Creating a 5 Year Plan – Part 3A (Health)

If you’ve been following along as I attempt to build a comprehensive 5 year plan, you’ll know that I started piecing together the plan by writing out my overall life goals, with a plan to then break each goal down into sub-goals and smaller sub-goals. Are those called sub-sub-goals? Tasks? Mini-goals? I don’t know. Give me a break, I’m still figuring this stuff out.

Anyway, my first stab at this was all about debt, and getting out of it. You’ll be happy to know that since I last posted, I’ve generally been pretty good about staying on target – I’ve cut back on social spending, stopped buying so much food, and I’m set up to start making more money in the near future. All of these are good things, and actually affect some of my other major life goals, like going on pilgrimage, seeing the world, and eventually having the freedom to do more writing, sing in a band, and who knows, perhaps even have my own home. We’ll see. It’s going to be a slow and steady process – at least 5 years, lol. (See what I did there?)

I’ve been holding off on writing this post for a couple of weeks now, mostly because I had some kind of harebrained idea that if I just took a little more time to think about it, I’d magically come up with all of my health-related subgoals and how to achieve them. Since the point of constructing a 5 year plan is to help you effectively sketch out your goals and start mapping out how to achieve them, procrastination didn’t get me anywhere but two weeks late on posting. That being the case, I’m just going to start throwing out ideas, and possibly have more than two blog posts related to the goal of health. It’s not like there are solid rules here, so let’s get going!

One of the things that’s had me stumped is that there are a few different things going on in my head when I think about my health. Health can be physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, so beauty and femininity and lifestyle issues all kind of fall into the “health” category for me. It’s a LOT to digest. Here are some of the things I’ve been considering, in no particular order. Many of them overlap, so bear with me, here:

  • Legitimate health concerns, based on family history (Hypothyroidism, Anxiety, Obesity, Macular Degeneration, Cancer, and High Blood Pressure, for instance)
  • Legitimate health concerns, based on current physical/mental symptoms (Hypothyroidism, Anxiety, Obesity, Back Pain, Eating Issues, Concentration Issues)
  • Other health concerns, not based on family history or personal history, but rather just general fear (Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Type II Diabetes, Cancer, Fertility Issues, Autism (potential future children))
  • Beauty / Perception of Femininity, which includes elective procedures based solely on vanity (braces, Lasik surgery, laser hair removal) plus other pretty regular stuff, like hair styling, mani/pedis, facials, waxing, makeup application, and of course, my weight.
  • Living a chemical-free lifestyle (household products and health & beauty products)
  • Being in great physical shape, then maintaining that to age gracefully
  • Obtaining a greater range of motion
  • Stress-relief
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Sleep issues that affect my daily routine (mostly not being able to wake up before 10, no matter how early I go to bed)
  • Reproductive health
  • Aging concerns (mostly vanity-related, but also related to mobility and weight)
  • Sexuality

That’s a lot of stuff to think about, and I’m having trouble finding a good way to break it all down into bite-sized chunks. Most of it seriously overlaps in multiple ways, as well. For instance, my sleep issues and procrastination are intertwined, and cause major stress on a daily basis. Both of those most likely affect my concentration, and definitely affect my eating issues. Those, in turn, affect my weight, which affects my mobility and perceived beauty, leading to more stress/mental issues/aging concerns, PLUS negatively impacting my health and leading to Diabetes, heart issues, impaired thyroid function (which is a two-way street, since it’s possibly the reason I’ve got the sleep issues and anxiety to begin with)…and so on.

It’s way too much to nail down in one blog post, but since I’ve been holding back on finishing this one up for so long, I’m just gonna go ahead and post it, then move forward with maybe revising the way I’m thinking about all of the different layers of health. Maybe I should think head to toe, inside out, and ignore diseases while looking to repair the core issues first. Whatever that means. Have patience with me, folks! And in the mean time, let me know if you’re working on your own 5 year plan for health and wellbeing, and how you’ve tackled it. I’d LOVE to know what other people are doing in this realm.

