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Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action


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It’s OK to Take Time for You: Your Well-Being Matters

HealthyWellBeing[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

Wow! Can you believe summer is over? I simply cannot believe how fast it has gone by and that I’m nine months into contributing to The Phoenix Rising Collective. The PRC is inspiring, empowering, and calming, so I hope that my articles have inspired you to incorporate health and wellness into your life resulting in a calm and healthy mind, body and soul.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to present at The PRC’s The Fullness of Me workshop. I enjoyed meeting and getting everyone up and MOVING! We had a blast, and I mentioned to the group that physical well-being is directly related to our mental well-being. My goal is to empower all of the workshop attendees and our readers to incorporate movement into their lives. I love it; I really truly do.

I shared two things with the group: 1) I grew up around fitness. I tagged along was dragged along to aerobics classes, gyms and seminars as a kid. As a very young child, my cousin and I would help her mom (my super fitness aunt) lead her classes. And 2) I am a busy working mom of three young children (10, 8, and 5) with an equally demanding husband, and I’m working on a master’s degree. My objective in sharing these “Megan Facts” is to motivate you to move to show your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, students, etc. how important it is to be healthy and how to be physically and mentally fit.

Yes, this means leaving the kiddos for an hour in the evening, making the husband or significant other fend for themselves, leaving work on time, or letting the laundry and dusting pile up, but it is well worth the hour of freedom. You will come back refreshed, and you’ll have taught the little ones and others you love in your life that your physical well-being matters.

The reason for telling you about my children, husband and job is that I AM BUSY – so busy, crazy busy, I-want-to-scream-and-run-and-hide busy. I have three children in three different sports plus my girls are in dance classes. My husband works evenings and I manage a global program during the day, BUT I make time for myself and my body. It is my time and I don’t feel guilty about it. We’re all busy in some way, but please make time for your health now; otherwise, you will spend the latter part of your life being busy with doctor’s appointments.

How to Make Time

Remember every movement counts. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars per month on a gym membership or equipment. Our body weight is a wonderful tool and will strengthen you and give you the resistance you need.

You can incorporate just 10 minutes a day of anaerobic exercise into your life a few times a week or a 30 to 45-minute workout two days a week and achieve wonderful results and increased energy.

Walk up and down the steps in your house. Grab a chair and sit down and then stand up, repeat. While you’re in the kitchen waiting for the microwave, place your hands on the counter and do push-ups; jog in place while your kids are asking their millions of questions. Break out into Zumba when your favorite song comes on Pandora. While you’re reading, work on stretching. During commercial breaks, do jumping jacks, jump squats, squat walks, bear crawls, lunges, high knees, fast feet. Do something to get the blood flowing.

 

I hope I have encouraged you to incorporate movement into your life; I hope I have empowered you to know that YOU CAN DO THIS with whatever time or money you have. It will bring peace and calm to your mind, body and spirit.

In health and happiness,

Megan


 

About the Contributing Writer:

Megan_Weidner[PRC Health Contributor]Megan Weidner is a fitness coach and environmentalist in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. She manages a global sustainability and corporate responsibility program for a large multinational company; her areas include environmental compliance, social equity, community engagement and health and wellness. Megan is also devoted to Rock. It. Fitness., her fitness and natural skincare business. She is committed to making the world a better, more environmentally friendly and healthier place through motivation and education. She is certified through AFAA and Tabata Bootcamp.  She has a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science (University of Missouri), a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Policy (University of Denver) and an M.P.A (University of Missouri).  She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three kids. Read her latest posts.

 


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The Take 3 Method: Eating the Right Amount of Good Food at the Right Time

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I like fitness, but I also like to eat.  I would assume the latter part of that sentence is true for most people. I mean, seriously, food is good and we need it to survive. That is why I am not a big fan of diets. Instead, I believe in eating the right amount of good food at the right time.

As part of my Tabata Bootcamp program, I talk to my clients about nutrition.  Nutrition is an extremely important part of your life and fitness program.  Bad nutrition can completely sabotage a great workout.

