Healthy hair, skin, and nails — My tips and tricks!

Well…. it has been a hot minute since I decided to jump on here. What can I say guys? Sometimes my creative juices just aren’t flowing. When blogging becomes a hassle or isn’t enjoyable is when I know I need to take some time off… so that’s what I did!

Since I haven’t posted in a while I thought I would dive into a hot topic that effects me personally. When it comes to having healthy hair, skin, and nails I have historically struggled in all three areas. I know there are bigger issues in the world for many people, but when you are a young girl in college having pieces of hair fall out continuously when showering can not only be stressful, but something that I began to dread on a daily basis. Not only was my hair thin and frail, I also had constantly wear nail polish to hide the brittle pieces of nail that would flake off on a daily basis. You know those people that bride themselves on perfectly manicured nails and long flowing locks of air… I definitely was NOT one of those people.

To top off the cosmetic pitfalls that I experienced as a young adult, I also suffered from terrible acne throughout my teen years. Talk about a way to decreased a ones self esteem. Acne will definitely do that, and I definitely had my trying moments where the only solution I could think on was caking on make-up to try to hide the little bumps that made me dread leaving my bedroom. I tried everything in the book from scrubs to medicated facial washes and had little to no success. Little did I know at the time that likely a lot of my skin issues were exacerbated by my typical crappy teenage diet of sugary frappuccinos and weekly blizzards from Dairy Queen.

I have definitely come a long way, especially over the past 3 years since moving to Arizona. Moving to a desert climate with dry air and excessive heat gave me a long list of new and different challenges to keep my hair, skin, and nails looking and feeling healthy. A lot of my issues with hair and nails throughout college were also a result of poor dietary choices (or what I thought were good dietary choice), i.e. minimal protein in my diet (does powdered PB count as protein? HA!), minimal healthy fats, and likely many nutrient deficiencies that I so cluelessly ignored or didn’t even think to check when I was vegetarian (and not a good one at that). While I was consuming nutrient dense foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains), I was definitely lacking variety, scared of too much fat, and did not work hard enough to assure my body was getting good sources of protein on a daily basis.

With the changes I have made with my diet and general cosmetic care over the past 3 years, I have definitely seen great improvement in all of these areas of my body. My hair, while still taking a lot of work to feel “thick” and full, grows much faster and looks and feels healthier. My nails grow faster than I can keep up with, and while I still get an annoying blemish every now and then, my overall complexion has improved more that I could have hoped. I am going to share with you 5 of my personal tips for maintaining good hair, skin, and nails. While some of them may seem obvious, and some have nothing to do with nutrition at all, I understand the desperate feeling that many women go through when one of these areas of their body are making them feel self conscious. My tips are super easy and truly have helped me gain more confidence in these areas, and while they may not work for everyone, they may just be the starting point you need for your own beauty upkeep!

1. Hydrate — with WATER!

Remember when I said these were obvious? If there is one thing I can stress about living in a dry climate, it is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. My skin becomes a dry and itchy mess when I don’y hydrate well. Lotion can only do so much to hydrate when you live in 100 + degrees, and truly the only thing I have found to help with my completion in this new climate is water. Another great thing about drinking water is it replaces other sugary beverages that you may consume instead. Sugar is a huge trigger for my complexion. Around the holidays when sweets and specialty cocktails are at every holiday party or function, I often notice blemishes begin to pop up out of no where. If I take a few days to drink a lot of water and stay aways from all other beverages (besides coffee of course) and sugary snacks, my face typically clears up on its own!

2. Daily dose of fat — avocado, olive oil, egg, and/or nuts.

Vitamin E, which is found in a variety of cooking oils, fish, nuts, etc, is an essential nutrient that plays a role in skin health and has anti-aging effects against every day stressors on the skin (hard water, sun exposure, air pollutants, etc). As with any essential nutrient, I try to always obtain adequate amounts of nutrients through food first. Not only can these foods help keep skin feeling smooth and healthy, they also help my hair grow. I love to throw avocado in my smoothies to assure I am getting in ample amounts of fat in my diet that help keep my thin hair feeling fuller and stronger. Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce breakage and encourage new growth from the hair follicle.

