Saturday, June 28, 2014

Go Buy Now: Schimdt's Natural Deodorant

I recently realized that although I’m very careful about eliminating harmful chemicals in what I eat, I had no idea what types of chemicals I was putting on my body in the form of beauty products, hair care, makeup, etc. The cosmetic industry is not regulated, and the government does not require safety testing of the ingredients in products or long-term studies on toxic effects. As women, we typically put 200+ unique chemicals on our skin every day, which get absorbed into our bodies and wreak all sorts of havoc. Yikes.

It can be overwhelming to think about, but I always try to take it one step at a time, and I’ve been slowly phasing out my old products and phasing in new, safer ones. 

One quick swap I’d recommend is switching to natural deodorant. The American Cancer Society claims that there isn’t enough research to support rumors that deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer, but regardless, I want as few chemicals on my skin as possible. 

A few months ago, I ditched my dove deodorant, full of all sorts of chemicals I can’t pronounce, to schmidt’s natural deodorant

I have to admit, I a little was sketched on natural deodorant and wasn’t sure it would actually work, but this brand delivers. It works really well, is high quality, and has 100% all natural ingredients, without the harmful parabens and aluminum that come in other deodorants. Its also vegan and cruelty-free.

I love the ylang-ylang + calendula scent, and if you’re trying to convince your man to switch too, try the cedarwood + juniper for him.

Through June 30th, everything is 20% off with the code “SUMMERDEO”. Check it out + let me know what you think!

This blog post is not sponsored by schmidt’s natural deodorant. All opinions are my own. For more information on safe cosmetics, check out Organic Beauty Talk and Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Favorite Cleanse

Strawberry Mango Smoothie // Blueberry Detox Smoothie // Green Smoothie
I love a good cleanse. It is incredibly challenging, but oh so worth it. I’m about to start one this week, so I thought - let’s talk about cleanses, shall we?

Just a little disclaimer - I’m not an expert. This is what I’ve gathered from going through it several times, and lots of reading and researching. But I definitely encourage you to do your homework as well to make sure you are detoxing safely.

Why I Love It
A lot of people are scared to do a cleanse, and I get it. Even though I do one every year, its still daunting every time. I have to mentally gear up before hand, because I know I’ll be tempted to give up more than once, especially in the first few days. In case you need motivation, here are the biggest benefits that I’ve experienced:
  1. Reset Good Habits: Or kick bad ones. I’ve been traveling a ton recently, and all that indulging really takes a toll. Plus, I’m a recovering cheese + sugar addict, and sometimes the only way for me to reset habits is to do something a little extreme. The amazing thing is that when you get sugar, dairy, wheat, and processed foods out of your system, you stop craving them. I believe positive motivation is the strongest motivation, and once you’ve finished the cleanse, you’ll feel great and not want to add all those things back in.
  2. More Energy: Over the last few years, I’ve often wondered why I have so little energy. It just didn’t seem right to be tired all the time in my 20s. Being fed up with it was actually my primary motivator for my first ever cleanse, which promised more energy and better sleep. I’ve found it to be really true. Without all the processed food and caffeine, I was waking up before my alarm (honestly, that's miraculous) and felt more energized than I had in years - like the energy I thought I left behind when I graduated high school.
  3. Improved Health: A good cleanse supports your digestive system, boosts your immune system and gets rid of toxins stored in your body. Our bodies work really hard for us every day, and we put them through a lot - sitting all day at a desk, drinking too much caffeine, taking full advantage of the craft beer scene in San Diego (just me?). Giving it a break from all that allows it to go to work repairing damaged cells, breaking down fat cells, and resting from its usual hyperactivity.
  4. Mind-Body Awareness: Food is psychological - we eat when we’re bored, tired, emotional, anxious, lonely - so naturally a cleanse is also an opportunity for personal reflection and self awareness. I love that detoxing forces me to observe what habits I’ve built up unknowingly and confront why. There is also something refreshing about removing the negative associations of guilt, shame and insecurity we sometimes feel, and reconnecting with food positively as a source of nourishment.
  5. Discipline & Confidence: The fact that this is really hard makes it so rewarding. I love accomplishing something that initially seems impossible. Our minds are stronger than we think they are, and it’s liberating to observe our cravings, watch them pass, and feel like a badass for not giving in. 
  6. Lose a few lbs: I try not to let this be my primary motivation, because I believe in sustained habits over quick fixes for losing or maintaining weight. But I don’t hate it as a side effect. Hello, beach season.
My Go-To Cleanse
The cleanse I love doing is this one by Swanson Health Center.  I’m a big fan, because its developed by nutritionists and you actually get to eat on it. A girl’s gotta work and still be able to function, right? 

