Monthly Archives: March 2013

Henna Attempt #1

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It’s no secret that I have gray hair. I started getting flecks of gray when I was about 16, and every year thereafter I sprouted more. I didn’t realize how gray my hair had become until I looked at an up close shot of my head the other night. (I included the photo below). Wow! For those of you who see me every day maybe this isn’t news, but it was somehow news to me, and I see myself every day. Makes me wonder what else I am not noticing about myself on a regular basis…

Anyway, as you know, I try to be as natural as I can be when it comes to my lifestyle and that applies to beauty products as well, and it’s not easy. Often times I go without more than I find myself discovering safe and healthy products. For me, going more natural does not always go hand in hand with a beauty/self-care routine that works. I’m still definitely in the testing phase, and let’s just say over the past year, I’ve cracked eggs on my head, gone without shampoo, poured coffee into my hair, created oatmeal exfoliators, etc., etc.! Some of these beauty remedies have had more success than others. All have been fun to try.

Henna dye is another to add to my list. This past weekend my friend and hair enthusiast, Colleen came over to my house with a block of henna. Our goal was to see if we could use it to cover some of my gray. Colleen picked up the dye from Lush. We both had no expectations. Our only thoughts we had were based on the little reading we did, so we figured it may smell like cow manure and it was probably going to be very messy. To a degree we were right on both accounts.

Before going on, let it be known that just because henna is a natural product does not mean that there are no implications with using the product. There are pros and cons to using henna. One of the cons is that henna is a permanent hair dye and it reacts with your current hair, so there is no guarantee on what color it will look like and you cannot simply go over to a local hair salon to “fix” your dye experiment if it goes wrong. (Beware to those who already have colored your hair as there can be problems). I’m lucky that we didn’t have any big surprises, especially since I need to take a photo for my work badge in a couple days.

Below are the pictures that tell the story.

1. The goods: 1 block of henna, vaseline for the hairline (does the petroleum cancel out the goodness of henna’s natural properties? nah! If you are a purist, Lush does sell a product that does the same job), comb, not pictured: gloves, hair clips, towel, saran wrap, tarp to cover your workspace.

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2. The mixing process: Chop block up into thirds with a knife and cutting board. Place in a heat-resistant glass bowl. Cover with boiling water (from teapot). Break it up and mix it with a wooden utensil. We used a paint stick. Lush recommends a wooden spoon. Mix until it’s the consistency of yogurt or brownie batter. To keep it warm, place bowl over hot water (on low). See photos below.

photo (17)Don’t be surprised if you smell something weird. We still haven’t figured out how to describe the smell. It was not cow manure, but two different people stopped by while in the process and both immediately commented on the weird smell in the house. One said, “rotting compost”, but we all have not come to an agreement on how to describe the smell.

photo (20)Colleen adding a little more water to the mix.

3. The application process: Clip up the hair in sections. Make sure you are wearing gloves, and work the henna into the hair starting from the bottom of the head moving your way up. (Keep adding water as you need – we found the henna dries up fast).

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4. Wrap it up! Once you have the whole head covered, wrap the head in saran wrap (to keep it moist) and then a plastic bag (for extra support). You could be cuter with it if you had to go out in public and use a scarf as a head wrap. I was fine with the plastic bag look since I had nowhere to go.

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5. Wait and wash, wash, and did I say wash? The packaging says to wait 1-2 hours. We waited for 1.5 hours. Some people leave it in overnight. It’s hard to say if we waited any longer if we would have seen different results. I may try to wait it out a couple hours longer my next try. And with the washing, just be ready to clean up a mess in your tub!

6. Results: The photos don’t do a great job of showing the results because when we took the first photo we were in daylight and the second photo it was dark and my hair was very shiny reflecting more light on the camera lens. I am still unsure how to describe the results, I would say a lot of the gray is still there, but my hair looks more blended overall. I think there is a brownish hue to my hair and it lightened it a bit which would be contrary to the “blue-black” color I used. I am curious if part of this was a reaction to previous chemicals in my hair. It’s hard to tell because wherever there was gray there were no chemicals. Will be interested in asking staff at Lush.

BEFORE

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AFTER

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Overall, like some other people’s experiences, I was unable to get full gray coverage. I definitely had a reduction in gray and an overall more uniform hair color, but a significant amount of grays are still there. My husband thinks the grays look darker, and he would probably know better than I would considering a night ago I didn’t even realize how much gray hair I had 🙂

I will keep you posted on round 2 if I see different results. I am not discouraged enough yet to throw in the towel. I am a little nervous because I am a bridesmaid in a wedding coming up end of May and didn’t consider the implications of not being able to go to a hairdresser if henna doesn’t work. Regardless I am considering making a stop at Lush to set up an appointment with them sometime late April. Apparently they will do a free application of the product if you schedule ahead. I know this will save Colleen and my kitchen from a future mess. I will keep you posted on the results!

If you want to read more in depth about henna and it’s benefits, check out this helpful article.

