Have your cake and eat it too! How to eat sweets and not get fat.

4.29.2016

A high school friend of mine is now a certified personal trainer.  He fits your typical trainer profile of ultra low body fat and six pack abs.  He's even taken his fitness career to competitions and has won quite a few shows.

The last time I caught up with him, he boasted about how much he cheats on his diet.  He tells me that people can't believe that he indulges in red velvet cupcakes and other high sugar delights. Curiosity got the best of me so I asked him how he's able to break the rules and still maintain a winning physique.

His secret is to save the high calorie snacks for post workout.  Then he explains that if we indulge in sugary snacks while sitting around, all that excess sugar isn't utilized by the body.  Sugar that isn't put to good use, will essentially be stored as fat.  But sugar consumed, post workout, he claims, will be converted into energy because the body utilizes it more efficiently.

Although I trust his advice, I still wanted to see if this was indeed a true theory.  Off I went to research.  When we engage in rigorous activity, our blood sugar stores are depleted.  When we eat  foods high in simple sugars post workout, our body is ready to utilize it to refuel muscle tissue.  Instead of being stored (as fat), the sugar is quickly digested and used appropriately.

I even stumbled upon a video that talks about a study where cyclists were divided into two groups. One group given a healthy meal post workout, the other refueled with fast food.  When tests were preformed to see the impact of the meal, the researchers couldn't tell the difference in blood glucose and insulin response of healthy eating group vs the junk food group.   This could also point to the fact, that after a tough workout, our body is craving the sugar and will immediately put it to good use.

This is not to say that we should always eat ice cream and cake after a workout.  Ideally we should stick to healthy eating whenever possible. But, if you are going to do it, your best bet is to consume the sugar when your body needs it most.  A lazy weekend of indulging in sweet snacks is a sure fire recipe for fat gain.  You should also consider the level of intensity of your workout.  The more intense the activity, the less "impact" the indulgence will have on your diet.  Please don't go overboard, because if you consume more calories in a day than you burn, your body will still store the excess.  But if done right, you can still treat yourself, like my friend does, and still remain lean.

I don't know about you, but I see this as very powerful information.  Perhaps we can be a little more strategic about how we snack.  Instead of eating mindlessly and paying for our actions later. Why not save your favorite dessert as a reward for your hard work and avoid the consequences?
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Mark your Calendars! Dyson is launching the Hair Dryer of the Future

4.28.2016

Last summer was especially hot.  So I began the search for a high quality fan.  Every so often, I buy a tower fan and, a few years later, it breaks down and I have to buy another one.  Finally, I was done.  I said to myself, "I need to find thee best fan on the market".  What I uncovered is that Dyson's bladeless fans were deemed as the best product out there.


I'll admit it, the price really turned me off.  But the countless positive reviews I read swayed me to take the plunge.  I grabbed the model that both cooled and had the ability to operate as a heater.  I figured that if a fan could indeed heat a small room, the investment would be worth it.  I'm now happy to say that I absolutely adore my Dyson fan. It helped me save a ton in utility costs. In fact, I'm going to purchase their full size tower fan this year.  I use the word "fan", but technically, it's an Air Multiplier. Because it's bladeless, I can put my hands right through it without fear of loosing a finger.

Yesterday, started like any other day. But everything changed once I got wind of news that Dyson is coming out with a hair dryer later this year.  You might be thinking, "so what,  I already have a hair dryer." Keep in mind that Dyson isn't in the business of relaunching tired old technology.  In case you missed it, my fan has no blades and has the ability to heat and cool.  
I think of Dyson as the Apple of household consumer goods.  They put a ton of intention into their design while pushing the boundaries of the old way of doing things.  And that's exactly what they've done with this new hairdryer.  The first thing you should know is that they invested millions of dollars into developing this new technology.  They've completely redesigned recreated the motor to a fraction of the size of your typical hair dryer.  Secondly, they've leveraged some of the same technology that brought us the bladeless Air Multiplier.  You can stick your fingers right through the middle of your hair dryer without having to deal with extreme heat.  It's also quieter than a typical hair drier.  

