Beautiful Lengths

In case you have not been following me on Instagram, I recently got a major hair cut.  Like I got bored and cut everything off.  

 

I did this twice before.  The first time, a friend needed a wig to be made for her sister.  My hair went directly to the making of a wig.  The second time, I was set on donating it to Lock of Love.  After reading so many scathing reports of LoL, I decided against it.  Not proud of it, but I still have that one tuff of hair waiting to be sent out, in addition to the one I just got now.

I decided, after many months of researching, to donate my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.  It seems to be the least controversial organization and the hair actually goes to making wings for cancer patients.   As a health care provider, I have seen and treated many cancer patients, and my heart grows bigger every time I see them show off their new wig after a chemo treatment.

I basically farm my hair.  Let it grow a certain length, and then cut it all off again.  I don’t really mind it so much.  I don’t have the emotional attachment to my hair that other people seem to have, and you know what? Hair grows back.  Some people do not have that luxury.

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NutriBullet RX

You know I love anything that has “RX” tagged onto the end of it (Lexus RX, the official pharmacist car).  That being said, I was recently in the market for a blender.  The Vitamix is a little out of my price range, so we were looking for something more along the lines of the NutriBullet or Ninja.  We really wanted the functionality of a super blender that could make soups–because we are that lazy.

I originally went into Bed, Bath, and Beyond for one of the regular NutriBullet models.  My BF refuses to go for the one they had at Costco because “the motor isn’t good enough.” He’s right.  The one at Costco is a 600-watt motor.  We had planned on getting a 900-watt NutriBullet at BBB until we asked an employee his opinion on all the blenders.  We had mentioned wanting to make soups with it, so he pointed us in the direction with a blender with that capability: The NutriBullet RX.

DSC00746 Magic Bullet NutriBullet Rx N17-1001 Blender, Black

Well….we have yet to make any soups with it, but we have been going to town on the smoothies!  The blender comes with a recipe book for smoothies and soups, so we are giving those a go-around.  We have a smoothie every morning and it’s pretty tasty!  We’ve been trying “The Tummy Tamer,” as it comes as an easy transition into smoothie life.

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I just load up all the ingredients in one of the cups (3 sizes), attach the blade, and invert the cup into the motor.  We also got a hefty upgrade on the motor–1700 watts!  The smaller cup makes about two servings of a smoothie, and enough to fill up to of the large Tervis cups for us to take to work.  
DSC00744I had trouble cleaning it the first day, but one of my co-workers suggested I throw in a bit of dish soap and cycle it through the blender a few times for it to heat it and become its own dish washer–it comes out absolutely shining after a spin and a rinse under the tap!  Cleaning it is probably my favorite part.

We love it so much, we are getting it for his mom for Mother’s Day!  She is having some issues with her teeth, so it’s been all smoothies and soups for her lately.  With the easy use and easy clean up, we’re hoping her day goes by a little smoother when she uses it. <Insert “look at all this extra time I have for my family!” infomercial spiel> Saving tip: the blender is $200, with a 20% off coupon that basically never expires, it became $160.  Before I go anywhere to make a big purchase, I always see if my credit card company has a gift card I can redeem with my points to use.  I could use a $100 gift card, so the blender came out to about $60 for me!

We’re super excited to try out new recipes, but for right now, we are really enjoying “The Tummy Tamer.”  The recipe below makes two servings:

2 cups of spinach

3/4 cups grapes

3/4 cups pitted cherries

1/2 cup oatmeal

1 TBSP chia seeds

1/2 cup pure apple juice (can only find at whole foods so far)

1 1/2 cup water

I bought this NutriBullet RX myself and is not affiliated nor sponsored with the makers of NutriBullet or Magic Bullet. 

Gymstagram Wrap Up

I finally did it! I worked out 100 days in a row! Ok so confession time: I initially started out wanted to go to the gym 100 days in a row.  After some weather issues and some business travel plans, I realized that is not 100% realistic.  What this challenge taught me is that there is always a way to work out even if you don’t have the proper equipment.

I also wanted to point out that my goal was not weight loss, but it was about developing good habits and developing a good routine.  While weight loss and fitting better into my dress pants was a plus, that was not my ultimate goal.  The worst part of the challenge was my mom asking me how much weight I’ve lost every day. Realistically, if I had lost any weight at all during the challenge, the most weight I could have lost and kept off is about 5 lbs.  She was expecting a 20lb weight loss.  That is, in no way, realistic.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 9.44.24 AMHere are some lessons I learned:

1) Someone is always working harder than you with more hardships than you: when I went to go workout in the middle of the snow storm, plenty of other people were at the gym.  I see much older people huffing it away on a treadmill, and I see people on the beginning of their weight loss journey putting in more work than I ever did.

