let’s talk about skin, baby

disclaimer: i am no professional. i am just passionate about taking care of my skin and finding the products that it reacts to best.

growing up, i didn’t really value skincare, nor did i have any reason to be overly concerned with my skin.  i was blessed with non acne prone skin and i didn’t really suffer from anything but some hormone related acne and also have limited scarring or discoloration from it.

do you remember when you were younger and these products were what there was to choose from for skincare?! (i was a teen in the 90’s and these were what i remember using)

i look at these products now and the first things that come to mind are…..chemicals, super drying, more chemicals, gross smells, no hydration, ect.

my skincare routine has evolved a lot from when i was younger and the thing that i value most now is: natural (or as natural as possible)  you’ll notice that most of the products that i use are between 90%-100% natural.

cleansers:

i alternate between a couple different cleansers depending on the season or depending on if my skin is having a particular issue.

  1. my “ride or die” cleanser is one that i make homemade and i would say that i use this 75% of the time.

recipe: 1/3 cup Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Liquid Unscented Soap, 2/3 cup Distilled Water, 1 TBSP NOW Organic Jojoba Oil, 5 drops of Young Living Lavender essential oil, 7 drops of Young Living Melaleuca essential oil.  this is all combined into a soap pump container and i use 2 pumps, twice daily.

2.  the cleanser that i use when i need extra hydration on my skin is the fresh Soy Face Cleanser

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3. when my skin needs more vibrancy or brightening, i use the Andalou Naturals Cleansing Gel Citrus Kombucha

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4. if i am having hormonal related acne or blemishes, i always always always use the SheaMoisture African Black Soap Bar

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*this is not drying at all, smells fantastic and WORKS amazing!*

sponges or makeup wipes:

i wash my face twice daily with the Konjac Tumeric Sponge

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*i dispose of these every 3 months*

if i am in a hurry, traveling or just feeling particularly lazy, i will use Pacifica Cactus Water Makeup Removing Wipes

(i really enjoy these because they are made with cactus water as the primary ingredient instead of various different chemicals)

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moisturizers:

1. my absolute FAVORITE moisturizer is the Young Living Sandalwood Moisture Cream

*this moisturizer is pricey, but worth every penny. i love this as a morning moisturizer because it isn’t greasy or thick and soaks into skin quickly for makeup application*

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i also love to mix 1-2 drops (every other day) of Young Living Frankincense Essential Oil into the moisturizer before i apply.  Frankincense is a powerful astringent, meaning it helps protect skin cells. it can be used to help reduce acne blemishes, the appearance of large pores, prevent wrinkles, and it even helps lift and tighten skin to naturally slow signs of aging.

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2. my favorite night time moisturizer is the Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light

*i have afternoon oily skin and for a long time i didn’t use oil on oily skin, but that is a total misconception.  using the RIGHT oil on oily skin can help to reverse oily skin.  i still use this only at night because it doesn’t absorb as fast for morning makeup wear and it hydrates my skin all night while i sleep.*

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toners

my toner is one that i make myself.

recipe:  equal parts Rose Water and Witch Hazel (about 1/4 cup of each), then 8 drops of Lavender essential oil, 5 drops of Purification essential oilFrankincense essential oil, and Melaleuca essential oil all into a glass spray bottle

face masks / sheet masks

these are my FAVORITE part about skincare, i love relaxing in the evening while taking care of my skin!

  1. the mask that i use literally almost daily is the fresh Rose Face Mask
*this mask is to. die. for. it does everything that i claims and smells like heaven is being applied to your face.*

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2. my other mask that i tend to reach for more than others is the fresh Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy-Boosting Face Mask

*this has literal pieces of citrus fruit in the mask.  it will leave your skin feeling hydrated, but just wait till the morning after use…it will be toned and vibrant as well.  sticker shock for all fresh brand products can be a turnoff, but i can tell you that there are TONS of uses from each pot and it is well worth each and every penny.*

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3. a mask that i recently started using and it has quickly become my new ride or die product is the Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask

*this product is from Korea and kind of defies all my “natural skincare ONLY” desires.  i found this from a YouTube channel that i watch and was hooked when i heard the $10 price tag.  this mask LITERALLY bubbles up off your face (go to the link that i shared above and scroll down to the customer images to see what i am talking about)  it carbonates while on your face and i promise that if you try this, you will not be disappointed! not only does it leave my skin feeling like a newborn baby’s butt, but it is comical to wear and watch.*

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4. if you haven’t tried any products from Lush, you need to.  my favorite face mask is the Lush Mask of Magnaminty

*this is an exfoliating mask with a minty/tingly feeling while on.  all of Lush products are 100% natural, which is great, but the only downside is that because they are all natural, they have a shelf life that is quicker than most other products.  this is made with kaolin clay which rids pores of gunk, there is also aduki beans that naturally exfoliate the skin.*

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5.  the Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Rosewater Mask is one that i use after a mask like the two that i talked about above or any other mask that could be drying or exfoliating.  this mask will add any and all missing moisture back into your skin and it smells like you’re living in a rose garden

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6.  the last face masks that i use are a variety of Korean sheet masks.

Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Facial Mask

Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Facial Mask

TONYMOLY I’m Real Mask Sheet Pack

*i love all of these packs of sheet masks.  i particularly like the TONYMOLY ones as they are some you can purchase in stores like Ulta, but purchasing on Amazon in a variety pack is much much cheaper.  i enjoy doing one of these sheet masks after i use the masks above to just pack in a little extra punch on my face.*

 

some might say that i am obsessed with my skin, which might not be too far off, but we only get one set of skin from birth to death.  i want to take care of it now so when i am older i won’t be trying to reverse my younger years 🙂

 

web of lies

how many of you have ever told a lie?

can there be lies that are worse than others?  are the lies that we tell ourselves worse than the ones that we tell others?

i simply cannot count the amount of lies that i have told myself over the years:

 1. you’re not pretty enough

2. you’re fat

3. you’re not smart enough

4. you’re smaller than that other girl, so you don’t have a weight problem

5. i can hide my food addiction so it isn’t really a problem

6. i can lose weight quickly, whenever i want to

7. ect. ect. ect. ect….you get the point.

are those lies worse than the ones that i repeatedly told others? things like…

  1. i ate this healthy thing and that healthy thing today.  (when i really ate something horrible)
  2. i worked out today! (um, no, you didn’t)
  3. i slept wonderful last night! (besides that 30 minutes you spent eating in the middle of the night, right?)
  4. i am feeling great! (no, actually i am feeling bloated from that fast food that i just ate…that you clearly don’t know about)

i was extremely successful last year at losing weight, i had absolutely no reason to lie about what i was eating or doing because i was doing everything i could do to better myself.  when i took my hyper-focus off of losing weight, the weight came back, and it came back quick.  i was embarrassed, frustrated, mad, angry, defeated.  that’s when the lies started coming back.

first it was lies to others because i couldn’t have them knowing that i fell off the wagon, then it turned into lies to myself.  i let the devil creep into my life and i let him sign a year long lease.

i was a prisoner to the devil and the negativity i allowed him to feed me.  i became someone that wasn’t me, i don’t even know who that person was, well, i do, it was the devil disguised as a person named Emily.

my relationships suffered, my body quickly went back to an un-healthy state and i became a shell of what i once was….all of this while my relationship with the devil was flourishing and thriving.

the devil will keep renewing his lease in our lives until we evict him.  there is no easy fix, no “3 simple steps to kick the devil to the curb” book.  it takes work, and i am in the thick of it right now.

i came to the conclusion that my addiction to food couldn’t start with just simply changing my diet or going for a walk after work.  i needed help, professional help to have a better chance of overcoming this once and for all.  i sought the help of a professional Christian counselor that specializes in addictions of all kinds.

i have to figure out the “head game” part of this addiction.  last year i changed the way my body looked and felt, and i was successful, but i never tackled what was going on in my head.

i don’t claim to have the answers:

but, i KNOW that God is good and He is good all the time.  He is helping me break the lease that i signed with the devil.  He is helping me repair the damage that i allowed the devil to do in my life so that He can move in and sign a permanent lease.

addiction is hard and is generally out of our feeble ability to overcome, but God is always standing next to us willing to help, we just have to ask.

 

 

 

 

 

sex…or lack there of.

June 20th, 2015 was quite simply, one of the happiest days of my life.  My love, Stefan, got down on one knee and asked me to be his forever.  We celebrated that evening with our best friends in Ludington, MI.  The next morning, Stefan and I had some time to just be together and talk after the excitement from the previous day, and that is when he told me about a promise he had made to my parents when he asked for my hand in marriage.  He made a promise to them that when I learned of it, made me mad, devastated, and frustrated.

Stefan promised my parents that he and I wouldn’t have sex again until the wedding.

Okay, okay, okay….He is 38 and I am 31, I understand that this is a topic that isn’t normally discussed past the age of about 15 with your parents.  My parents are different, my parents promised to guide my siblings and me even after the age of adulthood and although they have never stopped us from doing what we wanted, they have always given their best advice.  Obviously, Stefan and I have had sex during our relationship, we have been together for 4 years, but it’s something that I know my parents never condoned.  I am aware that this topic seems elementary and no one really cares who is having sex, because everyone is, but, that doesn’t mean that we have to be everyone else.

