their goals and aspirations in the makeup world. 
 When I'm working in their country, we have lunch and sometimes even do a shoot together. It's been a blessing meeting such lovely, creative people. The requirements to enter my school are quite simple. I ask that you have a passion and love for makeup.  It's starts there,and then all my techniques, tips and tricks come into it to make each aspiring artist her best.  
In my 6 day intensive makeup course, students will learn all facets of beauty makeup, including airbrush foundation application. This is an intensive course designed for all levels. I only admit a maximum of 4 students so they get the most meticulous attention and the best makeup training available. 
All information including curriculum, price, and enrollment for Bosso Intensive Makeup School can be found on my website.


Kimberley with two of her recent graduates.
Read more of her student testimonials here.

Becky: What one piece of advice would you give to young makeup enthusiasts out there?
Kimberley: My advice to young makeup enthusiasts or aspiring artists, is keep evolving and learning in this ever changing business. It's also very important to keep moving forward. This town (Hollywood) is a number game. Any facet of the entertainment industry, acting, writing, modeling, makeup artistry, producing... it's all a number game. Let all the other people quit. YOU, yourself, don't give up and your number will come up. All the people quitting and going back home, they are just making more room for you to come into the limelight and shine.

Interested in registering for Kimberley's classes? Contact Kimberley below:

Bosso Intensive Makeup School:
7510 W. Sunset Blvd. #1003
Los Angeles, CA, 90046

Phone: 310.415.4885

E-mail & Press Inquiries:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bossomakeup
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bossomakeup

Monday, February 4, 2013

Maintaining Integrity: Why It's Important To Do What You Say You'll Do

According to Wikipedia (which everyone KNOWS is the most reliable source for all your answers and burning questions, except Yahoo Answers, of course) "integrity regards internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs."

The first part that stands out to me is "internal consistency as a virtue". Personal virtues are defined as individual characteristics that make up a collective and individual greatness. It's important to note that the opposite of virtue is vice - a vice is generally a means to avoid something, some uncomfortable feeling or emotion - while virtue is a positive trait that makes up a whole, "good" and well-meaning person.

For someone to have and maintain true integrity, if integrity is of importance to them, it simply means to remain consistent in your life, your words, and your actions, and your promises. For example, say someone you don't really care for invites you to a birthday party. Or say, you do care about that person, but you just know you can't make it - the reason doesn't really matter. The bottom line is, do you have the integrity to politely decline, or are you someone who frequently makes plans and says yes but doesn't follow through?

I used to be the HUGEST flake. I never returned calls, ignored e-mails, didn't show up to parties I had RSVP'd to, didn't RSVP to invites, and just plain forgot about a lot of the events I planned for in advance and/or said I would be able to attend. I bailed on friends last minute for lunches or dinners, and made up excuses about why I couldn't make it. Many times I felt justified in doing so and told myself "It's okay, you're stressed, tired, broke, unhappy, self conscious, insert excuse here, and they should understand." Even in a perfect world where people do understand each other 100% of the time, it's still not maintaining a sense of integrity to flake on plans anymore (without good reason, which isn't flaking in those cases.)

Integrity is comprised just two things: saying yes and doing it, or saying no and being honest. You can also say yes and be honest, if you really wanted to (honesty is it's own virtue as well.) When you maintain integrity, you are that person that others can always rely on. They trust you because they know you are true to your word. Even when you don't feel like doing something, you still do it. When you say you'll be there at 5:00, you get there at 5:00. When you say you're coming to a party, you actually go and you actually have fun.

Integrity is also being able to say no. How often have you avoided saying no or being honest to someone because you don't want to hurt their feelings? A couple years ago a friend made it apparent to me that I had really hurt his feelings by simply not showing up to an event he had invited me to. I truly had no idea I was even hurting someone. Sometimes when we are really self-absorbed and feeling sorry for ourselves, we have an entire list of excuses to drop at any given moment whenever needed - we are already on the defensive by the time we've flaked because we know we haven't maintained any integrity. And you know what exacerbates feelings of low self-worth? Not maintaining our integrity!

It's a challenge in American society, because we are taught to never offend anyone. Which is understandable  but also impossible. We can't please everyone - on one hand, it's not our job to cater to others' feelings 24 hours a day. But it is our job, as ethical human beings, to be honest, able to say no to ourselves and to others, and understand when we've hurt someone else because of our own selfishness. I find that many of my friends who don't maintain their integrity have a generally low self-worth (I have been this person!) but the problem remains that without implementing strict integrity in our own actions, we can't gain self-worth.

Think about the last time you wanted to eat healthier, exercise, or had a goal in mind. Did you maintain integrity to yourself to attain that goal? What was the outcome? If you didn't reach your goal or you gave up along the way, what were the excuses you told yourself? Why didn't you show up to your own party?

Part of my goals for 2013 include maintaining integrity in my actions, thoughts, and words as well as my relationships with others. When you need to cancel an appointment or you're unable to make a prearranged meeting, or you can't complete a task that you were given at work, part of integrity is being able to say "I'm sorry, I can't make it, but this is an exception, not a rule; I will make it up in the following ways." Think of every time you have to cancel or you don't follow through as using a "Trust" credit account and charging it - every time you lose integrity, you lose trust in others - even marginally.

How do you implement and maintain integrity in your life?