2) Pick out your jam: Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York” was the ultimate jolt in my work out routine.  Just the beat and the song itself put me in a better mood to work out and go fast.  I burn my first 100 calories with Tay.

3) There is always a way to work out: Learning from my Crossfit days, crunches, push-ups, and squats will never do you wrong when you don’t have heavy machinery around.  I also love that my favorite workout videos are now on YouTube. Cassey Ho’s Blogilates is basically the best!

4) Accountability is the best motivator:  I always thought I could self-motivate, but that really only gets me half way there.  I felt the need to work out everyday because I know someone somewhere out there was keeping tabs and was ready to call me out publicly if I skipped a day. Like my sister.

I hope this inspires you to have your own 100-day challenge.  It doesn’t have to be exercising, but if it’s a good habit you want to develop, GO FOR IT!

 

How to Save Money at the Gym

Remember that thing about it being really expensive to try to lose weight and stay in shape? Yeah. It doesn’t quite stop in the kitchen. Going to the gym can start to cut in the budget as well. Let’s be honest. Some gym memberships can be quite outrageous. Then the lifestyle of going to the gym can start to get expensive as well. With my desire to get back in shape and to stay within my budget, I have found some ways to cut down the cost of being a gym member.

1. Pick the best rate for what you need While some gyms can be low cost, watch out for contracts and cancellation fees.  Some gyms even charge a sign up cost (excuse me?!). First, look for a gym that does not have those ridiculous fees that are not part of the monthly membership. Second, it’s nice to have a pool, spa, classes, etc. But is it really that nice if you’re not going to use them ever? My boyfriend and I were looking for a gym and he wanted one that had a particular line of weight lifting equipment (former college football player problems) so we had to add that in our list of wants as well.

2. Be a bad gym customer This NPR article outlined it perfectly. Gyms make more money when you don’t use your membership. Even low-cost gyms turn a profit when you don’t go. I won’t lie though, my gym is definitely one of these fancy hotel-looking gyms. Before my 100-day challenge, I was going maybe like once a month just to say I went to the gym that month. If you’re going to pay for this membership, you sure as hell better go to the gym. I try to convince myself that I am getting the deal of the century the more I go because it reduces my monetary cost per workout. A $1.50 workout is a heck of a lot better sounding than a $35 workout.

3. Use your samples Ok, enough of membership logistics, here are my down and dirty tips. I use my samples. You know, those foil packets you get from Sephora and subscription boxes (I’m looking at your Birchbox). I just had them sitting all around my room forever and really had no use for them. FEAR NOT. I packed them all in a makeup bag and I pick out some face wash and shampoo/conditioner packages every time I head to the showers. It’s a great way to get rid of your samples–and finally test them out.

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4. Buy bulk instead of travel sizes So when you’re done using all your samples (the face washes went fast), the next thing to do is to buy tiny travel size bottles for the gym bag, right? I mean they fit right into your tiny makeup bag and they’re like only a dollar! WRONG WRONG WRONG it’s a cost that’s just going to ADD UP. Here is the thing. Go to Costco. For $17 you don’t get one, but TWO huge bottles of Cetaphil AND a tiny travel size bottle. When you’re done using the travel size, just fill it up again with one of your big bulk bottles. If Costco doesn’t have your desired products, you can just ball out and carry full size items to the shower. Maybe get a full size and a tiny bottle and keep refilling the tiny bottle. Whatever, just don’t keep buying tiny bottles, promise?

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5. Bring your own water bottle This kinda seems like a no-brainer, but it kinda annoys the crap out of me when someone buys a waterbottle just to go to the gym. Like a new Deer Park every time?? My boyfriend does this. It kills me. Gyms try to entice you with their fancy recovery drinks and electrolyte drinks. Don’t give into temptation! It’s really important to invest in a water bottle. I like my CamelBak because of the straw and I don’t have to unscrew a top like a Nalgene bottle. It’s important not to re-use disposable bottles because of the risk of bacteria growth.20131006-222512.jpg 6. Re-use an old gym bag For whatever reason, I was itching to get my hands on a new gym bag since being a bag lady at the gym was no longer a viable option (work clothes in this bag; toiletries in another tote…). Since I was still on a budget, I definitely could not justify going out and getting a big gym bag–not even at Marshall’s. Then I thought about all those years of high school sports. Ah, I have a big gym bag somewhere…back to my mom’s house to find one. Yup. With my 10-year reunion coming up, it’s considered vintage, amirite?

