To Be or Not To Be

Caffeinated.  That is the big question today.

I never was much of a coffee drinker until after I graduated from college.  Starbucks was for the corporate and wall street types and as far as I know studying in coffee shops was not the hip thing to do.  Or maybe that was just my college, since there were plenty of cooler placees to get your study on.  Then again we are talking about a pre-Facebook era.

In any case, the most coffee I would have would come in the form of a blended coffee drink of some sort maybe three times a year.  I just never really got into the whole coffee thing.

Now, I’m not sure which came first, but somewhere between the amazing coffee that my sister brought back from Costa Rica and a backpacking trip though Spain, I started drinking coffee.  I loved the way it tasted and smelled and I got a nice euphoric high off of it that would have me going all day long.

Pretty soon, I knew which types of coffees I liked and would seek out novel coffees to see if I enjoyed them.  Around this time, I was also spending a lot of time in New York and well, there is some pretty darn good coffee there.  A busy schedule meant that I started drinking coffee almost everyday.  Unless I had to cram in extra work into the wee hours of the morning, I only drank one cup at breakfast.

Fast forward a few years and without the crazy schedule, I stopped drinking as much coffee.  I didn’t need to make sure that I was alert and ready to go at 5 AM any more, so I didn’t see the need for it.  Of course, if I did enjoy indulging in a good cup of coffee every so often.

More time travel to the summer of 2011 when I changed to paleo eating.  I ate a really strict diet for a month and then it sort of naturally continued on from there.  I didn’t drink coffee until I started having overnight shifts and even then, I only drank coffee when I needed to.  Up until this point, I never noticed that I had an issue with coffee.

A little side note here.  I might be sensitive to coffee in that it can keep me wired for three days after one good cup, but I never had the shakiness or the palpitations that some other members of my family had.

Welcome to the present day.  I drank a cup of coffee this morning that I brewed myself, french press style, and my heart is pounding pretty hard.  I’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks that this has been happening to me when I drink coffee.  I’m not liking it.

I love the clarity and up that coffee used to give me, but now coffee seems to just give me heart pounding and not a whole lot else.  I don’t know if this is because I eat such a clean diet that this issue was not apparent to me in the past or if the whole mycotoxin theory is actually correct.

The only reason I am even drinking coffee at this point is because it’s allergy season and anti-histamines make me drowsy (yes, even the non-drowsy kind).  I’ve noticed that this year I’m doing okay with one allergy medicine (versus three in years past) and that skipping a day or two of allergy medicine doesn’t cause huge problems.  However, I still have work to do.

So, much to my utter disappointment, I believe the correct answer here is to not be caffeinated.  I’ll just have to be that much better about eating well and getting good sleep.

In the end, I would love to have all the energy I need without relying on any sort of caffeinated beverages.  I’m pretty sure my reliance on them in the winter of 2010-2011 is what precipitated a huge burn out (another story for another post).  So, we’ll see if I can actually get through everything without the occasional caffeine boost.

 

 

Looking Good

I’ve noticed over the last few months that the most popular blogs are fashion blogs.  Now, I’m not knocking fashion in any way in this post, but bear with me here for a little bit.

When I say that the most popular blogs are fashion blogs, they are the most popular blogs by far.  They far exceed all other blogs, including food blogs, in readership.  I find this unsettling.  One, because, I don’t understand why clothes come before food, and, two, because it points to a societal focus on outward appearance.

Outward appearance is important.  I don’t think you should show up to a fancy party in ripped jeans and an old t-shirt, but I also think that such a huge societal focus on outward appearance in detrimental to our society.  Not to mention, that I think buying more and more expensive clothes and spending so much time styling clothes is going about this whole appearance thing the wrong way.

There is a huge focus on trying to cover up ourselves and change the way we naturally look.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to dress up and change how we look once in a while.  The problem I have with this is that instead of changing things like how we eat, sleep, and interact with the world, people are running to find ways to patch up what they consider defective or lacking.

This is where makeup comes in.  Makeup is a huge industry.  It’s a big part of the fashion industry and a big part of the blogging world, too.  There are stores devoted to makeup that are packed full of people.  Endless debates on how to wear makeup and look “natural” at the same time.  Now, that last part really makes me laugh because makeup does not ever make you look natural.  Makeup is to make yourself up.  And hey, I like to make myself up sometimes.  It’s fun.