When I get sick of the smoothies, I change up the recipe or go for a fruit salad or veggie salad. I add in green tea and kombucha. If I'm really hungry, I double the smoothie recipe or snack on fruits, veggies and nuts. We aren’t here to starve ourselves, and it should be hard but not horrible. As long as you stay with whole, unprocessed foods, you should be okay.

I’ll sometimes add in a 1 to 3 day juice cleanse in the middle (like Blueprint or Pressed Juicery). At that point, I’ve adjusted and built up some serious discipline, so it is surprisingly doable.

On this cleanse, you are giving up:
  • Processed foods
  • Wheat
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Grains
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Refined Sugar
Tips for Detoxing
Preparation is key to sticking with a cleanse. In addition to gearing up mentally, here are some tips:
  • Do your homework if you are doing a different cleanse, especially a juice only cleanse. These can release toxins too quickly from your fat cells, and your liver needs adequate nutrients to do its job.
  • Think about starting it on a Monday, and cutting out caffeine on the Saturday or Sunday before. Caffeine withdrawals are real, y’all, and they aren’t fun. Staggering the coffee headaches with the start of the detox makes it a little easier.
  • Try to eat as clean as possible a few days before and after to ease in and out of the cleanse slowly. If you are feeling really run down, having digestive problems, or think you may have food allergies, consider keeping a food journal and adding foods back in one at a time to see how it affects you. Like week 1, add back in gluten, week 2, add back dairy, week 3, add sugar… Or don’t add them back in at all. 
  • Find friends to do it with you. Its easier and adds much needed accountability when you are surrounding by others experiencing the same thing. 
  • Write down your intentions for doing the cleanse somewhere, so you can revisit them when it gets hard. Focus on the positive to stay motivated. 
  • Be strategic about timing. I didn’t realize once when I started the cleanse that it would be during the Superbowl. Its not fun to be that person, especially during the Superbowl.
  • Hang in there. Don’t sell yourself short. Finish it out so you can see all that hard work pay off.

That was a long one. I’d love for you to join in the dialogue, friends! What cleanses do you like? What were the biggest benefits? What are your tips and tricks for getting through it?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Chalkboard Mag Feature

Excuse me while I freak out a little bit. My favorite online source for everything health + wellness, Chalkboard Mag, asked me to write about how I set up a wellness program at Invisible Children, and how I personally found work-life balance in a high-pressure, cause-driven environment. I happily said yes, dove in and wrote way too much (don't worry, we edited it down). And today, I am beyond excited to share my eight year journey of navigating sacrifice and self-care with you all.

I'd love for you to check out the article here and join in the conversation. I certainly don't have all the answers and my understanding of balance is ever evolving. I'd love to know how you prioritize wellness and self care amidst career, family, and crazy schedules. Do you have a mantra or a ritual? What brings you back to center? And, do you love Chalkboard as much as I do??

Also, shout out to the lovely Sophia Bush for guest editing at Chalkboard this month. Don't miss her poignant + personal letter about true beauty here.

yoga photo cred: Lauranne Boyd

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Last Minute Father's Day Gift Guide

If you're anything like me, you just started wondering what dad wants for Father's Day (oops). I typically have a hard time shopping for the men in my family, so this year, I thought I'd share some of the best gifts I've come across. So if you've procrastinated too, don't worry - I've got you covered.

Most of these are available in stores around the country, but some you may have to ship overnight in order to celebrate on Sunday.

1. Beatles art print (starts at $107), for the nostalgic music lover. Buy it online here.
2. Best Made Camp Blanket ($184), for the woods or the house. Buy it online here. Other great blankets herehere and here.
3. Dapper Dopp Kit ($45), for the dad who travels in style. Buy it in stores at Bloomindale's. San Diegans, buy it in store at Pigment.
4. J.Crew Duffle Bag ($118), because everyone needs a good duffle. My husband has one of these I steal all the time. Buy it online here, or snag this duffle or this garmet in stores at J.Crew.
5. Beer growler ($9.95), for the craft beer connoisseur. Buy it in stores at Crate & Barrel, or grab this one from West Elm.
6. J.Crew tie ($69.50), because you can never go wrong with a great tie. Buy it in stores at J.Crew.
7. McClure's Spicy Bloody Mary Mix ($8). I read on Cup of Jo that this is the best bloody mary mix out there. Yes, please. Overnight it from amazon here or find a retailer near you.
8. Vitamix S30 Personal Blender ($399). Encourage dad to be a little healthier this Father's Day. Something about the horsepower or the speed of the blades, but every guy I know who has one of these loves it. Buy it in stores at William Sonoma.
9. Mend laptop sleeve ($47.20). Sleek, handmade in Uganda, and proceeds support Invisible Children. Buy it online here.
10. The Strongbox from Best Made ($28), for him to safely store his keepsakes. Buy it online here, or upgrade to the toolbox ($94).

What are your go-to gifts for dad?