Category Archives: About me

Hiatus

As the new year is beginning, I’ve come to realize that there just isn’t a whole lot more that I can share on this blog that isn’t already covered in about 100 other blogs. This blog was a way for me to track my health journey, and I’ve learned a lot while using it.

At this point in time, I have finally found what is working for me, the problem is sticking to it. Life, as always, gets in the way of things and messes me up, but I’ve been learning and practicing techniques to help me stick to my plan more readily and with less grief!

Due to the fact that I have written much on this blog already about what I have learned, I will leave it up for anyone who wants to look at my reviews of Focus T25 or any of my health tips. However, I will not be posting on this blog regularly anymore.

I want to thank everyone who chimed in or showed their support as I have gone through this journey! If I find out something particularly pertinent, I will write a post about it and share the knowledge!

Thanks again, and stay healthy friends!

Advertisements

Hair Dullness Issue – Solved!

Since I’ve transitioned to a more natural lifestyle, one area has been harder than all of the others to get 100% right (and I’m still not all of the way there!): my hair.

Recap: I’ve talked about my hair on this blog before, namely being over the moon when I switched from making my own shampoo to using a natural commercial product. After using that shampoo for a month or two (which I generally liked, though there was still too many chemicals being used for my liking), I switched to a more low-poo method by using shampoo bars. I started with online bought bars on Coastal Classic Creations and Yamali Naturals on Etsy (both good brands at reasonable prices), and eventually tried making my own shampoo bars using this recipe on Wellness Mama!

But, something wasn’t right, and I didn’t know what it was until I was recently slapped in the face with it. I lopped all of my hair off and donated it sometime in February, and promptly dyed my hair red with henna afterward. I still color my hair with henna, which always makes my hair super strong, vibrant, and shiny. So, imagine my shock when a month later of washing my hair every other day (to allow the oils to stay on my scalp a little longer) with a shampoo bar, my hair looked frizzy, dull, and almost brown (due to the highlights not being picked up in the light). Also, my hair had almost completely lost its softness, and knotted terribly.

Because it was a gradual dulling, I didn’t notice until I went to henna my hair a couple of weeks ago. While I was washing the henna out, I used some of the old herbal conditioner on my hair – hoping the slippery and oily nature would more gently remove the henna granules from my hair. When I got out of the shower – POW!! My hair was shinier than I had seen it in months!! And red, of course 🙂

Around that time, Mommypotamus posted about a coconut oil shampoo bar recipe on her blog. As I was reading it, at the bottom she mentions that it is really important to correct the alkaline pH that soap bars leave on your hair after washing. It makes perfect sense – soap has lye in it, which is extremely alkaline. Since the scalp needs to be slightly acidic, the easiest way to fix this problem is with – you guessed it – vinegar!

I’d heard about using vinegar as a ‘conditioner’ before, but I always assumed I never needed it because my hair was already soft and didn’t need more ‘conditioning.’ But after seeing the difference that using a pH balanced commercial conditioner had on my hair, I thought I’d give it a shot – and whaddaya know? SHINY! Also SOFT!

I’m still working out the kinks, since it makes my hair so shiny that it almost looks greasy, but I’m so glad I gave it a shot! Yeah, it’s gross to have hair that smells like ACV until it dries (then no ACV smell – promise!), but if it means my red henna highlights come through, it is worth it!

I’m bummed I didn’t take a before and after picture! I know the below picture doesn’t show it that well, but it’s me with happy healthy hair 🙂

Hair

Stay healthy, everyone!

Autoimmune Protocol

I can’t remember if I posted anything about the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) previously, but I figured I’d give everyone a run down. The AIP is a paleo diet designed to eliminate most common allergens/inflammatory foods and help your gut heal. Due to the gut being connected with everything, having an inflamed and leaky gut can cause your body to have an immune response as tiny food particles and other toxins/pathogens leave your intestine and enter your blood stream. The resulting inflammation can cause your immune system to get confused and start attacking the body.

Yeah, yeah, but how does that relate to me? Have you ever gone to the doctors and have them tell you ‘I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can give you or even tell you about your condition, you’re just going to have to live with it for the rest of your life’?

I have.

And I had it relatively easy.

My condition was Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Every morning, I would wake up feverish, incredibly nauseous, and would have painful and never ending (it seemed!) BMs (sorry if that was TMI). I went to my doctor and she ran some additional blood tests, a urine test, and a stool test – all negative. She didn’t know what to do. ‘Try increasing your fiber and take a probiotic,’ she said. ‘Sometimes that can help with IBS. Otherwise, I don’t have medication to give you, and this is something that has no cure.’