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Have you planned for a healthy retirement?

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Today’s blog post comes from Jay Higgins. He is a financial adviser and an expert in the field. I asked him to write us an article about financial wellness. I’ll be honest I was a little worried it would be littered with industry jargon and boring financial talk. Boy was I wrong. Read on for fresh insight on how to view your retirement. I know you will gain some perspective on an important topic many of us fail to address.

I’d like to tell you a little secret. Now that you know who I am, it may surprise you. I don’t think you should retire. There, I said it.

That statement might come as a shock spoken from a person in the business of retirement planning. Please stay with me, however, and let me clarify what I mean.

What I am not advocating to you is working a grueling American schedule until you collapse on the job. I also am in no way trying to cheapen the importance of carefully planning for the post accumulation (industry term) or retirement phase of your life. So what do I really mean when I say you shouldn’t “retire”?

For many of you retirement is a long way off and probably nowhere near the front of your mind.  For a few of you, you may have given it some real thought, and good for you. But for most of you, let me guess the image in your head of your retirement.

RetirementOn your last day of work you plan to fill up your box, leave your job, and board a plane for Mexico, Arizona, or Florida so you can bask in the sun and enjoy time relaxing. Clearly there are many versions of this story but most of them have one thing in common. They fail to look past the first few weeks of your retirement.

What are you going to do after your vacation or your month relaxing in the sun ends? A normal retirement for our generation is 30 years. That means you have roughly 1,600 weeks of unplanned time on your hands. Not only is this a problem it’s probably not healthy.

Taking a step back, the idea of retirement that society depicts for us is completely unnatural for humans and generally doesn’t promote good health or vibrancy in our golden years. The law of diminishing returns applies to leisure activities as well, meaning golf and vacations eventually lose their luster. Boredom or being idle at this stage in your life will ultimately lead to poor health and overall dissatisfaction.

One writer put it this way, “The quickest way to disease, is a life of ease”.

So, now that you know the potential pitfalls that you may face in retirement, how do you rectify the situation? Glad you asked. There are two main things that I believe you can do to create a “retirement” that is full of vitality for you.

Consider these two things and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy retirement.

  1. Incorporate work into your plan. Human beings need a reason to wake up every morning. What will be your reason to get out of bed? Work as defined here is a loose term and may not mean getting paid, but responsibilities and action towards a greater purpose are important to your well-being. Paid work can be even better because of the potential for strengthening retirement income. The last few years in any retirement account are where the majority of your growth will come (from compounding). Retiring cold turkey forces you to draw an income off your account, essentially slitting the throat of your account right when it’s about to do the largest amount of work for you. Does this sound like a good idea?
  2. Redefine your retirement. Every single person has the same amount of hours to spend each week in retirement, 168. Knowing how you will spend yours will greatly improve your chances of being happy with your life. No two people are the same and the allocation of your time is uniquely your own. Rather than defining your retirement hours, work on defining your ideal life. Does that mean working fewer hours, spending some of that extra time fishing, crafting, or reading? Maybe you like to travel or want spend more time with family. Once you know how you would like to live its only a matter of developing a plan to allow you to do it. Yes that will probably mean saving and planning but those are only means to and end. Saving enough money is not the end goal. Then end goal is living and protecting the lifestyle that is healthy and meaningful to you.

Overall this post is not meant to scare you or to make you ignore your retirement. By explaining how the picture we’ve been given regarding retirement is a dangerous myth, my hope is to liberate and empower you.  I would like for you to think outside the box when you address your retirement and be confident that you know what will make you happy.

Believe me, working towards a lifestyle that is specifically designed for you by you will make the planning process surrounding your retirement much easier to prioritize. Throwing money at a retirement account without a clear goal is like throwing a dart at a target you can’t see. You’ll probably miss the mark, and many of you wouldn’t even try. Having a clear vision brings the dartboard into view…and then proper planning will help you hit the bullseye.

Eating healthy & still gaining weight? What you are doing wrong & what you can do about it

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You know that breakfast is important and helps your metabolism, right?  So you eat it now. For the most part. But what are you eating? Really, what is it made of?

Even health conscious folk need to be put in check sometimes, and I had one of those awakening moments last night where I was introduced, yet again, to the idea that sugar is the big culprit behind all of our dietary woes. (Thank you, Maria Emmerich). So you might think, “Yeah I already know that, too”. But do you really think about what you eat and how much of it is actually sugar? It’s incredible.

bananaFor example’s sake, let’s say you eat SMART START cereal – only 1 cup of cereal with 1 cup of skim milk and a banana. Sounds good at first to the average Joe. You are choosing a “healthier” option for cereal and following the rule of portion control, yet when you convert the carbohydrates and starches into the sugars that they really are, this meal at 472 calories, 105 carbs, 4g fiber, becomes 25.25 tsp of sugar in your blood. The American Heart Association states that women should limit their daily sugar intake to 6 tsp of sugar and for men, 8 tsp a day. How is that for a smart start ladies and gentlemen? 

