Chicken Skin Begone

Ever since I was in high school, I’ve struggled with what some call “chicken skin”, but is actually a condition called keratosis pilaris.  This means that I get inflamed bumps on the backs of my arms that look like zits. If I ever pick at them, they become huge and unsightly. I always felt super self-conscious about them, because if I left them alone they looked like zits (GROSSS), and if I tried to get rid of them I looked like I had welts on my arms (also GROSSSSSS).  It was a no-win.

I have tried everything to get rid of them.  Eventually I settled on a regimen of exfoliation and moisturizer, because it seemed to help lessen the amount, but they were never truly gone.  I HATE THEM.  Particularly in the summer.

One day, my husband asked me to pick up some affordable simple face lotion that he could use in the winter months.  A few weeks later, I ran out of my normal lotion so I used a pump of his face lotion on my arms.  When I woke up the next morning, my pumps were gone. No joke. I’ve been using this sweet little bottle of awesomeness on the backs of my arms ever since.

Do I have your attention yet?!  What if I told you that the lotion only cost $6?  And it is fragrance and paraben free?  And it is full of antioxidants?  It is the REAL DEAL, folks.  Here it is:

.

For those of you lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, this can be found with the health and beauty items.  It’s a small bottle, but a little goes a long way.  For those of you who don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you can grab a bottle from Amazon.com.

Trust me, I’ve tried it all.  This bottle is worth it.

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Life Interrupted

In case you haven’t noticed, I have been absent from blogging for a while.  Like, for a year.

One year ago, my baby girl was diagnosed with a food allergy.  I was already driving a pretty full apple cart, what with the law practice and parenting and life, but the allergy really threw me for a loop.  My full apple cart tipped over.  Blogging was the easiest thing to drop, and it would wait, so it did.

I’m back, with a new blog address and a new take on blogging overall.  I am really looking forward to honest posts about things that work, things that don’t, and sharing ideas with you all.

Obsessed: Spaghetti Squash

You’ve seen these guys at the store, right?  I am telling you, spaghetti squash is where it is at – healthy, filling, and super easy to prepare.  I have been making this dish once a week ever since Thanksgiving.  The water content and fiber are exactly what my body needed to get me through the holiday season.  It is ready in a snap.

BAKED SPAGHETTI SQUASH (1 hour), serves 8

Ingredients:

one spaghetti squash

one jar of pasta sauce (or make your own!)

one lb of protein (I like ground beef, ground turkey, or sausage)

frozen spinach

chopped onion

two diced garlic cloves

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375.  Slice the squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out the loose seeds with a spoon.  Put a centimeter of water into the bottom of an oven-safe pan and place both halves of the squash in, face down.  Cook in the oven for 40-50 minutes.  Check on it every so often – when you poke the rounded backside of the squash with a fork and it is tender, pull it out of the oven.  Use a potholder and a fork to flip the halves out of the pan and rest them on a cutting board to cool.

On the stove, warm olive oil over low and sweat the onion and garlic until fragrant.  Then, add the protein and cook over medium until brown, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add the frozen spinach and the pasta sauce, and lower the heat to low.

While the sauce comes together, use a spoon to remove the remaining seeds in each squash half.  Then, use a fork to gently pull the flesh of the squash out of the rind – it usually comes out pretty easily – and put into a large bowl.  Use two forks to shred the squash into “noodles”.  The more you shred it, the more it seems like real pasta.  Add the warmed sauce, and stir it up.

This dish is super healthy, filling, and kid friendly.

According to Wikipedia, one cup of spaghetti squash contains:

Spaghetti squash, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 130 kJ (31 kcal)
6.91 g
Sugars 2.76 g
Dietary fiber 1.5 g
0.57 g
0.64 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.