I think this visit with my doctor (who, I’d like to point out, is an amazing doctor and I have built a very trusting relationship with) is what started my journey into educating myself on health. This happened about 4 years ago. A friend of mine had a boyfriend who was gluten intolerant, and she was telling me about how gluten is in everything. I sympathized with her (like a good friend), and thanked God I wasn’t gluten intolerant.

Whoops.

I went on for three years eating gluten with a hidden gluten sensitivity (for an excellent resource into the difference between allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances, check out the Autoimmune Paleo site). I managed my symptoms by spending $130/month on Shakeology and drinking it religiously every day. I think there was something in Shakeology that reduced my inflammation just enough to hide my symptoms. I figured I was feeling sick because I was missing some critical Vitamin X and Shakeology was providing it for me.

Long story short (too late for that!), I eventually found the paleo diet and tried giving up gluten. I felt great! And a week ago I finally got around to testing if gluten was the problem by eating some gluten.

Yep. It was the problem. My IBS reared its ugly head for 4 days.

But was it THE problem?

The AIP is designed to eliminate foods that cause immune responses. Therefore, it is REALLY restrictive. For a full list of foods that are on/not on the list, check out The Paleo Mom. Dr. Sarah Ballantyne was one of the first people to give this diet a try (suffering from Autoimmune disease herself), and was basically the pioneer!

The more I look into this, the more I think I am destined to give the Autoimmune Protocol a try for one month. When I first heard about it, I had just started eating a low carb paleo diet at the request of my naturopath, and it seemed like too much to handle. To be honest, my autoimmune problems are relatively small compared to others. I have my IBS, some skin issues (I’m 25, and I still get acne and boils – which I found out can be related to autoimmunity), and hypothyroidism runs in my family and I’m starting to show signs. I don’t have it nearly as bad as some people with worse symptoms. That being said, it seems like more and more, I should give this a try for 30 days and see how I feel.

This means, no grains, no dairy, no nuts (sad), no seeds or seed based spices (wah!), no legumes, no eggs, no alcohol, no NSAIDs, and (worst of all) no nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, pepper based spices).

Though this diet can get even more restrictive (low carb, no fruit, etc.), this is as restrictive as I’m going to take it. I’m making a promise to myself. If I can religiously try the AIP for 30 days (NO CHEATING), and I don’t feel better, I am going to concede defeat. I can’t keep stressing about what is wrong with me – it’s making everything worse. If, however, I do feel significantly better at the end of the 30 days (which I am positive will be the case – I’ll be eating nothing but incredibly nourishing foods for 30 days), I will stick with it and slowly reintroduce various food types to see which ones are triggers and which ones aren’t.

It’s going to suck, but I think my healthy buddy, Sylvia, is willing to try it out with me! I’m also giving myself a month or two to prepare a lot of these foods ahead of time so that I’m not making ‘no-mato’ sauce from scratch while I’m also cooking all day err’day. I’ve also bought a cookbook and plan to start looking through it when I get some free time in the next couple of days.

I’m hoping for one of two outcomes: 1) The AIP works for me. I see significant reductions in my inflammation and I’m filled with energy. I’d like to sleep better, have clearer skin, lose a little body fat, and become more regular. 2) The AIP doesn’t work for me, but I find peace in this resolution. Maybe it partially works, and I sleep better and lose some body fat but I still have acne and a little brain fog. I want to find peace with that solution. I don’t want to always be scouring the internet for a magical cure for whatever symptom I’m experiencing.

Thanks for reading my story, and if you want to join me on my journey, let me know in the comments and we can keep tabs on one another! I’ll write a post when I actually start doing the AIP, and I’ll try to keep everyone updated on my progress through that month. In the meantime, stay healthy friends!

 

Still Gross :( and How to Enema :)

After a full week of rest and eating (relatively) right (much better than the past two weeks), I’m still sick. I’m feeling better in that I’m more functional, sleeping through the night, and my throat isn’t sore anymore, but I’m still stuffed up, have a bad cough, and wake up nauseous from all of the post nasal drip. Today was the first day that my hunger came back in full swing, which is unfortunate, because I was hoping to continue getting away with just a breakfast shake for breakfast to cut back on the calories for the day. *sigh* life is never that simple!

I’ve been trying to get through this cold without medication (no nyquil, dayquil, etc.), and it’s been kinda tough, mostly because my eating leading up to being sick wasn’t very good. I only really had trouble sleeping one night of my cold though, and all of the other nights slept pretty deeply. If I’d been more diligent and didn’t destroy my immune system beforehand (which is probably why I got sick in the first place), I have a feeling that my cold would have been even quicker. Regardless, I think this is simply a nasty bug, and from what I’ve heard, I have a slightly milder version, so I’m grateful!