The thing is that makeup comes with a price.  Most of the makeup out there is harmful.  Growing up, I was always told that makeup ended up making people look older because it was damaging to their skin.  It was a simple observation made by my mom, but she is right.  All that makeup is bad for you.  Since learning about all the toxins in self-care and beauty products, I’ve purged my bathroom.  (I talked about my changes here and here.)  Now, my routine is simple and focuses on caring for my body and not making it up.

What I’m saying with all of this is that I’m disturbed by the amount of consumerism and keeping up with the Jonses mentality that is going on in this world.  I don’t think that the constant exposure of media and the endless information that can be had on the Internet is really helping.  I’m definitely not immune to it and some days despite my best intentions, I find myself bored and wanting more, more, more.  The reality is that I never really need most of those things and those things don’t make me happy.

These days when I look in the mirror, I like the way I look.  I’ve never been much of a mirror person, but I’m actually surprised when I find myself thinking, “Huh, I look pretty good” after washing my face in the morning.  Somewhere along the journey of eating better, sleeping better, and evolving my world views, I’ve found that I look better.

Who doesn’t want to look good?  I’m pretty sure that everyone, everywhere wants to look good.  I just hope that you remember that the path to looking good is grounded in taking good care of your body and not in makeup and clothing.  Really at the end of the day, it’s who you are as a person more than anything else.  Are you a good person that is taking care of his/her body well?  If you are, then I guarantee that you look good.

 

Thursday Thoughts

It’s a chilly day here today and when I say chilly, I really mean cold.  I heard on the radio that we’re in for a deep freeze tonight down into the 20s.  I think that I should probably go and find my flannel pajamas.  The ones that I so efficiently put away into a storage box two weeks ago when it was nearly 80 degrees out.

It’s cloudy out in addition to the chilly and I just want a nap, which I may very well do after writing up this post.  I tried to spend today holed up at home hoping that I could go without coffee and still have a productive day.

It turns out that days with coffee and being out in the world are more productive than the days without coffee.  I spent a good long while hunting for a stovetop espresso maker (a.k.a. moka pot) at the bargain store today.  I found one that would have suited my needs and my budget, only to find that it was an empty box taunting me.  Uncool.

After some internet research, I’ve given up on the idea for now.  I own two very nice french presses, but after hearing about this whole mycotoxin in my coffee stuff, I’m intent on reducing my exposure and making some comparisons to see if different coffees and brewing methods do in fact make a difference for me.  I certainly see a difference in my reaction to coffee lately versus in times past.  I think it has to do with the paleo eating, but I could be wrong there.

It’s actually been an exhausting week waiting for one thing or another to happen.  I can be very patient and then at times when I’m consciously waiting for something, not very patient.  Once I get some things straightened out and I can relax enough for a good night’s sleep, I should be in better shape.

Speaking of sleep, I was just getting to sleeping well when I had to get myself up this morning.  Luckily, I didn’t end up late to my appointment and I also managed to avoid getting pulled over.  I had a few close calls.  I don’t think the cops were interested in pulling me over, but having them cruise along behind or alongside me in their slow and stealthy ways made my heart beat a little faster.

The good news is that my painful foot, which I was worried might actually be broken or have some tendon or ligament injury is actually injury free according to the x-rays and MRIs that were taken.  I figured as much, which is why I didn’t go see someone until a good month and a half after I actually injured my foot.  The only thing is that I’m still having pain, so I’m off to PT for a couple of weeks.  I’m doubtful, but we’ll see.

All right, I need some sleep and then there will be mad amounts of work being done over here.  I cannot wait until tomorrow.  Friday just makes everything better.

What it all comes down to

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while and while there have been posts by other more eloquent writers out there about various diets and eating habits and how they compare, I’m going to add a little more noise to the bunch with my thoughts.

I have been eating a paleo/primal/ancestral diet for about 9 months now.  When I tell people about how I eat, they wonder how I do it.  They wonder how I can stick to a “diet” for so long.  The thing is that I don’t think of it as a diet.  I hate diets.  I don’t believe in diets.  Paleo is the way I eat, not a restrictive thing.