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While these are just a few tips to cut spending with going to the gym, there are definitely less costly options. I LOVED LOVED LOVED workout videos. I used to buy them all the time. SPOILER ALERT, they’re all on YouTube now. It’s a really nice option if you don’t have the funds for a gym membership or the means of travel to get to the gym. I do love my workout DVDs…That 30-day shred is basically my favorite. Someone borrowed it and never gave it back, so I was pretty excited to find it online.

Advocare Favorites

After almost 2 months of Advocare, I have come to love some of their products.  While not specifically on the 24-day challenge, I like to use a lot of their supplemental products to help me throughout the day. I just wanted to share some of my favorites, as they have become a mainstay in my life, especially my hectic mornings.

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1) Coffeccino: It is basically a coffee version of the Spark drink.  I have stopped drinking coffee, but surely cannot give up the taste of coffee, so the Coffeccino is pretty delicious and a good replacement for my morning Starbucks.

2) Mandarin Orange Spark: Mandarin orange is my favorite flavor, so much that I got an enormous canister of it, which is about a little over 40 servings.  We figured it was a little bit more economical to spend the money on a big can, rather than get the little packets. Also, it tastes like orange juice–I found the others to be a little bit too sweet.

3) Chocolate Mocha meal replacement shake: For the mornings that I just do not have time to eat (almost every working morning), I love downing a shake.  It is probably one of the best meal replacement shakes I have every had–thick and flavorful.  I have had both the chocolate and the chocolate mocha, and the mocha version is just something else.  Maybe it is my love of coffee that just makes me love it.

4) AdvoBar: While I was on the challenge, I discovered the AdvoBar for my snack time.  It is a rich chocolate snack bar, and it tastes like a yummy candy bar.  It has the consistency of a meal replacement bar, so it takes a little while to get it down (mostly because I am running around during work)

If you have any questions or are interested in starting your Advocare journey, feel free to email me or read up on it here.

Advocare on the Road

I have finally finished Advocare 24 Day challenge! With so much excitement in my life coinciding, I was pretty concerned about being able to keep up while on the diet.

Truth is: it molds to your life, not the other way around. While in New York, I found it to be incredibly convenient to take around the packets to mix into a bottle of water (which my hotel provided). It’s not a diet of exclusion.  I can have a tiny bit of the bad stuff if I truly crave it.  If I am still wanting it after downing a whole bottle of water, then I have a small portion. The water usually keeps the cravings away. It’s more of a diet of inclusion, make sure I get enough veggies and lean protein in.

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All in a big ziplock and into my weekender bag.

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All I had to look for on a menu was a salad with some lean protein. Look how delish this salad is from the MoMA cafe!

20140605-085137.jpgI did have to pack my BlenderBall for my shake, but it was easy enough.

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Got home late and not enough time to eat dinner= getting a quick Costco dinner and steaming up some broccoli. So yummy and rich!

Also convenient is that the supplements during the max phase comes in daily strips.  Rather than packing all of these random bottles, I just take enough strips for the amount of days for my trip. It was probably the easiest part of the diet.

Egg Muffins

Five. More. Days. Of. AdvoCare. It’s been a struggle, but Kevin and I are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I think this 24-day challenge has really highlighted the poor food choices we have made.  We are huge stress eaters, and we love sweets.

With a lot of free time on my days off, I become a monster, ready to eat everything in sight. Early on, I started making egg muffins, which are packed full of protein and great to have on hand when I have a snack attack.

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The muffins are basically veggie, meat, and egg whites. I basically chose my favorite fillings and just went with it. I had a lot of mushrooms and red peppers on hand, so those were definitely going in.

 

 

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Since AdvoCare advises the limiting of red meat, we cooked up some ground bison, which was allowed, and added it to the cups.

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I filled up each muffin tin with a little bit of each, one website said to add only a teaspoon of each, but that is minuscule! The gabs between each large chunk of veggie and meat allows more than enough room for the egg whites to fill up.

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To avoid the extra calories, we used egg white cartons and filled the rest of the tin up.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until firm.

