Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekly Inspiration

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?"
Psalm 56:3-4

The Journey starts here...

Once my quest for healthy started I immediately faced a road block. I had no idea what to do or how to do it. A couple of years ago I bought, read, and comprehended Cathy Howse’s (Howse) book “Ultra Black Hair Growth II: Another 6“ Longer 1 Year from Now”, but my impatient got the best of me. I only followed her tips for about 1 month before throwing in the towel. Now I’m at a road block and need help. 


My BFF called me one day to tell me about the No Trim/Deep Conditioning Challenge she was starting. This challenge was my first introduction to hair boards, blogs, and sites because this challenged was hosted on Healthy Textures. The site taught me so much information, it was god send. I noticed the women were using a lot of the same techniques Howse talked about in her book. Finally, I was able to see how proper technique, patience, and a little love goes a long way for maintaining healthy hair. I started the challenge in September 2008.

Based on all the knowledge I gained from the site, I started a personal no heat challenge for year starting December 2008. My goal was to learn how to style and care for my hair without heat. My hair suffered from heat damage way to long; plus I needed to break my addiction to daily flat ironing. Yes, you ready right I use to flat iron my hair every day!! Next month I will meet my goal and I’m so proud of myself. Within the last 11 months my hair was flat ironed, professionally, once and only for a length check and trim.

In January 2009, I decided to stretch my retouches from 8 weeks to 12 weeks. Stretching my relaxers helped me hair to thicken greatly. By this time I was learning to master the art of braid outs, roller sets (Mohawk technique), and Bantu knots. Wearing the curly styles became very convenient because styling in the mornings were minimized (somewhat). My hair was thanking me for the break away from heat. During salon visits, rod sets became my friend because the “no heat” challenge applied hairstylists as well.

By March 2009, my new growth was in full effect and I was in love. Remember, my last relaxer at this point was in December 2008. My curly styles were bigger and more beautiful because of my new growth. The thought of getting a relaxer and having bone straight hair was starting to bug me. By the end of the month, I decided to embark on a more natural journey.

Time to switch it up


Sarah, my gym partner, was recently reconnected with her childhood love, gymnastics. The gym where she coaches has an adult class that meets every Thursday. The class is basically conditioning techniques: stretching, upper body strength, handstands, cartwheels, etc. The class is definitely for beginners and non-professionals and focuses on the basics.



The first night in class went very well and I loved it. For the first time I was a trampoline sad to say but true. I plan to attend the class for the next month and see how I feel at the end of December. I love switching up my exercise routine and getting out the gym. I believe this class will help me reach goal of having Angela Bassett’s arms. Since the class is only once a week, I will continue to work out in the gym alternating between cardio and weights.

My goal for this class: get in a full split.

Reebok Women’s Easy Tone Inspire Walking Shoe


Proper footwear for your workouts is just as important as footwear for normal everyday wear. The shoe worn during workouts is important in order to prevent injury and maximize performance. Reebok introduced a new walking shoe that’s very interesting and pricey ($99.90-$110.00). These walking shoes are on my radar for now. I need to do some more digging before splurging. Check out the product description and some customer reviews here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

3 Week Challenge - **Update**

The challenge ends on Saturday and I was unable to finish successfully. “Life happened” which caused me to fall off my last 1 1/2 weeks and I’m not going into details at the moment. I was able to loose at least two pounds. However, I’m sure those pounds were gained back since I haven’t been in the gym the last week or so. That’s okay because exercising and eating healthy is a lifestyle change; so I can always get back on track. This week is Thanksgiving and I plan to get some cardio in by week’s end.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekly Inspiration

“The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.”
-Maureen Dowd

...and there were BAD times

An opportunity of a lifetime presented itself which required me to move to Texas. I had high hopes for Texas and was very excited about my new adventure. Surprisingly, it was difficult for me to find a stylist of the same caliber as Keysha (please refer to “There were good times post). Keysha was nice enough to provide me KeraCare hair products to hold me off until I was able to find a stylist. I was so touched by her thoughtful act; it made me miss her even more. She was truly a friend as well as my personal hair stylist!!

The search for the perfect stylist wasn’t an easy one. Let’s just say I ran into my fare share of scissor happy stylist who didn’t know what they were doing. I can not place all the blame with the stylist because I’m to blame as well. Here are a few bad habits that needed correcting in order to see my hair long and healthy.

1. Going more than two weeks without a shampoo.
2. Not d/c on my own
3. Not moisturizing and sealing my hair daily
4. Flat ironing every day without heat protectant
5. Not maintaining moisture/protein balance
6. Using improper blow drying methods
7. Over/under processing my relaxer when done myself
8. Stressing over situations that were beyond my control (major issue that needed conquering)

For the next four years after leaving ATL, my hair never grew past my shoulders and I was frustrated. At one point I found a stylist who is the male equivalent to Keysha. My time with him was short lived because I was soon unemployed again and could no longer afford his services. But wait; there is a bright side to all of this! Once I was settled at permanent employment I finally found a stylist I can trust and loved. With her help I was able to get my hair back on track. This time I tried working with her by changing my “at home” hair habits that stagnated my growth. With this new found determination my quest for healthy hair began.