Every time you sit down to eat ask yourself three simple questions:

  1. Am I hungry?
  2. Is it a good choice?
  3. How much do I need?

 

Many times we eat out of boredom: While we’re sitting at the computer, watching a movie, or reading a book. Or we eat because it is convenient: At a party, “food day” at work, or meals sent over by relatives. Before you eat, ask yourself if you are really hungry. If your answer is “no”, stop there! Also, try drinking a glass of water then waiting. Our stomach sends the same signal to our brains for thirst as it does for hunger. You may think you are hungry and really you may just be thirsty.

If you truly are ready for a meal or a snack, the next question should be, “is it a good choice?”.  Yes, you may be hungry, but a Snickers bar from the vending machine is not a good choice. Instead, pack carrot sticks, cucumber slices, almonds, low-fat cheese, pistachios, or fruit.  If you are at dinner, go for the whole grains and lean meat such as fish or baked chicken instead of fried foods or red meat.

PhotoGrid_1428275789533-1The last important question is about portion. I grew up in an Italian family where you were expected to eat the full portion and usually a second helping as well.  However, despite your family’s expectations or what society tells us, we do not need to finish everything on our plates.  In fact, most restaurants give us way TOO MUCH food!  Eat slow and drink lots of water.  When you are full…stop! If you are at a restaurant, immediately ask for a to-go box and box up half of your meal before you even take a bite. This will remove the temptation to eat it all. This last question is also important if you allow yourself to have dessert: Take a few bites, but you do not need to eat the whole piece (or whole bag of cookies)!

Food Journaling:

I also recommend finding an accountability partner.  Together keep a food journal. Write down everything you eat during the day and then at the end of the week share you journal with your partner.  If you know someone is checking your progress, you are less likely to eat the bacon cheeseburger and fries.

There are great apps available as well to help you track your food intake, such as MyFitnessPal.

Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand. If you are committed to living a healthy lifestyle, don’t forget the importance of healthy food choices.  Step away from the diet and choose to use the Take Three Method.

In health, fitness, and love!

Megan

 

Want more details on The Take Three Method? Well, take a look at the Tabata Bootcamp Nutrition Guide.  For additional fitness coaching, contact Megan here.

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About the Contributing Writer:

Megan_Weidner[PRC Health Contributor]Megan Weidner is the Health + Wellness contributor for The Phoenix Rising Collective; she is a fitness coach and environmentalist in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. She manages a global sustainability and corporate responsibility program for a large multinational company; her areas include environmental compliance, social equity, community engagement and health and wellness. Megan is also devoted to Rock. It. Fitness., her fitness and natural skincare business. She is committed to making the world a better, more environmentally friendly and healthier place through motivation and education. She is certified through AFAA and Tabata Bootcamp.  She has a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science (University of Missouri), a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Policy (University of Denver) and an M.P.A (University of Missouri).  She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three kids.


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Coconut Oil, Self-Loving, and Healthy Sexual Relationships

quote_may_post[upton_savannah]Besides the joyous feeling we get after completing an assignment or grading forty students’ papers, graduate school leaves very little time for feeling good, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t make the time. We realize that loving ourselves is about creating balance and finding time for touch. Yes, we’re talking about sex. We’re talking about creating time and space to touch others and ourselves. We are talking about finding out what we like and might like when it comes to our bodies. Now, we’re not telling you to skip work or neglect your responsibilities; however, we do want you to make this type of loving a part of your busy schedule. Make it a part of your life.

Before you leave the shower or after you get home from volunteering, reach inside yourself or massage your skin with oil to find out who you are. Get into you; make a relationship out of it. Self-loving is about knowing yourself, then about using that knowledge to build those outside relationships that we all know and love.

So, let’s talk about the sex we’re having, not having, or would like to have! We’ve decided to compile some tips and questions for creating healthy sexual relationships with others and ourselves. Before we get into the tips and questions, we would like to tell you why it is important to be in tune with your body by sharing our own personal stories.

