Supplementally Speaking…

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For most of my life, you couldn’t pay me to take vitamins on a regular basis. My aversion to their size and taste had me reaching for Flintstone’s chewables or Emergen-C in the rare instances that I actually would cave in and allow them past my lips. And oh, how times have changed.

In the past year, I’ve made my health much more of a priority… partly because I know I’m headed toward motherhood, partly because my adulthood has been wrought with unfriendly wake up calls about my health and habits, and partly because I met Paul – who already had a strong vitamin routine of his own and could help educate me about what I might consider taking.

My supplemental needs break down into a few categories:

1. To offset our insane dining habits (aka we eat way too much, y’all), Paul and I have an equally insane workout schedule, that keeps us strong underneath the extra cushion that our many meals have provided. So, supplements to support my metabolism, my endurance in my workouts, and the strain they put on my muscles, was definitely an essential.

2. My immune system is… unreliable, at best. It has a mind of it’s own, but I’d like to “brainwash” it and bend it to my will. So, strengthening immunity was definitely a must.

3. Balance. My system had none. I needed lots. Supplementing my diet and hormonal structure provides balance, and I likes it. Also, my mental health is rickety at times, and while I’m on an anti-depressant to manage my illness, supplementing with natural boosters can only help keep my blues at bay.

4. Vanity. I’m getting older every day. Anything that can help my skin and hair stay youthful, I want. I especially want things that will not just help me stay youthful, but even improve the situation. Vitamins can do that, yo. SCIENCE!

5. Fertility. I need all the help I can get in strengthening my reserves in the ladybits department, so I’m taking anything I can to support my hormones and fertility through supplements and diet. My future babies will thank me, I’m sure.

Now, witness the daily insanity!

Daily Supplements copy

Aooooga, am I right? Dudes, I know this looks excessive. But taking them has left me stronger, healthier, more consistently energized, and vibrant than I ever was before I made them part of my daily routine. It takes some time (around 21 days) of regular use for your system to adjust to any new supplement, so don’t expect immediate results. But, they’ve changed my quality of life for the better, so I wanted to share them here.

Now, here’s what they are, and why I take them:

Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women Women’s Multivitamin
Just your every day multi for us ladies. I love Optimum Nutrition, because they come in tidy capsules that are pleasantly sized, easy to swallow, and don’t have the vile vitamin-y smell or taste that have kept me away from most multi-vitamins until now.

Turmeric w/ Bioperine
Turmeric is credited with helping prevent cancer, improve digestion, boost immunity, among other things. But it’s most notably known as a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, which is my primary reason for taking it. And it works! I no longer require prescription-strength Aleve to manage my arthritis pain! I never thought that would be possible. It’s kind of a miracle drug.

Nutrigold CoQ10
This is an enyzme that supports heart function and promotes energy production in cells. It is also said to boost energy and speed recovery from exercise, improve gum health, and have anti-aging properties. All good things, yes?

Natrol DHEA 25mg
DHEA is a naturally occurring hormone that the female body converts into androgens (mainly testosterone). I take it because science suggests that it can be very beneficial for women with low ovarian reserves and increase the likelihood of pregnancy through IVF. Yes please!

Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Renewal System
I met the Viviscal folks at Blogher last year, and was thrilled when they offered me a six-month trial. It features a deep sea vitamin complex that helps nourish thinning hair and promotes existing hair growth, resulting in thicker, fuller hair. Paul and I been taking it for 3 months now and can absolutely tell a difference. I have tons of new hair growth and more volume than ever, and Paul’s hair is noticeable thicker too. I’ve always struggled with my fine hair, and I’m so thrilled to have found something natural that helps! It’s brilliant.

Macro Greens Nutrient-Rich Super Food Supplement
Paul and I start every day with a protein shake containing the next 3 products. The Macro Greens contain 38 nutrient-rich superfoods and 18 billion probiotics, along with some herbal anti-oxidants. It supports immunity, provides part of our daily servings of fruits/veggies, and fills our bodies with lots of good stuff in one little scoopful. And it doesn’t taste bad, either! Especially when mixed with…

Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Natural Whey (Chocolate)
Now, I’ve always given protein powders the side-eye because they’re often so gritty or thick I can’t stand the texture. This one dissolves beautifully without barely augmenting the texture of the water you blend it with, and has a really nice, light, clean chocolate flavor that reminds me of old school Carnation Instant Breakfast. (Does anyone remember that stuff?) It has no artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavors, either, which I love.