Eating Balanced Meals


Eating a balanced meal means consuming foods from all the major food groups in the recommended servings. Having a balanced diet ensures your body gets all the nutrients needed for good health. A couple of months ago I visited my nutritionist for a brutal review of my eating habits. After a strict review of my food journal, the nutritionist noticed that I eliminated carbs (i.e. potatoes, rice, pasta, etc.) from my meals. For me, eliminating carbs caused cravings for “sugars” or “sweets”. This explained my afternoon snacking of chocolate minis or the office doughnuts that slowly packed on the pounds.

Here is a breakdown of my suggested meal plan: Carbohydrates 50% of calories, Protein 20% of calories, Fats 30% of calories, total calories per day 1600 along with eight glasses of water. Now 1600 calories may seem a lot but this is efficient for me to maintain normal daily functions. Furthermore, I work out at 3 or 4x a week so the high calorie intake is needed to replenish my nutrients. Each person calorie intake is different depending on several factors like weight, weight loss goals, age, and fitness levels. It’s best to consult with your own nutritionist or dietician for a customize plan. My meal plan is easy to use with minimum restrictions that make it easy to follow. More importantly, my “sweet” tooth is under control which makes it easier to keep the extra pounds off.

Partner UP!

Getting a gym partner is great for boosting motivation to get in the gym. Having a gym partner means you are more likely to exercise. I have a die hard gym partner who motivates me not only to hit the gym but work hard while I’m there. Like me, she is no nonsense and have no time to worry about “being cute”. As a matter of fact, we prefer to sweat our hair out as a way to gauge our intensity. Additionally, she loves trying out challenging routines and mastering them which ultimately speeds up our fat burning rate.
For those of you who prefer to workout alone but still lack motivation find a support group. Linking up with others with the same goals provides accountability; and a little accountability can lead to results. There are many support groups out there. Dr. Ian’s 50 Million Pound Challenge is just one of many sites you can join with others in your area. Let’s not forget yours truly, Ms. Harmony, who will continue to provide motivation right here at Naturally Free 2B Me every week.

So go on…get healthy!

Here's my gym partner!

















Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekly Inspiration

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Colossians 3:8 (New International Version)

There were good times....


As stated before, my hair’s health and length will fluctuate constantly. The best hair days were during the periods I had a regular stylist. Like most women, every two weeks I was in the shop on a Friday night or Saturday morning getting my hair laid. In between shop visits I flat ironed every day and moisturized sparingly. I wanted my hair to flow in the wind so moisturizers were not a daily option back then. Bad habits caused my stylist to work harder to keep my hair at its healthiest. While living in Atlanta my best friend, Rose, introduced me to Keysha Gauthier . What I love about Keysha is that she specializes in healthy hair and she educates her clients about their hair.

When I first sat in Keysha’s chair my hair was extremely damaged. I was unemployed at the time and needed a professional hair style for interviewing. Keysha gave me a bob cut that fell right at my ears and I almost wanted to cry. I lost a lot of length because my ends were damaged and split. However, for the first time in a long time my hair had bounce and body and I LOVED it. I told Keysha once I landed a permanent job I will continue to see her on a bi-weekly basis.

As promised, once I landed my permanent gig every 2 weeks I was in Keysha’s chair. She grew out my bob to right above my shoulders and my hair was in its healthiest state ever…until the big move to Houston which caused my hair to revert and journey to start again.

BodyRock.tv

As you ladies know, I’m always searching for new workout routines for variety. It’s a good idea to switch up your routine periodically in order to keep your body guessing and maximize fat burn. Usually, I switch up my routine every 4-6 weeks. Through youtube.com I found my favorite site of all time, bodyrock.tv. Zuzana, fitness guru, provides a wealth of information on exercise and diet. She has amazing workout routines anyone can do in the comfort of their own home. Right now my gym routines correlate with her fitness videos and I’m seeing results. Since the summer I’ve been imitating her routines in the gym; due to variety I have yet to get bored. Go to the website today and check it out for yourself. Here’s a snippet of the next routine on my agenda.



video

Eat Right on the Road


I can proudly say that I’m a healthy eater (for the most part :*))and very cautious about what I consume. However, when I’m on the road maintaining healthy eating habits becomes difficult. I don’t know about you ladies but I LOVE to travel. Unfortunately, my love for travel always brings on 2-3 pounds. So to combat those extra pounds I try to follow these tips from Denise Austin.
  • Eat as you would at home. You've gotten so good at measuring your portions, and now it's time to take that skill on the road. If your order arrives and it's enough for three, make sure you stick to just one sensible portion. If you have a fridge in your hotel room or are staying with friends, you can ask the waiter to box up the extras before you even start to eat so you won't be tempted — and you can enjoy the leftovers as a guilt-free meal on another day.

  • Snack before you go. If you know you'll be tempted by rich foods, have a snack before dinner. You'll feel fuller and will be less likely to indulge once you arrive at the restaurant.
    Know the lingo. Avoid menu items that are described as "au gratin," "crispy," "fried," or "creamy." These are the buzzwords that signal major calories! Stick with choices that are baked, broiled, poached, or steamed instead. Now, that's menu smarts!