But what we should be excited about are the embedded heat sensors that are meant to prevent the hair from excessive heat damage.  They also promise faster drying times and a smoother finished product using "smooth air technology."  I have no idea what that means so I'm side eyeing that claim until I can get my hands on it.   Be prepared, it's not cheap.  When it launches the dryer will retail for $399.00.  I think the most expensive hair dryer I own is around $100.00. And I paid that much because of how hot the dryer can get.  If the Dyson dryer can give me healthier hair in a fraction of the time, I'm in.  Part of the reason my hair dryers haven't seen the light of day is how long it takes to complete the process.  I'm a huge technology buff and Dyson has already earned me as a loyal customer, so I'm counting down the days until Sephora  launches the SuperSonic hair dryer in September. 




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My quest to recreate the Korean Bathhouse experience at home

4.27.2016

only have one regret.  When I worked full time, my travels included regular visits to Atlanta and L.A.  Both of these cities have local Korean Spa/Bathhouses.  These institutions have been around in Korea and Japan forever.  Its an experience revered as an ultimate beauty treatment.

I'm sure that most of us do at home facials. Maybe we pull out our facial steamer and apply clay mask afterwards.  Yeah.....that's cool.....but it's time for us to graduate to the next level.

The biggest draw of the Korean Sauna is the highly intense body scrub.  And when I say intense, I mean INTENSE.  They scrub you with all of their heart and soul. I heard a couple of accounts where you actually see the pile of dead skin as a reward for the experience you endured.  For some, this rigorous scrubbing is a bit too much, but to me, this sounds like heaven.

You all know that I'm a huge fan of facial and body exfoliation.  I try my best to give myself an adequate scrub in the shower, but there are certain areas I just can't reach.   I'm humble enough to admit that I need professional help.  I'm willing to endure 30 minutes of enthusiastic scrubbing if that means that I get to enjoy "smooth as a baby's butt skin" for summer.

The other key to the Korean Bath House technique is what they use to exfoliate.  It's called an Italy towel, and from what I heard, it rivals the Salux Cloth.  Don't let the name fool you. These babies are directly from Korea.  Since it was quite easy to find online, I went ahead and ordered one.  I made the mistake of ordering from a Korean seller and, weeks later, I'm [impatiently] waiting for it to arrive.  I'm seriously considering placing another order from this seller who ships from the U.S.

If you grab an Italy towel and use it for your own beautification, make sure to loosen the dead skin first by working up a good sweat or standing in a hot steam shower for a while [or both].  That way your hard work produces better results.

While preparing for this post, I did a quick search to see if there are any Korean Spas in my state.  The bad news is there aren't any authentic bathhouses.....but the good news is there is a spot [about 1.5 hours away] that offer "Korean Spa Services."  I'm thinking that means they are non-Koreans who fell in love with the concept and decided to open their own bathhouse.  Works for me!  Now I just need to schedule in some time to make it happen.

Can't wait!




C'mon, you know you want one.



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Style Inspiration | ADORNED IN DELICATE ACCENTS

4.26.2016


On some random weeknight, I agreed to meet a friend at Starbucks to catch up on work.  Normally, we meet at a more formal location so I was glad to convene at a casual spot.  It was good to not to have to adhere to a business casual dress code.  My friend, who's normally dressed to impress, was running late and decided to come in full laid back attire.

She wore a grey cotton top and a pair of jeans.  Even though she left the house in a rush, she still made sure the wear her signature face consisting of a bold cat eye and nude lip.  But what really created a balance and pulled her entire look together were the strategic pieces of gold jewelry.

I used to abide by the old way of thinking that grey tones look better with silver accessories.  Seeing this girl in the grey/gold combination completely shattered that myth.  Her pieces were dainty and unique.  Here statement pieces offered the perfect counterbalance the casual nature of her outfit.  And it worked so, so well.  You can tell in one glance that she had style.  And the only thing that set her apart from all the others hunched over their laptops, were a few strategically placed pieces of jewelry.

