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!


Stay Happy & Hydrated!

Happy Wednesday friends! It is officially summer over here in the dusty, dry desert(at least it feels like it). Thankfully Arizona is easing us into summer this year. Instead of blasting us with mid 100’s all day, we at least still have some cool mornings and cooler evenings to keep us sane!

Never the less a few weeks ago I started feeling dry. What do I mean by “dry”? To start, I was super tired… all the time. No matter how much sleep I got I was waking up groggy and going to bed earlier and earlier. My lips felt chapped and my head felt foggy. I was so unmotivated to do anything after work because all I wanted to do was hit the couch and relax. On top of this, I would get random occurrences of nausea and my muscles felt achey and tight. I knew immediately that I wasn’t hydrating myself well because this also happened to me shortly after moving to Arizona.

Summer months in the desert are HARD! It is almost harder with having a little relief in the mornings and late evenings because it makes me more inclined to spend time outdoors when I can. The dry air sucks every little bit of moisture out of my skin, hair, and makes it extra difficult to hydrate before and after a run. Because of these reasons, I have to really push myself to hydrate more often throughout the day. I always prided myself on drinking a lot of water, but even with my good habits I still feel I need to push myself a little harder!

Here are a few of my tips on how to stay well hydrated. These tips don’t just apply to me… staying hydrated is beneficial in general to pretty much everyone! Hope you enjoy, and happy hydration!

  1. Carry a large water bottle — ditch the plastic minis! The bigger the bottle, the better for me. I like physically seeing that I am making progress on my water goals. It gives me a way to measure how well I’m doing throughout the day or if I need to step up my game. I prefer water bottles or flasks that are 24 oz or more!
  2. Switch it up! I have shared before how much I enjoy bubbly, flavored waters such as La Croix. When I open up a La Croix, I can down it within 15 minutes because the bubble and hint of flavor is so enjoyable and refreshing to me on a hot day. Drinks such as La Croix are also typically caffeine and sugar free. Caffeine tends to be dehydrating (it makes you pee a lot!), and because I’m such a coffee addict I try to stay away from all other caffeinated beverages as much as possible!
  3. Take advantage of summer fruit! Some fruit such as watermelon or honey dew actually have a fairly high water content. Snacking on these fruits can actually provide a source of hydration all on its own. Of course… you still need to drink fluid, but this is a great way to snack and hydrate at the same time without even thinking about it!
  4. Choose water during your commute. On average, my drive to work is anywhere from 30-40 minutes. During this time, I always grab a water bottle or a carbonated water to sip on the drive. I use to drink coffee on my commute but found that I usually wanted coffee anyways once I arrived at work. Swapping the car ride coffee for water was easy knowing I would have a cup as soon as I settled in at my destination. It is almost like a game… I have to finish this bottle or can before I pull into the parking garage!
  5. Utilize different flavors as needed. I use to flavor my water a lot more with fresh fruit such as strawberries or lemon. I occasionally would slice up a cucumber and add a few pieces to my water in the morning if I wanted a flavor that was less sweet or tangy. I don’t do this as often now, but it is definitely a way to please your palate and give yourself a little variety!

STRESSED

Happy Sunday everyone! I think this is such an important topic to talk about today. I’m not just talking about how stress can effect your food intake or food choices, but I also want to share how it can effect your body in general. I’ll also share some ways I’ve learned to manage stress through food and exercise. I’m definitely not a model example when it comes to managing stress. I’ve definitely encountered moments where I’ve let stress get the best of me and effect my mood, my body, and my daily activities.

I do think its getting better. Something, or someone rather, that helps me manage stressful times is my husband. It really helps me to identify periods that are stressful and say it out loud or have him point it out. Once its out and in the open, I feel like it is easier for me to manage!

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Not only can stress cause physical signs of hurt or discomfort such as headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, stomach discomfort/digestive issues, and chest pain, it can also effect your daily mood. Heightened anxiety is something that I usually face during times of stress, and it also tends to effect my sleep patterns. Both of these symptoms tend to lead to irritability and eventually lots and lots of tears. Stress can effect everyone differently, this is just my own personal experience. Other common effects that stress can have on mood include lack of motivation or focus, decreased sex drive, social withdrawal, sadness, depression, and anger outbursts (MayoClinic).

In terms of health behaviors, stress can lead to over or under eating, excessive exercise OR minimal exercise due to excessive fatigue, and increased consumption of alcohol (MayoClinic). I tend to make food choices that I normally wouldn’t make when I’m stressed and feel over guilty about them.

So if we know that all of these things happen when we are stressed, how can we minimize the emotional roller coaster and other side effects? I’m not a psychologist (clearly), but I do have a few things that have worked for me in the pasts.

