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2018, I see you! #GOALS

Tackling goals with flannel in tow.

This is IT – it’s the last day of 2017, and wow, what a year it has been! I wish I had some sort of epiphany to write here, some sort of something to be able to explain to you why I’ve been a little less open about my life since October, and why I’m still not quite sure what “The Plan” is for this blog.

Right now, my plan is to write when I feel I have something to say, and for the first time in the 10 years of having this blog, that means I’ve got no schedule, no content calendar. It’s time to roll with it. But what I DO have a plan for is 2018. My list of goals for 2017 was quite hefty, and it served me well, so I’ve got an entirely new batch of goals for this year. Here goes:

Raise the Standard. I have always strived to live my best life in the things I do and the goals I set, but I have done a really bad job of evaluating those I choose to put into my life. That ended in 2017. I don’t care if my life has less people in it – I want quality over quantity. I’ve been blown away by the amount of cool people I’ve met since I moved to Austin, but I’ve quickly learned that “cool” or “nice” doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be a part of my life. Only I know what (and who) is best for me, and I’ll do everything I can to protect the life I’ve created for myself.

Get more Involved in the Local ZTA Chapter. A sorority sister in Austin was kind enough to invite me to observe a day of recruitment at the end of the summer, and it was really neat to see! It was refreshing to see so many young women coming together for a cause they feel passionate about and I was inspired by their drive and positivity. I’m not sure what ways I can help this year, but I’m willing to try!

Don’t Wait for Tomorrow. In 2017, my motto was “Just do it”, and it really served me well – it got me to schedule all of my medical appointments, take my first blood test (ugh, I know), book flight tickets, and ride a questionable roller coaster. I don’t regret a BIT of it! In 2018, I’m reminding myself to be present, that I only have today, and tomorrow isn’t promised. Don’t wait. Just get it done.

Attend an Estate Sale. I have always enjoyed digging through clearance bins for a great deal, hitting up thrift stores for unique finds, and I love spending hours in Goodwill just browsing through the racks. I’ve never been to an estate sale and I just want to see what it’s all about – and let’s face it, see if there are any good jewels or fantastic art.

Write, just to Write. For a few years, I have had a small fear in the back of my mind: if I’m writing for this blog five times a week, when will I have time to write, just for the sake of writing? And in 2018, I’m taking advantage of my need to be a little less public. I suffered a major blow in 2017 when I realized just how much information I was putting out into the world, and it was providing a peephole into my life for people that don’t deserve to see it. Because of this, I’ve started a journal (an actual paper journal) where I can write exactly what’s on my mind and it’s likely that no one will ever see it. I’m writing just to work on my craft, and that’s for my eyes only.

Treat Yoself. I’ve worked really hard the last two years to pay off debts and put aside money to save and money to travel. And I’m finally at the point where I can treat myself some. Part of this means more travel and life experiences, but part of this is much smaller than that. For years, I’ve had issues with buying nice things and then if I do buy them, I never use them! It could be a nice perfume that I never use because I can’t stop thinking about the cost – it’s silly. I’ve finally started “using up” my nice beauty products on my shelves, or actually wearing the nice shoes in my closet. YOLO!

Take a Road Trip to Marfa, Texas. I’ve been wanting to head to Marfa for a few years now – it’s a small town in West Texas known for its art installations. It’s about a 6-hour road trip, and I’m already dreaming of the tumbleweeds and adorable bed and breakfasts. Let’s hit the road!

Pay off two more Credit Cards. I paid off my first (and with the highest interest) credit card in 2017 and I’m on a roll – I’ll be able to pay off another one before March. I’m not going to lie, I have checked my $0 balance at least five times in a celebration of victory. I’m slowly making my way to living debt-free!

Less Time on Social Media + Less Social Comparison. Social comparison has always been a thing. But damn you, social media, now we’re able to see everything about people we knew, know, and DON’T know at all! Parts of it are cool, but honestly, it’s detrimental, and no offense, but I need to be doing other shit with my life. Social media is literally my 9-5 job, so I’m aware I can’t just quit the stuff. But I can stop mindlessly scrolling and wondering about a random person’s vacation or wardrobe. It’s ridiculous. So I’m putting a time limit on my social media use. I’m not quitting it, but I’m also not going to be sucked into it this year. No, no!

Meditate + Show Up for Yourself. I started going to yoga regularly toward the latter half of 2017 and I’ve slowly been able to work on my breathing, focus, and balance. This year, I want to take it a step further and begin practicing meditation. I want to be a little more present for myself instead of just going through the motions. I’m currently on the hunt for a good app to guide me through meditation – if you have recommendations, please share!

Don’t try to Please Everyone – It’s Going to be Okay. I know I pissed some people off in 2017, and well, that’s never going to change. I cannot please everyone, and frankly, that’s not what I was put on this earth to do. Next? But really, I put a lot of pressure on myself to smooth things over as fast as possible, when sometimes, it just can’t be done. And that’s going to have to be okay.

…And I’ll be livin’ this dream with you. 

-Khalid, American Teen

…So, what goals are you setting for yourself in 2018? I’d love to hear them! Happy New Year everyone!

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Turns out, I’m healthy.

Getting my health on.

It’s been awhile since I’ve offered an update on my health. In May and June of this year, I started the rounds on doctors’ appointments. I had checkups, exams, and even got my blood tested. At the time I wrote my last update, I was awaiting my test results.