(1%)

6 μg

(1%)

64 μg

Thiamine (B1)
(3%)

0.037 mg

Riboflavin (B2)
(2%)

0.018 mg

Niacin (B3)
(6%)

0.95 mg

(7%)

0.36 mg

Vitamin B6
(8%)

0.101 mg

Folate (B9)
(3%)

12 μg

Vitamin C
(3%)

2.1 mg

Vitamin E
(1%)

0.13 mg

Minerals
Calcium
(2%)

23 mg

Iron
(2%)

0.31 mg

Magnesium
(3%)

12 mg

Manganese
(6%)

0.125 mg

Phosphorus
(2%)

12 mg

Potassium
(2%)

108 mg

Zinc
(2%)

 

Natural deodorant

I have been experimenting with natural deodorants for years, ever since I read a few studies about antiperspirants and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and breast cancer.  (Here’s one report – “may” and “more research needed” is enough for me to find an alternative.  You can web search and find more.)

However, the elimination of aluminum, parabens, and antiperspirant has been a tough one for me.  I work out, HARD.  I don’t always have time to take a shower immediately post-workout.  Sometimes I need to be near people, and I don’t want to smell bad.  I tried Tom’s of Maine, which I heard good things about.  It made me smell nice after my shower, but it couldn’t hold up during exercise.

I made my own natural deodorant for a while – just baking soda and coconut oil.  Easy breezy.  This worked really well, but I couldn’t get the mixture just right.  The baking soda irritated my armpits easily, and then when I would sweat things would really hurt.

I read a blog review recently, and I took their advice.  I am telling you guys, I have found the holy grail of natural deodorants.  Primal Pit Paste.  The name is funny, but the stuff is amazing.  I bought some two months ago, and it WORKS.  The basic ingredients are the same as my home recipe – baking soda and coconut oil.  However, they add essential oils and a few other ingredients to keep it from being irritating.  Also, the smells are fantastic.  I finish my workouts and I do not smell.  I can run a few errands post-PiYo and not feel self-conscious.

I bought the Pit Paste Sticks, because I went the jar route when I made my own deodorant and it was pretty messy.  I like the stick method because I am not getting deodorant all over my hands.  The sticks work great – just hold it under your arm for a few seconds to warm the coconut oil, and the product glides on.  I am a huge fan of the coconut lime currently.  I smell like a margarita.

Plus, sign up for the e-mail list to get 10% off!  I did, and then stocked up.  Life changer, ladies.

 

 

Foam Roller Shopping

As a follow-up to my foam roller post the other day, I want to do a shopping post!

Here are the foam rollers I considered buying, and why I did (or did not) choose them for my home gym.  First, I think the mantra “different strokes for different folks” is going to apply here.  We all have different bodies and different issues and different pain thresholds.  What works for me is not going to be what works for my husband, momma, dad, or neighbor.  BUT.  I can do some legwork for you and make your googling a little easier, right?

LuxFit Premium High Density Roller – Not going to lie, people.  I bought this because it was the #1 rated foam roller on Amazon and I am a sucker for the ratings.  However, I did put a little more thought into it than just the rating.  First, the price.  Can’t beat the price on Amazon.  Next, there are three sizes available – 12″, 18″ and 36″ lengths.  Not being an experienced foam roller, I went for the middle size.  I am really glad I did.  I am not a big person, and I am pretty sure the 12″ would have been too small for me to maneuver on well.  I like that I can shift from one side of my back to the other easily, without falling off the end of the roller.  Similarly, I think the 36″ would have been too big for me – again though, just based on my frame.

LuxFit Foam Roller (hollow and bumpy style) – this one looks way cooler than the one above, but it is more expensive.  Plus, I was reading about how rolling can be painful at first, and I was nervous that the bumps might make the process even more painful.  If you are an experienced roller looking for some added pressure, this could be for you!

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller – This is the #2 seller on Amazon, and it looks really awesome.  However, it was 3x as expensive as the one I bought, and because I wasn’t sure I was going to love foam rolling, it seemed prudent to be budget friendly.  Also, some of the reviews noted that their roller had cracked or broken because the roller isn’t one piece.

AmazonBasics High Density Foam Roller – Guys, this could be my foam roller’s twin.  They look the same and are the same price.  Mostly, I didn’t order it because it was the #3 seller.

