Category Archives: Products

Natural beauty

I’ve had a bad few days (so much for that “final week” push!) Again, not any sort of binge or entire-day-eating-junk-food bad but following a big omelette dinner with about a bowl of salted tortilla chips kinda bad. My stomach also isn’t all that impressed as I spent most of yesterday afternoon/evening feeling like something just wasn’t right. It definitely wasn’t a stomachache… it was lower. A kind of bloated, unhappy, “I’m digesting this but not easily” kind of feeling. I think it might have been from eating granola all afternoon instead of just as a snack when I didn’t have a chance to go out and grab lunch.

So instead of me moaning about my bad eating or unhappy gut or whatever, I’m going to write about something that makes me feel good and that I think you guys might be interested in. It’s not technically diet or exercise related, but it is health and beauty related, so I figure it fits with the overall idea of looking and feeling as good as possible. Plus it involves food products!

It’s amazing, to me, that so many people can be super conscious about what they are putting in their bodies – eating only organics, drinking purified water, etc – and yet continue to use commercial beauty products that are absolutely loaded with all sorts of crazy chemicals. Your skin absorbs these chemicals and they get into your body!

When I was trying to figure out why my hair was thinning, I started reading about SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and how bad it can be – including causing hair to thin. Eventually I read enough and decided to cut it out completely.

I started washing my hair with about a bit of baking soda dissolved in water followed by a rinse of diluted lemon juice to close the cuticles and balance the pH levels. (Most website you read will suggest apple cider vinegar as the rinse, but I just can’t get over the smell. Lemon juice is similar and, to me, smells much better!) It doesn’t get all soapy and bubbly like normal shampoo, but it gets my hair clean without drying out my scalp and I’m finding I don’t need to wash my hair every single day. In fact, I can go about 3-4 days before it starts looking a little greasy and I need to wash it. It’s been about 8 months since I’ve cut out traditional shampoo and I can’t see myself swapping back anytime soon.

My other little natural beauty quirk is extra virgin olive oil as moisturizer.

It is amazing.

I have always used moisturizers. My skin is just too dry naturally to go without. It was always a balancing act to try to find a moisturizer that actually moisturized my skin and didn’t just sit on top of it. Trying to find something like that which also didn’t cause breakouts (and didn’t cost a fortune) was always a struggle. When I ran out of my beloved Vichy moisturizer – which I can’t get here in New Zealand – I started searching around for a replacement and read about extra virgin olive oil being used as a moisturizer. I was a little hesitant about slathering oil on my face, but after reading so many glowing reviews I decided to try it. (On a weekend when I didn’t have any plans, of course!)

I now won’t use anything else. Right out of the shower, while my skin is still damp, I’ll smooth about 1/2 a tsp on my face and neck and another tbsp or two onto my arms and legs. My skin absorbs it and stays soft and smooth until the next shower. Olive oil actually helps balance your skin’s oil production, so it’s good for both dry AND oily skin. It’s also a great makeup remover as well as an exfoliant when salt or sugar is added to it.

There are so many other mass produced, chemical-ladened products that have green, natural alternatives, but those two are the two I use regularly and have so for an extended period of time and that I would recommend everyone try for at least a few weeks to see the results.

Are you conscious about chemicals and toxins in your makeup and beauty products or do you focus more on what’s going in – not on – your body? Do you have any natural alternatives to traditional beauty products you use regularly? Would you be likely to try a natural alternative or are you happy sticking with traditional products?

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It’s on like Donkey Kong!

OMG.

Banana soft serve is AMAZING!

I know I’m eons behind the times on this one, but I did not have a blender/food processor until this weekend. I’ve been dying to try soft serve since I heard about it on multiple blogs month ago. So, naturally, I was trying bananas in the freezer before I even got the new-to-me food processor down on the countertop!

My new baby!

Now, I was SUPER excited about this food processor – mainly because I wanted to try this soft serve – but also because I found it, in great condition, at a secondhand shop for $40. Score! Upon getting it home and set up, I realized it’s missing a few attachments and blades and things – but it still acts like a blender, juicer, cream whipper, french fry slicer and dough mixer, so I still think I got a great deal on it!

Somehow, I managed to wait a full 24 hours or so to make sure the banana was fully frozen before excitedly trying to make what everyone else has been raving about forever. I took it out of the freezer and carefully peeled it with a sharp knife, then cut it into chunks and tossed it in my food processor. Pulse. Pulse. Pulse. (To break up the banana into little bits). Then a few minutes of blending – stopping occasionally to scrape the mixture down from the sides.

Once it seemed to have a good, creamy consistency, I scraped it out into a bowl and plopped down on the couch to give it a whirl. And, as you probably have already guessed, I absolutely LOVED it. It had the same consistency as ice cream and was just as satisfying. Possibly even more satisfying because I knew it was just a banana. Talk about the ultimate in guilt-free!

Om nom nom. Amazing.

I’m super excited about trying more varieties. Adding some other frozen berries, some cocoa powder, maybe even a little peanut butter! I also can’t wait to whip up a batch for my vegan friend. With summer just around the corner, I’m sure she’s going to love this dairy-free treat.

Plus, now I can finally try a whole heap of other recipes I’ve been holding off on for lack of food processor. A green monster for breakfast tomorrow? Some chocolate macaroons for dessert? Pureed and blended everything just because I can?! Yes!