 

Weight Loss Presents #1 and #2

I’ve been thinking about it a bit today, and have decided what I’ll be giving myself for reaching my 5 lbs. and 10 lbs. goals. First off, a little background. I started concentrating on losing these stubborn pounds on Sunday, June 30th, at which point I was 179.4 lbs. I’m working to lose 2 lbs. a week, which means that I should (hopefully) reach my first 5 lbs. goal (174.4 lbs.) around July 15th if everything goes right. That’s 13 days from now, slightly less than two weeks. Who knows, maybe I’ll do what I’ve done historically and drop that initial weight quicker – typically I end up losing the first 10 lbs. super quickly, then my body slows down and goes back to the normal 2 lbs. a week thing. Sometimes it will be as much as 10 to 15 lbs. in a week, which would be fun but is definitely not necessary. I just want to keep this gradual and ongoing for the next four and a half months. Anyway, so if everything runs on schedule and I lose 5 lbs. by 7/15, I should lose the next 5 lbs. (putting me at 169.4 lbs.) by the beginning of August. I know, I know, this is all very boring and full of numbers. I’m not too fond of numbers, either, but it’s kind of how this thing works. Just wait until I start taking and posting body measurements – now that’s gonna get super irritating, right? 🙂

Anyway, on to the more exciting stuff – my presents!!!

I’ve decided that Present #1, on or around July 15th if all goes well, will be a day at the spa, with a facial, massage, and mani/pedi! Yeah, I know it sounds like I’m setting the bar pretty high, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m a member at Massage Envy, and I’ve got 6 months’ worth of services waiting for me to redeem them. Plus, my favorite nail place is right next door and it’s a bit of a hike to get there, so I might as well make a day of it, right? So I’ll get the massage and facial for free, and just have to pay for the mani/pedi. Totally worth it, since I’ve been doing my own nails for a couple of months now and it’s really just sad – I should not be allowed to dabble in nail polish. I think that this time around, I’ll treat myself to a fancier nail design than I typically get. Maybe rhinestones in my pedicure, or chevron nails, or something cool and different. I’ve always been scared to ask for a special design, so maybe this is the time to get bold with it.

As for Present #2, I’ve been jonesing for a seaweed body wrap ever since my last one back in January of 2013 (so sad that it’s been that long – ack!). For those of you who’ve never had a body wrap, they come in slightly different formats, but in general the process includes getting coated in a mud or paste infused with essential oils and other goodness, then getting wrapped up in saran wrap and covered with a blanket. It’s kind of like getting a mud mask, but on your entire body, and it generally is cold and weird and awesome. Afterwards, you shower and get a short massage, and you leave feeling like a million and one dollars. They’re supposed to help you detox, have tighter skin, and shed excess water weight, but really I just love being pampered. Plus, when you get out of that seaweed treatment your skin is unbelievably soft, like baby smooth. It’s amazing. I have a gift certificate to the spa that I’ve been waiting to use, so as soon as I lose that 10 lbs., I’m allowed to head on over to get the royal treatment. I might even put a little extra down and get a second treatment that day, like a short massage, or maybe a salt scrub to make me even more buttery soft. We’ll see.

So what do you think? Have you ever offered yourself incentives when it’s time to undertake an onerous task like weight loss? How’d it work out?

Green Beauty Review: Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant (Gluten-Free, Paraben-Free, Aluminum-Free & Cruelty-Free Goodness!)

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The following is an unpaid and unsolicited review of a product that I love.

Drugstore brand deodorants and antiperspirants typically include aluminum, parabens, talc, propylene glycol, triclosan, TEA, FD&C colors, and DEA, chemicals that have been linked to dermatitis, Alzheimer’s, cancer*, liver disease, kidney disease, antibiotic resistance, and disrupted thyroid function. It’s no wonder that many people that find themselves interested in avoiding toxic chemicals in their daily body care routine opt to try out a new deodorant first. It’s one of the easiest changes to make to your routine, and considering the hefty price tags on many other natural health and beauty products, often one of the cheapest changes, too.

If you’re like me, the “cheap” aspect was a huge selling point. Thank goodness, because I went through a lot of deodorants (and had a lot of – shall we say – aromatic days) on the road to finding the perfect potion for these ‘pits. I’ve spent the better part of the last ten years trying to find a natural deodorant/antiperspirant that offered a long term solution to odor & dampness, while also smelling good, being easy & comfortable to apply, and not causing my delicate underarm skin to break out in a rash. Along the way I tried a few great brands that I thought did the job pretty well, like Bubble & Bee’s Pit Putty and Luscious Lather’s Natural Deodorant. I also tried out plenty of other sworn-by products, like Thai Crystal (meh), coconut oil (great for using after shaving), apple cider vinegar, and more. However, nothing completely did the trick, and I always ended up going back to my drugstore brand.