I don’t find paleo eating hard.  Sure, maybe when I go out, or when I’m in a different town it’s a bit harder to figure out where to get the kind of foods that I want to eat.  Other than that, in my regular every day life, I don’t really think too much about it.

I think that the point that people are missing when they hear about the way I eat is that what it all comes down to is eating high quality foods.  Similar eating frameworks are all basically saying the same thing.  Even those diets that include things like wheat and dairy still encourage eating high quality foods in their basic forms.

I say that I eat paleo just to give the way I eat a label, but the truth is that it’s far from describing the way I personally eat.  I make eating choices based on the issues that I have and the things that I want to improve about my health, my body, and my life.  So, while paleo really means a grain-free, legume-free, dairy-free diet at it’s most basic level, after an induction period of strict paleo for a month, I’ve figured out what works for me.

I found out that milk and I don’t agree with each other.  Yogurt, cheese, butter, and heavy cream are all okay.  I eat them, but they are not a big part of my diet.  I also found out that wheat is bad news.  If I eat something that has wheat in it, I will feel terrible afterwards.  I will be sleepy and lethargic and not in a good way.  It’s like I’ve been drugged.  I’ve heard of people who are able to go back to eating wheat much later on, but I don’t really miss wheat.

I do miss rice sometimes though.  If I’m craving a whole lot of carbs and I don’t feel satisfied with what I’m eating, I might eat a bowl of rice.  This probably happens less than once a month.  I don’t stress that I’m eating a grain.  If my body wants it, I eat it.  I know my body well enough to know that wanting to eat some rice isn’t going to become some sort of binge fest of grains and whatnot.  I just simply need whatever rice has to offer and once I eat some, it’s over.  The end.  Not a big deal.

I also eliminated nightshades from my diet, but that was a conscious decision based on research and not a personal experience.  Other decisions that are more conscious rather than experience based are eating organic foods, eating locally, and eating pastured, grass fed meats.  Although, admittedly, these types of foods taste better than their conventional counterparts.

If you know anything about these ancestral type diets, you’ll know that there are a lot of different flavors.  The way I eat is my own version of the ideas that are out there on how best to eat.

Eat what makes you feel good.  Not crazy, sugar high good or carb induced food coma good, but healthy, clean good.

Someone once said to me that she believed that eating one’s ethnic cuisine was what was best for them.  I’m paraphrasing what I heard in another language, so it’s not really well said here, but I think that the point is clear – you should eat for your particular makeup.  I do feel better eating foods of my ethnic heritage.  I think it has to do with the fact that it’s all focused on eating fresh foods.  The only paleo determined red flags in the diet would be rice and soy.  Personally, I don’t even think those are that bad.

So, really, what I’m saying is that if you want to feel better and improve your health, don’t stress out over the details.  Look at the big picture.  The big picture is to eat better quality, fresh foods.  Start there and work on the little issues one at a time and you’ll find your self happier and healthier without the stress of traditional dieting methods.

Feel free to ask me questions, discuss, and so forth.

Monday Musings

  1. I just ground my whole bean coffee with my blender.  We’ll find out if that was a good or bad idea.  If it’s a bad idea, then I should suck it up and buy a coffee grinder.  I also want a moka pot.  
  2. Lack of money is one of the least fun parts of being a grownup.  Why didn’t anyone warn me?
  3. Butter in your coffee is actually really tasty.  I know it sounds gross, but that’s how you make Bulletproof Coffee.  I’ve been bringing little jars of butter and coconut oil with me to coffee shops.  
  4. No butter today…need to get my head on straight and actually plan some meals and do some real grocery shopping
  5. One more time…being poor is really not fun.
  6. I want it to be the weekend already so I can have an excuse to play.
  7. There is a freeze warning down south where it’s currently somewhere around 60 degrees Fahrenheit and meanwhile all we get here is a special weather statement and it’s in the 30s and only feels like 24.  Weird.
  8. I have got the worst cabin fever from staying inside because of allergies and not getting any good workouts in because my foot might have a microscopic fracture somewhere.  
  9. Speaking of allergies, I’ve actually managed to only take one of three allergy medications that I’ve taken the last few years.  I didn’t even take it the last couple of days because I was inside in the mornings and that’s when it’s the worst.  Thank you, paleo.  Maybe next year we can go drug free.  Now, that would be something.
  10. Ever hear of a souffle omelette?  Head over to Conor Bofin’s blog and take a peek at the drool worthy photos and make your own.  That’s my big meal planning of this week…to make and eat one of those decadent looking omelettes.
The end.