3. Learn to love dry shampoo!

For so many years I was adamant about washing my hair daily. I think it came with playing sports… I hated when my hair felt sweaty or greasy! It didn’t help that dark hair showed every little bit of oil that would come from the roots, and before I started using dry shampoo this would make me feel dirty no matter how much a cleaned my actual body. I started to “train” my hair about 3 years ago when I figured out that washing my hair multiple times per day in Arizona was a recipe for disaster. I slowly worked my way to every other day and then every 3 days when I wasn’t running or training for a race. The more I tried to stretch the time between hair washes, the less greasy my hair would become. I know it sounds crazy…. but I truly believe I trained my hair! When in doubt, top buns and hats became my best friends! I brush my hair every night before bed to try to rid any dirt or particles from the strands before getting into bed. Another quick hair tip — I stopped sleeping with my hair in pony tails! Pony tails or buns when sleeping can promote hair breakage, especially if you already have thin or frail hair. If it is REALLY hot, sometimes I will braid my hair to get it out of my face while I sleep!

4. I wear sunscreen…. every day.

Even days when I not really outside, I always put sun protectant on my face. I use BB cream from covergirl every morning which is a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen in it. I started doing this when I moved to Arizona and really try to be adamant about it even on days where I am home and don’t really put on make-up. The more sun-exposure my face gets, the more spotty and dry it becomes!

5. Collagen in my coffee!

I recently starting using collagen peptides after hearing lots of chatter about the benefits it has for hair, skin, and nails. Most of the research I have read with collagen is in regards to anti-aging of skin and increasing nail growth. In simplest terms, collagen is protein that binds tissue together within the body. “Peptides” are basically the building blocks of collagen, or short chain amino acids that bind together to form collagen strands. As someone who doesn’t eat a lot of meat and can’t eat seafood, I saw this product as an easy way to increase my protein intake!


Why I don’t count calories…

Ok, this is probably a controversial topic but something I’ve learned over my few years of being a dietitian is everyone has an opinion about something. One person may believe one thing while the other believes another, and that goes for dietitians too. This post is more based off personal opinion and experience. If you feel otherwise, that’s ok! I just wanted to share my perspective.

First….

I know I haven’t posted in a while. LIFE HAPPENS! Jeff and I have been through a whirlwind of a year with adding a furry member to our family, deciding to build our first house together, me finishing up grad school, and me changing jobs. Life can get hectic and while it’s all good things, stress still creeps in whenever it can.

Honestly, I just wasn’t feeling the whole “blogging” thing for a while. Posting was adding more stress than enjoyment to my life, and that is a big enough reason for me step back and take a break for a while. That being said, life goes on, things started to settle down, and here I am again!

Now, for the important stuff…or I guess the stuff I find important.

So why don’t I count calories? I actually use to be a big supporter of counting calories. I’ve used apps such as myfitnesspal to track my foods and keep a total of the calories I would eat in one day in comparison to what I burned through exercise and daily activity. While I think these apps definitely have a place, I don’t think they are necessary for everyone.

We now live in a country that is fixated on eating “less”. Making things with “less sugar” or cutting out fat for “low-fat products”. The dieting and diet food industry is booming with the latest shakes, fat-burners, cleanses (don’t even get me started on that….), and everything else under the sun that give you less sugar, fat, carbs, dairy, gluten, etc. You name it, there’s a product for it. Many people now feel that less calories, less sugar, less of all the things that have comprised foods for years will lead to a healthy body weight and in return — happiness.

I’m not so sure about this.

I can’t remember the last time I wrote down or recorded in my phone how many calories I ate in one day. For me, if I count minimal ingredients and can recognize most if not all of them, this is a good food choice for my body. When I eat bread, although thats not often, I look for one with ingredients I recognize and know are needed to make a delicious and wholesome loaf of bread. Do I care if the slice has 60, 100, or 150 calories, not really? I’ve written previously how I use to use “diet” peanut butter, egg whites, and other low-fat products such as cheeses and yogurt. I have now traded these products for whole eggs, full fat peanut butter, and a variety of yogurts (some made with whole milk, other not) that are satisfying, tasty, and get this —- FILLING. Who would have thought?

The crazy thing is, even thought I use to be an avid calorie counter, my body hasn’t really changed much. If anything, I think I look healthier and feel more at ease not having to constantly look at every loaf of bread to find a calorie count that I liked.

This brings me to the other main reason I don’t count calories. I think it can become meticulous and obsessive. I never want to be stressed out because I can’t find a food I ate in the app I’m using or be distant in a conversation because I want to enter my meal before I forget. Again, do I think calorie counting or using these apps has a place in some situations for some people, yes I do. It’s just not for me and not something I find vital to living a healthy and happy life.

Thanks for reading!


Stepping Away From the Scale

I’m sure you guys have noticed a pattern with some of my blog posts over the past 6 months. I’m really, really trying to break the weight-obsessive attitude and stigma that can come with “healthy eating” and really focus on more general health and wellness. Disordered eating is something that I feel very passionate about, because I believe it effects more people that we generally realize. There are times when someone who doesn’t necessarily have an eating disorder show habits or signs of disordered eating. The concept of disordered eating is extremely gray. There isn’t one primary way to identify or manage it. It can surface some days and other days be the furthest thing from someones mind.