What are your favourite “food processor foods”? What other amazing treats have I been missing out on? Dish!

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Filed under Exercise, Products, Recipes

Fun new apps

Periodically I flip through the “free” section of applications of the App Store on my iPod and this morning I found 2 that I thought I needed to download ASAP.

The first is: MyFitnessPal.
I’m sure a lot of you already know about this and maybe even are already using it. In case you, like me, are out of the loop, it’s basically a website/application to help make tracking calories consumed and burned easier. There’s a database that has a gazillion different foods and all their nutritional value as well as exercise and the calories they burn. You update your profile with the foods you’ve eaten and the exercises you’ve done each day and it’ll break it all down for you. How many calories, carbs, proteins and fats you ate. How many calories you burnt. And how that all relates to the goals you set for yourself.

I haven’t been doing ANY sort of tracking – of food or exercise – so I don’t know if I’ll be able to stick with this, or if I’ll even want to, but it is interesting! Plus the fact that i can update it on-the-go using my iPod is pretty cool. We’ll see how long I last…

The second one is: Passometer.
Basically, a fancy (free!) pedometer. I almost always have my iPod with me when I’m walking, so I was quite excited about this little find. It tracks speed, distance and calories as well as steps. It also has a music player that you can choose the playlist for. I’ve loaded up a bunch of my favourite high-energy walking songs from my iTunes and am excited to give it a go. It’s been a little finicky and crashed while trying to load songs a couple times, so I’m a little nervous about that…

It’s rainy and miserable out at the moment, but I didn’t actually bring a lunch to work today, so I’m going to have to go out at some point to grab some food. Will test it out then. Hopefully it’ll all work a charm and I’ll be able to track exactly how much walking I’m doing a day – and add it to my MyFitnessPal log!

Have you found any great applications/websites that help you keep on track?

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Filed under Diet, Exercise, Products

These shoes were meant for walking…

Now that I think about it, I’m a little surprised I haven’t actually posted about this yet. I’ve managed to rave and carry on about it in comments on other blogs, but I think it deserves a proper post here. And, of course, I’m talking about:

MBT shoes.

In case you haven’t come across these most amazing of shoes yet, here they are.

Ok, they aren’t the most stylish things around. Not by a long shot. But I can forgive – and maybe even love – their not-so-flash appearance because of their absolutely brilliant comfort and wearability.

I first found out about them a few years back when my mom read an article in the paper about them. Since I have a fair amount of joint issues (thanks gymnastics, dance and cheerleading!) she thought I might be interested in trying them out. And I was – until I saw the $265 USD price tag!

Months passed and I read another article about them and was interested again. Being the savvy shopper I am, I ended up checking out Ebay to see if there were any pairs for sale there. Of course, you can get anything on Ebay and I found a heap of MBT shoes. After a good look through the different sizes, designs and prices, I finally settled on a “new without tags” white pair – the same as the above picture. Including shipping, it came to about $120 Canadian. Score!

When they arrived, I immediately put them on and started prancing around my apartment. I quickly realized they really aren’t like normal shoes and I was finding it hard to walk around in them. Thankfully, the shoes came with an instructional DVD (ridiculous sounding, I know, but it was helpful with these!) which I popped in and, following along with the video, learned how to properly wear my new shoes.

It took me about 3 days before I felt like I was walking normally in them. And, like a lot of shoes, about 3 weeks before they were fully broken in and felt molded perfectly to my feet. Within 1 month, I was absolutely addicted.

I’m now on my second pair. I literally wore right through the sole of the first pair – probably because I wore them as my main pair of shoes for the better part of 3 years. When I went to replace them, I actually bought a knock-off version. Shame on me, I know! Bad call. The knock-offs looked a bit like the MBTs, but that’s where the resemblances end. They didn’t have the squishy heel that minimizes any impact from walking. They weren’t as padded and comfortable. And within 2 weeks, they had started to come apart. I realized it was worth the extra bit of money to get the real, genuine thing and spent the next couple weeks browsing Ebay again until I found a pair I liked in my size. Including shipping to New Zealand, it cost me about $100 USD.

I would – and do – recommend these to absolutely everyone. I used to get bad knee and hip pains after walking 45 minutes or so. Because these shoes minimize impact, I can now easily wak for hours without pain. I’m far more likely to stop walking because I’m tired or I’ve run out of time than I am because of any joint pain. Plus I love the fact that I can rock back and forth on the curved sole when I’m just standing still. I like feeling the various muscles work as I shift my weight to different parts of my feet.

If you’re thinking about getting them, my advice would be:
– go to a store that sells them and get fitted so you know what size to order. You want them to fit well and if you’re ordering off Ebay, chances are you can’t return them if they don’t fit right.
– take your time getting used to them. Wear them for 20-30 minutes each day for the first little while and increase the time spent in them as you get used to them. You use  new muscles wearing these shoes, so you want to give them time to adjust and minimize any sore muscles.
–  don’t make any quick decisions. They aren’t fashion forward or cute. They feel weird. You rock when you stand still and you roll when you walk. They aren’t like any shoes you’ve worn before. Like any other new thing, they’ll take a while to get used to. Wear them a little each day for a few weeks before you decide whether or not they’re for you.

Have you tried MBT shoes? If you have, what do you think of them? If not, would you be willing to give them a try?

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