Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Hey Babes! I haven't done one of these posts in a while and since there's so many products that I've been buying and trying, I thought it was time to do a new round up of my current fav's. So here we go.....

At the very top of my list is a product I've been dying to try! I actually just received it the other day, but it's already a favorite. The product is Eye+ by SkinOwl. Why do I love this product? Well where do I start?! Lucky enough, I don't have a ton of wrinkles around my eyes just yet. There's some thin skin, a bit of crepe skin going on, and some very fine feathery lines in my undereye. I did have dark circles, but a recent discovery is that this was due to a minor food allergy. A quick little tidbit of info for you.... If you have itching in the corner of your inner eyes, and/or a blue or purple tinge under your eyes (also known as allergic shiners), chances are you're consuming something causing you major inflammation. In my case, peanuts. Do I have a peanut allergy? Not that I'm aware of. But I definitely have some kind of issue with them. After eliminating them from my diet, the shiners disappeared. So on to why I love this product. It's cooling and so soothing to your eyes. It just feels so nice going on. Like a little mini spa treatment. And it depuffs/tightens almost immediately. My skin is already starting to look so much better, after just a few days of use. I did notice that I don't like the way my concealer sits on top of it, due to the tightening effect. But this is easily solved by applying the Eye+ first, and then using my daily daytime moisturizer a few minutes later! I'm absolutely dying to try Neck+. It's top on my Must-Try list!!!

Which brings me to my next find....

Andalou Naturals is one of my favorite green beauty brands. Not only are the ingredients really good, but it's one of the few lines that has a few products that my skin can tolerate. But it's priced really well! I've been using this Acai + White Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer with no breakouts at all, for a couple months now. It works great as a primer and doesn't make my skin exceptionally oily throughout the day like most creams tend to do! It's also full of antioxidants like acai, white tea, and other fruit extracts, which help to fight free radical damage throughout the day. It doesn't do much for me as far as the hairline wrinkles across my forehead. You would need something a little stronger for that. But as far as keeping my skin hydrated, protected, and prepped for makeup - it fits the bill perfectly.

Another Andalou product that I've been using for a while and love, is the Purple Carrot + C Luminous night cream. This cream is amazing during the winter months. It is so nourishing, brightening, and doesn't break me out at all. Which is not easy to find, let me tell you! There was a period of time that my skin got so bad because every cream I tried either gave me dermatitis, or caused major acne and clogged pores. For a while I wasn't using anything, because nothing would work. I tried this in a discovery kit and lucky for me, it was a winner! It works great alone in the winter months, applied before I go to bed. And during the summer I like to add a bit of Shea Terra Organics Cape Aloe to lighten it up a little. Oh, and it smells really good too! Bonus!!

Next up are the new Shampoo & Conditioner I've been using. Acure Organics came out with a Straightening line fairly recently. I finally found it on Vitacost and I love it! Acure's hair products tend to dry my finicky hair a bit, so these are not everyday products for me. However, when I feel like my hair needs a change or I'm getting some build up, it works fantastic. Oh and they smell delicious. Like a coconutty, gourmand type scent. I'm currently using them every few days, alternating with my other fav's - Shea Moistures Manuka Shampoo and Kids Mango + Carrot Conditioner. This seems to keep my naturally curly to straight hair moisturized and clean feeling.

The last product on my list is something I purchased in the beginning of the summer, and have since repurchased! If you're a green beauty user, I'm sure you're no stranger to Schmidt's. I've been using natural deodorant for years and let me tell you.... This is one of the best that I've tried. It works really well and it smells really good. And just a couple months ago, they created a stick form! I use the Bergamot + Lime scent and love it. And I saw that a new scent was released - Rose + Vanilla. I would love to hear from someone that's tried this! I'm not a huge fan of florals, but this sounds like it would smell nice!

Ps - Here's a major tip for you. All of the items listed here (with the exception of the Acure Straightening products), as well as many items I've featured in the past, are purchased from Pharmaca! They offer 6% cashback through ebates, lots of promo codes almost regularly, and a low free shipping minimum. I buy a lot of green beauty products, personal care, and supplements through them monthly. They're awesome and have exceptional customer service as well! I'm not an affiliate, I've just been using them for so long, that I really love the sales, pricing, and selection =)

So that's my latest roundup of items. I would love to hear some of your current fav's!!! I'm always adding to my list!