I got them back awhile ago and for some reason, never reported back. But I’m here to say, all was positive. Actually, it was way better than I ever expected. I was scared something was wrong with my thyroid, or that I would have high cholesterol (it runs in my family), but NO – my good cholesterol was even high!

I was so happy, and I felt like all of my years of eating healthy and exercising regularly has paid off – in a big way.

I also went to the eye doctor, and after a weird exam, got a new prescription, along with new contacts and a new pair of glasses.

I still have one more place to go though: the dentist. My teeth have always had a rough time, and I had lots of dental work done a few years ago. I changed how I take care of my teeth, but I have missed my last two cleanings – it sounds so gross saying it! I just hate the dentist.

But, I know I need to go, and whatever happens is just something I need to take care of. Plus, I want to see if I’m a candidate for Invisalign or the like – I have some teeth I want to straighten out.

It’s definitely getting done within the next month, because I don’t want to keep putting it off.

Since my regular doctor’s visit, I’ve gone from a mostly-vegetarian lifestyle to a mostly vegan one. So far, so good. I feel light and not weighed down, and it feels great. I also find I don’t really miss anything from my previous diet.

I’ve also continued my regular dance regimen and added a weekly yoga class. On average, I take 6 classes a week.

It feels good to be on top of my health (for the most part).

Honestly, it feels good to be on top of…my life. I know I said this in yesterday’s post, but I think I’m finally ready to close some chapters and move forward (although I’ve yet to figure out how to do this).

One thing I’ve noticed lately, is how much I just want to DO things. I don’t want to let life pass me by, and I’ve known too many people who just let things happen. No. I want to be proactive in my life!

So yeah, I’m going to that dentist!

…definitely laughing while typing.

Adulting: Score one more for me.

Facing fears and going to the doctor!

I know I’ve talked quite a bit about my health this year, particularly about handling some extreme fatigue I was experiencing in January and February. While I have been feeling better – after sticking to a diet and a sleeping pill – I still knew it was time I buck up and go to the doctor.

Since I changed jobs at the beginning of the year, I also changed insurance companies. This was a great time to make all the rounds, so on Monday, I had an appointment with my OBGYN for a wellness exam. Every time I go to these exams, my doctor asks me if I am open for doing lab work, and I always either find some excuse not to (whoops, didn’t fast today…) or I just casually walk out of the office.

I’m serious! I’m not necessarily afraid of needles or blood…but more so just all things medical. But because of this fear, I do not have any idea what’s happening inside my body. Cholesterol? Vitamin D? Thyroid? I have never had anything tested, so I’m clueless.

Now that I work in the healthcare industry, I’m much more privy to how things work, and to top it off, I’ve educated myself on all this AHCA nonsense, so I’m learning a lot about insurance and what’s covered, etc. It’s a fascinating world.

So, when I scheduled my wellness exam and they said to fast beforehand, I told myself yes, I’m going to do it, and if they offer to do labs then I’m just going to go for it (#2017Goals) – no making another appointment, no freaking out, hell, no walking out – just DO it.

Sure enough, right after asking me how I was doing, she asked if I needed labs. Yes, I said. Everything you’ve got. So, after my women’s exam, she directed me down the hall to the lab, where, right out in the open, a nurse was drawing blood.

It was basically my worst nightmare, but I looked the other way, and it was over in like 30 seconds?! I kind of can’t believe I was so scared for that! I know it’s so small, but I felt so proud of myself and I still do. To top it off, when I went to pickup my prescription last night, I was prepped to pay $160 for a month’s supply under my new insurance. But, to my delight, it was $0 and my doctor had given me a three-month supply. Major score!!

I’m really trying to take charge of my health, and this is one step in the right direction. By just a few seconds of fear and pain, I am going to get results on my thyroid, cholesterol, and vitamin D levels. Sure, I hope they’re fine, but if not, I can start doing what I can to fix it.

I have always been grateful to have good health, but I think loosing a close family friend this year really drove that home. I don’t have to take lots of medications just to feel normal. I don’t have to avoid certain foods or activities; I can pretty much do whatever I want and I’m okay. But I know I may not always be this lucky, and it’s about time I start paying attention to what’s happening with my body.

I’ve already gotten one test result back and it was good, so we’ll see how the others go. If you’re on the fence about something health-related, just get it done! I feel so much better that it’s out of the way, and now that I’m about to be in the KNOW, I can continue to get healthier and healthier.

Taking steps for Crohn’s.

Take Steps for Crohn’s!

Howdy! I’m still recovering from a two-day work trip to Dallas, and the weekend. I didn’t get back from my trip until Friday night, and still had some loose-ends to tie up before it was really the weekend, but I didn’t waste much time drinking a beer and falling into bed. I had to be up at a reasonable hour for Austin’s leg of the “Take Steps” – a walk to raise money for a cure for Crohn’s disease.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this walk. While I am SO, so grateful for everyone who sponsored me (I raised $175 toward the cure), no one agreed to walk by my side. So, I woke up on Saturday morning to find it was storming quite heavily in Austin. Nonetheless, I ate, got dressed, and drove 20 minutes to the expo center.