Just as a quick summary: I ended up trying out my enema kit, and I have to admit that I found it a very pleasurable experience each time I tried it! Here’s my method:

  • Start with 2 tsp of ground coffee and work your way up to 2 tbsp.
  • Put the coffee in a pot and add two cups of filtered or distilled water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 13 minutes.
  • When that is done, add 2 cups of cold water and let the grounds settle to the bottom of the pan for a few minutes
  • Use the simmer time and the settling time to clean your equipment and prepare your enema area . I normally lay in my bathroom floor and either watch youtube or listen to relaxation music, so I need to lay out some towels, move my laptop to the bathroom, and bring my cleaned enema kit to the kitchen where the coffee is.
    • Note: If I have extra time, I’ve even been able to tidy up my entire apartment (or even a room) while I’m waiting for the coffee to finish. It’s the perfect amount of time to load/unload the dishwasher, tidy up the living/dining room, or take care of one chore, and then you don’t have to worry about it later!
  • With the clamp on the silicon tubing shut, I carefully and slowly pour the coffee into the bag, making sure to be gentle enough to leave the coffee grounds behind. Generally, I can do this without difficulty, and it saves me from having to use a coffee filter which takes FOREVER.
    • Pro Tip (because I’m a pro after 4 enemas hahaha): Trader Joe’s has a good selection of organic coffee for a very reasonable $8 in the Northern VA area. They come in whole bean form, but there is generally a coffee grinder next to there so that you can grind your coffee to your preference. This is IDEAL because the coffee is the cheapest I’ve been able to find (and in a very generous 14 oz), and you can grind the coffee coarsely so that it will sink to the bottom of your saucepan and make this method easier!
  • Bring your enema kit to your enema location (or sink if you don’t do your enemas in the bathroom, and release the clamp with the nozzle in the sink long enough to get the air bubbles out of the tube. In case your wondering, when the clamp is shut, it creates a vacuum so that more air bubbles don’t form. If that didn’t make much sense, trust me it will when you try it for yourself). If there’s still a little air in your tube, don’t worry about it, it won’t ruin your enema.
  • Lube the tip of the nozzle with either coconut oil or castor oil. Just enough to get it slick.
  • Lie down and get comfortable. Hang your enema bag on a doorknob or towel rack (doesn’t matter as long as it’s a couple of feet above you). Gently insert the nozzle aiming it directly for your head (not at an angle). Insert it at least two inches (you have to get it past two sphincters). Then, take a deep breath and let it flow by releasing the clamp.
  • I honestly could barely tell anything was happening other than occasional feelings of gas (in which case just clamp the tube, take a few deep breaths, and it normally passes). When the bag is empty, clamp the tube and remove the nozzle. I didn’t find I had to clench my butt cheeks together – it felt very natural. It also helps to gently rock from side to side once or twice to distribute the coffee. Occasionally, you may have gas pains. Just keep breathing deeply as it finds its way out, and don’t worry, a fart won’t make you spew coffee everywhere (just think – how do you fart normally without pooing everywhere? Your body knows how to do this 🙂 ). Keep the coffee inside for about 15 minutes, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it all the way to 15 minutes your first time.
  • When the time is up, make your way to the toilet and let all of the coffee come out. WARNING, this WILL destroy your toilet. It might be a good idea to pick up some natural baby wipes so that you can wipe up your toilet when you’re done!
    • Your first time, you may have to run back to the bathroom to release more coffee for a little bit after you’re done. Your body gets better at expelling all of the coffee in one go with time 🙂
  • After your enema is done, enjoy the “free” feeling, clean your equipment and let it air dry, and go about your day knowing you’ve done the body good!

In addition to giving enemas a try, I’m excited to begin gardening 🙂 My amaryllis bulbs are doing great and growing, and I’m going to try to grow a bunch of tomatoes to make a whole lot of pasta sauce later this year! My boyfriend is even getting in on the fun as he try to grow cucumbers, tomatoes (his are not for sauce!), green beans, and spinach (all organic, of course!). He’s even growing some cat grass for his cats 😀

I’m off to get back to recovering! Thanks for reading, and I’m sure I’ll be feeling much better by next week!

Naturopathy Results

Hello again! It’s been a while, and I’m still recovering from my vacation, but I wanted to briefly cover the results of my naturopathic assessment.

She did many tests, from examining my bloodwork and reviewing my symptoms to acupressure testing and a 24 hour urine panel. It was a long three weeks waiting for my results since my first visit, but I trust my naturopath!