DISCLAIMER: All items featured above were purchased by me. None are samples and I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Friday, July 29, 2016

My Thoughts on Protein Powders - A Review

Hi Loves! Happy Friday!!! The weekend is almost here! I've been really enjoying my weekends this summer and have been devoting a lot of my time to fitness, spending quality time with my family, and relaxing. I'm not one for hot weather, so that's been my agenda lately. So I posted recently about a protein powder I've been using and I wanted to post a follow-up. I'm typically not a huge fan of protein powders, as I usually have some issues digesting them. But they are super convenient and when you aren't great at getting protein in (heeeeyyy), they can make an amazing snack option. Since my last post I've been using Bob's Red Mill Protein Boosters almost every day and I really like them! As I had also mentioned in my Hormone post a couple weeks ago, I was going to try carb cycling. Well I did try it and I started that day!!! I just decided to take the plunge and jump right in, and I'm so glad I did. What does this protein powder have to do with my carb cycling? I'm not sure it would be working for me without them. Read on....

I'm sure you're wondering.... "Well is it working so far? Did you lose any weight?!" And the answer is yes. Carb Cycling has absolutely been working for me. I'm still tweaking and playing around with the rotation of days, as well as percentage of macros on said days - but I'm happy to say that I've lost 6lbs since my post almost 3 weeks ago. Which might not seem like a lot to most people, but for someone like me that's been struggling major hormonal issues, and not been able to drop so much as a pound in several months, it's a pretty big deal.

And like I said before, this way of eating would be pretty difficult without a protein powder. I currently get my shake ready in the morning and bring it in a shaker bottle to work. It's my mid-morning snack and I would really struggle without it! It's especially perfect for my higher carb days. And it's especially delicious with a little PB Fit added in for an extra shot of protein & flavor =)

So what have I been doing with it? I have no crazy complicated recipes. Some of my favorite ways to use it are in overnight oats, chia protein pudding, adding fruit like cherries, kiwi, peaches etc, and adjusting the thickness to make my ultimate favorite - protein pudding! I just get creative playing around with flavor combo's - vanilla pb&j anyone?

One thing to keep in mind, this is a slightly higher carb protein powder. It's not bad in the sense that if you drink it on it's own (it's one of the few I've tried that actually tastes great with only filtered water), but that if you add fruit in the mix, it will most certainly make that carb & sugar amount increase.But the amounts of macros in this powder does make it a good option for a pretty balanced meal replacement - just on it's own! Chocolate is still my favorite out of all of them, with Vanilla being a close second.

I did try baking with the protein, but I find that it's difficult to completely replace a flour with the protein, so I just add some to it until I get the batter texture I prefer. I'm so thankful to Bob's Red Mill for sending me that amazing package and allowing me to try it. I'll most definitely continue to purchase my favorite chocolate flavor so that I can keep making my protein pudding post workout snacks =)

Ps - stop by my Instagram - I'm doing a Flash Giveaway where you can win 1 bag of protein. But hurry, there's just a few hours left!!! ps - snag a coupon here!

Enjoy your weekend, babes!!!!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Bob's Red Mill Protein Powders - A Review!

Hi Babes! It's Friday!!!!!! I'm so happy the weekend is almost here. I've been really kicking up my workouts this week and with being so busy at work, and the heat, I'm ready for some relaxation. As I had mentioned in my last post, I was getting ready to try Carb Cycling! And I actually did just take the leap that day! There really was no reason for me to wait. So I just jumped in. But there's one reason I was successful without any prep work ahead of time.

A couple weeks ago I received this AMAZING package from Bob's Red Mill. If you're not familiar with them, they're a company that sells various baking mixes, flours, gluten-free oats and such. I buy a lot of my ingredients from them. Mainly Almond Flour, Coconut Flour, Arrowroot, and the like. I trust all of their products and love them already. So I was seriously stoked to get this package. What did it contain you wonder? Behold.....