 I'm drawn to delicate pieces with both gold and diamond sprinkled into the design.  You can be fitted in an old pair of jeans and an oversized tee, but with the right accessories, your look screams laid back chic.  In fact, the more simple the wardrobe, the more impact your statement pieces will have.
These slender bangles are some of the newer pieces in my collection.  I stumbled upon them during an impromptu trip to a local jewelry store.  Unfortunately, the investment was more than I was willing to give at the time.  But, a week later, I still couldn't get them out of my head. Long story short, 30 minutes of searching online and I found the exact replicas for a fraction of the price.  They're so beautiful that I had to grab both the gold and silver band.  If you have small wrists like me, you'll love them.  If not, don't worry. These cuffs have a hinge that opens up so you can easily get them on.  They are, by far, the favorite of all the bracelets I own.






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Why Micellar water will be my go-to beauty product this summer.

A while ago, I stumbled upon a few videos where folks were singing the praises of Bioderma micellar water.  At the time, access to micellar water was limited because Bioderma was only available overseas.  People would reach out to their international friends to get their hands on it.

The reason why everyone lusted after Bioderma is because micellar water can gently cleanse and remove make up like no other.  The technology of micellar water was developed back in 1913.  Basically, instead of stripping the skin, this magical water attracts and draws out impurities.  So the entire process is highly gentle for those with sensitive skin.  It's so gentle that micellar water requires no scrubbing to thoroughly remove dirt and makeup.

Luckily for us, Garnier decided to throw their hat in the micellar water game.  This means that we all can experience what it's like to have our faces graced with the gentlest of cleansers.  Honestly, I had low expectations before trying.  Since I use coconut cider vinegar as a toner, I'm used to stronger products which makes me highly skeptical of ultra gentle products that claim to cleanse deeply.

But as soon as I had my first taste, I was hooked.  Just one look at my cotton pad and I knew that Garnier had done it's thang.  Although I had no makeup on at the time, I could tell that it would have lifted it with ease.

Here's what I love about micellar water.  Summer's around the corner and typically, as the weather warms, I take on additional steps to promote freshness throughout the day.  One of my favorite go to's are facial mists.  But I also needed a product that cleanses while I'm on the go.  Coconut vinegar is a no-go because of the intense scent.  But with micellar water, I can easily sneak into the restroom and freshen my face, neck or underarms.  If I can also remove excess oil from my skin, then I'm set for life.

I will never be without micellar water again.  In fact, I have detailed plans to create a travel size bottle to have on me at all times.  After a long flight, micellar water. If you have a long day out, micellar water.  Are you planning on attending any outdoor events, micellar water.  Anytime you want to cleanse but don't have soap and water in hand, micellar water is there.

Micellar water is everything you ever needed and more.

If anyone has tried both brands, should I still give Bioderma a shot even though I love Garnier?




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Monday Motivation | Why your Bad Days are so awesome!

4.25.2016

The other day, I received a call from a long time friend.  We hadn't spoke in a long time so I was curious to know what she wanted to talk about.  Turns out that she had a business idea and wanted to run it past me to hear my thoughts.

We talked about the pros and cons and went over a detailed business strategy.  After discussing the possibilities that could come about if she were to take action, we took some time to catch up.  While we chatted she told me that when the idea came, she immediately purchased the domain name.  She also mentioned not having slept much the night before because she spent most of the night creating new business.

As I listened, I got the sense that there were other factors involved with the sudden launch of her new company.  So I asked a couple of questions.  It turns out that she was highly unsatisfied with work and had a miserable day. The day was so horrible that she moved into fast action to change the situation.  I knew exactly how she felt.  In fact, I owe much of the success of my business to miserable experiences at my last employer.

The worse the day, the harder I'd work on my brand.  Sometimes, after enduring a 15 hour work day, instead of going to sleep, I'd stay up and work on my "second job." I didn't care about how much sleep I lost, as long as I didn't have to go through another day like that again, I was willing to do anything.  Looking back, I'm EXTREMELY grateful for all of those horrible experiences because they served as raw, high powered motivation to alter my circumstance.

