Sunday, June 12, 2011
Nom nom nom!
I started making homemade skin care products a few months ago, after years of battling my sensitive/dry/oily, acne-prone skin with conventional products. A lot of my skin care utilizes the nutritional value of pure cocoa powder. Today I did a facial at home; this is the second time I've used this facial. My skin feels renewed, refreshed...and chocolatey! This facial also uses the exfoliating power of fruit acids. This facial gives me the best of both worlds--anti-aging and anti-breakout!
Any of these recipes can be used as stand-alone treatments as well (I do the "Morning Mocha" Mask about once a week). Most of the ingredients can be purchased at the grocery store (especially Whole Foods or other natural food stores), otherwise there are great online sources. I order most of my stuff from Mountain Rose Herbs: www.mountainroseherbs.com/
The "Morning Mocha" Mask is pictured above. Good enough to eat, but made to put on skin!
Here are the steps and a few of the recipes:
1)Exfoliate with baking soda--wet face, mix about 1 Tbsp. baking soda with water to make a paste, and gently massage face for about 1 minute. Rinse well.
2) "Apple Pie" Mask
2 Tbsp. applesauce (made without added sugar)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
scant 1 tsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Mix well and massage onto face. Leave on 5 minutes and rinse well.
3) Massage with cleansing cream (I made my own, but could use a store-bought cleansing cream or lotion suitable to skin type).
4) Steam for 5 minutes.
5) Oil cleanse--no, really!
I was shocked to find how great oil works as a cleanser. I use a 50%-50% min of extra virgin olive oil (good moisturizer) and castor oil (good cleanser, especially for acne). A lot of people just use extra virgin olive oil, and that works well, too. I also add essential oils, including carrot seed, patchouli, geranium, rosemary, orange, and eucalyptus essential oils. Anyone can customize a blend according to skin's needs.
After steaming, massage oil on face for 5-15 minutes. To remove, put very warm water on a washcloth, put on face until washcloth cools, then wipe gently (don't scrub). Repeat rinsing process 4-5 times.
6) Blackhead extractions (yep, have a squeeze fest!), then rinse thoroughly with cool water.
7) Lemon-geranium toner
Lemon and geranium essential oil renew skin and fight acne, and witch hazel extract acts as an astringent. In the future, I plan on making this with witch hazel hydrosol, which is alcohol-free. Any astringent toner would do if you don't feel like mixing this.
4 ounces witch hazel extract or witch hazel hydrosol
12 drops lemon essential oil
8 drops geranium essential oil
Mix ingredients in a brown or blue glass bottle and shake for 2-5 minutes. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 year. Wipe a generous amount onto face with a cotton ball.
8) "Blueberry Brownie" Mask
This mask uses blueberries to provide fruit acids, cocoa powder and cinnamon for antioxidants, and Fullers Earth and Epsom salt to purify and mineralize skin. If you don't have Fullers Earth and/or Epsom salt, then simply eliminate. Fullers Earth is also known as cosmetic clay, and is good for acne-prone skin.
1 Tbsp. blueberries (mashed and strained)
1 Tbsp. Fullers Earth
1 tsp. cocoa powder
dash of cinnamon
1 tsp. raw honey
brewed coffee or water
Mix dry ingredients and blueberries well. Mix in honey. Drizzle in coffee or water to make a thick paste. Massage onto skin, leave on 20-30 minutes. Remove by gently wiping with a washcloth and rinse well.
9) "Morning Mocha" Mask
This mask will moisturize and provide more antioxidants. Caffeine helps brighten the skin.
2 tsp. finely-ground coffee
2 tsp. cocoa powder
2 tsp. finely-ground oatmeal
1 tsp. honey
brewed coffee or water
Mix dry ingredients with brewed coffee to form a paste, apply to face. Leave on 20-30 minutes. Remove by gently wiping with a washcloth and rinse well. *NOTE: Make sure the ingredients are ground into powder consistency, otherwise the skin could be damaged; a coffee grinder works well.
10) Spritz skin with plain, but strong, green tea (I use 2 teabags per 1/4 cup water and let steep for several hours. Green tea helps with sun damage and provides antioxidants.
11) Apply face serum--I use aloe vera gel.
12) Pour 4-5 drops of jojoba oil onto palm. Rub hands together, then pat onto face.
13) Moisturize with a rich cream. I made my own ("Chocolate Body Frosting"--I will provide recipe later), but any high-quality anti-aging cream would do.
And there you have it! You get a home spa treatment and an awesome chocolate fix!
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
*WARNING--Some strong language*
I was the fattest kid in my elementary school. I weighed more than even the largest boy. My job was to play The Fat Girl. I was supposed to waddle around and move awkwardly. I chuckled halfheartedly at jabs about my weight. I was shy and demure Erin. Despite being fat, I ran the fastest (5:01 mile in the fifth grade), was stronger than everyone else at sports like shot-put, and enjoyed playing almost every game. I was still simply known as the fattest girl, not the fastest. I stood as teams were picked, wondering who would get stuck with me. I waited until everyone else was picked, standing alone, the team that was one short groaning as I walked towards them. Then, invariably, my team would often win because of me. My classmates always seemed surprised at my decent performance, almost like they had some sort of "fat chick" amnesia where they forgot that a fat person may actually be okay at sports.