Bob's Red Mill recently launched their own protein powders! And I love them. As you can see, they sent a package with all of the flavors for me to try!! I've been concocting all kinds of creations the last couple of weeks. And making shakes is what has really gotten me through these last few days. Carb Cycling is fantastic by the way. I love it and will get into more detail about it in a future post. But having a good protein on hand is definitely a necessity. I wasn't always one for powders. I have a hard time digesting some and there's always a couple ingredients in there that I'm not fond of. But these powders are great!

They're not only Vegan, but Soy-Free, and Gluten-free as well ( all a must for me). They also boast 20g of plant-based protein, as well as 11g of Fiber, probiotics, omega-3's, and are sweetened with monk fruit. So none of that overpowering Stevia aftertaste. Not that I mind Stevia in small amounts. I just can't do too much or I get headaches. I have had no issues with this protein. I love that the ingredients are pretty limited and don't get too crazy with something I might have a reaction to. The only gripes I have iare that it's a teensy bit pricey at $29.99 retail for a 10 serving bag. But I suppose that if you consider that it has probiotics and fiber, that might justify it a bit. And it's a big higher on the carb side as well. Which means on my low carb days I add a little to some overnight oats or have a half serving of a shake.

I do love the flavors, with Chocolate being my favorite! And I also love that there's a flavorless option with added fiber,  if you want to mix it into a smoothie or bake with it without an added flavor in there! Right now my favorite way to enjoy it is by making a protein pudding (just a half a banana, with one scoop of protein, and water or your choice of milk blended to your consistency preference) or the shake below....

~ 1 Scoop of Bob's Red Mill Chai Protein Powder
~ 1 Cup Filtered Water or Milk of your choice
~ 1/2 Banana
~ 1 TB Justin's Maple Almond Butter
~ Dash of Cinnamon
~ 1/4 Tsp Vanilla

So so good! You could even add coconut water to this! I love that when I need an extra boost after a workout. Protein + Coconut Water is my absolute favorite!!!

Make sure to check out the website to look over all the flavors and click here for a coupon! Check back soon, as I'll be posting some more recipes and doing a giveaway as well. Happy Weekend, Babes!

DISCLAIMER: the above post is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are my own. I did received product and a small compensation for my honest review. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

My Struggles with Food & Hormones and What I'm doing about it!

Happy Monday, Babes! I hope you all had a great weekend!!! I certainly did, yet I spent most of it researching and obsessing about food. Yes... Obsessing. Or more accurately, agonizing. As I had mentioned quite a while back, I have been having a major struggle with food vs exercise for quite some time. Last Spring I started taking up jogging and though I'm not the type of jogger that can run for long, extended periods of time, it really started the ball rolling in the deterioration of my hormones. That's not to say running isn't good! I know plenty of people who run on a regular basis, but your nutrition needs to adequately support the lifestyle. Factor in that I was also doing BBG on top of this, and I just wreaked total havoc on my body.

I already have a delicate hormonal system due to endometriosis and functional ovarian cysts, so my body is extremely sensitive. I'm gotten mixed up in feeling like I need to further cut out entire food groups - I'm already gluten-free and dairy-free (both are musts as I have intolerance and minor allergies to each). Now I'm not saying that lifestyles like Paleo, Vegan, 80/20 etc are bad. Those extremes just didn't work for me long-term. After trying each I would often feel sick at some point because my new lifestyle just wasn't supporting my active workout regimen. Oh, and I don't have a gallbladder. Even more of a challenge and why the diet that worked best for me (Traditional Paleo) ultimately left me with more weight because I couldn't support the fat I was eating.

Fast forward to today, where I'm still trying so hard to maintain my active lifestyle and even experimenting with weekly weight training, but still feeling like a former shell of myself. I've been on a quest to find the personal eating template that works well for me and also to stop over-training. That's probably going to be a whole other post at some point, but I will say this. I see so many girls over on Instagram that are doing BBG on top of Tone it Up or Lauren Gleisberg daily and maybe it's because they are younger than my old, I mean wise, 35 years.... but I just don't understand how they do it. It's not so much that it can't be done, but how their nutrition is able to optimally support an excessive lifestyle. If you're over 30 and especially approaching your mid 30's and you're doing this, and struggling with digestive issues such as bloating and bathroom problems, feeling fatigued and burnt out, and just feeling depressed and not like yourself.... I suggest you take a long, hard look at your training regimen. It might be too much.