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I later made another batch that was all veggie by finely chopping up some spinach. I also found that the cupcake liners were super bothersome.  If you just spray the muffin tin with cooking spray, the egg muffins will slide right now and are much more fun to enjoy.

Do you have a go-to snack during snack attacks?

Spark

OMG I saw Wicked last night and it was everything I could ever hope for. It was AH-MAZ-ING. Holy Cannoli. Just perfect.

On to regular business…If you have been following my Advocare Diary, I am enjoying a spark drink every day during this Advocare 24 day challenge.  They remind me of the Starbucks refreshers and are meant to replace the coffee in my life.

ME?? Give up coffee? Inconceivable! But yes, I have stopped drinking coffee and basically live off Spark. I drink one 30 minutes before breakfast and am pretty much set for the day. Even during my long 13 hours at work.  I am energized and focused.  When I am not working, I basically am a cleaning machine at home.  It gives me the ability to be productive and prevent the urge for me to sit around on my booty (as appealing as that actually does sound)–I just can’t sit still!

Advice: Citrus and Pink lemonade are delicious. Those were the flavors I chose. My boyfriend picked cherry and watermelon and they are horrid. We are waiting to get in a box of mandarin orange and fruit punch, so we can see what they all taste like and recommend.

It’s a little steep at $23 per box of 14, but let me tell you, it is well worth it, especially if it replaces your $5 Starbucks every morning.  Side note, I took this to New York with me and it is keeping me on my feet ALL DAY! Perfect for strolling the city. The little bit of appetite suppression in the mix also curbs my cupcake and macaron cravings that I pass so frequently.

If you have any questions regarding Advocare Spark or the 24 day challenge, please don’t hesitate to email me!

Burn baby, burn

I did something stupid. What else is new? But I actually did something not-so-smart.  I burned a candle in my ear.

I first heard about ear candles when I was a first-year pharmacy student (way back when) and I had a rotation at this really kitschy independent pharmacy outside of Richmond.  The pharmacist who works there (and is a pharmacy legend) told us all about ear candles and how he swears by them. I then watched tons of videos on YouTube about them.

There is controversy about how the wax isn’t wear wax, and how it is wax from the candle, etc. A couple years later in my Complementary and Alternative Medicine class, we did an “experiment” where we burned one candle in someone’s ear and just burned it in general. The wax production was drastically different.

Fast forward to last week, where, HOLY JESUS my ears itched so much and even my doctor recommended I do an ear irrigation when he had more time. I bit the bullet and went to GNC to get ear candles. So, the name is a little misleading.  They’re not really candles.  It is a cone made of muslin strips (kind of what you use to wax your eyebrows) that are wrapped in a circle.  It is hollow  and you burn it at the top.  The heat from the flame softens your wax and the smoke creates a negative pressure to suck the wax out of your ear. Classy, I know.

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For safety precautions, I used a plate plus foil to catch the falling embers.  We cut the burnt part of the candle as it burned so it wouldn’t fall on my head.  When about 4 inches of it remained, we put it out and unwrapped it.  Don’t worry, I’m not showing you my earwax, but daaaang there was a lot! There’s no way it could have been the wax from the candle.

Have you done this before? Is anyone out there just as obsessed with earwax as I am??

Bachelorette Survival Kit

The party before the party–the bachelorette party–comes with a lot of expectations.  Let me tell you a secret.  When most of the bridal party is at the top of the careers, married, with children, it is hard to keep up with the girls with the diamond diplomas (also known as the MRS degree).  Hangovers are almost inevitable, and even hard to cure.  Let me introduce you to my bachelorette survival kit:

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Strategically shaped like a bucket, for other uses, and strategically placed next to the bride’s bed for other purposes.  Inside the bucket comes some pretty handy supplies for when you head back to the hotel room in the wee hours of the morning, and for when you actually wake up:

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1) Ibuprofen for the pounding in your head (avoid acetaminophen, since it takes a toll on your liver with the alcohol)

2) Make up wipes to slough off the mess on your face before you go to bed

3) Saltines to settle your stomach

4) Hair ties to make yourself look almost normal for brunch the next morning

5) Sleep mask so the sunlight peering through the room doesn’t disturb you

6) Tums…in case the crackers don’t work

7) Water to re-hydrate you

8) Chocolate to get your blood glucose levels back up–also, delicious

9) Gatorade to replenish your electrolytes

10) Chips for the grease and carbs, also to help with the blood sugar

11) Gum, also to be less of a hot mess at brunch

Til death do we party!