A Few Of My Favorite Things

My passion as a coach and a writer is to empower as many of my fellow mamas to find more joy and create Happy, Hot & Healthy lives. Creating that kind of life encompasses SO many things, from mindset, to how we care for and express ourselves, to the clothes we wear, the products we use and the foods we eat.

I’m always experimenting and trying new things to see what inspires me, and what makes me feel and look my best. So in the spirit of that, I’ve decided to dedicate one post a month (we’ll see how it goes) to sharing some things I love that I hope will make your life better. It might be a book, or a product, or a recipe. It might be a website, podcast, or other resource I think you should know about. Whatever it is, I promise I’ll be the guinea pig! I’ll only share things that have added value in my own life before I tell you about it!

So, without further adieu…

After being diagnosed with adrenal issues a couple of years ago, I learned that our bodies experience stress in many different ways. We’re all familiar with the typical feeling of stress when we’re overwhelmed or have a lot on our plates, but our bodies are also under constant stress from toxins in our environment, food supply, and household and beauty products.

There are definitely some favorites I haven’t been willing to part with (hello, mani/pedis!) but I’ve tried and tested several natural, nontoxic health and beauty products and found a few that made switching totally worth it!

Hello Toothpaste: Believe it or not, I found this at my regular grocery store–no trip to Whole Foods required! The thing I love about it is that it has no artificial sweeteners, no dyes, no preservatives, and it doesn’t have that weird taste like some of the other natural brands I’ve tried. They have several different kinds of toothpaste in their product line up–whitening, no fluoride, and a kids’ toothpaste, to name a few. I have some cold sensitivity, so I like the sensitivity relief, which has coconut oil and aloe.

Biolage RAW Shampoo & Conditioner: This new line from Biolage was recommended to me by my hair stylist who had been using it for a week or so. She said it made her hair feel super soft, and didn’t leave a dull build-up that some shampoos do.  70-100% of the ingredients in this line are of natural origin–things like coconut oil, honey, quinoa husk, and kaolin clay. I’ve been using it for about a month, and my hair feels so much softer (I use the Nourish line because I get balayage, and the highlighting can leave my ends feeling pretty dead). I love that even though it’s free of sulphates, it lathers up really well, and a little goes a long way. Bonus points because it smells like a tropical island, and I can pretend I’m on vacation while I wash my hair!

Primally Pure Deodorant: I am so excited about this one! I’ve tried a ton of natural deodorants, and this is one is by far the best! It has 100% TRULY natural ingredients (Organic Arrowroot Powder, Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Tallow from Grass-Fed Cows, Baking Soda, Organic Beeswax, Organic Lemongrass Essential Oil), leaves no irritation, and doesn’t need to be reapplied throughout the day. To be clear, it’s not an anti-perspirant, so you will still sweat, but even after a grueling workout session in the middle of the day, I experienced no odor.

BeautyCounter Balancing Face Mask: Let me preface this by saying, I’m not a rep for BeautyCounter, but I love what they stand for, and that they’ve chosen to ban the use of toxic chemicals in their makeup and skincare products. I was slow to jump on the BeautyCounter bandwagon because I’ve had problem skin for YEARS, and I’d found a skincare regimen that’s been working pretty well for me. I didn’t want to jinx it by adding something new to the mix! But this mask came highly recommended, and it was something I could easily add to what I was already doing here and there. I LOVE IT! It feels so smooth going on, and when you wash it off, your face just feels fresh and clean.

It’s not always easy to find natural products that live up to your expectations, but it’s worth doing your research and trying different things out for yourself to see what works, and what you like. I think anytime you can replace a product you use on your body or in your home with something that’s more natural and works great, it leads to a happier, hotter, healthier YOU.

Christy  xo

Self-Love Series: Stop Working Out

After my post a couple of weeks ago about my very personal struggle with body image, and my decision to stop focusing on losing weight, I got some questions about how I eat and exercise as a means of self care, without allowing myself to fall into old patterns of deprivation and over exercising.

There’s so much to say on these topics, and I want what I share to be as helpful as possible, so I’m going to focus on eating and exercise individually. This week I want to talk about why I stopped “working out.”

Exercise has always been the easier thing to force myself to do than dieting. I’d choose to spend half the day at the gym over giving up pizza any day of the week. I’d always read that exercise could improve my mood, give me more energy, and help me sleep better, but none of these were ever the reasons I did it. It was always about chasing skinny, and figuring out which grueling exercise regimen would get me there the fastest.

Exercise was never something I particularly enjoyed doing, either. It was more of an experiment in what I was able to endure. In college, my routine looked something like this: 1/2 mile walk/jog on the gym’s indoor track, 500 crunches, 12-15 min intervals on the stair climber, stationary bike, and treadmill (yep, each), 5 sets of 10 reps on each upper or lower body Nautilus machine (depending on the day), 500 crunches, 1/2 mile walk on the indoor track, and stretch. Sometimes I’d even add an hour long aerobics class at the end of all that. I’m not even slightly exaggerating. If I was meeting friends at the gym, I’d be there before they arrived, and long after they left.

It didn’t matter if a training session made my heart race till I might pass out, or a run gave me debilitating shin splints and made me want to puke; I’d do whatever burned the most calories regardless of whatever potential injury I might suffer. And I’d take a misguided sense of pride in being able to abuse my body and live to tell the tale.

After I got married and had my girls, this kind of dedication was no longer possible. Workouts were relegated to nap times or bed times or when my husband got home from work and I could steal a little bit of time. The thing is, this wasn’t about self-care or “me time.” Being home with a three year old and a baby, and spending all of their waking seconds reading to, playing with, or giving my undivided attention to them was physically and emotionally exhausting. What I really needed a day to myself or a nap, but whenever I had free time, I forced myself to go for a run, or do Taebo because I felt like I had to.

