#SeptemberWhole30 Days 8-9

…Remind Me Again Why We’re Doing This!

So here we are more than a week into our second #Whole30. I won’t presume to speak for Hubs, but I am struggling! When I say struggling, I’m talking about something that goes well beyond the simple “I just want a nap” kind of thing predicted for days 6-7 by the (suddenly difficult to locate) official Whole30 Timeline 2.0. I’m talking about a level of fatigue that I feel down into my bones; that requires giving myself a pep talk just to get out of bed; dragging myself through the day; drinking extra coffee in order to formulate a coherent sentence. I don’t remember being this tired last time, but Hubs assures me I was. I’m taking his word for it, mostly because I’m just too tired to argue the point.

Before I go into all that, some positives. There are a few things actually making this round easier than our first Whole30 in April.

First and foremost – Nut Pods Coffee Creamers (I’m sure I’ve probably mentioned these delicious creamers before because I’m a tad coffee-obsessed, and I was desperate to find a way to keep putting creamer in my coffee during our first Whole30. If you’re a mom you can relate to just how crucial coffee is. It’s basically fuel new moms run on, but I digress).

Whole30 Mama Needs Caffeine!!!

This Whole30 Mama Needs Caffeine!!!

Next, I’m so happy that we invested in a couple of cases (seriously) of different flavors of these yummy La Croix flavored sparkling waters. Yum. O. Now that it’s football season, I can park it in front of the TV with a nice cold glass of fruity, bubbly La Croix and not feel the least bit deprived. We’ll definitely continue drinking these post Whole30!
Lastly, I am still really excited about this Daily Beauty Wisdom green tea + collagen recipe. It’s the only green tea drink I have ever consistently drank in my life. For more on green tea’s health and beauty benefits click here and here. This drink is delicious and has some great beauty benefits that others are starting to notice. Here’s what happened:
I had a long, busy day yesterday, with several errands to run, including a much-needed hair appointment. Of course, I also had to make sure our daughter was fed, changed and happy, and all her needs met. So, I needed 3 cups of coffee (thank you again Nut Pods!) and 2 cups of green tea just to get through the day.

I know, that’s a lot of caffeine. But, like I said. I had a lot to do, and I’ve had like NO energy. Still, I did have one briefly exhilarating moment yesterday when my hair stylist commented on the growth and thickness of my hair. She said she could really see a difference in the overall condition of my hair and that my supplements were starting to make a difference. Wow! Score a big win for the collagen drinks!

Delicious and beautifying with a hint of caffeine to boot!

Green Tea + Collagen + Vitamin C – Delicious and beautifying with a hint of caffeine to boot!

Genetically, I have extremely fine hair, which has been made fragile by years of frequent coloring (read bleaching). Then in the last 15 months or so, I’ve been pregnant twice (I had a miscarriage just prior to getting pregnant with our almost 11 month-old daughter), so I shed a ton of hair postpartum, leaving me with even thinner hair. For my stylist to say that my hair stronger and longer, was a big deal! But alas, my exhilaration was short-lived.

I soon found myself dragging again and questioning my commitment to this “whole” Whole30 thing. Then last night, after having (finally) gotten baby girl to sleep, Hubs and I collapsed next to one another on the sofa. We debated whether to eat dinner or just go straight to bed as we were both equal parts tired and hungry. Though we agreed “we should probably eat” in order to avoid waking up hangry in the middle of the night, neither of us moved immediately, so I turned to him and whined, “I’m so uncomfortable. Remind me again why we’re doing this.”

Hubs – in his (frustratingly) infinite wisdom and patience asked, “If you need some motivation, why don’t you go back and look at your #NSV Checklist from last time? Or read over those things you said you want to accomplish this time? It’s only 22 more days. We can do it.”