I checked in, soaking wet, and got all sorts of free swag because of the amount of money I raised. I still had an hour before the actual walk started, and there wasn’t much for me to do – there were plenty of things for kids to do, but I sort of slinked away and tried to kill time listening to podcasts and staring off into the rain.

I thought about Cheryl, my friend who died after fighting with Crohn’s. She was my reason for walking on Saturday. Truthfully, I felt like a jerk. She did everything with a smile, and there I was – a grouch. But, I wondered if she was with me in spirit then, and possibly laughing at the fact that this walk was indeed inside a barn, and I was about to embark on a dusty, dirt path in brand new sneakers.

I also wondered why I’d never walked before; why had I not supported my friend when she was alive to see it? The truth is, she made Crohn’s look easy when it probably was not. I know everyone’s experience with it is different, but I know her battle was difficult at times.

As my hour-long wait came to an end, they invited everyone over to the stage. They called up some of the big donors, introduced doctors in the area to help those with Crohn’s and similar diseases, asked those diagnosed to come to the stage, and introduced their “Hero” – a boy who was probably 14-ish, and had been undergoing treatments for years. He spoke, and said his doctor found a treatment that worked for him and put his Crohn’s in remission… until his body developed antibodies to it, and now he was on something new. And while this treatment helped, he said, it was not an eliminator. Our money is working to possibly create an eliminator – and together, Austin raised $62,000+ for the cause.

And with that, we walked. It was a short walk, but I’m glad I did it – for Cheryl, but also for myself. I often take my health for granted, and it was very eye-opening to see others around me who have to work hard and take lots of medications to even try to feel normal. I can’t imagine.

But, my fight for Crohn’s isn’t over. I’m walking again, in a month, in Indianapolis, to raise more money and honor Cheryl once again. And if you’re in the area, I hope you’ll join me. To join my mom’s team with me, please click here. I hope to see you there!

An update on my fatigue…

Who needs sleep? THIS GIRL.

It’s been a few weeks since I told the world (yes, that’s the power of this blog) about my case of extreme fatigue – read all about it here – and I figured it’d be a good time for an update.

Just a few days after the post, I decided to spend that weekend getting some relaxing in. Naturally, it was the same weekend that Daylight Saving time happened, so that was dumb, but whatever. I read, spent lots of time on my couch, and caught up on TV.

The thing is, my fatigue could be a result of many things, including: lack of sleep, allergy medication, increased workouts, lack of protein, or stress. So, I vowed to tackle two of those things for at least one entire week, to see if my energy improved.

In order to get more protein into my diet, I did a lot of research to find out how much protein I need each day (46 grams) and I shopped accordingly. I made “egg muffins” with spinach and cheese for breakfast, and I had grilled chicken breast for lunch. Protein? CHECK.

I also bought a fuckton of bananas to try the latest craze from Dr. Oz: Banana “tea”. Here’s the scoop on naner tea from the Dr. Oz website:

Did you know bananas are a sleeping pill in a peel? If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, try this banana-infused tea as a bedtime snack. Studies have shown that magnesium can be helpful in preventing you from pulling yourself out of sleep, and the potassium and magnesium help your blood vessels and muscles relax.

You make the tea by simply cutting off the ends of one banana, and boiling it (peel and all) in a pot of water for 10 minutes. Pour water into a mug, and I added cinnamon, because, why not? I also ate the banana, because a warm banana is the closest thing I’ve had to dessert in awhile.

I’ve heard the sleep that comes post-tea, is the deepest sleep ever. So, I gave it the ole college try and I drank this tea every night before bed, for 7 nights in a row. While I cannot say I had the best sleep of my life… it was better sleep than I’ve had in probably two years. The downside of the tea is the time it takes to make it, then wait for it to cool, then drink it all – I had to really plan for it, and by the time I drank the tea, I was so bored I could have probably fallen asleep without it.

But when I slept Friday and Saturday night sans-tea, I slept like SHIT. I woke up, tossed and turned, laid awake for hours. Fuck that.

The real question is, did the protein and tea help me feel more awake during the day? Yes. I wasn’t wired, but I definitely didn’t feel like I was about to pass out at my desk. So, that’s promising.

This week, I’m still eating protein: cottage cheese for breakfast and baked chicken for lunch. And, I’m taking a natural sleep aid at night. I’m going to test this for a solid week and see which works better for me – and of course I can always switch it up.

On the one hand, yes, I feel hopeful that I just need to keep up with my diet and a good sleeping schedule and I may feel back to normal without something seriously being wrong with me. But, on the other hand, I may have to always be really serious about what I eat and the amount of sleep I get. And while I know it’s petty – it’s a problem lots of people would love to have – it’s difficult for me (even just in this last week) to turn off the lights hours before I actually want to; to skip reading into the late night; to have random TV marathons… it means giving up a lot of fun things just so I can function at work.

But, we’ll see! My self-science experiment isn’t over, and hey, getting solid sleep is kinda nice… zzzz…

I’m just so tired…

This is me, dragging ass every single day.

If you’re a fan of “The Golden Girls”, you may recall a two-part episode where Dorothy is complaining of extreme fatigue. At the time, she is working as a substitute teacher, and she’s so tired, she can barely complete a day’s work.

She goes to several doctors, and most of them tell her the same thing – that she’s getting old, and yeah, old people get tired. But there is one doctor who finally tells her something is wrong: she is suffering from a rare, but treatable, illness. She is so happy to have a diagnosis that she treats herself to a nice dinner, where she runs into one of the stupid doctors and tells him off – it is a sitcom, after all!

Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot like Dorothy did in those two episodes. The only thing is, I’m not a senior citizen (although my social calendar would show otherwise). I ‘ve traced my recent fatigue back to around the time I started my new job, which was also the same time I started working out more and eating a much healthier diet.

Too many variables, I know! And now I don’t know if it’s one of those things that is causing me to be so exhausted I nearly fall over before 3 pm, or if there is something medically wrong with me. Here’s a mental list of the things I *think* could be causing my sleepiness:

  • Stress/emotions of new job
  • Body adjusting to new diet
  • Reacting to additional, more intense workouts
  • Thyroid problems
  • Lyme disease
  • Lack of sleep

Let’s consider the list. My job isn’t what I would classify and stressful, but it does have an emotional side to it. The thing that affects me is the difference in the schedule – it’s still 9-5, but each day is different from the next, and many of those days begin earlier than 9 if I’m going downtown to the Capitol for a hearing. I definitely think there’s some sort of adjusting curve, and this job has already taught me two things: 1. I’m a creature of habit, and 2. hanging out with white men in suits really sucks the life out of my soul.

True story.

Okay, the new diet. Basically I’ve taken “clean eating” to the next level, and am trying to eat very little meat – with most of my meals being vegan-approved. While these meals have been nothing but delicious, my mom made a good point that I may not be getting enough protein to keep me energized throughout my day. According to Google, I need 46 grams of protein a day, and I definitely don’t think I am. So, a food journal may be in my very near future.

I went from taking a few dance classes a week to taking at least 7, with several of those being cardio-dance classes. I’m in a constant state of soreness, and perhaps my body is not quite as strong as I think. I don’t know if I buy this excuse alone, but if I’m not getting enough protein and working out double than before – it could be the cause of my fatigue.

Thyroid problems/thyroid disease. I’ve always associated thyroid issues with weight gain and/or energy levels. When I Googled it, basically everything can be a symptom of thyroid disease, and sometimes diagnosing these problems can be tough. However, I’m not ruling this out of the picture, because it does run in my family.

Lyme disease. Because we have all either seen “Real World: Seattle” or “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, and we’ve seen how Lyme disease either makes you bedridden or completely insane. I have been paranoid about having Lyme disease ever since the Christmas Mouse crossed his annual path in my apartment. Blanche caught him, and I’m convinced she got it and now I have it. But I Googled it, and it turns out you can really only get Lyme disease from a tick. And I’ve never been bitten by a tick (knock on wood).

Lack of sleep. Imagine that! Not getting enough sleep is the story of my life, especially in the last 7ish years. For a year or so, I suffered from terrible night tremors, which I usually awoke in a sweat, sometimes crying, and often too scared to go back to sleep. I also had a terrible time sleeping during a nasty relationship with a restaurant manager. Note to all: Don’t date someone that’s not on your same schedule. It’s just too much.

Anyway, I have found that the only way I can truly get a good night’s sleep is really preparing for it. I mean make sure the bed is just right, don’t drink, set the oil diffuser, put in my mouth guard, take a Rest EZ (natural sleep aid), and ensure I’ve set a solid 8-9 hour window for myself to snore away. Sounds complicated and high maintenance, I know. It’s annoying, even for me.

The other issue is that, frankly, I have a lot on my plate. As many of you know, this blog is a hobby for me, which means I am usually writing it at 10pm the night before it publishes. After work each day, I usually do two hours of dance, I get home around 8:30, shower, eat dinner, and by that time, it’s time to write my blog, and basically go to bed. If I want to do anything else in the evenings – such as read, cook, watch TV, etc. – that means cutting into my sleep time. And most nights, I am just not ready to mentally turn off the light even though my body is way past ready.

So, how the hell am I going to resolve this issue? My original idea was to use this week as a week to make an effort to go to bed early and see if actually getting 8 hours of sleep solved it. But alas, I have already failed at that, with late night dance rehearsal (for a performance on Friday), a mid-week visit to the Capitol (meaning up at 5:30 am!), and a 2-hour private blog class that I’m teaching. Whoops.

By the looks of my calendar, I am free on Sunday. So, I’m making it a priority to ACTUALLY relax on Sunday. I’ll be really busy on Friday and Saturday to get everything done, but on Sunday, I need to relax and get to bed early. Then next week, I’ll focus on getting rest and making sure I get enough protein. We’ll see how that goes… Don’t worry, I’ll report back.

I’m just so tired.

Won’t you sing me to sleep, and fly through my dreams, so I can hitch a ride with you tonight? And get away from this place, have a new name face, I just ain’t without you in my life.

Late night drives. All along in my car, I can’t help but start singin ‘ lines from all our favorite songs. And melodies in the air, singin’ life just ain’t fair. Sometimes I still just believe you’re gone.

And I’m sure the view from heaven beats the hell out of mine here, and if we all believe in heaven, maybe we’ll make it through one more year, down here.

-Yellowcard, View From Heaven 

Survival of the (essential) oiliest.

The world of essential oils.

The world of essential oils.

I know I’ve mentioned my dabbling in essential oils over the last few years. A dear friend gave me a starter kit and a diffuser for Christmas in 2014 and I’ve been hooked ever since. Aside from smelling great, essential oils have proven to be fantastic for my health.