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The graphic above gives a very broad depiction of where someone may fall within the eating disorder or disordered eating spectrum. Of course there are extremes such as development of an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, but preoccupation with weight or partaking in excessive or extreme exercise can fall into a more broad pattern of disordered eating.

So, my title is “Step Away From the Scale” and there is a reason for that.

I remember in when I was in college, I would go to our main fitness center called the RPAC at least 4-5 times per week in between classes or on the weekends. There were multiple scales throughout the gym which people could use as they please, myself included. Nothing abnormal about scales in a gym right? Its ones own choice whether or not to step on the scale, and athletes such as wrestlers or swimmers where weight may play a more prominent role may also need to use these more frequently.

I, of course, stepped on the scale each time I was there and thought nothing of it. I knew my weight would fluctuate between morning and later on in the day. Depending on what time of the month it was I might even see a greater fluctuation. That didn’t change the fact that any time I saw that number inch up, my stomach would churn a little bit and I would think, “what am I doing wrong?”.

I can especially remember when I was training for a race and seeing a consistent 102-105 lbs, I would think to myself “that sounds about right”. A few month later once training had ceased, that number slowly crept to 106-108. I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. On a completely separate occasion, I went to the campus health clinic for something unrelated (I was sick or something) and was routinely weighed prior to going back into the room. The scale said 110 and I about had a heart attack.

This is what one simple number can do.

Did I look any different throughout this entire year? Not really. Is it abnormal for a woman to fluctuate 3-5lbs depending on the time of the month. No. Did that number have a negative impact on my day? 100%

Now…I didn’t change anything about the way I was eating; I didn’t restrict; I got over it in a few days and entered back into real life, but for others that number can cause a lifetime of damage. That number can mentally stick and haunt someone until they choose to enter into a world that is really, really difficult to get out of.

During my time at Ohio State, they ended up banning scales from the fitness center. At that time, I was baffled. Why in the world are they taking away something that goes hand in hand with fitness? I have a right to weigh myself, and they just took away that right? I look back on this now and applaud whoever made that decision. I don’t know if that is still the case, but I am happy that someone at least gave this a thought at that time. I think scales can be a useful, but also extremely dangerous tool.

I encourage you to step away from the scale and truly listen to your body unless there is a medical reason you need to weigh yourself. Learn about your body and pay attention to different areas, how your clothes fit, and you you feel on a daily basis. These things are so much more important than a silly number. I stopped using scales about 3 years ago prior to moving to Arizona, and only use them now on occasion. We use to have one in our bathroom, and now it sits wrapped up in our closet untouched for years.

I hope this post encourages you to recognize if preoccupation with weight has or does play a role in your life. Stepping away from the scale is one way to fight back against those preoccupations and have a more well-rounded and healthy view of your body.


What did I think of the Whole 30?

Ok, so I announced a few weeks ago that I was doing the Whole 30, but I never mentioned if I finished or how it went. All of these thoughts and feelings are my own. You or someone you know may have had a completely different experience.

To answer the first question of did I finish? No. I did not finish the Whole 30 for a few reasons. First, I want to say it drove me nuts that I stopped. I am a person who loves a challenge, and I like to see things all the way through. So, even though I started to have poor feelings about what was happening to my body and started to question some of the concepts, I still didn’t like that I was stopping.

I stopped the Whole 30 at day 13. In those 13 days I lost approximately 6lbs. I was currently 5’2″ and 112 lbs, so this brought me down to 106 lbs. I really didn’t want the weight loss to continue, but I was at a loss of how to increase my calories without drowning myself in even more nuts, avocado, and eggs than I was already having. Red meat is something I never really had in my diet (I grew up not eating it!); I’m allergic to fish/seafood; and I was already having 2 servings of chicken per day and 1 serving of eggs per day. I felt a little stuck.

Besides the weight loss, I also didn’t like the way I started to think about food. I never think obsession is a good thing when it comes to healthy eating. I have never been a restrictive person with what I eat. That is not how I choose to live my life, and trying this diet just enforced my belief in this concept. I didn’t want to develop a poor relationship with food… everyone has their limits, you just need to know when to recognize yours. This was a big eye opener for me that I needed to continue the way I have always lived my life and keep food something that is enjoyable and a part of my life…. but not my whole life.