I hate it that he’s always right! But I followed his advice and took a look at my #NSV Checklist from Round 1 and reviewed my goals for #SeptemberWhole30 as listed in my Kickoff Post. Here’s a list of the goals I said I hoped to achieve and a status report as of day 9:
• More energy to play with our daughter – No increases on this front
• Improved attention span – About the same
• Fewer ADHD symptoms – Same
• Fall asleep more easily – YES, I fall right asleep and I sleep deeply. Waking up on the other hand…not so easy, hence the coffee!
• More energy to exercise – Exercise is a struggle, a big one!
• Be outside more – No change
• Create and try new recipes – I have one new recipe for a delicious Whole30-compliant Sausage + Apple Soup, but I’ve been too tired to post it!
• No more under-eye circles – I haven’t noticed a change
• Brighter eyes – I don’t notice any difference
• Clothes fit better – I still can’t fit into some of my pre-pregnancy jeans BUT today I easily fit into a new pair of pants that I ordered in a smaller size so I’d say that’s progress, right?
• Looking younger – No real change there
• Fewer seasonal allergies – Maybe a slight improvement
• Less fatigue – Yeah you know the answer to that one
• Practice mindful eating – Honestly, I think there’s been some improvement here

So in total, for 7 of 14 (50%) of my goals, I’ve seen no change.
For 5 of my 14 goals (roughly 36%) there’s been at least some improvement or progress toward my stated goal.
And in 2 of my pre-Whole30 goals (about 14%) both of which relate to energy, there’s been movement in the opposite direction.

So it looks like we’re in this for the long run, or at least for the whole 30 days. And, I’ll close this post by quoting a verse I shared a few days ago: “Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.” ~Ecclesiastes 7:8 (New Living Translation) So I guess that will be the Wisdom for the Day. And I’ll just go reread it a few more times just to remind myself that finishing is indeed better than starting. Read more here.

Some Recent (Rare) Product Empties & Why I Love Them

I’ve mentioned previously that I have ADHD, and I often attribute my tendency to lose interest in cosmetics to my general attention deficits. But the truth is, like most women in this culture, exposed to near constant beauty ads and media images, I’m just constantly on the look-out for the next best thing, for that magic bullet that will make my skin perfect and that will finally disguise all my perceived imperfections. I’m a marketer’s dream because I bite on all the product hook lines and chase after every sales pitch. As a result, I generally never get around to finishing the cosmetic products I purchase. Product empties are a rarity for me. So, when I found myself preparing to dispose of 5 empty bottles and 1 completely spent sponge, I felt a post was in order to describe these fantastic products and what makes them special to me.

1. Paula’s Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum: Retails for $36 for 1 oz. from Paula’s Choice.com or Dermstore (plus 10% savings if this item is listed among your Dermstore “favorites” list). I adore this serum. It’s possibly my favorite antioxidant serum of all time! Plus it doesn’t contain any retinoids so I used it throughout my pregnancy and while breastfeeding, so I’m (admittedly) somewhat sentimental about this product. But even without sentimentality, this is an elegantly formulated serum that’s well-suited to all skin types and covers all your antioxidant needs. Among other ingredients it contains peptides, ceramides, and Ubiquinone (nearly identical to the star ingredient in the über expensive Prevage MD product line which features idebenone, a synthetic form of ubiquinone), along with nourishing soybean and palm oils, turmeric, bearberry and mushroom extracts. But what really excites me is the combination of multiple forms of stabilized Vitamins C and E in combination with ferulic acid. That’s nearly identical to the ingredients of the ridiculously expensive Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum ($163/oz.) from Dermstore and when purchased at physicians’ offices. But the Paula’s Choice serum is more user-friendly because it’s in an air-tight tube (not dropper-style). And of course, the Paula’s Choice serum is less than 1/4 the price. That adds up to a pretty wise beauty buy in my book!

2. Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo Chelating Formula: I am so in love with this shampoo, and it’s so under-rated. I’m like on a crusade to get this product its due respect! It retails for $13 for 10.1 oz. from ULTA or $32 for 33.8 oz. from Amazon. You can also purchase it in some salons (including occasionally at the “salons” inside select Wal-Mart superstores) at varying prices and sizes. I love this shampoo because it is hands-down the best clarifying product I’ve ever found. It removes styling product build-up better than anything I’ve ever tried and does so quickly, requiring only wash and very little scrubbing. Okay, so it’s not a gentle sulfate-free co-washing type product (it’s called chelating for a reason). And I have color-treated, very fine, fragile hair, so I only use it about once a month. But it’s so effective that’s really all I need to use it. Afterwards, my hair is shinier and has more volume, because it’s not weighed down by all that excess build-up. Bonus, this shampoo is hands-down the best makeup brush and sponge cleaner I’ve ever found! The larger size/price comes in at just under a $1/ounce – an absolute steal when you consider that the “value sized” 10 oz. BEAUTYBLENDER liquid blender cleanser® retails for $30 ($3/oz.). This product is the ultimate multi-tasker and a beauty bargain to boot. I simply cannot recommend this shampoo highly enough.