Friday Funnies

  1. I was reading labels at Target trying to find some natural beauty products and laughed in disbelief when I read “synthetic beeswax” on the carton of an eyeshadow stick.  What is that anyway?  There must be some chemical name they could have thrown on there, but no, apparently, synthetic beeswax sounds better.  Either way, I’m not wearing it, especially when I can get something that doesn’t make me wonder what I’m putting on my face for the same price or cheaper.
  2. I just looked at the weather forecast and after a week of temps hitting somewhere in the range of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, we’re dipping to 40 on Monday.  I might have to go and dig out all those warm clothes that I relegated to my storage bins just last week.  Darn it!
  3. Being bored with food and not hungry has me opening the fridge every hour hoping that there might be something tasty to eat in there.
  4. I’m not really complaining about the weather cooling down, since I really rather not have to figure out how to put my air conditioner in the window again.  Or as my sister likes to say, “Throw it out the window.”  That’s her instructional way of describing how to install window air conditioners.
  5. Speaking of window air conditioners, I already saw one peeking out of a window today.  
  6. I’m happy it’s Friday…but, can someone stretch the weekend out, please?
  7. The other reason I’m happy it’s going to cool down again is that I’ll be able to cook without worrying about being too hot.  I’ve been trying to cook as quickly as I can these days.  And this is why people eat microwave meals.  Don’t worry, I’m not going all crazy and leaving the paleo/primal/ancestral fold.  I think microwaves are evil and microwave meals are death in a box.  (I do admit there was a time when I was depressed and lazy and ate microwave meals for three weeks.  I’d never do that anymore, but I’m just saying, I’m human, too.  Don’t worry.)
All right, enough procrastinating for me.  Back to work.

Allergies and Time Change Weirdness

I love that it’s spring.  Mostly.  The parts that I’m not loving right now are seasonal allergies (thank you, trees) and the recent time change.

I’ve never been tested for allergies, but given the timing and what I know about allergy syndromes and what not, I’m almost positive that I’m allergic to tree pollen.  I didn’t have any allergies until high school and since I developed them, they’ve gotten progressively more severe.  Last year, I took three medications to be functional enough to do all the work that I have to do.  It might sound excessive, but the most important thing to me is to have a clear mind and that’s the thing that is most affected for me.  I know the trees have started up when I start feeling foggy in the head and I start getting headaches that just won’t go away.  I know this before I get any of the typical symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Seasonal allergies are one of the reasons that I was motivated to try a paleo diet.  Despite the fact that my three drug regimen has been pretty effective the last few years, I’m not a big fan of drugs and well, if I can be clear headed without drugs, I’d be a really happy girl.  

So far this year, I’m doing okay.  I’ve been staying inside, even though it’s so temptingly beautiful outside; wearing masks, when I’m not feeling overly self conscious; and not taking drugs.  The problem is that even though I’m avoiding all the runny noses and sneezing fits, I’m still foggy in the head and lethargic.  So, I caved and started taking a 24 hour antihistamine.  Fingers crossed I can make it through the season with just one drug and not three.  I’m hoping I’ve gotten something out of eating paleo.  We’ll see.

As for this time change nonsense, I still haven’t gotten used to the late light and it’s driving me crazy.  I don’t have a sense of time and so my working rhythm is all out of whack.  Somebody, please, abolish daylight savings time.  It’s a ridiculous construct that messes with my body and sense of time and drives me crazy!!  There are even studies showing that it does NOT save energy.  So why are we going through all this hassle??  Don’t lawmakers have better things to do than tinker around with when we change time?  How about we just don’t change time?  Seriously.

And that concludes my rant of the day.  Back to work.