I’ve used various oils and blends to help me sleep, aid allergy symptoms, and assist with immunity, and I’ve really enjoyed searching for new oils to aid in additional problems, and in general, improve my quality of life. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t say the oils will work for everyone, but it’s worth speaking to a health professional you trust to see if they could work for you!

So far, I have developed a small group of oils I always keep on hand, and they are: peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus. There are a few blends I enjoy, but they usually revolve around relaxation and sleep, or easier breathing. I know many people who use essential oils for just about everything – and I’m envious of this! I’ll get there one day.

Today, I just wanted to focus on essential oils that will come in handy during the fall season, and in particular, the oils that help us when we’re feeling a little under the weather. The top three oils for that are:

  • Peppermint: Relieves headaches caused by congestion
  • Eucalyptus: Decongestant; soothes respiratory problems
  • Oregano: Proven antibacterial; fights sinus infections

I’ll be honest, my first experience with peppermint oil came at the end of a hot yoga class. During the relaxation portion, the instructor quietly came around and placed cold washcloths on our foreheads that had drops of peppermint oil on them and it was FABULOUS. So refreshing!

A small bottle of peppermint came in my gifted starter kit, and I used it when I was feeling congested, and I would dabble some on my chest pre-workout for a whiff of energy (swear, it works). Before I got hooked on eucalyptus for allergies, I often slept with my diffuser loaded with peppermint and it would clear my sinuses while I slept.

One important consideration with oils is the application – I find it’s a personal preference. When I was feeling under the weather around the holidays, I put a single drop of peppermint into my coffee for a festive, yet sinus-clearing, sip. Sometimes, I put the peppermint oil on the back of my neck, or on my chest. Of course, I use my diffuser nearly every night.

You can also use pill capsules and take the oils orally, in water or tea, or create a compress with a wet washcloth. You can also take your oiled compress and place it on the floor of your tub during a hot shower. Fantastic!

I purchased Eucalyptus oil about six months ago because of its healing properties. It has a minty scent, but it’s not as strong as peppermint. I usually use it in my diffuser or on the back of my neck when I really feel terrible. I keep this one in my work bag because it’s good if allergy symptoms or illness creeps up in the afternoon.

And then there’s oregano, which may sound a little funny, but it’s a good one to keep on hand for an antibacterial aid and to help with sinus infections.

The final thing I was to mention is HOW to buy essential oils. Because they are so popular right now, it seems like companies are coming out of nowhere to say they’ve got essential oils. However, there’s not a lot of regulation in this industry, so it’s difficult to know if what you’re getting is pure.

I get my oils from Melaleuca, which are steam distilled, depending on the plant itself. You can find out more information on Melaleuca’s extraction process here. When you’re purchasing oils, look for companies that post how they extract the oil. The oil should also not be labeled as “perfume oil” or “aromatherapy oil”, or anything of the sort. The oils should be packaged in dark glass bottles, and should not contain a rubber cap. Finally, the oils should be priced according to their oil. Rare oils, or oils that are more difficult to extract, should cost more than those that are readily available.

…So, that’s the scoop on just a few essential oils! I’m sure I’ll come back with more information as I continue trying to new oils and blends. If you’re already well into oils, I’d love to know which ones you love!

Fran Drescher has a point…

Fran Drescher is working to kill Cancer.

Fran Drescher is working to kill Cancer.

About a month ago, I was listening to my usual on the way to work, “Wake Up With Taylor” on XM Stars. The guest was Fran Drescher, most known for her starring role on “The Nanny”, but since then, she’s been doing a lot of work to help others in early detection of cancer, and even how to prevent it in the first place.

In the late 90s, Drescher was misdiagnosed many times – doctors were saying she had menopausal issues, but instead she had uterine cancer, for which she was diagnosed in 2000. She had to have an immediate hysterectomy to treat it.

She wrote a book, “Cancer Schmancer” about her experience and included information meant to inform and empower women about the early detection warning signs of cancer – when there’s a better chance of getting rid of it.

In 2007, she launched the Cancer Schmancer Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to informing and empowering women on health issues so they can detect cancer in stage 1. She also offers a lot of information on how to prevent cancer, and she talked a lot about things we can do today, when she was on the radio show.

Some of the prevention tips she offers, include healthy eating: eating organic and non-GMO foods as often as possible in order to provide our bodies with natural nutrition and maintain a healthy weight; exercising regularly; using non-toxic products in our homes, from cleaning supplies to toothpaste, stick to the natural stuff; and using skin care and beauty products that are also natural and non-cancer causing. The skin is our biggest organ and we’ve got to take care of it!

The fact is, these are all of the reasons I became a Melaleuca member, it’s just that Fran Drescher explains it way better than I can.

Did you know that the things we expose ourselves to everyday can cause cancer, and other health problems, such as asthma or Alzheimer’s? Chemicals in household cleaners, skin care products, food and drinks, beauty products, and even laundry detergents can negatively affect our health.

Enter: Melaleuca, a company that’s been dedicated to health in many ways for more than 30 years. Melaleuca sells products that are not only safe for us to use and non-cancer causing, but their products are also designed to be safe for our planet, pets, and to help us all maintain a healthy life.