In the beginning, the act of sex was something that was reserved for a husband and wife, but then Adam and Eve sinned and everything changed.  God is a very forgiving God and there isn’t a sin that He won’t forgive, if you repent and ask for forgiveness, but more importantly, if you do not continue to repeat the sin.  Having sex before marriage is a sin in God’s eyes, and therefore we cannot experience all that God intended for it outside the context of marriage.

When Stefan came to my parents to ask for my hand in marriage, this was something they asked Stefan to honor.  Stefan promised them that we would honor that request, before he talked to me.  When he told me the morning after he proposed, I will admit, I wasn’t okay with it.  I thought that it would be taking steps back in our relationship to remove it; I was scared that I would feel disconnected from him and quite honestly, I thought, “we’ve already had sex, who cares if we continue to.”  We sat down with my parents, at my request, so I could tell them how angry I was that they put Stefan in a position to promise something without talking to me.  But, I missed their most important lesson.

My parents weren’t going to stop Stefan and me from getting married if we didn’t honor the promise that was made.  They wanted open lines of communication, they wanted Stefan and me to connect on a deeper level, and they wanted us to be more intentional about our relationship.  They wanted us to put God at the center, and putting God at the center meant living a relationship like God intended.

I’ll admit, in the beginning, I abstained purely to prove to my parents that I could do it.  I abstained not because I knew it was the right thing to do, but because I am stubborn and when I am presented with a challenge, I don’t back down.

It’s been almost 6 months since Stefan proposed and we have until our June 25th wedding to wait.  I can now sit here and say that it is no longer just to prove to my parents that we can wait, it has forced Stefan and I to be more intentional with our time, to connect in other ways and has given us the ability to start our marriage pure in the eyes of God.

Yes, it’s hard and there are moments of weakness on both our parts, but we know that what we are doing, or I guess not doing, is right.  We talk more, we are spending time getting our individual selves ready to spend forever together, and most importantly, we are following God’s will for our relationship and I wholeheartedly believe that He will bless our marriage exponentially for it.

off the wagon

Folks, it’s been a little bit since I blogged.

Iv’e been busy, but that’s not the only reason.  I haven’t blogged because…I fell. off. the. wagon.

On June 20th of this year; my best friend, love, and soulmate got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.  It was quite simply, a fantastic day.

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The only problem, what follows happy events?

Celebrations with alcohol and food.  A food addicts worst nightmare.

That weekend I told myself things like, “I deserve this celebratory time”, “It’s just one weekend”, and “I’ll get back to my routine on Monday“.  Well, as you can assume, once I tasted pizza, wine, french fries and ice cream…I couldn’t stop.

I spent the first several months of my weight loss journey doing a diet and exercise method of weight loss, but leading up to June 20th, I had been doing an extremely strict diet to get over a plateau that I had reached.  The diet was so strict that my working out was limited due to the reduced calorie and carbohydrate intake.  I felt like my body was out of whack, it was a weird feeling because I had spent months working out almost every day and then I changed it up completely and almost took working out, out of the equation.

Honestly, I feel like changing up my routine that had worked for the first 40+lbs of weight loss was the worst decision that I made.  I was so focused on hitting a weight loss goal that I wanted to do anything to get there as fast as possible.  But, in the end, getting out of my work out routine was the first mistake, because when I faltered on my diet, I didn’t have a workout to fall back on to counteract the food intake.

The past 3 months have been filled with no routine, hardly any workouts, and tons of bad food.  Iv’e gained weight back, more than I really care to know.  I can give excuses all day long for what, why and how….but…..in the end, everything was my decision and my choices.  my bad choices.

My self image that I had 3 months ago, is gone.  My goals that I set almost a year ago will not be reached.  My “skinny” clothes don’t fit like they used to, if they even fit at all.

BUT

Life.  Goes.  On.

I need to pick myself up, get back on the wagon and continue.

Food addiction is no joke my friends.  I thought I had a grasp on the temptations, pitfalls and secretive aspect of it; but, I let my guard down and discovered the hard way that I will probably always suffer from this, and I obviously haven’t overcome as much as I thought I did.  If I have learned one thing through this, it is, admitting that you have a problem is the first step.  As hard as it it to share this with all of you (and those that are close to me, this isn’t a shock, I am sure, whether or not you have said anything, you know I have been struggling and been gaining weight).  But, sharing and being honest makes the addiction not have control, I have control and I am taking it back.

I appreciate the support, patience and prayers.