  • Baking — Baking is relaxing for me. It’s relaxing because it requires concentration (measuring, paying attention to the clock, etc), but it also requires creativity. Because of these reasons, it takes my mind away from whatever is stressing me out and requires me to focus on the task at hand.

  • Running — Running is the main form of exercise that helps calm me down or clear my mind. Going for a long run and falling into a rhythm with music and outdoor surroundings is the ideal situation to help me zone out and focus on my breathing and stride.

  • Yoga — While I don’t practice yoga now as much as I use to, yoga was key for me in college to wind down and de-stress. Yoga is a great way to tap into your breathing and notice when certain parts of your body are in fact tense or “stressed”.

  • Choose tea, not wine! — Alcohol + stress can only lead to bad things. If I have a few glasses of wine during times when I am REALLY stressed (Outside of normal stressful work days or driving home in traffic — I’m talking REAL stress.) my emotions tend to get the best of me. I have found that having a cup of tea at night really helps me wind down and relax before bed. This not only is great stress-relief, but it also helps me sleep better! My favorite night-time teas are any type of chamomile tea, ginger-lemon, or decaffeinated mint. I’m showing two of my favorites below!

     

     

I went to a little talk about stress management at work last week to hear one of my co-workers speak, and she talked a lot about deep breathing. We practiced this method during the talk and it was super relaxing! I don’t know the in’s and out’s of this stress-relief method, but I’d highly recommend doing some research on it and trying it out yourself!

I hope that some of these tips were helpful. As always, feel free to message me with comments or questions! Now — I’m going to go try to manage my stress while watching the Cavs play game two!!! Let’s go Cleveland!


Controlling the Cocktails

This is going to be a fun post… really! I think ya’ll are going to like!

Now, I know everyone may not be on the same page here so if you are like me and look forward a refreshing cocktail Friday after a long work week then you should probably keep reading. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, maybe this post isn’t for you but please go ahead and read anyway! A lot of what I’m going to talk about can still be applicable for those who do not consume alcohol.

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Fruity Summer Wine Spritzer: 4oz white wine, splash of Lemon La Croix sparkling water, ice, frozen blueberries, frozen peaches

When 5 o’clock hits on a Friday, you better believe I’m thinking one of two things: 1. How fast can I get home to see my pup and hub. 2. Where are we going to dinner tonight. I think I’ve mentioned before that Friday is typically Jeff and I’s date night, so I am always looking forward to putting on a cute outfit, enjoying a fun and yummy dinner, and yes… finishing it off with a cool and refreshing cocktail!

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Because of the lifestyle that I choose to live, I am fairly adamant about not “over-doing” it with any type of alcoholic beverage. I am by no means promoting the consumption of alcohol, but having a glass of wine on a Friday or making a fun summer drink to enjoy on the patio with my husband I think is completely OK for me. I know for some, it is hard to find a balance with consuming alcohol, especially for those who are “dieting” or watching what they consume. That is why this post is going to be so fun! I’m going to give you some easy tips to cut back the calories, and have a fun and refreshing drink responsibly that won’t make you feel “guilty” or ruin your health efforts.

Whether it is altering a drink recipe, or just simply knowing your limits, there are many ways to keep you beverages under control and fitting into your lifestyle if you choose!

Tips to cutting down the calories:

  1. Choose your mixers wisely. Stick to things that are natural and have minimal added sugar. Skip the premixed drinks and make a cocktail on your own or order something with minimal ingredients. Utilizes fresh fruit for flavor, soda water or essenced sparkling water for bubbles, or a splash of 100% juice for a little sweetness.
  2. Don’t over-do it. Nothing is worse than someone who has been over-served so don’t be that person. Enjoying a glass of wine with dinner is one thing, but downing a bottle of wine in an hour is another. I hate feeling out of control, so for this reason I am fairly frugal with how many cocktails or beverages I will consume in one sitting. Are your friends bugging you because you aren’t “keeping up?” Order a tall sparkling water and ask for a little fresh lime and mint. The next time you are asked “where’s your drink?” smile and politely hold up your pretty little “mock-tail”. No one will know the difference! One last little note — NEVER drink and drive.
  3. Cut wine with sparkling water or soda water. I know this sounds odd.. but have you ever heard of a wine spritzer? Order 1/2 glass of white wine and ask for it to be topped off with a little sparkling water and a few ice cubes!

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If you are looking to make something special for your next dinner party or social event, try one of these fun and flirty cocktails with a “healthy” twist! I also provided an alcohol-free “mock-tail” that looked unbelievably yummy!

