On Health & Beauty- important links to articles you should click on, read, save, and share

I subscribe to many health-related e-newsletters and I wanted to compile some of the best ones regarding women’s products, namely health and beauty-related items, that you may not be aware of, containing harmful ingredients to our health (**our skin is the largest organ**). I am highly considering going chemical-free or rather, drastically reducing our household usage of these things (I have allergies to parabens and my young son’s general exposure to chemicals also concerns me). It is pretty scary that we just assume that these products are safe for the general public to use everyday (the FDA’s approval doesn’t really mean much), for years, without a second thought. It is up to each of us to become responsible for our own health and well-being. Hope that you find some of these articles to be useful, informative, and eye-opening.

This article discusses the most commonly found chemicals in our cosmetics:

https://foodrevolution.org/blog/toxic-chemicals-makeup/?utm_campaign=frn16&utm_medium=email&utm_source=email-automated&utm_content=2071&utm_term=existing-email-list&email=ms925lining%40gmail.com&firstname=margret&lastname=

This article addresses the cosmetic companies who test their products on animals (along with a list of cruelty-free companies and ***DIY recipes***—love that!):

http://www.thealternativedaily.com/should-we-torture-animals/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=N161206

I currently use Burt’s Bees, Pacifica, Josie Maran’s Argan Oil, raw shea butter from Africa (purchased on Amazon) and Lush products, just to name a few, of the responsible cosmetic brands. I think there is a real push  or boost for these natural and/or organic beauty brands, as we are becoming more aware, nowadays. 

This article discusses toxic hair color and the direct connection to cancer:

http://www.naturalhealth365.com/hair-color-2057.html

I have not colored my hair in a long while (these products were really rough on my hair), but when I do, I will use henna from Lush.

This article discusses feminine hygiene products:

https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/dirty-secrets-feminine-hygiene-products/?gl=58520eb1dc7f1f0b7209de50

There is an excellent documentary titled “Chemerical” featured on http://www.fmtv.com; features ***DIY recipes*** for finding solutions to reducing or eliminating chemicals in our daily lives. For more information, I provided the link below:

http://www.chemicalnation.com/content/

The site http://www.fmtv.com is a great resource for documentary lovers; there is so much information on the site, for paying members (subscription).  

Aromatherapy uses essential oils as solutions for our care and well-being. Many of those available  to us, however, are not all-natural; beware of synthetic products. This one is backed by the people behind “The Truth About Cancer.”

https://epigeneticlabs.com/el-essential-oils/?a_aid=1605727&a_bid=39d2acc0&gl=582845757

This one addresses Top 27 Essential Oils to Diffuse:

http://www.thealternativedaily.com/top-essential-oils-to-diffuse/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=N161209

This one is specific to rosemary essential oil:

https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/rosemary-essential-oil/?gl=582845713

This one is specific to tea tree oil:

https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/tea-tree-essential-oil/?gl=582845703

Disclaimer: With essential oils, it is important to point out that this is not a One Size Fits All kind of formula, so you must experiment to see what is best for you and your family members (it is an individual thing, every person is different). Dr. Z. has a website that very helpful and informative:

http://drericz.com/eo-club-free

Here is another resource (same doctor) that I found online:

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Be Consistent and Persistent with Physical Fitness Goals

The week before Thanksgiving, this year, marked the end of my milestone of completing 12 straight weeks of workouts. I have found the winning formula (FINALLY!) for me (this is completely an individual goal): 2 days of weight training and 3 days of yoga. I know that I need to work on my cardio pursuits, but let me dwell in my major accomplishment, a bit, though. Side notes: Every weekend, we do lots of walking. Some weekday mornings, I dance to a few songs on my iPod, to get my day started off on a positive note. I also try to move and stretch throughout my work week, as well (ie. walking the property and taking the stairs).

What did I notice after these monumental 12 straight weeks of workouts? (1) I have muscle definition in my legs without having to flex them. I can honestly say that this is a first for me. I swear by squats. I love them. On a good day, I do three types of them! I keep hearing good things about squats (magazine articles).  (2) My jean size is zero (Ann Taylor LOFT, Gap and Old Navy) (I actually need to get new jeans and donate my old pairs). My waist is smaller, but I did not really work on my abs (maybe something else I can work on, sometime, in the future, but it isn’t my number one priority).  (3) Though, I don’t focus on pounds, my current weight is just a few pounds over my high school weight (I definitely have more muscle at this stage of my life). I just had a birthday recently (I’m in my 40’s) and I didn’t feel bad about my appearance (it’s bad enough how society reinforces how old a woman is; there are constant reminders, and I am speaking from experience). When I see old video of me, I see the chubby cheeks but, I don’t look like that anymore. (4) My energy level is better than it used to be. I used to be exhausted at the end of the night, with 3 pm being the major slump in my day. (I don’t depend on artificial energy. I limit my caffeine intake.) This is a major thing for me. Though, I didn’t think anything of it, until the new normal was concrete. This was a fairly recent revelation.