From a personal standpoint, last year when I was working out excessively (doing 2 programs plus running), that was the beginning of the end of my feeling happy, healthy, and vibrant. I felt great at first and was toning up, losing fat, etc and then all of the sudden, like a train wreck, I put back on so much weight because my body was so stressed out. Now if training a lot works for you, that's fantastic! Consider yourself lucky. It might just be my hormone situations that make it impossible for me to maintain that lifestyle. But if you find yourself in the same boat as me, read on.....

So what am I doing? I haven't made the leap yet, but after tons and tons of research in addition to the background that I already have (I'm an IIN grad, so I'm not stranger to healthy living), as well as trial and error, I've settled on Carb cycling. There are tons and tons of variations. If you look on Pinterest you can find a bevy of info, but if you go that route, be very careful, it can be overwhelming. A couple choices that I came across were from Dr. Chistianson's Adrenal Reset Program and Chris Powell's programs which you can choose between several cycles and tailor it to your lifestyle. The Adrenal program looked promising, but without reading the book, it looks as though it takes a standpoint of going low to high daily. Whereas Chris Powell's program can be more interchangeable and seems to support a very active lifestyle.

After a ton of stressing and reading article after article - this one was exceptionally helpful and made everything click for me! I finally feel like I can give this a try. And the fact that I can easily change the amount of days to support whatever workout schedule I might be following, even on a whim, helps reduce my anxiety. Generally a low carb diet is what's recommended for someone with endometriosis, but I went down that road and I think I made things worse. This might work for someone that doesn't workout, but not for someone that's doing cardio, lifting, tabata, and HIIT. I also never took into account that maybe the carbs I was burning off didn't necessarily count as carbs in my body. I can't even imagine how much I was running on empty all those times I amped up my workout.

So with my current workout schedule and following what that article I linked said, it looks like I'll be following Chris Powell's extreme cycling plan or something pretty close. I'll be started with some of the foods he recommends, even some whole gluten-free grains like oats, long grain brown rice, etc. This has been a no-no for me with my digestion in the past, but I'm going to try it. If it doesn't work, I'm just going to create a Paleo/Cycling hybrid of no-grain carbs most days. And no, I'm not an affiliate! I'm just a woman that wants to be the healthiest I can be for myself and my family, but that's going through quite a struggle. But if my struggle can really help someone else, then that's at least a silver lining right?

Hopefully I'll be starting this this week. And if I feel good and all goes well, I'll make sure to do some update posts sporadically throughout the next few weeks. Being pretty much back where I started weight-wise has been really depressing. I'm hoping this works well for me! I would love to hear what you've been doing that has worked! Especially if you're in your 30's and/or have hormone based disorders like I do!!!

Coming Soon....

~ My latest Pharmaca haul with some hormone supporting supplements for my endo & cysts
~ A review of an amazing new line of protein
~ Some of my fav new Clean Beauty products

Enjoy your Monday, lovelies!!!!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Clean Body 28 Day Natural Tea Cleanse - A Review

Hi babes! Well it's the first day of summer, and I couldn't be happier! I don't get summer off work, but my schedule does change a bit. And even though I'm not a huge fan of the balmy jersey heat, I still love the adventure that summer brings with all my outdoor workouts, hikes, and the occasional trips to the beach. My daily workouts are in full swing and I try to get outside for about an hour each day - even when it's 90+ degrees! 

Obviously, this doesn't all just happen magically. I need to be on a bit of a schedule. And as much as I don't like to plan every aspect of my life, sometimes it's just necessary to make things happen. Which brings me to the reason for this post. A couple months ago I was sent a lovely package from a Tea Company to try out and I was beyond excited. I do love my rather large morning cup of coffee, but when I'm at work for the morning, I love to drink several cups of tea. It curbs my appetite, keeps me alert (not all the cups I drink contain caffeine), and just gives me a general feeling of well-being. 