Then I found Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant and fell in love. Most natural deodorants I’ve tried have a sticky, waxy feel to them (if you’ve ever tried Tom’s of Maine deodorants, you’ll know what I’m talking about). The ones that aren’t sticky are often the opposite – dry and crumbly – which is hell on delicate, easily-irritated skin. Schmidt’s is the perfect texture, very similar to that of Dove antiperspirant, but not in stick-form.

There’s a small learning curve that comes with scooping out and smearing on your own deodorant after years of using a deodorant stick, but it only takes a few days to get used to the routine. The jar comes with its own tiny spatula to scoop out a pea-sized bit of the cream, and the moment it comes in contact with your warm underarm, it very easily slides on, like a slightly dry lotion. What’s best is that the deodorant contains arrowroot powder, giving the mixture a dry finish once it’s applied – and helping absorb ‘pit moisture for hours. Once applied, there’s very little residue on your fingers, and what’s there is easy to wash or wipe off.

Aside from being easy to use, not giving me a rash, and doing a great job keeping my underarms from getting swampy, Schmidt’s smells amazing. The deodorant comes in five delightfully earthy scent combinations, including Lavender & Sage, Bergamot & Lime, Cedarwood & Juniper, Ylang Ylang & Calendula, and Fragrance Free. So far I’ve tried Lavender & Sage & Ylang Ylang & Calendula, and have found that both fragrances are very true to their names. I’m crazy about lavender, and am often disappointed that lavender products in the States don’t smell very much like they plant they’re supposed to be emulating. The essential oils used in Schmidt’s are of great quality, and it definitely shows (smells?). That being said, the scents are not overpowering. Once applied, the scent is faint, allowing you to use your chosen perfumes or essential oils without being afraid of mixing too many scents on your person.

Best of all, Schmidt’s is contains no toxic chemicals, and the brand is Cruelty-Free Certified, so no poor bunnies (or any other beloved creature) was harmed in the creation of this fantastic product. The following ingredients lists are from the two types of Schmidt’s I’ve tried thus far:

Lavender & Sage: Shea Butter, Baking Soda, Arrowroot Powder, Cocoa Seed Butter, Clary Sage Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, Vitamin E & Hop Extract

Ylang Ylang & Calendula: Shea Butter, Baking Soda, Arrowroot Powder, Cocoa Seed Butter, Vitamin E, Ylang Ylang Essential Oil, Calendula Essential Oil & Hop Extract

If you’re looking to try out a natural, handcrafted deodorant that feels luxurious and actually works, I encourage you to give Schmidt’s a try. At $10 a jar, it’s about twice as expensive as most drugstore brands, but competitively priced for other natural brands. It’s free of parabens, aluminum, propylene glycol, phthalates, and for all of you gluten-free folks, you’ll be happy to learn that this is a safe product for you, too! You can find it online on Amazon, Anthropologie, Rodale’s, Pure Citizen, b-glowing, and Urban Outfitters, or check out Schmidt’s list of retailers by state.

*The FDA and the National Cancer Institute dispute the connection between deodorants and breast cancer, but studies have been inconclusive thus far.

Behind The Scenes At A Photo Shoot

So it’s that time of year again – time for the Fall Fashion Bazaar. This is the one time of year that I get to do EXACTLY what it is that I love – coordinate an event, make connections (for myself and other people), and help the New Orleans arts community grow and thrive.

The event is a one-day pop up shop, and this year we’ve expanded to fourteen local fashion and accessory designers. It’s a great sale that features a pretty diverse range of items for men, women, kids, and even pets. The best part is that it’s all my baby – I came up with the idea last year, and from finding the vendors to running the social media, it’s all mine (other than the graphic design and the PR copy). I LOVE this. It’s really what I want to do for a living, if only I could figure out how.

But that’s not what I was thinking about today. Today was all about a fashion shoot. In a little under a week, my team and I put together an entire photo shoot, from finding the models (human & four-legged), fashion stylist, and hair & makeup stylist, to arranging for the items to be dropped off, to helping create the looks that would eventually be photographed. It was a crazy, exhausting day, but it worked out amazingly. Everything went off without a hitch, and there are going to be some gorgeous photographs (and video, thanks to awesome NOLA videographer Crista Rock).

Here are a few behind-the-scenes snapshots I grabbed today – so much fun!

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A big thank you to models Manon Pages and Jeremy Kennan of Impact Modeling and Talent Agency, Angee Estavez, Trea and Dottie, plus doggie models Ansel & Stevie Pagani, along with our fabulous hair & makeup stylist Cat Vo of Aristocat Beauty, and fashion stylist Laura Keith of Showroom South. Thanks also to Miette for loaning sunglasses (and much-appreciated advice) to the shoot.