Almost two years ago, I went to a party where Melaleuca was presented. The membership was only $1 for the first year ($12 for years following) and you had to spend at least 35 points a month on products – about $50 each month.

I signed up and my mom and I have been splitting the membership ever since. Initially, I signed up to get the all-natural cleaning products, because of my cat. I lost a cat to cancer four years ago, whether it was because of the difficult-to-avoid GMOs in his cat food, or the harsh chemicals I used around the house, I’ll never know. But I wanted to make a change.

So, I started one-by-one, replacing my household cleaners. I’ll say that not only are Melaleuca’s cleaners great – they really do work better than the popular brands – but they are the same price, if not less. They sell their cleaners in concentrated bottles, so one bottle = 3-4 large bottles of cleaner.

And there’s every cleaner imaginable: all-purpose Solumel (I use this multiple times per day), glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, daily shower spray, dish detergent in liquid or in packs, tub and tile cleaner, among many others.

As my membership has continued, I have tried several of the Melaleuca products, including vitamins, sleep aids, pain killers, muscle relief, allergy medicine, lipstick, pressed powder, wax melts, snacks, protein powder and protein bars, energy shots, complete oral care including toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, gum and mints; face wash, toner, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream, deodorant, lotions, sunscreen, lip gloss, bug spray, essential oils, coffee, laundry detergent and dryer sheets, among others – and there’s a ton of things I haven’t tried!

My mom and I have also gotten free stuff from Melaleuca – you earn cash by ordering your items early in the month, or buying more than your 50 points, or by simply just watching YouTube videos to learn more about the company – we’ve earned more than $100 of free stuff, which can be spent on anything we want!

I’m only writing about this because I’ve realized how much Melaleuca has become a part of my daily life; my every day routines. I know there are lots of people out there that either don’t know about all of the harmful things we’re exposing ourselves to daily, or they’re choosing to ignore it. Melaleuca has made it easy for me to live healthy, even on a budget, which is really important to me – I want everyone to have that chance.

If you’d like more information about becoming a Melaleuca member, I’d love to share it with you! Send me an email at Holly@thebitterlemon.com, or fill out the form below, OR take a look at the site itself. See y’all tomorrow!

Pic of the Week.

Since moving, I’ve been anxious to get back on some sort of plan to tone up, and per usual, it hasn’t been easy. I joined a dance studio and have gotten into a pretty good routine of going to classes four times each week.

And although that’s good (plus it’s a really fun way to break a sweat), I know it’s only half the battle — diet being the other half. I usually do a pretty good job of eating healthy, because, well, I like healthy foods. And sometimes when you get into the meal prep… things get obsessive and frankly, I get really sick of eating chicken.

So, I’ve been eyeing a weight loss plan developed around protein shakes for awhile now, and I was just waiting for the right time for it to go one sale. Black Friday was my day, so I ordered Protein World‘s Weight Loss kit, which includes enough protein for 30 shakes, a shaker, a bottle of multi-vitamins, and a bottle of their “Slender Bend,” which is known to burn fat and speed metabolism.

I’ve been on the sauce for about a week now, and although I’m not much into weighing myself, I can tell you a few perks of the products that I’ve noticed so far.

For starters, the shakes are delish (and non-GMO)! I bought the vanilla to try, although they have lots of different flavors to choose from (I think I’ll try chocolate next). I mix mine with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and it’s definitely better than just mixing it with water.

The shakes are only 150 calories each, and contain 31 grams of protein (BAM), with just TWO carbs. How awesome is that?

For the weight loss plan, you’re supposed to drink two shakes a day in replacement of meals, eat one regular meal, and have healthy snacks, plus your Slender Bend pills and multi-vitamins.

What I really love about Protein World, is that, aside from it being a pretty affordable protein option, they regularly feature recipes on their blog — whether it’s ways to spice up your protein shake, or recipes for healthy meals and snacks. They also feature lots of celebs and models on their SnapChat, showing you how to make their favorite meals.

I’ll admit, I’m still being pretty lazy about cooking lately, so aside from my two shakes a day, I’ve been eating a hearty salad from Trader Joe’s, and snacking on grapes, nuts, and a protein bar, if needed. I usually do the shake for breakfast and dinner, while eating my normal meal for lunch (I find it helps to eat that before my dance class). But, tomorrow, I have a dinner party, so I’ll have my shakes for breakfast and lunch — it’s all about being versatile, folks!

Now that I’m sold on Protein World, here’s a few more of their products I’m hoping to try:

  • Hunger Buster Capsules
  • Teatox Capsules
  • Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil

I’ll keep you posted on other Protein World products I love — any diet-friendly items you’re loving lately?

Things I’m loving right now.

Summer is right around the corner, and although it’s about to get nice and hot here in Baton Rouge, there’s a few things I’m appreciating lately — the little things that make me smile each day. So, here’s my list of current obsessions:

Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion by Liz Earle — I got a sample of this in my Birchbox (another thing I’m loving) last month. When I saw it, I wasn’t that excited… until I tried it. According to the bottle, “Naturally active ingredients include eyebright, witch hazel, aloe vera and cornflower to help tone, cool and refresh tired, puffy eyes.” This stuff wakes up my eyes like nothing I’ve ever tried! I even use it when my contacts are in and have never had any issues. Although the sample bottle is pretty big (you only need a few drops each day), I will probably have to purchase this when I run out.