Today, I am back on the wagon.

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(today – 9/17/2015)

gimmick

**This post is not meant to offend anyone that represents any of the products mentioned below, this is just my personal opinion**

In the days of social media, I am sure that we have all been inundated with advertisements for products that promise to “get skinny quick” or “take this pill and drink this shake and you will look like this”… those products offend and make me angry.

I would be lying if I said that I hadn’t been intrigued by some of them prior to starting my weight loss journey.  The thought of taking a pill or wrapping myself in plastic wrap to get skinny quick instead of putting in the work with my diet and exercise is appealing.  How could it not be appealing?  What I am doing is hard and it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, sometimes I just want the “get skinny quick” magic pill because I am tired of watching every calorie that I put in my mouth and making sure that I am staying active enough.

But, the elephant in the room is….do these products really work? or are they just ploys by companies to capitalize on our obese nation and the push to get healthier? It seems like weekly, there is another new product that promises the impossible.

Okay, okay, okay…promising the impossible might be an exaggeration, I should have said, promises the impossible WITHOUT changing your diet and exercise.  If you have to change your diet and activity to get the products to work, then what’s the point? You can lose weight WITHOUT a “magic” option…so wouldn’t that make the “magic” option void?

Ding, Ding, Ding….

A lot of these products don’t mention anything about having to change your diet and the need to exercise until they DON’T work, then it becomes the number one excuse….”Well, the products do work best when combined with a change in diet and exercise…” DUH! You mean wrapping my body in saran wrap isn’t going to make me look like all the “before and after” pictures I see all over the internet??? Common sense would say, no.  Those people wrapped their body in saran wrap, AND, changed their diet drastically, as well as worked out.

Another product that that I simply do not understand is one that claims to make you “happy all the time!” Enticing, right? I want to be “happy all the time!”  But, you have to take a pill, drink a shake and put a patch on to get the results, and if you do not do them all in the EXACT order the company says at EXACTLY the right times, it may not work.  Convenient excuse for the company when their claims don’t pan out, put it back on the customer, they simply didn’t do the process right, sorry! Another thing that concerns me is that it is no wonder the product makes you “happy all the time!,” it has 6 different kinds of stimulants in it.  They say that up to 400mg of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most adults.  Since the ingredients are listed as proprietary, the manufacturer does not have to list the amount (mg) used, so it is therefore unknown how much caffeine/stimulants each product contains.  What no one has addressed, and I have asked several promoters of this product, is how does the body handle the inevitable “crash” when the product isn’t being taken anymore?  With that many stimulants, it seems like a crash and a feeling of “not happy all the time!” is looming.

Well, I have a way that you can save lots of $$$$ and get the same results!  Wait for it…..it’s called HARD WORK.  Whoa, there is a concept that isn’t easily accepted in this society.  I have lost over 50 pounds and in turn have a higher self esteem by good old fashioned working out and changing my eating habits.  Yes, I have used different methods of those things along the way (examples:  Weight Watchers and 21 Day Fix), but I would consider neither of those “gimmicks” because they still involve YOU making the ultimate change, there are no impossible promises.

Dieting and losing weight is no joke.  The weight didn’t come on the body overnight and it will not come off overnight either.  There are no two ways or gimmicks around that, it is simply a fact.  I have worked very hard over the last 6 months to get closer to my end goal and frankly I am offended by the messages that I get that say,

“Emily, you look fantastic! I have this amazing product that will help stimulate your activity level and will make your weight loss easier! contact me for details!”

“WOW, girl, you must be feeling amazing! I am just wondering if you might be interested in this wrap that will tighten your extra skin from your weight loss”

I am not interested in those products, I am interested in working hard and achieving my goals.  I put this weight on my body and it seems as though it is fitting that I have to work hard to take it off, so I KNOW the reality of my old habits.  Quick fixes fix nothing and the odds are that you will need to try another one in a couple months because you are right back where you started, just several hundred $$$ poorer.

I am proud of this “gimmick” free weight loss!

MY hard work is paying off!

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there is sugar in that?!

According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of sugar to be consumed daily is:

Men: 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons

Women: 25 grams or 6 teaspoons

1/2 cup Raisins –> 43 grams

8 oz Fruit Yogurt –> 43 grams

1 cup unsweetened Grape Juice –> 35 grams

12 oz can of Coke –> 33 grams

Sweet & Sour Chicken (frozen entree) –> 16 grams

1/2 cup Granola –> 13 grams

1/2 cup Banana –> 9 grams

1 serving of Kellogg’s Raisin Brand cereal –> 5 teaspoons

1 bottle Vitamin Water –>  33 grams

1 tablespoon Ketchup –> 1 teaspoon

1 Cliff bar –> 20 grams 

Excuse me, WHAT?!?    I. ate. way. too. much. sugar. 