Miracle Reds Nutrient-Rich Super Food Supplement
This tasty powder features 19 anti-oxidant rich fruits and berries, and a ton of plant sterols, which help keep cholesterol low. It boosts immunity, combats aging, and is a great workout recovery complex. Together with the greens and protein powder, it lends a slightly fruity flavor to the shake, which is super yummy.

20oz Sundesa Blender Bottle
These little babies are what we use to mix up our morning shakes. Super easy to use, easy to wash, and inexpensive. I love ’em.

Natrol Melatonin
Melatonin is a naturally-occurring that helps regulate your sleeping and waking hours. Taking it as a supplement helps me get to sleep, when my mind is churning. Fair warning: it can cause super vivid dreams if taken in too high a dosage, so if you try it, stick to 2mg each night and no more. I learned that the hard way!

Optimum Nutrition ZMA
Zinc, Magnesium, and B6, in the right dosage, are shown to increase speed of muscle recovery, as well as boost their growth, in people who are athletic or who do weight training. It’s also shown to increase the quality of REM sleep, so I take it at night to help my body recover from the day’s workout and help me sleep a little deeper.

WHEW! That’s a LOT right?

And that doesn’t even take into account the foods I’ve also incorporated into my daily diet, or the herbs my acupuncturist recommends!

Do you have a supplement regimen? Or am I alone in my crazy, pill-filled world?


The Journey.

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My parents have been here for the holidays. It’s been… hectic. So here’s this, since I don’t have time to write much. A friend posted this to facebook, and I absolutely died for it. Feels incredibly powerful, especially so close to the eve of a new year. Especially with the year I have just experienced. It’s almost as though this poem was written for me, at this time.

More later, obviously.

But in the meantime, I hope you are having the happiest of holidays.

The Journey

the journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

– Mary Oliver


Splurging on skincare, saving face.

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Early into our courtship, Paul took me to the fabulous Hotel del Coronado for a long weekend, and treated me to an afternoon in their spa, which included a luxurious professional facial. Up to that point, my skincare routine consisted of using my body wash as face wash, and slathering on some coconut oil as moisturizer. It wasn’t very, shall we say, refined. *cut to me lackadaisically washing my face with (gasp) body wash in the shower*

And being in my mid-thirties, it isn’t such a bad idea to get with the program and start treating my face with a little more respect than that. I’ve been pretty lucky, in that (so far) I’ve managed to stay fairly wrinkle-and-acne free. My biggest problems tend to be an oily T-zone, and sporadic deep zits along my jaw line. So, the nice lady who gave me the facial of a lifetime recommended some products, and I bit the bullet to splurge a bit on keeping my face more clean, balanced, and healthy.

Skincare splurges

Eminence Organics is a phenomenal brand. They are, as implied by their name, organic as all get out. No creepy additives, no testing on animals, all handmade and natural goodness that makes me feel safe and responsible. Their probiotic line offers the same thing to my skin that yogurt does for my belly. It keeps the healthy bacteria in good balance, so they can fight off the nasty bacteria more efficiently. The lactic acid helps provide gentle exfoliation, and a host of vitamins, active ingredients and nutrients generally calm and nourish my skin. It’s not too drying, which is nice since I do have combination skin and sometimes my cheeks are on the drier side. And it smells nice, too.

I follow the cleanser with the moisturizer in the mornings, which I mix with my tinted moisturizer that serves as my foundation. In the evenings, I follow the cleanser with a 10% glycolic lotion from Epicuren, which uses Alpha Hydroxy Acids to exfoliate and bolster support of collagen and elastin, while clearing pores and battling wrinkles, spots and scars. This one is a bit more aggressive in the anti-aging part of my routine, and I love the tingle that I feel when I lay it on. Epicuren is another lovely, natural and healthy line of skincare products that I feel safe using.

Once a week or so, I slather on the Eminence probiotic masque between my evening wash and glycolic lotion. It boosts my routine with extra exfoliation, moisturization and nourishment. Paul has periodically noticed on days that I use it, claiming my skin looks brighter and healthier. Then he kisses me all over. BONUS.

I definitely feel as though my skin is better off for having this routine, and it makes me feel like I’ve made more informed choices about what’s healthy for my skin. I’ve noticed that my oily/dry spots seem more balanced, and there’s more overall vitality to my skin. Buying so many specialized products felt like a huge splurge, but honestly, I’ve been rocking the same pump of cleanser, glycolic lotion, and tub of masque since April, and I’ve only had to reorder the moisturizer once since then. This stuff packs a lot of bang for it’s buck, and lasts a long-ass time. Worth every damn penny.

What are your favorite skin care products?