Simone

Simonepic2Cut to a cold spring semester. Until recently, the maintenance man has been the only man in my apartment, and he has come only to fix the drought that my kitchen faucet experiences from time to time. What about my kitchen sink, Mr. Maintenance Man? Moving to Kansas in July 2012 meant that I would be leaving behind some special people, and that I would have to find new options for sexual pleasure. Now, I have always been okay with diddling my own skittle. Spending time with myself and discovering new things about my body makes me happy. An entire spring semester with myself has given me the courage to continue to awaken my body through my own physical and spiritual movements and touches. I have spent time in the mirror getting to know more about my body and how it works. “Oh, didn’t know I had a mole there. How pretty! Oooh, that’s the spot!” I’ve learned that my sexless life is not so bad when I’m using what I already have to get what I want. However, I like when someone else touches me, too.

I find sex to be a healthy, liberating experience. Though I am able to recharge my body and spirit through masturbation, I admit that there is an energy that I cannot recreate on my own. For me, touching someone else and being touched by someone else sends a colorful, electric shock through my body that often saves me from running to my local grocery and buying all the chocolate ice cream that I can fit into a little green basket. Though it was a fruitful, peaceful period in my life, four months without sex was a little frustrating at times. So, I was delighted when someone else—a very special someone else—walked through my front door. I had the opportunity to combine my energy with someone else’s, and to use that energy in my personal time. The experience did not replace my self-loving moments, but it did add to them, and recharged me in a way that I wanted to be recharged. Thank you, Mr. Not Maintenance Man.

For me, remaining in touch with myself is about balance. I know that I have the power to be alone without being lonely, as well as the courage to achieve an orgasm without the help or presence of a man. Cue Kirko Bangz: “She want a man, don’t need a man.” And I also know that I enjoy someone else’s company when my silver bullet isn’t enough. Getting to know myself through masturbation and interactions with others gives me the power to love myself. And loving myself means being honest about how I feel and how I want to feel.

Aisha

aish_black_white[photo]I’ve been single since 2009. I know that sounds like a long time, but before we cue Ne-Yo’s So Sick – I have to say that it hasn’t been that bad. In the meantime, I’ve attained a Bachelors, Masters, and started a PhD program, so I guess it’s safe to say that I’ve invested my energy elsewhere. As much as I’d love to be in love and dating someone seriously, I’m not rushing fate. Also, being out of a relationship doesn’t mean I haven’t had sex, or established a relationship with my own body. Of course I have! And honestly, those things have enabled me to stay the course, stay focused, and combat some stress!

Like Simone, I find sex to be a healthy and liberating experience, and I believe that remaining in touch with my sexual self is all about balance. Though striking a balance can be difficult, it is doable. For me, this is really all about forming healthy sexual relationships with whoever is my partner, and with myself. I have had healthy sexual relationships where I’ve felt a sense of reciprocity from my partner, and felt that he respected my overall personhood, my body, and me. It should feel energizing, stress-free, and fun, and that requires an immense amount of honesty and trust, as I don’t trust my body to just anybody (and I’m picky, and I don’t typically like tall guys, and I prefer facial hair, etc.)

I have, however, also tried abstaining from sex completely three times over the last four years, and that just meant not having sex with another person until I felt like I was physically and emotionally ready to form another healthy sexual relationship. I’m currently in one of these phases right now. In these times, as well as when I’ve not been involved with anyone, I still have myself. Learning to find peace in just having myself has been a great life lesson. Finding peace with me is a powerful feeling. Finding peace with going to bed and waking up alone, and finding pleasure in just me requires the utmost amount of honesty, because it’s hard to lie to myself.

1. Get Into Yourself: Self-Loving

Be alone often. People often confuse being alone with being lonely. However, we know that being alone encourages us to be less dependent on someone else for sexual pleasure. And when someone else does not please us, we don’t get angry; we put our pants back on, and do it ourselves.

Experiment with toys, your fingers, or watch something by yourself that you know or think will get your juices flowing. Experimenting on our own empowers us to try new things without judgment. Also, experimenting on your own encourages you to be in tune with your own body. That means looking at and touching your physical self, and also loving how you look and feel. This, indeed, will help you cultivate a positive self-image, and also foster a sense of self that you’ll want to share with others…or even keep to yourself.