I love a mud mask.

I love a mud mask.

Pores Be Pure Skin-Clarifying Mud Mask by Formula 10.0.6 — I bought a sample pack of all sorts of different products by Formula 10.0.6 from Ulta and I’m impressed. Their products are affordable (no more expensive than other drugstore brands), and they always seem to work great. My sample pack had a bottle of the Skin-Clarifying Mud Mask with strawberry and yarrow, and it leaves my skin feeling nice and smooth. Win!

Lemon water — Since it’s getting hotter out, I’ve been trying to make an effort to drink more water; like, a lot of water. I bought myself a new water container that I take everywhere (I even tuck it into bed with me). But the truth is, I’ve never really liked drinking water, so I need ways to spice it up. And lately, just adding a squeeze of lemon has helped me down a few containers each day.

Turns out, lemon water has some great benefits: aids in digestion, reduces cravings, helps to flush toxins from the body, is great for the skin, and boosts the immune system, among other things. Check out this water bottle that aids in adding ANY fruit or other foods to your water!

The Nike Studio Wrap has changed my workouts!

The Nike Studio Wrap has changed my workouts!

Studio Wrap Shoes by Nike — I’ve had these on my wish list for awhile now, and a few months ago I found a pair at TJ Maxx. They were my size, and a great bargain, and I’ve been wearing them for my workouts ever since. For the longest time, I completed my boxing/kickboxing workouts barefoot. Until my gym switched from a mat to a harder flooring. I needed more support on my feet, but my tennis shoes were getting in the way, and sliding on the floor (not good for plank position). The wrap shoes grip the floor while providing support for the balls of my feet. They are great for yoga, too!

Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray — I have been wanting beach hair for months and was delighted to discover that it’s possible for a small $8. This stuff gives my hair a nice texture, smells great, and isn’t too sticky like previous beach sprays I’ve tried. I spray it on when my hair is damp (after letting it air dry), give it a little scrunch, and I’m out the door. Want more beach hair tips? Check out my previous blog post on this tricky hair style.

Flavored coffee — I get up every morning (every single morning) at 6am. Coffee comes first. I set my coffee pot the night before so all I have to do is pour a cup when I shuffle the 20 steps from my bed to my kitchen. I’ve always enjoyed my coffee black. No sugar, no creams, no syrups. So, there’s not much room for variety unless you get a flavored coffee. Voila! Right now I’m drinking a red velvet coffee, and I recently bough a bag of coconut coffee that I’m excited to try. It just has a subtle flavor that makes me happy as I start my day.

So, what are your favorite things right now?

Pic of the Week.

My new obsession — crave blocking shakes!

My new obsession — crave blocking shakes!

In exactly 37 days, I’ll be on the beach! So, I have really started to amp up my workout routine, make sure my diet is clean, and that I’ve got the portions under control.

Lately, I’ve been only wanting to eat snacks. I’m a firm believer in eating whatever your body is telling you to eat (within moderation, of course), so I’m still snacking. Of course, I’m going for healthy snacks: raw veggies, hummus, fruit, peanut butter, edamame, Greek yogurt, and protein bars (you should see my pantry).

Need more healthy snack ideas? Check out my previous blog post on the matter. 

Anyway, I recently purchased a bag of Melaleuca’s Attain shakes, which contain 10 grams of protein per shake, and are said to contain “crave blockers” and fiber to keep the body feeling full and avoid any temptation to eat junk food. Um, give me that!

I’ve had two shakes now and they taste delish (I mix it with 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk)! It is filling, and I’ve noticed when I do eat, I eat less. WIN.

From the website, “Attain with revolutionary, all-natural CraveBlocker®
helps stop cravings at both critical sources, putting you back in control. You can manage your weight without feeling hungry all the time. Without getting irritable. Without depriving your body of the nutrition it needs. Controlling cravings is an essential part of losing weight—and keeping it off for good.”

It comes in vanilla, strawberry, blueberry, and chocolate… of course I got the chocolate. However, I’m totally getting the strawberry and am going to mix it with the chocolate. BAM.

Just an FYI, I’m a preferred member of Melaleuca, so I get my products for way less dough. If you’re interested in signing up to be a preferred member, shoot me a message and I’ll be happy to set it up!

I seem to be on a protein-kick, and as pathetic as it sounds, I’ve got a little wish list going of protein I want to try. I’ve been eyeing Slender Bend by Protein World. Heard of it? Tried it?

According to the Protein World website, “This low calorie, high protein meal replacement shake will boost your metabolism, help you to feel fuller for longer and support the development of lean and toned muscle as you slim down. Protein is highly satisfying and helps build strong hair, skin and nails. We’ve also added a unique blend of green tea extract, raspberry ketones and multi vitamins to the mix, to curb those cravings and help you to become slimmer and healthier.*

Used as a meal replacement once or twice daily, the shakes help you to control your calorie intake enabling you to lose weight, healthily.”

I WANT.

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks, proteins, or meal replacements?

Pic of the Week.

My first Melaleuca order!

My first Melaleuca order!

After attending a Melaleuca party a few weeks ago, I got my first order in! Melaleuca is a catalog and online retailer that’s been around for decades. From the website:

It starts with improving your health with a full line of world-class wellness products, supplements, nutrients, functional foods, and breakthrough innovations that naturally and effectively reduce weight, increase nutrition, and advance health. So people can live with vitality and purpose at every stage of life.