Bad days are highly valuable.  Instead of going home, opening up a pint of ice cream, and falling asleep in front of the tv, you can create something productive and lasting.  It sorta reminds me of a scene in the movie Limitless.  Eddie takes a magic pill that awakens his brain.  After decluttering, he finally sits down and pumps out his long awaited novel.  Even though he woke up with less motivation than the day before, he still had his completed manuscript.

If we take massive action because of an undesirable circumstance, our actions will remain even when things go back to normal.   The key is how to maintain the momentum when the situation isn't as unbearable.  I'm motivated more by avoiding unfavorable circumstances than in pursuing positive ones.  So whenever a bad day strikes, I get excited!  The first thing I say to myself is "ok, what do I gotta do to change this!?!?   Suddenly ideas start flowing.  And resistance to taking action is gone.   There's no fear because the desire to change the situation is much greater than our need to stay in a comfort zone.  The comfort zone is what created the situation in the first place.

{I believe the level of action one takes out of frustration is way more activating than the action we take out of complacency}

Long story short, turn your bad days into your best days yet.  All of the discomfort and pain your feel when things aren't going well is extremely powerful.  Don't let that good stuff go to waste.  It creates a level of urgency like no other. Use it to fuel you into the massive action that you've been putting off.  And this goes for every type of situation, not just leaving your job.  Whenever you experience and undesirable result, move into action!  Move into the type of action that brings you closer to what you want to experience.

The other part of the conversation is how to fuel that same level of energy and action when things aren't that bad.  And that, my friends, is for another post.
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Keep doing your scalp massages, this study shows that it actually works!

4.22.2016

Most of us recognize scalp massage as one of the pillars of healthy hair.  The claims are that massages could actually stimulate hair growth.  Some of us might have even jumped on the bandwagon. And, after a few weeks or so, we've let go of the practice and moved on to something else.

But what if  I were to tell you that great results can be had if you just stayed consistent.

A Japanese study involving 100 participants (men & women) with balding hair demonstrated that utilizing a particular massage technique for at least 300 days (10 months) could regrow healthy hair.  According to the findings,  the "results demonstrated that all of them could have their hair regrown naturally and healthily."

If individuals with obvious balding could produce natural hair regrowth, imagine how much our hair could benefit?  The hypothesis for the study is that scalp thickness and softness may be a contributing factor to hair loss. And by addressing the health of the scalp, you can create normal growth again.  Dr. Henry Choy led the study and theorized that trapped sebum blocking the hair follicle, was the culprit towards stunted growth.

A lot of us are addicted to cleansing shampoos. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing a good enough job of deep cleansing the scalp and removing build up. There are times when I scratch my scalp on wash days and can see build up under my fingernails.  When that happens, I like to mist my scalp with a little eucalyptus oil diluted with water.  I wonder if rigorous, regular scalp massage can help loosen some of that buildup for easier, more powerful cleansing.

The key to Dr. Choy's technique was two 20 minute massage sessions a day while kneading, rubbing and pressing on the scalp.  This creates maximum stimulation.  The greater the stimulation, the greater the blood flow.  The greater the blood flow, the healthier the follicle.  Healthy follicles produce strong hair (re)growth.   Apparently this technique is so effective that ALL the subjects regrew 90% of their hair.

Choy's massage technique sorta reminds me of Sanford Bennet's scalp pulling.  Both involve aggressive manipulation of the scalp and both are meant to be done consistently.  Scalp pulling was a part of Sanford's morning ritual.

Most of us reading this post probably aren't dealing with obvious hair loss.  But.....I betcha a lot of us may have clogged hair follicles.  And I'm certain that 100% of us could benefit from regular scalp massage.  Just like we exercise our bodies to maintain health, we should do regular scalp massages as a healthy habit.  If we live long enough, all of us will probably experience thinning hair. I believe it's related to deteriorating scalp muscle.  All muscles atrophy with age.  But most people don't think of scalp massage as a muscle strengthening mechanism.  But if we start this habit now, we could enjoy awesome hair growth today and forever.

If you aren't convinced yet, check out these before and after pics from a guy who followed Dr. Choy's regimen and documented his experience.

And check out this post for an intense massage technique that really promotes blood flow in a major way.