Write about what you love. Toni Morrison stated, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” Make lists or journal entries about what makes you feel good or how you’d like to feel, and refer back to them often. Your own words may encourage you to spend more private time with yourself and others. We’d like to think that writing about what you want and feel encourages (sexual) freedom.

Talk with your friends. We recently read an article: True Friends Ask How the Sex Is. We talk to each other and our other friends about sex all the time. Sometimes, we talk in detail about our sexual experiences in order to support or advise each other in our sexual ventures. Talking to your friends about sex and self-loving may encourage you to be more open about the private time with yourself as well as the private time you have with others.

2. Create Healthy Sexual Relationships:

If you do want to engage in sexual activities with other people (or if you just want to share your coconut oil experience with another), keep in mind that fostering healthy sexual relationships can increase your satisfaction. A sexual relationship, like any other relationship, is healthiest when all of the people involved are honest and open about their wants and needs.

Maintaining an open line of communication with your sexual partner(s) can help to increase your overall sexual satisfaction. Whether you are communicating with your partner(s) about your fantasies or distinguishing between things you enjoy and things you could live without, healthy communication is key.  If you want to bring in the coconut oil, sit your partner down and tell them that you read this post and learned that coconut oil would be a natural alternative to your previous lubrication techniques!

And remember, be with someone who appreciates your body just as much we know you do. Believe us when we say that it makes sex so much better! Being with someone who is in love with your body will help you to maintain a positive self-image and a healthy sex life.

3. Grab Some Coconut Oil

Oh, you thought we forgot about the coconut oil? Of course not! As we continue our journey toward natural living, we’ve discovered that this cooking, skin, and hair-care product is also perfect for the bedroom. You can use coconut oil as a natural lubricant. What? Yes! And get this: it can balance your ph. So, go ahead and introduce some organic coconut oil to your intimate moments.

So, Some Advice and Sample Questions…

Safe sex. Know yourself and your limits. Additionally, invest in some toy cleaner and/or condoms for your sex toys, whips, and chains! You’ll want to keep those instruments clean in order to protect yourself from bacterial infections. And don’t forget to use some form of contraception/condoms when engaging in sex with other people. Your body is your temple. Wrap it up, you sensual lover, you!

Research! The Internet and library aren’t reserved only for class or that all-nighter (well, wait). Explore the “dark” sides of the Internet (there are tons!) and check out a Zane book for your private time.

Become in tune with your body. Really create the time and space for your self. Being in tune with yourself makes moments with others so much more powerful and fulfilling. We are more confident and courageous in the bedroom as well as in other parts of our lives.

Love what you like. Be open to new experiences; however, don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re weird for…well, whatever you like.

Know that sex is great. An orgasm a day gets those projects done and out of the way!

Again, communicate with your partner(s). Ask them questions and get to know them, too. Do you like this? Do you like that? Would you like to have sex with me? Do you like coconut oil, too?

Remember that consent is sexy. Always get consent. And don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do.

There is no one right way to have sex or get to know yourself. Explore and do what makes you feel good! Our best advice: Have sex with whomever you want (including yourself), wherever you want, however you want, as long as it’s consensual!

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Aisha + Simone are the Life + Style contributors for the Phoenix Rising Collective; continue supporting their posts on the  importance of letting who you are shine through when it comes to self-care and defining your personal style.

AISHA_BLOG[PHOTO]Aisha Upton is a first year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her research interests: Black women in service organizations and violence against Black women. She is passionate about many things including community service, lipstick, baking, thrifting, knitting, and being a proud owner of a Cockapoo, Napoleon. At the intersection of being a diligent student, a fashionista, and an activist – you will find Aisha, attempting to find a balance.

 

simone_writer[shine]Simone Savannah is an English instructor and contributing writer for the Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English-Creative Writing and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Her poetry is based on personal experiences she can’t let go—imagined or otherwise. Simone also enjoys making green smoothies, attending Bikram Yoga classes, and laughing uncontrollably.