  • Substitute. If a dish comes with fries, don't hesitate to ask for it with a salad or a veggie instead. Likewise, if a meat or veggie is prepared with lots of heavy oils, ask about lighter preparation options or chose another dish. Restaurants want to make you happy, so chances are they'll be willing to help.

  • Share. If you're dining with a friend, split an appetizer, or even a dessert! It's a simple way to cut calories and not feel deprived.

You can get more tips from Denise Austin by signing up with Morning Stretch.

You are now leaving the "Comfort Zone"

These hot picks for the week are available at Baker's or on Endless Shoes & Handbags. I love adding vibrant colors to my outfits in order to set myself apart from the rest. Believe me, these boots definitely make a statement. Rocking these boots requires stepping outside your “Comfort Zone”. This fall season is all about color! A pop of color is the perfect solution for adding life to any ensemble.
















Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekly Inspiration

“Don’t compromise yourself; once you begin doing that, you will begin losing yourself.”

-Al Pacino

Hair History Facts

For as long as I can remember my hair has been chemically altered. As a child I went from having a Jheri Curl to a relaxer to a Jheri Curl and back to a relaxer well into my adult years. I’m sad to say that I have no idea what my natural hair looks like. Unfortunately, I don’t have any childhood pictures of my hair but I will say my hair never grew past shoulder length.

Throughout my teenage years and well into adulthood I struggled with maintaining my hair. My hair’s health and length constantly fluctuated because of poor maintenance. In high school during my “Poetic Justice” days I had to try braids. Since I had no clue on how to maintain braids at that time I suffered hair loss. My braids were falling out from the roots because my hair lacked the moisture it needed. That’s right ladies, even if you are wearing braids you have to moisturize your hair.

Another hair loss culprit for me is STRESS. Stress is my hair’s worst enemy! A couple of years ago, I was so stressed out due to personal issues that my hair suffered badly. My hair was in its worst state ever: short, dry, brittle and thinning. In order to save my tresses I sought professional help, Hair Club for Men. I was so devastated after leaving my initial consultation. I hate to admit that I signed up for treatment; but I terminated my contract before the trial period expired. One of my bff introduced to me Nioxin to help with my thinning and shedding tresses. I must admit Nioxin was my hair’s savior. However, without the knowledge I possess today and bad styling habits my hair’s overall health only improved slightly.

Gym Workouts - Love it or Hate it?

I have a love/hate relationship with the gym. On the days I find myself hating the gym, I force myself to go and by the end of my workout I feel glad I did. Because of this love/hate relationship, I’m always researching new ways to stay fit and active. I enjoy trying out new cardio routines to help keep my workouts interesting and body guessing. This past Spring I discovered a 16 week routine on iwantsixpackabs.com from watching you tube videos. Now this workout is catered towards men but I was able to alter the routine for my fitness level. This is an awesome but challenging program, in my opinion, for men and women!!

Exercise

In a perfect world I will workout everyday for 4-6 hours (not really). Since I’m not in a perfect world and “life happens” sometimes going to the gym is not an option. In order to stick with my weekly fitness goals, I will engage in cardio routines at home. Here is one of my favorite but VERY CHALLENGING routines from iwantsixpackabs.com. Please don’t feel intimidated by this routine; I haven’t mastered it myself. Not familiar with some of these exercises? No problem because you can find videos on You Tube.

Spartan 300 (iwantsixpackabs.com)
Jump Squat (30 reps)
Staggered pushups (30 reps)
 Alternating Split Squat Jump (30 reps)
 Explosive pushups (30 reps)
 Prison squat (30 reps)
 Hindu pushups (30 reps)
 Kneeling Row (30 reps)
 Burpees (30 reps)
Pull ups (30 reps)
Double Crunch (30 reps)

Complete a total of 300 reps combined. NO PRISONErS... NO MERCY

Stuffed Mushrooms with Swiss Cheese and Bread Crumbs

Ingredients:
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese 1 hard cooked egg, finely chopped 3 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs, plain 1 small clove garlic, finely minced 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature 16 ounces large mushrooms (about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter) 1/4 cup melted butter

Preparation: In a bowl, combine shredded Swiss cheese, egg, crumbs, garlic, and 2 tablespoons room temperature butter. Blend well. Remove stems from mushrooms. Place unfilled mushrooms on a baking sheet, rounded top-side up. Brush with melted butter Broil for 3 to 3 minutes about 4 inches from heat. Remove from broiler; turn mushrooms over. Fill with egg and cheese mixture. Return filled mushrooms to the oven and broil for 1 to 2 minutes longer. Makes about 2 1/2 to 3 dozen stuffed mushrooms. Enjoy!

"These Boots are made for Walking"

These boots are featured from my personal collection and I absolutely LOVE them. Their “cowboy” flare hooked me and I had to have them. These boots are so comfortable and affordably priced at DSW, $59.95. The brown purse was a free gift with my purchase and makes for the perfect accessory.





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