My Pits Don’t Stink: Homemade Natural Deodorant

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“Oooh, that smell! Can’t you smell that smell?” Listen closely, chickens. I’m about to let you in on what has been a life-changing recipe for me. See, my quest for the perfect deodorant ain’t because I’m scared of my own smell, or even, that someone else might find themselves in the wake of it. Oh no no no, friends, it is that “deodorant” smell that is just as sure a giveaway of a sweaty lady as her own B.O. might be. That awful, damnable powdery smell… or that floral whiff that is forever in contest with your chosen eau de toilette. Whenever I smell it on myself, or another girl, I cringe. Almost all the scents available in commercial deodorant fall into the “I would never choose that” category, the same way 90% of the perfumes at a department store counter do. There was one exception, when Secret briefly offered a “vanilla chai” scented stick, but it was discontinued, and I cursed the heavens for a long time to follow.

And on the other hand, in recent years, there’s been more and more noise about the potential dangers of aluminum, which is present in all antiperspirants, and their rumored cancer-causing properties. There’s the problem of other additives that may not be doing our skin or our health a service, but are convenient, inexpensive fillers for “big B.O.” to use in their products. And the older I get, the more I realize that knowing what I’m putting in or on my body matters to me. I’ve got far too many mysterious, incurable maladies – and the more I learn, the more it would appear that “cleaner living” can benefit our health at all levels.

So, when I learned that it was exquisitely simple to DIY my own deo with only 3 all-natural ingredients that I probably already had in my kitchen, and control the scent, I jumped at the chance to try. After all, I already exclusively use whipped coconut oil as a body lotion, and love it, so why not add 2 ingredients and call it deodorant?

DIY Natural deodorant

It’s that simple, folks. Mix together the ccoconut oil, baking soda, and your choice of cornstarch or arrowroot. Hit it with a hand blender, if you want to ensure a lumpless, fluffy cream, and slap it in a mason jar. If you have an old jelly jar, or spaghetti sauce jar, use that. By all means, recycle. Note: I definitely prefer the texture of the cream made with arrowroot, as opposed to the cornstarch. I find it is a softer touch, and emulsifies better into the oil. But, I recommend you experiment with both, and figure out which suits your taste better.

In this state, it has, and will impart to your pits, a very light coconutty smell. One which will not interfere with your perfume of choice. Nay, in my opinion, it will only enrich any scent it comes into contact with, like umami does for savory foods. But, if coconut just ain’t your jam, you can experiment with whatever essential oil(s) floats your particular boat.

To use it, just dip your finger in the salve, grab a dollop about the size of a dime, and slather it on your skin. But, in my opinion, there are a couple key tips that can improve your experience getting used to this switch, and they are thus:

1. If you can, do a 3-day “detox” before starting on your natural deodorant regimen. Simply trade out your deo for a few drops of Tea Tree Oil for 3 full days. If you can’t, don’t sweat it (ha!), but if you can, it’s a nice way to sort of “cleanse your palate” from commercial, inorganic ingredients it’s been force-fed for who knows how many years.

2. If you’re of a more sensitive nature, you may wish to start slow. For some, putting this on immediately after shaving can cause a little irritation, due to the somewhat abrasive texture from the powders in the cream. I’ve also heard rumors of break-outs from applying it to skin just after shaving. So, wait a bit before putting it on. Maybe shave the night before. As time goes on, you’ll acclimate, and it will cease to be a problem. And the bonus is, if you ever suffered from over-pigmentation in your pits, this can actually help fade that, over time!

3. If you can, reapply once, mid-day, for maximum potency. As this isn’t an antiperspirant, you’ll still be sweating, and you’ll want adequate coverage. BUT, the good news is that, once you’re allowed to perspire freely, no longer confined by the chemicals of commercial products, and your body acclimates to this freedom, you’ll find that – over time – you actually sweat LESS. And when you do sweat, it’s much less likely to have as much of a funk as it used to. And that, my friends, is like an alchemical miracle. It’s like how they say your lips can become addicted to balm, because they “forget” how to moisturize themselves. The same appears to be true of armpits, kind of. So by lacquering ourselves in chemically-derived antiperspirants, we’re actually teaching our bodies to fight harder to produce sweat. How crazy is that?

So, sure, it might take a bit of dedication to acclimate your body to a new means of odor control, but not only is it safer, more natural, and infinitely cheaper (at pennies per jar versus several dollars per stick), but it’s absolutely worth it for all the same reasons. I can safely say that I’ll never go back. And if you’re a friend of mine, don’t be surprised when I gift you a small jar for yourself, and try to convert you. ‘Cuz I’m preaching the gospel of DIY deodorant to anyone and everyone who will listen!

What do you think… would you give it a shot? If you do, come back and let me know how it works for ya!