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Natural Healing for Food Addiction: The Power of Making Healthier Choices

stay_awake_collage

Collage by Tonya Adams

As beautiful as the sun rising and setting each day, so is the beauty of our lives. The light of the sun shines, and we must not let anything obscure its radiance, as growth is ever present.  Enjoying life and feeling good should always be our natural state of being, but we know through experience that life often brings us growing pains and uncomfortable situations in order to check our egos, to force mindfulness, or to lead us toward our purpose. In order to maintain peace through our adversities, it’s important to develop healthy habits that support transcending painful experiences.

Unfortunately, many of us seek unhealthy forms of relief, like abusing harmful substances, to reclaim peace. These substances are toxic to the body, and with prolonged use can control the body’s cells and functions causing physical, mental, and spiritual deterioration.  In the words of holistic wellness entrepreneur and natural health practitioner, Queen Afua, “When we are addicted to anything or anyone, our lives are not our own.  Addictions are a toxic reflection of how we view our connection with ourselves and the world. All addictions drain our life force, leaving us less than we are.” (1)

Throughout my life I have witnessed and experienced the suffering caused from the dis-ease of addiction. I observed that the majority of adults around me had some form of substance dependence. Today I realize that many of them perceived life’s challenges as suffering, as opposed to a springboard to something greater; they viewed life as a hell they had to escape.

One of the most serious addictions I’ve witnessed is among African American women. Our poor relationship with food has led to having the highest rate of obesity in the U.S.

“Currently, major causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States are related to obesity, mainly caused by poor diet and inadequate physical activity. Some specific diseases linked to poor diet and physical inactivity include cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and some cancers.” (2)

According to the Office of Minority Health (3):

  • African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S. About four out of five African American women are overweight or obese.
  • In 2010, African Americans were 1.4 times as likely to be obese as Non- Hispanic Whites.
  • In 2010, African American women were 70% more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic White women.
  • In 2007-2010, African American girls were 80% more likely to be overweight than Non-Hispanic White girls.
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Medical Image Credit: Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine (A.D.A.M.)

Obesity is linked to higher risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and a host of other maladies.

The prevalence of night eating syndrome (NES), binge eating disorder (BED), bulimia nervosa (BN), and the general experience of food cravings are key words to describe some of the addictive habits behind the high rate of obesity among African American women.

Those cravings are usually for junk food, which can be defined as highly engineered toxic substances; and often times their effects are far worse than narcotics.

Unfortunately, this is especially prevalent in predominantly low-income communities due to food inequality; fast food restaurants, liquor stores, and convenience marts are on almost every corner. Processed foods that make us sick, tired, and addicted are easily accessible while healthy, nutritious foods that our bodies need are unavailable and unaffordable. For example, in Columbus, Ohio (specifically near the South and Eastside), there are no grocery stores in walking distance, so people are mostly dependent upon the local convenience marts that sell junk food and other toxic products that are destroying our health.

What are some inexpensive natural healing methods that can be implemented to address food addiction? A part of the answer to the healing process is embracing the concept that was introduced in my previous post: Health is W.E.A.L.T.H.S., the acronym for water, exercise, air, light, thinking happy thoughts, healthy food, and sleep. Other key steps include the following:

  1. Recognizing and admitting that you have a problem.
    Flush your system: Begin to cleanse the body by fasting. There are many detoxification recipes that focus on cleansing and healing to break addiction. A great place to begin? Health Thyself: For Health and Longevity by Queen Afua
  2. Meditating on a daily basis, as often as three to four times per day, to build mental and spiritual strength to overcome the addiction.
  3. Incorporating more raw fruits, vegetables, and super greens such as spirulina and chlorella into your body to feed and nourish your cells. When we consume empty calories, our cells become malnourished.
  4. Spending your money wisely, not from a state of addiction and poor eating habits, but as a wellness activist!
  5. Eating healthy as a family to develop better habits, especially for children.
  6. Creating a wellness plan that includes food education – taking time to research and understand the nutritional value of your food choices is very important.
  7. Surrounding yourself with people who will support you on the path to wellness.
  8. Supporting the development of local food systems and cooperative economics.
  9. Growing your own food for sustainability, ensuring that you’re eating foods while they are in season.