Grapefruit Mocktail

3 oz red grapefruit juice
3oz cranberry juice
2 oz seltzer water or sparkling water
1 lime wedge
Mint leaves

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Recipe & picture from Health Magazine

Basil-Cucumber Gin Cooler

2-inch piece of cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 fresh basil leaves
1 tsp agave nectar
1 1/2 oz gin
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
ice cubes
splash of seltzer
1 thin slice lemon, for garnish
1 thin slice cucumber, for garnish

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Recipe & picture from SkinnyTaste

Watermelon Cucumber Mint Cocktail

2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
½ medium cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and sliced
10-12 leaves fresh mint
2 tbsp date syrup*
2½ tbsp fresh lime juice
⅓ cup vodka
*Date syrup: 10 medjool dates pitted and soaked, 1 1/2 cups water

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Recipe & picture from Hummusapien

Finding Your Own Self-Love

This post comes from a few things that have been swirling around my mind recently, so I thought I would share a few of them. Good health is not always about what you are eating or how much exercise you do in a week (although these are definitely valuable players!), it is also loving yourself in more ways than one. It’s accepting your flaws and your “not so good days” as well as what you value about yourself. Good health requires self-worth. It requires you to fight to be healthy and understand that perfection is sometimes…. actually very rarely… going to be an outcome.

I throw this out there because I think there are so many things that can cause stress in someones life and decrease their ability to actually love their self as a person. Whether that is stress about eating, stress about being as fit as the trainer in the gym, stress about a job, or just having “one of those days” where an un-tied shoe makes you want to scream, I think taking time to find the positives is key. Finding a little positive light in a room of darkness is so, so important to feeling good and reaching that end goal of good health.

The American Psychological Association stated the following:

“When stress starts interfering with your ability to live a normal life for an extended period, it becomes even more dangerous. The longer the stress lasts, the worse it is for both your mind and body.” 

So how does this relate to what I normally talk about?

Food, nutrition, staying active and healthy. All of these factors can either contribute to self love or throw a wrench in your day that causes added stress. Think about a day that you meal prepped, ate a fantastic lunch filled with veggies (GO YOU!), went to the gym or a yoga class and left a sweaty mess, and then came home to drink a big glass of water and finish that list of errands that had been sitting on your refrigerator for the past week. YOU FEEL LIKE A ROCKSTAR. At that moment, you probably looked in the mirror and thought, “I can do this; I feel great, I’m working towards my health goals, and I am so happy with this day. I really do love who I am and who I’m becoming.”

Now rewind to a day the week before where you slept through your 5am alarm, so the early morning run went out the window as you rushed to get dressed and to work on time. Because you are late, you run through the drive through to get a quick coffee and well why not a donut? Maybe it will make you feel better? While your morning started off a hectic mess, you finally make it to work and get the pleasure of having “one of those day” where anything and everything is thrown at you. Swamped with charting or papers that need to be filed away before you head out, you leave a little late, get stuck in traffic, and well… I guess you aren’t getting to that mile-high stack of laundry that you swore you would do tonight (do you even have underwear for tomorrow?). You may have also looked in the mirror that night, but the little voice in your mind would be quite different. “Where did I go wrong? I can’t believe what I ate today. Now I’m going to have to work out twice as hard tomorrow… why in the world did I get that donut?? I’m so behind on my health goals. I’m never going to look the way I want to.” 

Day 1 = Self-love. When you love things about yourself or what you are doing and give yourself a compliment, you are more likely to stay on that path. Making healthy food choices or going to the gym seems a lot easier when you feel and see the benefits and love the outcomes. What can go wrong is when we have a day like Day 2. As I stated earlier, perfection is an unrealistic goal and self-love means accepting the bad days along with the good. Move on from the donut, and realize that one donut will not squash all the work that you’ve done so far to “eat healthy” and feel good about your body. Don’t stop the love just because you’ve had a bad day.

When days like these arise, I try to find some positive in my day. Yes, maybe I skipped my workout, but I went for that 15 minute walk at lunch. Good for me! Not only did I escape a busy day and relax for 15 minutes, but I did feel pretty darn good afterwards and pounded through all of those morning notes in 30 minutes after lunch. How awesome is that?!

Yes, maybe I had a donut for breakfast, but that’s probably the first time I have had a donut in at least two months. I love that I took a moment to indulge. That show’s I really do have balance in my life. Back to my normal breakfast tomorrow!

While I just unleashed all these thoughts on you, I hope maybe part of this resonates with your life or moments of stress that you’ve had. Always try to keep your self-love thoughts in your back pocket so maybe when those bad days come around you can bring a little positivity into your life and diminish the stressful moments. I’m not perfect, and I myself don’t always follow my own tips, but I sure do try! Happy hump day everyone!