When I had my initial weigh-in and consultation with Katie (my coach), she explained to me that my body is functioning over 2 times my actual age because of my Body Fat %, BMI and Visceral Fat content.  Ouch.  I don’t feel that unhealthy anymore and it scared me straight.  I really do have a long way to go.

Katie has me on a very strict diet right now, and I am also learning about the relationship between sugar/carbs to weight loss.  I am not ashamed to admit that I thought, “its fruit, who cares how much sugar is in it, because its healthy sugar” or “Its a Cliff Bar and not a Big Mac.”

The eating plan that I have been following is called a Ketogenic diet. Basically, the body gets its energy from glucose.  Typically, glucose comes from carbohydrates – sugar and starchy foods such as bread and pasta – which the body is able to break down. Glucose can either be used to fuel the body or stored in the liver and muscles as a chemical called glycogen.  If there is not enough glucose present, the body will resort to an alternative strategy in order to fuel itself. Excess fat will begin to be broken down in order to provide a source of glucose. A by-product of this process are ketones.

In simple terms, it means that I have cut sugar and carbs almost completely from my diet.  I eat several servings of vegetables and 8 oz of protein a day.  I also can have some protein shakes to fill in the gaps.

I will not lie.  Its hard.  It is amazing how many foods have hidden sugar in them.

I have been a complainer, I’ll be honest.  It’s hard to live off of veggies and meat only, but, I understand the concept behind it.  Let your body deplete its natural glucose supply and then the body will go to the next thing to burn to create energy….FAT.

I am beginning to understand why my weight loss was very slow over the last couple months, there may have been changes to my body, but I hadn’t lost very much weight.

My body was getting too much glucose.

I ate wayyy too much fruit.

I used too may condiments that have sugar in them.

I wasn’t giving my body everything it needed, even though I was eating healthy.

This Ketogenic diet is Phase 1 of Katie’s plan for finishing my weight loss journey.  Once I can get my body fat % down significantly, then Phase 2 will start.  Phase 2 will include re-adding some sugars and carbs back in my diet, along with some more intense workouts.  The end goal is to see my body functioning near or at my actual age, my body fat % in a normal range and the ability to maintain my weight loss now that I am more educated on health and wellness. 

I am anxious to be able to incorporate more food into my diet again, but I didn’t get obese by eating veggies and protein, so for right now, I am exactly where I need to be.

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inspiration

“I’m both inspired and curious about your recent journey. I read the beginning of your blog and instantly felt like someone “gets” me. With my recent past hardship and my life flipping upside down…food has been my comfort.”

“When I’m happy, sad, bored, or whatever….I eat. I’ve gained 20 overall and can’t look in the mirror.”

“Your blog just breaks my heart. I can so relate.”

“I have been inspired by you and have lost 19 pounds.”

“I feel like you are writing to me when I read your blog”

You all think that I inspire you with my journey, but really, you inspire me.

The quotes I shared above are just a couple that I have received throughout the last couple months.

When I first started this journey, it was about ME, about me losing weight, me getting healthier, and me being happier.  At some point along the way, it no longer was just about me, it became about inspiring others.

If I had negative feelings about myself, felt defeated, couldn’t look in the mirror, hated photos being taken, ate my feelings away and just needed a change, I surely wasn’t alone.  I decided to share my story, to share my struggles and I hoped that I could inspire just one person who felt like me.

Mission: Accomplished, but something else happened along the way: you inspired me to keep going, to push harder, to not cheat when I am weak and to love myself through it all.

I met with my new Health and Wellness coach last night and after some initial calculations, I discovered that even after losing 40 lbs, my body is functioning as a 60 year old (based on BMI, body fat %, visceral fat, ect).  The Emily of several months ago, would have been defeated, thought that I was beyond help, and turned to food.  The Emily of NOW was inspired to keep changing, bettering myself, and living life to the fullest.

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One of the biggest goals I was working towards was feeling more confident in a bathing suit.  I was recently on a trip to Florida to celebrate my future Sister-In-Law’s bachelorette party and I knew I would need to wear one, but I didn’t just want to wear one, I wanted to own it, no matter how much more weight I have to lose, I wanted to own myself. right now.  I worked hard for it, why not celebrate it? So, I did, I proudly celebrated my size 14 bathing suit and the hard work that I put in for it, because, I earned it.

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I may not be to the “finish line”, but I am a heck of a lot closer than I was, and YOU, whether you know it or not, are helping my progress towards it.