For my first order, I got a six-pack of Energy Kicks, a bottle of Affinia Ultra Moisturizing Shampoo, and a month’s worth of Sleep EZ.

As I’m slowly getting back into my fitness regimen, it should come as no surprise that I need pre-workout energy. After a long day of work, I need enough umph to get through at least an hour of cardio and strength-training. So, on my workout days, I down a Melaleuca Energy Kick around 2pm.

It’s comparable to a 5-hour Energy, but there’s no sugar and no calories, which means no crash afterward. And, because it’s from Melaleuca, there’s no artificial colors or flavors. And honestly, the taste is decent (I like the fruit punch the best, so far).

I’ve never been one to splurge on expensive shampoo, so I was relieved to see that I can get this bottle for just $5 and it still smells great and helps my color-treated locks. It’s sulfate-free (sulfates leave hair dry and often strip color), and it adds moisture to my hair.

And finally, the Rest EZ. As many of you know, I’ve suffered from insomnia for years. I’m terrified of a “sleeping pill,” so I was intrigued when I saw this all-natural pill that promised a natural sleeping routine, without waking up groggy.

Rest EZ uses Spearmint, Passion Flower, L-Theanine, Melatonin, Hops, Chamomile Flower, and Valerian Root to help you fall asleep faster and get a more sound sleep.

I’ve taken the Rest EZ for three nights now, and it’s going good. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that my nights are amazing and I don’t even need my Energy Kicks. But I will say that I went from feeling like I got two hours of sleep a night to now feeling like I’ve gotten six or seven. It’s an improvement, and I think it will help more over time.

Other Melaleuca products I’m going to try? The all-natural cleaning products, fiber & protein bars, and vitamin packs.

Anyone can shop at Melaleuca online or through the catalog. When I went to the party, I was given the opportunity to register as a Preferred Customer for just $1, which means everything I buy is 40-60% cheaper! If you’re interested in getting the same $1 deal, just shoot me an email and I can sign you up.

Pic of the Week.

A home remedy for... a sex funeral.

A home remedy for… a sex funeral.

Remember that time I thought I had an STD? Oh right, no, because I have yet to share that story yet…so here goes.

About two weeks ago, I stepped out of the shower and felt a sting Down There (yes, my lady parts deserve capital letters). Having just shaved, I figured maybe I got a little too crazy and perhaps nicked myself.

Meh.

It was slightly bothering me that day, so I took a looksy later that evening and confirmed my thoughts that yes, I had a tiny cut.

But a few days later, that “tiny cut” had indeed formed into a small bump. What the fuck is that? I wondered.

I thought about D, and how he cheated on me. Perhaps he gave me something. Because he seems to be the gift that just keeps on giving. I felt light-headed. My stomach was in knots. Sure,  I’d had a test, but what if this “thing” didn’t show up on the results?

I continued to worry, and the only thing keeping me from a complete breakdown was the fact that the one bump still remained one bump (which means nothing if you have herpes).

But a few days later, I had four bumps. I had a fever. Swollen glands. So I called my doctor to get an appointment, and I sat on my bathroom floor and cried.

I was sure of it. I had herpes. And this was a result of my carelessness, a result of me falling for men who didn’t give a damn about me. I would never be able to have sex again. I was diseased. I was ugly. I should make a scrapbook for my sex life because it was a distant memory now.

I thought about the last time I had sex. Sure, it was great, but was it “last time of your life” great? I didn’t know.

Time out: Yeah, I know, these are irrational thoughts. Bear with me. 

The morning of my doctor’s appointment, I rolled out of bed and shuffled into Women’s Hospital. I sat in the waiting room for more than an hour before it was my turn. As I sat on the doctor’s table in my sexy paper gown, I imagined her telling me what I already knew. Herpes.

She came in, and I told her the series of events as I leaned back and put my feet in the stirrups. She said nothing for at least a minute.

“Do these itch or hurt? Do you have a fever? I feel swollen lymph nodes. When was your last new sexual partner? Do you go to the gym?”

She looked up at me.

“Yes, almost every day,” I said.

“This isn’t herpes. Ever heard of Molluscum?”

I swear I could have kissed this woman as she continued to tell me that I’d gotten a virus from an infected towel or piece of clothing, and the gym was probably the culprit (she did take a herpes culture, in case you’re worried). I wouldn’t have it forever, but maybe for as long as six weeks.

She prescribed me some cream, but said she’d heard apple cider vinegar worked better than the cream.

Enter my gallon jug of apple cider vinegar.

For the last week, I’ve filled my tub with 5 inches of water, added 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, and sat for 20 minutes, twice a day in order to smash this virus. Because until the bumps are gone, it’s still contagious.

I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t prop my laptop beside the tub and get some writing done on a few occasions.

While these vinegar baths are certainly not fun, my bratty kitty Blanche has perched herself on the edge of my tub (lining up all four feet and balancing her belly between them; an act that has taken months to perfect with a few plunges) every morning and night, watching my toes in the water.

It’s a simple reminder that, even in times of distress, I am not alone. My friends, the very few that I told when I thought I was hosting a funeral for my sex life, were comforting and kind. You know who you are and I am so thankful I have you.