When I went in, she said that the major reason that I am experiencing health issues is because I’m not digesting ANYTHING properly. Not fats. Not proteins. Not carbs. Not vitamins. Not minerals. In fact, she said I was digesting so poorly that I should just stop taking my vitamin supplements because I was peeing it all down the drain. She also said that I am especially susceptible to carbs, and I am to avoid them for a couple of weeks while I’m first healing. She also said that I am drinking too much water, which is diluting my stomach juices and making digestion even harder.

She also suspects that I have hormonal, thyroid, and adrenal issues as well, but the major problem at the moment is my digestion. If I’m not absorbing everything properly, I won’t have the nutrients necessary to fix my other hormonal imbalances, so it’s best to start from the ground up. I suspect that all of this destruction comes from being gluten sensitive for four years and still eating gluten.

So, what am I supposed to do about it? Here is a list of changes I’m making:

  • Virtually no carbs and sugar for the first two weeks – She said a clementine is the absolute max I should have in a day (which is good because I love clementines and they can be my substitute dessert!)
  • Protein at every meal
  • 7-9 cups of vegetables a day – green smoothies!
  • Cut back on the water – and avoid it 30 minutes before and after meals
  • Eat lots of healthy fats – like nuts and seeds
  • Drink some bone broth
  • Take fermented cod liver oil daily
  • More fiber
  • Take digestive enzymes she prescribed

She prescribed a stomach acid supplement which will help my stomach secrete the proper amount of stomach acid, as well as two other supplements: one with enzymes and plant supplements to support energy for my brain fog, and another with calcium (and what calcium needs to be absorbed) for my moodiness (she thinks that I’m moody because of a calcium deficiency.

Unfortunately, like a dingus, I lost my stomach acid supplement while on my vacation, so I will have to wait until the new order comes in. I will take the others in the meantime and implement the other changes!

What I hope will happen over the next two weeks:

  1. Candida die-off. While I was taking my stomach acid supplement while on vacation, I started craving desserts and sugar really bad. This is probably due to the candida starving, so I know it was working! I doubt I will be candida free in two weeks, but I hope my symptoms will be much better!
  2. More energy!
  3. New food restrictions will become habits. It’s going to be really hard for me during the first two weeks (especially with leptin and candida cravings!), but I hope that by the end of two weeks, I’ll be feeling significantly more in control!
  4. I find I like green smoothies!
  5. Get into the habit of drinking less water
  6. Make more bone broth! (I made my first batch and it is DELICIOUS!!)
  7. Less moody come that time of the month!
  8. Healthy digestive movement – I’d like to go a whole 14 days without a digestive upset or cramp!

Wish me luck and feel free to join me! Stay healthy, friends!

I Need to Work Out and Cook More Often

I have a confession to make: it’s been about a week and a half since I worked out. Mostly, this is due to a transition to a standing desk at work, which has done wonders for my posture, and I can feel the extra work my legs are doing (because by Friday, they are SORE). I’m also glad that I can work without worrying about all of the harm I’m doing by sitting. I know that I’m probably going to go home and sit all evening, so it’s important to me to stand at work! I’m finally starting to get used to it now, so I won’t be going home exhausted and sore just from standing at work (and fidgeting and dancing too, since standing completely still isn’t good either – hey! More calories burned!!).

I’m a little discouraged though by my recent findings. I went to the doctor’s office for my first physical since going Primal (another post about that later!), and overall, I was blown away by how much my blood test improved! This year was the first year that I took an actual look at my blood work and compared it to my blood tests from 2011 and 2012 (I’m waiting on 2013 for the full post about my results!). I went online and researched each metric tested – what is it testing? What are the normal ranges? What does it mean if it is low or high?

Most importantly, what are the FUNCTIONAL ranges?

It never occurred to me that metrics within the ‘normal’ range could still indicate a problem. In particular, I looked at my thyroid function since my mom has an underactive thyroid. My doctor didn’t mention my thyroid function at all, because technically my TSH (1.15) and free T4 (1.29) are ‘normal.’ After doing some research, I found out that my thyroid function was actually lower than it should be, since the functional range for TSH is 1.8-3.0 mU/L (source). This explains why I lost only about half of the weight I should have when I did Focus T25. I also saw that even though my Vitamin D was the highest it’s been in a while at 44.8 ng/mL (normally it’s in the mid 30’s – thank you sunshine and supplements!), it’s still well below the functional range of 50-70 ng/mL (source).

I was floored. Why didn’t my doctor tell me something was wrong?? In general, I like my doctor, and she was supportive of my transition to the Primal lifestyle (except she recommended I wear sunscreen the second I step out the door – that is NOT happening), and she was supportive of my decision to go off of birth control in a few months (after I’ve gotten my diet sorted out and solved some of my hormone imbalances through my diet. But the fact that she didn’t even mention that I should try to increase my vitamin D some more or mention that I might need to see a thyroid specialist has me questioning her judgement.