Well, I ate shy and demure Erin for breakfast a few years ago. Strong-headed and slightly bitchy Erin was born.
I have been doing kickboxing, boxing, and some mixed martial arts for more than seven years. My skill level is at a competitive level. I haven't been able to kick for more than a year because of a knee problem, but I knew I wanted to return to boxing. I was finally able to return to boxing in February, when my knee was a bit more mobile. I committed to attend the morning classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. There were some familiar faces, but no one acknowledged me (despite the fact that I have been a member at the gym for over 2 years). There were some new faces, too, and I just happened to partner with someone who is a newer member. I realized over the months that I dreaded going to boxing. I love boxing, so I chalked it up to getting back into the routine. But every day--and I mean every day--I have been the last to get a partner. I stand there, waiting to see which unfortunate soul gets stuck with me. Eying me from across the room, I see the sunken look of, "Oh great, I'm stuck with HER." Funny how they're so sure they hate someone to whom they've barely ever said two words. Then, during the workout, they try to coach me, there are even eye rolls sometimes, and they throw down the pads and walk away without a word at the end of class.
In martial arts, it is considered exceptionally disrespectful to coach someone who is more advanced than you. I often slip in there that I have been a mixed martial artist, kickboxer, and boxer for seven years; they're supposed to get the hint. Nonetheless, my partner constantly barrages me with, "C'mon, twist those hips!" and "C'mon, reach for those punches!" And then, the kicker...one day, she moved backwards, and as I was winding up for my punch, she blurted, "C'mon, burn those calories!" This resulted in an exceptionally hard punch to the pad, but I otherwise ignored the comment. This is not someone with whom I have never discussed my weight loss (nor would I). I wanted to say, "Right, because the ONLY reason a fat chick would come to boxing is to lose weight. Why else would a fat person ever set foot in a gym?" It was then that I realized that the people in the classes are rude. It has been distracting and, well, no fun to go to boxing. It's not me...it's them. They are the elementary schoolgirls in gym class (maybe physically larger, but just about as mature). I am stubborn as hell, though, so I have still been showing up regularly.
About two weeks ago, I showed up for the morning class as usual. There were only four of us. The other three people were guys from the gym's fight team. One of the guys nodded to me and asked, "You got a partner?" My reaction was to feel bad that he got stuck with me. Instead, he did what the pad holder is supposed to do--just held the pads. No coaching, no eye-rolling, no dumb comments, just the occasional, "You can do it!" It was a flawless workout and the best workout I've had since returning to boxing a few months ago. I was working out with a real boxer, not a girl on the playground. It was then that it dawned on me that I was The Fat Girl in gym class all over again. I love my boxing coach and the other trainers at the gym, so I am going to try to go to more of the evening classes when the fight team is training. I belong with the advanced people, despite the treatment from the recreational people who typically come to the morning classes. I am also going to try some classes at a new boxing gym and see how that goes. Unlike shy and demure Erin, strong-headed and slightly bitchy Erin doesn't cave so easily.
Although I am DONE with being the Fat Girl, I have learned that being fat is not the problem. If other people have a problem with my body size, then that is on them. I own my athleticism now. I am a pretty good boxer, a helluva strong chick, and a decent dancer. I enjoy almost any form of being active. I have nothing to prove to anyone else. Yes, I'm fat, and I also genuinely like to exercise (and not just for weight loss). I wish that shy and demure Erin could have learned that 20 years ago.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get ready to go whoop some butt at the boxing gym.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I had been slacking on my Sparktime a little bit during May, so I have been trying to earn at least 100 Sparkpoints per day. Yesterday I reached 93 points, and I realized the only way I would get to 100 would be to do at least 35 minutes of activity when I got home from work. I did do 20 minutes of Pilates and 15 minutes of yoga and made it.
I am going to challenge myself to get at least 100 Sparkpoints per day throughout the whole summer (at least through September). This will help ensure that I track everything and, whatever I fall short for the day, I need to make up with activity. This may mean an extra 20 minute walk, or some extra dancing, or Pilates or yoga. Maybe this will help me go from this to this by the end of the summer!
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Ahhhhhh...I can breathe again without coughing, and talk without losing my voice...and I can return to my normal exercise routine!
I have missed boxing over the past 2 weeks, but it was truly best to avoid such intense activity. Over the past week, I did some gardening and Pilates, but really haven't done any cardio (I could barely talk without getting breathless, so it was wise to back off). I look forward to going to boxing tomorrow and returning to upper-body weight work.
I'm glad I had the good sense to back off the exercise when my body needed it, but that exercise is enough of a habit that I simply return to it as soon as I can. The balance is finally "clicking;" I didn't feel side-lined by not being able to exercise, although I did have 2 weeks of less-than-stellar eating. Thanks to my inspiring Sparkfriends, I'm ready to get back to it!
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