If you are like most people, this beginning of sugar entering your bloodstream doesn’t even include your morning beverage, the snacks you plan (or don’t plan) to eat throughout the day, your lunch, dinner, and maybe an adult beverage (or two) if it becomes one of those days…
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The problem is, even if we actively try to make the right choices for our health, many of us operate from limited information and live in a world of not so healthy “healthy” options.  For example, did you know that some healthy choice meals have up to three Snicker Bars worth of sugar in them? Again, you likely thought this option was the “healthy” one but in reality it is yet another product laden with sugar. It’s no wonder our diets and bodies are so out of whack.

So how can we make the healthy choice? I am not going to lead you through a whole day of eating and try to guess the number of grams of sugar circulating your bloodstream. First, that would be depressing, but most important, doing that kind of obsessing is not going to get many of us anywhere. Instead I’d like to offer 5 tips on how you can be more mindful of your sugar intake. I believe that if you have extra weight to lose, if you start following some of these tips you may start seeing results again.

1) Eat less sugar! Everyone knows that we need to eat less sugar; we know that ice cream is full of sugar and that soda is bad for us, because of all the sugar. What we often miss is how prevalent sugar is in our diet, today.  For example, did you know that mustard has sugar in it? Or did you ever notice your toothpaste tastes kind of sweet? Yep, that’s sugar. And you may say, so what? But the problem lies in the fact that it’s everywhere, and (just like pounds) a little bit in a lot of places adds up quickly.

So if it’s all over the place, how can we eat less of it? We have to be able to identify sugar in all its forms, and then we have to avoid it where we can. In order to identify, we must learn some of the names sugar goes by. It hides behind names including, high fructose corn syrup, honey (yep, I’m sad to say it – but you knew that!), lactose (watch out for skim milk, especially!), and maltodextrin. Other places to look out for sugar are barley malt, brown-rice syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice, galactos, Glucose,  maple syrup, Molasses, organic cane juice, Sorghum, Sucrose, and turbinado.

Tip: If you must add “sweets,” some good sweetener choices include Stevia Glycerite,  Erythritol, Xylitol, Chicory Root, and Truvia. (Just be careful with Xylitol and your 4-legged friends – they are not meant to mix).

2) Eat less carbs! Surprise! Your body sees carbs as sugar. You knew this, but it can never hurt to say it again. If you remember anything about this one, remember 4 grams of carbohydrates = 1 tsp of sugar. In order to reduce your carbs you are going to have to identify them and be honest with yourself. For example, a 9-oz bag of potato chips’ in carbs will convert into 32 tsp of sugar in the body.

Bottom line, sugar and carbs alter brain function and can cause addiction. Many of us are already there (we’re addicted). So do be careful as you journey in reducing them as it never feels good when you first start a detox.

Tip: If you are craving carbohydrates (and it isn’t actually just a sugar craving/addiction) you may need more of the amino acid, L-glutamine, in your diet.

3) Get enough protein and eat plenty of vegetables. But please don’t go completely Atkins! If you need to cut down on carbs and sugars, what can you eat? That’s a great question. Protein is a great source of energy and it’s low on sugar. Just remember to enjoy in moderation.  And, of course vegetables are always our friends. They are high in fiber which help us eliminate and detox all the bad stuff we don’t want to carry around in our bodies.

Tips: With protein, eat 1 gram per lb of body weight daily. (There are 30 grams in 1 oz of meat). With vegetables, make sure you eat  over half of your 5 a day in vegetables, instead of fruits which are higher in sugars.

4) Beware of “lite” and “fat-free”. Fat-Free Pretzels are actually higher on the glycemic index than Jelly Beans! Whoa. Enough said. Sorry to those pretzel lovers out there 😦

Tip: I’m not going to go too in-depth here as it’s a complex topic. I hope to revisit this one as it’s own post. For now, if you want to read more about this topic, check out the brief article called, Weight Loss Sabotage: Eating “Light” Foods.

5) Sleep, sleep, sleep! You snooze, you lose! My favorite. Sleep is so important to weight loss, digestion, metabolism, brain function – it’s important to everything really. And yet many of us take this one for granted or struggle with it, don’t we?

Tip: For tips on how to get a good night of sleep, check out health coach, Molly Ellefson’s blog post on sleep from the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. Keep an eye open for a longer post on this one, coming soon on this blog, as sleep is integral to the success of any wellness plan and requires more attention.

I hope this information helps you reevaluate your weight loss strategies for the better and provides you with a better understanding to help you make healthier choices in your diet. Thanks for reading along, and as always, your comments and thoughts are welcome.

Mandala Reflections organized the above information from lecture, Maximize Your Metabolism presented by Maria Emmerich. I had the opportunity to attend her talk and wanted to report back on the event. Her lecture was two-hours long and she presented over 100, informative power point slides. For more information about Maria, check out her website! There you can link to her Pinterest or Facebook or you can  follow her blog.