3. Timeless Skincare The Original Hyaluronic Acid 100% Pure: Retails for $13.16 for 2 oz. from Amazon.com Hyaluronic Acid is a big buzz ingredient these days in skincare. But it’s been around for a while (it’s most commonly used as an injectable filler). It doesn’t have the same (longer lasting) effects when applied topically, but has a nice skin-plumping effect and is a great addition to your existing anti-aging skincare routine. Turns out it’s pretty difficult to get HA in a stabilized form for topical application, so it’s usually pretty expensive. For example, I’ve also ordered and enjoy using Paula’s Choice brand Hyaluronic Acid Booster (seen here) which retails for $45 for 0.67 oz. Now admittedly, the PC’s HA product has a few more bells and whistles (several ceramides, adenosine and panthenol). But since I’m already using some pretty outstanding serums and lotions, I don’t mind saving a little money when it comes to my HA booster. And this one is a steal at only $6.58/ounce! It mixes in with nearly other treatment, lotion and potion I use and is especially great patted on top of foundations or powders, making the cakiest of applications look smooth and lovely. It’s a wonderful perk-me-up that never disrupts the pre-existing application. I like to pat it onto my eye area when I’m looking more wrinkly or tired than usual, which seems to be more often these days (i.e. since becoming a mom) and probably accounts for the recently emptied bottle.

4. Obagi Nu-derm Exfoderm Blender: Price varies, available only from physicians’ offices. In general, retails for around $100 for 2 oz. Read more about this product at Obagi.com.  I was first introduced to Exfoderm Blender by the same Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner who, not coincidentally, also introduced me to one of my favorite products ever, Revision Intellishade, about which I’ve already written at length here, so I’ll spare you further rhapsodizing about it here. Suffice it to say, I trust this brilliant woman’s opinion. She never steered me wrong and the Exfoderm Blender is yet another example. Blender contains 4% Hydroquinone, probably the most-researched, most scientifically-supported skin-lightening ingredient. It’s important to understand how hydroquinone works because some people mistakenly think that it “bleaches” the skin which is untrue. Hydroquinone actually works by preventing melanin (skin pigment) production. It’s effective when used as part of a comprehensive skincare regimen that absolutely must include broad-spectrum sunscreen. For more on broad-spectrum SPF, check out this article. And if you’re interested in reading more about hydroquinone, are considering using yourself and just fancy a bit of fascinating cosmetic chemistry reading, check out this summary from Beautypedia. But back to why I love this product: I’m ashamed to admit I was very unwise about sun protection when I was younger. I even frequented tanning salons in my teens and 20s. Horrifying, I know! I had a couple sun spots on my cheeks in my early 30s, and this stuff knocked ’em out in less than 6 weeks. With consistent sunscreen application, those pesky sun/age spots on my cheeks have never returned (thank goodness). But unlike PC’s RESIST Super serum, I wasn’t able to use this product during my pregnancy or while breastfeeding. And despite my best efforts and lots of sunscreen, like many women, I developed some sun sports and hyper pigmentation (this time on my neck and chest) during my pregnancy. So I was super excited to resume using Exfoderm Blender as soon as my daughter was weened. Now that I’ve finished this bottle, I hope to purchase another one as soon as our budget allows for it. It ain’t cheap, but it’s really effective!