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Why Carbonated Water might be the best thing ever!

4.21.2016

We're no strangers here to the wonders of drinking water.  We've talked, at length about all the benefits that can be had by increasing your water intake.  Since we're veterans at this, we need to step our game up and take things to the next level.

Maybe it's time to include carbonated water into our rotation.  Why, because there might be some associated beauty benefits.  This is especially true if you are soda drinker.  We've all heard the stories of people who effortlessly lost weight simply by eliminating soda from their diet.  Soda, is essentially carbonated water and sugar.  Sugar, as you know, will quickly convert to fat unless you burn it off.   If you simply replace soda with carbonated water, you'll eliminate tons of extra sugar from your diet hence the rapid shedding of pounds.  I'm not a big soda drinker but I do enjoy the taste of carbonation.  My favorite thing to do is add a few mint leaves & lime slices enjoy it as a zero calorie, virgin mojito.
You know how they tell you to drink a large cup of water before or between meals to help keep your fuller.  May I suggest that you leverage carbonated water to help curb your appetite?  The bubbles will fill you up fast making you feel fuller. This exquisite water can be a huge asset for you as you manage calories before bathing suit season.

Besides consuming it,  did you know that Korean women use carbonated water as a facial beauty treatment? Yep. What they do is fill a bowl or sink with seltzer water then dunk their face in it. You're probably wondering, why would someone do that? Well, because the little bubbles allegedly deliver oxygen directly to the skin. Some say this technique also tighten skin, deep clean pores and remove dead skin cells leaving you looking fresh.  Some have even dabbed a cotton pad with tonic water and applied it to the face like a toner.

Since carbonated water has a low pH, some like to use it on their hair. Carbonated water is said to mildly clarify and can make a great "after swim" rinse to help eliminate chlorine from the hair.  Seltzer water rinsing is also said to help curb humidity induced frizz.  I definitely want to experiment with a soda water rinse. I'm thinking of purchasing an at home Soda Machine so I can have all the carbonated water I desire.

If for nothing else, if you simply replace your sodas with flavored (unsweetened) tonic water, you'll at least experience the body benefits.  By the way, drinking several cups a day of seltzer water does count towards your overall water intake.  Plus you avoid the negative consequences of drinking soda like enamel erosion and bone loss.  Drinking carbonated water is just as healthy as flat water except that it's a bit fancier.  And you certainly deserve to drink fancy water.


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ODE to the Greasy Pre-Shampoo Treatment.

4.20.2016

Since warmer weather is approaching, it's a good idea to focus on retention to maximize our increased hair growth rate.  As I ran down the list of what best helps me retain, one of the first things that popped up was an effective pre-poo session.

Consistent pre-shampoo treatments can really promote healthy hair.  But does it matter what product we use?  A few weeks back, I painstakingly applied conditioner to my dry hair, section by section.  The process took so long that I decided to go to bed instead of completing the rest of my wash day session.  "I'll wash this out in the morning," I thought to myself knowing what the outcome would be.

The next morning, my hair was over saturated. I just knew that my hair strands expanded from all that exposure to a water based conditioner.  In the end, I'm not sure my hair even benefited.  That's when I decided to shift my strategy.

Immediately, I went back to what worked.  Instead of water based products, I would implement the greasy pre-poo treatment on wash days.  Water based conditioners might be beneficial during the dry winters but now my hair is looking for something different.

Greasy pre-poo products were made for the arduous detangling process. They give me a sense of confidence as I deal with stubborn tangles.  I can almost guarantee less manipulation related breakage whenever I implement a greasy pre-poo.  Not to mention that an overnight treatment with a greasy product has practically no negative consequence (other than a messy pillow if you're not careful).  As a matter of fact, the moisture produced by the scalp over night mingles perfectly with the greasy pre-poo product for an even better result.

Three of my favorite greasy pre-shampoo treatments are coconut oil, Burt's Bees Avocado and Ojon's Restorative Hair Treatment.  Coconut oil is my first choice whenever I'm experiencing uncomfortable levels of breakage.  I try to leave it on long enough to know that my hair is absorbing the protein.  Within a couple of coconut pre-poo sessions, my breakage is back in check.