 

children_Circle77

Photo by LeRoyna Edwards

If you don’t know how to begin these steps, there are many organizations and programs that can help you get started.  Circle 77 builds a healthy institution on the South Eastside of Columbus, Ohio that supports the restoration and revitalization of our community by offering products and services that promote healing and wellness.

Invest in your health!

Sources:

 (1) Afua, Queen. City of Wellness: Restoring Your Health through the Seven Kitchens of Consciousness. Heal Thyself Incorporated. 2009. Print.

(2) Institute for Alternative Future. School Based Wellness Programs: A Key Approach to Preventing Obesity and Reducing Health Disparities. The DRA Project. Report 08-04. October (2008): 72 pgs. Print.  

(3) Obesity and African Americans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Minority Health. Web. 6 September. 2012.

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systar_roni_ausetSystar Roni Auset is a licensed yoga instructor, healthy living practitioner, holistic educator, master joyologist, and founder of Circle 77! Her aim is to improve her community’s quality of life by promoting a healthy lifestyle. By offering educational workshops, health oriented events, youth productions, and training programs, Systar Roni teaches and encourages holistic health as a way to empower people to make choices that will positively impact their own health and that of their peers, families, and communities. Using the latest information about nutrition and natural living, as well as sharing knowledge about the benefits of physical activity and meditation, she intends to be a strong source of vitality within the community. If  you would like to schedule a workshop/yoga class, participate in the Circle 77 buying club, or support her work with youth,  please visit The Children Shall Lead Them Productions.


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Looking Good, Naturally!

lookinggood_naturally[poster]2

Are you Team Look Good, Feel Good, Naturally? Of course you are! So, you know a large part of cleaner living is moving toward using natural products for your hair, skin, and nails. And you also know that incorporating natural products into your daily routine can make your hair, skin, and nails feel as good as your body does with cleaner eating habits!

What is Clean Living? Well, we define it as making a commitment to informed decisions about the products we use and the foods we eat. The goal is to incorporate simple, sustainable, and healthful practices into your daily routines that are natural, nutritionally safe, and toxin-free for the body and home to cultivate clean living inside and out.

The products and regimens we’re providing are inexpensive, healthy alternatives – some can even be found in your kitchen!

HAIR

3 products SimoneOne of the most awesome things about having natural hair is versatility, and one of the most difficult parts about having natural hair is finding reliable products that work well with your hair type. For this we often turn to essential oils and conditioners made for sustaining healthy, natural hair.

Simone returned to natural twelve years ago, and started locking her hair in 2007. She usually wears her hair down or in protective hair styles, such as buns and pigtails (she is really obsessed with pigtails right now!), and she loves using coconut oil because it promotes hair growth by penetrating and moisturizing the scalp. When it comes to washing, it is an all day affair! She starts by using a combination of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, sea salt, and warm water to cleanse her scalp (and to promote shine). Then, she uses a few of her favorite Shea Moisture products to condition and shampoo her hair.

Aisha is three years into being natural and loves it. Depending on the day, the weather, or her school schedule, you can catch her with wash-n-go curly tresses, a protective style, or an occasional press-out. With that in mind, most of her favorite products are oils! Jojoba, argan, coconut, and peppermint – just to name a few. All of these oils work to maintain the moisture that hair needs. For wash-n-go hair (by co-washing), a leave in conditioner is essential, followed by oils to seal in the moisture. For a protective style, a good spray of oils fights hair breakage, allowing the style to actually protect the hair, not hurt it. If you are pressing your hair – which should be done sparingly, as too much heat can be damaging – oil can be used to seal the ends of your hair and maintain a healthy scalp. Remember, moisturized hair is healthy, happy hair!

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 SKIN CARE

photo (6)Some of Aisha’s favorite natural skin care products come from Lush, a cosmetics company that prides itself on the creation of fresh handmade products. She enjoys indulging in various handmade soaps (especially one made out of honey), soaking in oatmeal baths, and rubbing her body down with handmade lotion. Although buying handmade cosmetics comes at a price, we have to pick and choose how we’re going to treat ourselves, and this is where Aisha indulges. Plus, none of the products she buys are tested on animals!