Right before I started working with a functional medical professional a couple of years ago, I was working out twice a day, and eating very little, but somehow managed to gain 7 lbs in two weeks. My doctor told me that the intensity of my workouts were raising the level of stress hormones in my body and taxing my adrenals. “If you want to heal, you’re going to need to listen to your body. Move in ways that feel good and energize you…like yoga, and walking,” he said.

At that point, I pretty much freaked out. I thought that if my exercise regimen consisted only of walking and yoga, I’d get as big as a house for sure. And telling me to listen to my body? What did that even mean? But right after I freaked out, I felt an immense sense of relief. My doctor was actually giving me permission to slow down. To stop running myself into the ground.

So, with some trial and error, I learned what listening to my body felt like. I noticed that when I pushed too hard, I felt wiped out. I learned to stop fighting my fatigue, as well. When I felt tired, I rested. Paying attention and properly responding to these cues allowed me to try different ways of moving, because I trusted myself to do more of what made me feel good, and stop doing what didn’t. Sounds pretty basic, maybe, but it was all new to me.

Now I’m stronger, healthier, and I’m able to physically challenge myself more than I could even six months ago, but I don’t “work out” anymore. I move my body in whatever way makes me feel capable, strong, and empowered. A couple days a week that might be lifting at the gym; other days it might be hiking the trails in my neighborhood. The only measurable results I’m after is to enjoy what I do, and feel better afterward.

Many of us have a love/hate relationship with working out, because we see it as a means of punishment. Or at best, a misguided set of checks and balances. If working out consists of doing things you hate as a way to earn your food, or punish yourself for not looking a certain way, it’s about self loathing.

If on the other hand, you look at movement as play–an opportunity to try new things, find what’s fun for you and makes you feel kinda badass, it can be the ultimate expression of self love.

Christy  xo

Self Love Series: Your Body Is A Wonderland – Stop Hating It

I’m about to get really raw here. I feel incredibly vulnerable talking about body image stuff because although I’m in a much better place with loving myself and my body than I was a couple of years ago, I certainly don’t have it all figured out…and I’m not sure I ever will. But I thought it would be inauthentic to create a Self Love Series without addressing the negative feelings we often have about our bodies or sharing my own struggle.

I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to hating my thighs or trying to make my body conform to the images I saw all over the television. Maybe that’s because growing up with a single mom who was an abusive alcoholic/drug addict left me little time to worry about how my body looked compared to the other girls; maybe it’s because the women in my family constantly commented on how lucky I was to be “skinny” so it never occurred to me to worry about my weight. Whatever the reason, I had no concept of what number I should covet on the scale or what an acceptable pants size was until I was a junior in high school.

All the girls I knew were on diets, and “needed” to lose 10 lbs. I started paying attention. I started comparing the size of my legs (too thick), my butt (too big), my boobs (too small) to theirs. I started reading fashion magazines and tabloids. My body definitely didn’t look like any of those bodies. And so it began.

Fast forward to now and I can tell you I have been every size from 2 to 20. I’ve tried every diet under the sun, from Slimfast (remember the powder you mixed with water, and stirred into a chalky sludge back in the day?) to fat-free everything, to South Beach, to being vegan, to juicing. And then there was the over exercising. Grueling workouts that made me feel like I was going to puke, or pass out, or worse; going to the gym for two hours at a time, doing 2-3 workouts in a day, spending hours on the treadmill, bootcamps, personal trainers…you name it, I did it.

I hated my body–everything about it. I’m truly embarrassed about the way that I used to speak to myself. I was so hateful…as if cruelty would be my catalyst for achieving perfection. I tried with every fiber of my being to beat my body into submission, until one day I just couldn’t do it anymore.

In 2015 I was diagnosed with adrenal failure, Leaky Gut Syndrome and a slew of other hormonal imbalances. My body had had enough. The years of trying to mold it into something it’s not, and the constant stress that went along with that took a huge toll. My body was desperate to be cared for; to be nurtured, and loved. And I realized I didn’t want to use another ounce of my energy trying to change my body and make it smaller. I was all done counting calories, eliminating certain food groups, and killing myself in the gym. Honestly, constantly trying to fix my body was never going to be the solution anyway. It was just a diversion that was keeping me from moving forward in my life.

Now I hover at a size 14, and I try not to get on the scale. I stick to real, whole foods most of the time, but I refuse to diet and I won’t deprive myself of anything I truly want. My workouts are no longer a way to earn certain foods or a means of punishing myself for eating them. I move my body in a way that makes me feel empowered and strong. Some days that’s lifting weights, other days it’s walking outside with my dog.

Would I still like to lose weight, or have a flat stomach again? YES. I’m not gonna lie. And I still get a little down sometimes and think, what if I’m this size forever? And the answer to that question is always, well, then I’m sure as hell not going to punish myself for it! And I reaffirm the pact I made with myself two years ago to always treat myself with kindness and ask my intuition what I truly need to feel good.

These days I choose to focus on the things I appreciate about my body. I choose to only wear clothes I love, and I’ll spend the extra money on things that are comfortable and flattering. I don’t try to squeeze myself into a smaller size to feel better about the number, and I don’t wear things that hide every inch of me and hang over me like a tent. I choose to treat myself to things that make me feel beautiful, like pedicures and flowers and lip gloss.

But the most important thing I do every day is remind myself that losing weight is not the purpose of my life.

Christy  xo