If breakage isn't an issue, then I'll opt for Burt's Bees or Ojon.  Both have very different textures.  Burt's Bees is a thick, heavy product kinda like a natural version of hair grease.  I reach for Burt's Bees when I'm deeper in my stretch and I need something heavier to coat my hair.  Although it's super thick, Burt's Bees pre-poo rinses out easily which makes an idea product for thick haired gals.

Ojon, on the other hand, appears thick but melts like butter when you rub it in between your hands.  The first time I tried this product, I didn't like it.  That's because I used it during the winter. The balm retained it's thick consistency as I tried to apply it.  But, instead of tossing it, I pulled the brown jar out of my product closet and decided to give it another try.  This time, the product melted with ease between my hands. And my hair loved it!  Ojon is a bit pricier because it claims to address damage in the hair.  I recall seeing a noticeable difference in my hair every time I used it.  They've recently changed the formula to deal with the pungent scent. Hopefully the product is still as effective. If not, I'll update my thoughts in another post.

Spring/Summer, for me, means that I'll be relying heavily on the greasy pre-poo.   When the pre-poo is done right, the rest of wash day just seems to go so well.  I lose much less hair and, in the long run, this means better retention overall.


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MANIFESTATION JOURNALING | Write out the Reality you want to create

4.18.2016

Over the past several months, a reoccurring theme has been showing up in my life.  As a matter of fact, on Saturday I went to a seminar featuring a very well known financial expert.  During his short talk, he pulled out a journal from decades ago and read out loud entries that he wrote about the experiences he wanted to have.  As he read his intentions to the audience, I was floored at how accurate his life mirrored the desires he wrote so long ago.

Another coach of mine, is always talking about how much she was able to manifest through the power of journaling.  In one of her live events, she asked several of her journaling students to come up to the front, read from their journals, and share testimonies of how these desires were able to manifest.

Although I don't journal frequently, I do have a few from times past.  I have an old hair journal from when I first started my journey.  There are also a couple of others that chronicle some experiences I had years ago.  While I've been able to achieve several goals written in the journals, I'll confess that I wasn't writing with the intention to manifest.  I was merely trying to get my thoughts on paper.

Knowing how powerful the process of journaling could be, I've decided to reinstitute this practice. But instead of just writing about how my day was, I'd like to use my journal as a powerful tool towards realizing my goals.  Writing down your intentions is a powerful strategy because, to me, it represents the first step in bringing your goals from thought to reality.  Once your words are on paper, it has entered the physical world.

Years ago, I read a book called Write it down Make it Happen.  Actually, I didn't read the entire book.  The premise was pretty easy so I just decided to take her advise instead of reading all the details about why it might work.  I was floored with how much I was able to manifest from the list.  I don't remember all the goals I wrote down, but I do remember doubling my income and overcoming one of my most crippling fears by using her method.

Journaling can take her strategy to the next level because it incorporates one of the most powerful tools in the attraction process.  Emotion.  Instead of writing down our goals in bullet point format, we can elaborate on how it will feel when we experience it.  We can use vivid language to explain the exact details of our future experience.  For those of us who aren't great a visualizing, you might want to try creating a visual image on paper first.

You can dip your toes into the practice of Manifestation Journaling by writing down your ideal day.  If you could paint your life the way you want it, what would a perfect day look like? Write it down, read it aloud, and clearly picture it.  I can't count how many things I'm now experiencing that I first wrote down in my journal.  This is also a good strategy to change your vibration if you've been dealing withh less than desirable results lately.  Whenever things aren't going so well, we walk around feeling bad all day.  You never want to be in that position because you create more negative outcomes.  Instead, start the process of shifting your emotional state by writing down and focusing on everything you want to experience.

And when you journal, first get yourself in a feel good state. Pour yourself a cup of tea, light a yummy candle and play your favorite music in the background.  Take a couple of long deep breaths and allow yourself to get into a state of flow.  From there you are free to create the future you wish to experience.  Why not try this for 30 days and see what you can powerfully create through the practice of manifestation journaling.
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