Some positives from this experience:

  • I realized how many foods actually contain added sugar. Even as a dietitian who chooses a lot of plant-based foods, does a lot of home-cooking, and tries to eat whole foods frequently, I was shocked as I dug a little deeper into some of my basic kitchen staples. I was amazed to find sugar in my pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, and even in a jar of organic salsa. I have chosen since stopping the Whole 30 to make a conscious effort to continue to monitor my sugar intake and look for foods with minimal, whole ingredients.
  • I realized what an impact reducing sugar had on my skin. I have always struggled with keeping my skin clear. Cutting back on the quantity of sugar I had in my diet helped tremendously!
  • I realized that as a dietitian, my credentials and education have given me the true tools to living and teaching how to live a healthy lifestyle. I can’t stress enough that if you have any type of body issues, whether that be the desire to loose weight, gain weight, maintain weight, or just feel good in your own skin and reduce your risk of health problems, go see a dietitian. Dietitians are trained to meet you where you’re at in your life and create a plan that is best for you, your every day life, and your desires. Dieting is something that is short term in terms of happiness. What I mean by that is seeing the scale go down by a few pounds may be satisfying now, but as soon as the diet is over it can cause feelings of disappointment, sadness, and even depression when he weight trickles back in. A dietitian can help you create a better lifestyle for yourself so that happiness and healthy living is long term.

So in short, would I recommend the Whole 30? I think the decision is up to you. I highly recommend that you know yourself and pay attention to your body if you do choose to try it. I recommend you seek advice from a Registered Dietitian on how to modify the concepts of the Whole 30 to better fit you, your lifestyle, and your goals. Eating a diet that focuses on more fruits and vegetables, proteins, healthy fats such as nuts and avocado, and eliminating added sugars is something that I support. Just remember to give yourself a break, don’t deprive yourself, and know when restriction becomes obsession. Lastly, carbs are not evil. Learn to moderate and choose the right carb sources, and I promise you, you won’t blow up like a balloon after one meal containing whole wheat pasta. 🙂

 

For any additional questions regarding my experience or thoughts about this process, feel free to email me @ chelseamrd.1@gmail.com. Thank you!


Bouncing Back From Holidays

Ok, anyone else feeling a little sluggish today? I’ll be the first say that I love celebrating with family and friends, but sometimes I hate the way I feel coming off a holiday weekend. A little extra indulgence in sweet treats, decadent holiday dishes, and a few too many sips of my favorite red wine have me feeling a little groggy and a little swollen. While I look forward to getting back to the routine on Monday, it is often hard to wake up and feel motivated the day after celebrating and festivities. Here are a few of the things I do to swing myself back into my normal eating, exercise, and overall feel good habits!

Really quick….

I think ya’ll have probably noticed by now we have a new member to our family, Eddie. Can I just say this little fluff ball grew to the point where it is almost impossible for me to carry him in my arms for more then a few minutes. Holy heavy! Props to this little guys for doing so well on his first Christmas with our family!

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Now for those helpful tips! Again, these are things that work for me. There is no magic trick to feeling your best immediately, but these things have definitely helped me many times!

1. Drink decaffeinated herbal tea before bed.

I do this for multiple reasons. Tea has always helped me relax and wind down in the evenings, which is sometimes hard to do coming off celebrating or traveling. Tea also really helps me de-bloat. I tend to drink mint or ginger tea with lemon, but see what you like best and what works best for you!

2. Wake up, and work out!

As terrible as this may sound, the feeling of sweating and just being active after a little over-indulgence feels more than amazing. If you don’t do it first thing the next morning, have a plan for when you will do it because as the day goes on it tends to be easier to find and excuse to skip this one. All it takes is one day to get back into your exercise routine! Make today that day!

3. Take a day off from leftovers.

Leftovers won’t go bad sitting one extra day in the refrigerator, so do yourself a favor and take a break from the holiday food. Make one of your favorite healthy meals filled with lean protein and veggies, and please skip the salt! Salt will add to any feelings of bloating or puffiness, so load up on other herbs, spices, or light sauces such as salsa or siracha.

4. Drink water and lots of it!

I tend to drink a lot of water as it is, but it’s no secret that water is the best tool for hydration. Yes, I tend to use the restroom a lot when I am drinking more water than normal, but who cares! Hydrating myself after a long weekend not only makes me feel good but it keeps my skin from breaking out after all the extra sugar that comes with holiday treats and sweets. I like my water cold and sometimes add a little lemon for added flavor!

I know those tips may seem very basic and easy, but thats because they are basic and easy! I am never one to complicate things when there is a ways to make them simple, so I hope you still find these helpful!

Hope everyone had a fun-filled holiday weekend and is ready for 2017! I know I am! Merry late Christmas and Happy Holidays from my little family to yours!

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