So, I’m going to do what I don’t recommend and what is not recommended in general: take my health into my own hands. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still going to see my doctor, since she can potentially help me find problems I don’t see. But I’m going to take herbal thyroid supplements with ingredients designed to nourish my thyroid gland and hopefully stimulate a little more function out of it. I’m taking an herbal yeast cleanse supplement and drinking water kefir to clear out the waste in my gut and heal it.

But I need to do more. I need to work out and get my heart pumping so that I can increase my metabolism and overall health. I need to cook more, because then I eat better AND save money. These steps, in combination with my supplements, will hopefully balance out most of my health problems.

Most importantly, though, I need to reduce my stress. Getting my thesis done and starting my new life has put a lot of strain on me, so I need to center myself and learn to let things go. I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning, which helps a lot, since I’m both doing something monotonous and productive, but it’s a bit of a workout, and it means I’m surrounded by less of the stressful filth. But yoga will also help, as well as my friends, and family.

Here’s to hoping you start taking a look at your health and not taking every word you’re told (or not told) as law! Get healthy and stay healthy!

What the heck?? Nightmares…

I’ve had really vivid dreams my whole life. Not every night per say, but at least 3 or 4 times a month, I’ll have a vivid dream in which something strange usually happens and I wake up thinking “Whoa, that was weird… but kinda cool!” Generally, the dream can involve me going on a quest with some of my friends and family, a weird scenario (the other day, I dreamed that this really rich french guy asked me to marry him – gave me a huuuuge ring! And then something happened, and he called it off, and I remember thinking ‘I get to keep this awesome ring!’ hahahaha, I’m weird), or a dream in which my brain is exploring a concept or idea – often times the source of inspiration for my books. I’ve actually fallen so deeply in love with a fictional character in my dreams that when I wake up, I actually feel like I’ve lost someone that I love. Maybe only once per year to I have a nightmare in which I actually wake up terrified and have to calm myself down before I go back to sleep.

In the past week, I’ve had utterly terrifying nightmares THREE times. The first one started out okay, and I was at school. Apparently, this was a paranormal school though, because we were tasked with what could be possessing this woman in a video. The video was taken from the husband’s perspective, and in it, the girl’s head turned around, and a weird clicking like a clock could be heard, and with each tick, her face turned a little bit more into the scariest red faced demon my brain could imagine, until her face disappeared and she just had a blank head. Then, her face exploded into a horrifying grimace and the video was cut off. I woke up and saw that red faced demon everywhere. I had to read a book before I could even get back to sleep. And when I did, I dreamed that I worked at a corrupt grocery store where the young female cashiers were, *ahem* taken advantage of violently. I was selected to be next, and I made such a ruckus that the other girls were able to escape, even though I knew it meant I would be killed.

I chocked it up to just being a bad night. Maybe I ate too close to bedtime, or something I ate didn’t agree with me or something.

But last night, it happened again. This time, I had two daughters, one was more independent, and the younger one was a little more needy. I was at work with the needy one when suddenly I hear a man screaming in one of the closed offices. When the door bursts open, three men who have been taken over by large brown bugs (like cockroaches) who were driving their bodies like puppets toward me. I was running away with my daughter and we found my other daughter, who accused me of abandoning her and then ran away on her own. We were running, surrounded by screams as people were being taken over, but suddenly everyone around me had been taken, and I had to get away, but I could only walk. The scariest part was walking away with them shambling after me, and the bugs were making the humans have innocent conversation to lull me into a sense of security. I kept going until I was surrounded, which is when I woke up.

I don’t know what is causing my dreams, but I certainly hope they stop. Sleep is so crucial when you are detoxing (and in everyday life!), and these nightmares are not only interrupting my sleep, they’re making it more difficult to go back to sleep afterward. Also, I haven’t watched, read, or done anything scary before bed in months and months. It’s just a bad idea.

Has anyone else experienced nightmares while detoxing? Am I going insane?

I’m sorry if the images in my dreams scared anyone or made them uncomfortable, as that was not my intention by scaring them. I described my dreams in the detail that I did so that you can see how vivid and real my dreams can be, and why they can be so shocking as to wake me up. Also, if there are any dream readers out there, I’d love to hear your analysis!

As always, thank you for reading! My posts will be more lighthearted from here on out, I promise!

Stay healthy!

Back from Vacation!