Find out more about the Fall Fashion Bazaar at www.facebook.com/fallfashionbazaar.

Dress For The Job You Want

I used to live by the mantra, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” I love clothes. On average, I spend a good 45 minutes a day window shopping online, picking out items for my many wishlists, dreaming about the day when I’ll be able to legitimately afford that Michael Kors purse – AND have a reason to pull it out of the closet.

Back when I worked in an office in Chicago, I tried to “dress for success,” but often fell short of the goal. It just wasn’t feasible to buy new clothes, even from the sale rack at Express, when I had a pretty hefty rent check and a major monthly student loan bill, plus tons of CC debt left over from scraping by after Hurricane Katrina. I had a dream, though. I wore cute suits, or dark jeans and fitted blazers, and patent leather heels. Nothing over the top, and a lot of it from Buffalo Exchange or Target, but still pretty cute. It wasn’t as cool as what most of the girls in the office were wearing, though – Anthropologie dresses, adorable blouses from ModCloth, handmade baubles off of Etsy, and always something fresh and fun for the season. I was floored – and inspired. I wanted more, but never could quite get there.

Click through to visit my Pinterest board “I Dream of Fashion”

Today I’m making roughly half of what I was making before. Luckily, I’ve paid down a lot of my CC debt, and my student loan payments are on an income-based repayment plan, so that helps me get by. But now I’m in my early 30’s, and I’ve still never had my day as even a half-assed fashionista. It’s one of those great life disappointments for me, like knowing there’s a good chance I’ll never be thin, will never learn to salsa, will never get the chance to visit Machu Picchu. I’m learning to just be happy with what I can manage, but when it’s stretching it to even afford a minor shopping binge at Kohl’s, that’s just disheartening, you know?

The other thing that puts a major kink in my plans to dress well is that I work in a warehouse building that doesn’t have climate control. There’s no air conditioning in the summer or heat in the winter, and though we do run a dehumidifier sometimes, the place still feels like a swamp much of the time. Also, the office has WAY too much stuff in it. It’s like working in a hoarder house. But I grew up in a house that was only a step down from hoarder-level, so even though it makes me anxious and unhappy, I’m able to file it away and get my mind onto other things pretty easily if I try.

What really grinds my gears is that one of the businesses in the building is tiny cafe that smokes its own pork. There’s no real way to vent the smells out of the building, so when I leave work for the day, I smell like smoked pork. Except that the smell lingers in my hair and clothing, salty and acrid, turning from a delicious scent into eau de grease pit. Not what you want to smell like after you leave the office; it even leaves a residue on my hair and skin – blech.

Now anyone who wears suits or nice coats or sweaters to the office will understand why you’d never want to wear them to an office that reeked of smoked meat. First off, if you have to leave the office during the day to speak to clients, you don’t want to arrive smelling like that. It’s an affront to common decency, or more easily said, it’s unprofessional. Secondly, nice clothes demand gentle cleaning techniques. That’s why many people are careful to get a couple (or even a few) wears out of dry clean-only clothing before taking it to the cleaners. Most of the nicest things in my wardrobe can only be dry cleaned or hand washed, and the idea of doing that every single time I wear something nice to the office is daunting.

This is the shirt I wore to work yesterday.

So I just don’t dress for success anymore – and it has definitely affected my psyche. Sure, I wear some business casual things now and then – dark jean trousers and blouses that I can machine wash – but mostly I just wear jeans and t-shirts like everyone else. I feel frumpy, old, underdressed, and worst of all, unimportant and unprofessional. Sometimes I try to mix it up by at least wearing shirts that make me happy, like the “Buy Me Brunch” t-shirt I wore to work yesterday, but most of the time lately I’ve just given up wearing things I love to the office. I feel like every time I wear something nice there, it’s just one wash closer to its death. And I love the few cute things I own way too much to do that to them.

That’s that. As far as I can tell, nothing will ever change at work. I will continue to make less than I can afford to. I will continue to make comments about the smell, but nothing will be done (and why should anything be done – the restaurant is successful, and their customers love the smell). I will continue to slowly lose my mind as the pile of desks, computer parts, photo equipment, magazines, and trash grows around my desk and eventually swallows me alive. At least then no one will be able to see that I’m wearing my “I’m feeling bloated” jeans and most frumpy t-shirt to an office job.