I would also have to credit my physical well-being to my work week diet (monday- friday); I’ve always known that it’s pretty much 75% diet and 25% exercise. I have hypertension so when my cardiologist told me I’d have to change my diet last summer, I made pretty dramatic changes. I dropped seven pounds, two pant sizes, chubby cheeks, and my double-chin (this was never my goal, it was merely a side benefit of getting healthy) by switching to salads (greens, with colorful veggies—sometimes I add wheat pasta or organic tofu to keep it interesting) for my lunch meal. I stopped eating sandwiches and chips for lunch. I made my own seasoning, without salt. I check all labels for sodium content. I do most of my grocery shopping at either Trader Joe’s or Sprouts. It’s a challenge, but with careful planning, I manage pretty well. The food prep can be a pain in the butt, sometimes, I’m not gonna lie. (This year, I took the extra step and limited my meat intake to once a day. I also make my own salad dressing, too.)

So, why all of this effort? The bigger picture is that I get to spend my days with my family, with a much better quality of life. I am not sickly (maybe a couple colds during the year), I don’t have an auto-immune disease, though I do have numerous, unknown food allergies. I do have some minor pain issues, but they are not what they used to be, pre-ablation. I am aiming for longevity. We have a young son, and I want to be here for him, as long as I can (motivation). I have a family history of heart disease, so I am just trying prevention (listening to my cardiologist was the best thing I ever did). I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink alchohol. I am fairly healthy. I want to keep it that way. I also want to do things naturally without the aid or dependence of prescription medicine (I already take a couple, but I don’t want to add to that list). I am proud of the fact that I did all of this on my own. 

 

Success should be redefined

SUCCESS in this society, needs to be redefined. Clearly, lots of people have gotten sidetracked into this conspicuous consumption (shopping) idea that they are “trying to keep up with the joneses.” This has landed them into debt. The average household debt is $15,355, according to a source online in December 2015. Another source in 2016 cites the average  credit card debt is $5700. The source found online: http://www.valuepenguin.com/average-credit-card-debt

This is no surprise that the housing market  (real estate and mortgage) fell apart a few years ago during our “economic downturn.” This in turn, created, the great foreclosure trend across the country. We were spending too much money anyway, on the houses we could not afford, the cars we were driving, the clothing labels, the bling, the dinners, the drinks, and the list goes on and on.

I admit, I am a recovering shopaholic (shopping year-round gives me some leeway during birthdays and Christmas, though—I’ve had a gift closet for years). Getting what we wanted put everything into perspective for me. I became pregnant, after five plus years of trying to conceive. Yes, I had to get my S**T in order, which meant, I had to get into the habit of sticking to a budget (back to basics, kind of reminds me of when we were wedding-planning). I don’t like carrying debt. I am not one that borrows from friends; in fact, the last time I did this, I was in college. I pay my bills first. I have a retirement account. I have some savings accounts. We have a couple vacations every year. We don’t buy new cars every three years, which seems to be the norm. We’ve been in the same house for over a decade.

My priority is doing right by my family. It’s the reason I buy things for myself only when they are on sale. I enjoy some things here and there, but shopping’s not my main focus in life. I don’t rush into buying anything and everything for myself anymore, like I used to, when I was single. I make more informed choices. We do buy our son the essentials (and then some) at any given moment, and I could not avoid it, but he is a spoiled little man (my husband is an only, and he is an only, so…). My goals today involve paying down our credit card debt. I am so proud to be doing that right now. I am chipping away at that, until one day (hopefully, in a few months) each one is zero (after that, new goals are needed). Of course, there are some blockers (dental work, $$$), but I don’t stay down and out, I get back up, I push forward, and I move on. Each day brings new adventures, challenges, and opportunities.

Success is doing the best you can, with what you’ve got, doing hard work everyday, working on yourself everyday, treating your body and mind as a temple, holding true to your values, and enjoying time with the people you truly love. I used to focus on what wasn’t done but at the end of the day, if I have done my best, then that is enough for me. And that is the big picture.