Hello again! It’s been a long, relaxing week on vacation, and even though I was pretty active all week (took the stairs, walking on the beach, swimming, sprints, shopping, etc.), my diet was DEFINITELY not in check, so this wasn’t the first vacation where I lost weight after all. But, that’s okay, because now I can safely fall into a routine that will ensure that what I gained will fall off relatively quickly!

Yesterday, my plans to work out turned into my plans to go for a long walk with the pooch, go shopping for organic teas (YUM!), and go shopping for clothes. Soooo… not ideal. But I’m planning on going for a long walk this evening at the very least, and I hope I can fit in a quick T25 work out as well!

I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I’m going into super crazy home/self improvement mode lately! There are about a million and a half projects around the home that I’m going to do for my mom, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands a little dirty for the sake of fixing up my mom’s house for her! She’s also going to ask around some of her friends to see if they’d be willing to help us out with the things we can’t do for a reduced rate. I’m setting aside some cash for home improvement stuff, so I’m going to try and get as much bang for my buck as possible!

When it comes to the self improvement side, I’m struggling a bit to get back onto the primal bandwagon, but I’m trying! I’m also making strides toward a natural beauty regimen based on some techniques outlined on Wellness Mama! I’ve tried her Natural Shampoo, and I like it so far (it’s weird not having the oily residue that makes your hair seem slick when it’s clean), but I made the mistake of trying to use coconut oil as a conditioner. DO NOT DO THIS. As a result, my hair was ridiculously greasy, and I didn’t shampoo it quite well enough last night, so it’s still a little greasy. I’m going to make an extra effort to shampoo that really well tonight!

I’ve also changed out all of my body soaps for Castile soap, such as Dr. Bronners. I managed to find some of the liquid and bar versions of the peppermint castile soap at a local Trader Joes, which saved me a bunch in shipping! Converting from the conventional body wash to a straight up bar of soap is kind of weird, honestly. After using it, my skin feels like it has some kind of wax coating in the shower (like there’s extra friction there), but I can only assume that this is due to the fact that other soaps left an oily residue to slick my skin in the shower? However, when my skin dries, there isn’t a noticeable difference!

More excitingly, I decided to try some Oil Cleansing on my face. This was another one of those articles that, as I read it, it just made sense (kind of like Mark’s Daily Apple and the Primal Blueprint). So, I purchased some Hazelnut Oil (supposedly more environmentally friendly than Castor) and just used some olive oil I had laying around in my mom’s cupboards. I decided that my skin type was probably more combination than anything else, so I went with slightly more than a 3:1 ratio of olive oil to hazelnut oil (like a 3:1.25 ratio). I mixed it up in an old plastic medicine tub (yay recycling!), washed my hands, dipped my finger in and touched that finger to my forehead, repeatedly dipping and pressing for my left cheek, right cheek, and nose/chin combo. Then, I gently and deliberately rubbed the oil in using small circular motions with my fingers. I made sure to focus on the areas where I tend to get breakouts, or where I have black heads. Then, I walked around my house for about ten minutes to let the oils soak in and break down my body oils (my mom got a kick out of my super greasy looking face). Then, I hopped in the shower and rinsed my face with warm/hot water, rubbing the oil in a little more and trying to rinse away the excess. I didn’t further wash my face, and I only lightly patted my face with a towel to dry it, trying to keep the oil intact. I also didn’t need to moisturize my face, and went to bed without further face regimen!

It’s time for some real talk about my face. I’ve been struggling with small white pimples called milia for about 6 or so years now. I went to the dermatologist, who explained that my skin doesn’t shed itself efficiently on my chin, so the skin will cover my pores and create little white bumps. Basically, I will have white bumps on my chin pretty much all of the time, and occasionally, they will get swollen and need to be expressed. In my experience, my chin is basically a ticking time bomb. For the most part, I look fine, but the second that one of those milia decides it’s time to go, I know that I’m going to have to deal with a week (at least!) of having a chin that looks red, inflamed, and destroyed (scabbed over). Gross! Here is a picture of what I’m talking about (sorry the lighting is pretty bad):

1407847162208

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Seriously, Hokie? Two pimples on your chin and you’re whining and complaining?”

Confession time, I was about to have a major milia break out, and this picture was taken AFTER the oil cleansing! I was expecting my skin to get worse over the next week before it got better, but when I woke up this morning to find that my swollen milia was not only no longer swollen, but was HEALING, I immediately grabbed my camera to snap what was as close to a ‘before’ picture as I could get!

So far, the rest of my skin seems to have improved as well! I’ll keep everyone posted about my progress, but I’m so excited, I just had to share!

I hope everyone is having a great day! Stay healthy!

Primal Journey – Current Results!