Sunblocks and Lip Shimmer

I said this over at Funny Eater today and I’ll say it again: “I should not be allowed to go grocery shopping unsupervised.”

On my grocery trip, I ended up picking up two sunscreens.  The ones that I used to use are sitting in a bag in my apartment along with all the other things that were purged from my bathroom.

From what I’ve read of the ingredients on these two, I think these fit my criteria.  I’ve been going without sunscreen for a while now and I don’t think that’s the wisest thing to do as spring starts and summer approaches.

These aren’t the cheapest products, but I’ll take safe sun protection over slathering myself in chemicals that might actually be causing skin cancer and not protecting me.  I haven’t tried these out yet, but I’ll let you know how it goes.  Back to remembering some daily sun protection.

I also treated myself to some lip tint and shimmer made by Badger in Red Jasper and Opal Shimmer.  I love that it’s double sided.  I tried some in the car on the way home (no, not while I was driving) and I like the colors.  For now, this will be the replacement for my lip sticks and lip glosses.

That’s all for now.

Happy Spring!!

Who is the fairest of them all?

About 9 months ago, give or take, I changed how I eat.  I started eating a more paleo/primal diet.  The first month I was very strictly paleo and eliminated grains and dairy products along with nightshades and legumes.  After the first month, I found I didn’t have problems with dairy products other than milk, so I added those back in.

Since changing how I eat, a lot of things have changed.  Most notably, I am a lot more conscious about how I treat my body.  I talked a little bit about this in a previous post.  Well, since finding out that even things like shampoo are probably toxic to my body, I’ve been doing a lot of research for alternatives.

Initially, my plan was to finish using the products that I had and then slowly switch over to products that were safer.  Turns out, that’s not really my style.  One day, I just got up and purged my bathroom of all the beauty products that I had.  Shampoos, body washes, makeup, hair products, soaps…just about everything went into a big bag.  I made a separate bag for products I hadn’t used in case someone wanted them, but I feel funny about giving beauty products that I know are hazardous to your health to someone else to use.

I talked a little bit about my current personal care routine in a previous post.  Since that point, I’ve been washing my hair mostly with baking soda or with plain bar soap made by Sappo Hill.  I found that apple cider vinegar rinses usually make my hair look greasy, so I don’t do that often and when I do, I do the apple cider vinegar rinse before doing the baking soda wash.  I also tried the lemon and cucumber 2-in-1 hair wash, which worked well other than the fact that I ended up with lemon bits in my hair for a couple of days.  Turns out you’re supposed to strain the stuff before you use it.  Whoops!

I still don’t have the hair that I want, so the tweaking of the hair routine will continue, but overall I’m pretty happy with my basic self care routine.  I use a few basic things that keep my routine simple and my bathroom free of clutter.

The only thing left is to find some makeup that I am comfortable using.  I’ve been on a mad hunt for natural products to the detriment of things that I actually need to be doing and have found a bunch of interesting sites and companies.  I haven’t actually tried any of these products or companies yet as I have been busy and I’m also quite poor right now.

In no particular order, here are the websites that have piqued my interest and seem to have positive reviews from consumers.

Makeup

In my research, I’ve started to develop a sense of what I’m okay with and what I’m not okay with.  If there is a less toxic alternative to a makeup product, you can be sure I’ll be using the less toxic one.  I also found out that even products with overall low scores on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) database can still have ingredients that have a high score, so it pays to always check the scores of the individual ingredients as well.

  1. rms beauty – This is the one natural makeup company that I have tried.  After finding out there was a local store that sold this line of beauty products, I went to investigate.  The girl there gave me a full face of rms beauty products and matched me for their “foundation.”  I left with a pot of their eyeshadow in solar, which is a shimmery golden bronze color.  The products aren’t cheap (I paid $28 plus tax for the tiny pot of eyeshadow), but they are completely natural and my eyeshadow is going to last me a good long while.  The products are easy to apply and they give you a look that is natural and not made up. Two of the girls working at the store both raved about it and said they used this line exclusively for their makeup.  They looked great, so I think that’s saying something.
  2. Alima pure – I’ve seen this company’s products reviewed more than a few times and hopefully will be able to try out their products sometime soon.  This is a pure mineral makeup company that has a wide variety of colors and shimmers.
  3. Gourmet Body Treats – A family owned company that makes their products in small batches.  All of their products are vegan, cruelty free and nano particle free.  In addition to makeup, there are also shampoos, soaps, and baby products.  They also have a points program for frequent shoppers.
  4. Coastal Classic Creations – A seemingly well known natural makeup company that scores well on the EWG website.  Lots of neat mineral colors.  They also sell personal care products as well.
  5. 100% Pure – Organic products that are pigmented using fruits.  Most of them are also gluten free.  Even better.  This is probably where I’m going to buy my next natural makeup product.  I have my eye on some mascara and possibly and eyeshadow stick.  We’ll see.