 

Layering Stylishly, Winter Outfit Ideas

I have a definite uniform in the summer, which is a dress with a cardigan—the AC is always on, in case you were wondering… (note, I have lots of those items), but for the winter, it’s basically, a pair of cords or skinny jeans, with a layer (top and bottom, usually, thermals, cuddl duds, or fleece lined tights), a sweater, a pea coat (lots of those too!), a colorful scarf, and boots (it is super cold in my office lobby, plus when the front doors open, all the cold air outside rushes in). It’s kind of tricky, because I want to be warm, but I still want to have some mobility (don’t like that stiff feeling) and if I’m not careful, I could get hot, like if I pair a fleece sweater with a wool jacket (some places have the heat on full blast). I have to find the right balance, a happy medium. (Also, I am debating lining my not-so-warm jackets with interlining (with thinsulate, if I can find it at JoAnn’s) sometime, maybe, hoping.)

It’s fun to see how other women layer their clothing, just to get the creative juices flowing (you want to have some style, but you don’t want to look boring or stuffy). Plus, I’m trying to get some ideas generated for the upcoming vacation on a cruise ship (it’s cold and windy; did not bring enough warm clothing, the last time, so I want to be better prepared). Anyway, hope that this post helps you in your fashion journey, too. I didn’t want to post so many links to get you all confused, but just enough to give you a good idea of winter style.

Here’s a good link for the basics in layering:

http://www.wikihow.com/Stay-Warm-and-Stylish-During-Winter

Another good one on the basics:

http://www.wardrobeoxygen.com/2015/01/winter-fashion-tips.html

I  really like “Ways To Layer A Button-up

http://www.gurl.com/2015/01/31/style-tips-on-how-to-layer-your-clothes-tops-for-winter-outfit-ideas/

Here’s one using real people pictured on the streets of New York:

http://www.refinery29.com/nyc-winter-layering-street-style

And another one with real ladies sprinkled with a few celebs, too (I really like the looks on pages 7,8, 12, & 15 and I like the belted look—might need to try this one sometime; also, I’ve been looking for an olive utility jacket, but hubby thinks that I have way too much clothing—I swear, I’ve been donating lots of stuff lately and I’ve been pretty selective about what I buy for myself nowadays):

http://thefashiontag.com/2013/01/10/how-to-do-layers-in-style/

Ok, the more I search online, the more cute winter outfit ideas I find! I really like the looks on pages 5, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 15!

http://www.styleoholic.com/15-warm-and-stylish-winter-layered-looks-to-recreate/

This one covers sizing/proportion as well as a nicely pictured layering formula:

https://www.themuse.com/advice/layering-for-winter-without-looking-like-a-snowwoman

 

Missing

It’s almost Thanksgiving (just a few days). Soon, it will be another birthday for me. And another for my mother. Then, Christmas. And New Year’s. I don’t make resolutions because I consider myself and my life a Work In Progress as I’m always constantly working on my things (diet, fitness, mind/body, debt, time-management) on a daily basis, in fact.

Somewhere along the line of starting a family (it was along, hard road, enter two doctors, a fertility clinic which was unsuccessful—it took five years to get to that point; we were almost considering adoption or fostering); our son is a toddler, now (enter some friends moving out of state and switching jobs), I’ve seemingly lost a part of myself. I miss my friends. I lack a support system. And I can feel it. I am going through something major (emotionally) and have to deal with it by myself. It’s very complicated and I can’t divulge it in full detail, anyway. I’m feeling very lonely. I catch up with people using Facebook or some random text messages.

Here are some examples of triggers (the mounting evidence). Recently, a few weeks ago, I saw someone who might’ve been an old friend during my college days, but she didn’t recognize me, so maybe, it wasn’t her. She was a close friend but lost touch with her after she graduated, for some unknown reason (she was supposed to backpack around the world with her best friend). Years ago, I searched for her on FB but kept drawing a blank as her surname is a common one for her group. I also searched for an old friend (someone who saw me through my divorce) on FB but came across the same problem with the name, and who knows, she could have a different one if she’d married. Recently, one of my junior high best friends contacted me, and it’s like we keep missing each other with calls. I’ve also sought out old high school friends, but maybe it’s the same thing, a new name.

Life is busy. I work full-time. When I come home, it’s all about making dinner, spending some time with my son and also, tending to all the home stuff (you know, all the parts that don’t get done over the weekends—laundry, cleaning, mending, sorting, organizing, searching, switching, food prep, etc., because, well, weekends are very, very busy). Home tends to be a place where things are never-ending (there is so much “pending”). I am an optimist/ realist but the reality of our home’s situation is wearing on me (this is the other major frustrating thing); it was built in 1954 and there is a long list of things to fix (it is an entire whole letter-sized page!), but I don’t have the time or money to deal with it, right now. We want to move and get into a newer property, but like I said, there is so much “pending.” Another factor is there is pressure from family members to sell this house to one of them, but in all honesty, we have to do what is best for our family.