Master of Muscle Foam Roller – How cool looking is this guy?  I almost bought this one because of the claims that it is like your own personal massage therapist (Um, YES!!!!) but the 13″ length gave me pause.  This might be a good one to take along to the gym or when traveling, but in the end, wanted a roller that was a big longer.

I hope this helps you shop for a foam roller that meets your needs.  If you have one you love that I haven’t mentioned, please post!

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling!  So easy, so amazing!

I must have been living under a rock, because for a gal who runs, goes to yoga and ballet barre, and blogs about fitness, I had never EVER heard of foam rolling until recently.  I googled it, and apparently foam rolling is a THING.  And lots of people do this THING.

In case you have been living under the same rock, here’s the deal:  a foam roller looks like this.

According to breakingmuscle.com, “myofascial release, also known as “foam rolling,” has transformed from a once mysterious technique used only by professional athletes, coaches, and therapists to a familiar everyday practice for people at all levels of fitness. Recent information, technology, and affordable products have introduced an increasing array of training and recovery methods to the average person.  Self-myofascial release is a fancy term for self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. This method can be performed with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, Theracane, or your own hands. By applying pressure to specific points on your body you are able to aid in the recovery of muscles and assist in returning them to normal function. Normal function means your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice.”

So, basically, foam rolling is a way to massage your muscles to reduce knotting, tight spots, and soreness.  You know how when you have a stiff neck, you can use your finger to push really hard on the knot for a while, and then when you remove your finger the knot is gone?  Same idea.

However, the foam roller finds knots I didn’t even know I had.  I roll my thighs at five different angles, and the roller finds tightness in all kinds of places.  I have been using the foam roller on my upper back (please do not EVER roll your lower back) and I can feel there is much less tension in my shoulders and neck as a result.  I also can tell that the roller releases a ton of tension in my glutes.  It is seriously painful while I am rolling, but I feel amazing afterward.

Are you ready to give foam rolling a try?  I like the examples given by 12 Minute Athlete to begin.  Are there other muscles that I can roll, now that I’ve mastered these basic moves?

Skin Care Dilemma

Hey everyone!

So, I am generally super careful about what I put into my body – we buy organic produce when it makes sense, I cook from scratch as much as possible, and we avoid processed foods and beverages.  When we clean our home, we use vinegar, baking soda, and Barkeeper’s Friend for 99% of the jobs.  We do have a hard core cleanser for emergencies or problem areas (I’m looking at you, kids’ toilet).

There is one area that I really struggle with when it comes to cleaning up my act – skin care.  I have been struggling with my skin for over twenty years – it feels like I have ALWAYS been battling it.  When I was a teenager I had acne.  Not typical teenager pimples, but serious acne.  It was so tough.  In late high school, I was prescribed Accutane, which was supposed to solve all my problems.  While it did improve lots of issues, they were not eliminated.  Since my early twenties, I have battled breakouts in my chin area, blackheads on my nose, and dry skin on my forehead.  I have tried lots of products (seriously, LOTS) and have finally found a regime that seems to work.  However, every time I go to purchase my products, I see the list of ingredients and wish I knew of a more natural product that would also keep my skin clear.

I have been seeing a lot of posts online about Rodan + Fields, and was *thisclose* to ordering their Reverse line, because it looks like it does amazing things for the ladies who use it.  But, then I saw the ingredient list, and did some research.  The results I found were mixed.  However, in my search, I saw an article that noted that the European standards for skincare are more restrictive than those in the United States, and I started researching European products.  When I was in Paris a few years ago, I don’t recall seeing a lot of acne.  So, maybe those French ladies are on to something!

I’ve read review after review, and have narrowed down the field to three:  Avene, La Roche Posay, and Bioderma.  Have you had any experience with any of these?  Is there a brand or product that I am missing that I should try?  I am especially curious about micellar fluid and thermal spring water.  Let me know if you have tried one of these, and should I make the switch?