Nail Polish

The safest nail polishes appear to be water based ones.  There are however some downsides to water based nail polishes, so I’ve included one company that appears to make a non-water based, but safer nail polish that is three-free.

  1. Suncoat – I haven’t tried their makeup, but I did buy one of their Suncoat Girl nail polishes in a silver color.  It’s a water based nail polish that peels off.  For a nail polish that peels off, the polish is pretty durable and easy to apply.  I never wore the polish for long because it was way too fun to peel it off.  I also don’t like the feeling of nail polish on my nails.  I am interested in trying out more colors and different brands (which I will list below), especially since nail polish is one of the most toxic beauty products out there.
  2. Aquarella – This appears to be the most well known and well regarded of the water based nail polishes.  You can buy their products on their website or amazon.com.  The polishes are not cheap.  They run almost $20 a bottle, but they have a lot of colors and good reviews.
  3. Scotch Naturals – Another company with water based nail polishes.  I love their play on words and they have some really pretty colors.  These are slightly cheaper than Aquarella running about 15 dollars a bottle.  I think this might be my next nail polish investment.
  4. Priti NYC – A three free nail polish company, their nail polishes are safe for pregnant women and children (according to their website).  They have a ton of colors and are seen on the pages of fashion magazines the world over.  The polishes run $12.50 a bottle on their website.  Some colors can be found in a mini version for $10 a bottle.  This is also a company I want to try.

Other

Companies selling personal care products.

  1. NaturOli – This company is dedicated to natural cleaning products and educating their consumers about the truth about what goes on in the personal care industry.  I came across this website when I started reading about soap nuts (a.k.a. soap berries).  I’m planning on trying their soap berries for my laundry (at least the laundry I do at my parents’ house…sadly, I don’t think that soap berries would be good to use at the laundromat.).  They also have personal care products such as shampoos and face washes formulated from soap berries.  If my quest to find a good balance with baking soda and bar soap doesn’t work out, I might just try their soap nuts shampoo.
  2. Bubble and Bee Organics – Certified organic personal care products.  They seem to be best known for their pit putty, which is a safe alternative to conventional deodorant.  The pit putty even comes with a deodorant guarantee!  Now that’s standing behind your product!

Reviews

I am neither rich enough, nor have enough time to review beauty products here, but I found two very good websites with makeup reviews of natural beauty products.  I can’t say that I would use all of the products listed on these sites, but they are a good place to find out more about the products that are out there.  As always, you should do your own investigation about any products that you want to use.  I use a combination of Google and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) database to figure out if a product follows my own personal rules for what I consider acceptable.

  1. Kaylin’s Kit – Written by makeup artist, Kaylin Johnson, this website reviews eco-friendly, vegetarian makeup and also has tips and tricks.
  2. Organic Beauty Talk – This website focuses on reviewing organic beauty products and educating consumers on the dangers of the ingredients found in conventional beauty products.

Whew, that’s a lot of links and a lot of words.  I hope this list is helpful to people.  I’d love to hear your take on all of this.  I’m always on the lookout for other products and companies, so comment away below.  I’m also open to questions, so ask away.

Hold Out

So, I’ve been doing a ridiculous amount of natural beauty product research online because I’m both procrastinating on things that really need to be done and because I want to be as toxin free in my life as possible.  The problem now is that I have a huge, unorganized folder of bookmarked websites that I need to sort through.  I’ll be back in the next few days and share my findings with you all.  I promise.

In the meantime, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Be safe and wear green!