Anyway, it’s almost seeming like I’ve got to seek out new like-minded friends (who have children in the same age group) because, the truth is, we all need friends in our lives. (Maybe when our son goes to school, we will meet other parents. I’m hoping, anyway.) Otherwise, it’s a lonely place. And life is too short to go it alone. I suppose I need to work on time-management and make some time for friendly meet-ups, too. A few months ago, a dear friend (she’s one of the ones who’s moved out of state), came to visit, and though it was short, it was a real treat to see her and talk again, face to face (and her younger son) at a small boba place in Chinatown, plus she hadn’t seen our son since the last visit. It really reminded me of how much I miss her in my life.

I’ve had this long-time belief that it is easy to make friends, but it is harder to keep friends. And I just really miss my true friends. Need to get back on Skype again and make those calls again to reconnect again.

T-Shirt Re-dos

A high school friend of mine on Facebook posted that womens t-shirts should be cut to women’s bodies and this inspired me to come up with this blog post. On youtube, you can pretty much find all sorts of sources. I like viewing tutorials regarding DIY sewing, re-fashion, etc. So here’s a list of the my favorite ones.

 

 

 

I’ve got broad shoulders and a narrow waistline, what do I wear that flatters my shape?

These are a couple good references online, to see help you categorize your body type.

http://shopyourshape.com/body-shapes/

http://hubpages.com/style/womenfiguresshapes

I’ve got body specifics that aren’t really the norm, in this country, unless you’re an athlete; in my case, an ex-athlete, I was on the Swim Team in high school (but I still swim laps whenever I get the chance). Yes, I’ve got swimming shoulders (the magazines refer to this as a Reverse Triangle or Inverted Triangle Shape). I actually like my broad shoulders because, well, I don’t feel like a skinny woman, it makes me feel a little more prominent (I like my definition, it makes me feel strong, that I have upper body strength; Women need to do weight-bearing exercises regularly for overall optimal health and well-being, plus the whole osteoporosis thing scares me); I have narrow hips and thighs. I am basically a size 8 on top and a size 0 or 2 on the bottom (it’s really difficult to find jeans that fit me properly). On one hand, some people may view me as “small”, due to my height, some people call me “tiny” (I’m really a Medium) while other Asian groups (Yes, like the Korean shop owner in Hawaii) may view me as “Large.” (I can wear kids clothes sometimes, like in fan sports gear, size Large or X-Large. In Juniors sizing, I am a size 9. In Womens, I’m a size Medium. Just wanted to give you an idea of my various sizes.)

Here are some good tips:

http://insideoutelle.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-to-dress-with-broad-shoulders-101.html

I’ve found that I love the way racerback styles (tanks or dresses) look great on me. (I always wear the right type of bra because I don’t like my underthings being exposed. I also leave the house with makeup and make sure that my outfit is presentable, but that’s me. I used to be so mortified when I was a young girl and my mom would leave the house to go shopping, in curlers and a house dress.)  The experts say not to wear boatneck type tops; I think that I only have one of those. I never liked the whole padded shoulders trend and it seems like the styles come back here and there, over the years. If I buy something with pads, I always take them out. I have to be really careful with jackets and fit. The experts on petite frames (short) say not to wear a large floral print, but I usually ignore that tip (I have lots of dresses with floral prints and they looks fine on me). On maxi dresses, the experts advise to keep it at ankle length, but I don’t like tripping on my clothes ( I don’t wear heels). For years, I saw the experts on TLC’s “What Not To Wear” advising their subjects to accentuate the smallest part of their waist—I agree with this tip. I find that I can’t wear shapeless dresses or I get lost in it, and it makes me look bigger than I actually am. To fix this, I add a belt on loose dresses. (The only exception to this rule is swim coverups.) It seems like the “fit and flare” looks good on most body types. When I wear my fit and flare dress, I often get the question, “Did you lose more weight?”

My point is, that you need to dress to your style (my summer uniform is a dress and a cardigan), your comfort level (how much skin you show), and your taste (boho, vintage, mod, preppy, professional, etc.). Find what looks best on you by experimenting. You won’t know for sure until you try an item on! Enlist the help of an honest friend who will be frank with you. I usually ask my husband and if his answer is No, I might get the item if I LOVE it. We all have our insecurities (things we need to work on), but this is meant to help you with finding the right things to wear now, for your current body type, not what it was in high school or whatever. After all, don’t you have a better day when whatever you’re wearing compliments you? I just like dressing up with the best options. I’m not high-maintenance but I like looking like I care about my appearance.