Oh, and have you ever heard of the Oil Cleansing Method? It is amazing! Simone loves using coconut oil, avocado oil, and/or olive oil to clean her face. She follows this routine everyday, especially after workouts to keep her face firm and clear of breakouts. These oils are also great for the entire body, so get obsessed!

Feminine Hygiene – Yes, down there! We use natural products EVERYWHERE.

Simone uses natural vaginal cleansers that are gentle and moisturizing – a lot of vaginal washes come in lavender, rose, and other scents. In fact, there are also many natural foods that promote womb wellness and give you a fresher, cleaner feeling. Natural health practitioner and author, Queen Afua gives some examples in her book, Heal Thyself for Health and Longevity, of live foods that can be eaten for healthy feminine hygiene and wellness: mango, papaya, coconut water, ginger, sorrel, honeydew, celery, parsnip, cucumber, and greens such as kale, spinach, and chard. And here’s a recipe for a natural cleansing bath:

  • 1tbsp. cinnamon
  • 3tbsp. rosewater/3tsps. rose oil
  • Natural foaming liquid
  • Handful of patchouli
  • 1-2 lbs. Dead Sea Salt (for deep relaxation)
  • Soak 20 – 30 minutes

And who loves a nice Brazilian wax? We do! Hey Fran Hey has an awesome recipe for a raw and organic hair remover that we cannot wait to try! You can also use this sugar wax on other parts of your body.

NAILS

Natural care for nails? Oh, but of course. Simone recently said goodbye to acrylic nails and hello to coconut oil to promote nail growth. Acrylic nails may look good, but they are very damaging and can often leave your nail bed weak and unattractive after removing them. For Simone, coconut oil has been the best solution for nail health and growth. The nutrients in the oil help to strengthen your cuticles and the nail bed, too. Massage coconut oil into your hands and nails two to three times a week, and before you know it, you will have long, strong claws! Okay, maybe you don’t want claws, but the strength is to die for.

We realize that all of this may be super overwhelming, so we’ve compiled a list of our favorite resources and products that we hope you’ll incorporate in your daily routine. Most of the products we use are raw and organic for an extra clean look and feel!

  • Jojoba Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Argan Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Shea Moisture Products
  • Kinky Curly Knot-Today Leave-In
  • Witch Hazel (for cuts)
  • Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine
  • Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

Remember that becoming au naturel is a process. Your health and sanity are important, so be patient with yourself when it comes to learning about clean products. Looking and feeling good from the inside out and the outside in are a commitment, so take the time to get your research on. Invest in yourself. Go ‘head—get to know the skin you’re in!

Tip: Before buying ALL of these products, pair up with a friend so you can find what works best for you without wasting money.

Happy cleaning!

Simonepic2Simone Savannah is an English instructor and contributing writer for the Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English-Creative Writing and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Her poetry is based on personal experiences she can’t let go—imagined or otherwise. Simone also enjoys making green smoothies, attending Bikram Yoga classes, and laughing uncontrollably.

 

AISHA_BLOG[PHOTO]Aisha Upton is a first year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her research interests: Black women in service organizations and violence against Black women. She is passionate about many things including community service, lipstick, baking, thrifting, knitting, and being a proud owner of a Cockapoo, Napoleon. At the intersection of being a diligent student, a fashionista, and an activist – you will find Aisha, attempting to find a balance.

 

Be sure to continue following Aisha + Simone’s unique take on Life + Style and the importance of letting who you are shine through when it comes to self-care, and defining your personal style.


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Smoothies, Soothe Me! Healthy Green Goodness that Packs a Delicious Punch

green-machine-smootie-mbd108052_vertJust when we thought Oreos could cure our heartache and the empty feeling in our stomachs, we were introduced to green smoothies. Green smoothies? How disgusting, right? Wrong.

Let us tell you that green smoothies are awesome! We decided to start drinking these clean, protein packed Mason jars full of heaven when we realized that although we were cutting out a lot of unhealthy foods, we forgot to add more fruits and veggies to our diets. Green smoothies give you the fruits and veggies you need, and are catalysts to establishing cleaner eating habits. Since we’ve started drinking them, we have a lot more energy, eat less junk food, and rely a lot less on sugary, caffeinated drinks, though we do ‘love us some’ chai and coffee. After drinking a smoothie, we feel happy and full. We get to sip on something that makes us feel good and look good at the same time.