Hello everyone, and welcome to Hokie Doke Fitness! I’ve been going through some serious life changes, and have been sidetracked from the real purpose of my blog: fitness and education. So, for the first time in a while, I’m going to share my results with you all!

I’ve been mostly Primal for almost two months now (about 80% Primal – still need to reduce the sugar and enter the exercise, but otherwise I’ve been good!). For the most part, I feel great! My IBS is gone, and only acts up when I eat something strange. At the moment, I’m pretty tired still from camp, but I’ve found that I’ve been sleeping better through the night and this is encouraging. So, here are my two months results:

Weight: 183.8 (-11.4) (I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM ALMOST IN THE 170s!!!! I haven’t seen that number since freshman year of college!)

Waist: 33.75 (-2)

Hips: 43.5 (-1.25)

Bust: 38 (-1.5)

Under Bust: 33.5 (-2)

Right Arm: 12.6 (-0.5)

Left Arm: 12.1 (-0.15)

Right Thigh: 23 (-0.5)

Left Thigh: 22 (-1.25)

Body Fat %: 37.9% (-3.4%) (THIS BLOWS MY MIND!!)

Body Fat Weight: 69.6 (-11) (Almost all of the weight I’ve lost has been body fat!!)

Slow and steady wins the race! I lost most of my weight after the first week of going Primal, since I lost about 7 lbs in the first week. Also, as a quick update on Sylvia, she’s also doing great!! She’s at her lowest weight since high school and has found that the change in diet has greatly improved her mood and her chronic fatigue!

I am pleased to say that I was able to stay mostly Primal for pretty much the entire time I was at camp! No gluten at all, but I did have more sugar and carbs than I probably should (I still kept it around 150 g a day). I was also walking around a lot and even taught yoga classes to the campers! I’m going to take a few days to rest after camp before I begin working out and sprinting again, but I was good!

I’ve got a vacation coming up in the first week of August, but at this point, I’m committed to this lifestyle. If I can eat Primally for a week when I’m exhausted, surrounded by temptation, and following a meal plan that isn’t my own, I can do it on vacation! I’m also looking forward to going for walks on the beach and working my feet muscles! Also, getting some yummy yummy Vitamin D!

On an unrelated note, becoming an adult is hard. Not for the reasons you’re probably thinking, but I’d like to take a page out of Bantam Balance‘s book and tally some things I’m struggling with.

  1. Save more money – Granted, there have been a lot of one time up-front purchases I’ve had to make in the past couple of months, such as new phone, new clothes (and I’ll probably have to buy more soon since the inches are sliding off of me!), travel costs, and lunches and dinners to catch up with friends. Since I didn’t have any source of income for about two months, my savings accounts took a major hit. I’ve been incredibly blessed with a great job and little school debt, so I want to start off the rest of my life saving my money and being responsible. At the same time, paying off debts makes me feel like money is just flying out of my hands, and I’ve had to take a lot of time off without pay for camp and vacations.
  2. Be more physically active – I’m really looking forward to getting a yoga membership and exercising more Primally, but I’m struggling to find the time.
  3. FINISH THESIS – Seriously, I am sitting on a finished thesis and am now waiting for my committee members to approve it, which is like herding cats. I can’t wait to be done!
  4. Eat less sugar – Pretty simple, this one
  5. Write more – I can’t remember if I mentioned it on this blog or not, but I also write fiction. I haven’t been able to work on my books for a while now since my thesis has been taking up so much of my time.
  6. Be more natural – I’m not really in a place where I can grow my own vegetables or sun dry my laundry, but I’d like to find ways to go green!
  7. Help my mom out with her house – She’s been putting aside money from her small paycheck to help keep my student debt low, so the least I can do is put aside some money and fix up some things around her house!

Here are my preliminary strategies for reaching my goals:

  1. Save more money – I’m making small steps toward saving money in the long run, such as figuring out how to make reusable paper towels, homemade laundry detergent, homemade beef jerky, and the like. I’m also going to pay off all of the debts I’ve built up (credit card debts immediately and school loans as quickly as I am able) and focus on setting aside money for my financial security blanket. I know that I spend a lot of money on food, so I’m going to look into ways of getting local produce more cheaply! I also hired a financial adviser to help me get my budgeting and 401k in order!
  2. Be more physically active – I plan on signing up for a yoga studio membership, and I’d also like to start taking dance lessons with my boyfriend. I’ll bring in a pair of extra shoes to work, so I can hopefully go for short walks during lunch at work and get some vitamin D!
  3. Finish Thesis – I do not have to resort to it quite yet, but if I haven’t heard from my committee members by tomorrow, I’m going to implement the ‘bother’ strategy. I will contact anyone and everyone that they know so that they can bug them in person until they stop dragging their feet and approve my thesis already.
  4. Eat less sugar – I’m going to try to make more food at home and make sure that I know exactly what is in it. I’ll also try to stay away from sauces and desserts.
  5. Write more – I won’t be able to work on it much until I get my thesis done, but after my thesis is complete, I want to set aside time to work on my books so that I can get them all done!
  6. Be more natural – I’m going to try to take small steps, like making my own laundry detergent, to reduce the number of chemicals my body comes into contact with. I’ve already convinced my mom to convert most of her light bulbs to LED light bulbs to save energy, but I’m also trying to go without AC when I drive my car. Small changes, but hopefully they will prove fruitful! I also plan on spending the extra money to purchase more sustainable options that will save me money in the future, such as reusable paper towels.
  7. Help my mom with her house – While I’m still young, single, and have few expenses, I plan on setting aside a few hundred dollars a month to go toward home repair. I know that her bathroom needs to be recaulked, that the kitchen needs to be recaulked, and that one of our bathrooms needs a complete makeover. There is a lot of painting that needs to be done too. I promised my mom $6000 to go toward home repair to be set aside over the next year, but if there’s a project slightly out of that budget, I’m willing to go over because I love my mom and she’s one of the major reasons I’m in such a good place financially right now!

So, there’s my game plan! I hope to update this once a month! I’ll do my best to update with results every week as well!

Thanks for reading, and stay healthy, friends!

A Little Bit of Perspective

Hello everyone! Lately, it seems like life is moving really fast, so I thought I’d break things down a bit and talk about the other areas of my life and how they’re going (thanks for the request Bantam Balance!).

If you’ve seen my ‘About’ page, you know that I am a Masters student at Virginia Tech, working on my Masters in Electrical Engineering. I’m finishing up my masters this semester (hopefully!), though there is still a lot of work to do! I can’t talk about my topic too much, but I can say what it is about in general terms! For the past two years, I’ve been trying to use geoprocessing software (or software designed to work with terrain data, roads, buildings, and other geographic features) to model electrical engineering principles. Mostly, I’ve been using the software to model Radio Frequency (RF) propagation. This is in an attempt to aid those who are proficient with geoprocessing software to model RF propagation so that they can estimate broadband coverage, cell phone coverage, etc. I’ve been working on this for a while now, and at this point, it’s mostly just having to write a huge paper. I only have a few weeks to write it now, so I’ve been under a lot of stress lately to get that done!

Also, I’ve met someone online 🙂 I won’t say much about him, but I will say that he is incredibly sweet, and one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met. He’s coming down this evening to meet me for the first time, and I’ve been a massive ball of nervousness and excitement for the past week, which has resulted in a loss of appetite, poor night’s sleep, poor focus, etc. That being said, I’m confident that once we meet, I’ll be in a much better spot 🙂

Other than school, boys, and fitness, there really isn’t much that I have time for! So, I’ll summarize what’s been going on for the past few days:

  • Workout buddy extraordinaire, Sylvia, has also met someone online, and they’ve met and really hit it off! So, we’ve both been a little stressed out with new guys in our lives, which has resulted in a lot of walks to clear our brains, and sometimes not as much Focus T25. But, like me, Sylvia’s nerves manifest as a quasi-permanent nausea sensation, so I’m not sure either of us should be doing too much T25 anyway, since we’re probably not eating enough.
  • My ankle has been slowly getting better and better, and I’m confident that when it heals up this time that it will be healed for a very long time! I’ve been going for daily walks to make sure I work it a little bit, and there is less pain with each day!
  • On Monday, we did Core Speed, but we have not done a T25 workout since then. On Tuesday, Sylvia went on a 4 mile hike with her new BF, and was too tired, whereas I’d slept poorly and was too tired for that reason. So, we went for a walk instead. Tuesday evening, we also got fully body massages as a reward for doing well in T25 (best idea ever!). However, yesterday, Sylvia’s muscles were really sore from the massage, and I’d suffered another poor night’s sleep, so we decided to go for two mile and a half walks. Today, though, I’m feeling a little more rested, and I’m determined do to Rip’t Circuit. I hope I’ll be able to keep up like I used to, but I’m going to do my best and forget the rest! I want to keep the momentum going!

I’ve also had to deal with a lot of stress lately, which has resulted in a lot of epsom salt baths. I get the epsom salt that is scented with Eucalyptus and Spearmint to get a little aromatherapy in there too, but I have greatly enjoyed the baths! I think they’re helping with my ankle and my overall stress level!

Well, I’ve got a big day ahead of me, but I hope you have a great one! Stay healthy, friends!