5. M2 Skincare High Potency Skin Refinish Retails $49.98 for 1.7 oz. at Dermstore. I was first introduced to this product a few years back when I received a deluxe sample along with an order I purchased from Dermstore. After testing that sample just once, I immediately ordered the full-sized product. Since then (about 4 years ago now), I’ve yet to experience any other exfoliant that even comes close to performing as well. Skin Refinish is great because it combines mandelic and malic acid exfoliants, which are gentler forms of glycolic acids at a pH that actually works. Along with the acids, M2 includes the ever-popular antioxidant ubiquinone (noticing a trend here?), some other antioxidants (like algae extract), hyaluronic acid and some aloe leaf extract for soothing. The packaging M2 selected is especially thoughtful. Hubs calls it “space-aged.” The bottle is frosted to avoid any light or sun damage to the ingredients (antioxidants readily breakdown and are rendered useless in the presence of light and air. N.B. that’s why expensive jars of cream claiming to provide tons of antioxidant ingredients are such a ripoff – because the prized ingredients will be rendered ineffective in a matter of days after opening). You have to twist the nozzle on the  Skin Refinish bottle before the pump appears allowing you to dispense the product. Then you twist the top again, and the pump dispenser disappears back into the bottle. Pretty cool! And most importantly, it preserves the integrity of the precious ingredients inside. I use this product once per week, every Saturday night, and I immediately notice a difference in my skin. Then the next morning I wake up with brighter, tighter, glowing, more youthful skin. I love it! The most impactful exfoliant ever! Far superior to any grainy scrub. I already have my next bottle ready and waiting, so tossing this one was not too painful.

6. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge: Retails for $6.99/each at ULTA or $10.99 for 2 sponges (also at ULTA). Incidentally, ULTA usually offers a buy one, get one 50% deal on these little guys. So, doing the math, that would be 4 sponges for $16.49 (plus tax obviously), or a little over $4.12/sponge. Not bad when compared to that famous pink sponge that costs $20 per! I know, I know. The two are not perfectly comparable. And this may be sacrilegious to some, but for day-to-day makeup application, I actually prefer the RT version! Feel free to hit me with angry comments. I promise to respond to each one 🙂 But I dislike the idea of using a $20 for everyday applications. Sure I like the almighty BeautyBlender too. They’re great.  But I tend to save my super-snazzy, jewel-like pink egg sponges for those occasions when I’m getting all dolled up for something special. For one thing, most of the time, I’m not applying a full face of foundation. Most days I’m sticking to simple Tinted Moisturizer and for that, I prefer the flat side of the RT sponge to smaller rounded BB. For another thing, I like the softer texture of the RT for day-to-day application. The RT tends to lay down lighter coverage, which again, is more appropriate for daytime, informal usage. And finally, I use RT sponges most of the time because I’m really rough on my sponges. I routinely use the same sponge for tinted moisturizer or BB cream; to dab on a little cream foundation over said BB cream (just where I need a little more coverage, you understand); to dip into cream concealer or to dot on some color corrector; to smudge out bronzer or blush; and to smooth out my high SPF powder foundation. I even use the pointy tip to go over the (often) messy areas of my eyeshadow. At the end of the day, there’s a whole lot of color product built up on my sponges. I try to be consistent about cleaning my sponges, but I do have a baby and a husband after all. So if I have dispose of my sponges more frequently that say, every 3 months, I’d prefer not to suffer massive pangs of financial remorse every time I toss one. I feel better by saving a little cash and using the RTs most of the time, especially since the performance is really good!

Beauty Resource Video of the Day:
Check out this informative video from Makeup Geek as she shares the top reasons why we (all at one time or another) have experienced this unpleasant phenomenon, and more importantly how to avoid it!

Wisdom for the Day:
Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.
~Proverbs 22:29 (English Standard Version)
Read more here.

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Turban Tied

Turban Tied

Fact: Using a microfiber cloth to towel dry wet hair decreases blow-dry time; thereby decreasing potential damage to hair and saving you time and money in the process.

Myth: In order to experience these benefits you must purchase one of the popular microfiber towel brands currently being marketed on infomercials and in beauty store chains like ULTA and Sephora.

Mommy Did You Know: … that the same fabric that comprises the microfiber Turbie Twist® and DevaTowel® also makes up all those burpie cloths and old t-shirts you’ve got lying around? And if you’ve considered spending $18 on the Aquis® Waffle Weave Hair Towel, you could just as easily purchase a thermal (i.e. waffle-weave) t-shirt from Wal-Mart for only $7! You’ll get equal performance and save a whopping 61%!!!

So grab a waffle weave t-shirt or an old burpie cloth before your next shampoo and shave a few minutes off your next blow out, Pretty Mommy.

Hi I'm Karen.

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