 photo Full Leaf Cleanse.jpg

Lisa from Full Leaf Tea Company was so generous to send me a few sample sizes of their loose fruit flavored teas - these are great for work! And what I've been loving most of all.... The Clean Body 28 Day Natural Tea Cleanse. There are Two different teas included in the kit and there's enough tea for, well... 28 days. The first Tea is...

 photo Full Leaf Skinny Me.jpg

Rich organic oolong tea is blended to perfection with ginger root and cinnamon chips giving a kick-start to your metabolism when you need it most.  All ingredients are proven to help in weight loss and all have metabolism boosting properties. 
and the other is ....

 photo Full Leaf Detox.jpg

Enjoy a gentle detox throughout the day or while you sleep. This herbal blend of holy basil (tulsi), spearmint, rose hips, lemon myrtle and linden blossoms creates a sweet mint and citrus flavor for all day enjoyment. Detox Rejuvenation is a nutrient-dense, alkaline forming blend which aids in digestion and internal purification. It will help cleanse and balance both body and mind.  

Ok, so my initial thoughts on the Cleanse before I even got them. If you're on Instagram, you've probably seen a million "Tea-Toxes", especially if you're into following fitness-related accounts. I have nothing against these Tea-toxes. Prior to receiving this package, I've never even tried one. I know a lot of people seem to like them. But when I've looked over the ingredients in the past, I've seen some that contain concerning ingredients in the nighttime blends (mostly the teas that claim to cleanse the colon) and this is scary for me. I've tried similar products in the past and they were uncomfortable and caused issues for me. That being said, not all of these Tea-toxes have this, just be careful and read your ingredients. 

So I initially started out using this like your average Cleanse program. I would wake in the morning and have my normal cup of coffee, and then bring the Skinny Me tea with me to work. If you look on the Full Leaf website, you will see that it states that Filtered Water must be used with this tea and can effect taste. Well let me tell you.... That's an understatement! We have a water cooler at work with Spring water, and it majorly effected the taste of the tea. I brought a fruit tea with me to work and used the cooler, and it did NOT taste good. But using my 3-stage filtration system at home, it tasted really good! Just keep that in mind if you place an order. So with this issue, rather than bringing a jug of my own water with me, I started drinking the tea at home. And this actually worked out to be better! 

I came across an article not too long ago (I read so many that I can't remember where I saw it), about the benefits of Oolong Tea about an hour or so before a workout. Now as you saw on the little blurb about the Skinny Me tea, this tea is said to boost your metabolism, and maybe that's true drinking it in the morning and going about your day. But using it as a pre-workout of sorts is said to have TONS of benefits. Since I can't have my tea in the morning, and my workouts tend to be mid-afternoon, this is what I started doing. And I love it!!! 

Now on to the nighttime Detox Tea. I love this tea so much for several reasons. If it is detoxing, I don't feel any ill effects like I have from other "detox" teas in the past. I love love love the taste. And it's the perfect way for me to get myself prepared for sleep. I don't have issues sleeping, but sometimes I do have trouble unwinding. This isn't like a "sleepy time" tea. It doesn't make you drowsy, it just makes you really relaxed. It has a very nice taste - I love Tulsi and Spearmint! It's honestly hard to describe, but it's just a nice way to end the night. I usually drink my cup with a tiny bit of raw honey while I'm just sitting down to watch my 9pm show before bed. I love that I feel relaxed and ready to go to sleep by the end, but not all zonked out, like I can't finish my show. 

I would absolutely recommend these blends! I think they fit very well in my daily routine and I would definitely buy them when I run out. I can't make any claims as far as weight-loss. I personally did not lose any weight. But I feel like if they are worked into a healthy eating, and good fitness regimen, they would be a huge benefit! Especially since they're mild, but effective. I love that!

Want to win a 28 Day Cleanse of your own? Make sure to stop over to my Instragram Feed where I'm giving away a Full Size, 28 day cleanse to one lucky winner! You can only access this giveaway on there, so look for the post and check out the directions - I keep it pretty simple ; )

Good Luck!!! And if you try any of Lisa's amazing blends, stop back and let me know! 

DISCLAIMER: In exchange for my honest opinion, as stated above, I was sent a sample of product to try. All opinions are my own and I was not financially compensated in any way. The giveaway specified is not affiliated with blogger or instagram.