I guess you could say that we make, “Eww, what are you drinking?” look fabulous. Furthermore, smoothies are not only perfect for giving you that fabulous ooh-I’m-health-conscious look, but they also provide your body with protein, making for great pre and post workout meals. Just be sure to add hemp, whey, and/or flax seed powder to give you the extra kick you’ll need to run those 13.1 miles in the spring half marathon!

We have to say that incorporating healthier foods in our diets has not always been easy. And though that pack of Oreos and glass of wine you had the day Microsoft Word did not recover your 25-page seminar paper won’t kill you, neglecting to really take care of yourself may knock some years off your life. We realize how important it is to invest in our bodies in multiple ways. On a typical day, we meditate/pray, throw up our hair in a high ponytail, slide on the spandex, and whip out our cutting boards; however, by the end of the day (or by 3am when we’re retyping that 25-page paper), there’s the realization that it wasn’t our pearls, nerdy glasses, honeycomb hats, or frankincense oil that got us through the day—it was the time we took to invest in ourselves from the inside out.

So, today, that’s all we ask. Invest in yourself from the inside out. Tell yourself that looking and feeling good does not start with that Satin Rebel lipstick; every kiss begins with green—okay, that didn’t work? Anyway, guzzle down a green smoothie, and take care of everything else when you’re done (or while green smoothies are so cool that you can drink them on the go)!

Want to feel better, too? (Because we know you already look good!) Here are some of our favorite recipes:

 

Aisha’s Green Smoothie aka Almost Everything Green Smoothie:

1 ½ cups of coconut milk (or rice, or almond milk)

½ cups kale (or chard – I mix it up)

1 handful of spinach

¾ cup strawberries

½ a kiwi

Half of a cucumber

1 granny smith apple

1 Tablespoon of rice protein

1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed

Aisha prefers to add the ingredients to the blender in this order, blending after each new addition: milk and leafy greens, apples and strawberries, cucumber and kiwi, flax seed and protein.

 

Simone’s Green Smoothie aka Excuse Me While I Make My Green Smoothie Blue-Green Smoothie:

1 ½ cups of coconut water

1 tbs. of spirulina

2 frozen banana

1 tbs. of carob powder

2 tbs. of almond butter

3 tbs. of raw honey

1 granny smith apply

1 tbs. of flax seed oil

¾ cups of strawberries

A pinch of Himalayan pink salt

Simone prefers to add the coconut water first, throw everything else into the blender, and then blend until it’s pretty.

Many sources like Hey Fran Hey, and Simple Green Smoothies offer inspiration and recipes for cleaner eating through drinking green smoothies. A concern a lot of people have with the smoothie life is wasting their fruits and vegetables. A solution for this is to freeze all of the ingredients for your green smoothies in quart size freezer bags with the ingredients in the order they will be added to the blender. Freezing the ingredients saves a lot of prep time, and makes the smoothies cold and delicious. We usually put our shakes in a Blender Bottle or Mason jar, and carry it with us to campus! Since it’s frozen, it stays cold for hours.

Happy (green) eating!  *sips*

 

AISHA_BLOG[PHOTO]Aisha Upton is a first year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her research interests include Black women in service organizations and violence against Black women. She is passionate about many things including community service, lipstick, baking, thrifting, knitting, and being a proud owner of a Cockapoo, Napoleon. At the intersection of being a diligent student, a fashionista, and an activist – you will find Aisha, attempting to find a balance.

 

Simonepic2Simone Savannah is an English instructor and contributing writer for the Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English-Creative Writing and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Her poetry is based on personal experiences she can’t let go—imagined or otherwise. Simone also enjoys making green smoothies, attending Bikram Yoga classes, and laughing uncontrollably.

 

Be sure to continue following Aisha + Simone’s unique take on Life + Style and the importance of letting who you are shine through when defining your personal style.

 

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